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The well performed Rocker Band has joined the Clevedon stable of Barry Purdon. Rocker Band, owned by Greg Brodie, has won 10 races including the Harness Jewels for 4-year-old mares at Cambridge from the Burnham stable of Mark Jones. Rocker Band has been campaigning in the Auckland area since the end of September, compiling a win and five minor placings in seven starts. She ran second to Chase The Dream in the Futurity Stakes at Cambridge last time. Gotta Del, a dashing winner on grass at Cromwell last Sunday, has been transferred to the Rakauhauka (Southland) stable of Clark Barron. Gotta Del was previously with Ken and Tony Barron at West Melton. Rakarazor, who won a Sires’ Stakes heat for 3-year-old fillies at Forbury Park last year when trained by Barron for Brendan Fahy, has transferred to the Cobbitty (New South Wales) stable of John McCarthy. Rakarazor was a winner at Alexandra Park last month when trained at Papakura by Gareth Dixon. “She (Rakarazor) will target the Golden Guitar series,’’ said Dixon. A heat and final of that series at Tamworth was won last year by Cyclone Kate, part-owned by Dixon and trained by McCarthy. Cyclone Kate, who won six races in New Zealand, has added another 10 in Australia. She has won three feature races for mares at Menangle and taken a record of 1.50.8. Extreme Guest, a winner at Washdyke on January 6, has been sold to patrons of the Victoria stable of David Aiken. Extreme Guest was trained at Temuka by Brent White for his last win. The Extreme Three 6-year-old won two races from the Robert Dunn stable. Franco Hamilton has been bought out of the White stable by Kumeu owner-trainer Tim Vince. Franco Hamilton won at Forbury Park and Winton last month in four starts after being bought by Peter McDermott, of Christchurch. Tayler Strong

The Rowe Cup carnival in Auckland is the next major aim for returning open class trotter, Master Lavros. Despite being surprisingly beaten by Monty Python at Omakau early in the New Year, the big gelding’s trainer, Mark Jones, wasn’t phased and is pressing on with his plans as he looks towards Auckland. After his stunning fresh up win at Addington in December, Master Lavros just never quite looked as dominant when at Central Otago and Jones couldn’t quite pinpoint why. After leading throughout the majority of the event, Master Lavros was collared in the shadows of the post by Monty Python who had enjoyed the run in the trail behind him. “It was disappointing to be beaten, I thought with the run he probably should have won,” Jones said. “But it’s going to happen from time to time, the most important thing is he’s sound and healthy.” There were some thoughts to head to Australia with the two-time Dominion Handicap winner but the Omakau result put to bed any chances of that. Jones will instead focus on keeping the free-wheeling trotter ticking over through the rest of this month with some options available at Addington in the coming weeks. There are Free-For-All trots on January 27 and also February 17 as well as a host of handicap races in which Jones can target. “The main aim is to keep him happy and sound and hopefully we can get him to Auckland. “We will make that the main aim now and really push towards that.” Whether or not he can recapture his best open class form remains to be seen, but even the thought of his big hulking frame back in the feature trotting races will be a welcomed prospect considering the current state of affairs in our open class ranks. Meanwhile, Saveapatrol, another Jones trained runner on the comeback trail continues to progress nicely as he comes back from yet another injury in his disrupted career.   Matt Markham

The Mark Jones trained Glenferrie Classic proved her versatility by winning the 2600 metres Alabar Cromwell Cup today in the hands of Sam Ottley.  Nine days ago she won the Equine Stakes at Winton over the sprint distance of 1609 metres, then driven by Stevie Golding. The four year old mare is royally bred, being by Bettor's Delight out of New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner and is owned by Equine Investment Limited, Matai Farms Limited, G.M. Saunders, Mrs S.J. Saunders and B.R. Duffy. One of Matai Farm's directors, Bathan Muir is on the committee of the Wyndham Harness Racing Club.  Glenferrie Classic galloped away before settling third on the inside. Ottley then decided to sit parked with just over a lap to run before getting cover when stable-mate Perissa arrived. She then popped out with 650 metres to run and challenged the leaders. Glenferrie Classic led heading for home and held on to beat a late charging Statham. The winning margin was a neck. The time of 3-27.2 was over 7 seconds outside the track record held by Glencoe VC when he won the 2012 cup. "It didn't help when she didn't pace away. I probably got to the front a bit soon but I didn't want to be boxed in. To her credit she sprinted from a long way out and stuck on," said Ottley.  