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Milestones are an important measure in the harness racing industry by which we judge our drivers and trainers and it is fitting to acknowledge them when they reach one. Gerard O'Reilly from the famous O'Reilly clan in Mid Canterbury brought up win number 500 when he drove Tiger Tara to win the $40,000 Canterbury Classic over Smolda and Christen Me at Addington Raceway on Friday night. Right from an early age, Gerard was destined to be involved in the harness racing industry. " Dad (Pat) ran a successful stable at Highbank and all the boys were expected to help out with the work." " He was a hard taskmaster around the stables but a very astute horseman." "When dad died I took over his colours and went training on my own," Gerard told Harnesslink today. His first driving win came appropriately on one of the horses that his father trained in Yellow Ribbon at The Akaroa meeting at Motukarara in October 1982. " That was when they use to have race meetings on the inside all weather track at Motukarara, so it was good to break the duck on one of dad's," Gerard said. The first really top horse that Gerard drove was the smart Bo Scot Blue Chip mare Anne Franco 1:56.7 ($99,545) who won eleven and was good enough to make the field for the 1997 New Zealand Cup  won by Iraklis. " She is the best filly or mare I have driven without a doubt," Gerard said. Around the same time Gerard started driving regularly for the successful West Melton trainer Geoff Dunn and the duo have struck up a deadly partnership over the years. Of course Gerard is now the regular reinsman for Geoff's outstanding pacer Tiger Tara 1:52.2 ($449,498) who looks to be peaking nicely for this years New Zealand Cup. Not that it has been all plain sailing for the O'Reilly/Dunn partnership. " I sacked myself for a while a few years back because I didn't think I was driving any good and suggested to Geoff he tried someone else." "The Sandfords (Owners) approached me when Tiger Tara was about to trial as a two year old and asked me to drive him and I have driven for the stable again ever since." "Tiger Tara is the best horse I have ever driven and I think he is in for a big season," Gerard said.  Gerard is the second of the famous O'Reilly clan to reach the 500 win with his brother Patrick who doesn't drive much these days sitting on 742 wins while other brothers in Leo (396 wins)  and Kerry (384 wins) have also had more than their fair share of success on the track. Married to Jane for the last twenty two years and the father of two children in Simon and Sarah, Gerard is one of the nice guys of the harness racing industry. If you had to use two words to sum up Gerard they would be honesty and integrity and achieving the 500 win mark couldn't happen to a nicer fella than Gerard. PS - Gerard brought up win number 501 at Rangiora on Sunday when his stable runner Carrickmannon upset them at odds of 60 to 1 Harnesslink Media

“Kerry Hoggard’s sad and sudden passing is a huge loss for the New Zealand harness industry, the country’s business community, and his beloved Auckland Trotting Club,” says Dominique Dowding, chief executive of Alexandra Park today. Ms Dowding’s comments follow news that Mr Hoggard passed away yesterday. He was the current president of the Auckland Trotting Club – a role he’d held since 2013, and was vice-president from 2010. He had been on the club’s board since 2004 and was a member for 16 years. “He was a visionary and a commercial genius. He was absolutely loyal to the club and completely committed to harness racing in New Zealand. Kerry’s work and focus was all about helping the families involved in harness racing get ahead and achieve their dreams.” She says as a long-time harness racing administrator, Mr Hoggard understood the need for club consolidation in New Zealand and was at the forefront of driving positive change for the industry. At Alexandra Park he was also hugely successful at lifting stake levels to some of the highest in the country. “We are so incredibly sad. Kerry backed his board and they completely backed him. He commanded respect from the members, our patrons, owners and breeders because he was literally one of them.” Ms Dowding says Mr Hoggard was at the forefront of the collective vision to make the Auckland Trotting Club completely financially self-sustainable so it could rely less on income derived from racing. “He was committed to securing a strong financial future for Auckland Trotting Club Inc to ensure it would continue racing throughout this century– something it has been doing since 1890 with the club celebrating 125 years of harness racing in Auckland this year.” A key part of that vision is the development of a comprehensive new urban village in part of the club’s carpark on Green Lane West. Earthworks ahead of construction have just begun, with residents set to move in from 2017. Another component of the club’s vision currently under construction is a new training centre and headquarters for Super 15 rugby franchise, The Blues. “As well as all the governance and management changes he’s overseen to improve how we operate as a commercial business and sector leader, the fact that so much construction is currently underway at Alexandra Park is testament to Kerry’s view that if harness racing was to survive and grow in New Zealand’s largest city, we needed to change. At Alexandra Park, these fundamental changes will be his ongoing legacy.” Kerry Hoggard was also one of New Zealand’s most successful businessmen. For half a century he was involved in FERNZ later to be known as Nufarm - a company he helped grow from a small local fertiliser firm to a publicly-listed entity with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales. Ms Dowding says the Auckland Trotting Club’s AGM on 29 October will be dedicated to Kerry Hoggard and all that he has achieved for our club and harness racing across New Zealand, as well as the club reaffirming its determination to deliver the vision that Mr Hoggard drove. “Our thoughts and love are with his wife Marilyn, son Andrew, and family at this time,” says Ms Dowding.     

