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Harness racing 3 year olds in the North Island always have a hard road to the Sires Stakes Final at Addington on Cup day with few suitable races to get them race hardened for the big day. Hence it is no surprise that on Friday night at Alexandra Park we find the three leading North island hopes lining up in a C2-C6 pace over 2200 metres. First and foremost is Hughie Green who has been in exceptional form this season and is rated the North's best hope of taking home the silverware on Cup day. However South Auckland trainer Ray Green has two 3 year olds that he thinks are more than capable of holding their own in the Sires Stakes Final in the Bettor's Delight colt, Strike The Gold and the Mach Three colt, Chachingchaching. The pair ran the quinella in the Sires Stakes heat at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago and did it in the style of horses who are right at the top of their game. Strike The Gold had a head to spare on that occasion over Chachingchaching as they cut out the 1700 metres in a very fast 2:02.3, a mile rate of 1:55.8 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 27.4 It was a performance that suggested that the duo will be very competitive come the Final on Cup day. Ray is happy with both of them heading into Friday night. "They are both well enough heading into Friday night but in saying that the run will help to tighten both of them up looking towards the final,"  Ray told Harnesslink today. "We are up against Hughie Green on Friday night  but there is no point in ducking him so I'm looking forward to the race actually," he said. Safely through Friday night, Ray's pair of top 3 year olds will not head south until late in the piece. " They can both have a run at the trials after Friday night just to top them off for Addington. "The plan at this stage is to fly them down a couple of days before the final,"  he said. Ray Green has fashioned a great record in the Sires Stakes final in the last five years, winning it with Sir Lincoln and running fourth with Besotted while Hawkeye Bromac was unplaced last year. Ray knows what it takes to takes to win the Sires Stakes Final and in Chachingchaching and Strike The Gold he has two 3 year olds capable of doing just that. Harnesslink Media  

Last week saw a big improvement from the week before but the team of tipsters are still not really at peak yet. Maurice McKendry, Sean McCaffrey, Todd Mitchell, Todd Macfarlane, Matthew Williamson and Steve Richardson from the TAB all nabbed winners while another five managed placings. As we countdown to Cup week, there are once again five meetings nationwide and we have selections for all of them. Forbury Park - Thursday night Craig Thornley - Likes Smart Caesar from a mobile to be hard to beat in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Pegasus Kommander from barrier 2 would be hard to beat in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Dwindle Mist is on the improve and can take out race 7   Auckland - Friday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thought the central districts visitor Our Wicklow would be hard in race 1 Maurice Mckendry - Rates the chances of The Orange Agent in race 2 Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path even from barrier 15 can win race 6 Zac Butcher - Likes Chachingchaching to upset Hughie Green in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Eyrewell Pegasus can overcome the 20 metre handicap and win race 8 Tony Herlihy - Likes stable runner Danger Mouse in the hands of Tony Cameron to win race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks A Chance To Dream from barrier 1 could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Jim Curtin - Thought Juliette Bromac was a real chance of winning race 2 Tim Williams - Rates Have Faith In Me back to a maiden very hard to beat, also in race 2  Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Ruby a chance to upset from the mobile in race 3 John Dunn - Likes Monumental to turn his form around in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Confident that Stradowan has improved from first up run and can win race 8   Riverton - Sunday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Majestic Stride a real show of winning race 3 Matthew Williamson - Thought Alley Way even from 50 metres should be too good for them in race 5 Clark Barron - Thinks with natural improvement Sheeza Shark won't be far away in race 7 Dexter Dunn - Likes Courage To Fly to end his run of seconds and win race 8   Kaikoura - Monday afternoon Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought star trialist Princess Galleon could win race 1 Blair Orange - Couldn't see Mighty Flying Major beaten in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Carrickmannon could trouble Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy in race 4 Ricky May - Confident that Mel Gibson can go one better than his last start and win race 5 Sam Ottley - Thinks Price Of Fame will go very close also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Norvic Nightowl a real chance in the Kaikoura Cup, race 8    Harnesslink Media

