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Whenever you get a small field in harness racing, the race will usually turn out to be a cat and mouse affair and lacking in excitement. The return to the track tonight of Christen Me was in a race that looked just like that on paper with only five opponents but what transpired was anything but. Jimmy Johnstone made a flyer off the twenty meters mark in the 2600 meters standing start event and grabbed the lead after 300 meters and set up a solid tempo in front . Christen Me, the lone back marker on 30 meters made a safe begining and sat last of the six horse field which was all in single file. Going past the 1600 meters mark Dexter eased Christen Me out into the running line which drew Locharburn with Blair Orange in the bike straight out in front of him. Locharburn put the foot down in search of the lead from Jimmy Johnstone over the next 400 meters which was covered in 27.7 before Locharburn found the front with a lap to go. When the speed went on at the 1600 meters mark, Dexter hooked Christen Me back to the inner but  Dexter was on the move again passing the 900 meters mark and was soon up outside Locharburn. As they swung for home Locharburn refused to go away and why Christen Me  always looked to be travelling well within himself the margin of a neck speaks volumes for Locharburn's tenacity. The 2600 meters from a stand was run in 3:13.2, a mile rate of 1:59.5 with the last mile in 1:54.9 and closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27. It was a very impressive run from Christen Me first up especially as Dexter never pulled the ear plugs and hardly moved in the straight while the Locharburn camp would be very happy with how he handled the standing start and took the race to Christen Me in his first run in the top grade. The two sons of champion sire Christian Cullen both look in for big seasons. Harnesslink Media  

One of the more promising trotters recently on the harness racing scene in Canterbury is the Kevin Fairbairn trained Commander Paris. After breaking at his debut, Commander Paris had strung together three second placings which suggested a maiden win was at hand when he lined up in the Robbies Bar and Bistro trot at Addington Raceway tonight. (August 22nd) Away well from barrier 12 in the 2600 meters standing start race, driver John Dunn worked Commander Paris forward towards the lead but took nearly 800 meters to find the front. No sooner had Commander Paris reached the lead with 1800 meters to go than Diedrez Pearl and Sam Smolenski who had followed him through applied the blow torch to the leader. The two of them eyeballed each other for the next round with each quarter being covered in 30 and change and neither driver yielding an inch. As they reached the home corner Commander Paris finally shook off Diedrez Pearl but was instantly challenged by Davey's Gift on his outside and Ethelsville on his inner and just when you thought he would yield, he dug in like a smart horse and held on for a head victory over Davey's Gift with Ethelsville a further head away in third. It was an outstanding win in the circumstances and suggested Commander Paris has a big future in front of him. Commander Paris trotted the 2600 meters from a stand in 3:23.6 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29.8  By The Royal Troubador sire CR Commando, Commander In Paris is the fourth foal and the fourth winner from the Safely Kept mare in Paris Metro. The Pearl of Paris ($56,887)  Palais Royale ($30,864) and Sundown In Paris ($25,087) have all done a good job to date for Paris Metro and Commander Paris looks capable of adding to that this season They really should show ability at the trotting game as their dam Paris Metro was a quality trotting mare in the early 2000s winning $120,606 on the track. Harnesslink Media  

