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When Kerryn Manning heard the word euthanasia, her heart sank. She had resigned herself to the likelihood Motu Meteor would never race again but was entirely unprepared for the shock veterinary recommendation. Meteor’s legs had shown signs of wear and tear in the preceding months, a strong hint that his days competing at a high level may be numbered. But the little horse loved his job and always gave 110 per cent on the track, an elite equine athlete in the truest sense. His doting trainer simply refused to accept that the end of his racing career should also mean the end of his life. “Meteor was a favourite of everyone at the stables and a really genuine trier at the races,” Kerryn reflected. “So laid back, never a problem to deal with and also quite a handsome man. He just had to have the chance to find his forever home.” Vets determined that on the balance of probabilities, Meteor had strained a ligament from his medial suspensory branch into his foot. The injury could only be definitively diagnosed with an expensive MRI scan and had a poor outcome for a racing. Given his medical history, leading owner Merv Butterworth chose not to proceed with the test, accepting that the curtain had come down on the six-year-old’s 40-start career, which reaped 14 wins and $252,295 in stake earnings. “When Merv told me Meteor was going to be put down, I jumped straight on the phone to the vet,” Kerryn said. “I hoped with appropriate rehab he could be saved as a paddock companion or for light riding duties and he said there was no reason why that couldn’t happen. “Once I explained this to Merv, he was all for giving the horse the opportunity – he is a big owner who runs his harness racing interests as a business, but very kind-hearted and always wanting to do what he can for his horses." Meteor’s racing owners, in fact, took their commitment a step further, agreeing to pay for the gelding’s upkeep during the crucial early months of his recuperation. Once he completed his box confinement and the injury had healed to a stage where Meteor could be turned out into a larger area, Kerryn assumed ownership and responsibility. He is currently resting comfortably in her retirement paddock at Great Western, having come through his rehabilitation with flying colours and now been cleared for rehoming. Kerryn will be supported in the next stage of “Project Meteor” by Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Manager Tanya McDermott. “I’ve worked with Kerryn to rehome horses from her stable for more than a decade, so when the call came through of course I was going to do all I could to help,” Tanya said, qualifying that while the horse fell outside the HERO Program’s re-education and training framework, she had made a personal promise to assist. “Both Kerryn and Merv are animal lovers who have demonstrated a passion for life after racing over many years – we previously rehomed Meteor’s older brother Motu Crusader via the HERO Program on their behalf. “It’s been a privilege to follow their shared dedication to nursing Meteor back to health - he is trotting comfortably around the paddock, the leg is looking good and we have every reason to believe he will go on to enjoy a long, happy and rewarding life. “He’s a really pretty horse (a son of super sire Bettors Delight) and not big, so he might be suitable for someone who would like a standardbred to show in hand. “His temperament would also make him ideally suited to an equine therapy role or liberty training. Our main priority will be finding him a long-term home where he will have nothing but the very best care. “He loves being around people so someone with the facilities to keep him close by and time to spend with him will be very important.”   HRV HERO

Prominent Australian owner Merv Butterworth was on the phone to trainer Brett Gray shortly after Born To Boogie had triumphed in the fourth and final heat of the Vet South Equine Southern Belle Speed Series on 'Wairio Mile Day' at Central Southland Raceway on Saturday. “He always rings, before and after a race, he sounded pretty happy and told me just to keep doing what I'm doing,” said Gray. Butterworth Bloodstock had paid $17,000 for Born to Boogie when offered by Brent McIntyre's Macca Lodge at the 2016 premier sale. When the filly by Rock N Roll Heaven and Niftey Franco had some issues during her early preparations, her new owner chose to offer her back to the vendor as a breeding prospect. McIntyre said he “just threw her in the paddock” but when she started looking alright, decided to start jogging her. After about three months, McIntyre said the three-year-old was running satisfactory times and showing no ill affects so he recommended to Butterworth she was worth trying again. Born To Boogie then joined up with Butterworth's southern trainer Brett Gray and has continued to impress. As a three-year-old, during Queens Birthday last year, the then filly made a great start to her career, winning on debut at Ascot Park and following up five days later with success in the last Nugget final of the season. After two more starts, she was given a long break and since resuming in January has never finished further back that fifth. Pressed forward from the six gate on Saturday, Born to Boogie made the lead at the 1100 and pressed on to win comfortably by two and a half lengths in 1:55.2. “She is high maintenance and went a bit sore last year but has the ability,” said Gray. Born To Boogie is a half sister to Glenferrie Hood, a son of Christian Cullen. A multiple group-race winner of 29 races in Australia, Glenferrie Hood ran third in the 2013 West Australia Derby. Nevermore, third dam of the pair, counted the 1993 Two-Year Old Fillies Sires Stakes final among her seven wins. Born To Boggie is now eligible for the $20,000 final which will be held at the Winton TC meeting on 13th April. Other winners of the heats in the Southern Belle Speed Series have been Just Dance (Wyndham), Sweet Mary (Winton) and Chitura (Northern Southland).   Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