Harness racing throws curveballs at trainers all the time and it always seems to be with the horses with all the ability. Tony Herlihy is still scratching his head over the performance of the outstanding trotter Irish Whisper in the Flying Mile at Ashburton on Labour Day. After drawing barrier one, Irish Whisper led early and then trailed the hot favourite Stent after 200 metres before ending up three back on the inner when Vulcan sped to the lead. Stent came out of the trail at the 600 metres and grabbed the lead and Irish Whisper also came off the inner at the same time to be parked at the 500 metres mark. As they straightened for home Stent shot away and left them to it with Irish Whisper battling into seventh, nearly seven lengths from the winner. It was a very disappointing run for the son of Sundon who has proved more than a match for Stent in previous clashes between the pair. Tony was at a loss to explain the performance. " I was very disappointed with the run and thought he should have run in the money with the trip he had. "He has matched it with Stent in the past and he had settled in really well down south so I was expecting a big run," he said Tests taken afterwards have not shone any light on the reason for the below par performance so Tony aims to carry on towards the Dominion with him. " We took a blood after Monday but everything looks fine so we are none the wiser. "I have put him in at Kaikoura as he seems well in himself. "We will just put a line through Ashburton and press on," he said Irish Whisper has won 11 races to date and $154,957 and has always looked capable of winning a race like the Dominion Handicap so it may not pay to discard his chances off the back of one below par performance. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing in New Zealand lost one of its racetrack stars this week when the outstanding trotting racemare Superbowlcheerleader was retired due to injury. Since joining the All Stars team last year, she had gone ahead in leaps and bounds and looked to be in for a huge season. Originally with the Wallis/Hackett barn for whom she won six races, Superbowlcheerleader was purchased last year by Brian West and Sue Grainger first and foremost as a future broodmare. The daughter of Sundon had won six races and close to $40,000 and after being purchased,she was transferred to the All Stars barn at Rolleston for a few more starts before becoming a broodmare. However it soon became apparent that Superbowlcheerleader was far from finished an the racetrack. Always known to be a touch headstrong like a lot of the Sundon's, Superbowlcheerleader showed the All Star team enough to suggest that they should press on with a race career. It took half a dozen starts for the All Stars team to get her to the winners circle but she kept on improving and a 3rd in the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Championship to Master Lavros in a 1:59.4 mile rate for the 2600 metres had everyone sitting up and taking notice. At her next start Superbowlcheerleader won the $95,845 Group 1 Anzac Cup over Zedalite after sitting parked for the majority of the journey in what was undoubtedly her best win. She started this season with a neck second to Kinscaslough in New Zealand record time and looked to be peaking nicely for all the big trotting races around Cup week. Since being purchased and transferred to the All Stars barn, Superbowlcheerleader had faced the starter 19 times for 4 wins and 5 placings for stakes of $99,337. She goes to stud with an overall record of 47 starts for 10 wins, 5 seconds and 8 thirds for stakes totaling $139,782 When spoken to this morning Brian West while disappointed with how it ended, has loved the ride with the mare. " We purchased her really as a broodmare and to have her turn around and race like that has been a huge thrill"  he said. " Mark and Natalie have done such a great job with her and I feel for them a bit as they thought she was shaping up to have her best season yet. "We haven't decided on a stallion for her yet but there is no shortage of world class sires available,"  he said. Superbowlcheerleader is the 3rd foal from the Britewell mare Brite Paula. The first two are both winners in Going Commando - 6 wins ($37,477) and Hot Holiday -17 wins ($159,404) while Brite Paula herself is a full sister to the former age group star Super Command -11 wins ($185,803) The third dam is the brilliant trotting mare Paula Scott who raced in North America in the 1970s, taking a record then of 2:00 and earning $123,198. and she was a half sister to the great trotting mare Paulette who won the 1971 Group One Rowe Cup. It has been a great trotting family for over 40 years and Superbowlcheerleader will get her chance at stud to further enhance its standing. Harnesslink Media

You have just a couple of day left to win a set of $1,400US custom race bike wheels from Forward Motion Technologies, perhaps a full set of RazorHorse shoes, maybe a five gallon bucket of Lifeline Horse Supplement or a $100 Amazon gift card? These prizes, plus more - 13 in total - will be given away in Harnesslink’s month long Insider Access “Win The Wheels Contest” throughout October. All you have to do is sign-up for our fortnightly newsletter, Insider Access, by the end of October. THAT"S THIS FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT!  It’s as simple as that (and be age 18 or older too). No fees, no charges, you can unsubscribe at any time (we suggest you at least wait until after the prizes are drawn), no hidden costs whatsoever, totally free to enter. Can’t make it any simpler than that! Insider Access is a great newsletter which keeps you informed on news and opinions in harness racing that you won’t get on any other website or magazine, even our own Harnesslink! Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing as you view the current issue of Insider Access.  “We are so pleased that some of our advertising sponsors have come on board for this special promotion,” said John Curtin, founder and CEO of Harnesslink. “I want to thank the people at Forward Motion Technologies, Lifeline Horse Supplement and RazorHorse for joining us and donating these great prizes. So take a moment to go on our site and check out the companies and see what prizes you might win.” At the end of October everyone who has signed up for the newsletter, even those who already get Insider Access, will be drawn at random. The first 12 names selected will win either the horse supplement or RazorHorse shoes and the 13th winner will get the set of sulky wheels, shipped to their residents, no matter what country you live in. A reminder that everyone who signs up must be age 18 or older in order to win. All winners will be notified via email and proof of age and proper mailing address will be verified. For the complete rules and regulations for the contest click here. Just click below to visit the three sponsors of “Win The Wheels Contest.”

