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Whenever the Mark Purdon/ Natalie Rasmussen barn lines up a maiden 3 year old at any harness racing meeting in New Zealand, it usually means the opposition is racing for second money. That's the way the betting public saw it tonight in race two at Addington Raceway (September 12th) with the All Stars runner Alta Ronaldo a prohibitive short priced favourite. The general consensus was that Alta Ronaldo should be a class above this lot having raced against the better 2 year olds last season. But as we all know there is no such thing as a certainty in racing and Margarita proved once again that no race is easy to win. Bred and owned by Cran Dalgety and his wife Chrissie and trained by Cran at West Melton, Margarita had the form on the board heading into tonights race. She won a race at two at Forbury in a 2:00.8 mile rate and resumed at three with a meritorious second to the very talented Bettor Scott in a 1:58.8 mile rate. Dexter Dunn sent Margarita forward from barrier seven and grabbed the lead after 300 meters with Alta Ronaldo sitting parked from the start. Mark Purdon sent Alta Ronaldo up to eyeball Margarita at the 600 meters mark but it was obvious passing the 400 meters mark that Margarita still had plenty to offer. And so it proved in the straight with Margarita holding a three quarters of a length advantage over Alta Ronaldo all the way to the finishing line. A 3 year old daughter of Bettor's Delight, she paced the 1950 meters in 2:25.4, a mile rate of 1:59.9 with the last 800 meters in 56 .4 and the closing 400 meters in a very sharp 26.9 The dam of Margarita is the smart Badlands Hanover mare Holloway 1:56.1 ($56,432) who won six races on the track in New Zealand. Holloway is a half sister to two handy types in Ducks A Flyin 1:55.2 ($93,581) and Simple Saver 1:52 ($84,658) and is closely related to the very smart Telemeconique 1:52.2 ($185,615) Why it is early in the season, Margarita looks the type with natural improvement that could mix it with the elite fillies by the time the classics come around. Harnesslink Media   

Following four successful running’s of the Seasonal Super Series held at Addington, the  New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (Met) will stage a fifth Alabar Super Series on  Friday 10 October 2014.  As well as some leading trainers including Robert Dunn, Terry and Glenys Chmiel, Ken  Barron, Tim Butt, Nigel McGrath, Cran Dalgety, Robbie Holmes, Brendon Hill and Mark  Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen cashing in, wins have been achieved by Peter Bagrie, Brian  Fahey, Gavin Cook, Craig Edmonds, Alex Hastie, Barry Ford, Noel Taylor and Kevin  Townley. Total stakes paid out in the Series will result in approximately $470,000 including  the October round.  The fifth Series, to be staged also at Addington, will once again cater for lower grade horses  with projected stakes totalling greater than $70,000 over three events.  There will be opportunities for:  C0 pacers at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500  C1 to C2 pacers at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500  C0 to C2 trotters at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500 All starters in these races are to receive a minimum stake of $500. There is no enrolment fee payable. Field selection will be based on a points system. To qualify to start in these races on 10 October 2014, a horse must have started at least  once at a Met meeting between 22 August 2014 and 3 October 2014. With five Met meetings at Addington during this period there is ample opportunity for owners and trainers  to prepare their horses for the series. It is the intention of the NZMTC that a similar series will take place early in the New Year on  30 January under like conditions.  Full details and conditions are to follow and can be viewed www.addington.co.nz.  Alternatively, please call Brian, Richard or Colin of Addington’s Racing Department on (03)338 9094. Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager - Addington

