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It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. Here is our review of the 4 year old trotting mares division 1) Poppymalda - 2015 Season:  10 starts,    4 wins,    1 seconds,    2 thirds,    Lt $34,613 Lovely Armbro Invasion mare who just seemed to get better as the season went on. Has a few strings to her claim for this division when you look at the stats. She won the most money during the season for a four year old trotting mare  as well as the most races for a four year old trotting mare. She saved her best for last when she was an outstanding third in the Harness Jewels, storming home for third to King Denny after being badly held up on the last corner and was the first mare home in the Group 1 fixture. 2) Majestic Time - 2015 Season:    11 starts,    3 wins,    2 seconds,    2 thirds,    Lt $27,416 High class Majestic Son mare at her best but didn't look at her best at times during the season. Threw the toys out of the cot a couple of times which added to the feeling she wasn't 100% right. Several good runs during the season but not as sharp as she was at three. Her two gallops at the Harness Jewels for no apparent reason typified her season for us. 3) All Royal Gal - 2015 Season:  14 starts,  2 wins,    3 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $27,757 Always looked a nice mare in the making and the daughter of Monarchy hit a purple patch of form late in the season where she looked very smart. Had her chance in the Harness Jewels after working to get handy early from the second row but just battled in the straight. Placed behind some smart horses such as Monbet during the season but just not consistent enough. Selection After weighing everything up we went for Poppymalda for the following reasons over Majestic Time. *She won the most money in this division *She won the most races in this division *First mare home in the Harness Jewels from this division. Harnesslink Media 

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is our review of the 4 year old Colts / Geldings trotters division 1) King Denny - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    4 wins,    1 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $95,375 Without doubt the star four year old of the season. The Majestic Son gelding won his way through to the best grades with several outstanding runs in the intermediate grades and once in with the older and more experienced trotters, raced with distinction against the likes of Stent, Sheemon and Master Lavros. Looked to have the Harness Jewels in safe keeping half way up the straight but as he has done in the past he can knock off when clear and give his supporters a fright. Everything points to him being a big player on the grand circuit next season as a five year old. 2) Mums Pride - 2015 Season:   8 starts,    5 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $60,661 Started the season with a series of outstanding wins but health issues hindered his preparation and race performance in the latter part of the season. The Monarchy gelding faced King Denny twice during the season and finished behind him on both occasions. Raced against the top liners once in the Rowe Cup and found the step up hard as many do. With only 14 runs under his belt lifetime there should be plenty of room left for further improvement and expect to see him in all the big trot races next season. 3) Belles Son - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    6 wins,    0 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $53,804 The find of the season in the four year old ranks. Was still a C1 in February but then preceded to win six in a row in a style of a real topliner. The Majestic Son gelding beat some nice horses on his way through the grades such as Majestic Time but did fail the big test when he came up against King Denny and company in the Harness Jewels. If he had won that he may have been a chance of winning this award but his ringcraft let him down badly and with that went his chances here. SELECTION Only one winner here with King Denny clearly the best four year old trotter in the country. The only four year old to race consistently against the best trotters in the country such as Stent, Sheemon and Master Lavros and performed with distinction against them. Harnesslink Media

Tonight's harness racing meeting at Addington was winter racing, Canterbury style. In other words, rain and a strong cold southerly were present most of the evening which had its effect on a lot of runners. One who seemed to relish the conditions was the three year old son of Love You in Great Things Happen who won like a really nice horse after doing plenty of work. Settling back from his second line draw for trainer/driver Gavin Smith, Great Things Happen was five back in the running line when hot favourite Harriet Of Mot galloped with a lap to go when challenging for the lead. Once back trotting John Dunn sent Harriet Of Mot forward again and reached the lead with 700 metres to go. Gavin followed the daughter of Monarchy forward and sat on her wheel from the 700 metres mark. These two knuckled down to it from the 400 metres mark and half way up the straight Great Things Happen grabbed the lead and ran away for a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths victory from a very game Harriet of Mot with Everybody Knows finishing on well late for third. Great Things Happen trotted the 1950 metres in the cold slushy conditions in 2:30.2, a mile rate of 2:03.9 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29. Gavin Smith knew he had just got a bit lucky with Harriot Of Mot breaking. " If she hadn't broken I don't think we would have beaten her. " In saying that Great Things Happen is a very nice horse in his own right and has a big future," Gavin said.  Passed in at the 2013 New Zealand Premier yearling sale for $27,500, Great Things Happen is a son of Love You from the former smart imported daughter of S J's Photo in Calamity Gal who won seven races and $92,255 in New Zealand. Offered a half share to train him by his vendor Ted Edwards after he failed to make his reserve, Gavin accepted immediately but not for the reason you would expect. " My daughter Hayley was born the morning of the sales and when I got offered a share in a horse called Great Things Happen the same day, I just had to take it." " I didn't like him when I broke him in and was starting to have some doubts." " However the next time in he was a different horse and hasn't looked back since." " He is very immature and after tonight he is going out for a big spell. " Once he strengthens up and matures I think he will go right to the top level. " He has really high speed and I have a big opinion of him," Gavin said. As progeny of Love You get better with age, Great Things Happen would look to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