This was her second win from two starts on the grass. She won at Methven in early December.  "She's got stronger and has raced good on the grass and the grit. This was her biggest test today against race hardened horses. She's got stronger this season."   She has now won four races from sixteen starts and it's likely that she'll target the Southern Country Cups final on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park in April.  The winning connections - Photo Wayne Huddleston - Wild Range Photography Glenferrie Classic's dam Mainland Banner which won seventeen of her twentytwo starts has done a great job as a broodmare. All of her foals have won races - Stunin Banner (15), Return To Sender (8) Peruvian Banner (1) and Rocker Band (10). "She looks like Rocker Band but they are totally different. This mare is laid back and almost lazy whereas Rocker Band has great speed, can get on the steel and pull. Glenferrie Classic is more of a stayer."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

It hasn’t taken long for a negative to be followed by a positive for exciting trotter Marcoola. The four-year-old cost punters plenty through no fault of his own at Alexandra Park on Friday night, finishing unplaced in the Lyell Creek Trot after his sulky tyre was flattened straight after the start. Trainer-driver Clint Ford valiantly tried to shift his weight to the other side of the sulky but to no avail and after leading into the straight Marcoola was run down by Sunny Ruby in a near record time for the 2200m mobile. There was still plenty to like about Marcoola’s effort and Ford isn’t worried heading into his main summer aim, the National Trot at Alexandra Park on December 31. And rightly so, especially when he hears the news the TAB’s second favourite for the group one trot Master Lavros isn’t coming north. Master Lavros, a two-time Dominion winner, returned with a nerve-wrecking win at Addington on Friday night, seeing some bookies even promote to the head of their markets for the National Trot. But trainer Mark Jones has confirmed Master Lavros won’t be coming north, with his early gallop on the way to victory on Friday suggesting he still has some minor issues which Jones feels more comfortable working on closer at home. So while he has been beaten, Marcoola has now also lost his main National Trot rival so is back to $2.80 at the head of the TAB market. There is slightly better news for Australian visitor Kyvalley Blur, who was expected to miss the National with a leg issue but he has recovered better than expected and could still make the race. Sunny Ruby’s win in the Lyell Creek has seen her shorten into $9 for the National and new trainer David Butcher admitted Friday night was an emotional occasion, the win his first feature race victory since his father and long-time training partner John passed away three months ago. Friday night winners Dream About Me and Titan Banner still dominate the Auckland Cup market 12 days out from Alexandra Park’s biggest race but their stablemate Chase The Dream, who is on the third line of betting, is no certainty to contest the great race. He will head to Cambridge for the $50,000 Four and Five-Year-Old Futurity, which not only looks a far easier target but is a mobile start after Chase The Dream completely blew his first standing start in the Franklin Cup on Friday night. “He could still go to the Cup but we will make our mind up on that after Cambridge,” said co-trainer Mark Purdon. The Cambridge programme on Saturday also features a group two $50,000 trotting mile which could see Sunny Ruby and Friday’s eyecatcher Bordeaux in action. Michael Guerin

There was no one more in awe of what Master Lavros managed to achieve at Addington on Friday night than the man who spends the most time with him – Regan Todd. The two-time Dominion Handicap winner produced one of the more remarkable returns to racing after almost exactly a year away from the track when he was victorious in a small, but select, field of trotters after galloping away from behind the mobile and giving his rivals at least 50 metres. To see the gelding’s massive frame still there at the finish and sticking his head out at the time when it matters most came as a welcome view considering the disarray of the open class trotting ranks currently with Monbet, Stent and Speeding Spur all on the sidelines. “It’s good to have him back,” Todd said on Saturday. “I was pretty proud of him, to do that after being away for so long was pretty impressive I thought.” While winning was nice, the major goal for the Mark Jones trained horse was to come through the run unscathed. Todd said that initially it appeared as though his battle-scarred legs had come through the race well. “His tendons were nice and tight this morning (Saturday) which is a good sign. “There were a few marks from where he galloped on himself but we will have him scanned and checked over just to be safe.” While Auckland was initially ear-marked next for Master Lavros, Todd expected a decision to be made early in the week to head to Central Otago early in the New Year instead before building up to the Rowe Cup later in the season.  “That is what I think is going to happen, we don’t want to push him too much.” Trainer Mark Jones confirmed that on Sunday night that the scans had shown up nothing. But Auckland was definitely off the table. “He scanned up great, but greed can kill a man and we have nothing to prove,” Jones said. “We will just take the patient approach with him and Omakau is a little closer to home.” Friday night’s win was the 20th in the career for Master Lavros from just 47 starts and his stake earnings are now close to $600,000. HRNZ 

He’s chasing Group race success in Auckland but Mark Jones can be forgiven for all his attention being focussed on a five horse race at Addington tonight. That five horse race, worth $13,000 compared to the $220,000 his four horses in Auckland are racing for, has the potential to be one of the most important of the Burnham trainer’s season. His stable star, two-time Dominion Handicap winner, Master Lavros returns to the races from injury early on in the night at Addington and where he heads to next will very much depend on what the outstanding trotter shows both on the track and when he walks out of his box on Saturday morning. Auckland for the National Trot on New Year’s Eve is still an option, but a trip to Central Otago is a possibility too. “We will let him dictate what happens next,” Jones said. “A lot of it is going to depend on how his leg is after the run. Both options are on the table.” The return race has been marred by scratchings, leaving Master Lavros with just four opponents to face but Jones should get a good enough indication on where the gelding is at. “It’s really another glorified trial for us, of course we are there to win but there is a bigger picture too.” The stable will also be represented tonight at Addington by the ultra consistent Ruthless Success. In Auckland, Rocker Band and Delightful Memphis will tackle Group racing while The Bus and Real Torque tackle other races on the programme. Delightful Memphis has come up with barrier one in the Peter Breckon Memorial - a key result if she is to down the colours of Spanish Armada once again. “I still don’t think there is anything between the two of them, but we’ve got the draw this week so we will have to look to make the most of it.” Rocker Band, by her trainer’s admission, probably can’t beat Dream About Me. But she is a real hope of running second behind her. “She’s going great guns at the moment and from that draw we should get our chance.” The Bus was late scratched last week after jumping shadows during his warm up but a strong workout win on Saturday has Jones confident he’s got a horse who can be a player in the Young Guns series. Super Selector Addington - By Matt Markham Race 1: Ruakapuka Ruler, Myidealson, Augusta, Mighty American Race 2: My Wee Man, Belmont Jet, Webby Vanderquack, Nicky Anew Race 3: Ears Burning, Mossdale Conner, Alta Orlando, Maverick Race 4: Letsgotothehop, Vinny Gambino, Loretta Franco, Hayden’s Meddle Race 5: McLovin, Fireze, Jean Sebastien, Kingdom Come Race 6: Master Lavros, Daryl Boko, Hey Yo, Waterloo Sunset Race 7: American Tart, Crackabella, Emily Blunt, Runaway Star Race 8: Torrid Bromac, Letspendanitetogetha, Franco Saxon, Eh Ef El Race 9: Le Leivre’s Gift, Everybody Knows, Lothario, Donegal Bettorgretch Race 10: Curlimore, Gunpowder, Wozniacki, Atchoo Best Bet: Curlimore (Race 10) Value: Le Leivre’s Gift (Race 9)

