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Alexandra Park is set for a busy spring with a number of race-night hospitality events already proving popular, helped by the Auckland Trotting Club’s increasing use of social media to market its harness racing events.  “For our Fundraising At The Park night, for example, we’re running a competition on Facebook giving away tickets which is definitely helping to spark enquiries. And when it’s cold and wet we push out our Tropical Race Nights where a trip to Vanuatu is up for grabs,” says Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager Joel Reichardt. “Social media certainly gives us the ability to be flexible and interactive, as well as nicely supports our mainstream marketing campaigns.” His comments follow Alexandra Park being named a double finalist in the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2016 - Central. It is a finalist in both the ‘Excellence in Marketing’ category and for ‘Excellence in Customer Service Delivery’. First up this spring is Thai Night on Friday 16 September, with Alexandra Park promising the exotic tastes and sumptuous decor of Thailand without the 12-hour flight time. Enjoy an all-you-can-eat Thai Buffet, a fully themed room, a drink on arrival and of course all the excitement of live racing action. The Thai Night package is only $55 per person. Then on Friday 7 and 14 October Alexandra Park is hosting its Tropical Race Nights, with dining packages starting from just $60 per person and a trip for two to Vanuatu to be won thanks to Air Vanuatu and Mangoes Resort. For Fashion At The Park, also on Friday 14 October, enjoy the fabulous Spring / Summer collections of top New Zealand designers Hailwood, Carlson, Yvonne Bennetti, Trish Peng and Knuefermann. Wine and dine in glamourous style with a three course dining package for $99 per person, while watching head-turning fashion between races. Your Fundraising At The Park on Friday 28 October gives sports teams, schools, social clubs, charities and other groups a great opportunity to raise money for an upcoming event or trip. All they have to do is sell tickets for $50 each with $12.50 from every ticket sold going towards their fundraising goals. Alexandra Park will do the rest and provide the hospitality for a fun night at the races. Fresh from its packed Mid-winter Christmas nights, Alexandra Park is now selling tickets to its Christmas At The Races hospitality evenings set to take place on Fridays 11, 18, 25 November and 2, 9, 16 Decemberas well as Thursday 22 December. “Our dining packages are always exceptional with our delicious all-you-can-eat carveries and buffets. What’s more there’s plenty of atmosphere with some prime viewing spots on offer to watch some exciting harness racing under lights, and of course the live entertainment after the last race,” says Mr Reichardt.  For further information on the dining packages for Thai Night, Tropical Race Nights, Fashion At The Park 2016, Your Fundraising At The Park, or Christmas At The Races, visit this link. For all bookings please or call (09) 631-1165 or email For further information contact: Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager, Joel Reichardt (021) 786-034.

Sean Grayling couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season. The 20-year-old nailed his first driving double and achieved his most memorable win at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He now has two wins from nine drives this season and is well on the way to achieving his season target of 15. “Last season was my best with nine wins, but none of them were as rewarding as winning behind The Faithful last Friday. Zac (Butcher) and I cleared out and I managed to hold him out by a neck. There were more than five lengths back to the third horse. “Stablemate Arden’s Choice was the favourite and we got the run to hold him out. Zac is a real inspiration. He always gives me good advice and I like to listen to what he has got to say because he’s one of the best going around,” Grayling said. “In saying that we are both so competitive and love to beat each other at anything – table tennis, pool, squash and even touch rugby. You name it,” he added. Grayling and Butcher are employed by Barry and Katrina Purdon at Clevedon. After almost five years working for the Hall-of-Fame horseman, Grayling still pricks himself regularly to see if he still has his ‘job from heaven’. “I wouldn’t want to be working for anyone else. This is where I want to be. Every single day I learn something new with Barry. You can see why he’s one of the greatest. He gives so much attention to detail and is not afraid to pull me aside and give me advice. “I will never stop listening to him. On race-nights he usually comes up to me and talks to me about my drives. Dad (Tony) is my biggest supporter but sometimes he is kinder to me with advice simply because he’s my father. “Barry isn’t like that. He says it like it is and at the same time isn’t afraid to praise you when you do well,” said Grayling. The South Auckland junior also drove the Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S to win the first event last Friday. “I’ve been driving for just over three seasons now and that was my first double. I’m also very thankful to Ray for his continued support of me. Amanda Kiddie has also been very loyal to me. She has been huge. “In fact I want to thank all the trainers and owners who have the