It didn’t take long to realise harness racing trainer Brent Lilley might be in for a good night at Tabcorp Park Melton. But not many could have predicted just how well the script would play out for the Bolinda horseman, who walked away from tonight's Trotters Oaks meeting with five wins – including the two feature races. It all began with five-year-old Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding Crusader Acey, who showed his last-start win at Shepparton was no fluke with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m to open the program. From barrier seven reinsman Anthony Butt produced a carbon copy of his steer aboard Hollywood Sign last month when it won the Rising Stars Final, driving Crusader Acey across the field early to find the pegs before handing up to the favourite, Macho Comacho. Crusader Acey out-sprinted Macho Comacho late along the sprint lane to win by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.1. Lilley notched a winning double in the fourth race with five-year-old Monarchy/Sun Mist mare Rosemma. The foolproof trotter dashed to the lead early from barrier five for Rodney Petroff, while stablemate and race favourite Kyvalley Pink blew its chances by galloping away. Rosemma rated 2:00.7 to hold off a fast-finishing Mister Independent by 1.1m in the Garrards Horse and Hount Trot. Lilley and Butt then snared Race 7, the TAB.com.au Pace ,with impressive gelding Lets Elope (by Real Desire out of Alta Vista), finding the lead from barrier two before staving off all comers at the finish. Lets Elope carved out splits of 30.4secs, 29.8secs, 28.5secs and 27.6secs, clocking a 1:56.4 mile rate. Punters backed Lilley and Butt in to do it again in Race 8, the night’s feature, the $60,505 Group 1 Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks. Favourite backers were grinning 2mins and 47secs after the mobile arms folded back, My Arya leading from start to finish to register a 3m win over Amarula with Little Miss Zigzag flashing home for third. The Angus Hall filly held out an early challenge from Fiery Mountain Girl to lead before getting away with a 61.3secs first half at the head of affairs. She upped the tempo down the back the last time and took the zing out of any chasers with a 28secs third quarter. Sprinting home in 29.8secs, My Arya never looked like being headed and has now won 10 of her 11 Australian starts. Her winning mile rate for tonight’s 2240m trip was 2:00.4. Lilley and Butt capped the night in Race 9 by taking out the Pryde’s Easifeed Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old trotters with Kyvalley Tinman. The son of Majestic Son/Kyvalley Kitty sat on the speed in the run before out-staying his rivals, quickly getting the better of early leader Calder Knight turning for home before seeing off a late charge by impressive filly Princess Phoenix for a 1.3m win in 2:04.2 for the 2240m journey. While Lilley made the headlines with five winners, Butt’s performance should be undersold, finishing with a metropolitan quartet of his own. In other results, Aldebaran Macha easily took out the Good Form Pace over 2240m for David and Josh Aiken, the son of Mach Three/Aldebaran Bromac too good for runner-up Hez The Wild Card in 1:56.2. Anton Golino and Todd McCarthy took out the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot with rising star Arboe, who held off Vics Cheval at the finish by 3.2m. Arboe, by Love You out of Lough Neagh, has now won five of six starts and has genuine star power. Arboe rated 1:59.0 over the 2240m, Claudys Princess finishing third beaten 13.2m by the winner. Bringing up a double for Todd McCarthy was Glenferrie Hood, a pacer making a name for himself in Victoria with two straight wins here. The son of Christian Cullen/Niftey Franco found the lead from gate seven early and ran along to record a mile rate of 1:53.7, defeating Sapphire Swayze by 3.6m with Im Barney Rubble third. Shes A Runa notched her 16th win at start No.27 by taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final for trainer Amanda Turnbull and driver Nathan Jack. The Jeremes Jet/Runacullen mare, a four-year-old, was 7.3m too strong for Gollahman, while in-form Ithappenstobeametro stuck on gamely for third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:55.5. Trainer Dean Braun looks to have another star on his hands in the form of Wardwell, who won tonight’s Pegasus Club 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. The gelding by Mach Three out of Ohappy Daze won by 7.4m over Starwyn Jasper with Brighty Valentine third in a rate of 1:59.0. Wardwell has now won three from three and bigger races look on his agenda moving forward. David Miles and his talented four-year-old Smokey Quartz capped the night with a gutsy success over Masterofthurles, that pair racing well clear of third placegetter Thunder Fee in the last race, the 2Construct Pace Final over 1720m. Smokey Quartz and Masterofthurles were involved in a speed war early, the latter eventually holding up and Smokey Quartz dropping to the leader’s back. From there Smokey Quartz eventually got out, rounded up the early pace setter and went on to score by 2.8m in a rate of 1:56.4. Smokey Quartz is a son of the great Courage Under Fire out of Pareen. View replays of all tonight's races and get full results by Cody Winnell

