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One of the major issues that has always faced the New Zealand harness racing breeding industry is we sell so many of our well bred and better performed racemares to Australia and North America. It has always been a drag on the advancement of the breed in New Zealand, but more and more of the exported mares are being repatriated back to New Zealand at the end of their racing careers. This is becoming more common especially from North America where a fast time beside their name can make them very commercial propositions in New Zealand. One of the trailblazers in this movement back to New Zealand was Anna Patron. The daughter of Armbro Raven was half sister to the brilliant Shania Patron 1:56.4 ($178,330) and No Return 1:58.1 ($145,030) and won five races herself before her sale to North America. In North America Anna Patron took a mark of 1:55 on the way to earning $105,529 before being purchased in late 1993 by National Bloodstock and brought back to New Zealand as a broodmare. Anna Patron did not disappoint and has done a great job at stud leaving such smart horses as Albert Patron 1:53 ($171,027), Andrew Patron 1:53.8 ( $108,384) and Soky's Patron 1:54.8 ($80,598) while her daughters such as Angela Patron have also excelled at stud. To date Angela Patron has produced six winners including Jackson Street 1:56.6 ($150,126), Fifth Edition 1:56.6 (12 NZ wins) ($92,626), Angelas Image 1:57.5 ($56,027) and the very talented Angela's Dream 1:57.2 ($118,244) Angela's Dream won eight races in New Zealand from the Cran Dalgety barn but the standout performance in her racing career was her great second to Kiwi Ingenuity in the $150,000 New Zealand Oaks in 3:12.8 for the 2600 metres. This year will see Angela's Dream's first colt go through the Australasian Classic Yearling sale at Karaka in Auckland as Lot 135 on February 22nd. The son of Mach Three is a striking individual as you can see from the photos and looks like one of those early runners that Mach Three is renowned for. All those talented winners listed above may never have seen the light of day if National Bloodstock had not repatriated Anna Patron Anna Patron did a great job at stud in New Zealand and her daughters and grand daughters have carried on where she left off. Dollars N Cash on type and breeding looks well capable of adding to the legacy that Anna Patron and her descendants have created. To view the Catalogue click here   Harnesslink Media    

Last nights New Zealand Oaks was meant to be a one horse affair with last weeks Nevele R Fillies winner The Orange Agent expected to dominate once again. However her wide draw this week had some pundits saying she was vulnerable and when the heavy rain and strong winds set in, no one really knew what to expect. Fight For Glory, who had pushed The Orange Agent last week had also drawn poorly at one on the second line so luck was going to play a part. As the gate left, Maurice McKendry took The Orange Agent  back from her wide draw while Natalie Rasmussen on Fight For Glory managed to get off the inside after 200 metres and into the running line. Shortly afterwards Natalie circled the field with Fight For Glory and grabbed the lead with just over a mile to run. Natalie then decided to make it a catch me if you can race and kept up a hot tempo in front. Passing the 500 metres, Natalie launched Fight For Glory and she put four lengths on the opposition as they turned for home. Although getting tired the last 100 metres Fight For Glory was still a length in front at the finishing line. Democrat Party and Zac Butcher finished on for second just a half head in front of a very unlucky Linda Lovegrace who came from well back for third. A close up fourth was The Orange Agent who didn't seem all that happy in the conditions. Natalie was mobbed by the connections in the winners circle post race and was full of praise for the Art Major filly. " As soon as I got off the inside, I decided to get on the pace because she is so hard to run down." " She is such a genuine filly and I thought they would have trouble getting past her." " She is just such a pleasure to drive and even though they got a bit close in the last little bit, I knew she would see it out," Natalie said. Blair Orange on Linda Lovegrace was rapt with her run. "We could have got off at the 1200 metres mark into the running line but I decided to stay on the inner." "She got held up a wee bit but has really found the line when clear." "It was a super run," Blair said. Maurice McKendry thought while The Orange Agent had run a creditable fourth, she wasn't entirely happy in the conditions. " She didn't feel as sharp tonight and all I can put it down to is the track conditions," Maurice said. Last nights win by Fight For Glory has breathed a bit of life back into the Harness Jewels race for the three year old fillies with The Orange Agent not as dominant as previously thought. Harnesslink Media

