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The land and buildings housing the head office of Harness Racing New Zealand and an international corporate software provider have been placed on the market for sale. The two-storey office building on a freehold site at 17 Birmingham Drive in the Christchurch suburb of Middleton is a few hundred metres from Addington Raceway. It is fully leased to harness racing’s administrative body, and software firm Diligent Board Member Services. Some 883 square metres on the first floor is leased to Harness Racing New Zealand - which oversees a sport involving 265 race meetings held by 47 harness clubs at 38 venues each season. More than 3,000 standardbred horses in New Zealand race for some $28 million in prize money each year. The location of the sport’s headquarters in Christchurch reflects Canterbury’s status as a national harness-racing stronghold. With venues headed by the famed raceway at Addington - home to feature races including the New Zealand Cup and Dominion Handicap - the region hosts nearly a third of all New Zealand harness racing meetings. The Birmingham Drive property generates annual net rental income of $397,800 plus outgoings and GST per annum. Harness Racing New Zealand pays annual rent of $170,000 plus outgoings and GST for its office space and 15 car parks on a lease running through to 2024, with two further five-year rights of renewal. Approximately 864 square metres on the ground floor is leased to Diligent Board Member Services, which provides corporate governance software to help board directors of organisations to collaborate on information for meetings. The company says its flagship product, Diligent Boards, is the most widely-used board portal in the world - relied on by more than 650,000 board directors in 16,000 corporations, government agencies and not-for-profit groups. Diligent Board Member Services’ lease - which also includes 15 dedicated car parks and further tandem-use parks - generates annual rental income of $227,800 plus outgoings and GST per annum on a lease running through to 2021. The Birmingham Drive property is now being marketed for sale by Bayleys Canterbury. Salespeople Stewart White and Alex White said the premises consisted of a building with a total floor area of approximately 1,900 square metres on some 2,520 square metres of freehold land. "The building was constructed 20 years ago with precast concrete walls and a steel roof, sitting on concrete foundations and ground-floor slab," said Stewart White. "It features a canopy at the main entrance and a full-height entrance foyer at the north side of the building, which is bordered by the main stairs and a lift. There is an additional stairwell on the south side of the building." The building has recently been renovated and strengthened, giving it an Initial Evaluation Procedure rating of 67 percent of new building standards. It is zoned Industrial Heavy under Christchurch’s district plan - in an area characterised by a wide range of industry and warehousing. In most locations, the zone is buffered from residential areas by the General Industrial zone. Alex White said the Birmingham Drive property was located among other quality buildings and businesses - including the new offices built next-door to house the New Zealand base of international global-positioning-systems tech’ giant Trimble. The west side of the premises border the open space of Marylands Reserve. "Located four kilometres south west of Christchurch’s central business district, this is a high- quality service and commercial area which has always been in demand with tenants who don’t require a city presence," Mr White said. "Birmingham Drive offers a strategic location, forming part of an important transport link beginning at the intersection with Wrights Road, linking through to Annex Road and, in turn, Blenheim Road. "Recently-completed new roading connects Birmingham Road with Wrights Road and provides convenient access to the new Southern Motorway," Mr White said. Contributor - Fuseworks Media Reprinted with permission of

Canterbury trainer Michael House has confirmed he’ll be basing a team at Ascot Park for the revised Southern winter circuit which starts on Saturday 30th May. House says he’s got fifty horses that will be ready to race when racing gets underway again at the end of the month. He’s looking at racing this team at Alexandra Park, Cambridge, Addington and Ascot Park. House says he’s got twenty horses base in Auckland that are fit and ready to go and he’s committed to his Auckland staff until the 1st August. He’s also committed to heading south and racing a team of about a dozen at Ascot Park. “You guys have ten days racing in a row and I’m half thinking that I might bring down another half dozen horses out of Auckland,” he says. House says the highest rating horse he’s bringing south is a 67 ranked trotter. The has a number of other trotters ready to make the trip as well as two maiden pacers and a handful of pacers rated between 58- 53. One horse he’s bringing south is Art Major colt Jaw Breaker who last raced at the Northern Southland meeting in early March running second to Croesus. The plan is to send stable employee Megan McIntyre down for two days a week to help with gearing up on race day. “She’ll just go for a few days and then come home.” House says he has the horses and the transport organised but would like a local horseperson to look after the team while they’re down here. “If I could find a trainer that hasn’t got a lot on and wants a couple of months work I’d employ them. I’ve got to have a local that takes a bit of ownership. Someone to feed up and do the weekends.” The horses will be based at Ascot Park using the courses stable block which cater of fourteen horses. “I heard about the stakes so I rang Jason (Broad) and got the barn organised. I’m not going to trial any horses I’m just going to race them fortnightly and space their runs.”   Bruce Stewart

Today we talk to....... Nicky Chilcott Nicky Chilcott currently has 19 at her barn – 13 racehorses, four breakers and two weanlings, as well as half a dozen foals to wean. The lockdown brought her business to a virtual standstill. “I train on a public complex (Cambridge) so our horses were on complete rest as our facility was closed apart from being allowed to go in and feed the ones we had left there. All of mine apart from two were at my spelling block.” She made the decision to forget about her two-year-olds for the season and bring them back at the start of the new season and concentrate on their 3-year-old campaigns. “In all honesty it is probably the best thing for the horses as I believe we often put a lot of pressure on our young horses to perform when they are not actually mature enough to handle it and I know all of mine will be better off for the extra time left to mature and develop.” Her racehorses are Phoebe Imperial, Monkey Selfie, Ivegotbills, Ally Mae, Sportngoodtime, Mac’s Tomado, Harry H, Nice Vintage, Jack Tar, Ferritts Sister, Flying Taine, Madeakillin and Whips N Spurs though she won’t have anything racing until late July at the very earliest. “I am most excited about Nice Vintage and Monkey Selfie heading into the new season but I think all of them have shown potential and are capable of winning races when they resume. So far this season she has 10 wins from 117 starts. Her best season winners-wise was 39 in 2004.   Harness Racing New Zealand

