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After he won on Diamonds Day a week ago it was expected that star pacer U May Cullect would be turned out for a month. But that’s now not the case. “When Tank went to feed him the next day he was going nuts around the paddock so he just thought we’d be better to tick away with him quietly and look at races every two to three weeks. We always do precautionary scans on him. We gave him a scan last week and the leg is perfect. We’ve got no real plans. We’ll go to Winton and I’m not sure what will happen after that,” said co-trainer Kirstin Barclay. He’s been the big find of the Southern harness racing season and he's created talk right across the national harness scene when winning all of his four starts impressively. “We knew he was a nice horse but the way he’s stepped up in every race has been amazing. Everything he does he does so easily. To be fair he hasn’t stepped up against quality yet but the times he’s run, especially his 1-52 mile at Winton untouched, shows he’s more than capable of going a bit quicker.” Barclay says the horse has continued to get better and better and has taken everything in his stride. “The big thing is that he can be keen off the gate but as soon as he’s crossed over or you ask him to come back to you after you’ve come out of the gate he just relaxes. At Addington he was keen, took a trial and just went to sleep. It was the same at Winton. He’s a pretty smart cookie and nothing really worries him.”   Bruce Stewart

Chuckles continued his great run for owner Tom Kilkelly and trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis when he won the second to last Nuggets Final at Ascot Park today (Saturday). And it was fitting that the race was sponsored by Kilkelly’s business Regent Car Court. It was only the Grinfromeartoear gelding’s third start after he qualified at Wyndham in November last year. “He qualified really nice but had a wind problem so he had to go away and have an operation. He’s come a long way in a short time,” said Barclay. The three year old is out of the Badlands Hanover mare Uroc On and is named after master horseman Mark Purdon. “The horse’s stable name is Mark. Tom and Julie used to sit and watch Mark on Trackside interviews and he always had a wee chuckle so that’s how he got his name.” From Gate Six Barclay worked Chuckles to the front before handing up to stablemate Hampton and then Tulsa Jaccka. When Love The Blues became the fourth leader Chuckles was posted four back on the inside. With 800 metres to run Jaffie J started to move up. Barclay gave Chuckles a flick with the reins and he got onto that runners back. With 500 metres to go she got Chuckles into top gear and he sprinted hard three wide. “I knew Wayne’s one (Tulsa Jaccka) had a good turn of foot so I wanted to get a bit of a break on it before it got to the lane.” Chuckles sustained a good sprint in the run home beating Tulsa Jaccka by three quarters of a length with the winner’s stablemate Hampton making ground late for third another three quarters and a length away. Chuckles and Kirstin Barclay beating Nathan Williamson and Tulsa Jaccka - Photo Bruce Stewart Barclay noted the gelding was keen today and that was noticeable when he was trailing Hampton early in the event. “He just wasn’t himself today. The track was a wee bit looser, he was fresh, looking at everything and buggering around a little bit. He knuckled down when it was time to do the job.” It was another great drive by Barclay who’s in an excellent vein of form at the moment, undoubtedly buoyed by the thrill of driving U May Cullect. The win was one of two on today’s card for Barclay. In the last two weeks she’s won five races. Her other win today was on the Ricky Gutsell trained Maahes which won the Southland Express Mobile Pace at odds of 34-1. Maahes winning at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart   Bruce Stewart

EMERGING speedster Majestic Player looks set to become the second Harness Jewels contestant for the giant Yabby Dams operation. Trainer Anton Golino took Dance Craze across to Cambridge for last year’s 4YO Jewels trot and would’ve gone close to winning with any luck. She’s since returned home, gone to another level with wins in the Great Southern Star and other features and shown the NZ trip was the making of her. Maybe Golino thinks it could be the same with Majestic Player, who made it 13 wins from just 25 starts when he won untouched in a 1min54.8sec mile at Menangle last night. Jewels recruiter Darrin Williams made it clear Majestic Player and Drop The Hammer – who ran fourth last night – were racing against each other for the Jewels invite. Majestic Player’s gate speed is lethal and he used it to lead and win as he liked last night. That gate speed will be huge with a kind draw at Addington on June 1. Golino said a Jewels trip was “very likely as long as he comes through this well.”   HRNZ