Syndication in harness racing has had it's share of problems in the past but one syndicator who is showing the others how it should be done is the Go Harness team. They have several large syndicates in operation with membership in some topping 100 people with the aim of making the thrill of racing a horse affordable to the wider public. Yesterday another one of their syndicated horses in Harriet Of Mot showed with a stylish win at Timaru that she has a very bright future. The Craig and Aimee Edmonds trained trotter was away safely from the standing start and driver John Dunn worked her to the lead after 600 metres. From there she turned the race into a procession and when John Dunn said go on the corner she scooted away for a very impressive win by six lengths with John sitting quietly in the bike. Harriet Of Mot trotted the 2600 metres in 3:26.1 with closing sectionals of 58.1 and 28.5 A daughter of Monarchy from the former smart age group trotter in Harriet Hughes, Harriet Of Mot impressed driver John Dunn. " She is a lovely filly with really high speed for a trotter" " Her first start at Addington under the lights tripped her up and she had no luck at Ashburton when she was checked." " Just a really nice filly who has a future," John said. The multitude of owners in the birdcage to celebrate the win included Trevor Casey whose winning run just seems endless at the moment. Noel and Wendy Kennard along with right hand man John Robinson seem to have the right formula with the Go Harness syndicates and they continue to go from strength to strength. Harnesslink Media   

Last nights $100,000 Anzac Trotters Cup at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park looked to be another easy scalp for Stent after he drew barrier five which gave his trainer/driver Colin De Filippi a lot of options. The distance was right up Stent's alley and the way the draws had played out it was hard to see who would beat him. Master Lavros led easily from barrier four with King Denny and Mark Purdon sliding across from barrier seven to face the breeze and in doing so giving Stent the prized one by one sit. Then Mark Purdon did something that no one expected and attacked Master Lavros for the lead. The two star trotters drew clear by several lengths before Mark Jones on Master Lavros conceded the lead to King Denny. That move changed the whole complexion of the race with Stent now having to sit parked with his arch rival Sheemon hard on his back in the one by one. King Denny applied the pressure a long way from home and was still travelling well as they turned for home. Stent leveled up to King Denny just after straightening for home but Dexter Dunn on Sheemon had stalked him the whole way and flew late to grab Stent right on the post with the winning margin a mere head. Master Lavros finished on well up the passing lane to grab third just in front of the pace making King Denny. Sheemon trotted the 2200 metres in 2:42.4, a mile rate of 1:58.8, with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28.5. The winning time was a new New Zealand record, taking sixth tenths of a second off the old record held by Royal Aspirations. Dexter Dunn was quick post race to heap praise on the son of Monarchy. " We did get a great trip but he still really dug in up the straight" " I think it was his will to win that got us over the line because it is never easy to run past Stent." " He has gone great all season and won a heat of the Great Southern Star and then had no luck in the final so he deserves a win like this." "The two miles of the Rowe Cup next week won't worry him because he is pretty adaptable so he has to be a big chance," Dexter said. From a Rowe Cup point of view the race last night did throw some light on what should be one of the races of the season. Stent was huge last night in defeat but so were Master Lavros and King Denny. Master Lavros lost a bit of ground around the last bend but found the line really well and the 3200 metres is right up his alley while the run of King Denny to finish so close after doing so much work early was a real sign that he can be a player at this level Harnesslink Media  

Former Kiwi five year old Monarchy/Rob The Nest gelding Just Leave (Nathan Jack) was gigantic in winning the Betta Home Living Cohuna Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2190 metres at the Shepparton trots on Tuesday March 31.   Stepping cleanly from 20 metres to settle nice and handy with Kains Boy jumping straight to the front from barrier four before surrendering to the Kari Males trained Secret Kiss which started outside the front line, Just Leave went into a wild gallop shortly after the start appearing to put himself out of business.   Gradually making up the lost ground to be last in the running line at the bell, Just Leave trailed the 30 metre backmarker Just Call Me Earl forward three wide in the final circuit before making the home turn very wide.   Producing a brilliant turn of speed on straightening, Just Leave charged down the outside of the track to record a runaway 3 metre victory over the pacemaker in a mile rate of 2-05, with Kains Boy holding down third after a cosy trip.   Raced by former Kilmore trucking magnate Jack Knight, Just Leave trained at Avenel by Wayne Potter had recorded three wins since crossing the Tasman.   The wraps were huge on beautifully bred first starter Showgun Thomas in the Betta Home Living Mansfield 2-Y-0 Pace over 1690 metres, however the gelded son of Bettors Delight and Forest Charm could manage only third behind the all the way victor Casino Tommy.   Trained and driven by Kilmore’s Robbie Walters, John Street North/Casino Princess gelding Casino Tommy began brilliantly from gate three to lead throughout in a mile rate of 2-02.6, defeating Combined Interest from last by 2.5 metres. Showgun Thomas (one/one – three wide home turn) was a neck away in third place.   