As we come up to the big night of harness racing at Addington on Friday we thought we would do an in- depth preview of some of the group races. First up is the New Zealand Trotting Oaks. 1) Natives Lasting Love -  Starts: 7    Wins: 0    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $1,562  -  (1st Emerg) A seven start maiden who has shown promise at times but has a mountain to climb here if she made it back into the field. Not for us. 2) Habibti Ivy -  Starts: 5    Wins: 2    Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $11,495 The full sister to the brilliant Habibti has inherited all the family ability and looms as a major winning chance from the draw. Showed high gate speed at her last start and was finishing over the top of Monbet and Prince Fearless late which is great form going into this. Winning chance from the draw and a must have in all combinations. 3) Alvira Hest - Starts: 3    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $4,073  Outstanding win last week at Addington, coming from last at the 600 metres to loop them wide out and win easily. Huge step up here and showed no gate speed last week which negates the good draw. Could sneak into the first four with the right trip. 4) Eilish Aimee - Scratched 5) One Yankee Hall - Starts: 8    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $2,980  Promising maiden who went off the rails a couple of times recently but seems back on track now. Well beaten by Alvira Hest last week which doesn't bode well for this assignment. Not for us. 6) Fiery Mountain Girl - Starts: 5    Wins: 2    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $15,143  Very promising filly who has won a couple of races in good style. Showed gate speed when winning at Addington prior to Xmas and has come on in leaps and bounds since then. Can't see her as the winner but a serious trifecta and first four player from the draw 7) Agnes Brown - Starts: 4    Wins: 1    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $7,153 Showed a fair bit of promise in her first two starts which were both from a stand which gave her time to balance up. Two mobiles since have seen her self destruct which is a major handicap in this race. Even with Dexter on board, we can't have her as a first four player. 8) Arya - Starts: 15    Wins: 10    Secs: 3    Thirds: 1    Life: $157,486  The half sister to Stent has been a star from day one and has only missed a placing once in 15 starts when she was disqualified from second in the Harness Jewels. Faultless manners are a big plus and she is race fit after a string of Australian wins recently. Comes into barrier six and has gate speed so will settle handy to the speed. The one to beat for us and a must have for all combinations. 9) Zsa Zara - Starts: 7    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $3,598 Nice filly in the making but this looks a bit rich at this stage of her career. Would need all favours to finish in the first half of the field and from barrier nine that is not going to happen. Not for us.                                                                      SECOND LINE 10) Sunny Ruby - Starts: 17    Wins: 2    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $15,448 Smart front running filly who is the fastest filly off the gate in the country but all of that advantage is negated by the draw. Will be interesting to see how she goes with a sit because there is no doubting the ability. Still only an outside first four player for us. 11) Wanna Play - Starts: 15    Wins: 2    Secs: 3    Thirds: 4    Life: $58,795  Very talented filly who doesn't quite have the ringcraft of some here but has as much natural ability as any. Will really appreciate the mobile and the left hand way of going as she is better the Addington way round. Throw in the best driver going round at the moment in Natalie Rasmussen and Wanna Play is a serious winning chance and a must have for all combinations.  12) Yagunnakissmeornot - Starts: 13    Wins: 7    Secs: 2    Thirds: 4    Life: $52,820 Another high class filly who has won seven races and never missed a placing in thirteen starts. Does tend to run in on the corners left handed but trainer Sean McCaffrey confident it won't be an issue on the roomy Addington track. Really good coming off a sit recently and can get a big piece of this with a run to suit. A must have for all combinations. 13) Petite One - Starts: 7    Wins: 3    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $28,871  Has looked very talented in her career to date, pushing Speeding Spur at Auckland and beating Al Bundy as well so no doubting the ability. Disregard last run as got taken out by breaker with a lap to go and was to far off them afterwards but did make up a lot of ground to run fifth in a field that included Monbet and Prince Fearless. Definite trifecta and first four player for us. 14) Jen Jaccka - Starts: 3    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $4,238 Promising filly who ran 3:04 for 2400 metres at her second lifetime start so the ability is there. Big step up here and our concern is the lack of ringcraft against a field of this quality. Combine that with the draw and we can't find a place for her. Not for us 15) Gael Ludlow - Starts: 14    Wins: 1    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $6,564 Very good from a stand and also has a liking for grass tracks, neither of which she gets here. This looks out of reach at this stage of her career. Not for us. 16) Cyclone Jeter - Starts: 6    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $5,904 Has won a race but last couple of starts have been very disappointing. Throw in the draw and it looks hard to see her being a player here. Not for us. SELECTIONS  Arya who comes in to barrier six looks very hard to beat. She has an all round game and is race fit for this and will have the All Star finishing touches on her preparation this week. The main danger for us is Habibti Ivy who showed real gate speed at her last start and then finished the race off strongly against the two of the best colts in the country in Monbet and Prince Fearless. Blair Orange takes the drive and with the Paul Nairn polish on her she is a big chance of rolling the favourite. Yagunnakissmeornot is hindered here by the draw and had she drawn better would have been a huge winning chance. Can still get a big piece of it but will have to do more work than any of the other favoured runners. The same applies to Wanna Play who has drawn behind Alvira Hest who is not quick off the gate. Any luck in the running brings her right into calculations.  For trifectas and first four players add in Fiery Mountain Girl and Petite One

