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The well known and respected Mid Canterbury harness racing identity Carl Middleton passed away this afternoon while watching the dispersal sale of his racing and breeding stock via a video link up. Carl had great pride in the breeding stock he had built up over the years and was keen to watch their sale at the Ashburton Racecourse today even though he was very ill. A man renowned for his ability with a trotter, Carl had many top class trotters through his hands over the years with the highlight undoubtedly being Fraggle Rock's win in the $150,000 Inter-Dominion final of 1991. Lilly The Pink 1:57.9 (12 wins) was another star from Carl's barn and she left him the very smart Jazz Legend  ($223,913) who Carl developed before selling to Australia. Carl always had a smart trotter around him over the last thirty years and his absence from the Canterbury trotting scene will be sorely felt by all involved In latter years Carl and his wife Heather have sold quite a few yearlings through the New Zealand Premier yearling sale at Christchurch. Harnesslink would like to pass on our condolences to Heather and the wider Middleton family for their loss and wish them all the best at this trying time. Harnesslink Media 

After a great week of selections the week before, last week had all the hallmarks of a hangover. Over the the whole weekend we managed just two winners and they were both at Menangle on Sunday with Maurice McKendry and Bob Butt doing the honours. We did nab the quinella over there with Todd MacFarlane and Cyclone Chief running second to Conon Bridge but overall a shocker really. However there is a fine line between success and failure with the seven placings we achieved mostly being seconds. This week there are again only three meetings and we have selections for them all. Auckland - Thursday night Tony Herlihy - Thinks Bettabe Perfect can go back to back and win race 2 Maurice McKendry - Rates Can't Explain It a great each way chance at odds, also in race 2 Peter Scaife - Reckons The Faithful is ready to win again in race 4 Todd MacFarlane  - Gives Allingham from barrier one on the mobile a big chance in race 5 Steven Reid - Very bullish about the chances of Art Form in race 7 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Gave Zach Maguire a big chance of winning, also in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Thinks Thanks Shane with one run under his belt can win race 8   Addington - Friday night Ricky May - Likes the chances of New York Town even from the draw in race 1 John Dunn - Bullish about the chances of Cullect A Guinness in race 2 Gavin Smith - Gives Free Falling a chance fresh up, also in race 2 John Curtin - Thinks the addition of one Dexter Dunn will see Linton Shard win race 3 Scott Phelan - Thought Ashton K was capable even from the draw of getting some money in race 5 Bob Butt - Thinks Easy Rider even from barrier 9 is a big player, also in race 5 Robbie Holmes - Rates Fulham Royale a big chance, also in race 5  Blair Orange - Gives Escapee in her first start for over 22 months a big chance in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thought Valmagne wasn't far from winning a race, also in race 7 Gerard O'Reilly - Gives Princess Galleon a good chance of going back to back in race 10 Mark Jones - Likes the chances of Louie Finn in race 11 Terry Chmiel - Gives Sifty Tuesday an each way chance from a good draw, also in race 11   Winton - Sunday afternoon Brad Williamson - Keen on the chances of Blazing Under Fire in race 1 Craig Ferguson - Very keen on the chances of Robyn's Bad Boy in race 4 Matthew Willianson - Very bullish about the chances of Zenmach in race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Thought with a run to suit with Cruising At Altitude, he might upset them,also in race 5 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Machrie coming in fresh will be hard to beat in race 6 Clark Barron - Gives Billy The Bus an each way chance,also in race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Tetrick can bounce back to form in race 9 Harnesslink Media

The highly anticipated 2015 Register of Standardbred Stallions is winging its way to over 3000 standardbred breeders and harness racing participants. The Register provides readers with accurate, comprehensive information on which to base breeding decisions. This years' issue has forty pacing stallions and twenty-four trotting stallions listed. The Register is one of the positive contributions the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association makes towards supporting breeders. We are proud to produce this high quality publication, which contains the details of the stallions available in New Zealand. Our members rate this publication at over 90% for its value as part of the membership subscription. If you would like to receive a copy please contact kiely@harnessracing.co.nz. The digital version is available to view at http://issuu.com/nzsba/docs/sires_2015-16/5?e=3384664/14984747 Kiely Buttell Executive Manager