Local Lemnos trainer/driver Mark Pitt provided a shock result to the Betta Home Living Finley 3-Y-0 Pace over 2190 metres, when Village Jolt/Our Beebee Pocket gelding To The Rescue greeted the judge in a mile rate of 1-59.6 at Supertab odds of $38.60.   Leading out from the pole, To The Rescue was restrained to allow the heavily backed Three Mugs In (gate five) to take over giving him the run of the race.   Using the sprint lane, To The Rescue finished best to score by a head from a death-seating Yankee Strutter, with Three Mugs In 2.7 metres away in third place.   Shepparton (Lemnos) partners Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack combined to land the Betta Home Living Echua Eureka Series (Heat 4) for C0 class over 2190 metres with Lis Mara/Gee Cam five year old entire Last Issue.   Pushing through from gate three on the second line to receive a lovely one/one passage, Jack not happy with the tempo sent Last Issue forward to take over from Blazing Orion at the bell and was never headed, winning by an easy 14.8 metres in advance of Tragic (three back the markers) and Blazing Orion which trailed the winner after crossing Ok Why Me prior to the bell. The mile rate 1-59.1.   Four year old Real Desire/Live Love Laugh gelding Hazpazzaz brought up two wins in a row when successful in the Betta Home Living Seymour Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1690 metres in a brilliant rate of 1-55.   Trained at Sunbury by Justin Livingstone for the Livingstone family, Hazpazzaz driven by Brian Gath starting from the extreme draw spent most of the race at the rear of the field, with NSW visitor Peking Duck (David Moran for Kim Hillier) assuming control running into the first turn.   Still a “mile” off the leaders on turning, Happazzaz weaving in-between runners sprouted wings halfway up the running to blouse the pacemaker by a nose in a tricky finish, with Glenferrie College (one/four – five wide home turn) a half neck away in third place.   The Betta Home Living Deniliquin Pace Final for C1 class which qualified in the heats held the previous Thursday, went the way of heat winner Nothings Final for Undera trainer Glenn Freeman and Avenel based reinsman Mark Pitt.   Given a sweet trip one/one from gate two on the second line following the favourite Indiana Angel (gate two) also a heat winner which shadowed another heat winner in Magic Moment Lombo (gate three), Nothings Final was eased three wide on turning and ran home strongly to register a neck victory over a game Indiana Angel and Tennaya along the sprint lane off the back of the leader.   The  mile rate a slick 1-55.9.   A five year old gelded son of P B Bullville and Timid Lady, Nothings Final has fronted the starter on 52 occasions for 10 wins.   Bendigo (Junortoun) owner/trainer Gary Donaldson has a terrific percentage ratio and landed the Betta Home Living Kyabram Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2190 metres with consistent six year old Art Major/My Gentle Persuasion gelding Bazzas Art in a rate of 1-59.   Driven by Melton based Zac Phillips, Bazzas Art was eased to the tail of the field from gate six, with polemarker Philtra Phella leading out before being crossed by  Stormed Out, while the hot favourite Smo coming off a second in the recent Echuca Cup was trapped on a limb from gate five before going forward to join the pacemaker.   Gaining a beaut ride home three wide on the back of Riseandriseagain in the final circuit, Bazzas Art cruised up to Smo which had led on turning in the straight, before coasting to the wire 5.8 metres ahead of Forbidden Forest (one/one) after working out of gate four, with Smo weakening to finish 2 metres away in third place.   The mile rate 1-59.1.   Punters went home on a much needed happy note when smart Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That filly Morton Plains trained at Shelbourne (Bendigo) by Larry Eastman scored in the Betta Home Living Cobram Pace for C1 class over 2190 metres.   Driven by Chris Alford, Morton Plains a stablemate of Victoria Derby winner Menin Gate raced in the same interests was first up since mid-January and raced in the open from gate four throughout.   Surging past the leader Bright And Sonny approaching the home turn, Morton Plains ($1.70) although under pressure kept on giving and giving to the wire, scoring by a half head only  in 1-58.7 over Just Knew (one/two) and The Pix (one/three).   Len Baker - Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Star New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn has continued his sensational Trans Tasman form at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. In what has been a sensational week, Dunn has captured the World Drivers’ Championship at Menangle, journeyed home to secure the Auckland Cup before crossing back to Australia for tonight’s meeting. As for his latest triumph, Dunn combined with the Kevin Townley-trained Sheemon to score an upset victory in one of the program’s Group Ones. The feature also doubles as a heat of the Great Southern Star, with the $300,000 Final scheduled for 10pm tonight Victorian time. After leading from the pole, Sheemon was eased to take the trail behind defending champion Keystone Del in what proved a winning move. Angled into the clear at the top of the home straight, the daughter of Monarchy sprinted to a three-metre win from Keystone Del, with Brunelleschi a metre away third. “I’m very happy with that run,” Townley said. “She got to the line well and was driven perfectly by Dexter. “Now we just have to see how she handles racing again later tonight. “She’s come off the track in pretty good order and hasn’t been knocked around, so I don’t see it being a problem.” PAUL COURTS

