Search Results
1 to 16 of 375
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

It was a big moment for his numerous owners the Knowlers, the Kennards, Grant Dickey Stu Gillan  and Phil Creighton when Meticulous returned on a winning note to harness racing at Oamaru on Sunday. He was cleverly rated by Tim Williams to come his last 800 meters in 56.8 because Meticulous is a horse who has given his connections a few concerns to date. He crashed out of the Welcome Stakes and the Flying Stakes and his confidence has been a big thing with him. Some of that confidence came from Ashleigh Royal who has always nursed Meticulous through his setbacks and makes no secret of the fact "I just love this horse" Meticulous may have been disappointing and erratic at times but not to Ashleigh's way of thinking. "He gets the full treatment from me. I've just always liked him" she says. Small wonder Ashleigh was quickly on hand for the post race photo. Tim handled the sometimes race shy gelding calmly and he was never really tested, repeating a snappy win at the trials at Rangiora. Race confidence is a big thing in the Meticulous comeback so Sunday was an extra boost Matt Anderson was tested a little too in a different way with the other All Stars runner on the day Backup. He knew the Aussie-owned gelding was going to improve a lot and he did his best to help the horse by posting pedestrian fractions in front. But it was all hustle and bustle from the 800 meters which was covered in 55.8 Leo from the Nathan Williamson barn issued a strong challenge in the straight but Backup is better than many think and he held on easily enough in the end considering his current stage of race seasoning. Courtesy Of All Star Racing    

A brave and what looked like a successful bid to get Armbro Demon to the New Zealand Cup meeting and beyond came to an end midweek when the mare developed suspensory problems. Mark Purdon was philosophical about the injury. "She suddenly developed a problem which I thought might be a suspensory and she also had a smaller problem in the other leg. (Vet) Bill Bishop confirmed that is what it was and it means she has been retired. We found out she had had a suspensory problem before having a long spell and unfortunately it has returned'' Armbro Demon caused something of a sensation winning at the Cup meeting three years ago in only her third win up from a spell for owner-trainer Chris McLeod. She trotted the 3200m in a sensational 4.05.8 winning easily. She has only had two starts in nearly three years since having suffered an injury in 2012 and her career stands at five wins from only 10 starts. Chris, who had put so much time into the Armbro Invasion mare, agreed to lease her out for one more try for a race career and it wasn't a well kept secret around the All Stars stable that her ability  had made a deep impression at Rolleston. Armbro Demon had a few tricks to play on the unwary but she had gradually adapted well to a big stable atmosphere. Word of her ability must have leaked out because there were substantial bets placed on her in the Dominion Handicap especially in all up betting. Courtesy Of All Star Racing

Whenever the Mark Purdon/ Natalie Rasmussen barn lines up a maiden 3 year old at any harness racing meeting in New Zealand, it usually means the opposition is racing for second money. That's the way the betting public saw it tonight in race two at Addington Raceway (September 12th) with the All Stars runner Alta Ronaldo a prohibitive short priced favourite. The general consensus was that Alta Ronaldo should be a class above this lot having raced against the better 2 year olds last season. But as we all know there is no such thing as a certainty in racing and Margarita proved once again that no race is easy to win. Bred and owned by Cran Dalgety and his wife Chrissie and trained by Cran at West Melton, Margarita had the form on the board heading into tonights race. She won a race at two at Forbury in a 2:00.8 mile rate and resumed at three with a meritorious second to the very talented Bettor Scott in a 1:58.8 mile rate. Dexter Dunn sent Margarita forward from barrier seven and grabbed the lead after 300 meters with Alta Ronaldo sitting parked from the start. Mark Purdon sent Alta Ronaldo up to eyeball Margarita at the 600 meters mark but it was obvious passing the 400 meters mark that Margarita still had plenty to offer. And so it proved in the straight with Margarita holding a three quarters of a length advantage over Alta Ronaldo all the way to the finishing line. A 3 year old daughter of Bettor's Delight, she paced the 1950 meters in 2:25.4, a mile rate of 1:59.9 with the last 800 meters in 56 .4 and the closing 400 meters in a very sharp 26.9 The dam of Margarita is the smart Badlands Hanover mare Holloway 1:56.1 ($56,432) who won six races on the track in New Zealand. Holloway is a half sister to two handy types in Ducks A Flyin 1:55.2 ($93,581) and Simple Saver 1:52 ($84,658) and is closely related to the very smart Telemeconique 1:52.2 ($185,615) Why it is early in the season, Margarita looks the type with natural improvement that could mix it with the elite fillies by the time the classics come around. Harnesslink Media   

