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For once it is good to see an Australian raider here on New Zealand soil for this Thursdays heat of the New Zealand Sires Stakes at Addington. Add in the fact that for one of the few times this season in a two year old race we have a full field of thirteen runners and that immediately makes the race a much more intriguing proposition. Here is our runner by runner preview of the Sires Stakes heat. 1) Arden's Legacy  -  Starts: 3    Wins: 0    Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $3,286 Has shown a bit of potential in his short career to date. Ran a really good race in the Kindergarten Stakes where he used a lot of petrol early and stuck on well for third. A few here look to have a class edge but draw makes him a rough first four chance. 2) Three Ways  -  Starts: 3    Wins: 0    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $3,973 Has a bit of a reputation but was dehydrated first up so discount that run. Went super last start when second to Lazarus and if that Three Ways turns up he is a big place chance. With Dexter in the bike Three Ways becomes a must have for trifecta and first four players. 3) Salty Robyn  -  Starts: 5    Wins: 4   Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $51,217 The Aussie raider is a big danger in this field and his win last Friday night at Newcastle was the perfect run first up from a short break. He does have one hole in his makeup in that he can try to go too quick early and has been known to go rough and break if pushed. Lauren let him find his feet early the other night at Newcastle and she has that option from this draw here. Big winning chance and include in everything. 4) Formula One  -  Starts: 2    Wins: 0   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $331   (2nd Emerg) Six figure purchase out of the Hamish Hunter barn by Greg Brodie who has a huge reputation but has yet to show anything on raceday. Has won a trial in 1:58 so obviously very talented but appears at sea at the moment Not for us. 5) Chase The Dream  -  Starts: 5    Wins: 4    Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $102,670 As good as any two year old in New Zealand as his record shows. Beaten last time by the muddling pace which turned the race into a sprint home. He is a real tradesman who has speed and can do plenty  of work as well. We think he will come out humming early alongside Salty Robyn and press the issue to see how he copes. The one to beat due to his manners and versatility. 6) First Class Arden  -  Starts: 1    Wins: 0   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $1,140 Nice first up run but this field is a different matter altogether. Several runners here look to have a class edge on him and combine that with the draw and we find it hard to see him in four. Not for us 7) Alta Las Vegas  -  Starts: 3    Wins: 1    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $15,028 Has not put a foot wrong all season and is more than capable of winning this. Went under to Chase The Dream in the Sapling Stakes by half a length after doing plenty of work and then ran second to Chase The Dream again, this time by a neck after he parked that horse for the entire race. You would expect him to have improved since then and he comes in to barrier six so draw not as bad as it seems. Threat to the favourites with the right run and a must have for trifecta and first four players. 8) Vanquished  -   Starts: 2    Wins: 0    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $2,080   (1st Emerg) Has yet to show anything at his trials, workouts or his two race starts to suggest he is a major player here. Looks like he will make a nice three year old next season but hard to see him being a part of this. Not for us. 9) Wannabet  -  Starts: 1    Wins: 0   Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $2,280 Trialed up really well prior to his first and only start and not disgraced finishing third after doing plenty of work. However even if  Arden's Legacy holds up early and he gets a cosy trip three deep on the inner it still only makes  him a rough first four chance at best in this field in our opinion. 10) Art Form  -  Starts: 1    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $3,927 Could not have been more impressive winning his first start against maidens after some very strong trial form at Auckland. Big step up here from maidens to face some of these but Steven Reid rates him up there with the best young horses he has trained. Our only concern is ringcraft in such a big field but ability not in question. A winning chance and a must have for all combination bets. 11) Mach Time  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 2 Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $12,050 Smart colt who has got better with every run this season. Draw is a big concern in that he is going to have to use plenty of petrol however the races pans out. You may want to throw him in to first fours to boost up the divy from this draw. 12) Code Black  -  Starts: 5    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $28,000 Kept improving throughout his five start campaign at Alexandra Park with his last start third to Chase The Dream in the Young Guns Final a top effort. Another horse whose chances have been seriously affected by the draw and will need a bit of luck from out there but will be running on better than most. Throw into first fours even from the draw  13) Sparkling Delight  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 1   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $5,654 Trialed up really well prior to racing but had been a bit disappointing until last week when he looked more like the horse we had seen at the trials. Was driven cold last week for the first time and came from last to win in style. Even from the draw Sparkling Delight is the smokey for us to get amongst them and bump up those trifectas and first fours. 14) Harry Hoo  -  Starts: 3    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $4,566  Made a promising debut against Lazarus from a good barrier draw but has been a bit disappointing in his next two starts. This is by far the hardest field he has faced and we struggle to see him in four from his poor second line draw. Not for us. 15) Franco Rayner  -  Starts: 1    Wins: 0   Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $1,900  Trialed up very nicely against some of the big hitters from the All Stars barn prior to his debut at Invercargill but disappointed us a bit when running third in that race, ten lengths from Lazarus. This looks a bit soon for him in our opinion and coupled with the draw we can't see being a major player here. Not for us. SELECTIONS The nice front row draw for Chase The Dream means he gets the nod for us but only just from the Aussie raider Salty Robyn. Art Form, Three Ways and Alta Las Vegas  should all go in all combinations around the first two. Code Black and Sparkling Delight to spice up those first fours. Harnesslink Media

