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Positive drug tests have been taken from horses trained at the stables of top Canterbury harness racing trainer Robert Dunn.  The positive tests were taken from some stable runners at the Nelson two day meeting in June this year, which has been confirmed by the Racing Integrity Unit manager Mike Godber. Godber said "the investigation was still ongoing and it would be another week or two before the RIU determined what further action would follow" Robert Dunn is currently sitting second on the trainers premiership table with 87 wins from 663 starters this season.   Harnesslink Media

Nelson harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:15am   Race 1 - Mr Fahrenheit $2.00 is easily the best backed runner in win & multi betting. Muchacha Bonita $15 has taken some early win money.    Race 2 - The early money is all on Boults On Fire $1.90 - $1.80 and the weight of support is saying it's only a matter of what the winning margin will be.       Race 3 - My Nikayla $9.50 - $7.80 is best backed over Rafa Novak $21.   Race 4 - Spondulicks $2.90 is best backed in win betting over Theboyslightup $2.50 but that runner easily leads multi betting.   Race 5 - Trouble Giero $3.80 leads win betting over Kia Time $7.20.   Race 6 - Takitmu Express $3.00 - $2.80 easily leads win & multi betting but strong support is also coming for GameChanger $12.50 - $8.50.   Race 7 - Shards Halo $15 - $9.50 leads win betting with Hayden's Meddle $3.90 $3.40 leading multi betting over Jakira $3.20.   Race 8 - Alpha Rock $2.30 - $2.20 is racing away in win & multi betting. Benicio $9.20 & Ultimate Fella $18 have taken some early win money.   Race 9 - Hopeful Harriet $7.00 is easily the best backed runner in win betting over Rocknrol Nevin $14. It's All Over Now $3.50 leads multi betting over Emily Brunt $3.00.   Race 10 - Billy Badger $2.90 - $2.50 is the only runner wanted in win betting & is going 2 to 1 in multi tickets sold over the second favourite Ace High $2.80.   In the Drivers Challenge Ricky May $2.40 is best backed over John Dunn $2.80.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

The decision by harness racing trainer Robert Dunn not to start Alta Orlando in the Nelson Pine Industries Prelude the first day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club meeting certainly paid dividends when he took out the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup on day two. Alto Orlando won Sunday's feature race in a time of 3min 46.8sec for the 3000m event. Driver John Dunn took the race to his rivals slipping away on the final bend to win by six lengths from Hopeful Harriet and the fast finishing Mighty Flying Major. The gelding by Courage Under Fire is owned by Dunn's wife Jenna and father Robert, as well as Mitzi Taylor and Dr Marg Evans. Dr Evans also co-owns the second-place getter, Hopeful Harriet, with her husband Dr Bruce Taylor. John Dunn certainly had a great meeting, winning eight of the 22 races programmed. Robert Dunn trained six winners over the two days, while Greg and Nina Hope trained five winners over the weekend.   In the battle for the driving premiership, Blair Orange was leading by one win coming in to Sunday's racing but rival and good mate Dexter Dunn reined home three wins with Orange not securing a win to leave Dunn two wins ahead. Locally trained mare, Tattinger Rose, flew the flag for the Top of the South when she won the Dick Saunders Memorial Pace for Ian, Sue and daughter Nicole Thomas along with Kath and Darryl Eginton.   The club was delighted with the two days' racing which attracted a sizeable. By Kristie Hill Reprinted with permission of The Nelson Mail