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk Racing’s new concept the Trotrods has left the best to last, and it was a Kiwi-bred to the fore. Raced over 947 metres at Redcliffe Raceway in Queensland the Trotrods is racing’s version of T/20 cricket. It features a series of quickfire races with a field of up to five facing the mobile. Held over a series of 16 heats, the big finale was held  last night. Going into the last heat Risky Business had the best time of 65.24 seconds, only for With The Band to go 64.77 and take away the $10,000 prize. Drawn four of four Paul Diebert got the favourite into the one-one and then powered away for a comfortable win.  With The Band is by 2008 New Zealand Cup winner Changeover out of Flashbang and raced in New Zealand for three wins from 28 starts before crossing the Tasman. Trained by Chris McDowell and driven by Leo O’Reilly the horse’s last win in New Zealand was at Banks Peninsula  in December. The Trotrods have proved a hit, especially with its on-board cameras that provide a new perspective for the fans on track and at home. To watch the race click here:

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk Elizabeth McCormick’s first experience of horse ownership in 1979 wasn’t good. It even put a major, albeit temporary, strain on her marriage! Her husband David McCormick had just given her a half share in a horse he bred as a Christmas present. But just four days later he got an offer he couldn’t refuse and it was gone from their Mid Canterbury property. “I was coming home from a nursing shift and saw this horse float down the road and thought nothing more about it.” says Elizabeth. But she soon realised that the horse was gone, and her husband was to blame. ‘It was very quiet there for a bit,” she says. Firewood had been sold for $6000. Records show he went on to have two wins three seconds and four thirds in 78 starts, earning just over his purchase price. The McCormicks have been part of the racing landscape for generations, and trotters have been their mainstay. David has driven and trained over 100 winners following on from his dad, the late Doug McCormick who held a license till he was 83. Many of their horses have had the “Perfect” or “Wood” moniker. David and Elizabeth have three children, Jane (38), Graham (35) and Lawrence (33) – he was the “one who inherited the racing genes”. At Forbury Park in 2009 all three generations - Doug, David and Lawrence McCormick – were in the same race, all driving horses trained by David McCormick. Lawrence won on Cathy Combo. “Charlotte Wood was our foundation mare, “ says Elizabeth. On the racetrack she won four from 65 and among her progeny was Queen Charlotte who won six from 92. She in turn produced a number of good horses, including Glendaloch (Sundon-Queen Charlotte) who made nearly $60,000 and raced at the Harness Jewels at their home track (Ashburton) in 2011. He finished 10th, with Vulcan winning the four-year-old Ruby that year. Though not bred by the McCormicks, Lets Get Serious was also out of Queen Charlotte. He won 40 races from 140 starts, earning over $800,000. Elizabeth was around horses as a youngster but it wasn’t until she got married that her interest in the industry grew. “We went to the races all the time, especially with a young family if you didn’t go with him (David) you got left behind.” These days both have day jobs – Elizabeth is a nurse, and David is the area manager for the Mr Green lawn-mowing franchise - and they are very much hobby trainers and breeders. They currently have three horses that will be good to go once racing resumes. They include two of their own trotters Sugar Cane ( 6 wins – 96 starts) and Dora Explorer (1 -28), and also Sungait’s Legacy, who they bought at the All Aged Sales in Christchurch last year. And in case you are wondering about that very quiet Christmas four decades ago, yes David and Elizabeth McCormick are still together - the “Firewood” incident now part of McCormick family folklore.

Woodlands Stud is proud to announce that the world’s fastest pacer Lather Up is set to join their imposing roster in the 2020/21 harness racing season. In a major coup for Australasian breeders the World Champion $1.9 million earner will shuttle from America to join Bettor’s Delight, American Ideal, Sweet Lou, Downbytheseaside, What The Hill and Speeding Spur. Lather Up will be standing in Australia alongside star sire American Ideal at prominent Victorian farm Northern Rivers Equine. Woodlands Stud has enjoyed a very successful relationship with Dr Kath Mcintosh’s Kyabram base and with the arrival of the World’s fastest pacer this will continue in the 2020/21 season  Lather Up is one of the greatest horses of his time. He broke two world records and became the fastest four-year-old horse in history, the equal fastest horse in history over a mile and the single fastest horse in history over a mile and one eighth. He raced against all-comers and broke seven track records as a two, three and four-year-old as well as two world records as a four-year-old. He was a very good two-year-old, a top three-year-old and a world champion four-year-old. At two, Lather Up set the track record for a two-year-colt pacer winning in 1:52.2h. At three, he won a heat of The Little Brown Jug in 1:49.3h (half-mile track), and the $1 million North American Cup elimination and Final in 1:48.1. And at four, he set a world record 1:46 for a mile and a world record of 1:59.2 for a mile and one-eighth. North American Cup When he took his 1:46 world record he raced at the Meadowlands against 10 runners and won by open lengths against an incredible group - including six millionaires. He then backed that world record up the following week with his other world record, going 1:59.2 over a mile and an eighth pacing his first mile in 1:46.3. The Graduate Final in 1:46 The Sam McKee Memorial Just when one thought they had seen it all, a first quarter in :24.4, a favorite who looked hopelessly beaten in the stretch came a Phoenix out of the ashes as Lather Up showed what the heart of a champion can do even when a victory seemed out of the question. With a final time of 1:47.2, Lather Up turned in a stunning performance to capture the 26th edition of the $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, August 9. -The Hambletonian Society The $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes His sire, I'm Gorgeous by Bettor's Delight, was among the top colts of his year winning a heat of the Little Brown Jug in 1:50.4 and finished a close second to 'Horse Of The Year' Rock N Roll Heaven in the $410,000 final. He has a tremendous maternal line as well, with his super dam being one of the best producers by In The Pocket, leaving 9 significant winners, 5 of them in under 1:51.  His pedigree combines two of the greatest producing sires ever down under in Bettor's Delight and In The Pocket but they are far enough removed to be able to be bred to almost all mares across Australasia. His book is full and closed in America for his first season as a sire and with his speed, conformation, gait, looks and pedigree he is set to make his mark on the Australasian harness racing industry too. Lather Up will be available via fresh, chilled semen throughout Australasia and his 2020/21 service fee will be $6,000 + GST in New Zealand and $6,600 GST Inc in Australia, with discounts available. For bookings or inquires about Lather Up in New Zealand please contact Stacey White on 021 595 492 or via email and in Australia contact Mark Hughes on 04 5165 0707 or via email Harnesslink Media

