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John Dunn on way to season’s best Two decades after his first season, John Dunn is poised for his most successful season yet. He reined home winner number 100 for the season with the Gavin Burgess-trained Rocknsnap at Banks Peninsula on Monday. It’s the fourth time he’s hit three figures in one season and he now looks set to eclipse his previous best of 109 in 2016. He’s had 1265 wins altogether since his first, Scotlynn Jag at Franklin in 2001. “I’m not going too bad,” Dunn said post race, adding his best victory was probably Sundees Son’s win the Dominion.   Dexter also shows winning ways John Dunn’s brother Dexter also had a good weekend, with a hat-trick of wins in races 10,11 and 12 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. As of the weekend he had 111 wins for the year to have him eighth overall with the fourth highest stakes total of $1,155,908 ($NZ 1,640m).   Dibaba goes 7 in a row A change of scene has very literally produced a massive change in fortune for Dibaba and her Australian-based Kiwi trainer Jack Trainor. Last season the mare went 51 races without winning but after a move from Western Australia to a much kinder handicapping system in New South Wales she has now gone seven from seven. At the weekend she won at Penrith paying $1.04. The horse should not be confused for the former Chmiel-trained pacer who won seven from 26 here before being sold to North America.   Dan Patch on canvas What is being billed as a rare painting of one of harness racing’s great champions is being offered up for auction in the USA. It’s by noted artist Gean Smith and it depicts the champion horse of the early 1900s Dan Patch winning at Readville Trotting Park in Massachusetts. Dan Patch was the sport’s undoubted superstar at the time, remarkably winning all 73 races he contested. The painting will go under the hammer in Arizona this weekend, with the top bid currently at $US1250.   Club News - Methven The Methven Club is gearing up for its penultimate meeting of the year on Sunday April 11 at the picturesque Mt. Harding racecourse. It will be a mainly low key meeting with the highlight being the Woodlands Mt.Hutt Cup run over 3,000m for the developing staying types. The theme of the day will be club members, with all members invited to the Goodwin Lounge for a day of light refreshments, a few giveaways and a chance to reminisce about days of old. At this stage it is hoped all life members and past presidents will be present and available for a chat. Included is one gentleman talented enough to drive in a race against legendary reinsman Peter Wolfenden,run in a race against New Zealand’s best ever runner Peter Snell and play provincial rugby against New Zealand’s most famous footballer Colin Meads. Anyone wishing to come who is not a member simply needs to duck into the secretary’s office fill in a form and pay $15 to join the club and thus eligible to enter the Goodwin Lounge on the day. See you Sunday at Mt. Harding at 12 noon where remember the sun always shines - Mike Heenan for Methven Trotting Club.   Harness Racing New Zealand

Magness Benrow - Heats 2 & 3 In the two-year-old Magness Benrow Fillies Sires’ Stakes second heat at Auckland on March 26 it was an Always B Miki quinella, the first wins by his progeny in this country. Montana Glory won from Miki Montana, with both horses trained by Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan. True Fantasy has improved on her second on debut to book a place in this month’s Magness Benrow 2YO Fillies Sires Stakes’ Series final.  It was a Hayden Cullen-trained trifecta, with the Bettor’s Delight filly beating Suntan and A Bettor You in Saturday’s third heat at Addington.   A Bettor You had already secured a place in the final by beating True Fantasy at Addington on March 24.    The pair join Play Philly and Montana Glory as the four horses that have now qualified for the final at Alexandra Park on Friday April 30.  NZ Sires Stakes Series 'Road to the Final' update: Magness Benrow 2YO Fillies Series 38 Nevele R Fillies Series - Heat 4 Lifes A Beach’s big upset win has booked her a place in the Nevele R Fillies Series Final at Addington in May. The Tony Barron-trained Bettor’s Delight filly made it win number two from 13 starts when she downed hotpot Bettor Twist in the fourth heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series over 1980 metres at Addington last Friday night (March 26). Lifes A Beach paid $62.40. The win confirms her a start in the final at Addington on May 14, along with fellow heat winners Darling Me, Braeview Kelly, and Better’s Tart. NZ Sires Stakes Series 'Road to the Final' update: Nevele R Fillies Series 43 Garrard's Horse and Hound 2YO C & G Series - Heat 1 & SSQ2 Franco Mac is through to the Garrard’s two-year-old Colts and Geldings Sires’ Stakes final on May 21. Driven by Natalie Rasmussen Franco Mac won the first heat at Addington on March 24 in his raceday debut, from Hayden Cullen trained stable-mate and favourite Cosmic Major. Series favourite Akuta automatically made the final also with his win in the Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham.  Akuta had been heavily favoured to win on debut after trialing well in Canterbury and is the third to make the final along with Montana DJ and Franco Mac.     NZ Sires Stakes Series 'Road to the Final' update: Garrard's Horse and Hound Series 38   NZ Sires Stakes

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    It’s two months to the day till the IRT Harness Jewels at Cambridge.  After every race meeting the leaderboard for each category is being updated to work out who’s in and who’s not.  The nine Group Ones, each with a stake of $100,000, will be held on Sunday June 6. This week Enjoy Me, who was second in the 3YO Diamond behind runaway leader Bettor Twist, has been withdrawn.    The leaders of each category will be easily seen on race day with their drivers donning the Harness Jewels yellow silks. Unbeaten two-year-old trotter Highgrove was a winner in yellow at Addington on Saturday. It was his third in as many starts for Robert and John Dunn.  He is a clear leader of the 2YO Ruby.  Natalie Rasmussen was also wearing yellow in the Easter Cup with 4YO Diamond leader Amazing Dream third behind Self Assured and Spankem.   Among the Harness Jewels leaders in action at Addington’s Premier night this Friday will be Krug (3YO Emerald) in the New Zealand Derby, Bolt For Brilliance (4YO Ruby) in the New Zealand Trotting Championship and Wanna Play With Me (3YO Ruby)  in the New Zealand Trotting Derby.   To check out the full leaderboard click here  

