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As reported by Stuff, one of harness racing's brightest young prospects is one of seven people charged after a long-running inquiry into alleged race-fixing and drugs in the industry.  Police confirmed they have charged seven people in relation to Operation Inca, which culminated in raids on 10 harness racing stables in Canterbury, ManawatÅ« and Invercargill on Tuesday. More raids are understood to be happening on Wednesday.    Read the full story here   Martin van Beynen and Mat Kermeen  

Matt Anderson, who is a regular visitor to the south as he chases the junior drivers premiership, has a bit of a following. When he returned to the stabling area with Invercargill Cup winner Maverick he received plenty of calls of ‘well done’ from those in the South Stand.  Maverick, who started off the 20 metre mark with favourite Robbie Burn, stayed out of the early action as Hopes And Dreams and Nathan Williamson set the pace in the 3200 metre Group Three feature. Inside the last 800 metres Anderson sped the six year old forward. By the time the horse had reached the 400 he had his head in front of a tiring Hopes And Dreams. He held on tenaciously to beat stablemate My Wee Man and Robbie Burns, who both fought bravely. The winning margin was a length and a quarter.  Maverick (8) and Matt Anderson winning the Invercargill Cup - Photo Bruce Stewart. “We navigated around the handicap and picked our time to move. When we did I asked plenty of him and he delivered,” said Anderson. The winner is trained by Nigel McGrath who won the Invercargill Cup last year with Classie Brigade in a sensational time of 3-23.5. Today's winning time was 4-05.2. It was Anderson's second winning drive in the cup. He won with the Brent Shirley trained Costa Del Magnifico in 2016.  "I owe Brent Shirley a big thanks. He’s worked on my relationship with Nigel McGrath. I’m really grateful.” Maverick has now won ten races and $121,065 for his connections which include HRNZ Chairman Ken Spicer and his wife Anne- Marie who also bred the gelding. He's by Bettor's Delight out of the Auckland Cup winner Kate's First.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Broodmare Satire Franco produced another winner when John Coltrane won his first race at the Winton Harness racing meeting today (Sunday). The Real Desire four year old became the sixth winner of the nine foals Satire Franco has produced. And her three other foals of racing age have all qualified. Her progeny have now won forty six races between them.   The best of these is Costa Del Magnifico the winner of twelve races here and another three in Australia. Other winners out of the mare are; When The Music’s Over (five New Zealand wins and six in Australia), Turbine (three), Rowchester (three New Zealand wins and eight Australian) and I Smart (six). It’s a family that Peter Van Der Looy had lots of success with, racing Vanderel (Holmes Hanover) which won fourteen races and Impish which won six. It’s produced its fair share of quality colts including Smart Son, Grobbelaar, Sherlock, Kincaid, Idealindiamonds and King Of Swing. The fillies have been good as well with the pedigree page including The Fascinator (10 wins), Opulent (18) and Twist and Twirl (7 wins). In today's race, driver Matt Anderson settled John Coltrane back from the wide draw. He followed up favourite Zealand Star with 1200 metres to run. At the 800 metres he was sitting parked and with 600 metres to run Anderson put the pressure on leader Zealand Star. At the top of the straight he pinched a break and that proved to be the winning of the race as the only challenger Major McRae was clearing traffic back in the field. John Coltrane just held on to beat a fast finishing Major McRae by a nose.  John Coltrane (13) on the inside holding out Major McRae (6) by a nose - Photo Bruce Stewart. John Coltrane, is named after an American jazz saxophonist and composer, and is owned by Calvin Claridge, Raywen Shirley, Brendon Hiini and Craig McKenzie. They've had success with other horses in the Shirley stable including 2012 Riverton Cup winner Chokullen and Tuapeka Troy. "They're also luck enough to be in on a colt by Art Major out of the mare. I don't want to say too much about him because they'll just get big headed," joked John Coltrane's trainer Brent Shirley. John Coltrane qualified impressively at Wyndham thirteen months ago and has had four workouts and two races prior to today's win.  "He's just taken a bit of time and is still six months away. He's basically like a pupil that's a year behind at school. A four year old but we have to treat him like a three year old. When he was two we turned him out and he didn't do very well. It took him a whole year to come right." Shirley says the horse will be turned out for a short spell now and he'll look at racing him in the New Year. Meanwhile, Some Excusesomewhere capped off a great weekend for Rakauhauka trainer Clark Barron. The upstanding gelding handled the wet conditions well and beat a brave Cast A Shadow by half a length. He was driven by the country's leading reinsman Blair Orange. Some Excusesomewhere (11) winning for Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. On Friday night at Alexandra Park a horse Barron part-bred, Bettor Joy, won the Group Two Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Young harness racing driver Ben Hope drove his first winner, when speedy three year old Benhope Rulz won at Oamaru yesterday. Trained by Greg and Nina Hope at Woodend Beach, Benhope Rulz (Courage Under Fire - Victoria Rulz) had to be good to win. He trailed for most of the race, but got carted back by the tiring leader Megawatt on the turn and was blocked by a wall of horses in the straight. Driver Ben managed to angle to the outside of the track in the last 75m and he stormed home to win going away from the John Hay trained first starter Norman Richard. Classie Cullect gained an overdue win when he won for trainer Warren Stapleton and driver John Morrison at odds of $14.10 and $3.80 on the tote. Part owner Dean Stapleton said "we like the horse and we have been backing him, but he has had no luck in his previous starts"  That bad luck changed to good yesterday, when Classie Cullect (Gotta Go Cullect - Classie Emma) had a cozy run on the fence. When the horse saw daylight on the passing lane, he zipped home to win narrowly but well from the rank outsider Rostriever Victory and driver Kim Butt. Mitchell Kerr had another day to remember when his two runners, The Dorchester and Run Boy Run both won their respective races on the Oamaru track.  