Samantha Ottley will be attempting to become just the second woman to win the North Island’s most prestigious female race with Rocker Band at Alexandra Park tonight, but she also realises there’s one massive hurdle to get past. Ottley (26) said it would be a dream to win the $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts Pace for New Zealand's top fillies and mares at 8.44pm, but knows only too well that next week’s $2.80 Auckland Cup favourite is the horse to beat. Last December Natalie Rasmussen steered Fight For Glory to victory to become the first female driver to win the Queen Of Hearts. Tonight she has handed over the reins on Dream About Me to Mark Purdon. “Mark and Natalie’s mare looks a class above the field, but anything can happen in racing and we have drawn two compared Dream About Me’s eight. We can win but we will be relying on Dream About Me to have an off night,” Ottley said. As well as the Group One Queen Of Hearts Pace there will also be four Group Two events competed for tonight. They are the Group Two $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship 3yo Fillies Stakes; the Group Two $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes for the open class trotters; the Group Two $50,000 Alabar 3yo Classic; and the Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup. Ottley has three drives tonight but only one ‘Group’ assignment. On November 4 the Mark Jones trained Rocker Band provided Ottley with her first Alexandra Park winner when they out-sprinted their seven rivals in the $14,000 Movenpick Mobile for the R77 to R107 pacers. Rocker Band also provided Ottley with one of her career highlights at Cambridge Raceway on June 4 this year when they won the $150,000 Group One 4yo Mares’ Diamond. “I’ve driven some real nice horses like Stylish Monarch, Stent and Pure Power in the past, but Rocker band is one of the fastest horses I ever sat behind. “She’s now won and placed for me in her last three Alexandra Park starts,” Ottley said. Last Friday the royally bred 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover - Mainland Banner mare finished a four-and-a-quarter length third behind Dream About Me and Arden’s Choice in the Group Three $25,000 Caduceus Club Northern Breeders Stakes. She trailed and then ended up three-deep when Dream About Me hit the lead at the bell. They were snookered and came late when the race was all over. Dream About Me stopped the clock in an impressive 2:40.2 (mile rate 1:57.2) and home in 57.4. and 27.2. That time was 0.5 seconds slower than Fight For Glory's triumph in last year's Queen of Hearts Pace. "She ran on well along the markers when the race was all over. She just got held up at the wrong time, but I was rapt with the way she sprinted home. “She hit the line very well. I think she can finish in the money on Friday and hopefully if things go our way and the favourite has an off night we can upset her. We certainly have the speed,” Ottley said. Ottley paid a tribute to her boss – Mark Jones. “Mark has been so good to me since I joined him just over a year ago. When I went there I thought I would get the occasional drive. “But Mark has put me on everything, and I’m so humbled by that especially when he’s a world champion driver and is watching me drive his horses from the grandstand! “I can’t thank him and all the owners and trainers who put me on enough. His belief and faith in me has been amazing,”Ottley said. In April 2014 Ottley became the first female driver to notch up 100 wins when she reined the Michael House trained appropriately named Gogirl Bromac to victory. To date she has driven 21 winners from 177 starters this season, and all-up in a career dating back to 2009, the Geraldine born and educated horsewoman has won 224 races from 2,444 starters. She’s also placed 399 times for $1.77m in career stakes. Ottley is currently seventh on the national driving premiership. She is the leading woman driver in New Zealand with 21 wins – three more than Rasmussen. The first Queen Of Hearts Pace was contested in 1996 and was won by Adio Routine and Colin De Filippi. Duane Ranger

There’s an air of confidence about the way Mark Jones is speaking of his exciting filly, Delightful Memphis, this season. And coming from a usually reserved and measured horseman such as Jones, that spells good signs for fans of the daughter of Bettor’s Delight with some hefty assignments in front of her in the next month. An impressive winner fresh up at Addington a month ago in a heat of the Sires’ Stakes Series, Delightful Memphis returns to Harness HQ again tonight for another heat - this time with just four other runners lining up against her. “Initially I didn’t think we would come back for another heat, but it’s worked out pretty well,” Jones said. “We knew we were going to draw the outside so that didn’t matter but it’s been made a lot easier by having a small field to go up against.” Jones is keeping the imposing filly’s racing spaced as much as he can as he tries to handle what could be a big season on the track and everything she’s done so far is keeping her boss impressed. “I’m really happy with her, she’s ticking along perfectly, I am definitely much happier this time around than what I was ahead of her first run.” The opposition tonight includes Spanish Armada who was, until the Jewels, the dominant filly of the crop. Partyon potentially moved ahead