Speedy Auckland Reactor gelding Revolver grabbed another impressive harness racing victory at Alexandra Park last night coming home to win from a near impossible position with 400m to go. Sitting last at the 400m with a wall of horses in front of him, the chances of Revolver (Auckland Reactor - Penny Lane) looked slim of even getting clear racing room, until driver Tony Herlihy managed to extract the horse at the right time and he fair flew home to grab the leader Big On Personality right on the line. The time was a very quick 2-40.0 for the 2200m journey, a mile rate of 1-57.0.  Revolver has now won five of his ten lifetime starts.   Revolver winning his fifth race last night Auckland Reactor has been on a roll recently with two winners last night (Classie Reactor and Stephens Spirit) in Australia and his three-year-old filly Delightfulreaction was an unlucky closing fast second in the $150,000 Western Australian Oaks at Gloucester Park. To watch the video replay of the Oaks last night click on this link. Auckland Reactor now has 51 winners in Australia for $1,138,375 in earnings. In New Zealand he has 38 winners for $1,078,610 in earnings. Harnesslink Media

Rising harness racing star Spankem claimed another Gr1 victory tonight by winning the 2019 $90,000 Dawson Harford Ltd NZ Messenger Championship at Alexandra Park. Using the same tactics as she did in last weeks Taylor Mile success, driver Natalie Rasmussen blasted off the mobile gate to grab an early lead with the showy Bettor's Delight gelding.  It turned out to be a lead she would never relinquish. As he did last week Spankem ran along in front with no attackers and he simply had too much gas in the tank for his rivals, unleashing a sizzling last 800m in 54.3 seconds and winning by half a length at the line.  Stable mate Turn It Up got closest again running home well for second with Mach Shard battling on well from the trail for third. For Natalie Rasmussen it was her second straight win in the race, after winning with Eamon Maguire last year. "He got a nice soft lead again tonight and that first lap was pretty kind," she said after the race. "I was conscious not to spark him up, because he can get a bit keen sometimes, but he was nice and relaxed tonight so he was able to hold them off. The winners time was 3-17.6 for the 2700m mobile. Spankem winning the NZ Messenger The All Stars Stables had a good night in both Islands. As well as winning three out of the four Group One races on offer at Alexandra Park, they also picked up three races at Addington including a trifecta in the rich $161,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Open, with One Chance just pipping stablemate Smooth Deal by a nose with Flying Even Bettor running third. Ashlea Locaz also won during the night as did well bred maiden first starter Only Me.   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing driver John Dunn grabbed the biggest race of his career when Sundees Son won the $156,000 Gr1 Rowe Cup tonight at Alexandra Park. Fresh from his dazzling win in the Gr1 Anzac Cup last week over the mobile sprint trip of 2200m, Sundees Son had to prove his toughness tonight over the extreme distance of 3200m from a standing start and he did so in convincing fashion. The Majestic Son gelding was away quickly from his unruly second row draw and Dunn bided his time near the back of the field before taking closer order with a lap to go. After finding the front at the winning post for the last time, all John Dunn had to do was sit quietly and the horse did the rest. Sundees Son had the field in trouble at the final turn and he cruised home under his own steam to win in what could only be described as a dominant victory for the Robert Dunn trained 4yo. For John Dunn the win meant a lot. "I settled a lot closer than I thought I would and they sort of backed off the speed a little bit and this horse he can stay as well as sprint so it went a bit to plan. "This race is like the New Zealand Cup for trotters, and I got beat so narrowly in the New Zealand Cup, so this would have to be my best win," he said. "Dad deserves this one. Last week was his first group one with a trotter so tonight will be massive for him as well," he said. Gallant in defeat was defending champion Speeding Spur who trailed and battled on well for second. The John and Josh Dickie trained trotter was having his last race in New Zealand and is now heading for a North American campaign before returning to New Zealand to stand at stud next season. Sundees Son trotted the 3200m stand in 4-06.2. The last 800m was run in 58.2 seconds and the final 400m in 28.5. Sundees Son winning the Rowe Cup   Harnesslink Media  

