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By Garrick Knight Handy Canterbury mare Uptown Lady has been sold to American interests. The daughter of Art Major left for Colts Neck, New Jersey, last Friday. Her former trainer, Mark Jones, says it was disappointing to lose a mare of her quality. “She has a good turn of speed, a great attitude and will love the hard racing over there. “I was sad to lose her but the lack of fillies and mares’ options here was a reason to sell. “And we lose a nice future broodmare, too.” Accompanying her across the Pacific was another four-year-old Art Major mare in Flashazz, a one-win daughter of former Harness Jewels winner, Pembrook’s Delight. Also on the flight was Global Domination, who ran fourth in last year’s New Zealand Derby behind Ultimate Sniper and had just resumed racing for the new season with a couple of inauspicious performances. He’ll join the stable of Peter Tritton, a prodigious buyer of New Zealand stock over many years. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Former Group 1 winning trotter Great Things Happen has had a minor setback. After a disappointing resumption in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington on October 4, Rangiora trainer Gavin Smith got the horse checked out. “It was the worst he’s ever gone – he just doesn’t do that,” Smith said of his 10-length defeat at the hands of Oscar Bonavena after doing no work in transit. “I thought something had to be drastically wrong. “So, we got him scoped and he was full of snot. His bloods were fine so it’s no wonder we couldn’t detect it beforehand.” With the horse requiring an easy time of it, his Dominion Trot preparation has been compromised and Smith now faces a race against time to get him fit enough for the November 15 feature. ___________________________________________________________________________________ An old friend is about to reunite with the dominant All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Cruz Bromac is due to return to their Rolleston stable next week for a second Spring stint in Christchurch. The New Zealand-bred pacer won last year’s New Zealand Free For All on Show Day after being slightly unlucky in the New Zealand Cup three days earlier. He then contested the Inter Dominions for Purdon and Rasmussen, going undefeated in the heats before running third behind Tiger Tara in the Final. He stayed in Australia through the winter and recently resumed for trainer Amanda Grieve, running third in Saturday night’s Victoria Cup. Purdon confirmed the $12 fifth favourite for the New Zealand Cup was due in the next 10 days when speaking on Radio Trackside on Monday. “He’s going to join us; we’re making arrangements this week to fly him over so hopefully they’ll have him on the way by next Sunday. “It was an eye-catching run in the Victoria Cup; he made up good ground for third. “I’ve spoken to Dean Braun and he’s been very, very happy with his preparation and how he is.” Cruz Bromac is also nominated for December’s Inter Dominion Series in Auckland. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

With harness racing entries due next week and three Standardbred auctions under their belt,’s September sale saw new ground broken with the top price fetched being $25,000 for the well-presented Miss Fiona. The Captaintreacherous filly was sold in work with her listing page boasting decent side-on and front-on shots with the added bonus of quality video footage of her having a run along at the Winton track. To date other notable sales on the site include $16,000 for the well-bred two-year-old daughter of Majestic Son, Maggie May in the first sale in July, $12,000 for the empty racing or breeding proposition Ballroom Beauty and $8,000 for the empty, maiden mare Carpen Dior. A standard entry fee is just $125 + GST with 5% commission applying if a successful sale eventuates. Entries for the October Standardbred auction are due online by 7pm Wednesday 23 October with the catalogue launched at 5pm Thursday 24 October and bidding closing from 7pm Wednesday 30 October. Contact Standardbred representative Cam Bray should you wish to discuss using the site via +64 21 737 199 or email  