Dexter Dunn predicts a rare change of tactics when superstar pacer Christen Me returns to racing at Addington tonight. But he says punters need not worry, he still thinks the NZ Cup favourite will win. Christen Me kicks off a huge weekend for driver Dunn and trainer Cran Dalgety, who also have two favourites at Sunday’s rich Breeders Crown meeting at Melton. But while Katy Perry and Bit Of A Legend will have enormous support there, Christen Me will be red hot in tonight’s $12,000 handicap pace even though he faces a 30m handicap. He earned a spot in the race by breaking 54 seconds for his last 800m at the Rangiora workouts on Monday, beating former stablemate and race rival tonight Locharburn by six lengths. Locharburn wasn’t pushed in that workout and Dunn still rates him the biggest danger to Christen Me tonight, with the champion horseman knowing both horses well after driving the former to win the NZ Derby last season. “Locharburn is a really good horse but he is still only four and I think my fella (Christen Me) will have too much speed for them,” said Dalgety. But he warns there is unlikely to be a repeat of last season’s early tactics when he rushed to the lead on Christen Me to dominate his rivals with blistering last 400m sectionals. “I want to drive him with one run at them,” Dunn said. “It is only a small field but he is having his first run back and with that sort of run he can really sprint so this is a good chance to try that. “It doesn’t always work out that way but that is why I am thinking.” Dunn says Christen Me thrilled him in trackwork on Wednesday morning and he is confident of starting the huge weekend well. He is also beaming about the chances of Katy Perry, who headlines a five-filly New Zealand attack on the A$291,000 juvenile final on Sunday. Katy Perry only narrowly beat Joannes A Delight in their semi last Saturday but Dunn says that was misleading. “I only let her go the last 100m and she was jogging. “She has really thrived over there and she is a better filly than what we saw over here. “There are some good fillies in the race but I think I will be able to lead and that will make her very hard to beat.” Bit Of A Legend has no such luxury from the outside of the second line in his A$100,000 four-year-old pacing final in which he attempts to become a three-time Breeders Crown winner. He returned from a soreness-enforced nine month break with brutal win last Sunday but has a definite class edge on his rivals. “I couldn’t believe how well he went last Sunday considering he hadn’t raced for ages. “Cran has got him really well and if he can get to the parked out spot mid-race he is the one to beat so my biggest concern is three wide train stalling and us getting trapped back in the field.”
 Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness racing can always throw up the unexpected from time to time and the Safely Kept mare Cyclone Vance would seem to fit that description beautifully. Cyclone Vance is from the Vance Hanover mare Cyclone Betsi who is from a family that has produced some very smart pacers in the last 30 years such as Running On Faith 1:56.1 ($326,890)  Thunder Storm 1:51.8 ($343,340) and Atlas Alliance 1:53.4 ($138,623) to name just three. Not a trotter to be found anywhere but Cyclone Vance wanted to trot and was quite handy at it to boot, winning six races and $44,983 on the track. Then when she went to stud, Cyclone Vance was bred to high class trotting sires and the results have been a succession of talented trotters. Her first foal was the Muscles Yankee horse Cyclone Jake 1:55.6 ($173,342) and that was followed by the son of Dream Vacation in Cyclone Dream 2:00 ($74,734) The next winner from the mare was another son of Dream Vacation in the very talented Cyclone U Bolt 1:54.5 ($240,393) and the fourth winner was the promising son of Majestic Son in Glenferrie Typhoon 2:01.1 ($45,144) who is in the 4 year Trotters final of the Breeders Crown on Sunday at Melton. The latest foal from Cyclone Vance to hit the track is Cyclone Lucky Seven who made his debut tonight at the Harness Racing Waikato meeting at Cambridge. Trained by Todd Macfarlane and Craig Sharpe and driven tonight by Todd, Cyclone Lucky Seven stepped away well from barrier one in the 2700 meters standing start event. After leading early the son of Majestic Son ended up three back on the inner for most of the journey, Off the back straight, the horse in the trail broke allowing Cyclone Lucky Seven to get up on to the leaders back. From there Cyclone Lucky Seven shot up the passing lane for a stylish win on debut. Cyclone Lucky Seven trotted the 2700 meters from a stand in 3:40.8 with closing sectionals of 61.2 and 30. Going by his faultless debut performance, this won't be the last time that Cyclone Lucky Seven is seen in the winners circle. Harnesslink Media  

