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We didn't know it at the time but when the five-year-old U May Cullect put a couple of potentially career-ending setbacks behind him to win on debut at the Northern Southland meeting a fortnight ago, it was a case of 'you haven't seen anything yet'. Plenty on course that day were in awe of the performance of the Tom Kilkelly-owned gelding who suffered tendon damage at three and four but came back to record a 1:57.9 mile rate when winning over 2200 metres by four lengths. They were in all sorts of raptures on 'Wairio Mile Day' at Central Southland Raceway on Saturday. Drawn 13 in a 13 horse field, U May Cullect settled in the last pair and made only minor progress when the one out line moved. But just outside the 400, when driver Kirstin Barclay - who in partnership with Paul Ellis also trains the gelding at Oreti Beach - asked him to sprint, the acceleration was incredible. U May Cullect stretched out to an eight and a quarter length win and stopped the clock at 1:52.1, just 0.2 seconds outside the track and Southland record held by Delightful Memphis. It was clearly the day's fastest. The time did however better the previous Southland 1609 metre record for entires and gelding of 1-52.5 recorded by Mach’s Back at Wyndham at the end of January and the Winton track record for aged geldings and entires of 1-53.9 which was held by Fly Like An Eagle. “He was a bit keen out of the gate but relaxed beautifully,” Barclay said. “Then when I asked him to go, I've never felt any horse turn on the speed like he did.” After his first win, Kilkelly described U May Cullect as a day to day proposition and while that hasn't changed, he is clearly enjoying the ride. “There's no backing off now,” Kilkelly said.     Mac Henry for Southland Harness racing

Prominent Australian owner Merv Butterworth was on the phone to trainer Brett Gray shortly after Born To Boogie had triumphed in the fourth and final heat of the Vet South Equine Southern Belle Speed Series on 'Wairio Mile Day' at Central Southland Raceway on Saturday. “He always rings, before and after a race, he sounded pretty happy and told me just to keep doing what I'm doing,” said Gray. Butterworth Bloodstock had paid $17,000 for Born to Boogie when offered by Brent McIntyre's Macca Lodge at the 2016 premier sale. When the filly by Rock N Roll Heaven and Niftey Franco had some issues during her early preparations, her new owner chose to offer her back to the vendor as a breeding prospect. McIntyre said he “just threw her in the paddock” but when she started looking alright, decided to start jogging her. After about three months, McIntyre said the three-year-old was running satisfactory times and showing no ill affects so he recommended to Butterworth she was worth trying again. Born To Boogie then joined up with Butterworth's southern trainer Brett Gray and has continued to impress. As a three-year-old, during Queens Birthday last year, the then filly made a great start to her career, winning on debut at Ascot Park and following up five days later with success in the last Nugget final of the season. After two more starts, she was given a long break and since resuming in January has never finished further back that fifth. Pressed forward from the six gate on Saturday, Born to Boogie made the lead at the 1100 and pressed on to win comfortably by two and a half lengths in 1:55.2. “She is high maintenance and went a bit sore last year but has the ability,” said Gray. Born To Boogie is a half sister to Glenferrie Hood, a son of Christian Cullen. A multiple group-race winner of 29 races in Australia, Glenferrie Hood ran third in the 2013 West Australia Derby. Nevermore, third dam of the pair, counted the 1993 Two-Year Old Fillies Sires Stakes final among her seven wins. Born To Boggie is now eligible for the $20,000 final which will be held at the Winton TC meeting on 13th April. Other winners of the heats in the Southern Belle Speed Series have been Just Dance (Wyndham), Sweet Mary (Winton) and Chitura (Northern Southland).   Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