 One of the most widely respected and enthusiastic supporters of harness racing in New Zealand, Kerry Hoggard died late yesterday in Auckland. One of the largest owners in the industry in New Zealand, Kerry raced all his stock under the Rosslands Stud banner with a lot of success from the showplace training facility he established at Clevedon. Gareth Dixon and latterly John and Joshua Dickie trained his horses from the Clevedon property with a lot of success. Kerry became heavily involved in the administration side of harness racing, bringing his business acumen to the table in an industry which badly needed it. He joined the Board of the Auckland Trotting Club in 2003 and became the president in 2012. Kerry served on the board of Harness Racing New Zealand, but stepped down just recently  Kerry was the driving force behind the hugely successful Nufarm. Kerry Hoggard ended a near 50-year relationship with Nufarm this year, having helped it grow from a small local fertiliser firm to a listed entity with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales. Mr Hoggard, who started with the company in 1957 before eventually becoming chief executive in 1987, and later chairman until 2009, resigned as a Nufarm director in February this year. But it was off that beaten track and on to the horse track where Mr Hoggard was busiest, despite his stepping down as chairman of the Racing Integrity Unit in early 2013. Mr Hoggard maintains a role as chairman of Alexandra Park, the home of Auckland Trotting Club, which in February unveiled an ambitious $200 million property development for the carpark adjacent to the ASB Showgrounds. Alexandra Park is celebrating its 125th year of harness racing but sees the move as an opportunity to ensure a long-term future for the club. The proposed development will comprise of high-end retail space over four buildings with 231 apartments above, ranging in price from $550,000 to $1.6 million. It will cost more than $205 million, with the club’s borrowing expected to reach up to $186 million. Members of the club voted in the plan’s favour at a special meeting, which Mr Hoggard described as the most significant in the club’s history. The Blues Super Rugby franchise also committed to leasing a $4 million high-performance training facility at Alexandra Park the racing club will build and own.. “The board is unanimous it can deliver,” Mr Hoggard was reported as saying. “There is no second prize in this exercise." Kerry Hoggard is survived by his wife Marilyn and son Andrew. Harnesslink Media  

When harness racing trainer Gavin Smith went to the 2014 New Zealand Premier Yearling sale at Christchurch, he had marked off all the lots he wanted to inspect based on their pedigree. While there he saw Lot 68, a filly named Scarlett Banner walk through the parade ring and although she wasn't marked in his catalogue, she really took his eye. " She was a great walker and had a real presence about her." " I went around and inspected her and couldn't fault her." " There was bits of her pedigree I didn't like but the individual herself was superb." " When she came into the sales ring I got a bit caught up in the moment and was pretty determined to buy her and went to $28,000 to secure her," Gavin told Harnesslink yesterday. Gavin then went about syndicating the Bettors Delight filly amongst his owners but only managed to sell 60% to them, leaving him with 40%. " I am pretty happy these days to have kept 40% the way she is going," Gavin said. Impressing Gavin from the time he started to break her in, Scarlett Banner was going good enough to line up in the two year old trials last season, winning one at Addington and being placed behind Northern Velocity in another. " I lined her up in a Sires Stakes heat at Timaru and she ran fifth but I was pretty disappointed on the day." "I got a blood done and it was out everywhere" " I thought then that if she could run fifth when so out of sorts, that she would be really competitive when 100% right." " I thought then that the best thing for Scarlett Banner was to give her a decent break and let her get over her blood issues before racing her again," Brought up slowly through the winter, Scarlett Banner had a couple of workouts/trials to ready her for her raceday resumption. That happened last Friday night at Addington Raceway where she came from four back on the inner to run a smart second in her return to the track. Lining up last night in one of the $23,500 Alabar Super Series Finals, Scarlett Banner looked a bit out of her depth against the race hardened Franco Cristiano, Zenmach and company but she surprised everybody when getting up right on the line to win the race. " She got a lovely run and I went at the right time." " I think the others got a bit tired late and came back to here rather than she ran past them" " Still a hell of an effort to beat that field at just her second start for the season and third lifetime." " There is a huge amount of improvement in her yet and I think she will measure up to the better ones later in the season," Gavin said. One thing Gavin is sure of is that Scarlett Banner is a smart trotter in the making when she has reached her mark pacing. " If you try to canter her, she just trots and you can't break her up." " She has trotted time at home as well and she seems to be happier doing it." " I think whatever she does as a pacer, she will equal or better as a trotter," Gavin said.  The Gavin Smith barn is going great guns at the moment and Scarlett Banner may just be that flagbearer that the stable has been looking for. Harnesslink Media