The harness racing action moved to the trials at Rangiora yesterday after the huge day at Ashburton on Monday and saw a large batch of 2 year olds strut their stuff for the first time. The first of the 2 year old heats was for the fillies and all six runners were from the all conquering All Stars team. Arden's Choice by Panspacificflight did enough to grab the pacemaking Sophisticated Lady (Mach Three) in the last few metres but the whole six finished within a couple of lengths of each other in their first serious hitout. The overall time of 2:42.7 in the very windy conditions was what you would expect from a first up run and it should be upwards and onwards from here. The second of the 2 year old heats for colts and geldings saw a 3 year old added to the 5 runners in the form of Bettor Be Smooth and as you would expect he was too strong for the juveniles. Two All Stars runners in Chase The Dream (Bettor's Delight)  and Waikiki Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) closed in the straight but were still 1 1/4 and 2 1/2 lengths in arrears at the finish. However as the last 800 metres was cut out in a blistering 56.6 and 400 metres in 28.6, in less than ideal conditions, then both 2 year olds look to be very promising. In the third 2 year old heat which was also for colts and geldings, another of the All Stars team in Major Ben was very impressive. Slow to begin from the outside alley, Major Ben (Art Major) looped the field after 300 metres and was too strong afterwards winning by two lengths in the fastest time of the three heats of 2:37.2. with closing sectionals of 58.6 and 28.5 Stablemate Lazarus (Bettor's Delight) made ground late to grab second from Audi Hare (Mach Three) from the Michael House barn. Major Ben was easily the biggest of the 2 year olds on display yesterday but seems to have speed to match his size. There was plenty of talented horseflesh in some of the other heats yesterday and this is how we saw them. Isaiah looked very forward as he nabbed a game Venus Serena in his heat which was cut out in a 1:59.8 mile rate with smart sectionals in the conditions of 56.8 and 28.1 Both look ready to rumble come Cup week Itz Bettor To Win made ground well behind the first two for third and can't be far away from making his 3 year old debut. Ancient Moonlight and Cut Loose were very impressive in a C0 heat, clearing out a long way from home with only half a head separating them at the finish. The overall time of 2:30.7 was excellent in the conditions and both horses look to be early winners on that run. Ranfurly Rulz looked forward to resume when winning his heat in a 1:59.8 mile rate when the wind was at its worst and after he had done all the work in front. Princess Galleon trialed again like a trotter who is going to win one at short notice when she cleared out by five lengths in her heat. Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy were only separated by a half head in their heat and both look ready to win a maiden at short notice. Overall apart from the wind, it was a day that threw up several smart horses for racing around New Zealand Cup week Harnesslink Media

Kentuckiana Lodge NZ Cup contender Christen Me, after getting back on the outer, had to settle for third to the Allstars stablemates, Adore Me and Hands Christian in the $49,396 The Trust Ashburton Flying Stakes, but there was plenty to like about his performance. The reigning Grand Circuit champ, like triple NZ Cup winner and favourite Terror To Love, were left to pick up the crumbs as the Allstars stablemates controlled the front end. Adore Me made one of her best beginnings from the stand start to take up the early running, then eased to trail Hands Christian with 1200m to run. She finished best to score by three-quarters of a length in 2:56 for the stand start 2400m (1:58 mile rate), the leaders running their last 800m in 54.9s and final 400m in 26s. This was a NZ mares record, lowering Jamie’s previous mark of 2:57.2 set in 2006, but outside Terror To Love’s allcomers NZ mark of 2:54.9. Christen Me stormed home wide out for third, being timed over his last mile in 1:53.8, his closing 800m in 54s and his final 400m in a sensational 25.1s. “I knew that last quarter must have been something very fast,” Cran said. “We were going as fast as we can but couldn’t get past the top two. Dex said he (Christen Me) was powerful at the line.” In a remarkable feat, 90-year-old Charlie Roberts bred the trifecta, and co-races both Adore Me and Christen Me. Adore Me is a daughter of Bettor’s Delight and the former NZ mile record-holder Scuse Me (1:53.5), who Mr Roberts purchased at the end of her race career in North America and returned her to NZ for breeding. Both Hands Christian and Christen Me are brothers, being by Christian Cullen from Scuse Me’s Dream Away daughter, Splendid Dreams. At the presentation, Mr Roberts’ son-in-law Paul Kenny, also a co-owner of Adore Me, confirmed the mare had “put her best foot forward”, adding: “the win was totally unexpected, but a total thrill.” Bit Of A Legend, the second Kentuckiana Lodge runner in the Flying