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For the very first time, Alexandra Park has partnered with Air New Zealand and the Rendezvous Grand Hotel to offer out of town visitors a special Grabaseat offer for Auckland Cup Week. The Auckland Cup, first run in 1890 has been won by some of world's greatest harness racing horses. Steeped in history, yet firmly focused on the future, Auckland Cup Week 2014 at Alexandra Park promises a unique festival feeling with the best in kiwi entertainment, cocktail competitions, food displays, Fabulous fashion and the best of the best in harness racing. Alexandra Park will kick off Auckland Cup Week 2014 with the first race meeting and official opening on Friday 28 February. Night two of Auckland Cup Week on the 7th of March is headlined by the Auckland Cup & Northern Derby. The festive environment, combined with live entertainment, variety, glamour and of course the stars on track gives everyone a reason to party. This special is live for one week from 10:00 am Wednesday 4 December and has a limited number of tickets available. For details, please visit this link. David Branch Sales & Marketing Coordinator    

Trainer Paul Fitzpatrick is expecting a major form reversal from recent stable recruit Fly Like An Eagle after the New Zealand Cup runner-up drew barrier number one in Saturday night's Treuer Memorial. Fitzpatrick admitted he was disappointed with the performance of the horse at his first run for the stable in the Cordina Sprint at Menangle over a week ago but had always planned on targeting Bankstown's Gr. 1 event. "He went below par at his first run for me but he was one of two horses that came across from New Zealand after the Cup and the Free For All and neither horse produced their best in the Cordina Sprint," Fitzpatrick said. "I've got no doubt that he was a little bit tired when he arrived so I have just lightened up on him a bit and with the fortnight between runs he should be ready to go, his work last Friday tells me that he is feeling fresher." Fitzpatrick is expecting Fly Like An Eagle to lead Saturday night's event. "Mark Purdon has told me that he has pretty good gate speed and drawn barrier one I think he should hold the front, Washakie is obviously the main danger, he has a tremendous record in the Treuer Memorial having won the previous four." "I haven't spoken to the owners about whether he will head to the Victoria Cup should he perform up to expectations on Saturday night, they can make that decision after the race." Meanwhile Fitzpatrick confirmed Rohan Home has been back in work for twelve weeks and should be ready to trial in the next fortnight. "I retired him and put him in the middle of my track with all of the young ones but he looked so well that I decided to give him another go, he has been coming along very nicely and I plan on nominating him for the 2014 Inter Dominion." "He's doing everything I've asked of him and I'm looking forward to seeing him back, he is a great horse at his best." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |          

New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety is extremely pleased with exciting five year old Christen Me and will arrive in Sydney on Thursday to put the final touches on his Miracle Mile runner. Christen Me finished third in the New Zealand Cup behind Terror To Love before galloping in the early stages of the New Zealand Free For All three days later. "There was a little bit of a buzz from the kiwi media that I might not come to the Miracle Mile with Christen Me after his Free For All run but I never really considered staying at home, he deserves his chance in the Miracle Mile and races so well on the big track at Menangle," Dalgety said. "I have spent some time with Bit Of A Legend recently in Western Australia but I'm looking forward to flying into Sydney later in the week to ensure Christen Me is ready to run the race of his life on Saturday night." Christen Me drew barrier six but will come into gate five should the emergencies fail to gain a start. "To be honest the gate isn't a major issue for us, he won't be crossing the horses drawn inside him so hopefully he can find a good spot close to the speed." "There is no doubt the horse to catch is Smoken Up, he went very well on Saturday night and now he has barrier one if he rails he might go even quicker, his performance was fantastic for the sport." Dalgety is happy with how Christen Me has handled the step into open company and admits he was surprised how well he took to it. "I might have pampered him a bit as a four year old and kept him away from races against the big boys so there is always some concern when a horse steps into that top level for the first time, but I'm really pleased with how he is handling everything." "As far as health goes he is 101% going into Saturday night and after that I am looking at the Cranbourne and Victoria Cups." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |  

