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Hardly a Southern race day goes by without the presence of prominent owners Lindsay and Ian Thomson being on course to watch one of their horses win. But wedding bells in Dunedin kept them away today at Ascot Park. Their absence didn’t halt their run of success though,  as two horses they own won today: Lawrence and Kilowatt Kid. The brothers were attending their nephew Matthew Leckie’s wedding in Dunedin. “They weren’t too happy the wedding was on the same day as the races (laughter) but they asked their other nephew if he could bring it up on his phone so they could watch it while the wedding was on,” said trainer Alister Black. Shadow Play gelding Lawrence was their first winner. He was favourite in the R50-R60 rating mobile pace on the back of his run for second on Show Day at Addington in the South of the Waitaki Pace. “I thought he’d be hard to beat today but with racing you never know.”  The five year old had nearly a year away from racing, after he broke down when running second to Please Shuddup at Gore in October 2018. “Thanks to Southern Vets and Vet South and all the work they’ve done with the horse. Because it wasn’t looking too good for a while.” The recovery has been a slow process and the horse has noticeably returned to racing a much bigger and stronger proposition. “He’s done a power of work. He probably did five months work before he went to the races and he’s still as big as a bull.” The win today, at the hands of regular pilot Brad Williamson was his fourth from just sixteen starts. “He’s in that Country Cup grade now and as you know you have to wait your turn in that grade.” Later in the day Kilowatt Kid also won for the Thomson, Black and Williamson combination. It took the whole length of the straight for him to get past pacemaker Parama, but he eventually won by a nose. Williamson was in great form at today’s meeting, getting home long shot trotter Dream Of Pat. Her form was full of zeros but today after a daring drive by Williamson the seven year old Great Success mare held on to beat favourite Galleon’s Future. While most of the field was in bother at some point Williamson took the thirty nine start veteran maidener to the lead and opened up plenty of holes in the field before holding on to win by a head. Dream Of Pat (2) holding out Galleons Future                             -Photo Bruce Stewart Trained at Omakau by Ginger Woodhouse, Dream Of Pat was his first winner since Lucky Pat’s Son won at Forbury Park in November 2016. In the Junior Drivers feature Major Watson proved too strong for the six other rivals. The Art Major gelding, owned by Ben and Karen Calder and trainer Nathan Williamson was too smart, winning by a length and a quarter. After sitting back driver Mark Hurrell shot the four year old forward with 900 metres to run, cruising easily to the lead. He held on to beat Magnetic Watch by a length and a quarter. When favourite Flash Party was checked at the start in the Gold Ace at Nevele R Stud Mobile Pace the race was left wide open for the other runners including the Brett Gray trained Bettors Highlight. Driver Ellie Barron tucked the Bettors Delight mare away on the inside running line, trailing early pacemaker Bettor Galleon. Vintage Rose then shot round the field with 1500 metres to run and looked to have the race in safe keeping but Barron got Bettors Highlight out in between tiring runners Bettors Galleon and Calico Hill, and set out chasing Vintage Rose which had shot away by eight lengths. Bettors Highlight came stoutly up the inside to win by a neck. It was the mare’s second win in twelve starts.   Bruce Stewart

First season trainer Jessie Alford has a bit on. He and partner Josie Reid are expecting their first child next month, he’s training the only horse in his stable Held To Ransom, and is starting a new job with Woodend Beach trainer Matt Purvis. Things are just busy enough. Alford freely admits he gets nervous when Held To Ransom starts at the races but he need not have worried today at Ascot Park, because the Live Or Die mare won easily in the hands of Brad Williamson. Williamson got the five year old mare in the one one early with Bella Sara making the pace. Held To Ransom was travelling nicely throughout and once balanced up in the home straight she went down to the finishing line to easily win by a length and a half from Folklore. The win was the mare’s third in a row. “I’ve only had her for about six weeks. She needs the beach. She was probably going to go back to Regan Todd’s. I asked if I could buy her. She’s a family horse who just swims instead of jogging, she just loves the beach,” said Alford after the win. Alford hadn’t had any background in harness racing until former Southland trainer/driver,  but Jonny Cox got him involved. “Coxey got me into it. I was helping him out a few years ago and we became friends. I got sick of my office job (selling survey and building equipment) so I thought stuff it, I’ll do something I like. I took a bit of a pay cut and worked for Michael House and Andrew Stuart, whose been really good to me, and I’m about to go to the beach and work for Matt.” Held To Ransom was previously trained by Stuart who managed to get a number of placings out of the mare, but missed out on that elusive win. Alford also holds a junior driver’s license but after driving Held To Ransom a number of times he says he now prefers to hand the reins to other drivers. “For some reason I just don’t drive her that well so I just let other people do it. I’d like to keep her but I’ve got a baby girl on the way in late January. This will help get her a few extra treats which is good.” Brad Williamson with Jessie Alford and Held To Ransom              -photo by Bruce Stewart The win capped off a stellar day for Brad Williamson who won three  of the races  on the ten race card. Brother Nathan also won a race, driving Revitalise for good stable client Neville Cleaver who bought the diminutive Bettors Delight gelding at the sales for $15,000. He received a nice trail and was too good, beating Glenledi Captain by two and half lengths.   Bruce Stewart

