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By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    South Auckland trainer Andre Poutama is hoping The Batmobile can go one better than last start when he contests the Welcome Back On Course Mobile Pace (1700m) at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday. The four-year-old gelding finished runner-up behind Vespa over 1700m at Cambridge a fortnight ago and it will be take two on Thursday, with amateur driver Frank Phelan once again taking the reins. “He should have improved from his first run back,” Poutama said. “To be able to sit parked and do what he did, I was quite impressed with the way he went. “He has found his grade in the amateurs. He’s in there to give Frank Phelan a drive.” The son of Rocknroll Dance has once again drawn gate four and Poutama said similar tactics would likely be adopted. “It will be pretty much like last start, to go forward and hopefully he can get to the top. “He is a good winner’s chance.” While The Batmobile is Poutama’s only stable runner of the night, he has picked up four outside drives and believes he has a couple of winning chances. He identified Strength Of Heart as a leading contender in the Celebrating Danke 300th Race Milestone Handicap Trot (2200m) for trainer Ken Sefonte. While the three-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight is yet to break maidens, Poutama said he is well overdue after six runner-up performances. “He is due to get his maiden victory,” Poutama said. “He was trotting really well right up to lockdown. He is not far away from getting his first win.” Poutama also highlighted Golden Lace as another leading chance in the Hidden Lake Hotel & Apartments Mobile Pace (2200m).  “She went really well a fortnight ago,” he said. “I just pulled the wrong rein and got nowhere. I should have stayed on the fence and we would have run third. But she made up ground late, so I think she is a winner’s chance on Thursday.” He is also set to drive Ideal Lincoln in the Clubhouse Sportsbar & Café Open 7 Days Mobile Pace (2200m) and Recycle in the Farmlands Handicap Trot (2700m). “Ideal Lincoln trialled well the other day,” Poutama said. “His draw (11) is probably not suitable for him. He is better being on the fence covered up and having one run at them. “Recycle was a little bit disappointing last time. It is not like him to gallop like that. He didn’t begin very well either, but if he begins well on Thursday and gets in front he will be hard to beat.” Poutama has been pleased with the way the season has gone to date, posting five training wins from 49 starts. He is currently working a team of five horses, but he said he takes particular enjoyment out of breaking in youngsters. “The season has been going well,” he said. “The types of horses that we have got is just the castoffs from everyone else. “But we are slowly getting the two-year-olds around us at the moment and doing a lot of breaking-in for Phil Fleming. They get to stay up here and race. “I enjoy the breaking-in side of things. I like the excitement that you don’t know what is going to happen when you are in the cart.” Hailing from Palmerston North, Poutama admitted he was disappointed to see Manawatu Raceway left off the racing calendar for the 2020/21 season. “They spent a lot of money to do the facilities up and to be told they can’t race there is pretty gutting for everyone in the Central Districts,” he said. “You have got all the people down there who love to watch their horses race and without them being able to go to their home track is disappointing.” Poutama honed his craft at Manawatu Raceway and said he hopes racing will one day return to the track.  “That’s where I learnt to drive,” he said. “It’s always good to be able to go back home and drive around there.  “Hopefully they do change their mind because a lot of people do go down there and they were good times away.  “It is well set-up for dual code meetings (with the greyhounds), so hopefully that will help things.” 

