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MILTON, ON -  February 14, 2020 - Harness racing horseplayers will look to cap off Saturday night (February 15) with a big score by taking home a piece of Woodbine Mohawk Park's Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout. A carryover of $152,060.29 will be brought into the Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout and past results show that the total pool is expected to be large. The most recent Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout took place less than two months ago on December 21. On that occasion, a total of $544,793.76 in new money was wagered to go with a carryover of $180,992.59. The new money total has tripled that of the carryover in three of the past five mandatory payouts, including a record $2.8 million in new money wagered on the March 30, 2019 mandatory payout that had a carryover of $525,140. The Jackpot Hi-5 race is Race 11 on Saturday's card at Woodbine Mohawk Park. As usual, the mandatory payout race will have an overflow field of 11 going for a purse of $25,000. The horses competing in Saturday's Hi-5 race are Non-Winners of $8,600 last five starts or $17,200 last 10 pacers. This level would typically compete for a purse of $17,000, but with an extra horse added to the Hi-5 race, the purse has been bumped and all starters will receive money. Horseplayers can start studying for Saturday's card and the Jackpot Hi-5 by visiting to download the official Woodbine Standardbred program. Saturday's card will also feature a $36,000 Preferred Pace (Race 9). Mares Kendall Seelster and So Much More are two of the seven competitors in the top-level event. Millionaire Easy Lover Hanover headlines the male competitors. Kendall Seelster comes into Saturday's contest just $11,154 away from reaching $1 million in career earnings. The five-year-old Rod Boyd trainee would need a victory to accomplish the milestone this weekend. Post time for Saturday's card is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Everyone knows Ray Warren is the voice of rugby league, Dennis Cometti’s dulcet tones simply is Aussie Rules and in many ways, still, Richie Benaud’s unique wisp is the sound of summer. But does anyone know the voice of harness racing's Carnival of Cups? Mark McNamara will return to the Central West to call Orange’s Carnival of Cups meeting on the turf at Towac Park on Sunday. McNamara has a long affinity with the carnival having first accepted the chance to call the series in its inaugural year in 2006 and traveled across the region – trotting tracks at Bathurst, Goulburn, Temora, Leeton, Junee, Young, Dubbo, Parkes and Eugowra – to lend his voice as the race caller for the Harness Racing NSW initiative. Now based in New Zealand, McNamara will return to call the Orange finals on Sunday and it’s a chance he’s looking forward to. “It was not only a lot of fun but also a great learning curve for race calling with the many different tracks involved,” McNamara said of his initial foray into the series. He’s returned to call the Canola Cup in Eugowra a handful of times since venturing across to New Zealand to call harness racing overseas. “I called the Carnival of Cups meetings right up to leaving to take my current role in New Zealand in 2009,” he added. McNamara was on deck to call last year’s harness racing as well, a year which also marked the Orange Harness Racing Club’s move from Highlands Paceway to Towac Park. He’s been part of harness race meetings in Highlands Paceway since regular commentator Bill Palmer retired and McNamara believes the transition to turf has put Orange back on the pacing map. “In Australia grass track racing is making a semi-comeback, I saw Kilcoy (in Queensland) race on the grass a few weeks ago. It has been Orange that has kicked that right back into gear with the meeting a Towac Park 12 months ago,” he said. “Richmond was the last permanent grass track in NSW so it's great to see one back.” The adopted kiwi isn’t foreign to turf pacing, with New Zealand grass tracks a huge trend across the ditch. “And it tends to draw a big crowd,” he added. “They run big fields (up to 18 in a race) and there is something about seeing harness racing on the grass, it comes up a treat on TV.” With a throng of New Zealand trotters set to race on Sunday, McNamara said any of those pacers that have performed well at Methven or Motukarara, renowned turf tracks in the south island of New Zealand, should go well at Towac Park.  “They will be guaranteed to handle the grass track, same goes for any horse that raced well here last year to,” he said. The action starts at 1.04pm at Towac Park on Sunday, with the main pace, the Kents H Hardware Benjo Paterson Cup jumping at 4.37pm. By Nick McGrath Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