24 February 2015 - Harness racing nominations closed recently with the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club for the running of the 2015 Group One New Zealand Oaks at Addington on Friday 15 May. At the time of closing 34 three year old fillies had been nominated for the prestigious event that this year carries a total stake of $150,000, an increase of $50,000 from 2013. Addington’s Racing Manager Brian Rabbitt was happy with the number of nominations. “The level of nominations was as expected for this important event. Our three year old filly crop this year is of high quality and we’ll be looking forward to hopefully carding a full field on 15 May.” Any horse not nominated, may upon making the first late entry fee of $750 plus GST per horse become eligible. This fee is due no later than 3pm NZ time on Monday 11 March. A fixed odds book on the nominations will be released by Stephen Richardson and his team at the TAB this Thursday around lunchtime. A full list of nominations can be viewed below Ged Mooar

Top New Zealand filly Ideal Belle has been scratched from her two-horse Australasian Breeders’ Crown heat at Alexandra Park tomorrow night and has been ruled out of the rich series by trainer Barry Purdon. The New Zealand Oaks winning filly, who would have been one of the favourites for the Group One 3YO fillies division, has suffered a leg injury after being caught in a fence at Purdon’s Clevedon property. The tall American Ideal filly, who showed she was right on song for the series with a smart workout last week, will now head to the spelling paddock. Her scratching means that the Geoff Small trained Zeta Bromac will get a walkover ABC heat win, as will Ideal Belle’s stablemate Sky Major who is still well on track for the 3YO colts and geldings division of the series. In other Breeders Crown news, the Tim Butt trained Field Marshal is set to arrive in Melbourne on August 6 in preparation for the ABC after qualifying in a one horse heat at Cambridge last week, while Katy Perry, who was defeated in her Cambridge heat by Joanne’s A Delight, is already in Australia and will compete in the Tatlow Stakes (Group Two) at Melton on Saturday before heading to a Breeders' Crown Repechage. Katy Perry is just one a strong contingent of Kiwi trained or owned horses that are seat to do battle in feature races across the Tasman this weekend. Others include Messini, Kept Under Wraps, Iceobar, Bettor Rock On, My Arya, Primz Luck, One Over Da Moon, Our Twentyten, and Daenerys Targaryen. However the two highlights of the weekend may come from champion Australian pacers Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up. ‘Trigger’ (Smoken Up) is set to have his last start in New South Wales at Menangle on Saturday and his trainer-driver Lance Justice is expecting a big performance, while ‘Quinny’, who will be reunited with Gary Hall Jnr, will battle it out with Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo, and Avonnova for Group One glory in the Blake’s A Fake at Albion Park on Saturday. After much talk about drivers leading into the race, Lauren Panella has decided to stick with Mach Beauty, while Bart Cockburn, who has been sacked from Avonnova after his interesting drive in the Sunshine Sprint, will take the reins behind Suave Stuey Lombo. Replacing Cockburn in the sulky behind Queensland star Avonnova is Shane Graham, who was victorious in his only drive on the gelding. By Mitchell Robertson  