It’s been two weeks since we updated you on changes across the TAB in response to the significant impact COVID-19 has had on our business. Fortunately, in that time we have seen the resumption of NZ Harness racing, a full programme of domestic greyhound racing, and the reopening of our gaming business.  And this week, an important milestone in securing racing’s future was achieved with the Select Committee Report on the Racing Industry Bill presented to the House of Parliament. We wanted to provide you with an update on these and some other developments which will be of interest to you. Racing Industry Bill The Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee have this week delivered their Report on the Racing Industry Bill to the House of Parliament, including some recommended changes.  While nothing is confirmed until it is voted on, it is a positive signal to the racing industry that the Government has continued to prioritise the passing of the Bill especially in light of the significant amount of industry feedback to work through and the impact Covid19 has had on the ability of Parliament to operate. There are over 30 areas where the Committee have recommended changes and it will take us some time to work through and understand each of the different proposals. Our initial view of the Select Committee’s recommendations is that the overall direction and structure of the Bill remains the same as it was before the Committee and is still in line with the direction of the Messara Report. The TAB will be established as a pure betting, broadcasting and gaming entity, and the Codes will have greater roles and responsibilities for developing and promoting their sport. From our initial review of the Report, the key aspects of change the Select Committee has recommended includes: The establishment of Racing NZ as soon as the Bill becomes law. This is a formal consultative forum comprising the three Codes. It could carry out some of the functions of the Codes (if the Codes wish).  Changes to the venue provisions of the Bill. The changes appear to require the Minister to have greater consideration of the community before deciding whether to vest a Club’s assets with the Code. Changes to the composition of the TAB NZ Board. The TAB is proposed to have three out of seven members appointed on recommendation of the Codes. A Selection Panel is proposed and the overall required skillset of the Board remains generally in line with what was in the Bill previously.  Intellectual Property. The clause that gave TAB NZ exclusive use of racing industry intellectual property is proposed to be removed. This clause was viewed by almost all submitters (including RITA) as being too broad and encompassing, when the intention was for the clause to apply to negotiations with offshore bookmakers.   Betting Information Use Charges (Racefields). There are some welcome changes to this aspect of the legislation which make it easier for the industry to require offshore bookmakers to pay for their use of New Zealand product. We will be working with the Codes to ensure we have a coordinated plan for this important revenue earner.  The next stage of the process is that the Minister could also introduce any changes he wants to see included as part of the Second Reading. The Parliament then agrees to or rejects the amendments recommended by the Select Committee and the Minister. This will hopefully all happen prior to the end of this month. If all goes to plan, the Bill could come into effect by 1 August.  TAB Transition Late last month we shared with you details of the changes across the TAB to enable it to emerge out of COVID-19 a leaner, more efficient business and focused on driving our core wagering, broadcasting and gaming offering to our customers. In parts of our business, such as oncourse betting, the trend for our customers is increasingly to bet on a device and on self service terminals. We have identified considerable savings for the whole industry by moving away from traditional tote services, however we know many of our clubs and some customers want to see a more gradual change. RITA is currently working with a group of major clubs and the Codes to explore options that enable some tote services remaining over the next 12 months or so, without compromising the savings RITA has committed to. There is broad agreement amongst the group that the status quo is not commercially tenable going forward and digital and self service solutions are the way of the future. The oncourse betting solution for clubs hosting meetings over the next six weeks are currently being prioritised given the lifting of attendance restrictions under Alert Level 1.  Executive leadership team review As you are aware, in addition to major staff changes announced, the Board has recently undertaken a review of the TAB executive structure to ensure it is fit for purpose for the new TAB operating model, subsequent to the new legislation being passed. The Board has accepted the recommendations of the independent consultants we engaged to review the structure and we have advised our executive that we will undertake consultation on a proposed new structure later this month. The process is being led by myself with appropriate support and a Board Subcommittee providing additional oversight of this work. The Board expects to conclude the consultation process, consider feedback, and make final decisions in July. In respect of the appointment of a new Chief Executive, the Board intends to also revisit this in the coming weeks.  Board extension Last week the Racing Minister Winston Peters announced that the terms for the directors of RITA have been extended to 30 June 2021, or the passage of the Bill. This allows the directors to continue contributing to work to help make the racing industry both more prosperous and sustainable. TAB performance In many cases the Board had to make some tough decisions as we focus on the essential parts of our business that generate the funding required to drive the industry. For the likes of Trackside Radio, printed newspaper form, and phonebet, the high cost of providing these in the current climate is simply not sustainable. It’s early days yet but pleasingly these changes don’t appear to have compromised revenue with turnover and gross betting revenue for domestic racing tracking ahead of budget, and close to or above pre COVID levels. TAB’s gaming business has also returned strongly with gaming turnover for the first few weeks above the pre lock-down weekly average. Right now, we are working with the codes on next year’s distributions and we hope to be able to give them a more accurate forecast in the next few days, prior to confirming a final budget at the end of the month. Once this is done they will be able to provide information on stakes for the new calendar which will be released early next month.  Positive signs ahead While we are certainly not out of the woods yet, the progress of the Racing Bill, an early return (and full) programme of domestic racing and revenues returning, in some cases, to pre-Covid levels provide enough reasons to be optimistic that RITA and the wider industry can come out of this crisis with some confidence.