The recently named Southland Horse of the Year Duke of Wellington is back in work at Lauren Pearson’s Winton stable. Now owned by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate, the four year old gelding has been lodging at Diane Cournane’s property (Pearson’s aunt) since winning the Alabar Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes on the 29th April. “He’s just back to be jogged up for Merv and then he’ll go elsewhere I suppose. I’m not too sure where he’s going after that. He’s come back in real good order, didn’t get too fat and he’s still got a shine on his coat so he looks real good. The break did him the world of good,” Pearson said. She’s resigned to the fact that her star will only be here for a short time but she’s pleased to have been a part of his early four year old preparation. “It’s great having a nice horse in your stable to make you get up and out on the cold mornings.” Pearson says the Duke of Wellington is also pleased to be back. “He went straight back into his old box down in the back paddock. He’s still lazy as on the track but he’s bucking around and playing in the paddock.” The American Ideal gelding qualified at Ascot Park in late October and in ten starts won five races and was placed another four times. He won his last four starts in a row including the Supremacy. “That was his first season (last season) because he didn’t do anything as a two year old. To do what he did on one prep was a hell of a good feat.” Pearson and partner Brent Barclay are jogging up three Butterworth horses; Governor’s Bay, Zealand Star and Duke Of Wellington. All horses have been in work since the 24th July and will have six weeks jogging. “He’ll (Merv Butterworth) give us a yodel and tell us what’s happening after that.” Pearson says Governor’s Bay has been well looked after since being turned out. “He’s in really good condition and has got a lot to fall back on. Hopefully he does a good job for Merv.” Governor's Bay                           - Photo Bruce Stewart He was owned by George Bennett, Paula Holmes and Peter and Ann Bagrie and won two races for Tom Bagrie before he was bought by Merv and Meg Butterworth. He had one start at the end of his four year old season for Brett Gray’s stable, running seventh in the fast run 2400 metre mobile event at Winton on 14th April. He was turned out after that. Pearson, after a two week holiday in Cairns and Townsville has most her team back in work, including promising trotter Super Fast Pat. “When he gets his mind on the job he’ll earn his keep. The motor’s there and he’s got a lot of ability. He hates the grit so that’s the main problem with him.”   Bruce Stewart Souhtland Harness Racing

New Zealand and Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney has been retired.  Another setback with a tendon injury which has plagued him for two years was enough for owner Merv Butterworth to retire the great stayer.  “After two years of operations, intensive rehabilitation and TLC, we came to the realisation that once we got him 99 per cent, he may have injured his tendon again,” Butterworth said.  “The top horses like ‘Rooney’ over-exert themselves hence their injuries and short life on the track.  “He is now in retirement as a fully fit $1 million-plus stake-earner and winner of many Cups in NZ and Australia.  “He is at home where he will be loved and well cared for.”  Arden Rooney, who started his career with the All Stars’ in NZ before switching to Kerryn Manning, raced 50 times for 21 wins, 15 placings and earnings of $1,070,230.  He won the 2015 Hunter Cup and the NZ Cup on November 10 of the same year.  Arden Rooney hasn’t raced since a 10th in the NZ free-for-all just three days after his NZ Cup win   Adam Hamilton

