Day At The Track
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By Jonny Turner Miracle Mile winner Spankem confirmed his New Zealand Cup favouritism when equalling the Oamaru track record during his win of the Hannon Memorial on Sunday.  The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained 5yr-old never gave his rivals a hope of catching him when he produced a stunning 53.3sec last 800m in his front-running victory. Spankem stopped the clock at 3:14.4 for the 2600m standing start event to equal Classic Cullen's 2010 track record. The flawless performance again confirmed Purdon's comments earlier this season that Spankem has returned in even better order than he was in during his impressive Miracle Mile-winning 4yr-old season. The scary news for his New Zealand Cup opponents - and the good news for his fans - is there is more to come, as Spankem builds towards peak fitness for the second Tuesday in November. ''It was a nice run and another step up for him - he went really well,'' Purdon said. Purdon took no risks when driving Spankem by taking the favourite to the front at the 1600m after he made a fair beginning and settled midfield. That early position meant the reinsman had to move forward and try to take the front before it was too late. ''I was going to be in a position where I was going to be forced to go,'' Purdon said. ''If I had waited, it was going to be too late in the race and I was probably going to be forced to sit in the death, and he could have over-raced in that situation.'' After a brief tussle for the lead, Spankem controlled the pace before reeling off his stunning finish. His closing 400m of 26.4sec was even enough to impress his champion trainer-driver. ''He is a very fast horse - he is incredibly fast,'' Purdon said. Classie Brigade got his manners back in check and boosted his New Zealand Cup hopes when running into second. The Robert Dunn-trained pacer put his horror beginning in the New Brighton Cup behind him by going straight to the lead in yesterday's feature. Classie Brigade comfortably held second from Ultimate Sniper, who ran into third after racing three back on the markers. Purdon confirmed last season's New Zealand Derby winner was still in need of racing to get back to his best after his recovery from a knee operation. ''He was off the scene for such a long time - this time will improve him again.'' Chase Auckland arguably produced the run of the race outside of the winner, even though he missed a top-three placing. The 5yr-old looked to be in a headstrong mood when he arrived at Oamaru, and he was not on his best behaviour when galloping with a lap to run. After regaining his composure, Chase Auckland produced an incredible finish to run into fourth placing from last placing before the home turn. The performance confirmed the pacer's winning debut in open class in the New Brighton Cup was no fluke, and that he was a genuine New Zealand Cup contender. His chances in the great race may depend on what mood he is in on the day, as he is prone to getting fizzed up on occasions. ''He has got that nature about him, he is just a horse that you have got to catch him in the right mood on the day,'' Purdon said. A G's White Socks effectively had no winning chance when coming wide on the home bend as Spankem produced his scintillating final sectionals. Though his effort was sound, the pacer has made his third consecutive poor beginning to a spring campaign. The first five horses home in the Hannon Memorial are all expected to race in next month's Canterbury Classic at Addington. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Plans for Turn It Up to resume in the New Year have had a setback after his recovery programme was interrupted last week -and it could be ongoing depending on his immediate progress. “He was doing well. He had finished his schedule of being boxed after his knee operation and was set to do month on the water walker” co-owner and trainer Mark Purdon said. “But after a week they weren’t that happy with his progress and he has gone back to box rest. They are still concerned about how it looks and so a lot will depend on what happens next” Last season’s Auckland Cup, Easter Cup and Harness Jewels winner was a star of the season with 11 wins and four seconds in 15 career starts. The decision was made to bypass any chance of a NZ Cup preparation so as not to take any risks with his knees and his racing plans were aimed at Australia in the New Year with targets like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile .Those plans are now under threat. “It is really bad luck and after we took the path of lesser risk after the Jewels” a disappointed Mark said “We will just have to see how it develops but it was news we didn’t need at this stage”   Courtesy of All Stars Stables.