One of New Zealand’s most successful harness racing owner/breeders also knows how to cover himself when it comes to the punt. Terry McDonald, the man who owns and bred three-time New Zealand Cup winner, Terror To Love, has put $500 to win on outsider Hands Christian in the big Group One race on November 11. If Hands Christian does win McDonald stands to collect $10,500. But he would give that all away in a heartbeat to see Terror To Love create harness racing history and win the Cup for a fourth consecutive year. McDonald got Hands Christian at $21. He’s now at $15 after opening at $51. “I backed him because I honestly believe he will be one of the hardest to beat on Cup Day. He beat us in the Easter Cup and went very well against us in Auckland. “I also backed him prior to his nice trial this week,” In that trial at Ashburton (Tuesday) the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Hands Christian finished a length behind Smolda and Terror To Love. “I thought the horse went really well and reaffirmed my bet. As for ‘Terror’ he’s peaking nicely. I was rapt with that run. He was timed from post to post (last 800m) in 53.2, and both the trainers and driver think he’s still got a lot of improving in him. “He’s also a sensible bet,” McDonald said. New Zealand’s Wellington based harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson, who is close friends with McDonald, said he couldn’t believe the Hands Christian bet. “I rang him and said ‘what are you doing?’. I said I’m going to tell the press about you betting on an outsider and he laughed, and said ‘go for it’. “If he won this would easily be our worst result. Just goes to show what a champ both he and Terror To Love are. He has backed the horse each time, even though he calls himself a ‘goose punter’,” Richardson said. He said his mate had understandably been a bit down and believed a story like this would lift his spirits and make him laugh a bit. Life hasn’t been easy for 73-year-old McDonald of late. He is still grieving the loss of his younger Ken (69) who passed away unexpectedly in Brisbane last month. “Yes I don’t think I will ever get over that. I’m still hurting a lot, but I know he is with me. I’ve just had a tooth out today and then in a couple of weeks (24th) I have to undergo a back operation. “I had an operation eight years ago and they are now going to replace all the nuts and bolts. It needs to be done, but I’m furious that I will miss ‘Terror’s’ first run back in the Avon City Ford Cup,” McDonald said. McDonald was hoping the John McCarthy trained and Luke McCarthy driven For A Reason will make the trip over from Sydney for the New Zealand Cup. “We want the best possible field and For A Reason placed in this year’s Inter Dominion Final. It would be really fitting because my brother had a quarter share in him,” McDonald said. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

For one horse todays trials were a real milestone as he stepped back onto Ashburton Raceway "I'm back" You could almost hear Hands Christian saying it as he got back on the racetrack for the first time in over two years today (September9th). And he didn't disappoint anyone either. "He just loved being out there. You could feel it. He lapped it up" driver Tim Williams said. Hands Christian was run down by his stablemate Smolda with Terror To Love arriving late for second but it was a smart run by Hands Christian in the circumstances. After all Hands Christian has not raced since May 2012 in the Messenger after which he went amiss with a tendon injury. Just when Hands Christian was back into the swing of things last season he copped another injury but with great management and with Hands Christian being such a good patient he is finally getting back to a reasonable level of raceday fitness. Smolda, the winner of 15 from just 25 starts stole the show when running home in a very quick 54.4 and 26.3 to win by a neck from Terror To Love with Hands Christian a length away in third spot. Smolda was another one returning from an injury break today. He only had two runs back from an injury break in his last campaign before his problems caught up with him. In the second of those he pushed Terror To Love to a neck in what turned into a sprint home. Everyone has their fingers crossed that Smolda will stay injury free because he is such a great stayer and the 3200 meters of the New Zealand Cup will suit him down to the ground. With a few more runs under his belt Smolda looms as a genuine threat to Terror To Love's aim of a fourth New Zealand Cup  The overall time was a tidy 3.01 and change which while not breaking any records was a good hitout. "I don't want anything too strong'' Mark said before the heat.  "I think they are just doing a bit too well so a nice trip and a sharp sprint home should clean them up nicely." Harnesslink Media  