Every harness racing trainer will tell you that you never know where your next good horse is coming from. Some horses live up to their breeding while others rise way above what their pedigree suggests they should be capable of. One who fits squarely into the latter category is the very smart Monarchy gelding Mum's Pride.  Now the winner of five races from just eight lifetime starts, Mums Pride has impressed his trainer/driver James Stormont from day one. " I have liked him right from the start."  "I was going to race him as two year old but he banged his knee in the box and I had to give him three months off." "It was a blessing in disguise actually as it let him fill out and mature," James told Harnesslink this week. It has not all been plain sailing recently after two stylish wins at Alexandra Park in December. " He got a bout of colic and then right behind that he got a cold so it has been a bit of a rush getting him ready for tonight." I did want to race him last week as a lead in to this week so we are behind the eight ball a wee bit race fitness wise." "Having said that he really impressed me with his trial last week and even though he is up against Prime Power and company for the first time, I am still expecting a big run,"James said. While Mum's Pride was a bit of a rogue early on and still likes his own way a bit, James thinks it is a positive not a negative. " All good horses have a bit of character and attitude and he is no exception." "Its a good sign in my book," James said. Mum's Pride is not exactly a "blue blood" being from a handy Evanders Gold mare in Teachers Pride who won five of her seventy two starts. The dam of Teachers Pride was the Saville Row mare Charm School who won two from eighty three starts while the third dam was the unraced Pocomoonshine mare Poco's Pride. At this stage you would have to wonder where Mum's Pride gets all that ability from and you probably need to go back to his fourth dam Ketstone Wayward for the answer. A daughter of Hickory Pride, she was imported into New Zealand in the late 1970s by Derek Heckler of Final Decision fame. The next two dams are by Rodney and Volomite, two of the greatest trotting sires of their time in North America. There are plenty of winners close up in the pedigree in North America with the odd $100,000 winner thrown in. Mum's Pride is a trotter headed to the best grades in a hurry and reaffirms the old adage that a horse doesn't know who his parents are. Harnesslink Media

Plenty is at stake for the harness racing connections of classy pacer Alleluia. The gifted four-year-old pacer faces a must win situation this Saturday night at Albion Park when he starts in the Listed $25,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final. The Art Major – Shy Annie gelding is heading south next week in preparation for the country’s biggest four-year-old classic, the Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at TABCORP Park, Menangle on March 1. “That’s been the target for some time, probably since the day we bought him last year and everything has been geared for this campaign so a win this weekend would have us heading south with great confidence.” Owner Greg Mitchell said. The former New Zealand pacer has surprisingly tasted defeat at his past two starts at Albion Park; he was scorched by a red-hot Medal Of Honour in a Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final on January 24 after breezing while he went down on Tuesday as a short priced favourite. Stablemate and proven feature race winner Major Moment conquered Alleluia when he was able to lead throughout under stand-start conditions. “I haven’t been disappointed by his latest defeats, in fact, I thought he was tremendous when Medal Of Honour beat us because we did all the work and the times were fantastic while he lost a lot of early ground on Tuesday before being forced to chase hard. “He’s clearly the horse to beat in the final this weekend and I think that run on Tuesday and looking at the tapes will be very beneficial for him in the final, I think he was caught off guard a little. With a clean getaway, I think he will find the lead and prove very hard to catch. “He’s been great fun and very consistent since I bought him last year, he raced great through the winter carnival against Bling It On and the performance in the Breeders Crown Final was simply outstanding considering the barrier draw and sectionals that were posted.” Alleluia will start next week in the Gr.2 $50,000 Hondo Grattan Stakes at Menangle where he’s expected to clash with Bling It On among others. The Gr.2 $50,000 Paleface Adios Stakes on February 21 is also shortlisted if he fails to qualify in the Hondo Grattan. “We’ll start in both races if need be but hopefully he does enough to stamp his ticket the first time around. The depth in this division is truly extraordinary and could easily be the main race on Inter Dominion Grand Final day. “The Kiwis are loaded with stars while Victoria has plenty of emerging types and then there’s Bling It On, a horse we know well. It’s very exciting to be a part of this great race and I’m sure he’ll perform at his best, like he always does.” Mitchell is also looking forward for his trotter Our Overanova to tackle feature races in Sydney and Melbourne in the coming weeks. Our Overanova must overcome a 50m handicap on Saturday night at Albion Park over the short distance of 2138m. The Monarchy gelding resumed with a solid second behind Our Billy Ray at Albion Park on January 24. Our Overanova is qualified for the Gr.1 $300,000 Great Southern Star at TABCORP Park, Melton on March 7 following his victory in the Gr.3 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship Final back in October. Both Alleluia and Our Overanova are trained and driven by leading horseman Grant Dixon. Hoofnote; Greg Mitchell is the current Racing Queensland Harness Chairman. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 07 February 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 07 February 2015