confidence to put me on their horses. I’m learning and improving all the time and have the best possible mentor to point me in the right direction,” the former Pukekohe High School student said. “My double came a month after the anniversary of my Mum’s passing four years ago. I still feel very close to her and she’s always on my mind. I know she is always with me and that gives me great satisfaction,” Grayling said. Grayling has a chance to further his season tally when he gets behind the Kiddie trained Brookby Prince (race 4) and the Purdon trained Aliante (race 7) at Alexandra Park this Friday night. “Aliante has won her last two starts and rates a good chance while Brookby Prince has drawn well and is having his second run back after a six-month spell. “I always drive to win. I’m a competitor and every time I get in the bike I only have sights on saluting the judge. “My target is 15 wins this season and of course I would love to qualify for the New Zealand and Australasia Champs. I only just missed out on the New Zealands last year so I’m determined to qualify this season,” said Grayling. “But one of my main targets is to win the Alexandra Park Junior Driving Premiership. I wasn’t happy with where I finished last season and really want to win it in 2016-2017,” he added. Grayling won five races at Alexandra Park last season and finished fifth behind Jack MacKinnon, Kyle Marshall, Andre Poutama, and Tony Cameron.   Duane Ranger

Two of the top four ranked horse’s for this year’s New Zealand Trotting Cup spearhead the nominations for Friday night’s Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington. Last season’s New Zealand Free-For-All winner, Tiger Tara and Easter Cup winner Locharburn are ranked three and four respectively on the order of entry for the Cup and will both be in action on Friday night. Coming in fresh, off the back a couple of quiet trial performances each, the pair are expected to improve considerably with their run on Friday night but both should still be competitive. Gerard O’Reilly, who drives Tiger Tara, said his effort for fourth behind Locharburn last Wednesday at Rangiora was satisfactory considering the pacer’s tendencies to goof about in trials and workouts. “He went alright, it was a set forward from the previous run,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a little hard to get a line on him sometimes because he does muck about it. “We know he usually takes one race to really come to it in fitness so we are going to have a better line on where we are at after the Maurice Holmes.” Locharburn was impressive winning his trial and looks well forward for trainer Kevin Chapman. Dexter Dunn was on board in that trial last week and is expected to drive this Friday night. He will eventually be forced into choosing between the big pacer and Christen Me when the latter returns to the track, potentially in October. “We won’t be rushing into any decisions that’s for sure,” Dunn said. The first step on the path toward the November 8 feature, the Maurice Holmes Vase carries a direct entry into the Cup for the winner. While that might not be quite as important for Tiger Tara and Locharburn, it does carry some importance to the likes of Franco Nelson who is ranked 10th. A Cup runner-up two years ago behind Adore Me, the Robert Dunn trained pacer will need to show early form to enhance his prospects. Also with some ground to make up is the progressive Seel The Deal. The Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer has been brilliant winning back-to-back races since joining the barn and his current rank of 22 for the Cup is up for improvement if he can continue that form this week. “I think he’s working towards that top grade for sure,” Greg Hope said. “He’s got all the makings of a true open class horse, but he’d need to with what we will have to face this season.” Southland pacer, Costa Del Magnifico, will begin his Cup campaign in the race as well. The Brent Shirley trained pacer, who won the Invercargill Cup last season, hasn’t been seen publicly since winning at Invercargill back in April. Friday night’s feature trot will see the resumption of a number of horses who are gunning for a spot in this year’s Dominion Handicap. An in-form Amaretto Sun leads the list but with Sunny Ruby, Sheemon, Valmagne and Bordeaux joining the ranks things are set to be tougher this week for the Ken Ford trained runner. Nominations for Friday night’s meeting have been left open and will close on Tuesday morning at 9:30am.   Matt Markim

Mitchell Kerr, who has branched out on his own as a trainer, is ready to make his mark with Forgotten Highway. Forgotten Highway won over 2000m from the mobile gate in a 2.00.1 mile rate at the Rangiora trials on Tuesday (23/8/16)  after qualifying at Ashburton a fortnight earlier. He is a 3-year-old by Bettor’s Delight from Grace Way purchased by Paul Kerr for $75,000 at the 2015 Australasian Classic Sale. “I will start him (Forgotten Highway) at Addington on Friday night,’’ said Kerr. Forgotten Highway is among three horses Kerr has in work at Woodend Beach on the property of David and Catherine Butt. He also assists trainer Robert Dunn, whose son, John is  located on the same property. Mitchell trained the winners of 24 races the past two seasons in partnership with his father, Paul at Ohoka. They included Whozideawasthis (nine wins), Alta Jerome (six) and Princess Arts ( seven). The first two were sold to Australia and Princess Arts  is due to foal to Somebeachsomewhere. “Dad was keen for me to have a crack at training on my own and I have been fortunate to link up with the Dunns,’’ said Mitchell. “I had owners prepared to support me.” Mitchell said the sale of The Pima Indian to Perth was a boost to his fortunes. He was a part-owner of The Pima Indian, a Changeover – Custom Franco colt who qualified at Rangiora in June as a late 2-year-old.   Tayler Strong