One of New Zealand’s most successful harness racing owner/breeders also knows how to cover himself when it comes to the punt. Terry McDonald, the man who owns and bred three-time New Zealand Cup winner, Terror To Love, has put $500 to win on outsider Hands Christian in the big Group One race on November 11. If Hands Christian does win McDonald stands to collect $10,500. But he would give that all away in a heartbeat to see Terror To Love create harness racing history and win the Cup for a fourth consecutive year. McDonald got Hands Christian at $21. He’s now at $15 after opening at $51. “I backed him because I honestly believe he will be one of the hardest to beat on Cup Day. He beat us in the Easter Cup and went very well against us in Auckland. “I also backed him prior to his nice trial this week,” In that trial at Ashburton (Tuesday) the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Hands Christian finished a length behind Smolda and Terror To Love. “I thought the horse went really well and reaffirmed my bet. As for ‘Terror’ he’s peaking nicely. I was rapt with that run. He was timed from post to post (last 800m) in 53.2, and both the trainers and driver think he’s still got a lot of improving in him. “He’s also a sensible bet,” McDonald said. New Zealand’s Wellington based harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson, who is close friends with McDonald, said he couldn’t believe the Hands Christian bet. “I rang him and said ‘what are you doing?’. I said I’m going to tell the press about you betting on an outsider and he laughed, and said ‘go for it’. “If he won this would easily be our worst result. Just goes to show what a champ both he and Terror To Love are. He has backed the horse each time, even though he calls himself a ‘goose punter’,” Richardson said. He said his mate had understandably been a bit down and believed a story like this would lift his spirits and make him laugh a bit. Life hasn’t been easy for 73-year-old McDonald of late. He is still grieving the loss of his younger Ken (69) who passed away unexpectedly in Brisbane last month. “Yes I don’t think I will ever get over that. I’m still hurting a lot, but I know he is with me. I’ve just had a tooth out today and then in a couple of weeks (24th) I have to undergo a back operation. “I had an operation eight years ago and they are now going to replace all the nuts and bolts. It needs to be done, but I’m furious that I will miss ‘Terror’s’ first run back in the Avon City Ford Cup,” McDonald said. McDonald was hoping the John McCarthy trained and Luke McCarthy driven For A Reason will make the trip over from Sydney for the New Zealand Cup. “We want the best possible field and For A Reason placed in this year’s Inter Dominion Final. It would be really fitting because my brother had a quarter share in him,” McDonald said. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness racings 2 year old trotting filly Breeders Crown winner Arya is to stay in Australia for the immediate future which is probably not the news the owners of other smart two year trotting fillies in Australia from last season will want to hear. Arya was probably always going to be too good for her rivals in the $A87,000 Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2year old trotting fillies lineup but Mark Purdon sealed it when Meadow Valley Road made a surprise bid for the front in the first 500 meters. Mark Purdon briefly resisted then allowed Meadow Valley Road to assume command before quickly going out and regaining the lead. It was a procession after that  as Arya went on to win by 8 meters in a 2.02.7 mile rate after two middle halves in 32.5 to set up a sprint home.  Arya, co-bred and raced by Trevor Casey who also races her half-brother Stent, is by Angus Hall from the smart Sundon racemare Belle Galleon ($116,114)  Arya has now won five of her ten starts along with four placings for stakes of $102,076. She gave Trevor Casey an unusual double in that another of his young trotters Daenerys Targaryen won the Group One Redwood Classic last year. The reason that the decision was made for Arya to stay in Australia  was to avoid a clash with another of Trevor's smart young trotters in Wanna Play 1:58.2 ($50,771) who was recently voted the New Zealand 2 year old trotter of the year in front of Arya. Trevor Casey owned Wanna Play with Natalie Rasmussen but recently brought her share out and became the sole owner of the brilliant daughter of Majestic Son. Harnesslink Media 

The All Stars team  pleased Mark Purdon with their work on Wednesday as they have pleased him all week.   All but Big Lucy were sent over a steady 3200m with a quickening last half and  Friday's work is likely to be shorter and sharper.   BIG LUCY is the exception. "I kept her on a Tuesday/Thursday work option and I haven't been doing a lot with her.   She is fine but she has done a lot in a short time so I don't want  to be too hard on her" Mark said   I am just as happy with the trotter (My) Arya as I am with the pacers   "Arya is going very well actually and if she keeps going on like this I think she could be hard to beat"   "Happy enough" was Natalie's report from Mark on the draws for Sunday's final.   "You don't really want an inside second row draw like Linda Lovegrace has but we will just have to find a way out of there.   Follow The Stars is wide out on the front line but  he is out of trouble and he's strong so that's all good"   Natalie flies out on Saturday after some strong hoppled work  with the team in the morning and she and Mark will take a break in sunny Queensland after the big day.   "All good" was Mark's summation of how the Breeders Crown finalists came through their semis on Saturday by Sunday morning.   "They all licked the bowl and seem happy so I am happy as well"   Mark made a brief appearance in the stewards room after handing up the lead on Big Lucy to Katy Perry (Dexter Dunn) after getting to the front.   "I was mindful it was a strong fillies field and that Lucy had had quite a hard run at her previous start.   I thought if I tried to stay in front there were other good fillies who would be around to attack and it would just keep going on.   There was no problem with the stewards"   "I still don't know how Kept Under Wraps didn't get wiped out early.   I was sure he was going to get caught up in it but somehow he didn't so his was a big run"   Breeders Crown Finals Tips   Best Bet - Arya   Each Way - Linda Lovegrace   Value Bet - Kept Under Wraps   Courtesy Of All Stars Racing    