It was announced last  night on Trackside that the runner up in last years New Zealand Cup, Franco Nelson had suffered a pedal bone injury which has brought his tilt at this years New Zealand Cup to a halt. Details were sketchy but it appears he will have several months on the sideline while he recuperates under the care of his trainer Michael House. His NZ Cup heroics last year when he was caught in the last stride by Adore Me which he followed with an outstanding run in the New Zealand Free For All displayed the high class racehorse that he is. Nursed through that campaign by his then trainer Robert Dunn, Franco Nelson looked to have it all in front of him but sadly his form fell away on a northern campaign due to recurring foot issues . Franco Nelson has always been troubled by foot issues throughout his career which is why he had been moved to the Dunn barn on the beach in the first place. Then to everybody's surprise in the industry, the owners Clive and Rona McKay moved Franco Nelson from  the Dunn stable to the Michael House barn. Reappearing at the trials from the House barn in September, Franco Nelson ran an okay fourth first up at the Addington trials  but his two follow up trials were very poor, finishing last on both occasions. Time was already running out to have Franco Nelson ready for a grueling two miles in the New Zealand Cup and his withdrawal now due to an injury is a shame as he would have added something to the New Zealand Cup which is down a bit on quality this year. Lets hope Franco Nelson can come through this latest problem and make it back to the racetrack in the future. Harnesslink Media    

Mark Jones is hardly screaming from the rooftops but he is starting to find some confidence in Master Lavros. The giant trotter stepped away from the tapes and went on to a one and three quarter lengths win in Friday's Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington Raceway with a display that puts him right in the Group I Dominion Handicap scrap. Sure there was no Stent, but Jones is starting to feel that the son of Sundon could be close to the sort of form that saw him win the Dominion in 2013. "He was feeling that good at the bend I probably could have gapped them by four or five lengths at the bend," Jones said. The improvement this week gave Jones plenty to smile about after he was run down late by Stent seven days earlier. Master Lavros strode home to win in 3:18.8 for the 2600m and Jones gave the impression there was plenty left in the tank had it been required. But the trainer-driver has plenty to think about in the coming days and weeks. The logical next step would be Ashburton for the Group III Trotters Flying Mile on Labour Day but with Master Lavros' manners from his two stands back being so good, Jones is thinking he may be better off to avoid the mobile start at Ashburton and head to Kaikoura. "I just don't know if the mobile will help us at the moment," Jones said. But if he does head to Kaikoura, he could potentially have to skip the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all on Cup day. "I just think that could be a bit too much to do those three so close together," Jones said. Wherever Jones goes, he knows he is past the issues that plagued Master Lavros' season last year. Master Lavros trotted to the lead mid race and Jones had the field right where he wanted them and never gave up the lead. The Greg and Nina Hope pairing of Quite A Moment and Harrysul were much improved when running into second and third. Greg Hope was rapt with the effort of both trotters and said they would now likely head straight to Ashburton. Sheemon was disappointing in the final 300m to finish fourth after racing in the one-one and trainer Kevin Townley will have the classy trotter vetted to try and better understand the underwhelming performance. A fresh-up Alley Way was fifth in his first start for the Colin and Julie DeFilippi barn but was five lengths of Master Lavros. Colin DeFilippi said he expected a little better but was happy enough first up. He will line Alley Way up again at Addington next Friday. Habibti and Kincaslough blew their chance with mid race breaks. David Butt, who co-trains Habibti with wife Catherine, said it was disappointing but he confirmed he was also likely to head back to Addington next Friday night. The talented mare was super last week in her first race back in 11 months after a suspensory ligament injury and Butt is confident Friday night's break was just a small bump in the road. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here  