A day in the sun at Nelson on Friday quickly became a day belonging to Johnny Dunn. The North Canterbury horseman, who wears two hats as an unofficial trainer and as a driver, stole the show on the first day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club’s two day meeting winning five in the sulky with four coming from the stable of his father, Robert. In a display of aggressive driving, making full use of a notable front runners bias yesterday, Dunn took the bull by the horns and set about dominating from the outset. He won early in the day with Muscles Galore in the maiden trot for his father-in-law and sister-in-law Craig and Aimee Edmonds. A Muscle Mass three-year-old gelding out of the former smart trotting filly, Harriet Hughes who hailed from the same stable, Muscle Mass went to war with BD Khaosan a long way out from home but kept finding and drew clear inside the final 100 metres to claim victory. Dunn the saluted on maiden pacers, Kotare Mist and Returntorocknroll - the latter finally breaking the maiden status after 19 starts for owners, Trent and Wendy Yesberg. Returntorocknroll is the sixth foal to the races from Jingle Belle Rock and now all six have won at least one race with noted performers, Bettor Rock On, J D Fortune and Great Balls A Flyin also hailing from the mare. Kotare Mist is also well bred being a Christian Cullen out of Kotare Yangtze who has left Bella Star, Kotare Mahdi and Kotare Mahal - she is raced by prominent owners and breeders, Tony and Gay Abell. Dunn’s remaining two winners come from consistent trotter, Foreverman and then he won the last with handy three-year-old pacer, Billy Badger who was levels ahead of his opposition in the last of the day. Greg and Nina Hope picked up a few of the scraps following the Dunn demoltion. They won the Nelson Cup Prelude with Usain Colt who continued a great run of luck for his owners, Wayne and Connie Stewart and then A G’s White Socks lived up to his reputation by remaining unbeaten with a big win later in the day after doing a power of work inside the final lap. Ricky May was on board both of the Hope winners. While it was Dunn’s day, Ladbrooks trainer, Dean Taylor achieved a notable milestone when he notched up his 500th training success when Jessica Young produced a peach of a drive on Go Davey to get him home against a handy field of pacers. Taylor has held a licence since 1989 - 1990 season, training his first winner at Westport when Lumber Scott won with Jeff Whittaker in the sulky. He’s prepared top open class pacer, Waipawa Lad to win a New Zealand Free-For-All and Captain Peacock won a New Zealand Derby. In recent years Taylor has formed a strong association with Young and he is currently enjoying a good season with eight winners on the board already.   Nelson Second Day selections - By Matt Markham   Race 1: Unico Enchantress, Out Of Aces, Living Glory, Jersey joe Wilcott Race 2: BD Khaosan, Gold Sovereign, Scarlet Bromac, Geena’s Girl Race 3: The New Man, Jimmy Nga, Lolita Franco, Idealagain Race 4: Johnny White, Black Art, Spooky, Clarendon Falcon Race 5: Tattinger Rose, Franco Lamar, JJ’s Delight, Red Ranger Race 6: Destiny Jones, Forverman, Prestine, Alvira Hest Race 7: Gotta Go Ya Hu, Bella Jones, Mac Toddy, Handlebar Hank Race 8: Unico Legend, One Off, Smooth N Easy, Born Again Delight Race 9: Mighty Flying Major, Usain Colt, Alta Orlando, Smithy Race 10: A G’s White Socks, Waimac Attack, Mrs Browns Boys, Gunpowder Race 11: Cmeerock, Torrid Bromac, Emily Blunt, Go Davey   Best Bet: A G’s White Socks (Race 10) Longshot: Geena’s Girl (Race 2)

He’s ticking things off the bucket list left, right and centre and this weekend Greg Hope has a chance to cross another milestone off when he heads to the top of the South Island and to Richmond Park in Nelson. Hope heads to the meeting having trained 48 winners at Richmond Park during his career, five of them coming while training on his own account and a further 43 coming since he joined in partnership with his wife Nina. And with a particularly ominous looking line up of horses from the stable in action this weekend, there’s every chance that he will achieve the required two wins before the weekend is out. The stable has dominated Nelson over the past few years with a number of winners coming from their trips up the Coast from Woodend Beach including a six win haul up at the same two-day meeting last season. Today’s team of runners totals eight with the little known pacer, A G’s White Socks the stable’s leading chance for the day. He finished a strong second behind Usain Colt, who contests the Nelson Summer Cup Prelude earlier in the day, at the Mt Hutt Workouts at Methven last Saturday - showing his readiness for this week’s assignment. “He’s a pretty nice horse, we’ve got a fair bit of time for him,” Greg Hope said. “He won first up at Oamaru, after being unbeaten off the place. That workout is the only time he’s actually been beaten in public.” A Rock N Roll Heaven three-year-old gelding, A G’s White Socks is a half-brother to former open class pacer, Power Of Tara. “I don’t know what to expect from him this season, but we will see what happens at Nelson and then go from there. “I’d like to think he’s got a decent future in front of him.” The Hope’s took a large team to Methven last weekend to have their final hit out before today’s meeting and A G’s White Socks was just one of a number of impressive performers. Usain Colt showed a very good turn of foot to win the feature heat of the day with young Ben Hope in the sulky. “He’s going really good against good fields, he’d be a chance this week with a bit of luck.” Mares Bella Jones and Emily Blunt won’t get many better chances to get another win than their respective races while there are also big chances from Unico Legend, Gold Sovereign and Franco Lamar. The entire team with be driven today by regular stable driver, Ricky May. Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Hayden’s Meddle, Calendar Girls, Mac Toddy, Black Art Race 2: BD Khaosan, Gold Sovereign, Muscles Galore, Fira Sunset Race 3: Jimmy Nga, Kotare Mist, Wall Street Wolf, The New Man Race 4: JJ’S Delight, Spooky, Out Of Aces, Johnny White Race 5: Unico Legend, Returntorocknroll, Smooth N Easy, One Off Race 6: The Govenor, Mighty Empire, Franco Lamar, Go Davey Race 7: Prestine, Alvia Hest, Little Mo, Lady Beatrix Bourbon Race 8: Usain Colt, Franco Texas, Linton Shard, Miss Daisy Race 9: Bella Jones, Living Legend, Rum Delight, Nova Time Race 10: A G’s White Socks, Waimac Attack, Mrs Browns Boys, Gunpowder Race 11: Billy Badger, Franco Saxon, Emily Blunt, Torrid Bromac Best Bet: Bella Jones (Race 9) Value: JJ’s Delight (Race 4)  