He is now the voice of harness racing in New Zealand but Australian homebred racecaller Mark McNamara was the special host at the Harness Breeders New South Wales annual Awards Night last Saturday. Held at Tabcorp Park Menangle, breeder-owner Pat Driscoll received the highest accolade when presented with his HBNSW Life Membership. In the AGM preceding the Awards Night the following long time contributors to the breeding industry were elected as life members: Janet Moore, Peter Neil, Tom Reay and Paul Hurley.  Their achievements will be recognised at the 2017/18 Awards Night. The full list of HBNSW award winners for the 2016/17 season were: DON CLOUGH OAM AWARD - Graham Bullock BROODMARE OF THE YEAR - Miss Brazilian - bred by Sloys Company SIRE OF THE YEAR - Million Dollar Cam USA HORSE WELFARE AWARD - Marie Neil & Joanne Andersen 2YO COLT/GELDING of the Year - Ignatius - bred by Rattray Family Trust 2YO FILLY of the Year - Nostra Villa - bred by Patrician Park, Brett Coffee and J Boag 2YO TROTTING COLT/GELDING of the Year - La Grange - bred by Yabby Dam Farms 2YO TROTTING FILLY of the Year - Queen of Clevedon - bred by Danny Rothwell and Christie Rothwell 3YO COLT/GELDING of the Year - Vincent - bred by Sloys Company 3YO FILLY of the Year - Tell Me Tales bred by Helen Head  3YO TROTTING FILLY of the Year - Dance Craze - bred by Yabby Dam Farms 4YO+ COLT/GELDING of the Year - Aztec Bromac - bred by Rob McCardle 4YO+ MARE of the Year - Eye See Diamonds - bred by Mary and Jackie Gibson 4YO+ TROTTING COLT/GELDING of the Year - Quillabamba - bred by Kevin Hipkins 4YO+ TROTTING MARE of the Year - Red Hot Tooth - Bred by Graham Bullock NSW BLUE AWARDS: 2YO COLT/GELDING of the Year - Lucky Unlucky - bred by Weona Standardbreds 2YO FILLY of the Year - Shes Sporty - bred by Brooklyn Lodge 3YO COLT/GELDING of the Year - Jilliby Bandit - bred by John Starr 3YO FILLY of the Year - Elle Yeah - bred by Matthew Nagle AMANDA RANDO | MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Unraced two year old Karloo Threeothree has already suffered a serious injury but has fought his way back and harness racing trainer Barry Lew is hoping the son of Mach Three shows just as much fight when he debuts on Sunday at Peak Hill. The youngster broke a bone in his leg after getting caught under a post in his yard and needed the best part of nine months to recover. "I had him at home and he was going very nicely but I found him caught up in his yard and the vets found that he had broken a bone in his leg near his stifle joint," Lew said. "He's going well enough to go to the races but he still needs to learn a bit more and Sunday's experience should do him the world of good. I even thought about making a comeback to the sulky to drive him because my regular driver Mat Rue is driving one for Bernie (Hewitt) but I had second thoughts and the first person I rang (Amanda Turnbull) said she'd drive him for sure." While Lew is missing race driving and he would love to experience the thrill again he is concerned about the damage he could do if he was involved in a fall. I'm 63 now and if I got thrown out and got busted up then it might mean I would have to give away the training and while I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, I'm not ready to give away training the horses just yet. "I've still got a few in work including Courage To Rule and I'm hoping to get him back to the races. I had him nominated for Peak Hill but he didn't get a run so hopefully he will get a start at Bathurst. I've got an American Ideal youngster and a Somebeachsomewhere out of Karloo Ronnie that I'm breaking in as well so I'm keeping myself pretty busy." Karloo Threeothree was purchased from the Sydney APG sales and was bred by New Zealand race caller Mark McNamara and close friend Aaron Goadsby. Lew had always wanted a horse by Mach Three but when it came to naming him he found the job difficult. "It is a funny story because he was my first Mach Three but I already had a horse called Karloo Mac. He wasn't by Mach Three but named after a Mack Truck. This bloke was the third yearling I was working with that season so I called him Three and thought about calling him Karloo Three but it just didn't sound right. "So Ronnie was looking through his papers and said his brand ended in 303 so I thought that had a good ring to it, so he became known as Karloo Threeothree. The funny thing is the