It is the most anticipated Miracle Mile in recent memory, but what does history say about the 2013 edition of the famous sprint? Smoken Up is out to win his third Miracle Mile. No horse has ever achieved that feat. Christen Me (by Christian Cullen) is trying to become the first son or daughter of a Miracle Mile winner to replicate his/her sire's success. Paleface Bubble (by Paleface Adios) and Melpark Major (by Iraklis) both finished second. Beautide is attempting to break a long hoodoo for Newcastle Mile winners. The only horse to go on to win the Miracle Mile in the same year is Westburn Grant in 1990 (Our Sir Vancelot won the Newcastle Mile in 1998 the year after winning the Miracle Mile). In what is a truly rare occurrence, the last time a horse won the Miracle Mile for the first time at his/her third attempt was Double Agent in 1984. That's the challenge for Terror To Love! There are four NSW Derby winners that went on to win the Miracle Mile. Paleface Adios, Westburn Grant, Holmes DG and Divisive. Can For A Reason join that elite group. No driver has ever won 4 Miracle Miles. Vic Frost, Tony Herlihy and Lance Justice are currently on three each. Can Lance take the lead? Before Terror To Love, the last horse to win three New Zealand Cups was False Step in 1958-60 - seven years before the first Miracle Mile was even run! I'm Victorious is trying to emulate the deed of Village Kid by becoming the first West Australian since 1987 to win the Miracle Mile "cold" without a lead-up run in Sydney. Dale Walker  

‘The spectacle of trotting races conducted “under saddle” – known as le trot monte – will return to Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway harness racing track next month as part of the historic 30th Anniversary Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night on Saturday, December 7th, 2013,’ Bankstown Paceway director Megan Lavender has said. ‘A popular discipline in Europe and Scandinavia, ridden trot races require great skill from both the horse and rider and are a marvel to observe,’ Ms Lavender told Harnesslink. ‘Accordingly, Bankstown Paceway is justifiably proud of our record as the harness racing industry innovator who successfully returned monte racing to New South Wales on Saturday, December 1st, last year, and hosted the southern hemisphere’s very first international trotting saddle race on Friday, May 31st, this year, which featured riders from Australia and Sweden,’ she said. ‘With the support of our race sponsor, Aldebaran Park, the rider who accumulates the most points over the twenty two race nationwide monte series will receive a return airfare to participate in Scandinavia,’ Ms Lavender added. Le trot monte racing, or racing under saddle, will return to Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway, 178 Eldridge Road, Bankstown, on the historic 30th Anniversary Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night, Saturday, December 7th, 2013. Racecourse entry is free. Gates open at 5.00 pm and the first race starts at 6.10 pm. Bookings for race night dining packages can be made at or on 02 9708 4111. Megan J. Lavender

New Zealand Cup runner up Fly Like An Eagle has soared into Sydney and will attempt to qualify for the Miracle Mile by winning Saturday night's Cordina Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Trainer Paul Fitzpatrick welcomed the Kaikoura Cup winner into his stable on Tuesday and is hoping for a strong showing this weekend. "I can't really do much in such a short time, I have had a good chat with former trainer Mark Purdon and he has given me a good idea of what I am dealing with, he has joined my stable in peak form," Fitzpatrick said. "Something similar happened with Auckland Reactor during his career, unfortunately not everything went to plan with him but after Fly Like An Eagle drew so well on Saturday night I'm expecting a pretty big effort." Fitzpatrick confirmed that he knew for nearly a fortnight that Fly Like An Eagle would be joining his stable for a shot at the Miracle Mile. "The horse has been bought to send to America and John Curtin is the agent for the sale, he spoke with me a couple of weeks ago and mentioned there was a possibility that Fly Like An Eagle would be coming across, I'm not too sure how long he will stay here for but I think they might be keen to target some of the bigger Victorian races as well." Meanwhile Fitzpatrick is hoping Lous Lad can continue on his winning way this weekend after scoring back to back victories since resuming from a break. "I hadn't really planned on a Miracle Mile campaign with him because he has always just been below the very best ones but I'm really pleased with how he has come back since the spell and in the back of my mind has always been the Bohemia Crystal Free For All on Miracle Mile night." "He hasn't taken any harm from the run on Saturday night on the wet track, his recovery was very good but it is going to mean that he will have four runs in the space of four weeks." Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales  