1: Best horse who you have ever been associated or worked with (owned, bred, jogged, trained, driven): Home First. 9 wins. 2: Best horse you have ever seen live: Winx and Sunline (Can't split them lucky to be there when they both had their last starts). 3: Best horse you have seen in any form (live, on tv, on the internet): Winx and Sunline (as above) 4: If you could have any driver in history driving for you in most important race of your life, it would be?: Dexter Dunn 5: The best trainer you have ever seen: Mark Purdon. Following on from father Roy and brother Barry. 6: Your favourite racetrack: Roxburgh. Won 4 from 4 starters in one day in 2003. 7: The unluckiest or hardest to swallow defeat of your career: Yearling Sales Northern Hemisphere race. (Ran 2nd, 3 times) 8: The race you have never won but would love to: NZ Derby 9: The horse we never got to see the best of is: Scenic Wave. (Won 6 but what could go wrong did.) 10: The racing win, yours or somebody elses, that gave you the most joy: Won all three days at Cup week with Natom. 11: Who is the person in harness racing you haven’t seen since lockdown started you are looking forward to seeing the most when we get back to the track: Catching up with all friends and family in racing will be good.(But to see Ricky May back on the track will be special).   Harness Racing New Zealand

We’ve asked trainers up and down the country where their horses are at as we prepare for the return to harness racing! First up is ... Nathan Williamson  At his Branxholme stables in Southland , Nathan Williamson has 20 in work. He plans to race six or so over the winter months but the majority of his team have been put out, awaiting races in the spring. First out of the gates will be Delightful Deal. “She’s an under-rated mare who hasn't shown her best form this season. Her work has been super since lockdown. Will be ready for the 30th of May.” That’s the meeting at Ascot Park, the day after racing resumes at Addington. June will most likely see the return of two others. “Ruby Seddon is a lovely wee trotter who is one from one for the stable. Will be ready to race again late June.” “Flight Crew is a newcomer to the stable just before lockdown. Her work has been pleasing. I think she will be one to follow.” The three year old filly’s been transferred after just one start for Lauren Pearson while Pembrook Playboy (4 wins – 9 starts) has just resumed work. “He looks great and will be ready in August. He is a nice horse in the making.” Nine-win trotting mare Dark Horse will be back probably a bit later,  with Williamson saying the seven-year-old is  “the best horse in the stable and has just resumed jogging. If she holds together we will target Cup Week.” So far this season the Williamson barn has had 24 wins from 122 starts  ($223,165). His best year was in 2018, with 224 winners.   Harness Racing New Zealand

Over the past 100 or so years, the World has gone through World wars, depressions, stock market crashes, natural disasters, (remember the Christchurch earthquakes – the fallout from that is far from over), and various serious health crises, that we have all read about and seen documentaries on. Make no mistake; the current pandemic is on an economic level, not only as bad as those events, but potentially even more damaging. The problem with this one is that the evidence points to it being not man made, so, apart from allegations that Chinese authorities refused to react properly and quickly, it is simple nature and biology that has brought the World to its’ knees, proving just how vulnerable we are. While the current loss of thousands of lives is horrendous, it is the damage to economies that is going to be with us for a lot longer. Focusing on New Zealand, the vast majority of the population approve of the prompt and decisive action taken by our Government, aided by our isolated geographic position, and the positive results, from a health point of view, are plain to see. Trouble is that numerous aspects of our economy have been, and will continue to be, devastated by what has happened, and one of those is horse racing. We all know that, even before this calamity, we weren’t traveling too well, partly because of some questionable decisions made over the last twenty or so years, partly because interest in racing has been overtaken by other forms of gambling, mainly the mind-numbing pokies and overseas online betting agencies, and partly because of, unlike other Countries such as Australia, a lack of any support from various Governments, who were happy to reap the tax benefits without offering anything in return.  As a result, we are, let’s face it, an Industry in crisis. However, unlike some other industries such as tourism, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, with racing set to resume next month, as opposed to other sporting codes, for instance what is widely regarded as our national sport, Rugby Union. And there are other issues facing the TAB and RITA. A large percentage of their income is derived from wagering on overseas sporting events such as the NBA and European football, all of which are facing an unknown short term future, and are completely out of the control of anyone here. Then of course, there is the myriad of Government departments who they are bound to consult with, before they can make moves to change or improve matters. Oddly enough, when one of those departments receive 20,000 emails in the first two days of a change in ‘levels’, asking similar questions as RITA, harness racing becomes a slightly less important priority! The above is a very simple and abbreviated summary of what everyone in our Industry is facing at present. Participants in our small sector of the business world are, and always have been when the going gets tough, very quick to rant and demand answers, without necessarily offering solutions. Of course, this is not unique to racing. I am sure we are all aware there will changes required in our industry, from RITA level downwards, and many of have been asking for change for some time. HRNZ do consult with the Association and we have an opportunity to put our case for change. There has been some frustration expressed around a lack of communication from RITA and HRNZ over the past few weeks. While we understand people are looking for answers, we all need to understand how much our world has changed because of this pandemic. RITA is reliant on being given information and guidance from the Government – that is the law. The Racing Act also states that HRNZ is bound by decisions made by RITA. Demanding predictions of what the future will look like from these bodies, when their ONLY source of income has pretty much stopped, and could be limited for months to come, is just plain unreasonable. Let us not forget that the industry’s sole source of income is wagering, and that neither HRNZ nor RITA has money trees surrounding their car parks. Anyone who is naïve enough to think that racing is going to go back to where it was six months ago, is in for a big disappointment. We think that track closures, and lots of them, are inevitable. There are decisions that are going to upset people, but the days of keeping a track going because ‘my mate Fred’ has been racing there for a hundred years, are gone. There are three main criteria to be taken into account, the success of the meetings held at that track, the horse population close by, and the costs involved in setting up TAB and Trackside facilities. For time immemorial, harness racing has relied on volunteers to run meetings and sadly, the closures may well affect that base. However the time has come, if it hadn’t years ago, to give priority to the people who rely on harness racing for their livelihood, trainers who have invested heavily in land and facilities, many of whom are burdened under substantial mortgages, and some of whom, their only skill involves  being around horses. Given the above, the Trainers & Drivers Association is asking RITA and HRNZ to make the changes that are required for the future of our Industry. Inevitably, given the uncertain future of not only New Zealand, but the rest of the World, there will, with the advantage of hindsight, be some decisions that will be judged as being unwise down the track, but that is the same for any walk of life in these unique circumstances. However, like it or not, those decisions have to be made immediately, and for that reason, the Association asks that Industry participants put aside their personal circumstances and viewpoints for now, and pull together for the sake of survival. As the saying goes, ‘there is a good reason why a windscreen is larger than a rear vision mirror.’ National Council, NZ Harness Racing Trainers & Drivers Assn. Inc.  