number 303 on his papers had nothing to do with his brand but that's his name now anyway!" Lew is confident that in time Karloo Threeothree will develop into a nice horse. "With some experience and then some time to develop I think he could develop into a really serious horse, I really like him." Lew still gets great pleasure watching his pride and joy Karloo Mick playing in his paddock. "He is in a paddock that is alongside my track and when I'm working a couple he still likes to race me down the fenceline. His paddock ends so he has to wheel around and sure enough by the time I get around to his paddock again he is ready to race me. "He is rising 16 but still looks a million dollars and I reckon he would still love to be in work." Greg Hayes

Franco Saxon. Add him to your 'Race Tracker' and remember the name, because the way the Jonny Cox-trained runner won his maiden at Addington Raceway last Friday night was spectacular and certainly won't be his last time visiting the winner's circle.                             Owned by the recently-launched goHarness 'Staxofun' Syndicate, the performance from the 3yo Live Or Die gelding even impressed commentator Mark McNamara. "There's a debut win," said McNamara as Franco Saxon crossed the line to win by a half-head over West Point (Ken Barron), with a length back to Junior (David & Catherine Butt) in third. Starting from barrier 9 in the 1950m mobile, Franco Saxon was always going to have to do plenty of work to win - and that's exactly what he did. Away well, Cox soon had him marching forward to find the parked spot. With the three-wide train still coming, Cox was determined to keep the parked spot for the remaining 800 metres. "It was a tricky draw to work with, but we got a good drag up behind Sam (Ottley) to land outside the leader," said Jonny. "He turned up in great condition from previous trainer Steven McRae and trialled nicely at Ashburton when he won. He's a nice horse, but that performance showed us he has got the ability to go through the grades." Despite being under pressure and looking gone at the 400m point, Franco Saxon showed great tenacity to rally past the leader Dancinginthedark and hit the front. With the heavily-backed West Point and Blair Orange darting up the lane, it appeared as if the goHarness team would have to settle for a brave second but 'Sax' had other ideas and stuck his head out to grab the victory. "It's a dream start for the Staxofun Syndicate," said Co-Manager Johnny Robinson. "We've had a lot of members of our previous syndicates coming into Saxon, as well as another large group of first-time owners - which is not only great for us, but it promotes harness racing for the fun that can be had for very little outlay."" Robinson said there are still shares available in this latest syndicate launched by goHarness, priced at $730 each which is the equivalent of just a dollar a day. "The one-off fee gets you a share in Franco Saxon for two whole years, with no other payments needed, and if the horse is still performing well enough at the end of our two years with him there's also the possibility of the syndicate being extended. "He's a decent-sized fella, and we expect him to improve with more racing and as he grows into his frame," Robinson added. Friday's win by Franco Saxon was the first for Cox since he began training from his new base at Fred & Joy Morris's Yaldhurst property, called Yaldy Farm. "It's a wonderful property, with great paddocks and boxes as well as a nice track. They also have a pool, which is a great asset for the training programmes of some of my horses," Cox said. Shifting north from Dunedin 18 months ago, Cox originally worked for Ken Barron before switching to the Michael House stable in the mornings while doing his own team in the afternoons. "It was time to branch out and concentrate on having a team of my own. I've got eight in work at the moment and there's room for a few more," Cox said. Cox trained 52 winners in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons when in partnership with Amber Hoffman at Westwood Beach, just out of Dunedin. The pair trained Jaccka Justy to win the 2014 Dominion Handicap, providing Cox with his biggest training and driving success to date. An accomplished driver, Jonny is currently on 460 career victories and has saluted the judge on 28 occasions so far this season, while he has trained 26 winners from just the 282 starters on his own. Cox was also a dual winner of the Junior Drivers' Premiership in 2005 and 2006. Andrew Fitzgerald                