Entries for the next gavelhouse.com standardbred auction are due online tomorrow by 7pm. This harness racing sale comes off the back of a successful 20 Lot auction that saw 15 Lots sell and a top price of $13,000 for two-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven filly Millwood Jesse. The catalogue will launch at 5pm on Thursday and bidding will run through until 7pm on Wednesday 14 April. Keen to learn more about selling online? Contact Cam Bray to discuss your options: 021 737 199    gavelhouse.com

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It was a long time between drinks for Peter Holmes but he was able to quench his thirst at Motukarara Raceway on Monday when securing his first win since 2014. Holmes contested the Crate & Barrel Leeston Mobile Pace (2000m) with Beeps and Evidently, and the former was able to get up for the Templeton trainer by half a head over Cristiano Buccini. Holmes was duly delighted with the result, but said it came as a pleasant surprise given Beeps was fresh-up after undergoing treatment for stomach ulcers. “It was great, it’s been a long time between drinks,” Holmes said. “He went quite good races on the coast and up at Blenheim, but we had a bit of trouble with him, he wasn’t eating. “We found out that he had stomach ulcers, so we treated him for that and he has been eating up really well ever since. “He has always gone better when he has had a race under his belt. I thought he would probably need the run today, but he proved us wrong.” Holmes was also pleased with the seventh-placed run of stablemate Evidently. “He didn’t go too bad, I was quite happy with him,” he said. “He is no champion, but he went quite a good race today.” Holmes has enjoyed training for more than three decades and he said he enjoys training a couple of horses, which gives him a break from running his Canterbury sheep farm. He has trained since 1988 but said the best horse he has been associated with was seven-time winner Regal Nugent, who was trained in his mother Maureen’s name before Holmes took out his license. “She was a really nice mare,” Holmes said. “She won seven, and in those days there was no drop back or penalty free wins. She was a lovely mare and the best one that I have been associated with.” While pleased with Monday’s win, Holmes is looking forward to the future with a couple of his younger stock. “We have got a couple of Terror To Love two-year-olds that go around alright,” he said. “A cobber of mine, Grant Inglis, who works for New Zealand Bloodstock, he and I bought a trotting yearling at the sales, which I have broken in and is going alright too. “We live in hope.” View the full results from Motukarara.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Junior reinswoman Devon van Til signed off in the best possible style for former employer Robert Dunn, winning her first race in her last drive for the dual-Island trainer at Motukarara Raceway on Monday. Van Til pressed forward early with stable runner High Flying Harry from his wide barrier in the McMillan Feed Barn – Trainer Of The Year Mobile Pace (2000m). While posted three-wide early on, High Flying Harry continued to improve until he found the parked position and subsequently handed up to Archman to sit in the one-one. Van Til was able to navigate her charge into clear running room down the straight where he was able to run away to a three-quarter of a length victory over Caesar’s Quest, with a further neck back to Duffy Hollow in third. While van Til has been in consistent form this season, placing in six of her previous 13 starts, she was pleased to finally get the monkey off her back with her first raceday victory. “It was great to get that first win under my belt and hopefully it is the first of many,” she said. “I have been fairly consistent and thereabouts, I just needed a little bit of extra luck to get there.” Van Til said High Flying Harry wanted to burn off the gate, so she went with it, and her decision paid off. “He still wanted to go forward at the start, so I went with him,” she said. “He has been going very well and I just changed a little bit in how I drove him at the end so he could finish it off. “I was really stoked for him.” The victory was made even more special having achieved it for employer Robert Dunn. “It was really awesome to get the win for Robert,” she said. “That was my last drive working for Robert, but hopefully I will be good enough to drive for him again one day.” Having previously had a background with sport horses, van Til elected to change tack a couple of years ago and try her hand in harness racing. “I have been working for Robert for about two and a half years,” she said. “I used to be an equestrian rider and I wanted to change things up and go into harness racing and they took me on, they have taught me everything I know. “I have ridden since I was a kid and I have always enjoyed it. I was very competitive and I was lucky that I had supportive parents that kept me going through the years with showjumping and hunting. “I just wanted a bit of change in my life and change in scenery. I managed the equestrian centre for Davey Butt at Woodend, so I already knew all of the fellas at the beach. “I knew Johnny (Dunn, stable foreman) needed a bit of help, so I went and gave them a hand and I was asked to stay on.” Van Til said she will now take a bit of a break before working out her next steps. “I am going to have a bit of a holiday and help out my partner Steve (Dolan, trainer) for a little bit,” she said. Having attained her first raceday win, van Til said she is now on the hunt for 14 more in order to drive on premier nights. “I really want to try and get those 15 wins while I am a junior so I can drive on premier nights,” she said. View the full results from Motukarara.