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk     Durable, hardy, veteran, warhorse – call him what you like – but when 12-year-old trotter Danke lines up in the last at Cambridge on Thursday he’ll also be a record-breaker. Fittingly, the race is the Celebrating Danke 300th Race Milestone Handicap Trot. Trained by Geoff Martin in Cambridge, after claiming him in 2016, Danke won’t have it easy. He’ll be off the backmark of 30 metres over 2200 metres. According to Harness Racing New Zealand statistics, the son of Sundon will become the first standardbred in this country to crack 300 starts. Danke has raced every season since 2012. His best season was the four wins and $39,983 he won as a 10-year-old in 2018. Last month Martin said this about his durable square-gaiter : “He is a horse that if he is not in work, he is unhappy. If he’s just in the paddock he sulks.” “He’s the only horse I train. I have a part-time job as a drainlayer, but I am only doing about 25 hours a week, so it works out pretty good.” Having won $150,825 from 13 wins, 19 seconds, and 36 thirds Danke is the most raced horse in this country by a few lengths. Second on 274 is Alexy, the country’s busiest pacer. Trained by Denis O’Connell at Waikouaiti, Alexy has had 9 wins and earned just shy of $100,000. Just 14 horses all-time have raced 200 times. Trotter Scotleigh is third, on 242, with 19 wins between 1961 and 71, ahead of Motu Speedy Star (235 starts $127,689 14 wins) and Jaspers Blue Jean (230 starts $75,339 4 wins) Other notable iron horses over the years have been Dave Gibbons’ trotter Idle Scott. He raced for a decade, winning 45 from 209 and $573,080 while Moment of Truth had 200 starts for 29 wins. His 8 wins in 2013 as a 10 year old was his most successful season. Of those currently racing Danke is followed by Alexy and then Highland Reign with 202 starts (14 wins, $124,292) for trainer Bruce Negus The most starts ever by an Australian or New Zealand bred horse is Destreos, with a massive 486 starts and 101 wins, including 73 victories at Albion Park in Queensland. By Melvin’s Speed, Destreos was educated in New Zealand by Steve Phillips before going to trainer Geoff Small. He started his race career at Alexandra Park in January 2006 finishing second to Gotta Go Cullen. He won seven races from 50 starts before going to Aussie in 2008 as a four year old. Danke will never achieve anything like Destreos has – but he’s still about to do something that has never been done before.

TAB operators will be a part of most New Zealand racing for at least another year after something resembling common sense prevailed in the great Kiwi betting debate. The TAB has partially backed down on a plan that could have been human betting operators for all but the biggest meetings replaced by self service terminals, machines that allows punters to place bets but that many do not know how to use. The migration of on-course punters to betting either of their phones or using the machines will still continue but will be slowed to ensure a longer transition period. That will come as a relief to racing clubs who originally thought that may not have to confront the problems for months but will do so tomorrow as the first horse racing meeting with crowds allowed with be held by Cambridge harness. “We are relieved to hear we will be allowed operators on track so our customers can bet that way is that is what they want,” says Cambridge boss David Branch. The plan to move away from having human betting staff on track makes economic sense as the TAB goes through drastic and much-needed cost cutting measures but it will still be jarring for many older or infrequent racegoers. So the agreement to allow betting operators on track for the rest of this season and next year, apart from smaller mid-week industry meetings, is a fair compromise. The smaller mid-week meetings that will be without betting operators from next season tend to attract mainly regular horse racing participants so won’t have the same walk-up crowds who are less likely to have the TAB app on their phone. The TAB has agreed to work with clubs hosting larger meetings, like some of Ellerslie and Addington's glamour days, on bigger temporary totes to cater for casual racegoers.   Michael Guerin

Six months after suffering cardiac arrest during a race, harness racing driver Ricky May and his saviour Ellie Barron, reunited for the first time in person at the Ashburton workouts yesterday. See the story from Matt Hall-Smith on One News last night.    

Spectators back at race meetings, betting turnovers,  and looming deadlines for licence-holders! It’s all part of this week’s update from Harness Racing New Zealand. Check out the latest things you need to know with HRNZ Racing and Marketing Manager Darrin Williams.   Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness Racing New Zealand is encouraging all trainers and drivers to renew their licences as quickly as possible.   “COVID-19 has forced a re-think on how we do things,” says HRNZ Racing and Marketing Manager Darrin Williams, “all licences will be completed on-line and there will some new payment options.” “In addition to the option to "pay now" when you complete the licence process, the HRNZ Board has approved the ability for you to be invoiced and begin paying the fee from future earnings prior to the start of the season, meaning the fee is not required up front.” “It is still required prior to the start of the season but creates some time for payment to take place.” HRNZ has also agreed that there will be no fees for our younger licence holders (30 years and younger). They will be fully paid by HRNZ provided their application is completed online by 30 June 2020. “In trying financial times the HRNZ Board was very keen to find a way to continue support the youth of the industry with a policy that has been very well received and result in increasing the number of our younger trainers and drivers.” Online licence renewals for the 2020/21 season are now open. Please complete your renewal via your My HRNZ login via the HRNZ website (www.hrnz.co.nz). Important Points Your application (including payment) must be received by 30 June 2020. Payment can be made using the Pay And View Account option on your My HRNZ menu. For trainers and drivers only: If you would prefer, the licence fee can be paid by way of an attachment to your trainer or driver fees paid by HRNZ each fortnight. By choosing to pay by attachment, please be aware that the deductions will begin from the centralised stakes payment run on 17 June 2020. Full payment by an attachment to your trainer/driver fees must be completed by 28 July 2020. Your licence renewal cannot be completed while there is any balance owing to HRNZ. All drivers aged 55-64 must submit a medial assessment as part of the renewal process (https://infohorse.hrnz.co.nz/dochr/Forms/Drivers%20Forms/55YR_MEDICAL_FORM.pdf) All drivers aged 65 and over must submit a full medical assessment as part of the renewal process (https://infohorse.hrnz.co.nz/dochr/Forms/Drivers%20Forms/65YRS_FULL_MEDICAL.pdf) All licence holders aged 30 years and under will have their fees fully paid by HRNZ provided their licence application is completed online by 30 June 2020. You are also able to renew your licence via the HRNZ Infohorse App which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. If you have any questions or require further assistance please email admin@hrnz.co.nz or phone 03 964-1200/ Freephone 0508 427 637.   HRNZ

9 June 2020 On Saturday 21st March 2020, the Government advised a four-level alert level system to be used during the COVID-19 response. On Monday 8th June 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the country would move to Alert Level One from midnight 8th June 2020. HRNZ Alert Level One Advisory HRNZ has issued Orders and Directions that prevail according to the Government Alert Level, which as a consequence of moving to Alert Level One are rescinded. Under Alert Level One HRNZ advises individuals and clubs to observe the following: 1. Contact Tracing All harness training and racing tracks should facilitate a form of electronic contact tracing, so that participants, owners or public who wish to log their location may do so. Use should be encouraged with assistance of QR code posters in entrances, other prominent locations and potentially in racebooks. HRNZ recommends the Ministry of Health’s “NZ COVID Tracer” app. 2. Hygiene In addition to the usual provision of soap at handbasins, and for the convenience of patrons who wish to continue to use hand sanitiser, Clubs should also provide dispensers at frequently used entrances and counters. 3. Personal Health Club staff, participants and public should not attend meetings if they have a raised temperature or other indication of illness or fever; or any indication of a cough, sneezing or runny nose, or sore throat. Phil Holden INTERIM CHIEF EXECUTIVE Harness Racing New Zealand

Down Under New Zealand mares Major League N and Tango Dancer N put on special displays at Woodbine Mohawk Park and at The Meadowlands on the first night of harness racing after the Covid-19 lockdown. Major League N (Gotta Go Cullen - Candlestick Park - Falcon Seelster) having her just third start in North America, powered her way to the front after drawing post 10 (second tier) impressively winning in a very good time of 1:50.4. Major League N is trained by Ashley Hensley and was driven by Ed Hensley. Major League N only had one start in New Zealand for a second placing at Gore before going to Australia and performing extra well there with a record of 13 wins 11 seconds and 5 thirds for just on $100,000. In Australia, Major League N took a time of 1:51.1 winning at Menangle for trainer Kevin Pizzuto, and in the process she easily beat the top USA imported mare Blue Moon Stride 1:48.4 ($1,266,226). Major League N   Tango Dancer N (A Rocknroll Dance - Tango Lady - Artsplace) driven by Dexter Dunn and trained by expat Kelvin Harrison, put on an explosive and powerful display hitting the front at the first quarter in 27.3 and holding the hot favorite JK American Beauty ($422,000) at bay, in the excellent time of 1:50.4. This was a lifetime mark. In New Zealand Tango Dancer N was trained by the late Father Dan Cummings. She won three races in New Zealand from around 20 starts. In North America Tango Dancer has had 11 starts for 5 wins and 5 seconds for $52,477 to date. Tango Dancer N    Team Tritton Qualify some in North America Leading Downs Under trainer/driver partnership who have recently relocated to New York from Sydney, Australia kicked off their Northern Hemisphere career. Shane and Lauren Tritton opened up with a team of seven down under race horses at Goshen Historic Racetrack qualifiers across Thursday and Friday. It was the stables first public outing in the states. Thursdays heats saw My Ruebe Star N pace a nice mile in 1:55.4 and Foo Fighter N in clocked in 1:57.3. Both were driven by the New York based driver Jordan Stratton. Fridays heats saw Flaming Flutter N (1:57.3) and My Rona Gold (1:56.0) both take out their qualifiers with Lauren Tritton in the bike. While Yayas Hot Spot N was also successful in 1:56.1 with Jordan Stratton taking the reins. The stables other runners include Ohoka Johnny N and Shezlimitless N. Also on Friday at the Meadowlands they had three qualifiers entered, Gods Spirit N, Afterdinnrspeaker N and I's A Director. The Australian Duo relocated to Pine Bush in New York towards the end of March this year, where they train a team of around 16 race horses.   