Harness racings pin up driver Dexter Dunn gets plenty of plaudits for his skills in the bike and after the Group 1 National Trot at Alexandra Park you can see why. Drawing barrier one with perennial placegetter Sheemon in the 2700 metre mobile, Dexter had the misfortune to have his main race rival Stent drawn on his back on the second line. Leading from the gate, Dexter kept a couple of early challenges at bay before handing up after 700 metres to the smart Love You mare Kincaslough which put Stent three back on the inner. Kincaslough did the rest by staying in front and getting Sheemon and Dexter to the passing lane from where Sheemon slowly wore down Kincaslough close to home for a well deserved victory with the unlucky Stent flashing home for third. Sheemon trotted the 2700 metres from the mobile in 3:21.8, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with closing sectionals of 58.2 and 28.2 It was win number fourteen from start forty six for the son of Monarchy from the former outstanding trotting mare Solar Fire. Apart from winning fourteen races Sheemon has also been placed in twenty four of those forty six starts and todays victory took his earnings to $369,878. Trainer Kevin Townley was quick to heap praise on Dexter post race. " Dexter is such a big plus in races like this." "You just know he is going to get a run like that," Kevin said. Kevin thought drawing one helped Sheemon after a series of poor draws. " It is a hell of a lot easier drawing one and not having to go around them for a change." " He is such a wee tradesman and deserves a big race like today," Kevin said. Sheemon is now about to get his passport stamped as Kevin prepares to take him to Australia for the Glenferrie Challenge and the Southern Star. "I wouldn't say he would win one of the big ones  but he is right up with the very best and will more than pay his way." "They will know he is there, thats for sure," Kevin said. Sheemon has proven a thorn in the side of the elite trotters in New Zealand as he is so reliable and never goes a bad race and he is just the type to snare a big win in Australia if Keystone Del or Stent were to be unlucky. Harnesslink Media   

The Gore Harness Racing Club was the scene yesterday of just another reminder of how talented the Williamson clan is when the family completely dominated the Xmas meeting. Phil tends to take a back seat this days as his three sons have gone about establishing themselves as top horsemen in their own right. Race one was a portent of things to come for the day when the Phil Williamson barn runner Brads Kenny absolutely bolted in on debut by 8 3/4 lengths with Nathan and Brad driving the minor placegetters for a "Williamson" tfifecta. A 3 year old son of Monarchy from the former 3 year old Trotting Filly of the year in One Over Kenny ($87,919), Brads Kenny was purchased by Phil Williamson for the Met Eight Syndicate at the 2013 sales at Christchurch for $26,000. Even though he qualified at two, Brads Kenny has been given plenty of time before making his debut yesterday. Driver Matthew Williamson was suitably impressed with yesterday's effort. " It was a real good effort for a young trotter having his first start" " He does have great manners though so I thought he would do things right," Matthew told Harnesslink today. " He is not very big like a lot of that "Kenny" breed but he is beautifully gaited and has a future," Matthew said. No one in the stable is getting too carried away at this stage and plans at the moment are to set him for the Northern Southland meeting on January 15th. "We will just race him in the grades down here and see how he progresses," Matthew said. Not to be outdone, Nathan Williamson trained and drove the short priced winner of race 2 in Statham. Another making his debut yesterday, Statham was sent out a $1:50 shot on the back of some impressive trials performances. The 3 year old son of Bettor's Delight is from a full sister in blood to the former Harness Jewels winner in Joyfuljoy 1:51.3 ($339,612). After qualifying Statham as a 2 year old in 2:00.2 for the mile, Nathan turned him out to strengthen up. " The owners have been really patient and I think it will pay dividends in the long run." "He won yesterday on raw talent and great manners but I don't think you will see the best of him until he is four" "He is such a big horse and when he matures he will make a lovely older horse," Nathan said. No sooner had Nathan won race 2 then he was at it again taking out race 5 with the talented Sundon trotting mare Dwindle Mist.  Starting off 40 metres behind, Dwindle Mist came with a strong staying run from well back in the field to grab her fourth win in her last six starts. Nathan thought the two false starts may have undone her yesterday. " She caused the first false start when she went through the barrier strand and then on the second attempt she got the tape around her legs. "On the third attempt she bounded away but came down quickly but settled well back so I didn't think I could win the race from back there." "When I looked up at the 800 metres, we were miles from the leaders but she ran home great," Nathan said. Trained for her first two wins by his father Phil, Dwindle Mist was sent to Nathan to give her a change of scenery and she hasn't looked back. "She is really in the zone at the moment and I don't think she has stopped winning yet." "We will head to Roxburgh next where she will be off 50 metres but I don't think that will stop her, Nathan said. To cap off a great day, Nathan trained and drove his third winner for the meeting when the Jereme's Jet 4 year old mare Kiwi Focus took out the last at odds of 27 to 1. Last early in the 14 horse field, Kiwi Focus was three wide for nearly a lap before finding the death at the 900 metres mark and then proved too strong in the straight for the Dexter Dunn driven Ohoka Royal in a 2:00.6 mile rate. Nathan was quietly confident of a big run prior to the race. "Her work at home has been excellent and everything pointed to a big run" "She finished close up behind Statham at the recent trials in a 56.6 half so I thought she would go good" " I cant believe she paid $27.00 but the owners are happy because they had a punt on her," Nathan said. All things considered it was a great day for the Williamson boys and the way their horses went it might pay to follow them over the holiday period. Harnesslink Media   