The Grand Circuit champion from  the last harness racing season is set to resume at Addington Raceway on Friday night. Christen Me is off 30 meters in a small but classy field in the C5/OC standing start 2600 meters event as he starts his campaign on the road to the New Zealand Cup. Cran Dalgety has given him two runs at trials and workouts to prep him for Friday night and he  should strip a fit horse. At his first trial at Ashburton, Christen Me ran a half neck second to Jimmy Johnstone in 3:04.9 for the 2400 meters mobile with closing sectionals of 57 and 27.4 which was a nice effort fresh up. At his second run at the Rangiora workouts on Monday of this week, Christen Me was beaten a nose by the talented Jason Rulz in 2:31.3 for the 2000 meters mobile with low flying closing sectionals of 53.9 and 26.1. That should have topped off Christen Me just nicely for Friday night and even though he is giving some nice horses a start it is hard to see him beaten. The season just completed was the first for Christen Me on the Grand Circuit and he didn't let his fans down being crowned the Grand Circuit champion for 2013/2014. One was always left with the impression that what ever he did in his first season on the Grand Circuit was only a prelude to what  a seasoned Christen Me could achieve in subsequent years Even though Christen Me has just celebrated his sixth birthday, he has only had 32 starts to date of which he has won 19 for stakes of $1,069,596. By all accounts Cran Dalgety is thrilled with his appearance leading into this season, claiming he has come back a stronger and more mature horse this preparation. If that pans out this season then Christen Me, Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn could be in for one hell of a ride over the next few months. Harnesslink Media

Pure Power, now an 8yo and with more than $300,000 to his name, is the latest big name acquisition to the Robert Dunn stables. Having been in Australia for around 18 months, Pure Power returned to New Zealand in May, rejoining the stable of his former trainers in David and Clare McGowan. He has worked pleasingly of late, having overcome an injury that ended his Australian campaign. He made his New Zealand reappearance at Saturday's Cambridge workouts with an encouraging 1.5 length victory. It was with the confidence of this workout that the decision was made to send him south to the Woodend stables of Robert and John Dunn. Samantha Ottley has been entrusted with the drive.  John is delighted with the news of the big Grinfromeartoear gelding joining the stable ranks. "It'll be great. Dave is really pleased with him and hopefully he should be heading down this weekend." Amongst his short term targets will most likely be the Maurice Holmes Vase. Depending on how he continues to progress the 2014 New Zealand Cup is definitely on the long-term planning sheet.        The horse has performed well on the big Addington track previously with his last start in NZ resullting in second place in the 2012 NZ Free-For-All, won by Gold Ace. There is a very real chance that the stable may be able to field 3 runners in this year's cup, with that race very much in the sights of stable stars Elios and Franco Nelson.  Courtesy Of Robert Dunn Harness Racing  

The curtain has finally been lowered on the harness racing career of the champion trotter Sovereignty. Plagued by soundness and foot complaints for a major part of his career, Sovereignty has been a major player on the New Zealand trotting scene since he announced his arrival as a three year old with a stunning performance in the New Zealand Trotting Derby. Sitting three wide for most of the last lap, Sovereignty only went under by a neck but then went on to dominate the three year classics with wins in the Great Northern Trotting Derby and the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final. Sovereignty ended his three year old season with a stunning win by over 5 lengths in the Harness Jewels in 1:56.9 and was duly crowned 3 year old trotter of the year in New Zealand Over the next six seasons, Sovereignty would race and beat the best around but was always under a cloud due to his soundness and feet issues. Australians never got to see Sovereignty at his absolute best as he only made two trips there in his seven seasons on the track and although winless in seven starts in Australia, Sovereignty picked up $94,313 in stakes which gives you an insight into his class. He was a constant in the Group One trotting races in New Zealand over those years with his half head second to Springbank Richard in the Dominion Handicap a highlight. Owned and raced throughout his career by the legendary Hall Of Famer Charlie Hunter and his wife Annette, Sovereignty was purchased on their behalf at the Christchurch yearling sales by noted Cambridge trainer Sean McCaffrey. He was trained throughout his career by Sean McCaffrey apart from a handful of starts for Greg and Nina Hope when a beach training regime was used to see if it helped him with his soundness issues. One always felt that a fully sound Sovereignty would have been something special on the track and to achieve what he did with all his issues stamped him as a trotter of the highest class. In all Sovereignty faced the starter 94 times for 28 wins and 34 placings for stakes of $780,386. Sovereignty went out a winner at his last start in early April and that was an appropiate way to end what has been a stellar career. Harnesslink Media  