Friday 29th May   Scioto Downs OH   Glenferrie Bronte N – Time: 1:53.2, Stake: $9,000 Majestic Player A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $18,000 Eyespywithmylileye N – Time: 1:52.0, Stake: $12,000     Saturday 30th May   Northfield Park OH   Rollin With Holly A – Time: 1:54.0, Stake: $5,000   Scioto Downs OH   Messi N – Time: 1:53.0, Stake: $10,000 Lettucerockthem A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $9,000 Lifeonthebeach A – Time: 1:51.2, Stake: $18,000     Monday 1st June   Northfield Park OH   He Can Fly N – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $6,500   Havfaithinme N – Time: 1:50.1, Stake: $11,500     Tuesday 2nd June   Northfield Park OH   Sporty Spook A – Time: 1:51.3, Stake: $3,800   Wednesday 3rd June   Scioto Downs OH   Hez A Dude A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $6,000 Saloon Passage N – Time: 1:51.4, Stake: $4,500 Picard A – Time: 1:53.1, Stake: $4,500     Friday 5th June   Meadowlands NJ   Tango Dancer N – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $15,750 Bettor Joy N – Time: 1:50.1, Stake: $18,750     Scarborough Downs ME   Bettors Fire N – Time: 1:56.2, Stake: $5,000     Scioto Downs OH   Majestic Player A – Time: 1:52.3, Stake: $18,000 Eyespywithmylileye N – Time: 1:50.3, Stake: $15,000   Woodbine Mohawk Park   Balfast N - Time 1:53.1, Stake $18,000 Major League N - Time 1:50.4, Stake $18,000     Saturday 6th June   Buffalo Raceway NY   Classic American N – Time: 1:56.3, Stake: $8,400     Meadowlands NJ   Bechers Brook A – Time: 1:49.0, Stake: $20,000   Woodbine Mohawk Park   Muscle Mach A - Time 1:52.1, Stake $16,000 Mongolian Hero N - Time 1:51.3, Stake $30,000 Carter Dalgety

By Jonny Turner, Harness News Desk    Champion reinsman Ricky May is set to make arguably the biggest comeback in New Zealand harness racing history when he drives at Addington on Friday. Few would have believed it possible for the star horseman to drive in a race again when he lay lifeless on the Omakau race track in January, surrounded by paramedics and off duty medical staff, who worked to revive his heart, which stopped after he collapsed and fell from the sulky of A G’s White Socks. May’s return to race day driving after suffering from hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, which must also rate as one of New Zealand sporting’s biggest ever comeback stories, was sealed when his cardiology specialist gave the all clear for the reinsman to return to the track on Monday. Naturally, the seven-time New Zealand Cup winner was delighted to get his ticket back to the races. Though the timing of his return could have come under warmer circumstances, May joked. “It is a pity it’s winter.” “But, other than that, it will be good to get back out there.” May has one focus ahead of his return – getting back driving as well as he was before his Omakau incident. “It probably hasn’t done me any harm having a break.” “I have been doing it flat out for forty odd years.” “Hopefully I can come back as good as I was – that is the main thing.” May has been itching to get back out on the track since returning to trackwork driving three months ago. “I haven’t been allowed to drive at the trials or workouts.” “I rang the stipes a month ago and I have had to get a clearance before I could even drive at workouts and trials.” “I went to the specialist [on Monday] and it was all good and he said everything is perfect.” May admits there could be a few nervous moments to be had on Friday night. “I guess I could be a wee bit nervous when I first get out there until I get a couple [of drives] out of the way.” “I just really hope I can drive a winner, that would be great.” May attended last week’s Friday night meeting at Addington with good friend, trainer Laurence Hanrahan. It could prove to be a big help in settling back in to race driving mode this week. “I hadn’t been to Addington or any races for months and it was actually a bit overwhelming – all the people.” “It was good to catch up with everyone and I think that will help when I go back this week.” “I will be able to concentrate on getting back in to the driving.” May will hardly need to reacquaint himself with the Brendon ‘Benny’ Hill trained Skippy’s Delight in race 2 on Friday night. The reinsman has been driving the horse in trackwork ahead of his return to the sulky. “Benny has been bringing Skippy’s Delight and Ranger Bomb to Ashburton for a few runs.” “They would have to be two of my best drives.” “Even though he was disappointing last week, I think Skippy’s Delight will be hard to beat.” Though he has already caught up with many of his friends and colleagues, May still has a few more people he wants to see. At the top of the list is the young reinswoman, who was among the first to rush to his side at Omakau and who performed life-saving CPR on him – Ellie Barron. “I haven’t caught up with Ellie yet – I am looking forward to catching up with her,” May said. “We talked over Zoom, but I haven’t seen her, so that will be really good.