Blair Orange finished at the All Stars stable in July after a decade associated with the best stable in the country- and he has plenty to show for it. He finished on a high breaking into the "100 club" for the first time, the latest in a string of records he has established over the years. "My target was 50 at the start of the season. I thought I was doing well when I got to 75 and then I thought, well I might as well go for the 100. I might not get a chance to get that close again" With help from the Mark Jones stable he achieved his target -well ahead of any previous season. The stimulus All Stars gave his young driving career speak for itself. He had of course helped make his own luck, making marked improvement to rein 37 winners in the 2002 season mostly for smaller trainers like Trevor Craddock, Mike Austin, Craig Buchan, Kevin Townley, Andrew Stuart, Brian Kerr, John Parsons, Michael House and Peter Cowan. It is significant that his 100th winner for this  season was for Austin and his last driving night under the All Stars banner features a drive for Buchan. But the chance to work with Mark Purdon was going to another level and Blair has always aspired to go to the next level. "Mark rang me out of the blue. I had never driven for him. We talked, he made me an offer and I accepted. " Ohoka Atom was his first winner for the stable but one of his biggest thrills came a month later when Waihemo Hanger won at the Cup meeting. "I had never driven a winner on Cup Day so that was special ." Ironically one of his earlier regular drives for Mike Austin, Ado's Invasion, was second handled by Mark Jones. Blair's career had started nearly seven years earlier when he was with Tim Butt and drove Whizza Nova to win at Reefton in 1996. He won 18 races in his first season for All Stars but by 2007 topped $1m in stakes won thanks chiefly to Ohoka Arizona, Fiery Falcon and Steve McQueen. In only one season since have his stakes won been less than seven figures. His best season for the stable in  terms of wins was 2012 when he won 46 for All Stars from a season driving  total of 81. However even in his final season with Mark and Natalie driving many of the A graders he won 39 races for the stable.  Altogether he has won $12.6m in stakes for owners over the years. His biggest month for All Stars was in March of 2009 when he drove 11 winners for the stable going close with 10 in the same month this season. So as he heads for his own training career -though with plenty of free lance driving still part of the package-what has he learned. Naturally the answer is "a lot". "Obviously the overall organisation is something you don't work with often. I have worked in other top stables such as Tim and Anthony's but there is always something different they do, something you can pick up on. The handling of the two year olds has been one of the great experiences for me. How they are brought along and managed and each one assessed for what they can handle as youngsters. Then how they are managed during their campaigns. There was a lot in that'' "But the overall routines and stable management was just as important. So much to learn and adapt when I go out on my own training. Mark is a master at planning a programme so the horses peak for the big days. Not many can do it like he and Natalie can'' " From a driving viewpoint the horses at All Stars give you confidence in what you are going. That is a hell of an advantage and it carries over to your other drives " If it was so good why leave ? "I would have been quite happy to stay to be honest if an offer like Ken's (Barron) had not come along. But I was going to have to strike out a bit more on my own sooner or later and this was a deal I thought too good to let pass. It could open the way for me to have my own training operation which is the long term aim. In the meantime I will still be doing a lot of free lance driving and some of that for Mark Jones who has been such a boost to me this season." Blair is aware there are plenty with doubts he is doing the right thing but that is of no concern to him. "While I was mulling over the offer I had a few doubts myself but once I made the decision I was confident it was the right one and what anybody else thinks is not important to me.  It would be fair to say Blair Orange came to All Stars still an apprentice and left as graduate with honours on the driving track. So what were his five most memorable experiences at the stable ? In no particular order: LENNON "I won a lot of races with Lennon in my first season with Mark and races like the Kindergarten, Welcome, Sapling and the Sires Stakes. He was a class horse and he gave me a lot of confidence that I could measure up in the big stuff" WAIHEMO HANGER  "He have me my first winner at the Cup meeting and that was a huge thrill for me at the time. You don't forget things like that" AUCKLAND REACTOR- "I won the Taylor Mile behind him. He was just a terrific horse. He had that something extra you never forget " ADORE ME -"Winning the Easter Cup gave a thrill like Auckland Reactor had. A special horse to drive" HIGHVIEW TOMMY " He might have only run second in the Cup but second in the Cup was a big thing for me. It is the race everyone wants to win and we went close. He gave me a lot of other big moments too and Tommy could be full of surprises so you never knew quite what was going to happen" (Blair set some sort of record with Highview Tommy too driving him to win in five successive seasons. Maybe not even Mark has done that with one of the team in Blair's era). Courtesy Of All Stars Racing