Well bred harness racing filly Sweet On Me capitalized on a better draw this week to comfortably win the $138,000 Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes 2yo Fillies Champs at Alexandra Park. Driven confidently tonight by driver Mark Purdon Sweet On Me (Sweet Lou - Adore Me) settled back early before launching to the lead with a lap to go. In the straight Purdon was always in control and Sweet On Me held out the stable mate Amazing Dream by three quarters of a length at the line. The Robert Dunn trained Tiffany Rose ran home well for third. The win by Sweet On Me gave the training partnership of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen it's fifth win straight in the race, with the winner pacing the 1700m mobile in a 1-57.3 mile rate. The last 800m was run in 57.3 seconds and the final 400m in 26.8. Mark Purdon thought the speedy filly was better tonight. "She was good tonight. She came off the gate nice without being to quick and settled handy but I thought I would make a move at the 1400m and take her to the front," he said. "I thought she might have got home last week,but she could have been in season a little bit and that may have had a bearing on it." Sweet On Me winning the Gr1 NZ Sires Stakes for 2yo Fillies   Earlier in the night the All Stars Stables trained Enhance Your Calm put in a huge performance to win the Gr1 $90,000 2019 Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby. Despite breaking behind the mobile and losing 50m the Majestic Son 3yo caught the field after 800m before driver Mark Purdon looped the field to lead with a mile to run. From there he was never in danger of defeat running a slick last 800m in 56.4 seconds to win easily by 2 1/4 lengths from the Robert Dunn trained Resonate.  Purdon was not sure what caused Enhance Your Calm to gallop. "Look I can not put my finger on why he is galloping. "Afterwards he was faultless and he made a really swift move down the back with a mile to run, but I really am at a loss to explain why he has done that out of the gate," he said after the race. "We will get him to the Jewels and then he can have a good rest," he said. Enhance Your Calm winning the Northern Trotting Derby   Harnesslink Media

New Zealand Bloodstock’s All Aged Sale to be held at Karaka on Monday 6 May has received three late yearling entries. All three horses were purchased at the National Yearling Sale at Karaka on 18 February. To be consigned by Hollis and Robertson Equine Services, the yearlings are as follows: Lot 208 La Bet - Brown Filly by Bettor’s Delight ex La Filou purchased for $75,000 Lot 209 Delightintrumpsdream – Bay Gelding by Bettor’s Delight ex Yankee Dream purchased for $105,000 Lot 210 Tradesman – Bay Colt by Mach Three ex Carpenters Daughter purchased for $110,000 Buyers should note that all three yearlings have been paid up for the Harness Millions Series. They will be sold on an unreserved basis at the conclusion of the main catalogue at approximately 3.30pm, unless sold prior to the auction. NZB Director and Operations Manager, James Jennings, commented “these are three highly commercial yearlings that represent outstanding opportunities for buyers, with the added advantage of the Harness Millions entry fee having already been paid.” For any queries please contact Peter Lagan on 021 424606 or peter.lagan@nzb.co.nz, or James Jennings on 09 2980055 or james.jennings@nzb.co.nz. Lot 208 Pedigree Lot 209 Pedigree Lot 210 Pedigree    

It could be a case of the same script but a different ending in the $100,000 Messenger at Alexandra Park tonight. The last of the four group ones at the huge premier meeting sees a return clash of seven of the eight pacers who contested last Friday’s Taylor Mile in which Spankem led and outsprinted stablemate Turn In Up (parked), with trailer Mach Shard holding on for third and Chase Auckland making good ground in the 26.1 second last 400m. Remarkably many of the key players have similar draws tonight and while this race is over 1000m longer it looks likely to play out the same way, at least early. Trainer Mark Purdon gave punters the biggest lead ever when he said Spankem would lead last Friday and not be attacked and from barrier three that should be the case again. But this time Purdon stops short of suggesting he won’t challenge mid-race. “I am sure Spankem will lead early and that probably makes him the one to beat,” says Purdon in a quote that could have been recycled from last week. But then there starts to get a bit of a twist in the tale. Firstly there are two rivals drawn inside Spankem, rather than one last Friday, which raises the possibility they both want the same spot behind him and therefore he has to work at least a little harder to lead. And Chase Auckland could also be a factor in any early rush for positions. “If they went a bit harder early, while I wouldn’t think we (Purdon and Turn It Up) would be in that rush, I wouldn’t be scared to come have a look in the middle stages.” That could be the key quote, with Purdon adamant he wasn’t going to challenge mid-race last week but suggesting he could tonight. And he then says that Turn It Up actually worked so well on Wednesday morning he thinks the Auckland Cup winner has improved with last Friday’s race. So while we still seem to have a script with Spankem leading tonight it is over a longer distance, against a seemingly fitter Turn It Up with an increased chance of a mid-race challenge. Considering there was just over a length between them last Friday that could be enough to swing you toward backing Turn It Up tonight. And if he does come looking for the lead mid-race and the early pressure sees him get it, then he almost certainly wins. The bookies market which surprisingly opened Spankem at $3.60 left enough room in the market for punters to back him and then play Turn It Up on the tote tonight because it would be a major surprise if one of the pair don’t win. Purdon can go into the Sires’ Stakes Fillies Final equally as confident as Sweet On Me should turn the tables on Amazing Dream after their national record run last Friday but the $100,000 Breckon Farms Trotting Derby may not be so clear cut. There is little doubt Enhance Your Calm is the best horse in the race and if he trots throughout he should probably win but he did gallop at the start last Friday after becoming unbalanced in his right-handed debut. Purdon believes he was safer in track work on Wednesday but he still looks a horse with a few frailties — either mental or physical— and that raises at least the possibility NZ Trot Derby winner Lotamuscle can beat him either with manners or his serious sit-sprint. “I am happy with him (Enhance Your Calm) but I have to respect Lotamuscle after the way he has raced recently and you know with Paul (Nairn) training him he will be spot on.” Michael Guerin