The Nelson Harness Racing Club is adamant it will continue its 125-year legacy for many more to come despite a difficult climate for the industry. Club president John McKenzie was quick to dismiss any speculation that the future of harness racing at Richmond Park was in any jeopardy. He said the recent Winter Cup meet as one of the best attended for some time. The club has had a difficult year as it faces an estimated $140,000 tax bill after discovering late last year that it had over-claimed on GST for the past four years. A junior auditor uncovered the accounting error after finding the club had claimed for GST on stakes payments to all winning owners and trainers instead of claiming only for those that were already GST-registered. At the time, McKenzie said the potential bill was "concerning" but that Inland Revenue was informed of the error immediately Speaking last week, he said the matter was now before the IRD and declined to comment further.  However, McKenzie said the club was still in a good position. "It's certainly hard for all racing clubs to make ends meet at the moment and our committee has undergone a significant restructuring period over the last six months. "We will, however, keep holding our two race meets each year. As long as I'm here there will still be a club." The club had received great support from the Canterbury harness fraternity in attending the Nelson races, McKenzie said. He pointed to a sharp drop in horse breeding numbers and fewer drivers on the harness circuit as reasons for any perceived dip in field numbers. Unlike Australia where the racing industry was big enough to support weekly meetings at a variety of venues, he said provincial locations like Nelson struggled to get the corporate backing to support them. "There's not the big money in it right now and you're seeing more horses that do have the talent heading (overseas) for that very reason," he said. The summer and winter trots have been a popular fixture on the Nelson events calendar for generations. In recent years, the family-friendly aspect had been extended to include kids entertainment and on course activities. While having such facilities came at a cost to the club, McKenzie said it was seen as an investment in introducing harness racing to a wider audience. The club leases the Richmond Park facilities from the Nelson A & P association on a right to use basis. Along with McKenzie an eight-strong committee works behind the scenes throughout the year to ensure the four race days run as smoothly as possible. Club membership sits at about fifty. Attracting larger numbers to race meetings is the main focus of the club - which in turn would bring in greater revenue. McKenzie said one of the challenges faced was educating people on the betting process, therefore enabling more first time punters to try their luck. As it stands, clubs receive 16 cents for every betting dollar placed on site but only 10 cents to the dollar on every bet made off the track. The latter figure includes those using their mobile device to access TAB accounts, which often means punters in the Richmond Park grandstands are choosing the convenience of an online transaction over waiting in line. The next Nelson Harness Club meet is the summer meet scheduled for January 13 and 15. Tim O'Connell Nelson Mail Reprinted with premission