Two of the sports biggest breeding operations in all of harness racing, Hanover Shoe Farms in North America and Alabar Stud in Australia/New Zealand, have both signed on as new sponsors for the 6th annual Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (VDM) in Ireland for 2017. In addition, Diamond Creek Farm and Joe Bellino Racing Stable in the USA, PJI Engineering and Oakwood Stud in Ireland, have all “re-upped” their race sponsorships for the big race weekend. The Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend is the creation of Derek and James Delaney of Offlay, Ireland, who is 2012, a year after the tragic death of their younger brother Vincent, decided to have a memorial race in his honor. Little did they know that their weekend honoring their lost brother would develop into the richest harness racing stakes event in all of Ireland and the UK. “My brother James and I look back at what we’ve done with our brothers race in just four years,” said Derek Delaney. “And it blows us away. We have a VDM Committee who is the backbone of our big weekend and now we hire some outside agency’s to help us. It’s amazing. We know that Vincent is very proud of what we have done in his memory.” Hanover Shoe Farms is the leading money earning breeding farm in racing and they are now the title sponsor of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Colt Pace for two-year-olds. The icing on the cake for Hanover Shoe Farms management may have been after Tyrion Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, won the VDM colt division on August 14. He was purchased at Hanover’s Harrisburg Sale at a yearling and flown back to the UK. “Murray (Brown) came back with great enthusiasm about the weekend in Ireland.” Jim Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms. “He told me how they are in it for the love of Horse Racing...not the money. The sponsorship was available so we took it. We sponsor races in Lexington, Meadowlands, The Hambletonian, The Little Brown Jug, Chester, The Meadows, Pocono Downs, UK and Germany.  So why not Ireland?” Simpson said that he is already planning on coming to Ireland next year for the VDM Weekend. The Diamond Creek Farm VDM filly division is being sponsored for the second straight year by Diamond Creek Farm and the Adam Bowden Family. “It was an easy decision.” Bowden said. “After going to Ireland for the 2016 edition of the VDM Memorial we were blown away by the hospitality of the Irish people as well as the Delaney family. “Joining a grassroots movement is addicting, Bowden explained, “and being part of something great is what we are all about. Diamond Creek Farm wants to be involved in events that showcase the greatness of Standardbred racing both at home in the US as well as abroad. Derek Delaney, single-handedly has energized the sport in that region and we could not be more excited about the what the future will bring. “How could you not be entirely blown away over there?” Bowden said. “You can see the event in pictures or follow Heather Vitale's live Facebook posts, but being there in person is an out of this world experience. My wife and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity and the generosity shown by everyone we came in contact with. “I grew up going to the races in Maine (especially the Cumberland Fair in my hometown),” Bowden added, “and being at Portmarnock Raceway was like being transported back in time to 1985 when I was a little kid and reliving my first harness racing experiences where everything was novel and new. It was grassroots racing at its finest.” The VDM is the world’s most rugged race for two-year-olds, requiring the young horses to race Saturday in elimination divisions and then return Sunday for their respective finals in the one-mile race. “We even have sponsors now for the VDM elimination races,” Derek Delaney added. “Clive and Anne Dalton from Australia have signed on and are guaranteeing that each elimination division for both the colts and fillies will race for €2,000 each.”    Alabar Stud, the largest breeding operation down under with 28 stallions in Australia and New Zealand, is now co-sponsoring the Alabar-Oakwood Derby for three-year-old pacers. This race calls for the same format as the VDM, eliminations Saturday (if necessary) and the finals on Sunday. The race is also at a one-mile distance.   