One of harness racing's most select clubs in New Zealand has a new member after the "Wizard" Todd Mitchell chalked up win number 1000 as a driver when he piloted Prime Power to the winners circle at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Todd became just the 22nd driver to reach the milestone and he did it on one on his all time favourite horses in Prime Power. "I thought I might reach the mark the day before at Hawera but it just never fell into place on the day." " I am glad I drove the 1000th at Alexandra Park and being on Prime Power made it that bit more special," Todd told Harnesslink today.  Todd was always destined to follow a career in harness racing with his father being the former top trainer Robert Mitchell. "I have been around horses all my life."  "I worked for dad for 12 months when I left school and then went and worked for South Taranaki Bloodstock for near on 18 months." "From there I had a spell lasting about 18 months at National Bloodstock which is when they had a lot of top horses like Tower Of Strength," Todd said. Todd then went back to work for his father and continued to hone his driving skills. Not to long after that decided the time was right to give training a go himself. The first season in 2001 was a touch quiet but he has steadily built up the team to the point where Todd presently has 205 wins as a trainer on the board.  Todd started driving in 1989 and built through the 1990s to the point where by the late 1990s Todd was in the upper echelons of New Zealand drivers. The first highlight was winning the 1999 New Zealand Cup with Homin Hosed which he backed up with Gracious Knight when he won the New Zealand Cup in 2002. Then Just An Excuse won the 2003 and 2004 New Zealand Cups to give Todd four wins in New Zealands premier race in just six years. His most successful season was in 2003 when he drove 85 winners. Todd was straight to the point when asked who was the best pacer that he had driven. " Just An Excuse was special for me and the best pacer I haver driven." "Prime Power is just as clearly the best trotter I have anything to do with," Todd said. Todd has been aware he was closing in on the 1000 mark but says it took a bit longer due to his nine month holiday in 2012. "That nine month break was the best thing that could have happened to me." "It gave a much better outlook on the game being on the outside for a while." "I worked at Pencarrow Stud for nine months and really enjoyed the time there." Having now reached his goal of 1000 driving wins, Todd's sights are now firmly fixed on Australia with his star trotter Prime Power.  Safely through the next two starts at Auckland, Todd will turn his attention to the Glenferrie Challenge at Menangle with the 5 year son of Monarchy. "The mile on that big track is taylor made for him and I am excited about the trip" " I am not sure about heading on to the Southern Star a week later as I am not convinced he is mentally tough enough yet for three runs in a week," Todd said. Todd is one of the most approachable and helpful people in the industry when we ring for a comment or information and we here at Harnesslink would like to join with the rest of his peers in congratulating Todd on achieving the 1000 wins as a driver. Harnesslink Media  

One of the hardest things to get right in the harness racing industry is the management of large syndicates and the issues that go with that. Most attempts at large scale syndication have faltered but one operator who seems to have got the structure right and is having success is the Go Harness group established by Noel Kennard. Run by Noel with the help of former HRNZ journalist John Robinson, the Go Harness syndicates were set up to try to make the cost of racing standardbreds more affordable to a wider cross - section of the public and they have succeeded in bringing a lot of new people into the industry. One of their first syndicates was the "Trotting For Fun" group which was established in late 2012. Initially the syndicate brought Saratoga off Wayne Feiss from Australia. Racing from the All Stars barn prior to being purchased, the son of Muscles Yankee was left with the All Stars team and has done a super job for the syndicate. Since his purchase Saratoga has had 15 starts for 5 wins and 4 placings for $38,378 in stakes. Saratoga was moved recently to the barn of Ken Barron to take advantage of the swimming pool there on the advice of Mark Purdon. When the syndicate was formed three other yearling fillies were leased from well known breeder Ivan McNicholl to round out the syndicate. One was injured as a 2 year old and retired to stud but the other two are on track to make their mark on the racetrack this season. Both remaining fillies are beautifully bred and have both qualified already. Harriet Of Mot is by Monarchy from the very talented Sundon mare Harriet Hughes who won five races from just 13 starts. Harriet Hughes ran second in the Group 2 Trotters Championship to One Over Kenny and third in the Group 1 Trotting derby as a 3 year old. The other filly Eilish Aimee is by Love You and is a half sister to Harriet Hughes as well as Earl Of Mot ($535,756)  Ella Powell ($118,495) and  is a three quarter sister to Amore Stride ($99,156). Eilish Aimee lines up for her first start tomorrow at Timaru and while it is a big ask for a 3 year old filly to do everything right first time, John Robinson knows the ability is there. "The trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds have always had a high opinion of the filly and think long term she could go a fair way." "They have had most of this family through their hands and think Eilish Aimee has a big future," John said. A trial winner at Rangiora last Monday, Eilish Aimee impressed track watchers and driver John Dunn with a very professional display and that has given