of her with her dominant performances, but she will provide a good yardstick for Jones when the clash horns tonight. “I think if we had picked up a few of the draws Spanish Armada had last season we might be the one with $300,000 in the bank, so I’m not concerned about her, but do respect her. “We can pick and choose our battle this week which is good. She showed she’s good coming off the speed but then last time she was just as good in front and ran away from them late.” Tonight’s meeting also sees the return of Eyre I Come from the Jones stable. The talented trotter, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career takes on a handy field first up. “He’s a day to day proposition, so we are just taking it one step at a time, but I’m happy with him. “He’s probably only 80 per cent in terms of fitness but there are some nice races coming up for him in the next few weeks.” Two other stable stars are getting close to stepping out as well. Master Lavros will most likely make an appearance in between heats at Sunday’s Mt Hutt workouts at Methven before trialling at Rangiora while Whittaker is also progressing nicely. “We are looking at a race on the 16th for Master Lavros then up to Auckland if everything goes well. “With no Monbet it makes sense to go up and have a crack.” Whittaker is also being aimed at an Auckland appearance but his major target is the Harness 5000 early next year.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Delightful Memphis, Spanish Armada, Smiley Sophie, Major Rocket Race 2: Don Pierre, Eja Patron, Loose Cannon, Bettor Backim Race 3: Riccardo, Pirate Bay, Burst Out Laughing, Unice Enchantress Race 4: Kingdom Come, Debaneyre, Ruthless Success, .BK Dawn Race 5: Mighty Flying Major, American Tart, Letspendanitetogetha, Bronze Over Race 6: Tiger Thompson, Mikey Maguire, On The Rantan, The Fixer Race 7: Lavros Jack, Shona Mary, Topnotch Titan, Spots Gold N Girl Race 8: Mongolian Storm, Freedom Fighter, Bailey’s Rock, Sparkling Delight Race 9: Maninthemirror, Smouldering Ashes, Royal Jester, Eastwood Suzy Race 10: Gee Up Neddy, Twelve Monkeys, Donegal Bettorgretch, Eyre I Come Race 11: Blade, Lloydin Magic, Missinmemate, Stop Means Stop Best Bet: Riccardo (Race 3) Value: Gee Up Neddy (Race 10)

Samantha Ottley’s first winning drive at Alexandra Park on Friday (November 4) never panned out like she thought it would. Driving what she described as one of the fastest horses she had ever sat behind, Rocker Band simply out-sprinted her seven rivals in the $14,000 Movenpick Mobile for the R77 to R107 pacers. “There was talk that she would just lead and win but when I came out of the gate that wasn’t the case. I knew there were a couple of pacers who could fly the gate and when that happened I had to ease back,” 26-year-old Ottley said. The Mark Jones trained Harness Jewels winner, Rocker Band, was third last early from her six-draw and remained there until Ottley made her move with 900m remaining. “I had to take luck out of the equation. She was travelling well and I just had to put her into the race. Zac (Butcher) advised me that if there’s cheap sectionals run in sprint races here you have to be handy on the turn to win. That was great advice,” Ottley said. Rocker Band then sat parked down the back straight the last time and then in the home straight was simply too strong winning by three quarters of a length and pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:01.4 (mile rate a slashing 1:54.9) and last 800m and 400m in 55.5 and 27.5. “She can be a bit of a trick at times. Even though she relaxed early she did lose an a length of so turning for home. But then wow what a feeling to go up outside a good horse like Ideal Belle and go past her. “I’ve driven some real nice horses like Stylish Monarch, Stent and Pure Power in the past, but this mare would be the fastest horse I’ve sat behind. Her sectionals were so quick yet she felt so relaxed,” Ottley said. Rocker Band has now won 10 of her 28 starts and placed in five others for just under $175,000 in stakes. Her career highlight came at Cambridge Raceway on June 4 this year when she won the $150,000 Group One 4yo Mares’ Diamond. “That was a real thrill winning the Jewels but it was also great to win my first race at Alexandra Park. I must have been there five times now. It’s a lovely track to drive on. I just hope I can retain the drive,” Ottley said. She said she would love to sit behind the royally bred 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover - Mainland Banner mare on at ‘The Park’ on December 31.. That’s when Rocker Band will line up in the prestigious Group One Rosslands Queen of Hearts Pace for our country’s best pacing mares. “I want to keep my bum firmly on the sulky seat that she drags around. In saying that I never expect it. Mark has been so good to me since I joined him just over a year ago. “When I went there I thought I would get the occasional drive, but he’s put me on everything, and I’m so humbled by that especially when he’s a world champion driver and is watching me drive his horses from the grandstand!  “I can’t thank Mark enough. His belief and faith in me has been phenomenal,” Ottley said. “Actually I would like to thank everyone who has supported. I’ve had such a good start to the season and I’m so grateful to all the owners and trainers who have put me on their horses,” she added. Ottley has already driven 16 winners ($110,334) this season and 219 ($1.7m) since her career started in 2008. She currently sits fifth on the national driving premiership, and is New Zealand’s top female driver – 10 clear of second-placed Natalie Rasmussen. Meanwhile, other highlights from Alexandra Park onFriday included two wins each from Brent Mangos, Barry Purdon, and Steve Telfer/Chris Garlick. Mangos trained and drove Mr Good And Evil to win the first race and then just over half an hour later he steered the Purdon trained Rariza to victory in race two. Purdon's other triumph came via the Zac Butcher driven $1.60 favourite Raptor's Flight in the third race, while Telfer and Garlick trained Rhythm N Blues (Scott Phelan) and Ideal Roman (Jack MacKinnon) to win races six and eight respectively. Morrinsville conditioner Daniel Erickson also trained his first winner when Todd Mitchell got Turbulent Flow up in the last stride to win the 10th event. Story on Erickson follows this week.   Duane Ranger

Young West Melton trainer Jason Lethaby geared up three horses at the Riverton meeting yesterday and all three won. Ideal Rule and Richard Le Fort, both trained by him won, while Ariadne Lavros trained by Mark Jones won the Southland Standardbred Breeders Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. All three were driven by Samantha Ottley. Ideal Rule started the roll when she won the Net Ten EOM at Macca Lodge Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace beating Trendy's Bad Girl by one and quarter lengths.  "Running in a race for fillies and mares (Ideal Rule) was the main reason we came down. There hasn't been too many races like that at home and the other race for the big horse (Richard Le Fort) suited him being a non-preferencial race," said Lethaby. From barrier five Ideal Rule was posted without cover early before being covered up by Manuka Valley. Ottley got out when she wanted to and drove out the American Ideal filly to win by a length and a quarter.  Ideal Rule and Samantha Ottley winning                     Photo Bruce Stewart. "I was very confident with her. She'd been working and trialling real good so I knew if she got a good run she'd be pretty hard to beat and that's what happened," Lethaby purchased the filly at the 2015 Sale of the Stars for $6,000. She's was breed by David Jones of Rakaia and is out of the unraced Christian Cullen mare Cullens Rule.  "She qualified nice behind a few of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's nice ones. We were going to race her as a two year old but we decided to give her time. I think she'll do a real good job and we plan to qualify her for the Southland Oaks."  His second winner came two races later with Jereme's Jet gelding Richard Le Fort. Ottley blasted the five year old out of the gate and lead at the winning post for the first time. With 400 metres to run she pinched a break and that proved to be the winning of the race. He held on to beat Longevity by a neck.  Richard Le Fort (7) beating Longevity (white helmet) on the inside - Photo Bruce Stewart "We've had him for a year. We bought him off Mark Jones for a group of guys. It was their first race horse. He trialled up real good. He was such a big lanky horse we thought we're give him a month off and let him strengthen but he never came back any good. We had a couple of starts with him and he only went average so we sent him onto a hill block for eight months. We brought him back in in the middle of May and worked him up nice and quietly through the winter, and it's seems to have worked with him."