The first building in Alexandra Park’s new urban village will be constructed by Canam Construction Limited – a long-time Auckland owned and operated firm. Alexandra Park CEO Dominique Dowding is delighted with the appointment of Canam. The first sod has been officially turned at a dawn Maori blessing with the first building set to open in 2017. As well as containing 118 beautifully-appointed apartments, the building will have 2,500 sqm of ground-floor retail including a new supermarket concept for Auckland which will soon to be announced. “It has been a thorough tendering and selection process and we had considerable interest from inside the construction sector. "In the end Canam were the best fit with what we are trying to achieve here at Alexandra Park." "The company comes with huge credentials and strong testimonials from some very big names,” says Ms Dowding. “Canam has been around Auckland for decades and like us they take a very long-term view to relationships and development. Canam can see the potential of our Green Lane West site and have a proven track record of building sustainable quality environments with great longevity." “This development is all about quality and delivering affordable luxury." "Those buying our apartments or wanting to take a commercial lease on the ground floor, want to know that their investment will stand up to the test of time, that we’re using the best materials and delivering the best workmanship and overall result." "I am very confident Canam will deliver on all fronts,” she says. Managing Director of Canam Construction Limited, Loukas Petrou, says his company is looking forward to the challenge of completely transforming what is currently part of the Auckland Trotting Club’s large unsealed car-park.  “Canam have been in the business of construction for 60 years and we’ve got the right people and systems in place to deliver this much-needed project with absolute confidence." "This is a large scale mixed-use development and we’ve had considerable experience in the residential, retail and commercial sectors." "This first building will be a signature one and it will really set the tone of the entire urban village." "We can’t wait to get started,” says Mr Petrou. The appointment of Canam as the construction company follows the appointment of Auckland’s award-winning architectural firm RTA Studio which is working in conjunction with Sydney-based architects Daryl Jackson Robin Dyke. Alexandra Park has also engaged Canadian expert Joe Hruda of Civitas Urban Design & Planning to deliver a world-class overall environment for the urban village. “Bringing in the likes of hugely respected architect Richard Naish of RTA Studio and internationally recognised and acclaimed urban designer Joe Hruda shows just how serious we are about delivering a quality and exemplary product." "Now with Canam also onboard it cements this,” says Ms Dowding. “It’s another exciting milestone." "We can now actually start the process of building this hugely exciting new urban village for Auckland." "We can’t wait to see the transformation,” she said. The on-site apartment display suite is open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visiting www.apliving.co.nz  

On course on Sunday afternoon at the Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, the one slightly disappointing run from a Kiwi perspective was undoubtedly that of Follow The Stars. After working early and then getting a lovely run on the back of Menin Gate for the remainder of the race, most expected him to boom home along the passing lane and claim a victory over his arch nemesis Menin Gate. Especially given that My Kiwi Gate had dished it up to Menin Gate for most of the last lap and looked to have Menin Gate in trouble on the corner However Follow The Stars showed nothing initially when moved into the passing lane but half way down he seemed to get a second wind and charged home late for second to Menin Gate who showed all his usual toughness in the straight when looking in trouble on the bend. Post race it has now emerged that Follow The Stars had suffered a tendon tear during the Breeders Crown Final which obviously affected his performance. "Its a 10 per cent tear which means he will be off the scene for a few months" Mark Purdon said There has been a bit of interest in Follow The Stars as a stud prospect in Australia and negotiations are ongoing. Harnesslink Media

Contrary to rumours circulating on the future of All Stars Stable, the training partnership and professional relationship between Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will continue. "We are still very good friends and we have a strong working relationship, " Natalie said. "That  means we will be able to carry on business as usual at the stable without any problems irrespective of any  personal issues " Mark, who is holidaying in Queensland with sons Michael and Nathan this week, echoed those thoughts and expressed a wish for privacy regarding the couple's personal life. "It is a difficult time but as far as owners and associates are concerned we want them to know the training partnership remains the same as it has been throughout our most successful season  " he said He emphasised that no third party was involved in their  situation. Natalie added that it was important that the balance of skills the pair bring to All Stars would continue. "Individually Mark and I bring different strengths to what is a large organisation in business terms and we expect that to continue" Mark and Natalie have managed All Stars Stable together since 2011 and have achieved unparalleled success as a partnership in the seasons since. David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stable  -  Check site here

Sunday's $84,000 Aldebaran Park Australasian Breeders Crown final for two year old colt and gelding trotters at Tabcorp Park Melton  looked a two horse war on paper and that's how it turned out but it wasn't the two horses everybody thought would fight out the finish. Conon Bridge from the Paul Nairn barn was a warm favourite after drawing barrier one and his main danger was expected to be Sundons Courage from the Chris Angove barn who was drawn on Conon Bridge's back at one on the second line. One driver who thought he might be able to upset those predictions was Todd MacFarlane, the trainer driver of Cyclone Chief who had drawn in close at barrier four. Speaking to Harnesslink pre race, Todd thought that Sundons Courage lack of early speed presented an opportunity for him to get across and trail Conon Bridge. And that is exactly how it turned out. After a false start at the first attempt, Conon Bridge burned off the gate at the second attempt leaving a big gap for Cyclone Chief to slot into with Sundons Courage settling three back on the inner. Conon Bridge's driver Bob Butt was in no great hurry in front and with no mid race pressure he had a pretty soft run in front. Passing the 800 metres Bob upped the tempo with a quarter down the back in 29,8 which had most of the field battling before the turn. Cyclone Chief had dropped off a length or two but was still close enough on the corner to be a threat. Half way up the straight Conon Bridge looked home but late in the piece Cyclone Chief surged up on the inner and injected real excitement into the finish. At which point Conon Bridge ducked sideways and inconveniced Cyclone Chief. No sooner had Conon Bridge being declared the winner, than the siren went with Todd alleging the interference had cost him the win. Sitting in on the enquiry, the point the stewards returned to several times was the fact that Todd, even though he had been checked, had not stopped driving Cyclone Chief over the final stages. After a short adjournment, the stewards came back with a finding that while Cyclone Chief had been checked, Todd hadn't stopped driving the horse over the final stages and the close proximity to the finish line led them to dismiss the objection. They did however fine Bob Butt $250 for failing to correct Conon Bridge immediately when he ducked in. Bob Butt was relieved but confident the right decision had been made. " Conon Bridge did shift down the track but I didn't believe he had done enough to lose the race." " I think the fact Todd never stopped driving his horse helped my case," Bob said. Todd Macfarlane was dumbfounded by the decision. " I am in no doubt that if I hadn't been checked I would have won the race."' " Bob's horse has gone super and I have no complaints with anything he said in the room. " The stewards on the other hand seem to have pre-determined the outcome before the hearing had even been held." "Their performance has left a real sour taste in my mouth" Todd said. In the wash up Bob Butt should be congratulated for adding a Group 1 winning drive to his resume and kudos to Todd MacFarlane for taking the decision so professionally in the room. Harnesslink Media  