The latest Rankings for the IRT Inter Dominion are now available from here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner       Australian trotter McLovin will have his own southern support crew when his Dunedin breeders, Daryl and Anne Trainor, are on hand for his New Zealand Cup carnival tilt. The Andy Gath-trained 7yr-old showed he was on track for a raid on his former homeland when producing an astounding performance to win in the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint at Melton on Saturday. McLovin looked at long odds to win when off the bit at the 500m after racing three wide for much of the 1720m feature, but the Otago-bred rallied bravely in the straight The Trainors admitted they did not have high hopes during the race after McLovin faced such a big task to win. ''We always called him Big Mac, because he was a big horse and I said 'Big Mac is going to sleep well tonight','' Darryl Trainor said. ''But, he kept going and we cheered him all the way down the straight - we probably woke the neighbours up.'' The Trainors will be track side to watch McLovin in Christchurch, so their cheers will not be wasted on their neighbours again. McLovin has thrived since arriving in Gath's stable after the horse was sold to major owner Norm Jenkin, out of the Canterbury stable of Ray Jenkins. The Trainors sold the trotter to Jenkins' clients when he was an unqualified 3yr-old. McLovin is from the Trainors' four-win former racemare Winfield Invasion. The squaregaiter may have been able to reach the group 1 heights her son has if her career had not been limited to just 11 starts by injury. ''She was in Brent Lilly's stable and he had [Interdominion winner] Game Bid at the time,'' Trainor said. ''He did not rate our mare any inferior to him. She had a motor, but she was unsound.” “Three out of her four legs had issues.” Winfield Invasion has thrived since her retirement. ''She is 21 now, but she runs around the paddock like a 2yr-old,'' Trainor said. ''She looks a picture.'' McLovin is the third of the Armbro Invasion mare's seven foals. Her first foal by Monarchy showed huge promise before she died unexpectedly. A subsequent foal by Skyvalley showed limited ability before retiring to the broodmare paddock. The Trainors won once race in New Zealand with her fourth foal, Say Your Pres. She has won four more races in Sydney with the couple's son, Jack, in the sulky. Former two-win Otago trotter, Havehorsewilltravel, who recently joined Brent Mangos' stable, is Winfield Invasion's fifth foal. The Trainors have a sixth foal from the mare – a 3yr-old by Angus Hall, who is shaping up nicely for trainer Mark Jones. Jones drove Winfield Invasion in three of her wins and had an association with almost all of her foals. “We have a great association with Mark and he has been really good to us.” “He has been really happy with the way the Angus Hall filly has been coming along.” The Trainors, who plan to mate the mare with Majestic Son this season, also have a 2yr-old filly from Winfield Invasion. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Star Galleria’s New Zealand Cup dream is still alive — if trainer Steven Reid actually wants it to be. Arguably the north’s fastest pacer looked in danger of missing the Cup last week when he has diagnosed with suspected suspensory damage, which would have been nearly impossible to overcome with the Cup now less than four weeks away. But to Reid’s delight his stable star scanned clear of any damage on both Thursday and Friday and is clear to race at Alexandra Park next week. But with the Auckland Inter Dominions a tasty second early summer carrot for the open class pacers, Reid says even if Star Galleria returns to his best he is not certain to head to Addington. “Sure, everybody wants to start in the Cup but there is no point going unless you give yourself a real show,” says Reid. "So he will need to go really well next week to be heading to Addington. “And by that I mean if he even won next week but I wasn’t thrilled with him he might stay home. “Things are different this season with the Inter Dominions up here. It gives us a whole other target we don’t usually have. “So we will race him next week and then make a decision around Addington.” The lure of a home town Inter Dominion will keep another northern group one winner away from the Cup carnival with National Trot winner Massive Metro withdrawn from the Dominion. Trainer Michelle Wallis says her stable star has struggled with a hoof abscess and would have needed to be racing consistently by now to be honed down for the 3200m of the Dominion. “So we have pulled him out of that and while we would liked to have gone there it is not as bad knowing we have the Inters at home later that month,” says Wallis. “And even after the Inters after are done we have races like the National Trot and the good Australian races like the Great Southern Star so he has plenty of options.” One of the potential stars of the Alexandra Park Inter Doiminions makes a surprise return at Addington on Friday night when Self Assured steps out against the big boys. The four-year-old is unbeaten in six starts and was so impressive during his Queensland winter campaign that culminated in him winning their Derby he is the $4.50 second favourite for the Inter Dominion. He was originally not set to resume for another few weeks but this Friday’s handicap pace was added by Addington at the request of trainers and now Self Assured finds himself up against Miracle Mile-winning stablemate Spankem but with a 30m start on Friday, If he remains unbeaten the open class pecking order and some major race markets could need reviewing.   By Michael Guerin