The Dorchester (Mach Three - Meet Me In Mayfair) was impressive sitting parked and winning as he liked for driver Blair Orange. The smart three year old pacer has now won his first two starts and is headed for the feature 3yo races later in the year. Run Boy Run was also impressive, winning his second race in a row for driver Matt Anderson. He had to be good to win, sitting parked and then staving off all the challenges in the run home. With the two wins he got yesterday, Kerr has regained the outright lead in this years trainers premiership. He has an impressive UDR of 0.7937 and has started seven runners this season with five of them winners. Bite The Bullet led all the way to win this years Kurow Cup for trainer Robert Dunn. Driven by John Dunn, Bite The Bullet (Mach Three - Pistol Packing Mama) was in front early and then ran quick final sectionals to hold off a fast finishing New Years Jay by a head at the line.  His overall time for the 2600m stand was a sedate 3-23.4 for that class, but they zipped home over the last 800m in 56.4 with the closing 400m in slick 26.5 seconds. Ben hope getting his first win.   Bite The Bullet winning the 2017 Kurow Cup   Harnesslink Media  

Young harness racing trainer Mitchell Kerr holds the key for today’s Kurow pick six at Oamaru Raceway. Mitchell has two runners entered today and both are in legs of the $30,000 pick six. Both horses are red hot favourites and both horses have won their previous starts. Mitchell has Run Boy Run engaged in the last leg of pick six today. The four-year-old American Ideal gelding won easily on the Oamaru track last start and looks to have turned the corner on some previous average form. Run Boy Run will be driven again by Matt Anderson who also drove him at his last win on the course. Kerr’s other runner is The Dorchester in Leg 3 of the pick six. A very quick three-year-old by Mach Three, he is a $1.50 favorite on the fixed odds FF market and he looks like he can step up to the next grade. The Dorchester is a potential derby horse in the making and he ran fast sectionals to win his first start at Addington three weeks ago. A wet track and an outside draw look to be the only question marks in his quest to win todays race. Blair Orange will again be the pilot for the The Dorchester, and he also has chances in other legs of pick six today with Glenferrie Classic in the Kurow Cup and Sundons Flyer in the R56 & faster trot. Glenferrie Classic who starts of the front in the Kurow Cup is up against classy mare New Years Jay who is having her first start this season for trainer Graeme Anderson. James Dean going for four wins on end for trainer Leo O’Reilly is also a big chance in that leg along with the Robert Dunn trained Bite The Bullet who also ran quick sectionals on the Oamaru track last start. Sundons Flyer has been freshened and is having her first start since the end of June, but has a liking for rain affected tracks and the Sundon mare is the TAB second favourite. Earlier in the day the Greg and Nina Hope trained Benhope Rulz (Courage Under Fire-Victoria Rulz ) looks a great bet to give junior driver Ben Hope his first driving win in Race 2. Benhope Rulz has had one start for a narrow second to The Dorchester at Addington and is a $1.50 chance to win on the FF fixed odds market. Harnesslink Media

Rookie Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr has two potential Derby contenders and a perfect three wins from three starts to open the new harness racing season. Kerr, 25, is in his first full season as a trainer based at Rangiora Raceway and produced impressive Addington three-year-old winner The Dorchester on Friday night, followed by another exciting three-year-old in Alta Shelby, who scored easily at Oamaru on Sunday. He also trains four-year-old American Ideal gelding Run Boy Run, who won well at Oamaru. “It’s been a lucky start really. I’m still pinching myself,’’ Kerr said on Monday. The Dorchester, by Mach Three, is the first foal of five-win Falcon Seelster mare Meet Me In Mayfair. “He’s got a big motor there and a lot of natural ability … I think he’ll go a long way but he’s as green as grass. “He was going to win by two or three lengths, but knocked off and started pissing round. He’s got a lot to learn,’’ said Kerr. The colt settled back and moved up parked at the 800m at Addington, but ran greenly in the last 200m for leading driver Blair Orange, hanging on to beat Benhope Rulz by a head and deny rookie junior driver Ben Hope his first race win.  The Dorchester ($1.60) clocked 2:25.8 (mobile 1950m), with his last 800m in 55.7s and the 400m in 26.9. “He’s paid up for all the big three-year-old races so hopefully he keeps improving,’’ said Kerr. “It was his first time off the place, apart from the Rangiora workouts where I train from.  ‘’There was a bit of an unknown factor on Friday night, but he delivered which was great.’’ Alta Shelby, a half-brother by Mach Three to Alta Orlando (six wins, 2014 Sales Series winner), is also a potential Derby contender and was never out of second gear winning at Oamaru for driver Matt Anderson.  “The more racing he has the better he’ll be,’’ said Kerr.  Kerr is the son of veteran Ohoka-based trainer Paul Kerr, who gets the young horses up and going before sending them to Mitchell for the last two months of their build-up to racing. ‘’Dad had him [Alta Shelby] originally and had a good opinion of him. His manners are improving all the time.’’ Anderson, who recently left the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen All Stars stable, helps Kerr in the mornings at Rangiora and the trainer is keen to give him more chances.  “He’s a good wee driver with a future. He’s really neat, looks good in the cart and makes good decisions.’’ Anderson gave Run Boy Run a dream run in the trail and he scored nicely in the junior drivers’ race at Oamaru, clocking 3.15 for the mobile 2600m, his last 800m in 56.9s. “He’s been knocking on the door and was really unlucky [third when late clear] at Rangiora the start before. He’s developed into a nice horse and won it pretty easily.’’ The Dorchester will probably head to the Kurow meeting at Oamaru on August 20, while Alta Shelby will target Addington. ‘’The Dorchester has the edge at this stage on ability, but they are both really nice horses.’’ Kerr says talented four-win pacer Forgotten Highway is ‘’coming up really good’’ after a short spell. “Hopefully, we can get him to the New Zealand Cup meeting and up to Auckland in December.’’ Kerr has previously worked for his father, Robert Dunn at Woodend Beach and Gareth Dixon in Auckland, going out on his own full time this season after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developing the outside yards and paddocks, before moving the horses in about June 20. “Dad does the young ones and jogs them up - then they come over to me for the last couple of months. It works out really good.’’ Kerr has driven 112 winners since 2009, but always wanted to train on his own. “I have always really loved the training side of it … Dad pretty much taught me everything I know and you just sort of take the good points from trainers like Gareth Dixon and Robert Dunn and mould it all together with your own ideas.’’ With his blue and yellow colours atop the national premiership early on, he has made the ideal start. NZ Harness News http://www.theinformant.co.nz/

After three years as All Stars Junior driver and backup for the senior ones, Matt Anderson is moving on from All Stars at the end of the season. He has no immediate plans for his next racing experience but is preparing for his last season as a Junior and hoping to make the most of it. "I've leaned so much here it is unbelievable. I have been lucky to work in a stable  this successful and get first hand experience of how it all operates. It is not so easy to get stable drives when so many of the races are top events but I know that what I take away from here is the basis for the next stage of my career. And you wouldn't get a better basis to work on" Matt has reached a lot of his Junior Driver goals accumulating 68 wins, his UDR remaining a good .2451. Unlike most juniors Matt has turned down drives at times to protect his strike rate with a view to higher achievements and, except for the year when the rules of selection were altered for a Championship series without him being aware of the change it has worked out well. Matt has shown growing skills and maturity at All Stars and is recognised as one of the most promising Juniors in the business quite apart from success rates.   His first winner, for a mentor Robbie Holmes, was Highview Ember at Rangiora in August 2013 a season when he posted 7 wins from 57 drives to get away to a good start. He transferred to All Stars in 2014 and posted his first win for the stable in July of that year with Better With Bourbon at Rangiora.  Four of his first season winners were trotters for Ken Sefonte and he also drove a winner for Maurice McKendry a man who can recognise talent and for Lew Driver.  Most of his 2015 season wins were for All Stars including horses like Backup, Lightfingered, Full Speed Ahead and Northern Velocity . Last season he again struck up an affinity for the trotter winning three with Blackguard's Corner including the rich John Devlin Memorial at Alexandra Park for the Butterworths but posted his biggest pacing win when Costa Del Magnifico which he had earlier steered to an 11.5 len win in a Junior race, won the Invercargill Cup. He scored a notable win for Piccadilly Princess in a Nevele R heat holding out favoured stablemate Golden Goddess. This season Smiley Sophie have him his first win on NZ Cup day and Pulp Fiction was another smart performer he guided to victory,  His last win was his easiest-on Imperial Whiz in a Breeder's Crown heat at Addington. He didn't have to leave the parade ring,  One of his biggest thrills came however when he finally made the Australasian Junior Drivers Championship in Perth this season run in conjunction with the Inter Dominions It was the most memorable fortnight in the young driver's life. Using the deft hands which were advancing his reputation he overcame some ordinary prospects in pre-post odds to finish third but actually on the same points total (71) as second placed Robbie Close and just two points behind winner Todd McCarthy. Yet Matt remembers Perth for a different reason. "I think watching Smolda fight out that Inter Dominion finish was the biggest thrill I had in my stay here.  It was our stable horse, he was such a great horse to work with and Mark and Natalie had him just right. I got a real thrill out of just being there to watch that" But Matt gave his share of thrills to others don't worry. A thoughtful person he sorted out the Ronald McDonald House for children with illness as his charity of choice. His fees from Perth were part of that generosity and one of his two sponsors, McMillan Feeds added their share. His other sponsor Coupland Bakeries is also notable for its work with charities. Matt has continued to support Ronald McDonald House, which does not get the official assistance of some similar charities ,  with his driving fees a fine gesture for a youngster still making his own way. He helped organise a young cancer sufferer Isaac  Southerton come out to All Stars and introduced the little fellow to the stable stars  including Lazarus.  And so what happens next ? "I've had several offers but I am not in any hurry. I have quite a lot of leave owing from All Stars so I will be taking that up for some time.  Then I will see what develops. I don't doubt I will miss it around here especially when the good horses are out but I am looking forward to the next opportunity" There is also a rising two year old whom Matt invested in at the PGG Sales this year. But that is another chapter in the story. Harnesslink Media Courtesy of All Stars Stables www.allstarsracingstables.com