By Jonny Turner Taking his first horse to Ascot Park in almost a decade paid off for trainer Jim Curtin when Emmersyn Lee scored a front-running victory on Saturday. The inexperienced 3yr-old took her step towards qualifying for the Southland Oaks Final when winning comfortable in maiden company. Curtain said it would be scary to think how long ago it had been since he had taken a horse from his own stable to race in Southland. The records books show it was almost a decade ago – when Slash And Burn ran third in the Northern Southland Cup in 2009. Curtin will not wait nearly as long to line up his next runner in the deep south. Emmersyn Lee is likely to return south to race in Gore, next month, to complete her mandatory two starts for Southland Oaks qualification. Curtin is not getting ahead of himself with the filly, but is hopeful she could develop in to a contender for the race. “We are hoping she can develop in to a nice filly.” “The Oaks would be a long range goal if she kept improving.” Emmersyn Lee showed she had plenty to learn about the racing game when taking a good look at the Ascot Park scenery at different stages of her 2200m win. Curtin said the filly is far from the complete package. “She is still pretty inexperienced, she has got a bit to learn.” “We just hope she keeps improving.” Curtin and wife, Sandi, bred the Bettarthancheddar filly from their American Ideal mare, Crystal Bromac. The couple race Emmersyn Lee with David Aitken, of Canterbury. Saturday’s race looked Emmersyn Lee’s for the keeping soon after the start when the favourite, Kickupyaheels, galloped. The Robin Swain trained filly caught the eye with a big performance to collect herself and run fifth. Emmersyn Lee was one of four Canterbury trained winners at Saturday’s meeting. Three wins went to Otago trained horses and two wins went to hometown trainers.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Some say the older you get, the wiser you get, but that does not appear to be the case for Hannon Memorial contender A G’s White Socks. The Greg And Nina Hope trained 6yr-old will attempt to go one better than his runner-up effort behind Dream About Me, in this year’s race, at Oamaru on Sunday. Twelve months ago, A G’s White Socks pinged away from the standing start tapes to lead, before just going down in an action-packed finish. The chances of the pacer making the same kind of beginning, this year, look bleak if his recent manners are anything to go by. The formerly brilliant beginner has developed a habit of putting in some rough strides after stepping off the mark. And it is not only giving his driver, Ricky May, a headache. It is giving away a major advantage to his rivals. That was evident when A G’s White Socks began quickly, before putting in some rough steps, and had to settle three back on the markers in Chase Auckland’s New Brighton Cup. “At the start he made flyer actually, he was in front and then he put some skips in,” May said. “It sort of cost him leading really, the other horse [Chase Auckland] headed me off.” “If he had have been in front it would have been a different story.” A G’s White Socks was effectively out of play when Chase Auckland paced his last 800m in 54 5sec from the front to win. Though he only looked to battle in to fourth, A G’s White Socks’ was timed to pace exactly the same final last split as the winner did. That effort backed up the 6yr-old’s 54.2sec last 800m in his first start for the season behind Classie Brigade in the Maurice Holmes Vase. The pacer’s fast finishes and the feel he has given his driver have May convinced the horse is thriving. “I still feel as though he has been going good and he went real good in his first start back, as well.” “He has got a lot of speed and he proved that at the end of last season.” “He is not far away, he has just go to stop putting a few rough steps at the start.” “It is a bit disappointing, really, we just hope he gets through it.” A G’s White Socks trailed the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained trio of Chase Auckland, Spankem and Ultimate Sniper home in the New Brighton Cup. Spankem produced even more impressive sectionals, when speeding home wide on the track to grab second placing in the event. Like, A G’s White Socks, the Miracle Mile winner was a stride slow to begin and settled back in the field, while Chase Auckland had control of the race in front. If Spankem repeats the sizzling 54.0sec last 800m and 25.3sec last 800m he produced at Addington he must be the horse to beat in the Hannon Memorial. Chase Auckland boosted New Zealand Cup claims in what was effectively his first taste of open class racing against older horses with his good win in the New Brighton Cup. A repeat of that effort, including the standing start manners he showed, will make him highly competitive again. Ultimate Sniper could not match Chase Auckland or Spankem after having a good run in the trail when they clashed at Addington. The horse was presented in bigger condition than his stablemates and could be the biggest improver of the trio at Oamaru. The Hannon Memorial has been robbed of one of its most interesting talking points by the scratching of Southland sensation U May Cullect The Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis trained pacer was found to be suffering from a stone bruise on Saturday morning. Barclay said though the problem was only a minor one, but there was no sense in racing the horse. If U May Cullect’s hoof heals as expected, he will head to Addington for next month’s Canterbury Classic. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Cop that! Brilliant win from unpolished colt He’s far from the finished product, but Copy That showed just why Ray Green rates him as good as stablemate Line Up when recording a sensational win at Alexandra Park on Friday night. He went rough and galloped twice in the 2200-metre event, including at the 400-metre point, but still managed to regather his momentum and storm home to win in the hands of Zachary Butcher. Initial indications were final sectionals of 54.9 and 26.9 coming very wide on the track. Butcher reported to Green as expected – the bends are still an issue, but he’s like a Rolls Royce on the straights. “Zac said it was the corners that he was having trouble with, but once he got round them he was all business,” said Green. The Sires Stakes heat at Cambridge on October 3 is the next aim and then, hopefully, a trip to Christchurch for the $170,000 Final on New Zealand Cup Day. Having won the race in 2009 with Sir Lincoln and run second with King Of Swing two years ago, Green knows the type of horse it takes to be competitive in the Spring feature for three-year-olds. “In my opinion he’s up to the best horses and will be very competitive in a race like that. “That’s the main mission at this point, and it’s a matter of managing him through to there. “We took him to Cambridge last Saturday for a workout and he never put a foot wrong. “He’s possibly better left-handed so that’s a good line, at least with a view to the Sires Stakes.” Copy That was purchased by Green and wife Debbie as a weanling before they on-sold him three months ago to Australian stable clients, Merv and Meg Butterworth, for a handsome profit.   