All Stars has had to give up the unequal battle for race fitness for super talent Luby Lou who is now off to Breckon Farms to produce more in her own image  It is bad luck for the Breckons as Luby Lou only had five starts and won four of them two at Group Level including the Group One New Zealand Trotting Derby beating Winterfell, Majestic Man and Sundee’s Son among others. She won that by three and a half lengths with five and a half lengths back to the third placegetter Majestic Man in a superlative performance. The Muscle Hill filly has suffered from knee problems and has had a long and patient buildup. Mark was intially hopeful she had pulled up sound from her workout last week but she again gave cause for concern and as a Group One winner in such rich company offers more at stud now than on the track. “It was her knees when she was put aside but she pulled up lame behind on Monday."   Courtesy of All Stars Racin Stables

Welcome to the Harness Half Hour Podcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing and Airpark Canterbury. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. On this week’s podcast we interview retiring freeze brander, John Boyd, following his recent award for 50 years’ service to the harness racing industry. We’re also joined by trainer James Stormont, who on Friday night trained his 200th winner in Sunny Petite. Bruce Stewart chats to us about the upcoming Riverton Trotting Club meeting, and the brand new Southern Harness website, which includes exclusive punting information! Plus Bookmaker Richard Wilson is back with another Bookie Update.   Jess Smith

Story courtesy of Mark Jones Harness Racing. Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones was saddened by the passing of former Balcairn trainer Maurice Bailey at Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, recently. Maurice, who died aged 87, was a great supporter of Mark in his early junior driving day. The North Canterbury trainer enjoyed a top strike rate with a small team until retiring from training in 2000. He was instrumental in lifting Mark’s profile in his first year as a junior driver, putting him on a big mover in the trot ranks in Andrew Eyre. Just two months after Mark scored his first career win with Lord Phantom, trained by his father Peter, at Blenheim in November 1996, Mark was winning with Andrew Eyre at Nelson in January 1997. Andrew Eyre, who had won his Motukarara maiden with Peter Jones driving him in January 1996, came of age in 1997. After winning for Mark at Nelson, he’d won seven on end by March 29, with Mark steering him home in six of them, and Karen O’Connor saluting in another junior event. Mark went on to win a Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup in October 1998 with Andrew Eyre for Maurice, and another two Addington wins. Peter Jones trained the horse later in 1999, with Mark driving him to win the South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura and run a Group One third to Lyell Creek and Sundowner Bay in the 1999 Dominion. Mark also drove Andrew Eyre in the last of the horse’s 14 wins (from 55 starts) at Addington in December 1999. “I will never forget how good Maurice was to me and without fail, there was a $200 cash sling after every win,” Mark said.  “I’ve always said I would never be where I am today without Maurice.”  Mark says drivng Andrew Eyre put him on the map. Also in May 1997, Maurice gave him drives on Sandtross, winning first-up in May. Mark scored six pacing wins between May and August, 1997, with the then in-form Macatross gelding. By 2003, Mark had become a World Driving Champion. “I’ve also been friends with Maurice’s two sons, Anthony and Phil, ever since driving for him,” Mark said. “We’ve had great nights since, as they owned night clubs. When I was  17 and winning races for Maurice, it made it easy for me to get in.” “He was an amazing trainer. He never used a stop-watch. His horses were always great-mannered and had a top strike rate.”   