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When Harnesslink looked for a harness racing stable to preview for this years races at the Westport Xmas meeting, we decided to do a runner by runner assessment of Margo Nyhan's team with her partner Peter Davis doing most of the driving.   Margo and Peter were only too obliging in giving us what we needed but stressed when they had done similar previews in the past the team had gone terribly.   So after Game Changer missed away in race 1, they thought the preview curse would continue.   However race 4 put that theory to bed once and for all.   Stable runner Sarah Palin in the hands of Robbie Close stepped straight to the front which she held for the first 600 metres before the other stable runner The Zigmeister with Peter Davis in the bike zipped around to the front.   Keeping up a steady tempo mid race, The Zigmiester shot clear on the last corner and although October Rain and Gavin Smith closed quickly, The Zigmeister still had three quarters of a length to spare when he reached the finishing line.   To make matters even better for Margo and Peter, Sarah Palin stuck on well for third.   Peter thought The Zigmeister, a son of Monkey Bones, wouldn't be far away going by his recent runs in Canterbury.   “He went 3:22 for 2600 metres at Addington at his last start which makes him very competitive on the coast.”   “His main problem this season has been over racing in the field”   “However once he gets to the front, he relaxes beautiful and you could throw the reins in the dust sheet.”   “Once he got to the front today, I was pretty confident he would be hard to beat.”   “ He is still learning at this stage and I think there is a fair bit of improvement in him yet,” Peter said.   Harnesslink readers who took in the preview would have been thrilled with the $12:70 dividend that The Zigmeister paid today.   The Zigmeister     Harnesslink Media

It was a homecoming fit for a queen. Natalie Rasmussen, aka Miss Inter Dominion returned to the feature race stage at Albion Park tonight (Saturday) and claimed two feature harness racing events. Rasmussen landed the Gr.2 $50,000 Seymour Premiers Cup with race favourite Gentle Western who led throughout while she guided star filly Fight For Glory to victory in the Gr.3 $30,000 UBET Gold Coast Oaks. The winning Oaks drive was tactically brilliant. Fight For Glory (Art Major) defeated stablemate Linda Lovegrace while local filly Bettor Promise ran a brave third in a mile rate of 1;55.9 for the 2138m with the final half covered in 56.3 seconds. Gentle Western, a lightly raced stayer with enormous potential stepped safely before leading his rivals a merry dance in the 2647m stand-start marathon defeating Corporal Luna and Raring To Go in a race record time of 1;57.7. The last half was covered in 55.7 seconds. The Western Ideal – Gentle Audrey stallion is raced by Natalie’s mother, Cheryl Rasmussen and Trevor Titcomb. The All Stars stable of Rasmussen and Mark Purdon will aim their runners at several features in the coming weeks during the Brisbane winter carnival which will be staged on July 4, 11 and 18. Rasmussen is based in Christchurch with Purdon. The Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic 2yo Finals were also staged and provided thrilling finishes in both finals with Catcha Lefty and Get In The Groove proving victorious. Catcha Lefty was the punters elect and scored narrowly from New South Wales visitor Roarn after locking wheels over the concluding stages while Make A Statement finished third in a time of 1;55.1. The Village Jasper – Lefty gelding has now won 6 of his 7 starts and will head to the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final on July 18. He is raced by his breeder and trainer, Cristina Monte and was handled by leading reinsman Shane Graham. In the Fillies division, Get In The Groove sprintlaned to defeat Covert Beauty and Firebby in a time of 1;57.0. Get In The Groove trailed race favourite Reds Jet Star before sprinting quickly over the concluding stages. The Mach Three – Get Happy filly is raced by her breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour. Trista Dixon took the winning drive; the filly is trained by her husband Grant. The Dixon stable struck in the feature trotting event, the $15,000 Statewide Taxation Services Marathon when former New Zealand Sharons Millicent led throughout in the 3157m event. Unbeaten in six Australian starts prior to tonight, the Monkey Bones – Black Onyx mare kept her perfect record in place scoring comfortably from Mister Malakye and Its Three By Two. The winning mile rate for the stand-start feature was 2;06.7. Handled by trainer/driver Grant Dixon, Sharons Millicent is raced by Sharon Mitchell. And reigning Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova made a successful return when he led throughout in the Garrards Horse & Hound Open defeating Forever Gold and Caesars Folly. The free legged pacer was resuming since competing in the Inter Dominion Grand Final on March 1, Avonnova recorded a winning mile rate of 1;57.3 for the 2647m. Co-owner and trainer Ian Gurney is aiming his ‘stablestar’ at several features next month including the $100,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 4) and the $125,000 Blacks A Fake (July 18). Fight For Glory Gentle Western