American sale possible for C K Spur Arna Donnelly reckons she might have found the key to training after preparing another winning double. Both Donnelly and stable junior Alicia Harrison spent four days in Samoa to start the week, returning just in time to see both C K Spur and Young Conqueror get the chocolates. “It’s pretty easy, this training business,” she joked shortly after her second success of the night. C K Spur has turned in to a real money machine for his owners, Karen De Jongh-Kennedy and Kevin Foley, and his $25,000 race win took his lifetime stakes over the $120,000. That will soon be boosted further when he earns a promoted win from a recent placing due to a swabbing issue. It means he has shot up the ratings and there has been plenty of interest in him from overseas as a result. “Someone in Perth was keen on buying him but there is also a bit of talk about a sale to America,” said Donnelly. “Nothing has come of it yet, but I was told they were keen to try and get him on a flight next week.” If that doesn’t materialize, Donnelly reckons she might have a crack at one of the country’s two biggest trots. “I know we won’t beat Johnny Dunn’s good horse (Sundees Son), but I reckon he will love the two miles of the Dominion.” Young Conqueror made it two in a row when winning the R53-64 pace earlier in the night in the hands of Scott Phelan. “I’m really pleased for the owner, Robert Symon,” said Donnelly. “He puts a lot in to the game and has been a good supporter of mine.”   Down The Hatch continues dam’s excellent record The brilliant record of broodmare gem Slangevar continued when Down The Hatch cleared maidens for Steve Telfer. The daughter of Mach Three delivered on strong tote support with a commanding all-the-way win in the hands of Benjamin Butcher. Telfer says she’s only really become a racehorse in the last month after battling wayward tendencies as a juvenile. “She was always very lazy and green. “It’s only been in the last month that she has switched on; she’s really come ahead in leaps and bounds. “I was actually a bit surprised Ben led on her, because I wouldn’t even do that at home. “She’s always looking at things and switching off. “But she travelled the whole way, which was great to see.” Down The Hatch is the sixth foal, and fifth winner, out of Slangevar, a one-win mare by Cameleon, following on from First Home (9 wins), Cheers Kathy (14 wins), Prince Of Pops (21 wins) and current stable star for Telfer, Triple Eight (8 wins). “She’s been a wonderful producer,” said Telfer. “And the funny thing is, they have all been different types and different sizes. “Physically, she (Down The Hatch) looks like Triple Eight, but she’s a lot nicer pacer.” The next foal out of Slangevar is a Rock N Roll Heaven two-year-old filly called Little Suzie. “Brent Donnelly broke her in for us and the reports were all good.” Telfer recorded a double on the card, classy mare Ivana Flybye returning to form with a dominant win in the first race on the card, run in an electric 2.38.8 (1.56.1 MR). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Administrator Barry Dent was recognised for his service to the industry at the Canterbury Harness Racing Awards at Addington on Saturday night. The long serving member of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club board member was presented with this year’s Outstanding Contribution To Canterbury Harness Racing award. Dent was not the only Canterbury administrator honoured on Saturday night. Amberley Trotting Club stalwart Ross Rennie was presented with the volunteer of the year award. The rising star award was taken out by rookie trainer Nicole Harris. Star pacers Spankem and Ultimate Sniper helped their breeders each take home trophies from the awards on Saturday night. Spankem’s breeders, Robin and Gwenda Wah, were crowned pacing breeders of the year. Reality Check, whose progeny include Ultimate Sniper and Ultimate Machete, won the pacing broodmare of the year award. The Armbro Operative mare, who is owned by Katrina and Graeme Walsh, is due to foal a full brother to Ultimate Sniper and Ultimate Machete soon. Ultimate Sniper’s part owner, Gavin Douglas, was crowned the pacing owner of the year. Ken Ford won the trotting owner of the year award and Trevor Casey won the overall owner of the year title. Dominion favourite Sundees Son helped his owners Colin and Nancy Hair take home two trophies. The couple were crowned trotting breeders of the year. Sundees Son’s dam, Stardon, won the broodmare of the year award. The Canterbury awards’ trainers’ award was won by Woodend Beach trainer Regan Todd. Tim Williams took the driver’s awards and Kimberly Butt won the junior driver’s award.    Full Results   Owners Association Trotting Owner Of The Year                         Ken Ford                                                                    Breeders Association Pacing Breeders of the Year                                   Robin & Gwenda Wah                                                                      Horseman’s Association Junior Driver's Award                             Kimberley Butt                                                                      Owners Association Pacing Owner Of The Year                            Gavin Douglas                                                                        Breeders Association Pacing Broodmare of the Year                                Reality Check                                                                                     Horseman’s Association Driver's Award                              Tim Williams                           Owners Association Owner of the Year                              Trevor Casey                           Breeders Association Trotting Breeders of the Year                                 Colin & Nancy Hair                                                                Horseman’s Association Trainer's Award                           Regan Todd                                                               Breeders Association Trotting Broodmare of the Year                             Stardon (dam of Sundees Son)                                                                   Rising Star                              Nicole Thomas                                                                       Volunteer Award                               Ross Rennie                                                               Woodlands Stud Outstanding Contribution to Canterbury Harness Racing 2019 Barry Dent  