Slate justified the decision of his Winton breeder owner and trainer Des Baynes to be patient, when the four-year-old won in 1:56.7 at just his second start. “He was big, all legs and a bit weak, I didn't do much with him at two or three,” Baynes explained. In November last year, Slate went to his first workout. Later in the month he had his one and only trial, qualified impressively and continues to improve. “He's shown high speed but is green and inclined to over- race so has led. He's had two front row draws, needs a few trips in behind, they go harder in the next grade so he should get them now.” By Changeover, Slate is the third foal of Dress to Impress. “She had a drop of speed but bad feet,” Baynes said. “Her first foal Granite was a nice horse but got injured. Her latest is an American Ideal filly and she shows a bit.” Sheree Tomlinson didn't know she was driving Fire Bug on Saturday until she saw the fields but didn't waste the opportunity, winning in 1:55.3. Drawn just one spot in from the outside of the second line, they went back at the start but then found a passage up the poles to soon be three back on the inner. Off the poles near the turn, the three-year-old on debut took time to work clear before finishing hard late. “I didn't want to push her forward in her first start so went back, I was lucky to get up the inside,” Tomlinson said of the Mach Three filly, “everything was stopping on the turn so I got her out, she did it really easily.” Fire Bug, from the stable of Mark Jones, was the first of three Canterbury visitors on the day. Second of the Cantabrians was Classy Kid whose 2:00.3 was the fastest of the winning stand-start times. The striking grey six-year-old, driven by Amber Lethaby - who in partnership with husband Jason also trains the son of Klondike Kid – led out but soon trailed Kiwi Bloke who held the advantage until late in the race. “He's never been far away and I would have led but the right horse to follow came round,”Amber Lethaby said. “I could have taken the lane but he hasn't sprinted so well in there in previous races so I chose to come off.” Lethaby named the good stake and shortage of stand-start races in Canterbury as reasons for making the trip south. Arden Lustre made it three wins for the visitors when winning the final event in 2:01.9. In the hands of Blair Orange, the winner of seven flew out when the stand-start tapes were released and was never headed from then.   Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

A masterly piece of big race judgement from Mark Purdon ensured Cheerful gave Braeden and Caroline Whitelock their second win of the night in the NZ Trotting Oaks. The Whitelocks, best known for their pacing breeding skills bought Cheerful as a yearling. She is from Superbowlcheerleader that Mark trained later in her career and won features from the stable. But everything went wrong for Cheerful in the running and only the skills of Mark got her home by a tight margin in a huge finish. Cheerful worked across from a wide draw but taking the front from a hard pulling rival took some of her resources and there was no immediate letup. Then Swiss Miss swept past her and went some lengths clear with 500m to go which suggested the little filly might struggle to fill a place. “I watched it go because I had already done quite a lot with my filly during the race and it wasn’t practical to fight off another one” Mark said, Instead he cuddled her resources and worked back into contention as Swiss Miss faded and then outfinished a game Overzealous who had enjoyed a saloon passage courtesy of Jim Curtin. It was a top performance but not enough to persuade Mark to take on the males in the Trotting Derby. “No I don’t think she is quite ready for that. We will stick to the filly races in the meantime   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Champion trotting trainer Phil Williamson is looking forward to taking a horse you have never heard of to the races at Addington tonight just as much as his stable star. Because debutant two-year-old Ultimate Stride won't remain unknown for long. That is how high an opinion Williamson has of last season's trotting sales-topping yearling heading into the two-year-old trot at Addington tonight. Ultimate Stride has only had a handful of workouts and trials but Williamson says he is at least as good as Oscar Bonevena, the star two-year-old he trained last season until he was sold for big money. "He is pretty smart but he might need to be from the second line," says Williamson, who leads the national trainers premiership for trotting wins. "Ideally he would have drawn the front line and could have made his own luck and off the second line it is not as easy to be confident. "But I think he is a pretty good horse and he can still win." Williamson also lines up his stable star Majestic Man in tonight's four and five-year-old trot but says his chances might depend on the readiness of key rival Winterfell. "It is a good field and I respect a horse like Sundees Son but Winterfell is a horse we haven't beaten yet so if he is at his best maybe we will struggle to beat him. "Don't get me wrong, our horse is a genuine open class horse but I can't tip him to beat Winterfell until we have done it before." Winterfell's stablemate Ultimate Sniper looks close to a good thing in tonight's Flying Stakes, the lead-up to the NZ Derby in two weeks. The race of the night at Addington will almost certainly be the clash of group one winners like Sheriff, A G's White Socks, Elle Mac and Eamon Maguire in the $30,000 free-for-all, with the early tempo the key as those who work hard could be left sitting ducks. At Alexandra Park tonight On The Cards will enjoy not having to face stablemate Jack's Legend in the main pace after finishing a close second to him in his last three starts. Back into a slightly easier grade the rugged pacer should be able to use his gate speed to go forward and control race six and looks one of the better bets of the night, along with Heavyweight Hero in the main trot after it took Massive Metro to beat him last start.   Michael Guerin