Harness racings 2 year old trotting filly Breeders Crown winner Arya is to stay in Australia for the immediate future which is probably not the news the owners of other smart two year trotting fillies in Australia from last season will want to hear. Arya was probably always going to be too good for her rivals in the $A87,000 Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2year old trotting fillies lineup but Mark Purdon sealed it when Meadow Valley Road made a surprise bid for the front in the first 500 meters. Mark Purdon briefly resisted then allowed Meadow Valley Road to assume command before quickly going out and regaining the lead. It was a procession after that  as Arya went on to win by 8 meters in a 2.02.7 mile rate after two middle halves in 32.5 to set up a sprint home.  Arya, co-bred and raced by Trevor Casey who also races her half-brother Stent, is by Angus Hall from the smart Sundon racemare Belle Galleon ($116,114)  Arya has now won five of her ten starts along with four placings for stakes of $102,076. She gave Trevor Casey an unusual double in that another of his young trotters Daenerys Targaryen won the Group One Redwood Classic last year. The reason that the decision was made for Arya to stay in Australia  was to avoid a clash with another of Trevor's smart young trotters in Wanna Play 1:58.2 ($50,771) who was recently voted the New Zealand 2 year old trotter of the year in front of Arya. Trevor Casey owned Wanna Play with Natalie Rasmussen but recently brought her share out and became the sole owner of the brilliant daughter of Majestic Son. Harnesslink Media 

Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety has joined Patumahoe’s Geoff Small as NZ’s most successful trainers of Group One Breeders Crown Final winners after Katy Perry’s hard fought success in last Sunday’s $A297,000 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Both have achieved five Breeders Crown Final successes in the specialised two-four age group categories, just one ahead of NZ’s premier trainer Mark Purdon. Cran Dalgety’s growing list of ABC Grand Final winners is: Sparks A Flyin (2001 3YO fillies), Smiling Shard (2009 2YO colts/geldings), Bit Of A Legend (2012-13 3YO colts/geldings) and Katy Perry (2014 2YO fillies). Former world champion driver Mark Jones partnered Sparks A Flyin. Current NZ champion Dexter Dunn has driven the stable runners since 2009. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is challenging as NZ’s most successful trainer at the Breeders Crown, taking into account his additional three Grand Final seconds _ Smiling Shard (2010 3YO colts/geldings), Onlyforyou (2012 2YO fillies) and Bit Of A Legend (2014 4YO entires/geldings). Northern-based, but Canterbury-raised Geoff Small, set the early pace among the Kiwis. Small’s ABC Pacing Grand Final winners are: Pullover Brown (2003 3YO Fillies), Changeover (2007 3YO Colts/geldings), Tintin In America (2009 3YO Colts/geldings), De Lovely (2010 3YO Fillies) and Cowgirls N Indians (2011 2YO Fillies). He also has a Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA (open class race) to his credit, with All Tiger in 2009. Recuperating Cambridge driver David Butcher has partnered all but one of Small’s ABC winners. Templeton driver Anthony Butt partnered Pullover Brown for her ABC win after also driving her to win the NZ Oaks that season.  Anthony Butt, a close second driving Joanne’s A Delight in last Sunday’s 2YO Fillies Final, also won the 1998 ABC 3YO Fillies Final driving Under Cover Lover, Mark Purdon, who gained early ABC Final training successes with Galleons Assassin (2005 2YO trot) and Fly Like An Eagle (2012 3YO colts/geldings), doubled his quota when (My) Ayra (2YO fillies trot) and Follow The Stars (2YO colts/geldings) delivered last Sunday. His additional driving win with (Our) Twentyten (who he formerly trained) in the 3YO trot final on Sunday, makes him jointly NZ’s top driver in the 2-4YO age group catergories, with David Butcher, who besides the Small-trained winners, also reined Miami H to win the 2010 3YO trot final for trainers Derek Balle and Owen Gillies. Victorian trotting training master Chris Lang is the most successful Breeders Crown trainer with seven wins. His successes, all in ABC trot finals, are: Kyvalley Road (2002-03 2 & 3YO trot), Right Interest (2006 3YO trot), Skyvalley (2008-09 3 & 4YO trot) and Let Me Thru (2009-10 3 & 4YO trot). Lang has also added three Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA wins, a race for open class trotters, with former champ, Sundons Gift (2007-08 & 2010). Lang’s brother, champion Victorian reinsman Gavin, although winless at the Breeders Crown this year, remains the most successful driver in Breeders Crown Finals, with 10 successes. Courtsey Of Cran Dalgety Racing

Australian harness racing fans...You have been warned! Not only will Follow The Stars be back next season, he will be better, stronger, faster.   Okay, Six Million Dollar Man reference aside, that was the call from New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon, who believes Follow The Stars will improve following a good break.   Having proven himself the Southern Hemisphere’s premier freshman, Follow The Stars is poised for  a stellar campaign as a three-year-old. Not only will he tackle the various majors on the Shaky Isles, he will return across the Tasman for several features such as the Victoria and New South Wales Derbys.   