Stakes, began nervously from the inside, galloping away and settling back on the inner. He wasn’t able to feature, but still paced 2:57 for the stand start 2400m to finish last of the nine, and only five lengths from the winner. Two of Bit Of A Legend’s Gore co-owners, Pat and Margaret Kubala, had better luck the previous day at Forbury when Lightning Mach justified her short quote when resuming in a maiden pace. Despite starting from the back row, Lightning Mach enjoyed a good run through to improve three wide and was in front at the end of 600m and won untested by 3 1/4 lengths. The Mach Three-Righteous Franco filly, having her first start since May, paced the 2200m on the slushy track in 2:49 without having her earplugs pulled. She is one of four 3YO fillies for her trainer in Friday’s $25,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes Fillies Series Heat at Addington, having drawn the inside of the second row. She is drawn to follow out one of her stablemates, Delightful Lana (ace), while Margarita (not entirely happy on the rain-affected track when a beaten favourite at Forbury last Sunday) and Bettor Think Twice will start from the outside of the front row. Courtesy Cran Dalgety Racing Stables - Check site here    

Art Union paced the fastest official final 800m by a 3YO in NZ with a sizzling 54.1s burn in cool conditions to win at Ashburton on Labour Day Monday, 2014. The victory, coming on the heels of Lightning Mach’s win at Tuapeka on Sunday, and earlier a double by Delightful Lana and Cody Singer at Addington last Friday, has trainer Cran Dalgety poised for his latest milestone. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is now just three wins away from attaining 1000 New Zealand victories. He will become just the sixth to do so, joining Roy, Barry and Mark Purdon, Ces Donald and Derek Jones. Art Union continues to get better with each run leading into the $170,000 NRM Sires Stakes Final at Addington on Tuesday week. “He’s definitely improving with each run. I’m rapt with him,” Cran said. However, the Art Major-Sparks A Flyin colt will need to be on top of his game in a fortnight as this season’s three-year-olds are a stellar crop. Art Union, as his trainer predicted in his weekly ratings, had no concerns with his first run from a stand start. He hit his hopples straight away, taking 150m to head good stand start horse Classiegent, with driver Dexter Dunn getting away with a soft run in the middle stages. He covered the first 800m from a stand in 63.9, meaning he ran his last mile in 1:57.1 and poured on the pace over his last two quarters in 27.6s and 26.5s. The full 2400m in 3:01.2 didn’t threaten the NZ 3YO 2400m stand start mark of 2:59.8, set by the former John Hay-trained Pacific Blue Jean on the same course 11 years ago. However, the final fractions were absolutely brilliant for a horse of his age. The Allstars stablemates of Vice Consul, and fellow 3YO Sires Stakes rival Hug The Wind, chased him down to within a length and a half, but Art Union was always in control. Vice Consul let down well late to get nearest, although Hug The Wind did well after tangling at the end of 200m, going back to last of the six, but secured a one-out trail behind Billies A Star over the final lap. Art Union extended his impressive record to eight wins and four placings from 13 starts, taking his earnings to $89,678 for breeder-owners, Jim and Susan Wakefield. Courtesy of Cran Dalgety Racing - Check site here    

Course specialist Strike On Command stretched his unbeaten run to four wins in as many Forbury starts when delivering at the Tuapeka meeting on Sunday, October 26. The Mark Jones-trained McArdle gelding completed a winning double for the stable and in-form driver Blair Orange at Forbury, with Hellavahanover bouncing back to winning form in the day’s opener. Blair notched a quartet of Tuapeka wins, also scoring with Bit Of A Legend’s younger brother Lookofalegend and Change Time, both for West Melton trainer Ken Barron. Strike on Command was well-rated by Blair, settling three back on the outer, then making a move to be parked briefly with a lap to run. He had cover coming with Aidan’s Rocket working to parked at the 750m, then wore down the Nathan Williamson-trained Aidan’s Rocket in the run home, scoring by a neck. He paced the 2200m (stand) on the sticky track in 2:50.6, the leaders running their last 800m in 58.3s. Strike On Command is raced by New South Wales owner Kevin Stanley, who also raced his Bettor’s Delight half-sister Cotton Row (three wins, TT, 1:57.8), and is now breeding from the latter. Both Strike On Command and Cotton Row are from a good- winning OK Bye mare Noble Strike (1:56.8h, US), who numbered a PGG NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Fillies South Island Graduette win and a Nevele R Fillies Heat among her two NZ wins for Ian and Malcolm Shinn. Noble Strike scored another 15 wins in North America, earning the equivalent of $149,602. She (Noble Strike) is a half-sister to other big USA winners in Time Flies (1:52, US; 36 wins incl. 32 in the US for $624,230 career