The rain kept coming and so did the winners for Kaiapoi based Harness Racing Driver/Trainer Gavin Smith. For the past few days Smith has watched his good mates Robert and John Dunn's team dominate. The Dunn's picked up trebles at Forbury on Thursday, Nelson on Friday and Auckland on Friday night. Not to be out done, Smith also picked up a double on the first day of Nelson Harness Racing Club's annual two day winter meeting with his own runner Alison Stokke and the Bruce Hutton trained Ideal Arden. And by the end on of racing on Sunday, there was only one person people on course were talking about, and that was Smith. After dominating the 9 card meeting with 4 driving win's which included 2 training wins. Alison Stokke, a 3yo Bettor's Delight filly, put the writing on the wall for Friday's maiden victory with a strong 2nd at Ashburton 5 days earlier. Making a flying from the tapes, Smith had the filly who is owned by his wife Sara and J Chin, out front and running along nicely before handing up to Sam Ottley and 2nd favourite Glenferrie Classic with 1400m to run. It all nearly turned to disaster though when Glenferrie Classic galloped in front, causing Alison Stokke to break for several strides before Smith was able to get her back down into a pace. With the galloper safely negotiated, Gavin asked his charge for a full effort and cleared out to win by 1 ½ lengths over Bobby M (Robbie Close) and Cullen's Bardon (Stephen McNally). Although it was the drives on Ideal Arden in the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude and Cup that had most people impressed. Using the American Ideal gelding's stand start speed to lead out on both occasions, Smith then handed up to the Robert Dunn trained Highview Freddy, who is well known as a front runner. From there on it was just a matter of Smith extracting the Bruce Hutton trained 6yo to either the inside or the outside of the leading and zipping away. Ideal Arden was the only runner to record a win on both days of the meeting. Smith started off his Sunday morning with a well deserved win aboard It's How You Use It who is trained by former stable employee Lawrence McCormick. The 5yo mare by Diedre Don recorded her maiden victory at start number 18 for owners, J T Morrison, A J Morrison, M J Gallagher, A Palmer, Mrs J E Lowe and Lawrence himself. Smith also recorded wins with pacer Melanie Ohara, who galloped on the first day but thanks to a change in bit was a strong maiden winner. While He's Like The Wind put up a improved performance after galloping late on day one to record win number three of his career. Andrew Fitzgerald

Harness Racing Trainer Cran Dalgety has a big chance to pick up another Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Winter Cup with his runner Fifth Edition. The 6yo Mach Three gelding won the 2014 edition and is having just his 3rd run back from close to 18 months off the race track. Starting off the back mark of 40m in the prelude on Friday, Fifth Edition made a quick beginning for driver Dexter Dunn and had soon caught up with the pack. Dunn made a smart move to sneak up the pegs with a lap to run, finding himself four back coming to the 800, he was able to push his way out to a spot 3 wide with cover. angled to the outside of the track at the top of the straight, Fifth Edition only went down by ½ a neck to eventual winner Ideal Arden. The 3000m trip today wouldn't hold any concerns for the Dalgety trained gelding, and even off his 40m back mark, he looks a massive chance to go one better. Dalgety rates his runners on this website each week and said the following about Fifth Edition. “I was rapt with him the first day. It was a big run off 40m behind over 2400m and he's backed up good in the past. He won his race a couple of years ago so we're looking to fulfill again” First day winner Joey Maguire is a new edition to the cup field and has drawn well in barrier 2 for co owner and driver Ross Houghton. He was a dominate winner of a C2 event on Friday and also finished 2nd in last year's cup, so the distance won't affect the Robert Dunn trained gelding. While the Greg & Nina Hope trained Bettor Buy It, who started a short price in the prelude will be better for his first up run. Andrew Fitzgerald

Harness Racing Driver Sam Ottley is enjoying the best week of her career at the moment. After her win with Rocker Band in the 4yo Diamond on Jewels day last Saturday, Ottley hasn't looked back and went on to record a treble at today's Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting. It was three wins in the space of four races for the Woodend based reins women, which included a double for her employer Mark Jones. Although it all started with the upset of the day in Race 4, when Ottley reined home Feel Real for Kaiapoi trainer Glenn Scott paying a whopping $44.40 and $7.00. With the favourite galloping early, Sam had the 3yo Real Desire filly straight into the trail, behind the Jones driven, Southbrook. From there on it was just a small matter of having to get past Southbrook and first starter Regal Grin, who was ultra brave on debut for Ken Barron and the goHarness Buy, Race and Sell Syndicate. In the next it was Kowhai Monarch who got the chocolates for Ottley and Jones. The 4yo gelding by Monarchy is owned by J G & Mrs D J Hartnell and recorded his 3rd career victory when winning by 1 ¾ lengths over Clifden Clowers (John Morrison) and ¾ lengths to Yankee Commando (Murray Edmonds) in 3rd. Ottley left the best for last with her drive on Croft Bay, who was drawn awkwardly on the back row. Sitting near last with a lap to run, Ottley was off and gone to sit parked before being able to out toughen the rest of the field and recording a neck victory over Ardent Lustre (Blair Orange). All three runners will back up tomorrow for the 2nd day of the meeting, with Kowhai Monarch looking Sam's best chance to double up. Andrew Fitzgerald