Is there any stopping the grey machine?   Sharons Millicent made it a perfect six Albion Park wins today's harness racing meeting en route to Saturday night’s target, the $14,999 Statewide Taxation Services Trotters Marathon, raced over a staggering 3157 metres.   The Marathon will be, by far the former Kiwi’s toughest assignment but the mare so far has been faultless in every appearance at headquarters.   Driven by trainer Grant Dixon today, Sharons Millicent came off a 20 metre handicap before working in tradesman-like fashion to reel in the front runner Ivanov on the final turn and scoot away on the rain affected surface to score by 8.6 metres.   The mare's mile rate was 2.06.5 mile  over the 2647 metre journey.   Nickelson (Ian Gurney/ Nathan Purdon) came from the 30 metre back mark to take second place, three metres ahead of the tiring Ivanov (Brad Connolly/ Peter Greig).   Sharons Millicent, a five-year-old daughter of Monkey Bones and the Gee Whiz mare Black Onyx was purchased out of New Zealand last month by prominent owner Greg Mitchell as a gift for his wife Sharon.   The grey made a successful Australian debut at Albion Park on 15 May and impressively has won every week since with subsequent victories on 22 May, 26 May, 2 June, 9 June and today.   “Greg and Grant laughed when I said I wanted a grey horse to race but I am the one laughing now,” Sharon said.   “This is my first horse and I love her.”   But it wasn’t love at first sight.   Sharon asked Greg for a new car for mother’s day this year but got the horse instead.   “On mother’s day Greg said he was taking me up to Grant’s place to look at a new car, I thought it was a bit ‘sus’ but I went along with it and was disappointed when I discovered it was a horse I was going to see, but she was grey and that’s what I told them I wanted, so I couldn’t complain.”   “I’m definitely not complaining now, and she is so lovely, she has a good nature.”   Sharon now hopes the wins keep coming for Sharons Millicent and for a very good and unselfish reason.   “I wanted to see if my horse was any good before I hatched a plan that I’ve had in mind for a while,” Sharon said.   “I have a desire to donate some of my horse’s winning to support fund raising for Juvenile Diabetes research, my son Jack (17) has diabetes and I’d like to set up something to support the research.”                                      On Saturday night Sharon reckons Sharons Millicent looks to have a good show but she didn’t tempt fate by saying that she’d win again.   “Five is my lucky number so I was happy to win five in a row, now its six, who know if she can keep it going,” she said.   Another five-year-old trot mare, the lightly raced My Delightful Lady was also back in the winner’s circle at Albion Park today, winning the 1660 metre Trotters Mobile.   The Rollon Big Red bay made it back to back mile victories for trainer Neville Doyle and driver Nathan Dawson and will now attempt to show its versatility in the Trotters Marathon on Saturday night.   My Delightful Lady and Sharons Millicent are the youngest competitors in the Marathon.   Sharon Millicent has drawn the pole mark position with My Delightful Lady, post three.   The mares share the front row with veteran gelding Its Three By Two (Frank Bennett/Clint Sneddon), a 14 times winner with a recent Albion Park victory to its credit.   Bart Cockburn’s Supper Waltz Wilson at ten years old is one of the oldest trotters in the Marathon field and with 33 wins from a 134 starts and a TM9 mark, he will start off a mammoth handicap of 90 metres.   The Dr Ronerail gelding has won three times at Tabcorp Park Menangle this year and hasn’t raced since coming off a 20 metre handicap with ninth to On Thunder Road in the Group 3 Bulli Trotters Cup (3009m) last month.   Supper Waltz Wilson has a good record in distance races with his victories including the 2012 Trotters Marathon (3100m) from a 20 metre handicap when the event was raced at the Parklands, Gold Coast track and he was runner up off an 80 metre handicap in Shes Commando’s Trotters Marathon in 2013.   Last week’s impressive winner, 10 year old  Si Capisco (Greg Eeles/Darrel Graham), will start off a 10 metre handicap.   On its Queensland debut at Albion Park last Saturday night, the former Victorian raced tough to score a convincing victory and trainer Eeles has predicted the dual Monte race winner will be much fitter for that run.   David Aldred     Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 20 June 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 20 June 2015  

Trotting mare Sharons Millicent, last month purchased by Queensland harness racing board chairman Greg Mitchell as a gift for his wife Sharon, has started off its Queensland career perfectly with three wins from as many starts for leading trainer/driver Grant Dixon. The 5yo grey Monkey Bones square-gaiter raced 58 times in New Zealand as Millicent and recorded six wins with just one of them from 11 starts there this year. Since joining Dixon’s Tamborine stable Sharons Millicent has blossomed into a very promising prospect. Mitchell said he had been looking for a grey horse for his wife and this one ticked the boxes. “Sharon wanted a grey horse and this one fitted the bill so I bought her for my wife as a present, hence the new name Sharon’s Millicent,” Mitchell said Sharons Millicent burst onto the Queensland trotting scene when she took out the $12,000 Gold Rush Final for T0 – T3 trotters at Albion Park on 22 May. She won at her Brisbane debut taking out the heat a week earlier and in the space of 11 days has posted third Albion Park win on Tuesday afternoon. The mare’s race times in Brisbane are proof of just how far Sharons Millicent has come in a short space of time under Dixon’s care. The tough mare will now target at a couple of feature races, firstly the Trotters Marathon and later in the year the Darrell J Alexander. “The Marathon will be her initial target, then she will go for a spell and Grant will aim her at the DJA,” Mitchell said. The Trotters Marathon is raced at Albion Park over 3157 metres on 20 June with Darrell J Alexander Memorial (2647m) raced at Albion Park in October. Sharons Millicent looks capable of improving further and her connections are hopeful she will continue to thrive in Queensland. Her best mile rate in New Zealand was