Purdon also plans to be back at Tabcorp Park Melton for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown – a race  Follow The Stars made his own last Sunday. “There is something special about this horse,” Purdon declared. “He has a real X-factor about him. “I would say he is more than up with the best two-year-olds I’ve trained...he is the best. “He will go home and have about eight to 10 weeks off now, then I’ll get him ready for our Derbys at home. “After that he will be back in Australia for the Derbys and the Breeders’ Crown again.”   Purdon’s “he is the best” statement is huge considering the outstanding two-year-olds he has  prepared. Headed by Il Vicolo and Light And Sound, the list includes Fly Like An Eagle, Lennon, Major Mark, Mr Nickel and The Court Owl – all multiple feature race winners.   As for Purdon’s plans, they represent a bleak season for Aussies as Follow The Stars already boasts an unblemished record from six mainland starts. Furthermore, the latest was the colt’s most impressive. Pushed forward from the outside of the front row, Follow The Stars worked to the lead as his talented stablemate, Kept Under Wraps was eased to take a trail. Never in danger of being beaten, the son of Art Major provided Purdon with an ‘armchair’ drive as he cruised to a soft five-metre win from Kept Under Wraps. My Field Marshall, which was three-wide without cover from the bell, was seven metres away third.   “That was a great run,” Purdon said. “I couldn’t have scripted it any better. “After he got to the front without doing too much work he was never going to be beaten. “He just did it so easy and had plenty in reserve at the finish.” Covering the last half in 55.7 seconds, the two-year-old rated 1:56.7 for the 2240 metres.   Raced by similar connections to Kept Under Wraps, Follow The Stars extended his record to an  impeccable 10 wins from 11 starts for earnings of $455,410.   Paul Courts    

Harness racing needs its pin up stars and there’s no bigger star at the moment in Australasia than Follow The Stars. Punters backed Follow The Stars into $1:10 after a brilliant semi final win at Ballarat last Saturday. One punter dropped $50,000 on Follow The Stars at that money and he would have had few worries during the running. The Mark Purdon trained son of Art Major was at his brilliant best today at Tabcorp Park Melton, taking out the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Final for two-year-olds. Working straight to the lead despite an outside-front-row draw, Follow The Stars controlled the race like he has done nine times before (from 10 career starts -- and his only defeat came in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand when he got knocked over, so he arguably he should have a perfect record). Follow The Stars cruised home by 4.9 metres over stablemate Kept Under Wraps for Greg Sugars, while My Field Marshall, from the Tim Butt stables, made it a trifecta for the Kiwis. While the Kiwi trainers dominated the race, there was a strong Australian connection with the winner – with Lauriston Bloodstock having bred the winner. Follow The Stars recorded a winning mile rate of 1:56.7, finishing off with a smart 55.7secs for the last half-mile. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Harness racing driver Mark Purdon has paid tribute to Brent Lilley after winning the Pegasus Spur @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Final with Our Twentyten. The Kiwi horseman, who has driven three Group 1 winners today at Tabcorp Park Melton, said Lilley had done a super job with Our Twentyten, who is by Muscles Yankee out of Regal Volo. “Credit to Brent,” he said. “He’s got him absolutely spot on for today and he’s done a fantastic job.” Our Twentyten started $1.70 favourite on the tote but had his work cut out for him rounding the home turn when pole marker and pacesetter Bad Habbott, who ran a mighty race, kicked clear. Purdon took Our Twentyten back behind the leader at the final bend before peeling out again and overpowering the Russell Commens trained son of Sundon in the last 150m. “He tested me on the corner and I dropped in but by the time we straightened up he felt good again,” said Purdon. Lilley said he was thrilled to notch the Group 1. “He’s done a super job since we’ve had him. I’m grateful to Mark for the opportunity,” he said. “He’ll go for a well-deserved spell now.” Asdenro ran third for Haydon Gray, while Master Hugh was fourth for Chris Svanosio. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racing has a new star as the best two-year-old trotting filly in Australasia My Arya scored a dominant win in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Melton today. The Mark Purdon trained and driven daughter of Angus Hall worked to the front early before getting headed by Meadow Valley Road and Chris Alford from gate 11. Purdon wasn’t having a bar of losing the lead though, the New Zealand superstar horseman yanking his star filly away from the pegs and cruising back to the front. From there she simply dictated the terms with sectionals of 32.5, 32.5, 29.1 and 29 to romp to a 16m victory over Meadow Valley Road, which ran a big race, and pole marker Glenferrie Burn. It could be a big day for Purdon, who also has Follow The Stars, Big Lucy and Our Twentyten all still to come in finals today. David Aiken trained the runner up, while Jodi Quinlan drove the third horse for Parwan trainer Geoff Walker. The winner paid $1.20 on the tote. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Harness racings big day on Sunday at Melton has drawn great fields throughout most of the divisions and the 3 year old trotters are no exception. 3 Year Old Trotters Breeders Crown Final Unlike the two year old trotters where the fillies and colts are separated, at three they are all thrown in together which is a real shame. The other disappointing thing in this years three year old final is the absence of the top Kiwi three year old trotters such as King Denny and Majestic Time but I suppose you can't be everywhere in a long season. In our view in this years final there are really only four winning chances and we deal with those one by one. First up is Our Twentyten who has drawn nicely at barrier four. A serious contender in the classics in New Zealand before his sale to Australia to clients of Brent Lilley, Our Twentyten has quickly established himself as one of the best three year old trotters  in his adopted land. His previous trainer Mark Purdon takes the drive on Sunday which in our view is another tick for Our Twentyten. Our Twentyten does have real gate speed and we expect Mark Purdon to try to grab the lead early and dictate the tempo of the race. The big danger is undoubtedly Claudys Princess who has drawn awkwardly at two on the second line. She has finished either first or second in all of her 13 starts at three and a lot of those starts have been at Group or Listed level. The danger is Claudys Princess is not in complete control of her own destiny from the second line but with the master Gavin Lang in the bike she can overcome the draw. Her last win over Asdenro was an arrogant performance which shows she is right at the top of her game at the moment.  The enigma of the race is without doubt the Kiwi  One Over Da Moon who has drawn barrier five and who has been in the Chris Lang barn for a couple of months now. When he is good he is very good and when he is bad he is awful about sums up One Over Da Moon. Can throw the toys out at times such as the Redwood Classic where he just self destructed and he did the same thing in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand as well but there is no doubting the ability is there. One Over Da Moon was eased out of the gate the last time he raced at  Maryborough before finding the front and that was due to the fact he can over race if you chase him out of the gate which makes his job at  Group One level that much harder. The last of the quartet we fancy is Asdenro who has drawn barrier three. Asdenro has finished in the first three in 11 of 13 starts at three but has been unable to win since he starting racing in the Group and Listed races. He is competitive but just half a length off the top trotters in this division. Asdenro is a free going type who likes to lead but that tends to make him a sitting duck for the likes of Our Twentyten and Claudys Princess who have such high speed. If he burns the gate in trying to hold out Our Twentyten then in our view he can't win the final as the favoured pair have that small class edge. His best chance of winning this race is if the two favourites go to war and he runs over the top of them late in the piece.  SELECTIONS This is a very close call but we think the draw gives Our Twentyten the edge over Claudys Princess but there is not much in it. One Over Da Moon needs to bring his "A' game to be a chance and we think the other two are going just a touch better than him at the moment although his class will always make him a threat. Asdenro needs a few things to happen for him to win but the determination is certainly there. Throw in Bad Habbott, Four Lillies and Lightning Calder for first fours Harnesslink Media

2 Year Old Pacing Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final. There is never any such thing as a certainty in harness racing but Follow The Stars is about as close as you can get when you are assessing the 2 year old colts/geldings division of this years Breeders Crown Final. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, this Victorian bred son of Art Major is nine from ten this season with his only miss coming when he was completely wiped out when mounting a run in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in New Zealand. Although Follow The Stars has drawn wide at six, (emergency out) it is a draw that gives his driver Mark Purdon plenty of options early. Throughout the season he has won from in front and from off the pace so he doesn't need to lead to win and with such a quality all round game it is hard to see him being rolled. The biggest danger the way the draws have panned out is the stable mate of Follow The Stars in Kept Under Wraps. This New South Wales bred son of Bettor's Delight has won five from eight this season and his run for second in the semi final after being brought to a standstill early and then working overtime for the rest of the race was really top class. Having drawn barrier three, Kept Under Wraps who is to be driven by top reinsman Greg Sugars looks a likely leader from the draw and then has the option to to either park Follow The Stars or take a trail behind him. Either way Kept Under Wraps is a must for multiple players. From there this race becomes a bit of a nightmare with the pick of the rest of the runners all drawing on the second line. If Follow The Stars runs home in 55 and change in the final as he did in