Tonight saw the first heat of the 27th edition of the 2019 Hanley Formula Australasian Young Drivers Championship. Held at Addington Raceway, Cameron Hart was successful in the heat with Sugar Cane trained by Doug McCormick. "It was a big thrill to be at Addington, the mare raced really well and we were lucky enough to have a good trip" said Hart after the race. Tomorrow the championship heads to Mt Harding Raceway for two more heats before heading North to Manawatu. Please see below the standings as of tonight.    Cameron Hart - 17 Sarah O'Reilly - 12 John Morrison - 9 Brodie Webster - 7 Sheree Tomlinson - 6 Benjamin Butcher - 5 Corey Peterson - 4 Zac Phillips -3 Conor Crook - 2 Matt Elkins - 1   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner    Talented trotter Heavyweight Hero will do a U-turn to resume his stop-start career in the Trotter’s Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Switching directions has been the motivator for the 6yr-old’s part owner and former trainer, Todd McFarlane, sending the horse to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. Heavyweight Hero’s problem hooves have been the difference between the trotter showing flashes of brilliance, rather than consistently good form, during his off and on 20 start career. The Muscle Mass trotter’s move south to Butt’s stable has been a case of McFarlane coming up with a cunning plan to work around Heavyweight Hero’s troublesome toes. “Todd had brought him back up at home and had him going pretty good,” Butt said. “But, he has still had a lot of trouble with his feet and he was finding that he was trotting much better left handed than right handed because of it.” “So, he gave me a call out of the blue, to see if I he could send him to me and get some left handed racing in to him.” Heavyweight Hero arrived at Woodend Beach only a matter of days ahead of Sunday’s feature 1609m trot. In that short time, he has impressed his new trainer. “I really like him, he feels like a really nice trotter.” “I definitely think he will win races down here and do a good job.” “Todd said he could have a trial once he got down here, but I saw this race coming up and I thought it could suit him - with a lot of the good trotters away up north.” Heavyweight Hero showed off his trotting talent at the Pukekohe trials before heading south. He impressed when beat rising star Tickle Me Pink in a 2500m trial. That form was franked when the runner-up went a big race when resuming at Alexandra Park off a huge 40m handicap. The trial and his work since arriving gives Butt hope Heavyweight Hero be highly competitive in a field largely made up of race hardened trotters. “His trial up north was pretty good and Todd has done a lot of work with him, so he should be pretty competitive on Sunday,” Butt said. “I took him to work on the grass on Monday and he was really good, so that shouldn’t be a problem, either.” Defending Trotters’ Green Mile champion, Amaretto Sun, is amongst Sunday’s line up. The Ken Ford trained squaregaiter goes in to this year’s edition in similar circumstances to last year. Amaretto Sun disappointed during last year’s New Zealand Cup Carnival, before bursting back in to life in the Methven feature. The Ford stable will be hoping he can do the same this year. Other race contenders will attempt to continue their strong New Zealand Cup week form on Sunday. They include Ruthless Kayla, Globe Trekker and Overzealous. A G’s White Socks being away for his brilliant Interdominion campaign means he will not be able to win his third consecutive Pacers’ Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope have four runners in the 1609m feature that could see them secure a hat-trick of training wins in the race. Their team is made up of Vinnie Rulz, Three Ideas, Homebush Lad and Kendra.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Winterfell earned himself favouritism for next Saturday’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final with a dominant New Zealand record win on the third and final night of heats at Alexandra Park. In the hands of co-trainer Mark Purdon, the rangy square-gaiter had too much power for a key rivals Majestic Man and Massive Metro after leading over the 2700-metre journey. It’s been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes from the horse that had earned the distrust of punters through the spring. “He’s picked it all up now and we’re starting to work together, which is a big help,” said Purdon post-race. “I said to Nat (Rasmussen) during the week that he’s almost turned the corner. “He enjoyed bowling around in front and felt good. “He likes this way around and has settled down a lot. He seems a really happy horse at the moment.” His Canterbury breeder and owner, Trevor Casey, was on course to celebrate and was at pains to say how it was just a matter of patience. “It’s always a pleasure to win a race, but to win an Inter Dominion heat – two of them – incredible. “He’s only had 23 starts and only really stepped up to open company this year. “They can win at age group level, but they still need the ringcraft to hit the top grade.” That’s something Winterfell clearly didn’t have. “He did get really keen and he used to hit the cart as well. “We’ve got to have a really long cart on him because he’s got such a long stride. “But Mark said Tuesday night was the best he’s ever settled.” Winterfell continues a brilliant production run for his dam, Una Bromac. “It gives me so much satisfaction because is out of a pacing bred mare that trotted called Una Bromac. “She used to whack a knee and nobody wanted her so I bred from her. “The first one she bred, Harley, was 18 hands, but she’s left four open class trotters after that, including Escapee and Needle.” Casey has sold Una Bromac now “because I had that many trotters, was about to breed from Escapee and it was time to move on an older mare.” Massive Metro, who trailed, fought on well enough for second but never looked like threatening the winner down the straight, while Majestic Man ran third after sitting parked. In the night’s earlier heat, Temporale went back-to-back with another front-running win for Tony Herlihy and trainers, Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis. It was arguably the stronger of the two heats, but went over three seconds slower than the other one thanks to no mid-race pressure on Temporale. Paramount King finished on nicely for second in a sprint home, narrowly ahead of the Australian, Tough Monarch, and Marcoola, who rushed home out wide after going rough when wide on the final bend. Inter Dominion Final field: Winterfell ($3), Majestic Man ($3.40), Marcoola ($4.80), Temporale ($7), Massive Metro ($8.50), Paramount King ($11), Habibi Inta ($18), Tough Monarch ($26), Big Jack Hammer ($41), Destiny Jones ($81), Bonnie Highlander ($101), Valloria ($101). The emergency is Monty Python ($151). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Jeremy Young was a pretty emotional man when Circus Boy won at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The horse he spent three years waiting on and slowly nursing back to health, rewarded him as both the owner and trainer with victory in a $20,000 race. “This would be one of the most satisfying wins of my career,” he told HRNZ post-race. “To have a horse with a broken bone like he did  make it back to the races and win on a night like this, it’s awesome. “I looked after him, now he’s looked after me.” Young took over training Circus Boy three-and-a-half years ago when sent the horse by Canterbury trainer Tony Barron. He had seven starts for a win before injury took hold. “He had a quarter crack that blew out so I gave him nine months out. “He was back in and coming up good a year later then he came off the track at Pukekohe lame one day. “I thought it must have been a stone under his shoe but we took an x-ray and he’d broken a hind pastern.” Young wasn’t in a position to pay for the conventional surgery option, but also couldn’t bear to see the horse put down. “He’s such a lovely, quiet horse and I like his character, so I rung my vet, Ivan Bridge, and asked him what the options were. “Since I couldn’t afford to screw him, Ivan said let’s bandage him up and put him in a box for four-and-a-half months. “So, that’s what we did. “When the time was up, I brought him back out of the box and he was walking sound, but it’s in the back of your mind about whether the leg was going to last” Just happy to have the horse safe and sound, and too scared to try him as a race horse, Young eventually just started working the horse as a guide to the rest of his team. “I used him in front of my young horses. He’s just such a quiet, placid trotter. “After eight months of slowly bringing him up I decided to try him again even though it was always in the back of my mind that it could fracture again.” Everything went smoothly and, this week, after a couple of runs to blow out the cobwebs, he shot up the passing lane to win at bolters’ odds. Young was noticeably emotional post-race and just so proud of the courage the horse has displayed. “It’s just such a pleasure to train this horse. “He’s part of the furniture; he can stay with me and maybe someone will want to ride him later on. “It would be my most satisfying win outside of the Northern Oaks with Best Western. “Because I saved his life and we’ve been through so much together. “It’s just so pleasing.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac set up an Australia versus New Zealand battle in next week’s Interdominion Pacing Championship with a faultless display to win the last heat of the series on Friday night. The All Stars pacer was rewarded both for his consistent form in the series and for his massively improved manners when holding out his stablemate Thefixer by three-quarters of a length. Cruz Bromac showed no signs of the wayward tendencies he displayed during and before the Interdominion series with his third faultless display of the series to win. The 8yr-old’s love of right-handed racing, where he can stride out more fluently than on a left handed track, has him ready to give his stablemate and series rock star Ultimate Sniper a stern test about in next week’s final. Part-owner Peter O’Shea said there was no doubt who Cruz Bromac will be resenting when the pacer takes to Alexandra Park for that battle. He and his fellow Australian owners could pull off a masterstroke that would win them an incredible New Zealand Cup and Interdominon double while flying the Australian flag with their move to place the horse with New Zealand champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen for the spring and summer. The final heat of the Interdominion pacing series bought mixed emotions for O’Shea, who races the horse with wife, Zilla, and Danny and Joanna Zavitsanos. The O’Sheas also race Bling It On, who dropped out to run a shock second last in the second of Friday night’s pacing heats. “I am excited about Cruz, but it has been disappointing with Bling It On.” “I thought he was really going to run a big race tonight and we were going to have a two pronged attack.” “He has had a shocking series, he choked down the first heat and he couldn’t get out in the first heat.” Driver Luke McCarthy put Bling It On’s chequered Interdominion campaign down to the horse being out of his comfort zone. “He just hasn’t been himself here, he is out of the routine he has been in at home.” “He has been collected three times a week at home and obviously his routine has been totally different over here.” McCarthy said Bling It On would not contest next week’s Interdominion Pacing Consolation. The All Stars quinella makers gapped the field, with Triple Eight holding the rest of the field home to take third and qualify for next week’s final. Triple Eight has already made one Australian owner’s dream come true by making the series final. Popular Octogenarian owner, Father Brian Glasheen, a final starter with his first runner an incredible 69 years afters after attending his first Interdominion series in 1950. Sicario was next home behind Triple Eight, ahead of dual heat winner, A G’s White Socks, who was sound in fifth.   The final field for the Interdominion Pacing Final in qualifying order. Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, A G's White Socks, Chase Auckland, Thefixer, Mach Shard, Ashley Locaz, Sicario, San Carlo, Triple Eight, On The Cards, My Kiwi Mate. Emergencies: Classie Brigade, Solid Gold. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The IRT Inter Dominion final points are available here   Harness Racing New Zealand