And, with the Alabar sponsorship, there will also be a filly division for the 3YO Derby in 2017. Alan Galloway, owner and director of Alabar Stud, was in Ireland for the VDM Weekend this past August and was infatuated with everything he saw. “It was my first time in Ireland for the VDM,” said Galloway, “And what a show they put on. Just a fantastic race weekend. So much excitement. So much passion for the sport that I knew Alabar had to get involved again. “We actually were sponsors when the first Breeders Crown UK & Ireland came about over ten years ago.” Galloway said. “We were invited to come over and help them and the Ireland improve racing. I met and worked with its president, David Wilson, when he first developed the Breeders Crown series. We bred over 100 mares back then,” Galloway said. “We sent over Village Jasper, Armbro Operative and Safely Kept. It was very difficult getting all the approvals from the government but we got it done. Many of the horses racing there now are from their offspring’s. “I was really taken back this year,” Galloway said. “The Irish are such lovely people. Everything that Derek Delaney and his brother have done to promote this weekend is fantastic. Their story is very moving, so emotional, it’s what we at Alabar want to be part of.” Another major sponsor, smitten by coming to the VDM this year, was Joe Bellino and his family, all eight of them. The Bellino Racing Stable in the USA had agreed to sponsor the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace this year and was so enthralled with the entire Ireland experience, Joe re-upped for 2017 even before he came home. “It was the way the people in racing there embraced my family,” Joe Bellino said. “And their deep love for the sport that convinced me to want to sponsor the race again. The way they celebrated a win with cheering and excitement. It’s just the same way I am whether racing for $100 purse or $500,000. It was also great to see and feel it firsthand. “In some way in North America we have lost our way with that sort of enthusiasm.” Bellino explained. “It’s almost like the people who win are used to winning and have come to expect it. That’s why I really appreciated the Hambo this year as it was great to see and feel the passion for our sport just as they do in Ireland.” PJI Engineering of England, one of the largest metal fabricators in all of the UK and Ireland, has come back on board as the sponsor of the Junior FFA Pace. “I first met Derek and James in 2015,” explained Paul Johnson, owner of PJI Engineering in England, “and he was telling me the story on Vincent and the passion the two of them have for the sport is unbelievable. “These two are trying there utmost to take this sport to the next level,” Johnson said, “and the VDM has done so. This is an event that everyone looks forward to every year now, and it gets better every year. Let's not forget the charity's they give to as well. We look forward to be a part of the VDM for many years to come!” With new and renewed sponsorship support coming from around the world, Derek and James Delaney are putting the money right back into their big race weekend. “Because of the great growth of sponsors for the VDM Weekend,” Derek Delaney said, “we will be able in 2017 to also expand the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds to both a horse and mare divisions with Yirribee Stud in Australia taking on as sponsor of the mare division and there will be an increase in purse for the Elvin-Delaney Invitation Le Trot race. This is all so grand! “We now have many of the world’s leading harness racing breeders, owners, trainer, drivers, announcers and journalists coming to Ireland for the VDM.” Delaney added, “It’s hard to imagine that just five years ago we raced for €20,000 ($25,000US) in total purses that first year and now in 2017 the weekend will feature more than €100,000 ($127,000US) in purses. “The VDM has become a major success story to have the biggest breeding farms in the world sponsoring our brothers memorial weekend” Delaney added, “and it's also a major step in the right direction for our breeders, owners, trainers and drivers that they can now breed and sell, train or own horses that has real earning potential in juvenile racing and more! “When you have Alan Galloway and Alabar Farms, Joe Bellino and his Bellino Racing Stables, Jim Simpson & Murray Brown of Hanover shoe Farms, Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farms, Rod Woodhouse of Yirribee Stud Australia, all willing to advise and sponsor us and help improve the breeding in Ireland and the UK.” Said Delaney. “We all know this can only mean a very strong future for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend and a very bright future for our Oakwood Stud.” Delaney added, “We have been a major factor in the racing and breeding in Ireland and the UK and I believe our Standardbreds will become world class in the future. Ireland has a history for producing the best gallopers in the world, so why can't we in Ireland and UK not be the best producers of Standardbreds in the world or at least one of the best! “We are also working with Sire Stakes Ireland and the Breeders Crown UK and Ireland, bricking and building stronger with devoted people like my brother James Delaney, Bernie Kelly, Dave Wilson, Jackie Mann, Thomas Bennett and others. It's all going to complement our events and others stakes. It’s going to be something special how our racing will be growing in the next two to three years’ time, getting stronger year on year. “Maybe most important about all of this,” Delaney said, “is the great new friends we have made over the years that will last a lifetime.” For more information, visit The dates for the 2017 Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend are Saturday and Sunday, August 12 and 13. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend   