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The big news this week for New Zealand and Australian harness racing fans is that Dexter Dunn is on fire as a driver in North America. Ths week he ventured to Woodbine Mohawk Raceway in Canada for the Ontario Sire Stakes Super Finals worth $225,000 each. Dexter Dunn started in seven of the eight $225,000 Super Finals winning three of them and placing a third and a fourth also.. He also started in the Preferred but was unplaced in that race. New Zealand born now American based trainer Nifty Norman and Dexter Dunn were successful with Haveoneforme in the first of the $225,000 Super Finals. The 3yo trotting daughter of Kadabra gapped rivals to win in a time of 1:55.4. Haveoneforme and Dexter Dunn In the two-year-old trotting fillies Super Final Dexter Dunn drove She Rocks Kemp a daughter of Kadabra to a fast finishing third from post 10. Then it was onto the two-year-old pacing colts when Dexter Dunn drove the smart He's Watching colt Tattoo Artist to an easy victory in 1:52. Tattoo Artist and Dexter Dunn Dexter Dunn's third winner in the Super Finals was perhaps his most impressive drive. He drove the Ake Svanstedt trained two-year-old E L Titan colt Moon Bridge parked out from the half to pass the leader by a head in a sterling finish. Moon Bridge and Dexter Dunn These wins take Dunns 2019 total to 324 victories with over $9.1 million in Stake Earnings. Trainer Nifty Norman has won 99 races so far in 2019 and earned over $3 million in prize money. Down Under mare Shecandance N impressive in North American career so far. Shecandance won her third North American race on Monday at Yonkers Raceway. She paced the winning mile in a time of 1:55.1 around the half mile track for trainer Jose Godinez and driver Jason Bartlett. Her impressive North American form line sits at three wins and three seconds for six starts. While starting her racing career in New Zealand the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance placed on ten occasions winning two of them. Saying Grace N scores back to back victory’s in sizzling times. Down Under bred and formerly raced gelding Saying Grace wins at Harrahs Hoosier Park for trainer Jeff Cullipher and driver Sam Widger in the $20,000 Open Pace in a time of 1:49.2. It was back to back victory’s for the son of American Ideal who won the week prior in an impressive mile time of 1:48.4. Scoring back to back sub 1:50 mile rates, a great effort from the 6yo. While racing in New Zealand and Australia, Saying Grace was the winner of 13 races and just short of $160,000 in prize money. New Zealand’s fastest ever miler still on winning ways in North America. Former Down Under pacer Border Control wins at Pocono on Sunday. The 10yo gelding was sul in a time of 1:52.3 for trainer and driver Tom Jackson. The son of Bettors Delight still holds New Zealand's record for the fastest ever mile paced. The record mile of 1:50.6 was paced in the 3yo Colts and Geldings Harness Jewels Emerald at Ashburton Raceway in 2013. Border Control was the winner of 18 races and earned over $550,000 in prize money while racing Down Under. Some of his biggest wins including the New Zealand Derby and the Harness Jewels. His North American record is 103 strats for 15 wins, 16 seconds and 16 thirds for $247,237 to date. Monday 7th October   Harrington Raceway DE Sporty Spook A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $8,500 Gotta Minute N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $11,000 Tuapeka Trick N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $12,500   Monticello Raceway NY Ginger Spice N – Time: 1:58.0, Stake: $3,300   Northfield Park OH He Can Fly N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $10,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Shecandance N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $16,000 Pacing Major N – Time: 2:01.2, (1 1/16 Miles)  Stake: $20,000 What’s In The Sky A – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $16,000   Tuesday 8tt October   Harrington Raceway DE Sprinter N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $6,000   Monticello Raceway NY Feel The Need A – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $6,300   The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono PA The Charging Moa N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $11,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Americanbootscoota A – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $13,500 Soho Leviathan A – Time: 1:55.4, Stake: $12,500 Solid Asa Rock A – Time: 2:02.1 (1 1/16 Miles) , Stake: $14,500   Wednesday 9th October   Batavia Downs NY Media Queen N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $11,000   Rosecroft Raceway MD Jive Dancing