winnings) and Ultimate Pursuit (1:51.6, US, 44 wins incl. 38 in the US). Hellavahanover, who returned to the Mark Jones stable after a stint with Gareth Dixon in the north last term, winning first-up at Auckland in March, was also good fresh on Sunday. First-up since being pulled up at the Kurow meeting in early August, Hellavahanover didn’t put a foot wrong off the unruly mark over 2200m at Tuapeka. Blair improved with her to a one back-one out trailing spot with 1400m to run, had her out and running at the 400m and she did enough to hold favourite Springfield Eyre (who tracked her from the 1400m) by a neck. The 4YO Brylin Boyz-Malabar Hanover mare trotted 2:59.8 for the trip when the track was slushy. Hellavahanover is the first foal from her Malabar Maple dam, a half-sister to former top NZ trotter Romper Stomper (2:00.1 mile rate 2600m, 12 wins & $180,579), and the two-race trot winner Amanda’s Flash. Romper Stomper trotted a NZ mobile 2600m record, at the time, of 3:14.2 (2:00.1 mile rate) when he won the Group One 2007 $75,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington onShow day, when beach-trained by Robbie Holmes. Now 15 and living out retirement as a hack, Romper Stomper was co-raced by Cambridge trainer John Dickie with Hamilton’s Phil Sherley, also a co-owner of Hellavahanover. Meanwhile, Classiebee, who previously won five for the Mark Jones stable, won first-up since transferring to Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight at the Tuapeka meeting. Classiebee, largely due to a well-rated front-running drive from Rory McIlwrick, lasted to just hold fast-finishing favourite Titan Banner in a C1-2 pace. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here        

One of the most progressive winners at yesterday's harness racing meeting at Ashburton would have to be the beautifully bred trotter, Eyre I Come. He gained his first win for Melbourne owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, who joined co-owner Grant Hatton in the ownership in April. The grandson of former 1987 Rowe Cup and 1988 Dominion Handicap-winning mare Landora’s Pride (34 wins & $472,842) rounded out a hat-trick of wins on Sunday-Monday of Labour weekend for Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones, and in-form driver Blair Orange. Eyre I Come was first-up since breaking at despatch point and finishing unplaced in the Group One Northern Trotting Derby on May 9. The Majestic Son gelding also mixed his gait in his other two northern campaign races before spelling, but he was foolproof in Monday’s C1-2 Anderson Photography & Design Trot victory. After settling back on the outer, improved wide turning in and lengthened stride to a nicety at the business end, scoring by half a length from late finisher Mel Gibson in a useful 3:05.4 for the stand start 2400m. The winner was timed over his last 800m in 57.6s. The Butterworths’ secured the share of the gelding’s former Woodend trainer David Gaffaney, who qualified him and prepared him for his debut win at Timaru in February. Mark Jones initially selected Eyre I Come at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales for Mr Hatton, who races Auckland Cup placegetter Saveapatrol from the stable. However, Mark felt the well-bred youngster would benefit from his early development with Gaffaney, who had more time to spend moulding him. Eyre I Come didn’t come cheap, being a $45,000 yearling, but is bred to win races and Mark thinks he’ll improve further. His year younger half-brother Springbank Eden (by Angus Hall), beat the only maidens in a C0 trot at Waikouaiti in March for Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson. Their dam Landora’s Special (Sundon-Landora’s Pride, by Game Pride-Landora) won four trotting and is a half-sister to Landora’s Gift, who also won four. Landora’s Gift, voted the NZ 2YO & 3YO Trotting Filly of the Year in 1995-96, famously bred on as the Chiola Hanover dam of champion NZ-bred but largely Australia-raced Sundon’s Gift (1:54.3, 41 wins & $1.2 million), who not only won the 2010 Rowe Cup at Auckland for Chris Lang but also the 2010 Interdominion Trotting Grand Final at Mooney Valley, and numerous other Australian features. Another daughter of Landora’s Pride, herself a Victoria Dullard Cup winner across the Tasman, in Invasion’s Pride (six wins, and runnerup in a Australasian Breeders Crown 3YO Trot Final) also left a topliner in the brilliant Let Them Thru (2:00, 2240m, 19 wins from 30 starts for $A453,945), the runnerup to I Can Doosit in the 2011 Interdominion Trotters Final at Auckland. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stable    Check site here     