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals being run tomorrow at Tabcorp Park Melton, we are trying to finish the previews we started. This preview is of  the two year old pacing fillies final 1) Tascott Lady (Modern Art)   Starts 11  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $11,330 Nice filly but this does look a bit rich. Even from the draw we find it hard to make a case for her here. Not for us 2) Zibibbo (Shadow Play)   Starts 12  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $14,878 Has improved late in the season and very competitive here Very quick off the gate in her semi final last week and got home well when clear for smart second to Dream About Me. Should lead early and be able to choose who to hand up to. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 3) Soho Madeleine (Bettors Delight)   Starts 11 -- Wins 3  -  Seconds 5  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $51,398 Talented filly who has only missed a first three placing once in eleven starts.  Very consistent  but just half a metre off a couple here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 4) Whirily School (Courage Under Fire) (Emerg 1)  Starts 13  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $69,270 Disappointing  in her semi final last Saturday at Ballarat but bounced back to win a weak consolation on Friday night. To many negatives for us at this point. Not for us. 5) Three Squared (Mach Three)   Starts 11  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $59,165 Looked very smart earlier in the season but no where near that level at the moment. Finished a long way from them in her semi final after working early. Not for us. 6) Hot Shot Woman (Rocknroll Hanover)   Starts 13  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 8  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $125,683 Great record all season and although she doesn't win out of turn, she is always in the fight. Smart second to Heavens Trend in $125,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final in a touch over 1:53 means she is a serious player here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 7) Celebrity Guest (Mach Three)   Starts 10  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Third 1  -  Stakes $18,664 Nice filly but at a level below what she meets here. Hard to make a case for her as a major player from the poor draw. Not for us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              SEC0ND LINE 8) Jilliby Jitterbug (Rock N Roll Heaven)   Starts 7  -  Wins 4  -  Second 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $176,695 Super impressive in her first campaign with three wins and a second but doesn't appear to have come back as good in her second campaign. Should have stuck on a lot better than she did in her heat so the jury is out on her this week.  Draw doesn't help as well so only a trifecta and first four player for us at best. 9) Get In The Groove (Mach Three)   Starts 6  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $49,497 Has only missed a place once in her short career when she was carved up by Heavens Trend at Albion Park. Nice win in her first start in over a month last week in the semi final and should be a lot sharper this week. Must include for trifecta and first four takers 10) Dancingwithsierra (Modern Art)   Starts 7  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $36,,330 Started the season with three dominant wins but hasn't really improved as much as some here in the interim. Handy enough on her day but draw and strength of field make her an outside trifecta and first four player for us. 11) Magical Delight (Bettors Delight)   Starts 10  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $38,998. Has been thereabouts in some big races this season but not in the same form at the moment. Had a lovely run last last week on Get In The Groove's back but lost ground on her in the last 400 metres. Throw in the poor draw and we find it hard to make a case for her. Not for us. 12) Dream About Me (Bettors Delight)   Starts 7  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $229,632 Champion filly who has silenced her critics several times already in a short career. Her Harness Jewels win from the outside of the gate was outstanding and when Mark Purdon labels her a "special" filly it pays to take notice. Anything less than a win would be a surprise. 13) Heavens Trend (Rock N Roll Heaven)   Starts 9  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $134,033 Looked a superstar in the making when winning five of her first six but had a hiccup at Albion Park where she raced erratically late in the piece and repeated that again last week in her semi final at Ballarat. Emma Stewart has changed some gear this week because she thought she raced a bit fierce last Saturday. Hard at this stage of the season though to fix problems with an erratic two year old in one week. On class she is the major threat to the favourite and a must include for all trifecta and first four takers. SELECTIONS Dream About Me is a clear first pick for us  Heavens Trend is still the second best filly here and if driven differently may be the major player everybody thought she was before her semi final. After that it is hard to split Zibibbo, Soho Madeleine, Hot Shot Woman and Get In The Groove. Harnesslink Media