Age is no barrier for Watchmefella when it comes to winning races, as proven by the nine-year-old’s dashing victory in the Chartley Estate Claimer over 2200 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Watchmefella (Pacific Fella-Keeping Watch) finished over the top of a handy field to score from Sugastikysweetstuf and Maybe Doc and along the way recorded a sub two-minute mile rate of 1.59.5. It was Watchmefella’s fourth win since transferring to Grant Hodges’ stables in Tasmania from Victoria in August last year but it was his 22nd career win from 117 outings. “He’s been a good honest horse,” Hodges said. “He has a bad tendon so it’s amazing that he keeps going.” “He doesn’t win too often these days but he usually earns a cheque,” he said. According to Hodges Watchmefella is not the toughest horse to land in his stable so he needs to be driven with a sit to do his best and Hollaway delivered the drive to best suit the gelding. “If he gets the right run in a race he can sprint with the best of them,” Hodges said. In one of Watchmefella’s wins last season he powered home to defeat Beautide, Twilight Town, Queen of Fire, Grizz Wyllie and Saturday Nights in a six-horse free-for-all that was rated one of the best races of the season. He also placed fourth, just behind the placegetters, in both the Easter Cup and Devonport Cup last season “He was a good horse before he came here and won a couple of country cups in Victoria so he has always had the ability,” he said. Hollaway had a fall in a later race on the program, parting company from El Jays Magic in the Impress Print Pace but she walked away without any serious injury. By Peter Staples

Last year's Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster will race at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday night in the Nick Robin Free-For-All before flying out to New Zealand next Monday for the New Zealand Cup. Trainer Andy Gath is confident the six year old is fully recovered from a virus which threatened to derail his kiwi campaign. "He trialled at Melton on Tuesday, I'm extremely happy with him, he is very well and is eating everything so I'm confident he will perform well this weekend," Gath said. "It is all a matter of fitness, when he came down with the virus I was forced to take the Queensland Pacing Championships off the table and use Menangle as his last hit-out before flying out to New Zealand." Caribbean Blaster's flight to Christchurch will leave from Sydney and that is why Saturday night's event fits into his program. "If you fly out of Sydney you can get the Direct Flight into Christchurch and that was very important, the plan is to go around in the Cup Day Trial next Wednesday so it will be a pretty big week for him, he will travel up to Sydney, race then fly to New Zealand and go around in the trial so I think that should tighten him right up." Gath acknowledges Caribbean Blaster would need to win the NZ Cup or NZ Free For All to warrant selection in next month's Miracle Mile. "He is going to miss the qualifiers for the Miracle Mile so it makes it pretty tough unless he does win one of the big ones over there but I'm fully concentrating on his New Zealand trip and the rest of it will look after itself." Stablemate Elegant Image will also compete on Saturday night at Menangle before travelling to New Zealand and he is happy with the trotter's recovery after racing at Kilmore on Sunday. "I'm happy with him, he was tired on the line on Sunday but recovered extremely quickly, he's spot on." Nancy O'Grady || Harness Racing New South Wales |  

