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The final meeting of the Methven Trotting Club will take place on Sunday 29 March at the picturesque Mt. Harding course. The feature race will be Woodlands Stud Mt. Hutt Country Cup for the 56 and faster pacers over 3,000 metres. The club has noted the huge numbers at recent grass track meetings and as always will attempt to accommodate as many horses as possible. At this stage the meeting is likely to be a ‘ghost’ meeting with off course betting only although this may be subject to change. The recent Norwood Rural Awards results were pleasantly received in the small Mid Canterbury township with both Sarah O’Reilly (Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson) and Ricky May (Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award) winners both from highly respected third generation Methven harness families. Go you good things! In other news the club has sold 2 hectares of its land to a Methven Hot Pools consortium so in a year or two's time patrons might want to bring their togs and have a relaxing time in the hot pools before or after the races! So if we can’t see you live at the races make sure you tune in on trackside at Methven where the sun always shines.   HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Woodlands Stud reaped the rewards from giving a rookie trainer a go on a big weekend for the breeding giant. The Auckland stud secured its second confirmed starter in the group 1 Nevele R Fillies Series when Princess Jessie scored a front running win in a series heat at Methven on Sunday. The Simon McMullan trained 3yr-old will join fellow Woodlands Stud product Need You Now, who won a series heat in Auckland on Friday night, in the $140,000 final. McMullan credits Woodlands Stud for taking a chance on an emerging trainer like himself with his promising filly. “I have to credit Andrew Grierson for giving a young trainer a go and giving me such a nice filly to train,” McMullan said. “They could have sent her to any trainer in the country.” Princess Jessie made her way to his West Melton barn after the trainer made enquiries with the stud to see if he could take on one of their horses after he had looked after Utmost Delight for former training partner, Steven Reid, ahead of her group 1 win in New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Stakes, almost two years ago. “I trained a few for Woodlands when I was in partnership with Reidman and I looked after Utmost Delight when she won the group 1 down here,” McMullan said.  “Not long after that, I sent an email saying I would really love the opportunity to train one for them.” Princess Jessie ran three sound races in strong fields before turning heads with a 1.54.9 mile (1609m) win at Wyndham in her start prior to Saturday’s win. McMullan puts the filly’s upgrade in form and back-to-back wins down to him making some minor changes to her training regime. “She probably wasn’t going quite as well as I was hoping in her runs previous to her last two starts.” “So, I have changed her training around a little bit and it really worked.” Princess Jessie had formed a strong partnership with driver Jonny Cox, who has had her in the lead to win her last two starts. “I think she is a better filly driven like she has in the last two starts,” McMullan said. “I think she likes to be up amongst it up.” The filly will step up significantly in class from Saturday’s conditioned heat to the Nevele R Fillies Series. McMullan is hopeful Princess Jessie can handle the task. “I always thought she could measure up to the Classic races.” “I am not saying she is going to win one, but she is definitely still on the way up and hopefully she can step up to that level and be competitive.” Princess Jessie scored by three-quarters of a length over runner-up Maharani, who tracked her throughout. Vesnina put in an eye-catching performance to run third on debut. The Darren Keast trained 3yr-old may have tested the winner had she not paced roughly in the straight. The favourite, Miss Graceful, who like Princess Jessies is also bred and raced by Woodlands Stud and raced by one of its syndicates, ran fifth. The stud’s syndicates enjoyed an excellent weekend with Some Do joining Need You Now in the winner’s circle at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Speedy Ashburton mare Queen Bee Bardon will be out to get her season back on track in today’s Hororata Cup at Methven. The Ben Waldron trained pacer started this term off in good style, before a blood complaint saw her form drop away. Queen Bee Bardon ran top four placings behind top tier pacers Amazing Dream and Gran Chico, before going a creditable race when tiring late after doing a power of week in Wainui Creek’s Southern Mares Classic on Show Day at Addington. It was not until her head-scratching last in the Ashburton Cup that Waldron was forced to go back to the drawing board with his 7yr-old. The trainer has got on top of Queen Bee Bardon’s issues and she is ready to start working on resurrecting her form line in today’s 3000m feature. “She had been disappointing, because she did come up really well in the early part of the spring and we were really happy with where she was at,” Waldron said.  “Her blood was all over the place after Cup Week, but she is much better now.” Queen Bee Bardon has been known as a sit-sprinter for much of her career, but has been seen doing more work in her races recently. That is not likely to continue today from her 20m backmark, but it will further in to her campaign. “She is a very strong horse and there is no reason she couldn’t muscle up a bit,” Waldron said. “But, tomorrow I would be inclined to be a bit cautious.” “It’s her first run back for a while.” “But. as a rule she can definitely work.” Queen Bee Bardon won a workout at Methven last week ahead of her return from 20m alongside leading race contender Baltimore Jack. The pair give two of the other key players in the race, Hayden’s Meddle and Jay Tee Tyron, a 10m head start. Waldron lines his blueblood trotter One Over Dover up in the following event at Methven today. The 8yr-old went a sound race for fourth in his last start at Orari, after disappointing on the recent Blenheim circuit.  “You wouldn’t want to play poker with him, he would have another set of cards under his seat,” Waldron said. “He is probably another one that has been a wee bit off colour. “We were really confident with him ahead of Blenheim and he went up there and went awful. “It was a bit of a shock to us, because he trialled super.” “We have just changed his work pattern a bit since then and he seems to be staying up better.” Waldron also starts Fletch in race 6. He also went a creditable race for sixth in his last start at Orari.  “Blair said he will win one, but whether it is on Sunday I don’t know,” Waldron said. “But that was pretty encouraging, because nobody knows more than him.” The 8yr-old will be having his third start for Waldron after transferring from Colin deFilippi’s stable to take advantage of the Ashburton trainer’s water walker.  “He is a funny wee horse, he has had a few wee injury problems.” “That is why Colin decided to give him a go with us in the water.” “He is capable enough, I think.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Veteran trainer Fred Fletcher had a spring in his step on Monday morning after Mikey Maguire’s win in the Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. The Mach Three pacer is a horse bloodstock agents and Australian buyers have tried time after time to get their hands on. But, Fletcher and his wife, Fay, have resisted big money offers so they can have the enjoyment of the racing the 6yr-old. They got exactly that when Mikey Maguire came with a late finish along the passing lane for an upset win at $33 odds in the grass track feature for driver Colin deFilippi. “At my age I need something to get up in the morning for and he is the type of horse that will always give you 100%,” Fletcher said. “We were offered huge money for him and I don’t care if he never makes what we could have sold him for.” “We are in it for racing  - at my age there is no need to worry about what you are going to do next.” deFilippi pushed Mikey Maguire forward after a slowly retreating mobile gate left and he found the a spot for the horse in the one-one. The pair stayed there, until the reinsman found a run on the inner in the home turn for to zoom home to beat Nandolo and Heisenberg. “They are a couple of tough old campaigners he beat,” Fletcher said. “He was bolting around the top corner, but he didn’t have much racing room.” “It always looked like he was going to get there when he got out.” “It was a great drive - we stick with Colin a bit.” “He is a good driver and a good horseman, he wouldn’t have won so many races if he wasn’t.” Mikey Maguire helped Fletcher complete a matching set of Methven Green Mile trophies on Sunday. He won the Trotters Green Mile in 2014 with Royal Aspirations. The squaregaiter’s stock are the next thing Fletcher has to get excited about. He has three in his barn and they all look like stepping out this season as 2yr-olds. “At the moment we are concentrating on his young ones – we have three of them and they will all make 2yr-olds.” “We qualified two of them about three weeks ago at Ashburton and we have another filly that is up with those two, if not better.” “So, we will have three 2yr-old trotters racing this season.” Fletcher is hopeful his 2yr-olds can be flag flyers for his former, who stands at Phoebe Stud at Broadfields. “Whether these 2yr-olds are good enough, we don’t know yet, but I am hoping Royal Aspirations will be a sensation sire as a trotter.” “He is getting a lot more mares this year – and this is a hard mare for a stallion – his third season.” “If he gets away to a good start with these trotters this season he will be one of the more favoured trotting sires next breeding season at a real cheap price.” This year’s Trotters’ Green Mile was won by Heavyweight Hero in his first start since shifting south to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. The 6yr-old held out last year’s winner, Amaretto Sun, by a length for driver David Butt. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Cam Hart is reveling in the glory of a perfect start to this year’s Hanley Formula Australasian Young Drivers Championship. The New South Wales representative, from Sydney, added to Saturday night’s first heat win at Addington with two more at Sunday’s grass track meeting in Methven. Accordingly, he has more than double the points of his nearest rival, defending champion Sheree Tomlinson. Tomlinson and her three fellow kiwis are in positions two through four on the points ladder, while Hart’s comrades from across the ditch are languishing at the bottom of the table. Hart did have the benefit of a couple of well-fancied drives at Methven, but still had to get the job done in what was his first experience driving on a grass surface. “Having a bit of luck makes a difference and I was lucky enough to draw a couple of nice horses today. “It was a good experience, my first time on the grass. “It was quite a nice track – smoother than I expected.” Refine won from the front in heat 2, but Beau Major had to be the best horse in the race after sitting parked throughout. “He gave me a really good feel. He’s a tough horse with change-up speed. “When I asked him to go, he found the line well. “It was a really impressive win and I think he’ll go on