Last week was a disappointing one for the ring-around with just Blair Orange and Mark Jones producing the goods, however a form reversal is expected this weekend. Here is what some of New Zealand's leading harness racing participants came up with for us this week. Addington - Thursday Josh Dickie: Was pleased with Speeding Spur in his South Island debut and expects him to be hard to roll in the feature two-year-old trot - race two. Mark Jones: Has opted for impressive trialist Fleeting Grin, who should take all sorts of stopping in race five on the card Craig Thornely: Expects Gotta Grunter, who is now on the beach with Mark Jones, to break maidens at short notice - race five Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Was impressed with the way Fifth Edition found the line last start. He looks well placed in race six on the card after dropping back from C2. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Mokosun can make it three wins on end in race eight on the card. Nigel McGrath: Believes that Heza Mighty Monarch will take a power of beating if he is to do things right in race ten. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Has opted for Iceobar on the back of an eyecatching fresh-up third - race eleven Gavin Smith: Thinks Waihemo Art is a strong chance in what looks an average maiden line-up - race twelve Alexandra Park - Friday Blair Orange: Expects a bold preformance from Paramount Queen in the first race of the card. Stephen McNally: Thinks K D Muscles, who has been racing well in age group company, looks the one in race three. Scott Phelan: Rates Sweet Art as a good each-way chance- race seven Todd Mitchell: Was impresed with how Prime Power worked during the week and expects him to be very hard to beat in the Anzac Cup - race nine David Butt: Expects One Over Da Moon to prove too good if he can jump to the lead early - race eleven Simon Lawson: Has opted for classy two-year-old Beaudiene Boaz - race twelve Gore - Saturday Tim Williams: Thinks Bettor Buy It will prove hard to beat in the Southern Supremacy- race ten Rangiora - Sunday Terry Chmiel: Thinks Dynamic Party looks well placed in race two despite his tricky barrier draw. Ken Barron: Believes Pacquiao can top off a string of good runs with a win in race five. Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of Jaccka Justy, who was a game second behind Master Lavros last start - race seven Ricky May: Expects Terror To Love to finish his season in style in the Rangiora Classic - race eight
Last week the ring-around produced five winners including my each-way bet of the week Dream Gal, which bolted in at odds of $6 and $1.80. Others to tip out winners included Mark Jones, Steve Richardson (TAB), Todd Mitchell, Matt Williamson, and Tim Williams. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Cambridge - Thursday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for unbeaten juvenile trotter The Driving God - race five. Scott Phelan: Thinks Seven Blue Chips can make the most of his ace alley in race number six. Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Thomas McBride to prove very hard to beat in the seventh race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine as his Harnesslink Bet of the Week – race nine. Forbury - Thursday Nathan Williamson: Thinks the very consistent Nickelson will get some money in race three. Ricky May: Is very bullish about the chances of Pay Me Sush in the sixth race on the card. John Dunn: Has opted for Graduate Under Fire, who has been in brilliant form of late. He looks well placed in race number seven. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes looks well suited to the short 1200 metre sprint distance in race nine on the card. Terry Chmiel: Expects Moondyne Joe, who was in need of a run when third in a good field last start at Addington, to prove too good - race eleven. Blair Orange & Mark Jones: Have both opted for Strike On Command, who is unbeaten from two appearances at Forbury Park - race twelve. Jonny Cox: Rates Sara Holley, who has drawn well for Thursday’s assignment, as a very good each-way bet. She also competes in the last race on the card. Tim Williams: Has added to the puzzle by tipping Bobbie McArdle in race twelve. Trifecta perhaps? Addington - Saturday Josh Dickie: Was impressed with how Speeding Spur trialled on Monday and expects him to highly competitive in the Two-year-old Trotting Stakes - race four. Anthony Butt: Has opted for impressive two-year-old trialist Curlimore, who looks a great chance from a good alley in race number six. Matthew Williamson: Expects Zhenya to appreciate the drop back in class in race number seven. Craig Thornley: Thinks Given only needs to trot to be competitive - race eleven. Ken Barron: Was very pleased with Pacquiao last start and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Snooki – Hawera (Saturday), race three. Each-way: Prince Fearless – Addington (Saturday), race four. Curlimore - Addington (Saturday), race five Value: Dark Side - Forbury Park (Thursday), race five.
Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including my bet of the week and my two each-way bets of the week. Others to tip out winners were Jonny Cox, Steve Richardson, and Ken Barron. Let’s see if some of the trainers and drivers can hold up their end of the bargain this week! Forbury – Thursday Dexter Dunn: Has surprisingly opted for Phat Freddy’s Drop, who will look to break maidens in the first race on the card. Jonny Cox: Rates Mako Banner as a very good each-way chance in race three. Quinella with Katy Perry perhaps? Craig Thornley: Was pleased with U Can I Can at the recent Motukarara workouts - race four Mark Jones: Expects Ultimate CC to prove very hard to beat in the ninth race on the card Terry Chmiel: Is expecting a bold performance from Angus T Jones in the ninth race. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Expects Cheers Kathy to be very hard to roll in the first race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for impressive last start winner Destination Moon - race six Todd Mitchell: Is a very big fan of Mach's Gladiator, and expects him to be hard to roll in the ninth race on the card. Addington - Friday Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chances of Paramount Queen, who looks very well placed in race two. Anthony Butt: Thinks Thebestlove is a big chance in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four David Butt: Warns punters not to drop One Over Da Moon, who also competes in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Locharburn to prove to strong in the NZ Derby - race nine Ken Barron: Rates the chances of capable two-year-old filly Livura, who has drawn well for Friday’s assignment - race twelve Gavin Smith: Thinks Dana Duke could be well over the odds in the same event - race twelve Invercargill - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for the capable yet enigmatic Bet's Sun, who would only need to trot to win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Thinks Just A Delight, who has finished second in her last three outings, is overdue a winning turn - race ten Andrew Armour Thinks Blanco, who has raced well since joining the barn of Tom Kilkelly, is a good each-way chance in race eleven. Motukarara – Sunday Ricky May: Believes Franco Salisbury will take all sorts of beating from his ace draw – race seven. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Char Do Neigh – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Dream Gal – Forbury Park, race five Emmanuel – Addington, race three Value: Ranfurly Rulz – Addington, race one
Congratulations to David Butt, Josh Dickie, Mark Jones, Simon Lawson, and Tim Williams who all tipped out winners last week. Unfortunately Blair Orange came up a ½ length short of tipping six consecutive winners, with the stablemate that he did highlight as the horse to beat holding on to win narrowly. Let’s find out what the boys have sorted out for us this week: Andrew Armour: Expects Armbro Courage to break maidens at very short notice – Winton, race six. Anthony Butt: Thinks Ideal Power can make it three straight victories – Addington, race seven. Blair Orange: Has opted to go head-to-head with Anthony, tipping Rocknroll Arden in the same event - Addington, race seven. Craig Thornely: Believes Gotta Grunter can break maidens after a string of seconds to open her career. She competes in the sixth race at Rangiora on Sunday. David Butt: Has a big opinion of One Over Da Moon and expects him to win the second race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Thinks the unbeaten Karanga Red Fantasy, who trialled well behind Adore Me on Monday, will prove hard to beat in race three at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Expects Goodness Gracious Me, who was a game third in the Southland Oaks, to be very hard to beat in the seventh race at Winton on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Has opted for Sunny Vacation as his bet of the week – Alexandra Park, race ten. Ken Barron: Was keen around the chances of Quality Invasion but in the end opted for Majestic Time who will take all sorts of stopping in the NZ Trotting Oaks – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is very happy with Master Lavros and expects him to bounce back to winning for in the race ten at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks talented but enigmatic trotter Bet’s Sun can bet its best foot forward in the third race at Rangiora on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Defy is overdue a winning turn – Winton, race six. Ricky May: Expects extremely talented two-year-old trotter Monbet to prove too good in the first race at Rangiora on Sunday. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Besotted in the Kumeu Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of speedy filly God Forbid who should be better for her fresh up run – Alexandra Park, race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Less can get some money in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Popular, who should be just that with punters after a very good run behind Raksdeal last start – Winton, race two. Todd Mitchell: Expects his stable star Prime Power to prove very hard to beat in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Saratoga – Alexandra Park, race ten. Each-way: Hug The Wind – Addington, race eleven. Smiles For Miles – Winton, race six. Value: Pomme Roy – Addington, race six.