Popular harness racing broadcaster Mark McNamara will return to Australia to call the Lexus of Parramatta Canola Cup at Eugowra on Monday October 5. The Australian who now lives in New Zealand will return for the long weekend and is looking forward to getting back to his favourite country track. "I think this will be my sixth or seventh Canola Cup, I really enjoy calling the Club's big day and there have been some very nice horses win it during that time," McNamara said. "The atmosphere at Eugowra is hard to beat, when the weather is nice and a big crowd rolls in it is very hard not to have a good time." McNamara called his first Canola Cup in 2006 when the Carnival of Cups concept was introduced by the controlling body. Four-year old mare Aldebaran won the event narrowly from Zippy Life. "The Eugowra Club work very hard in promoting the meeting locally and I like catching up with all of the people who make the regular trip to the Canola Cup. "In New Zealand the meeting that I would say has a similar feel to Eugowra is the Kaikoura Cup, it is a great afternoon of racing, a lot of people attend and there is a great atmosphere." Harness Breeders NSW has invited McNamara to be a special guest to the annual HBNSW Awards Presentation at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday October 3. "I was contacted and asked if I'd like to go along to the Breeders Awards night and I was happy to attend so I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces at the evening also." The heats for the Lexus of Parramatta Canola Cup will be held Sunday September 27th with nominations closing on Wednesday September 23rd at 9:30am. Greg Hayes

Bathurst Harness Racing Club has attempted in recent times to extend its identity and appeal beyond that well-established Gold Crown brand, with feature meetings aimed at local parish groups, rugby league clubs and the like.  Last Wednesday’s fixture included a Harness Breeders NSW – sponsored “Go Girlfriend Series” heat, but when former Bathurst, and now N.Z. based, commentator Mark McNamara got up to a bit of mischief, by paying for naming rights for a fillies race on the card, the meeting then became, unofficially, Girlfriends Night at the Trots.   Toby Inwood Is Looking For A Girlfriend Three Year Old Fillies Pace, named as a stir against a likeable young driver who works for the family of McNamara’s good mate Jason Turnbull, remarkably finished in a dead-heat, with good sport Inwood more than happy to celebrate with a pair of four-legged fillies following the event.  Santastic Princess ($14.30, Mickael Muscat for father Bill) and Shes So Foxy (($2.00 favourite, John O’Shea for Lester Hewitt) provided a perfect result and perfect names for such an event, relegating Artista Lombo to third, ahead of other interesting monikers like Modern Admirer, Pretty ideal and Hells A Coming. The shared win was the second leg of a double for the Muscat stable. They took out the opening race, a C1 sprint, with recent stable arrival Just Read My Mind NZ ($5.80), sitting in the running line and enjoying the strong tempo which produced a 2:00 mile rate. Front-running pair Written In Red and Prince Raymac fought on well to fill the minors.  On the other side of the McNamara “gee-up” came the “official” girlfriend event, the HBNSW Go Girlfriend Series heat, for C1-C3 Mares.    Highview Aria NZ ($12.70) gave Steve Turnbull the first leg of a training double, when Amanda brought it with a well-timed run from the one-one, with a narrow margin back to Our Miss Kathryn NZ, which led the three-wide train over the final lap. Both qualify for the $20,000 Tabcorp Park Menangle final this Saturday.  Ben Settree, representing HBNSW at the presentation, spoke about the merit of a series such as this which provides increased opportunities for fillies and mares to compete against their own sex. So say all of us!  Other winners from the meeting were: Burra Sullivan ($2.60 favourite, Nathan Hurst) , leading all the way in a 2130 metres C3-C4, the fourth win this season for the Armbro Operative four-year-old. The 58.3 last half was the quickest on a very cold night, and the placegetters were Packnplenty and  Skewbridge Road.  Kenny Cracker ($3.20 favourite, Michael Day Jr), impressive in sitting outside the lead in a 3C0 sprint in its first run for the Kevin Powderly stable from Young. Leader Flightee Deedee and Tulhurst  Stacey, which trailed the winner, filled the minor placings. This race was named for the Bathurst HRC Stallion Tender. It remains open till August 29, and provides the opportunity to secure services to leading sires Art Major and Mach Three, and exciting newcomer A Rocknroll Dance, at well below the advertised service fee, if in fact services remain available.  