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Southland driver Nathan Williamson won't be driving at Oamaru on Sunday. He was suspended for four racedays from Friday 8th September until Thursday 28th September after Stipendary Stewards charged him with excessive use of the whip on Tas Man Bromac when he won at Winton earlier this month. Williamson says he was surprised to be called into the Stipendary Stewards room two races later to hear the charge. He flew to Christchurch on Tuesday to appeal the ruling and was told today that the penalty stood. When spoken to he hadn't read the full transcript of the appeal decision. Williamson says he's extremely disappointed with the decision. The suspension has certain been hotly debated in harness racing circles, and he says he's been overwhelmed by the number of texts and calls he's had in support. "I've had hundreds of calls about it. I've spoken to Rob Lawson who is the head of the New Zealand Drivers Association and had an email from Gordon Lee the local head of the Association. He (Lee) thought that I should appeal it. He's also written to the stipes." Williamson who operates the largest racing team in Southland says the suspension has been costly.   "It cost me $600 to fly to Christchurch, $250 for the appeal and the cost of getting additional staff in while I was away. Something like this is a $4,000 hit for me. It's extremely frustrating but at the end of the day they're (Stipes) doing their job. The general feeling is that a suspension is harder than a fine because people just pay the fine and move on."  He says that after yesterday's hearing he has a better understanding of what the Stewards want. But he says the appeal was more about the length of the suspension. "They want you to break your actions up. Use the whip, then run the whip through the tails, flick the horse's backend, hit the dust sheet or shaft. I understand that. I was appealing the penalty only, not the decision." When this story was going on-line he hadn't decided on a replacement driver. "I'm a Southland man so I'd like to use a Southland driver if I could but I'll have to speak to the owners. I'll probably get the same driver for both of them (Tas Man Bromac and Poppymalda)." Williamson had thoughts of taking Poppymalda to Addington for the Ordeal Cup and Tas Man Bromac was a possibility to start up there as well. "If I hadn't been suspended I would have taken them both through to Addington. Then I thought, if I appeal the penalty I could just take her (Poppymalda) to Oamaru and drive her there. That's why she didn't go to the Ordeal Cup and she is in (at Oamaru) on Sunday." Williamson says the suspension has put both horses behind in their schedules but he knows he just has to move on from today's decision and continue to direct his training operation.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Ketaki Bhave-Khotkar has been recently appointed Events Sales Manager at the home of harness racing Alexandra Park. She has previously held positions at Vodafone Events Centre and the Stamford Plaza Auckland. For the past 18 months, she has been Alexandra Park’s Business Development Manager. Alexandra Park chief executive, Dominique Dowding, says Ketaki has a proven sales record and a passion for customer service. “Ketaki will bring plenty of experience to this role and is super excited. Our strategy is to keep growing our functions and events business both in size and reputation. This newly created role and Ketaki’s appointment to it will help us achieve that,” says Ms Dowding. Ketaki Bhave-Khotkar started as Events Sales Manager on 7 August. Her promotion follows Jacqueline Macleod being appointed to another role within the organisation after five successful years in the functions team. Also recently announced, Kate Vautier was appointed Events Coordinator. As well as co-ordinating events, she will be responsible for securing functions business and managing relationships with clients. She has a background in retail sales with considerable customer service experience. She has managed events including charity comedy nights, anniversary celebrations, and VIP parties. Kate joins Alexandra Park’s functions sales team after recently completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at AUT. Her double major included Event Management. She will to report to Ketaki Bhave-Khotkar. Sales & Marketing Manager Joel Reichardt says Kate Vautier, who started on 31 August, has hit the ground running given Alexandra Park’s busy programme of events over the coming months. For bookings or information on functions or events phone (09) 630-5660, email or visit