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News desk    Ricky May has heard the three words he wanted to from his specialist – “everything is perfect”. And with that the seven-time New Zealand Cup winner Ricky May has been cleared for a return to the track this Friday. “He said there wasn’t one blemish there at all.” May was fitted with a defibrillator following a near death experience at Omakau on January 2. Driving AG White Socks in the Central Otago Cup he fell to the track, and needed to be resuscitated. May says “they tell me it may never happen again.” Confident that his health is now back on track he will be too, as soon as Addington’s next meeting on Friday. “It’s been a while,” he said. When asked if he had missed it, he answered “I have actually”. A winner of 2949 races he has the 3000 mark clearly in his sights. If and when he achieves it he’ll just the third New Zealander to do so, joining Tony Herlihy (3530) and Maurice McKendry (3269). He got a taste of what Friday will bring with a cameo as a “stablehand” last Friday night helping out his long-time friend Laurence Hanrahan. “It was great catching up with people,” said May. And he’s been a man in demand as news of his return to race driving has filtered through. “There’s been quite a few ringing actually” Among the trainers keen to procure his services have been Brendon Hill and Paul Court. An Addington favourite is only days away from returning to the scene of his greatest triumphs.

A ray of light has emerged for the racing industry with betting on harness meetings stronger than expected since racing resumed 12 days ago. Figures obtained from Harness Racing New Zealand for the first eight meetings predictably show the highest turnovers in the South Island, with public track-based North Island stables still cranking up their operations. Friday nights at Addington have been particularly pleasing, says HRNZ racing and marketing manager Darrin Williams, with fixed odds betting clearly more popular than tote betting on weekdays. With 12-race cards, and the prime betting slot, Addington has returned figures of $1.17 million and $1.01 million for its Friday meets. Read more click here Reprinted with permission of Barry Lichter Lincoln Farms

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Regally-bred mare Team Kiwi has made the most of her delayed departure to the United States. The daughter of multiple Group One winner Kiwi Ingenuity was set to travel to America earlier this year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans. She has remained in the care of trainer Steve Dolan and repaid her overstay with an eye-catching victory at Addington on Sunday. Team Kiwi did a power of work in the 1980m event with driver Laura McKay pushing her forward from her wide draw to sit parked from the 1000m. McKay continued to apply pressure on leader Ohoka Matty, which told on her rivals in the straight where she was able to amble away to a three-length victory over Tiebreaker. Dolan was pleased with the win and said they were able to use more aggressive tactics on Sunday compared to her first-up unplaced run at Addington the week prior. “Robbie (Holmes, driver) got off her last week and said that’s not the way to drive her. He said you have really got to drive her aggressively and put her in the race,” Dolan said. “Because the pace was so hot last week he couldn’t pop out of the trail and go around, so that is why she got driven like that today. That just suits her. “If you look at the way her mother, Kiwi Ingenuity, won the Jewels all those years ago, it is exactly the same type of framework as far as how to drive her. “The fact that Laura was able to get her up handy and put a bit of pressure on was ideal. “Next week we might line her up again and she is probably destined to be driven a similar way.” Still destined to head to America, Dolan quipped that he wouldn’t mind her staying in his care for a little longer. “She has been in limbo, she is supposed to be going to America,” he said. “She was sold by Justin Le Lievre as agent. He mentioned that she was for sale one day. Hamish Scott had a lot of horses, so he was looking to offload a few. “We jumped at the opportunity to get her. It was always the intention to send her to the States. “My place has been a transit lounge for horses to go to America, but of course she got stuck here for a little bit longer than we expected because of COVID-19. “I am quite keen to keep her for a few more runs.” Team Kiwi has now had four starts for Dolan and he said he owes much of her success to former trainer Robbie Holmes and McKay. “She is a complex little horse, so I had to lean on Robbie Holmes a wee bit,” Dolan said. “He has been a big help and has been influential in helping to get a few issues sorted out. “Laura McKay has been doing most of the work with her, so she deserves a bit of a pat on the back as well.” Meanwhile, Dolan has been pleased with his season tally to date of eight wins and two placings from just 22 starts. “We are in a privileged position where we don’t have to train a lot of horses, so we can afford to raise the bar a little bit and have better quality horses,” he said. 

