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By Jonny Turner Dunedin’s tiny band of harness racing trainers has been boosted by the arrival of Chris Butt. The dual code trainer has recently moved south from Canterbury and established a stable at Westwood Beach. Butt has five horses in work and is enjoying the switch from conventional trackwork to beach training.   “I am just working them up now, most of them had a few weeks off before I came down,” the trainer said. The horseman hopes his move will help continue the progress his stable star Theodosia made last season. The 6yr-old hit career best form in the autumn, notching two wins and adding third and fourth placings in Group 3 and listed events to her future breeding resume. Theodosia's good form came after Butt discovered less is more when it comes to applying head gear to the trotter. “She was panicking in the field and the more gear we tried the worse she got,” he said. “So, we just had to go back to basics and take everything off her.” Theodosia had a short winter break as Butt did not want the Muscle Mass mare to lose too much of the good momentum she had built at the end of last season. “She only had a month off - I didn’t want to give her too long off since she was going good.” “She improved a lot last season and the beach should help her a lot.” Theodosia holds a nomination for the Group 1 Dominion and could start in the race if she is able to improve her ranking to qualify for the race. Her good efforts in black-type races last season has Butt hopeful his mare can measure up in open company this spring. “Apart from Sundees Son and a couple of the others, she is probably up to the rest of them.” “She showed last seasons she was not far off Valoria and Winterfell and you would think they are going to be the ones chasing Sundees Son.” Butt said he plans to trial Theodosia at Forbury Park on Saturday, before lining her up on Hannon Memorial day at Oamaru, later this month. Theodisa’s good form helped Butt enjoy his best season in New Zealand, last term, with five training wins. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

It was announced yesterday that New Zealand bred Standardbreds were awarded the highest honours in the annual Australian Horse of the Year titles, in the country’s most prestigious awards. In a media release from Harness Racing Australia, Chief Executive Andrew Kelly announced the winners of the age category, and overall titles. New Zealand bred open class pacer, Tiger Tara, claimed the titles of Australian Horse of the Year, Australian Aged Horse or Gelding of the Year and Australian Pacer of the Year. Bred by Ray Anicich, the stallion recorded 8 wins and 8 placings from 21 starts last season, including his brave second placing in the 2018 New Zealand Trotting Cup behind Thefixer.   Tiger Tara is currently nominated for the 2019 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup and is currently third favourite on futures options with the New Zealand TAB. While on the trotting side of the awards another Kiwi was being celebrated. Expat New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley was crowned Australian Trotter of the Year and Aged Australian Trotting Entire or Gelding of the Year. Tornado Valley was bred by Petina Gaugler and Terry McMillan (also former trainer of the horse), and won seven races here in New Zealand before being exported to Australia. Since then the son of Skyvalley has taken his career record to 28 win from 84 starts, including last seasons Interdominion Grand Final (heading home a Kiwi bred trifecta with Speeding Spur second and Monty Python third), the Group One features: Bill Collins Sprint, Maori Mile and the Knight Pistol. Last season Tornado Valley won 11 of his 12 starts. Congratulations must also go to North Otago trainer Phil Williamson and his team, and the breeders Lex and Heather Williams as Ultimate Stride was crowed the Australian 2yo Trotting Colt of the Year. The son of Love You and former Champion trotting mare, One Over Kenny, was unbeaten in his four Australian starts, which included a Breeders Crown Final victory, and success in the Group One Redwood Classic. Ultimate Stride is owned by Emilo and Maria Rosati, who are based in New South Wales. Kiwi bred Majestuoso was also awarded 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the year after winning 8 of his 11 race day starts last season including the Victoria Trotters Derby and the Holmfield. Majestuoso was bred by Alabar Stud NZ Ltd, and is by Majestic Son out of Rosemaryz Luck. Andrew Kelly advised that Harness Racing Australia will be contacting the winning connections to arrange for the presentations of the awards to be made. The performance criteria for the HRA Awards is for performances by Australian trained horses regardless of venue or country, as well as for the Australian performances of New Zealand trained horses.   HRNZ

Paul Nairn has been left under no illusion how tough the new open class trotting season is going to be. And it isn’t about to get any easier at Addington tomorrow night. Nairn was more than happy with Habibi Inta’s solid third to a rampant Sundees Son at Addington last Friday night, especially as he went into the race without a trial. “He had done plenty of work leading into it so he was ready but it is a tough old grade for these horses,” says Nairn. “So I was happy with how he went but it is going to be a hard grade the open trotters this season. “You have a lot of those good older horses like Marcoola and the others but also Sundees Son and Majestic Man and the younger ones of Mark’s (Oscar Bonavena and eventually Enhance Your Calm). “So it could be a really good open class crop.” Habibi Inta’s chances of turning the tables on Sundees Son tomorrow night have been done no favours by him drawing the inside of the second line in the mobile start Ordeal Cup, which Nairn admits has at least one positive. “I was happy with how he hit the line last week and again this week he shouldn’t get a hard run so at least he will have not too taxing start to the season. “But there are only 10 starters in it on Friday night so he should be a run at some stage.” Safely through the Ordeal Cup, Habibi Inta will head to the Banks Peninsula Cup on the grass on September 29 and head along the Dominion path but Nairn wants to see the former Harness Jewels winner develop a harder edge this season. “I think he can be a really good horse but he has to keep finding the line all the time. “He has the ability but sometimes he hasn’t found the line so I hope he starts to do that more regularly. Hopefully that experience in open class last season will help.”