as a 3yo when she trotted 2.05. At her first start here, Sharons Millicent trotted a PB of 2.00.6 in a mobile start over a mile and on Tuesday went 2.03.3 from a standing start over 2138 metres to win the Betta Home & Living Virginia Trotters Handicap. Coming from a 40 metre handicap in the 3yo+ event, Dixon placed Sharons Millicent ($2.00fav) outside the leader and she looked impressive in wearing down and pulling away from promising youngster Justabitnoisy (Doug Lee $2.90) and beat him by 6 metres. Lightly raced filly Toasted (Narissa McMullen $10.20) was a metre and a half away in third place with Denis Smith debutante filly, High Cloud Lass also putting in a good performance to finish fourth. The Mitchell’s and Dixon made it a double a few races later when QHRB chairman Greg Mitchell’s outstanding Art Major gelding Alleluia continued building its ultra-impressive Albion Park record with a gutsy win in the heat of the C4/C5 Rising Stars Championship. Last year’s Queensland and Gold Coast Derby runner-up, Alleluia has scored six Albion Park wins including three black type wins and the classy pacer came into today’s race off the back of its victory in the Group 2 Carnival of Cups Final. Like its stable mate Alleluia faced the breeze with Dixon content to camp the $2.00 favourite outside Pet McMullen driving Paint The Hammer ($3.20). In the straight Alleluia asserted its superiority and drew away to win by 2.6 metres from Paint The Hammer and paced the mile in a personal best time of 1.55.3.  Sammys Kriden rounded out the top three, 5.4 metres from the winner. Mitchell said Saturday night will determine Alleluia’s immediate goal and longer term he will be aim at the Breeders Crown. “If he doesn’t win Saturday night ($20,000 Rising Stars Final at Albion Park) he will go to the Premiers Cup and then maybe target the Breeders Crown,” Mitchell said. “He will be sticking to his own age this year.” The Premiers Cup heats are raced at Albion Park on 12 June with the $50,000  Final (2647m) at Albion Park on 20 June. Also at Albion Park yesterday New Zealand young driver Nathan Purdon piloted a winning double, scoring on Young American for Ian Gurney and Lachie Maguire for Simone Price. Purdon arrived in Australia last month and has been impressing locals. He is currently based with the Gurney stable. by David Aldred

Noel and Wendy Kennard are use to the ups and the downs you suffer being involved with the harness racing industry but nothing could prepare them for what they had to do today. Monkey Bones, the distinctive grey son of Andover Hall who had really started to make a name for himself in the trotting ranks in New Zealand had to be humanely destroyed after his long running battle with ligament and tendon injuries suffered a few seasons back eventually caught up with the stallion. Noel and Wendy have known for some time that this day would come at some point but that still doesn't prepare you for the day when you have to give the vet the go ahead. It is presumed that Monkey Bones has done the splits in the paddock and tore all the ligaments and tendons in his knee. As a result Monkey Bones has gradually become more and more immobile as time passed. " We gave him everything possible down his throat and by injection to help him. " We x-rayed him before and after every season to check his status and condition. " The vet told us that last season would most likely be his last and that's how it has worked out," Noel told Harnesslink this afternoon. Noel and Wendy went to great lengths to make Monkey Bones as comfortable over the last few seasons as possible and their affection for the horse is evident when talking to them. " He had such a lovely nature and was great to do anything with." " Even when he was in pain, it never changed his nature, he was such a kind horse," Noel said Monkey Bones served a quality book of 66 mares in his last season and will still be available for many seasons to come via frozen semen. " We have enough frozen semen barring accidents to see us through a few seasons so the last hasn't been seen of Monkey Bones by any means," Noel said. We at Harnesslink would like to express our condolences to Noel and Wendy on the loss of a horse that they were obviously very close to. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing meetings at Oamaru always seem to bring the best out of horses trained by Margo Nyhan and her partner Peter Davis. Hardly a meeting goes by at the North Otago raceway without the couple registering a win or two and yesterday was no exception with the trainer/driver duo racking up two more wins on what must be fast becoming their favourite track. First up was the maiden trotter The Zigmeister who worked to the front from barrier six for Peter Davis and after being steadied mid race had enough in reserve to hold out the late burst of Trial Separation and clear maidens at just his second lifetime start. The five year old grey son of Monkey Bones ran about in the straight a touch and there appears plenty of scope for improvement with a bit more raceday experience. Peter Davis was not surprised by yesterdays win. " He has always had a lot of ability right from the start but has had more than a few issues." " As a two year old he was going super but curbed a hock so we put him aside." "When we got him back in he was a different horse who couldn't trot a yard." " We brought him back at three but he was still all at sea so in the end we put him out for nearly fifteen months." " This time in he was close to getting the sack but has turned the corner lately and is finally getting back to what he showed us as a two year old." " He qualified at Methven just two weeks ago so he has come a long way in a very short time." " We will take him back to the trials now and try to give him some ringcraft to go with the ability," Peter said. The second winner for the day was the Oamaru track specialist Sarah Palin. The six year old daughter of Pegasus Spur has a real affinity for the North Otago track with her record after yesterday's win standing at eight starts for three wins and three seconds. As with most of the Margo Nyhan trained runners, Sarah Palin has exemplary standing start manners and was first away yesterday for Peter Davis from barrier one but quickly handed up to the free going Bet's Sun after 400 metres.  