“Trotting in Australia and New Zealand needs to be part of the world scene,” says a recent visitor to Southland, Aldebaran Parks principal Duncan McPherson. McPherson attended the Winton Harness meeting in April as a guest of Southern Harness and HRNZ Board Member Kevin McNaught. Aldebaran were also sponsors of the Gold Chip Super Final, one of the features of the days racing.  Aldebaran Park is an agistment and breeding organization with its ‘home’ farm in the heart of the Goulburn Valley region in Victoria but it also has branches in America and Sweden. Aldebaran was set up by McPherson and well known Australian trainer Chris Lang and his wife Sharon. “We rate ourselves as an international destination for trotters in the world and we started with Aldebaran Park in 2004. Chris and Sharon are great mates of mine and my father started with Graeme (Lang) back in 1962. Chris came to me and said we should get together and have some horses. The irony is that my late wife, myself, Chris and Sharon all have the star sign Taurus. The brightest star in the Taurus constellation is Aldebaran so that’s where the name came from,” said McPherson. Duncan says the family connection goes further back than Aldebaran. His grandmother visited New Zealand in 1954 and bought horses out of Southland. “We had the opportunity to buy the good ones but never had the money to.” His father also visited New Zealand in the 1960s and bought a horse called Eden.  “She was by Morris Eden. Her best progeny was Rebecca Campbell. She won the 1975 Youthful Stakes and the 1976 South Australia Oaks.” Eden was bred by the late Ted Lowe and was out of Cavendish which was a half-sister to the useful pacers Globe Direct (13 wins) and Chief Lochiel (9 wins). Aldebaran these days concentrates on the trotting market and has about thirty five well bred mares under it’s name including one of the Australia’s greats, Maori Time. She won twenty four of her sixty six starts including the Group One 2013 NSW Trotting Oaks, The Trotters Mile at Menangle and the 2016 and 2017 Aldebaran B Collins Trot. She won a total of $421,301 in stakes. “Maori Time raced in the Elitloppett in Sweden. She’s heading for motherhood with Readly Express which won the Group One European Championship.”      Aldebaran also consigns yearlings to the Australian and New Zealand Trotting Sales. At the 2018 Prydes Australian Premier Trotting Sale they sold a full brother to Maori Time for $60,000. They also sold three trotters in this year’s NZB Standardbred Christchurch Sale. Southlander Wayne McEwan bought Aldebaran Fawkes (Love You – Solar Power) for $21,000, KPC Racing Australia bought Aldebaran White Sox (Muscle Hill – U Dream) for $50,000 and Aldebaran Floss (Muscle Hill – Another Love) sold for $25,000.   They also have two resident stallions on farm in Victoria - Group One USA winner Aldebaran Walkabout (Muscle Hill - Letsjustalkboutme -USA T3 1.52.2) and Skyvalley - NZ T 1.56.2 (Muscles Yankee - Chiolas Lass NZ). McPherson knows Southland has produced some great pacing horses over the years but says it now has the opportunity to get fully into breeding world class trotters. “In Australia we have very brown paddocks and are hard feeding. If we can understand where our food bowl is and where our potential outcome needs to be, I think there’s an opportunity to breed world class horses here in Southland.” He says breeders in New Zealand and Australia now have access to the best trotting genetics in the world. “We need to understand that we’ve been behind in our breeding. I always said it’s a twelve to fifteen year programme for us to catch up but as long as we’ve got our Muscle Hill and Dream Vacation mares we can probably catchup a bit quicker. I think we’re between year eight and year ten at the moment. Australian and New Zealand Trotting has one of the fastest growing gene pools in the world. We can now go to studs in America and Europe and command some respect. Fifteen years ago they frowned upon us.” And he says Australasia has the fastest growing sub two minute trotting gene pool in the world. “We are breeding greater number of trotters than ever before. Finland only has between 150 and 200 broodmares. Australia has a gene pool of between 800 and 1000 mares.”         Aldebaran also has a strong profile in America and is breeding horses in Australia to Northern Hemisphere time and then sending them to America to be trained. “Our trainer up there is Jonas Czernyson and he’s won five grand circuit races in the last six years for us. Why do we send horses to America to race? We need to send a statement to the rest of the world that our trotters are internationally relevant.” They also purchase well bred trotting stock out of America and bring them back to Australia. “We were very fortunate. We bought a Cantab Hall filly at the 2010 Lexington Sales. We bought her to Australia and put her in foal to Muscle Hill and that foal Aldabaron Walkabout won the Bluegrass - a grand circuit race in America last season at Kentucky at the Red Mile. To send a weanling to America and win a stakes race like that is a great thrill.” As part of their commitment to making the Australian Trotting stock more international they continue to buy fillies with international pedigrees and breed foals to Southern Hemisphere time.   “We buy fillies from all round the world and impregnate them to southern hemisphere time and then import them back into Australia. We’ve been doing that programme for six to eight years. We now have a global gene pool at Aldebaran Park in Australia. We have Readly Express fillies, Viking Kronas fillies and Credit Winner colts. We think we can now take the sport to another level.” They also have a presence in Sweden and have horses trained by Pasi Aikio, head trainer at Menhammar Stuteri. Aldebaran are big sponsors of trotting in Australia and their sponsorships include naming rights to the Aldebaran Park Mile Rate at Tabcorp Park, the Monte Series and the Vicbred Super Series for Trotters. They also sponsor the Maori Mile at the Bendigo Harness Racing Club which is the richest Group One sprint for open class trotters held in regional Australia.  Their sponsorships now extend to New Zealand with the $20,000 Aldebaran Park Trotters Super Gold Chip Final at Winton. Aldebaran Park is also a strong advocate of the HERO program in Victoria which sees the re-education and re-homing of Standardbreds following their racing and stud careers. They’re also partners of the Harness Breeders Victoria "Follow the Foal" programme. McPherson says that Aldebaran, through all promotions and sponsorships support their Charity Partner - Women's Cancer Foundation, raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer through support of the Team Teal (New Zealand) and Teal Pants (Australia). “I think we have an opportunity through Team Teal to endear ourselves to the general public and to make our sport socially relevant. You then have an opportunity to attract sponsors. Sponsors equal ownership and ownership equals demand on progeny.”   Bruce Stewart