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals being staged at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow, we will preview the remaining finals we haven't yet covered. This preview is of the two year old colts/geldings final for pacers. 1) Shadow Sax (Shadow Play)   Starts 10  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $121,563 Very smart two year old who was huge from the second row in his semi final at Ballarat last Saturday. Really smart overall record and from the ace draw Gavin Lang has plenty of  options. Winning chance and a must include for trifecta and first four takers. 2) Nathans Courage (Courage Under Fire)   Starts 4  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $ 15820 Visitor from Perth who was just okay in his semi final last Saturday night. Worked very hard early last week from out wide but was was beaten 26 metres when finishing sixth Not for us. 3) Smithstars Lexus (Rock N Roll Heaven)  Starts 8  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $18,743 Got a lovely run last week and finished on well without looking like threating the first three. Should get a similar run to last week but with the increased depth in the field, he is an outside first four player for us. 4) Born To Rocknroll ( Rocknroll Hanover)   Starts 15  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $131,209 Tough semi final win after just holding the front early and looking in trouble on the turn.  Never super impressive but always thereabouts in the big races and has won seven this season. Winning chance with run to suit and a must have for trifecta and first four takers. 5) Christmas Jolt (Village Jolt)   Starts 16  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $73,685 The early season star who was dominant then but the pack seems to have caught up with him as we have moved towards the end of the season. Still going great races but finding a few too smart now. Not for us 6) Catcha Lefty (Village Jasper)   Starts 10  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $68,543 In his first start out of Queensland last week in the semi final, he showed enough to suggest he is not completely out of it here. Drawn worse this week and in a stronger field but does look a genuine type. Could boost up those trifecta and first four dividends.. 7) Waikiki Beach (Somebeachsomewhere)   Starts 11  -  Wins 11  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0                 Stakes $ 336,181 Outstanding youngster in the best stable in the juvenile game. Eleven from eleven says it all and even from out here at seven, this race looks his to lose. Has high speed and plenty of bottom to him so has plenty of options whatever happens. Clear first pick, should win.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SECOND LINE 8) Zee Dana (Tintin In America)   Starts 6  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $41,291 Exciting juvenile who produced  a huge effort in his semi final last week. Flew the gate from the outside to lead early and then trailed Waikiki Beach the rest of the way and was comfortably second so following Shadow Sax out on Sunday should see him get a soft run close to the pace. Must have for trifecta and first four takers. 9) Emiliana (Art Major)   Starts 8  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $13,828 Has got better the deeper into the season we have gone. Really nice run in his semi final, coming from four back on the outer to run a close up fourth in a heat where they ran home from in front in 55.8  First four chance if the breaks go his way. 10) I Will Rock You (Rock N Roll Heaven )   Starts 6  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $11,586 Never left the inner from barrier one in his semi final and just battled into fourth. New Zealand form okay but away from the smart ones. Not for us from the draw. 11) Soho Tribeca (American Ideal)   Starts 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 1  -  $11,460 Had a lovely run last week when second in his semi final but pushed Born To Rocknroll over the line with no passing lane. Pushed Born To Rocknroll close the start before that and appears the most likely horse to run a place at odds. Include in trifecta and first four selections. 12) Iconic Valor (Jeremes Jet)   Starts 8  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $17,008 Nice juvenile but the draw is a killer in this race. Hard to make a case for him in this field from the draw. Not for us.   SELECTIONS Waikiki Beach is one exceptional juvenile and even from the draw he is the clear first pick. Shadow Sax, Born To Rocknroll and Zee Dana are all capable of being big players here. Next in line after that would be Catcha Lefta and Soho Tribeca.                                                                                Harnesslink Media

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton almost upon us, Harnesslink has decided to do a preview of all the finals. This peview is of the IMV Technologies three year old trotting fillies final. 1) Vari Perfect (Armbro Variable)   Starts 9  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $2878 Nine start maiden who is on the improve but the depth of this field makes things difficult.Even from the draw it is hard to make a case for her. Not for us 2) Desert Flyer (Pegasus Spur)   Starts 24  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 5  -  Stakes $21,203 She has a tidy enough record overall but her performances in the Group races has been poor. Draw a help but still hard to see her as a player here. Not for us. 3) Justines Amore (Love You)   Starts 8  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $24,476 Her record says she should be a major player here but we are not convinced. Dominant in New South Wales earlier in season but her last couple in Victoria against many of those she meets here have been okay without being top draw. First four player for us at best. 4) Reina Danzante (Armbro Invasion)   Starts 7  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  thirds 0  -  Stakes $53,638 Has hardly put a foot wrong in her career todate and from the draw looks the one they all have to beat here. Bred to be something special and trainer -driver combo is outstanding. A clear first pick for us. 5) Zaire Diva (Red River Hanover)   Starts 22  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 4 $26,245 Hasn't won out of turn right through her career as her record shows. Good enough at different times to be placed or be thereabouts against a lot of those she faces here. Draw no help but outside trifecta and first four player here. 6) Yankee Sister (Yankee Boy)   Starts 17  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $13,573 Nice enough trotter but just a length or two off the smart ones here. Hard to make a case for here in this field from this draw. Not for us. 7) Alannah Hall (Angus Hall)   Starts 10  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 4  -  Stakes $20,998 Not the worst here by any means but draw makes it very hard. Given a good blowout in her one Australian start to date so will strip a lot fitter for this. Outside first four player at best from the draw.                                                                                                                                                                                           SECOND LINE 8)  My Arya (Angus Hall)   Starts 24  -  Wins 14  -  Seconds 14  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $234,149 Champion filly who has just seemed slightly off her game lately. Has only missed a place once in 14 starts in Australia so underestimate at your peril. Draw terrible but driver Anthony Butt is right in the zone at the moment. A winning chance and a must include for all trifecta and first four takers. 9) Fiery Mountain Girl (Sundon)   Starts 15  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  $63,416 Quality filly who ran a great third in the New Zealand Oaks after doing plenty of work, beating home My Arya Carried on the good work in New South Wales winning the Trotting Derby there and has to be a big player here with any kind of luck from the draw. Include in everything. 10) Naked Majesty (Majestic Son)  Starts 19  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $38,235 Nice filly who was unlucky to not make the field for the final. If she did make it back into the field, she is not a forlorn first four chance.  11)  Glenferrie Burn (Muscle Hill)   Starts 24   -  Wins 8  -  Seconds 8  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $61,875 Lovely filly who has built up a smart record to date. Always seems to be one or two better than her but a good chance to get amongst it here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 12) Endsino (Angus Hall)   Starts 18  -  wins 7  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $97,443 Another beautifully bred filly with a race record to match. Outstanding run for fourth in Victoria Trotting Derby but needed a draw to beat a couple here and ended up in the carpark on the second row. Still a chance from there but hard to see her winning. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 13) Aldebaran Deebee (Skyvalley)   Starts 12  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $ 21,220 Continues to step up but another filly who has been hamstrung by the draw. Seems to take each step up in her stride but hard to see her winning this from the carpark. Must include for trifecta and first four players. SELECTIONS From the draw Reina Danzante looks sure to lead and be very hard to run down with all her major competitors drawn poorly If My Arya sees any kind of daylight from her draw, she immediately becomes a big danger to the favourite while Fiery Mountain Girl, Aldebaran Deebee, Glenferrie Burn and Endsino are all capable of running in the first four. Harnesslink Media