Alabar general manager Graeme Henley says the upcoming May sale on Gavelhouse is more than just a sale. Because he believes it will be an important barometer for where the industry’s confidence stands coming out of the Covid-19 crisis. The May sale conducted by New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred also contains a smattering of broodmares, yearlings and even the odd racehorse but it is predominantly about weanlings, with huge offerings from Alabar and Woodlands (who were profiled on last week). And because of Covid restrictions around travel and the size of gatherings the sale will be not only online but over a week starting May 20 on the Gavelhouse platform run by NZBS. Online sales are proving incredibly successful in the thoroughbred world and Henley, who was the first vendor to majorly support the May sale with big numbers, says the move to online for this month’s sale is both logical and could prove a success. “We would prefer a normal sale but NZBS have been great to deal with by getting this online and there will be positives to that,” says the general manager of Alabar. “It means the Australians can be just as involved as the locals and I think that market will be boosted by the fact they have a new sales company over there so buyers can purchase weanlings here as pinhook prospects and on-sell them as yearlings over there.” For that reason and also because the sale comes as hopefully both countries start to move of of the Covid-19 crisis, Henley sees it as a crucial barometer on where the industry is heading. “Those markets, like pinhooking and buyers looking to pay higher end money for weanlings, will tell us a fair bit about where things are heading and how people see the near future in harness racing.” Alabar has always been a big supporter of the May sale and Henley says the reasons are simple. “It is because of the way our business is set up. “We have had up to eight stallions on the farm here before and some breeding seasons we will serve 2500 mares. “That is a lot of work, even the work around the semen transportation is a lot and we simply don’t have the time or space to be preparing a lot of yearlings for the sales as the two things overlap. “For that reason we supported this sale very early and now Woodlands have come on board with big numbers and I think it is a really important day for the industry.” Horses like U May Cullect have been sold by Alabar at the May sale and last year they had a Kadabra weanling sell for $80,000 and a brother to Alta Maestro for $75,000. Another brother to the latter will be one of the highlights of their 57-strong draft this month while Henley sees some real highlights. “We also have a sister to Star Galleria, who would be valuable for that reason alone but she is only the second filly from that dam Starlitnight and the other filly, Star Of Venus, has left Self Assured. “So a filly like he has value to keep, pin-hook or even as a broodmare because that is a really fast, current family and you just can’t buy fillies from that family.” The stock of Alabar’s superstar Art Major are naturals for any young horse sale as he produces such athletic horses and Henley is also excited about the stock of world record holder Always B Miki and of course local hero Vincent, who has eight weanlings in their draft. “Vincent is as good a looking horse as you would see and that comes through in the weanlings. Even the fillies look strong with good shoulders. “So we think they will be popular.” Henley says next week looms as an important day for sale with trainers and agents set to visit the South Auckland farm for inspections on Tuesday week. “I think that is crucial,” says Henley. “I have had a lot of people ring me and ask me about certain weanlings, which has been a good sign. “But we expect to have trainers an agents here next week and if people can’t be here if they ring their mates who can be, with many of the top trainers going to be here, then at least they can give them an unbiased opinion. “So that is going to be a real asset, especially for the Australians.” Of course Alabar aren’t just relying on that, with Henley himself manning the camera for the eight pics and then videos needed of all 57 weanlings for the sale. “That made an interesting experience,” he laughs. “Trying to get 57 weanlings to do what you want when you want is a bit of a mission and I reckon it was the first time I had ever used he video function on my camera. “But we got there, it helped we had 10 days of fine weather otherwise it would have been impossible. What also helped with the guidance of a celebrity Nanny, former champion racehorse and Alabar stallion Elsu. “We gelded him a couple of years ago when he was no longer commercial because if we hadn’t have he would have spent the rest of his life alone. “So he buddies up with the odd mare these days but we actually put the weanlings in a paddock with him, in bunches of 5 or 6, for the first week when the come off the mares. “He keeps them calm, shows them how to behave and loves it because he gets fed well and has some company. “So we call him our celebrity Nanny.” So as for the sale, what can buyers expect? “We are being very realistic about our reserves but it won’t be a fire sale because it doesn’t need to be and I can tell that by the interest we have had already. “But the most important thing is for people to register with Gavelhouse and then they can choose to buy or not.”   Michael Guerin