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It may have taken Go Marg 23 starts to break maiden ranks, but now breeder-owner-trainer Bruce Graham is hoping she is on a roll. The eight-year-old mare got up for her first win at Waimate last Sunday, winning her 2000m contest by half a length. It was the first time Graham’s colours were back in the winner’s circle since 2016 and he was duly delighted. “It was quite a thrill,” he said. “It’s been a while since we had a winner. I think the last one was Quality Invasion and Peterhof on the same day down at Oamaru.” Go Marg took four placings into her last start and Graham said if she had a bit more luck in those races she would have broken maiden ranks sooner. “She was running on very well in all of them and had she had half a bit of luck she would have probably picked up a win a lot earlier,” he said. Having bred Go Marg, Graham expected her to take a bit of time, but admitted she took a lot longer to start performing on the track than he would have liked. “All of a sudden she clicked what the racing game is about. My breed do take time, but she was taking a bit longer,” he said. Go Marg will line-up in the Morrie Molloy Memorial Trot (2170m) at Motukarara Raceway on Monday and Graham is hopeful she can put in another solid performance. “It will be interesting to see what happens on Monday, being up in class,” he said. “I think she will have a show, but whether she can win in that class we will wait and see. She begins well, has a good sprint, and knows what it’s about now.” Graham has spent more than 50 years in harness racing and he said he had a fortunate beginning in the game, initially as a breeder. “In the late sixties a family member got me into buying a mare,” he said. “The first foal she left which I bred was Local Product, and he won 23 over in Western Australia. It looked easy then.” Graham eventually progressed to get his trainers license in 1988 and has headed to the winner’s circle on 37 occasions since then. While he has a fondness for a number of horses he has trained over the years, he said Group One performer Quality Invasion stands out above the rest. “Quality Invasion won 19 races and placed in 19,” Graham said. “He was good, especially for a horse that broke down after his second start and wasn’t going to race again. My daughter looked after him and we brought him back. “Tim Butt bought a half share in him and he broke down after he had two starts and he said I might as well take him home. He signed him over and after that he won another 17. “He raced against the best at the time. He was definitely the best one I had.” Quality Invasion finished third behind Peak in the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All (2000m), and he coincidentally has a couple of progeny by the Alabar Stud stallion in his care. “I am working about five or six at the moment,” Graham said. “They are all young ones and will take a bit of time. Some of them are by Peak, and they look quite nice.” View the Motukarara fields click here!

The staff and management at Harnesslink wishes everyone around the world in harness racing a very happy Easter.

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Motukarara today with an eleven race program starting at 11:52am and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Motukarara selections 5th April 2021 Best Bet:  R3 Charlie's Ace Best Value:  R6 Bright Glow   Race 1 Classic Call has promised a bit but never delivered. Trialling ok and drawn well. Needed… Kenny Keko tidy runs on the coast and top driver booked.  Should be hard to beat in this…… Jesper Fast has been disappointing but allow another chance here. One for longer odds.…..Toobusy Being Famous ok run fresh up and should be improved. Big chance if he steps and lands handy to the speed Selections:  Kenny Keko (12),   Classic Call (4),   Toobusy Being Famous (14)   Jesper Fast (7)   Race 2 Daggy Lamb has a tricky draw but has raced well here in the past. Hard to beat here if he can find the front early..……. King Arthur running good races and should get a run through from the draw. Liked at longer odds ……Cristiano Buccini never gets much luck in his races but top driver booked. A good winning chance with a soft run in transit…… Adhara racing better than the form suggests but tricky draw. Place chances look best Selections:  Daggy Lamb (9),  Cristiano Buccini (13),   King Arthur (11),   Adhara (12)   Race 3 Charlie's Ace racing well and should be hard to beat with no mistakes. Top selection in this race….. Mark Dunnett putting together a good run of form and drawn best here. Include again….. Kennedy good beginner who has been freshened. Can run top three at nice odds….. Unchanged Memory racing ok and good fifth last start. Not the worst at nice odds Selections:   Charlie's Ace (3),   Mark Dunnett (1),   Kennedy (4)   Unchanged Memory (12)   Race 4 Big Mama Morris trialling well and runs on grass have been ok. Good winning chance in this field….. Tiger Taylor has a reputation and trialled well at Methven. Liked even from the wide draw….. The Morning Star not a great draw but she has speed and well bred for grass. Could upset with a good run in transit.….. Roll With Eunice freshened and well suited to this race. One of the better chances in the field Selections:   Tiger Taylor (8),   Roll With Eunice (13),   The Morning Star (14)   Big Mama Morris (4)   Race 5 Sweet Heaven good draw and looks the likely leader. Should go close with no mistakes in the running…... Royal Ruby running on well here last start in a similar field and definitely a threat again here….. Saint Waitaki nice second last start but tricky draw. Has to included on previous form. Needed..