The Horsham Harness Racing Club today revealed the star studded line up set to contest the 28th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday March 12th. The ten confirmed invitees for the 2018 edition are Kerryn Manning (Vic), Ryan Warwick (WA), Chris Alford (Vic), Chris Geary (NSW) Greg Sugars (Vic), Ryan Hyrhorec (SA), Kate Gath (Vic), Gareth Rattray (Tas), Gavin Lang (Vic) and Peter McMullen (QLD). "It is another wonderful field," said Horsham Club CEO Jo Cross. "We will have five top Victorians including last year's champion Chris Alford here to take on drivers from all corners of Australia," she added. Chris Alford - 2017 Decron Horsham Champion Merv Butterworth of Decron Horse Care said the company was proud to continue its long time association with the Horsham Club's unique event. "All the drivers hold this contest in very high regard," he said. "That they so readily take up the opportunity to compete and are prepared to give up their time to travel from far and wide speaks volumes for its status." The Club and Butterworth also announced today that the Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship would continue into the year 2020 under the umbrella of Decron Horse Care. "Our partnership of the past seven years is now formally extended to ten," said Cross. "It gives us the opportunity to work with Decron and promote both the Drivers Championship and the race day itself, which recognises the contribution of all our industry participants." Drivers will compete in four, penalty free, $7000 races at Horsham with the winner on points to join the elite Noel Smith Memorial Honour Roll and collect a $1500 Travel Insights Melbourne or Melton Saddlery credit voucher. The ten competitors will each receive a Decron Horse Care show bag containing a Decron Leg Wrap Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Kit, Decron Osmotic Poultice Gel and promotional merchandise items. And of course there's the traditional sting in the tail that every competitor hopes to avoid - the dreaded, Gary Chequer commemorative wooden spoon which was "won" last year by Todd McCarthy (NSW). Nominations for the Labour Day Monday holiday meeting close with HRV at noon on Wednesday March 8th. Further information is available from Tony Logan on 0427 857411.   Anthony Logan

The powerful combination of eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis has high hopes of continuing its successful run in the $25,000 Allwood Stud Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the 3309m listed classic with up-and-coming star Motu Premier. Lewis and Olivieri have combined to win the Marathon Handicap with Nickelmeldon in 2009, Chief Thundercloud (2015) and Our Jericho (last year). Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho are owned by Merv Butterworth, who also races four-year-old Motu Premier, the youngest and least experienced runner in this week’s race. Motu Premier has shown the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting off the 30-metre mark, with only The Bucket List (off 40m) behind him. He has yet to contest a standing-start event in Australia, but has a good record in stands in New Zealand. His 23 New Zealand starts produced seven wins and ten seconds. He raced six times in stands for three wins. His final race in New Zealand was on the grass track at Methven where he began off 40m and ran on from sixth at the bell to win from Johnny Eyre. This week’s Marathon Handicap should suit Motu Premier ideally. The Bettors Delight gelding has won twice over 3000m. Twelve months ago Our Jericho, a 6/1 chance off the 10m mark, enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to win by a length from the pacemaker, the Michael Brennan-trained Naughty Maravu. Motu Premier arrived in Australia early in April this year and raced four times in New South Wales for three wins and a second placing. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a second. He maintained his splendid form when he started out wide at barrier eight, raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing powerfully to win the 2130m Chandon final from Mach Time and Natural Disaster last Friday week, rating 1.55.9. Brennan hopes to go one better than his second placing with Naughty Maravu last year and his four runners on Friday night are all capable standing-start performers. He will be represented by The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 40m who will be driven by Michael Grantham, Rub Of The Green (Gary Hall jun.), Cut For An Ace (Aiden de Campo) and Im Master Charlie (Chris Voak). The Bucket List is a quality pacer who has earned $317,935 from 19 wins and 31 placings from 75 starts. His four starts since resuming from a spell have produced a win over Our Jimmy Johnstone and Beaudiene Boaz and seconds to Tricky Styx (twice) and Chicago Bull. The Bucket List is an experienced standing-start performer and a redoubtable stayer, who finished a nose second to Firebomb in the 2970m York Cup at Northam in November 2015. Rub Of The Green has a splendid record of 19 wins, seven seconds and a third from only 33 starts. He has been freshened up since he was seventh early before racing in the breeze for almost two circuits and getting to the front on the home turn and winning from Robyns Raider in a 2503m stand on July 14. He will start from 30m on Friday night and will have many admirers. Im Master Charlie (front) and Cut For An Ace (10m) are not foolproof in stands, but are capable of figuring in the finish. Always Arjay is in outstanding form for Serpentine trainer Matt Scott, who has engaged Nathan Turvey to drive the five-year-old after Lewis opted for Motu Premier. Always Arjay, who will start off 10m, is a versatile pacer who has won in stands at his past four starts. Turvey won the 2013 Marathon Handicap behind Balleybofey. Tommy Be Good and Rycroft are racing keenly and will start off 20m. Stuart McDonald will drive the Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good, who impresses with his spirited finishing bursts. Rycroft set the pace and won a 2503m stand last Friday week for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old will be handled by Kim Prentice, who drove Serious Pursuit to victory in the 2003 Marathon Handicap. Kim Young, who drove To San Jose when he dead-heated for first with Sir Lektor in the 1996 Marathon, will be represented by veteran standing-start specialist Maximum Demand, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young and should be prominent from barrier one on the front line. Ken Casellas