He’s out to win a national title, but Matt Anderson is also giving a little bit back this weekend. The talented junior driver, who currently sits second on the national premiership, is a contender in this weekend’s McMillan Equine Feed New Zealand Junior Drivers’ Championship and will compete in the competition, and throughout the weekend, wearing the colours of Ronald McDonald House. “I did a bit of fundraising for them back in January and managed to raise $2,000 which was great,” Anderson said. “They got a set of silks made for me and asked if there was any other opportunities in which I could wear them, and I suggested that maybe the Junior Drivers’ Championships would be a good opportunity.” Anderson will donate his driving fees from the series, and any other outside drives he has over the course of the weekend’s racing to the charity, and is pleased to be able to do something for such a worthwhile charity. “They are awesome, the work they do and the services they provide to people is incredible. “It’s just nice to be able to do my own little bit to help.” While the gratitude of being able to do something good is seemingly enough for Anderson, he’s still hell bent on getting his name engraved on the Junior Driver Championship trophy over the course of the two meetings at Addington and Forbury. It’s Addington on Friday though where Anderson feels he can really put his claim forward for the series. In Shesa Tricky Bridge he holds a really strong chance of success for John McDermott. The four-year-old mare has been in really strong form of late including a late-finishing runner-up effort behind Scotlyn Jack last time out at Timaru, where she was unlucky not to win after being held up. “She looks a pretty good chance, her form is really solid and it’s a pretty even looking field. “Hopefully we can get the right run and use her late speed to our advantage, I thought she was definitely my best drive of the series for sure.” Anderson also jumps on Smooth Mara for Peter Bagrie in the second heat of the night at Addington. He rated his best chance of the day at Forbury Park as Martin McGuinness for Mataura trained, Lyndon Bond. “He looks to be a bit of a chance if we can ping off the gate and find the markers,” Anderson said. “His form has been pretty solid and he’s always a chance.” He drives the talented, but enigmatic King Cassidy in the second heat tonight. With 25 wins on the board, still nine shy of premiership leader Rory McIlwrick, Anderson has probably run out of time to catch the tearaway leader but one more win will see him surpass his previous best figure - which is a notable achievement in itself. “I hoped to better last season and hopefully I can with a few weeks remaining. “It’s been a good season and I’ve had some really good support along the way too which I am really thankful for.” Kimberly Butt also said she was hugely in favour of the change. “The chance to drive in more races certainly makes it a lot more about the actual talent of the driver I think. “You still need to get a bit of luck when it comes to the horses you draw, but you get more of an opportunity to show your skills with more races which is good.” Butt has two strong chances on the second day of the championship tomorrow. . Her first drive, Celebrity Easton, hails from the stable of Amber Hoffman and was a solid second when last produced at Timaru. “He went quite good last time out,” she said. “It looks like he needs a bit of luck in his race, so hopefully we can find some and be right in it.” Her second drive is the in-form Scarlett Lane, a recent addition to the Nathan Williamson barn after previously racing for Steve Lock. The Deidre Don seven-year-old mare is in the form of her life and a complete performance will see her right in the mix. “She’s been really good lately, my only concern is probably drawing one in her first start off the unruly, but Nathan will have her ready to go which always gives you a bit of confidence.” Butt has the added incentive to win the story of attempting to follow in her father, Anthony’s footsteps. He won the series in 1985 and then again in 1988. With 568 wins between them, the group competing this year boast plenty of experience and skill but deciding who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field is a tricky task. As well as racing for individual glory, the drivers will also compete for their Islands in a North against South battle over the four races. Rory McIlwrick heads the South Island team after qualifying with the most points and is joined by Matt Anderson, Kimberly Butt, Sheree Tomlinson, Katie Cox and John Morrison. Dylan Ferguson qualified top of the North Island with Ben Butcher, Jack MacKinnon, Tony Cameron, Mark Johnson and Robert Argue gaining the rest of the highly sought after spots. The 2017 edition of the championship has seen a major change in the way the event has run. Harness Racing New Zealand have elected to shift away from the traditional one night of racing at Addington and instead are hitting the road and adding two races at Forbury to the menu.  Matt Markham's Addington Selections Race 1: Di'z Luck, Fiery Comet, Girlz N Boyz, Elvis P Race 2: Shes'a Tricky Bridge, Earthquake, Take After Me, Bettor Chance Race 3: Duplicated, Hypervelocity, Covered N Diamonds, Scotlyn Justis Race 4: Christmas Toyboy, Last Party, Dcotor Tim, Divinia Bellezza Race 5: Gypsy's Choice, Gunpowder, Pat Campbell, Got A Beauty  Race 6: Malik, Rishi, Donegal Carrickfin, Christopher Banner Race 7: Vera's Delight, Especial, Playboy Prince, Raphoe Race 8: Ronald J, All Settled Down, All Lit Up, Redwood Invasion Race 9: Spondulicks, Sharnae, For The Corz, Theboyslightup Best Bet: Christmas Toyboy (Race 4) Value: Shes'a Tricky Bridge (Race 2)