2 Year Old Pacing Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final. There is never any such thing as a certainty in harness racing but Follow The Stars is about as close as you can get when you are assessing the 2 year old colts/geldings division of this years Breeders Crown Final. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, this Victorian bred son of Art Major is nine from ten this season with his only miss coming when he was completely wiped out when mounting a run in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in New Zealand. Although Follow The Stars has drawn wide at six, (emergency out) it is a draw that gives his driver Mark Purdon plenty of options early. Throughout the season he has won from in front and from off the pace so he doesn't need to lead to win and with such a quality all round game it is hard to see him being rolled. The biggest danger the way the draws have panned out is the stable mate of Follow The Stars in Kept Under Wraps. This New South Wales bred son of Bettor's Delight has won five from eight this season and his run for second in the semi final after being brought to a standstill early and then working overtime for the rest of the race was really top class. Having drawn barrier three, Kept Under Wraps who is to be driven by top reinsman Greg Sugars looks a likely leader from the draw and then has the option to to either park Follow The Stars or take a trail behind him. Either way Kept Under Wraps is a must for multiple players. From there this race becomes a bit of a nightmare with the pick of the rest of the runners all drawing on the second line. If Follow The Stars runs home in 55 and change in the final as he did in the semi final, then those back in the field will struggle to make ground as we saw at Ballarat on Saturday night. Several horses in Follow The Stars semi final looked slightly disappointing but you can't make a lot of ground up when they are going that quick off the front. So we decided to plump for class in our selections but there are so many variables the way the draw has worked out that some of the other runners off the front line may fill a minor placing on Sunday. Burnaholeinmypocket went super in his semi final but the draw negates his gatespeed and he needs a bit of luck from three on the second line. Birdy Mach has the worst possible draw of one on the second line which could see him settle well back but he is a high class juvenile so a big run would not surprise. Selections. Follow The Stars in one. Kept Under Wraps is just as easily second for us from the draw with Burnaholeinmypocket and Birdy Mach next on class not their draws. After that it becomes hard to predict but we thought both Controversial and Artistic Flite went super in the semi finals. 2 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the draw came out, the Mark Purdon trained Linda Lovegrace looked very hard to beat but since she has drawn one on the second line, the race suddenly looks a lot more even with the filly drawn in front of her in The Final Frontier a certainty to get crossed at the start which will leave Linda Lovegrace needing luck from back on the inner. Her main opponent in the final is fellow Kiwi Kate Perry who has drawn barrier four which is perfect for her and with Dexter Dunn driving in career best form, this combination now looks the one they all have to beat. Another Kiwi in the form of the Mach Three filly Cyclone Kate has drawn barrier five and looms as a big winning chance after her big run for second to Linda Lovegrace from second last at the 800 meters mark on Saturday night in the semi final. Yet another Kiwi in Joannes A Delight came from five on the second line in her semi final to push Kate Perry to half a neck in her first run for over five weeks so she will have derived a lot of benefit from her semi final run. Chris Alford has picked up the plum drive on the New South Wales bred Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon barn but four on the second line has meant she is going to need a touch of luck from out there.  Selections The draw means that Kate Perry has got the easiest road to the winners circle of all of the favoured runners. Dexter Dunn was keen to keep Big Lucy in the pocket last week and that meant that Kate Perry was not completely let down so she looks the one to us. Joanne's A Delight is a clear second pick for us even from the draw while Cyclone Kate and Big Lucy are genuine winning chances. So that brings us to Linda Lovegrace and we are not sure how to rate her. If she can clear the traffic in front of her then she is the horse to beat but from one second row with a horse in front of you that is going to get crossed it is a lot easier said than done.  However her run for second to Follow The Stars two starts back was outstanding with the last 400 meters in 26.3 so don't discard her chances of rolling over the top of this field if she gets the right run. Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink, we thought we would be brave and offer our opinion on the Breeders Crown Finals as we head towards one of the seasons biggest harness racing days at Melton on Sunday. Our first preview is of the 2 year old trotters division.  2 year old Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park final for 2 year old fillies looks to be a battle between three fillies that are all sired via frozen semen and are all by stallions that are at the top of the siring charts in North America. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained daughter of Angus Hall in Arya looks very hard to beat here after an outstanding season in New Zealand which was followed up by a great second to the leading Australian male trotter in Eljaykay Phoenix in the Redwood Classic. Arya has been foolproof all season which in the 2 year old trotting ranks is a major plus and with no Endsino in the field she looks to have a class edge as well. Arya should come into five on the front line which is the perfect draw for here as she can stay out of the early rush and work to the lead without having to burn from the gate. The two main dangers to Arya have both drawn nicely on the front line and are both beautifully bred trotters. Glenferrie Burn who has drawn one is a daughter of the brilliant Muscle Hill from the 16 win Sundon mare in Adellas Dash ($102,626). She has developed as the season has progressed and looks a real chance from the draw to get a soft run. Val Gardena who has drawn three is a daughter of leading North American sire Kadabra from an Andover Hall mare. She has only missed a placing once this season in ten starts and comes into this race a last start winner. From her handy draw Blake Fitzpatrick has plenty of options with Val Gardena and she looks a major player here. Of the others Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty have both shown enough to be serious place chances but its hard to see them as genuine winning chances. Selections Arya clearly on top, followed by a combination of Val Gardena, Glenferrie Burn, Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty. 2 year old Trotting Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park Final for 2 year old colts/geldings has drawn a cracking field and the draw has only evened out the contest even more.  All the top contenders have drawn the front line with the favourite Eljaykay Phoenix fearing the worst with barrier seven. A son of champion sire Sundon, Eljaykay Phoenix has looked a class above them for most of the season but his recent defeat by Shared Interest has thrown this division wide open. Throw in his draw and the fact that all the real challengers have drawn inside him means if Eljaykay Phoneix and Joshua Aiken are going to win the final, they are going to have to do it the hard way. His main challenger is the son of Angus Hall in Shared Interest who has drawn beautifully at barrier two which gives Nathan Jack plenty of options Weather he tries to park Eljaykay Phoenix or takes a sit on his back, Shared Interest has the all round game to win the final. The chances don't end there with both Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck capable of toppling the favoured duo if things go their way. Illawong Armstrong finally gets a good draw and Jodi Quinlan will be hoping that the favoured pair go to war which then brings her horse right into play. The enigma of the field is The Pres gelding Primz Luck whose ring craft has let him down lately but who has ability to burn as he showed in New Zealand several times. Now in the Kerryn Manning barn and to be driven by her in the final, Primz Luck threw it away on his Australian debut in the Redwood Classic. Kerryn has had five weeks since then to iron out those kinks and if he gets around on Sunday they will all know they have been to the races. Selections. Can't split the two favourites in Shared Interest and Eljaykay Phoenix due to the draws but lean a bit towards Eljaykay Phoneix on his overall record. Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck are both live chances depending how the race is run. Throw in Kyvalley Boomerang, Fabrication and Hadrians Phoenix for trifectas and first fours.  Harnesslink Media    