Given a lovely run in the trail albeit several lengths behind the tearaway leader for the rest of the trip, Sarah Palin used the passing lane to good effect in the straight to hold out a late challenge from Live The Dream by a length and a quarter. It was the mares sixth lifetime win and along with twenty two placings took her earnings over the $62,000 mark. Peter would love a few more as genuine as Sarah Palin. " She is a great horse to have in the stable as she is so genuine" " That was her best performance of her career yesterday as she had to drag the field up to the tearaway leader and 3000 metres has never been her favourite distance so it was a great run under the circumstances." " Every time she goes off the place she gives you 100% so you can't ask for any more than that," Peter said. Punters would be well advised to take note of any runners in the black and white silks from the Nyhan barn at future meetings at Oamaru. Harnesslink Media   

Harness racing is all about timing in a lot of cases with a lot of young drivers getting their big break by being in the right place at the right time. Loren Lester has being wondering for the last few months weather she had got her timing right with her move to the Colin and Julie Defilippi barn last June. It was more of a swap as Sam Ottley moved from the Defilippi barn to Robert Dunn's as she attempted to win the junior driver title and Loren went from the Dunn barn to the Defilippi barn to cover her move. That temporary move has now become permanent for both of the lady drivers and Sam has been on a real roll at Robert Dunn's winning 22 races prior to today. Loren on the other hand has struggled for drives with Colin and Julie running a much smaller stable, having only faced the starter six times prior to today but snared the drive on Millicent with Colin in Melbourne with Stent. The daughter of Monkey Bones was away well today and  Loren took her to an early lead before handing up to Nigel McGrath on the well supported Cyclone Jeter after 500 metres and getting a lovely trail from there.  Cyclone Jeter was still in front as they turned for home where Loren took full advantage of the passing lane with Millicent to dash away for an easy 2 1/4 length victory. Loren has certainly done the hard yards having been working in the harness racing industry since she left school. " I spent three years at Gavin Smiths when I left school and then moved around a bit before settling at Robert Dunn's." " The move to Colin and Julies has been good for me and they are great to work for." " It has been a real learning experience" "I'm glad I made the move and am really enjoying it," Loren said. In her third year as a junior, todays win was the second for Loren. " It was about time to be honest." " It has taken a bit longer than I thought it would." "The other winner I drove, Macy Supreme was here at Rangiora as well," Loren said. In her only other drive today Loren finished a close up fourth on Ygritte in the maiden trot  All a lot of the young junior drivers need is the opportunity to show their skills and Loren certainly took her opportunity today with a very polished display behind Millicent. Harnesslink Media  

The breeding season is here once again and harness racing is in good heart if the number of trotting stallions available this season is any guide. For the last two breeding seasons trotting bred mare numbers have been holding up remarkably well when compared to their pacing counterparts. The number of pacing mares has been slowly dropping for a wee while now Two seasons ago the number of pacing mares served numbered 2582 but last season saw another drop of 185 mares to bring the total served down to 2397 However in the 2012/2013 breeding season 644 trotting mares were served by 31 stallions and in the 2013/2014 breeding season 617 mares were served by 29 stallions. In light of those figures it is somewhat surprising that the number of trotting sires available to breeders has continued to grow, especially via frozen semen.  In the upcoming season the number of trotting stallions available to breeders has risen to 36. In the last breeding season only four stallions served more than 50 mares for the year and between them that four captured 319 of the mares served leaving just 298 mares for the other 25 stallions. It is little wonder the average trotting breeder is getting confused and having trouble sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Some of the trotting sires available via frozen semen are well established such as Andover Hall, Angus Hall, Muscle Hill, Love You and Muscles Yankee but quite a few are new to the stallion game in New Zealand and it is hard to gage where they sit in the overall scheme of things. Of those available via fresh semen last year, the North American owned Majestic Son served 161 mares in New Zealand and with the season his stock had on the track he should serve a large book again this year. Superfast Stuart (54)  Monarchy (51)  The Pres (50) and Monkey Bones (40) were other sires available via fresh semen last season who served reasonable numbers and they all have one thing in common.  These sires are owned in New Zealand and represent a major investment by the studs/owners but with the number of sires available via frozen semen growing to 26 this year they may have a struggle on their hands to attract mares. If the number of European and North American sires available via frozen semen continues to grow, the days of New Zealand studs and owners standing sires they own via fresh semen may be coming to an end. Weather that is in the best long term interests of the New Zealand industry is highly questionable. Harnesslink Media