Marcoola’s comeback has be delayed as Clint Ford just couldn’t ask his old mate to start off a massive handicap at Addington this week. So the Dominion winner will now go into the NZ Trotting Champs against Speeding Spur and Monbet without a race in two months. Marcoola’s season has been a real game of two halves situation: before Christmas he was nearly unbeatable, since then nothing has gone right. He was beaten by Massive Metro as a red hot favourite in the National Trot on New Years Eve then performed lengths below his best in the Great Southern Star at Melton in January, later found to have dust in his lungs. Now back in his beloved Canterbury, owner-driver Ford says he is putting the failed Victorian experience behind him. “I loved the trip and being part of it over there but nothing went our way for the race,” says Ford. “Both him and Amaretto Sun were fine when they first got to Victoria but after a few days the weather changed and it got very, very hot into the 40s.  They stopped eating and drinking as much and raced liked it and afterwards we had them scoped and found a lot of dust in their lungs. “I suppose the conditions are something the local horses get used to but our didn’t and taking advice from people I think if we went over there again we would either go just the day before or like three weeks before to give them time to adjust. “Obviously what we did didn’t work.” Ford is happy with how Marcoola’s new prep is going  but wasn’t as thrilled with the 55m handicap he received at Addington on Friday night and scratched him. “I am not sure it is the right thing to do racing him off 55m fresh up so I scratched him,” said Ford. “With a horse like him he would have to be put in the race and I think a trial might be a better way to get him ready for the Trotting Championships.” Before his summer derailed post-Christmas, Morcoola would have been unbackable to win Trotter of the Year, especially after one of the more brutal Dominion wins in recent times in November. He will still almost certainly win the title Ford would like to win one of the three group ones remaining to the six-year-old to cement the title and end the season on a high. “We have the Trotting Champs, the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup and that will probably do us so I’d like to get at least one of those.” While Marcoola may not make it to Addington on Friday night there is great depth at the meeting and Northern Derby winner Ultimate Sniper looks set to continue on his winning after drawing perfectly in the Flying Stakes, the lead-up to New Zealand Derby on April 5. Michael Guerin

The future of one of New Zealand’s most talented young trotters is in doubt.  Oscar Bonevena is set to miss most if not all of the remainder of the season and trainer Mark Purdon admits the three-year-old’s career is in doubt.  “I hope that isn’t the case but it could be,” says Purdon.  Oscar Bonevena has developed a cyst in one of his knees and Purdon says vets suggest it could be a degenerative problem.  “We are still learning about it as our vet said it is so rare it is something they see only every couple of years,” said Purdon. “So we are seeking advice from experts in this sort of thing from overseas but he won’t be racing any time soon and at best will need a long spell.”  There is obvious disappointment in Purdon’s voice as while he also trains NZ’s top rated three-year-old trotter in Enhance Your Calm, he has a soft spot for Oscar Bonevena, who could be every bit as good as his stablemate.  Purdon purchased the then juvenile last season from Phil Williamson for former Kiwi trainer now based in the US, Chris Ryder, and Purdon’s own father, training legend Roy Purdon.  While he galloped at the Jewels, Oscar Bonevena reminded everybody how good he was with a fresh-up win at Alexandra Park in December which was followed by an enormous second there on New Years Eve when he trotted 3:26.2 for the 2700m, a full second inside Heavyweight Hero’s three-year-old national record.  “That was a huge run that day and he is a very good horse in the making so it is very disappointing to have this sort of problem with him,” said Purdon. With Oscar Bonevena sidelined indefinitely, Enhance Your Calm will be the stable flagbearer in the major three-year-old trots.  The first of those is the NZ Derby on April 5 and he will have a lead-up in the Sires’ Stakes prelude there on Friday week, a race which has been rescheduled from last Friday’s cancelled Addington meeting. “He is going very well and would be as good as any three-year-old I have had at this stage of the season.”  After the NZ Derby, Enhance Your Calm will head to Auckland for the Sires’ Stakes and Northern Trot Derby before rounding out his season in the Jewels.  “I think that will do him, we probably wouldn’t go to Victoria with him.” Michael Guerin