It was business as usual for Team Dunn at the Nelson Harness Racing Meeting today. Backing up from a treble at last nights Forbury Park Trotting Meeting, the Dunn team started their late season charge towards closing the premiership gap between themselves and the All Stars team. Sitting on 97 wins coming into todays meeting, that was soon 98 when maiden trotter Bourbon And Dry won the first of the day. Purchased at the late Carl Middleton's dispersal sale by the Neumann family, Bourbon And Dry was having his 2nd run from a spell when he beat 40 start maiden South Coaster, trained by Brad Mowbray at Yaldhurst, was will be forced to come back on Sunday to try and break his maiden status. Fast forward to race 6 and smart 3yo pacer Letspendanighttogetha was a dominate winner and brought up win number 99 for the season for trainer Robert Dunn and also win 99 for driver John Dunn. Away well from barrier one, the Washington VC gelding was shuffled back along the fence, before storming up the passing lane to win by ½ length to a super brave Ultimate Fella in 2nd. It took until the last race in the day for Team Dunn to bring up season win 100 and what a way to do it. Driver Ross Houghton, who is John Dunn's right hand man at their Woodend operation, was successful on Joey Maguire who he also part owns. It was a masterful drive by Houghton, who also brought up his 50th Career driving win, to find the front early on after drawing badly on the second row. After being allowed to dictate the race in front, Ross was off and gone at the top of the straight with 29.2 final quarter on a slushy Nelson track. Houghton was obviously stoked with the win, shown by his large salute to the crowd as he went over the line. Todays treble closed the gap in the premiership down to just 20 wins with a little over 6 weeks left to go in the season. John will look to pick up his 100th Season driving win on Sunday. Bourban And Dry Letspendanighttogetha Joey Maguire Andrew Fitzgerald

Maybe there is one last plot twist in the harness racing national trainers’ premiership after all. A hat-trick of wins at Forbury Park on Thursday night set the ball rolling for the weekend that could make or break Robert Dunn’s chances of winning the national title. Still 23 wins behind the Purdon/Rasmussen stable, Dunn has a bit of ground to make up - but has the luxury of a strong and plentiful winter racing team which will take him deep into July. The All Stars on the other hand are expected to start to slow their operation down, but with a number of Breeders Crown heats to be contested as well as the odd winter racing proposition they will still be out and about. Dunn made the call to push for the premiership earlier in the year when things were close. He’s had to watch as his stable ran a string of unlucky placings over the last month while the All Stars have kicked right into gear. But last night’s treble, including the first driving win for Craig Smith, might have been the boost needed to get things moving and with 14 more chances over the course of the weekend - especially considering one venue is Nelson could really set things alight. The stable has eight runners engaged on the opening day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting and there are a number of strong winning chances amongst them. Those who race today at Nelson will also race there again on Sunday giving the stable two bites of the cherry. Leading the charge is promising 3-year-old, Letspendanitetogetha. The Washington VC gelding, who has placed behind; GI Joe, Major Ben and Mr Mojito in his last three starts gets the coveted ace barrier draw against a tidy field of pacers and will give his owners; Reg Storer and Terry McDonald a great shot at the second win of his career. Yukon Cloud, who was a very handy runner-up behind Anny Ivy when last produced also has the one marble and will be hard to beat from there for Ross Houghton. An in-form Highview Freddy and the consistent Joey Maguire look like other leading chances of success for the barn at Richmond Park. In Auckland, five runners will do business - spearheaded by talented trotter, Natural and Bevan’s Cullen was very good last week at Alexandra Park. Matt Markham

Two days of racing fire into action with the start of the Nelson Harness Racing Club's Winter Cup Festival tomorrow. The festival attracts over 2,500 people to the course over the two days - with 10 to 12 harness races held each day. Racing starts around 11am. But it's not all about the horses. The festival offers corporate hospitality packages in the member's stand which include prime seating and viewing, gourmet platters or meals, beverages and snacks. Hospitality packages can be booked online at Entry to the lucky losing ticket competition is open to all over the age of 18 who don't walk away smiling from the course tote.  Winners will receive a family return trip to Wellington (including your vehicle). Simply fill out your name and phone number on the back and place in the Car Company entry box at the course for your chance to win. A major prize wil be awarded each race day there will be . Punters must be on course to win the prize. There will also be live music on both days and a host of free children's entertainment on Sunday, including movies in Redwood Hall. Tasman Makos players will be on course on Sunday to entertain the children with a race to be held on the track between children and Makos players .   Entry is free to the racing which will be held at Richmond Park Racecourse  tomorrow and Sunday. Gates open at 9.30am and racebooks are $2. Parking is available at  the racecourse and Club Waimea. Visit: for full race times, events and prize information. ​Stuff