Classy harness racing trotter Stent was back at the workouts yesterday after almost 2 years away from the race track with an injury. Racing against the maiden pacers, Stent ran home ok without being pushed too hard by driver Colin DeFilippi. Stent broke 58 seconds for his last 800m with the race being won by the Terry Chmiel trained Nota Bene Denario. _________________________________ Top harness racing mare Dream About me has been scratched from the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru this Sunday. Trainer Mark Purdon said "It is nothing too serious, but she was a bit lame on one foot yesterday and our blacksmith said she will need a few days to recover". _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Ex kiwi pacer Christen Me won the overnight feature, a $17,500 Open event on Monday at Harrington Raceway. Christen Me rated 1-53.4 for his win. Another ex-kiwi pacer Bit Of A Legend also won the same night for trainer Peter Tritton. The 8-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion led and never had an anxious moment in his seventh win of the year and 40th of his career. It was a bit of a homecoming for Tritton, who was stabled at Harrington Raceway for nearly a decade before moving to the New York circuit in 2015. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Junior Driver Todd Quate has been suspended for failing to take reasonable and permissible measures to ensure a horse he was driving was given every opportunity to obtain the best possible finishing position. The suspension relates to his drive on Four Starzzz Shiraz at Rangiora on the 23rd July 2017. Quate was suspended for 10 meetings meaning he will be out until after the Methven meeting on Sunday 15 October.   Harnesslink Media  

Junior Driver Todd Quate has been suspended for failing to take reasonable and permissible measures to ensure a horse he was driving was given every opportunity to obtain the best possible finishing position. The suspension relates to his drive on Four Starzzz Shiraz at Rangiora on the 23rd July 2017. Quate was suspended for 10 meetings meaning he will be out until after the Methven meeting on Sunday 15 October. Decision of Appeals Tribunal Appeals Tribunal: Alan Harper (Chair) Bryan Scott Dave Anderson Present: Shane Renault – Stipendiary Steward Todd Quate – Respondent Tim Williams – Assisting Mr Quate Nick Ydgren – Registrar Heard at Christchurch on 13 September 2017. Decision given on 13 September 2017. Written decision issued 18 September 2017. 1. Introduction 1.1 On 23 July 2017 the Rangiora Harness Racing Club conducted a meeting at the Rangiora Racecourse. Race 3 was the Kaiapoi Claimers Mobile Pace. Four Starzzz Shiraz started in the event and was driven by the Respondent Mr Quate. The horse finished third of eight. 1.2 Following this race the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) opened an enquiry into the drive of Mr Quate and ultimately laid a charge under Rule 868(2) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. That rule reads: “Every horseman shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.” 1.3 The hearing of the charge was adjourned and ultimately heard by the Judicial Committee on 30 July 2017. 1.4 Rather unusually the Judicial Committee was unable to agree. In its decision the Chair indicated he would have found the charge proved where-as the other Member did not agree with that. 1.5 Because the Judicial Committee were unable to agree it quite properly then ruled the charge to be not proven and therefore dismissed. 1.6 The RIU appeals that finding. 2. The Appeal 2.1 The provision for Appeals is set out in Rules 1202-1207 of the Rules. Rule 1206 directs the Appeal Tribunal to schedule 5 of the Rules. Clauses 47-53 describe the procedure and in particular clause 44 which directs the Appeal to be heard by way of a rehearing unless the Tribunal directs otherwise. 2.2 Prior to commencing the Appeal Tribunal wished to be satisfied Messrs Quate and Williams properly understood how the appeal by way of rehearing was to be conducted. 2.3 We then carefully detailed the actual rehearing procedure to satisfy ourselves they were both fully conversant with the procedure. 2.4 It is necessary for the Appeal Tribunal to form its own decision on the matters placed before it and apply a standard of proof which takes into account the degree of seriousness of the charge. 3. The Position of RIU 3.1 Mr Renault on behalf of the Appellant being the RIU largely repeated the submissions which were made to the Judicial Committee at the hearing. Those submissions were in writing. 3.2 Mr Renault also added further submissions dealing particularly with comments made by the Member of the Judicial Committee who disagreed with the position of the Chair. 3.3 The race was over 2000m. Four Starzzz Shiraz drew number seven. After the start it took up a position being one out and four back. Immediately ahead of Four Starzzz Shiraz was Alexy and immediately behind Four Starzzz Shiraz was Bevans Cullen. The positions remained substantially unaltered until approximately 500m out when Bevans Cullen commenced a run to improve on the outside of Four Starzzz Shiraz. It was able to continue this run until it had moved past Four Starzzz Shiraz which was then unable to obtain clear running room from behind Alexy until well down the straight. 