By Jonny Turner    Promising southern trotter Cuchulainn is back, but whether he is ready for battle will not be revealed until he steps out at Ascot Park on Saturday. The 5yr-old returns to racing for a summer campaign with a new trainer and new driver after being purchased out of Brent McIntyre’s Riversdale stable by big-spending Australian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth. Cuchulainn caught the Victorian couple’s attention when looking like a big, raw prospect when winning twice and finishing runner-up in six start campaign in autumn and winter.  The Butterworths placed the Skyvalley trotter with Brett Gray after purchasing him and the trainer likes what he sees from the horse, so far. “I like him – he above average - I think he is quite a nice horse,” Gray said. “We will use his as a bit of a lead in run, but he will win races.” On paper, Cuchulainn who will be driven by Brent Barclay, has had two workouts ahead of his return. The trotter galloped in the first of those before returning to the track minutes later for another try. Cuchulainn did everything right, beating novice pacers in his second attempt at Winton. “He galloped in the first heat, so we took him back out there for the next one,” Gray said.  “He felt pretty good the second time and did everything right, so I was pretty happy with him.” Cuchulainn clearly has the ability to match most of his rivals in race 8, but it remains to be seen whether he has the fitness to beat them. Gray is conscious that having just one quiet workout could leave the trotter vulnerable against his race hardened opposition. “I don’t think he will be too far away, but Sekkie Monkey might be a bit sharp for him first up.” “He has got a motor, so I expect him to go pretty well.” Sekkie Monkey, who shares the 20m backmark with Cuchulainn, has impressed in his two runs back from a spell for trainer-driver Nathan Williamson. The 5yr-old cruised to an easy victory first up at Wyndham, last month. The trotter then went a sound race, after doing plenty of mid-race work, to run second behind Whatwillbeewillbee at Ascot Park. Only One Way adds to an intriguing feature trot at Ascot Park. The Phil Williamson trained trotter broke a run of ordinary luck when winning on his home track last weekend. Cuchulainn is one of four horses the Gray stable have entered at Invercargill on Saturday. The trainer will be seeking more luck with Nota Bene Denario in race 7 than in his last visit to the track. The 5yr-old was snookered three back on the markers, before powering home when clear behind Whata Razzle Dazzle, last month. “He was very unlucky, you could say he was a certainty beaten, really,” Gray said. “But, you have to drive him with a sit, he is a lot better when he is cuddled up, so he can always be unlucky.” Nota Bene Denario strikes a similar field to his last start, that includes the winner, in Saturday’s 2700m special handicap. Bettor’s Highlight is another of Gray’s horses that prefers not to do early work The 5yr-old has the draw to get the kind of trip she likes from barrier 1 in race 3. “She is the kind of mare that needs the right run, so she should get that from that draw,” Gray said. “Hopefully Saturday could be her day.” Pick Six Telf, who looks a rough place hope, rounds out Gray’s day when lining up in race 10.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The best indication of how remarkable Ultimate Sniper has been in this Inter Dominion pacing series is his own stablemate Cruz Bromac. Because after three wonderful runs in the series Cruz Bromac would make a compelling Inter Dominion Final favourite yet Ultimate Sniper is actually odds-on to win the title and nearly $3 tighter than Cruz Bromac in the pre-draw market. The All Stars pair wrapped the final round of the series at Alexandra Park last night by winning their heats, securing the top two spots on the points table and at the head of the market. After two huge but luckless runs on the first two nights Cruz Bromac was dominant last night, re-taking the lead from Thefixer and never looking in danger of defeat. Considering he won the New Zealand Cup less than a month ago you can make a strong case he can win the $500,000 final next Saturday. But while he has been good, very good and excellent in his three heats, Ultimate Sniper has been unbelievable, unbelievable and okay, we are starting to get used to this, but unbelievable again in this three heats.  After two monster wins in his first two heats Ultimate Sniper was expected to loop the field, sit parked and win the first heat last night. It didn’t pan out that way and he was stuck three wide for the last lap and looked to be labouring at the 600m mark, $1.40 punters thinking the bubble may be about to burst. But driver Natalie Rasmussen was foxing, conserving energy and when she asked the four-year-old to get busy in the home straight he was equal measures brave and brutal. He is in that zone some horses find themselves in during an Inter Dominion and is $1.90 to win the final before tomorrow’s barrier draw while Cruz Bromac is $4.80. Champion trainer Mark Purdon drove Cruz Bromac last night and beaming at how the athletic pacer has bounced through the series but is adamant Ultimate Sniper is their best chance in the final. “Cruz is going great but what Snipe has been doing in the heats makes him our best chance, he has been enormous.”If Ultimate Sniper draws well tomorrow and looks any chance to wresting the lead in the final he could get as short as $1.50. But if he draws the second line and Cruz Bromac, who has good gate speed, draws to lead the market gap will close. Australia has ended up with three in the final as has Barry Purdon, whose training performance to get A G’s White Socks, On The Card and Mach Shard into the great race a stunning effort considering where they sat two weeks ago. Barry also has Marcoola through to the $150,000 trotting final where Mark could potentially have he favourite in Winterfell. The latter was outstanding trotting a national record for 2700m winning the later trotting heat last night and looks a happy horse, hitting the ground more squarely and racing more generously last night. The other trotting heat was won in professional style by Temporale, who used his gate speed to lead and control. The trotting final looks more open than the pacers, with up to seven winning chances and two Australians in the mix. The pre-barrier draw field for the $500,000 Inter Dominion pacing final on Saturday is.—- Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, A G’s White Socks, Chase Auckland, Thefixer, Mach Shard, Ashley Locaz, Sicario, San Carlo, Triple Eight, On The Cards, My Kiwi Mate. Em: Classie Brigade.   Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight    While their fellow countrymen and women are on the big stage at Alexandra Park for the Inter Dominions, half-a-dozen lesser known Australian drivers have made their way across the ditch for some trans-tasman competition as well. They’re here for the Australasian Young Drivers Championship, which kicks off at Addington tonight before moving to Methven on Sunday, Palmerston North Tuesday and Thursday, then Auckland on Friday. Travelling the furthest for the series is West Australia’s Corey Peterson who, at 19, is the youngest of the 12 drivers in the series. When told of his selection recently, he didn’t quite believe it. “My old boss, Kristian Hawkins loves playing jokes on me. “He was always ringing me pretending to be someone else so when I got the call, I thought it was him at first. “I hung up thinking it was a joke, but then the email arrived the next day and knew it was actually real.” It’s his first trip to New Zealand and he can’t wait to get amongst it. “Really, really excited to go away and represent my state. “The New Zealand style of racing is all new to me. I’ve heard some of the drivers talking about it but I don’t know a lot. “So, I actually spoke to Gary Hall Jnr about it and he went through a few of the different rules to do with pushing out and pushing down, just the basics.” He’s especially looking forward to driving on the grass at Methven on Sunday, which will be another first. “That’s going to be an experience and a half. I’ve heard it’s quite bumpy.” Peterson spent some time working for Hall Jnr and his father, Hall Snr, before joining Hawkins. “The best horse I’ve driven would be Ideal Liner of theirs. “I worked there for about 10 months. I just started off doing yards and that kind of thing, then started jogging them and them a full tie job opportunity came up. “At the time you don’t think you’re learning much from guys like that, but when you leave the place, you realise how much you actually did.“ A typical week for Peterson consists of “12 or 13 drives” at all tracks state-wide. “I’m at Northam at the moment and I drove two winners at Pinjarra last night which was a surprise, because it’s a track where I never have any luck.” “From my house it’s roughly an hour-and-a-half each way to all the tracks. I’m smack bang in the middle.” Peterson has drawn the Kevin Townley-trained mare, Chasing Great in tonight’s first heat, rated a $15-shot by bookies, At Methven on Sunday he has live chance Beau Major while he’s drawn Amaro, Jessie Kelly and Rake in typically even fields at Manawatu on Tuesday. The field: Sheree Tomlinson (defending champion), Sarah O’Reilly (NZ champion), Benjamin Butcher (North Island), John Morrison (South Island), Cameron Hart (New South Wales), Conor Crook (Tasmania), Brodie Webster (South Australia), Corey Peterson (Western Australia), Matthew Elkins (Queensland), Zac Phillips (Victoria). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Harness racing star Ultimate Sniper proved again how good he is by remaining unbeaten through the heats of this years Interdominion Championships at Alexandra Park. In fact how can they beat him in the final? Tonight, he again sat three wide on a hectic pace before powering home to win when most horses in his position would be going backward at the 600m. Driver Natalie Rasmussen was not worried when caught wide in midfield. "The race did not pan out like I thought it would," she said after the race. "But he is such a good horse. People do not realise how quick he is. He is tough and quick. "When the pace went on down the back I was not getting involved in that, but he can just sit out there doing it quite comfortable. "Then when I asked him to go in the straight he really just had another gear" All Stars stables grabbed the quinella when Chase Auckland ran a close second, with Aussie raider Colt Thirty One running a good race for third. The time for the 2700m Mobile was a slick 3-16.1 with a quick last 800m in 54.8 seconds.   Harnesslink Media

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North America every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound.   WA classic winner from strong NZ family   Sangue Reale, the upset winner of the $125,000 WA 4YO Classic – the first Group 1 of the season – is an Art Major gelding from Christisimo, a Christian Cullen mare from the noted Krina family.   It was his seventh success and pushed his stake earnings over the $140,000 mark. Christisimo, the dam of Sangue Reale, was a capable racemare winning 10 races including four at Gloucester Park, earning $48,618 and taking a mile record of 1:57.2.   Watch the Sangue Reale race click here.   At the stud she has left three winners from three foals of racing age – all inside 1:58 – including the multiple Group winner Miss Sangrial 1:55.7 ($199,714).   The next dam, Bellisimo, left eight individual winners, four of whom earned $100,000 headed up by the Queensland Derby winner Torbelo 1:56.1 ($147,360) and The Gammalite winner The Cavalier 1:56.8 ($248,434).   She is also the grand-dam of the top Western Australian pacers Ohokas Bondy 1:53.6 ($388,148) and Code Red 1:55.1 ($132,639), the Leonard Memorial winner Dancing Diamonds ($343,276), and the exported Mr Ricky 1:52.6 ($173,250).   