After a great run on Day 1, the Mark Jones trained, I Get Around was surprisingly sent out a $10 shot on Day 2 at the Nelson harness racing meeting. After getting a sweet trip in the trail, she burst to the lead in the straight and won as she liked for long-time owner and breeder, Kevin Stanley. Based in Sydney, we got in touch with Kevin to congratulate him.   What got you interested in Harness Racing?   My Dad was a keen racing man and he started taking me to Hutt Park, Wellington, when I was only about 10 years old. The whole thing fascinated me - the crowds, the cheering, the horses, the meat pies! As a teenager, I became even more fascinated - the intricacies of race tactics/driving, seeing stars of that era race up-close-and-personal, and the regular clashes between horses from the North Island and the South Island. Watching Bob Young, Maurice Homes, Charlie Hunter, Cardigan Bay, Geffin, Control (winning both double legs in one night, beating the pacers in one), Garcon Roux, etc, wasn’t a bad start in the game. The main things that have never left me are the accessibility of harness racing to the general public, the incredible evolution of the breed over my lifetime, and the genuine value, bang for buck, the sport offers.   When my wife and I married, in 1970, we didn’t have the wherewithal to become involved in harness racing as owners or breeders. Having kids, moving cities, studying, etc didn’t make it any easier. We both loved the game, especially me, so it was inevitable we’d get into it more seriously at some stage. After a $5,000 treble dividend at Ellerslie while recuperating from a cartilage operation (more serious back then), we bought our first horse, in 1979, a weanling colt by Mark Lobell. After he ran 4th in the first 2YO race of his season, we were offered reasonable money for him. Should have taken it - lesson one!   How long have you been breeding Standardbreds?   I bought a filly called Baise Francaise from Bruce Barlass back about the mid 1980’s. She didn’t make it as a racehorse, but I bred her with a stallion called Happy Cat. No idea why, and no success there either, but I guess we all learnt a lot. We were then out of the game, as more than race-fans, until 2004, after we had been living in Australia for about 15 years.   We then had a successful return to racehorse ownership, prompted by a good friend contacting me about an untried 2YO that his brother, Sydney trainer Martin Herbert, was very keen to purchase from Spreydon Lodge. Significantly for my future breeding biases, the colt was one of the first crop of Bettors Delight in NZ. History shows this horse, Franco Nester, won 29 races and was good enough to be a Harold Park “Horse of the Year”. What a return, and we were obviously hooked. Being a bit better placed financially to be involved in harness racing, for which we had never really lost our love, a few more racehorses followed, mostly purchased as young up-and-going horses from NZ.We started breeding, as a hobby really, in 2013, with a mare called Anna Finn, also by Bettors Delight. Anna had showed great speed but had bone chips and we decided not to try her as a racing proposition. She had breeding that intrigued me, being from a New York Motoring mare and a half-sister to the best early 2YO filly of her year in Australia, Molly Finn.   So, we’re new to the game really, but now we have three mares, two in Canterbury and one in NSW. Of potential interest to other breeders, we don’t have land, so we base these mares in the care of friends or respected agistment professionals. This can obviously be expensive, but it would be interesting to compare the real costs of having a small broodmare band on your own property, or paying someone else to do it all. Get involved with people you trust and who respect the horse as an animal - lesson two! Anna has an attractive filly in this year’s APG Sydney Sale, and we have two in the Christchurch Sale, a filly by Rocknroll Heaven from Niki Franco (Franco Nester’s half-sister by In The Pocket), and a colt by Mach Three from Cotton Row, who we raced in NSW but sent back to NZ for her breeding career. Niki had a colt by Bettors who sold in last year’s Christchurch Sale. He was our first “NZ bred” foal.   First horse you bred?   Anna Finn’s first foal was a colt by Stonebridge Regal. Named Regal Lager, he has won four races in Adelaide and we believe he has more wins to come. We race him with friends and he’s been a great source of fun. His first win was as thrilling as people say your “first bred winner” is! I’m conveniently forgetting the Happy Cat filly in the 80’s and saying we have a 100% winners to foals record.   First race winner you bred?   As above.   Why do you breed Standardbreds?   We’ve had a lot of luck with our racing ventures since Franco Nester. I put that success down to selecting from pedigrees that are either proven or involve new stallions from our favourite sire lines, to having great advisors when it comes to assessing conformation, and, of course, good trainers who have a love for their horses. We breed with that same spirit - loving the challenge of finding the right cross, the next successful stallions, and having the faith in the families of our small band of mares. My wife Linda would not want us to stay involved unless all the horses were well cared for - like damned pets, but it is important for her, and for me. We really do get a lot of joy out of seeing the young ones come through and get the best chance they can to make it. We plan to put all or most foals up for sale as yearlings, but are perfectly happy to retain any that don’t sell, because they will have passed the tests I refer to above - sire lines/crosses, conformation, and maternal lines we believe in. Saves us buying from other people…….   I could go on about this subject for ages. We certainly want to breed a top horse, but we’d hope to do that with good stock, not just hoping a good one will appear “from nowhere", and not by spending a fortune on the very best families. Breeding is a great challenge all round, and very rewarding. We’ve met some great people, as we have without racing interests, so it’s about the best retirement hobby a person can have - is that lesson three?   What is your favourite horse (or) the best one you have bred?   Young Quinn was my favourite from “back in the day”, but then along came Nester! He gave us so much fun and proved the little guy can make it in harness racing with the right advice. Making the final of the NSW Derby with him, beating Lombo Pocket Watch in the heat, was about as good as it gets.   What is your favourite Stallion of all time?   Bettor's Delight. He’s the latest in a line of game-changers in the standardbred breed. The next one? Oh if only we knew! The first time I realised this phenomenon of a pacing stallion making a significant improvement in the breed was Vance Hanover.    Have you bred anything this season?   All our three mares have nice foals on the ground now, so we are looking forward to proving, one way or the other, the merit of our mares and their families, over the next few years. We’re just heard that two of them are back in foal, Anna Finn to Sunshine Beach, and Cotton Row to A Rocknroll Dance.   Something you would like to see change for Breeders?   More professionally managed syndication initiatives. The more people we have involved in ownership, the more there will be for everyone in all aspects of our sport. Perhaps more professional advice for breeders when it comes to financial challenges and opportunities. The opportunity for people who have land and a love of horses, and breeding, but who don’t have the mares to realistically breed a good horse, to access well credentialed mares whose owners do not want to spend time and money breeding from them. Some people with good racemares just don’t want to be breeders, and some who do, can’t afford well-bred mares. Can we in the sport/industry help bridge the gap, and not simply lose foal numbers and potentially good breeding stock?   Click here to view:    Click here to Subscribe:                     

