Consistent eight-year-old mare Live Lea ended an eleven start losing streak when she was victorious in yesterday’s Grey Valley Cup at Reefton. The win followed a luckless fifth on the first day of the two day meeting at Westport when Live Lea sat on the back of leader and winner Fly The Flag but was unable to find clear air in the straight. Robbie Holmes put the quick beginner in the same position on Sunday, however this time he shunted out on the home bend and Live Lea let down with a powerful finish centre track to down leader Graduate Under Fire by a length and a half. Live Lea, who is trained by Grant McStay, has now won 7 of her 81 starts, she has also finished a further 19 minor placings. Meanwhile, Steve Roulston of Bob’s Blue Boy fame, trained his first winner since 2006 when Sueno was successful in the second race on the card, while Bob Butt reined home an early double on the 10-race card. By Mitchell Robertson
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
Burnham trainer Margo Nyhan, along with her partner Peter Davis, produced a truly remarkable training feat on Friday when stablestar Fly The Flag won the Kawatiri Cup at Westport after a racing absence of 19 months. The win was shades of Alateros who Nyhan trained to win on both days of the Westport meeting in December after more than two and a half years away from the racetrack. “Pete (Davis) and I were talking about that on the way up and we were actually quite confident we could do it again,” revealed Nyhan. “The only thing that worried us was that Alateros returned in a C1 race while Fly The Flag had to come back in the feature race on the card,” she added. “But this girl is just so tough and her will to win is phenomenal,” praised Nyhan. “As an early two-year-old Fly The Flag was close to the worst horse on the property but she has just continued to improve,” she added. Friday was the first time Fly The Flag has raced since finishing third in the Kurow Cup on the 5th of August, 2012. “She kicked a post after Kurow which gave us a lot of trouble and since then she has gone in the tendon and suspensory in the same leg,” said Nyhan. “So it has been a long road back but it seems worthwhile now.” Peter Davis, who steered the six-year-old Falcon Seelster mare to an all of the way win on Friday, was quick to throw all the praise to Nyhan. “I would have probably given up on her if it wasn’t for Margo. All the credit must go to her,” said Davis loudly as he saw Nyhan walk around the corner. The win was yet another success for Nyhan’s electrical tendon treatment which has produced numerous miracles in recent times. Davis said that he enjoyed an easy early lead on Fly The Flag but after receiving plenty of pressure over the last lap he thought her lack of race fitness might tell over the concluding stages. “She has had a big preparation and did plenty of miles leading up to race,” confirmed Nyhan. “Once we get our horses up we like to race them a fair bit so we give them plenty of ground work, especially the ones with leg issues,” she added. Fly The Flag, who has now won 10 races and over $100,000 in stakes, will now set her sights on today’s Grey Valley Cup at Reefton, where by rights, she could perform ever better. By Mitchell Robertson
A pileup in the sixth race at Westport yesterday which saw trainer-driver Murray Pash hit the deck put a dampener on what was an otherwise perfect day for the Richmond based horseman. Pash, who trained the second placed horse in the first race and trained and drove Beacon Hill to success in race five, was a part of a three horse pileup which saw himself, along with John Dunn and Samantha Ottley, dislodged from the sulky. The crash happened soon after the start with Glencarrigh, who was being driven by Sam Ottley, falling in front of Can He Pay (Murray Pash) and Benio Billie (John Dunn) who were both unable to clear the fallen runner. Ottley was flipped out of the cart while Pash, who was inside Ottley when the accident happened , was hit from behind and tossed inside the marker pegs on the inside of the track. Dunn was left with nowhere to go and ran into the back of Pash, which sent him torpedoing high into the air. Dunn was clearly sore but was quick to his feet, while there were immediate concerns for Pash and Ottley who remained on the track. Ottley, was quick to bounce back but was stood down for the rest of the day with concussion, while Pash was taken to hospital for observations before returning in time for the after-match function after the completion of the last race. The race, which was called off after the nasty incident, was re-run half an hour later with the horses involved in the crash late scratched. The event was taken out by Adore Me’s younger brother Ohoka Jett, while the aptly named Tough Enough, who is trained by Murray Pash, finished in second. “I knew the day was going to good to be true,” joked Pash. “But it was good to get a win with Beacon Hill as he has been very unlucky at times and the way Aracano and Tough Enough went they should have a good chance at Reefton,” added the bruised and battered horseman. By Mitchell Robertson
BOWDEN ALSO BUYS SHARES IN FATHER PATRICK...WILL STAND HIM AT DIAMOND CREEK FARM
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.