to do a good job.” Being so far in front is a luxurious position for Hart, but not one he is taking for granted. “I won’t think too much in to it. “I just have to go out there with a clear mind and drive the races the way I always would. “They’re all good drivers and with a bit of luck, they could catch me, especially the Kiwis.” The series moves to Manawatu on Tuesday and Thursday now and a glut of nominations will see a bonus race for the series on Tuesday as there were enough to cart three heats rather than the planned two. It also gives his opponents an extra chance to bridge the gap on him. Hart has drawn three horses in Our Wicklow, Brooke’s Image and Scelta Uno that are all capable of finishing in the money so he’s a live chance of holding his lead. “I haven’t had a chance to look at the fields yet, but I plan on doing it tomorrow on the trip up.” Hart works for Shane Sanderson at Menangle so is used to the hustle and bustle of hard mile racing. Longer trips and a more sedate tempo is something uncommon to him. “We have the 2300-metre start at Menangle but it’s mainly mile racing. “You get a bit more of a breather over here, I’ve noticed. “In Aussie, especially in Sydney, if you try and have a quiet quarter in front you’ll get taken on.” Hart is looking forward to the series’ final night, in Auckland on Friday, the night before the Inter Dominion Grand Finals. “It’s been good coming over here and driving on the grass on a big track, and I can’t wait to get up to Alexandra Park and race the ‘other’ way, too.” Points after 3 heats: Cam Hart (NSW) 50; Sheree Tomlinson (Def. Champ) 23; John Morrison (SI) 22; Sarah O’Reilly (NZ Champ) 21; Benjamin Butcher (NI) 18; Matt Elkins (Qld) 18; Corey Peterson (WA) 15; Brodie Webster (SA) 13; Conor Crook (Tas) 7; Zac Phillips (Vic) 6. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Talented trotter Heavyweight Hero will do a U-turn to resume his stop-start career in the Trotter’s Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Switching directions has been the motivator for the 6yr-old’s part owner and former trainer, Todd McFarlane, sending the horse to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. Heavyweight Hero’s problem hooves have been the difference between the trotter showing flashes of brilliance, rather than consistently good form, during his off and on 20 start career. The Muscle Mass trotter’s move south to Butt’s stable has been a case of McFarlane coming up with a cunning plan to work around Heavyweight Hero’s troublesome toes. “Todd had brought him back up at home and had him going pretty good,” Butt said. “But, he has still had a lot of trouble with his feet and he was finding that he was trotting much better left handed than right handed because of it.” “So, he gave me a call out of the blue, to see if I he could send him to me and get some left handed racing in to him.” Heavyweight Hero arrived at Woodend Beach only a matter of days ahead of Sunday’s feature 1609m trot. In that short time, he has impressed his new trainer. “I really like him, he feels like a really nice trotter.” “I definitely think he will win races down here and do a good job.” “Todd said he could have a trial once he got down here, but I saw this race coming up and I thought it could suit him - with a lot of the good trotters away up north.” Heavyweight Hero showed off his trotting talent at the Pukekohe trials before heading south. He impressed when beat rising star Tickle Me Pink in a 2500m trial. That form was franked when the runner-up went a big race when resuming at Alexandra Park off a huge 40m handicap. The trial and his work since arriving gives Butt hope Heavyweight Hero be highly competitive in a field largely made up of race hardened trotters. “His trial up north was pretty good and Todd has done a lot of work with him, so he should be pretty competitive on Sunday,” Butt said. “I took him to work on the grass on Monday and he was really good, so that shouldn’t be a problem, either.” Defending Trotters’ Green Mile champion, Amaretto Sun, is amongst Sunday’s line up. The Ken Ford trained squaregaiter goes in to this year’s edition in similar circumstances to last year. Amaretto Sun disappointed during last year’s New Zealand Cup Carnival, before bursting back in to life in the Methven feature. The Ford stable will be hoping he can do the same this year. Other race contenders will attempt to continue their strong New Zealand Cup week form on Sunday. They include Ruthless Kayla, Globe Trekker and Overzealous. A G’s White Socks being away for his brilliant Interdominion campaign means he will not be able to win his third consecutive Pacers’ Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope have four runners in the 1609m feature that could see them secure a hat-trick of training wins in the race. Their team is made up of Vinnie Rulz, Three Ideas, Homebush Lad and Kendra.