Another Carnival and another display of dominance from the All Stars’ barn.  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen finished the Queensland Winter Carnival with five runners for four wins and a third.  Partyon landed the Provincial Oaks and ran third in the Queensland Oaks, while The More The Better won all three starts – Premiers’ Cup, Provincial Derby and last Saturday night’s Group Two Queensland Derby.  He saved his best for last. The Queensland Derby win was a bit special. The times said so.  The More The Better’s 1.56 mile rate for 2680m broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record. It was 0.1 quicker than Hectorjayjay ran winning the Group One Blacks A Fake a few races later.  And part-owner Roy Purdon was trackside to watch it.  Natalie Rasmussen partnered The More The Better to his first two Queensland wins, but she’s away on holiday so Mark Purdon took the reins himself this time. The result was the same.  Purdon drove as though he was on the best horse, and basically bludgeoned his way to the lead inside a lap. From there he was always going to be impossible to beat.  Last start Queensland Oaks winner Shartin, who led and took the trail, tried hard along the sprint lane to get within a half-neck, while another filly My Casino Belle ran a monstrous third after sitting parked in blistering times.  Former Purdon pacer Motu Meteor was shuffled to three pegs, and found it impossible to bridge the gap on the winner in a 27.3 last quarter. He ran a solid fourth.  The More The Better and Partyon now head to Sydney to qualify for the Breeders Crown, and then it’s on to Melbourne for the semis and finals of the Crown.    Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is hitting the road again with his buzz juvenile Colt Thirty One.  Dixon thought enough of the Mach Three colt to have a dip at the Australian Gold series at Menangle back in April, but immaturity got the better of him.  He learned from the experience and has returned to Queensland a lethal force, as evidence by his amazing 20m win in a sizzling 1.53.9 mile rate in the Group One Qbred final at Albion Park last Saturday night.  “We’re taking him to the Breeders Crown,” part-owner and breeder Kevin Seymour said. “We have to take him after what he did tonight (Saturday).”  With stand-out juvenile Lumineer out with injury, it’s a smart play by Seymour and Dixon.  On what Colt Thirty One did Saturday night, he looms as one of the major players in the Crown.  The other Group One Qbred winner, NSW filly Arts Treasure, could also head to the Crown.  “She’s got so much talent, but is still pretty big and raw,” trainer-driver James Rattray said. “That’s one of the most challenging drives I’ve had, but thankfully she did enough right to get the job done.”    There is some serious X-factor about former Kiwi juvenile Jack Mac.  Yes he might not be beating much in the WA juvenile features, but it’s more about the way he’s doing it and the times he is running.  Throw in the fact his driver Chris Lewis – a renowned hard-marker – has a huge opinion of him and you know this is no ordinary youngster.  The son of Mach Three arrived in WA with five unplaced NZ starts under his belt, but has belied that with six wins from as many starts.  The latest was the biggest in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  The colt sat parked early, worked to the front, left his rivals standing to win by 7.3m and broke the race record with a 1.57 mile rate. “The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” trainer Barry Howlett said. “We plan to start him in the Golden Slipper, then he’ll go for a spell. “Next season’s three-year-old feature events will be on his programme.”    Still on Gloucester Park and champion driver Gary Hall Jr put on a clinic last Friday night.  Hall Jr won half the 10-race card on a mix of favourites and outsiders.  The highlight was yet another sparkling and effortless win from buzz four-year-old Chicago Bull in the Free-For-All.  Hall Jr’s other wins came with The Publisher and Zach Maguire in races one and five for his father, trainer Gary Hall Sr.  He then finished off the night winning the second-last race on Sprinter for Gary Elson and $28.30 shot Illusionation for trainer Glenn Elliott in the final event.    The decision to try and rejuvenate classy NSW mare Ameretto by sending her south to Kerryn Manning has been a smash hit.  She’s improved at each of her four runs and looked positively stunning winning the Group Three Jane Ellen for mares’ by a cricket pitch at Melton last Friday night.  In a solidly run race, Ameretto stormed around the field out three wide to quickly put the race beyond doubt, and beat a good field by 17.3m in a blazing 1.55.4 mile rate for 2240m.  Ameretto won 17 races over her two, three and four-year-old seasons with Ashlee Grives (formerly Siejka), but had raced below her best with five NSW unplaced runs before being sent to Manning.  She’s now won 18 races and almost $270,000 with the promise of plenty more to come given the nature of her win last Friday.  It was the first leg of a training and driving double for Manning, who also scored with former Kiwi pacer Itz Bettor To Win in the seventh race.  The Merv Butterworth-owned gelding is gradually getting back to the potential he showed as a younger horse, and before being sidelined with injury.  The now five-year-old only scored by a head, but it was the fact he came from an outside back row draw, and around the field in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1720m.    The controversial date switch and stakemoney cut for the Victoria Cup has certainly divided opinions.  Like it not, HRV has at least been able to snare a sponsor with Allied Express signing-on for the October 14 feature at Melton.  Passionate harness man Colin McDowell, still involved strongly on the breeding and training side of things through his family, is Allied’s CEO and was thrilled to sponsor the Victoria Cup.  An even bigger coup will come if the new timeslot means buzz WA pacer Chicago Bull makes the trip across for Perth for the Victoria Cup. Adam Hamilton