3.4 The concern of RIU was Mr Quate did not take steps to move Four Starzzz Shiraz from behind Alexy and into clear running once Bevans Cullen had started to make its run. 3.5 We viewed the films which had been shown to the Judicial Committee on the day. These films included a number of angles at the Rangiora Meeting and also at the previous start of Four Starzzz Shiraz which was at Forbury Park. 3.6 Mr Renault made reference to the case HRNZ V H (2005) where it was stated: “The Rule requires both a demonstration of tactics which can by objective standards be said to be both reasonable and permissible. Those have to be tactics which can be seen not only by the Stipendiary Stewards but also those present at the race track and in particular the betting public to be tactics which are designed to give the horse every chance to finish in the best possible position that it can. The informant does not have to prove any deliberate attempt not to win the race. There may be circumstances in which a drivers manner of driving may amount merely to a permissible error of tactics but where that error of tactics amounts to bad judgement that results in disadvantage to his horse then such manner of driving falls within the terms of the Rule.” 3.7 We were also referred to comments made by Justice WR Haylen in a decision of Harness Racing Appeals Tribunal on 20 May 2009 where he stated: “Perhaps to throw my own interpretation into the mix I might view it this way – that the sort of culpable action that is required to amount to a breach of this rule might be such that in normal circumstances a reasonable and knowledgeable harness race spectator might be expected to exclaim with words to the effect “what on earth is he doing” or “my goodness look at that”.” 3.8 It was the submission of RIU that once Bevans Cullen commenced to move to the outside of Four Starzzz Shiraz then Mr Quate should have moved out to give his horse clear racing room and also to force Bevans Cullen who was a favoured runner in the race over more ground. 3.9 The RIU also emphasised this was not the matter of a split second decision but took place over a period of time. In their submission Mr Quate had driven for luck. It was a conscious decision made by Mr Quate to remain in the position he was in. The submission was made that the comments which were made by Justice WR Haylen would be applicable in this scenario. Any reasonable and knowledgeable racing spectator would have been thinking exactly along the lines of those words. In other words “what on earth is he doing and how has he ended up in that position.” 3.10 It was submitted a reasonable and knowledgeable spectator would not be able to understand how Four Starzzz Shiraz was travelling in front of Bevans Cullen and over a period of approximately 200m became not only behind that runner but also to its inside without the benefit of a clear run. 3.11 Emphasis was made that the Rule does not seek to punish mere errors of judgement during the Race but it does require a drivers conduct to be culpable if it is found to be blame worthy. 3.12 During the course of the Judicial Committee hearing Mr Quate was assisted by Mr Williamson who rather tellingly stated on two occasions if he had been driving Four Starzzz Shiraz he definitely would have moved out at the point when Bevans Cullen commenced to make its move. It has to be said these comments were somewhat unhelpful to Mr Quate. 4. The Position of the Respondent 4.1 When questioned regarding his drive Mr Quate stated “Amber instructed me to drive the horse with a sit and hold it up for as long as possible as it only has a 150m sprint.” 4.2 The reference to Amber is to Amber Hoffman who is the licensed trainer of Four Starzzz Shiraz. 4.3 It is well established that strict following of riding or driving instructions from a trainer to either a jockey or a driver does not excuse actions which would constitute a breach of the Rules. 4.4 We were referred to a decision of the Harness Racing Appeals Tribunal on 29 September 2004 where his Honour Judge Thorley stated: “Whilst the evidence of any such driving instruction is relevant and plays an evidential part in the consideration of whatever charge is at stake the existence of any such driving instruction does not detract from the obligation which the Rule places on the driver.” 4.5 In considering those comments the RIU had viewed the race at Forbury Park which was the previous race for Four Starzzz Shiraz. The horse had commenced a run from the rear of the field from the 600m mark and had continued its run to the finish for fourth placing although well behind the third place getter. 4.6 It was the submission of Mr Williamson which had found favour with the Member of the Judicial Committee that although Four Starzzz Shiraz had been held up during the early part of the run home it would not have won the race as the horse came to the end of its run some 50-75m short of the winning post and really battled from there. There were also some comments regarding the characteristics of the horse which have little relevance as we are here to judge the actions of the driver not the racing performance of Four Starzzz Shiraz. 5. Discussion 5.1 This Appeals Tribunal had little difficulty in agreeing with the submission made by the RIU being the Appellant. We easily formed the view Mr Quate had displayed very poor judgement in not moving out from behind Alexy once Bevans Cullen commenced its run. 5.2 Despite the driving instructions to Mr Quate he could have simply moved Four Starzzz Shiraz into a position where there was a clear run to the line. He could have held the horse up until the point when he had been instructed to move. That would have been at the 150m mark. 5.3 Instead he did not assess the situation correctly and found himself held up behind Alexy until another horse to the inside commenced to give ground and gave space to Four Starzzz Shiraz. 