The Robert Dunn trained Carlos Bromac capitalised on a perfect sit behind leader Onesmartfella to win the Macca Lodge Mobile Pace at the Invercargill Harness Racing meeting at Ascot Park today (Saturday). “I drew one, got a nice trail all the way so that helped but he did it quite nice,” said driver John Dunn after the win. The winning margin was a length and a half from a brave Onesmartfella who was worked over twice in the lead. Carlos Bromac was bought by Robert and John Dunn for $33,000 at the Christchurch Yearling Sales. He’s out of the unraced Art Major mare Cha Cha Bromac and is closely related to Attorney General, Cullen Bromac and a host of other winners. “At two he wasn’t the best of pacers but his gait’s got a lot better now. We still have a wee bit to work on.” Dunn says the horse will stay down in Southland for Thursday’s Winton meeting. “If he goes nice there we’ll leave him down for the Nuggets (Nuggets Final) then take him home and regroup. He’s paid up for the Sires Stakes so hopefully he improves enough for that.” The three year old Bettor’s Delight gelding is part-owned by Southlander Charlie Templeton. “He loves it old Charlie. It’s good to bring a horse down here because he flies up (to Christchurch) all the time and watches his horses go.” Templeton has owned a few horses over the years and currently races the three win Mach Three mare Nakuru and her unraced two year old half-sister Shanika out of the Dunn stable. John Dunn was also successful early in the day when he drove the Shannon Armour trained gelding Dalness Arizona to win at odds of 20 to 1. Dalness Arizona holds on to beat Hans Ideal                          – Photo Bruce Stewart Other winners on the day included Emmersyn Lee for Canterbury trainer Jim Curtin, Winning Bones which won after a daring drive by Brent Barclay and the Brad Mowbray trained Kingmaker.   Bruce Stewart

Unfortunately boom Southland pacer U May Cullect won’t line up in tomorrow’s Hannon Memorial. “It’s not a big deal. He got a stone bruise yesterday. We just didn’t want to go up there and do something silly. It’s not his bad leg, it’s the other one and if he favours it, it might put some pressure on the other one,” said co-trainer Tank Ellis. Ellis said the horse will have the weekend off, do plenty of wading in the salt water at Oreti Beach and will probably head up to Addington in a fortnight. “It not the end of the world to us, it’s just a wee hiccup.”   Bruce Stewart  

By Jonny Turner Team Bagrie will complete a perfect week if Belmont Major is able to salute at Ascot Park on Saturday. Father and son trainers Peter and Tom Bagrie had their best night at the races when they produced the winners of the first three races at Addington on Thursday. Tom started their winning run when The Governor took out race 1 and Eye Of The Tiger won race 2. Peter kept up the Bagries’ good form when producing The General to win race 3.  “It was our best night at the races by far, it all came together and the stars aligned,” Tom said. Tom helped reward his former school mate, Hoani Matenga, for his patience when Eye Of The Tiger scored her maiden victory. The Bay Of Plenty Steamers rugby player and former bassist for the band Six60 bought in to the mare when she was a yearling. And he has had to wait until she was 5yrs-old to see her in the winner’s circle. “He came down to the races one night, it must have been four years ago now, and he ended up buying a share in her after the sales,” Bagrie said. “It is his first ever horse and he has been patient and he was rapt to get the job done.” Eye Of The Tiger has been limited to just three career starts because of weakness. “She has just been a bit weak in behind,” Bagrie said. “She's always had a lot of speed.” “They always say trotters need a few miles and a bit of time.” “She was a cheapie we got from the sales and because we have got a farm it was pretty easy to leave her in a paddock for a long period of time just to let her mature.” Patience was also rewarded when The Governor won his first race since January of 2017 when he scored in amateur drivers company for Sheldon Murtha. The pacer broke a pedal bone after winning twice and placing three times in five starts as a 3yr-old. The Governor had initially raced consistently after his return, but he had not shown much enthusiasm for racing, recently. So, Bagrie started mixing his work up. “His drivers would comment and say sort of felt alright, but they asked him for something he didn't have much more,” the trainer said. “He just keep plugging on.” “We've just done a few things differently with this training and he seems to be enjoying it.” “He’s been a bit of a heat scratcher, really, because he has a lot of ability.” “We thought a lot of them until he broke down as a three year old.” More patience was rewarded when The General completed the Bagrie hat-trick at Addington. Peter waited until the half brother to Bettor Heart was a 4yr-old to step him at the races and the trainer was instantly rewarded when The General scored in a 2600m maiden event. Progressive 3yr-old Belmont Major could complete a perfect week for Team Bagrie if he can win for Tom at Ascot Park. The pacer should be very hard to beat if he is able to step away in his first standing start attempt in the rating 40-55 event. “The stand is a bit of a question mark, I suppose, but he has been good at the trials and he seems good at home,” Tom said.     “I am expecting him to go pretty good.”