They’ve driven a combined total of more than 330 winners, but the group of junior drivers contesting tonight’s prestigious Darren DeFilippi Memorial at Addington would give most, if not all, of those wins back to claim victory into tonight’s special event. Premierships and victories are nice. But a win in one of the most sought after races a junior driver will contest in their time in the ranks is high up the pecking order and any young driver will tell you of their desire to get their name on the trophy that means so much to the harness racing industry, particularly in Canterbury. DeFilippi, the son of trainers Colin and Julie, was tragically killed in a car accident while on his way home from the Orari races in 1995, leaving the harness racing community reeling at the loss of such a talented young horseman. In his second season of driving at the time of his death, DeFilippi was already making a big impact on the Canterbury harness scene with 15 winners next to his name and was being touted for bigger and better things. The Memorial race, named in his honour, has been held each season since 1996 with some of the best young driving talents to have worked their way through the junior ranks having been lucky enough to win it. Gavin Smith (twice; Bristle - 2003 and Atomic Dusk - 2005) and Matthew Williamson (three times; Maori Invasion - 2011, Beyond Reason - 2012 and William Lance -2013) are multiple winners of the event. This year a new winner will be crowned, with no previous driving victors going around. The sentimental favourite will be He’s Like The Wind, driven by Loren Lester who currently works for the DeFilippi stable. A big winner at Timaru last week, there is every conceivable chance that the Gavin Smith trained runner can go back-to-back in what is a very open field. New Zealand’s two leading junior drivers, Rory McIlwrick and Matt Anderson are both in with a show. McIlwrick has the power of the Phil Williamson colours on his drive, Danielle Amore. Williamson has trained three winners of the race. Anderson picks up the drive on the talented Robbie Holmes trotter, Redwood Invasion. Often enigmatic, the big trotter has a huge motor and is a chance to jump and run from the one barrier draw. Sheree Tomlinson will fancy herself a chance in the race with the in-form Lord Roydon. The Michael House trained runner has won his last two starts at Forbury with patient Dexter Dunn drives and a repeat performance will see him go close tonight. Jeremy Markham will be hoping he can sign off on his time as a junior driver in the right fashion when he jumps on board his father, Carl’s trotter Jean Sebastien. The trio will contest the race for the third time having finished fourth, second and third in their three attempts. Addington Selections by Matt Markham Race 1: All Settled Down, Craddock, Idle Moose, Sunny Bill Race 2: Boults On Fire, Le Vado, Especial, Covered N Diamonds Race 3: Daylight Robbery, Spirit Of Delight, Bettor Chance, Take After Me Race 4: Hall Of Fame, Ace High, Letsgotothehop, Rishi Race 5: Lord Roydon, Redwood Invasion, Jean Sebastien, Danielle Amore Race 6: Vera’s Delight, Jody Direen, No More Change, Art Exhibit Race 7: Donegal Bettorgretch, Ronald J, Petite One, Jayceekay Race 8: Usain Colt, Billy Badger, Bite The Bullet, Donegal Carrickfin Race 9: Mistahmistah, For The Corz, Honour The Bet, Maninthemirror Best Bet: Mistahmistah (Race 9) Value: Vera’s Delight (Race 6)   DARREN DEFILLIPI MEMORIAL WINNERS   Year Driver Horse Trainer Gait 1996 Jamie Keast   No Need   Mike Austin  (Pace) 1997 Dale Forbes   Incredible Fella   Ron Barron  (Pace) 1998 Mark Jones  Sylvia’s Star   Kevin Townley  (Trot) 1999 Philip Keats  Valiant Heart  Peter Bagrie (Pace) 2000 Stephen McNally  Russ The Legend  Gerard O’Reilly  (Trot) 2001 Lisa Godsall (Orange) Bergen Carl Middleton (Trot) 2002 Kirstin Green (Barclay) Galleon’s Telepathy Michael House  (Trot) 2003 Gavin Smith Bristle Paul Nairn (Trot) 2004 Nick Ydgren Onedin Legacy  Henderson Hunter (Pace) 2005 Gavin Smith  Atomic Dusk Patrick O’Reilly (Pace) 2006 Jonny Cox Lady Segil Phil Williamson (Trot) 2007 Sam Smolenski Amber Gambler Fred Fletcher (Trot) 2008 Shane Walkinshaw  Ronnie Coute Murray Edmonds (Trot) 2009 Regan Todd Unique Star Mark Jones (Trot) 2010 Andrew Veint  Double Bundy Michael Heenan (Trot) 2011 Matthew Williamson Maori Invasion Phil Williamson (Trot) 2012 Matthew Williamson Beyond Reason Phil Williamson (Trot) 2013 Matthew Williamson William Lance Bevan Heron (Trot) 2014 Robbie Close  Aile Rouge Robbie Holmes (Trot) 2015 Jessica Young Arran Chief  Andrew Faulks (Trot) 2017 Katie Cox King Of The Roses John Versteeg (Trot)

Especial lived up to her name at Ascot Park on Saturday when with the perfect trip she got the perfect result in the 1700 metre Join The Tri Code Syndicate Fillies & Mares Mobile. One of seven fillies in the 12-horse lineup, the daughter of Christian Cullen was parked briefly before getting the one-one after 300 metres. A lap later the trail horse dropped off, Especial immediately took her spot and when the passing lane arrived, shot clear on debut like a real professional. According to winning driver Matt Anderson it was effortless but not quite as polished as it seemed. “She is still green and when she hit the front all but pulled up,” he said. Bred and raced by Kenny and Jo Baynes, Especial is out of Especial Franco, member of a family Kenny Baynes was keen to have a bit of. He bought Especial's half brother Extra Special Iam, was under-bidder on another half brother Equalizer and tried over the phone to buy yet another, Expressionist. Soon after, Especial Franco was advertised in the Harness Weekly and the Baynes bought her. Envious, five wins and also a winner on debut at Invercargill, was the mare's first foal for them and Especial the next. She is trained at Gore by Tony Stratford who has had to be patient. “She's had a few niggly issues, just wee things like mud fever that set you back, the time's probably helped her though,” he said, “she's only