The Queens birthday harness racing meeting at Ashburton today had plenty of topliners involved but it was a first starter who stole the show early on. The Mach Three filly Classical Art was only having her third run away from her home at the All Stars base at Rolleston when she accounted for a game Brilliant Strike today. Classical Art only qualified two weeks ago at Addington when she won a 2000 mobile heat in a very quick 1:59 mr She followed that up at last Tuesday's Ashburton trials with a smart win over 2400 metres from a stand, sprinting over her last 400 metres in 27.2. In todays race she dropped off the gate early and slotted into the running line. Brilliant Strike went to the lead with a lap to run and driver Mark Purdon sent Classical Art  off in pursuit with 1100 metres to run. Brilliant Strike applied the pressure across the top and straightened for home three lengths to the good of Classical Art. Half way up the straight Brilliant Strike was holding but in the last 200 metres Classical Art ground her way past him for a great debut win. Classical Art paced the 2400 metres from a mobile in a smart 2:57.2, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with closing sectionals of 57.5 and 28. Mark Purdon was pleased with the first up effort. "That was a nice win first up but she did get the right trip," he said Mark was just as happy with how Classical Art behaved herself at her debut run. "She was a real handful earlier but has settled down this time in I am not sure just yet where we will go next," Mark said." Classical Art is bred to be good as the 3 year old daughter of Mach Three is the 3rd foal from the Artsplace mare in Art Lover 1:57.6 who is a daughter of the former brilliant racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,923). She was purchased out of the 2013 Australasian Classic yearling sale for $31,000 by Mark Purdon on behalf of the Whitelocks of Palmeston North, who have had a long and successful association with the All Stars stable. Harnesslink Media  

 Just when the New Zealand Trotting Cup looked set to be a two-horse race, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen raised their collective hand and said ‘don’t forget about us’. All the pre-Cup talk up until yesterday’s Ashburton Flying Stakes had been about the Prince – Christen Me and the King – Terror To Love, but the Queen of harness racing, Adore Me is now firmly back involved in all conversations. The brilliant pacing mare dished out a stern warning to her Cup rivals with a dominant victory in todays Flying Stakes – leaving some star pacing quality in her wake. And while the win was grand, as every win is, the biggest success for Purdon and Rasmussen came in the first 200 metres when Adore Me flew the barrier strands to settle near the early speed. Traditionally slow, or badly away, it was a turn in form at the right time and Purdon, who handled the driving duties yesterday, was suitably impressed. “She really pinged away when the tapes went,’’ he said. “I knew she could do it, she’s begun very quickly at the trials and workouts before. “It certainly gave us a big advantage too.’’ Purdon looked for the lead after a few hundred metres and after finding it yielded to take a trail behind stable mate Hands Christian. From there she was always going to be hard to beat and when Purdon rolled off the leaders back at the top of the straight it was race over as she dashed away to claim the victory. Hands Christian fought bravely to finish in second placing completing a quinella on a good at the office for the Purdon Rasmussen stable who also registered wins with Classical Art, Rare Opportunity and Willow. Both Christen Me and Terror To Love were left to lament things back in the field and neither got into the race with only the former running home strongly to finish in third position with Terror To Love a length behind him at the finish. In terms of a New Zealand Trotting Cup viewpoint, other than Adore Me’s manners and Hands Christian’s return to the top level there was very little else gained from the race. Local hope, Jimmy Johnstone ran a cracker of a race to finish in fourth position. The feature trotting race for the day went to the Colin and Julie DeFilippi trained Stent. The Group One winning squaregaiter bound to the lead from behind the mobile gate and left tongues wagging at the top of the straight when he dashed away to record a comprehensive victory just two weeks out from his main aim, the Dominion Handicap.  Courtesy of Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Ashburton Flying Stakes day is one of the biggest days on the New Zealand harness racing calendar and the All Stars stable has a big team in and most have winning hopes. Here's how the stable rates their runners. Race 2 Backup (1) Natalie Natalie "I favour him over Tokahoka with that draw. He is a very consistent little horse and he should get a nice run from there. Leading hope" Tokahoka (C1 2400m mobile) (6) Tim   Race 3 Rare Opportunity (C3-5 2400m) (20m) Mark Mark "We have been trying to train more speed into him and I think we have made some progress. He was better at Addington and this is a field which suits him. Hard to beat I would say if he does it right.   