By Garrick Knight What a difference a week can make. Eight days ago, John and Joshua Dickie late-scratched their entire team as a precaution against a potential contamination issue. Last night at Alexandra Park, the father-and-son training partnership prepared four winners at Alexandra Park and only a brilliant performance stood between them and five. “It’s been a good turn around and it was nice to get that winning feeling back,” Joshua Dickie told HRNZ. “We had a nice team in and you sort of hope they’ll race well but it never usually works out like that.” The wins of Kay Cee, Bettorstartdreaming, Brydon Earl and Callie’s Delight matched the four winners the pair produced at a meeting in September of 2016. Bettorstartdreaming won the night’s $25,000 main pace, a 2200m standing start, redeeming himself from the tapes after a misstep in the Te Awamutu Cup when last produced. “Cambridge was a disaster and wasn’t really his fault. “He’s a versatile sort of horse and from the front line we had to take advantage if he stepped away.” After settling second, Bettorstartdreaming was pushed back to third so Dickie made a concerted effort for the lead, but eventually settled for the trail behind Kotare Cullen. “I wanted to keep him handy and I knew what he was capable of.” Despite a strong late dig from race favourite The Devils Own, Dickie always had things in control with the New Zealand Cup-nominated pacer. Star pacer Star Galleria made an early error from his 30-metre handicap and was one hundred metres behind the field thereafter, along with Dance Time. Next week’s Spring Cup is firmly on the agenda for Bettorstartdreaming, before the Dickies start to look south. “We really want to get him to the Sales race at Kaikoura and we’ve also nom’d for the Cup. “You’ve got to have goals. “He’s a lovely stayer in the making and will definitely make an open class horse one day. “He’s got the speed and stamina to be a factor in most races.” Dickie says a taxing run back in March spelt a premature end to what was a promising three-year-old campaign. “He worked too hard in the Derby trying to cross Ultimate Sniper and it undid him. “So, we backed off him, turned him out and he has come back a lot stronger. “I definitely think he’ll win a nice race somewhere down the track.” Kay Cee had run four seconds in his last five starts so no-one was begrudging the five-year-old son of Majestic Son a win in the R47-55 trot. But Dickie thinks it might be time to ease up and reset for next year. “He’s had a few issues so has really come a long way from where he was. “We’ll probably just back off him now because there are a couple of things we need to sort out. “He’s fast and does have a bit of stamina. Next year will be his time – I think he’ll make a decent trotter eventually.” All the talk was for West Auckland pacer Cloud Break in the night’s male maiden pace after a super performance over the mile last week. Bookies opened him at $1.50 and never flinched but a lack of ringcraft saw him get bested by the Dickie-trained Brydon Earl in the hands of Zachary Butcher. The five-year-old son of Art Official was the second-last horse bred by the late Bryan Newberry, whose family race him in his memory. He looked handy in five races last season but really showed a nice turn of foot to win his resuming run last night. “He’s been a bit unlucky; he got crook and a few little things haven’t gone his way,” said Dickie. “But his trials have been really good over the last month and I think he’s turned the corner. “Zac said he won well tonight and felt good.” Rounding out a memorable night was Callie’s Delight, who showed too much speed for main rival M T Pockets in the first South of the Bombay series races. “I was pretty confident because her trials had been great and her first up run a Cambridge was good without much luck. “She’s another that has turned the corner and just gotten that little bit stronger. “She has that real high speed and in a field like that, it’s always going to be really potent.” The Paua Diver nearly made it five for the night, but he got monstered late by Copy That, who had to run a sub-55 second half to reel him. “He’s just run in to a good horse on the night, but I was really happy with his run, too.” The Dickies are hoping to capitalise on this kick-starting of their season by rolling out some quality horseflesh in the next few weeks. “We’ve got a couple of nice maidens there, including one that had a couple of starts for ‘Coaster’ Howe up here last season. “There’s also a good bunch of two-year-olds and, while it’s hard to know with any certainty, we are pretty excited about what they’ll do going forward.”