John Robinson some confidence heading into her debut run. "John was quite impressed with her on Monday and has taken the drive tomorrow." "Whatever she does tomorrow she can have a brief letup and come back in the new year after a short break," he said Harriet Of Mot is also qualified but won't be seen out just yet according to John. "She can still be a bit headstrong so we are in no hurry with her as she has the family ability," he said. John Robinson swears one of the keys to running large syndicates is the communication between the trainers and the syndicates management and he can't  praise Craig and Aimee Edmonds enough. " They are just great to deal with and keep us up to date on everything." " We don't have to ring them, they ring us which makes our job so much easier," John said  Large scale syndications are never easy to manage but the Go Harness team have obviously got the formulae just right judging by their results to date. Harnesslink Media     

The Group One National Trot, the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes and Waikato Trotters Flying Mile - all in December - are the short-term targets for Prime Power who resumes his racing career at Alexandra Park tonight. The 5-year-old Monarchy gelding will have his first race since running third behind Sheemon and Doctor Bones in the Harness Jewels 4yo trot final at Cambridge Raceway on May 31. He will join fellow Waikato squaregaiter Charlemagne on the 40m back mark in Friday’s $14,999 Alabar Handicap for C3 to OC trotters. Trainer-driver Todd Mitchell is very happy with where his stable star is at. “We won’t be heading south and perhaps Australia could be an option after his December races. "At this stage we will play it one race at a time, but he’s come back bigger and stronger this time in and I couldn’t be happier with him even though he has only had a couple of trials,” Mitchell said. Prime Power has recently been trialling with a galloping pacemaker and Mitchell also gave him a run on the Raglan Beach. “He was unplaced from 60 metres behind in a workout a couple of weeks ago and before than on October 18 he won a four-horse workout by 16 lengths. "I’ve tried to get as much work into him as possible. “He can win on Friday but will be better for the run. "Forty metres behind is a big ask but it’s negated a bit by the small field, so I think he is good enough to go close fresh-up,” said Mitchell. Mitchell said Prime Power had niggles before the Jewels but more than five months off the scene has seen those problems disappear. “I just want to see him back to his best and I think he can get there this campaign. "The thought of Christchurch never really entered my mind. "If we did go it would have been for the Free-For-All,” Mitchell said. Prime Power has won 11 of his 25 starts – 8 of them on his home track and seven over tonight's 2700m standing start distance. The toughest for him to beat will be the John and Josh Dickie trained consistent Pegasus Spur 6-year-old brown mare, Miss Pegasus. She was a gutsy second behind Cool Cobber when second favourite at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago and two week’s prior to that run she was an easy winner of a C3 to OC trot at Alexandra Park. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness racing often has horses that one describes as the "bridesmaid" due to their ability to always find one better on raceday. Such was the case with the Monarchy gelding Sheemon all through his 3 year old career with Habibti, Royal Aspirations and Blitzemcalder all having the wood on him at that stage. At four Sheemon started to beat those same horses with a win in the Harness Jewels and a close second to the reigning trotter of the year in Master Lavros in the Rowe Cup among the highlights. This season at five, Sheemon looks to be back better than ever and if yesterdays win in the open class trot at Kaikoura is any guide, then Sheemon looms as the major danger to Stent over the Cup week features. At his last start before Kaikoura at Ashburton, Sheemon had uncharacteristically broken twice but yesterday was back to his reliable self. Stepping well from barrier one, Sheemon settled three back on the inner early as Lotalov lead with Donaldson in the trail. After 800 metres Dexter Dunn moved Sheemon out into the running line and had a look for the front but David Butt on Lotalov wasn't keen on handing up so Sheemon settled in the death seat. Passing the 600 metres Sheemon surged to the front and set sail for home and that was the last anyone saw of him as he distanced a quality field. What made the run even more impressive was Sheemon set a new New Zealand record in the process. taking four tenths of a second off the previous mark. Sheemon trotted the 2400 metres from a stand in 3:00.6, a mile rate of 2:01 with closing sectionals of 58.5 and 30.5 Donaldson stuck on well for second albeit 5 1/2 lengths away while Irish Whisper was ok in running into third, a further 6 lengths back. Dexter was full of praise for Sheemon after the race.  " He is such a lovely horse to drive "He went to the front on his own down the back and when I clicked him up at the 400 metres he took off" he said Dexter was keen to put the Ashburton run behind him. "We took the overcheck off at Ashburton and it back fired on us "It was back on today and it  is staying on" he said The disappointment of the race was last years trotter of the year in Master Lavros who broke early and settled back before getting a charmed run up on the inner. He had run into third 50 metres out before galloping again and was disqualified. While the huge trotter is unsuited to the tight flat track at Kaikoura, his trainer Mark Jones is running out of time to sort the champion trotter out with Cup week only seven days away. With his manners and the form he is in Sheemon looks to be in a great position to finally rid himself of that "bridesmaid" tag in the Group One features over Cup week. Harnesslink Media  

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