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner  Group 1 winning trainers Brendon Hill and Mark Jones will start their first runners on the first day of their new partnership at Methven on Friday. Five runners will represent what could develop in to a super stable that has brought the two time New Zealand Cup and two time Dominion winning trainers together, Hill admitted the pair are still finding their feet and negotiating the finer points of how their new venture will operate. However, there is no doubt about the excitement around the new partnership. And that is not just limited to the trainers themselves. “It has been nice that there has been a lot of positive talk about us giving it a go and some people are saying there should be more trainers doing it and that it is the way of the future,” Hill said. “It is a new venture – we are just finding our feet.” “There is a lot to take on board, but we are taking small steps and trying to look after our owners and do the right thing by our horses.” Hill will produce the partnership’s first two runners from his Swannanoa base when Fine By Me and Washington Lady start in race 4 at Methven. Fine By Me has had little luck in four previous starts for Hill and driver Ricky May. It is hoped that can change when she starts from barrier 1 for her new stable. “She has been going better than it looks, she has had no luck,” Hill said. “We have got the draw, hopefully she can get off the gate and get handy.” “She has blinds on this time, so she should be on the bit and on the job behind the gate.” Washington Lady has drawn barrier 8, relegating her to the stable’s second hope. “She should only improve off this run, but it isn’t a great draw.” Donegal Gilbert, who also has May in the sulky, also strikes a tricky draw in race 8. But, he should be better placed to over come it than Washington Lady. The 4yr-old went a strong race first up when doing plenty of work sitting parked at Oamaru when finishing little more than a length away from the winner, Sounds Lika Gem. “Ricky really likes this little horse, he tries his heart out,” Hill said.  “He has been working really nice and he has benefitted from that run the other day.” “We haven’t tried him on grass before, but hopefully it works.” Beaudiene Overtake returns from a spell in race 5 for Jones and Hill. Though the horse has not had a trial or workout leading in to her resumption, she could still go a big race for stable junior driver Korbyn Newman. “She’s fresh up with no trials or workouts, but her work has been really nice,” Hill said  “Her win was just in maiden grade but I thought it was a pretty good win.” The Jones arm of the trainers’ new venture starts just one runner at Friday’s meeting in Sioux Princess. The 5yr-old went a strong race for second in her second-last start at Methven, almost three weeks ago. The trotter disappointed when galloping behind the gate in a subsequent start at Addington. Sioux Princess will have another attempt from behind the mobile in race 7 on Friday.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner All Stars pacer Chase Auckland showed off his staying prowess and got his New Zealand Cup preparation back on track with a tough win in the Methven Cup on Sunday. Sitting parked on a rain affected track proved no obstacle for the 5yr-old, who wore down his stablemate Ashley Locaz to win the 3000m feature for driver Tim Williams. Chase Auckland’s winning time showed off just how testing the Methven track was and what a big staying motor he possesses. The Auckland Reactor gelding produced the slowest winning Methven Cup time in the past decade when he stopped the clock at 4:01.8. That time is more than 10sec slower than Cruz Bromac’s 3:51.3 effort, last year. The most impressive part of Chase Auckland’s staying effort for Williams came when the horse reeled off a 28.7sec last 400m and felt strong to the line on the slow rated track. “I think it showed today that he has got a bit of toughness about him when he is in the zone,” he said.  “To run home in good time for the last 400m on that track, after sitting parked, was a pretty big effort.” Chase Auckland looked a seasoned open class pacer with his nearly perfect Methven Cup display, after looking like a freshman floundering in the deep end in his last two starts. The former star 3yr-old’s New Zealand Cup hopes took a dive after he botched the start and then dropped out of the Canterbury Classic, after producing an eye-catching effort marred by another poor start in the Hannon Memorial. Stepping cleanly and pacing fluently during his win meant Chase Auckland not only boosted his stocks with harness racings fans, he bought some relief to the All Stars camp.  “He needed to do that – I think it has been a mental thing for him at the start,” Williams said. “So hopefully, he takes a real good bit of confidence from it so when he has to do it again he can get it right again.” “I think being off the 20m and not having to stand there was a different kettle of fish compared to what he had had the last couple of starts.” “It was good that he could do it today, because if he couldn’t do it off 20m it would be back to the drawing board.” Several of the beaten runners produced excellent efforts after giving away a race fitness edge to Chase Auckland, who went in to the Methven Cup with more spring starts than any of his rivals. Ashley Locaz showed he was a genuine New Zealand Cup hope by producing a fighting second in his second spring start. Smokin By produced a big effort in his first run of the season to nail Gran Chico on the line for third. Thefixer showed his New Zealand Cup defence was on target when he finished less than two lengths from Chase Auckland in fifth place.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