A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $8,000   Thursday 10th October   Monticello Raceway NY Mercurio N – Time: 2:00.0, Stake: $2,500   Plainridge Park MA Massive Attack A – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $4,500   Saratoga Harness NY Coveredndiamonds N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $6,000 Mccovey Cove N – Time: 1:56.4, Stake: $4,500 Sea Change N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $6,400   Yonkers Raceway NY Northern Assassin A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $12,500   Friday 11th October   Batavia Downs NY Our Els Dream N – Time: 1:57.3, Stake: $3,300   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Gold Orchid N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $14,500   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Threeofthebest A – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $10,000 Shards Halo N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $16,000   Woodbine Mohawk Park CA Better Be Donna N – Time: 1:51.0, Stake: $22,000   Saturday 12th October   Batavia Downs NY Mr Euroman N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $12,500   Freehold Raceway NJ Sir Ritchie N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $5,000 Bobjacks Angle A – Time: 1:58.1, Stake: $4,200   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Eliza Dushku N – Time: 1:52:0, Stake: $10,000 Saying Grace N – Time: 1:49:2, Stake: $20,000   Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway OH Return To Sender N – Time: 1:54.4, Stake: $6,500   Saratoga Harness NY Lord Willoughby A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $18,000   The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Texas Terror N – Time: 1:50.3, Stake: $11,000 Motown N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $12,500 Louis Alberto N – Time: 1:50.1, Stake: $17,500 Somewhereinbrooklyn N – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $14,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Runrunjimmydunn N – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $22,000 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Christen Me N, 3rd Black Chevron N Glenferrie Blade A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $27,000     Sunday 13th October Harrah’s Philadelphia PA American Boy N – Time: 1:50.2, Stake: $18,000 Wick N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $8,500 Myidealson N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $7,000   The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Border Control A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $8,500   Carter Dalgety

Despite some quality Cup and Dominion lead-up harness racing being staged in NZ last weekend the big move in both sets of Rankings came in Australia. McLovin's win in the Bill Collins Sprint at Melton (Group 1) has seen him lock in his Dominion place by leaping from the fringe (#15) to fourth in the Rankings. The brave win against fellow Dominion nominee, Tough Monarch, and other leading Australian trotters really threw down a marker as one of the Premier trotting performances of the season to date. The make-up of the Dominion rankings has changed with several defections as well. Leading contenders Massive Metro, Kyvalley Blur and Harriet Of Mot have all had the pin pulled on their Dominion campaigns. There are now 34 left in the running for the 2019 Airpark Canterbury Dominion, with key races at Ashburton and Kaikoura yet to come. Across in the NZ Cup rankings there wasn't a whole lot of change but withdrawals have changed the look of the top 15. The withdrawal of Aussies Buster Brady, Ellmers Image and Sicario has paved the way for local up-and-comers to press their claims for a Cup start in the coming weeks. One such horse that enjoyed a significant bump is Smokin By. His third in the Methven Cup has moved him up to 16th. Gran Chico who was close-up in fourth at Methven sits in the field now, at 14th. Following his second in Holmes DG, Mach Shard now sits comfortably within the top 15, in 12th. The Devils Own who wasn't far behind Mach Shard in third has edged closer to the top 15. He now sits 19th. 24 horses remain in contention for the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup. View the full rankings click here. Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