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harnessracing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. This week's guests are Syd Breen, following his Wyndham Cup quinella, Dan Lynch of Manawatu HRC, Rowena Mackintosh of Wairio TC and Courtney Clarke of HRNZ updates us on Team Teal. Richard Wilson also gives us the latest news from the Bookies Desk!   HRNZ Marketing

Speed freak northern filly Belle Of Montana is off to the Victoria Oaks.  And she won’t have to meet New Zealand’s other superstar pacing three-year-old Princess Tiffany when she gets there. Trainer Barry Purdon confirmed to HRNZ today he will aim the Sires’ Stakes Championship winner at the Oaks at Melton on April 27.  That means heading over 10 days before to contest the compulsory prelude at Melton on April 20. The preludes are worth A$24,000 and the Oaks A$150,000.  Belle Of Montana is owned in Australia by Dean Shannon, who Purdon says has been great to deal with, leaving decisions up to him. “Dean has been great,” said Purdon.  “He didn’t mind either way if we went to the NSW Oaks and we decided to stay in Auckland because it clashed with the Oaks here. “But the Victoria Oaks suits perfectly.”  Belle Of Montana, winner of five of her seven starts, finished a neck second to Best Western in that Oaks in national record time.  She is already qualified for the Nevele R Fillies Final at Addington in May so has now major domestic targets until then so Purdon has the flexibility to chase the Aussie riches.  “It sounds like none of the other Kiwi fillies are going and it would be a great race to win, not only because of the stake but to help her broodmare career.  “So we are definitely going and I think the racing over there will suit her.” Purdon’s brother Mark has confirmed stunning NSW Oaks winner Princess Tiffany will stay closer to home as she still needs to qualify for the Nevele R Final and will meet Belle Of Montana, who has beaten her both times they have met, in potentially three group ones at Addington in May-June.   Michael Guerin

A lengthy association with All Stars came to an end, at least in the foreseeable future, for stable manager, Michelle Neilson last week on her return to Australia after seven years at Rolleston. Michelle came over from Australia where she had had considerable experience as a junior driver and through family connections with racing in 2012 around the same time Natalie made her base permanently at Rolleston. “I poached her actually” Natalie confesses. “She was very good, had a lot of potential and I knew she would fit in well over here. She did” Initially a stablehand and junior driver, Michelle drove six winners in her first full season in New Zealand and was keen for more driving opportunities which was not easy with Mark Natalie and Blair available for the team. In her final Junior year she handled 20 winners. For a brief period she left All Stars in search of greater driving opportunities. She was back for her first open driver season in which she handled three of her five winners for All Stars, Serengeti, Riccardo and Golden Goddess, the latter when she ended Dream About Me’s 12 successive win tally. In the past two seasons as stable manager she has had fewer opportunities but won three of only 14 drives in the 2018 season including one with Princess Tiffany (admittedly a Breeders Crown heat which was a walkover) and two raceday successes with Kayla Marie compiling a 10 per cent winning strike rate overall with 35 wins. There would have been plenty more but for her executive position at All Stars which encompassed nominations here and in Australia, flight and veterinary planning and a number of other responsibilities not directly connected to the training of the horses. It was a big challenge for someone who until then had followed instructions rather than giving them and acting as a team leader-acquired skills sometimes underrated by outside observers. Especially on the major days when All Stars had huge numbers involved the planning was intense . The work involved a 7 day mindset and in the regular absences of Mark and Natalie overseas heavy responsibility which can take a toll eventually, Some time ago when indicating she would return to Australia, Michelle referred to family pressures and the desire for a change of direction. “I have been here seven years and away from my family for most of that time and that is a factor in my thinking. I didn’t expect originally that I would be away this long. “I guess too there is a time for thinking about a new direction in life having followed this one for so long. Just a freshen up really. I have made no decisions about that but will have a chance to think and reflect on it when I get home” Michelle leaves with the best wishes of Mark and Natalie and All Stars staff, the longest serving of several Australians the stable has “imported” over several years.   Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Gore trainer Syd Breen had a moment to cherish at Wyndham on Saturday when he prepared Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket to quinella the MLT/Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup. “I've never had a quinella in a race before,” an excited Breen said “but that's the second time I've had three in a race and Sagwitch has won them both.” “I broke him as a yearling and liked him, Paul Matheson bought him, then as a two-year-old sold him to Australia for $100,000,” explained Breen. “But he didn't pass a vet test so Paul and his wife Nancy carried on with him and gave me 10 percent. He is Nancy's first horse. After training for a period during the 1990s, Breen had a break and described Sagwitch - seven wins - as his best, at least since resuming in 2014. Matheson, who manages the Falls Hotel in Mataura for the race sponsoring Mataura Licensing Trust, also has a share in Santanna's Rocket. So too has Ross Cleland, described by Breen as an integral part of his operation. “Ross has had shares in a lot of good horses, Night Allowance was one of them.” Another enjoying the result was winning driver and former local,but now Rangiora-based Mark Hurrell, who had finished last aboard Sagwitch in the Autumn Cup at Ascot Park a fortnight ago. “He stepped good today, he's not always the best away,” Hurrell said. “He was slow away last time then they went slow and sprinted home, it didn't suit him. He's better if they go hard and he doesn't need to do any work.” Sagwitch settled fifth in line but when the one-out train formed a lap out, the five-year-old was shuffled back. Last from the 1200 to the 600, Hurrell then moved the five-year-old forward four wide and he kept the run going right to the post winning by a length and a quarter in a smart 4:00.9. “I could have moved when they went forward but I didn't want him to do much so waited before I put him in the race, he just kept going,” said Hurrell. Tyler Dewe's joy after winning aboard The Commando in the Lamb Drive/Cattle Graziers Trot at Wyndham on Saturday could well have been ever greater. The Commando was the 599th winner for trainer Phil Williamson who had expected a big run at Addington on Friday night from Ultimate Stride. The abandonment of the meeting, as consequence of the shooting drama in Christchurch, put paid to that. Had the juvenile made a winning debut on Friday, the next day Dewe would have been handed the honour of getting the 600th. However, the win itself was enough for Dewe who joined the staff at Williamsons around Christmas time and has relished his time in Oamaru. “It's good to get the opportunity, I love it there,” said Dewe who was scoring on a Williamson horse for the first time. “Matt helped me get the job and I stay with Brad.” Dewe was also thrilled to get the win for his grandfather Arnold Dewe “He has been one of my biggest supporters and is quite ill,” he said. The Commando was bred by Bev Williamson and passed to her son Matthew who had driven the four-year-old in all but one of his previous starts. Attendance at a birthday party in Australia meant Matthew missed the win. Bev Williamson also featured as the winning breeder of Chinese Whisper, successful in the Neville Cronin Memorial Trot. The three-year-old out of Little Contessa was trained and driven by Bev's son Nathan and is raced by Nathan's wife Katie in partnership with farrier Brendan Franks. A Sundon gelding, Chinese Whisper was racing for just the second time and despite the unruly draw of 13, was comfortable when making it two from two. Back in the field early, he got a drag up on the back of Robbie Royale commencing the last lap, led from the 900 and was too strong. “I've never pulled the plugs on him yet so I don't know what would happen but he is probably doing his best anyway,” Nathan Williamson said. “He's got good breeding, manners, gait, speed, but physically is not ready to do much more. There's a Gold Chip coming up for him so we'll have to make a decision whether to carry on or let him strengthen, he should be a better four-year-old.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