Mark Purdon has snared two Derby placings with Motu Meteor this season, but now finds him as a major rival this weekend.  Since finishing second in the Victoria Derby and third in the NSW Derby, Motu Meteor has followed the path of so many other Merv Butterworth-owned pacers and moved to Kerryn Manning’s barn.  Manning and Butterworth decided last week to make a late raid on the Queensland Derby after Motu Meteor resumed from a spell with a sharp Ballarat win.  And now the draw has boosted his chances. Motu Meteor has gate one.  Purdon’s runner is raging hot favourite The More The Better, who has looked terrific winning both runs during his Queensland raid.  The More The Better is a $1.50 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 11), while Motu Meteor is a seemingly generous $4.50 from the pole over 2680m.  The other key player in the race is last week’s sparkling Queensland Oaks winner Shartin from gate two.  Nobody is better placed to line-up The More The Better and Motu Meteor than Purdon and he is openly surprised by the stark difference in the odds for the Derby.  “I don’t think there is much between them,” Purdon said. “If More The Better had the run Motu Meteor did in the NSW Derby I think he would’ve run third to those other two (Vincent and Ultimate Machete) as well.  “Motu Meteor’s got the good draw and if he can get the right sort of run, he will be hard to beat.”  Purdon takes the reins on More The Better this week with Natalie Rasmussen heading overseas today (Thursday) on holiday. Purdon’s Queensland raid ends on Saturday night and he then moves his Breeders Crown team to Sydney for qualifying heats at Menangle.  This will be a light Breeders Crown compared to recent years for the All Stars team.  “We’ve got just three for the Crown. Partyon and More The Better as well as the two-year-old Sicario,” Purdon said.  Adam Hamilton

It won’t be long before Mr Mojito is back in New Zealand.  That could be as soon as the Kaikoura and/or New Zealand Cups later this year.  Mr Mojito’s terrific second to the freakish Heaven Rocks at Ashburton last Saturday has simply fuelled the desire of connections to return and try to go one better.  “He ran a great race. Second just means we’ll have to come back and give it another shot,” co-trainer Grant Campbell said.  Owner Merv Butterworth more exact: “I’d like think he’ll be back in a few months time for the Kaikoura Cup. I’d love to try and do an Arden Rooney with him.”   Butterworth’s reference is to the fact Arden Rooney snared the Kaikoura/NZ Cup double in 2015. In doing so, trainer-driver Kerryn Manning became the first female to drive an NZ Cup winner.    Mr Mojito did he and connections proud when a slightly luckless, but well beaten second to the still largely untapped Heaven Rocks.  A reflective Manning pondered what might have been had she held the lead instead of handing over to former juvenile superstar Waikiki Beach in the middle stages.    “Maybe I should have kept him out and gone for the all-the-way win, but I thought he was the seasoned horse in the race and would cart me right into the sprint lane,” she said.  Instead, Waikiki Beach weakened on the home bend and held-up Mr Mojito while Heaven  Rocks zoomed away with an unassailable lead.  “I’m not saying it would changed the result, but I’m sure we would have finished closer to him,” Manning said.  That said, Manning was immensley proud of her new stable addition.   “He was second-up from a long spell, chased home a horse who likes a bit of a freak and beat the rest easily. Of course we’re thrilled,” he said.  Asked whether he could her next Arden Rooney, who won Manning a Hunter and NZ Cup, she said: “I hope so. He’s certainly a welcome addition to the stable.”  For now, Mr Mojito will return home and bolster the depth in Victoria’s free-for-all ranks.  “It’s only the start of his campaign, his second run back. He should keep getting better,” Manning said.  Adam Hamilton  