ANTHONY Butt can’t recall a scarier feature race ride. Butt won last night’s Group 2 NSW Trotters’ Derby with Elite Stride, but admits he had given-up hope halfway through when the buzz trotter completely took charge. “He can do that, but this was extreme. He ran the middle half in 55sec and we go him running his first mile in about 1min53sec … and he still had another 700m to go,” he said. “The sectionals kept popping up and I thought he’d run himself into the ground. “It got to a stage where I could start to control him a little bit, but I didn’t want to really restrain him for fear he’d break. “It’s remarkable he was able to keep going and, despite the second horse getting close, he felt like he’d have something more again if I asked.” Elite Stride ran the first quarter of the last mile in 27.3sec and the second in 28.6, but the last two quarters were 31.2 and 31.5sec. He the Muscle Hill colt held-off talented Victorian Dizzysjet, now in Tim Butt’s stable, by 1.5m in a 1min57.9sec mile rate for 2300m. “He’s the best young trotter I’ve driven for sheer talent and the speed he has is amazing,” Butt said. “He’s just different to our young trotters, he’s essentially US-bred and he’s like a young American trotter, he just wants to go.” Butt thinks Elite Stride has the potential to become something special. “The talent and speed are there, but it’s now a matter of whether it’ll all come together and he’ll learn to become a complete racehorse. If he does, he could be anything,” he said. Elite Stride, who boasts seven wins and a second from eight starts, may have just one run this season, in next week’s Foundation series final at Menangle. "Where and when they run the Victoria Trotters’ Derby is uncertain so that’s still a possibility, but I’ll talk it through with Emilio (Rosati, owner-breeder),” Butt said. “Beyond that, we’ll look towards the Breeders Crown at the end of the year.” In other stable news, Butt said his glamour three-year-old pair Line Up and Perfect Stride were just resuming work. “There’s nothing for them, so we gave them a break and they’re just starting back up again now,” he said. “We’re really just looking towards the Breeders Crown towards the end of the year of them.” Butt is also excited about Saturday week’s $100,000 NSW Metropolitan Region series final at Menangle with the emerging Wolf Stride. “He could be a really serious horse. He’s getting better with every run and really impressed us in the heat,” he said. “It’s a strong series, but he could be a Grand Circuit horse in the making I think.”   Adam Hamilton

Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) has made the difficult decision not to proceed with the 2020 Junior Drivers Championship. The Championship, featuring the top six drivers from the North and South Island, had been scheduled to run in July. “We are very disappointed to have had to make this call, however the uncertainty, and challenges around funding, created by the COVID-19 pandemic has left us with no option” said HRNZ Chief Executive Peter Jensen “We understand that the Championship is hugely important to the next generation of our drivers and that it is a massive part of their year and is always eagerly anticipated by all of us in the industry.” With the New Zealand Junior Driver Championship not being held in 2020, the qualifying structure for the Australasian Young Drivers Championship (AYDC), if this still goes ahead, will be as follows, · Leading North Island Junior Driver as at 31st July* · Leading South Island Junior Driver as at 31st July* · Defending Champion: Sarah O’Reilly · The highest placed driver, who is not one of the above* * based on position in the overall Junior Driver’s Premiership Table, not Junior Driver Points. Participants must be under the age of 25 at the commencement of the new season to be eligible to compete in the AYDC. Participation in the AYDC will be subject to HRNZ’s ability to fund it. Peter Jensen also confirmed that HRNZ has decided on its stakes breakdown till the end of the season. “After talking to a number of industry people, it was clear there was no clear consensus on whether we should change the policy on paying all starters. The board decided that now is not the time to make this change, but it will be considered again next season. The Country Cups series also won’t resume when racing returns.”   Harness Racing New Zealand