At the ripe old age of eight, Changeover mare Dachy is having her best season. Owned by trainer Ian Goodman and Doug McLeish, Dachy had to overcome plenty of roadblocks to achieve her win at Ascot Park yesterday in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson. She was locked away on the inside with 500 metres to run surrounded by tiring horses. Tomlinson managed to extricate her from tight quarters and sent her out to chase down leader Wolf West, which had got away by eight lengths. “I was a wee bit concerned and thought we might get dragged right out the back. Sheree said she got the gap and if you watch the replay you can see she ran onto Kirk’s (Larsen driving Maidonthebeach) wheel. But she made enough room and got out,” said Goodman. Straightening up for the run home Dachy mastered Wolf West and came away to win by three lengths. “She’s always been very competitive and just wants to run. It suits her when the speed is on. She can get out and run home.” Dachy doesn’t win out of turn. She won once in each of her first three seasons of racing.  At six she won twice before going winless the following season. “Last season she only had a few starts and did a suspensory and was meant to be out for six months. She was only out for four months. We got her scanned and she was good to go and won first up in Invercargill.” It was the mare’s eighth win in seventy six starts over six seasons of racing. She resumed after lock down with a sixth last Saturday at Ascot Park after getting clear late. Most of Goodman’s thirty two winners have featured the McLeish name in the ownership, including Future Fortune, Connie Belle and Bold Centurion. Dachy has spent some of her career at Nathan Williamson’s barn. “I’ve done it the last two Christmas’s. We take the family, the boat and go on holiday to Hawea.” Most of the mare’s runs have been over the shorter distances and she’s only had one stand. “That was at Gore and she didn’t go that well. I think half her trouble is she gets a bit keen. That was the only time she’s raced over a distance beyond 2400 metres. I hope they stick with what they’re doing racing over 2200 mobiles so we can make the most of that.”   Bruce Stewart

“He made a good beginning which was probably the key to the win. Making a good start has been one of his problems,” said Brad Williamson trainer driver of Rydgemont Son which beat Davey Mac to win his fifth race at Ascot Park yesterday. It was in stark contrast to the five year old’s previous start when he became unsettled by a false start, broke at the beginning of the re-run and finished sixth, nine lengths behind winner Full Noise. “A few of the horses got on the toe that day like Rydgemont Son and Davey Mac, so it was nice to get the quinella today.” Rydgemont Son is owned by Ray and Joan Scott and started his career with Oamaru trainer Murray Tapper who also trained the horse’s dam Domination. “Ray is a part owner of Cracker Hill and came to watch him as a two year old. He then decided to give Rydgemont Son a go in my stable because he was galloping a lot for Murray. The horse had always shown ability. At our Oamaru trials I remember him qualifying and Dad said he quite liked him then. ” And Williamson says the gelding is slowing getting better with his stand start manners. “I told Ray a long time ago that by the time he’s had thirty to forty starts be may be a good genuine standing start horse. Ray joked and said he’d be dead by then. He’s about 84.” Yesterday’s start was Rydgemont Son’s twenty eighth and twenty fourth from a stand. Like most horses he was forced into lockdown during Covid 19 and Williamson says the plan now is to carry on. “He’s racing quite well. The races they’re programming at the moment over 2200 metres are a good thing because it means the horses can back up and don’t necessary have to have hard runs.” Yesterday’s result was also another ‘prefect four’ for the Williamson family with Brad winning, Phil finishing second with Davey Mac, Nathan third with Crusher Collins and Matty fourth with Only One Way. Brad thinks it’s about the third time the family has achieved this feat. The Williamson brothers are fast closing in on having 2000 collective New Zealand winners. Their total currently stands at 1997 with Matty leading the charge on 859, Nathan on 819 and Brad on 319. Earlier in the programme Rydgemont Son’s half-sister Rydgemont Milly recorded her sixth win. She was bred by Stephen Bell who owns Domination along with the Scotts. Rydgemont Milly is raced by Debbie Shirley who trains her with husband Mark. John Morrison drove the eight year old yesterday. Earlier in the day the Williamson name was to the fore when Arc De Triomphe won for trainer Phil and driver Brad. The three year old having only his second start, began well and lead all the way to beat the more favoured stable mate Miss Crazed. “He’s the sort of horse that doesn’t have a lot of speed and can’t change up gears. Matt said at his last start he got back in the field, but was doing his best work at the finish. With a better beginning we took the bull by the horns and a front running rolling along style suits a big gangly horse like him.” Williamson says he wasn’t confident until the last fifty metres. “I know she (Miss Crazed) is probably more talented