Classy pacer Mr Mojito is a definite Harness Jewels runner. The four-year-old returned from a lengthy spell at his first run for new trainer-driver Kerryn Manning when third in the Group 2 4&5YO Championship at Melton last night (Saturday). Owner Merv Butterworth was delighted with the run. "I'm thrilled times three," he said. "It was his run in a long time and to push through at the start when they were really burning and still fight it right out at the finish was terrific. "It was such a solidly run race and, even though he got the inside run, his lack of racing was always going to be the issue. "He hit the front a fair way out and just kept digging in. We were delighted." Butterworth said it was an ideal lead-up to a Jewels raid. "He'll come on a lot for the run and the trip across will tighten him up, too," he said. Mr Mojito boards a plane to Auckland on Thursday, will stable briefly at Tony Herlihy's then fly down to Christchurch to stable back his old "home" the Allstars' barn to prepare for the Jewels. Butterworth knows the enormity of the challenge. "We wouldn't be going if we didn't think he was a winning chance," he said. "Heavens Rock is the one to beat. He's a tremendous talent, but he's still got his quirks and has to do it all right on the day." Mr Mojito is a $4.50 third favourite on the Aussie TAB behind Heavens Rock $1.60 and Our Waikiki Beach $3.50. Butterworth is also looking forward to the 3YO Ruby where his young trotter President Roydon is $7.50 equal second favourite behind Enghein. "His run was terrific last Friday and it's given us hope we can cause the upset at the Jewels," he said   Adam Hamilton

Star mare Golden Goddess is the latest big name Harness Jewels casualty. Owner Merv Butterworth confirmed the plan to return to NZ for a Jewels tilt were over after she flopped at Melton last Friday night. "She pulled up with a cough and her heart rate was right up," he said. "We've decided to give a spell now in Melbourne to the Jewels is out, sadly." Golden Goddess sat parked in quick times, but wilted badly from the home bend when beaten almost 50m in 10th place behind The Orange Agent last Friday night. Her setback is a boost for glamour stablemate A Piccadilly Princess, who is battling to make the cut for a spot in the Jewels 4YO Diamond final. It wasn't all bad news for Butterworth over the weekend with his classy four-year-old Motu Premier winning the free-for-all at Menangle last night. Butterworth Jewels' focus now turns to Melton next Saturday with the return to racing of Mr Mojito. Now with Kerryn Manning, Mr Mojito head across for the Jewels providing he pleases connections first-up in the Group 2 4&5YO Championship on Saturday.   Adam Hamilton