Bellisimo, who was unraced, was by Smooth Fella from Krina Bella, by Lordship from the Van Dieman mare Bellajily, winner of the 1963 NZ Derby.   Others from this branch of the Krina tribe have been Be Happy Mach, the reigning Australian 2YO Colt of the Year, the dual NZ Sires Stakes champion Imagine That, Happy Hazel (NZ 3YO Filly of the Year), Heza Thrill (1:49.1), Keep It Up (SA Derby) and the NZ 2YO Filly of the Year Krina Bella, the fourth dam of Sangue Reale.     Interdom heat winner from good broodmare   Ultimate Sniper, a Bettor’s Delight four-year-old and a winner of both his Inter Dominion heats, is out of Reality Check, a fine racemare with a stake tally of $139,495, who is proving a champion broodmare.   Reality Check is also the dam of Ultimate Machete 1:51.9 ($823,896), a four-time Group 1 winner now standing at Alabar Stud, and his half-sister Major Reality 1:50.9 ($434,455), a classics winner in WA.   Reality Check is an Armbro Operative mare from Maureen’s Dream, by Lordship from Tuapeka Dream, by Lumber Dream from the Light Brigade mare Mains Lady.   This is the Bonnie Belle family which produced the inaugural Inter Dominion champion Logan Derby.   Ultimate Sniper winning his heat on night one.     Smart filly by Sweet Lou   A star three-year-old filly in Western Australia so far this season is My Sweet Deal, who was bred in New Zealand by Charles Roberts and is raced and trained by David Hunter. She won at her first five appearances this term and has won seven out of 10 lifetime.   A filly by Sweet Lou, My Sweet Deal is out of American Sweetheart, by American Ideal from the Il Vicolo mare Sweet Vicky, a daughter of Soky’s Sweetheart, the dam of former NZ 2YO of the Year Sweet Talking Man 1:57.2 ($244,479), the top Victorian pacer Wartime Sweetheart 1:54.5 ($284,936) and the NZ Group 2 winner Stylish Sweetheart ($157,409), who, in turn, left a top ranking pacer in Gomeo Romeo 1:53.2 ($340,193), winner of the Taylor Mile and Cambridge Futurity.   Stylish Sweetheart is also the grand-dam of the NSW Breeders Challenge and Blacks A Fake winner Let It Ride 1:49.4 ($378,745).       Circus Flyer is star matron   When the Bettor’s Delight four-year-old Flying Finn won the opening race at the Auckland Inter Dominion Championship carnival, he credited his dam Circus Flyer with her third winner this season.   Flying Finn has won four races to date and boasts a record of 1:54.8.   Others to win from Circus Flyer this season have been Raptors Flight (1:52.7), who won her first seven starts in Victoria, and the three-year-old Major Jellis (1:55.7), who is unbeaten in two outings this term.   Circus Flyer is a Falcon Seelster mare from Soleil D’or, by In The Pocket from Corbie, a daughter of the grand producer Black Watch.   Flying Finn winning the opening race at this years ID19     First win for Restrepo   Restrepo, a well performed Art Major horse from a half-sister to a top racemare in Innocent Eyes, and who is now standing at Goodtime Lodge in western Victoria, was recently represented by his first winner in the three-year-old gelding Urbadboy.   Having only his second start, the gelding overcame interference to win decisively. Restrepo has been only lightly used at the stud so far, and he has had very few runners.   Urbadboy is the first foal of his dam, Dulcies Dilemma (1:58.7), a Jet Laag mare from Dazzling Dulcie, by What’s Next from the Classic Garry mare Winger, whose produce includes the Bathurst Gold Chalice winner Northern Frontier 1:56.6 ($136,248).       Melton double for leading breeders   Prominent breeders Bill and Anne Anderson, of Lauriston Bloodstock, had a red-letter night at Melton last Saturday. The couple bred a winning double with the former Group 1 winner Hurricane Harley (Bettor’s Delight-Sugarland), who they also race, and Kasbah Kid (Art Major-Kabbalah Karen B).   The Anderson’s will be offering an Art Major half-brother to Hurricane Harley and a Bettor’s Delight half-sister to Kasbah Kid at the Melbourne APG sale in February.   Hurricane Harley                                                     Stuart McCormick photo     Former Kiwi star at stud in US   The Bettor’s Delight horse Bit Of A Legend 1:49.8h ($2,557,371) has been retired and will stand his first season at Midland Acres, Ohio next year for a fee of $2,500.   A half-mile track specialist, Bit Of A Legend won 53 races in four different countries – New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada – and took his record of 1:49.8 in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Eerie at Northfield Park, Ohio.   His other major successes in North America were the $609,000 George Morton Levy Memorial, $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial, $150,000 Molson Pace and the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial.   As a two and three-year-old he won 13 of his 24 starts including the Australasian Breeders Crown, the NZ Yearling Sale 2YO Open Pace and the Great Northern 3YO Stakes.   By Bettor’s Delight, Bit Of A Legend is out of the Soky’s Atom mare Soky’s Legend, and hails from a strong American family whose members include Nero and Seahawk Hanover, both Dan Patch Award winners for 3YO Colt of the Year.   Bit Of A Legend                                                                                 Georgia Panagi photo     Blue blooded filly   Shesskylah, who is unbeaten in two starts this season – she rated 1:55 over 1650 metres at Bendigo – is a three-year-old filly who can claim some worthwhile blood.   By Alta Christiano, by Christian Cullen from Right This Time, by Fake Left, she is out of the Classic Garry mare Yeronga Songbird, an outstanding racemare of the 1990’s whose successes included the NSW Oaks, Victoria Sires Stakes 2YO Final and Bathurst Gold Tiara.   Yeronga Songbird was 24 when she left Shesskylah, who is her 13 th foal and sixth winner. Alta Christiano, the sire of Shesskylah, had a record of 1:54.2 and was the winner of the WA Derby and NZ Kindergarten Stakes.     Promising sire’s absence a loss   The smart come-from-behind success of Hellofalass at the recent Menangle midweek meeting further demonstrated the loss of Breeders Crown winner All Speed Hanover to breeders.   