Though she probably ran the worst race of her life in the New Zealand Oaks last night, Venus Serana has still being the trail blazer all season amongst the harness racing three year old fillies. The Sandfords would have never dreamt of what was to come all those years ago when they purchased the Falcon Seelster filly, Inspiring Dash from the Australian harness racing breeder, David Shammal. A very handy filly on the racetrack with five wins and six placings from just 21 starts it is as a broodmare that she has truly excelled and given the Sandfords so many great moments. Going into a breeding arrangement with Ken and Ann Marie Spicer of Rosedale Farm on her retirement to stud, the first foal she produced was the Christian Cullen filly, Rona Lorraine who was sold at the yearling sales for $130,000 to Rona and Clive Mckay. Racing at two and three she won $133,268 with her biggest win being in the $127,000 Caduceus Club Classic. Next up was the Presidential ball colt Carnival King who was sold to Graeme Rogerson for $72,000. He has not raced to date. The third foal was a Christian Cullen filly Jen Marie who won once in a brief career for the Spicers and then joined their broodmare band. The fourth foal was again a Christian Cullen,but this time a colt. He was sold at the Yearling sales to prolific Sydney owners, E & A Stride for $130,000. He showed real potential in a brief career going 1:55.8 before injury stopped him. The next foal was the Mach Three filly who we now know as Venus Serena. Passed in at the Yearling sales for $37,500, she was given by the Sandfords to their long time trainer, Geoff Dunn. The rest is now history. A lot of the credit for her success on the track is due in no small part to her trainer who has managed her career with great skill. Several times she has had gut busting runs but seems to have taken it all in her stride over a long campaign. A two year old season of eight starts for five wins and two placings for $265,782 has been followed by an even better three year old season of eleven starts for eight wins and one placing for stakes of $324,104 with the Harness Jewels still to come. Not only has she displayed high speed on numerous occasions but she is as tough as they come as well. A quick look further back in her pedigree and you immediately note the outstanding broodmare Witchlight who has had such a tremendous influence on the New Zealand breeding scene in the last thirty years. Outstanding racehorses such as Trident (14wins) Bella Chip 1:52.6 Lento 1:56.4  Awesome Armbro 1;49.4 and Bettors Strike 1:55.7 all have Witchlight close up in their pedigrees. So what are the chances of Venus Serena enhancing this brilliant family when she does retire to stud? It wasn't that many years ago that many breeders believed that fillies that had arduous two and three year old seasons did not make good broodmares. But a quick look at the stud records of the top three year old fillies of the last twenty years clearly show that that is no longer the case.   2009 - Laurella--dam of Express Stride  $55,074 at two this season   2006 - Western Dream--dam of Western Cullen $447,536 to date   2004 - Copper Beach--dam of De Lovely  $656,113   2002 - Elect To Live-- dam of Gotta Go Harmony $205,909   1999 - Classy Filly--dam of Classic Line  $538,009   1998 - Under Cover Lover--dam of Exotic Lover  $110,336   1993 - Pacific Flight--dam of Dropinthehammer  $323,617   So the Sandfords can look forward to Venus Serena going to stud with a lot of confidence. History would suggest that she will just as big an impact there as she has on the track.   Harnesslink media

Top young harness racing reinsman Zac Butcher nailed his second New Zealand Oaks victory in the space of three years when guiding Ideal Belle to an emphatic victory in the Group One feature at Addington tonight. The Barry Purdon trained filly, who was a luckless second behind Venus Serena in the Nevele R Fillies Final, made up for last week’s mishap by downing Raksdeal and Te Amo Bromac in the $125,000 time honoured event. Driven perfectly by Butcher, the American Ideal filly led early, before taking a trail behind runner-up Raksdeal. Ideal Belle and Butcher then pushed out into the clear on the home bend and raced away for an effortless 2 & ½ length victory. “The draw and race panned out perfectly and she won easily in the end,” enthused Butcher. “It definitely made up for last week where she was a luckless second after being checked at the 350 metre mark,” he added. Butcher said that there were a couple of times when he was slightly disappointed with Ideal Belle early in the season, but added that she was really starting to hit her straps now. "She has really strenghten up of late and has finally grown into her huge frame," he explained. "She was just as tall at two as she is now but she has filled out a lot lately," he added. Butcher is now hopeful that Ideal Belle will recieve a good barrier draw in the 3YO Diamond section of the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on May 31st. "If she draws one to five I think she has a cracking chance," he enthused. Ideal Belle is also eligable for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown Series and is likely to head across the Tasman provided she is still in good form after the Harness Jewels. Meanwhile, superstar filly Venus Serena was slightly dissapointing by her extremely high standards, finishing in fifth after working hard mid-race. By Mitchell Robertson  