There was only one way Tiger Tara could improve on his last start and he has done it. The Geoff Dunn trained pacer ran past Christen Me for his first win in open class company to win the Group II Canterbury Classic at Addington Raceway on Friday night. He ran second to Christen Me last start. Tiger Tara's win was a fitting way for his driver Gerard O'Reilly to bring up his 500th career win. Everything fell into place for O'Reilly and Tiger Tara as Christen Me stepped away from the tapes perfectly which gave the opportunity for O'Reilly to find the trail. Christen Me, who closed off a $1.70 favourite, had no answer for Tiger Tara and the fresh up Smolda, who went a super race to finish second, in the long Addington straight after leading for most of the 2600m. The Cran Dalgety trained Christen Me had excuses when finishing third after being pressured for the lead in the running. The top three in the $40,000 event gained automatic qualification for the Group I New Zealand Trotting Cup, but with Tiger Tara, Smolda and Christen Me all essentially guaranteed a start, the likes Mossdale Conner, Bit Of A Legend and Delightful Dash should improve in the rankings after filling out the top six. Meanwhile, last year's 2-year-old of the year Chase The Dream has picked off where he left off. The All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen dominated the Sires Stakes heat for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Chase The Dream came up the passing lane in the hands of Rasmussen after a charmed run in the trail to run past stablemate Cash N Flow. Win number seven from just 10 starts for Chase The Dream came by a head over Cash N Flow with a mile rate of 1-58.7 and closing sectionals in 56.1 and  26.9. The All Stars have more fire power to come in the series with Harness Jewels winner Lazarus and Motu Premier to start in the fifth and final heat at Addington on October 23. Purdon confirmed after Chase The Dream's win that all three runners from Friday night are likely to contest the fifth heat. John Dunn was excited about the prospects of Bite The Bullet who was the best of the non Purdon-Rasmussen team. Trained by his father Robert, Bite The Bullet who was first up since July stuck on for third after a torrid run. "He was sprinting from the 500m three wide so it was a great run. He came to the end of it near the end but he was entitled to after what he'd done," John Dunn said. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

Harness racing followers in New Zealand will tell you that when it comes to Premier night racing you back the All Stars barn come what may. Thats how it was tonight in the first race on Premier night at Addington Raceway with the All Stars runner Benicio the warmest of favourites with the punters. Benicio found the death seat a fair way out and when he grabbed the front 200 metres out he looked to have the race in safe keeping until Easy Rider and Bob Butt swooped late and nailed the hot favourite right on the line. Bob Butt was a bit shocked that he had picked up the All Star runner. " On Premier night it is not often that you run down one of the All Stars runners" " When I came out I thought I might get second but it did surprise me that we got up." " However he did impress me last week and he seems to be getting better every start," Bob said. It has been far from plain sailing with the son of Art Official who has shown plenty right from his trials as a two year old. " He ran second to the smart Field Marshal when he qualified but was put aside to strengthen up." " However he was never settled at three and we put him aside again." " This time in he is finally starting to fulfill the promise he showed at two." " He has always had high speed, right from his two year old days," Bob said. The future for Easy Rider is pretty well set in stone with the horse owned in Australia by the long time client of the David and Catherine Butt stable in Tony McGrath. " He has got a few more wins in him here in New Zealand but when he reaches his mark here he will go to Australia so Tony can see him race. " The immediate aim for the four year old is the Futurity final on Show Day," Bob said. The All Star barn are rarely beaten on Premier night but as Easy Rider showed it is not impossible. Harnesslink Media

