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In harness racing if you want speed he’s got more than the rest. Always B Miki in 1.46! It’ll be hard to go anywhere around the 2020 national standardbred yearling sales without hearing about the progeny of Always B Miki. Officially the fastest standardbred of all time after posting 1:46 at the Red Mile in Lexington in 2016 Always Be Miki received good support at the weanling and aged sales in May last year and that should continue when this, his first Australasian crop of yearlings, take their turn in the sales rings in February. A multiple Breeders Crown winner and harness racing "Horse Of The Year" Always B MIki achieved success throughout a four year racing career in North America. Australasian buyers may also be bouyed by the fact that, contrary to other North American sire trends, Always B Miki achieved his greatest successes at an older age after returning from a run of injuries.    A highlight from his crop to be offered in Auckland at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale include a standout type from Breckon Farms who should attract attention throughout Australasia given the recent successes of close relative. Lot 106, named I’llavabubbles, is a bay filly with close ties to the Breckon Farms matriarch mare in Megeara and is out of known producer Delightful Dale who has already foaled progeny that have met with great success on both sides of the Tasman, both Shandale (3rd NZ Derby and an Inter Dominion heat place among his racing record and over $300’000 in career earnings) and Shandance who has notched nine wins on Australian soil are testament to the progeny and their winning ways while half sister Gladamare has notched up four wins in little time for New Zealand based trainer Brent Mangos. Shandale who has 14 wins on his card with $305,000 in earnings Always B Miki promises to be an exciting and new addition to the sire-lines for this tried and tested maternal line.  Always B Miki Retirement 2016 A new and exciting sire with all the credentials in the world. He’s got what everyone wants. Speed.  That’s Always B Miki.        Ben McMillan  

By Jonny Turner Invercargill horsewoman Ellie Barron is being hailed a hero after coming to the aid of fellow harness racing driver Ricky May when the champion reinsman collapsed during a race. May was revived after suffering a medical event, slumping in his sulky and falling to the track when driving A G's White Socks at a Central Otago meeting. He was in a serious but stable condition yesterday in the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital. Barron was among the first to May's side after he fell. She began giving CPR on the reinsman with the help of another driver, Lawrence McCormick. Barron is being hailed a hero by many who witnessed the incident. She was quick to deflect any praise and said her concern was for May's recovery. "I am just hoping for the best for Ricky, it is sounding positive from all accounts. I just hope he improves, really." Barron is a trained physiotherapist who has worked with the Southland rugby team. She credited her training for providing her with the skills to help revive May. "He was breathing when I got there, so I was worried about his neck and head. Then we had to change plan a wee bit." Barron also credited the paramedics and off duty medical staff that rushed out of the Omakau crowd to assist May. "It all happened so fast – there were two doctors there in what felt like a minute, then the paramedics came." "Everyone that could help did – it was good – but terrifying at the same time." Ricky May is in intensive care after collapsing during a race. Photo / file An intensive care paramedic played a crucial role in stabilising May, Barron said. "She waltzed in and she was so calm and she sort of just took over. I feel like he was so lucky to have been where he was when it happened. He could have been at home on the tractor." May's horse, A G's White Socks, has drawn praise following Thursday's incident. The 6yr-old is known to be a slightly moody type on race days. That was evident when the horse bolted frantically back to the stables after winning a race at Oamaru in 2016. But the horse did not panic without the control of his driver and angled wide on the track before May fell from his sulky. The remaining horses and drivers were able to easily manoeuvre past May when the race was called off. Canterbury driver John Dunn was driving the horse following A G's White Socks when May collapsed. He showed quick reactions to slow his horse, Heisenberg, when it was apparent May was unwell. Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North American every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound. Melton winners closely related Somewhere Secret and Always Fast, who won on the same card at Melton last Saturday, both belong to the same maternal family. Somewhere Secret, a six-year-old entire by Somebeachsomewhere, is out of a capable racemare in Secret Life, by Safely Kept from Lifeline, by Classic Garry from the noted Windshield Wiper mare Larrakeyah Lady. While, Always Fast, a four-year-old son of Always A Virgin, is out of All The Magic, by Live Or Die out of the Presidential Ball mare Celebrity Ball, a half-sister to Lifeline, the grand-dam of Somewhere Secret. Secret Life, the dam of Somewhere Secret, took a record of 1:58.6, won 11 races and $86,798 in stakes and became the dam of seven winners, five of whom took records of better than 2:00 including the Group 1 winners Beauty Secret 1:52.4 ($425,921) and Major Secret 1:55.1 ($464,872), now at the stud in South Australia. Secret Life is also the second dam of the Vicbred 3YO Final winner Out To Play 1:54.7 ($128,995), the SA Southern Cross winners That’s Perfect 1:53.8 ($121,32) and Perfect Look (1:53) and Striking Beauty 1:54.7 ($103,907). Only lightly raced, All The Magic, besides Always Fast, ranks as the dam of a potential liner in Ride High (1:55.2), the winner of 10 of his 11 starts and $211,547, and the former Australian 3YO Filly of the Year Rocknroll Magic 1:54.5 ($466,183). The Larrakeyah Lady family has earned a place all of its own in producing racemares such as Beauty Secret, Rocknroll Magic, The Good Times - all Group 1 winners – and colts in the same class such as Safe And Sound, Massarua, Exciteusinthecity, Ride High, and others. Auckland Cup winner has rich relations Self Assured, the brilliant winner of the $245,000 Trilliant Trust Auckland Cup, main race of the Auckland Cup carnival at Alexandra Park, is a Bettor’s Delight gelding from the same family as that which produced the champion pacer Lazarus. A four-year-old, Self Assured has not raced a great deal. He did not race at two and was undefeated in six starts at three including the Queensland Derby. Star Of Venus, the winning dam of Self Assured, has the amazing record of leaving five winners from five foals of racing age – all Group/Listed winners and $100,000 earners - and to different sires. Besides Self Assured, she is also the dam of Caviar Star 1:55.2 ($154,727), Star Of Memphis 1:52.9 ($123,320), Vega Star 1:51.2 ($121,178) and Star Of Dionysis 1:53.6 ($118,449). Star Of Venus ranks as a half-sister to a cup class pacer in Star Galleria 1:53.9 ($360,365), being by Christian Cullen out of Starlitnight, a Tuapeka