….. Piece Of Gold racing well from bad draws. Could surprise at nice odds with a good run in transit Selections:   Royal Ruby (9),   Piece Of Gold (5),   Saint Waitaki (13)   Sweet Heaven (1)   Race 6 Bright Glow has been a bit unlucky in her races but well placed here. Nice top three player at good odds….. Franco Josiah stronger now and looks hard to beat in this. Should run in the placings with no mistakes….. Sunnivue Phileah likely to get a good run from the draw and grass suits. Include here….. That's The Story could get a cosy run on the pegs from the draw and racing well. One of the better chances in the race. Selections:   Bright Glow (3),   Franco Josiah (1),   That's The Story (10),   Sunnivue Phileah (2)   Race 7 Mr Asia has been ok from bad draws and has the motor. Hard to beat at big odds if he can get handy and grass will suit….. Lincoln Skipper has been running on in his races and will probably get back early from the draw. Place chance with a cart into the race….. Boulton Home good finish on grass two starts ago and drawn well. Include here….. Sonic Reign good staying type who will appreciate the grass surface. Can run top three at nice odds Selections:   Mr Asia (11),   Sonic Reign (12),   Boulton Home (4)  Lincoln Skipper (14)   Race 8 Conquer Me terrible draw but has gate speed. Can foot it with these at nice odds….. Reflectionsofmylife mobile will suit and she has been racing stronger fields. Good place chance at nice odds….. Rocknsnap horrible draw but has the motor. Will need luck but a place chance at lon ger odds….. Vincent Van Gone has been disappointing but getting fitter. Can go close if left alone in front Selections:   Conquer Me (8),   Reflectionsofmylife (11),   Rocknsnap (15)  Vincent Van Gone (4)   Race 9 Archman racing well and grass suits. One of the better chances in the race from the front row draw….. Duffy Hollow racing well and a solid chance from the draw as he will probably lead mid race. Can run top three……. Senorita Margarita has speed and well suited here from the nice draw. Winning claims and should be close to the placings…. Razors Edge goes best on grass but terrible draw. Big place chance if he is handy turning for home at big odds Selections:  Senorita Margarita (4),  Archman (6),   Duffy Hollow (3)    Razors Edge (9)   Race 10 Sally Lindenny racing well but manners still a question mark on this course. Serious player with no mistakes….. Take After Me drawn to lead early and top driver booked. Winning claims here……. This Time Gamble change of trainer and tote the guide here. Could turn around the form quite quickly…. Majestic Rollon needs the pace on and a good run in transit but is an upset hope in this field Selections:  Sally Lindenny (7),  Majestic Rollon (4),   Take After Me (8)    This Time Gamble (9)   Race 11 Glen Elgin Tomson racing well and hardly ever out of the money. One of the better chances in the race at good odds….. Dennis Denuto draw will help and has been good on grass. Needed here at nice odds……. Perfect Cut racing ok and will press forward early. Could upset here at nice odds…. Hittheroadjack has won on the track in the past and has been unlucky. Good chance if he is handy turning for home Selections:  Glen Elgin Tomson (2),  Perfect Cut (8),   Dennis Denuto (1)    Hittheroadjack (11)   Harnesslink Media

Self Assured gave punters the smoothest of rides when confirming his status as New Zealand’s best pacer when speeding to victory in the Easter Cup at Addington on Saturday night. In a repeat of this season’s New Zealand Cup finish the five-year-old filled the quinella with Spankem to set up a Hayden Cullen trained trifecta in the Group 1 3200m feature. The comfortable watch for Self Assured’s backers came after he found the lead for driver Mark Purdon in the middle stages and then outsprinted his rivals with fast closing sectionals. Incredibly, pulling off the second of two trifectas, completed by Amazing Dream’s third placing, may not have been Cullen’s biggest feat on Saturday. Because having Self Assured primed to win his Group One staying test with just one 1980m race in the last eight weeks rates right up with them. “It was probably the perfect race for him the way it panned out,” Cullen said. “They didn’t go that hard which was probably ideal for him with the way he came into it.” “When he made the front he was always going to be very hard to catch.” The only problem Cullen is facing with the Jean Feiss owned Self Assured is what to do beyond next week. Both the five-year-old and Amazing Dream are scheduled to return to Addington for the Group 2 Superstars Championship. But beyond that the horse harness racing fans want to see the most may not be going anywhere. “He will come back to Addington next week for the Superstars but after that there is not really a lot for him,” Cullen said. “There is the Rangiora Classic later on but not much else, so I am not sure what we will do with him after that.” “At this stage, Jean is keen to keep him in New Zealand, though that could change.” “If there are not any more races programmed then the Maurice Holmes Vase (August-September) would just about be the next race we would be targeting.” Spankem is in a similar position, but Amazing Dream has a clearly defined path with the Taylor Mile, New Zealand Messenger Championship and Harness Jewels on her schedule. Cullen and Feiss enjoyed more success at Addington when True Fantasy booked her ticket to the Group One Sires Stakes Fillies Championship Final at Alexandra Park when heading a Cullen trifecta in a heat of the series on Saturday night. “She was very good in her first start, A Bettor You just had the wood on her with her race experience, but she really sharpened up off that run,” Cullen said. “And she should sharpen up a bit more after tonight as well.” Cullen completed a spectacular night when Shan Noble and Luke John ran the quinella in a minor event. Most importantly, the pair put in excellent trials ahead of next week’s New Zealand Derby. “Shan Noble has done nothing wrong, he didn’t have a hard run and it was probably ideal leading into next week.” “Luke John just kept finding the line, Tony (Herlihy) drove him last week and said a bit more distance would be right up his alley.” “He will stay all day.” Before Cullen took over the former All Stars Stable property it was announced that Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen would be on hand to help the trainer prepare his team for premier meetings. That was the case ahead of Saturday night’s card and Cullen was quick to praise the champion trainers for helping him enjoy a brilliant night. “I have to give a lot of thanks to Mark and Natalie, they have been a great help leading into this meeting.” “It’s pretty incredible that you can call on people of their experience.” “And they drove the horses brilliantly, as well.” Cullen also produced the second and third placegetters, Ellaria Sand and Wy Fi, behind emerging star Highgrove in the New Zealand Two-Year-Old Trotting Championship. View the full Addington results click here!   By Jonny Turner