The first of the group races on tonights big night of harness racing at Alexandra Park was the $55,000 Lone Star Riccarton Sires Stakes Championship and it  looked to be a two horse battle once the draw came out with Speeding Spur drawing beautifully at three with arch rival Prince Fearless at four. However all that changed 100 metres after the start when Prince Fearless went into a wild gallop losing all chance. Josh Dickie worked the Pegasus Spur colt  to the front after 300 metres from Habibti Ivy and Blair Orange who settled into the trail on the favourites back The rest of the field were in Indian file apart from Monbet and Ricky May who slowly worked their way forward to sit on the wheel of Speeding Spur with 800 metres to go.  Josh upped the tempo with Speeding Spur down the back the last time but Monbet stuck with him and was still on his wheel as they turned for home. All the way up the straight Monbet slowly took ground off Speeding Spur but come the finishing line was still a nose back with Habibti Ivy making ground up the passing lane to be only a 1/2 neck away in third. Josh was happy to have won the $55,000 feature but thought Speeding Spur wasn't 100% on his game tonight. " He didn't really switch on tonight like he can and was gawking about down the back straight." " With so many big races coming up we haven't done that much with him and didn't take him to the trials last Saturday so he will improve on tonight's run next week." " They were getting really close late but his way of racing with his neck stuck out helped in the end," Josh said. Monbet went huge in second and is a live chance next week to reverse the result if he can just for once draw inside Speeding Spur and Prince Fearless. Harnesslink Media  

Harness Racing New Zealand has made the first invite to an Australian horse for this years Harness Jewels at Ashburton. Salty Robyn, a two year old colt by Art Official in the Shane Tritton barn has impressed  in a short Australian career to date since being purchased out of Andrew Armour's barn late last year. At just his second lifetime start in the Sapling Stakes at Menangle, Salty Robyn went under by a short half head to star two year old Bettermatch in a smart 1:53.6. Next up he won in 1:53.9 before turning in an outstanding performance to win the $50,000 Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial in 1:53.9 after an early gallop saw him settle well back in the field before he just rushed past them in the straight for a breathtaking win. The winner of $44,600 from his four lifetime starts, the colt looks like he will be well suited by the 1400 metres track at Ashburton for the Harness Jewels.  Trainer Shane Tritton had been planning a New Zealand campaign even before he received the Harness Jewels invitation. " It is something we were looking at because he is not paid up for any of the big stakes races here in Australia." " He will be in New Zealand for the Sires Stakes heat at Addington on April 23rd and then hopefully onwards to the final." " Ashburton should really suit him and the Jewels invite makes the trip very worthwhile." " He feels like an older horse when you sit behind him and I think he will be very competitive in New Zealand," Shane said. Getting Australian horses involved with the Harness Jewels has been on the radar for Harness Racing New Zealand for the last year or so and they must be happy to already have one confirmed runner for this years event. $40,000 Sapling Stakes Menangle, Salty Robyn  Salty Robyn winning at Menangle in 1:53.9 Salty Robyn winning again at Menangle 1:53.9   Harnesslink Media  

The New Zealand Sires Stakes two year old fillies heat at tonights harness racing meeting at Addington looked a one filly race on paper in favour of Northern Velocity but as is often the case, racing luck plays a big part on race night. Luisanabelle Midfrew and Matthew Williamson led early from barrier five while Northern Velocity and Natalie Rasmussen worked forward from barrier seven and found the death seat after 500 metres giving her stablemate Arden's Choice with Mark Purdon in the bike the one by one. Luisanabelle Midfrew kept up a solid tempo during the mid stages and was still in front as they turned for home.   Try as she might, Northern Velocity couldn't get past the daughter of American Ideal and it was left to her stablemate Arden's Choice to swoop late and grab a game Luisanabelle Midfrew by 3/4 length with a neck back to a game favourite in Northern Velocity.   Arden's Choice paced the 1950 metres in 2:24, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with closing sectionals of 57.5 and 27.4.   It was the daughter of Panspacificflight's first win at her fifth career start but she has shown plenty of promise in her previous four starts.   Two seconds to the very smart Dream About Me were followed by a couple of gallops where things didn't go her way.   Mark Purdon expected an improved run from Arden's Choice this week.   "She looked like she was going to run a place against the colts last week when the gap came but she just tried to go too quickly and galloped.   " We took her hopples up a couple of holes and let her work into it tonight instead of rushing her, Mark said.   Natalie Rasmussen was very happy with the run of the hotpot Northern Velocity.   " She did the most work of any filly in the race and fought on really well for a close third so I was really pleased with her effort, Natalie said.   The All Star barn will take Arden's Choice, Northern Velocity and the unbeaten Dream About Me north for the Sires Stakes Final before returning south for the Harness Jewels.   Harnesslink Media