“That's about twice as many entries as we expected to be honest”.  Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association chair Noel Kennard is pleasantly surprised by the more than 60 broodmares that make the bulk of the web based catalogue for the organisations horse sale on September 11th. The group took on the spring sale of in foal or ready to be bred pacing and trotting mares after requests and demand from it's 270 strong membership wanting a platform to buy and sell stock at the start of the harness racing breeding season. “While nobody's expecting much above bargain prices many of the mares have the potential to engage a bidding duel before they find a new breeding barn”. A sale co-coordinator Sheldon Murtha, is quietly enthusing over the quality that's surfaced during the final days of accepting entries. “The two mares from Tuapeka Lodge will get plenty of views through the website and the prospect of having a spring foal by Art Major or Mach Three should spin some wheels on several other lots”. Fans of the square gaiter should enjoy researching some of the trotting mares listed. If half sisters to 'Sundon' and 'Sky Valley' don't grab, those in foal to current hot stallion 'Monkey Bones' and french bleu blood 'Repeat Love' should have computer mouses clicking through to pedigree pages. Noel Kennard says the convenience of combining the new sale with the associations popular Stud and Stallion promo night may turn out to be a welcome strategic bonus. “Anyone buying a mare at the sale during the first part of the night will have the stallion service offer right there in front of them during the second half” he suggests. “We're assured the stud farms will be ready to make a deal with any new owners that night”. The CSBA Broodmare and Mixed stock horse sale begins at 5pm on Thursday September 11th in the 'Blossom Lady' lounge at Addington Raceway. The horses for sale are now listed on the highlighted web pages at www.harnessracing.co.nz. Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association  

A new Punters Championship that will give punters the opportunity to win huge cash prizes is about to get underway. Addington are launching the Kiwi Punters Championship – KPC, and it is sure to have enormous appeal to punters throughout New Zealand with a series of heats that will culminate in the KPC Final on Show Day at Addington Raceway, on Friday 14 November. There’s a total of $100,000 to be played for over ten KPC Heats and the KPC Final.  KPC Heats will be held at Addington, Alexandra Park and at the Northern Tavern in Invercargill from 5 September to 31 October. Win your KPC Heat and you’ll not only take home your betting funds but an additional $2,000 in prizemoney as well as an invitation to take part in the KPC Final.  Invitations to the KPC Final are also extended to contestants/teams that finish 2nd and 3rd across the ten heats.  Terms and conditions apply. With a maximum of 30 contestants/teams eligible for the KPC Final and $100,000 up for grabs throughout the Championship, the chances of taking home some serious cash are pretty good. Be sure to secure your spot early in the Kiwi Punters Championship and be in to win a slice of $100,000. Entry forms, a calendar of events, information and full terms and conditions can be viewed at www.addington.co.nz   Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Geoff Dunn has just had a harness racing season he will probably never top with his two leading 3 year olds Venus Serena and Tiger Tara winning the age group titles at the recent New Zealand awards. Going by the run of Zin Zan today (August 17th) at Rangiora though, Geoff appears to have another 3 year old of real quality. Very unlucky at his debut run at Oamaru two weeks ago, Zin Zan was restrained off the gate from barrier eight by driver Gerald O'Reilly and settled second last. The free going Millwood Faith went straight to the front and set up a solid clip in front. There were few changes until they turned for home where the favourite Western Art worked to the lead and looked all over the winner. Zin Zan was still second last at the 400 meters before being sent on a searching run by Gerald O"Reilly. Western Art still seemed the winner 100 meters from home before Zin Zan flew home late for a narrow but super impressive win. Zin Zan paced the 2000 meters from the mobile in 2:27.2, a mile rate of 1:58.4 with closing sectionals off the front of 56.5 and 28.8. Zin Zan was miles off the leaders at the half so his closing sectionals must have been really special. It shouldn't be a surprise that Zin Zan is so talented as he is one beautifully bred individual. Purchased out of the 2013 Australasian Classic for $50,000, Zin Zan is raced by Geoff Dunn with his long time stable clients, Bob and Jenny Sandford. By Bettors Delight, Zin Zan is the first foal from a Christian Cullen half sister to Zenad 1:55.4 ($192,636)  Zensational 1:54.8 ($138,808)  Zenola Seelster 1:58.2 ($102,706) and to Zenterfold, the dam of Tintin In America 1:53.2 ($934,305). Zin Zan looks to have inherited all the family ability and it would not surprise to see him take on the better 3 year olds later in the year. Harnesslink Media