Knight mare out of the prolific producer Star Of Bethlehem. Self Assured was one of four winners on the Cup program sired by Bettor’s Delight, the others being Amazing Dream (Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Championship), One Change (NZ Yearling Sales Series Final) and the two-year-old Krug. One Change is derby material When he won the $195,000 NZ Yearling Sales Series Final at Auckland, One Change scored his third success for the term, and he is entitled to be rated as this season’s top three-year-old pacer. Earlier in the season he won the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington of $156,400. From 11 starts, the colt has won eight times and been three times placed for $493,242 in stakes. One Change ranks as a half-brother to the Sires’ Stakes heat winner Renske B, being a colt by Bettor’s Delight from Changedown, by Falcon Seelster from the smart racemare Chaangerr (1:58.7), by Vance Hanover from the Tufty mare Nell’s Pride, the dam of millionaire pacer Chokin. Changedown, who was unraced, was a half-sister to eight winners including the NZ Cup and Derby winner Changeover ($2.3 million), now standing stud in Queensland, Change Stride 1:50 (USA) and the Gloucester Park, Melton and Menangle winner Change Gear (1:52.8). Major Martini top WA three-year-old The Art Major gelding Major Martini, who was last season’s top rating two-year-old in Western Australia, confirmed his class when he outsprinted a smart three-year-old lineup at Gloucester Park last Friday. Actually he was a class above his rivals, and was not seriously tested in running out the 2130 metres in a 1:58 rate, the last 800 in 55.2 and 400 in 27.3. A $44,000 purchase at the 2018 APG Perth sale, Major Martini, who was bred by Steve Johnson, has banked $163,593 from four wins and four placings in nine starts. He has a good deal in his favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by Art Major, he is out of the Sutter Hanover mare Gaetana Nicole, whose dam, Hold Tight, the dam of five winners, was a half-sister to the Australian Pacing Gold and dual Derby winner Albuquerque ($322,630). This is the family that produced such winners as David Hercules, Fake Embrace, Supreme Royalty, Cosmic Flight and Cosmic Legacy. From imported mare The Storm Inside, who hoisted a new track record of 1:50.7 at Ballarat on Boxing Day night, and who has been successful in 16 of his 18 starts, has a pedigree of more than usual interest in that he traces back to Fanny Skinner – one of America’s leading taproot mares – on both sides. The Storm Inside is one of the last commercial crop of a top colt pacer and classic winner in Rocknroll Hanover, a Western Ideal horse who died a few years ago. Rocknroll Hanover enjoyed a good measure of success at the stud in America, Australia and New Zealand. Spirited Storm, the dam of The Storm Inside, is a daughter of the great Artsplace and was imported from America by Goulburn Valley breeders Helen and the late Graham Head. She has produced five winners – all inside 2:00 – from six foals to race so far and they have won 39 races and $543,000 in stakes. Spirit’s Storm dam, Stormy Pursuit, was a Storm Damage mare from Blue Horizon, by Meadow Skipper from Shifting Scene. This branch of the Fanny Skinner tribe produced the leading Australian sires Panorama, Grinfromeartoear and Safely Kept. Leading sire’s absence a loss The results of three-year-old racing in Australia has further demonstrated the loss of Hurrikane Kingcole to breeders. With a first crop of only 35 foals, he sired Youaremysunshine, winner of the Victoria Youthful Stakes and a winner in 1:55.8 at Melton last Saturday, Our Balou, who was twice placed at Group level, Frost En Ice, winner of the Burwood Stud 2YO Classic, Venus Jujon and Xaviers Hurrikane. In all, Hurrikane Kingcole has sired 14 winners for $305,891, making him the leading first crop sire in Australia. Youaremy Sunshine’s earnings totalled $94,540. And in North America, Hurrikane Kingcole, from only nine foals, left the Stakes winners Hurrikane Emperor 1:49.6 ($369,476), Hurrikane Empress 1:52 ($219,902) and Hurrikanesky 1:54.8 ($107,900). Sammy Showdown promising trotter Sammy Showdown, who has won three races in quick time this season at Melton, and has graduated to a 69 mark, is regarded as one of the best young trotters in Victoria. He is a four-year-old gelding by the S J’s Photo horse Bacardi Lindy, who has enjoyed a good measure of success in Australia and is now at the stud in New Zealand. Sammy Showdown is the first foal of Alabama Showdown, a Yankee Paco mare from Alabama Salute Tr 2:08.3 (6 wins), by Gee Whiz II from Viva Evander, by Great Evander from the Light Brigade mare Carol’s Pride. Alabama Showdown, who was unraced, ranked as a half-sister to six winners including a cup class square-gaiter in Alabama’s Idol (Tr 2:04.3), the winner of 17 races and $187,240) and others in Alabamadon (10 wins) and Alabama Skeeta Tr 2:00.8 (9 wins). The best member of this family was the Earl gelding Earldom, a prolific winner at Harold Park and Menangle in the 2000’s. Sammy Showdown was bred by Bacchus Marsh real estate agent Graeme Rayner, who shares ownership with trainer Kylie Sugars. Benalong Valley’s family background Benalong Valley, winner of the Group 3 $30,600 Inter City Pace Final at Maitland, is a five-year-old Shadow Play gelding with a strong NZ breeding background. Bred by Lord Valley Lodge, he ranks as a half-brother to the Melton winner Frankie Valley (1:56.5), being by Shadow Play from the Island Fantasy mare Cedar Valley (1:55.1), whose dam Tricky Valley was by Tricky Dick (a son of Lordship) from Red Valley, by Brutus Blue Chip from Totara Valley, the dam of champion WA pacer Village Kid. Cedar Valley, a Moonee Valley and Harold Park winner, was a half-sister to the top flight Tasmanian pacer Dontfencemein 1:57.2 ($272,760) and the Casey Classic and Stawell Cup winner Larado 1:54.7 ($179,178). Ruby Dazzler, winner of the WA Oaks and Diamond Classic, Tee Pee Village ($249,959) and Indy Village (NZ Wyndham Cup) and others all belong to this fine family. First 2YO winner The Art Major colt Ultimate Exclusive won the first two-year-old race in Australia this season at Kilmore. Bred by Pinaroo Park, the colt is out of a smart racemare in Saved A Corka (by Armbro Operative), a winner of 24 races including the SA Oaks and Southern Cross Final and $130,397. At the stud Saved A Corka left the Southern Cross winners Aspiring Artist 1:52.7 ($170,307) and Rap Artist ($108,041), the SA Derby winner Major Exclusive (1:55) and Our Little Artist (16 wins), all fully related to the Ultimate Exclusive.   Bettor’s Delight top USA sire Bettor’s Delight is America’s top money-winning sire for the sixth time in the past nine years. During the closing season his stock won a record $25.7 million in stakes. Somebeachsomewhere, the leading sire in 2016 and 2017, finished runner-up with $22.4 million. American Ideal was in third position with $16 million. Captaintreacherous, who finished fifth on the All Aged list, topped the two and three-year-old premierships. Muscle Hill topped the trotters’ section for the fourth year on end with a record $12.2 million, more than $4 million ahead of the second placed Chapter Seven. Muscle Hill was also the premier sire of two and three-year-old trotters.