had one workout and one trial, this was her third run. She's beautiful to sit behind, the Christian Cullen gait and she's got gas, a pretty nice filly, could be an open class mare in 18 months.” Nathan Williamson was the only driver to strike twice, winning two of the three trotting races. First up was a mare he trains himself, Splash Cola in the McKnight & Brown Mobile Trot and she did it style, clearing out by eight lengths to score her first win since January 2015. It was the fourth win for the mare having just her fourth start since being away from racing for more than two years. “She's had numerous injuries, was too fresh in her first two comeback races then was knocked and broke on Monday,” Williamson said, “she's still improving, I'll keep her going now.” Splash Cola completed the 2200 metres from behind the mobile in 2:46.8, The Williamson trained and driven Dwindle Mist set the track record of 2:45.2 in December 2014.  Sundons Wish, trained by Ian Jamieson, backed up from his win on Monday to take the Thanks To Our Volunteers Handicap. Williamson replaced Dexter Dunn in the sulky on Saturday. Matt Purvis, the former Canterbury junior driver who joined the Williamson enterprise at the beginning of the season, broke through for his first win in Southland when guiding Dancing In The Dark to victory in the Pinelea Farm Fillies & Mares Mobile Pace. Trained by Robert Dunn,the mare is co-owned by Matt's father, John Purvis and has been staying with Williamson. She is a half sister to Born To Run, a two year old trained by Williamson and driven by Purvis for a second and a fourth in his only two starts. Purvis said the juvenile is spelling at the moment and will be back as a three year old, and he himself is also staying on. “I'm flatting in a house at Tisbury with Craig Ferguson and Sheree Tomlinson, that made it an easy transition,” Purvis said, “I've enjoyed my time in the south, plenty of opportunities, a lot to learn from Nathan, a pleasure to work with such good horses.” Purvis has now won three times on Dancing In The Dark and advanced his career tally to 34.  “It was good to get a win in the south and one for Dad,” he concluded.   Mac Henry

Matt Anderson wants to become the New Zealand Junior Driving champion, but his loyalty to the powerful ‘All Stars Stable’ on Jewels Day 2017 means more to him. The 25-year-old Rolleston horseman could have had three drives at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday), but instead opted for one, so he could get an early flight back to Christchurch and be there for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's full-on day on Saturday. “Tim (Vince) was very kind to me and offered me three drives in Auckland – Romanite (race six) and KD Hall (race seven). I’ve decided to fly up for the early race and just drive Drover’s Eyre in the fourth event. “I will catch the 9pm flight back to Christchurch so I can be there for my employers on our big day. I only have one drive at Ashburton (All You Need Is Faith – race six), but there will be a lot of gearing up and post-race work to be done. It will be huge again,” Anderson said. The former New Zealand representative soccer player is second on the New Zealand Junior Driver Championships. He has had 19 winners from 161 drivers. Pace-maker Rory McIlwrick has saluted 32 times from 321 drives. “I would so much love to be the New Zealand or Australasian Driving champion. That is my goal because I only have another year left in the juniors. “But I wouldn’t be winning anywhere if it wasn’t for ‘All Star Stable’ and I want them to know that I am loyal and they will always come first,” said Anderson. The former St Thomas of Canterbury College student currently said he was looking forward to his first drive behind the Vince trained Drover’s Eyre. “I don’t know too much about him but I do know that Tim has got him going along well at the moment with two wins from his last four starts. “The draw doesn’t make it easy but I’m not going up there to see my old mates. I’m going up there to win. I want points and wins to get near the top,” he said. Drover’s Eyre, who only cost Vince $2,000, has drawn 11 (of 11) but is still the first pick on HRNZ’s Trot Tech. The 7-year-old Falcon Seelster gelding has won seven of his 78 starts, including four over the 2200m mobile distance. He has had one unsuccessful start at Alexandra Park. “Tim said he goes better the other way around but winning form is hard to topple and I will be giving the horse every chance of winning. I really want to pay back Tim for his kindness towards me,” Anderson said. Anderson worked for Tony Herlihy (MNZM) at Ardmore before joining forces with the All Stars Stable a couple of seasons ago. He has now reined home 62 winners and 102 place-getters from 445 drives since 2013. He has also banked just over $600,000 in stakes. Anderson's 19 wins this season are six fewer than what he achieved in his personal best year last season. He finished sixth on the natiopnal junior driving premiership in 2015-2016. Drover's Eyre is also a South Islander. He started his career with a seventh for East Eyreton trainer Mike Brown at Geraldine in December 2012. He came north in August last year and so far Vince has won five races with him. Toughest for Drover's Eyre to beat in the junior driving event will be the Colin Butler trained and Tony Cameron driven Kilkeel Lady; and the Vince trained stablemate, Moondyne Joe (Jacob Wallace).   Duane Ranger