With only a few representatives racing, he sired another Menangle winner in Make Haste (1:53.9), the SA Sale Graduate Pace winner Shardonant (1:59.8), The Tooth Fairy and last season’s Victorian three-year-old winners Just Speed, Speed Dating, What A Pleasure and Allvictory Hanover.   Hellofalass, a four-year-old mare and one of All Speed Hanover’s only crop, is out of the What’s Next mare Beulah Belle, whose dam Saraburi (by Classic Garry), was a half-sister to nine winners including the prolific WA cups winner Allwood’s Chief and the Victoria Sires Stakes 2YO champion Exhilarator.   Hellofalass was bred by Graham and Janine Taylor, who stood All Speed Hanover at their Stonegate Farm, Nathalia in northern Victoria.     Victorian pacers for America   The recent Melton winners Audi Hare NZ, Raptors Flight NZ and Yankee Roller have been sold and shipped to America. The trio were all members of David Aiken’ Avenel team.   Audi Hare                                                           Stuart McCormick photo            Audi Hare, a seven-year-old Mach Three gelding, won 11 races in Victoria including the Breeders Crown Open Pace and the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship and was placed in the 2018 Inter Dominion Consolation.   Raptors Flight, a six-year-old gelding by Bettor’s Delight, won at his first seven appearances on Australian soil, while Yankee Roller (by Rock N Roll Heaven) won 11 races including the Group 2 Vicbred Platinum Homegrown 3YO Classic.       First foals by Jilliby Kung Fu   The first foals of the Four Starzzz Shark horse Jilliby Kung Fu are starting to hit the ground and are really looking the part.   The multiple Group 1 winner has mixed racing with stud duties for the last two years and has 10 foals on the ground and has already served 20 mares this year.   “They are very correct and are natural pacers,” trainer Marg Lee said.   Jilliby Kung Fu won a trial impressively at Ballarat last month and is close to another racetrack campaign.   Jilliby Kung Fu                                                Stuart McCormick photo       by Peter Wharton

Young Sydney raider Rickie Alchin faces one of the toughest tests of his harness racing career on the big stage tonight but is confident his star trotter Tough Monarch can bounce back in Auckland. Eight-year-old Tough Monarch (Monarch USA-Tough Tussle NZ (Wrestle NZ) has drawn the pole position in the fifth qualifying heat of the NZ Inter Dominion Trotting Championship at Alexandra Park. "There's some pretty good form everywhere you look, but that's what you would expect competing in a race at the highest level," Alchin, 32, said. Alchin said Tough Monarch had recovered nicely from his last start fifth at the same track just three days ago. "He's actually come through extremely well from that outing-I'm really happy with him and looking ahead with a fair bit of excitement," Alchin said. Tough Monarch started off his Kiwi campaign in the best possible way last month with a win at Addington in the $100,000 Group One Trotting FFA when handled by NZ ex-pat Anthony Butt. They were also game as ever when second in the $300,000 Canterbury Dominion. But the classy Aussie gelding then performed way below his best in the first round of the Inter Dominion heats on November 29, leading up before dropping out and being beaten 30 metres by Winterfell. "That was a mystery, but we've now moved on. We were okay at our next run which was a fifth earlier this week and we didn't enjoy much luck," Alchin said. "He got a little inconvenienced by a galloping runner and was doing his best work over the concluding stages. I thought he stuck to his guns in trying to make ground from up the back." Alchin said tonight's longer trip of 2700 metres wouldn't faze his stable star at all. "He won a Group Three at Melton a few months ago and that was over much the same journey," he said. "We've come up with a lovely barrier draw with the one alley, so hopefully things work out for us and we make it through to the big final. I feel he's going as good as ever." In early markets, Tough Monarch is on the fourth line of betting at $8.80. The Barry Purdon trained Marcoola (twice runner-up in both of his heats) is around $2.50; with other Kiwis in Temporale (excellent win last start) at $3.10 and Habibi Inta (solid second on Tuesday) having support at $6. Tough Monarch (left) and his Australian buddy Big Jack Hammer stepping out for a workout at the Clevedon property of John and Joshua Dickie Tough Monarch has now had 59 starts for 21 wins and nine placings for $309,000. He is owned by a syndicate comprising Alex and Ryan Kay, Peter Gadsby, Charlie Montebello, Vincent McDonald and the estate of the late Michael Van Rens. The group has owned a number of great horses over the years, headed by superstar Smoken Up (74 wins, 54 placings $3.6M) and The Falcon Strike (41 wins, 17 placings $1.2M). They also raced Tough Tussle, dam of Tough Monarch, who won more than $100,000 and competed successfully from 2005 to 2008 at Harold Park, Globe Derby and Moonee Valley. The Alchin team is now stabled at the barn of John and Joshua Dickie at Clevedon, on the Wairoa River, 35 minutes from Auckland. Tough Monarch's heat is timed for 8.53pm (Auckland, NZ time) which is 6.53pm (Australian Eastern Daylight time).   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