Chinese Whisper bucked an Addington trend when announcing himself as an open class force on a big night for Nathan Williamson’s trotters at Addington on Saturday. Sprint races from the much talked about mile starting point at the Christchurch track are supposed to be won by horses that draw handily and race on the speed. But Chinese Whisper did neither when flying home from four-deep on the pegs for a stylish win in his first start north of the Waitaki. And its clear that brilliant speed he showed is going to be a major asset as the Sundon trotter continues to establish himself in open class. “He has got a lot of speed, that was a really good performance,” Williamson said. “To run down Oscar Bonavena is not mean feat, he is a very good horse.” “I was rapt with him.” Patience has been the key to Chinese Whisper’s rise to the top grades for Williamson, wife Katie and her fellow owner, Brendon Franks. The trotter has always had plenty of class and has been hyped to be well above average since his debut as a three-year-old. Just 13 starts over three seasons since then demonstrates just how patiently Williamson has been with Chinese Whisper. “We have been patient with him and taken him along quietly and got him ready to be able and come out and do something like that tonight.” Williamson doubled up and completed the rarest of quinellas when his towering five-year-old Andy Hall took out race 8. The trotter added to his fine record at Addington when holding out Son On Patrick, who Williamson co-bred and sold at the National Yearling Sales. The trainer also bred and trained Son Of Patrick’s half-brother Kiwitrix to run fourth in the same race. Andy Hall showed outstanding staying power when coming from barrier 9 over 1980 to win after sitting parked in the middle stages. “It was a really big effort, I had to ask him and he really dug in,” Williamson said. “It was a great run.” It is no coincidence that his best performances have come at the South Island’s premier harness racing track. And it’s not just the wide-open spaces of Addington that suit the big striding five-year-old. “The thing with him is when it gets tough that is when he is really at his best.” “When they go hard and the pressure goes on he thrives on it.” “He is a really nice big horse.” Willaimson’s stable star Pembrook Playboy flew home for fourth behind Self Assured in his first Group One test in the Easter Cup. The four-year-old will be back at Addington next week to square off with Self Assured and Amazing Dream in the Group Two Superstars Championship. View the full Addington results click here!   By Jonny Turner

New Zealand import Smoke N Reactor N retained her victory in The Raceway at Western Fair's co-featured harness racing Preferred 3 Pace after deep-stretch stickhandling drew the interest of the stewards.   Driver Jean Rene Plante sent the mare out sharply from post five, but Powerful Chris (Colin Kelly) forced her into the pocket entering the first turn. The latter led to the quarter in :28.1, half in :58.3, and three-quarters in 1:28.   Saulsbrook Jessie (Brett Macdonald) attacked from first-up going into the final turn, and a compact outside flow left Smoke N Reactor N trapped on the rail. She found room when second-over Sirius Star (Michael Horner) shifted into the three-path, and Plante lunged his charge to the rail as Powerful Chris faded, causing the latter to toss her head and bear in.   Smoke N Reactor N then shot up the pylons, going by both of the top two to win by three quarters of a length in 1:58. Sirius Star got up for place, and Saulsbrook Jessie was third. The judges investigated Plante's stretch drive but ruled that there were no sufficient grounds for disqualification.   SMOKE N REACTOR N REPLAY     Smoke N Reactor N has now won eight of her 62 lifetime appearances and earned more than $65,000. She's now three-for-four for Plante since he took over ownership and training duties on Mar. 4. Plante guided the Auckland Reactor mare to her first win since moving to Canada.   Letstaketothesky scored in the second co-feature, sliding out of the pocket late and sneaking by to capture the extended distance conditioned trot.   Driver Anthony Haughan contested the early lead with her but ultimately settled for the two-hole and followed Twin B Hugs through the quarter in :29.1 and half in 1:00. Letstaketothesky was bottled up in the pocket going to three-quarters in 1:30.4. First-up Twin B Hugs (Paul Mackenzie) drifted out just enough to allow Haughan enough room to squeeze his charge through traffic and get up for the win.   Letstaketothesky got up to win by a neck in 2:09.2 over a mile and a sixteenth. Twin B Hugs was second, and Black Seven (George Ketros) was third best.   LETSTAKETOTHESKY REPLAY     Letstaketothesky is now three-for-26 lifetime with just shy of $50,000 in earnings for owners David and Ben Holliday of Mount Forest. They bred the four-year-old by Wheeling N Dealin; David trains.   Also on the card, the four-year-old Muscle Mass gelding Rubbleonthedouble broke his maiden in race two in 2:04.3 with Haughan in the bike. The Holliday Duo also own, train, and bred him.   The Raceway at Western Fair will likely not return for at least four weeks as the province of Ontario will move into lockdown on Saturday, Apr. 3 at 12:01 a.m EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