The Shane Tritton trained pacer Suave Stuey Lombo has clocked up plenty of frequent flyer points recently. The New Zealand Cup hopeful left Australia last Monday night on a plane bound for Auckland before boarding another flight two days later headed for Christchurch. "I couldn't be happier with how Suave Stuey Lombo has come through everything that I have thrown at him in the past week and a half, he hasn't missed a beat," Tritton said. "I flew with him and he handled it like a total professional, he hasn't missed a meal since and has settled in very well at the stables of Mark Jones, he will have his first start at Ashburton next Monday and it is going to be a very strong race by the looks of it so it should be a good guide to see where he is at." Regular driver Lauren Panella flew across to New Zealand last week to drive Suave Stuey Lombo in trackwork and will make more trips across the Tasman in the lead up to the New Zealand Cup. "Lauren and I will be travelling back and forth quite a bit because the stable has a number of runners engaged but I think it is in the best interests of the stable, the main aim at the moment is to not miss a meeting where I have horses running." "Suave Stuey Lombo was right up to the mark when he left Australia, he is a horse that can cop plenty of work and he is on the same preparation that he would be on if he was still at home but in saying that I think he will appreciate having the runs at Ashburton and Kaikoura which should have him ready to peak for the New Zealand Cup." Stablemate Mach Beauty has recovered well from his Menangle defeat and Tritton is looking to give the five year a start at Menangle on Saturday November 2. "He has pulled up well, the tough run has really helped him but it has been a little bit tough to find him races since, there is a free-for-all at Menangle on the first Saturday in November and that would be a good lead into the Newcastle Mile the following week." Nancy O'Grady || Harness Racing New South Wales |  

The new foaling season is now well underway at Alabar NZ. There have already been a number of outstanding foals born at the Auckland farm in the first month of foaling for the new season. Two of the highlights so far have been the arrival of a Somebeachsomewhere colt from Cowgirls N Indians – a brilliant daughter of Real Desire who was voted the NZ 2yo Filly of the Year after winning the Harness Jewels and the Aust Breeders Crown; and an American Ideal colt out of Sky Beauty, so half brother to last season’s Harness Jewels winner and NZ 2yo Pacer of the Year, Sky Major (by Art Major). However, a lot of the excitement has been about the arrival of the first foals by Big Jim – after seeing photos of his foals in North America, much was expected - and they haven’t disappointed. Big Jim (by Western Ideal) was a phenomenon on the race tracks of North America. Tall, dark and handsome – he became very much a crowd favourite. He broke the traditional mould becoming a world champion and breaking the world mile record for a two-year-old without the support of a big-time owner, trainer or driver. He won the Breeders Crown, was the clear US 2yo Pacer of the Year and retired to stud as the fastest two-year-old of all time. Photo 1 - A filly from Tirol’s Sallance (a daughter of In The Pocket who won the Group 1 Caduceus Classic and went on to be voted NZ 2yo Filly of the Year Photo 2 - A colt from Cloneen (a three-win daughter of Live Or Die) Photo 3 - A filly from Russian Rose (a 1:57.8 daughter of Road Machine)