When Have Faith In Me won the 3 year old Sires Stakes Final on Cup day a lot of harness racing scribes thought he had been a touch lucky and that while a worthy winner, he had things go his way. When he finished fifth of six in the Alabar Classic and had trouble getting around the last bend at Alexandra Park, the same scribes were quick to discount his chances in todays $200,000 Sales Series pace over 2200 metres. But yet again Have Faith In Me showed that he was well named as those that stuck with the ship were well rewarded when he ran out a decisive winner this afternoon. Eased off the gate by driver Tim Williams, Have Faith In Me settled in the one by one early as stablemate Hug The Wind grabbed an early lead before handing up to Mighty Flying Major who immediately handed up to Express Stride after 600 metres. That was the end of the lead changes as Express Stride kept up a steady tempo in front. As they turned for home Tim peeled out the one by one and quickly grabbed the leader Express Stride and kicked away for a comfortable victory by a length while stablemate Hug The Wind flashed home late when he got clear to grab second off a game Express Stride. Hug The Wind paced the 2200 metres in a new New Zealand record of 2:37.6, a mile rate of 1:55.2 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 27.1. Tim Williams was quick to credit the horse with all the praise straight after the race. " The horse deserves all the credit for todays win" "Its only his first trip away but he has taken it all in his stride. "We put a pole on today and he got round the last bend no trouble at all" "Coming to the corner he was travelling beautifully and I knew he would be hard to beat," Tim said. Tim was also quick to thank the owners, the Dunford brothers for leaving him on the now high profile horse. " After he won the Sires Stakes I thought they may look for a more senior driver so I am very thankful to them for leaving me on, " Tim said. Having won the two big early 3 year old features, Have Faith In Me will now be set for the Derbies in the Autumn. Harnesslink Media    

If Mighty Flying Major gets beaten in today’s $200,000 Sales Series Pace at Alexandra Park his harness racing opponents are going to have to do it the hard way. Because drive Blair Orange has declared he will be using the ace draw to try for an all the way win rather than getting too tactical in the richest race on a huge daytime programme. Mighty Flying Major holds the key to the race, having the inside draw and the natural early speed to us it but Orange says that is only half the battle. “I know he is good enough to lead and win which is why I won’t be handing up,” he says. “I have raced these horses already this carnival and gone as good as horses like Have Faith In Me and Hug The Wind. “So why would I hand up to them and give them the advantage. It is not like they are Auckland Reactor-type three-year-olds and you are happy to run second to them. “If we stay in front and are good enough then we get our chance. If you hand up you start to need luck.” Those words might cool the heels of punters looking to dive into the favoured Purdon-Rasmussen pair of Have Faith In Me and Hug The Wind, who would often be favoured to intimidate rivals into taking a trail. That sounds unlikely today though, meaning luck could come into play for them, even though they were good enough to come from near last to quinella the Sires’ Stakes at Addington last month. Betting against the Purdon-Rasmussen juggernaut in any major race is uncomfortable viewing but Mighty Flying Major has looked not far behind them on raw ability and with Alexandra Park racing red hot, the leaders make life very difficult for those covering extra ground. “The way this track is my fella can go 2:38 (for 2200m) and if he goes well here he might be off to the Victoria Derby so we aren’t gonna go home wondering what if?” Orange, who has rarely been in better driving form, realises that by trying for an all the way win he could potentially give another key rival Express Stride the trail and the last shot at him up the passing lane but he says he can’t worry about that. “You can’t try and drive every horse in the race, just your one. “And if we are in front then he still has to try and run past us too.” While the pressure of big money racing can see tactics change, if Mighty Flying Major leads and Express Stride trails the latter becomes the horse to beat. He brilliantly won his first two races back this season and then sat parked before finishing a huge second, beating home Mighty Flying Major, Hug The Wind and Have Faith In Me last start. Express Stride has matured into a serious, strong pacer and if the speed is on today he will hit the line hard. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