  While Habibi Inta is up and running for the open class season he won’t be joined any time soon by Nairn’s other open class regular in Ronald J, who has been having soundness issues and been sent for a spell. “He just wasn’t trotting right so I will put him aside and I don’t think we will see him this side of the Cup carnival.”  Also enjoying a long spell are last season’s NZ Trotting Derby winner Lotamuscle and Jewels placegetter Gil Favor. “They are both having five months off, to give them the chance to strengthen up before they come back because there isn’t a lot for them as early four-year-olds any way.” Nairn says an end of season veterinary examination revealed Lotamuscle had been suffering from ulcers. “That might explain why he was a bit up and down during the season but we don’t know how long he had them.”   by Michael Guerin

TAB News Pick6 this week - $25K Pick Six Addington Friday. August and September - Harness First4 $6,000 Bonus First4 on a Race 4 Every Friday Night in Aug/Sept and on Race 4 at Addington on Thu 19 Sept.   Addington Raceway and Events Centre – Friday 13 September Hello Everyone, It is all go at Addington!  We are pretty much racing every week up until Cup Week!  We have exciting racing ahead with the Road to the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup underway and the Road to the Airpark Canterbury Dominion Trot soon to commence! Below we have outlined all the fun areas for the week.  Be sure to read what is available and visit addington.co.nz to book your spot and to be part of the magic! CHRISTCHURCH CASINO NZ TROTTING CUP DAY – PUBLIC TICKETS NOW ON SALE! A big congratulations to Christchurch Casino, our naming rights sponsor and principal partner, on celebrating their 25th anniversary in November!  Please join Christchurch Casino and Addington Raceway as together we offer an exceptional range of places to toast their anniversary and enjoy Australasia’s biggest harness racing day. #letscelebrate #nzcup19 GENERAL ADMISSION You will be right in the heart of the action to view all races on the trackside grassed area or via big screens.  Venture into The Edge Public Village to have an epic experience in The Edge Activation Garden.  Thanks to The Edge, there will also be a phone charging station to keep you up to date with your social media and betting. The cutting-edge fashion heats and semi-finals of The Crossing Fashion Starts Here Best Dressed Competition are now open and will be held in The Edge Public Village.  If you wish to become fashion royalty of the year and to be in to win thousands of dollars in prizes, make sure you enter this elite event.  You will be at crossroads of what to do between races!  Make sure you check out the Speights Beer Garden with your mates as The Rock will be on course with their ‘Beat The Bar Activation Challenge’. Check out our crossroads signage in The Edge Public Village to choose a bet you won’t forget at one of our many totes.  For refreshing beverages and delicious treats, race over to our bars and some of Christchurch’s top international food providers. Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day headline act on The Edge Public Village Stage will be ..…… avoid FOMO, make sure you follow our social media pages to be the first to hear who will be entertaining you! 2019 General Admission Ticket Prices: Earlybird (2 September to 31 October) – $25 per person + booking fee Standard (1 to 12 November) – $35 per person + booking fee At the gate (12 November) – $45 per person (cash only)   Reserved Seating Tickets – only $65 per person + booking fee A reserved seat offers prime viewing to capture all the entertainment and thrilling racing action.  There are only 100 tickets available in the public stand (uncovered), so be sure to get in quick!  Anyone booking a reserved ticket is able to access everything that is available in the General Admission area!  LINDAUER LAWN You will be making a beeline to the sought after revamped Lindauer Lawn to watch spectacular racing, fashion finals and presentations from the lawn, or via an elevated view from the rooftop. But wait, what is Lindauer doing this year? For the first time, Lindauer are giving the first 100 people on course an elaborate glam gift.  Prior to entering the Lindauer Lawn be sure to stop, a complimentary Lindauer will be served to the first 1,000 stylish and racing ready people! For delicious treats and thirst-quenching refreshments, make sure you trot over to one of our many bars and food offerings. To make a bet you won’t forget, race over to one of our tote operators who will be happy to assist. Addington is also raising the stakes!  Only those who purchase a Lindauer Lawn ticket will be in to win!  But, to win what…watch this space! Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day headline act on the Lindauer Lawn Rooftop Stage will be……??? All will be revealed about Addington’s prize and entertainment on the Lindauer Lawn & Rooftop via our social media pages!  Make sure you follow us to be the first to hear everything that will be on offer in this fabulous area. Please note this is an R18 Area. Guests will be age-verified. 2019 Lindauer Lawn Ticket Price: Lindauer Lawn (available 2 September until sold out) – $75 per person + booking fee Oops, you were after Corporate Hospitality as you wish to provide the ultimate hosting experience to thank valued clients, staff, and friends, and to network with business leaders who attend this iconic event every year? That’s fine, for further details or to book visit addington.co.nz. TAB Trackside Retreat -  For the ultimate betting experience with friends or colleagues there is no better place to view all the top racing action.  TAB Trackside Retreat is positioned in a reserved area in The Edge Public Village directly in line with the 75m mark.  It has easy access to a private viewing area and direct views to the large screen.  Be in to win – book your spot! PLEASE NOTE This is an R18 Event Fully licensed venue and no food or alcohol is able to be brought on course SHOW DAY RACES – PUBLIC TICKETS NOW ON SALE! Show Day Races is truly a fun cost-effective day out for everyone.  There will be no public surcharges, and entry will be by gold coin donation to Maia Health Foundation.   So be sure to pop along and celebrate elite racing at its best on one of NZ’s richest race days. Racing highlights of the day are the Woodlands NZ Free-For-All and the Airpark Canterbury Dominion Trot.  The NZ Kidz Kartz Final is definitely a crowd pleaser for all ages. This year we will have again having a FREE kids’ entertainment zone, home to many exciting activities for all ages including, for the first time a FREE petting zoo. There are numerous public areas available with your gold coin entry including the Lindauer and Blanc de Blanc Lawns, Twiggers and the Christian Cullen Lounge where tasty Kiwi treats and refreshments will be available. Show Day Races headline act on the Lindauer Lawn will be……, make sure you follow our social media pages to be the first to hear who will be entertaining you! SPECTATORS BAR & BISTRO A seat in Spectators to watch all the racing action on TV’s or via the exclusive outdoor area to the Lindauer Lawn.  You’ll have the opportunity to order one of Spectators famous pizzas amongst other delicious treats, snacks and refreshments off the menu. Yay – children aged 14 years and under are FREE.  Be sure to get in quick as numbers are limited. 2019 Spectators Bar & Bistro Ticket Prices: Adult (available 2 Sept until sold out) – $30 per person + booking fee Children (aged 14 years and under) – Free (limited tickets) Spectators will be open to everyone after the last race. #letscelebrate #showdayraces Have a great week everyone.  We look forward to hosting you soon! World first coming to Addington Raceway Addington Raceway, in conjunction with Catch Driver and Harness Racing New Zealand, are thrilled to announce that there will be a new feature present oncourse from this Friday. In a world first, the three parties have been working together on a live viewer function which allows those at the track to participate in 3D Catch Driver games on their smartphone in exclusive Addington race events, while the live race viewer footage is played out on the big screen oncourse. Recently relaunched with 3D graphics, the Catch Driver game allows the player to experience the thrill of harness race driving literally at their fingertips, while competing live against other players in a race scenario over one mile. The difference with the Addington events will be that the players must be oncourse to participate, creating a competitive atmosphere between the race rivals as they compete against each other on their own phone – with the whole course watching via the big screen and selected television screens around the complex. The live viewer function is still in its final stages of development and will be available for the Addington Catch Driver Championship on September 27, however HRNZ and Addington Raceway will be holding trial events to help test the software and game entry process.  