Most of the Kiwi trainers of this weekends Breeders Crown semi final runners will sleep well tonight after the fields for the harness racing meeting at Ballarat on Saturday night (August 16th) were released this afternoon. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen must have wondered what they had done to get such great draws with their two main chances on Saturday night. Follow The Stars has drawn beautifully at barrier three in his semi in which his main dangers in Birdy Mach and Field Marshall have both drawn awkwardly on the second line. Linda Lovegrace, who created such a big impression on her Australian debut when narrowly going down to Follow The Stars last weekend, has drawn a lovely gate at four in her semi with her main opposition Niki No No drawn outside her at five. Another Kiwi Cyclone Kate has drawn two on the second line in the same heat which is a draw that really suits her as she is much better coming off a horses back.  If the ballot comes out in the second semi final for 2 year old fillies, then Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn will start from three and the Cran Dalgety trained Kate Perry from four which should give both a big show of qualifying for the final. Joannes A Delight is one of the few Kiwis to have drawn badly at four on the second line in the same heat but she showed in New Zealand she is a high class filly who can do a lot of work in her races so it wouldn't pay to discount her chances even from the draw. Barry Purdon's star 3 year old Sky Major has drawn a great gate at three in the second semi final for the 3 year old colts and geldings with the likely favourite for that division Bling It On awkwardly drawn at three on the second line which makes for a very intriguing contest. Kept Under Wraps from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn has drawn at two on the second line in the first semi final for 2 year old colts and geldings with most of the serious competition in this semi drawn wide on the front line so it is hard to know how it will pan out but Kept Under Wraps still looks the horse they all have to beat. Messini has been another in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rrasmussen barn all season until they sent him to Brent Lilley to race in the Victorian Sires Stakes series and it is still in Brent's colours heading into this weekends semi final for 3 year old colts and geldings where from his barrier draw of two he should be terribly hard to beat. All in all the Kiwis would have to very pleased with how the draws have panned out and a finals berth now looks a possibility for most of them. Harnesslink Media