The ring-around continues to gain momentum, so much so that it debuted on The Box Seat last night and will now hold a weekly spot on the show. Last week the Harnesslink ring-around produced seven winners with the best result being the Stephen Richardson tipped Djokovic who romped in by 8 & ½ lengths at odds of $6.20. Other winners included Sunhaven Express, who was victorious at a nice each-way price of $5.30 and $2.20. So, let see what the boys have come up with for us this week! Andrew Armour: Rates Armbro Courage as his best chance of the week – Invercargill, race three Blair Orange: Who is shooting for six winning tips in a row, expects Itz Bettor To Win to remain unbeaten after the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Craig Thornely: Has opted for Smithy in the eighth race at Addington on Friday. David Butt: Rates Lotalov as a very good each-way bet in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks the highly capable trotter Sheemon will prove very hard to beat in race seven at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Has opted for Zena Mac, who was a bold second last start at Methven – Akaroa @ Motukarara, race four. Jonny Cox: Expects Smiles For Miles to be very hard to beat on Sunday – Invercargill, race three. Josh Dickie: Is bullish about the chances of Destination Moon in the last race at Cambridge tonight. Ken Barron: Expects Mighty Major to be very hard to stop from his inside barrier draw – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is prepared to give The Ultimate Storm one last chance - Addington, race eleven. Matthew Williamson: Rates Zhenya as his best chance of the week – Addington, race ten. Nathan Williamson: Thinks talented filly I Smart can get some money in the Southland Oaks – Invercargill, race eight. Simon Lawson: Has a high opinion of Unforgiving, and expects her to be very hard to beat in the third race at Cambridge tonight. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Robyn's Raider can make it back-to-back wins in the tenth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Terry Chmiel: Expects Swarozki to be competitive in the second race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Bobbie McArdle, who looks a good each-way chance in race five at Invercargill on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks It's All On will offer some good each-way value for punters – Cambridge, race ten. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bets: Alleluia – Addington, race eight Tokohoka – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Blue Eyed Suzie – Invercargill, race seven Value: Holy Grail – Addington, race nine
Last week ring-around followers walked away with full pockets after Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Jonny Cox, Ken Barron, Steve Richardson, Tim Williams, and Todd Mitchell, all tipped out winners. Let’s see what the boys have rustled up for us this week. Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of Dazzling Arden from her ace alley in the second race at Invercargill on Saturday. Blair Orange: Has opted for Rocknroll Arden, who was a luckless second last start. She competes in the third race at Timaru (Addington) on Friday. Craig Thornley: Thinks Gotta Grunter, who put in a couple of very tidy runs on the West Coast, is a good each-way chance in the sixth event at Timaru (Addington) on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the enigmatic Sunchita will make it two wins in quick succession on Sunday at Methven. Jonny Cox: Rates Sunhaven Express as a strong each-way chance in the second race at Invercargill on Saturday. Matthew Williamson: Rates the chances of Royal Squeeze in the first race at Invercargill on Saturday. Mark Jones: Said he didn’t have an overly strong team in this week, but rated Goodness Gracious Me as the best of them. – Timaru (Addington), race five. Nathan Williamson: Has a lot of time for I Smart and expects her to be hard to beat in the sixth race at Invercargill on Saturday. Ricky May: Has opted for Pay Me Sush, who was a luckless second on debut. She competes in the sixth event at Timaru (Addington) on Friday. Simon Lawson: Is expecting a bold performance from Ton Tine, who is a newcomer to his father’s stable – Alexandra Park, race five. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Djokovic, with manners, will prove too strong in the third race at Cambridge tonight. Terry Chmiel: Is expecting a bold performance from Little Tess in the eighth race at Timaru (Addington) on Friday. Tim Williams: likes the chances of Just A Delight in the seventh race at Invercargill on Saturday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks Mach’s Gladiator can go back-to-back-to-back in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bets: Splendour – Cambridge, race eleven. No Doctor Needed – Invercargill, race eleven. Each-way: Royal Mach – Addington, race seven. Value: Real Life Hero – Methven, race two.