Trial race events will be held at Addington Raceway during the first part of this month, culminating in the Addington Catch Driver Championship later this month. Ryan Clements is the founder of The Farm Ventures, the Canadian company behind the creation of Catch Driver, and has been working closely with HRNZ and Addington Raceway to present the world’s first Esports harness racing game. He first visited New Zealand last September when his good friend Anthony MacDonald held his ownership seminars, and was impressed with the youth initiatives in this country via the likes of Kidz Kartz, the Cadet scheme and Junior Driver races and events. Promoting harness racing to the next generation has been a huge part of the reason Ryan developed the game, and he has been a generous sponsor of the Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup and this year’s Cadet of the Year competition. “We are excited to partner with Harness Racing New Zealand and Addington Raceway to bring the world’s first harness racing Esports event to New Zealand!” said Ryan. “We believe Esports represents an incredible opportunity to bring new fans to the sport we love, and New Zealand is leading the way - Addington is the first track in the world to host this type of event.” He also commented on how crucial it is to be forward thinking and for tracks to embrace new technology to attract people to attend their meetings. “Catch Driver’s players average age is 25, representing a significantly younger demographic than the average harness racing fan globally. This engagement of younger fans is how we believe we can reach a new generation to carry harness racing forward into the future.” Addington Raceway CEO Brian Thompson was thrilled to be able to bring this cutting edge technology to the track. “We are absolutely thrilled to break new ground and see Catch Driver Esports events held at Addington Raceway,” he said. “To have this kind of technology available to us from the other side of the world is just fantastic, and we hope that it will provide a great entertainment option between races for not only harness racing fans, but those visiting the track on a casual basis.” “We are looking forward to getting this trial underway and utilising Catch Driver in future to keep our fans feeling like they are part of the action.” Harness Racing New Zealand’s marketing department have been a part of the initiative, utilising the relationship formed last year during Ryan’s visit to work as a united front to spread the harness racing virtual experience. “This is such an exciting initiative and one that we are sure will create a fun and entertaining atmosphere at Addington,” said Jess Smith of HRNZ Marketing. “Catch Driver is an innovative game and allows players to drive against their friends and their heroes, with top drivers from all around the world currently playing the game.“ “We are grateful for the support the Catch Driver team and Addington Raceway have given, and cannot wait to see Catch Driver and New Zealand featuring in a world first for the sport.” The Addington Catch Driver Championship will be held on Friday 27 September and will hold heats and a final on the same night with some great prizes on offer. The first trial races will be held this Friday at Addington Raceway, stay tuned for further updates to come around the Addington Catch Driver Championship. If you have a smart phone, make sure you download Catch Driver from your app store and start your own Championship training today! Or download by visiting http://onelink.to/p9zknf   Alexandra Park News – Friday 13 September TENDER: Auckland Trotting Club in Conjection with Alabar have a Service Fee for Tender to Ultimate Machete. All tenders to be received by 8.00pm on Friday 20 September. For more information or to lodge your tender, contact Karen Blanchard at karen.blanchard@alexandrapark.nz or call 027 808 3150 MEZZE: A Night of Sharing |  Friday 13 September from 5.30pm Inspired by the Mediterranean. Join us in Alexandra Park’s premier restaurant, Top of the Park for a night of sharing and harness racing action. Begin the night with a drink on arrival and an antipasto platter to your table followed by a grazing buffet filled with goodies and scrumptious desserts to finish the night. We have group discounts available with packages starting from $65pp. Please note; groups of less than 8 may be required to share a table. Embrace the family traditions of the Mediterranean and book today! Save time, book online www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/mezze-a-night-of-sharing/ [WIN!] Journey to Thailand with Thai Airways |  Friday 27 September from 5.30pm Revel in the beauty of Southeast Asia, a tropical wonderland known for its’ rich culture, diverse communities and flavoursome food. Our ever popular Thai-inspired night at the races will take place in the Tasman Room located on level one with direct access trackside. Those who book and attend have the chance to go in the draw to WIN Flights for Two to Bangkok, Thailand thanks to our friends at Thai Airways. This is a night you do not want to miss so we recommended booking sooner rather than later! Save time, book online www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/journey-to-thailand     Methven Trotting Club – Sunday 15 September As winter slowly fades  the Methven Trotting Club committee are hard at work preparing for the first grass track meeting of the season scheduled for Sunday September 15 at the picturesque Mt Harding course. Track supervisor Carl Markham and groundsman Pete ‘Stalky ‘ McLeod have overseen a complete removal and replacement of 400 meters of topsoil  just after the winning post which appears to have rejuvenated nicely ready for the new season. Among the patrons on-course will be a large number from working men’s clubs all over Canterbury. One of the highlights is always the presidents race which usually generates plenty of colourful comment from the crowd as the ‘drivers’ reveal a few unusual tactics in endeavouring to grab bragging rights for the next year. Over the last season the Mid Canterbury harness community lost some wonderful members including hardworking Methven committee men in John Stackhouse and Bernie Davidson. Both made huge contributions and will be irreplaceable. Popular trainers Doug McCormick and Pat Melville were also huge losses their big smiles will be sorely missed. Lastly Pauline O’Reilly who along with late husband Pat  were friend to so many in all walks of life. The Methven Club acknowledges and is grateful for all their contributions. Rest in peace. Recently the club had its annual awards night and results were as follows; Morrison Saddlery leading driver-John Morrison John and Robyn Nicholl leading junior driver-John Morrison. Horse Shoe Brands leading trainer-Greg and Nina Hope Trouble Lodge and R.T. and J. May Young Achiever Award-Sarah O’Reilly. This year the club is trailing an extra meeting which will be a eight race twilight meeting on Friday November 1. The club’s sponsorship  theme for the day will  be based around local rural contractors and their staff and a barbeque type social day. It is new ground for Methven and we have been encouraged by progress to date. So see you under the mountains on the 15th at Methven where the sun always shines. Mike Heenan for Methven Trotting Club   Cheviot Harness Racing Club – Stallion Tenders The Cheviot Harness Racing Club has two stallion tenders on offer. DOWNBYTHESEASIDE – a son of Somebeachsomewhere Equal fastest 2yo in Standardbred history, paced 1.49 - Breeders Crown Final 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $6,000+GST. PEGASUS SPUR – sire of Speeding Spur Sire of Speeding Spur – now competing at the highest level in the USA Sire of Paramount Gee Gee 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $3,000+GST. Tenders close 14 October, please send all tenders before then to kirsten_mcnabb@yahoo.co.nz   Southern Harness Website Southern Harness is pleased to announce the launch of their new website.  www.southernharness.co.nz   Cambridge - Waikato Bay of Plenty Faulty Towers at The Races- October 3rd at Cambridge Raceway In what is almost certainly a world first we're hosting a very special Faulty Towers Dinner Show at the races!  Featuring the side-splittingly funny trio of Basil, Sybil and Manuel alongside thrilling harness racing action. The Auckland-based comedy troupe is returning to Cambridge Raceway following their hilarious debut at the venue in June, but this time they're merging their renowned performances with the racing action.  