The New Zealand Racing Board has become a despot, says leading Thoroughbred trainer John Wheeler, spending money willy nilly that the industry cannot afford. Wheeler is incensed about revelations the board has had to revise the over ambitious forecasts of its recently departed chief executive Chris Bayliss, leaving the codes facing more lean years. "They spend money hand over foot and we get the left-overs," Wheeler said of NZRB. "I've been saying for 10 years that the funding model is wrong. How much longer do we have to tolerate it? "We shouldn't be getting the crumbs. The codes should be getting what they need to make racing flourish and the board should be cutting its cloth to suit." While Bayliss was talking a 50% rise in returns to owners within five years, Wheeler said he gave up believing anything the board said years ago after a succession of ineffectual highly-paid CEOs had come and gone. "The board has been dysfunctional for a decade and it's time the Racing Minister did something. "Costs have doubled in the last decade, they've hired more and more staff, it's out of control." Wheeler said the industry was now paying for the grand spending spree that its just departed CEO Chris Bayliss went on, millions spent on moving to flash new offices in Parnell, a $10 million state-of-the-art Trackside studio and a failed Triple Trio campaign. Wheeler said he understood the cost of the failed Typhoon betting system was also a lot higher than the $11.1 million the board wrote off in 2012. "Thoroughbred Racing needs only another $3 million or $4 million to make a go of it." Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

If the racing industry wants to remain competitive, it must change and become more relevant to a younger customer base. That's the clear message from New Zealand Racing Board chair Glenda Hughes who says with those changes inevitably come costs. Hughes said while the year end financials hadn't yet been finalised, the board was being upfront with stakeholders that it would not meet its net profit target and that distribution forecasts would be "steady." A high New Zealand-Australia currency exchange rate, which has also impacted on SkyCity's results, was partly to blame but higher costs and longer timeframes associated with key projects, such as the mobile app and broadcasting upgrade had also contributed. "Coming in, I knew the business suffered from historic underinvestment and it was clear to me changes were needed to keep the business competitive," Hughes said. "Together with the soon-to-be-released new mobile app and an upgrade in core IT services, these investments better position the business to remain relevant to a younger customer base and adapt to a rapid shift to digital channels. "These projects are not yet delivering the full benefits planned and this has flowed through our forecasts." But Hughes said good results had started already from these projects such as live race streaming and the transition to SKY which had paved the way for the recently revamped TAB Trackside 1 and Trackside 2 television channels. Hughes said despite the necessary industry investment for the future, the board would be very focussed on bringing down other costs. "I see this as a major issue and it's the point that is raised with me more than any other. "I'll be pushing hard to see focus brought to reducing costs even though it may take some time for them to unwind." Hughes said this year's Statement of Intent was an honest reflection of where NZRB stood at the moment and the board was taking a more realistic approach. "It is not where I'd like us to be but our aim is to get the distribution back up to the codes. "Last year we delivered a record distribution and next year we'll be reviewing the forecasts to ensure we are delivering the best possible distribution." Hughes said it was nothing unusual to review and update its three year forecasts. "We do this every year to ensure we accurately reflect the state of the business and our operating environment. A draft has gone to the racing industry for consultation and we will take their feedback into account. "We will be refining the strategy accordingly. We'll be in a better position to provide an update at our agm later this year." Hughes said while higher than expected costs had impacted on distribution forecasts for the new season that did not mean the strategic goals unveiled in 2013 may not eventually be achievable. Meanwhile, Hughes welcomed news that both the Government and Labour had committed to tackling the issue of betting leakage, which was now a major threat to the industry. It is estimated New Zealanders bet $300 million a year with overseas agencies that isn't subject to levies or taxes, costing the Government $30m in revenue and the codes $35m in profit distribution. Racing Minister Nathan Guy said betting was now a priority, and his team would work closely with the industry to find practical solutions to the problem after the election. Racing spokesperson Ross Robertson said Labour would pass legislation to stop offshore betting websites from avoiding tax here. Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