5.4 The opportunity to shift was available for approximately 200m. He not only lost the opportunity for his own horse to have a clear run to the line but also the opportunity to shift a favoured competitor wider. 5.5 We concur with the submission the Rule does not seek to impose sanctions on someone who simply makes an error of judgement when making a split second call which inevitably arises on all race tracks. 5.6 This is a situation where there was the opportunity to make a decision over a period of time and in not taking up that opportunity Mr Quate displayed poor judgement. 5.7 All forms of racing rely on the support of the betting public. This drive would fall foul of the comments made in the two cases referred to earlier in this decision. We do not believe Mr Quate gave Four Starzzz Shiraz every chance to finish in the best possible position. That is not to say Four Starzzz Shiraz would have beaten Alexy but simply he did not give the horse the best possible opportunity he could. The Tribunal agrees with the submission made by RIU that Mr Quate simply followed his driving instructions without exercising his own judgement when circumstances required and in doing so put the chances of Four Starzzz Shiraz to luck. 5.8 That is not acceptable in terms of the Rule. 6. Decision 6.1 We therefore had little difficulty in finding the elements of the Rule to be proven and therefore the Appeal is allowed. Mr Quate is therefore guilty of the charge of a breach of Rule 868(2) with the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. 7. Penalty 7.1 Mr Renault addressed us on penalty. The starting point for breach of this Rule under the Penalty Guide is 15 drives or $750.00. Mr Quate had previously breached this rule on 28 March 2016 where he had been suspended for one month and fined $350.00. 7.2 However given that was in excess of a year ago we consider that to be neutral. 7.3 There were no mitigating factors and the level of breach was at the mid to high end level. 7.4 Last season Mr Quate relocated from Canterbury to Otago. Although he will primarily drive in the Otago and Southland areas from that base he has driven in the Canterbury area on three occasions during this season. However as the Otago Southland racing is really only commencing for this season he has only driven on seven occasions to date this season. 7.5 Given there is no level of mitigation and the breach is at the mid to high level we consider an uplift to 10 days suspension to be appropriate. Although based in the Otago Southland area Mr Quate has driven in the Canterbury area and therefore we apply that suspension to South Island meetings. 7.6 Mr Quate advised us he has driving commitments at the Methven meeting on 17 September 2017. We therefore agree to a deferment to allow him to take those drives and therefore he will be suspended from the conclusion of racing on 17 September 2017 up to and including Sunday 15 October 2017. 7.7 For the purposes of clarity this suspension entails:  Saturday 23 September at Invercargill.  Sunday 24 September at Oamaru.  Thursday 28 September at Winton.  Friday 29 September at Addington.  Sunday 1 October at Motukarara.  Saturday 7 October at Invercargill.  Sunday 8 October at Timaru.  Thursday 12 October at Addington.  Saturday 14 October at Gore.  Sunday 15 October at Methven. 8. Costs 8.1 The RIU did not make any application for costs. 8.2 In the circumstances it is inappropriate for any costs to be awarded in favour of JCA. 8.3 There is therefore no order as to costs. Dated:  18 September 2017   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing superstar Lazarus was back at the workouts today in preparation for his defense of this years Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. Starting in a two horse workout at Rangiora this afternoon, Lazarus and stablemate Heaven Rocks went around together in blustery conditions. Lazarus was driven by Mark Purdon and led from the start in the 2000m stand, with Heaven Rocks and Natalie Rasmussen immediately in behind him with a slow but safe beginning. The race only got serious in the straight with both horses sprinting up the lane under strong holds.   At the line, Lazarus managed to hold out heaven Rocks by a nose winning in a 2-06.6 mile rate with a final 800m in 56.3 and 400m in 27.7 seconds. Meanwhile top mare Dream About me has been scratched from the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru this Sunday. Trainer Mark Purdon said "It is nothing too serious, but she was a bit lame on one foot today and our blacksmith said she will need a few days to recover". For full results of todays workouts click here. Lazarus winning todays workout (last 800m)   Harnesslink Media

