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The problem with producing miracles is after a while people start to expect them. But training genius Tim Butt says there will be no miracle from Mah Sish in tomorrow’s $650,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington. Mah Sish started the season one of the favourites for the great race after a rampaging Australian campaign last term in which he won the Hunter and Ballarat Cups and finished second in the Interdominion. With natural improvement, great manners and huge stamina, he looked the perfect New Zealand Cup contender. The only problem is, Mah Sish has barely run past a horse in four starts this campaign, his best result being a sixth of 10 two starts ago. His fall from grace has left master trainer Butt stumped. “To my eye, he looks perfect. Apart from what he is doing on the track,” says Butt. “His blood is great, his coat looks spot on and he is working well. “But he simply isn’t the same horse as he was last season. Not so far, at least.” Being Tim Butt comes with its big-race pressures though because all season punters have been waiting for him to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Most harness racing fans remember him doing just that in 2007 when Flashing Red went into the Cup well down on his best form but almost unfathomably overcame a 15m handicap to beat Monkey King. After having earlier weaned champion trotter Lyell Creek off Lasix after his US career and taken him back to the top again, Butt is routinely expected to do what other trainers can’t. “I know there are people out there who think we can turn them around for the big races but I just don’t see it happening,” says Butt. “With Flashing Red it was different. He had little issues and we eliminated them one by one right up till Cup day. "But Mah Sish seems and looks fine. We have been taking him to the beach but really, there is not a lot more we can do.”
 Mah Sish could well return to his best in Australia later this season but Butt admits maybe he went right to the bottom of the well with the gelding last season. “He had a long busy season and it was the right thing to do because he won nearly $800,000 last season without having to take on Terror To Love or Christen Me much.” And therein could lie the problem as Mah Sish is a son of Mach Three, whose best stock are world class when right but are prone to hitting the wall after hard campaigns --- just think of Auckland Reactor or Captain Joy. Butt’s frustration with Mah Sish is mirrored by his other Australian star of last season Vulcan, who has won 10 group ones but is racing like a lower grade battler. “He is a very funny horse because when he is right, which is usually in Australia, he is a machine,” explains Butt. “But when any little thing goes wrong he can completely lose form. “I think he is on the way back up but Peak is our better chance in the big trots this week.”
 Peak is the Swedish import who won fresh up for the Butt brothers at Ashburton two weeks ago so impressively driver Anthony has chosen him over Vulcan, who will be partnered by Ricky May this week. “Peak has improved since Ashburton and will keep getting better,” says Butt. “He is very close to being the real deal and while he has a great chance on Tuesday he is a super stayer so the race which will really suit him in the Dominion on Friday.”
 By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

After months of preparation and build up, the fi nal fi eld to take part in the 2013 Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup has been named. In just seven days time one of our elite harness racers will be crowned NZ Cup champion for 2013; bringing with it riches and the adoration of the harness racing public. This year’s edition of the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup promises to be another classic. A quality field and several sub-plots within the contest will ensure the racing public is captivated once again by our greatest race. Next week Terror To Love will bid to become just the third horse to win three consecutive NZ Cups. The first was Indianpolis in 1934, 1935. 1936. Then came False Step in 1958, 1959 and 1960. Given the NZ Cup has been run since 1904 this will truly be one of harness racing’s great modern achievements, should Terror To Love, trainer Graham Court and his team associated with the star stallion make history. As a driver, Ricky May will bid to create his own piece of history. While not on board for Terror To Love’s fi rst of two NZ Cups to date, five other NZ Cup driving wins has him alone at the top the Cup leaderboard with Cup great Cecil Devine who trained and drove six wins. May’s six wins to date are Inky Lord in 1989, Iraklis 1997, Mainland Banner 2005, Monkey King 2009 and 2010,Terror To Love 2012. Two Aussie invaders threaten sanctity of the local grip on our greatest harness race. Both horses come with women drivers. Suave Stuey Lombo has had two starts in his New Zealand campaign for mixed results. Though his efforts have been strong with driver Lauren Penella, his standing start manners have cost him dearly. A resurgent Caribbean Blaster is back for another attempt at the Cup this year after a luckless 2012 campaign. Fighting back from a setback last month, Caribbean Blaster stormed home in the second fastest mile ever record last week in Sydney and looks to be peaking again. With gun driver Kate Gath in the sulky Caribbean Blaster has the Group One record, the class and chops to take it to the star New Zealand pairing of Terror To Love and Christen Me. Despite his bad, uncharacteristic gallop in last week’s Flying Stakes at Ashburton, boom gelding Christen Me is still rated the horse to beat by many experts. Despite losing such great horses as Themightyquinn and Bitobliss in the Cup build-up, the strength and depth of this year’s field is evidenced by the fact that a form horse such as Besotted could not make the top 18. There will be many talking points emerging regarding the race in the coming days. It is a race of dreams for many and at 5.15pm next Tuesday afternoon at Addington Raceway, someones dream will become reality. CHRISTCHURCH CASINO NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP - FINAL FIELD 1 Choise Achiever (E3) 2 Easy On The Eye 3 Christen Me 4 Jimmy Johnstone 5 Four Starzzz Flash 6 Mah Sish 7 Terror To Love 8 Fly Like An Eagle 9 Jason Rulz 10 Pembrook Benny 11 Highview Tommy 12 Phantom Grin (E2) 13 Pass Them By (E1) 14 Caribbean Blaster 15 Franco Ledger 16 Suave Stuey Lombo UR1 17 Sleepy Tripp UR2 18 Mach Banner UR3 Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