The votes have been tallied and the winners announced at the 2014 New Zealand Harness Racing  Awards in Christchurch. Tonight our industry celebrated the many successes of the exciting 2013/14 season. Below are the winners for 2014. Please note a total of 21 voting papers were received. PGG Wrightson 2YO Pacing Filly of the Year  SUPERSONIC MISS 14 Owners: Butterworth Racing Syndicate, K J Riseley, D M Riseley, MacLean Family Syndicate, Kaos Syndicate. (Joanne’s A Delight - 5, Linda Lovegrace - 2) Woodlands Stud 3YO Pacing Filly of the Year VENUS SERENA 21 Owner: R L Sandford, Mrs J A Sandford, G R Dunn Nevele R Stud 4YO & Older Pacing Mare of the Year ADORE ME 21 Owner: Charles Roberts, Paul Kenny, Mary Kenny. McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year  FOLLOW THE STARS 20 Owners: Mrs G J Kennard, P I Kennard, N Pilcher, G R Douglas, P J Creighton, Mrs M C Creighton (Alta Orlando - 1) Copthorne Commodore 3YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year TIGER TARA 17 Owner: R L Sandford, Mrs J A Sandford, J S Gould, G R Dunn (Locharburn - 3, Isaiah - 1) Christchurch Casino 4YO & Older Pacing Entire or Gelding of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 21 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) Alabar Stud Pacer of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 19 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) (Adore Me - 2) Trotters Crombie Lockwood 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year WANNA PLAY 14 Owner: Trevor Casey, Natalie Rasmussen (Arya - 6, Yagunnakissmeornot - 1) XCM 3YO Trotting Filly of the Year MAJESTIC TIME 21 Owners: J M Ward, Mrs P L Ward, Miss S L Ward, C M Ward Advanced Joinery 4YO & Older Trotting Mare of the Year SUPERBOWLCHEERLEADER 21 Owner: Mrs Sue Grainger, Studholme Bloodstock Limited Lone Star 2YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year MONBET 20 Owners: Greg Hope, Mrs Nina Hope, Maurice Molloy (Prince Fearless - 1) The Caxton Press 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year KING DENNY 21 Owner: Butterworth Racing Syndicate NRM 4YO & Older Trotting Entire & Gelding of the Year MASTER LAVROS 20 Owner: Kypros Kotzikas (Peak - 1) Lincoln Farms Trotter of the Year MASTER LAVROS 21 Owners: Kypros Kotzikas Harness Racing New Zealand Horse of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 19 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) (Adore Me - 2)

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          

For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

Junior harness racing reinsman Matt Anderson got his All Stars career away to the best possible start when guiding juvenile pacer Bettor With Bourbon to victory at Rangiora today. In what was his first ever drive for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Anderson sent the Bettor's Delight two-year-old to the front from barrier three before taking a trail behind favourite Western Art. He then looked flat down the back straight but under the urgings of Anderson he picked up the bit again and finished strongly along the passing lane to down Western Art by half of a length. Livura finished a further length and a half away in third. Anderson, who only started work with All Stars a fortnight ago, took up a spot with the country's leading stable after an opening appeared as a worker and junior driver earlier this month when Purdon's sons Nathan and Michael headed away on their big OE. With the encouragement of mate Nathan, Anderson was quick to, not only take up that opening, but also notch up his first winner in the bullet proof colours. Anderson, 22, returned home to Canterbury to take up the position after spending six months in the North Island working for Purdon’s brother-in-law, leading trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Anderson said that he had learned a lot from Herlihy and had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the North but he had struggled for drives during his six month stint. "I was stoked to get a good opportunity for All Stars so soon after joining the stable and was pleased that I didn't let them down," beamed Anderson post-race. "Hopefully it is the first on many for the stable." "I am really enjoying working for Mark and Natalie," he added. "They have phenomenal team around them and putting on the colours certainly gives you a lot of confidence." Anderson, who looks a natural in the sulky, does not come from a racing background but gained earlier experience in harness racing through Canterbury trainers Dean Taylor and Robbie Holmes. Matt, who won his first race aboard the Robbie Holmes trained Highview Ember at Rangiora back in August of last year, has now won seven races from just 57 drives. *Bettor With Bourbon was All Stars 21st individual two-year-old winner this season. Their 20th was Big Lucy, who was successful in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat on Saturday night. By Mitchell Robertson