For many harness racing punters the open class season starts today. Because while only a tiny crowd will be at the Rangiora trials they are more than likely going to see the New Zealand Cup winner. Pacing has already had two open class races at Addington this season, both won by genuine Cup contenders in Have Faith In Me and Titan Banner. After all, the former is an Auckland Cup and Miracle Mile winner and the latter a placegetter in last season’s NZ Cup. And Dream About Me was excellent in her return when third to that pair last Saturday and will head to the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday. Add to that the hugely-improved form of Better B Amazed in the north and her stablemate No Doctor Needed ticking over nicely and the elite level pacers have already had some highlights, with another Cup contender Jack’s Legend returning at the Pukekohe trials yesterday. But everything changes when Lazarus and Heaven Rocks make their first public outings for the season at today’s trials. If the usual Purdon-Rasmussen modus operandi is adopted the glamour boys won’t be asked for anything like their best and, depending on the weather and track conditions, a steady early tempo and a last 800m in 56 second will probably be enough of a kick-off point. But the pair so completely dominate the market for the Cup on November 14 that every aspect of their trials and workouts and then eventual lead-up races will be scrutinized. Case in point --- 11 days ago Heaven Rocks easily beat Lazarus in a private workout at home because he half bolted after striking his sulky with his hind legs. Word soon got out and what could have been a meaningless margin saw Heaven Rocks shorten as much as a full dollar into $2.40 to win the NZ Cup with some Australian bookies. After his incredible season last term and a 10-length Cup victory in race record time Lazarus deserves to be favourite to defend his title until Heaven Rocks can beat him fair and square in a race, maybe two. But punters aren’t known for their patience and as a two-time Jewels winner and Easter Cup hero, Heaven Rocks already has an army of supporters, even though he has burned them on occasions. Trainer Mark Purdon says there is little between the pair’s motors with Lazarus having had the manners advantage in the past but Heaven Rocks has grown up mentally in training this season. Lazarus likes to run near the pace and usually relaxes when he does, whereas Heaven Rocks often last season near bolted in his races, which can make for some spectacular viewing. If that continues today and on the road to the Cup he may look more advanced or, remarkably, even a superior horse to Lazarus, who will probably allow Purdon to be as conservative as he wants on him. But the irony is Heaven Rocks’s best chance of winning the New Zealand Cup is being more sedate, tractable and trialing like a lamb, which would see the market swing the other way. Today is only a trial, the first steps on a long road. But as it often the case with heavyweights, every blow is going to be heard. Michael Guerin

The Judicial Control Authority(JCA) have been forced to backtrack on their decision to ban amateur harness racing driver Ray Reekie for two and a half years.  Stewards issued him a charge under Rule 869(3)(g) in that he drove in a manner capable of diminishing Zakspatrol's chance of winning a race at Addington last Saturday and the JCA subsequently suspended Reekie's Amateur Horseman's licence from the conclusion of racing that day up to and including 15th March 2020, a period of 2 1/2 years. Chief harness stipendiary steward Nick Ydgren spoke to Harnesslink today and said, "Ray is no longer suspended and that his previous penalty has been cancelled." Ydgren said "there has been a new penalty hearing set down for the 29th September 2017, just before the first race at Addington that night" “His 30-month suspension was not valid in my opinion which is why I applied to the JCA to get a new penalty hearing to be held" Reekie has won twelve races as an amateur driver from one hundred and nine amateur drives over a ten year period. He is known for going for a forward position in the races he drives in. Harnesslink has had a lot of feedback in support of Ray and most people were both saddened and outraged at the severity of the first penalty handed out.    Harnesslink Media  

A stunning win in the Anthony Shearer Ordeal Trotting Cup has cemented Marlborough-owned trotter Destiny Jones a spot in the $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Trot on Show Day. Her automatic entry-win last Saturday has seen her jump 21 spots to number two - only behind Monbet. Further down the Rankings kudos was given to Harriet Of Mot for her slashing win two weeks ago and last Saturday's Ordeal place-getters Amaretto Sun and Belle's Son. Nearer the bottom of the Rankings Hey Yo picked up two spots and The Foot Tapper one, based on his second on September 8. No significant changes were made in the Christchurch Casino NZ Cup rankings. Have Faith in Me, who paced like a dream last week in winning the Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup is now fourth. Buster Brady was sound when resuming in the Avon City Ford Cup and he leapfrogged race rival Art Union to claim the coveted 15th position. The defections of Captain Dolmio, Cullect A Guinness and Max Phactor now leave 25 in the running for a start in the Cup. The next sustaining payment for both features is due at 3.00pm this Wednesday. The next set of rankings will be released next week following Oamaru HRC's Hannon Memorial meeting. For the full ranking details click here. Courtney Clarke