Watching star trotter Sheemon jog home dead last was disheartening for Kevin Townley but he is confident there will be no repeat at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway on Friday night. The Russley trainer was as puzzled as punters were when Sheemon was last to see the post in the DG Jones Trotting Cup on a boggy track at Motukarara on September 27. "I don't think it took that much out of him," Townley said. He is putting the run down to the boggy grass track and doing plenty of work in the running but is happy to put it behind him when Sheemon contests Friday's Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup over 2600m at Addington. "The way he has worked this week I think he will be back to his best," Townley said. Sheemon's third in a workout behind Alley Way and Majestic Time back at Motukarara on the grit six days later on October 3 did not set the world on fire but Townley believes in hindsight he was probably too easy on the 6-year-old son of Monarchy between the runs. Sheemon won his first two starts back but did not strike any of his fellow big guns in those fields. He starts from the 20m line along with Master Lavros and Habibti. Habibti hit the line strongly last week in her first run back in 11 months to remind everyone of her class but may need one more run. Master Lavros went straight to the front last week but that will be much more difficult from 20m with four runners off the front and another four off 10m. Colin and Julie DeFilippi have opted not to start last week's impressive winner Stent off a 30m handicap but they have subbed in Alley Way for his first run for their stable. Owner and breeder Neville Skinner has trained the 7-year-old son of Monarchy for all of his previous 25 starts but moved him north from his Winton base in the leadup to the Dominion Handicap. Kincaslough will get her chance to impress second up with a 10m head start on her main rivals from the 10m tape. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

Not a bad result last week, especially on the dividend front. Our tipsters gave out seven winners along with another six placegetters but it was the size of a couple of the win prices which was great. Craig Ferguson is top dog this week after giving out Shillelagh ($13.20) along with Geoff Small who selected Goodlookingbabe ($8.10) at Auckland. Others to select winners were Ricky May, Bob Butt, Gavin Smith, Matthew Williamson and Mark Jones. This week we have five meetings and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Thought American Flybye could make it three from three in race 4 Geoff Small - Rates the first starter Cordelia a big chance in race 5 Peter Scaife - Thinks Vibhuti will be very hard to hold out in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Gives Master Of Escape a  royal chance of winning race 7 Auckland - Friday night -  Maurice McKendry - Thinks Eye Brow can go one better and win this week in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Very confident with Millview Sienna in race 3 Steven Reid - Reckons you should double up this week on Unforgiving in race 5 Tony Herlihy - Very bullish about the chances of Walkinshaw in race 7 Addington - Friday night Mark Jones - Gave Master Lavros a big push in race 5 Terry Chmiel - Gives Royal Counsel a nice each way chance from the draw in race 6 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought with natural improvement Tiger Tara could win race 7 Tim Williams - Thinks back in this grade, Provocative Prince can turn his form around in race 8 Ricky May - Even from the tricky inside draw, he thinks Monbet will be too good for them in race 9 Gore - Saturday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Thought having won a race,Thinking Smart could repeat the dose in race 3 Brad Williamson - Thinks that Heard A Whisper on best behaviour will win race 6 Craig Ferguson - Rates Bonnies Khaleesi coming in fresh very hard to beat in race 8 Clark Barron - Likes One Direction to bounce back from Addington and win race 10 Shane Walkinshaw -  Gives Double Rainbow a big each way chance in race 11 Nathan Williamson - Is going for Machrie one last time in his picks, also in race 11 Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Jim Curtin - Likes The Best Beg to go one better than last time and win race 1 Steve Richardson - Rates the Central Districts visitor Janron as hard to beat in race 2 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Gabby Star can win race in race 2 Bob Butt - Thought Lunar Rose might upset them in race 3 John Curtin -Rates Eva Sophnally as the one they have to beat in race 7 Blair Orange - Reckons Bobby Breen can upset them at big odds in race 9 Harnesslink Media

Last week was a relatively quiet one for the New Zealand Cup and Dominion rankings. Just a few little moves this time will precede some potentially major changes following some big races this weekend in next week's edition of the harness racing rankings. In the NZ Cup movements this week the win of Ohoka Punter in the Spring Cup has seen him edge in front of fellow Aucklander Sky Major. Lancewood Lizzie, who was only narrowly beaten into second by Ohoka Punter sneaks up a spot to 11. Lewy Risk who won a lower-grade race at Addington last Friday jumped up one spot, ahead of Quick As A Trick who was one of the beaten brigade behind Lewy Risk. Two withdrawals came from the NZ Cup in the past week, both Jason Rulz and Mach Beauty won't be taking their part in the great race in 2015. In the Dominion rankings the only change saw Leanne's Boy move up three spots, from 30 to 27. The next rankings update will be released next Tuesday afternoon. If you require any further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact the Racing Department at HRNZ on 03) 964 1200 or Brian Rabbitt at Addington Raceway on 03) 338 9094. Click here for the New Zealand Cup rankings Click here for the Dominion rankings Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc  