Ryal Bush harness racing trainer Brett Gray knows that when Australian owner Merv Butterworth sends him horses it's generally for a short time. It doesn't bother him though, because he just feels privileged to be training for one of Australiasian's biggest players. So when Jimmy Mack won today in record time at Winton it could have been one of his last runs in the Gray colours.  “He and G I Joe are Melbourne bound. Not 100 per cent when. We’ll see what Merv says but the longer would be better. To get horses like Jimmy Mack and G I Joe in the stable is great. I don’t often get horses like that,” Gray said after Jimmy Mack beat another Australian owned pacer in Bettor Ops by a neck. Gray had four runners in today's pacing feature - The High Roller (8th), Young Conqueror (9th), G I Joe (4th) and Jimmy Mack. “I thought he (Jimmy Mack) was the one for today. But every time he comes to Winton he gets a bit het up.”  G I Joe was the favourite after it was widely publicised that he'd beaten both Jimmy Mack and Tas Man Bromac in the workout on the track last Friday. He'd in fact finished third behind them respectively.  In the hotly contested Marshall Industries Mobile Pace Jimmy Mack took an early lead before handing up to Tas Man Bromac with a lap to run. Tas Man Bromac took the field to the top of the straight where Jimmy Mack was given a run up the passing lane. Bettor Ops made his run down the middle of the track. At the finish Jimmy Mack held on to beat a game Bettor Ops by a neck with a nose back to Tas Man Bromac who was having his first race since October last year.  Jimmy Mack (6) beating Bettor Ops (7) and Tas Man Bromac (8) - Photo Bruce Stewart The winning time of 2-54.0 was a new track and Southland record for colts and geldings for the 2400 metres mobile. The previous record of 2-54.1 was jointly held by Robyn's Bad Boy and Rocking Robyn. Nek Time holds the All-Comers record of 2-53.0. The win today takes Brett Gray's training tally for the season to 20; three in front of Nathan Williamson on 17. “I’m not big on that sort of thing. If it happens it happens. Chasing stuff like that can get out of control. Nathan's a good mate so it doesn’t worry me,”  Gray said about winning the Southland Training Premiership. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Harnesslink is covering the Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold sale today. We have split the harness racing sale into four sections of 50 lots each. This is the report of the Lots between 100 to 150 After a very good clearance rate between lots 50 to 100, the buyers went back into their shell a bit again with ten passings of lots that sold between Lot 101 to 150. However the lots that appealed to the buying bench were keenly sought after with the result we had two six figure yearlings between lot 101 and 150. The first of the six figure yearlings was Lot 112 who is a colt by the champion sire Bettor's Delight from the the imported Artsplace mare Trulyawork Of Art 1:54.1 This makes him a half brother to the millionaire Big Bad John 1:49. ($1,000,559)  who was the leading first season sire in North America. He was sold to Justin Baker for $140,000 The second of the six figure yearlings was Lot 137 who is a filly by Somebeachsomewhere from the smart Art Major mare in Art Shadow 1:557.5 ($114,488) A prolonged duel ended with the filly being knocked down to Merv Butterworth for $125,000 Two sires dominated this section of the sale. Somebeachsomewhere had six yearlings that made more than $30,000 aside from the $125,000 filly. The second highest Somebeachsomewhere was Lot 134 which is a filly from the 1:51.6 Courage Under Fire mare in Artic Fire ($394,262). She is another Neil Pilcher purchase and will head to the All Star barn in New Zealand. The other five Somebeachwhere progeny to make more than $30,000 were * Lot 113 - A half brother to Flaming Flutter ($634,989)  -  $50,000 *Lot132  -  A half sister to Village Green 1:52.1 ($625,585)  -  $62,000 * Lot 135 - A filly from the Village jasper mare in Arkareena 1:56.5 ($130,305)  -  $30,000 * Lot 138 - A colt from the Art Major mare Arterial Way 1:55.8  -  $50,000 * Lot 150 - A half brother to Don't Hold Back 1:53.7  -  $60,000 Art Major had five yearlings in this section that made $30,000 or more. The pick of them was Lot 115 which is a half sister to the champion Smolda ($1,293,989)  - who made $60,000. The others who made $30,000 plus included * Lot 105 - A colt from  the Live Or Die mare The Good Times 1:54.4 ($200,639)  -  $55,000 * Lot 111  -  A colt from a Bettor's Delight half sister Garnet River 1:50 ($525,547)  -  ($52,500) * Lot 121  -  A colt from Vixen Hanover 1:55.4 ($373,313)   -   $35,000 * Lot 129  -  A filly from a half sister to Lierre Noir ($117,085)  -  $ 31,000 Bettor's Delight had a couple of big sales with Lot 147 being a colt from Bollinger Baby 1:56 ($67,256) who made $91,000 and Lot 143 who is a colt from the 1:59.4 mare Brandall Rose who made $40,000 Mach Three also had a couple of strong sales with Lot 106, who is a full brother to Fly Like An Eagle ($699,475) making $67,500 and Lot 126 who is a half brother to Zoey's Boy 1:54.6 who John McCarthy brought for $30,000 The only other lot to make $30,000 was Lot 145, a Sportswriter colt from a half sister to the champion pacer Palone Ranger 1:49.4 ($1,259,545) Harnesslink Media