“That's about twice as many entries as we expected to be honest”.  Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association chair Noel Kennard is pleasantly surprised by the more than 60 broodmares that make the bulk of the web based catalogue for the organisations horse sale on September 11th. The group took on the spring sale of in foal or ready to be bred pacing and trotting mares after requests and demand from it's 270 strong membership wanting a platform to buy and sell stock at the start of the harness racing breeding season. “While nobody's expecting much above bargain prices many of the mares have the potential to engage a bidding duel before they find a new breeding barn”. A sale co-coordinator Sheldon Murtha, is quietly enthusing over the quality that's surfaced during the final days of accepting entries. “The two mares from Tuapeka Lodge will get plenty of views through the website and the prospect of having a spring foal by Art Major or Mach Three should spin some wheels on several other lots”. Fans of the square gaiter should enjoy researching some of the trotting mares listed. If half sisters to 'Sundon' and 'Sky Valley' don't grab, those in foal to current hot stallion 'Monkey Bones' and french bleu blood 'Repeat Love' should have computer mouses clicking through to pedigree pages. Noel Kennard says the convenience of combining the new sale with the associations popular Stud and Stallion promo night may turn out to be a welcome strategic bonus. “Anyone buying a mare at the sale during the first part of the night will have the stallion service offer right there in front of them during the second half” he suggests. “We're assured the stud farms will be ready to make a deal with any new owners that night”. The CSBA Broodmare and Mixed stock horse sale begins at 5pm on Thursday September 11th in the 'Blossom Lady' lounge at Addington Raceway. The horses for sale are now listed on the highlighted web pages at www.harnessracing.co.nz. Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association  

What a great way to start the new harness racing season at Addington on Friday night. (August 8th)  Three $23,500 Alabar Super Series finals have been carded and all three have drawn outstanding fields with numerous chances in each final. The club must be thrilled with the fields as they have put a lot of effort into this series. So we thought we would do a preview of each of the finals. Race 5 - 4 year olds + older C1-C4 over 1950 meters. With the preferential draw in operation the three main chances in this final have all drawn poorly but still look to have a class edge on their opposition. Major Bubbles has won eight from nine to date and looks to have the all round game to claim this race even from the outside gate of nine. Having Dexter in the bike is a big plus with both horse and driver being in great form of late. The Purdon + Rasmussen pair of Someardensomewhere and Vice Consul are both huge chances with both being in sublime form. Someardensomewhere has won five and been placed eight times in just seventeen starts in the best company and Natalie Rasmussen has been in great touch for the last twelve months. One second line is not a great draw but Natalie in the bike negates that and he looms as a live chance. Vice Consul went through a rough patch a while back but has won three of his last four and the horses he beat in his last two in Madiba Magic and Mighty Major have both gone on to win their next start. He lacks nothing in the driver stakes either with Mark Purdon in the bike and from two on the second line he has more options than his stablemate. Selections  Just because she has been driving in such unbelievable form for so long, we have gone for Someardensomewhere and Natalie to come out on top. Major Bubbles and Vice Consul for the minors with Provocative Prince the next in line. Race 7 - 5 year old + older C1-C5 Discretionary 2600 Meters stand. Another outstanding form race with the four most tightly assessed trotters off the back mark of 20 meters. Although there are numerous trotters in good form off the front and 10 meters marks, the four trotters off 20 meters hold a distinct class edge over their rivals. Idle Bones has won five of her last six and looks headed for open class in a hurry. Brent Mangos , who has driven her in her recent starts in the North Island has treked south for the drive which is a big plus. Free Dreams has been in great touch and is better off this week being off level marks with his main rivals which he hasn't been the case in his last few starts. Johnny Cox has him humming and he is a major player. Spell has always looked a open class trotter in the making and with three wins in her last six starts she is finally starting to fulfill her potential. She can't make her own luck and does need a sit but can be lethal if she gets the run to suit and Sam Ottley and Spell seem to get on well together. Jayceekay was one of the finds in the trotting ranks in the latter part of last season. Johnny Boylan has done a great job of getting the Monkey Bones mare to relax and learn a bit of ringcraft and she looks capable of winning a few more yet. Selections Tough call but Idle Bones is in such great form it is hard to go past her. Of the other three we fancy, we rate Free Dreams a fraction ahead of Spell and Jayceekay. Aile Rouge from the Robbie Holmes stable looks the pick of the rest. Race 8 - 4 year+older C0-C3 1950 meters The third of three great races on the night and yet again