This Friday night at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, we have the sixth running of the Island of Origin driving series. Each team has six drivers involved but field sizes being what they are at the moment, most drivers are on the sidelines at least once and in some cases twice during the series. The exceptions are the Northern captain Tony Herlihy and the Southern captain Dexter Dunn who each have a full book of six drives. The contest will be decided over six races and there is a three- three split with trot and pacing races which is a good way to have it. We thought we would look at each heat with our thoughts on the likely winner. Race 2  Majestic John is in great nick at the moment, has drawn well and has regular pilot Josh Dickie in the bike. Bettabe Perfect has drawn to be in the action from one with Tony Herlihy driving and after that it is a bit of a lottery. The North holds the upper hand here. Race 3 Princess MacKendon with Dexter Dunn driving looks the one to beat here. Smart trotter in the making and with that first run under her belt should hold too many guns for this field Thanks Shane with John Dunn on board  went close several times last campaign but after that several have exposed form which makes them a runners chance without standing out The South has a slight edge here. Race 4 The two best horses have drawn awkwardly here which makes this race a bit harder to judge. Hart Of Dixie with Matthew Williamson driving has always looked a talented mare and her record backs that up but from seven at the barrier she is going to need a bit of luck. Same applies for Jo's Dream and Jay Abernethy from two on the second line but she has the alround game to overcome the draw. Love Is A Drug (John Dunn) and Culinary Delight (Josh Dickie) are other leading chances in a field that the draw has evened out. Hard to favour one team over the other in this race. Race 6 Now this race really is a lottery and trying to narrow it down is not easy San Diego Love is going through a flat patch for a mare of her ability but if she was anything close to her best, she would win this. Blair Orange drives. Tereskova (Ricky May) is in form and Le Lua Invasion (Dexter Dunn) looks well suited in a field of this type. On paper the South looks to have a distinct advantage but it is anyone's guess how the race will pan out Race 7 Joey Maguire (Scott Phelan) has drawn to lead here and if he does lead he will be very hard to beat. The smart Vice Consul (Tony Herlihy) follows him through from the second line and with any kind of run becomes a big player here. No Way Else (Dexter Dunn) and First Home (Ricky May) are chances to get amongst it as is Zakspatrol (Nathan Williamson) whose last run was super. The North holds a small advantage here but it isn't a lot Race 8 Another evenly split race to finish the series. Allingham (Tony Herlihy) is knocking on the door of its next win and gets a start here over its biggest challengers. Twelve Monkeys (Blair Orange) is going for three in a row and Isa Smiling (Josh Dickie) continues to impress as she wins her way through the grades. All Royal Gal (Ricky May) is another with a great form line so again the favoured horses are evenly split between the two teams. Selection Hard to be confident here about either team winning this by a margin but overall maybe the South by a short half head. Harnesslink Media

