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For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

Two of the better two year olds from the current harness racing season in Kept Under Wraps 1:57.1 ($81,903) and Birdy Mac 1:53.8 ($15,855) fought out a thrilling finish to the Tatlow Stakes for two year old colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park at Melton recently. It was a great race between two very talented horses with the ring craft of Kept Under Wraps helping him just overcome the raw talent of Birdy Mach. The racing public haven't had to wait long for the rematch with both horses lining up in the same  Breeders Crown heat  for two year old colts and geldings at Shepparton tomorrow night Tuesday the 29th of July. The Brent Lilley trained Kept Under Wraps has drawn the ace on the front line which will give driver Greg Sugars plenty of options with Birdy Mac also drawn well at four on the front line. Driver Luke McCarthy may try to use Birdy Mac's gate speed to grab the front so there could be plenty of fireworks early on. However it plays out both of these lovely two year olds should progress to the Breeders Crown semis and final where they will come up against the likes of Follow The Stars 1:53.8 ($272,010). Both Kept Under Wraps and Birdy Mac have the breeding to match their performance. Kept Under Wraps was brought out of the Sydney leg of the Australian Pacing Gold sales last year for just $18,000 by Kiwi trainer, Mark Purdon. A son of champion sire Bettors Delight, Kept Under Wraps is from a half sister to Genuine Number 1:53.6 ($190,112). The grand dam Classic Figure is a full sister to Saab 1:57.1 ($577,197)  Talladega 1:57.8 ($411,680) and Saabella 1:59.2 ($205,745) while the third dam is none other than the former Australian Broodmare Of the Year in Soky's Number. Birdy Mac was bred by one of Australia's leading  breeders in Robert Watson from Western Australia. A son of outstanding sire Mach Three, Birdy Mac is from the young Art Major mare in Pixel Perfect. The dam is a half sister to the former outstanding pacer in Village Gem 1:52.1 ($587,403) and a full sister to the smart Manellina 1:56.9 ($97,625). Both of these very smart two year olds look to have big futures ahead of them and tomorrows night clash should be the first of many over the next few years. Kept Under Wraps and Birdy Mac in the Tatlow Harnesslink media    

Junior harness racing reinsman Matt Anderson got his All Stars career away to the best possible start when guiding juvenile pacer Bettor With Bourbon to victory at Rangiora today. In what was his first ever drive for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Anderson sent the Bettor's Delight two-year-old to the front from barrier three before taking a trail behind favourite Western Art. He then looked flat down the back straight but under the urgings of Anderson he picked up the bit again and finished strongly along the passing lane to down Western Art by half of a length. Livura finished a further length and a half away in third. Anderson, who only started work with All Stars a fortnight ago, took up a spot with the country's leading stable after an opening appeared as a worker and junior driver earlier this month when Purdon's sons Nathan and Michael headed away on their big OE. With the encouragement of mate Nathan, Anderson was quick to, not only take up that opening, but also notch up his first winner in the bullet proof colours. Anderson, 22, returned home to Canterbury to take up the position after spending six months in the North Island working for Purdon’s brother-in-law, leading trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Anderson said that he had learned a lot from Herlihy and had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the North but he had struggled for drives during his six month stint. "I was stoked to get a good opportunity for All Stars so soon after joining the stable and was pleased that I didn't let them down," beamed Anderson post-race. "Hopefully it is the first on many for the stable." "I am really enjoying working for Mark and Natalie," he added. "They have phenomenal team around them and putting on the colours certainly gives you a lot of confidence." Anderson, who looks a natural in the sulky, does not come from a racing background but gained earlier experience in harness racing through Canterbury trainers Dean Taylor and Robbie Holmes. Matt, who won his first race aboard the Robbie Holmes trained Highview Ember at Rangiora back in August of last year, has now won seven races from just 57 drives. *Bettor With Bourbon was All Stars 21st individual two-year-old winner this season. Their 20th was Big Lucy, who was successful in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat on Saturday night. By Mitchell Robertson