with the preferential barrier draw in operation the better assessed horses have drawn poorly. Dalton Bromac has impressed everyone since Benny Hill brought him out of the Butcher barn a few months back. A winner of four from seven, he reeled off a half of 54.7 last week at the end of a quick 2600 meters which makes him awfully hard to roll here. Ricky May has stuck with the ship which only raises the confidence levels even more. The danger for us is Mighty Major which has come on in leaps and bounds in his last two starts. Two starts back he was stuck three wide from the 600 meters in a quickly run race over 1950 and only went under by a nose to Vice Consul with Dalton Bromac third. At his last start, he looped the field early from a second row draw and held on in a quick time for 2600 meters. Blair Orange takes the drive and the Barron/Orange combination is already proving to be a winning one. Explosive Art has been in great touch and but for drawing the outside of the front line may have proved a handful for the other two we like. Selections We really can't separate Dalton Bromac and Mighty Major in this one although there will be a big difference tote wise. Blair Orange is driving like a man possessed since joining the Ken Barron barn and that might be enough to even the contest up. Explosive Art has to come into calculations along with Lord Baltimore and Ideal Act for the minors. All in all, three great fields to help kick off the 2014/2015 season at Addington. Harnesslink Media          

The battle for the title for leading sire of 4 year olds for the 2013/2014 harness racing season in New Zealand was a one horse affair with Bettors Delight finishing just under a million dollars in front. While that was a comprehensive win, the issue of a much larger crop once again helped to cement in that dominance. As Mach Three proved in the 3 year old division, numbers are really important.  Bettors Delight as is the norm for this great sire produced a freakish mare in Adore Me who was the top earning 4 year old of either sex. His colts and geldings were a handy lot as well but not in the class of Adore Me. The overall numbers for Bettors Delight are outstanding which has been par for the course throughout his siring career. The only negative if you wanted to be picky was the continued lack of any sire prospects emerging from each crop. Bettors Delight can produce champion mares like no other sire but his colts and geldings while very talented are not in the champion class. His best colts and geldings were headed by Elios 1:55 ($149,762) Arden Rooney 1:55.4 ($121,462) and Give The Wink 1:58 ($62,216) The best mares were headed by Adore Me 1:52.4 ($355,658) The Fascinator 1:58.9 ($47,601) and Maloo 2:00.4 ($30,022) Foals - 234 Winners (Aust / NZ) 114 % Winners / Foals - 48.71 Stakes (NZ) $1,803,565 Mach Three finished second nearly a million dollars behind Bettors Delight and a big part of that was the lack of contribution from his mares. While there was plenty of them on the track, they were a touch disappointing overall Mach Three did have a string of very nice colts which were all good enough to go around in the major classics. His overall percentages were up there with Bettor's Delight. His colts/geldings were headed by Cyamach 1:58.8 ($56,584)  Fifth Edition 1:56.6 ($56,251) and Machs Gladiator 1:57.7 ($50,642). His mares were led by Russley Haste 1:59.8 ($36,238) along with Clarisa 1:59.9 ($20,283) and Channell Bromac 1:59.1 ($18,932). Foals - 163 Winners (Aust / NZ) 75 % Winners / Foals - 46.01 Stakes (NZ) $823,098 Third on the sires list was the champion sire Christian Cullen who had a quieter year than normal. Even in a quieter year Christian Cullen managed to produce two horses that look capable of winning Grand Circuit races. Franco Nelson 1:53.1 ($174,990) and Saveapatrol 1:56.9 ($98,127) both look to have huge futures in front of them going by their performances this season. His mares racing in New Zealand were a touch disappointing but that was due in no small way to the fact his best two mares from that crop in Delightful Christian 1:52.1 ($368,611) and Opulent 1:57.3 ($188,047) were racing in Australia. Foals - 122 Winners (Aust / NZ) - 46 % Winners / Foals - 37.70 Stakes - $583,148 The trotting division was as clear cut as the pacing division with Monarchy completely dominating this division. The three biggest earners in Sheemon 1:57 ($135,872) Prime Power 1:56.5 ($67,201) and Royal Aspirations 1:56.5 ($60,488) were all sons of the Balanced Image sire. Second nearly $400,000 behind Monarchy was his Roydon Lodge stablemate in the form of the evergreen Sundon while Love You and Monkey Bones were close up in third and fourth. The emergence of Monarchy from Sundon's shadow and the prominent showing by the likes of Love You and Monkey Bones are all positive signs for the trotting breed going forward. Harnesslink media

Grey trotting machine Idle Bones will now head home to Christchurch to compete in the upcoming Lower Grade $23,500 Super Series Handicap Trot at Addington on the 8th of August after completing a hatrick of wins at Alexandra Park. The reformed rogue mare, who won her debut before bad manners led to a 16-race losing streak, has now won five of her last six starts and looks set to continue through to open class. After settling towards the back of the field from her 10 metre handicap, driver Brent Mangos set the Monkey Bones mare a light with a lap to go, looping the field to find the front. She then trotted along boldly in front, before leaving her rivals breathless and sprinting away for a four and a half length win. “It was a great race to win as it was a $15,000 stake and her third win at Alexandra Park, so she got the money bags bonus as well,” explained owner Dave McHugh, who has enjoyed a great run as an owner in the last few weeks having also won with Ellmer Hanover and The Yaldy’s Ideal. “You have to enjoy it while it lasts but unfortunately there is only one way I can go from here and that’s back down again,” he laughed. McHugh was full of praise for trainer Paul (Tank) Ellis, who also shares in the ownership of the grey mare. “She has given 'Tank' a few headaches but he has stuck with her and now we are getting the rewards,” said McHugh. The win landed a few big bets on the talented mare including $10,000 at $1.80 and $3,000 at $1.70 Idle Bones, who had four starts at Alexandra Park during her northern sojourn for three emphatic wins and a narrow second, will head home to Christchurch on Thursday. “Provided she comes through the trip alright she will start in the Super Series Trot at Addington before heading for a well earned break,” stated McHugh. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness racing luck can be brutal at times and at other times everything just falls into place. Dave McHugh, the mine host of the Yaldy Hotel in Christchurch is having a golden run at the moment, winning races all over the country with different horses. The star of the team at the moment is the 4 year old Monkey Bones trotting mare Idle Bones who has won four of her last five starts and is looking an open class trotting mare in the making. Trained by Paul Ellis, who races Idle Bones with Dave McHugh, this talented mare has been a revelation in her recent runs at Alexandra Park. Last Sunday another member of the McHugh owned horses broke his duck in the Ashburton Security Mobile Pace at the Ashburton Trotting Club meeting. Trained by Geoff Dunn at West Melton, The Yaldy's Ideal stormed home late for a narrow but impressive victory in the hands of Gerald O'Reilly. It was an overdue win for the 3 year old son of American Ideal. And to top things off, Ellmer Hanover was successful tonight in the Cambridge Jockey Club Handicap Pace at Cambridge Raceway. The five year old son of Armbro Operative made a good beginning in the 2700 meters standing start event and was sent forward by driver Brent Mangos with 2000 meters to go. Keeping up a solid clip from there, Ellmer Hanover skipped clear on the turn and had enough in reserve to hold on for a comfortable win. He paced the 2700 meters in 3:26.9, a mile rate of 2:03.2 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 28 Ellmer Hanover is another horse trained by Paul Ellis and raced in partnership with Dave McHugh. And just to keep the pot boiling,Idle Bones is a starter in the Totem – Cirque Du Soleil Handicap Trot at Alexandra Park tomorrow night. With the run that Dave McHugh is having at the moment,it would be a very brave man to bet against Idle Bones winning again tomorrow night. Ellmer Hanover winning tonight Harnesslink media

It might only have been her second win from 14 starts, but if she can repeat today’s performance at Tabcorp Park Melton, many more triumphs are in store for Basil Dooley-trained Sweet Wise. The four-year-old Allendale mare by Totally Ruthless out of Little Trouble had no trouble whatsoever finding the lead early, pinging off the arm at the 1720m start in the Jim's Mowing AU Facebook Pace. From there driver Greg Sugars controlled proceedings, Sweet Wise kicking clear turning for home to race clear for a 13.2m win in a rate of 1:57.2. Meanwhile, Spidergrace looked a star in the making with a 9.4m win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings second heat. The gelding, trained by David Moran and driven by Laura Crossland, showed strong pace early and led before racing clear off the back for a comfortable victory. Savannah Jay Jay ran on well to get second, while Tiavon’s Dream was third after slightly missing the start due to a break in the score-up. Polemarker Miracle, who was well in the market, finished fifth after getting shuffled back along the pegs early. Speaking of potential stars in the making, Lance Justice might have unveiled another one in Phil Monty. The four-year-old gelding has not put a foot wrong since joining the Justice stable from New Zealand, with  strong wins at Charlton and Maryborough before today’s impressive 1.9m victory. Justice took Phil Monty to the front from gate one and controlled the speed perfectly before bringing him home in 55.9secs for the last half-mile to register a winning mile rate of 2:00.5. In the Jim’s Mowing Trotters’ Handicap eight-year-old gelding Xanderxav scored an upset victory for trainer Linton Power with David Moran in the cart. The son of former superstar trotter Wagon Apollo stepped well from the tapes to lead unchallenged. Brief Glance made an early move to get to the breeze, while favourite Blitzthemcalder was driven patiently from his 20m handicap. Turning for home Brief Glance challenged Xanderxav, but the leader responded and simply couldn’t be headed. Lleyton H battled on strongly for third at big odds, Lucky Twenty Three ending up fourth and Blitzthemcalder fifth. In the Jim's Mowing 131 546 Pace, eight-year-old mare Broadways Best turned back the clock for an impressive half-neck win over Lance Justice pair Machin Out and Im Barney Rubble. Chris Alford took the Shannon McLean-trained feature race specialist to the breeze with a lightning move mid-race, sitting outside early leader Blazeaway Macray. Greg Sugars then had his go, whipping Villagem around the field and dashing to the lead. But Broadways Best was too strong at the business end, out-staying her rivals in a mile rate of 1:59.5. The 3YO Trotting Fillies’ Vicbred Super Series second heat was taken out by Ross Graham’s Monkey Bones squaregaiter Four Lillies with Daryl Douglas in the sulky. Four Lillies won by a comfortable 14.9m over Lindy Vale, with Sister Of Sonoko another 8.1m away in third place. Other winners for the meeting were Nobetterthanthis in the Harness Breeders Vic Pace over 2240m for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan, which scored a head win over What A Sheila in 2:03.8, while Gaita Pullicino’s three-year-old gelding Blackwarrior was too tough for his rivals in the Corio Waste Management 3YO Pace, winning by 1.2m over Vinny Chase with a further 24.2m away to Macworthy in third. Pullicino had earlier finished fourth aboard Lovable Larrikin, which showed a win was not far off when he rattled home out wide behind Broadways Best. by Cody Winnell