 Don’t expect the best version of Thefixer to be on show for his comeback race in the Methven Cup on Sunday. Because while the conditions of the race look perfect for the defending New Zealand Cup champion, the horse himself is still very much on the way up.  Thefixer hasn’t raced since the middle of April and his Cup defence has started later than his key rivals because of annoying hoof issues.  They have improved after spending much of the last two weeks with beach trainer Regan Todd but while he is on the up winning a grass track 3000m race off a 30m handicap in your first start in six months is anything but easy.  “I am not saying he can’t win but he will definitely improve with the run,” says trainer Mark Purdon.  “His hooves seem better now than they have been for a while. After he works at the beach he then cools down in the salt water, which also helped his hooves.  “But these races are still hard to win fresh up so I’d narrowly rate Ashley Locaz as our best chance with Thefixer and Chase Auckland equal next.” Chase Auckland was a dramatic failure at Addington last start but worked well yesterday morning and could be the best bet in the race even though a hard 3000m might be outside his sweet spot. Meanwhile, Purdon is hoping moves by fellow trainers to get an open class race added to Addington next Friday comes off so he can get an extra race into New Zealand Cup favourite Spankem.  The stable’s trotting sensation Oscar Bonavena is also likely to race next Friday but Purdon is non-committal as to whether the four-year-old will contest both the NZ Free-For-All and Dominion during NZ Cup week and rates the Auckland Inter Dominions as 50-50 at this stage, important as Oscar Bonavena is favourite for all three races.   Michael Guerin

By Matt Markham You won't find too many trainers using a $30,000 Group Three feature as a yardstick to get a line on exactly where their horse is at but that's the situation Nigel McGrath has found himself in heading into tomorrow's Methven Cup. McGrath, who is never shy of a having a good horse or two in his barn, thinks he might potentially have a very good in one in up and coming pacer, Gran Chico - but the only way to know if you're actually going to be capable beating in the best is to find out against the best. So that's what he's doing. Having just his 13th race day appearance, Gran Chico will tomorrow take a step into the abyss tomorrow when he tackles the Methven feature up against Group One winners including defending New Zealand Trotting Cup champion, Thefixer. "We're going to find out pretty quickly," McGrath said yesterday. "I think I know how good he is, but until you get into those types of races up against those really good horses you just don't know. "I've gone into races before thinking I'm unbeatable and gone home with my tail between my legs. A winner fresh up in stunning fashion last week at Addington, Gran Chico - to be fair, has always looked above average and his run for second behind Jesse Duke on Harness Jewels day earlier this year was one of the performances of the season. But Methven is a whole new ball game. It's a grass track, it's a stand start and it's a new challenge. "I'm not worried about to be honest, we took him out to Motukarara today (Friday) and gave him a bowl around behind a galloping pacemaker and he was perfect. "He's a pretty sensible sort of horse, just a big lump of a dude, but the stand shouldn't worry him too much." The cause is helped significantly by the fact that Blair Orange will be doing the steering. New Zealand's leading reinsman, Orange is driving as good as ever currently and gives all his drives an extra edge when they step onto the track. Safely through tomorrow's assignment, McGrath is plotting a path to the second Tuesday in November and the New Zealand Trotting Cup. But there's a bit of water to go under the bridge still if he is to take his part. "I'm going to leave him in the mix, we'll go this weekend and then he can most likely head to Ashburton for the Flying Stakes. "As long as he doesn't get left behind there (Ashburton) then we'll press forward to the Cup I think. If things don't go well then we might look at turning the attention to next year, but I'm reasonably confident he'll be competitive." While Gran Chico offers up the unknown quantity of the Methven Cup field for tomorrow, there's some pretty well-knowns set to take their place too. Thefixer is joined by stable mates, Chase Auckland and Ashley Locaz giving the All Stars stable a really strong chance of winning their seventh edition of the race in the past 10 years. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The old adage that a change is as good as a holiday rung true at Ashburton on Sunday. It was there that former two-year-old Group 1 winner Renezmae made a return to the winner’s circle for the first time in 17 months. The pint-sized daughter of The Pres was having her first start for beach trainer Regan Todd, who admitted post-race to being a little surprised by the ease of her six-length win. “She went bloody good today, I thought. “I thought she’d race well but that definitely surprised us a bit. She really showed a bit of ‘lick’.” In the hands of Todd’s stable driver, Robbie Close, Renezmae sat last of the nine horses throughout before angling widest at the top of the straight and letting down with a superb sprint. Former trainer Jack Harrington sent Renezmae out to Todd at Woodend Beach after another disappointing effort, at Rangiora on August 11. “I’ve probably had her a month and we’ve just played around with her,” said Todd. “We started from scratch and gave her completely different training to what she was used to. “That sort of thing, with a change of scenery, can often pick them up. “Jack said she wasn’t half-pie going any good and he basically got to the end of the line with her. “He felt she was too good a horse not to try something with so that’s why he rung me.” It didn’t take Todd long to realise he had the basis of a nice horse to work with. “She’s gotten better and better since she arrived and the last few weeks has worked like a nice horse. “I took her down to the Geraldine trials last week thinking we were going to Methven today and she trialed well.” Renezmae is now a rating 69 and a return to Addington is most likely. “She’s up in the ratings a bit and I thought she was probably a bit hard done by being a 64 before today despite not winning for so long. “So, we can’t get too excited because now we’ll have to give her a go against the better ones.” Todd has made a typical impressive start to the season with five winners on the board already, including a double to Friday night winner Lets Hustle. “Things are going bloody good at the moment. “We’ve got 25 in work and some good clientele behind them so it’s exciting times.