Two horses with a strong southern connection are earning some good Australian dollars in New South Wales at the moment. Trotter Super Fast Pat, and pacing mare Havtime, both of whom began their careers in Southland, now race out of the Menangle stable of KerryAnne Morris. Super Fast Pat, which was bred by Central Otago identity Ginger Woodhouse and developed by Winton trainer Lauren Pearson is currently progressing through the grades under the care of Morris. He’s had six starts for the stable, finishing tenth in his Australian debut. “We didn’t have his gear 100% right at his first start. We went back to what they had on him in New Zealand and ever since then he hasn’t looked back. He wears an under draw, a head check and a nose flap to help him concentrate. Most of our trotters here don’t have head checks and we try to use jog brindles,” said KerryAnne. Super Fast Pat steps up a grade tonight when he takes on some of the better graded trotters on his home track. “He hasn’t been pushed to his limits yet. He’s got to step up in grade. Tonight will be a good test for him because it’s his first Saturday night race. It’s a standing start and there’s a few nice ones in it.” Morris says both she and husband Rob are happy with where the five year old’s at. “He’s in a really happy place at the minute and very comfortable with the way we’ve got things set up with him. He has got a few quirks but when he puts it together he’s a very nice trotter. Fingers crossed he can continue that tonight.” Morris says Super Fast Pat’s style of trotting is very deceptive. “Rob has said to me that you can think you’re going a 30 second quarter and it’s a 28 quarter. He said he just gets over the ground a lot better than you think he is.” She says the wide open spaces and smaller fields suits a lot of the trotters that come from New Zealand. “It seems to help them a lot. With the long straight (at Menangle) you can really get them balanced up.” And the she says Super Fast Pat will get better as he gains more race day experience. “I think after a bit of a let up, when we get him going again we’ll probably see a better horse. He probably needs to get a wee bit more seasoned to race against the better trotters but I can’t see why he won’t do that.” From twelve starts for Winton trainer Lauren Pearson, Super Fast Pat recorded three wins with the last being a New Zealand record of 2-56.6 for a 2400 metre mobile at Winton when he won by seven and a half lengths. Pearson was very patient with the gelding, knowing he could easily lose the plot. There was no doubting his raw ability and he was always destined to race in Australia where there are more mobile starts for trotters on a regular basis. Under the care of KerryAnne Morris, Super Fast Pat from six starts, has won his last four races in a row. He was bred by Ginger Woodhouse and was raced by Woodhouse and Neil Edge in New Zealand. He races under Edge’s name in Australia. “Neil’s a terrific guy. You never hear from him. He just likes to watch his horses going around. He sent over Our Smart Caesar and he did a good job for us.” Super Fast Pat is out of the eight win Sundon mare Turbo Pat. Another horse with a southern connection in the stable is quality mare Havtime. The four year old Mach Three mare is owned by Murray, Malcolm and Sarndra Little and has been in New South Wales since former trainer Barry Purdon took her to Australia in February. “Barry brought her over for the Ladyship Mile. I think he spoke to the owners and it just made a lot of sense to leave her here in Australia. She had a low assessment and there were a lot more opportunities here for her. There’s a few more mares races for her with a little bit more money up for offer.” Since being in Australia Havtime has won three races from nine starts and paced a mile in 1-50.0. Her lifetime record is now nine wins and $339,957. Her biggest win in Australia has been the Group Three Tanyia Harris Four Year Old Mares Stakes at Menangle where she beat Our Princess Tiffany and Belle Of Montana. She ran a good sixth in the $200,000 Group One Ladyship Mile won by Bettors Heart. “She showed in the Ladyship she was right up there with the better mares and we were very happy for Barry to leave her with us.” In her last start at Menangle last weekend she ran a close second to Sounds Of Terror – beaten by half a head. “We thought she should have won last week. Rob believes we may have been a wee bit light on her. She’s a funny horse. There’s a happy medium with her. You can have her too revved up or you can have her too quiet. Last week Rob thought he had her too quiet. She’s a lovely mare who has good gate speed and she loves to race. I can’t wait to see what she can do later on down the track.” KerryAnne says she generally has fifty horses in work and likes to aim at winning 100 races each season. She recently passed the 1000 lifetime winners mark. “We haven’t had that pinup horse but we get our fair share of winners from our bread and butter horses.” One of her best horses was Charlaval – a Four Starzzz Shark gelding which won the 2016 Gold Coast Derby beating Southland bred Stanley Ross Robyn. Charlaval won eighteen races and earned $345,181. Other good horses the Morris’s have raced are Aztec Bromac (20 wins) and Iam Mr Brightside (34 wins and $445,000. It was great to talk to KerryAnne and we wish her all the best for tonight.   Bruce Stewart

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk Denise Ottley can vividly remember the time her daughter Sam left home. “It wasn’t my best day, it was just horrible at the start.” “And I didn’t want to leave,”says Sam. At the time the mother and daughter – “it’s always just been the two of us” – were living in South Canterbury and Sam was around 19. “I had a four-bedroom house all to myself,” says Denise, though she says it was her who insisted that Sam leave to take up a job at Colin and Julie DeFilippi’s Canterbury stables, as “I knew if she didn’t go then she’d never go.” At the time Sam had been working at Murray Tapper’s stables in nearby Timaru. A year or so before she left home, Team Ottley had a “fairytale” result, as Denise puts it, at Oamaru in November 2008. Sam won her very first race-day drive on a horse trained by her mother, on her 18th birthday. Nigel Paul was the horse in question. After starting well he went to the lead, then lobbed the trail only to take the passing lane and get the job done. “It’s the stuff you think about in your dreams,” said Sam. “It was pretty exciting,” said Denise, “to train my horse to win on her birthday.” And it was far from a one-off. Rocki Warrrior won five from 38 including the 2017 Tuapeka Cup at Forbury Park. Backmarker Eamon Maguire was the hot favourite but Rocki Warrior stepped well, went straight to the front and stayed there. Sam : “We just thought, let’s just go as hard as we can for as long as we can, and he won easily.” And at the nice odds of 19-to-one. As a driver Denise has had two wins and eight placings in 62 drives, and has trained 30 winners from 441 starts while Sam was the first female junior driver to post 100 winners in New Zealand and currently has 438 wins (4494 drives). In the current drivers’ premiership she is 4th on 51 wins behind Blair Orange, Matthew Williamson and John Dunn. “It’s quite unreal,” says Denise , “to think this is just a little girl from Orari, there’s a lot of pride” Sam : “I pinch myself sometimes, just at the opportunities I’ve had.” In recent years Denise made the move north to join Sam and her partner Stevie Golding. She lives in a separate cottage near the main house. “We don’t live in each other’s pockets,” says Denise, though the pair usually catch up at least once a day. Denise works horses at Ken Barron’s property before looking after the eight she has in work while Sam is busy at Mark Jones’ stable at Burnham six mornings a week. Both reckon they are pretty similar to each other, agreeing “they are easy-going and are passionate about horses”. There’s also a strong work ethic. While at Orari Denise juggled a number of jobs including milking cows, caring for the elderly and doing the bookwork at a local hotel, as well as training her horses. “I remember being at the rest home and whistling them up at dinner time, like I did the cows. Sometimes I forgot which job I was at!” While the COVID-19 crisis has been “strange” both are eagerly looking forward to racing’s return. Denise is keen to qualify a promising trotter she has called “Majesticmite” while it’s another Majestic that Sam has signalled as one to watch. It’s the Mark Jones-trained Majestic Lavros, a last race winner by a nose over One Majic Kenny at Addington in March. As for any special activities they have planned for Sunday? Sam : “Usually we’d be racing at Timaru but we will just probably go for a walk or something.” Denise : “Hopefully I’ll get a box of chocolates, I love chocolate.”