By Jonny Turner    Trainer Paul Nairn is confident the scales have tipped the right way he as his balancing act of trying to peak Habibi Inta for the Interdominion trotting final continues in the third round of heats on Friday night. The master squaregaiting trainer clearly had Habibi Inta where he wanted him ahead of the 6yr-old’s brilliant seven and a half length demolition of his rivals in last month’s Dominion. That version of Habibi Inta has been noticeably absent during the first two heats of the Interdominions, where he has produced a sixth placing that had punters scratching on night one and a solid, but unspectacular second placing on night two. Nairn admitted the task of peaking Habibi Inta for his epic Dominion win and then managing his recovery for his Interdominion tilt has been a tricky balancing act. And the process of letting Habibi Inta recover from his Dominion bid and then travel to Auckland and prepare for the series had an effect when the horse produced his sixth on night one. “It is one of those ones where, sure when you first look at it you think he was a wee bit disappointing,” the trainer said.  “But when you analyse everything, with the run he got, it wasn’t too bad.” “Maybe he was just a shade below his best, but you can understand coming through cup week and a big preparation for that.” “Obviously I can’t have him 100% for every start, so all in all I was happy enough on the first night.” Peaking a horse for both the Interdominion and New Zealand Cup carnival is a tricky task many of New Zealand’s best trainers are facing. The balancing act of how extract the best out of their horses, while giving them down time appears to be a catch 22. “If you keep going and don’t back off and keep the work up to them and they go no good, you say you’ve been too hard on them,” Nairn said. “But, if you back off and freshen them up and they don’t go super, you say you’ve been to soft on them.” “So, all in all I have happy enough with that first night run, to be honest.” Two massive factors have changed since night one and they are set to let Habibi Inta’s fans see a version closer to his best on night three. Firstly, the horse has progressed well through his solid second behind Majestic Man on night two. And Nairn is expecting to see further improvement from the horse as he attempts to peak for the series final. “I was quite happy him on Tuesday night, obviously the winner was a bit too good for us, but my fella got to the line strongly.” “He got a soft run, but I think he has improved a bit from it.” The second and most crucial factor aiding Habibi Inta is his step back in to the same distance range in which he delivered his massive Dominion win. It is something both the trainer and his driver, Blair Orange, think will have big effect on his Interdominion momentum. “Blair - like myself - we both feel that the extra 1000m this Friday and next week will really suit.” Habibi Inta looks the horse that will most appreciate the step from 1700m on night two to 2700m on night three in heat one on Friday night. Massive Metro looks the trotter that will relish the distance increase the most in heat two on Friday. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained squaregaiter has produced credible placings over unsuitably short distances in the first two heats of the Interdominions. Those needing a reminder of Massive Metro’s staying prowess just need to cast their memories back to December of last year. In his most notable staying performance, Massive Metro beat series rivals Marcoola and Temporale at Alexandra Park in the group 1 National Trot. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Southland trainer Nathan Williamson will be out to continue his stable’s incredible form when he starts two runners at Forbury Park tonight. Williamson has made a brilliant start to the racing season, producing 10 wins and 11 placings from 31 starts from his barn. That strike rate is better than what the all-conquering All Stars stable have produced this term. Williamson was quick to deflect praise for his stunning stats and modestly puts the brilliant numbers down to the quality of his horses. “I am pretty happy with it – we have just got some nice horses,” he said. 4yr-old trotter Hawaiian Hula, who starts in race 8 at Forbury Park tonight, added one of Williamson’s 10 wins in her last start at Ascot Park. She steps out of maiden grade to race more competitive trotters, including recent Oamaru winner Da Moons Mission, in tonight’s 2700m contest for junior drivers. Williamson thinks this mare is capable of handling the move up in grade. “I think a wee bit of her, she is a pretty talented sort of mare.” “She has had a few niggles and she is hard to keep right, but I think she has got a bit of a future.” Williamson set a slow pace before letting Hawaiian Hula show off her speed when running to a five length victory in her second start. The trotter debuted at Forbury Park prior to that win, producing a solid, but unspectacular second placing behind Orlando Magic. Williamson said the mare will return to the track a better prospect tonight. “I just wasn’t that happy with her run at Forbury last time, even though she ran second. “But, she has really come on since then.” Tonight’s junior driver’s attempt could be a battle between trotters out to further reward their patient owners. Hawaiian Hula’s connections have had to wait until the middle stages of her 4yr-old term for their first win after the mare suffered setbacks at 2 and 3yrs-old. “I had her up and going as a 2yr-old and I was considering taking her to the Australasian Breeders Crown, but she kept growing and she lightened in her condition so I decided to turn her out,” Williamson said.  “She came back as a 3yr-old and trialled really nicely with Get Lucky and I was really happy with her.” “But she was a bit scratchy after that and she ended up getting bone chips taken out of her knees.” Stable junior driver Chelsea Faithful takes the reins behind Hawaiian Hula tonight as she attempts to continue make up for lost time with a second win. Westwood Beach trotter Da Moons Mission goes in to the race in a similar position. The owners of squaregaiter have also had to wait until the same stage of their 4yr-old’s season for him to step out and win. Da Moons Mission did it in style, with an impressive late closing win at Oamaru last weekend. Trainer Graeme Anderson told the Otago Daily Times after the winthat Da Moons Mission’s had the potential to owners reward his owners with more victories. Canterbury junior driver Mark Hurrell will be out to help him do that in tonight’s event. Hawaian Hula and Da Moons Mission look two of the biggest winning chances in race 8, but they do not have the race completely to themselves. Both Clyde and Lisa Marie P bring consistent form to the event. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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