Trainer Steve Telfer is daring to dream of Cups glory with the surprise package of the pacing season -- but not the Cup everybody else is thinking about. Telfer has had a red-hot start to the season but he admits even he is stunned by the form of Better B Amazed, with the enormously improved mare scoring two crushing open class wins at Alexandra Park. The second came last Friday where she sat parked and rated 1:53.9 for 1700m, just 0.4 of a second off his national record on a cold, wet night. Better B Amazed has now beaten New Zealand Cup contenders No Doctor Needed and Hug The Wind twice, coming from outside them both times and would not be out of place in the Cup at Addington on November 14. But while Telfer realises the new season version of his mare has jumped up a few notches, he is thinking of a different Cup. “There is a little chance she could target the Victoria Cup at Melton next month,” says Telfer. “We all realise how much better she is going even than last season when she was going pretty well. “I can’t really put it down to one thing, probably just maturity. “But she is working better and every time this season we have taken her to the workouts or race she has gone up a level. “We had a meeting on Saturday night to discuss what to do next and the 3200m of the New Zealand Cup isn’t her best distance so we aren’t considering a late nom for that. “But the new Victoria Cup interests us a bit.” The Victoria Cup has been transferred from the January date when Lazarus won it last season to October 14, the same day as the Everest in Sydney and the Caulfield Guineas. Because of the move leading trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have declare they aren’t likely to send one of their team to the 2240m mobile and with the Australian elite ranks lacking depth after injuries to Hectorjayjay and Bling It On, the Victoria Cup is dominated by Lennytheshark and My Field Marshal. “They are still great horses but we think she is at her best over sprint trips so we are considering taking her to Victoria for the Smoken Up over 1720m in early October and if she raced well then the Victoria Cup,” says Telfer. “She we will nominate her for the Spring Cup next week and make the final decision after that, but a start next week might also depend on her handicap.” Telfer would eventually like to campaign Better B Amazed at Menangle, outside Sydney,where in her current form something close to a 1:50 mile looks within her capabilities. She wasn’t the only big-name pacing mare to impress over the weekend as Dream About Me was a brave third to stablemate Have Faith In Me in their comeback race at Addington on Saturday. Dream About Me was expected to need the outing and paraded looking burly but after sitting parked her run was every bit as good as Have Faith In Me and Titan Banner, who beat her home. She will now become a rarity, a Purdon-Rasmussen starter in this Sunday’s Hannon Memorial at Oamaru as she needs more concentrated racing while Have Faith In Me will be allowed to miss that next stop on the road to the New Zealand Cup. But much of the Cup focus will be on the Rangiora trials tomorrow where the two dominant favourites Lazarus and Heaven Rocks have their first public outings for the  season. They are likely to follow identical paths to the great race so punters will get plenty off dress rehearsals to help them make up their minds before November.   Michael Guerin

Top NZ harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen won the New Brighton Cup on Saturday with their speedy pacer Have Faith In Me. Have Faith In Me got home quickly from a nice spot on the outer to down an ex-stablemate Titan Banner and last year's Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me. The winner ran his last 800m in 55.2 with a closing 400m in 26.89 seconds, proving he is back to somewhere near his best. ____________________________ Blair Orange won four races over the weekend to move to twenty two wins for the season, nine wins clear of second place David Butcher. Orange won three races at Addington on Saturday and added another win at Methven yesterday behind the Nigel McGrath trained Goodlookin Chick. Last years drivers premiership winner Dexter Dunn is languishing back in the pack on three wins, after missing some early season racing while he was overseas at the World Drivers Championships.. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Destiny Jones has won this years Ordeal Trotting Cup for trainer Kevin Townley and driver Ricky May. Destiny Jones finished quickly from midfield on the outer to down last years winner Ameretto Sun by a length. The two favourites Habibti Ivy and Harriet Of Mot both blew their chances with early breaks shortly after the start. Destiny Jones (The Pres - Galleons Destiny) has now won eight races and $85,379 in stakes. She trotted the 2600m mobile in 3-16.1 with a closing 800m in 59.4 and 400m in 29.9 seconds. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Jonny Cox will train in partnership with Tim Butt from the beginning of December. Tim Butt is shifting most of his stable horses to Australia shortly and will be training from a 20-horse barn at Menangle, outside Sydney. Cox will be running the satelite stable here in New Zealand. The Tim Butt trained My Field Marshall won the Garrards Horse And Hound pace (Group 3) over 1609m at  Menangle on Saturday night in 1-51.9 _______________________________________________________________________________________ Canterbury amateur harness racing driver Ray Reekie was suspended for 2 1/2 years for driving in a manner which diminished his chances of winning a race at Addington on Saturday.  Of particular concern to the Stewards was his decision to maintain his challenge for the lead for such an extended period, after his initial challenge had been unsuccessful. After hearing the explanation tendered by Mr Reekie, Stewards issued him a charge under Rule 869(3)(g) in that he drove in a manner capable of diminishing Zakspatrol's chance of winning the race.  The JCA subsequently suspended Reekie's Amateur Horseman's licence from the conclusion of racing today up to and including 15th March 2020, a period of 2 1/2 years.   Harnesslink Media  

The progeny of harness racing champion Auckland Reactor are starting to emerge throughout Australasia, including a potential topliner who won his first race-day start in good fashion at Addington today (Saturday). Chase Auckland was having his first start out of the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars Stable and ended up demolished a strong field without being fully extended by his driver Natalie Rasmussen. The race was run at a solid clip, with Rasmaussen taking Chase Auckland to the front after 600m. Despite a strong mid race attack by second favourite Ready To Rumble and Blair Orange, Chase Auckland had the field covered at the turn, and he went on to win by more than five lengths with no urging needed from the driver. The speedy Auckland Reactor gelding paced the 1950m mobile in a 1.58.8 mile rate with a closing 800m in 58.4 and 400m in 28.7 seconds. Ironically it was exactly 10 years to the day that Auckland Reactor won his first start. It was on the 16th of September 2007 at Timaru rating a 2.01.9 mile rate over 2000 metres.. Chase Auckland will now head to a heat of the Sires Stakes Series in a few weeks time. Chase Auckland winning easily in quick time. Harnesslink Media

Methven harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11.30am Race 1     Freind is easily best backed in FF win and multi-betting and is the only horse wanted at $1.40 Race 2     Winnie Magoogan is easily best backed in both FF win and multi-betting and is in from an opening quote of $3.70 to $2.50 Some money early for Honey Son Race 3     Best backed in this race is Vintage Beach and he is leading multi betting from Norman Richards. Race 4     Stunin Love is the best backed . He also easily leads multi-betting. Race 5     Make Us Grin leads both FF win and multi-betting with some money for Dundee Lady Race 6     This race is a quiet market early with best backed in FF win and multi-betting being Glennis Marie Race 7     Run Boy Run leads FF win betting, With Augusta leading multi-betting. Race 8     Leader in FF win is Sheez Good with Ok Im Bad also taking money and leading multi-betting. Race 9     Best backed is Soney Beatt in from $16.00 to $8.00. She leads FF win and multi-betting. Race 10     Easily best backed is Goodlookin Chick.  My Wee Man leads multi-betting.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Canterbury amateur harness racing driver Ray Reekie was suspended for 2 1/2 years for driving in a manner which diminished his chances of winning a race at Addington today.  Reekie who is well known for his agressive driving, challenged Alan Edge driving Russian Express for the lead between the 2100 metres and 1100 metres before weakening from the 900 metres to finishing a distant last on his own horse Zakspatrol. Of particular concern to the Stewards was his decision to maintain his challenge for the lead for such an extended period, after his initial challenge had been unsuccessful. After hearing the explanation tendered by Mr Reekie, Stewards issued him a charge under Rule 869(3)(g) in that he drove in a manner capable of diminishing Zakspatrol's chance of winning the race.  The JCA subsequently suspended Reekie's Amateur Horseman's licence from the conclusion of racing today up to and including 15th March 2020, a period of 2 1/2 years. Harnesslink Media