TAKE a look at San Carlo’s mighty Victoria Cup run if you’re pondering a punt on the New Zealand Cup. The results shows he ran fourth, but it was the run of the race and showed the late-maturing veteran was in career-best form headed towards the NZ Cup and Auckland Inter Dominion. San Carlo, just second-up from a spell, sat parked, poured the pressure on leader Cash N Flow in record-smashing times and still fought-on for fourth – just 8.3m from winner Bling It On. He was the ONLY horse to finish in the top seven, who raced away from the marker pegs. And that’s after doing more work than anything else in a 1min51.5sec mile rate for 2240m, which took a full second of Lazarus’ record in the 2017 Victoria Cup. Watch the video click here! “It was always going to be hard from the draw and it turned out how we pretty much expected, but he ran so well. He did us proud,” co-trainer Steve O’Donoghue said. “We think he’s better than ever and his two runs this time in point to that as well. “He sort of surprised us doing all that work and still digging in to win first-up in the Kilmore Cup, then he was so brave the other night. The shorter 2240m and drawing wide was always going to be a really big ask.” San Carlo might be a nine-year-old, but he was such a slow-maturer he didn’t have his first start until a late four-year-old. O’Donoghue now firmly has his sights set on the second Tuesday in November at Addington, then heading on to Auckland. “The Inter Dominion was always a target, but when he came back so well, and he stepped away well at home when we tried him from stand-starts, we decided to give the NZ Cup a go as well,” O’Donoghue said. “By the time we decided, the noms had closed, but we were happy to pay a late fee to be part of it. “If he steps well the 3200m will really suit him as will the big track.” San Carlo is booked to fly across November 5. “He’ll then head to Auckland when all the horses go up from Christchurch after Cup Week,” O’Donoghue said. “Being part of one Inter Dominion is amazing, but to take this horse to three consecutive Inter Dominions is special. And we think this is the best we’ve had him.” The buzz goes to another level for O’Donoghue to share the experience close friend and training partner Bec Bartley. “This horse has helped make Bec and they get along so well. He’s given her some great opportunities and she’s made the most of them,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

The resurrection of Lazarus, now as a sire, continues unabated. Club Menangle and Yirribee Stud have confirmed that Lazarus foals born in New Zealand will have an entry entitlement into the prestigious NSW Breeders Challenge. Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) has been of tremendous support in developing a process whereby NZ breeders will be able to nominate their Lazarus foals to HRNSW for the rich NSW Breeders Challenge. This will provide Lazarus foals with an additional entry point into a futurity scheme. The only requirement will be the payment of the entry and sustaining fees, as per Australian breeders. Any dual registered Lazarus foal will have access to any NZ futurity schemes as well as the lucrative NSW Breeders Challenge Series - provided entry and sustaining fees are paid. The NSW Challenge provides an enticing suite of races for qualified horses. Starting with two-year old horses right through to their five-year old season. The NSW Challenge includes: A Group 1 two-year old series (fillies/colts & geldings) - $125,000 each division A Group 1 three-year old series (fillies/colts & geldings) - $150,000 each division A Group 1 four-year-old series (mares/colts & geldings) - $100,000 each division A Group 1 five-year old series (mares/colts & geldings) - $100,000 each division New Zealand breeders will need to give a lot of thought to choosing Lazarus as a potential sire for their mares. Breeders selling Lazarus yearlings will make their foals even more attractive to Australian breeders. Buyers at Yearling Sales will also know that their purchase has a residual value if sold into the Australian market at a later date. Obviously, a similar potential result for horses retained by their breeders and offered later into the Australian market. Yirribee Stud Principal, Rod Woodhouse said “Lazarus is a true gentleman and we are delighted to stand him in the Southern Hemisphere in partnership with Club Menangle”. Alex Smith Club Menangle Here is a video of Lazarus in his first North American start (Qualifing) in 1:48.3 beating Lather Up, the equal fastest horse in the World at 1:46. Here below is a video of Lazarus beating the best in North America in his first official start in the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes. Lazarus started from the extreme outside post 9 and took 600 meters to get the front making the first quarter in 26.2. The 2018 North American "Horse of the Year" McWicked (Now with over $5 million in earnings from 108 starts) had an easy trip third over and got up for third.  