Franco Nelson’s recent woes will force a change of driving tactics in tomorrow’s Franklin Cup at the huge day of harness racing on New Years eve at Alexandra Park. And while John Dunn says the New Zealand Cup runner-up can still win the group two at the massive day meeting, he admits his task will be tougher. Franco Nelson was one of the stars of Cup week, pushing Adore Me to a head in the record run Cup before chasing her and Christen Me home in the New Zealand Free-For-All. But his only start since was a disaster for punters when he raced lengths below his best as a $1.10 favourite at Alexandra Park and has since missed two races because of heal issues. The fact he is actually starting tomorrow confirms he is over those but the combination of being off a 20m handicap and his lack of recent racing means driver Dunn will have to revert to his former patient tactics on the speedster. “He has now only had one race since Cup week so I will have to drive him different,” says Dunn. “He can still win because Dad (trainer, Robert) says he is over the problems he has had but he won’t be 100 per cent screwed down obviously. “He is very good coming from behind too and the way this race is going to pan out he is probably going to have to do that. “So it might be a tricky race.” Bookies agree, opening Franco Nelson the $4 second favourite behind Ohoka Punter, who is the $3 top elect from his 10m handicap. Ohoka Punter has only raced sparingly at Alexandra Park in the last two years but won the greatest race at the venue in all of last year when he downed Adore Me and Franco Nelson in a Woodlands Derby for the ages. The Franklin Cup also sees gun driver Zac Butcher jump off his old mate Pembrook Benny, another returning from a slight setback and facing a handicap, to partner classy mare Lancewood Lizzie. Butcher isn’t the only one making an unexpected change tomorrow as champion driver Dexter Dunn won’t be behind his Breeders Crown winner Katy Perry in the $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Championship, preferring to partner stablemate Delightful Lana after she drew better. TAB bookies stuck true to their word in opening the market for that race by offering $2.60 for superstar filly The Orange Agent even after she has racked up a series of stunning victories. While she has a second line draw and meets some outstanding group one winning rivals, it would be a surprise if that price is matched on the tote today. That same could apply to star trotter Stent in the $80,000 National Trot, where he has opened $2.50 even after completely dominating the major northern trots this month. He would have been odds on from a front line draw but from one on the second line he is backable, with Sheemon rated his biggest danger at $4.60. Dunn believes he can upset in that race partnering Kincaslough, who has opened a $13 hope. Placed in the Dominion last month she was brave in two subsequent Alex Park run before galloping at Cambridge last week. “She got tripped up by the same bend she did at the Jewels but back at Alexandra Park over 2700m I think she has a great chance.” Tomorrow’s richest race, the $200,000 Sales Series Pace, sees Have Faith In Me retain favouritism but only just after early money yesterday for Express Stride. Hug The Wind, the long-term futures favourite for the race is now only on the third line of betting with Mighty Flying Major at $6. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

With such great fields carded for tomorrows massive day of harness racing at Alexandra Park, we thought it would be a good idea to get a insiders view of the chances of the All Stars team who have been in such great touch lately. 12.40  PETITE ONE (1) Mark Form:  Made ground strongly for second last time after easy win. About the same class as last field with a few older horses the threat. Comment: "She's done well. The step up to 2700m doesn't worry me but that inside draw from a stand can always be a little tricky and they can all do things wrong although she is better than most. Usually fairly foolproof. I think probably Al Bundy of the older horses is the one to beat. But she has been doing everything right" 1.26   LAZARUS (8 -pref. draw) Young Guns heat. Mark Form: Won debut here from difficult draw and had a wee bit up his sleeve it seemed. Has trained on well. Preferential draw does not help. Comment: "Yes the draw is some worry. He did his work nice last time but I would worry a horse like Swamp Major would find the front fairly easily from that draw and dictate the race. He went good the other night and would be one of the hardest to beat. Our guy is a smart horse and has done everything right and if he got the run from out there there aren't many I would be frightened of. The query is if he has to do too much on his own in the running with a strong form horse up front. He can win though. 2.02:  WANNA PLAY (1)  Mark Form: Faded but tough run at Cambridge after what would otherwise been a comical scenario. Bounced back well. Comment Yes it turned into a bit of a farce last start but we will move on. That was her first run in six weeks since Addington and she has gone on well The draw seems good but I am hoping to maybe get behind the right horse at some stage. Maurice McKendry's drive (Yagonnakissmeornot) has a good record at the Park and might want to lead and Speeding Spur is racing well. We are third up and about right now and we know she is good on her day"   2:37  CLASSICAL ART (3)  Natalie Form: Strong run home behind The Orange Agent in leadup and in hot vein of form. Comment: "Probably overall the pick of ours. There is not a lot between them as I have said, often the run of the race, but she went extra last time and Nat thought if she had got going earlier (heldup) might have pressured the favourite. She had to do a lot of work early too so it was a top effort. I'd plump for her of the three.  With Petite One drawn one I would probably lean to Classical Art as our best of the day." LINDA LOVEGRACE (4) Blair Orange Form: Broke twice last time out of character. Explanation for that and big contender from draw Comment: "While we didn't find a full reason for her galloping last time she had just the beginning of a corn in a foot which might have been enough to put her off. She has been fine since and has chance from here. Good enough to win but I just favour the other filly on the day" FIGHT FOR GLORY (7) Form: Worked to lead last time and battling from the corner and did well to hold fourth in the circumstances. Comment: "The draw is the problem. She is training well and if she got the good slot in is a threat because she is good but the others have a draw advantage. Not out of it.   SUPERSONIC MISS (11)  Mark Form: A wee bit below her best two year old form but up against older horses last time at Cambridge. Best is terrific. Late entry to series. Comment: "Yes probably to fair to say she has not been quite as sharp apart from her first up win but things have not always worked for her either. She is a great doer and you just have to stay on top of her. She can get  away from you otherwise which is why we raced her at Cambridge against the older horses. She did well there and I am happy with her. The draw does not look too bad. She might get a run through there behind Classical Art.  With the Orange Agent on the second line there should be early three wide action you would think. I am not counting her out at all just that Classical Art has a marble. 3:12 HOT PANTS (5) Form: Lost chance early last time after hold up at start and then a false start. Forget Comment: "Just everything went wrong for her last time and she had the ace draw as well which was no help. Trained good Saturday. She is going through the classes and she can win it"   PARAMOUNT QUEEN (1, 10M) Mark Form Broke 1.55 at Cambridge behind Stent last week Comment: "I have to favour her over Hot Pants the way she is going. A terrific run against the top ones at Cambridge. No the short backup doesn't worry me. She's a tough old thing and so good this way around" 3:47 HAVE FAITH IN ME  (3) Tim Form: Went a little ragged on some of the bends first up here but improve a lot with that and a good run anyway. Comment: "No gear changes for him we are happy with where he is at. Now and again he will do something different but he is a smart horse with a nice draw. I don't like to pick and choose between these three year olds too much because they are quite even but he has run the times to win a race like this" HUG THE WIND (6) Mark Form: Won in style first up this trip then not far away last time tho only fourth. Sires Stakes winner last season. Comment: "I was a wee bit disappointed with him last start it would be fair to say compared to the way he went at his previous start. He was just a wee bit proppy afterward but we reshod him and he worked really good on Saturday. He is up to these when he is at his best and he seems back to that" CHANGE STRIDE (10) Natalie Form: Class win last start after bold effort in Northern Stakes Comment: "I am not counting him out. He hasn't shone in the really big ones yet but he is right behind them and he didn't do much racing at 2. Probably a value bet for a place anyway"   4:22  WILLOW (5)  Natalie -Franklin Cup Form: Ran home strongly in Queen of Hearts behind Adore Me Comment: "It looks a bit tough for her on paper but Nat thought she was really strong at the finish of the Queen of Hearts. She has had a solid buildup. If there was a winner at longer odds from our stable she could be one and probably better each way. I will not be surprised if she is in the finish"   5:32 DUKE OF ALBANY (9) Natalie Form: Things have been against him in both his starts in the north. Better than that. Comment: "He is running out of his class but just everything went wrong last time. We got a bit crowded and I was trying to to keep him off another horse and you can forget that run. He lacks experience but he will measure up to this sort of field fairly quickly when he gets it" SLUGGEM (12) Mark Form: Got home well C1-2 behind Change Stride last time. Big maiden win before that here. Comment: "Not a good draw for him but he is racing well, just lacks a bit of ringcraft. He will need some luck from there but if he gets it he will be hard to beat"   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here