Enjoy their performance from the comfort of the Skyline Lounge, the custom show will take place between the races and it will be an interactive experience like never before.  Fingers-crossed they'll be able to steer you into a winner or two! Tickets are only $35 per person! For more info or to book tickets headlong to: https://www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/faulty-towers-dinner-show/   INTRODUCING OUR LATEST INNOVATIVE RACE NIGHT EXPERIENCE AT CAMBRIDGE RACEWAY START YOUR WEEKEND RIGHT... UNDER THE LIGHTS Friday Nights Under The Lights is a fusion of harness racing action, social interaction, exciting light displays, inspired music and culinary adventure. Held at Cambridge Raceway over seven Fridays, Friday Nights Under The Lights is the perfect event to take after work drinks to the next level or commit to a regular night out with your besties. Feel the rush of the harness racing action, reach out and network, indulge in the food truck-style cuisine, witness the bright lights, catch up with your mates, make new friends, listen to the music, dance the night away and repeat. It's light therapy for your senses! For more info, head along to: https://www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/friday-nights-under-the-lights/   Invercargill HRC Stallion tenders The Invercargill Harness Racing Club has three stallion services from Woodlands Stud available for tender. The club has two What The Hill Services and one Downbytheseaside. The advertised service fee for What The Hill this season is $7000 plus gst while Downbytheseaside is advertised at $6000 plus gst for this season. The club welcomes tenders for the stallions and tenders can be sent to Stallion Tender, Invercargill Harness Racing Club, P.O. Box 96 Invercargill or to lindsay.beer@xtra.co.nz Subject – Stallion Tender. Inquiries can be made to Lindsay Beer, Promotions Officer, Southern Harness Racing – at either 021 351 499 or lindsay.beer@xtra.co.nz Tenders close at 5pm on Wednesday 25 September.    Kaikoura Trotting Club – November 3 and 4 The Kaikoura Trotting Club is already preparing for the annual two day meeting at South Bay Racecourse to be held this year on Sunday November 3 and Monday November 4. Working bees are underway, and the club are calling for trainers to please contact them in advance to arrange horse accommodation and assistance with any accommodation for trainers/drivers and owners. Minimum stake on Day One’s twilight meeting is $8,000, with other races with stakes of $10,000 and $12,000. On Alabar Kaikoura Cup Day on Monday the minimum stake is $10,000. If anyone has any questions or wants to book their accommodation for horses please contact the club directly or Grant Anderson on 027 450 5468   Otago Harness Racing Awards - September 14 A star studded line up of New Zealand’s best pacers and broodmares will vie for titles at next month’s Otago Harness Racing Awards in Dunedin. Classy youngsters Princess Tiffany and Ultimate Sniper will take on home town favourites Eamon Maguire and Majestic Man and northerners Speeding Spur and Havtime in the Best Otago Owned Horse category. Bethany, the dam of Lazarus, One Over Kenny, the dam of Ultimate Stride, and Foreal, the dam of Field Marshal with square off with 100-win producer, Fleet’s Pocket, in the Broodmare Excellence category. Each of those broodmare’s owners, Gavin Chin, Lex and Heather Williams and Syd and Shona Brown are finalists for Otago Breeder Of The Year alongside Archie Affleck. Winners of the breeding awards and the Otago Horse Of The Year will be announced at a gala evening at Forbury Park on September 14. A massive total of 23 titles will be awarded in age group trotting and pacing and training and driving categories. Winners of the age group trotting and pacing awards will be eligible to be crowned Otago’s horse of the year. Big race performers Cracker Hill, Ultimate Stride, Majestic Man and Jess Jaccka look to be some of the strongest contenders for the overall title. More than one significant contribution award will industry members at the Otago awards. Former champion thoroughbred trainer Dave O’Sullivan will be the guest speaker at the awards. Tickets are available by contacting Lisa Butler at the Forbury Park Trotting Club on lisa@forburypark.co.nz or 03 455 2154.   2019 Woodlands Stud Canterbury Harness Awards Dinner - Saturday 21 September Silks Lounge - Addington Raceway, Addington 6.30pm for a 7.15pm start Tickets $60.00 incl. GST Drinks extra at individual's cost. Watch our for our stallion tender for Downbytheseaside and Pegasus Spur services which close on 02 September 2019. All enquiries to 021 969 969 or cantyawardsdinner@gmail.com   Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee - Stallion Services Purchase by Tender  The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner has two Woodlands Stud Services for purchase by Tender. DOWNBYTHESEASIDE Equal fastest 2yo in Standardbred history, paced 1.49 - Breeders Crown Final Foaled in 2014 – Son of Somebeachsomewhere Banked $2,179,558 from 35 career starts Second year standing in New Zealand 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $6,000+GST. PEGASUS SPUR ‘Trotting’s Mr Consistent’ Sire of 124 NZ bred and 35 Australian bred winners including: Maori Time – Australasia’s Fastest ever Trotter, t,1:51.5 Speeding Spur – winner of 17 Group 1’s including Prydes Great Southern Star - $1.1 million Paramount Gee Gee – 2yo Colt of The Year,  3yo Colt of The Year, 4yo Entire of The Year 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $3,000+GST. Conditions of Tender: All tenders submitted shall be plus GST. The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee have the right to select any tender they so desire. They may decline all or any tender/s and their decision shall be final. The successful purchaser will be advised within 3 working days and will immediately be issued with a tax invoice for a deposit of $250.00+GST with payment required within 21 days. This deposit will be deducted from the amount tendered in the tender. This deposit will be refunded only if the mare fails to get in foal. The Canterbury Combined Awards Dinner Committee will invoice the purchaser for the remaining amount submitted and accepted as the tender amount once the mare has a 42 day positive test, and payment of this tax invoice is due within 21 days. The tender is for the ‘Service Fee’ only. All other farm charges apply and will be payable by the successful purchaser. The successful purchaser will be required to complete and sign a Woodlands Stud Stallion Service Agreement. All the terms and conditions set out in this Stallion Service Agreement shall apply in full to the successful purchaser.  A live foal guarantee applies only if the conditions of the Woodlands Stud Stallion Service Agreement are complied with. Written tenders are to be posted to 7 Clare Road, St Albans, Christchurch 8014 or e-mailed to cantyawardsdinner@gmail.com .  The closing date for tenders is Tuesday 02 September 2019 at 4.00 pm.   Southland Owners Day - 21 September Harness Racing New Zealand, in conjunction with the Invercargill Harness Racing Club, are pleased to announce that on Saturday 21 September an Owners Day will be held at Ascot Park. The event is a trial and part of the HRNZ ownership initiatives and will be held on race day. It is free for all owners, not just those with horses competing at the race meeting. Guests are also encouraged to bring along friends and acquaintances who are interested in finding out more about becoming an owner themselves. Owners Day will run throughout the race meeting and will include competitions and draws, the chance for prospective owners to win phantom shares in a racehorse competing on the day and much more. An MC will interview various owners, trainers and drivers throughout the event and promote the various aspects of the sport and experiences of the winning connections. Potential owners can also meet with trainers and syndicators to learn about how they can become part of the action. There is also the opportunity for businesses to showcase their products to owners on the day, with a small expo operating in the room. This event is part of a trial following on from previous functions at Alexandra Park and Addington that will explore multiple aspects which will be used to present ideas to clubs for future events they may hold themselves. In the attempt to encourage owners to attend their race days, with options for all clubs covered. It is important that we canvas as many owners as possible to be able to provide accurate feedback so clubs can provide owners rewards in future. These events could be an annual event for clubs to thank those who have supported them by racing their horse with them, or they could be held on a more regular basis. Further information on the event will follow soon. If you are interested in attending, or if you are a trainer, syndicator or business who is keen to be present to promote yourself, please contact Jess Smith at Harness Racing New Zealand to register your interest. Space is limited so an RSVP is advised – jess@hrnz.co.nz    Harness Racing New Zealand