THE Addington Harness Racing New Zealand Ranking Committee had a busy time yesterday dealing to two sets of rankings for the first time at its initial meeting for 2015. In a rare situation, a marked increase in Australian and international nominations made comparing the various merits of horses more difficult, but it is exciting to see so many varied form-lines coming together for races like the $750,000 Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup and the $250,000 Hellers Dominion. The NZ Trotting Cup rankings are headed by last season's 'Horse of the Year' Christen Me, with Australian nomination and Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney at two being the top ranked visitor. While the NZ Cup is missing stars such as Adore Me and Terror To Love, a new guard is set to take their place. The committee was impressed with the overall depth and quality of those nominated, which suggests an intriguing spring build-up is in store. There is the potential to have a large group of quality up-and-comers clambering spots in the lead-up to harness racing's great race. In the Dominion, defending champion Jaccka Justy heads the list, just ahead of Trotter of the Year, Stent and the ever-present Sheemon. An exciting aspect is the addition of two well-performed European trotters. This is sure to add a significant edge to the Dominion and its lead-up. Ranking the Hellers Dominion proved to be an interesting process for the committee. Addington Racing Manager Brian Rabbit explains; "It's tremendous having the international flavour adding to the Dominion.: "The Australian nominations are well credentialed, which is great for the potential depth of the race but that also gave us some headaches." "The trickiest part for the committee was weighing up the two European horses, Used To Me and Daryl Boko." "Both have competed very well in the hotbed of European trotting." "Used To Me is a proven top-level type performer in France, while Daryl Boko ran third when favourite in the Finnish Derby last year, a Group 1 race worth 221,000 Euros and brings over solid Swedish form." "We had to exercise discretion for the European pair, as they clearly fall outside of what the ranking criteria was introduced to cover." The connections of smart trotter Boizel have made a Late Payment to nominate and he now takes the total number of Hellers Dominion nominations to 39. The next set of rankings will be released following a committee meeting on Tuesday 8 September after the Maurice Holmes Vase on September 4. If you require any further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact the Racing Department at HRNZ on 03) 964 1200 or Brian Rabbitt at Addington Raceway on 03) 338 9094. Courtney Clarke New Zealand Cup Rankings 1) Christen Me 2) Arden Rooney 3) Smolda 4) Franco Nelson 5) Franco Ledger 6) Sky Major 7) Ohoka Punter 8) Tiger Tara 9) Corzin Terror 10) Easy On The Eye 11) Venus Serena 12) Lancewood Lizzie 13) Mossdale Conner 14) Forever Gold 15) Jason Rulz 16) Belkmyster 17) Te Kawau 18) Dalton Bromac 19) Alleluia 20) Messini 21) Bit Of A Legend 22) Saveapatrol 23) Choise Achiever 24) Mach Beauty 25) Chancellor Cullen 26) Brilliant Strike 27) Quick As A Trick 28) Lewy Risk 29) Jivin Cullen 30) Ideal Success 31) Mighty Flying Mac 32) Mach’s Gladiator 33) Ballindooley 34) Bettor Dream 35) No Doctor Needed 36) Major Bubbles 37) Delightful Dash 38) Major Star 39) Provocative Prince 40) Zakspatrol   Dominion Handicap Rankings 1) Jaccka Justy 2) Stent 3) Sheemon 4) Master Lavros 5) Used To Me 6) Kincaslough 7) Alley Way 8) Vincennes 9) One Over Da Moon 10) Jag’s Invasion 11) King Denny 12) Habibti 13) Daryl Boko 14) Clover Don 15) Prime Power 16) Realmein 17) Kyvalley Blur 18) Maori Time  19) Springbank Sam 20) Speeding Spur 21) Royal Aspirations 22) Overanova 23) Boizel 24) Valmagne 25) Cool Cobber 26) Uncas 27) Monbet 28) Majestic Time 29) Quite A Moment 30) Escapee 31) Harrysul 32) Live The Dream 33) Sol Invictus 34) Al Bundy 35) Leanne’s Boy 36) Monty Python 37) Waterloo Sunset 38) Wingsonhai 39) Prestine  

Our harness racing tipsters have been going okay for a while now but last week they had one of  their best weekends since we started the ringaround. Nine tipsters selected winners which was a great result in itself but it was the dividends that some of them paid that really raised the bar. John Dunn has bragging rights after a $10:90 collect with Mr Meddle while Robbie Holmes ($8:70), Nathan Williamson ($8:30) and Gavin Smith ($6:60) were others to select winners at good odds. Throw in a $185 trifecta in the last at Addington (John Dunn, Bob Butt, Ricky May) and the ringaround followers must have had a good night on the punt. The southerners righted the ship too with a win for once so the challenge now is can they do it this week? This week there are only three meetings in New Zealand and only seven races at Forbury Park so once again our number of selectors is down. Three of our regular tipsters are at Melton for the Breeders Crown finals so we have included their selections there. Forbury Park - Thursday night John Curtin - Rates Topnotch Eagle a big chance to make a winning debut in race 1 Craig Ferguson - Reckons even from the wide draw, Anothersuperstar is not out of it in race 4 Gavin Smith - Thinks Paris Princess from her handy draw can win again,also in race 4   Alexandra Park - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Rates Risk a good chance to take on some smart horses and win in race 1 Peter Scaife - Gives Majestic John from barrier two a big chance of winning race 2 Matthew Williamson - Thought even from barrier eight, Hart Of Dixie was a winning chance in race 4 Blair Orange - Rates Love Is A Drug from her good draw a big chance, also in race 4  Steven Reid - Reckons the first starter Mo Cullen will give plenty of cheek in race 5 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates Le Lua Invasion with Dexter in the bike the one to beat in race 6 Scott Phelan - Gives Joey Maguire from barrier two a big chance of winning race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes his chances of winning at Auckland with Zakspatrol,also in race 7 Tony Herlihy - Quite keen on the chances of Allingham in race 8   Timaru - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Diana Harbour was overdue and could win race 1 John Dunn - Thinks Cullens First Meddle will be hard to roll in race 2 Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Holly a good chance of taking out race 4 Mark Jones - Reckons Stuover will make it two from two in race 5 Terry Chmiel - Gives first starter Martin John a good chance of making a winning debut in race 6 Ricky May - Quite keen on Liz Rule breaking her duck, also in race 6 Brad Williamson - Thinks Astral Ruler is capable of handling the C1 grade and can win race 7   Tabcorp Park, Melton - Sunday afternoon Maurice McKendry - Confident that The Orange Agent even from her poor draw can win race 6 Bob Butt - With his gate speed and drawn barrier one, Conon Bridge should be winning race 9 Todd MacFarlane - Couldn't be happier with Cyclone Chief and rates him a big chance, also in race 9