The form of Clifton Tactic is hard to go past in race 10 at Forbury Park on Thursday night. Clifton Tactic has won three times in the past 12 months, including her last two starts.Two of those wins have been at Forbury Park and one in track record time for a mare of 2.40.6. She overcame a second line draw on that occasion suggesting she could cope with drawing seven on the front tonight. Sands Of Love, well beaten at Invercargill last Saturday when 3/6 favourite, has the chance to make amends from barrier two. Matt Anderson is making his play for the junior drivers premiership with drives tonight, Auckland tomorrow night, Ashburton on Saturday and Invercargill on Monday. His drives tonight are Duchess Grace (race 4), Fatherdantherodeoman (r6) and Go Getta (r7), Duchess Grace ran fourth last time out. Fatherdantherodeoman, who is having his first start, won a trial at Gore on May 24. He is now trained there by Tony Stratford after qualifying for Terry and Glenys Chmiel at Rangiora in December. Go Getta, who is in the race for junior drivers, won at Forbury Park last month. Anderson has won 19 races this season and he is chasing Rory McIlwrick, who leads the juniors with 32 wins. Anderson has been engaged for the Tim Vince-trained Drover’s Eyre in Alexandra Park. Armori, Azalea and War Horse, workout winners at Forbury Park  on Sunday, are worth attention tonight. Azalea (r3), a good fourth fresh up at Forbury Park on May 11, is now trained by Graeme Anderson. War Horse, a newcomer to the Amber Hoffman stable, begins afresh in the first heat of the sprint (1200m) series. Armori has an ideal opportunity in race 4. Tayler Strong

Those chasing the second quaddie at Invercargill on Sunday will find it hard to go past Major Hippie as an anchor in the last leg. The three year old son of Art Major from team All Stars debuted at Winton a fortnight ago and from five off the gate gave nothing else a chance of claiming the lead. Completing the 2400 metre trip in 2:55.3, Major Hippie ran home from the 800 in 57.6 and was going so well, driver Tim Williams didn't have to activate the removable deafeners.  Matt Anderson will be in charge on Sunday and that's not the only change. The grandson of Hot Shoe Shuffle goes from five on the second line and this week, all his opposition have been winners, some up to three times. However, Major Hippie looks well equipped to overcome such factors in his final hit-out before next week's group two Southern Supremacy Stakes. While labelling the last quaddie leg looks straight forward, getting there doesn't. The third leg is full of quality runners and a spread looks essential. Mongolian Storm returns to the scene of his most recent victory after battling the big-boys in his past two and will be competitive again. G I Joe is back to the mobile after breaking at the stand-start last time in his first race for nine months. After settling well back in the New Zealand record run 2400 at Winton, his bold finish for third was eye-catching. Seaswift Joy is near the top of the best three year old fillies around nationwide and has the ability to cope with this line-up, even after starting from the outside of the front line. Those three look the class acts but there are others to consider. Baileys Knight has drawn one and looked good last time at Winton. Delight My Soul is at the top of her game but often neglected by punters. It Ain't The Money goes from the inside of the second line in just his second go this year. In his first, he drew out in a strong field at Winton, went back and was held up while the leaders sped away. Jimmy Mack will need favours from the outside draw but is a genuine competitor. The second leg is a 2200 metre handicap trot and while the spread in quality from front to back is massive, twice round Ascot Park doesn't give the handicap runners much time to catch up. For all that, Moment Of Sun, Jen Jaccka and Pyramid Magic are needed but places found also for Another Delight and Overcast. Sunday's second quaddie opens with an R47 to R52 mobile 2200 and the ultra-consistent Navajo Art looks a ready-made favourite. He has drawn 10 and that may not help his task but he was placed from the same draw in his previous start on the track. Just Wish and Cullens Avenue have to contend with draws on the outside of the second line but with reasonable trips can be in the finish. Andrew Armour has a runner at Ascot Park again in Happy Styx, who brings Canterbury form south, while if looking for longer odds, Jabali is not the worst.   Mac Henry

When you've got a pedigree and you're from the All Stars stables, the expectations are always high, and that was the case today when harness racing debutant All U Need Is Faith raced at Winton. The full brother to last year's Kindergarten Stakes winner Pacing Major had been solid at trials, winning once and being placed twice before today's race, so that form made him favourite in the Western Electrical Two Year Old Mobile Pace. Driver Matt Anderson didn't push the go button from barrier fiv, preferring to let the horses inside do the scrapping. With I'mallaboutthebase working hard to take the lead Anderson slotted All U Need Is Faith into the one one behind the parked horse Triroyale Brigade. With 900 metres to run he popped out of the sit and progressed forward to sit parked beside the leader. At the 400 metres All U Need Is Faith was up challenging the leader with his stablemate Speech Is Silver sweeping around the outside to add to the mix. The two All Star colts knuckled down early in the run home with All U Need Is Faith proving too game for Speech Is Silver winning by a neck with Triroyale Brigade four and a half lengths back in third.  All U Need Is Faith (5) beating stablemate Speech Is Silver (9)      Photo Bruce Stewart. "He wasn't foolproof. We've still got a few things to iron out. He's not the real deal yet but if he keeps going the way he's going he'll be a nice horse," said Anderson. He said this race was one the stable had targeted and the trip away would also help the Art Major colt.  "He's quite casual at this stage and doesn't know what it's all about. A couple of days away from home will do him good." All U Need Is Faith is owned by Dennis and Mark Dunford who've owned a handful of very good horses including Have Faith In Me and Hands Christian.  All U Need Is Faith was bred by Woodlands Stud and was sold as Phenomenon at the 2016 Australasian Classic Yearling Sales. He was the second top lot of the sale selling for $180,000. In fact the first three horses home in today's race were all sold out of the Auckland sale. Speech Is Silver, a close relative to Auckland Reactor, sold for $17,500 while Triroyale Brigade sold for $50,000. The time of 1-55.9 was a new track record for two year old colts and geldings. The previous record of 1-56.5 was hold by Courage Tells and was recorded in 2010.