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Delightful Memphis will have the luxury of seven-10 days off to freshen after winning the opening $22,000 Alabar Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Heat in a harness racing jog at Addington on Friday, October 21. The smart daughter of champion sire Bettor’s Delight and Memphis Melody will be back for the third heat at Addington on November 25, then head to Auckland to fine tune for the final on December 31. There is also another heat of the series at Alexandra Park on December 9. Last season’s experience of racing well right-handed at Auckland will stand to her for the Sires Stakes Final. She was the runnerup in three stakes races in four Auckland starts behind Spanish Armada last autumn, and wound up her two-year-old season with a second to Partyon in the $150,000 Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond at Cambridge on June 4. Trainer Mark Jones had Delightful Memphis on song for the opening Alabar Sires Heat despite a week ago blowing out near the end of her Rangiora workout. She was untroubled to lead throughout from the ace draw for regular driver Blair Orange, who didn’t have to release the deafeners in the run to the line. Delightful Memphis came clear of Major Rocket (parked) by 2 1/2 lengths in a solid 2:22.8 for the 1950m (1:57.8 mile rate), with Blair letting her quicken over the last 800m in 56s and final 400m in a slick 26.6s. Major Rocket held out the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained stablemates, Smiley Sophie and Tachyon, for the minors. Delightful Memphis was recording her second win, after earlier winning her 2YO debut in the Group Three $25,000 Sweet Lou Leonard Memorial at the Cheviot meeting on February 28. She edged past the $100,000 mark with Friday’s win in her eighth career start for owners, Wayne Higgs, Simon Doull, Sir Loins Limted, Debra and Pete Smith, Kaysan Farming Ltd and BM & JH Holdings Ltd. By Jeff Scott Reprinted with permission of the Mark Jones site

Debbie Larkins gained her first win as an owner/trainer/driver when Rydgemont Milly downed visiting favourite Trouble Giero to win the Zilco/Carpet Plus Willy's Flooring Trot at Gore on Sunday. Larkins races the mare on lease and shares the training with her partner Mark Shirley. They'd previously had success with Strategic Miss (twice) and Another Windermere. Conrock, in April 2013 when trained by Shirley alone, provided Larkins with her first driving success. Rydgemont Milly is the first foal of the Sundon mare Domination, winner of 10 races when trained by Murray Tapper. It was Tapper who recommended Rydgemont Milly to Larkins and Shirley. “Murray broke her in, he said she would take time,” Shirley said, “she has high speed and that will carry her when she strengthens. She is a solid trotter.” The Gore win made up for the Monarchy mare's bad luck at the Northern Southland meeting where she enjoyed a good trip in the one-one on the back of favourite Sky Tower, until the 400. At that point the eventual winner Explosive Star arrived on Rydgemont Milly's outer to lock her in and then Sky Tower broke and carted her out the back. Dan Wilson gained his first win as a breeder/owner/trainer when Lucas capitalised on a perfect Brad Williamson drive in the Dwain's Service Centre/MLT Forest Lodge Tapanui Pace. From four off the gate, Lucas enjoyed the one-one until the 600. From there, he was pushed forward, took control before the turn and ran clear in the straight. “He's always had speed, he just needed the right run,” said Wilson whose only previous wins were as the owner-trainer of Hadrian, twice successful early in 2014. Wilson said he grew up with horses, his parents raced horses, his father Lindsay and Uncle Ian train and his sister is the partner of trainer Tony Stratford. Lucas is the only horse he has in work. The gelding is out of Village Kiwi, a mare Wilson acquired from her previous trainer the late Alan Scobie. Prior to breeding form her, Wilson raced Village Kiwi for a time from his father's stable and gained a third at Ascot Park. Earlier in the day Williamson had won the SBS Claimers Mobile on The Charging Moa and was the only driver to land two winners on Sunday. The Charging Moa, by 2008 New Zealand Cup winner Changeover from the 2008 New Zealand Cup fourth placegetter Specials Ops, had a claiming price of $10,000 and wasn't claimed. In fact, no claims were lodged for any of the runners. Ariadne Lavra, the only representative at Gore of Burnham trainer Mark Jones, did the business impressively in the Otamita Servicing Ltd stand-start pace. She was racing in Southland for just the second time, having contested the group three Caduceus Club Two Year Old Fillies Classic at Ascot Park in March. Brent Barclay was aboard that day when she finished third behind stablemate Delightful Memphis and the Purdon/Rasmussen rep Renske B. Barclay took the reins again on Sunday and had the daughter of Art Major in front after 350 metres. They were never seriously tested from then on and careered away in the straight to win by four and three quarter lengths. Other Canterbury trainers to taste success were Steve McRae from West Melton and Brent White of Temuka. McRae had three at the