Sunday is shaping up as a definitive day for All Black halfback Andy Ellis. Ellis is part of a harness racing syndicate who race duel Group I winner Speeding Spur, a $1.30 favourite with the New Zealand TAB to win the Group I Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Melton on Sunday. The John and Josh Dickie trained Speeding Spur has not been helped by a tricky second row draw for the 2240m race, but his overwhelming favouritism suggests he should be good enough to overcome that. The Speeding Spur camp will be looking for redemption after the son of Pegasus Spur made an uncharacteristic break which ended his winning chances at the Harness Jewels at Ashburton in late May.  Ellis was on track to watch the disappointing result and will be looking for redemption of his own around three hours after Speeding Spur's race which starts at 3.09pm NZT. At 6.30pm the All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup will be announced. Fellow Speeding Spur owner Kieran Read is a certainty but Ellis' chances of playing in back-to-back World Cups appear to be dwindling. With Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara seemingly assured of their spots, Ellis also has to battle with a now fully fit Tawera Kerr-Barlow. And coach Steve Hansen has also hinted at only taking two halfbacks. If Ellis does miss out on what would be his final World Cup chance, he should hopefully be able to call himself a Breeders Crown winner. A Speeding Spur win looks a much better bet than an All Black call up on paper. Ellis and Read were invited into harness racing ownership by Woodlands Stud and have never looked back after first tasting success with Betters Delight pacer Victors Delight. Also in the Speeding Spur ownership is Crusaders forwards coach Dave Hewett and Commonwealth gold medallist Dick Tayler. A World Cup winner in 2011, Ellis makes no secret of his love of harness racing. New Zealand trained runners hold favouritism in seven of the eight Breeders Crown Group I events. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's 2-year-old trotting filly High Gait is a $1.20 favourite from the ace, as is stablemate Our Waikiki Beach who starts from the outside of the front row in the 2-year-old colts and geldings pacers final. Fellow All Stars pacers Our Dream About Me ($1.40) and Follow The Stars ($1.70) hold favouritism in the 2-year-old fillies and 3-year-old colts and geldings final. Our Dream About Me will have to come from barrier 12 but Follow The Stars has drawn four and inside main rival Menin Gate. The Bunty Hughes-trained The Orange Agent is at $1.50 to win the 3-year-old fillies pacing final from the second line and Paul Nairn's Conon Bridge is a $1.30 shot to win the 2-year-old trot for colts and geldings on the back of drawing the ace. The 3-year-old trotting final for fillies is the only race the Kiwis do not hold favouritism but Barry Purdon's Alannah Hall is a $14 chance from the outside of the front line. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -  Check site here