If anyone else trained Pembrook Playboy more people may have been left wondering just what he doing at the Winton trials just days out from the Easter Cup. But given the way Nathan Williamson has developed the pacer into one of the best four-year-olds in the country and guided him to a recent hat-trick of group-race wins, few would dare question him. And the astute trainer said there was method behind what he calls his “madness”. “There is method to my madness, the horse is just that well I had to get another run into him,” Williamson said. “He has had plenty of racing and he has had a great preparation but he is just that full of himself it made sense to take him for another runaround.” “The other thing is you don’t want to be going to Addington for a Group One race over two miles short (of fitness).” The fit and in form Pembrook Playboy comes into the Easter Cup having galloped away in his last start at Winton. Williamson is hopeful the pacer can step away much more cleanly on Saturday night despite drawing the often tricky barrier 1. “I think he will be OK, he will be much better having a horse beside him.” “At Winton he was on his own and it didn’t help.” While Pembrook Playboy comes into the Easter Cup rated a standing start flier who made a rare mistake in his last start, the favourite Self Assured is in the opposite position. The five-year-old comes into the race known as a risky standing start exponent who made a rare good beginning in his last attempt the much talked about New Zealand Cup start. While he was not a trialist this week it could be argued Self Assured’s last public appearance was also not typical of a leading Easter Cup contender. The New Zealand Cup winner did not attack the line in his last outing over 1980m behind his stablemates and Amazing Dream and Spankem at Addington last week. Held up for much of the run home, Self Assured could not take any ground off his fellow 20m backmarkers in the run home. But that has not caused any concern between trainer Hayden Cullen and driver Mark Purdon. “Mark was very happy with him, it was just one of those races,” Cullen said. “With the time they ran, Mark was pretty happy with the way he stuck on, he wasn’t disappointed with him at all.” Self Assured goes into the Easter Cup having had just that one 1980m start in the eight weeks leading into the 3200m test. But Cullen has absolutely no doubts about him being fit enough and ready to win. “He is pretty well conditioned, he only had two weeks off over summer, he hasn’t really missed any work,” Cullen said. “I think if he steps away, then on his New Zealand Cup form then he is probably the one to beat.” Spankem has had even less racing in that time, having started for the first time since early January last week. The six-year-old has improved with his fresh up outing and Cullen sees Saturday night’s small field as a big help. “He sprinted a fair way from home last week, he blew out a bit but he stuck on pretty well,” Cullen said. “He had a good puff afterwards and he has improved off it.” “It is just a small field and he is a good sit sprinter so if they go a genuine clip he is always going to get home.” Like Spankem, Amazing Dream has thrived since last week’s race. She looked back to the version of herself seen winning the Auckland Cup with her impressive win over her two stablemates. “She has really thrived, she is probably a little bit better this week than she was last week,” Cullen said. Latest fixed odds prices: Self Assured $2.50, Amazing Dream $3.60, Pembrook Playboy $5, Spankem $5.50.   by Jonny Turner

Tonight at Addington we see the Breckon Farms Group 1 Easter Cup.   The race is set to go at 7.50pm and here we showcase the horses that are racing at Group 1 level!!   Congratulations to all of the connections getting a chance to contest this year's Easter Cup- we wish you all the very best of luck!     HRNZ      

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Addington today with a ten race program starting at 5:13pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good night of racing. Addington selections 3rd April 2021 Best Bet:  R5 Highgrove Best Value:  R2 A Delightful Act   Race 1 Show Me The Gray has the draw to be handy throughout and racing well. Can win and sure to be near the lead throughout… Franco Jorik tidy age group trotter who is a major player here if he can step away cleanly. Needed…… Royal Pride good second last start and runs well on the track. Should be thereabouts with top driver on.…..    Isla Elsie big motor but manners not great. Big chance if she steps Selections:  Show Me The Gray (4),   Franco Jorik (5),   Royal Pride (6)   Isla Elsie (11)   Race 2 A Delightful Act has the draw and begins ok. Hard to beat here if she can find the front and over the odds..……. Folklore running good sectionals and should get a cosy run from the draw. One for longer odds …… A Taste Of Honey huge last start and respect the southern horses when they come north. A good winning chance with a soft run in transit…… Cheezel racing better than the form suggests but drawn a touch wide. Chance if she goes forward early Selections:  A Delightful Act (6),  Folklore (1),   Cheezel (7),   A Taste Of Honey (3)   Race 3 Bettor Call Me racing well and should be hard to beat with no mistakes. Top selection in this race….. Not Really Blonde under rated mare who has a big finish. One for longer odds if she gets a cart into the race….. Artatac trialled nicely recently and ignore the form as better than that. Can run top three at nice odds….. Radioactive Jaffa racing ok and good forth here two starts ago. Manners not great but not the worst at nice odds Selections:   Bettor Call Me (4),   Artatac (7),   Radioactive Jaffa (8)   Not Really Blonde (13)   Race 4 Oscar Bonavena class horse on the comeback trail. Should be winning if close enough turning for home….. Chinese Whisper has a reputation but strongest field to date. Good chance if he gets a cart into the race at the right time….. The Dominator getting better with racing and this field suits. Looks the early leader but place chances look best.….. One Apollo disappointing last start but well suited to this race. Could surprise at nice odds with change of driver Selections:   Oscar Bonavena (6),   Chinese Whisper (8),   The Dominator (4)   One Apollo (9)   Race 5 Highgrove good draw and looks the likely leader. Should go close with no mistakes in the running…... Mr Love good at workouts and looks the main danger to the favourite in this field….. Ellaria Sand be wary the stable change and nice second here last start. Include..….. Kowhai Sunset ok at trials and tote might be the main guide here. Could surprise if he goes forward at the start Selections:   Highgrove (4),   Mr Love (9),   Ellaria Sand (5)   Kowhai Sunset (6)   Race 6 True Fantasy from a stable who can get them ready on premier nights. Should be running first or second here if she can find the front midrace….. A Bettor You stronger now and looks hard to beat in this. Should run in  the placings here….. Emmy running on last start and will be fitter. Another good place chance for the stable. Include here….. Millwood Indie could lead off the gate and nice win at the trials.  