By Garrick Knight Doug Gale has made a conscious effort to reduce his stable numbers this season, but he couldn’t say no when an old friend came calling. The win of Port Delight on the grass at Tauherenikau on Thursday was the result of that request and it put smiles on a number of faces. “Simon Holmes came to see me one day and mentioned that he was looking at purchasing a horse off the internet. “He and his partner were sort of keen to be involved in the training of the horse but he does have limitations because of his cerebral palsy. “But I was happy to take the horse and contribute as much as I could. “I’ve known his mum, Belinda, for a long, long time and she has rehomed many of my ex racehorses for me when they’ve come to the end of their careers. "Simon comes out most mornings and helps out and she is such a nice mare he is able to walk her round, even allowing for his limitations." Port Delight was out of form and seven-years-old when she arrived in Bulls but with four previous wins in the bank, had proven ability. And Gale was immediately impressed. “Once the horse arrived, I was very happy with the way she worked up. “I was quite confident heading in to the two days at Manawatu for the junior drivers’ championship races. “Both days the drivers came off the track and said she was very unlucky not to win.” With Jay Abernethy in the cart at Tauherenikau, Port Delight proved too good as favourite, the second of a training/driving double for the combination following The Kapiti Express’ win in the day’s opening race. “I was happy with The Kapiti Express and the other two horses I lined up because all three have been quite severely effected by a respiratory virus recently. “I had to ease off all of them so it was good to see all three come back and race well; Onedin Punter got checked late by The Night Hawk and Lincoln Moment came home well from a long way back.” Gale says his family had an enjoyable day at the dual-code meeting and he hopes that officials were watching. “It’s an amazing day with a big crowd – very popular with the locals and holidaymakers. “It’s annoying to me that they aren’t running any of these meetings on the grass in January for various reasons. “When you see the crowds they attract at the likes of Methven and Motukarara, it makes you wonder why we aren’t doing the same in the north. “This year there is no Tauranga, no Te Aroha, no Te Awamutu and it will have serious repercussions going forward. “Why can’t we organise ourselves to have good grass track racing through the summer when people are on holiday. “It’s a day out for the family and gets young people interested in the sport. “We need to be going out our way to ensure the grass circuit carries on through January and February. “I really enjoyed it today; I loved getting back in to grass circuit racing, seeing the families out enjoying themselves.” Courtesy of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The transition from boy to man can take some time, in horses as well as humans, but Double Rocket has had to grow up pretty quickly over the past few months. The Cambridge four-year-old continued his swift development with a tenacious victory at Alexandra Park on New Years’ Eve over the hot favourite Dina Bolt. It was the result of being thrown in the deep end from his first start as a four-year-old and having to race open class-level horses such as Self Assured, Mach Shard, Belle Of Montana and Our Uncle Sam. “He was only a four-win horse but was pretty much racing open class horses straight away,” said his trainer, Arna Donnelly. “So it took him a few runs to probably ‘harden up’ and learn to sort of run the times needed in this grade. “He hasn’t been disappointing either – he was never far away, just didn’t get all favours for three or four runs.” He’s got good gate speed and that had been a real asset in his recent racing, though Donnelly says they’ve tried not to abuse it and that applied on Tuesday. “Sometimes it can be his downfall because he loves running the gate but you can’t always do that and be there at the end. “We did pull back the other night but it was a great drive from Scott (Phelan) in the end to go forward without burning too hard.” Once in front, and with Dina Bolt on his back wearing the invincible colours of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Phelan steadied the pace, reflected in what is now a relatively sedate overall time of 2.40.4. But it was a smart drive because he backed Double Rocket’s point-to-point to speed and final splits of 55.0 and 26.5 ensured he couldn’t be reeled in. For Donnelly it was nice to be one of just two stables on the afternoon to beat the All Stars barn, a rare occurrence with the money up on premier night. “It was a real thrill, especially being able to beat the top stable.” One person not on course was Donnelly’s mum, Mary Walker, a part-owner of Double Rocket and huge supporter of her training career, who was undergoing an operation on the day. “I’ve been given a rev up for even mentioning it on our Facebook page so I best not go in to it, but she’ll bounce back and hopefully be there for his next win.” Two owners that were on course to share the success with Donnelly were Peter and Jan Argus, who are big supporters of the stable. “They are very passionate owners that have been fantastic to me back from when I first started out with the likes of Ideal Success. “They’ve really helped put me on the map and I couldn’t be more grateful.” The big question is where to go next with Double Rocket and the answer might be next Friday night’s $50,000 Flying Mile on his home track in Cambridge “There’s not really any other races for him so we might nominate and have a look. “I have no real set plans with him for the rest of the season, though we will probably try and have a crack at the Messenger and Taylor Mile later.” And while pushing through for a tilt at the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in late May would seem the obvious that might not be the case. “We’ll probably try a Cups campaign with him next season or at least look to target some of the nicer races down south in the Spring. “So we won’t want to be chasing our tail just for the Jewels.” Donnelly chose Double Rocket at the 2017 Karaka yearling sale, going to $26,000 for the son of broodmare gem Spirit Of Eros and American Ideal. That made him a half-brother to a bevy of winners including Crown Law, Spirit And Desire, Spirit Of Art, Spirit Of Delight and fellow Cambridge alumni, Bettor Spirits and Spirit Of Anzac. Two of his half-sisters are the dams of God’s Spirit, Dracarys and Spirit Of St Louis as well, so she’s been one of the great modern day producers. The pedigree page also includes none other than our greatest ever pacer, Lazarus, as well a newly-crowned Auckland Cup winner Self Assured, Star Galleria, Stars And Stripes and Spirit Of Zeus. “I did like the look of him, even though he was only little; a nice type,” said Donnelly. “The family just seems to leave winner after winner but there wasn’t a hell of a lot of bidding interest in him so we ended up getting him pretty cheaply, I thought.” Double Rocket is undoubtedly the star of a stable that has swollen in size recently as Donnelly solidifies her as the biggest stable in the Waikato. “We’ve got a big team – it’s sitting around the 30 mark at the moment. “That includes about 10 two-year-olds that we’ve already gone through, some of which I’d like to qualify shortly before tipping out. “We’ve also got really big numbers in the paddock, too, which is a nice position to be in.” Courtesy of HRNZ

3 January 2020   Craig Wiggins, on behalf of the May family has expressed their thanks for the outpouring of concern from the harness racing community regarding Ricky May’s condition after the incident at the Omakau meeting yesterday. “Ricky remains in Dunedin hospital and at this stage there is no confirmation regarding what caused Ricky to collapse. Speculation regarding the cause is unhelpful and we respectfully ask that this ceases until more is known. The May family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to all of those people who assisted Ricky yesterday. We will provide a further update when we are in a position to do so and would appreciate the family now being given space and privacy to focus on Ricky’s recovery”.       Ken Spicer, HRNZ Chair, who was on course at Omakau yesterday said, “We wish to sincerely thank all of those who provided assistance to Ricky yesterday. The reaction from all concerned was tremendous, starting with the actions of the other drivers in the race in averting any further incidents, through to all of those who were so quickly on hand to provide medical assistance to Ricky before he was transported to hospital by the Air Rescue service. Our thoughts are with Ricky’s family and friends at this difficult time and I am sure all racing fans will join me in wishing Ricky well as he recovers”. For more information, please contact: Ken Spicer, Chair, HRNZ 021 320 106  Peter Jensen, CEO, HRNZ 021 998 982