the semi final, then those back in the field will struggle to make ground as we saw at Ballarat on Saturday night. Several horses in Follow The Stars semi final looked slightly disappointing but you can't make a lot of ground up when they are going that quick off the front. So we decided to plump for class in our selections but there are so many variables the way the draw has worked out that some of the other runners off the front line may fill a minor placing on Sunday. Burnaholeinmypocket went super in his semi final but the draw negates his gatespeed and he needs a bit of luck from three on the second line. Birdy Mach has the worst possible draw of one on the second line which could see him settle well back but he is a high class juvenile so a big run would not surprise. Selections. Follow The Stars in one. Kept Under Wraps is just as easily second for us from the draw with Burnaholeinmypocket and Birdy Mach next on class not their draws. After that it becomes hard to predict but we thought both Controversial and Artistic Flite went super in the semi finals. 2 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the draw came out, the Mark Purdon trained Linda Lovegrace looked very hard to beat but since she has drawn one on the second line, the race suddenly looks a lot more even with the filly drawn in front of her in The Final Frontier a certainty to get crossed at the start which will leave Linda Lovegrace needing luck from back on the inner. Her main opponent in the final is fellow Kiwi Kate Perry who has drawn barrier four which is perfect for her and with Dexter Dunn driving in career best form, this combination now looks the one they all have to beat. Another Kiwi in the form of the Mach Three filly Cyclone Kate has drawn barrier five and looms as a big winning chance after her big run for second to Linda Lovegrace from second last at the 800 meters mark on Saturday night in the semi final. Yet another Kiwi in Joannes A Delight came from five on the second line in her semi final to push Kate Perry to half a neck in her first run for over five weeks so she will have derived a lot of benefit from her semi final run. Chris Alford has picked up the plum drive on the New South Wales bred Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon barn but four on the second line has meant she is going to need a touch of luck from out there.  Selections The draw means that Kate Perry has got the easiest road to the winners circle of all of the favoured runners. Dexter Dunn was keen to keep Big Lucy in the pocket last week and that meant that Kate Perry was not completely let down so she looks the one to us. Joanne's A Delight is a clear second pick for us even from the draw while Cyclone Kate and Big Lucy are genuine winning chances. So that brings us to Linda Lovegrace and we are not sure how to rate her. If she can clear the traffic in front of her then she is the horse to beat but from one second row with a horse in front of you that is going to get crossed it is a lot easier said than done.  However her run for second to Follow The Stars two starts back was outstanding with the last 400 meters in 26.3 so don't discard her chances of rolling over the top of this field if she gets the right run. Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink, we thought we would be brave and offer our opinion on the Breeders Crown Finals as we head towards one of the seasons biggest harness racing days at Melton on Sunday. Our first preview is of the 2 year old trotters division.  2 year old Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park final for 2 year old fillies looks to be a battle between three fillies that are all sired via frozen semen and are all by stallions that are at the top of the siring charts in North America. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained daughter of Angus Hall in Arya looks very hard to beat here after an outstanding season in New Zealand which was followed up by a great second to the leading Australian male trotter in Eljaykay Phoenix in the Redwood Classic. Arya has been foolproof all season which in the 2 year old trotting ranks is a major plus and with no Endsino in the field she looks to have a class edge as well. Arya should come into five on the front line which is the perfect draw for here as she can stay out of the early rush and work to the lead without having to burn from the gate. The two main dangers to Arya have both drawn nicely on the front line and are both beautifully bred trotters. Glenferrie Burn who has drawn one is a daughter of the brilliant Muscle Hill from the 16 win Sundon mare in Adellas Dash ($102,626). She has developed as the season has progressed and looks a real chance from the draw to get a soft run. Val Gardena who has drawn three is a daughter of leading North American sire Kadabra from an Andover Hall mare. She has only missed a placing once this season in ten starts and comes into this race a last start winner. From her handy draw Blake Fitzpatrick has plenty of options with Val Gardena and she looks a major player here. Of the others Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty have both shown enough to be serious place chances but its hard to see them as genuine winning chances. Selections Arya clearly on top, followed by a combination of Val Gardena, Glenferrie Burn, Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty. 2 year old Trotting Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park Final for 2 year old colts/geldings has drawn a cracking field and the draw has only evened out the contest even more.  