A smoke-filled sky and a number of scratchings from fire-affected areas provided a sobering backdrop to a very good Tier One meeting at Bathurst last Friday. The meeting was sponsored by Golden Gait Stud, which has a long association with the Bathurst club. Their sponsorship sign, on the”Golden Gait” home turn, was the first of many which now proliferate at the track. Amanda Turnbull’s treble gave her the undoubted driving honours for the night, but it’s fair to say that horses were the real stars, with a number of highly-promising types scoring in very impressive fashion. McArdles Chance (Amanda Turnbull, for father Steve) led throughout in the opening C3-C4 2130 metres event, prevailing in a desperate finish from a courageous Reservation Road NZ, which sat outside it throughout, and trailer The Wifes Calling a sound third. The last half of 58.5 established the standard for the rest of the meeting. Hayes and Kydd , winner of the second race, a C2 sprint class, looks to be well above average. He showed a blistering turn of foot to assume the lead after 400 metres, settled in the middle stages then scooted home in a 59.1 final half, from placegetters were Navarda Ace and Essayist. It was win number 8 in 19 starts for the Armbro Operative four-year-old. His driver Murray Sullivan (for Jason Gaffney) indicated that the horse will most likely do his future racing at Menangle. A strong field lined up in the feature race, the C1-C2 mares Express Post Stakes, over 2130 metres. Favourite Gabrielle Solis NZ (Nathan Hurst) led throughout, quickening to a last half of 58.2 in scoring easily from stablemate Imitate Life, which trailed her from the pole, and Two Striking. With a record of 7 wins from just 11 starts, the four-year-old McArdle mare boasts fine breeding also, her dam being a Cullen grand-daughter of famous matron Sakuntala, making her a close relation of Iraklis and Monkey King, among others. It might have come a week after the car races, but Toptenshootout was an impressive winner of the fourth, a 2130 metres C1 class. Bernie Hewitt bided his time in the running line and unleashed a sharp sprint approaching the turn to quickly put the race beyond doubt. Sassys A Kriden got home well to take second place, with Giannis Bromac NZ holding on well for third. The mile rate was 2:01.5, with a last half of 59.2 . Bernie’s son Doug, a member of the Panthers Under-20s Grand-Final winning side, made a welcome return to the track where he drove mini-trotters and then his dad’s runners, before concentrating on his career in Rugby League. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to race driving at some point in the future. Haka Shannon (Peter Bullock), last season’s Juvenile Horse-of-the-Year and Bathurst Gold Crown runner-up, justified his $1.20 quote by leading for most of the trip in a 2130 metres 3C0-3C1 event. Smack Dab Shannon made it a stable quinella, with pole runner Colonel Brook holding third spot throughout. The last half was a comfortable 58.9 . The Bettors half-brother to Mach Beauty stripped in fine order for his first-up run this season, and will be aimed at a number of the better-class races on offer. Denise and Jules (Amanda Turnbull, for Mark Butler) gave nothing else a chance in race six, a 3CO Fillies sprint event, dawdling through the first half in a pedestrian 66 seconds before zipping home in 58.7, with Princess Turf and Baked In The City taking the minor places, each for the first time. The Courage Under Fire daughter is named for her owners, Denise Brien and Julie Smith. They previously raced Cruisin Carl, which was recently sold to Queensland, where he is racing in good form. This filly is a more than worthy replacement. Amanda Turnbull completed her treble, and gave father Steve a training double, when Itdontmattertome ($1.40) led all the way in the 1730 metres C0 class seventh race. The last half of 57.2 was easily the fastest of the night. Marty Bee raced outside the lead throughout for second, with William Peter a distant third. Owner Doug Lee entrusted the son of Mach Three to Steve Turnbull when he and wife Jodie made the move to Queensland earlier this year, and a Canola Cup heat win, and this latest effort, vindicate Doug’s decision. Blissed By Datmuch (Keven Rivett) broke a sequence of four consecutive thirds with a stylish win in the final event, a C0 sprint class, from trailer Stylish Number, and debutant Sunny Guy which closed late. The winner sat midfield in the running line, and won with a lot in hand. It seems fitting that a race named after Smooth Satin should be won by the trainer-driver of Rowleyalla. Those two horses, along with the mighty Hondo Grattan, are generally regarded as the three greatest Bathurst horses in the night trotting era. Very fitting also, that the Bathurst Pick Six racebook tipping competition, which had jackpotted to a whopping $1200, should be won by a popular club stalwart in Jim O’Brien, who just happened to be celebrating his eighty-third birthday. Many happy returns, Jim! Marianne Donnelly Bathurst Harness Racing Club