A series of tricky draws for the superstars in the richest races at Alexandra Park on Wednesday have stopped harness bookies in their tracks. So much so they have delayed opening betting on the premier card until today as they try and work out how punters will react. Auckland’s biggest day harness meeting of the year features two group ones, a group two and a $200,000 listed Sales Series race and none of them have seen the early favourite draw well. The group ones have been the cruelest, with Stent drawn one on the second line in the $80,000 National Trot, where luck comes into play as he tries to clean sweep the December group trots in the north. And facing an even more difficult task is exceptional pacing filly The Orange Agent, who will have to come from a second line draw in the $150,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes Championship. While she will still open favourite when the markets come out around noon today, bookies can’t afford to have her red hot because that would mean big name fillies like Classical Art, Linda Lovegrace, Democrat Party or Supersonic Miss start to get out to long odds. “The draws really haven’t helped us sort things out,” admits TAB bookie Richard Wilson. “There are now some really tough markets to line up and work out how punters will react.” The $200,000 Sales Series Pace should still see long-time futures favourites Have Faith In Me and Hug The Wind at the head of the markets but they have lost what appeared to be an iron grip on the race.  While they have front line draws, Have Faith In Me at three and Hug The Wind at six, brilliant beginner Mighty Flying Major now holds the key to the race after drawing the ace. He will lead for certain and then Blair Orange gets to decide whether he relents to one of the Purdon-Rasmussen runners or stays in front, potentially gifting the trail and passing lane to Express Stride, who follows him through. It will be an interesting tactical battle in one of our richest age group races. Ohoka Punter steps up his comeback after a huge return win at Cambridge last Wednesday when he takes on open class opponents like Franco Nelson and Pembrook Benny in the $40,000 Franklin Cup. With Beyond The Silence and Lancewood Lizzie off the front the race won’t be easy for Ohoka Punter (10m) or Franco Nelson (20m) in a race recent open class double winner Gold Ace was allowed to miss to concentrate on mobile racing. He will head to Cambridge for the Flying Mile on January 9, a race he won two years ago, where he is almost certain to meet Adore Me. Meanwhile, the prognosis is looking much brighter for dual Breeders Crown winner Bit Of A Legend after a dramatic end to Friday’s Ashburton Cup. The star pacer galloped and pulled up with a leg in the air in the race, looking to have broken down badly but he was showing no signs of soreness the next day, leaving trainer Cran Dalgety relieved but perplexed. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