Trainer Bruce Negus, who has been the driving force behind tomorrow’s Youth Vs Experienced meeting at Waikouaiti , is excited about tomorrow’s concept and expects the series to bring in plenty of interest Australasian wide. “I’m not expecting a huge crowd on course but I am expecting plenty of off-course interest,” said the trainer, best known for his feats with Champion youngster Courage Under Fire. “It will be 10am in Australia when the meeting starts and there won’t be a lot else on for them to watch,” said Negus. “So having Lance Justice and Amanda Turnball over here should create plenty of Australian interest in the meeting.” Negus said that no driver looks to have a standout book on paper, so consistency will probably be the decider. “We are scoring the Series a bit differently than usual, with the winner of the race only getting a few more points than the reinsman that finishes fourth or fifth,” revealed Negus. “So it will probably take four of five good finishes to take the gold rather than say a couple of wins, two lasts, and a ninth.” Negus said that he expects the T.A.B to open various betting options on the series and T.A.B Bookmaker Stephen Richardson later confirmed that there would be two books opened – Youth or Experienced and Overall Winner. The age for the experienced reinsmen was set at 50 and over, while the youthful reinsman have to be 25 or under. The teams are as follows: Team Experience: Lance Justice (Aus), Allan Beck, Peter Ferguson, Tony Herlihy and Maurice Mckendry. Team Youth: Amanda Turnball (Aus), Zac Butcher, Samantha Ottley, Craig Ferguson, Dexter Dunn, and Matthew Williamson. All races in the series are penalty-free, while the winner of the eighth race will receive a free service fee to Betterthancheddar on top of the stake money courtesy of Alabar, who are sponsoring the meeting. “We are hugely grateful to Alabar and have had a piece of artwork done on Betterthancheddar which will be in the background of all the winning pictures,” said Negus. While Negus, who is the Vice-President of the Waikouaiti Trotting Club, has plenty on his hands with the series tomorrow, he also has a strong team of his own engaged to race. “Delightful Dash should win the first,” he said matter-of-factly. “And Highland Reign who is in the same race should finish in the money.” “Goodboy Tiger and Merilane are both in form trotters and love the grass, so they also have good chances.” Negus also said that his brother-in-law’s horse Martini could be worth a dollar at good odds, while Alexy, who he is driving himself in the Amatuer Drivers event, is in a similar boat. “Martini was going to demolish a good field before he galloped last start and Alexy can surprise at odds if he gets the right trip.” The track is currently in great condition and as long as there is no more rain, it should provide a tip-top racing surface. By Mitchell Robertson
Congratulations to Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, Matthew Williamson, and Nathan Williamson, who were last week’s top tipsters. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of Armbro Courage in race five at Winton on Saturday. Anthony Butt: Is bullish about the chances of capable maiden Blingiton in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Thinks Gentle Western will prove awfully hard to beat in the tenth race at Winton on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks war horse Stig can return to winning form in the fifth race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Rates Zena Mac as a good each-way prospect in the first race at Motukarara on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Expects William H Bonny to be very hard to beat in the second race at Winton on Saturday. Ken Barron: Has a lot of time for smart trotting filly Majestic Time, who was impressive at the recent Addington trials. She will compete in the sixth race at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Cam Before The Storm can make it three straight wins at Winton on Saturday. Nathan Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of I Smart in seventh race at Winton on Saturday. Scott Phelan: Has opted for Washington Diva as his bet of the week – Manawatu, race three. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Think First Holme might be exactly that in the first race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Tim Williams: Rates the chances of capable three-year-old Bettor Buy It in the race twelve at Winton. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Cullies Delight in the last race at Manawatu tonight as his bet of the week. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: Tazzy’s Devil – Alexandra Park, race 10 Each-way: Johnny Fox – Addington, race three Value: Spinyback – Motukarara, race one
Capable middle-grade pacer Cam Before The Storm, who was transferred to the barn of Geoff & Jude Knight after his last start win in the Cheviot Cup, looks set for a good couple of months in the South after a dominant victory in Yesterday’s Gore Grass Cup. The speedy McArdle five-year-old, who was victorious on 10 occasions for former trainer Tim Butt, was sent south to seek better racing opportunities, which is exactly what he got in yesterday’s $10,000 Gore feature. After starting from his 30 metre back mark, Matthew Williamson settled the showy five-year-old last of the pack, before asking him to slide forward at the 1300 metre mark. He then kicked strongly in the homestretch to hold of Run Fat Boy Run by three quarters of a length. The win took Cam Before The Storm’s stake earnings in excess of $100,000 Meanwhile, Colleen Negus, who is the wife of Waikouaiti trainer Bruce, notched up her first driving success when winning aboard Goodboy Tiger. “I thought I was going to have to pull right back to get a go put then a wee gap appeared up the inside,” said Negus. “He has had over forty starts but he is actually getting better and better with his trotting - more solid.” It was Colleen’s first driving success after 27 previous attempt, so has also finished a in the money on four other occasions. By Mitchell Robertson