Big wins are nothing new to Gary Woodham but the success of Flying Even Bettor in the $30,000 group three Alabar NZ Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham on Saturday gave him a great deal of satisfaction. Along with his wife Kerry, the Plimmerton-based General Manager Customer for the New Zealand Racing Board races Flying Even Bettor with Glenys and Phil Kennard, Ken and Karen Breckon as Breckon Racing Syndicate, along with Jim and Ann Gibbs. The syndicate was formed three years ago and in our first year we got Spankem and The Devils Own,” Needham explained, “Another Masterpiece was the next and then Flying Even Bettor.” The Devils Own and Another Masterpiece finished second in the Kindergartens of their year, 2017 and 2018. “Three times we've tried, following the same preparation each time, and now we've won it,” Woodham said. At the end of their appropriate seasons, both Spankem and Another Masterpiece were named two-year-olds of the year with Spankem going on to land the million dollar Miracle Mile at the beginning of this month. “When The Devils Own went to Australia for the Victoria Derby last year he got a virus and was very ill. He's back in work now with Brent Mangos and he'll be the trainer when he races again.” But the win meant more to Woodham than picking up a group three. For some time he has been studying the operation of harness racing in the region and doesn't need a second excuse to visit. “Harness Racing New Zealand used the model of Southern Harness as a text book case and I wanted to know more about it,” he said. “With the help of Kevin McNaught (Chairman) and Jason Broad (General Manager), I've seen it up close and love the way all the clubs are working together. They're doing right for the region, take costs out and that allows them to increase stakes. This is my 12th visit.” Woodham also acknowledged their assistance when the Wyndham Club raced at Cromwell earlier in the year. “We were about to launch our new betting platform and needed their help with race times, we wanted them to finish earlier. They made the changes to work in with us and we are indebted to them. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen–trained Flying Even Bettor was driven by Blair Orange to give him his third win in the race. Three wide for the first 500 metres, the Bettor's Delight was gelding no sooner one-out than stablemate Copperfield arrived to give him cover. Once in the straight Flying Even Bettor was unleashed and soon put the issue beyond doubt, to win in 1:54.4. “He didn't show a lot of gate speed but it worked out well,” said Orange who was sitting behind the winner for the first time. “He felt good on the turn and when he let down he found the line well.” Earlier, Orange had won aboard the Paul Court-trained Major Sass. It was her third win from five starts, all of the wins at Wyndham. The three-year-old daughter of Art Major led out and pulled clear in the straight to win the Southland Harness Awards Ladyship Final by four and three quarters lengths in 1:56.2. Orange scored his third win for the day aboard Ohoka Achilles who clocked 2:55.9 for the mobile 2400 metres of the Astra Stu and Jean Pace. It was a comfortable win for the four-year-old who had chased U May Cullect home at Ascot Park last Saturday. The half-brother to Ohoka Texas is trained at Woodend Beach by former Wyndham horseman Regan Todd. After Tartan Robyn scored his second win in nine starts when taking out the PGG Wrightson Real Estate Cromwell Pace for owner and breeder Graeme Edgar, trainer Hamish Hunter described the four-year-old as a horse that couldn't be rushed. “He's got a patient owner and has taken lots of time,” said Hunter, “18 months ago he couldn't pace but turned the corner in the spring and gets a little better each time.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

LEBANON, OH. - Tura Lura Lural (Kayne Kauffman) completed a clean sweep of the Herb Coven Jr. Memorial Series, winning the $25,000 Championship leg on Friday night (March 15) at Miami Valley Raceway. The 4-year-old daughter of The Panderosa also captured a pair of preliminary legs before topping Avaline Hanover (Chris Page) and McPansy (Brett Miller) in the final. The Coven Memorial featured distaff pacers who lacked four wins or $40,000 in lifetime earnings at the series' commencement. Kauffman was intent on dictating the action, wrestling the lead away from McPansy just past the quarter mile mark of the race. Fending off a prolonged challenge by Scwartz Bros Beaty (Trace Tetrick), Tura Lura Lural then had to contend with Avaline Hanover for the length of the stretch before cruising under the wire a three-quarter length winner in 1:54.3. Kauffman's wife Natalie shares ownership of the winner with Douglas Millard and Sandra Burns of Ontario, Canada. She now sports five wins in just 25 lifetime starts and career earnings rapidly approaching $100,000.     -Conrad photo A $22,500 Mares Open Pace was won by Big Bad Jane, an Ohio-sired 5-year-old Big Bad John daughter making her initial start in open company for trainer-driver Dan Noble and owner Sandra Burnett. Content to sit next-to-last in the field of seven, Noble sent Big Bad Jane three wide at the halfway station, moved up to third with two furlongs to go, and cruised to a 2-1/4 length triumph over E R Hilary (LeWayne Miller) and fast-closing Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) in 1:53.4. Big Bad Jane has captured 17 of her 53 races to date and her bankroll has soared to $221,694. Big Bad Jane      - Conrad photo Racing resumes Saturday night (May 16) at Miami Valley with the $25,000 championship of the George Williams Memorial series on tap as well as a $25,000 Open I and a $20,000 Open II. Post time is 6:05 p.m.   Gregg Keidel

Having devised its Vision Capture Project to move beyond established broadcast workflows and OB in 2017, the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) recently called on solutions from German broadcast innovator Lawo to further revise and streamline its production model. Now operating four OBs instead of six, with three Mercedes Sprinter vans and a fixed site to cover metropolitan race events from a central control room, using Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) provides integrated control. NZRB handles New Zealand’s Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) operation for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing, scheduling daily racing and selling racing and sports bets through a retail network, online and telephony channels. NZRB is also behind the broadcast of racing on two national television channels and Trackside Radio. In 2017, and with OB trucks that were close on a decade of very hard use, the NZRB faced 1,100 OB days racing across the country each year – the number of events and variety of scale bringing into question its previous production standards and raising the opportunity of mixed OB and Remote Production. Following moving to an IP Layer 3 network, Phase 2 of the project saw the NZRB team work with Sony on four HD-capable and scalable OB trucks to cover its existing and very demanding nationwide OB workflow. As part of this design the NZRB team identified VSM as integral to achieving the same flexibility and scalability as seen in the Remote Production model, allowing the shared use of ‘Expansion’ vehicles to seamlessly enhance capability such as extra workspaces and camera count. VSM provides operators with overarching control over their systems in an extremely adaptable way – user panels and interfaces can be configured without limitation in order to meet the requirements of different workflows and applications, with the whole system under redundant control. “One of the key selling points of VSM was the portfolio of support and compatibility for third-party protocols, in addition to Lawo’s own products with Ember+. This was key given the wide range of products used in the design of the HD OBs, without compromising on capability,” says NZRB Broadcast Engineer Michael Tompkins. As Lawo regional representative, Professional Audio & Television (PAT) was instrumental in the successful application of the advanced technology underlying the migration. “Initially, we had several whiteboard sessions that gave us confidence we had a solid idea that could work,” says NZRB’s Vision Capture Project SME Jamie Annan. “PAT had the knowledge and expertise to assist in design, configure ,and troubleshoot a system using the equipment they sold, rather than being there just to sell a product.” Using the 1Gbps Layer 3 network between remote site and control room, and 10Gbps Layer 3 between control rooms, the new model uses a mix of J2K, SMPTE 2022-6, and AES67/Ravenna to provide video and audio between each layer of production under a VSM control system run from two separate locations, ensuring geographical redundancy. The OB design had to maintain the NZRB’s ability to cover the full extent of its racing, but be physically smaller in size, while also providing greater cost efficiencies across the production. Internally, the trucks had to provide cost-efficient yet scalable industry-standard capabilities – requiring VSM to provide integrated control of switchers, routers, and a replay server as well as the connecting network. The basic daily OB setup for a truck covers running up to ten system cameras, with capacity for 12 and other SDI, Commentary, Presentation area and roaming interviews, on a typical day internal crew is Director/Vision switcher, Sound Op, Replay op, Engineer, and a Vision Control op – all operating from within the truck. VSM supports all of these requirements, with the capacity to adapt to any future changes or expansion of the NZRB broadcast operation. By SVG Staff  Reprinted with permission of Sportsvideo.org