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton looming large, we here at Harnesslink thought we would preview the finals. This is our preview of the three year colts and geldings trotting final. 1) Lively Laughter (Grinfromeartoear)  Starts 9  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $5145 Maiden trotter in against some high class three year old trotters makes his task very hard Can't see him playing a part here. Not for us 2) Lofty Success (Great Success)   Starts 12  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $4788 Another three year old who looks to be significantly out of his depth here. Hard to make a case for him to be a chance here. Not for us 3) Fabrication (Dream Vacation)  Starts 18  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $72,820 Right in the zone at the moment but can still do things wrong every now and again. Galloped for no reason in the Victorian Trotting Derby so not completely foolproof. Can leave the gate quickly so with two lesser lights inside him, he would appear the early leader from barrier three. Must include for trifecta and first four players. 4) Suave Taj (Majestic Son)  Starts 5  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $3805 Looks to be quite a nice trotter in the making but the step up in grade here is huge. Hard to make a case for him in this field. Not for us. 5) Illawong Armstrong (Majestic Son)  Starts 22  -  Wins 9  -  Seconds 5  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $107710 Outstanding three year old ability wise but has very little ringcraft to go with it. Does tend to over race something terrible but still sticks on in most of his races. Will head forward but vulnerable if he doesn't get the front Must include for trifecta and first four players. 6) Cold Crusher (Fling It)  Starts 10 -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $8148 Still a maiden trotter after ten starts which gives you an idea of his chances in this field. Hard to make a case for him on exposed form Not for us. 7) Kyvalley Boomerang (Skyvalley)   Starts 18  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 6  -  Stakes $38,088 Nice two year old who hasn't really kicked on at three. Throw in the outside barrier of seven and his chances look bleak. Not for us                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SECOND LINE 8) Im Starlight Starbright (Monarchy)   Starts 29  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 5  -  Stakes $25,764 First start in Australia for this Kiwi bred. Does have ability but has been found wanting when racing the top level three year olds in New Zealand. Liable to get well back from the draw. Not for us. 9) Valley Ess Jay (Skyvalley)   Starts 24  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 4  -  Stakes $49,448 Consistent and game young trotter who has kicked on really nicely at three. Got home well in the Victorian Derby without looking a serious threat but driver change since then is significant. Must have for the trifecta and first four players. 10) Speeding Spur (Pegasus Spur)   Starts 21  -  Wins 13  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $297,231 Champion three year old who even from the draw is the horse to beat. Clearly outstayed these horses in the Victorian Derby after being savaged mid race and hard to see how any can turn the tables here. Clear first pick for us 11) Aldebaran Kingsman (Skyvalley)   Starts 2  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes  Maiden trotter who has only had two starts lifetime. Hard to make a case for him. Not for us. 12) Col Du Galibier (Great Success)   Starts 8  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $3040 Another maiden who has yet to set the world on fire. The draw alone rules him out. Not for us 13) Sonofatrump (Tennotrump)   Starts 15  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $5093  (Emerg1)  The emergency for the final who even if he made it back into the field does not have the exposed form to challenge most here. Not for us. SELECTIONS Speeding Spur is a clear first pick for us. All class and follows out Fabrication who gets off the gate so draw not as bad as it looks Fabrication and Illawong Armstrong look the next two best with Valley Ess Jay a must for trifecta and first four takers. After that it is a bit of a lottery. Harnesslink Media

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals looming large on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton, we here at Harnesslink thought we would preview the finals. This preview is of the $84,000 two year old colts and geldings trotters final. 1) Conon Bridge (Raffaello Ambrosia)  Starts 8  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $63,072 Looked to be the horse to beat in this division before the draw came out and now it really looks like the final is his race to lose. Was off the unruly earlier this season but hasn't put a foot wrong off the gate since being back in the draw so it shouldn't be an issue here. Seems to have a clear margin on his opposition and barring the unexpected should win. 2) Charlie Runkle (Angus Hall)  Starts 6  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $37,158 Started the season with a hiss and a roar but last couple of runs have been just okay. However they have both been at Maryborough so maybe back to Tabcorp Park we might see the real Charlie Runkle. From the draw is a must include for trifecta and first four players. 3) Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 8  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $32,772 Has been thereabouts all season, running in the money in six of his eight lifetime starts. Has faced all of these here and been very competitive against them so from the handy draw  he is a must include for all trifecta and first four players. 4) Cyclone Chief ( The Pres)  Starts 9  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $20,497 Has continued to go from strength to strength since his huge run for fourth in the Harness Jewels. Super run for second to the very smart Isa Smiling at Cambridge last week over the distance of Sundays final and in quick time to boot. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 5) Greg The Great (Great Success)  Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $690 Has failed to impress in three starts to date. Hard to see him having any chance here. Not for us. 6) War Dan Destroyer (Majestic Son)  Starts 8  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $12,440 Started the season in great fashion but doesn't seem to have kicked on with it just lately. The draw of six only compounds his problems so hard to see him being a major player here. Outside first four hope at best. 7) Imahe Man (Aldebaran Yankee)  Strats 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $7478 Started very slowly but has really stepped up in his last three runs which makes the draw a big disappointment. Hard to see how he can be a major player from out there at barrier seven. Not for us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SECOND LINE    8) Sundons Courage (Sundon)  Starts 10  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $61,798 Has had a great season to date and drawn to have a chance of ending it on a high. The big question is can he hold Conon Bridge's back early as he can really leave the gate and Sundon's Courage is okay without being real quick. If he does hold the leaders back, he is the biggest danger to the favourite. Must include for all trifecta and first four takers. 9) Skyflyer (Skyvalley)  Starts 9  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $19,333 His performances have varied during the season but at his best he would be a player here. It will depend on which Skyflyer shows up but no doubting the ability. First four player for us. 10) Sun Valley Road ( Skyvalley)  Starts 4  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $593 Has yet to show anything that would suggest he is a chance here. Not for us. 11) Flash Angus (Angus Hall)  Starts 2  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $300  (Emerg 1) Another starter who at this stage of his career looks heavily outclassed. Not for us. 12) Hudson Bay (Angus Hall)  Starts 9  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $16,495 Quite a nice trotter in the making but the draw of four second line makes his job very hard. Is going to have to give a lot of nice trotters a start from there and it may just be too big an ask. Outside first four player at best from the draw. 13) Variance (Armbro Variable)  Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $415 Another starter who has done little to inspire confidence with his three lifetime runs todate. Not for us. SELECTIONS From the draw and with his gate speed, Conon Bridge looks very hard to beat. Distance will suit so he is a clear first pick Sundons Courage is a clear second pick on both form and his draw. After those two Charlie Runkle, Cruisin Around and Cyclone Chief appear the next best Throw in Skyflyer for first fours. Harnesslink

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