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's success with ex-Australian pacers continued yesterday at Mt Harding racecourse when Cruz Bromac powered over the top of his rivals to win the Methven Cup by more than two lengths. The Falcon Seelster gelding was having his first start on the grass surface, a fact that did not worry his driver Natalie Rasmussen who commented on the All Stars website that the grass didn’t worry them because he is a good gaited horse. "He did scramble a bit early but that was probably getting used to the surface. "It was good to see him bouncing straight up with some form here. "We think he will probably go to the Kaikoura Cup. We have a huge week coming up and we expect to have 16 horses at Ashburton as well as some at Addington Friday and four at the trials on Wednesday," she said. Although the track was on the dead side the time for Cruze Bromac of 3-51.3 for the 3000m stand lowered the old track record held by Messini by nearly half a second, proving Cruz Bromac has what it takes to be a major force in the up-coming New Zealand Cup in November. The favourite for the race Star Galleria led for most of the way but weakened to only run third,while Forgotten Highway continued his good form and enhanced his Cup chances by running home well into second for driver Samantha Ottley.   Harnesslink Media

An exciting weekend of harness racing coming up including the last grass track meeting of the season at Methven on Sunday. The five meetings this week are Manawatu tonight, Addington and Auckland race on Friday night. Weekend harness racing heads to Winton on Saturday and Methven race on Sunday.  Last week the biggest dividend in the ringaround selections went to Jim Curtin for the second week in a row when his best chance for the week Le Lievre's Gift won at Addington on Friday night and paid $6.40 and $2.20 on the tote. Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often.   Manawatu on Thursday Jay Abernethy - Jay thinks his best drive this week is Four Starzzz Legend at Manawatu in Race 7 Jim Curtin - Jimmy is going for Franco Empire as his best chance this week at Manawatu in Race 9   Addington on Friday night Mark Jones - Mark says his best chance this week is Michelle at Addington in Race 3 Blair Orange - Blair thinks his best drive this week would be Sportscaster at Addington in Race 4 Ricky May - Ricky says his best drive this week would be Kendra at Addington in Race 7 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is going for Tiger Thompson as his best drive this week in Race 8   Auckland on Friday night John Curtin - John thinks Ash can win fresh up in the North Island this week in Race 3 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks South Island import Double O Heaven can win Race 4 Tony Herlihy - Tony is opting for Gold Orchid as his best chance this week at Alexandra Park in Race 6   Winton on Saturday Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Triroyale Brigade at Winton in Race 7 Brad Williamson - Brad says his best chance this week would be The Doorman in Race 9 Shane Walkinshaw - Shane is going for Mighty Conqueror as his best drive this week also in Race 9 Geoff Knight - Geoff says that Fiery Ferret would be his best chance at Winton in Race 10   Methven on Sunday Bob Butt - Bob is going for With Ice as his best chance this week at Methven in Race 1 Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best drive could be Sweeney Todd at Methven in Race 3 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Kensington Kate can go close to winning at Methven in Race 5 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week would be Doc Seelster in Race 6 Racechat - Lance thinks that Clasina Maria is a good chance at Methven in Race 8 Gavin Smith - Gavin thinks Red Hot Rocket is a chance if he behaves at Methven in Race 9   Harnesslink Media  

Trackside Coverage - 5 March – 11 March (please note the following is subject to change) Wednesday Cambridge (TS2) 8.30pm The Box Seat (TS1) – on the show this week The Auckland Carnival is in full swing - we check out the winners from Friday and some potentials for this week. Plus we also recognise some significant Harness racing milestones.  Thursday 6am In The Gig (TS1) Forbury (TS1) Friday Westport (TS1) Alexandra Park (TS1) Saturday Invercargill (TS2) Sunday Reefton (TS1)   Cambridge – Wednesday 7 March An eight race card starting at 5.31pm. Entry to the course is free.   Forbury Park TC – Thursday 8 March An 11 race card featuring a $25,000 Pick Six. First race starts at 5.27pm. Entry is free and there are multiple dining options available at the Forbury Park Sports Bar and Bistro oncourse.   Westport TC – Friday 9 March Following the recent Cyclones Fehi and Gita the Westport Trotting Club are thrilled to announce that their racing surface for their meeting on Friday 9 March has bounced back in great order. Following Cyclone Fehi, which hit the West Coast hard in early February, the track was inundated with sea water from a large surge caused by the storm. “It wasn’t the rain so much that hurt us there,” said Club President Dan Moloney. “But the wind that caused the surge and brought sea water on to the racing surface and grounds.” The sea water caused damage to the grass, with a patchy surface appearing after the water subsided. But Moloney was quick to praise the Club’s members and the swift efforts involved to resurrect the track.  “We applied gypsum and ammonium sulfate and are amazed at how well the track has recovered. We are pleased that we are going to have a very good racing surface next week.” “Luckily following Gita we only had a tree fall at the racecourse. But no actual damage to the racing surface itself.” The Club is looking forward to welcoming racing connections back to Patterson Park, and there is one regular in particular that will take sentimental focus. “We understand that Margo Nyhan and Peter Davis will bring Sarah Palin here as part of her farewell tour,” said Moloney. “Sarah Palin her first two races here during March meetings in her career, and we are thrilled that she will be here for one last Westport appearance.” Sarah Palin is in foal and is currently on a ‘farewell tour’ as dubbed by her connections. She recently won her tenth career race, and has remarkably placed a further fifty times during her career. Entry to the course is free, and there will be a BBQ and live music after the last with two TAB windows remaining open for those who wish to wager on the Auckland meeting.    Friday 9th March Premier Night Derby Night For the lovers of the harness-racing action, The Top of the Park and the Tasman will be open with deluxe Derby Night packages and a fantastic view. Derby Night at the Top of the Park and the Tasman Room | Packages Include: · Delicious gourmet buffet dinner · Premium Beverage Package OR Cash Bar · Private betting facilities within the room · Race book for each guest Prices from $60- $120.00 Book online at https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/ or e-mail dining@alexandrapark.nz   Northern Southland – Saturday 10 March It will be quite a day at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Saturday. The meeting features three Group 3 races, the Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup, the Prydes Easi-Feeds Southern Lights Handicap Trot and the Alabar NZ / Caduceus Club Of Southland 2yo Fillies Mobile Pace. In addition the programme also includes the Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks and the Caduceus Club Of Southland Super Nugget Final. As well as some premier racing the day will also bring to a conclusion the Northern Southland Trotting Club’s season long competition. One more lucky winner will be found on Saturday from a draw of all losing tote tickets and they will join Brian Pitcher and Isla Palmer, winners at the club’s earlier meetings, in the final draw to win one of three great prizes. The major prize is a trip to the Easter Cup at Addington on Saturday 31 March courtesy of the Yaldhurst Hotel, second a trip for two to Stewart Island with airfares, accommodation and breakfast courtesy of Stewart Island Flights while the third placegetter will receive a two night stay at the Distinction Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau.  Owners are welcome to join the club in the Alabar NZ Owners Room on the day.   The first race is timed to start at 12.00 noon and admission is free.   Reefton Trotting Club – Sunday 11 March Entry is free to this meeting and will see the very last race meeting for Team Teal 2018 in New Zealand. Wear teal and go into the draw to win great prizes oncourse on the day!   Addington Raceway & Events Centre March Racemeetings There is great racing at Addington over the next few weeks with over $500,000 in Stakes up for grabs.  We would love to host you.  Please see below some fabulous dining options for you to consider. Friday 16 March – Mediaworks Race Night Four-Star Race Meeting Friday 23 March – 5-Star Race Meeting Easter Saturday 31 March – 4-Star Race Meeting   Trackside Dining Options Are you needing to entertain clients or organize staff functions? Add a unique Trackside Dining Experience. You can choose from our fabulous Gold, Silver or Bronze packages. Gold Package – Premier viewing, divine four course buffet dining, premium beverage package and effective & innovative marketing. $93 + GST per person. Silver Package – Premier viewing, divine four course buffet dining and premium beverage package. $80 + GST per person. Bronze Package – Premier viewing and divine four course buffet dining. $54 + GST per person. Spectators Open till Late! Our fabulous array of pizzas and delicious burger options will be available for all to enjoy. (Gluten free and vegetarian options available). $15 A La Carte Dining – Choose from five of our divine dishes that are available in the Christian Cullen Lounge, located on level 1 of the Metropolitan Stand. (Gluten free and vegetarian options available). Stables BBQ – Enjoy a bite to eat from the Stables BBQ. Whether it is a juicy burger or a pottle of chips, your hunger cravings will be satisfied. The BBQ is located at the stables entrance directly beside the Lindauer Lawn. Next Rugby Match - CRUSADERS VS. BULLS – Friday 23 March – 7.35PM – Hot off the Press - Spectators is now offering an amazing $15 Pizza and Beer Game Day Special, as well as the popular $10 Burger and Beer Special! Remember, all Spectators Supporters Club Card members have access to free car parking on the Addington Site (entry to the carpark is off Wrights Road). Enjoy your pizza, or burger and beer with friends, before heading over to the game. Dream result. If you are not a Supporters Club Card member and you would like to join, visit www.spectators.co.nz   Heading to an event at Horncastle Arena or AMI Stadium? - Make sure you pop in to Spectators before the event for a cold drink and delicious food! Spectators has ample free parking as well, you can’t go wrong.  