Trainer Steve Telfer says the Alexandra Park stakes increases have him ready to unleash a big team for the remainder of the season but don’t be fooled into backing the one with the most senior driver. Telfer takes six horses to Alexandra Park tonight for the first meeting of the new ATC stake levels, where most horses above maidens for $20,000 or $25,000, akin to premier meeting stakes in any other parts of the country. “The stake increases are a huge help because it means even if your horse can run a placing or two a month they pay for themselves,” said Telfer. “And that means winning stakes can be profit, which makes a real difference. “So we are going to be concentrating on racing closer to home. We have a lot of younger horses and three-year-olds in work and ready to go which we have sort of aimed at for the late autumn, winter months because the stakes are great but the fields aren’t as strong.” Telfer has three chances in tonight’s $25,000 main handicap and the stable number one driver David Butcher is on Hunter Bromac, even though both Parker and Check In are likely to be more favoured. Telfer says punters shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Butcher is automatically on the stable’s best chances so don't follow him blindly. “Different owners prefer different drivers and then you have different conditions for races so it isn’t always the case David is on our best chance. “I actually can’t split them tonight, they are all good each way chances but I think Parker will step well and try and run them along.” That standing start will be crucial for race favourite Mach Shard, whose manners have been iffy at best but looks the one to beat if he behaves. Telfer has only had $30,000 Graduette runner Olivia Rachel (race one) for a week and likes the filly but says the race tonight is her first race right-handed which could be tricky. “And we have two in race five. Triolet is suited by her drawing following the speed but Court On The Edge has gate speed so the second line draw negates that.” Double Rocket looks the horse to beat in the Sales Series Graduate (race two) coming out of last Friday’s Northern Derby where he was a strong fifth. Michael Guerin

Miracle Mile hero Spankem is set to race on this season setting up a big-three battle for harness racing’s Horse of the Year honour.  And crucial votes in the contest could end up being won at Alexandra Park next month as Spankem clashes with elite stablemates Turn It Up and Chase Auckland.  After his surprise thrashing of his Miracle Mile opponents at Menangle 12 days ago Spankem was sent for a veterinary examination as is so often the case with the better All Stars-trained runners at the end of long campaigns.  Any sign of soreness or issues would have probably seen the four-year-old sent to the paddock but trainer Mark Purdon liked what the vets had to report and Spankem will be Auckland-bound next month.  “They checked him out and said he is in great condition so we will aim him at the Taylor Mile (April 26) and the Messenger (May 3) at Alexandra Park,” said Purdon.   That means all three of the Purdon-Rasmussen mega race winners from this season will race on as Thefixer (New Zealand Cup) and Turn It Up (Auckland Cup) are also going to have autumn campaigns.  Thefixer will contest the Superstars at Addington on March 29 and then the Easter Cup and victory in the latter would go a long way to making him harness racing’s Horse of the Year.  But that will probably round out his season and if either Spankem or Turn It Up could sweep the Alexandra Park double they would enormously boost their chances on making the title race interesting.  Turn It Up could yet contest the Easter Cup but is more likely to head to the Rangiora Classic on April 7 before Alexandra Park.  There he will go head to head with Spankem and Chase Auckland in the group one four-year-old races before more than likely contesting the Jewels at Addington on June 1.  “He hasn’t had the summer racing of some of the others or the travel to Australia,” explains Purdon of Turn It Up.  “So he will probably press on to the Jewels whereas the two big races at Auckland will probably do it for Spankem.”  Spankem versus Turn It Up with the remainder of a strong four-year-old crop led by Chase Auckland would really spice up the Taylor Mile-Messenger double and could go some way to resolving the question of who the best pacer in the country is. The news Turn It Up is more than likely to race on until the Jewels will be welcomed by Addington officials as they prepare to host the massive day for the first time, with Auckland Cup-winning four-year-olds always a risk to miss the Jewels and be spelled to aim at the New Zealand Cup.   Michael Guerin

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