Harness racing trainer Robert Dunn and son John Dunn have well and truly dominated the first day of the Nelson Harness Racing Clubs summer meeting at Nelson today. Four wins early in the meeting with a couple of seconds later in the day showed the Dunn barn were on track to have another big day on Sunday. Kotare Yael set the ball rolling in race 2 with a tough win in which John drove him aggressively right from the start and got him home for a narrow but overdue victory. The same went for race three where high class three year old Bite The Bullet was way too strong even after starting from barrier nine at the gate, clearing out in the straight. John then rattled off his third winner in three races when Kotare Kasai upset them with an inch perfect drive which saw the mare get home by just a nose. Even after John and Robert had won three in a row, they were let go again a couple of races later when Daleness Xchange bolted in at eleven to one in race six. A second with Joey Maguire with Ross Haughton in the bike was followed by a smart second by Grauate Under Fire with John on board in the Nelson Cup Prelude behind the very talented Rocker Band who is not backing up on Sunday which brings Graduate Under Fire right into line for the Nelson Cup. John Dunn was happy with todays run. "He's has stuck on really well today and I was very happy with the run. "If he steps away on Sunday and gets a run like he did today, I think he is a big winning chance in the Cup." "He always gives his best as he is so honest which always makes him a chance," John said. The Greg and Nina Hope training partnership also won a couple on the day along with three placings which suggests that the Dunn partnership won't have it all its own way on Sunday. Harnesslink Media  