This Sunday will see the return of grass track racing, as the Methven Trotting Club hold their spring harness racing meeting at the Methven track. Last Saturday the Mt Hutt trials were run on the track and Friend,Dundee Lady and Bank Raider were all impressive winners who are all lining up again this Sunday at the races. Friend (Changeover - Rafiki) is trained by Phil Burrows at Rangiora and the 3yo colt was an impressive qualifier at Rangiora two weeks ago. At Saturdays Mt Hutt trials, Friend settled back on the outer early but powered home in the middle of the track to win untouched for driver Gavin Smith. He looks a big chance in a strong maiden field on the weekend and is well drawn at barrier two. Stablemate Dundee Lady was also impressive, leading all the way in her Saturday trial and winning easily. She is having her first start this weekend and is drawn barrier six  Bank Raider beat a good field in the last trial of the day, winning well from the front for trainer/driver Leo O'Reilly. A grass track specialist, Bank Raider would be a good chance at longer odds in Race 7 on Sunday. Rakaia trainer Warren Stapleton had a big team in at the trials last weekend and is looking to back most of them up again at the races on Sunday. Dean Stapleton who drove several of the Stapleton runners at the trials said of the Stapleton team, "they are all in need of a run and will definitely improve with the trial run under their belt". "Most of todays runners will be back on the track for the races on Sunday" "I think our team has been going ok lately", he said. "Classie Cullect was overdue a win at Kurow as he had been unlucky previously and Leading The Way has really improved, since we stepped up his workload at home" Dean thought the new handicapping system was a help to their stable runners, by allowing them to drop back into races they were competitive in. There is free admission and free race books at Methven this Sunday for the Clubs of Canterbury Spring race day. For more details click here. Often called a punters graveyard, the Methven track can produce some big dividends due to the large field sizes and often softer track conditions. Buriton Bailey winning in the snow in October 2010   Harnesslink Media  

Addington harness racing fixed odds movers as at 10.40am Race 1     Gunpowder is easily best backed in FF win and leads multi-betting over Russian Express. Race 2     Karmic Way is best backed in both FF win and multi-betting and is in from an opening quote of $2.30 to $1.75 Some money early for Just Dance Race 3     Best backed in this race is Michele and she is leading multi betting from Idle Moose. Race 4     Chase Auckland is the best backed horse for the day and is in from $2.00 to $1.55 He also easily leads multi-betting. Race 5     The Foot Tapper easily leads both FF win and multi-betting with some money for Donsmedad Race 6     This race is a quiet market early with best backed in FF win and multi-betting being Mikey Maguire at $2.50 Race 7     Have Faith In Me attracted a $1000 bet early and leads FF win betting . Dream About Me leads multi-betting. Race 8     Leader in FF win is Cullenburn in from $2.60 to $2.20 with Beachbabebeauty also taking money Race 9     A big move here for Habibti Ivy in from $2.00 to $1.70. She is easily best backed in FF win and multi-betting. Race 10    An even market here with Micky Gee best backed $4.20 to $3.70 and leading multi-betting over Amazon Lily.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Today New Zealand's top harness racing trainers start their quest towards winning a number of targeted group races this season, including this years Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup in November.   Winners of the New Zealand trainers premiership for the last four years, the All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have five horses entered at Addington today and are quickly expected to rack up the wins and add to their incredible winning strike rate they manage to achieve each season. Purdon and Rasmussen have a two-pronged attack on this years New Brighton Cup, with both top mare Dream About Me and Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me entered in today's race,  Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me have been well schooled at the trials and workouts in the last few weeks, with both horses placing behind one of today's rivals Imola at the Rangiora workouts on the 6th September.  Mark Purdon thought Have Faith In Me would have a slight edge fresh up, saying "Dream About Me has had a longer break and she can be a bit vulnerable fresh up, but we will be happy if she is running on at the finish" Stable star Lazarus ran third in the New Brighton Cup last year, before going on to win the New Zealand Cup by ten lengths in a record time of 3-53.1 for the 3200m stand. Mark and Natalie also have the well regarded "Chase Auckland" having his first start at the races today after some tidy trial performances in the last few weeks. The speedy Auckland Reactor gelding has drawn well at barrier five today, and will be driven by Natalie Rasmussen in what is a very strong non winners race. Mark will drive the stablemate Conway Beach in the same race, but thought Chase Auckland was the better chance of the two. Renkse B rounds out the day for the Purdon/Rasmussen stable in Race 8 and the smart Mach Three mare will be driven today by Nathan Purdon. Renkse B has been flying at the trials but has come up with the outside barrier draw which will make it tough with some quick horses drawn inside her.   Harnesslink Media      

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