Talk has switched to the New Zealand Cup with buzz Aussie pacer Shockwave. The gun four-year-old was being set for the Sydney Inter Dominion, but with that now postponed, connections are looking very seriously at the NZ Cup. “We’ve talked about the NZ Cup, I know the trainer (Ryan Bell) would love to give it a shot, even though the horse hasn’t contested a standing race as yet,” managing owner Kevin Jeavons said. “We’ve got a lot of thinking to do. Sydney was obviously the main aim this year and it’s disappointing that’s not happening. “I think it’s sad for the sport, way above our own interests, that we won’t have an Inter Dominion this year. “So the NZ Cup becomes an option, a real option. There’s no other features races we’d really consider leaving home for between now and the Miracle Mile, only the NZ Cup.” Shockwave was luckless through the big two WA races – Fremantle and WA Cups in January – but since stamped himself as the state’s best horse and one of the most exciting in Australia. With the Inter Dominion off and no other really major Aussie open-class races before Christmas, NZ officials appear to have a huge opportunity if they can maintain significant stakemoney for the NZ Cup and NZ free-for-all. No doubt Shockwave is just one of many top horses at least being considered for an NZ Cup raid, pending stakemoney money levels.   Adam Hamilton

In the last few seasons thirty nine year old Branxholme trainer Alister Black has fashioned an excellent strike rate in the Southern Harness scene. Last season he was the fourth best national UDR rated trainer of the season for trainers with ten wins or more. His 0.3889 was only bettered by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Mitchell Kerr and Barry Purdon. As part of that season Black also experienced a golden run at premier meetings at Addington. He won the last race on May 10th with Vintage Cheddar, then the following Friday won the first race with Get Lucky and the second race with Vintage Cheddar. “That night was magical really,” he said. Alister Black is a born and bred Southlander with plenty of harness racing in his genes. One of his grandfathers, Arthur Smaill trained at Heriot and geared up twelve winners between 1963 and 1979, with his first, being Dark Shadow at Invercargill in February 1963. Others winners for Smaill included Dark Sun (Garrison Hanover) 3 wins, and Joy which also won three. Note: Dark Shadow was a half-brother to Lucky Chance – the same family Diane Cournane is still breeding from through Breath Of Life. Alister’s other grandfather was George Black. George owned quality trotting mare Sure Mart trained by Henry Skinner. She started racing as a three year old and progressed to open class, winning twelve races. She hit peak form late in her career and as a nine year old won six races and at ten won the 1980 New Zealand Trotting FFA and 1980 New Zealand National Trot. She also ran third in the 1980 New Zealand Trotting Championship at Addington. She raced in one of the golden eras of trotting with horses like Scotch Tar, Stormy Morn, Framalda, Special Pride, Even Speed and No Response. As a broodmare Sure Mart left Cilla’s Pride which George trained to win six races, Cilla’s Son won five for Ali Malcolmson, and George’s Wish won three for Owen Crooks. Once George had finished training, his daughter Dorothy who part-owned Sure Mart, took over the red and white racing colours and her husband Tony O’Brien used them in the 1990s when he trained for seven seasons. O’Brien trained three winners (all out of Cilla’s Pride); Dorothy’s Choice (Yankee Jolter), Cilla Elite (Armbro Invasion) and Cilla’s Whiz (Gee Whiz II). During this time Alister attended James Hargest High School. “School wasn’t the place for me unfortunately,” he said.  When he could, he helped out round the O’Brien stables where his interest in harness racing was spurred. So as soon as he could Alister left school. “My first job was at Kirk’s (Larsen), then I went to the North Island and worked for Doug Gale at Helensville for twelve months. I came home and worked at Jaccka Lodge for a short time and then went to Alan Paisley’s.” Black started driving at the trials in 1999 and he obtained his junior drivers licence in 2002. He drove for six seasons as a junior, winning 48 races. His first winner as a driver was on the OK Bye mare Shoshoni Sunrise at Ascot Park in September 2001. “She was a bit of a trick really. She wasn’t very good from the stand. The only time I got her away from a stand was in the Roxburgh Cup (which she won). She used to pull in the warm up but had a lot of high speed. She wasn’t very brave but very good saved for one run. As a junior I did okay, but I wasn’t top of the tree, I’ll give you the tip.” As a broodmare Shoshoni Sunrise’s first foal was Washakie which won thirty two races, including eight Group One races, and he banked over one million dollars in stakes. His biggest win was the $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship. He won the Group One MH Treuer Memorial five times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). In his driving career Black has driven sixty one winners with Alan Paisley providing twenty one of those. In 2003 he meet Sheree Hamilton who also has plenty of harness racing in her genes. Her father Peter Hamilton is the eldest son of Ron (88) and Maureen Hamilton (86). Ron trained for many years in Southland. Sheree’s mother is Marcia Legat, daughter of Craig and Wilma Legat. Craig was a stud master and trainer in Southland with his best horse being Gaines Minbar gelding Shapiro which won four races. Sheree Black at the head of Vintage Cheddar with son Riley     --Bruce Stewart photo Ron Hamilton trained 61 winners over a long career, including cup class pacer Trevira a son of Vonnell. Vonnell became an excellent source of winners for the Hamilton family, leaving Trevira (16 wins), Trilobel (9), Tokorangi (8), Tricotine (4) and Lirelle (4). Alister and Sheree were married in 2006 and have two children, McKenzie who’s twenty, is in her second years as a nursing student at SIT and Riley who’s twelve and attends Southland Boys High School. “He’s a lot better at school than I was so that’s a good start,” laughed Alister. ‘He’d love to be a race commentator. He’s filled in at the Winton Workouts a couple of times. On race days he’s always up in the box with Davey (commentator Dave McDonald,” added Sheree. The Blacks now live in Makarewa and while Alister looks after the horses full time, Sheree works at Vet South, and prior to that at the Café at Southland Hospital. “It was good. I used to start work at 5:30am and get home at two. Alister used to go to work at three. We didn’t see each other for about eight years,” (laughter). Black took out his training licence in 2005 and was able to wear his grandfather’s colours which he’d inherited from his Auntie Dorothy. He trained a small team at that point, as he was working at the Makarewa