19 December. This is a totally new concept for the harness racing industry. Harness 5000 is a race limited to the progeny of sire’s who stood at an advertised fee of $5,000 or less (see guideline list below of eligible Pacing Sires). Eligibility is for those 3YO pacers who were nominated for the NZ Sires’ Stakes #31 as foals or the NZ Yearling Sales Series #23. Where any horse was not nominated, if their sire was nominated for Sires’ Stakes a late entry fee of $1,000 plus GST may be payable. If the sire wasn’t nominated either the late entry fee is $2,000 plus GST. Artificial insemination and transport of chilled semen allow our leading Sires to serve large books of mares. While this is great for them commercially it makes it harder for others to break into that domain. This race is about an opportunity for the progeny of those other stallions. We are greatly indebted to The Met, HRNZ and the NZ Sires’ Stakes Board for seeing the need and jointly funding this new initiative. Stallions (Sires’ Stakes eligible) Artiscape                           Major In Art Attorney General             Ohoka Arizona Auckland Reactor           Pacific Fella Badlands Hanover          Panpacificflight Changeover                     P Forty Seven Charles Bronson             Pay Me Christian Christian Fire                    Red River Hanover Elsu                                    Righteous Hanover Extreme Three                  Riverboat King Flashing Red                    Royal Mattjesty Four Starzzz Shark          Safari Gotta Go Cullect               Sands A Flyin Gotta Go Cullen               Santanna Blue Chip Holmes Hanover             Shadow Play Julius Caesar                   Stonebridge Regal Justa Tiger Klondike Kid Washington VC Live Or Die Bruce Barlass                              Ged Mooar PGG Wrightson                            Addington

Harness racing can be very cruel at times especially when everything is going well. That was the feeling in the All Stars barn this week when their top 3 year old Alta Orlando sustained an injury which has brought  a sudden halt to the career of this budding star. Mark Purdon was typically philosophical when talking about Alta Orlando this week " Its a suspensory problem in a back leg." "Its a shame as he was as fit as he could be and ready to race but that's racing," Mark said. Alta Orlando was at the top of his game from the time he stepped onto a racetrack as a 2 year old with his five starts as a juvenile bringing three wins a placing for $141,749 in stakes. His best win as a 2 year old was in the $195,000 Sales Series Final in a 1:56.2 mile rate for the 1950 metres. The 3 year old final of the same series that is held at Auckland at the end of this month was the next major race on Alta Orlando's schedule before his injury. The son of Courage Under Fire was a $35,000 purchase out of the 2013 Australasian Classic sale and is owned by longtime All Star client Neil Pilcher along with Hall Of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jim Gibbs and his wife Ann. Never an easy horse to drive, Alta Orlando has raced off the unruly in all the big races. That usually meant Alta Orlando doing a lot of work in his races as in this years Sires Stakes final where he was three wide for a long way but still ran third in a 1:53.7 mile rate for the 1950 metres. Regarded by many as the 3 year old from the All Star barn with the most ability, Alta Orlando had been the subject of overseas interest just before his injury which makes it all a bit harder for the connections to take. " There was a lot of overseas interest in Alta Orlando in the last few weeks and then this happened," Mark said. Everyone in the harness racing industry knows how fickle things can be at times but that knowledge doesn't makes situations like Alta Orlando's injury any easier to handle.   Harnesslink Media