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's feature racing in New Zealand may be over for the season but they are still hunting down harness racing Group I victories. The All Stars stable have runners in four of the New South Wales Breeders Challenge finals at Menangle on Sunday. It is hard to imagine the Rolleston based stable will not pick up at least two of the A$125,000 Group I finals. Prominent stable owners, Meg and Merv Butterworth could be in for a successful day with Our Golden Goddess and Supersonic Miss both strong winning chances. Smart Art Major filly Our Golden Goddess, who is undefeated in two starts since making her debut in Australia, will be heavily supported in the 1609m Breeders Challenge for two-year-old fillies. Golden Goddess originally drew barrier nine but has been aided by three scratchings inside her. But Purdon, who drives all four stable runners on Sunday, will still have to start outside likely favorite Heavens Trend. Our Waikiki Beach, unbeaten in eight starts, will be a short priced favourite in the Breeders Challenge for two-year-old colts and geldings over 1609m. Purdon should have everything on his own terms from barrier three and it is hard to see him not winning. Supersonic Miss has a handy barrier draw, starting from gate four in the Breeders Challenge for three-year-old fillies 2400m. After winning her last two starts, Supersonic Miss seems to be back to her best and will tough to beat. The fourth All Stars runner is Kept Under Wraps who will starts from barrier two in the Breeders Challenge for three-year-old colts and geldings over 2400m. Kept Under Wraps, by Bettor's Delight was disappointing in his last start when run down late but is the favorite with Australian bookies. Given the season the Purdon and Rasmussen team enjoyed in New Zealand in Group I races, a day of Kiwi domination at Menangle would not surprise. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the consent of the Christchurch Press

She is bred to be a harness racing superstar and judging by her debut at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday, Our Golden Goddess is set to live up to her bloodlines.   Not only did the Mark Purdon-trained youngster easily account for her rivals, she set an Australian record in the process.   Competing in a heat of the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge, Our Golden Goddess covered the mile in a scintillating 1:54.3, with her time shaving two-tenths of a second off Hazels Girl national mark.   Hazels Girl set the two-year-old fillies’ record at the same venue last March.   Thrilled with Our Golden Goddess’ performance, owner Merv Butterworth is confident his latest promising pacer can continue her winning way through the series.   “She has the semi-finals next on the 13th, then hopefully onto the Final a fortnight later,” Butterworth said. “Mark has had a fair opinion of her all along and hopefully she can convert that onto the racetrack.   “That was a terrific debut, and going on that run, she is capable of going through the series unbeaten, but we all know anything can happen in racing.”   With Purdon in the cart, Our Golden Goddess worked to the lead from barrier four before cruising to a six-and-a-half metre win from Merrywood Ruby, with Lettuce Go Pippa a metre-and-a-half away third.   By super sire Art Major, Our Golden Goddess is from exceptionally-bred mare Localize – a daughter of former top mare, Sabilize.   The family also includes Sushi Sushi, Royal Mattjesty, Sable Matters, B Dramattic, Sabelvision, Dragon’s Lair and Cole Muffer.   Our Golden Goddess’ victory was the opening leg of a double for Purdon, who also scored with outstanding three-year-old, Kept Under Wraps.   The son of Bettors Delight led throughout to complete an eight-and-a-half metre win from Toolijooa Dawn, with El Chango three-and-a-half metres away third.   With the final 800 metres run in 57.1 seconds, Kept Under Wraps covered the mile in 1:54.2, taking his record to six wins and five seconds from 16 starts.   Paul Courts  

Former New Zealander Blue Sky Commander is a raging favourite to make a successful Australian debut at Globe Derby on Saturday night. Transferred to leading Victorian horsewoman Kerryn Manning by owner Merv Butterworth last week, Blue Sky Commander is engaged in the time-honoured South Australia Trotters’ Derby. Triumphant at three of his last five starts, Blue Sky Commander has been posted as a $1.35 hot shot by TAB Fixed Odds after drawing perfectly in barrier two. Fellow Victorian youngster Amarula is regarded as the biggest threat despite drawing the outside of the front line. Unbeaten from four starts since arriving in Australia, Amarula is listed at $3.30. Thrilled with the squaregaiter’s form before leaving the Shaky Isles, Butterworth is extremely confident Blue Sky Commander will emerge victorious in the Blue Riband. “I think he will prove too classy from the draw,” Butterworth said. “He is a very talented trotter and is capable of winning some bigger races. “The only slight query is lack of fitness, but I’m not really concerned. “There are no set short term plans for him after this, but the Victoria Trotters’ Derby in July is the reason I brought him over here. “Whatever he does this weekend he will be a lot better for the run.” Butterworth, who co-owns his team with his wife Meg, also revealed his long term plans for star pacer Arden Rooney. With the son of Bettors Delight enjoying a well-earned spell, Butterworth has set his sights on next season’s New Zealand Cup. That will mean bypassing the Perth Inter Dominion in November. “He is having a break at the moment,” Butterworth said. “The plan is to definitely take him back to New Zealand for the Cup, which means the Inter Dominion isn’t part of his agenda.” PAUL COURTS

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