Luck plays a big part in harness racing. After two runs in New Zealand where she had absolutely no luck at all, Big Lucy showed tonight (26th July) in the Breeders Crown 2 year old filly heat at Ballarat why trainer Mark Purdon holds her in such high regard. After trialing outstandingly in Canterbury prior to her debut, Big Lucy was backed off the board in her first two starts in New Zealand but had no luck in the running on either occasion. But Mark Purdon knew her potential and even after those two runs, Big Lucy was on the plane to Melbourne for the Breeders Crown series. Drawing on the second line in tonights (Saturday 26th July) Breeders Crown heat, driver Chris Alford sent Big Lucy forward early when the favourite Luvumum went rough going into the first bend. Finding the front after 500 meters, Chris Alford let Big Lucy amble through to the 800 meters mark from where he upped the tempo. Big Lucy never looked out of second gear from there, cruising home a comfortable winner. Big Lucy paced the 2200 meters in 2:45.5, a mile rate of 2:01  with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.1. Big Lucy is yet another Australian bred horse to win for the All Stars barn this season. Bought out of the Sydney leg of the Australian Pacing Gold sale last year for $20,000, Big Lucy is from the family imported into New Zealand from North America by Nevele R Stud. She is by noted filly sire Badlands Hanover from the McArdle mare Halcyon Franco and is her dams first foal. The grand dam is Huntress Hanover 1:58.2 who is a No Nukes half sister to the champion sire Holmes Hanover. The third dam is the champion Tar Heel mare Hazel Hanover (22 wins) who was 2 year old of her year in North America. It is a noted filly family and Big Lucy looks to have inherited all the family ability. Judging by tonights win, Big Lucy looms as a major threat in the Breeders Crown series. Big Lucy Harnesslink media

Top harness racing trainer Cran Dalgety has complete faith in his star two-year-old filly Katy Perry. That is why he has allowed her to bypass this weekend’s ABC heats for two-year-old fillies at Ballarat after what was a taxing week for the Group Two Tatlow Stakes winner. “She was a wee bit down after the flight over and having raced last week,” Dalgety said on his Kentuckiana Lodge website. “But because we started in the heat at Cambridge (second to Joanne’s A Delight, July 10) she’s eligible for a Repechage on August 6, so we’ll hold back for that,” he added. The risk in that is that if Katy Perry doesn’t win her repechage her Breeders Crown bid will come to an abrupt end, but if her dominant front running display in last week’s Tatlow Stakes at Melton is anything to go by that shouldn’t be a problem. After working through from her second-line draw, driver Dexter Dunn soon had Katy Perry up challenging for the lead. Dunn then gave her a nice run in front, holding her back to the field before releasing the hand-brake at the 200 metres, allowing the Bettor’s Delight filly to roar away for a comprehensive win. One person who will be particularly pleased with Dalgety’s decision to bypass this weekend’s round of heats for two-year-old fillies is fellow New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon, who has Big Lucy engaged in the first heat of the night. The Badlands Hanover filly, who was desperately unlucky in her first two starts when unable to find clear racing room on both occasions, has remarkably drawn one on the second-line for the third time in a row, however this time she has no horses drawn on her outside so driver Chris Alford should have no problem getting her away from the fence. From there you can expect the talented filly, who was brilliant at the trials prior to making her race debut, to prove too classy for her seven rivals and progress through to the semi-finals with no qualms. By Mitchell Robertson  

The Alabar News is out and about and it can also be read online. A must read for all breeders and sales buyers, It contains plenty of interesting information, including interviews with leading trainers Mark Purdon and Robert Dunn, as well as a look at Anne and Bill Anderson’s Lauriston Bloodstock. Alabar’s new star stallions A Rocknroll Dance and Alta Christiano are also profiled. To read the Alabar News please click here: http://bit.ly/1k6YaFw