Well-known harness racing driver Ricky May has suffered a "medical event" and been transported by air to Dunedin Hospital, the chairman of the stewards in the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit has confirmed. May was driving the race favourite A G's White Socks in the Central Otago Cup at 4.11pm before about 5000 people. Racing journalist Michael Guerin says May appears to have collapsed in the sulky while leading the main race at Omakau this afternoon. Guerin says that a helicopter landed on the track to take May to hospital. The chairman of the stewards in the Racing Integrity Unit, Vinny Munro, has confirmed May suffered a medical event. He said all races at Omakau have been abandoned. Munro said he is not able to confirm any further information at this stage. Racegoers at the meet say that there was an announcement that May was in a critical but stable condition. Witnesses say he appeared to fall back in the sulky while the horse continued to race, then fall onto the track. A witness at the track said race officials rushed to his aid. Afterwards, many people who went to cash in their tickets stayed to donate the money to St John's Ambulance or May's family. May has driven almost 3000 race winners in New Zealand - making him the third most successful driver in New Zealand trotting history. He is a seven-time winner of the NZ Trotting Cup, New Zealand's biggest annual harness race. Radio New Zealand

By Jonny Turner Interdominion star A G’s White Socks could book a ticket to Australia if he continues his form resurgence in Thursday’s Central Otago Trotting Cup. Like many holiday makers, the Canterbury pacer has gotten out of the city and headed to the more relaxing surrounds of Central Otago for today’s popular meeting. The Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer would have been a leading contender in Tuesday night’s Auckland Cup had he stayed north after his Interdominion campaign. Avoiding standing start racing and the possibility of an Australian trip mean Omakau racegoers get to see A G’s White Socks in Thursday’s 2000m group 3 feature. “The reason we brought him down was to have a go with him at Omakau and then make our mind up about him going to Australia,” Greg Hope said. “We also didn’t really want to put the horse through standing starts again.” “They are not his forte and we just felt we could undo things if he went in the Auckland Cup.” The Hunter Cup at Melton would be A G’s White Socks’ main aim if he books his Australian trip with a good run on Thursday. Reverting to mobile racing and a change of A G’s White Socks’ feeding regime saw the 6yr-old bounce back to his best form with two Interdominion heat wins before his commendable fifth in the series final. The pacer has not started since that effort behind Ultimate Sniper. Pleasing work since then means A G’s White Socks is fit and ready for Thursday. “He had about five days off after the final and then he flew back down and I have been pretty pleased with him since,” Hope said. “He has worked nice.” Most of A G’s White Socks’ rivals’ form leading in to Thursday’s feature comes through two races. Heisenberg beat home Jazzy Star and Nandolo when winning last week’s Ashburton Cup. Vintage Cheddar sprinted past Franco Santino and Swamp Major to win the Wairio Cup days prior. The Hopes have a team to follow at today’s Omakau meeting. Luella looks a strong chance in race 11 following her third behind talented fillies Sugar Loaf and Pearl Harbour at Winton on Tuesday. Mossdale Art was a brave mile (1609m) winner in the smart time of 1.53.7 at the same meeting. The 4yr-old will take on a talented field in race 9. Bev’s K One starts for the Hope stable in race 2 after producing two solid trial performances recently.   Didjabringthebeers happy to be home Canterbury trotter Didjabringthebeers has been back in his happy place ahead of today’s feature trot at Omakau. The 6yr-old brings a patchy form line in to the 2000m mobile event thanks to a less than impressive Interdominion campaign. The Monarchy squaregaiter was clearly off his game during the Alexandra Park series, producing two uncharacteristic breaks in its last two heats. Exactly why the horse was not happy in Auckland remains a mystery to trainer John Howe. But what is clear to the West Melton horseman is that his trotter is happy to be home. “I am not exactly sure what went on in Auckland to be honest,” Howe said. “I don’t think it was the right-handed way of going because he has worked really well that way down here.” “Something wasn’t right, he just wasn’t happy up there.” Didjabringthebeers has not started since he was pulled up on night three of the Interdominions, nearly a month ago. Howe has no concerns about his 6yr-old’s fitness going in to today’s race with that gap between races. “He seems to have bounced back well,” Howe said. “I gave him a good hit out at home this week and he seems pretty right.” The last time Didjabringthebeers faced conditions similar to today’s race – racing left handed over a sprint distance – he produced a career best effort for third behind Tough Monarch in the group 1 New Zealand Free For All at Addington. Fellow Interdominion campaigner Pres The Belle looks one of the horses to beat in today’s feature trot. The Robert Dunn trained trotter relished a drop in class from the Auckland series when showing brilliant gate speed to lead an win her last start at Addington. Heavyweight Hero, who is another leading contender for today’s race, was left in Pres The Belle’s wake when six length behind her in second. Howe also starts Nandolo in today’s Central Otago Trotting Cup. The trainer expects the pacer to be fitter for his last start fourth in the Ashburton Cup. Nandolo was run down by three horses rated at longer odds than him, including Central Otago Trotting Cup rival Heisenberg, in the Christmas Eve event. Howe suspects the horse’s fitness was not quite up to the mark and he should strip in better condition on Thursday. “He got away on me a bit, he had a really good blow after the race, he might have been a run short.” “To my eye he had Heisenberg beaten at the top of the straight and next thing he got tired in the last 150m.” “But, he was the first horse home off 30m.” Nandolo and Heisenberg will start from level marks from behind the mobile on Thursday. Howe’s day starts in race 7 when Aladdin Sane lines up after winning his first start for the season at Ashburton. The 4yr-old will clash with highly talented Southland trotter Chinese Whisper and the consistent Only One Way.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Self Assured sets the pace, harness racing trainer driver Mark Purdon varies the pace,  third successive Auckland Cup for All Stars with a four-year-old. That’s setting the pace-big time! Self Assured left no doubt he is a star with a huge future after giving Mark an armchair drive in the $245,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup yesterday. Mark conducted the pace like Mantovani, easing in the middle stages and sprinting home in 26.9 to outclass his rivals in a great display of legal theft. The overall time of 3.59.5 won’t threaten the record books but All Stars have made a habit of stealing the race in recent years. Turn It Up, who won the Cup at his 9th start last year ran over 4.03 while Vincent the previous year in the hands of Natalie did not break 4.04. The fastest recent Cup since the 3200m was restored was Dream About Me who ran 3.55.5 for Mark in 2016 “He began so brilliantly I had to use that advantage”Mark said. “Yes we got away with a few cheap sectionals but you can’t take anything from him. He was taken on early. He is a terrific young horse” Mark didn’t win his first Auckland Cup until 2009 with Auckland Reactor but Self Assured is his 3rd driving winner in four years and 4th training success in that time. Thefixer trailed the winner all the way but could not foot it with that last 400m. “He was really good, tried hard, Self Assured was just too fast the way the race was run and is a terrific horse “‘ All Stars always thought so but a couple of setbacks as a youngster which including careering around the training track with a cart and no driver had connections holding their breath. But he showed in a triumphant Queensland winter campaign he was the real deal and has gone on proving it since. Australian four year old features now beckon and who knows? maybe the Miracle Mile won by Spankem as a four year old last season Tim thought Chase Auckland was really good having had to work in the middle stages and Blair thought Cruz Bromac may have just been feeling the effects of a busy campaign. Another Masterpiece broke at the start showing pace in the middle stages before the effort told. Self Assured has now won 8 of his 10 starts REMARKABLE 7TH SUCCESSIVE 3YO SALES PACE FINAL TO ALL STARS One Change spent the first part of his racing career as a nice little horse who might make the grade with the good ones. Now he is the best one and the others are trying to make the grade with him. “The horse who knows how to win” even if it is not by a lot, added to his Sires Stakes triumph in New Zealand and his honour as the leading juvenile last season with a typical no nonsense win in the $200,000 race. “I used him early because of that draw. After I handed to Tim on Flying Even Bettor because he was pressing, we got the run and he had his chance but I took some time to get past Tim. He came up trumps again. He knows where the post is. His win, the 8th of 11 starts for All Stars, Trevor Casey and stable associate Mike Woodlock, lifted his total earnings to nearly $500,000, not a bad return for the $30,000 he cost as a yearling. Initially picked out by the stable, he failed to impress in a veterinary examination. After he was passed in Trevor drew the stable attention to the fact he was still