If she wasn’t there already, Venus Serena rocketed herself into the status of superstar today at Addington. The brilliant three-year-old filly notched up the fifth Group One of her career this afternoon (Saturday) at Addington when winning the $140,000 Nevele R Fillies final in New Zealand record time – the fourth of its kind in her career. And the fun hasn’t stopped yet. Such is the domination of the Geoff Dunn-trained filly that she will go out a red-hot favourite in the remaining two Group One battles for her age group and sex this season. The first of those will come as soon as next week when Venus Serena returns to Addington to tackle the New Zealand Oaks. Then it is on to Cambridge for a tilt at becoming a dual Jewels winner on May 31. And Dunn had a warning for those who will take their place in the Oaks next week. “She has only had a workout in between her last run and today, so you would like to think she will get better,’’ he said. Venus Serena lowered the NZ record held by champion three-year-old filly Carabella when stopping the clock at a blistering 2.19.1 – 0.6 seconds inside Carabella’s time. After burning out of the gate from her handy draw, Venus Serena was given little respite throughout the 1950 metre event but still had the audacity to run away from her opponents at the top of the straight. Things might have got a little interesting had North Island filly, Ideal Belle not galloped rounding the final bend when in the trail though. The Barry Purdon-trained runner managed to pick herself up off the canvas and put the issue to Venus Serena, but John Dunn who was sitting in the bike of the winner quickly eliminated any concerns she might have been beaten had the incident occurred. “She fights like a tiger when another horse comes up to her,'' he said. “When she got clear she pretty much knocked off but when Zac came up on my inside she grabbed the bit again. “It was a pretty impressive performance considering she pulled the whole way. “She was very keen today.’’ The win gave John Dunn his second Group One victory in less than 24 hours following the victory of Elios in the New Zealand Messenger at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Owned by Bob and Jenny Sandford along with Geoff Dunn – Venus Serena has now won 13 of her 18 career starts and is closing in on $600,000 in stakes and with $225,000 left to race for this season that figure should improve noticeably over the next month. Ideal Belle lost no admirers with her second placing while Rocknroll Arden emerged out of the pack to finish in third position. By Matt Markham (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, the fact Mark Purdon is already referring to Alta Orlando as a Derby horse is both exciting and concerning. For the exciting two-year-olds owners; Neil Pilcher and Jim and Ann Gibbs the prediction is exciting. However if you have a nice two-year-old pacer at home, who is showing enough potential to be a race horse next season, you’re concerned. Purdon’s ability to spot quality stock at a young age and ear-mark them as potential age group stars is unparalleled, so when he makes such comments it generally pays to sit up and take notice. The comment also speaks volumes for the chances of the exciting son of Courage Under Fire in tomorrow’s $200,000 New Zealand Yearling Sales Series Open at Addington. Off the back of two impressive and rugged victories in his last two experiences, Alta Oralando is set to start a short-priced favourite in the Saturday afternoon harness feature and was yesterday as short as $1.40 on the fixed odds book. And while there is no doubting he isn’t yet up to the standards of his unbeaten stable mate, Follow The Stars, Purdon suggests that in time, Alta Orlando has the potential to be a real star. “He just continues to improve, and impress me,’’ Purdon said. “And you would suggest by just looking at him that he is only going to continue to develop and fill out…he’s a real Derby horse in the making. “I especially think once you see him over more ground he will be even better than he is now because he is such a tough, free-going type of horse.’’ That’s a pretty impressive recommendation from a man who has made a huge impression on the industry through his skills at producing quality three-year-old pacers, and it will be enough to have rivals tomorrow looking cautiously over their shoulders. Drawn well in barrier two for the assignment, many would be expecting co-trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen to fire up the burners early, but Purdon suggests that might not be the case. “He’s not the sort of horse you can barrel out of the gate just yet I don’t think. “I would be a little hesitant to do so anyway as I don’t quite think he’s fool proof yet. “But he has shown he can get around the field and try and out stay them, that seems to be his forte at the moment so I would expect something similar again this week.’’ Alta Orlando dominates the market at his $1.40 quote but there is good shopping on offer for both Express Stride ($5) and Say My Name ($5.50) considering their recent form. Meanwhile tomorrow’s meeting will be without exciting three-year-old filly Willow who has potentially had her season prematurely ended through injury. The Sires’ Stakes Fillies Championship final winner injured a hock during track work on Thursday and Rasmussen believes it may spell the end of her season. “At the moment I would say she is doubtful to race again this season. “I’m going to wait until Monday and see how things are then before we make a decision though. That means she won’t be in action at next week’s, New Zealand Oaks nor the Harness Jewels at Cambridge at the end of the month. By Matt Markham (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Join us at Addington Raceway on Friday 16 May for a premier night’s racing that includes the running of the Group 1 $125,000 Canterbury Breeders New Zealand Oaks for 3yo fillies. It’s also Ladies Night in Twiggers where there’ll be plenty going on. Addington, in association with Aviva, Westfield Riccarton and Pascoes The Jewellers are planning a terrific evening for Canterbury women looking to liven up an autumn evening. Entertainment will be provided by effervescent Chef, Media Personality and Aviva Ambassador, Jax Hamilton. Westfield Riccarton, along with local fashion stylist Stephanie Rumble, will showcase fashion elements from a selection of their retailers. Add in the chance to win an 18 white gold diamond set abstract ring worth $3,599 courtesy of Pascoes The Jewellers and there’s plenty on offer for the ladies. Addington is pleased to partner with the charitable organisation Aviva, a Canterbury based specialist family violence agency that was established in 1973 as Christchurch Women’s Refuge. As it's Aviva's annual appeal weekend on 16 and 17 May, a portion of the ticket price will go to them and they will also have an array of silent auction items on display for you to bid on and take home. Julie McCloy, Marketing and Funding Manager for Aviva commented “We’re so pleased to be involved with Addington Raceway for what will no doubt be a great event. It gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness and some of the almost $1million we must generate each year to support Canterbury children, women and men towards violence-free futures.” To find out more about Aviva please visit Ladies Night is the highlight of the evening and part of a premier night’s racing that includes the running of the prestigious Canterbury Standardbred Breeders’ Association New Zealand Oaks for 3 year old fillies featuring champion filly Venus Serena. Ladies Night – Friday 16 May from 7pm. Twiggers, Addington Raceway & Events Centre Tickets - $45 incl. GST that includes a drink on arrival and canapés served throughout the evening Details and tickets from     Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Nominations for the Canterbury Breeders NZ Oaks on the 16th of May have been released.  Venus Serena heads up a 24-strong nomination. The race has also attracted Australian interest with expat Kiwi Nike Franco among the nominations for her Victorian trainer Dean Braun. To view all of the nominations for the Group One feature click here GED MOOAR MARKETING AND COMMERCIAL MANAGER  