Last week was a memorable one for the New Zealand bets of the week ring-around. Aside from my three tips which all won, Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Gavin Smith, Jim Curtin, Ricky May, and Todd Mitchell also tipped out winners. The best result was Gavin Smith’s bet of the week in The Mighty Falcon, who got home at odds of $10, while my value bet of the week Scotlynn Jiggs ($7) wasn’t too far behind. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Andrew Armour: Thinks two-year-old First Flight In is a good each-way prospect in the fourth race at Gore on Sunday. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented two-year-old The Jazzman will be tough to beat from his inside alley in the eighth race at Forbury Park tonight. Blair Orange: Rates the chances of Strike On Command in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Craig Thornley: Will take the reins behind Franco Harrington at Reefton where he expects him to be very hard to beat. David Butt: Thinks Georgie Mach can go back-to-back in the eighth race at Westport on Friday. Gavin Smith: Who was last week’s top tipster, has opted for True Legend in the fourth race at Westport on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the talented but enigmatic Sunchita can win the tenth race at Westport on Friday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of Sharpenuff in the eighth race at Gore on Sunday. Ken Barron: Thinks Sapling Stakes runner-up Mighty Flying Major will be tough to beat in race eight at Forbury tonight. Mark Jones: Thinks The Ultimate Storm will take a power of beating in the third race at Forbury Park tonight. Matthew Williamson: Expects Quick As A Trick to regain top form in the 12th race at Forbury tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Aidan’s Rocket will be tough to toss in the last race at Gore on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has thrown out some value in the form of Goodboy Tiger – Forbury, race seven. Tim Williams: Thinks Waitoto Express has a good each-way chance in the seventh race at Gore on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Expects Cyclone Kate to be thereabouts in the Delightful Lady Classic at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: The Ultimate Storm – Forbury Park, race three Each-way: Linda Lovegrace – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Whynotagrey – Gore, race two.
Southern star Franco Ledger is primed and ready for Saturday’s Interdomion heat at Addington after he obliterated his own Waikouaiti track record by more than 4 seconds on Sunday. After starting from a 50 metre handicap, the biggest handicap ever overcome in the 59 year history of the race, Franco Ledger boomed down the outside to beat Donegals Guest by 1 & ¼ lenghts in an unbelievable time of 4-02.9 for the 3200 metre journey on a grass surface. It was Franco Ledger’s second win in the race in the last three years. Last year the race was taken out by Glencoe VC, who finished third in this year’s edition. The 6-year-old entire has now won 18 races and $369,000 in stakes for Hunter and the What Ever syndicate, who once again attempted to shake the grandstand down as their pride and joy steamed down the outside of the track. The Waikouaiti Trotting Club will race again on Tuesday, March 18, where some of the veterans of Australasian harness racing will take on the industry’s rising stars in an additional Waikouaiti meeting dubbed the ''youth versus experience''. The age for the experienced reinsmen was set at 50 and over, while the youthful reinsman have to be 25 or under. Lance Justice and 23-year-old Amanda Turnball have been invited to compete in the series from Australia, while the two members of the New Zealand 3000 win club, Tony Herlihy and Maurice McKendry, have also been invited to compete. Allan Beck, Ricky May, Peter Ferguson are other experienced New Zealand reinsman invited, while the youth will be represented by Zac Butcher, Samantha Ottley, Craig Ferguson, Dexter Dunn and Matthew Williamson. Waikouaiti trainer Bruce Negus has done much of the work in making the list of invited drivers, who are likely to compete in five penalty-free races on the card. By Mitchell Robertson