Race 4 Classical Art (C0 mobile 2400m) (3) Mark Natalie "We have been pleased with her trials and her work lately. She has matured quite a lot. Even first up she should be hard to beat in that field though it is not a walk  up and win job"   Race 5 Prince Fearless (C1-2 2400m) (unruly) Mark Mark "Actually this is his first stand but I put him on the unruly. Sometimes a young horse like this having his first standing start gets a bit overawed among the more experienced horses. It means he will give them a little start but he should have more confidence. He is not far away though he will obviously improve with it. He has come up really well but those older horses who have a lot of ringcraft mightn't make it easy for him"   Race 6 Hug The Wind (3) Mark  Vice Consul (C1-2 2400m stand) (6) Mark "Both good chances. Art Union will obviously be hard. Vice Consul is a bit underrated. He's a good horse and he is probably a bit of each way value"   Race 7 Adore Me (7) Mark Mark "I am very happy with her but she will improve again. Being in the first four would be a pass mark for me and a good one but we'll take anything better"  Hands Christian (6) Natalie Natalie-"I was very very happy with his work again on Saturday. He's really coming on in great style. He surprised a few last time and he might surprise them again here"   Race 9 Willow (C3-5 fillies and mares one mile) (6) Natalie Natalie "I think that she can win first up though she will improve with it. She has put the fractions up in fast races before and that ability is always a big factor. She has filled out a bit since last season and I think she will be even better next season but with luck in this field on her trials she will be very hard to beat"   Race 10 Fly Like An Eagle (1 20m) Tim Tim "He was great in an easier field and I think he will improve again. The problem for him is the 20m handicap even if he begins which I am not worried about. But if they run 2.59 or something off the front it makes it tough"  Arden Rooney (1 10m) Natalie Natalie "He's ready to go. His work has been great and he usually does things right. A top chance with Tiger Tara the one to beat I guess"  Messini  (4) Mark Natalie "He's a good horse and his trials have been fine. A good horse off the front running a time can make the handicapped horses work hard on this track and you have to respect his ability"   Race 11 Bio Marinus (C3-4 stand) 2 10m Mark Natalie " He is in the zone at the moment and will be hard to beat again. Work is good too"   Courtesy Of All Stars Racing - Check site here  

Some harness racing horses always seem to be ignored by the punters around the country regardless of how they perform. Armazem would definitely qualify as she always seems to start at long odds regardless of how she is going at the time. Twelve days ago at Timaru she was sent out at odds of $41 to one and after leading early and then trailing, Armazen got home well for second to the smart filly Delightful Lana. When Delightful Lana backed that up with a win in the first race last night in 1 :55.9 for the mile, you would have thought that Armazen in race 2 would have attracted some support. But alas the punters ignored the run at Timaru and let Armazem go out at the ridiculous odds of $59 to one against a field that included several runners that she had beaten home at Timaru. Restrained from barrier eight by driver Ross Payne, Armazen settled last early in the running line and didn't move until 1000 metres from home when she joined the three wide line on the back of Twitter Bromac. Given a lovely run up to the leaders, Armazen peeled three wide as they turned for home and sprinted clear and then withheld a late charge from Stopandstare to win by a neck. Armazen paced the 1950 metres in 2:25.2, a mile rate of 1:59.8 with closing sectionals of 60.5 and 27.9. Ross was stunned by the winning tote divvy. "I'm not a betting man but I thought she would have been a $10 shot in that field" " She is a lovely mare to do anything with and on her work I thought she would be hard to beat, " he said. Trained at West Melton by his brother Grant, Armazen is under offer but Ross is hoping that no business is done. "The way she is going, I am sure there is another win or two in her pretty quickly. "Grant has done a great job with her and she is really on the up at the moment," Ross said today. The win has come at a timely point for Ross as he looks to re-establish himself amongst the open driving ranks in Canterbury. Ross has spent the last 14 months as the stable manager at the all conquering All Stars stable but left recently to get back to doing what he loves most, driving. He is looking forward to teaming up with the very talented All Star Man who makes his season debut at Ashburton on Monday but is not overly confident. " We have struck Fly Like An Eagle, Arden Rooney and Tiger Tara on Monday but he is very well and won't disgrace himself. "Whatever he does on Monday, he is a horse to follow in the next few weeks,"  Ross said. One thing that must surely happen in the near future is that any runner involved with Grant and Ross Payne will treated with a lot more respect by punters. Harnesslink Media     