available and it was decided to take the risk. Some risk. Amazingly since 2013, All Stars have won this race with Isaiah, Lazarus, Ultimate Machete and Ultimate Sniper-all raced by Kennard syndicates-Have Faith in Me and Chase Auckland before One Change. It is the only stable in NZ to have won a feature race 7 times in a row a feat it has now achieved twice. While One Change went about his business in his usual efficient manner, drama was the lot of Smooth Deal checked by a breaking Line Up soon after the start and seemingly out of the race. He recovered to make a big run down the back before wilting the last bit for a brave fifth. Flying Even Bettor went a mighty race too wresting the early lead, setting a strong pace and just going down over the final stages. “He was a little hard to rate down the back. He was flopping along one minute and hard on the bit the next. So that was a big effort”Tim said. Mark refused to concede Smooth Deal was a special beaten but did go as far as to say he would have been “right in it” but for the early check. JEAN WASN’T THERE BUT THE RESULT WAS THE SAME ! It was back to business as usual in the Alabar Sires Stakes Filly Championship as Amazing Dream added her name to the list at least partly because of the skills of the serial winner of the G1 feature, Natalie Rasmussen. Natalie bided her time longer than perhaps some were expecting at the back, flushed out Ricky May and Stylish Memphis with a round to go and in the end was a convincing winner making her to top filly of the season to date with more to come. It was Natalie’s 5th driving win in the race since 2013 the first being Willow owned by Bill Feiss. His wife Jean has won the race a further three times and Natalie steered Golden Goddess to win for the Butterworths to give the stable its 5th win in the race also. Before the race much was made of the draw and how the smart fillies Spellbound and Need You Now were a danger on the front line but in spite of a lead-trail scenario they only battled in the run home leaving Stylish Memphis and Amazing Dream to fight it out. It must have been deja vu for Stylish Memphis’s co -trainer Mark Jones as Delightful Memphis, a full sister, had been runner up to Spanish Armada in her year before going on to a distinguished career. What was also unusual about yesterday’s race was that Jean Feiss was not there. An indefatigable traveller to New Zealand from Australia to watch her horses race, she was in Malta on New Year’s Eve and could not be there. The winning of the race may well have been Natalie’s ability to give her charge cover down the back straight but the determined filly left no excuses, powering away over the final stages. Natalie had also nailed Dina Bolt’s hopes doubting the crushing odds the public had about him. She gave him a nice drag in the trail, he took some time to wind up and while going strongly at the finish had to settling for second, Courtesy of The Allstars Site

By Michael Guerin Self Assured’s only worry became one of his most potent weapons on his way to an effortless victory in last night’s $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup. The exceptional four-year-old blasted straight to the front from the standing start and 3200m later added his name to the list of Cup legends, strolling clear of stablemate Thefixer and Triple Eight to complete his ascension to the top of the pacing ranks. Pre race trainer-driver Mark Purdon had warned that Self Assured could be vulnerable from the standing start, as had been the case in his only two career defeats when he was slow away. Those doubts and a wave of money for Thefixer stunningly saw Self Assured actually start second favourite last night and those who were on him at the eventual $2.80 odds would have been beaming when he stepped not only safely but fast. That enabled him to hold the inside line over another fast beginner Classie Brigade to the first bend and while there were movers the leader and trailer were always going to dominate. The most surprising aspect of the finish was just how easily Self Assured strode clear of a New Zealand Cup winner in Thefixer, suggesting with recent Inter Dominion winner Ultimate Sniper injured, Self Assured will be favourite for any major race he is set for. The first of those races will be the Chariots Of Fire for four-year-olds in Sydney in February, with Melbourne getting a taste of Self Assured’s talents first in another four-year-old race, the Bonanza at Melton as he heads there to qualify for the Sydney group one. “He won’t go to the Hunter Cup though,” said Purdon. Safely through the Bonanza and into the Chariots Of Fire he will be aimed at his next major open class target the A$1million Miracle Mile also at Menangle. The pacing world looks his oyster, with speed and his growing manners. Self Assured Earlier in the night the All Stars seemingly unstoppable domination continued with Winterfell, One Change and Amazing Dream taking the other features. Winterfell’s professional victory in the $100,000 National Trot could hardly be deemed a total shock coming just 17 days after he won the Inter Dominion Trotting Final but last night’s win was a step up. He had to be more controlled in trailing Majestic Man and then not only outsprint him but his hot favourite stablemate Oscar Bonavena. The latter was forced to sit parked for the last lap and found that too tough against the absolute best and was beaten into third, with Majestic Man fighting back for the bravest of seconds. But Winterfell proved once again that at Alexandra Park he is a vastly superior horse to the one who can gallop so often left-handed. Just six weeks ago he was the punter’s enemy, now he has won four of his five starts since coming north and his win last night has to take him a long way toward the Trotter of the Year title. Just as professional last night but using the passing lane to win from the trail was One Change, who justified his favouritism in the $200,000 PGG Wrightson Sales Series Pace for three-year-olds. The former sales reject who was passed in for $30,000 has now won both Sales Series Paces, the Sires Stakes at two and three and a Harness Jewel for almost $500,000 in stakes with so much of his career still lying ahead. He sprinted past a very brave Bad To The Bone, who was excellent in second in a race marred by the second favourite Smooth Deal being checked early and losing 40m in a gallop. His recovery to finish fifth was massive. And Amazing Dream overcame one on the second line courtesy of a beautiful Natalie Rasmussen drive to complete the clean sweep, overpowering Stylish Memphis in the Alabar Fillies’ Championship. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The New Zealand harness racing scene waved goodbye to 2019 in Group 1 style on Tuesday with an evening of premier racing at Alexandra Park. The three Group 1 races on the card were complemented by the PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series Final at listed level and showcased the very best at their very best! The first Group 1 race of the night The $138,000 Alabar Sire Stakes Fillies Championship for three-year-olds was won by the Natalie Rasmussen driven Amazing Dream (Bettor's Delight - Christian Dreamer - Christian Cullen) for the All Stars Stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. The class filly again showed her undeniable quality by making a three wide bid over the last lap and being too good for a brave Stylish Memphis in the run home. Dr Susan closed in late for third while the Robert Dunn trained duo of Spellbound and Need You Know, who dictated the race tempo from the front, both felt the pace over the last furlong. The overall time was 2.38.23 over the 2200m mobile.  Amazing Dream The $200,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series Final (listed) was won by the race favourite One Change (Bettor's Delight - Changedown - Falcon Seelster) who found the lead early before taking a trail behind stablemate Flying Even Bettor. The Barry Purdon trained Bad To The Bone made the most of a good mid-race position and fought well down the outer for second while Flying Even Bettor fought well for third. The second favourite Smooth Deal met with trouble early and was meritorious thereafter. Overall Race time was 2.36.80 over the 2200m mobile. One Change The $98,000 Sims Pacific Metals 2019 National Trot, arguably the deepest race of the night, was won by Inter Dominion champion Winterfell (Majestic Son) who produced a winning sprint over the final furlong after finding the trail early to snare the title from a brave Majestic Man who led up and fought well in the run home. Oscar Bonavena, the tote favourite, moved mid-race to a position outside the leader but couldn’t muster enough over the final stages and had to settle for third place while Temporale rounded off the top four placings.   Overall race time was 3.21.24 over the 2700m mobile.    Winterfell The Trillian Trust 2019 Auckland Cup, over the extreme two mile distance, concluded the group racing for the night and saw Self Assured, a 4yr old son of Bettor’s Delight, dictate terms in front and win impressively with the overall time dipping below the four minute mark. The Fixer, stablemate to the winner, obtained a trail throughout and battled on well enough to claim second over a fast finishing Triple Eight from the Steve Telfer barn and Chase Auckland who ran a very good fourth.  Overall race time was 3.59.42 Self Assured The win of Self Assured completed an All Stars night-to-remember with all four feature winners coming from the stable.      For full results from tonight's meeting click on this link. Ben McMillan