The men who have been there, done that suggest the best run as much as the best horse will win tomorrow night’s $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. And while the TAB market says the young gun four-year-olds have the wood on their rivals the race is shaping as one of the most even group ones at Alexandra Park in years. Last Friday’s Anzac Cup winner Sundees Son shares the $4 favouritism with fellow four-year-old Majestic Man as bookmakers signal what they see as a changing of the guard in the open class trotting ranks. But Majestic Man’s trainer Phil Williamson says while he couldn’t be happier going into the race the youngsters will need more than sheer ability on their side. “It is a very good race and there are plenty of winning chances,” says Williamson, one of only two trainers in the race to have won both the Rowe Cup and the Dominion, New Zealand’s two marquee trotting races. “I think a lot of it will come down to the run and the horse who has the luck. “This field is that even and at this level luck is crucial. I think Majestic Man will handle barrier one and if he steps away and can trail or be three back on the markers I’ll be happy. “But as good as both him and Sundees Son were last week they can’t just expect to beat these older horses with speed because 3200m is a different type of race. “So yes we can win but it won’t be easy. These races never are.” That opinion is shared by Paul Nairn, the only other trainer in the race who has won both the Rowe and the Dominion. He has Ronald J and Habibi Inta in the Rowe and thinks both can get closer than their fifth and sixths in the Anzac Cup. “Both of them had a bit of bad luck last week, Ronald J got held up a bit and Habibi Inta was hitting the stays on his sulky, which we will fix for this week. “But they are only two of about six or eight chances in the race. “One of the big things in these races is having a horse who can get away good from the standing start and get to the marker pegs because that is a huge help. “Over the 3200m it can be very hard to win if you are covering extra ground in the running line.”
 That would appear to be the problem for horses like defending champion Speeding Spur and Sundees Son, both of whom have to give away starts from the second line and will therefore almost certainly be three wide at some stage. That didn’t bother Sundees Son over 2200m last Friday and he may be so brilliant and in the zone he can still win but he did gallop shortly after the line last Friday so is still very much a take on trust horse at the early stage of his open class career. While the Rowe Cup has a huge array of winning hopes the $100,000 Trotting Derby looks to have two and once against Nairn should be to the fore with Lotamaucle. He was nearly 20-1 when he beat Enhance Your Calm in the NZ Trot Derby last month but is only $2.90 to repeat that as he appears to be a happy horse while Enhance Your Calm bungled his Alexandra Park debut becoming unbalanced and galloping early. The best version of Enhance Your Calm may be too fast for Lotamuscle but even if the favourite can lead it looks like Lotamuscle could be sitting on his back in the trail and that could make for an uncomfortable watch for Enhance Your Calm’s backers. Turn It Up ($1.65)as again opened favourite over stablemate Spankem ($3.60) even though the latter used his better barrier draw to win last Friday’s Taylor Mile and has that advantage again.   Michael Guerin