When Alannah Hall and Have Faith In Me were successful at Ashburton yesterday it was the 56th time that Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have trained multiple winners on a card this season. The 55th time was last Friday night at Addington where they were successful with Saratoga and Vice Consul, who where both driven by Mark Purdon. However, on Sunday Purdon was driving at Maryborough in Victoria so it was Rasmussen who did the driving honours. In the first race she gave two-year-old trotting filly Alannah Hall a beautiful trip in the trail before using the passing lane for a neck win. Owned by The Good Sports Syndicate which has enjoyed a tremendous season, Alannah Hall is a half-sister to top three-year-old trotter (Our) Twentyten and is the fourth New Zealand winner by top American stallion Angus Hall. Remarkably, Purdon and Rasmussen also train two of his other three NZ winners in (My) Arya, who finished a very good second in the Redwood Classic on Sunday, and the talented Petite One. Rasmussen then guided Adore’s full-brother, Have Faith In Me, to an effortless win, dashing away for a three length win in a slick last quarter of 26.7. Bettor With Bourbon, who is also from a family that Purdon has had plenty of success with, finished in second with stable foreman Ross Payne in the bike. Both juveniles are owned by the Dunfords, giving them the race Quinella. The lethal partnership has now trained 19 individial two-year-old winners this season and 156 in total, which is 18 winners more than Purdon’s previous best term of 138 when in partnership with Grant Payne. By Mitchell Robertson

Brilliant trotter Eljaykay Phoenix is this year’s Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic champion. The son of Sundon from the all-conquering David Aiken yard made it six wins from seven starts in the $50,505 Group 1 event on Sunday at Maryborough. Runner-up My Arya made a race of it though, the New Zealand two-year-old champ getting within a neck of Eljaykay Phoenix at the end of the 2190m journey. The pair finished 12.5m clear of third placegetter Endsino and will both be leading contenders come Breeders Crown finals time next month. Sunday’s victory was junior driver Josh Aiken’s second Group 1 triumph after he won on Eljaykay Phoenix in the Vicbred Super Series final recently for his first. Eljaykay Phoenix worked to the lead early in the Redwood before coming home in a last half-mile of 58.7secs. My Arya and Mark Purdon used the sprint lane to close on the winner late, while Endsino for Andy and Kate Gath worekd home strongly for third after travelling three back the markers. Fabrication finished fourth and Sheza Amason finished fifth. The well-backed Twice As Much had a day to forget, galloping twice in running to finish tailed off last. Eljaykay Phoenix By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing owner Kevin Riseley confirmed last week that Lennytheshark is out of Breeders Crown contention this year, owners preferring to give the classy four-year-old a spell before chasing summer riches. But Riseley and fellow connections of two-year-old Bettors Delight colt Kept Under Wraps have a serious live Crown chance after the Brent Lilley-trained youngster upstaged boom Sydneysider Birdy Mach in the $50,505 Garrards Horse and Hound Tatlow Stakes for colts and geldings at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Kept Under Wraps, driven by Greg Sugars, raced one-out, one-back for the bulk of the journey while Birdy Mach ran along in front for Todd McCarthy in the 2240m race. The Sydney colt, which started $1.60 favourite after two blistering wins to start its career at Menangle, found the lead easily early with no one willing to challenge. This allowed last-start Vicbred Super Series winner Feeling Arty to dash to the death chair for Cameron Maggs, which gave the eventual winner cover in the running line. When Birdy Mach pinched a 10m lead coming off the back straight Sugars sent Kept Under Wraps out after him, while Iceobar, from the Brent Lilley yard with Mark Purdon in the spider, followed into the race stylishly. In the straight Birdy Mach led, Iceobar used the sprint lane and Kept Under Wraps came down the outside. Birdy Mach kept on kicking but Kept Under Wraps had more in the tank and nailed the early leader on the line to win by 1.1m, while Iceobar was a further 3.5m away in third place. The winning mile rate was 1:57.1 with a fourth quarter of 29.3secs and a last half of 58.3. Kept Under Wraps now boasts four wins from six starts. Kept Under Wraps The $50,505 Group 2 fillies’ Tatlow Stakes went to New Zealand star Katy Perry, who scored by 2.5m over Michael Stanley-trained Soho Tokyo, while Read About Lexy was third for Bernie Hewitt. Katy Perry, who started from the back row, whipped around the field early for reinsman Dexter Dunn before taking the lead and holding off all comers late. Katy Perry clocked a winning mile rate of 1:59.4 with a last half of 57.2. Katy Perry Earlier on the program Messini continued his dominance of the Victorian three-year-old ranks with a 5.5m win over Epaulette in the A Rocknroll Dance The Graduate. Despite starting from gate 13, Chris Alford guided the Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major home in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Bettor Rock On remained unbeaten in five Australian runs with victory in Race 8, the Yeomans Slate and Stone Winter Championship Final for in-form father-son combo Ross and Greg Sugars. Bettor Rock On scored by 3.5m over the 1720m trip in a rate of 1:54.4 (last half 56.2) to defeat Essbee Doubleyou in second and Tandias Bromac in third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Australian trotters are getting faster every year as a result of smarter breeding and modern training techniques. And the fact the Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Group 1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough field gets better every year is a direct correlation to Australia’s burgeoning passion for the squaregaiter. David Aiken-trained Eljaykay Phoenix is the favourite for Sunday’s $50,505 two-year-old Classic despite a second-row draw (gate 10) in the stand-start race. The standing start will be relatively new to most of the runners, who have been contesting mobile-start races of late as they look to etch their names among the country’s leading juvenile trotting ranks in races such as the Vicbred Super Series. Eljaykay Phoenix won the colts and geldings’ Super Series final with panache, comfortably accounting for runner-up Illawong Helios and third placegetter Black Valley – both of whom he meets again on Sunday. Eljaykay Phoenix has won five out of six starts but interestingly his only defeat has come at his only stand-start race. New Zealand’s champion two-year-old trotter My Arya has drawn gate one on Sunday, the Brent Lilley-trained, Mark Purdon-driven daughter of Angus Hall out to follow in the footsteps of previous Redwood filly winners Lady Thor (1987), Truscott Dawn (1995), Lacey Truscott (1997), Petite Morley (1998), Jauriol (2004), Elusive Charm (2009), Maidstone Miss (2011) and Daenarys Targaryen (2013). My Arya comfortably won her Australian debut race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park last weekend off a 10m handicap in a stand-start race. Early money has come for New South Wales raider Twice As Much, which is unbeaten in two runs to date at Menangle and will be driven by gun reinsman Luke McCarthy. Twice As Much opened $12 and had shortened into $8 as of Thursday with TAB fixed odds. Andy Gath has two runners entered in this year’s Redwood, impressive last-start Super Series fillies’ winner Endsino, which has drawn gate eight and will be driven by Kate Gath, and Naked Majesty, which will start from gate five for John Caldow. “It’s a bit of a tricky draw for Endsino and being a filly taking on the boys is always a bit hard,” Gath said of Endsino, whose mother Jauriol is a past Redwood champion. “These races can be about being in the right place at the right time. If you trot the best on the day you’re always a chance. “Naked Majesty bombed the start last time but she went really good after that. If she gets away good, there’s probably not much between my two.” Trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan will start Illawong Armstrong in the Classic, the impressive gelding finishing second to Eljaykay Phoenix in the Super Series Final. Illawong Armstrong has won four of six starts and Quinlan has a huge opinion of him, but his manners can be a worry. If he trots, he’s a huge chance. The Redwood Classic is Race 5 on Saturday’s Maryborough program and is scheduled to start at 2.06pm. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