Alarm bells have started ringing for racing industry stakeholders after revelations that projected returns from the New Zealand Racing Board are likely to be well down on those forecasted for the next few years. In an address to the annual meeting of clubs in Christchurch, chairman Gary Allen said Harness Racing New Zealand had just received "an amended statement of corporate intent" from the NZRB which signalled there would be limited growth in funding for the next three years. And he revealed that HRNZ would have to use $1 million of its $2.5m reserve fund this season to just maintain its present stake levels, which are already so low that trainers are struggling to keep their owners. Allen said the board was aware of the financial pressures facing the industry and the need to at least maintain returns, but he warned that without extra funding, it would not be sustainable in future seasons. The announcement came as a shock after the NZRB had signalled in its 2013 annual report that its strategic five-year goal was to increase its surplus from $142m to between $160m and $180m. Chief executive Chris Bayliss, who recently left the board suddenly in mysterious circumstances, had said the board aimed to grow stakes by 50 per cent in five years, generate 30 per cent more turnover from new markets and products and reduce the cost-to-income ratio to below 30 per cent. But all that now seems pie-in-the-sky and Allen said the NZRB statement "was not good enough". "Some increases must be provided in years two and three to at least enable the industry to match CPI and inflationary pressures," Allen said. Apart from continuing to explore additional revenues it was incumbent on the NZRB, as well as the codes and clubs, to find efficiencies to reduce costs, he said. Returns to stakeholders had to be increased - "we cannot continue to rely on the goodwill and passion of our industry participants." Allen said because the funding level this season was only consistent with last season, HRNZ was not in a position to increase the minimum stake level of $5000. "We have asked clubs to increase stakes where they can, and many have, but it's not easy to direct clubs to take action when they can't afford it. "Maintaining confidence at the lower levels is crucial to maintaining interest in the industry long-term as the costs for owners are the same whether they have a champion or a battling maiden." Allen said despite the challenging environment, the industry had recorded some very positive results in the last season. Feedback he'd received from the last annual conference was that he had been overly positive - "one delegate even went so far as to state I must have been on the ‘wacky backy'. "But the optimism I conveyed last year was not misplaced. "We have run more races [up 50 to 2795], used the horse population better [total starts up 1092 to 29,635], grown our total turnover base [up $4.863m] and market share [up from 29.3 per cent to 29.7 per cent] and increased stakes [by 4.57 per cent to $29.8m]. "I believe we can look forward to the future with cautious optimism, however, the challenges facing the industry are considerable. "They will not be overcome without some pain and decisions in the future that will not please everyone. "Over the years the industry has become averse to change, however, we must be prepared to better embrace change if we are to go forward. We will need to set aside self interest and make some hard decisions for the long term sustainability of the industry." Allen said a new structure of premier racing for the new season would see the number of meetings reduced from 17 to 15 but the minimum stakes raised to $20,000. "These meetings will stand out significantly from other meetings and attract greater attention of the racing public." Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