Steven Reid has been in the harness racing industry long enough to know that horses have a shelf life and that is why he he looking at the immediate future of his stable star Gold Ace in such a measured fashion. Trained by Steven all the way through, Gold Ace has provided the South Auckland trainer with some of his most memorable career highlights. A winner as a 2 year old, Gold Ace really came of age as a 3 year old winning ten races from fifteen starts including the $166,000 Sires Stakes Final, the $200,000 New Zealand Derby and the $150,000 Harness Jewels. Gold Ace kicked on as an early 4 year old when he trekked to Perth and took out the $50,000 4 year old championship followed closely afterwards by the $175,000 Golden Nugget.  Stabled at Gary Hall's during their time in Perth, the connections of Gold Ace knocked back an offer of $1,000,000 during their stay there from their host. From there Gold Ace has moved between New Zealand and Australia with some of his more memorable performances included winning the $100,000 Cranbourne Cup,  the $147,500 New Zealand Free For All and an outstanding 3rd in the $400,000 Hunter Cup. Numerous placings behind such greats as Christen Me, Terror To Love and Sir Lincoln are present throughout his racelines. Based in New South Wales with Luke McCarthy earlier this season and not quite performing up to his usual high standards, the decision was made to return Gold Ace to New Zealand to Steven Reid and to set him for the New Zealand Free For All in Cup Week. While he ran a creditable fifth in a super strong field, Steven is aware the end of his racing career may not be far away. "I was happy enough with his run at Addington as he didn't get much go his way but he was still a wee way off the speed." " He has done everything right heading into the Summer Cup on Friday night but I just don't know if we can beat Franco Nelson," Steven told Harnesslink this week.  "We will head to the FFA at Auckland before Xmas and then on to the Flying Mile at Waikato early in January and if he continues to improve and race well we will head to the Auckland Cup. "If he is not competitive in those races then maybe its time to retire Gold Ace to stud, " Steven said  A 7 year old son of champion sire Bettors Delight, Gold Ace has a pedigree to match his racetrack performances. He is bred on the "golden cross" of Bettors Delight over an In The Pocket mare and his pedigree is littered with high class performers. The full sister Gold Elite 1:57.3 $70,037 and full brother Strike The Gold 1:55.8 $45,759 are both smart types. The last two full brothers to Gold Ace to go through the ring at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale have both made $75,000. The grand - dam Touch Of Gold has produced Seeking The Gold 1:50.4 ($250,785)  Golden Son 1:54.4 ($86,585) and Golden Charm 1:59 - the dam of Coppertone 1:50.4 ($119,076) Gold Ace is closely related to the brilliant juvenile Smiling Shard 1:53.7 ($1,178,793) who is now at stud in Australia. Steven knows how hard it is in todays competitive stud scene but is determined to give Gold Ace his chance. " He has everything you look for in a sire - Breeding - Conformation - Performance - Longevity" " Priced right, I am sure he will get his chance to prove himself " " I will certainly be supporting him and so will a few close to the barn so he will get his chance," Steven said. So why one door on Gold Ace's career is starting to close, another one is starting to open. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing has been dominated in the south this season by the outstanding efforts of the All Stars team and tonight at Addington was no different. Heat three of this years Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies series for 3 year fillies looked like a three horse affair with the All Star Team duo of Supersonic Miss and Classical Art joined by the talented Delightful Lana from the Cran Dalgety barn. In slushy track conditions, Delightful Lana and Classical Art came out together and dueled for 300 metres before Natalie Rasmussen slotted Classical Art into the trail behind Delightful Lana who as usual had Dexter Dunn in the bike. Mark Purdon had settled Supersonic Miss back on the inner but hooked her out and sent her forward with 1200 metres to go and she worked to Delightful Lana's wheel with 700 metres to run.  As they swung for home Delightful Lana held a narrow advantage but was quickly claimed by Classical Art up the passing lane and by Supersonic Miss on her outer and these two settled down to battle it out. Even allowing for the run she had most pundits would have still expected Supersonic Miss to assert her superiority but it wasn't to be as Classical Art ran away from her better credentialed stablemate for an emphatic victory by 2 1/2 lengths with Delightful Lana a further 1 3/4 lengths in third. It was the fourth win in a row for the strongly built daughter of Mach Three and maintained her unbeaten record since her debut just over a month ago. Classical Art paced the 1950 metres in slushy conditions in 2:24.6, a mile rate of 1:59.3 with smart sectionals of 56 and 27.5 considering the state of the track. It should be little wonder that Classical Art is as talented as she is as the daughter of Mach Three is from the 1:57.6 Artsplace mare Art Lover who is a daughter of none other than the brilliant racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,923). Purchased for $31,000 from the Australasian Classic Yearling sale in 2013, Classical Art's progress has been far from plain sailing for her trainers. Mark Purdon was quite reflective after the race tonight  on his unbeaten filly. " She was close to being sacked not to long ago to be honest." " She is quite a hard filly to work with and is not that good a track worker at home." "When it comes to raceday however she is a completely different filly." "To win that race tonight in the manner she did at just her fourth lifetime start was some effort," Mark said Mark wasn't disappointed with the run of the brilliant Supersonic Miss to run second. " The track didn't suit her 100% and she had a tough run but it was still a smart effort under the circumstances but she ran into a better one on the night," he said. Both fillies will now head to Auckland with the $75,000 Ladyship Stakes and $150,000 Alabar Sires Stakes final firmly on the radar. While Supersonic Miss would have started the season as the top ranked filly in the All Stars stable, one gets the feeling from listening to Mark Purdon tonight that she is being  quickly overtaken by Classical Art. Harnesslink Media    

There was icing on the cake for Mark and Natalie when final hoppled work was completed at All Stars on Sunday morning with their 21 strong team for harness racing's big day on Tuesday. Firstly Adore Me and Hands Christian completed their work  in grand style. They ran two heats over 2400m the first in 3.40 and the second in 3.20 with the closing 400m in 28.8. That was really good news but there was better. When the pair were given two standing starts, both began safely and quickly. The start is going to be crucial on Cup Day and if Hands Christian begins quickly that will probably mean Adore Me who is drawn nearly behind him will have clear air too. Arden Rooney who has been mixing hoppled work with galloping will have a gallop on Monday morning as his final workout. Prince Fearless and Wanna Play worked over 2400m well in 3.20 home in 1:01 before having some barrier practice also. Alta Orlando and Hug The Wind  bettered their blackboard assignment running 3.16 but home in even time. Hug The Wind produced some of his best work of recent times. Change Stride and Have Faith In Me worked on the straight track as did Someardensomewhere ( 4 relays over 800m) and Willow and Vice Consul worked nicely over 2400m in 3.16 coming their last 800m in even time which was good work. A change to usual sights was the pairing of Smolda as a galloping pacemaker for Hughie Green. They weren't chasing time but the three year old was almost equal in size to the six year old and looks a picture. Some of the team had worked on Saturday among them Messini. "When he is trimmed up he doesn't take a lot so to work him Saturday keeps him that little bit fresh for Tuesday" Mark said Courtesy Of All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here