Boundtobewild, the longshot of the night at $17.90 for Anthony Winnell and trainer Peter Reid, produced a very strong finish when clear of the markers to run out an easy winner of a 2C0-2C1  Fillies sprint, from fellow pegs-runners Asitshouldbe and Mah Koo Loo Queen.  Having just her fourth race start, the winner is still very green but clearly has lots of raw ability. With a name like hers, she might be just the ticket if Toby Inwood is still without a girlfriend this time next season!  Bevendale Boy ($2.20 favourite, Sam Hewitt for father David, and owner Daniel Hewitt) , most impressive in working to the death in a 2130 metres 2C0 event, from where the son of Art Official controlled the race and ran out a narrow but soft winner, from last-start winner The Only Child and Gentleman Red.  This was his first win at start eleven, but he’s been racing well against much stronger company, and is likely to tackle the Breeders Challenge regional series in coming weeks.    Polished Rocks ($2.20 favourite, Steve Turnbull), the second leg of his training double, when he sat outside leader and runner-up Sweet Ava NZ in C0 sprint, to record his third successive win.  Three nights later, he raced in the $50,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Blue Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, finishing just behind the placegetters over the testing 2400 metres , to further shake off his former reputation as just a speedy type.  Bathurst race each Wednesday throughout July.    By Terry Neil  T 61 2 6333 5000  F 61 2 6331 4397  E 

Four-year-old trotting mare Lady Mackendon gave her driver and co-owner Kimberley Butt an early birthday present when overhauling her 12 rivals in the first race at Forbury Park last night. Butt, who turns 20 today, owns the mare in partnership with her not-so-better half Matthew Cross, who enjoyed his first taste of success as an owner. The win spearheads what is going to be a big weekend for Cross, who is a broadcasting cadet for Trackside. Cross is set to make his commentating debut at Rangiora on Sunday. “I was hoping I would get to call a race by the end of the year, but I never expect the opportunity to come along this early,” said Cross. Cross was full of praise for his mentors, commentator Mark McNamara and presenter Greg O’Connor. “They have both been a huge help and I definitely wouldn’t be calling on Sunday if it wasn’t for their guidance.” Lady Mackendon, who is trained by Butt’s employer Mark Jones, had three unplaced runs for Terry O’Sullivan before being leased by Butt and Cross. She had indicated that she would go close in her debut for the Jones stable with an impressive win at the Rangiora workouts on the 21st of June. Lady Mackendon, who was bred by Butt’s Grandmother Jenny along with Don McKenzie, hails from the family of smart trotters Genius, Dream Machine, and Vulcan. By Mitchell Robertson

“This wins all for you Barry Nyhan.” – Those were the words that Canterbury commentator Mark McNamara said as Eva Sophnally crossed the line in first place at Addington on Friday. Eva Sophnally is owned and bred by Val Nyhan, wife of the late Barry, who sadly passed away on Friday morning (June 13) aged 76. Eva Sophnally, who was having her first start for Greg and Nina Hope, was driven by Ricky May, who wore a black arm band in memory of Nyhan. Barry Nyhan, son of the late legendary trainer Don Nyhan and the brother of dual New Zealand Cup winning driver Denis, was the driver of many of his father’s stars during the 60’s and 70’s. He was also the manager of Lordship’s remarkable stud career at Trents Road’s Globe Lodge. One of Barry’s biggest driving victories came in the 1973 NZ Derby aboard a son of Lordship in Koarakau, who was trained by Don. As well as driving and training multiple winners, including some in partnership with Don, Nyhan was also renowned as one of the best chaff makers in the country. Eva Sophnally is out of five win mare Dancing Holmes, who is out of a mare by another stallion Nyhan stood at stud in Dancing Master.  Barry was the much-loved husband of Val and the cherished father and father-in-law of Grant and Dale, Mandy and Richard, and the late Toni. His funeral will be held at Westpark Chapel on Wairakei Road at 10am on Thursday. R.I.P Barry. By Mitchell Robertson  