After looking back at the results from last month’s Yearling Sales, it’s not surprising to see that Mark Purdon and Robert Dunn are the country’s leading trainers. Purdon, along with his formidable band of owners, purchased approximately 22 yearlings for costs of around $1,066,000 at the New Zealand Sales, while Dunn and clients acquired roughly 12 yearlings spending around $500,000. Purdon and Dalgety were also active at the Australian APG Sales. Which raises the question, how can the small compete? Don’t get me wrong, Purdon, Dunn, and all of their brilliant owners are great for this industry and deserve and earn all the success that they get. But in a few years is it going to be Purdon, Dunn, and Dalgety racing each other? Now that is something that wouldn’t be good for the industry at all. Mark Jones, who is in no way, shape, or form, a “small trainer” says that if he wasn’t a ‘seller’ he would struggle to survive, which makes you think. How does everyone else fear? “I don’t have the numbers of Purdon or Dunn so I survive by selling, but I am worried that the majority of the people in the game won’t be able to survive as it is simply getting too tough,” said Jones. “I’m one of the lucky ones, but it’s becoming increasingly hard for young and small trainers to compete and unless stakes go up their chances of staying in this industry are very grim which is very bad for the future of the sport.” “I believe it is up to clubs, especially Addington, to up stakes as owners need to race for more money.” Jones also believes that HRNZ could cut a lot of costs and direct that money into the stakes. “And we need more races for the poorer horses, so they have a chance to earn,” he added. “I also think we need training centres to give young enthusiast somewhere to start from as no young trainer can afford their own property,” Jones suggested. “It’s very hard for young people to get backers, as owners are a dying breed, especially in the Auckland region.” “The way things are going it won’t be long before the big stables are racing each other,” he concluded. So, “How can the small compete?” – It’s something worth pondering over anyway. Perhaps it could be ‘The Big Question’ on The Box Seat? Or would that mean that they were just trying to ‘Keep Up With The Joneses’? By Mitchell Robertson
Top trotter King Charlie, who reached the heights of Group One stardom when winning the Northern Derby as a three-year-old, has been retired after finishing eighth at Addington on Sunday. The injury plagued trotter who was sidelined on numerous occasions during his career due to hind suspensory problems, won on 15 occasions during his 70 start career earning stakes in excess of $200,000. The now ten-year-old Monarchy half-brother to NZ Trotting Derby winner Shezoneoftheboyz was purchased out of the barn of Neil Munro as an early three-year-old by Paul and Pauline Renwick for trainer Nigel McGrath, who trained the gelding for the remainder of his career. As well as success in the Northern Derby, King Charlie also finished second in the 4YO Harness Jewels Ruby and the New Zealand Trotting Championship. McGrath said that King Charlie was becoming very hard to place under our handicapping system which is one of the main reasons for his retirement. He will now live out the rest of his days as a riding hack. Meanwhile, McGrath has also retired eight-win pacer Chechnya due to similar circumstances. By Mitchell Robertson
Champion reinsman Mark Purdon has been suspended for ten days after shifting out in the run home on Smolda in yesterday’s Inter Dominion Final, which was deemed to have contributed to the squeezing of surrounding horses. But luckily for Purdon, he has been allowed to drive on Friday’s Auckland Cup night, meaning he will take the drive on superstar mare Adore Me, who will return home for Friday’s $250,000 feature after a slightly disappointing second in yesterday’s Ladyship Mile. "She went a couple of rough strides down the back but she recovered quickly. We probably lost the race when a move made us three wide earlier than I wanted and she had to do extra. I am sure that she would have won otherwise,” said Purdon on his Allstars Website. Purdon was also happy enough with the run of Smolda, who finished fourth in the Inter Dominion Final, however he has opted to freshen the giant gelding rather than back him up in Friday’s Auckland Cup. "I feel in my own mind that it was the fact