Upset chance. Selections:   True Fantasy (2),   A Bettor You (7),   Emmy (5),   Millwood Indie (1)   Race 7 Spankem has been ok from bad draws and has the motor. Hard to beat if he can get handy and distance will suit….. Self Assured NZ Cup winner who will be hard to beat in this field. Will start favourite….. Pembrook Playboy good finish last start and a major player if he can get a cosy run on the fence. Include here….. Amazing Dream good staying mare who should appreciate the 3200m journey. Can run top three Selections:   Spankem (8),   Self Assured (6),   Pembrook Playboy (1)  Amazing Dream (7)   Race 8 Son Of Patrick terrible draw but has been racing well in age group events. Can foot it with these….. Majestic Chick mobile will suit and she might go forward early. Good place chance at nice odds….. Andy Hall horrible draw but has the motor. His win two starts ago a good pointer to his ability. Needed….. Missucci up in grade but getting fitter and good win last start. Can run top three again here Selections:   Son Of Patrick (8),   Missucci (11),   Majestic Chick (5)  Andy Hall (9)   Race 9 Luke John racing well and has been running time. One of the better chances in the race at good odds….. It's All About Faith racing well and a solid chance from the draw as he will probably lead off the gate. Can run top three……. Shan Noble has speed and well suited here from the nice draw. Winning claims and should be close to the placings…. Mikey Maguire one of his favourite tracks and he will be running on late. Big place chance if he is handy turning for home at big odds Selections:  Shan Noble (3),  It's All About Faith (7),   Luke John (1)    Mikey Maguire (6)   Race 10 La Rosa racing well but cops a tricky draw here. Serious player with a cart into the race at the right time….. Five Star General drawn to lead early and form is getting better. Place chance at nice odds……. Town Echo has gate speed and will press forward early. Tidy at trials and an each way hope from the draw…. Teagan Banner needs the pace on and a good run in transit but is an upset hope in this field Selections:  La Rosa (14),  Five Star General (4),   Town Echo (2)    Teagan Banner (13)   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. Up and coming youngsters Two of Australia’s star three-year-olds at present, and both recent winners who promise to be a force in the forthcoming classics, are Lochinvar Chief and Seb’s Choice. Both are members of the same family and both are graduates of the Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Melbourne in 2019. Lochinvar Chief, who won the Bathurst Gold Chalice Consolation and has now won five of his 12 starts, is a gelding by Captaintreacherous from the unraced Always A Target, by Always A Virgin from Alta Calypso (1:59.4), a Moonee Valley winner by Village Jasper from the American-bred Ballie Hanover (1:56.6), a mare imported to New Zealand in the late 1990’s. Alta Calypso was the dam of a top ranking pacer in Milly Perez (1:52.7), a winner of 19 races and $343,882 including the Vicbred 4YO Final and Mildura Cup, Changing Code (1:53.9, the winner of 16 races and $129,516), Thomas Burns (1:55.1, who won eight) and the Melton winner Seb’s Choice (1:57.6). Another daughter of Alta Calypso was Charissa Tee (1:58), who ranks as the dam of the exciting three-year-old Patsbeachstorm 1:53.4 ($166,000), the winner of six of his eight starts including the heat and final of the NSW Derby. Others from this fine family included the prolific Cups winners Five Star Anvil 1:51.5 ($779,733) and Let’s Elope 1:55.3 ($552,013, the exported Gold Class (1:51), Ultimate Desire (1:52.6) and Millview Sarah (NZ Northland Cup).   Bathurst Gold Chalice winner Winner of the Breeders Crown Silver as a two-year-old last season, Idyllic downed the top three-year-olds in the $100,000 Gold Chalice at Bathurst, including a top ranking three-year-old in Tasty Delight, who finished third. Idyllic                     --Stuart McCormick Photo   Idyllic was an Australian Pacing Gold purchase in 2019 in Melbourne, and is a colt by the Mach Three horse Somebeachsomewhere out of the American-bred Ideal Priority, by Western Ideal from the imported Artsplace mare Priority Overnite. Ideal Priority, who took a record of 1:54.6 in America, was shipped to Australia by Ballarat breeder Bruce Edward and from five live foals, she has produced four winners – all inside 2:00 – including a champion racemare in Petacular 1:55.6 ($454,083), a full sister to Idyllic. Ideal Priority is a half-sister to Itcan Happen (1:55) and Uncle Peter (1:54.6), both feature race winners on the NSW provincial circuit.   Extradite tops $100,000 mark A bright future is being predicted for the Washington VC six-year-old Extradite, whose success in the Group 3 The Clarke at Gloucester Park was his fourth winning run from six starts this year. Extradite winning at Gloucester Park           --Daryl Hallows, Paceway Photos He has a good deal in his favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by Washington VC, a 1:52 winning son of Presidential Ball, Extradite is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Falcon Del, a half-sister to a top NZ pacer in Harnett’s Creek 1:57.7 ($291,623), being out of Kahu Del, by Armbro Del from Tee Kahu, by Tuft from the Fallacy mare Kahu, who established a fine family of trotters in NZ. It includes the Derby winners King Charlie and Shezoneoftheboyz, the Vicbred two-year-old champion Jaxnme, Le Duc (NZ Hambletonian) and others such as Sunset Tour (1:55.7), Jilliby Babavska (1:57.6) and Prince Eddie.     Wainui Creek, who annexed the $50,000 WA Empress Stakes on the same night as Extradite won, is also a member of this family. She is a five-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare from the Christian Cullen mare Christian Creek, a half-sister to Falcon Del, the dam of Extradite. Wainui Creek winning at Gloucester Park           --Daryl Hallows, Paceway Photos   Mister Rea is some youngster When he won the $100,000 Gold Crown at Bathurst last Saturday, Mister Rea scored his fourth success from as many starts, and he is entitled to be rated this year’s top two-year-old pacer so far. Earlier in the month, Mister Rea won the NSW Sapling Stakes at Menangle. Mister Rea ranks as a half-brother to the capable pacers Jesszz Reflection (1:56.9) and Glenburn Anna, being a colt by the Rocknroll Hanover horse Pet Rock, from Just Glenburn (1:59), by Village Jasper from Glenburn Smoothie (1:59.8), by Smooth Fella, from Directa’s Special, by Hilarious Way from the UK mare Saunders Directa. Just Glenburn, a winner of 17 races, was a sister to Glenburn Addy 1:58.5 (15 wins) and a half-sister to the Harold Park winner Glenburn’s Pan 1:58 ($103,646), the Albion Park victor Glenburn’s Fella (1:56.7) and Glenburn Cheeky (1:59.2). Mister Rea was bred and is part-owned and trained by noted Riverina horseman Raymond Walker.   