The export of harness racing horses to Australia and North America from New Zealand has been with us since the industry was established in New Zealand in the 19th century. There have been ebbs and flows in demand but the export market has never seriously affected  the standard of the New Zealand harness racing scene for very long. However the present market conditions are a "perfect storm" for New Zealand and have the potential to have a serious downside for the local industry. Firstly the North Americans are back buying our horses bigtime. A combination of the large drop in the value of the New Zealand dollar verses the greenback  and a big rise in prize money due to slot machine revenue has reinvigorated the market from the North American end. I can't fill the orders I currently have for the North American market due to the lack of quality horses available Secondly the Australians are not buying the lower graded horses in the numbers they were due to the import fees but they are certainly picking the eyes out of the middle market. Thirdly, the foal crops in New Zealand are continuing to fall to the point that even without those exports, we are going to have serious problems maintaining the race date structure we have. Add it all together and the future for a lot of clubs in New Zealand trying to fill their race fields is  bleak to put it mildly. The obvious solution to the problem is to breed more horses but for the last decade or two, the opposite has been happening on the New Zealand breeding scene. The major New Zealand studs are trying to pick up some of the slack by increasing the number of mares they are breeding inhouse and selling the resultant foals on as weanlings or yearlings. Nevele R Stud in Christchurch is in the process of upgrading its broodmare band and will again breed a large number of horses for the local market. " We have started selling at the weanling sale in the autumn and are looking to do more of that in the future," Nikki Reed told Harnesslink this week Woodlands Stud has seen an opportunity in the marketplace with supply being unable to keep up with demand. Consequently they are going to breed up to 130 mares this year which is a significant rise from the 40 odd of previous years. " The economic fundamentals of the exercise taking into account all the costs involved including service fees are strong and we are confident of making a nice profit on the venture or we wouldn't be doing it," Andrew Grierson told Harnesslink this week. Alabar Bloodstock is also aware of the shortage of horses and is breeding slightly more this year for the local market. They cover their mares with the established sires like Art Major and Mach Three along with the newer boys on the block like He's Watching. " We couldn't be happier with the bookings to date, with Art Major and Mach Three nearly full and He's Watching heading that way as well." " I think breeders are aware that this is He's Watching first book of mares anywhere in the world and that has helped along with the fact he went 1:46.4." " We have been selling the weanlings for a while and this has worked out well for us," Graeme Henley said when speaking to Harnesslink. So the studs are making an effort to raise the number of foals they produce but at the end of the day we need to entice the average breeder with his one or two mares back into the breeding business. The shortage of horses is not just a New Zealand problem but is one that is affecting the harness racing industry worldwide. There is no sign on the horizon of that changing so the old hoary chestnut of "there never being a better time to breed" might actually apply in New Zealand in 2015. JC

The All Stars barn, as Mark and Natalie regularly remind us is only as successful as it is due to the great staff they have. Just lately a couple of team have announced they are moving on and as the foreman Duane Marfisi explains it is never easy to replace good staff.  "It is always difficult when you lose good staff and with Brian and Lauren heading back to Australia soon after making a good contribution for us and with Maree (Price) retiring, we have been looking around for some replacements." "I use an international horse website and decided to put an ad on that." "it was surprising how many hits we got and quite a few people from the other side of the world are showing interest in joining us." "We have had family down from Canada and been showing them around the South Island so I only got back to work on Monday but we are well into it now with the older horses and the younger ones." "I rate the two year olds this year overall as better than last year." "I am not saying there is another Waikiki Beach or Dream About Me there but in overall quality they have impressed me." "I have driven quite a few I like and one of them is Motu Meteor a close relation to Motu Premier who is going along great", Duane said. With the way the All Stars two year olds performed last season, that is not good news for rival trainers David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stables    -  Check site here