When Alannah Hall and Have Faith In Me were successful at Ashburton yesterday it was the 56th time that Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have trained multiple winners on a card this season. The 55th time was last Friday night at Addington where they were successful with Saratoga and Vice Consul, who where both driven by Mark Purdon. However, on Sunday Purdon was driving at Maryborough in Victoria so it was Rasmussen who did the driving honours. In the first race she gave two-year-old trotting filly Alannah Hall a beautiful trip in the trail before using the passing lane for a neck win. Owned by The Good Sports Syndicate which has enjoyed a tremendous season, Alannah Hall is a half-sister to top three-year-old trotter (Our) Twentyten and is the fourth New Zealand winner by top American stallion Angus Hall. Remarkably, Purdon and Rasmussen also train two of his other three NZ winners in (My) Arya, who finished a very good second in the Redwood Classic on Sunday, and the talented Petite One. Rasmussen then guided Adore’s full-brother, Have Faith In Me, to an effortless win, dashing away for a three length win in a slick last quarter of 26.7. Bettor With Bourbon, who is also from a family that Purdon has had plenty of success with, finished in second with stable foreman Ross Payne in the bike. Both juveniles are owned by the Dunfords, giving them the race Quinella. The lethal partnership has now trained 19 individial two-year-old winners this season and 156 in total, which is 18 winners more than Purdon’s previous best term of 138 when in partnership with Grant Payne. By Mitchell Robertson