By Michael Guerin The promise that is Self Assured against the proven reality of Thefixer and Cruz Bromac. That may be the story of tonight’s $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park. And for all the talent of the trio of stablemates, and their eight other opponents in the 3200m group one, it may be manners that decide the last great race of 2019. Self Assured is a special horse, maybe the best horse in waiting in tonight’s classic. He only started racing seven months ago, has barely raced in New Zealand at all and yet is the $1.70 favourite tonight over two New Zealand Cup winners. The reason is simple. He is all x-factor, his sole two open class starts both leaving no doubt he has the motor for the big time after just nine career starts. If he steps and behaves himself the four-year-old may have too much speed for his older, more established rivals who have been through a fortnight in the furnace of the Inter Dominions. But for all his promise, the fact he is the Miracle Mile favourite and his dazzling sectionals, there is one jarring reason to be careful about taking odds-on for Self Assured tonight. He had two standing starts against the big boys in the spring and missed away slightly in both. Tonight slightly could be costly. “That is the worry for him,” admits champion trainer and Self Assured’s driver tonight Mark Purdon. “He has been slow in his two standing starts and while he wasn’t bad away, against these horses it could be the difference. “He is a really good horse and might still win but if he is slow away and has to give horses like Thefixer a start then it is going to be hard for him. “So the start will be crucial. He could actually begin well but horses like Thefixer and Cruz Bromac are far more proven than him.” Both Thefixer and Cruz Bromac were excellent in the Inter Dominion pacing final two weeks ago and if they can work toward the lead and get on the marker pegs a 3:55 time for 3200m is within their capabilities every day of the week. Whereas Self Assured could pace the same time but might have to do it coming wide. Maybe he can, maybe not yet. But there is no value in taking $1.70 to find out. Purdon is warming to Thefixer after his luckless but very brave Interdom campaign and he has worked well since while there is no reason Cruz Bromac can’t add this Cup to last month’s New Zealand Cup as he ticks almost all the boxes. Others like Classie Brigade, Mach Shard and even Chase Auckland could place but winning would surprise. Purdon is beaming about the work of Oscar Bonavena but realise the young trotter may have to sit parked or be driven off the speed to win tonight’s $100,000 National Trot. “But it doesn’t bother me driving him with a sit, especially over 2700m. “He is our best chance and while Winterfell is good his manners haven’t been perfect recently.” The stables rates One Change as the better chance over Smooth Deal because of the draw in tonight’s $200,000 Sales Series Pace. Dunn has confidence with his two fillies By Michael Guerin Trainer Robert Dunn doesn’t have to search far to find confidence his fillies can beat red hot favourite Amazing Dream in tonight’s $150,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes at Alexandra Park. Because they did it two starts ago under almost identical circumstances to tonight’s Group One. While the market suggested Amazing Dream is all but a good thing in the 2200m event it almost seems to have amnesia about how the race panned out two starts ago. Back then on December 6 the Dunn-trained pair of Spellbound and Need You Now led and trailed respectively and held off Amazing Dream after she had to sit parked the last lap. The trio met again a week later and on that occasion, after Need You Now was forced to work too hard early and Spellbound settled back, with Amazing Dream too strong for them before holding out the late run of Stylish Memphis. While there is no doubting Amazing Dream is the best of this filly crop tonight’s Group One shapes far more like the race two starts ago when she was beaten. She might have been a bit soft that night and clearly improved off it but she is anything but a certainty tonight. “She is very good Amazing Dream, we all know that,” said Dunn. “But we think we have two fillies who can beat her again. “It looks like our two will lead trail again and I suppose under those circumstances Need You Now would be our best winning chance.” Need You Now should cross to the lead from barrier two and then hand up to Spellbound (three) while Amazing Dream will probably need to pull back from one on the second line to get off the markers and then make her mid-race move. That means she could be giving the Dunn fillies a 10 length start. Spellbound may actually be the more athletic of the two Dunn-trained fillies but if she leads there is nothing surer than Amazing Dream will come looking before the 800m and probably put the pressure on. So that could aid Need You Now and if the sectionals get really serious then a swooper like Stylish Memphis comes into play as she stormed home last start. In all reality Amazing Dream might be good enough to come sit parked and crush her rivals and if you were getting $2 you would take it all day. But at the $1.70 on offer with so much going against her. Dunn and his son John, who have been one of the most defiant training-driving combinations against the wave of All Stars success, also have hopes in the other three black type races today. They will need more than luck with Down To The Bone and Mighty Looee in the $200,000 Sales Series Pace but Valloria was so good when fourth in the Inter Dominion Trotting Final he could have a role to play in the $100,000 National Trot. “He has really improved since coming north,” says Dunn. “He has toughened up to open class racing quicker than I thought and while he might not win he can get some good money.” Classie Brigade returns to standing start racing in the $250,000 Auckland Cup after a luckless Inter Dominions and if he can begin quickly and get on the markers he can place, as he did in the New Zealand Cup last month. “Back to the stand really suits him and he has come through the Inters great. He still has one of the fastest 3200m times in the race.”

The Shark makes his way to Alexandra Park and the final harness racing meeting of the year, Auckland Cup night, in search of winners to end the year on the right note. For more punting information head to The Punters Lounge   Race 1 4 Bolt For Brilliance: Jewels winner back in action and does so with some good workout and trial form. Should have the class edge on most of these in a fresh state. 11 Full Of Hope: Has the motor and two runs since arriving in the north have both been excellent. Sure to be a live hope again here. 10 Swiss Miss: Hit the line with real venom last time out and headed in the right direction. Good field, but she’s a leading contender for sure. 1 Safrakova: Gets back onto the front line here which can make all the difference. Usual good manners land on the speed and keep them honest. Selections: 4-11-10-1 Race 2 6 Sheffield Sparky: In great nick and last two runs have been both huge in defeat. Deserves a winning turn and gets a golden opportunity on a big night to make it happen. 8 Fabrizio: Orange sticks with the ship after a brave effort for fourth last time out. Tricky draw, but right man to make things happen and land in the right place. 10 Dina Brown: Should be at peak fitness now after three runs back from a spell. Took on a strong field last time out so should be a leading contender in today’s challenge. 4 Golden Quest: Two good wins in his last two starts. Going from strength to strength and looks a live prospect again here tonight. Selections: 6-8-10-4 Race 3 1 Gliding Away: Last four runs have all been excellent and often without much luck. Huge in defeat last time and from the draw gets a chance to turn the tables here. 2 Dina Bolt: Emphatic in his two starts since arriving in the North Island and headed for bigger and better things. Should be one half of the quinella. 6 Double Rocket: Has been taking on far stronger fields than this in recent starts and should find things a little easier. Can certainly be a player here. 3 Best Western: Sharp mare back in action and looked good in her workout to ready for this. Will get better with racing but still a live hope here. Selections: 1-2-6-3 Race 4 10 Stylish Memphis: Loved the late work last time out to get close to an outstanding pacer. Draw advantage here, so gets a chance to turn things around. 9 Amazing Dream: Ultimate class filly with it all in front of her. So much depends on how the first few 100m pan out for her though. Needs a little luck. 2 Need You Now: Tried to run them into the dirt last time after strong win from off the speed start prior. Trail is probably on offer here and can win if she takes it.  3 Spellbound: Drawn next to the stablemate and they look the early pace-setters. Not that far off them lately and can certainly get a huge slice of the pie. Selections: 10-9-2-3 Race 5 8 Tickle Me Pink: Better for the two runs back from a spell and back on even terms with them too. That should see her class shine through and see her get the win. 1 Tricky Ric: Not far behind the best trotters last season in his age group and better for fresh up run. Good draw, will do no extra work and can make a big play for it. 12 Sunny Glenis: Big win last time out. Back to the stand here but when she’s in good form, she’s in good form and no surprise to see her stand up here and go close again. 