New Zealand trotting breeders would have slept very well last night after watching the Kiwi breds dominate the trotting races at Tabcorp Park Melton. There were no Kiwis in the first trotting race of the night but from then on it became a bit of a Kiwi bred benefit with the New Zealand breds winning the other three trot races. First up for the Kiwis was Thanesan who capatalised on a soft trip early before sitting parked for the last lap and just getting home over stablemate Vics Cheval. Having just his second start for the Aiken stable, Thanesan trotted the 2240 in 2:47.5, a mile rate of 2:00.4 The next race to fall to the Kiwis was the three year old trot where the first four home all carried the NZ tag after their name with Twentyten an easy winner. The son of Muscles Yankee was brought out of the Mark Purdon barn by Brent Lilley on behalf of clients a few months ago and looks to have a big future in his adopted homeland. The former star New Zealand 3 year old completely dominated proceedings after finding the front after 300 meters even though Spidergrace was over racing outside him When Chris Alford let him go at the 400 meters, Twentyten quickly asserted his superiorty and won with a fair bit in reserve. One Over Da Moon ran on well without looking a winning chance for second and Daenerys Targaryen and Dieu De lamour rounded out the Kiwi first four. He trotted the 2240 meters in 2:49.3, a mile rate of 2:01.7 The race for two year old trotters was notable for the Australian debut of leading Kiwi 2 year old, Arya. The daughter of Angus Hall had been promient in all the major New Zealand stakes races this season for Mark Purdon and was sent to the Brent Lilley stable for a preparation aimed at the Breeders Crown in August. Handicapped off ten meters, Arya settled third early before being sent to the front with 1100 meters to go. Pressured in front by the Angus Hall debutant Shared Interest, Arya wasn't really let down in the straight with Greg Sugars hardly moving in the bike as comfortably held Shared Interset at bay. Arya trotted the 2240 meters in 3:01.3, a pedestrian mile rate of 2:09.7 although she did quicken up over the last half in 58.9 and quarter in 29. With her impeccable manners and speed, Arya looms as a genuine threat in the Breeders Crown. Harnesslink Media