U May Cullect is regarded by many as the rising star of New Zealand harness racing.   Unbeaten in four starts to date, the Southland pacer has built up a level of excitement that few horses ever do.   Now very much the pride of the south, the son of Gotta Go Cullect was purchased by Tom Kilkelly for $5,200 as a weanling at Karaka from the annual Alabar NZ draft.   This year, Alabar NZ have a consignment of 55 weanlings selling at the NZB Standardbred All Aged Sale being held at Karaka on Monday, 6 May.   The sale starts at 11am with an Open Inspection Day being held at the sales venue the day before (Sunday, 5 May) between 1pm and 4pm.   Come along, who knows, you may collect harness racing’s next excitement machine.   The highlights of a 2019 draft stacked with quality include:    Five weanlings from the first crop of Always B Miki. The fastest horse of all time and the horse that Hall of Fame trainer, Jimmy Takter was quoted as saying “I think this could be the greatest horse that ever lived”   The first North American yearlings by Always B Miki are due to sell later this year and, being by a superstar of the sport and out of some of the best mares in the world, they are sure to sell extremely well.   The Alabar weanling draft gives buyers the chance to get ahead of this hype.   To add to the attraction they are also outstanding types.    Three weanlings by champion sire Art Major including a full-brother to Alta Maestro and a daughter of Annie Morva, 1:52.9 Lot 179 Art Major - Alta Camilla colt    Four weanlings by Majestic Son, the leading trotting sire in both New Zealand and Australia for the last two seasons Lot 120 Majestic Son - Letz Hope colt    Seven weanlings by He’s Watching who’s off to an excellent start with his first crop with five individual winners including the recent impressive Cambridge winner Eagle Watch (3rd Young Guns Final) and Star Hunter, a multiple Australian winner who was a close second in 1:53.3 in the APG Heat at Menangle on Tuesday. He looks like being one of the favourites for the Final Lot 106 He's Watching - Hip Pocket colt    Four weanlings from the only Southern Hemisphere crop by the US 3yo Breeders Crown winner, Racing Hill. Being the greatest son of Roll With Joe, a top sire who is no longer available to New Zealand breeders, is sure to be something that will grab the attention of buyers Lot 108 Racing Hill - Ineedanorvic colt      Six weanlings by A Rocknroll Dance, a sire who is sitting fourth on the NZ 3yo Sires’ Premiership with his first crop Lot 200 A Rocknroll Dance - Cote D Azure filly    Six weanlings by Sportswriter, the prolific juvenile sire who sired 43 individual 2yo winners in Australia last season and showed NZ a preview of his quality by quinellaing the Southland Oaks last weekend.    Three weanlings by Sunshine Beach, already the sire of 10 in 1:55 (3 in 1:53) with his first crop of early 3yo’s in North America Lot 116 Sunshine Beach - La Joconde colt    The only weanling ever to sell in NZ by champion US trotting sire Kadabra. Of note, with the weanling being offered being a filly, Kadabra is one of the all-time great sires of trotting mares with four millionaire mares to his credit including the US$4 million winner, Bee A Magician. Lot 206 Kadabra - Cyclone Emily filly     In what will be a somewhat poignant moment for the Alabar team, the last ever weanling by the great and ill-fated Mach Three appropriately rounds out the draft to be offered. Lot 152 Mach Three - Samantha Chloe filly    For more information contact Peter Lagan (021 424 606) or Rachel Deegan (021 939 950) at NZB Standardbred.     Graeme Henley