7 Pretty Majestic: Not a lot of luck in NZ debut last time out. Had plenty more to offer. Can get a slice of the pie with natural improvement and a little more luck. Selections: 8-1-12-7 Race 6 2 One Change: Two great runs in last two efforts and get his chance tonight from the very good draw. Should be the one they all have to beat. 8 Flying Even Bettor: Excellent money on offer for a horse who hasn’t had the best of luck recently. Can get forward and be right there when things get serious. 10 Smooth Deal: Much more like it last time and should be able to follow through the early speed here. Certainly good enough to win it. 6 Line Up: Form reads excellent and without high class stable mate here he gets the chance to be the centre of attention and give it a good shake. Selections: 2-8-10-6 Race 7 6 Oscar Bonavena: What beats him wins. It really is that simple. 2 Majestic Man: Momentarily looked set to lower the colours of the champ in waiting on Christmas Eve. Different tactics tonight: Could the result turn? 1 Winterfell: The star of the Inter Dominions. Not sure if this is the great draw for him they would have wanted. But respect the ability immensely. 5 Enhance Your Calm: Was going OK when he galloped last time out at Cambridge. We know how good he is, but there’s still some work to be done. Selections: 6-2-1-5 Race 8 8 Belle Of Montana: Has been untouchable lately. And it’s hard to see how that’s going to change here tonight. Looks home and hosed. 9 Wainui Creek: Living in the shadow of an exceptional mare. Not a bad place to be though when you’re going as well as she is. Good place chance again. 7 Step Up: That was more like it last time out when winning. Can maintain that form and be a major player in this line up tonight. 2 Revolver: In good nick since coming back from a spell. Gets his chance from a good draw to stand up and make a bit of a play for this. Selections: 8-9-7-2 Race 9 3 Self Assured: First time on the biggest of stages, over the ultimate distance. Good enough, there’s no doubt about that. His class should take him close, but maybe not quite so straight forward. 1 Thefixer: Loves the two miles and should be handy to the speed throughout from the good draw. That puts him in a great position to make a big play for this. 5 Cruz Bromac: Cup winner back to the ultimate distance and Orange in the bike. Will see it out better than most, without a doubt and can win if things go his way. 11 Chase Auckland: Might be the forgotten runner right down the bottom of the book. In great form and with a quick beginning and a nice trip could be the blowout. Selections: 3-1-5-11 Race 10 1 Krug: Good run on debut to go down fighting late. Gets the plum draw here, should lead and keep them honest. His race to lose. 2 First Class: Showed a bit of ability on debut and from the handy draw tonight should land on or near to the speed here and give a good account. 5 Black Edition: Hit the line strongly on debut. Smaller field here should help get a little closer, even from the wider draw tonight. 4 Platinum Stride: Great run on debut with a good effort for fourth. Has to be considered a great chance of getting into the top four once again. Selections: 1-2-5-4 BEST: 6 Sheffield Sparky (Race 2) NEXT: 8 Belle Of Montana (Race 8) VALUE: 10 Stylish Memphis (Race 4) ................................................................ The Shark - best at Winton on Tuesday 31 December 2019 , Punters Info The Shark makes his way down to the deep south to Winton looking to round off the South Island harness racing year with success. For more punting information head to The Punters Lounge   Race 1 4 Time In A Bottle: Both stylish and effortless in first run for the Williamson barn last weekend. Should go on with it too. Looks a big chance again. 8 Crusher Collins: How good has she been in recent weeks? Super, that’s how good. Wide draw, but ability will take her a long way against this field. 10 Ayutthaya: More upside than most in this and does seem to appreciate the mobile conditions. Can make a late play at them with a bit of luck. 6 Global Flight: Canterbury raider who is better than the form line would suggest. Meets the right kind of race to get back in the winning groove. Selections: 4-8-10-6 Race 2 1 Jaccka Ted: In genuine nick in good fields recently and slots a really good draw for this assignment today. Should be right in the fight. 14 Glenledi Captain: Loves doing a bit in his races and seems to keep giving right to the finish line. Has to be afforded a big chance here, even from the draw. 2 Yuko: Is better than the form looks and finally gets a decent marble to work with. Can punch forward and be handy and play a role in this. 5 Swell Time: Has more ability than most in this assignment and gets a decent chance. Just needs to race kinder and get that little bit of luck. Selections: 1-14-2-5 Race 3 9 Flash Party: Best horse in the race with the worst draw. Clear air at any point before it’s too late and she’s the one they all have to beat. 10 Ideologist: Would expect sharp improvement from the fresh up run where asked to do a bit of work. This is easier. Has to be a hope. 3 Holy Havoc: Better than the last couple of performances and up against an even field today so gets a good chance to get things back on track. 5 I’m Jimmy James: Talented enough type who should come on in leaps and bounds from the fresh up performance. Can have the last say in this with a sit. Selections: 9-10-3-5 Race 4 10 Burnham Boy: Best horse in the race but woeful last time out. So much better than that and should be too good for this field, even from the second line. 3 Triple VC: Generally needs things to pan out in races to put the best foot forward, but this is a notable drop in class today and not the worst chance. 1 Lite Percussion: Forget the last run, just needs a little more luck than that. Should get it here too, especially from the handy draw. Can win it. 8 Tartan Trilogy: In great form but cops a horror draw here so might need a little more luck than he’s used to getting to be a winning chance. Still in it though. Selections: 10-3-1-8 Race 5 6 Sekkie Monkey: Best form, which is really good – could be too good for these. Small field certainly helps the cause and can win today. 7 Super Fast Pat: Huge motor but still putting it all together. They might not see which way he goes if he’s caught on the right foot when they say go. 8 Cuchulainn: Big run last time out and now with two runs under the belt should be at peak fitness and ready to rock and roll. Can get a big slice. 5 Majestic Connies: Fresh up without any preps, but is that ever really a concern for a Williamson runner? Could be the blow out hope. Selections: 6-7-8-5 Race 6 6 Sugar Loaf: Peach of a John Dunn drive got the job done last time at Addington. Has a bright future ahead and should be winning again here today. 4 Watch Me Now: Could not have been any more impressive winning last time out. Clearly heading for bigger and better things and a big chance here again. 3 Luella: More upside than most here and brilliant in Rangiora trials. In for a good summer and should show up here in what is a very good field. 5 Pearl Harbour: Excellent effort to win last time out, but that wasn’t as strong as this field. Will need to be even better again, but can get a slice of it. Selections: 6-4-3-5 Race 7 14 Buck: Some really strong workout and trial form around this debutant. Has to overcome the second line but everything points towards that being possible. 9 Major Meister: For a horse yet to win a maiden there sure have been some excellent performances of late. Another tricky draw but a winning chance with luck,. 12 Saint Tropez: Nice in the breeding column and above average in workouts and trials. Stable is kicking a few goals too. Winner at short notice if not here. 13 Mossdale Lottee: Beautiful family and solid workout and trials to prep for this debut. Respect for the stable whenever they line one up. Selections: 14-9-12-13 Race 8 5 Mossdale Art: Expected to be in need of the run at Rangiora and might even be better on the firmer tracks. Can jump, run and grind them into the dirt here. 1 Might Be Me: Has an unreal turn of foot and looks set to ping out from the gate and find the back of the right one to make a play for success. 6 Major Sass: Now on the beach with the Barclay and Ellis barn. That’s been a successful step in the past and no surprise to see sharp improvement here. 12 Anamajor: Down from Canterbury where the form lines are solid. Should get near to the speed at some point and can certainly be a player. Selections: 5-1-6-12 Race 9 8 Kingmaker: Big win last time out up the road in Canterbury. Wide draw here but could get across them and keep them honest. Too good to drop. 7 Whata Razzle Dazzle: Mobile specialist who can punch across them all early and if allowed to dictate terms in front, might be too good form them to catch. 10 Mach’s Back: More upside than most in this line up. Tricky having to come off the second row, but certainly good enough to win it. 3 Dangerous: Great win last time out and can build on that confidence here today. Has a good turn of foot when saved for one run. Selections: 8-7-10-3 BEST: 6 Sugar Loaf (Race 6) NEXT: 10 Burnham Boy (Race 4) VALUE: 14 Buck (Race 7)