meeting and won the Colin Baynes Memorial Fillies and Mares Pace with Narelle Franco. She is the first foal of National Franco who a few years earlier won races at Ascot Park with Craig Thornley in the sulky. He was also the winning driver of Narelle Franco who is now four and was having just her second start, after finishing third on debut at Washdyke last week. “She was a bit weak last season but has strengthened up,” Thornley said. The stable also picked up a placing in the Gore Windscreens N Glass Mobile with Franco Tristan. The four year old looked the winner when he loomed up on the turn but had to settle for third. “He hit the front and pulled up,” commented Thornley. Victory went to Ultimate Fella, White's sixth starter on the day. Earlier, he'd gained a placings with Trouble Giero who finished runner-up to Rydgemont Milly, plus Dark Ops and Run To Hide who both finished third. The third of Dark Ops was behind Blazing Under Fire in the Jaccka Lodge Handicap. Blazing Under Fire, a C2 entire trained by Phil Williamson, was driven by junior Rory McIlwrick and recorded the day's biggest winning margin of six and a quarter lengths. The win was penalty free under the conditions of the race because Blazing Under Fire was driven by a junior. The win helped McIlwrick retain a margin of four wins over Sheree Tomlinson at the top of the national premiership.   Mac Henry

Mark Jones put his near perfect day at Methven yesterday down to one mitigating factor – Sam Ottley. The Burnham horseman enjoyed a gold letter day at the first grass track meeting for season, winning three races and picking up a second placing as well from his five runners for the day. And Ottley was on board all of them, continuing her golden start to the season as the combination between her and Jones continues to prosper. “I’ve got to give a lot of the credit to Sam,” Jones said. “She summed each one up perfectly and had them all in the right places at the right times, she really is driving as good as anyone going around at the moment in my opinion.” The Jones/Ottley combo kicked things off with Rocknroll Nevin, who despite running up the track down the back straight, was too good for her opposition – surprising her trainer slightly. “She was pretty good last week at the trials, but I probably didn’t expect her to win the way she did. “She’s always been a nice horse, and everything fell into place for her which helps.” The run continued in the very next race when Ammisaduqa backed up a very good trial at Methven eight days earlier with a strong victory over the 3000 metres. After a handy enough run on debut the Gotta Go Cullect gelding was driven confidently by Ottley and he won impressively by a length to break the maiden status. “He was the one I was most confident with I think, his trial last week really impressed me. “I didn’t give Sam any instructions, but she drove him perfectly.” When Perrisa led the feature pacing event of the day and was too tough for her opponents, things started to look even better than Jones could have dreamed of at the start of the day. The former claiming mare, who could have been picked up for a fair price a few weeks back, got her own way in front and ran away at the top of the straight. “We’ve had a few problems with her but the grass is her real go in life and when she gets her own way she’s pretty hard to peg back. “We’ll keep targeting grass track racing for her over the next few months before she heads to stud later in the season.” The three win haul was nearly four when Zena Mac was very good when finishing second behind Shadow Rider in the last. Jones has made a grand start to the season winning seven races from just 30 starters – and he’s pretty surprised about it. “It’s the smallest racing team I’ve ever had I think, but there’s some really nice young ones. “I’m looking forward to next season.” Ottley’s start to the season has been just impressive, she’s won eight races from 30 drives and continues to kick goals when given the chance. Jones reported yesterday that his star mare Rocker Band would be heading North this week for her immediate racing. “She’ll go to Barry Purdon and we will target the Spring Cup in a couple of weeks and then the Holmes DG a fortnight after that. “Alexandra Park have been great and really looked after us and the best part is she should get a race every week up there without having to take on the best of them.” Stable trotting star, Master Lavros, is progressing nicely towards resuming later in the year. The Dominion is off the table and Jones is looking at a first up run in the Green Mile at Methven in December.    Matt Markham

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

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