Only those who follow Natalie Rasmussen show a profit at the end of the season! Everyone who has studied it knows that following one rider/driver all season is a licence to lose money. Yes, there may be some good days but there will be a lot of bad ones and you have to forget all those to convince yourself this is a betting ploy that works.What is worse,if you claim you are ahead your betting mates know different. They have done the sums. The greatest of jockeys will make at the most a 30 per cent winning strike rate in a season. Not many professional drivers get even close to that. That means for 70 times out of a hundred you can only get a place dividend. Not enough folks. Not nearly enough. Natalie Rasmussen is different. Year after year she has returned her followers a profit. That is because a high strike rate and a relatively low number of drives make following her a winning proposition. And note that even she missed paying a dividend in 25 per cent of her drives. The profit this past season did not equal some former years, chiefly because Natalie’s following increased every year and longer odds winners are getting few and far between. But still her fans are winners. This past season in NZ Natalie had just 70 drives which makes her a realistic betting proposition since some have close to or more than 1000. That can get expensive. Very expensive. She paid a dividend in 51 of those drives. Late in the season she reached a return of over $700 based on a $10 each way bet on all her drives and finished close to that at the end -$690 to be exact. But we are doing this properly and if we key in the 19 losing drives that reduces the profit to $310. If you can find another horseman driving every month of the season who is close to that, good luck. This was not actually Nat’s best season. At times since coming to New Zealand she could show double that profit but her army has grown in recent times. Only one winning drive this season (A Bettor Act) topped a $200 return with a $10 each way bet whereas there were likely to be several in earlier seasons. Natalie has a remarkable strike rate and not just because she gets a nice pick of drives in the leading stable. Go back 10 years when she drove on a large scale in a Queensland season (over 600 races in at least two seasons) she still managed a win place ratio of close to 50 per cent. So if you are starting with a clean sheet and out to make a buck this season-stick with Natalie. She’s the Queen of the Silver Dollar!   Courtesy of All Stars Stables.

Trainer Steven Reid has issued the usual warning for punters wanting to back any top horses returning from a long break off a back mark. But the story of Star Galleria’s comeback race at Alexandra Park tonight has a few more twists and turns than usual. The speed-freak pacer returns in tonight’s main pace off a 30m handicap over 2200m, which in itself can be a recipe for punting disaster. Because while he is clearly the best horse in the race, rival drivers know their best chance of beating him is to go hard all the way. So they could pace 2:43 or quicker off the front and leave him needing to go faster than almost any pacer has at Alexandra Park, coming wide to win. That sounds difficult when race hardened, seemingly impossible when fresh. But here is the catch. Star Galleria did exactly that is this race last year, coming from a 20m backmark to beat stronger opposition in 2:39.7, which wiped a remarkable 3.1 seconds off the national record. So the best version of Star Galleria can clearly still win tonight. But here is where things get murky. Three weeks ago Reid thought that level of return was on the cards again after Star Galleria flew in a lightning quick workout at Pukekohe. But an examination soon after suggested potential problem tissue on his epiglottis, on which he underwent an entrapment operation last season. “Initially we thought we had a problem there again but after a treatment of antibiotics he has scoped 100 per cent clear but it cost us nine days work,” explains Reid. “After that I gave him a decent workout last Saturday and again on Wednesday and he felt flat in the first one but far better in the second one. “So I am thinking he is going into this needing a run, maybe two, because he is a year older and because he missed those nine days work.” Reid will tell catch driver Zachary Butcher to cut as many corners as he can with Star Galleria before looking for a winning run over the last lap if the six-year-old feels like he is travelling well enough. “But with all that in mind it could depend on his rivals and and how he feels, so I’d say to punters if he is $3.8 or something like that take the risk, but we know he won’t get to that,” says Reid. Making life even more difficult for Star Galleria is the fact key rivals like The Devils Own, Check In and even a front marker like Bettorstartdreaming are all the sort of pacers who like to run along so are capable of exploiting any weakness in Star Galleria’s armoury. While Butcher will have his work cut out finding the right balance with Star Galleria, he will also be on another of the more exciting pacers racing tonight in untapped three-year-old Line Up (race five). He looked a Sires’ Stakes horse winning fresh-up last Friday but steps well up in grade and distance tonight. Still, if he is going to be a factor in the Sires’ Stakes series which culminates at Addington in November the younger brother to Partyon will want to be winning tonight.   Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight After three months on the sidelines, Todd MacFarlane is just happy to be back doing what he loves. The experienced horseman returned to race night driving last week after an extended period of convalescence thanks to a couple of grumpy horses. “I copped a decent kick in the back while out with a jog team,” he told HRNZ. “I had one in the cart and two on the leads and they were fighting with each other. I got caught in the cross-fire.” The result? Some pretty serious injuries. “The main issues were a bruised kidney and a split liver. “It meant two months recovery but for the third month I felt fine and like I could return. “But they wouldn’t give me medical clearance because they felt like it hadn’t given my liver enough time to heal properly. “So, even though I felt alright I had to watch from home.” The worst part, MacFarlane says, was that he was on his own when the incident happened and he had three horses in his control. “I just had to suck it up for a while there and try and get back to the barn.” Any good trainer is only as good the team around them and that more than rung true for MacFarlane, who had to rely heavily on his staff for a fair few weeks. “Luckily I’ve got a good crew and they all did their bit, keeping things going.” MacFarlane has his second night back driving at Alexandra Park this evening and will pilot three horses, including two stable runners. Maiden mare Royal went out very well-supported in her resumption last week off the back of an impressive trial on August 31. But she let her supporters – and MacFarlane – down with a middling effort to finish fourth behind Some Do last week. “She’s no star but I was a little bit disappointed with her last week. “I’m hoping for a bit of improvement this week because if she runs like she did in that trial, she won’t be very far away.” Bookies have let her go this week, opening her at $14, well behind race favourite, Down The Hatch ($1.70), who has drawn the ace for Steve Telfer and Benjamin Butcher. “He went super last time out and will be very hard to beat. “Hopefully we can settle handle and finish in the money.” Recent maiden winner Cyclone S Adams opened at $21 for the R47-55 trot and MacFarlane concedes that he’s still a wee way away from reaching physical maturity. “He’s still very much a work in progress. “I think once mentally and physically he develops, he’ll be a good honest horse. “He’s got a lovely way of going and generally his manners are really good. “But he’s a bit tall and immature and that’s just going to hold him up for now.” MacFarlane expects his race team to ramp up over the next month and is looking forward to the return of stable star Heavyweight Hero, along with a number of promising maidens, including Joshua Richard and Harvey Spector. “Hopefully one or two of them step up; in another month we should have quite a handy team around us.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The studmaster at Australasia’s leading harness racing breeding farm has warned the trend towards the use of frozen semen threatens to collapse the industry “within a few years”. Alabar Farm proprietor Alan Galloway was a pioneer of cryogenics (frozen semen) 30 years ago, but now says it’s not feasible on an industry-wide basis and has the potential to threaten the viability of harness racing. “It’s too expensive, it has poor outcomes and actually can be quite cruel on the mares, but none of those things are admitted to by those advocating frozen semen,” Galloway said. “From a breeder point of view, the difference is not well understood. Most breeders think ‘frozen’ means ‘chilled’ and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “Frozen semen gets terrible results in comparison to fresh, chilled semen – foaling rates suffer, because there are lower conception rates and also higher percentages of foals aborting. “On top of that, to impregnate mares using frozen semen is expensive for the breeder, taxing on the mare and stressful on farm staff.” Galloway said the intensity of effort required for acceptable fertility rates was one reason Alabar virtually ended its use of frozen semen. “We still do a little but it’s a huge amount of work,” he explained. “Frozen semen is less viable – just by freezing the cells, you reduce their viable number by half – and getting mares pregnant means costs go through the roof because of the work involved. Frozen semen is normally packaged in 0.5-ml straws, with eight straws (800 million sperm cells) representing one insemination dose. Although there is tremendous variability between stallions, a typical ejaculate from a stallion will provide approximately eight insemination doses (approximately 64 straws). “You need to be absolutely accurate in your timing of insemination, because instead of fresh semen living for five or six days in the fallopian tubes of the mare, you have only three or four hours where frozen semen is viable,” he said. “So, to have the best chance of getting a pregnancy, you need to be scanning mares every three or four hours in their fertility phase.  This can be hard on the mares and you need experienced operators. There are only a handful of vets skilled enough. Historically, the insemination of mares with frozen stallion semen often resulted in disappointing results and high veterinary bills. “All of this comes with an added risk to the mare. Inflammatory reaction or infection can be more prevalent which means higher vet bills. Lower conception rates also mean the mares have to go through these procedures on more cycles per season. The costs just continue to rise – and even then there’s much lower percentages of live foals at the end of it all. It’s just too expensive and frustrating for the general consumer, so you have breeders, especially new or first-time breeders, getting burnt and exiting the industry. “It just doesn’t add up, but there’s a very strong trend happening, which concerns me deeply.” Galloway said key owners of American standardbred stallions were moving to “lock up” their sires in the Northern Hemisphere. “The trend is to keep those stallions there, in view of the reduced risk to the stallion, and because it’s cheaper and more convenient to simply send frozen semen to the Southern Hemisphere,” he said. “A good number of the American sires ‘standing at stud’ here in Australia this season are not here at all – they’re still in the Northern Hemisphere and the studs are simply shipping the frozen semen and offering a distribution