One of Alexandra Park’s most frequent patrons and founder of the Anzus Standardbred Agency passed away in Te Aroha last Sunday night. John Coll of Morrinsville was 66. John, a prolific breeder and owner, was renowned for the ‘Springfield’ name. He also pioneered the shuttling of American standardbreds to New Zealand in 1991. John Geiger, of Geiger Bloodstock, bought his company two years later. John’s foundation shuttle stallions were In The Pocket and WRH, a full brother to Ok Bye, who was named after the legendary American trainer driver W.R. (Billy) Haughton. He was a committee member of the Morrinsville Trotting Club and was a past president of the Waitaki Trotting Club. His friend Malcolm Mulligan who travelled to and from Morrinsville to Alexandra Park more than 100 times, said John was an avid trotting fan. “He was a die-hard fan of harness racing, especially the squaregaiters. He really loved breeding from Armbro Invasion. “He was extremely knowledgeable when it came to trotting bloodlines. What he didn’t know about them wasn’t worth knowing. “He sat at his same little seat every week at ‘The Park’. The place won’t be the same without him,” Mulligan said. John was born in Southland and farmed sheep, beef and crops in Pleasant Point before moving north to Morrinsville in 1990. The best horse he bred was the 10-win ($94,320) Brylin Boyz gelding Springfield Hero. Other horses of note were Springfield Yankee (10 wins - $58,960), Springfield Master (7 wins - $34,211), Springfield Rocket (4 wins - $20,688). Springfield Countess, who won six races and $28,250, finished third behind Chipaluck and Maddie in the 1985 Group One New Zealand Oaks for 3yo fillies. John also bred Adios Springfield (1:53.8) – the fastest son of Sharvid Adios. He also had success in Australia, the best being his Sundon – Make No Mistake gelding named Springfield Alonzo. He won eight of his 52 starts and placed 11 times for $41,881. He also recorded a 1:58.6 mile when winning at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 14 2012. John also briefly owned Speedy Summit before selling him to Australia. That son of Speedy Crown later raced in the United States. John’s latest claim to fame is the promising Armbro Invasion gelding, Foray. That 5-year-old trotter has won five of his 18 starts, including a last start Manawatu win (February 6) for Woodville trainer Mathew Hickey. John’s death notice read: Coll, John Gilbert. – Passed away peacefully at the Te Aroha Community Hospital, after a courageous battle. Loved father of Robert of Pleasant Point. John was the dearly loved eldest son of the late Daniel McLaughlin and Kathleen Cyrilla Coll. He was the loved brother and brother-in-law of Cedric (Timaru), Alwyn and Sue (Christchurch), Gerard and Sue (Cheviot), and Pat and Donna (Timaru). Also a much loved uncle and great-uncle. A funeral service for John will be held at St Patrick's Catholic Church, 625 Alexandra Street, Te Awamutu, on Wednesday February 12,at 1.30pm, followed by private cremation. All communications please to the Coll Family, c/- PO Box 137, Te Awamutu. By Duane Ranger