Former Australian bred, New Zealand trained harness pacer Waikiki Beach wins at Rosecroft. The former brilliant down under gelding won the $8,000 Maryland Preferred Pace for trainer Michael Hall and driver Eddie Davis Jnr on Sunday. When raced in New Zealand and Australia the 7yo son of Somebeachsomewhere won 23 out of his first 24 race day starts, with the first 19 wins all being in a row, a staggering feat.Trained in New Zealand by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rassmussen, Waikiki Beach was the winner of 23 races and over $970,000 in prize money, with his best down under time being 1:50.6. Mach Doro A continues doing a fantastic job racing in North America. Mach Doro A won at Plainridge Park on Monday for trainer Heidi Gibbs and driver Mitchell Cushing. He paced the mile in 1:50.1, making it his 7th win for the season in North America and taking his stake earnings to just short of $80,000. Formerly racing in Australia the son of Mach Three won 24 races and earned over $393,000. Including being the winner and place getter in Group races multiple times. The New Zealand bred, Have Faith In Me was seen winning the $30,000 pace at Yonkers on Saturday night. He paced the mile in 1:52 around the half mile (800m) track. The Jose Godinez trained 8yo gelding was driven to victory by Jim Marohn Jnr.  It was the son of Bettors Delights 8th win for the season in North America and holds his seasons earnings at over $121,000. Have Faith In Me was trained in New Zealand by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. He was the winner of 16 races and earned just shy of 1.5 million in stake money across New Zealand and Australia with a record setting time at Menangle of 1:47.5. Monday 2nd September   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Wick N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $7,000   Ocean Downs MD Hollywood Sign A – Time: 1:56.4, Stake: $4,000   Plainridge Park MA Fernleigh Rebel N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $12,000 Mach Doro A – Time: 1:50.1, Stake: $14,000   Tioga Downs NY Ascot Encounter N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $6,000   Tuesday 3rd September   Harrington Raceway DE Lucky Artist A – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $11,000   Monticello Raceway NY Kamwood Laughter N – Time: 1:56.0, Stake: $5,500   The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono PA Lady Dela Renta A – Time: 1:49.2, Stake: $17,500 Shezallapples N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $8,500   Yonkers Raceway NY Soho Jackman A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $18,500   Wednesday 4th September   Monticello Raceway NY Power Dreaming N – Time: 1:57.0, Stake: $5,500   Thursday 5th September   Saratoga Harness NY Bontz N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $15,000   Friday 6th September   Freehold Raceway NJ Eden Paige N – Time: 1:57.0, Stake: $6,300   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Brilliant Strike N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $8,500   Harrah’s Philadelphia PA Imprincessgemma A – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $12,500 Slick Artist A – Time: 1:52.1, Stake: $14,500   Scioto Downs OH Sams A Champ A – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $8,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Bettor B Chevron N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $46,000 Kaitlyn N – Time: 1:53.3, Stake: $24,000 Down Under Trifecta – 2nd Ambro Courage N, 3rd Glenferrie Blade A Lovin Miss Daisy N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $24,000 Liberty Rose N – Time: 1:54.1, Stake: $30,000   Saturday 7th September   Batavia Downs NY Tullow N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $12,500   Freehold Raceway NJ Midnight Dylan N – Time: 1:58.0, Stake: $6,000 Americanbootscoota A – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $7,700   Northfield Park OH Make A Statement A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $5,500   Harrah’s Hoosier Park IN Backup A – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $8,500 The Empressister N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $6,000 Gold Class N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $8,500 Bounty Lady N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $7,500   Saratoga Harness NY Lord Willoughby A – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $12,500 Lifeonthebeach A – Time: 1:53.4, Stake: $4,500 Crockets Cullen N – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $15,000   Scarborough Downs ME Holy Grail N – Time: 1:55.1, Stake: $4,400   Tioga Downs NY Ascot Encounter A – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $7,000   Yonkers Raceway NY Macintosh N – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $18,500 Shineonucrazydiamond A – Time: 1:52.4, Stake: $30,000 Theartofconfusion A – Time: 1:51.1, Stake: $46,000 Imrockonrollegend N – Time: 1:52.2, Stake: $30,000 Havefaithinme N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $30,000   Sunday 8th September   Rosecroft Raceway MD Waikiki Beach A – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $8,000   Previous weeks 3rd Sep 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 27th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 20th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 12th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 5th Aug 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 29 Jul 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety 24 Jul 2019 - Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety

By Jonny Turner One of saddest tales around this year’s New Zealand Cup has played out more than two months before the running of the country’s greatest race. Ashburton owners Stuart and Liz Leadley will not be represented in the event after their top class pacer Alta Maestro had to be euthanised, recently. The Robert Dunn trained 5yr-old was struck down with a crippling knee injury over winter. Vets told his connections their only realistic option was to put Alta Maestro down. “He was diagnosed with real bad arthritis – it was so bad they said you’ve got no option but to put him down,” Stuart Leadley said. “They said he would never make any kind of trekking horse or riding horse.” “There was no option, he was going to be a cripple.” Alta Maestro won nine of his 32 starts and banked over $195,000 in stakes. The Art Major pacer holds the New Zealand 2yr-old male pacers record for 1700m with his 1-59.7 win in March of 2017. Alta Maestro began his career and a head strong and free rolling front runner. Most recently, the Dunn stable transformed the horse in to a relaxed staying type and it was paying dividends. Alta Maestro raced admirably in open class last season and scored his best win in the group 3 Teltrac Communications Ltd Free-For-All at Addington in March. This year’s New Zealand Cup was to be on the horse’s agenda before tragedy struck. “We had some pretty big and realistic plans this year,” Leadley said. “We genuinely thought he was good enough to be doing some pretty good things and it was a dreadful shock.” Leadley rated Alta Maestro as the best horse among the smart types he has raced. Good performers, Alta Las Vegas and Franco Cristiano, are also among his winners.   “We have owned 19 in total over about the last 16 years, he has certainly won us the most money.” “We have had a total of 53 wins, so we have done pretty well with the horses we have had.” The Leadleys are no strangers to tragically losing horses. The couple raced talented pacer Welsey Silcox, who won eight of his 12 starts in 2014 and 2015. The Courage Under Fire pacer died as the result of a freak accident. “Lightening hit a tree and crushed him.” “You wouldn’t believe some of the problems we have had with horses,” Leadley said. Alta Maestro’s demise comes at a time when the Canterbury couple’s time as owners is nearing its end. Leadley is unable to attend racemeetings due to a lung illness. “I am on oxygen tubes and morphine now and it is a problem to get to the races.” “Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with serious breathing issues and they said it will only every get worse.” “Nowadays I am confined to a wheelchair.” The owner reflects fondly on his 16-year involvement in horse ownership. “The real thing about the races was the people that we met,” Leadley said. “There are some really great people there and if we didn’t have those horses we never would have met them.” Leadley remains in the ownership of three horses in the Dunn stable. They include the unbeaten 3yr-old Down To The Bone. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ  