Mah Sish is primed for his best year according to the 7-year-old gelding’s trainer Tim Butt – and even without racing for five months he’s still the one to beat in the Group Three $25,000 PGG Wrightson Hannon Memorial for six-plus-win Free-For-All pacers at Oamaru on Sunday (September 15). Mah Sish is the $2.40 favourite. Four Starzzz Flash is paying $4, Franco Ledger $4.20, and Mach Banner $7.50. “He will derive a lot of benefit out of Sunday’s run and it this stage of his preparation I couldn’t have him any better. I think he’s set for a big season. “Personally I think he has got the ability to be a top Grand Circuit horse again. Sunday’s Hannon is the perfect launch for him. He will then race in fortnightly intervals leading into the (New Zealand) Cup,” Butt said. Butt said his family had had a close association with the Oamaru Harness Racing Club’s Hannon Memorial over the years. “We grew up with it. It is a time honoured race really. There have been some nice horses win the Hannon Memorial. Anthony has won it a couple of times with Blossom Lady, then there were other nice horses like Roydon Glen and Derby who have won it. “It is the perfect lead-in race for us,” Butt said. Brother Anthony is going for his sixth win in the Hannon. He’s saluted previously with Blossom Lady in 1990 and 1993, Mister D G 2004, The Flyin Doctor 2006, and Cullen’s Creek in 2010. Mah Sish hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Miracle Mile in Sydney on April 28. This year’s Hunter Cup champion goes into the Hannon with two trials wins at Addington and Rangiora on September 2 and August 26 respectively. At Addington he beat four three-plus-win opponents from his 40m back-mark in 3:20.4 (mile rate: 2:04). Last 800m: 56.8. Last 400m: 28.3.Terror To Love was fourth. At Rangiora Mah Sish dealt to his six one-win rivals in 3:14 (mile rate: 2:00.3). Last 800m: 58. Last 400m: 29.2. Both were the same distance as Sunday’s race – 2600m standing start events. Stablemate Choise Achiever could also figure in the finish on Sunday. “He’s going well but it’s going to be harder for him to get into the Cup field. Mah Sish is definitely our best chance,” Butt said. Mah Sish, who finished runner-up to Im Themightyquinn's in this year’s Inter Dominion grand final has won 14 of his 38 starts, placed 12 times and won $892,250 The son of Mach Three - Dancing On Winds was bred by K. J. Taylor, and is owned by P. J. Hailes, T. G. Casey, G. A. Ayers, Mrs L. N. Ayers, Mrs M. McKay, and J. W. Hall. He finished fourth in last year’s New Zealand Cup. The first Hannon Memorial in 1938 was won by the Bill Johnstone trained and Maurice McTigue driven King’s Play. He won the (mile-and-a-quarter) 2000m event in 2:44.8. Pacer, driver, and winning time of North Otago’s premier pacing event (since 2000): 2012: Franco Ledger (Hamish Hunter) 3:15.7. 2011: Monkey King (Ricky May) 3:15.7. 2010: Cullen’s Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:13.4. 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:18.1. 2008: Ohoka Rebel (David Butt) 3:19.3. 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:26.4. 2006: The Flyin Doctor (Anthony Butt) 3:14.5. 2005: Bob’s Blue Boy (Craig Thornley) 3:22.8. 2004: Mister D G (Anthony Butt) 3:19.7; 2003: Jack Cade (Mark Purdon) 3:17.4. 2002: Panky’s Pacer (Ricky May) 3:18.1. 2001: Kym’s Girl (Colin de Filippi) 3:18.8. 2000: Chloe Hanover (Jo Herbert) 3:17.6. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand

In his first public appearance since retiring last season Monkey King underwhelmed his trainer Brendon Hill. In the fast-class heat at Saturday's Rangiora workouts Monkey King didn't fire.

Retired dual New Zealand Cup hero Monkey King is on the verge of a surprise harness racing comeback.

Support for Canterbury's iconic week of celebration in November has received a boost with Christchurch Casino agreeing to continue its significant financial support to the two big harness racing and galloping events it was announced today (Wednesday June 20).

Sometimes the timing just isn't fair. If it was, Monkey King would have been retired in a blaze of glory 17 months ago, the undisputed hero of New Zealand harness racing and his departure from the Australasian stage would have saddened racing fans.

Monkey King, the winner of 39 races and a record $3.48 million in stakes has been retired. The harness racing 9yr-old, raced by Robert Famularo, had his racing curtailed by soreness over the past 12 months.

The three big harness racing guns - Smoken Up, Monkey King and Auckland Reactor have drawn 16, 17, and 18 respectively following today's (Wednesday November 2) New Zealand Trotting Cup draw in Christchurch. Another top prospect - Smiling Shard has drawn 14.

While North America doesn't have a monopoly on big races at this time of year, New Zealander Monkey King is going for his third consecutive harness racing win in the $600,000 (NZ) New Zealand Cup at Addington Raceway on November 8. What is amazing it seems to us up here that Monkey King has been racing forever and for us it would be the case as the 9-year-old just keeps on ticking.

The TAB might have eased the New Zealand Cup odds for Kiwi favourites Monkey King and Auckland Reactor after they were beaten at Addington on Friday night but neither of their harness racing trainers are hitting the panic button.

Harness racing Champion Monkey King got back into the business of winning races today (Sunday) when he won his 39th race the 'Group Three' Hannon Memorial at Oamaru.

Harness racing superstar Monkey King returned to the public arena today with a hit-out at the Rangiora Workouts. The millionaire pacer wasn't hurried by regular reinsman Ricky May running home stoutly from the rear of the field for fourth in the C1 and Faster Mobile Pace (2000m).

The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) today (Monday August 22) announced that New Zealand's feature harness race - the 2011 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup will be conducted for a stake of $600,000. This represents a reduction of $150,000 from the $750,000 stake in 2010.

Outstanding harness racing driver Ricky May has topped the list of stake earnings by a New Zealand reinsman for the second year running. May bankrolled $1,867,454 for the connections of the horses he drove, and although he steered home comparatively less winners than the high flying Dexter Dunn (220 wins), it was the quality of many of May's 78 wins together with his partnership with Dancingonmoonlight stable that has kept May at the top of the stake earning leader-board.

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