Harness racing in winter always throws up the odd candidate for higher honours during these low key months of the season and this year the prime suspect is the very promising trotter, Idle Bones. Having her first start at Auckland last night, the 4 year old daughter of Monkey Bones continued her impressive form of late with an effortless 4 ¾ length victory in a 2:02.3mr for 2200 metre journey. It was her third win in a row and fourth overall, however she has always looked very talented but has often failed to deliver on raceday. A winner on debut at Ashburton last July, Idle Bones took another 16 starts to win her next race but showed glimpses of real ability during that period without the ringcraft to make it count. This time in it has all been in place and her last win at Addington before coming north showed how good she potentially is. Winning by 15 lengths in a 2:00.7mr for 2600 metres made everyone sit up and take notice of this emerging star. Trained by Paul Ellis at Kaiapoi and raced by him with the mine host of the Yaldhurst Hotel, Dave McHugh, Idle Bones comes from a maternal family steeped in high class trotters. Idle Fiori has already produced two trotters of note in Idle Wishes ($97,512) and Idle Maple ($93,809) and her dam Idle Choice was a half sister to the champion trotter Idle Scott 46 wins ($585,863) Idle Bones looks to have inherited all the family ability and if her last couple of wins are any guide, she could be in for a very profitable time next season. Harnesslink media

With the Harness Jewels nearly upon us, the top twenty in each division are listed as nominations on the Harness Racing New Zealand website. It is from these nominations that the final fields will be selected. We thought an evaluation of the sires represented might be an interesting project so here goes. 2 YR OLD TROT - Surprisingly the sire with the most representatives in this division is the champion sire Sundon with five and this is from just 48 live foals. To all intents and purposes his influence is on the wane but maybe not as much as we think. As you would expect Majestic Son (23 live foals) and Love You (21 live foals) are both well represented with three a piece while Monarchy (74 live foals) and first season sire Bacardi Lindy (25 live foals) both have two. 3 YR OLD TROT - Monarchy and Majestic Son hold a big hand here with four eligible horses each. Of the other sires, four have two eligible with the interesting one being Muscle Mass whose crop of foals that year numbered just five. 4 YR OLD TROT - One sire is completely dominant in this division and that is the Balanced Image sire, Monarchy who has seven eligible including all the favoured runners. Love You with three eligible and Sundon and Monkey Bones with two eligible are the only other sires to have more than one runner nominated. 2 YR OLD FILLIES - Bettors Delight has really stamped his mark on this division with seven horses eligible while Art Major with four and Mach Three with three are the next best. Next in line are Changeover and American Ideal with two each. The ability of Art Major to have four eligible from a 2 yr old crop just 40% the size of that of Bettors Delight is a notable achievement. 3 YR OLD FILLIES - This is undoubtedly the most even division with Art Major, Christian Cullen, Mach Three and American Ideal all having three eligible. The surprise is that noted filly sire Bettors Delight has just two the two eligible fillies while no other sire has more than one. 4 YR OLD MARES - As most would expect, Bettors Delight has the most eligible mares with five while Mach Three was the next best with three. Falcon Seelster and Jeremes Jet both have two eligible while eight other stallions each have one eligible. 2 YR OLD COLTS - There was a real turn up in this division with Art Major being dominant with seven horses eligible trumping Bettors Delight who has four even though the two year crop of Art Major numbers just 87 alongside the 234 of Bettors Delight. Mach Three with two eligible was the only other stallion to have more than one eligible. 3YR OLD COLTS - Three stallions dominated this division with Mach Three with five eligible on top. Art Major with four and Bettors Delight with three were the next best while American Ideal and Badlands Hanover both have two eligible. 4YR OLD COLTS - This division is a Bettors Delight show with the leading sire having a huge eight of the eligible horses. The rest are headed by Mach Three with four, Elsu with three and Christian Cullen with two. Overview TROTTING DIVISIONS - With regards to the trotting divisions it is becoming more apparent by the day that Monarchy, Majestic Son and Love You are in a battle to assume Sundon's crown as the premier trotting stallion. Monarchy has an edge at present due to having more crops on the ground but is under real pressure, especially from Majestic Son. PACING DIVISIONS - Bettors Delight continues to be prominent in all pacing divisions but is not as dominant as he once was. For Art Major to have seven colts and four fillies eligible from a crop of just 85 2yr olds foals is a great result and couple that with Mach Three leading the three year old divisions with five colts and three fillies and the Bettors Delight grip on this series is  loosening. Harnesslink media

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