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones advanced to 52 wins for the season with a winning double on the first day of the Nelson winter harness racing meeting, and another at Auckland, on Friday, June 5.   Adding to the day’s success, Woodend Beach stable foreman picked up a deserved win with Sandvik Star at Nelson, and was the caretaker trainer of upset mares mile winner Whyamibettor from Overport starter All Delight.   Mark scored back-to-back Nelson training wins reining front-running hot favourite Pomme Roy to a comfortable win in the C1 Reefton Trotting Club Mobile Pace.   He has decided not to back up the 3YO Christian Cullen-TK Swift gelding on the second day at Nelson on Sunday.   Pomme Roy held second favourite Mach Denario by a length and a half in a 2:03.9 rate for the mobile 2400m in the slushy conditions, quickening over his last 800m in 58.5s.   After winning his 2YO debut at Addington and showing early promise as a colt, Pomme Roy was gelded after losing form after racing in Auckland as a spring 3YO.   He returned to win first-up at Addington on April 23 and has been in good overall form for this preparation.   Friday’s win was a bonus C1 win for the 3YO, who remains a C1 for his next start. He has now won three of 15 career starts.   in a good sense of occasion, Blair Orange then reined stablemate Zakspatrol to a gritty neck win over the Regan Todd-trained Fleeting Grin in the C1 Mark Jones Racing Stables and Club Waimea-sponsored Pace.   Zakspatrol, who had been knocking on the door of a win in his latest racing, rallied strongly from the third line on the outer to score in 3:10.9 (2400m stand) in the conditions.   The big 4YO Art Major-Shimmering Star gelding gets his chance to step up in the C2 and faster Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Winter Cup on Sunday.   Zakspatrol was returning to the winner’s circle on Friday at his third start since being downgraded last month.   He is now the winner of five from 43 starts for $38,232.   Owner Grant Hatton shares in the ownership of both Nelson winners.   He races Zakspatrol with wife Katherine, while he co-races Pomme Roy with Chatsworth Lodge Ltd, Bob Higgins, Bill and Claude Walsh.   Katherine Hatton also races Real Torque, a 2YO Real Desire filly, with daughters, Emma, Gina and Kate.   The girls also enjoyed good success a few years earlier as co-owners of former country cups star My Man Dan.   Real Torque, a half-sister to fast North American winner Statesman (1:50.4, US, nine NZ wins) and other useful types in Monaro (seven NZ wins, 1:58.5) and WA winner Calais (two wins, 1:56, Aust), was a $10,000 Australasian Classic Yearling Sales buy.   She wasn’t hurried out of the gate first-up by Kimberly Butt in the Mitavite Mobile Pace.   Real Torque showed some toughness after being left parked and rallied well to hold Bronze Over by a neck in 2:45.5 (2:01 mile rate) for the mobile 2200m.   The leaders quickened over their last 800m in 58.3s and final 400m in 27.9s.   Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Racing Stables  -  Check site here  

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones could head south for the Group Three $40,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup (3200m) on January 24 with harness racings latest Nelson Cup winner Johnny Fox. “He’s going great. We may look at the Invercargill Cup or something like that.” “Its just a bit harder to place him as a six-win horse now,” he said. Mark Jones will attempt to extend a winning habit as a trainer in the Invercargill Cup, should Johnny Fox return south. Mark has won two of the last three Invercargill Cups, with Ohoka Texas (2012) and Saveapatrol. The latter upstaged triple NZ Cup winner Terror To Love, last year, after 13 days earlier taking out the Marlborough Cup. Johnny Fox caused concerns after a breathing problem came to a head on New Zealand Cup in November, but an overcheck and an anti-choking device (under his chin) have him racing better than ever. The Western Terror gelding ran an improver’s second to Mossdale Conner first-up at Rangiora on December 31, then went from strength-to-strength at Nelson. He sprinted a fast final 800m in 54.9s to run down Stradowan in the Cup Prelude on Friday, but was even more impressive pacing the same sectional over the longer 3000m trip to win on Sunday. Johnny Fox, second last at the 800m, swept up sharply four wide on the home turn for Blair Orange, and had a good kick when he asked him to go at the 200m. The Butterworth Racing Syndicate-owned pacer ran clear by three-quarters of a length from Stradowan, who had to settle for the bridesmaid tag again, after leading early, trailing King Cyril, and having every chance. He paced the full 3000m in 3:49.8 (2:03.2 mile rate), and outside the the Nelson track and race mark of 3:47.4, set by Jason Rulz when beating Jackaroo Bromac in the 2013 Nelson Cup. Johnny Fox, bred by the Wilson family of Winton, won his first five when racing for trainer Ian Wilson and briefly in Canterbury for Steve McRae, before being purchased by the Butterworth Syndicate. He won second-up for the Mark Jones team and Michelle Neilson in a junior drivers pace at Addington in March last year, and despite having breathing issues, had shown high speed in his races. Although the competition for him will get harder up the grades, he’s looking more relaxed and has a chance of realising his full potential. Melbourne owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, had another good day on both sides of the Tasman with Arden Rooney, formerly in the Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen barn, running third first-up for Kerryn Manning in the $A60,505 Horsham Cup. Arden Rooney enjoyed a good run through from the inside of the back row to trail on the outer. He fought solidly behind winner Philadelphia Man, who was too good after racing in the open outside a pulling favourite For a Reason. Philadelphia Man was too strong, coming clear in a track record 1:58.1 rate (2700m) from stablemate Restrepo, who maintained a good three wide run from the rear over the final 900m. Courtesy Of Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Harness Racing Stables,   

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