By Jonny Turner All Stars pacer Chase Auckland showed off his staying prowess and got his New Zealand Cup preparation back on track with a tough win in the Methven Cup on Sunday. Sitting parked on a rain affected track proved no obstacle for the 5yr-old, who wore down his stablemate Ashley Locaz to win the 3000m feature for driver Tim Williams. Chase Auckland’s winning time showed off just how testing the Methven track was and what a big staying motor he possesses. The Auckland Reactor gelding produced the slowest winning Methven Cup time in the past decade when he stopped the clock at 4:01.8. That time is more than 10sec slower than Cruz Bromac’s 3:51.3 effort, last year. The most impressive part of Chase Auckland’s staying effort for Williams came when the horse reeled off a 28.7sec last 400m and felt strong to the line on the slow rated track. “I think it showed today that he has got a bit of toughness about him when he is in the zone,” he said.  “To run home in good time for the last 400m on that track, after sitting parked, was a pretty big effort.” Chase Auckland looked a seasoned open class pacer with his nearly perfect Methven Cup display, after looking like a freshman floundering in the deep end in his last two starts. The former star 3yr-old’s New Zealand Cup hopes took a dive after he botched the start and then dropped out of the Canterbury Classic, after producing an eye-catching effort marred by another poor start in the Hannon Memorial. Stepping cleanly and pacing fluently during his win meant Chase Auckland not only boosted his stocks with harness racings fans, he bought some relief to the All Stars camp.  “He needed to do that – I think it has been a mental thing for him at the start,” Williams said. “So hopefully, he takes a real good bit of confidence from it so when he has to do it again he can get it right again.” “I think being off the 20m and not having to stand there was a different kettle of fish compared to what he had had the last couple of starts.” “It was good that he could do it today, because if he couldn’t do it off 20m it would be back to the drawing board.” Several of the beaten runners produced excellent efforts after giving away a race fitness edge to Chase Auckland, who went in to the Methven Cup with more spring starts than any of his rivals. Ashley Locaz showed he was a genuine New Zealand Cup hope by producing a fighting second in his second spring start. Smokin By produced a big effort in his first run of the season to nail Gran Chico on the line for third. Thefixer showed his New Zealand Cup defence was on target when he finished less than two lengths from Chase Auckland in fifth place.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

New Macca Lodge trotting stallion En Solitaire will have millionaire trotter One Over Kenny as one of the broodmares on his serving list this spring. One Over Kenny, the winner of thirty two races and $1,098,007.00 is owned by Lex and Heather Williams. “Lex inspected him and liked what he saw,” said Macca Lodge’s Brent McIntyre. One Over Kenny won two Group One Rowe Cups, the National Trot and New Zealand Trotting Championship twice, and she won six races in Australia including the Group One 2007 Australasian Trotters Championship. As a broodmare, all of her six foals of racing age have won races, including One Over Da Moon (22), Ultimate Stride (6), One Over Da Stars (5) and One Over Da Skye (5). En Solitaire is the first of super sire Ready Cash’s male offspring to be available to New Zealand breeders. He’s out of the Love You mare Ushuaia Wood and is bred on the same cross as super star trotters Bold Eagle and Face Time Bourbon. Bold Eagle has won forty five of his sixty six starts and his wins include twenty Group One victories. He’s won 4.6 million euros. Face Time Bourbon is the winner of fifteen of his seventeen starts and has banked 652,150 euros. Bold Eagle will make his North American debut in the 2019 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park later this month. En Solitaire will stand on farm for $1,500 + GST. “He’s a real nice type – a beautiful horse” said McIntyre. McIntyre is also excited about having semen available at Macca Lodge for Dragon Again stallion Fear The Dragon. He won five of his eleven starts as a two year old, pacing 1-50.4. He came into his own as a three year old and raced against an outstanding crop including Downbytheseaside. His biggest win at three was in the $1 million North American Cup in which he defeated Downbytheseaside and Huntsville and pacing his life time record of 1-48.8. He ended his career with seventeen wins from twenty seven starts and banked $1.5 million. “When I was over in America I went to see the guy that owns him and saw the horse’s foals. His stock are outstanding.” The young sire has received tremendous support in Ohio, with 140 mares booked in each of his first two seasons. His first Australian foals are due to be born this spring. “He was a very very good horse and he’s got all the credentials to be a good stallion. He’s the best credentialed stallion we’ve ever had here. We’ve got thirty five mares booked and hopefully we’ll get fifty.” Fear The Dragon will stand for $4,500 + GST on a positive test or $6,000 + GST on a live foal.   Bruce Stewart