North-West Coast harness racing stalwart Rod Burgess has been rewarded for his dedication to the industry by being awarded the 2013 Edgar Tatlow Medal. The award was presented at the Tasmanian Harness Awards Dinner at Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart on Saturday night. The Edgar Tatlow Medal commemorates the major influence of the Tasmanian pioneer breeding legend Edgar Tatlow, whose stallions and their progeny have dominated Australasian Harness Racing since the 1930’s. Burgess was born at Wynyard in 1948 and spent his formative years at Smithton. He started driving track work at 14 and, at 17, drove his first winner at Spreyton. Over the years Burgess became involved in most areas of the industry – trainer, driver, owner, breeder and administrator. From his base at Smithton on Tasmania’s far North West, he quickly established a reputation as a quality conditioner of horses. He travelled statewide to compete in Tasmania’s best races with the trip from Smithton to Hobart taking a minimum of 6 hours one way and, in the early days, having an overnight stop at Hagley on the Friday and Saturday nights – a three day venture. His best horses included Byatic, Vespasian and Captain Byrd.  Vespasian won the Easter Cup in 1972 and won twice at the Melbourne Showgrounds at Ascot Vale the same year. In 1973 he moved to Ulverstone and the winners continued. Burgess was the state’s leading trainer for two consecutive seasons (1974/75 and 1975/76) and he was the state’s leading driver in 1975/76. His best performers were Captain Byrd, Fringe Benefit (Tasmanian Derby), Ben Ean (Carrick Cup and second in every major cup that season including the Tasmanian Pacing Championship) Junee Royal (City of Glenorchy Cup), Junee Princess, Karlindon (Devonport Cup) and Our Lady Lindy (Scottsdale and Hobart Metropolitan Cups). Nubeena won consecutive Easter Cups at Elphin in 1982 and 1983. Burgess represented Tasmania in driver’s invitation races in Sydney and Perth, winning the Sydney event at Harold Park. He was a professional farrier and he continues to successfully train a small team at his Ulverstone property. His contribution to harness racing includes administration where he has demonstrated his commitment to improving harness racing statewide. He joined the North West Tasmania Light Harness Association at age 17 where he is Life Member and he served as President for a total of 30 years. Burgess also is a past President and committee member of the now defunct Tasmanian Light Harness Association. In 2006 he received a Meritorious Service Award from Harness Racing Tasmania.   Rod was an active volunteer at the Ulverstone track when it existed and fought hard to maintain the track for the sake of the industry. He has driven the mobile at trials, and occasionally at race meetings, at Devonport and Burnie. He has assisted with track maintenance at Devonport and was a committee member of the Burnie Harness Racing Club for six years. He has been a member of the Harness Advisory Group for the last six years.   Previous winners of the Edgar Tatlow Medal reads like a who’s who in Tasmanian harness racing – Doug Martin (2001), Peter Cooley (2002), Keith Stanley (2003), Pauline Barker (2004), Darrell Rockliff (2005), Don Cornish (2006), Eric Fleming (2007), Eric Bean (2008), Tem Fish (2009), Henry Pullen (2010), Doug McKillop (2011) and Gerald Gee (2012) Peter Staples

At its meeting on 11 July, the Board of Harness Racing New Zealand reviewed the Harness Jewels and the future conditions of this event. The Board was tremendously encouraged by the Ashburton Trotting Club’s successful staging of the 2013 Harness Jewels and believe that the event has become a fundamental part of the harness racing calendar each year.   In terms of 2014, the Board has confirmed that that Harness Jewels will be conducted in line with its traditional format - with nine races for 2yo, 3yo and 4yo’s. The 2014 Harness Jewels will be conducted by Harness Racing Waikato for the same stakes of $150,000 for pacers and $100,000 for trotters. The 2014 Harness Jewels will be held at Cambridge Raceway on 31 May 2014, with all races over a mile as with previous years.    While the 2013 event included races for 5yo’s, due to financial constraints the Board was not in a position to provide for 5yo and over events in 2014. This will be reviewed on an annual basis, however the current belief is that horses in these categories are adequately catered for with existing feature open races.    The Board also confirmed a roster for the conduct of the next four Harness Jewels events. This is as follows:   • 2014 Cambridge • 2015 Ashburton • 2016 Cambridge • 2017 Ashburton   The Board considers the current policy of rotating the series between the North and South Islands is the best structure to foster national interest in the event. By confirming the roster for the next four years certainty is given to Harness Racing Waikato and the Ashburton TC so they can further develop their venues with the knowledge they will be hosting the Jewels in these years. The early confirmation of the roster will enable the clubs to better plan for  the future and develop their venues conscious of the requirements of staging the Harness Jewels.   For further enquiries please contact: Edward Rennell Chief Executive Phone 03 964 1200 or 021 407 596 Email   

"Of all the horses I've driven he'd have the biggest heart."

After a 16-month injury-enforced spell Gomeo Romeo has started his slow and gradual build up to the 2013 New Zealand Cup with a win at the Alexandra Park harness racing workouts on Saturday (June 22).

The newest horse on the commentators' blacklist, Chattanoogachoochoo, will go down in the harness racing history books as the last ever winner of the Northern Hemisphere Time Pace after taking out the $30,000 co-feature at Alexandra Park tonight.

Steven Reid would still love to win a New Zealand Cup but it won't be with Gold Ace in the 110th edition of the great race at Addington Raceway in November.

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