Following a hiatus of several years, the Canterbury Branches of the Standardbred Breeders Association, Owners Association, and the Trainers & Drivers Association, are combining to resurrect an Awards dinner to recognise the achievements of local harness racing participants. The event will be staged in the Silks Lounge at Addington Raceway on Saturday 27 September and will comprise of a buffet dinner interspersed with the presentation of the awards by Master of Ceremonies, Mark McNamara. Guests should arrive from 6:30pm onwards with the function itself commencing at 7:15. Numbers are limited to 300 and the ticket price is $50 per person, which includes an introductory drink and antipasto platter. The criteria for the winners will differ from those presented at the National Awards function, in that they will not necessarily be given to the Season leaders. More information on this aspect of the evening will be forthcoming in the near future. Should you wish to book tickets or require more information, please contact the following: OWNERS Assn: Barry Dent 021 653 499 Greg Crawford 027 778 9493 HORSEMANS Assn: Ken Barron 027 4372532 Peter Cook 3433 713 BREEDERS Assn: Robyn Boyle 027 2173643 Noel Kennard 3479699 By Peter Cook                            

Its been a wonderful ride already for the YOR ! Racing with Mark Jones Syndicate with Machs A Flyin and providing he’s not sold in the interim, he could realise a harness racing syndicate dream next month. Machs A Flyin is currently 17th on the list of eligibles for the Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald at Cambridge on May 31. The son of Mach Three and Flying Sands (11 wins, 1:56.5, 1950m) can stake his claim further in Friday’s $23,500 Christian Cullen Super Series Open Graduation Mobile Pace at Addington. He has a second row barrier but has shown he can work in his races. He has until May 18 to edge into the top 12 for the Jewels. His stakes toward a Jewels start total $28,122.50, with current 12th qualifier Mossdale Conner having earned $32,369.69. “Its going to be a big test for him this week. He’s going to find it tough, so would be good to get him sold,” Mark said. “I guess, for the syndicate he would go to the Jewels if he gets in. But at this stage he may struggle to make the cut,” he said. His trainer, and syndicate manager Mark McNamara, have been extremely thankful for the opportunity to lease the talented 4YO from owners Phil and Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher, and Phil and Margaret Creighton. Machs A Flyin notched his third win in his last four starts for the Overport Lodge team when making the most of an easier option in the amateur drivers pace last week at Addington on Thursday, April 24. He has won just over $11,000 in the last month for the syndicate. Machs A Flyin again showed his steely resolve, this time when driven confidently by Paul Wallace, being untroubled to race parked in the open over the 1950m trip. He was too strong for a trailing Jennalee in the run home, holding comfortably by three-quarters of a length in a 2:00.8 rate. The younger brother to seven-win mare Supreme Gem (1:57.9) had previously notched a winning double at Rangiora and Forbury for stable junior driver Kimberly Butt, who retains the drive in Friday’s graduation. He moved up parked at the 900m and wore down stablemate The Ultimate Storm (Michelle Neilson) in the junior drivers pace (Best Wishes For Retirement Brian Wilson Mobile Pace) at Rangiora on Sunday, April 6, in a 2:00.1 rate over the 2600m, the last 800m in 56.5s. He again moved up parked to outstay Highview Anwell at Forbury over 2700m on April 10. Machs A Flyin kept giving at the business end to post a useful 3:27.4 (2:03.5) mile rate for the stand start 2700m, before being beaten by a bad draw in the wet at Forbury on April 17. The odds are probably against him winning again this week against the likes of Lewy Risk, Fifth Edition and Dynamic Party. But he’ll be doing his best and a top four finish will edge him closer to a being a Jewels prospect, a thought that seemed impossble a month ago. By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of MARK JONES RACING)