All the top contenders have drawn the front line with the favourite Eljaykay Phoenix fearing the worst with barrier seven. A son of champion sire Sundon, Eljaykay Phoenix has looked a class above them for most of the season but his recent defeat by Shared Interest has thrown this division wide open. Throw in his draw and the fact that all the real challengers have drawn inside him means if Eljaykay Phoneix and Joshua Aiken are going to win the final, they are going to have to do it the hard way. His main challenger is the son of Angus Hall in Shared Interest who has drawn beautifully at barrier two which gives Nathan Jack plenty of options Weather he tries to park Eljaykay Phoenix or takes a sit on his back, Shared Interest has the all round game to win the final. The chances don't end there with both Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck capable of toppling the favoured duo if things go their way. Illawong Armstrong finally gets a good draw and Jodi Quinlan will be hoping that the favoured pair go to war which then brings her horse right into play. The enigma of the field is The Pres gelding Primz Luck whose ring craft has let him down lately but who has ability to burn as he showed in New Zealand several times. Now in the Kerryn Manning barn and to be driven by her in the final, Primz Luck threw it away on his Australian debut in the Redwood Classic. Kerryn has had five weeks since then to iron out those kinks and if he gets around on Sunday they will all know they have been to the races. Selections. Can't split the two favourites in Shared Interest and Eljaykay Phoenix due to the draws but lean a bit towards Eljaykay Phoneix on his overall record. Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck are both live chances depending how the race is run. Throw in Kyvalley Boomerang, Fabrication and Hadrians Phoenix for trifectas and first fours.  Harnesslink Media    

Queensland pacers Alleluia and Majestic Mach are both facing their Everest. Both are prepared by leading horseman Grant Dixon. On Sunday, his pair of stablestars Alleluia and Majestic Mach must overcome shocking second-line draws to win their respective Australasian Breeders Crown finals at TABCORP Park, Melton. Alleluia will contest the $213,000 Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series Final for three-year-old colts and geldings, the glamour division where he faces the likes of Bling It On and Our Sky Major among others. The Art Major gelding finished a gallant second in his semi-final last week at Ballarat behind in-form pacer Major Crocker after working throughout. Alleluia will start from gate twelve on Sunday afternoon while Bling It On has drawn ideally in gate three with Our Sky Major landing gate thirteen. Raced by Queensland Harness Racing Board Chairman Greg Mitchell after being purchased from the Mark Purdon stables mid-season, the talented pacer is yet to disappoint his new owner. “He’s been terrific since he headed our way and I was really pleased with his effort last week. Obviously the barrier draw is unkind but that’s racing, you win some and you lose some but it’s just great to be part of the series.” Mitchell said. Alleluia has quickly become the forgotten horse in the final since the barrier draw was conducted last Sunday afternoon but his form lines can’t be questioned. During the recent Brisbane winter carnival at Albion Park, Alleluia chased home Bling It On in the Queensland Derby, Gold Coast Derby plus the Futurity before gaining revenge in the heat of the Breeders Crown. “We’ve seen plenty of Bling It On in recent times and we know what we’re up against but we also know that we can beat him too which is comforting, however, Alleluia is yet to beat home Our Sky Major and they’ve met on a few occasions in New Zealand. “Looking back at our semi-final performance last weekend, I was really pleased with his effort and his sectionals were impressive and Grant said he had a good blow after the race meaning there should be more improvement this week. “The barrier draw was interesting on Sunday; with three horses remaining (Alleluia, Bling It On and Our Sky Major) and gates three, twelve and thirteen up for grabs, we ended up with twelve while connections of Our Sky Major chose the trophy with thirteen underneath it leaving Bling It On with gate three. Let’s hope we can have some luck on our side when we meet this Sunday.” Gambling giant TattsBet has Alleluia rated as a $14 chance. Like Alleluia, former glamour juvenile Majestic Mach has also drawn gate twelve. The Mach Three gelding qualified for the $100,000 Empire Stallions 4yo Entires and Geldings Final after running a brave third in the heat last Sunday at Melton behind Tasmanian ace Pachacuti and noted speedster Chilli Palmer after racing without cover. Raced by his breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour, Majestic Mach is still chasing his maiden interstate success. Majestic Mach is a $16 chance with TattsBet. Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland  

1 to 16 of 375
1 2 3 4 5 Next »