Blue blooded filly Just Hope, who won the $100,000 Gold Tiara Final at the Bathurst Gold Crown carnival, is two-year-old filly who can claim some worthwhile blood. By Bettor’s Delight, she is the first foal of the Art Major mare Queen Of Pop 1:55.6 ($204,527), an Australian Pacing Gold winner whose dam, Top Tempo NZ 1:56.5 ($225,513) was also a Group winning two-year-old. She became the dam of a string of winners including the Breeders Crown and Vicbred champion Speak No Evil 1:50.9 ($354,300), the APG winner Musical Delight 1:53.1 ($248,910), That’s How Weroll 1:52.9 ($126,991) and Countdown 1:53.1 ($135,410). Top Tempo was a three-quarter sister to the Reefton Cup victor McKay 1:55.7 ($236,445), being by In The Pocket out of a fine racemare in Kliklite 1:56.7 ($156,213), a dual NZ Winter Cup winner. Just Hope was bred by Bill and Anne Anderson, of Lauriston Bloodstock.   Eleventh winner from broodmare When the Art Major three-year-old Mannho won at Newcastle recently, he credited his dam Full Pleasure with her eleventh individual winner. Mannho, bred by the Xerri family, had shown good placed form at the NSW provincials. Others from Full Pleasure to win have been the dual Oaks winner Kept For Pleasure 1:56 ($542,343), Don Boston 1:49.8 ($338,074), the WA Golden Nugget winner Nowitzski 1;54 ($237,967), Egodan 1:51.3 ($353,056), Lebron 1:52.9 ($250,550), It’s My Pleasure 1:55.9 ($142,275), Letsrockletsroll (1:54.1), Tiger Island (1:56.6), Lagoon Beach (1:57.4), Five Star Rocker and now Mannho. Full Pleasure, who is now in her 23rd year, has since produced a two-year-old gelding by Art Major and a yearling colt by Bettor’s Delight. Full Pleasure, a Vicbred champion at two, was an Armbro Operative half-sister to a useful racemare in Intoxicating (1:57.7), being out of Play The Field, by Kentucky from Saunders Sapphire, by Hilarious Way from the UK bred mare Saunders Directa. This is the family which produced such winners as Vincent (1:50.4), the champion filly Self Denial (1:57.6), Our Femme Fatale (1:55.3), Keep Rockin (1:52.8), Mackenzie (1:52.8) and Mister Jay Cee (1:52.8).   Siring feat to Village Jasper The Jate Lobell horse Village Jasper sired the dams of four of the eight pacing winners at Melton last Saturday. They were Flying Jo (by Mach Three), Villacci (by Modern Art), Seb’s Choice (by Bettor’s Delight) and Tangoingwithsierra (by Sportswriter). Seb’s Choice   --Stuart McCormick Photo Village Jasper, who twice headed the national money-winning sires’ list, has left the dams of the winners of more than $20 million in Australia.   Death of leading studmaster One of Victoria’s best known and popular standardbred studmasters, Ken Wills, of Girgarre West, near Shepparton, died last weekend, aged 67 years. He and his wife, Jan, conducted Niota Bloodstock which was established more than 20 years ago. Over the years they stood many stallions including Straphanger, Great Success, Yankee Spider, Centurion ATM and Kvintet Avenger. The dual Vicbred champion Plettonic, the Cups winning trotter Belts, the recent Melton winner Mornings and others in Frankntank, Gems and Straps all came out of Niota Bloodstock. Jan Wills plans to continue to operate the breeding and agistment complex.   Star trotter by Monkey Bones Funky Monkey, who won her fourth race from as many starts in a heat of the NSW Foundation Series at Menangle, is a four-year-old trotter expected to graduate far beyond her present rating. A member of KerryAnn Morris’s Menangle Park team, she has a good deal more in her favour on the score of blood than most. By the Andover Hall horse Monkey Bones, the sire of the Group winner Idle Bones and placegetter Overzealous, Funky Monkey is out of the Sundon mare Yukon Quest, whose dam was a useful trotter in Little Contessa (2:04.9, the winner of four races in NZ), was a Britewell mare who left trotters of the calibre of Irish Whisper 1:58.1 ($206,972), winner of the NZ National Trot and several Victorian country cups, the Albion Park winner Davey Mac (2:01.2), Heard The Whisper (2:00.3, who won seven) and Chinese Whisper (seven wins). Little Contessa ranked as a half-sister to eight winners including the Moonee Valley and Harold Park winner King Whiz 2:04.4 ($128,469) and the Dunedin Trotting Cup winner Prince Whiz (2:02.9), being out of Game Princess, by Game Pride from the Scotch Abbe mare Lady Rolleston. This was the family founded in NZ by the Jay Gould mare Leita (foaled in 1893). From the Lady Rolleston branch of it and to which Funky Monkey belongs, others in Lord Alias 2:03.2 ($115,940), winner of the NZ Trotting Stakes and Menangle Trotters Cup, and the Scotch Notch Memorial winner Rolleston Lad, and other smart NZ trotters in Monseigneur and Lord’s Invasion also belong.   Ballarat winner from good broodmare Narutac Prince, an Art Major three-year-old and a winner of a heat of the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic at Ballarat, is out of O Narutac Bella, an American-bred mare with a record of 1:51.2, who is proving a successful broodmare in Australia. O Narutac Bella is also the dam of Turn It Up 1:52.1 ($492,312), a NZ Jewels and Easter Cup winner, and the sisters Treasure 1:54.9 ($161,402) and Perfect Sense 1:55.5 ($143,530), both classic winners. O Narutac Bella was a Western Ideal mare from Yankee Venice, by Life Sign from Yankee Velvet, by Direct Scooter from the Nero mare Adored Yankee, a sister to the successful sire Jef’s Emperor and a half-sister to the glamour USA filly Choice Yankee. O Narutac Bella has failed to produce since she foaled Narutac Prince in 2017 but she has a positive test to Bettor’s Delight.     by Peter Wharton

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