If Adore Me was racing the previous 2600 metre NZ mares record holder from a standing start, Kate’s First, she would have beaten her by an astonishing 14 lengths. That was the discovery that Canterbury commentator Mark McNamara made after Adore Me’s breathtaking win over Border Control in the C5 & faster discretionary pace at Addington tonight. After starting from the 40 metre back mark, co-trainer-driver Mark Purdon set Adore Me alight heading into the stables bend with a lap to go and quickly moved her up to the parked position. She then breezed on by in home stretch to win by 1 length over stablemate Border Control in a sensational time of 3-08.7, which set a mares record from both a stand and mobile. But it doesn’t stop there either, as Adore Me’s time also bettered the all-comers standing start record and was just 0.2 of a second outside of the all-comers mobile record, held jointly by Desperate Comment and Highview Tommy. The superstar mare will now contest next Saturday’s $100,000 Easter Cup where she will seek revenge on last month’s Auckland Cup winner, Terror To Love. Purdon also claimed victory in the Group One New Zealand Trotting Derby with King Denny, while training and life-partner, Natalie Rasmussen, steered Alta Orlando to success in the Group Two Welcome Stakes. Rasmussen was also victorious in the penultimate event aboard Raesawinner, giving the stable four winners on the card. “King Denny has really stepped up this time in and had impressed dad (Mark Purdon) immensely with his work during the week,” said Nathan Purdon. King Denny paid odds of $9.10, while Alta Orlando upset his more favoured stablemates when winning at a price of $16.20; however neither win surprised the All Stars camp. Alta Orlando gave Purdon and co-owner Neil Pilcher back-to-back wins in the Welcome Stakes, while Thoroughbred Hall of Famer Jim Gibbs MNZM, who also shares in the ownership of runner-up Hug The Wind, nailed the quinella. “We were expecting a big run from Alta Orlando last week but he botched up the start,” advised Purdon. “But he has always given us the impression of a very nice horse and has done everything ever asked of him,” he concluded. Meanwhile, in shades of his Dominion Handicap win, Master Lavros dived up the inside to claim victory in the Group One NZ Trotting Championship in a New Zealand record time of 3-13.1. By Mitchell Robertson  

The YOR ! Racing With Mark Jones Syndicate scored the perfect result, after only three days as lessees, when Crazy Heart won the Signprint Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace at Forbury on Thursday, March 6. The syndicate obtained the lease of the 3YO Santanna Blue Chip filly from breeders, Frances and Max Bowden, after she ran a first-up seventh at Timaru on February 23. However, Crazy Heart stepped up a gear for the syndicate, powering home from three back on the outer with a well-timed finish in the hands of Blair Orange. Crazy Heart arrived in time to wear down front-running Expressive Art, and Delightful Dash (parked), in a 1:57.4 rate for the 1700m. The 120-strong Syndicate, managed by Canterbury racecaller Mark McNamara, includes Racing Board colleague Maryanne Twentyman, who gained a pleasant surprise to see Crazy Heart win when hosting Thursday’s Trackside Radio show. Northern racecaller George Simon, and champion netballer Irene Van Dyk, are other celebrities in the syndicate. This is the third Syndicate win for the Mark Jones-based syndicate and third at Forbury Park. They first tasted success when Curve won at Forbury on June 6 last year, while Pat’s First Sun obliged for them at the December 13 Forbury meeting. Both earlier winners were returned to their original owners. Crazy Heart is the third foal and first winner from the two-win In The Pocket mare Belle’s Girl. Meanwhile, the Mark Jones stable racked up its 46th win of the season when Strike On Command delivered in the final event, the C1 Next Meeting 24 March at Wingatui Mobile Pace. Strike On Command, handily placed on the outer by Blair Orange, swept to the front early in the run home and held fellow Canterbury visitor Memorable by two lengths in a 2:00 rate (2200m). The consistent 3YO McArdle-Noble Strike colt took his record to three wins and five placings in 11 starts for Australian owner Kevin Stanley. By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of MARK JONES RACING)

Harness Racing Victoria commentator Craig Rail will join the list of invited broadcasters to call the “all-trotters” Anzac Day meeting at Coolamon and he is delighted to have the opportunity. In the short but interesting history of the feature meeting Mark McNamara, Jim Jacques and Ray Fewings have called the program and Rail jumped at the chance to join the list. “It was an absolute privilege to be asked to call the day and I am really going to enjoy making the trip up from Victoria to call at Coolamon,” he said. “I have a soft spot for the trotters, I actually have pictures of Lyell Creek and Maori’s Idol hanging in my lounge room at home, so to be part of an afternoon for just the trotters, is something I’m really looking forward to.” The Coolamon track has undergone significant work in recent weeks including the surface and the shape and cambers of the home turn and the turn leaving the front straight.  Harness Racing NSW has received positive and complimentary feedback in relation to the track improvements following recent trials. Prominent NSW trainer Blake Fitzpatrick was successful at the all trotters day meeting in 2013 and will be heading south with a strong team once again. “I’ve had good times at Coolamon and with the improvement to the track I’m expecting some fierce competition this year,” he said. Once again the feature will be the running of the $25,000 Group 3 La Coocaracha for open class mares. Harness Racing New South Wales