One of New Zealand’s most loved racehorses is set to make a shock departure after contesting the $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday night. Because while nine-time group one winner Speeding Spur might have been expected to retire this weekend, he is instead heading to North America for a rich campaign. Managing owner Andrew Grierson says the reigning Trotter of the Year has not been sold will definitely be returning to New Zealand to stand at stud next season. Speeding Sour faces a second line draw as he tries to defend the Rowe Cup title he won last season and victory in the great trot will almost certainly guarantee him Trotter of the Year again as he is the only trotter to win two group ones already this season. Raced by a partnership put together by Woodlands Stud, Speeding Spur was expected to retire to stud there but Grierson says the opportunity to race in North America and further embellish that stud career was too good to miss. “Eventually we want to stand him at stud in either New Zealand or Australia,” says Grierson, one of the principals of Woodlands Stud. “But getting good mares and a decent book is our greatest challenge with a colonial-bred stallion, even one with his record. “So we will give him his chance up there and he has been staked for some of the major races.” His targets include the US$1million International Trot at Yonkers on October 12 for which Speeding Spur is likely to be the Down Under invite while he has been paid up for a host of other major races, victory in any of which would greatly add to his worth at stud. Even if he can’t be the best in the States, which would be a huge ask at his age, Speeding Spur could easily trot a 1:53 mile on one of the faster tracks, all of which would help secure more mares when he makes his way back home. Owned by a Woodlands syndicate as well as All Blacks Kieran Read and Andy Ellis and former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler, Speeding Spur’s ownership will be restructured for the next phase of his career. “He is not being sold,” says Grierson. “He is 100% owned by Woodlands. He will be leased from Woodlands Stud and raced under a new  Woodlands NZ Racing Syndicate. “The membership of that new syndicate includes some who race him now.” Speeding Spur has been a true racing warrior, winning every season from two to seven-years old. He won three Derbys, the Great Southern Star when it was two sprints races in one night at Melton and also over the short trips of a NZ Trot Free-For-All to the 3200m of the Rowe Cup. In between he has overcome two career-threatening injuries and other issues so has little left to prove in Australasia, already warning his way into the elite trotting millionaires club. He has been trained throughout his career by John and Josh Dickie, with the latter having driven him in all but one of his 27 victories, with Kate Gath having filled in for one Victorian win. Speeding Spur faces a tricky second line in his final New Zealand start on Friday night meaning he could need some early luck to get handy, the position from where he has been most potent during his career. SPEEDING SPUR Breeding: 7h Pegasus Spur- Della’s Speed. Trainers: John and Josh Dickie. Drivers: Josh Dickie (26 wins), Kate Gath (one win from one drive). Record: 55 starts, 27 wins, 20 placings, $1,092,166. Highlights: Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star, NZ Free-For-All, NZ Trot Champs (twice), NZ, Northern and Vic Derbys, Breeders Crown.   By Michael Guerin

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. 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 Southland trainer/driver Kirstin Barclay following her four win training haul with training partner Tank Ellis on Saturday – including the remarkable win by U May Cullect. We are live at Phar Lap Raceway, chatting to Timaru HRC President Elizabeth Shand about the upcoming Mother’s Day meeting. Junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson chats to us following her first pacing winning drive at Timaru with Sweet Mary and Canterbury owner Wendy Nordqvist explains why she loves harness racing ownership. All that plus our usual update with Bookie Richard Wilson.   HRNZ Marketing