Kentuckiana Lodge filly Delightful Lana tried hard but wasn’t quite good enough to hold out the short-priced Allstars favourite in Fight For Glory in the $25,000 Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Heat at Addington on Friday October 31. The two leading stables reps went head to head over the final lap. They had lengths on their rivals as the top two duelled it out in a 1:55.8 mile rate (1950m), showing no respite over their last 800m in 55s and final 400m in 27s. The winning time of 2:20.4 was fast but outside the NZ 3YO fillies mark of 2:19.1 (1:54.7) rate, set by last season’s age group champ Venus Serena in the G1 Nevele R Fillies Final on May 10. Delightful Lana held the inside running from the ace barrier, with Fight For Glory, after having no luck getting into the running line from the four gate into the first turn, forced to move up parked. The honours in this round went to Fight For Glory, the daughter of Art Major and the first foal from seven-win NZ mares record-holder Breath Of Life (2:39.8, 2200m), who did just enough to score by a head in the hands of co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen. She was first-up since her top 2YO filly season, but had trialled strongly for the Allstars barn in recent weeks. Fight For Glory won two of seven juvenile starts but was also placed four times and her worst run was a fourth in the Harness Jewels.. She was very good running a nose second from the second row to Joanne’s A Delight in the G1 $138,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Fillies Championship (1:55.4 rate, 1700m), and also a length second to Katy Perry in the Listed $146,250 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Fillies Final (1:56.7 rate, 1700m, both at Auckland in May. Fight For Glory wrapped up her 2YO racing with a close-up strong-finishing fourth behind stablemates Supersonic Miss and Linda Lovegrace, and the Nigel McGrath-trained Joanne’s A Delight, in the G1 Harness Jewels 2YO Fillies Diamond (1:54.1 mile) at Cambridge on May 31. Delighful Lana was a sound but luckless seventh in the Jewels (racetimed in 1:55.2), making ground after settling back on the inner. Fight For Glory and Delightful Lana drew out by 4 1/4 lengths in their Addington clash, with lightly-raced Mark Jones-trained Bettor’s Delight filly Twice The Delight, finishing on late from four back on the markers to grab third. The marker line was the place to be in such a fast run. BB’s Inspiration, three back on the inner, fought solidly for fourth, with Lightning Mach, having her first run in a feature fillies race, peaking inside the last 100m after having every chance in the trail behind Delightful Lana, to wind up fifth. Margarita, given the run of the race on outer behind Fight For Glory by Jeremy Markham, was unable to quicken on the fast speed in the run home, battling away to finish next. Bettor Think Twice, after being eased from her wide gate early, made a dab three wide down the back at the 600m, but couldn’t progress further over the fast final 800m. Courtesy Of Cran Dalgety Racing Stables - Check site here  

The second heat of this years Sires Stakes heats for 3 year old fillies is up for decision at the harness racing meeting at Addington tonight and it is chock full of talent. Leading the charge is one of last years top 2 year old fillies in Fight For Glory who has drawn perfectly at barrier four in the 1950 metres race and is to be driven by co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen. The daughter of Art Major won $83,936 as a 2 year old and has come back in fine fettle according to her other co- trainer Mark Purdon. " Fight For Glory is very forward for Friday night. "She has been in work a long time and has come up really well," he said. But Fight For Glory is going to have to do just that with several talented race hardened fillies lining up against her. Cran Dalgety has four involved and they all have form on the board and are ready according to Cran. “Its a good race being worth $25,000 so we thought we’d go for numbers.” “On paper, Delightful Lana is going the best of ours and has the one draw but you have to respect Fight For Glory from the four gate” he said The winner of her last two races including a brilliant last start effort to score in 1:55.9 for the mile in trying conditions, Delightful Lana will have the leading reinsman Dexter Dunn in the bike. Of his other three runners Cran is leaning towards Lightning Mach who has won three from five lifetime and won her season debut at Tuapeka last Sunday. In form reinsman Blair Orange will take the drive. "Lightning Mach has drawn one on the second row and ideally if Delightful Lana can lead she could trail and be our next best.” " Our other two runners in Margarita and Bettor Think Twice are both capable of featuring too, but they’ll probably have to fight out for whats left from where they have drawn,” he said. An interesting runner is the Mark Jones trained filly Twice The Delight who has looked very promising in a brief career to date and will have her trainer in the bike tonight. "She is a really nice filly in the making but is still at the learning stage. "This is a massive step up so I will be interested to see how she competes,” he said. On paper Fight For Glory looks hard to roll but Delightful Lana, Lightning Mach and Margarita all look capable of upsetting the favourite. Harnesslink Media

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