that he had only had two races which beat him at least for second,” revealed Purdon. “He sprinted hard while Beautide was up there handy and that lack of hard racing made the difference'' Purdon said that he was satisfied with how all his team had competed yesterday with the exception of Willow, who was beaten into third in the NSW Oaks. "She is probably the only one we would say was a little disappointing only because we know what she can do. It is hard to say it was the track. It was a bit sloppy early in the day but even so I expected her to sprint away in the run home'' Meanwhile, Lauren Panella, who was deemed the main offender of the incident in the Inter Dominion Final which could potentially have ended the racing career of West Australian superstar Im Victorious, has been suspended for a period of eight weeks. By Mitchell Robertson
She may not have the sheer speed of a mare like Adore Me, but Venus Serena has the staying ability to go down as one of the best fillies in New Zealand racing history. That was the opinion I was left under after the Mach Three megastar made mince meat of her rivals in the $125,000 Great Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park tonight. After being caught wide early, driver John Dunn worked Venus Serena forward to wrestle the lead of Rocknroll Arden with just under two laps to go. She then paced even clips in front, before dashing away for a supersonic 7 & ½ length win in a New Zealand fillies record time of 3-18.9, which shaved more than two seconds off the previous 2700m record held by Twist N Twirl. Rockroll Arden, who enjoyed a nice run in the trail, finished in second position, while Rockn Ruby, who edged out Pricillas Girl, was a further 4 and ½ lenghts away in third. Driver John Dunn was understandably astonished by the ease of Venus Serena’s win. “It’s pretty unbelievable how easily she is winning when you consider the times,” said Dunn. “After her two-year-old season I didn’t think she could get any better but she has proved me wrong and continues to step things up a notch,” Dunn enthused. Dunn was also full of praise for his uncle, and Venus Serena’s trainer, Geoff Dunn. “He does a terrific job with a small team and deserves every bit of success that he gets.” Meanwhile, driver Simon Lawson looks poised to get his first taste on big race success during the Auckland Cup carnival after winning both two-year-old events on tonight’s 10-race card. Lawson combined with Ray Green to win the PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Graduate for colts and geldings with classy two-year-old Chachingchaching, before claiming the sixth heat of the Gotta Go Cullen Young Guns Series with talented filly Unforgiving. Both two-year-olds will compete in Group features on next week’s Auckland Cup night. By Mitchell Robertson
A confident Anthony Butt drive saw talented three-year-old Thebestlove prove far too strong for his 12 rivals in tonight’s $100,000 PGG Wrightson Trotters Final at Addington. After negotiating Thebestlove away from the inside from his tricky one on the second-line barrier draw, driver Anthony Butt quickly had Love You three-year-old up vying for the lead, before taking over with a lap to run. Butt then let the free-running type roll along in front, taking the sting out of his rivals down the back straight, before kicking on strongly in the home stretch to hold K D Muscles, who enjoyed a nice run in the trail after leading early, at bay by ¾ of a length. Hot Pants finished a further 3 & ¼ lengths away in third, while Rocky Six rounded out the first four. “He got going again when he saw Murray Edmond’s horse (K D Muscles) coming through, and actually won quite easily in the end,” said driver Anthony Butt. “He still has a bit to learn, but he has a lot of scope and he simply ran them into the deck down the back straight,” he added. Thebestlove was an emphatic winner of his first two starts, before disappointing slightly when third in the Hambletonian Classic. However, Butt was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt on that occasion. “I think he is a better horse when rolling along at this stage of career,” he advised. Thebestlove trotted the 1950 metre journey in 2-25.4, which is just 0.3 of a second outside of Royal Aspirations New Zealand record for a three-year-old male trotter. “I’m looking forward to the Derbies with him as I think the longer trips will really suit him,” said Butt. Thebestlove, who is trained by Anthony’s brother Tim, is owned by Graham Beirne of Small Car Word, along with Mrs V G Duncum, R W Davison, Mrs R E Davison, N P Bent, and Mrs P F Bent. “It is good to win a big race for a great group of owners,” said Butt. “It should keep Graham Beirne off my back for a few weeks anyway,” he joked. Meanwhile, Butt is expecting big runs from both Mah Sish and Elusive Chick at Menangle on Sunday. “Elusive Chick is absolutely flying at the moment, and Mah Sish’s form is a lot better than it looks.” “If he can lead he will be awfully hard to run down,” said Butt. By Mitchell Robertson
Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including Eyre I Come, who opened up at $31 fixed odds. Let’s see if we can dig up some more value this week. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented trotter Thebestove will be hard to beat in tonight’s Sales Series Trot at Addington. Blair Orange: Thinks Twentyten, who showed plenty of ability as a two-year-old, can make a winning return at three – Cheviot, race two. David Butt: Expects Lothario to make amends for his last start gallop in the third race at Cheviot (Addington) on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates The Mighty Falcon as a good each-way chance from his ace alley in the first race at the Cheviot meeting at Addington on Sunday. Jim Curtin: Believes the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Cheviot, race five. Ken Barron: Thinks Mighty Mara can make a winning debut in the first race at Addington on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Believes in form trotter Springbank Sam can carry on his winning way – Cheviot, race seven. Ricky May: Expects Pal Amino, who has trialled up nicely for her fresh-up assignment, to be tough to toss from her ace barrier in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess, who caught the eye flashing home late last start, is a good each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. Todd Mitchell: Expects Prime Power to add to his picket-line fence in fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet : Free Falling – Cheviot, race four. Each-way: Unforgiving – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Scotlynn Jiggs – Addington, race ten.
Trainer Mark Jones is happy with how Master Lavros has settled in Sydney in preparation for Sunday’s $A200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge, but what has really pleased him is how the giant five-year-old trotter trialled at Menangle on Tuesday. After settling on the leaders back, Master Lavros trotted a tick over 1-54.0 for the mile with his earplugs still in, finishing a five metre second to seven-win pacer Eternal Glory. Keystone Del, who won the Glenferrie Farms Challenge last year and will attempt to defend his title on Sunday, finished a further 8.5 metres away in third. “He came through the trial really well, so I couldn’t be happier,” said Jones. “He seems to be getting better and better behind the gate as well which is also very pleasing,” he added. Master Lavros, who is one of five Kiwis that will represent New Zealand in Sunday’s Group One Trans-Tasman Challenge, has drawn well in barrier one, however Jones is not 100% sure if he will be able to hold the lead. “I’m not really sure how quickly some of the trotters over here get out,” said Jones. “But if he can’t lead I am confident he will atleast hold a forward position.” Meanwhile, Colin DeFilippi, who is the trainer-driver of another top chance for New Zealand in Stent, is also happy with how his stable star has settled in. “He travelled over really well so I am hopeful of a big run,” said DeFilippi. DeFilippi is also happy enough with Stent’s barrier draw (4), and is hopeful he might be able to slot into a nice position. “The draw could be a lot worse anyway,” added DeFilippi. The other three New Zealand representatives are Vulcan, The Fiery Ginga, and Irish Whisper, while My High Expectations, who is shooting for his seventh straight win, heads the five-strong Australian team. By Mitchell Robertson