Vension Plant. He continued to work there for eight seasons. In 2010 he was offered a training position with Ian and Lindsay Thomson. The Thomsons had sold their sheep farm at the peak of the dairy boom when land prices were at their highest and they bought a 107 acre property at Branxholme where they set up a track and training facilities. Alister’s first winner from the property was Rome which won at Forbury Park in 2010. “It was a horrible night. There was flooding at the Taieri from memory. Ian and I took him up in the truck. He sat parked and got the job done for the Sinnamons. I was driving him at the time and they sent him down for me to train. That was a pretty special night really.” His first winner as a trainer/driver was Bolton Earl at Gore in December 2011, which Black part owned with Peter Duggan. “It was a cheap Tuesday and a very poor field. I think there were only about four of us left in after the first 100 metres.” Since then there’s been steady stream of winners. To date, Black has trained 68 winners, 58 of which have been owned or part owned by Ian and Lindsay Thomson. Alister Black and Lindsay and Ian Thomson                      --Bruce Stewart photo “Two of the greatest gentlemen you’d ever meet. We’re very lucky to have them in this industry. To be fair I wouldn’t be in the game if it wasn’t for them. They’re really like family to Sheree, McKenzie, Riley and I. It’s unbelievable what they’ve done for us and the game.” Black is employed by the brothers but is still able to train a small number of outside horses. “I’m allowed two or three of my own. I’ve got a small group of owners and a syndicate.” The Thomsons are very much hands on at the stable. “They do ninety percent of the work. Craig Milne and Paul McIntyre come and help as well.” His first winner on the big stage at Addington came in March 2013 with two year old trotter Successful Way. But the talented young trotter never reached his full potential as he was beset with problems and he only started another twelve times in his career. Successful Way                                           --Bruce Stewart photo “He had a bad wind complaint. At the time they couldn’t operate on it. He was only getting about fifty percent oxygen.” Abraham Jones was another trotter Black didn’t see the best of. He recorded two wins and a handful of placings from just twelve starts as a four year old. “That was a hard pill to swallow. A virus went through the stable. We turned them all out and he had a paddock accident. We tried for two years to get him back.” During this time the Thomsons started to invest in good stock and the winners came through more regularly. The stable’s biggest winner to date has been Get Lucky which won last season’s Listed Sales Series Three Year Old Final at Addington. “It was a heartbreak the year before when he ran off the track. To come back at three and win it was very good.” Get Lucky                                                 --Bruce Stewart photo Black does all his own shoeing. “I do ninety percent of it but Timmy White looks after Get Lucky.” He says he’s learned most of the tricks of the trade by trial and error. “Back when I was at Paisleys I used to shoe the joggers and Johnny Tressider used to have a look and tell me what I was doing wrong. The rest I’ve just studied and I’ve also read the odd book.” Black doesn’t drive much at the races these days. The regular stable driver is Oamaru based Brad Williamson who started driving for Black in 2015. His first winner for the stable was Ossessione at Gore. “Allan Beck was doing a lot of our driving but he was committing to Des Baynes and it was hard to get him. Ian and Lindsay are fans of having one stable driver. They don’t like chopping and changing so that’s when it all started.” Williamson has driven thirty six winners for Black. “It’s been great. He’s always positive. One of my pet hates is getting fifth and being unlucky. Brad is quite an aggressive driver which is great but he can also give them a trip.” Although Kilowatt Kid has been sold, Black still has a strong team going through their preparation for the new season. Four year old Get Lucky is the stables leading man when it comes to trotters. He only started twice this season for a third and a seventh at Addington. As a three year old he won four races including the Listed Sales Series Three Year Old Trotters Final at Addington. “He was having a couple of health issues. We were just starting to get on top of them and the lockdown happened. He was going the best he’d gone in twelve months. He’s had five weeks off, he’s back in now, done a week’s jogging and we’re getting him ready for Hannon Memorial Day at Oamaru.” Vintage Cheddar is the highest assessed horse (R93) he has in the stable and he’s the winners of eight races including this seasons Wairio Cup. Vintage Cheddar                                      --Bruce Stewart photo “He’s looking massive. I reckon he’s put on another forty kilos. I’m very excited about what’s coming up. Our main goal this year is the New Zealand Cup. I’d be rapt to have a runner there and what will be will be.” Lawrence won three races this season – twice at Ascot Park and once at Winton and Black expects him to go well in the new season. Black is very pleased with Lawrence’s progress, being very consistent. He’s pleased he’s had a lot of seconds as the then doesn’t go up in the ratings. “In the Country Cups grade down here I reckon if they can handle that grade for twelve months and come back, you’re a lot tougher and better able to handle it. He’ll do a nice job this year.” Ian and Lindsay Thomson have also become regular buyers at the yearling sales and in the last three years Black has joined them on the buyer’s bench. “The brothers pick out what they like. I pick out a few and we go round and have a look at them. They’ve got to have a pedigree. I’m big on pedigree and conformation. The Standardbred now is going so much faster.” In 2019 the brothers purchased three yearlings, Ohoka Agent, Keep On Dreaming and Inclusive. Of Ohoka Agent Black says “I don’t mind him. He just might take a little bit of time.” He states Keep On Dreaming is quite a nuggetty Bettor’s Delight colt, that has a bit of gas. Inclusive is a half-brother to Get Lucky and was purchased for $42,000. “He’s just bowling around. He’s very big and a wee bit immature. Probably won’t see him until he’s a late three year old.” Black says horses to follow in the new season are Vintage Cheddar, Keep On Dreaming and Don’t Ask. Don’t Ask is a rising three year old trotting filly by Father Patrick out of CR Commando mare Star Commando. “She goes nice. From when I broke her in as a yearling I said to Lindsay that I wouldn’t mind a stable full of these (Father Patricks). She’s just so natural.” There’s clearly plenty of horse power in the Black stable, preparing for the new season.   Bruce Stewart

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