Top pacer Franco Emirate has been retired after suffering from a reoccurring hind leg injury. “The vets only gave him a 50/50 chance of making it back to the races, so we always knew that we were facing an uphill battle,” said trainer-driver Jim Curtin. “We could have carried on, but he is not a 100%, and we didn’t want to break him down completely,” he explained. ““He is definitely the best pacer I have ever trained and I will be forever grateful for what he achieved,” he added. Franco Emirate, who was an expensive purchase out of the stable of Steven McRae after winning his debut at Gore, won 14 of his 33 starts. He also placed on 11 occasions for stakes of $334,449. “Paul Davies put me on to the horse and after I trialled him at Addington I just couldn’t say no,” said Curtin. “I think he run his last quarter in sub 26 seconds that day.” Nicknamed ‘The Lump’ by commentator Mark McNamara, much to the disgust of Curtin’s wife Sandi, Franco Emirate stands at 17 hands high. Curtin said that Franco Emirate’s will to win and huge heart were two of his biggest attributes. “Corrin Murfitt (Vet) took his heart score for us and it is one of the biggest they have on record.” “He also has good manners and his fair share of speed. He really was the all round package.”  When asked if there was a race of Franco Emirate’s that stood out above the rest of them, Curtin said that there were two of them. “The day that Craig Thornley drove him at Oamaru and he lost about 150 metres and still won. That was incredible.” “And of course his win in the 4YO Harness Jewels was pretty special also,” he added. Franco Emirate is owned by Russel Nieper, who has raced numerous horses with Curtin over the years. “Russel has been a big supporter of mine over the years so it was great to race a very good horse with him,” concluded Curtin *Attached are the videos of Fraco Emirate's wins at Oamaru and in 4YO Harness Jewels. By Mitchell Robertson

Congratulations to Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Ken Barron, Mark Jones, Mark McNamara, Justin Le Lievre, and last but not last, myself, who all tipped out winners during our Cup Week special. Let’s see what ‘specials’ are on the menu this week. Andrew Armour: Has opted for Sharpenuff as his bet of the week. He looks a strong chance in race eight at Forbury Park tonight. Anthony Butt: Thinks Strawbs Ideal Act will keep his unbeaten record intact in the race seven at Timaru on Saturday. Blair Orange: Has found some value in the form of Mystery Boy. He competes in the fourth race at Forbury tonight. Craig Thornley: Thinks Lavros Cash is an each-way chance in race seven at Motukarara on Sunday. John Dunn: Is extremely bullish about the chances of Crackaheiny in race two at Timaru on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Has opted for Canardly Lover, who looks very well placed in race seven at Invercargill on Sunday. Ken Barron: Likes the chances of Change Time, who should improve off the back of her fresh-up second. She goes around in the fourth race at Motukarara on Sunday. Mark Jones: Who will be driving in Australia on Friday and Saturday, has picked up the drive on Smoken Roman on Sunday, and rates him as his best of the week. Matthew Williamson: Has two good drives in the Inter-Provincial Challenge in Free Dreams and Deano Robyn, however he slightly favours the latter. Ricky May: Rates Main Divide as his best of the week. He competes in the first race at Timaru on Saturday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Bert Powell is a very good bet in race eight at Motukarara on Sunday. Terry Chmiel: Is big on the chances of Betabcool in race eight at Forbury Park tonight. Tim Williams: Thinks that handy mare Here We Go Again is a strong chance in race six at Timaru on Saturday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet – Ultimate Major – Motukarara, race eleven. Each-way – The Empires Sister – Invercargill, race seven. Value – Betabcool – Forbury, race eight. By Mitchell Robertson

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