Swedish trotter Daryl Boko could make his first public outing in New Zealand as soon as next week. West Melton harness racing trainer Tim Butt said the six-year-old Majestic Son trotter has continued to thrive in the last few weeks. Daryl Boko is on track for cup week but is still no certainty and Butt said while it would be great to see him racing in the big time so soon, the winner of nine races from 28 starts would not be rushed if he was not ready. "We'll just play if by ear and give him a couple of quiet trials and see how it goes," Butt said. "He'll tell us when he's ready, there's still a bit of fine tuning to go yet but the main things is to go to the trials and work out where we are and what we need to change." If Daryl Boko is ready to go for cup week, Butt said he would be leaning towards racing on only one of the two days. "I'm probably more inclined to go for the Dominion (Handicap) because it's a prestigious race, it's the bigger stake and I think he is a pretty good little stayer. "Generally the French and Swedish trotters are pretty good stayers because they are used to going quick the whole way, the run each half in a minute they don't loiter around, that's just their style of racing," Butt said. In the northern hemisphere Daryl Boko has won over a mile right through to 3100m. Daryl Boko arrived in New Zealand in early August and went straight into work at Butt's Premier Stables after coming out of quarantine. Butt said because the seasons are back to front for Daryl Boko, and it's been a strong relatively cold spring, he has started to develop his winter coat but overall he had acclimatised well. Daryl Boko's last race day start in Sweden was on July 2. Butt has experience with bringing in trotters from the Northern Hemisphere and that was paying dividends with the preparation of Daryl Boko. Scandinavian trotter Peak looked to be the future of Butt's already lengthy trotting legacy when he won his first two starts in the 2013 Group III Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and the Group I NZ Trotting Free-For-All but picked up a suspensory ligament injury in the Dominion Handicap three days later that ended his racing carer. Peak began a successful stud carer but Butt and many of Peak's syndicate went looking for a replacement and found Daryl Boko. If Butt can bring out Daryl Boko's best form, it would be good enough to challenge the current crop of top liners. Meanwhile, Stent, Master Lavros, Habibti and Kincaslough have all been nominated to return to Addington this week for the Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup on Friday. Sheemon, who did not race last week and Alley Way, who has not raced since May, are also in the nominations. Harness jewels winner King Denny will trial at Addington on Tuesday. The Group II Canterbury Classic looks likely to be the strongest pacing field this season, with Smolda resuming to take on Christen Me plus Brilliant Strike, Te Kawau and Ideal Success in the nominations to join the crop that have already contested the Maurice Holmes Vase and Avon City Ford Cup. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc. (NZMTC) has announced its annual result for the year ended 31 July 2015 in which it recorded an operating surplus of $274,371 after allowing for depreciation of $945,808. NZMTC Chairman Barry Dent said “this is our fifth consecutive annual operating surplus which assists the Club in building a sustainable financial environment for the benefit of all industry stakeholders.” This result was achieved whilst increasing returns to stakeholders by 9.5% during the 2014- 15 season with $7.55 million paid out in stakes and incentives. Further notable developments during the year included average starter numbers per race holding steady at 10.98 compared to a national average of 10.71, a record year reported from the Functions and Events Centre, the most commercially successful Cup Day in the Club’s history and the continued strengthening of our property portfolio to produce ongoing returns which underpin the long term financial performance of the Club. “These developments reflect our Strategic and Business Plans to future proof our Club,” Dent concluded. It was also extremely rewarding for the Club to be announced as the winner of the Retail/Hospitality Medium/Large Enterprise category at the prestigious 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Awards. This was a terrific thrill and due reward for a great 2014 calendar year, which was the timeframe being assessed. The Club’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 12 October 2015 at 5.30 pm. The Annual Report can be viewed at Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

The first of October traditionally marks the start of the earthworks season for the New Zealand construction and development sectors, and no more apparent is this than at Auckland’s iconic Alexandra Park the home of harness racing in the North Island of New Zealand. Those travelling along Auckland’s busy Green Lane West will see diggers and mountains of dirt in part of the Auckland Trotting Club’s former car-park. This work marks the beginning of construction on the first apartment building for Alexandra Park’s ambitious new urban village development, with residents moving in from 2017. Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding says over the coming three months Canam Construction diggers will move approximately 30,000m3 (cubic metres) of dirt and about 2,500m3 of basalt rock to make way for piling, underground car-parking and residential storage. As well as containing 118 beautifully-appointed apartments, the first building will have 2,500 sqm of ground-floor retail including a new gourmet supermarket concept for Auckland which will soon to be announced. “For Alexandra Park having the diggers move in is a great milestone given this year we’re also celebrating 125 years of being Auckland’s home of harness racing. This exciting transformation and new urban village will sustain and secure the Auckland Trotting Club’s future. We can’t wait,” says Ms Dowding. The on-site apartment display suite is open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visiting

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