because I’ve driven her at the trials a few times. I thought after my horse made a good beginning I knew we’d be in the money. I didn’t know  Matthew’s horse (Miss Crazed) had made a mistake and lost forty to fifty metres at the start. I never pulled the plug on him so he won with a bit in hand.” The winning margin was four and a quarter lengths with Miss Crazed getting home late to run second. Arc De Triomphe is by Quaker Jet out of the Sundon mare Juliana and is raced by The Griffin’s Syndicate and Seafield Trotting Syndicate who’ve raced a number of horses out of Juliana, including Monty Python and Dark Horse. Meanwhile Brad’s stable star Cracker Hill resumed racing at Addington last Friday running second behind the talented Greg and Nina Hope trained Matua Tana. “Really happy with him. He seems to have come through that run well. I’ll give him a bit of a freshener. I’ll target another race for him potentially in Invercargill and then look to head to Australia with him later in the season.” The Phil Williamson trained Majestic Man also resumed earlier this week and also had to play second fiddle to Matua Tana but Brad says he and his father were happy with the run. “He’s a horse that takes a run or two to get into form. He’s been beaten in his first run back a couple of times. He did over race quite badly the other night. It took a bit out of him and being in a fresh state may have been the undoing of him but I expect him to improve. If they carded a similar race for him in a couple of weeks I’d expect him to be very hard to beat.”   Bruce Stewart

Franco Nelson, a former brilliant juvenile pacer and open class star, has joined the stallion strength at Burwood Stud, Pittsworth (Qld), standing alongside proven harness racing sires Changeover and Cammibest. His service fee is a realistic $1,650 including GST. He served a small book of mares in NSW last season, resulting in an almost 90 percent fertility rating. Franco Nelson proved himself a top ranking pacer, taking a record of 1:50.3 and winning $872,493, and can claim to be one of the most fashionably bred horses available in Australia today. Renowned for his brilliant speed and dour staying ability, Franco Nelson won 23 races including nine at Group level and over all distances from 1609 to 2600 metres. Racing against horses the calibre of Lennytheshark, Smoken Up, Tiger Tara, Chicago Bull, Bling It On, Christen Me, Smolda, My Field Marshal, San Carlo and co, Franco Nelson had less than 90 starts in his career and yet weighed in 48 occasions. As a two-year-old he won four and was twice placed in six starts including a win in the Group 2 $40,000 NZ Welcome Stakes and a close third in the Breeders Crown Final. At three he earned $149,476 from five wins and two placings in nine starts including successes in the $165,000 NZ Sires Stakes Championship and a Great Northern Derby prelude, while he finished third in the $246,000 GN Derby. As a four-year-old he numbered among his notable performances a barnstorming win in the $150,000 Harness Jewels in 1:53.1 at Cambridge and successes in the Group 2 Pelorus 4YO Classic at Marlborough and the Group 3 Founders Cup. Franco Nelson later annexed the prestigious Kaikoura and New Brighton Cups and Hannon Memorial on home soil and finished a nose second to Adore Me in the 2014 NZ Cup, third in the 2014 NZ Free-for-all and fourth in the 2015 NZ Cup. He completed his racing career in NSW, winning four races in top company at Menangle highlighted by the Group 1 $100,000 Bohemia Crystal Free-for-all in 1:53.2. Franco Nelson                                               -- Ashlea Brennan photo                                                     Franco Nelson is a quality young horse bred on a classic cross of blood – that of Christian Cullen his sire and Falcon Seelster his maternal sire. Christian Cullen, sire of Franco Nelson, was NZ’s leading sire on five occasions and topped broodmare sires’ list four times. A champion pacer himself, with a bankroll of $1.2 million, Christian Cullen won 22 of his 31 starts including the NZ Cup in record time, the Miracle Mile, Auckland Cup, NZ Free-for-all and Treuer Memorial. Christian Cullen has matched his greatness as a racehorse in the siring field, and now his sons are achieving distinctions of the same order. Notafella Franco, the dam of Franco Nelson, was one of the many grand producing daughters of a champion sire in Falcon Seelster (1:51), being out of the prolific broodmare New Review (1:59.8), by Nero’s B B from the El Patron mare No Regrets, and tracing to the noted foundation mare Trilby. New Review was the dam of nine individual winners, eight of whom took records of 2:00 or better including a Group winner in Franco New Deal (1:53), Ohoka Village (1:52.6) and the Victoria Derby heat winner Franco Newsman (1:56.7). This is the family of a champion NZ racemare in Spanish Armada ($787,470), Nevermore (NZ 2YO Filly of Year), the Kilmore Cup winner Chancellor Cullen, Cheer The Lady (Breeders Crown 3YO Final), Glenferrie Hood ($526,105) and Franco Nester (NSW Carousel). Franco Nelson is a young stallion with the bloodlines, racing performance and conformation to commend him to the most discriminating breeder.   by Peter Wharton

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