service. “There needs to be more transparency because at the moment, the real fertility rates, the real results in foaling rates and the costs to owners are being hidden – and that’s to the detriment of breeders who are right now making decisions about what stallion to send their mare to.” Galloway said the industry’s administrators had also failed to identify and act on the risk the trend presented to harness racing. “One of the great injustices is that foals from North American stallions available here via frozen semen are eligible for our futurity and sires’ stakes races – yet to be eligible for their own sires’ stakes racing in North America the stallions have to be physically resident in the state!” he said. “So, there’s no incentive for breeders to support local studs and stallions – which is what sires stakes racing was set up to do, to encourage and nurture our own industry.” Galloway said he was excited about the prospects of work by the University of Newcastle of an “equine extender”, a process which allows semen to live for two weeks outside the body, without the need for freezing. He said he also wanted to encourage breeders to think carefully about their options for the upcoming season. “I’m not advocating breeders to come to Alabar, but just to be aware of what decision they are making and what that means– for their potential of getting a foal this year, for their costs and for the long-term future of our industry,” he said. “I don’t want to see frozen semen banned because if you did, we wouldn’t have had access to some of the truly great sires, particularly in trotting, which are just not available here.  But don’t hide the fact that you get reduced pregnancy results with frozen semen. “If it becomes the ‘norm’ then it will destroy our industry within a few years – we simply won’t have enough racing stock, because foaling rates will collapse.” Alabar has been the dominant Standardbred stud in Australasia for 30 years, breeding 40 percent of the mares in the Southern Hemisphere in the past decade (between 2500 and 3000 mares each year). “All I am asking is for more transparency around how the system is evolving and what it means for the future.  And if the switch is made to frozen semen, I’m out – simply because I won’t subsidise the industry to that extent,” Galloway said. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

By Jonny Turner Trainers Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon hope to continue the brilliant start they have made to the new season at Addington on Thursday night. Their new training partnership has gotten off to a flying start in its first six weeks by producing 11 winners from just 30 starters. And they hope to keep that up that good form. “As you know you have to keep it going, we don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” Dalgety said. “So, we will try to keep the momentum going.” Four of Dalgety and Purdon’s 11 victories, so far this term, have come from Arden Roanoke. Dalgety said the trainers are reaping the rewards after the former high priced yearling finally grew in to his frame. “When you pay a lot of money for them you want to get to the races as quick as you can.” “But, he simply wasn’t ready and he was quite immature for a few seasons.” Arden Roanoke beat Hayden’s Meddle, Smarter VC and Pay Me Visa when getting up late to nail Kruizr on the line in a similar event at Addington, last week. The five pacers will square off again on Thursday night. Arden Roanoke could be an even harder horse to beat when he returns to the track, this week, Dalgety said. “He has really improved since his last run.” Almost all of the eight runners in 1980m event look to have legitimate winning hopes. Smart 3yr-olds Global Domination and Dadndave return to make their 4yr-olds in the race. Storm Prince drops massively in class after starting in Classie Brigade’s Maurice Holmes Vase. The Dalgety and Purdon stable are looking forward to Bettathanfast resuming from a short winter spell on Thursday night. Dalgety said the 4yr-old should also return to Addington better than before. “We do like him – he has really improved.” “He was big and ugly, he was a bit like a big thoroughbred, he just lacked a bit of middle in him, last campaign.” Bettathanfast showed he was looking good when he held out Koenigsegg, who looks also looks a strong winning chance on Thursday night, to win a trial at Rangiora, last week. “I think he will be a really good under grade free-for-all horse and country cups horse and I reckon he will perform really good [on Thursday] night,” Dalgety said. Maiden 3yr-old Invaluable looks another strong chance for the Dalgety-Purdon stable at Addington. He went down fighting to Tyron's Bit Of Lemon after working hard in his last start at Winton. “I would like to think he wouldn’t be a maiden for too much longer,” Dalgety said. Woman In Gold will also attempt to break her maiden at Addington. The 3yr-old faded in to fourth after doing plenty of work in her last start at Winton. “She did work hard early, she worked for about the first 700m.” “I thought it wasn’t a bad run, because she did fight hard up the straight.” Pocket Watch steps sharply up in grade after clearing maiden ranks at Forbury in his last start. Dalgety is hopeful the 3yr-old’s good manners can help put him in a striking position. “He has got to jump up three classes, rather than one.” “But his forte is he is very quick from a stand and I am excited to draw the front line with him.” “So, he will put himself in a good position for the first part of the race.” Dalgety and Purdon will have one other starter this week with Donegal Mary Francis heading to Invercargill on Saturday. The 5yr-old looks a strong winning chance for new stable employee, junior driver Sarah O’Reilly.  Reprinted with permission of Harness Racing New Zealand

Kirstin Barclay chats to Trackside about U May Cullect and what it is like having a horse aimed at the NZ Cup.

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