Next SAAC Course at Addington -The next Stabling Area Awareness Course for kids is 23 March at 5pm. For more information please visit http://www.addington.co.nz/racing/stabling-area-awareness-course/   Hawera Easter Family Fun Meeting – 31 March, 2 April The Hawera Harness Racing Club invites you to be a part of their Easter Family Fun Meeting to be held on Saturday 31 March and Monday 2 April (Easter Monday). Club President Brendan Towers describes the meeting as a ‘trainer’s weekend away’ and explains that the club are there to make the meeting an enjoyable one for all who attend. “We will be holding dinner and entertainment for connections that are at the meeting on the Friday and Saturday nights, and are also here to assist with anything needed for horses and those connected with them,” said Towers. “We can help you find the right hotel or accommodation option, just get in touch and we will happily help.” The grass track meeting features the Hawera Cup and will be focused on family entertainment too, with free entry on both days and bouncy castles and plenty to keep the kids amused. For more information please get in contact with Brendan Towers 027 236 0016 or email haweraharnessracing@gmail.com   Methven Owners’ Day and Expo - Sunday 15 April The Methven Trotting Club will hold an Owners Day at their April race meeting to be held at Mt Harding Racecourse on Sunday 15 April. The club warmly invites industry merchants and also fellow club administrators to attend the event and be a part of their owner’s experience and expo at the meeting. This will provide an opportunity to promote products or clubs to owners present on the day. The club wishes to reward owners with a horse in at their meeting by hosting them in the Mt Hutt Lounge oncourse. They will also invite owners from the region to attend and offer special catering options on the day for them, and encourage non owners to come along and find out how they can become a part of the action. Those with ownership opportunities are welcome to contact the club in terms of potential options to promote ownership to potential new clients. For more information on how you can be a part of this special event please contact Nigel Armstrong on 027 328 2206 or email wstvue@xtra.co.nz   Friday April 20th Premier Night American Night Our phenomenally popular American Night is back for 2018! We’ll have the stars and stripes rolled back out from the Top of the Park to The Alex, and be serving up the very best of the US with another fantastic US-inspired all-you-can-eat buffet menu sure to satisfy – and of course we’ll be sure to get some top-class entertainment on board once again! Book your American Night table ASAP as this night is sure to sell out fast! American Night in the Tasman Room or Top of the Park  From $60pp | Buffet only From $125pp | Full beverage package including specialty US beer Vintage Cars, Pin up girls and amazing entertainment!!!   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc      

Methven Owner Day and Expo - Sunday 15 April The Methven Trotting Club will hold an Owners Day at their April race meeting to be held at Mt Harding Race course on Sunday 15 April. The club warmly invites industry merchants and also fellow club administrators to attend the event and be a part of their owner’s experience and expo at the meeting. This will provide an opportunity to promote products or clubs to owners present on the day. The club wishes to reward owners with a horse in at their meeting by hosting them in the Mt Hutt Lounge on course. They will also invite owners from the region to attend and offer special catering options on the day for them, and encourage non owners to come along and find out how they can become a part of the action. Those with ownership opportunities are welcome to contact the club in terms of potential options to promote ownership to potential new clients. For more information on how you can be a part of this special event please contact Nigel Armstrong on 027 328 2206 or email wstvue@xtra.co.nz   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Rangiora harness racing fixed odds movers as at 3:25pm Race 1 - The only runner wanted here in win & multi money is the $2.90 - $2.20 favourite Bettor Step Aside. Largest bets on the favourite $850 at $2.90, $1,333 at $2.50 & $1,600 at $2.30.    Race 2 - Danielle Amore $2.60 - $2.20 is the best backed runner early with the largest bets $1,250 at $2.60 & $1,538 at $2.30. Cyclone Joe Parker $21.00 - $12.00 has attracted a $390 bet at $21.00.    Race 3 - Somethingaboutmary $2.30 leads multi betting over Kotare Cullen $7.00 - $5.50 & New York Rain $5.20. Kotare Cullen is the best backed runner on the win 'book'.   Race 4 - Yagunnakissmeornot $5.20 - $4.50 easily leads multi betting over Sertious $2.40 and is also best backed on the win 'book' over KD Hall $12.50 - $10.00.   Race 5 - Gupta's Cullen $1.85 is racing away in multi betting with Solid Gold $5.20 leading win betting.   Race 6 - Sex On Fire $9.20 - $6.50 leads win & multi betting. Aoraki $6.20 - $5.00 is starting to attract some interest.    Race 7 - American Brave $1.60 leads win betting and is the only runner wanted in multi betting.   Race 8 - Jomo $8.50 leads win betting with Il Pirata $3.20 a clear leader in multi betting.   Race 9 - Supreme Dominator $4.50 leads win betting over Beaudiene Western $4.20 while in multi betting the only two runners wanted are Franco Niven the $2.90 favourite and Supreme Dominator.   Race 10 - Red Reactor $1.95 - $1.70 easily leads win & multi betting with the largest win bets $2,105 at $1.95 & $2,500 at $1.80.   Best backed runners in multi betting in order: R7 - American Brave   $1.60  R1 - Bettor Step Aside $2.20 R5 - Gupta's Cullen     $1.85 R10 - Red Reactor      $1.70 R9 - Franco Niven       $2.90   David Butcher $8.50 - $7.20 is best backed in the He's Watching Drivers Challenge over Joshua Dickie $2.10.    Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

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