The often sedate nature of early season open class pacing races has provided Addington with an unexpected boost this week. Because Miracle Mile winner Spankem and his high-class stablemates Ultimate Sniper and Chase Auckland will resume at their Friday night meeting, a week earlier than expected. All three Purdon-Rasmussen group one stars were originally expected to start their New Zealand Cup campaigns in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday week. But Purdon decided with the first open class pace of the season two weeks ago run at a farcical speed, an earlier start to their preparations wouldn’t hurt the trio. “We could have taken them back to the trials but often these early season open class races can be a bit slower than usual and raced in single file,” explains Purdon. ‘“I am not saying that will be the case this week but I think a race will be more useful than a trial which might have only been our three anyway. “And if they only run a big half (last 800m) on Friday then it is similar to a trial.” A look at the first open class pace of the season, the Maurice Holmes Vase on August 30, suggests Friday’s comeback shouldn’t be too brutal on the big guns. While there were only two head margins between Classie Brigade, A G’s White Socks and Hail Christian that night, the overall time of 3:21.4 for the 2600m standing start was 12.7 seconds outside the national record, with the leaders flying their last 800m in 54.3 seconds and the 400m in 26.7. The final sectional is exactly the same one Spankem paced winning a trial at Ashburton last week, suggesting field position might decide Friday’s Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup. But regardless of who wins on Friday having some of the All Stars pacing heroes back creates a lot more interest in the meeting and makes it feel like the open class season is actually starting. “It will be good to have them back and all going well they will probably still go to Oamaru for the Hannon, then races like the Canterbury Classic (October 4) and the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on October 28.” New Zealand Cup defending champion Thefixer won’t be back on Friday though as he has had a very slight setback and will instead trial at Rangiora today. And Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up is still definitely not racing until next year. Also returning on Friday night but away from the elite trotters is Oscar Bonavena, who is expected to be one of the big movers in that gait this season. He has thrilled Purdon in both his work and a trial last week and while he is the $4.80 second favourite for the Dominion during Cup week in Christchurch he comes back off only a 20m handicap in a moderate rating56 race on Friday. “He is trotting beautifully and we have no concerns about him stepping into open class later in the spring,” said Purdon. Friday’s main trot will see Sundees Son start a hot favourite back to mobile conditions in the Ordeal Trotting Cup after he bolted in from a 25m handicap against similar opposition last Friday.   Michael Guerin

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. This week's show features junior driver Alicia Harrison following her winning double last week including the Te Awamutu Cup; John Stiven of Arden Lodge after he trained his first winner; Newly appointed Methven TC President, Mark Lemon and our regular update with Bookmaker Richard Wilson.   Jess Smith

Harness racing rankings for the 2019 Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup and the 2019 Airpark Canterbury Dominion Trot have been published. These are the first published Rankings for both of these races. The rankings have stemmed from an 'Initial' Rankings meeting of the committee held on Friday 06 September, before being updated to encompass last weekend's racing. Click here to view the rankings.   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand

Late-blooming Aussie trotter Tough Monarch is bound for New Zealand. Delighted trainer Rickie Alchin said he had weighed everything up after the eight-year-old’s sparkling Melton win last Saturday night. “I’ve had Cup Week over there in the back of my mind for a while, but I used those 10 days and two good races down in Melbourne as a real test for him,” he said. “He won them both so well, so he sort of made the decision for me. “The Dominion will be his main target, but he’ll run in that good trot on NZ Cup Day as well. And what about the Auckland Inter Dominion? “That’s an option, but it’s run the in the other direction so I need to test him out. I’ll speak to Menangle about organizing a trial the Auckland way of going to help me make that decision,” Alchin said. Tough Monarch has always promised to make a top flight trotter, but needed time. “We’ve needed to be patient” Alchin said. “Last campaign was the first one he’s got all the way through with some issues. He went out for a spell feeling great. “He went really well for us during that Melbourne Inter Dominion, but I think I got more out of it than the horse did. He was out on his feet by the final, I think I needed to be easier on him between runs. “But he’s come back and gone to that next level this campaign. “I might never get another opportunity with a horse as good as him to go to NZ, so I really should take it now.” Alchin’s challenge now is mapping out the path towards Addington. “There’s not a lot of races because I’ll keep him here (Sydney) and won’t go back to Melbourne before NZ,” he said. “He may just have the one run, but he’ll have a few trials as well.  “I just need to be able to keep right where he’s at now and I’m sure he’ll be very competitive over there.”   Adam Hamilton

Gore trainer John Ryan showed what a master he is with the square gaiters today at Winton (Sunday) when he produced Picketts Ridge to win the Majestic Son At Alabar Handicap Trot. The six year old Skyvalley gelding driven by regular pilot Nathan Williamson, hadn’t raced since the Riverton meeting at Ascot Park in November last year and had only two workouts to prepare him for today’s run. “I was thrilled with him. What a tremendous training effort by John to get him that sharp and go 3-02 on a cold day. Today was the best he’s felt as far as his gait goes. He felt really solid. He’s always had the ability to be a really good horse.” Picketts Ridge’s winning margin was two and a half lengths over Wee Man Trouble. The winning time on a cold eight degree day of 3-02.6 was 1.6 seconds outside of the track record of 3-01.0  held by Majestic Man. It was Picketts Ridge’s fifth win in eleven starts and he looks destined for a better grade. The day also proved rewarding for two Canterbury drivers. Leading reinsman Blair Orange drove three winners; Plutonium Lady for trainer Mark Jones, Rah De Rah for Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders and impressive looking Tom Martin which won his second race in as many starts. The Paul Court trained Tom Martin lead early before handing up to Kingmaker. But when Hazer started to come round the field with 1700 metres to run Orange took the Mach Three gelding to the front again and there he stayed. His winning margin over Amore Lancôme was a length and a quarter. Tom Martin holds out Amore Lancome                                             --Bruce Stewart photo “He’s a big strong guy who’s still learning but the motor’s there. He just hasn’t got the best pacing actions and he can chuck a few steps in here and there. He’s also not a great steering horse just yet but he’ll only get better. Today he was always travelling well so I was happy enough,” Orange said after the run. Tom Martin’s win capped off a good day for West Otago breeder and trainer John Stiven. He bought Raindowne, the dam of Tom Martin, a few years ago of Tuapeka Lodge. Later in the day Stiven produced Countess Of Arden to win her second race and his first win as a trainer. Canterbury driver John Dunn was also in good form, driving two winners back to back. The first was the Bettor’s Delight filly Need You Now – she beat second favourite Kickupyaheels by half a neck. The two locked wheels close to the finish and Robin Swain trainer of Kickupyaheels lodged a protest which was later dismissed. Need to Know just holding out Kickupyaheels – their wheels locked together   --Bruce Stewart photo Need You Now is raced by All Black captain Kieran Reed, former All Black Andy Ellis and the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate Number Two. She’s out of the Badlands’ Hanover mare Lady Antebellum and is a half-sister to Billy Badger which won eight races for Robert Dunn who also trains Need You Now. In the following race the father and son combination lined up three year old Sportswriter gelding Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon. He took the race out, beating Invaluable by a length and a quarter. Another success on the day was converted pacer Justan’s Sister which won her first race in the trotting gait for trainer Shane Matheson.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