By Michael Guerin Harness racing trainer Phil Williamson thinks tomorrow may be the time to roll the dice with Majestic Man. And that could mean more aggressive tactics with the speedster in the $100,000 National Trot at Alexandra Park’s twilight Auckland Cup meeting. Majestic Man is coming to end of a huge month, having been a luckless second in the Inter Dominion Trot Final when he refused to take the passing lane and then a booming runner-up to Oscar Bonavena in the Flying Mile at Cambridge last Tuesday. On both occasions you could argue that reverse the runs he and his conquerors had and Majestic Man could have won, and Oamaru trainer Williamson says tomorrow may be the time to take bad luck out of the equation. “It is his last race of the campaign and it might be time for a change of tactics,” said Williamson. “I am not saying he should have won those last two races but if he had gone into the passing lane when Brad (Williamson) wanted in the ID Final I think he would have beaten Winterfell. “And while Oscar is a machine, I think we have gone every bit as good as him at Cambridge when we had to come wide and he trailed. “So this might be our chance even though it is a very good field.” The Group one 2700m mobile rates as the strongest trotting race in Australasia for at least two years, with most of the Inter Dominion stars plus Oscar Bonavena and last season’s Northern Trot Derby winner Enhance Your Calm. With so many Group one winners in the field Williamson thinks the best place to be might be in front of them. “If he shows his usual gate speed and crosses Winterfell, then I’d be happy for Brad to stay in front. “If he is out there in front trotting even quarters (400m sectionals) in 30 seconds and Oscar is still good enough to come around him and beat him then so be it. “And that might be the case but this is almost certainly our last run of the campaign. I doubt we will go to Australia for the Great Southern Star so I think it is time to have a crack.” Williamson will put a boring pole on Majestic Man in case tactics change and he does need to be steered into the passing lane but the prospect of him free-wheeling in front and making the other favourites chase him down would set the National Trot alight. Tomorrow’s meeting is stacked with All Stars-trained favourites and it is extremely hard to see them beaten in either the Auckland Cup or the $200,000 Sales Series Pace. So Majestic Man in the Trot and the Robert Dunn-trained pair of Spellbound and Need You Now in he Alabar Sires’ Stakes Championship look the best chances of stopping a total All Stars domination of the final meeting for 2019. While tactics can change, if Majestic Man can cross Winterfell and lead then regardless of whether he can hold on to win the quinella with Oscar Bonavena comes more sharply into focus as if the pair are lead and parked at the 800m it is going to take a slick trotter to get past them both. With co-trainer Mark Purdon sticking with Oscar Bonavena as he prepares for an overseas campaign Natalie Rasmussen gets back on Interdom winner Winterfell from barrier one, with Tim Williams the new driver for Enhance Your Calm. Marcoola, who was a costly early galloper in the Flying Mile at Cambridge, will also have a new driver with Scott Phelan to take the reins, Phelan having done much of the work with the enigmatic trotter since he joined the Barry Purdon stable. Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

By: Michael Guerin The horses in tomorrow's $250,000 Auckland Trotting Cup at Alexandra Park might be some of the best on the planet but they won't be the stars of the show. Because for many in the crowd the real darlings of the day are in the other Auckland cup. The Auckland Kidz Kartz Cup is worth more than money, which is just as well because it doesn't have any winning stake. At almost every major harness race meeting, there is a pony trot to complement the serious adult stuff on the track. Tiny ponies with drivers sometimes as young as 10, but decked out in the same racing colours as their adult heroes, race over 800m. Often, drivers and even the ponies come from round the country, sometimes Australia. And as cute as they are, don't think pony trots are just a bit of fun. Little horses are big business and to the 10-16-year-olds involved this is the real deal. The ponies have specially made sulkies and harness, their drivers operate under proper Harness Racing New Zealand rules. They can even get suspended because Kidz Kartz is all about teaching youngsters how racing works. "We have four clubs in the North Island alone," says Kidz Kartz co-ordinator Gayleen MacKinnon. "The kids can go along once or twice a week to drive the horses and learn how to take care of them. "Some families have their own ponies, others don't and the ponies are kept in racing condition for us and then their drivers are drawn by lot for the big races. "It teaches the youngsters how to look after their ponies, themselves, and how to be responsible." The ponies, some of which are shorter than your average german shepherd, race over 800m tomorrow and because of their varying sizes and the experience levels of the drivers they have handicap races. The ponies have a parade before they race and the crowds love it, especially the children, and there is no doubting the most Instagrammed horses at Alexandra Park's twilight meeting will be the ones under a metre tall. "People just love them and we make sure we present them and the drivers properly," says MacKinnon. The Kidz Kartz has also been a gateway for youngsters looking to one day have a career in the racing industry. One of its star graduates is champion older driver Zac Butcher who drives in the real Auckland Cup at 8.08pm tomorrow. The meeting is one of the biggest of the harness racing season, with four major races and an earlier-than-usual finish to the racing to be followed by a fireworks display at 9.30pm. Reprinted with permission of The New Zealand Herald

When Doctor Love won today at Cambridge, he created a 100% race win rate, for all harness racing colts ever registered and now three year or older, for five generations of his dam (Spirit of Eros) and that dam's daughter's (Spirit And Desire, Spirit of Art and Cathar), all the way back from these daughters to 1962 mare Double Tested, via NZ broodmare of excellence Tabella Beth.   The colts bred in this direct dam line, since Double Tested was born in 1962, and over some 50 years since Double Tested went to stud, have been foaled by about 17 different sires - yet every registered colt of three years or older has now won.    This is extraordinary, given how many untried horses get injured or yearlings being broken in get injured, or racehorses get injured, or horses are not persevered with by owners, or the like. Then there is the big question - will a colt by this sire from this mare have ability to win on raceday?    Despite all these uncertainties, for over 50+ years, this direct line covering five generations of mares from each of Spirit And Desire, Spirit of Art and Cathar (all daughters of Spirit of Eros, then back to Spirit of Bethlehem, then Tabella Beth, then back to and including 1962 mare Double Tested, has to date always produced male winners on race day - 100% winners to live registered colt foals of three years of age or older. And some classy 100k+ or Group winners   It is possible this could be a world record in standardbred breeding. Certainly it is a record maybe some dam line can equal; but one that no dam line extended over some 50 years and five generations, can at this stage beat.    As well, different branches of the Tabella Beth line account for 2 of the 11 runners in the forthcoming 2019 Auckland Cup Group One, including fav Self Assured and Star Galleria. And of course Champ Lazarus ($4 mill+ won) is from another different line tracing to Tabella Beth.    Doctor Love (by Sweet Lou from Spirit Of Eros) winning at Cambridge   Two lots in coming 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sales represent this 100% colt success line of the famed Tabella Beth family, being Lot 48 and Lot 59. And both are colts    One reason this dam line doesn't sell so well at yearling age is this total dam line does not produce big or bulldog looking yearlings. Indeed most from this great dam line are average sized or less; nice looking, of great temperament, generally correct, but usually not standout types as yearlings. But they inherit speed. I only recall one yearling from this dam line ever exceeding $100k as a yearling - and it was not champ Lazarus. He sold well short of 100k.   NZ and Aust three year old of his year, Stars And Stripes, from another branch of  this same dam line tracing to Tabella Beth, was passed in at the yearling sale for being insignificant, and then sold for under 10k at the later mixed sale - only to soon become the champ of his young age.   People on yearling sale day seem to forget tiny horses, like Lordship, Courage Under Fire, Petite Evander, Caduceus, He's Watching etc...and perhaps could to do well to re-check the height of Bettors Delight!   And for the buyers; what chance both these yearling colts to be sold in February 2020, will go on to become race-winners - probably as close to a 99% chance as one could find in any yearling sale?   Harnesslink Media

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