After driving his 1st winner for the Dunn stable at the end of December, Oamaru reinsman Matty Williamson is now three from three after today's Wyndham meeting. He again combined with Winton mile winner Cullen's Mercy as well as 3yr old Mach Three gelding Return To Sender. Return To Sender showed the benefits of a recent northern sojourn, dominating a handy C1 field in a great staying run after breezing throughout. "I was going to go forward early," reflected Willamson, "but there was a heap of speed inside so I bailed out." After heading towards the lead at the 1600m, it was clear this wasn't up for grabs, so a parked run was as good as it was going to get. After pressuring leader Better Buy It from the 600m, Return To Sender charged to the lead at the top of the straight before holding strongly from the late sweepers. Even more notable about this run was that the time of 2.55.1 was a new track record, having taken 0.6 seconds off the previous record set by his former stablemate Hurricane Bromac. "Yeah I knew we were running along," said Matty, "he's turned into quite a tough little bugger." This was the horse's third win from 19 starts for owner Ian Dobson and he has earned $49,625 in stakes after today's run. He looks sure to take further scalps at short notice as only a C2 assessed horse. The second win for Williamson came with the Ray Reekie owned Cullen's Mercy who was back in the south running in another heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series. "She didn't have the speed of Clark's one (Still Laughin) early on, but I was able to get around and to the lead pretty easily," said Matty. "She was always travelling and to be honest she won a lot easier than what the margin suggests. She's going great guns." Cullen's Mercy paced the full trip in 1.55.2, home in 800m 56.2 and 400m 26.9. No doubt she will look to spend more time in the deep south over the next few months. By Mike Drury (Courtesy of ROBERT DUNN RACING)
Venus Serena is not only the best filly that John Dunn has ever driven, but the 30-year-old said she was close to being the best pacer he had sat behind. The 3-year-old daughter of Mach Three looks destined to provide Dunn with another big-race victory when they line up in Friday’s Group One PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 3yo Fillies Championship at Addington Raceway. With a stake of $175,000, the 1950m mobile is the richest event on Friday’s 12-strong race-card. Up until her last start sixth at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve (the $150,000 Group One Alabar Stakes Final), Venus Serena had won her last three races in a row. “I was rapt with her run that night. I thought it was massive actually because she got an interrupted run and still ran on strongly at the end. “We got checked and ended up five deep on the fence and then she got on the three-wide train. She did well to get as close as she did. On that run and her workouts win on Saturday, I think she will be hard to beat again,” Dunn said. Venus Serena was full of running at last weekend’s North Canterbury workouts, finishing a head second behind the talented Smolda, who lines up in race seven on Friday. She paced the 2000m mobile in 2:25.9. Mile rate: a slashing a1:57.3 with slick last 800m and 400m sprints of 54.5 and 26.7 seconds. Venus Serena has drawn seven of 14 on Friday, and Dunn said he would be asking the question of her early in the race. “I’ll take the race as it comes, but I think I will be going forward with her fairly early on. I want to put her into the race,” the Canterbury reinsman said. Trained by Dunn’s uncle Geoff at West Melton, Venus Serena has now won eight of her 13 starts – three of them at Addington and three over Friday’s distance. The classy brown filly has provided Dunn (John) with three of his four Group One victories. They were the $150,000 2yo Fillies Diamond on Harness Jewels day at Ashburton on June 1, 2013; the $150,000 Sires Stakes 2yo Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park on May 3, 2013; and the $100,000 Caduceus Club 2yo Fillies Classic at Alexandra Park on April 19, 2013. “She’s a lovely filly. She’s certainly the best filly or mare that I have sat behind, probably the best male or female. She’s got amazing high speed and is an equally good stayer. “She raced really well over the shorter trips last season and I know she will cope with the longer distances as she gets older. She just feels like a top racehorse,” the Kaiapoi horseman said. Dunn is having one of his best seasons in 13 years of driving. He’s already driven 50 winners and placed 93 times from 326 drives in 2013-2014. He looks destined to beat his personal best tally of 102 wins recorded last year. Toughest for Venus Serena to beat will be the Barry Purdon trained and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) driven Ideal Belle, and the Nigel McGrath trained and Matthew Williamson driven Libertybelle Midfrew. The evening’s only Group One event – the $100,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Breeders Stakes for fillies and mares again looks an Adore Me benefit. The 4-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare has drawn ideally at four and Mark Purdon is likely to send her to the lead early and again give her opponents a pacing lesson. If successful it will be her 16th win in 18 starts and fifth from sixth this season. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Last week was yet another good one for the ring-around with John Dunn, Mark Jones, Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, and yours truly all tipping out winners. Let’s see if we can repeat the dose this week. Blair Orange: Has opted for last start winner Best Bones. She goes around in the ninth race at Oamaru on Sunday. David Butt: Thinks Lothario, with manners, will take all sorts of stopping in race nine at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks Jaccka Lonny will be hard to beat from his ace alley in race four at Invercargill today. Gavin Smith: Has opted for All Shook Up, who will do battle in the sixth race at Oamaru on Sunday. John Dunn: Rates the chances of Crackaheiny in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Platinum Princess can get some money in the fifth race at Invercargill today. Ken Barron: Thinks Planet Princess is an each-way chance in race eight at Addington tomorrow. Mark Jones: Likes the chances of Juneamy Castleton, who should be hard to catch in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Matthew Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Galleons Triumph, who also competes in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Hector McFeckle can trot and win the first race at Otaki on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine, who looks a strong chance in fourth race at Otaki on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks that Hi Jinx is a strong chance with right run in race seven at Addington Todd Mitchell: Thinks Snow Fairy will be very hard to beat in race five at Otaki. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Superbowlcheerleader – Addington, race five Each-way – Happy Heidi – Invercargill, race two Value – Karen Dana – Oamaru, race one
After a couple of weeks absence during the Christmas/New Year period, the ring-around is now back in action and ready to once again steer you in the direction of a winner or ten! Blair Orange: Thinks Bio Marinus will take all sorts of beating in the eleventh race at Blenheim on Friday. Craig Thornley & Terry Chmiel: Think the consistent Thorn In My Side will be tough to roll from her frontline position in race seven at Blenheim on Friday Gavin Smith: Has opted for four-win mare All Shook Up, who looks well placed in the ninth race at Oamaru today. Jim Curtin: Is bullish about the chances of Star Of Dionysis. He competes in the sixth race at Blenheim on Friday. John Dunn: Has opted for stable newcomer Light Up Boss. He competes in the fourth race at Blenheim on Friday. Mark Jones: Just needs to stay in the cart to win aboard Sunoflindenny in the fifth race at Blenheim on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks the consistent Scotty’s Image can break his maiden status at Oamaru today. Ricky May: Has opted for Live The Dream in race six at Oamaru today. Scott Phelan: Thinks Rocknroll Lass is a good each-way chance in race one at Cambridge on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for the consistent Ace Of Delight who has a strong chance in the second race at Cambridge on Friday. Stephen McNally: Gives Culinary Delight a chance in the sixth race at Blenheim on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Might have found some value in the form of Westburn Courage. He competes in the Morrinsville Cup on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks classy three-year-old Cyclone Prince can atone in the Waikato Guineas at Cambridge on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet – Mixed Emotions – Oamaru, race ten. Each-way – Thorn In My Side – Blenheim, race seven Value – Somebeach N Clovelly – Cambridge, race five By Mitchell Robertson
Last week was possibly the best ever for the ring-around with a stunning 9 out of eighteen drivers tipping out winners. Those to tip out winners were: Anthony Butt, Craig Thornley, Jonny Cox, John Dunn, Ken Barron, Mark Jones, Nathan Williamson, Ricky May, and Terry Chmiel. The best result was Craig Thornley’s tip – Supreme Gem, who proved too strong at odds of $10.10 A hard act to follow, but let’s see what we can do: Andrew Armour: Isn’t driving Awesum Teddy this week, but he does expect him to win – Wairio – race eight. Anthony Butt: Thinks the consistent Astral Traveller is a good each-way chance in race five at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Has opted for the smart Vice Consul in race eight at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith & Steve Richardson: Both think that Sleepy Tripp will return to winning form in race seven at Addington on Friday. John Dunn: Is bullish about the chances of Sheemon in race five at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Likes the chances of stable newcomer Idle Eyre. He competes in the ninth race at Forbury tonight. Josh Dickie: Likes the chances of Voluntad, who was big in defeat on debut. She goes around in the fourth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Has once again opted for the smart Pacquiao, who competes in race six at Addington on Friday. Mark Jones: Thinks Astrapi can repeat the dose in race three at Forbury Park. Mark Purdon: Thinks Whisper Jet is one to follow over the upcoming Auckland carnival - Alexandra Park. race four. Matthew Williamson: Rates the chances of The Shakey Mistress in race six at Forbury Park tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Music will prove too strong in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Ricky May: Thinks Vega Sicilia will be tough to roll in race four at Rangiora on Sunday. Sam Ottley: Has opted for Kid Galahad as her bet of the week – Addington, race nine. Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach can win the sixth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Simon Lawson: Thinks Valencey is one to pencil down for the Christmas Eve meeting at Cambridge. Stephen McNally: Rates Ares as a good upset chance in race two at Addington on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Likes the chances of Harry Johnson in race ten at Alexandra Park. Tim Williams: Expects Bettor Buy It, an extremely impressive trialist, to be winning race eleven at Winton on Saturday. By Mitchell Robertson