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. The feature event this weekend at Albion Park is the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake, a race named in honour of the greatest Queensland pacer of all time. And arguably, the best this country has ever produced. Born and raised on the lush soils on the Darling Downs at Egmont Park Stud at Toowoomba in Queensland, the rise to prominence for the horse affectionately known as ‘Blackie’ was meteoric and just like his tenacity to win, simply spectacular. Blacks A Fake was raced by Cheryl Rasmussen, the mother of the young trainer/driver plus Helen Pointer, the wife of Ron Pointer who shared in the ownership of Egmont Park Stud and Trevor Titcomb, a fish ‘n’ chip shop owner at Boonah, west of Brisbane. Partnered throughout his entire life with a talented young horseperson in Natalie Rasmussen, the pair combined to attract fans world wild as they dominated some of the biggest pacing events in the southern hemisphere and at times, on more than one occasion, and in a sport which is largely male dominated. But that never stopped the runaway success train of Blackie and Natalie Rasmussen as they plundered features throughout Australia year after year and in doing so, continued to re-write the record books. When the dynamic duo combined to win the first of their four record breaking Inter Dominion Pacing Championship Grand Finals in Tasmania back in 2006, they became the first Queenslander and first female to win the prestigious event. The record books clearly show that Blacks A Fake and Natalie Rasmussen are Inter Dominion legends, they combined to win four titles starting with their initial success in Hobart back in 2006 followed by their victory in Adelaide in 2007 while completing the hat-trick in 2008 in front of a massive Moonee Valley crowd in Melbourne. In 2009, on his home soil on the Gold Coast, Blacks A Fake was run down late by former North American pacer Mr Feelgood to deny him an historic moment after he was savaged in front by a tear away Auckland Reactor. Sharing the record with Our Sir Vancelot as triple Inter Dominion winners lasted only another twelve months because in 2010 at TABCORP Park, Menangle, Blacks A Fake and Natalie Rasmussen created their piece of history as four time Inter Dominion champions after fighting off fierce rivals Monkey King and Smoken Up in an epic battle. The record of four Inter Dominion titles has never been broken but Im Themightyquinn is still a legitimate chance of equaling it if he remains sounds over the next twelve months but, as it stands, Blackie is the complete Inter Dominion king. A crown thoroughly and richly deserved. Fittingly, both Blacks A Fake and Natalie Rasmussen have been recognized in the Inter Dominion Hall of Fame. The record of Blackie in his home state of Queensland is also worthy of special mention. In Queensland, or more importantly Albion Park, Blacks A Fake and Natalie constantly thrilled the local fans winning many a race on the famed Breakfast Creek site. Blacks A Fake started 56 times at Albion Park (technically 52 but four races were staged at the Gold Coast in lieu of Albion Park including the Inter Dominion and 2009 QPC among other events) and won on 42 occasions while also managing 12 minor placings. He amassed more than $1 million in prizemoney at Albion Park. In other key stats with Blacks A Fake and Albion Park, his arch rival and dual Miracle Mile champion Be Good Johnny finished second to Blackie 6 times. His shortest winning margin was a half head victory over Slipnslide in the 3yo QBRED Triad Final. The biggest winning margin was 19.8m over Loud N Clear in a C9+ event in 2009. He never started in a ‘SS’ event at Albion Park, only 6 in his career. His most starts in a season at Albion Park came in his last with 14 runs while he never started during the 2004/05 season. Blacks A Fake won the Winter Cup three times, the race that now carries his name. Ironically, the favourite the for the 2014 Blacks A Fake is Im Themightyquinn, the wonder from the west who is rapidly closing in on his Inter Dominion record while looking certain to eclipse the Australian prizemoney record held by Blackie at $4, 575, 438. Im Themightyquinn requires another $67, 982 to pass the record. Fittingly, these two champion pacers, the two greatest of the modern era will come face to face on Saturday night as Blacks A Fake will lead out his race. Blacks A Fake – a living legend! By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Arya’s much talked about and unjust Harness Jewels Day disqualification may cost her more than just prize money. In the wash-up, it may also cost her Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year honours, something that would have added value to her broodmare career once her racing days are over. If Arya had her 2YO Ruby second on her résumé , she would have got my vote and I am confident she would have been awarded 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year. Because of her disqualification, I instead opted for her stablemate Wanna Play on the back of her super impressive win in the Group Two Sires’ Stakes Championship where she completely dominated a high class field which included Arya, who finished four and a half lengths away in second place. Luckily, Wanna Play is also owned by Trevor Casey and trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, so whichever way the decision swings Casey will still have his hands on the trophy come awards night. But circumstances could have been a lot worse had that alleged disqualification debacle denied someone their chance in the spotlight come August 9. Other tricky divisions include the two-year-old fillies, where Supersonic Miss, Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight all look a chance of bringing home Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year honours. I have no doubt Supersonic Miss was the best two-year-old filly in New Zealand this season and, had she won the Australian Pacing Gold final in which she was a tragedy beaten, she would have been a shoe in. But, the fact of the matter is, she didn’t. So now, what we have to decide is do her stunning wins in the American Ideal Leonard Memorial (Gr3), APG Semi-Final, and the Group One 2YO Diamond, make her a more deserving winner than Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight who both won Group One races and performed with distinction throughout the season? By Mitchell Robertson

One time boom trotting mare Armbro Demon is now at All Stars and on the comeback trail having not raced since October 2012. A comeback is possible but nobody around All Stars thinks it will be easy. "She's certainly different'' as Natalie puts it. "It is hard to say at this stage if she can make it back and show her best but we are trying. And, sometimes, she can be trying too" Mark and Natalie are not the first to find this out. Her previous trainer, Chris McLeod needed the patience of Job to get her to the races at all. Half way through a workout was often far enough for Armbro Demon or else she would suddenly take off at an acute angle and abandon the track. What's kept everyone going and is the reason she is at All Stars, is her ability. She has won almost as many races as she has lost and wowed them at the 2011 New Zealand Cup meeting when she won easily in 4.05.4 for the 3200m beating Thanesan. She has won five races from just ten starts and at times she has looked as if she could be anything. Trouble is just that. She can be anything. In the end she was stood down from racing and she has been a long time in the attempt to get her back. Until now the only driver McLeod would trust with the erratic mare was Matthew Williamson.  McLeod himself had her back at the trials last November after a bout of lameness had sidelined her since her last race at Methven just short of two years ago.  But her sheer ability means she has got another chance in the best stable in the land. Not that Mark and Natalie are making any claims at all that that will make a difference. "It's a challenge and some days I think we are losing. In the meantime we will just keep on and hope for the best" Natalie says. By David McCarthy (ALL STARS RACING STABLE)  

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