Once again, New Zealand’s leading standardbred nursery presents an outstanding draft for this years New Zealand Standardbred All Age bloodstock sale to be held at Karaka on Monday May 6th.   All our resident sire’s progeny will be available to buy at this year’s sale.   The draft comprising 55 weanlings, represents another big investment by Woodlands Stud in this sale, which is a great avenue for buyer’s to ‘pin hook’ a well bred and educated weanling!   Woodlands stud’s draft is represented by the standardbred worlds leading sires. Sweet Lou highlights our draft with over 24 weanlings by ‘Great White Blaze’! American Ideal, the dominant dual hemisphere stallion has 14 his progeny available for sale.   Millionaire performer Highview Tommy has 5 quality lots catalogued, and the stallion king Bettor’s Delight has four of his babies available on the day.   Lot 157 - Highview Tommy x Tigers Lady   For the square gaiter fraternity, Woodlands has five of Pegasus Spur’s sons and daughters for genuine sale and we also offer 2 weanlings by top USA sire Crazed.   With a Woodlands Stud weanling, you know you can buy with confidence.   The weanlings are prepared by the Woodlands Stud team, led by stud master Tony Grayling and weanling/yearling manager Kelly Blackmore.   The preparation is fastidious and when the babies hit Karaka for the sales, they are ready for buyers to take home.   Woodlands stud’s previous drafts have realised millionaires, winners on both sides of the Tasman and pin hookers have resold at yearling sales and made a profit!   Lot 132 - Bettor's Delight x Pocketfullofposies   Remember, all weanlings purchased are eligible for the New Zealand Standardbred harness millions racing series.   Lot 178 - Sweet Lou x Arden Banner   For any inquires regarding our yearling draft, the following Woodlands staff can help you   Stud master – Tony Grayling – 021 618830 In New Zealand – Stacey White – 021 595492 In Australia – Mark Hughes – 0451650707   You can also view the draft at www.woodlandstud.co.nz   Stacey White Woodlands Stud

A dream week with barrier draws has gifted Spankem an unlikely shot at harness racing’s Horse of the Year title. Because he might now start favourite in Friday’s $100,000 Messenger at Alexandra Park and victory there would embellish his claims for a title which looks more open than usual. Spankem bolted away with last Friday’s Taylor Mile after being able to lead favoured stablemate Turn It Up and has the best draw (three) of the favourites again this Friday. While the Messenger is 2700m compared with last week’s Mile, Spankem still looks the likely leader and then controls his own destiny, whereas stablemates Chase Auckland (barrier four) and Turn It Up (five) will need some luck to get to the marker pegs and in front of Spankem. Last week’s declaration from trainer Mark Purdon that Spankem would lead the Taylor Mile and not hand up to Turn It Up saw the market flipped on its head and Purdon’s pre-race comments this week will again have a crucial impact. But there is more than just the first place prize up for grabs on Friday as Spankem is making a late, unlikely bid for the Horse of the Year title. Thefixer would have been the early favourite for that after he won the New Zealand Cup, always the most important race for voters, but while he has won a Ballarat Cup and Miracle Mile prelude since he has been beaten plenty of times. Turn It Up has the Auckland and Easter Cups next to his name so a win this Friday and in the Jewels in June 1 would put him in the HOTY box seat. But if he wins on Friday then Spankem’s credentials get a further boost. He has already won the Miracle Mile in 1:47.7, the prelude a week earlier, the Kaikoura Cup, two Inter Dominion heats and last Friday’s Taylor Mile. Add the Messenger this week and his claims become hard to deny. Just 30 minutes earlier the Trotter of the Year title looks certain to be decided in the $150,000 Rowe Cup which hosts the horses who have won all the previous group one trots held in New Zealand this season. Speeding Spur, who has drawn the second line on Friday, is the only trotter to have won two group ones this term and is joined by Marcoola (Dominion), Massive Metro (National Trot) and Sundees Son, who won last Friday’s Anzac Cup. Another group one victory for any of that quartet could seal them the trotter’s title, with Sundees Son the only one with a further group one opportunity this season in the four-year-old Jewels at Addington on June 1. Earlier in the night Sweet On Me will be red-hot to bounce back from her first defeat last Friday in the Sires’ Stakes Championship while the battle between Enhance Your Calm and Lotamuscle highlights the $100,000 Trotting Derby.   Michael Guerin

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