With all the hype coming from across the Tasman as we build towards Sunday’s Inter Dominion Grand Final Day, you could almost be excused for forgetting that there is a supersonic racenight at Alexandra Park on Friday. However, one man who definitely won’t be forgetting is Geoff Dunn, who will line-up both of his star three-year-olds on the ten-race card. But, while Friday’s Prelude will just be a warm-up before next week’s Derby for top colt Tiger Tara, the $125,000 Great Northern Oaks is Venus Serena’s grand final. “They have both travelled up really well and have both been eating up and drinking,” said Dunn, who stables his horses with Andrew Grant when in the North Island. “They both seem well and I have been very happy with their work,” said Dunn. “So I guess my only concern is the draws,” he added. Superstar filly Venus Serena has drawn out in six, with two of her main dangers inside her, while Tiger Tara is only slightly better off in barrier five. “The Derby Prelude field only has six horses in it, so Tiger’s draw probably isn’t as much of a disadvantage as Venus Serena’s is,” admitted Dunn. However, Venus has shown time and time again that she can make her own luck, so I don’t see why Friday will be any different,” said a bullish Dunn. Dunn also sees the step up to 2700 metres as an advantage for Venus Serena. “We all know how tough she is and over the longer distance Johnny (Dunn-driver) will be able to choose when he puts her in race,” enthused Dunn. But while Venus Serena has already won five times in the North, Alexandra Park is uncharted territory for Tiger Tara, however Dunn does not see that as a concern. “He seems equally happy going the Alexandra Park way round, and he has worked well on the Pukekohe track,” said Dunn. “With four nice horses having drawn inside him he will probably have to go back at the start, but he can follow speed all day so if they go hard he will be coming over the top of them at the finish,” predicted Dunn. "And you would think next week's Derby distance will suit him as well," he concluded By Mitchell Robertson
Talented two-year-filly Supriya became Changeover’s first ever winner when she easily disposed of her five opponents in the first race at Winton today. Driven by Dexter Dunn for trainer Cran Dalgety, Supriya spaced her rivals by 5 & ½ lengths to win in a time of 2.00.0 over the one mile journey. Supriya’s maiden win came at just her second start. Her debut resulted in a tidy fifth in a heat of the Sires Stakes. Supriya, who is likely to contest some of the two-year-old fillies features later on in the season, is owned by the Beeintowin syndicate which is managed by Addington Raceway’s Ged Moor. Mooar, who was formerly employeed by Nevele R Stud, has always been of the opinion that Changeover would do a very good job at stud. Although Supriya was his first winner, plenty of Changeover’s other progeny are showing huge promise, including Oneover, who was a super second in the fourth heat of the Young Guns. He will be a great chance of giving Changeover his second winner when he competes in the NZ Yearling Sales Series Graduate at Alexandra Park on Friday. The 2.4 million-dollar earning son of In The Pocket currently has 17 qualifiers all up, including smart qualifiers, Atchoo, Nuala, Bold Ruler, and Prince Of Pops, who has placed twice from just two starts. Other smart winners on the Winton card today were: Perfect Sunrise, Millwood Pink Lady, Jocy Jaccka, I Smart, and Cyclone Kiwi. By Mitchell Robertson
Eyre I Come, who was an impressive debut winner at Timaru on Sunday, will now eye the $100,000 NZ Yearling Sales Series Trotters Final at Addington on Thursday. “David Gaffaney (trainer) and Greg Hope have always had a very big opinion of the horse, but he has had a few problems along the way,” said owner Grant Hatton. Hatton purchased Eyre I Come, a son of Majestic Son and well bred mare Landoras Special, for $45,000 at the 2012 NZ Premier Yearling Sales on the advice of Mark Jones. “Mark and I actually liked him better than the Landoras Special colt the next year which sold for $127, 500,” said Hatton, who is also the owner of top pacer Saveapatrol. Eyre I Come, who was backed in from $31 on the fixed odds on Sunday, came with a strong finishing burst to beat smart trotter Trouble Rieu. He was driven by Ricky May who will once again partner him in Thursday’s feature. “We were probably a bit lucky with Lothario galloping in the home straight, but it was still a good effort to pick the second horse up,” said Hatton. Hatton said that talented trotter Thebestlove definitely looks the one that they all have to beat on Thursday, however he believes his gelding has the game to be highly competitive if he was to do things right. By Mitchell Robertson