By Garrick Knight A date with Art Major awaits Cambridge mare Juice Brogden after she bowed out of racing at Cambridge on Thursday night. “She is definitely retired,” her trainer, Nicky Chilcott, confirmed. “Her owners want to breed to sell commercially so they have chosen Art Major.” The Group 1-placed daughter of Bettor’s Delight heads to the matron’s paddock with nine wins and just shy of $150,000 in career earnings. Chilcott says she has every chance to be a top broodmare. “She was very lightly-raced, is beautiful looking, well-gaited and had terrific manners. “It doesn’t always work out that way but it’s hard to imagine she won’t leave quality foals.” While it’s never easy losing your stable star, Chilcott is content knowing she has a strong team to tackle the upcoming season. “I haven’t got a superstar, but I have got a really handy bunch of horses. “I do have big raps on Monkey Selfie but you can never get ahead of yourself with trotters. “There is also a maiden coming through, Nice Vintage, that we call ‘Juice Jnr’; I really like her a lot.” * * * * * Coming away with a win was a real bonus for Bulls trainer Doug Gale with American Me at Cambridge on Thursday night. “That race and his start the week prior were basically his trials to get him fit for the season,” said the veteran conditioner. “He was at about the stage that I would ordinarily take him to the trials but, unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury down here at the moment. “So, I was very happy with how he performed considering where he was at, fitness-wise. “He blew up over the back after Thursday night, so there is still plenty of improvement in him.” Gale plans to return to Cambridge on October 3 for the $22,000 Sires Stakes Series heat but before that, a trip to Auckland might be in the offing. “I’ve been reluctant to go right-handed until now because right from the start he has run out a little bit that way. “There is no obvious reason for it, so I’m going to make a gear change and give him a right-handed workout at Palmerston North on Friday. “If I’m happy with the way he steers, the intention will be to race him at Auckland the following Friday.” American Me, who won also won a race as a juvenile last season, is one of just six horses Gale has in work after a measured scaling down over the winter. “It’s not too much difference in workload at home; it just means we have a little more time to dedicate to each horse. “Where we wanted the change was at the races. Taking eight or nine horses to the races without any staff was proving to be very difficult.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The training sect of small West Otago town Tapanui had a day out at Sunday’s Winton races with two of its three licensed horsemen recording wins. And for John Stiven, better known as a highly successful commercial breeder, the win of Countess Of Arden gave him a memorable first training success. It’s not the first time he’s held a training license, but with 2019 being a landmark year for Arden Lodge, he was compelled to give it another crack. “This year is the 50th anniversary for Arden Lodge,” said Stiven. “It was established here in 1969 and that milestone was part of the reason I thought I’d have a wee crack at training again this year.” Stiven is no stranger to the craft, having helped his late father Doug with a team on the same property before his passing in 2001. “I’d been thinking about getting back in to it for a long time,” he told HRNZ. “I took over the licence when dad died, and had just one starter before giving it away to focus on the breeding side of things. “I used to help dad back in the day and knew the times they used to run back then. “So, I spoke to (fellow Tapanui trainer) Alan Shaw about it and he said I wouldn’t need to do much different than what we used to.” The first issue was the farm’s training track, which was somewhat dilapidated after 18 years without being used. “It had a fair bit of grass coming through it in parts that had to be worn off. I actually re-grited it a couple of weeks ago.” Then all he needed was the key part of the equation – a horse. Enter Countess Of Arden, who was a rising four-year-old daughter of Net Ten EOM that had been born and raised on the farm before going through three different stables. “She had been leased to Bob Sandford and Geoff Dunn and they sent her home in May after a couple of starts. “Well she arrived here with new shoes on and I thought, well, rather than pull them off, I’ll wear them off her.” After an encouraging fifth and second at the two Gore meetings, Stiven went to Winton on Sunday semi-confident. That was only magnified when white-hot favourite Chevron Flies was late-scratched an hour before the race. After showing early speed from the mobile start point, Countess Of Arden settled in the trail for junior driver Ben Laughton, whose appointment carried the added bonus of a penalty-free win. The short Winton straight meant she needed to show some zip to reel in leader, Betterthanspraying, but she got there by a half-head in the shadows of the post. With Barry Purdon, Brad Williamson and Dunn having handled her previously, it’s somewhat intriguing that Stiven has managed to get the best out of her. “She’s enjoying life. She’s happy to be home in Tapanui, just like we are.” So, does Stiven have any plans to ramp up his training operation? Probably not immediately with 16 mares nearing foaling and nine yearlings to prepare for next year’s sales. “Just for the moment we will see how it goes, but it’s probably fair to say I’ve got the bug back now.” An added thrill for Stiven was the win earlier in the day of Rah De Rah, who is prepared by fellow Tapanui trainer, Matt Saunders. “Those two horses worked together during the week so it was quite exciting to see them both win on the day. “Matt works them on the galloping track and does a great job. “He’s been up here once and I’ve been down there probably half-a-dozen times.” Like most of Saunders’ winners, he was a recent purchase out of Canterbury and was having his first start from new quarters. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A heady Nathan Williamson drive spelled the end of U May Cullect’s unbeaten record at Winton on Sunday. Williamson, driving the horse he trains, Franco Santino, ensured a frantic pace throughout which meant the 50-metre handicap of the race favourite was insurmountable. Despite running a last half in a tick over 53 seconds, U May Cullect could still only manage third. “The way it worked out, once we made a good beginning, it just sort of made sense to keep them running,” Williamson told HRNZ. “We had a 30-metre advantage over him and there was no point letting him cruise back in to the race because he was always going to be too good in that situation. “I wasn’t actually expecting to be in front, but when the speed backed off early, I thought I would whip around and put it back on.” Franco Santino, kept in work through winter, had a distinct advantage on the score of fitness, and that paid dividends. And for Williamson, the second win in a row has been an overdue delivery of the ability he always knew the horse had. “He’s been a bit of a problem horse in that he showed a bit of ability early - he actually went 1.52 as a three-year-old – but has always struggled to get really physically stronger. “He couldn’t take a lot of work and we kind of had to baby him through it. “As well as that, he was a picky doer and we had to space out his runs because of it.” A trip to Addington for an unplaced effort in the Uncut Gems in June left Williamson scratching his head, “That’s the only time he’s only disappointed me badly and to be honest I think it’s because he didn’t travel up that well. “Being a colt, in new surrounds, he did not settle in and for two days was running around, not himself.” Not gelding the son of Christian Cullen was a conscious decision on the part of owner Neville Cleaver, but one that Williamson agreed with. “Neville loves colts and he spent a bit of money on him so didn’t want him gelded. “And because he’s always been physically a bit behind the others his age, I thought leaving him a colt might help is development. “That extra bit of testosterone would help him get stronger. “And he’s good-mannered for a colt so it worked out well.” Exactly why Franco Santino has come ahead the last couple of starts, firstly with a win at Gore and now Winton, isn’t something Williamson has put his finger on just yet. “Just in the last month he seems to have turned the corner for unknown reasons. “He feels a bit stronger and seems to be eating better so is copping a bit more work. “Hopefully it means we won’t have to space his races anymore.” Kirstin Barclay, revitalised after a holiday in Queensland, was over the moon with the fresh-up performance of her and Tank Ellis’ stable star, U May Cullect. “I was absolutely rapt with him. “He couldn’t have run home any quicker than what I timed him in. “He just got too far back and the horses in front didn’t cart him up.” But it was after the race that had Barclay particularly excited. “He pulled up a treat and would hardly have blown out a candle, so I think we are right on track for the Hannon Memorial next week.” Also heading that way will be Franco Santino, Williamson keen to get a line on where his in-form pacer sits against the big guns. “We might look at the Hannon with him. “Not because I think he’s a huge winning chance, but because it will give us a good line on where he’s at.“ Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The main pacing race at Winton today, the Ultimate Machete At Alabar Handicap Pace certainly lived up to its pre-race hype, featuring the return of  unbeaten pacer U May Cullect, Harness Jewels place getter Robyns Playboy and an in form Franco Santino. In what proved to be a very tactical race it was the Nathan Williamson trained and driven Franco Santino from a twenty metre handicap that prevailed. Robyns Playboy (20 metres) was a length and a quarter back in second while favourite U May Cullect (50 metres) was two and a half lengths back in third. “Rapt with him. He’s just kept stepping up in the last few weeks. We’ve been thrilled with the way he’s been training. He’s always been a picky eater but now he’s starting to lick his bowl and he’s healthy. I think he may have matured and turned the corner a little bit,” Williamson said after the win. He attributed the win to Franco Santino’s good beginning and his move to come off the inside running line with a 1000 metres to run. “The key to it was we did have a head start on our main rivals. I was going to be hemmed three back on the inside. I had a look and saw that they (the field) were well strung out. The plan was to keep them running and make them earn every step of their handicap. As is worked out that move probably won him the race.” Williamson will now consider the Hannon Memorial for the five year old Christian Cullen entire which is owned by Riverton fisherman Neville Cleaver. Ollie Kite, Neville Cleaver and Nathan Williamson with Franco Santino   ---Bruce Stewart photo “He seems like he’s (Franco Santino) in a good place so we’ll probably look at that now.” The winning time of 2-57.3 was just outside the track record for geldings and entires. ( 2-57.1 held by Royal Bengal). Gore trainers Ross and Chris Wilson were also pleased with the performance of second placegetter Robyns Playboy. His time for the 2400 metres was a very creditable 2-57.6. “I was real rapt. It was a bit of a step up for him really to see how he would measure up. He made a wee bit of a hash after the start and had a buck or two which didn’t help,” said co-trainer Ross Wilson. He said Robyns Playboy is a naturally athletic horse and was ready for today’s season opener. “It didn’t worry him. He didn’t blow after. He’s quite happy because he tried to kick Chris afterwards.” The Wilson’s also plan to head to the Hannon at Oamaru in a fortnight. “I think all the Purdon – Rasmussen horses look as though they’re going this year but we’ll just hide him in the field somewhere and see whether he runs home. It’ll tell us whether we’re going to carry on or not. I think he’s a stayer and is better covered up. In a lot of his races so far he’s been doing a lot of work.” Favourite U May Cullect’s run for third was one of the big talking points of the race. The six year old gelding was privately timed to run his last mile in 1-53.3 and last 800 metres in 53.1. He was credited with an overall time of 2-55.7 for the 2400 metre stand. Driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay was thrilled with the run as it was the gelding’s first start since winning the Uncut Gems at Addington in the middle of June. “He got a bit keen in the preliminary. He was just on the fresh side but as soon as he got round to the start he just walked round like an old campaigner,” she said. The gelding made a slow but safe beginning from the 50 metre mark. “He just sort of froze when the tape went but he stepped safely. I just can’t wait to get him lining up with horses now off a level mark because I think he’ll come out with them.” U May Cullect was always going to have to work from the back mark and he got well off the pace early. “A lap out I had to give him a slap on the bum because once he’s in the race he just goes to sleep. He’s just an incredible horse.” Barclay moved the Gotta Go Cullect gelding forward from the 800 metres with twelve lengths to make up on the leader Franco Santino. “At the quarter I thought if I chased him with the stick we could have got closer but he’d done so much. There’s bigger races coming up. I’ve never been so thrilled to run third. There was still a bit left in the tank. He’ll take a lot of improvement out of the run because he’s only had one private run prior to today.” U May Cullect ran home nicely under his own steam and was the only horse making ground in the very fast run race. He too has the Hannon on his radar. “I’m looking forward to racing off level marks. I think his forte is coming off their back with the speed he shows.”   Bruce Stewart Southern Harness Racing

By Jonny Turner The task Southland sensation U May Cullect faces in his first step towards the New Zealand Cup at Winton on Sunday would be daunting for any ordinary horse. But, one thing is certain ahead of the unbeaten pacer’s resumption – he is no ordinary horse. U May Cullect will give four of his fellow New Zealand Cup nominees a head start when he begins from the 50m back mark in a 2400m handicap. It is clear the start of the event will be crucial for the Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis trained 6yr-old.   “The handicap over a mile and a half will be pretty tough,” Barclay said. “As long as he steps away, that is the main concern.” “We are just trying to make sure that when he lines up on even terms with a field he will step away nicely.” Barclay plans to drive U May Cullect for one run after she asks him to step away from the 50m mark. Part of that tactic is help the horse gain more race experience and tractability among horses, before the New Zealand Cup. In his last start at Addington, U May Cullect’s greenness meant he hesitatated when asked to take the passing lane and it could have cost him the race. “As you saw at Addington he was quite unsure about taking the passing lane and going inside a horse,” Barclay said. “So, Tank and I have been talking about it and we want to drive him with a sit take those inside runs.” “He is pretty green, he has had only had seven starts and he has either led or come around them.” “It is all about education, really, and getting him more tractable in the field.” U May Cullect has not made a public appearance at the trials or workouts ahead of his return to racing. However, he had done enough work in training to be highly competitive on Sunday. “He wintered up really well, he had three weeks off and he put on a stack of condition.” “We are really happy with him, and he has been working well.” New Zealand Cup nominees Franco Santino (20m), Robyns Playboy (20m), Sagwitch (30m) and Airpark Flyer (40m) each get a head start on U May Cullect on Sunday. Franco Santino, who beat an inferior field at Gore in his last start, is the only of the five cup contenders to go in Sunday with the benefit of recent racing. Airpark Flyer has had one trial and workout ahead of his resumption. In the first of those, the Trent Yesberg trained pacer finished just a neck behind Maurice Holmes Vase winner, Classie Brigade. Robyns Playboy goes in to the race after running second in a sedate Gore workout. Sagwitch has not stepped out at the trials or workouts ahead of his resumption. The feature trot at the Winton meeting, which will also be run over 2400m and under handicap conditions, feature the return of talented squaregaiter Picketts Ridge. The 6yr-old, who has had two workouts ahead of his return, will start from 30m in his first start since November, last year. Picketts Ridge clashes with Davey Mac (front), Rydgemont Son (10m), Imran Khan (20m) and Wee Man Trouble (40m).  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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