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Rory McIlwrick, the leading junior driver this season, notched his 100th on Thursday night at Forbury Park when he drove Och Aye The Noo.   McIlwrick drove Hopes And Dreams to win earlier in the night. He rated the trotter Och Aye The Noo well in front over 2700m and she lasted by half a head from favourite Brads Kenny in a blanket finish. It her first win for 21 months.   McIlwrick took Hopes And Dreams to the front at 1000m over 2200m after starting from the second row and she held on by three parts of a length.   Och Aye The Noo is trained at East Taieri by part-owner Martin Denton, a loyal supporter of McIlwrick. Denton has just been appointed the club representative on the board of management of the Forbury Park club.   He replaces Geoff Knight, who remains the vice-president. Trainer Graeme Anderson is back on the committee and Stephen Pulley, has also been co-opted to the committee.   McIlwrick (24) has won 26 races this season, 14 more than his nearest rival, Matt Anderson. It is equal to his best tally of last season.   McIlwrick stood down from driving in June when he reached a total of 74 wins in order to remain junior driver this season and pursue the premiership title.   A total of 75 wins would have elevated him to the ranks of open drivers. He drove his first winner, Tactical Attraction at Ascot Park in December, 2011.   Anderson, the trainer of Hopes And Dreams, also won with Bakari and Delighful Jay to give him a 100 per cent record for the meeting. The performance of Bakari was outstanding as he raced in the open over 2700m, hung in and went keenly.   Delightful Jay has another five weeks racing in her present campaign after clearing maiden ranks. She was served by Washington VC on December 16 and she is permitted to race for 120 days from that date.   She was having her second start and first for Anderson when she overcame a second line draw. She improved to outside the leader at the 1000m in the 2200m (mobile) and drew clear in the run home.    Her owner Brian Anderton, who races the 4-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight – Jay’s Glen with the estate of Bryan Kennedy, is planning to return Delightful Jay to work after she has foaled.   “I will put her back in work after the foal is weaned,’’ said Anderton, also the co-breeder and operator of the White Robe Lodge thoroughbred breeding and training establishment at North Taieri.   Delightful Jay is a half sister to New Years Jay (by Washington VC) who won eight races and took a record of 1.54.6 for the same owners before she was mated with Bettor’s Delight, her last service on December 30.    The 9-year-old did not conceive and Anderton is toying with bringing her back into work.   Delightful Jay is the last of nine foals of Jay’s Glen, a Roydon Glen mare.   Dexter Dunn drove Bakari and Delightful Jay. He also won with Aveross Don and Expresso Martini. The 3-year-old trotter Aveross Don led for most of the way.   He is trained by Andrew Faulks for Dunedin breeders Ross and Averil Pettit. Aveross Don is he first foal of Earl Aveross, who did not raced due to injury.   She is by Earl from OK Aveross, who won seven, the first as a pacer. The OK Bye mare had only one surviving foal.   Rozzano won at her second start for Wyndham trainer – driver Craig Ferguson when she led all the way.    The 5-year-old Lis Mara mare was bought a month ago by Ferguson and Amanda Tomlinson (for daughter Sheree) from Peter Toomey. Rozzano had nine minor placings in 30 starts for Toomey.   The addition of blinds worked the oracle for Southern Lights, who was successful at his fourth start after racing wide. He is trained by Peter Hunter for Gary Preston, of Queenstown and the Fly Under The Radar syndicate.   The 3-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding is on lease from breeder Mandy Davis. Southern Lights is the first foal of Southern Sun, a Thunder N Lightning mare who won nine races, all in Southland.   Tayler Strong

Canterbury junior harness racing driver Matt Anderson won both junior driver events at the Young Quinn raceway at Wyndham on Saturday. Compliant was the first of the double, winning the Nip Crooks Memorial Junior Drivers Mobile Pace. The Live Or Die gelding trained by Ken and Tony Barron settled wide early before Anderson took him to the lead with a mile to run. Rory Mcllwrick surprised all when he whipped Shortys Mate around to the lead with 900 metres to run. Once in front Shortys Mate took Compliant to the passing lane and from there all Anderson had to do was to shake Compliant up and he speared away to beat Shortys Mate by a length and a quarter. "Yeah he went nice. The Canterbury form stacked up," said Anderson. The second win came two races later when The High Roller capped off consistent form to win his second race in ten starts. After being wide at the 800 metres Anderson cleverly slotted the four year old into the one one as Tact Rousey took over as pace maker. At the 600 Tact Rousey was bolting for driver Chelsea Faithful and when she let the mare go with 450 metres to run, she cut away by five lengths with Anderson and The High Roller the only serious chaser. Tact Rousey hit the wall 50 metres out and The High Roller shot up the inside to nab the lead and win by one and a quarter lengths.  The High Roller beating Tact Rousey                                      - Photo Bruce Stewart. "Being a junior drivers race it can be messy in parts but we just navigated our way through. He feels like he can go on with it."  Last month Anderson scored a double on the same course with Don Domingo and The Best Beg.  "I get good support from the trainers down here. It just goes to show that if you get support you can capitalise."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

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