Arya’s much talked about and unjust Harness Jewels Day disqualification may cost her more than just prize money. In the wash-up, it may also cost her Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year honours, something that would have added value to her broodmare career once her racing days are over. If Arya had her 2YO Ruby second on her résumé , she would have got my vote and I am confident she would have been awarded 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year. Because of her disqualification, I instead opted for her stablemate Wanna Play on the back of her super impressive win in the Group Two Sires’ Stakes Championship where she completely dominated a high class field which included Arya, who finished four and a half lengths away in second place. Luckily, Wanna Play is also owned by Trevor Casey and trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, so whichever way the decision swings Casey will still have his hands on the trophy come awards night. But circumstances could have been a lot worse had that alleged disqualification debacle denied someone their chance in the spotlight come August 9. Other tricky divisions include the two-year-old fillies, where Supersonic Miss, Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight all look a chance of bringing home Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year honours. I have no doubt Supersonic Miss was the best two-year-old filly in New Zealand this season and, had she won the Australian Pacing Gold final in which she was a tragedy beaten, she would have been a shoe in. But, the fact of the matter is, she didn’t. So now, what we have to decide is do her stunning wins in the American Ideal Leonard Memorial (Gr3), APG Semi-Final, and the Group One 2YO Diamond, make her a more deserving winner than Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight who both won Group One races and performed with distinction throughout the season? By Mitchell Robertson

One time boom trotting mare Armbro Demon is now at All Stars and on the comeback trail having not raced since October 2012. A comeback is possible but nobody around All Stars thinks it will be easy. "She's certainly different'' as Natalie puts it. "It is hard to say at this stage if she can make it back and show her best but we are trying. And, sometimes, she can be trying too" Mark and Natalie are not the first to find this out. Her previous trainer, Chris McLeod needed the patience of Job to get her to the races at all. Half way through a workout was often far enough for Armbro Demon or else she would suddenly take off at an acute angle and abandon the track. What's kept everyone going and is the reason she is at All Stars, is her ability. She has won almost as many races as she has lost and wowed them at the 2011 New Zealand Cup meeting when she won easily in 4.05.4 for the 3200m beating Thanesan. She has won five races from just ten starts and at times she has looked as if she could be anything. Trouble is just that. She can be anything. In the end she was stood down from racing and she has been a long time in the attempt to get her back. Until now the only driver McLeod would trust with the erratic mare was Matthew Williamson.  McLeod himself had her back at the trials last November after a bout of lameness had sidelined her since her last race at Methven just short of two years ago.  But her sheer ability means she has got another chance in the best stable in the land. Not that Mark and Natalie are making any claims at all that that will make a difference. "It's a challenge and some days I think we are losing. In the meantime we will just keep on and hope for the best" Natalie says. By David McCarthy (ALL STARS RACING STABLE)  

The 2014 Breeders Crown series heads to Cambridge and Addington this Thursday and Friday before Tasmanian tracks Launceston and Hobart take centre stage on Sunday and Monday. In the two-year-old fillies’ heat at Cambridge Dexter Dunn will drive highly rated Katy Perry, while Anthony Butt will partner with Harness Jewels placegetter Joanne’s A Delight. Cyclone Kate, which also contested the Jewels, rounds out the three-horse field. Despite just the three runners contesting the race, it promises to be an enthralling duel. Addington on Saturday will see Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained duo Linda Lovegrace and superstar Follow The Stars in action in Breeders Crown heats. On Sunday the spotlight turns to Launceston in Tasmania for the running of two two-year-old heats (one for the fillies and one for colts and geldings), while Hobart will host two three-year-old pacers’ heats on Monday night. Earlier this month Controversial made it three wins from three Australian starts when he won at Albion Park in his two-year-old colts and geldings Breeders Crown heat. Controversial, driven by Lauren Panella for Shane Tritton, led and ran a 1:57.1 mile rate (after a lead time of 39secs) to score by 6.1m over Major Coup. Only two fillies contested the two-year-old fillies’ heat at Albion Park on the same day, with Grant Dixon trained-and-driven Feel The Faith 11.4m too good for Acer Animus in a mile rate of 2:03.4 after a lead time of 40.5secs. By  Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