"Hey, you can't do that girl." David Butcher's taunt from across the Cambridge stable yard was made only in jest but there was a note of caution there, too, for fellow driver Nicky Chilcott. Butcher made a surprise comeback at the Cambridge workouts yesterday following seven months on the sideline after pulling his pectoral muscle off the bone in a training accident. And just seconds after he drove a winner, pint-sized Geoff Small -trained filly Pinup Pony, he was half teasing, half offering advice to Cambridge's latest injury victim as she helped to ungear her runner-up Leroy Brogden. Chilcott, arm in a sling, faces an even longer period on the sideline after reconstructive surgery to her right shoulder, a recent injury having aggravated a long-term issue. And after an operation in which two of her three ligaments were reattached, she is now going through the same frustrations that Butcher had to overcome. "The surgeon said it would be 12 to 15 months before I can drive again, with a minimum of 12 months," said Chilcott who became the first woman to drive 500 winners in New Zealand in 2012. "It's never a good time to be out but I've got some young horses in the barn I do like, and it's going to be difficult sitting on the sideline watching them. "I just hope they turn out as good as I think, and that will lessen the blow." Butcher said Chilcott had to be patient. "It took me ages to realise that, because it's in your nature to want to do everything, but you've got to wait." Butcher hadn't planned on driving at the workouts - he got back in the cart at home only last week - but after being happy with the way he handled his galloping pacemaker yesterday, he made a few hurried calls and got on three horses, winning with his second. "I've still got it," Butcher said. "I just wanted to beat the boy (junior driver son Ben). But I was pretty happy. "My strength isn't where it needs to be - my muscles were tired after driving Davey Kaa's trotter (Georgies Smile) because he tugged a bit in the warm-up but I just need to get back into the rhythm." Butcher has been on a fairly intensive rehab programme, alternating running, swimming and doing weights. "I'm OK when my hands are forward but I need to work on my back muscles. I'll see how I go in the next couple of weeks. But I need to drive at workouts because I'm not working too many of my own at the moment." Butcher is hoping to make a comeback to race-night driving next month. Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

Another harness racing season is under way in New Zealand and Charlie Roberts is continuing to have that golden run that he has been on for a few years now. Tonight Charlie had a first starter in the Vetpro Equine Supplements Pace at Alexandra Park in  the form of Walk Of Fame. The 3 year old daughter of Bettor's Delight flew the gate from barrier five in the 2200 meters mobile event and grabbed an early lead before handing up to Linda Mac after 400 meters. From there she got a lovely run to the corner from where the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy angled her down into the passing lane and she finished far too well for her competition to run out an easy winner by two lengths. It was a very tradesman like performance for a filly having her first lifetime start. Walk Of Fame paced the 2200 meters in 2: 47.3 with the last 800 meters in 57.4 and 400 meters in 28.4. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Walk Of Fame has plenty of ability as she would have to be one of the best bred fillies in New Zealand. Not only is she by a great filly sire in Bettors Delight but Walk Of Fame is from a full sister to the champion In The Pocket mare Tupelo Rose 1:51.4 ($871,753). Not only was Tupelo Rose a great racemare but she has fashioned a great record as a broodmare as well. Not only has she left Willy Mucha 1:50.2 ($348,020) but one of her daughters Capelo Rose is already the dam of Machapelo 1:51.2 ($582,941) and Resistance Futile 1:49.4 ($246,983) Walk Of Fame looks to have inherited much of the family ability going by the ease of her win tonight. Whatever Walk Of Fame does on the racetrack, her residual value when she retires to the broodmare barn will be huge. Harnesslink Media  

The New Zealand Racing Board welcomes the commitment of both the Government and Labour party to tackle the issue of offshore betting. Racing Minister Nathan Guy says it's now a priority, and his team intend to work closely with the racing industry to look for practical solutions to the problem after the election. Racing Spokesperson Ross Robertson says Labour will pass legislation to stop offshore betting websites from avoiding tax in New Zealand and denying revenue to the New Zealand racing industry. The TAB estimates that New Zealanders bet up to $300 million per year with overseas agencies that isn't subject to levies or taxes. New Zealand Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes says leakage is increasing and now a major threat to New Zealand's racing industry. "We have long called for measures to level the playing field and ensure the racing industry sees a benefit from their investment." "We have been working with the current government on this issue and we are pleased that both these political parties now see the need to take action." The racing industry plays a critical role in the New Zealand economy contributing $1.6 billion to GDP - on par with the seafood and wine industries. It's a major source of employment, supporting over 17,000 full time jobs across the country. Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

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