Harness Racing New Zealand Chief Executive, Edward Rennell, has just, moments ago, announced some changes to next year’s Harness Jewels format on Radio Trackside. The changes include increasing the field size for each of the nine Harness Jewels events to 13, and inviting one Australian competitor across to compete in each of the nine categories. “The changes will not make it harder for New Zealand horses’ to make the fields,” stressed Rennell. “There will still be 12 spots for the top stake earners in New Zealand,” he added. “The only difference is there will be a 13th spot for an Australian horse, which doesn’t necessarily have to race here beforehand.” However, Edward is hopeful that it will help entice some Australian horses for races such as the Taylor Mile, New Zealand Messenger and, New Zealand Oaks, which are all run within a month of the Harness Jewels. The added Australian interest is expected to help ‘Internationalised’ the iconic New Zealand event. More Australians betting on the Harness Jewels and increased international awareness are some of the main aims. By Mitchell Robertson Top Australian Horses to receive an Invite to Harness Jewels In a change to the conditions of the Harness Jewels, the Board of HRNZ has agreed to extend an invitation to a leading Australian horse in each age group category. The field size for each race will be extended to thirteen should the Australian horse take up this invitation. It is believed this will grow interest in the Harness Jewels in Australia and further enhance the profile of this event which has become a key event in the racing calendar each year. The 2014 Harness Jewels are to be hosted by Harness Racing Waikato at Cambridge Raceway on 31 May 2014. Total stakes for the day will be $1.2m over the nine races, with this continuing to be New Zealand’s only race meeting where all stakes are for a minimum of $100,000. In announcing this change, HRNZ Chairman Gary Allen said “This is an exciting change that will further enhance the quality of racing at the Jewels and be of great interest to the racing public. Inviting the leading Australian horse in each age group to participate will add an extra dimension and offers the opportunity to attract a larger audience. This has been a fantastic series for New Zealand participants and now is the perfect time to grow the international presence and awareness of the Harness Jewels.” “The change will provide additional depth to the competition for each race and further enhance this as an iconic event on the international stage. It gives HRNZ, the New Zealand Racing Board and Harness Racing Waikato a great opportunity to further promote the event and grow turnover domestically and internationally,” Mr Allen said. The twelve local contenders will continue to be determined based on stakes earned in the season within New Zealand as per the normal approach. The Australian invite will be selected on 1 May 2014 by a panel constituted by Harness Racing Australia (HRA). HRA Chief Executive Andrew Kelly said “This is an outstanding development that will provide a great opportunity for our leading horses to match their Kiwi counterparts. This will be of significant interest to our industry and will help lift awareness of this great race day within Australia. HRA looks forward to be involved and hopefully we will see for the first time an Australian break the hoodoo and win on Jewels day.” For more information please contact Harness Racing New Zealand - 03 964 1200 Harness Racing New Zealand

Champion harness racing trainer Mark Purdon has won over 100 group one races and just about every feature race imaginable, but one race he hadn't won as a trainer before tonight (Friday May 17) was the New Zealand Oaks.

Talented young harness racing driver Zac butcher produced a superb drive at addington raceway tonight behind the Barry Purdon trained Cheer The lady to win tonight's $100,000 New Zealand oaks.

Ohoka conditioner Paul Kerr has bad news for rival harness racing trainers hoping Alta Christiano was flattened by the juvenile pacing run of the season last Saturday (May 12).

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