That was the question on the lips of a lot of Kiwi race followers last Friday night as his 3 year old son Horace Greeley made an impressive winning debut at Addington in the hands of his co-trainer, Mark Purdon. Western Edition is a 12 year old son of Western Hanover who won just $89,089 on the track and took a mark of 1:51.6 so it is not his racing deeds which saw him end up at stud. Rather it is the fact that he is a half brother to  both the champion sire  Art Major 1:48.4 ($3,273,217) and his ill fated but hugely successful full brother in Perfect Art 1:51 ($576,983). Standing at Burwood Stud in Queensland in his initial years at stud, Western Edition has sired just 115 horses 3 years or older in his time at stud. Horace Greeley was his 26th winner to date from 48 starters for stakes totaling $716,638 Western Edition has already shown he can leave quality horses with Wicked Style 1:55.7 ($214,143) and Western Mail 1:53.5 ($178,528) two of his better types to date. Western Edition is to stand the coming season at Goodtime Lodge in Victoria at the bargain basement fee of just $1550 (GST inclusive) which should ensure he serves a larger book than he has recently. Horace Greeley would bring back some old memories for Mark Purdon as he comes from the incredibly successful North Island family of the eighties and nineties that traces to Birdie. Dillon Dean 1:58.5 ($713,130)  Elmer Gantry 1:56.7 ($377,024)  Two Under 1:53.2 ($226,530) and Dillon Dale ($142,035) are just some of the wonderful horses close up in Horace Greeley's pedigree. While he may never reach the heights of his half brothers Art Major of Perfect Art, Western Edition has shown enough in his small crops to date to suggest that he has a future as a sire. Harnesslink media

The all conquering Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen training partnership are about to get serious with their assault on this years harness racing Breeders Crown. All up it looks like they will have seven representatives trying to qualify for finals day and everyone of them has the credentials to suggest they will get there. Two-year-old trotting fillies Arya and Wanna Play look taylor made for the two year old trotters division. Arya has impeccable manners and comes off a last start second in better than 1:57 in the Harness Jewels only to be disqualified post race, while Wanna Play is a brillaint stayer with a very high crusing speed. The two 2 year old pacing fillies in Supersonic Miss and Linda Lovegrace both look capable of carrying off the major prize on finals day. They finished first and second in the Harness Jewels in a tick over 1:54 and there was a lot of merit in both their runs. The super talented 2 year old, Follow The Stars looks very hard to hold out in the 2 year old colts and gelding division and he will have support in the form of Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar who would both have to have runners chances. The last of the stable's runners is Messini who has been racing out of the Brent Lilley barn during the recently completed Vicbred series which he went through undefeated with a stunning win in last Saturday night's final. Overall it is a very strong group who should acquit themselves really well. Arya - 7 starts for 3 wins and 3 placings for stakes of $36,788. Best time of 2:01.1 Wanna Play - 9 starts for  2 wis and 4 placings for stakes of 50,771 . Best time of 1:58.9  Supersonic Miss -  6 starts for 4 wins and 1 placing for stakes of $137,128.  Best time of 1:54.1 Linda Lovegrace - 8 starts for 3 wins and 4 placings for stakes of $122,789.  Best time of 1:54.4 pl Follow The Stars - 7 starts for 6 wins for stakes of $263,710. Best time of 1:53.8 Kept Under Wraps - 4 starts for 2 wins and 1 placing for stakes of $40,855. Best time of 1:57.2 Iceobar - 9 starts for 3 wins and 2 placings for stakes of $33,580.  Best time of 1:58.1 Messini - 24 starts for 10 wins and 7 placings for stakes of $207,306. Best m/r of 1:55.9  (2240m) Harnesslink media

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