 Don’t expect the best version of Thefixer to be on show for his comeback race in the Methven Cup on Sunday. Because while the conditions of the race look perfect for the defending New Zealand Cup champion, the horse himself is still very much on the way up.  Thefixer hasn’t raced since the middle of April and his Cup defence has started later than his key rivals because of annoying hoof issues.  They have improved after spending much of the last two weeks with beach trainer Regan Todd but while he is on the up winning a grass track 3000m race off a 30m handicap in your first start in six months is anything but easy.  “I am not saying he can’t win but he will definitely improve with the run,” says trainer Mark Purdon.  “His hooves seem better now than they have been for a while. After he works at the beach he then cools down in the salt water, which also helped his hooves.  “But these races are still hard to win fresh up so I’d narrowly rate Ashley Locaz as our best chance with Thefixer and Chase Auckland equal next.” Chase Auckland was a dramatic failure at Addington last start but worked well yesterday morning and could be the best bet in the race even though a hard 3000m might be outside his sweet spot. Meanwhile, Purdon is hoping moves by fellow trainers to get an open class race added to Addington next Friday comes off so he can get an extra race into New Zealand Cup favourite Spankem.  The stable’s trotting sensation Oscar Bonavena is also likely to race next Friday but Purdon is non-committal as to whether the four-year-old will contest both the NZ Free-For-All and Dominion during NZ Cup week and rates the Auckland Inter Dominions as 50-50 at this stage, important as Oscar Bonavena is favourite for all three races.   Michael Guerin

By Matt Markham You won't find too many trainers using a $30,000 Group Three feature as a yardstick to get a line on exactly where their horse is at but that's the situation Nigel McGrath has found himself in heading into tomorrow's Methven Cup. McGrath, who is never shy of a having a good horse or two in his barn, thinks he might potentially have a very good in one in up and coming pacer, Gran Chico - but the only way to know if you're actually going to be capable beating in the best is to find out against the best. So that's what he's doing. Having just his 13th race day appearance, Gran Chico will tomorrow take a step into the abyss tomorrow when he tackles the Methven feature up against Group One winners including defending New Zealand Trotting Cup champion, Thefixer. "We're going to find out pretty quickly," McGrath said yesterday. "I think I know how good he is, but until you get into those types of races up against those really good horses you just don't know. "I've gone into races before thinking I'm unbeatable and gone home with my tail between my legs. A winner fresh up in stunning fashion last week at Addington, Gran Chico - to be fair, has always looked above average and his run for second behind Jesse Duke on Harness Jewels day earlier this year was one of the performances of the season. But Methven is a whole new ball game. It's a grass track, it's a stand start and it's a new challenge. "I'm not worried about to be honest, we took him out to Motukarara today (Friday) and gave him a bowl around behind a galloping pacemaker and he was perfect. "He's a pretty sensible sort of horse, just a big lump of a dude, but the stand shouldn't worry him too much." The cause is helped significantly by the fact that Blair Orange will be doing the steering. New Zealand's leading reinsman, Orange is driving as good as ever currently and gives all his drives an extra edge when they step onto the track. Safely through tomorrow's assignment, McGrath is plotting a path to the second Tuesday in November and the New Zealand Trotting Cup. But there's a bit of water to go under the bridge still if he is to take his part. "I'm going to leave him in the mix, we'll go this weekend and then he can most likely head to Ashburton for the Flying Stakes. "As long as he doesn't get left behind there (Ashburton) then we'll press forward to the Cup I think. If things don't go well then we might look at turning the attention to next year, but I'm reasonably confident he'll be competitive." While Gran Chico offers up the unknown quantity of the Methven Cup field for tomorrow, there's some pretty well-knowns set to take their place too. Thefixer is joined by stable mates, Chase Auckland and Ashley Locaz giving the All Stars stable a really strong chance of winning their seventh edition of the race in the past 10 years. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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