Well known Reporoa harness racing enthusiast Danny McGill has had a lot of smart horses over the years and in last nights Alexandra Park winner Elliesjet  he seems to have another one to keep the bank manager happy. Danny has had a great run over the years breeding such smart types as Magie Lilly Rose 1:54.1 ($202,718), Golden Trowel 1:52.4 ($117,056) and Maximus Meridius 1:52.3 ($109,515). His latest winner though has been a bit of a surprise to the noted stockman. "She is a big filly, I mean really big and I didn't think she would have any speed," he told Harnesslink today. By Jeremes Jet from the speedy Village Jasper mare Elle Mary Rose 2:00.7, Elliesjet has been given plenty of time to grow into her large frame. "The original plan was to get her up and running and try to sell her but after after the way she has gone the last two weeks we have taken the for sale sign down," Danny said today. The 4 year old mare was having just her third lifetime start last night and on the back of a super third last week was warmly supported even though she drew the outside of the second row. Patiently driven in the early stages by driver Todd Mitchell, Elliesjet settled back in the running line before Todd sent her forward after 600 metres to grab the lead. From there it turned into a procession as Elliesjet gradually increased the tempo and then powered away in the home straight for an emphatic win by four lengths. Elliesjet paced the 2200 metres in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.1 and 28.9 Today Danny was musing that you should never judge a book by its cover. " Todd said she absolutely jogged it and had plenty left at the finish so thats very encouraging,"  "Gareth Dixon (trainer) has suggested we should look at some of the support races over the Xmas carnival at Auckland so thats where we are heading,"  he said. Its been a big week for Danny as a half sister to Elliesjet in Annie Morva was successful at Menangle last Saturday night. "She ran second in the Ladyship stakes to Adore Me at three at Alexandra Park and then we sent her to Blake Fitzpatrick in Sydney to race. "Its worked out really well as she has topped the $100,000 mark in earnings and took a mark of 1:52.9 when she won last week," Danny said Danny almost made it a trifecta for the week as a breeder when the trotter he bred Al Bundy was an unlucky third at Alexandra Park last night. With Elliesjet and Annie Morva in such fine form, Danny looks in for a very profitable summer over the next few months. Harnesslink Media  

A treble of wins for the All Stars team was highlighted by memorable results for Mickey Ward and the Patterson family and for Neil Pilcher who posted a win on his 77th birthday - as well as Matt Anderson posting his first win at Addington watched by his sponsor and family friend, Ray Coupland.  Mickey Ward has spent a good part of his life following or racing horses. His biggest moment was winning the Messenger with the Jack Smolenski -trained  OK Royal with Jack and Mickey racing him in partnership. Royal Mach raced out of All Stars for the Wards after Jack retired  but  The Royal Garden has tested his patience after a paddock accident sidelined him for a long time. Mickey wasn't travelling that well either with a serious bout of ill health which has put him in a wheelchair.  In typical humorous style Mickey loved the win but was a bit septic on the $1.50 win dividend ! "Pilch" has sold the smart Holy Grail this week but Alta Orlando who he races with Jim and Ann Gibbs won the 5th heat of the Sires Stakes anyway. Neil's record with the stock of Courage Under Fire  is outstanding and Alta Orlando, a big two year old winner last season, has proven a bargain. Heres a review of how the All Stars runners went: Stopandstare (2nd) Nathan) "Had to do a bit of work caught three wide and she fought on well (last quarter 27.9)  " - Nathan Alta Ronaldo (2nd) Natalie "He just missed away a little, not bad, but in those short races from a stand it never helps. He went good after that, fought on well. He just doesn't have that real sharp speed at this stage" - Natalie. Have Faith in Me (galloped in run up) Tim "The gate was going a bit slow for him and he started looking around and stargazing then bumped one outside him and that was that"  - Tim. (Forbury revisited !) Change Stride (4th) Mark "I wouldn't say he was disappointing. He got a good enough run but he wanted to hang and that made it hard for him. He is green yet. He will probably line up here again next Friday" -  Mark Alta Orlando (1st) Natalie "He didn't leave any excuses for them but he still does a few little things wrong. But he's tough and has the ability " - Natalie. Holy Grail (3rd) Matt "He went really good. He can sprint home and we had a good enough run but it was a good effort",- Matt. (Sold to Australia but likely to stay at Rolleston until after Sires Stakes finals) Hot Pants (1st) Matt "Yes that is my first win at Addington. Quite a thrill. We had to work a bit early but then we got a nice run and she did the rest"  The Royal Garden (1st) Tim "I thought we had got beaten. He kicks strongly though and that made the difference because he had to do a bit of work into the wind" -Tim. Courtesy Of All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here            

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