Alley Way will start the season as the tightest assessed trotter in Phil Williamson's barn. That honour had been the domain of Springbank Sam until his sale in June. The former Jewels and Rowe Cup runner-up is in the United States now and recently finished third in his first outing there. The sale of Springbank Sam was one of the factors considered by Alley Way's part-owner and former trainer Neville Skinner when choosing to transfer the Monarchy – No Way gelding to Williamson early in August. Another was that Williamson's son Matthew was his regular driver and aboard when Alley Way ran third in the Rowe Cup and second in the Dominion last year. “I sent him to Phil because he is the leading trotting trainer and Springbank Sam has gone,” Skinner said, “and because of Matthew. He'd had seven weeks jogging and I could tell in the sixth week he was back to his old self.” Williamson confirmed Alley Way was ready for fast work on his arrival and is pleased with the way he has progressed. “He's a lovely big horse and looking magnificent,” Williamson said. “He'll go to the Oamaru trials next month and hopefully be ready for the Dominion, that's the plan.” Mac Henry

Sadly one of southern harness racing's stalwarts Gilbert Shirley (Gil) passed away on Sunday aged 84   Gil was a strong supporter of Southland harness racing and began his association with harness racing in the 1950s.   His first win as an owner was at Gore in December 1953, with the trotter White Wings, but he was better known as a successful trainer-driver and breeder.   He trained over 270 winners in a training career spanning five decades, Gil also had more than 50 driving wins during that period.   More recently he trained the good horses Vi Et Animo and Chesterton who between them won 35 races in New Zealand.   Gil also operated the Ascot Stud at Invercargill with Graham Thomas and stood Majestic Chance, the leading New Zealand standardbred stallion in the 1981-82 season.    In 2012 Gil stepped aside from the training role and passed the reins to his son Brent, who is this year preparing Costa Del Magnifico for the New Zealand cup in November.   Costa Del Magnifico is having his first start this season in the Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington on Friday night.     Harnesslink Media

Sea Eyre is making a habit of beating home another trotter by his own sire when he wins. The harness racing gelding by The Pres has scored two victories to date, and on both occasions he's gotten to the post ahead of a year-older trotter who shares the same father.   The first time was at Addington on February 19 this year when Sea Eyre defeated I'm Not Eyre, then last Friday night at Alexandra Park he did it again - prevailing in a tight finish over Precious Moment to set up a $127 quinella!   It's fair to say that the pickings have been slim in between wins, but like a lot of trotters who are learning their craft, Sea Eyre had a few wee issues that needed ironing out and the decision to send him north has started to pay dividends.   Raced on lease by Palmerston-based horseman Ricky Allen, Sea Eyre joined the stable of Richard Brosnan a couple of months after clearing maidens and his new trainer speaks highly of the now 4-year-old gelding out of Viola Chiola.   "Ricky thought that a change of scenery might help," Brosnan said, explaining the temporary arrangement.   "And the horse's issues aren't anything major, just a lot of little things; it always takes time to get to know them and work out what suits."   The chinks in Sea Eyre's armour included a couple of steering issues and his tendency to "fire up" on raceday, but Brosnan's confident that he's slowly turning things around.   "He's actually really good-natured and is beautiful around home, plus on racenight he'll be as quiet as anything too - until you get him out onto the track, when he turns into a right handful.   "He'll be hard on the bit, and the trick is trying to get him to save that until later in the race; even when he's been wild at times though, some of his runs weren't that bad.   "We've changed a bit of gear and are hopefully getting him sorted now, because he did seem more relaxed on Friday."   It's too early to tell whether Sea Eyre will climb as high as the Open Class ranks, but the man who's currently putting the polish on this son of The Pres believes he can win more.   "He might not be a star but he's a nice, handy trotter - and I do think he's still twelve months away yet," Brosnan said.   "There's only a few around by The Pres up here, but they've done quite a good job.   "We've bred two ourselves, out of Baltic Sun. The first one was born with a badly offset hoof and never raced, which was a pity really because it was such a lovely natured horse.   "But I've broken in a 2-year-old full-sister and she's nice too; I've got no problems with them."       For more on The Pres click on this link.   Harnesslink Media

Mark Purdon has no regrets not to be hunting down the toughest record in harness racing. Even though he knows his Breeders Crown winner Waikiki Beach should be on the doorstep on greatness. He ended his 3-year-old season with one of his bravest performances, leading throughout after copping enormous pressure to win A$185,000 group one at Melton. That took Waikiki Beach’s record to an extraordinary 23 wins from 24 starts, his sole defeat coming in a nothing Tuesday race at Menangle, when he was clearly underdone. Had Waikiki Beach won that race he would now be unbeaten in his first 24 starts, a record famous in New Zealand racing as the number Courage Under Fire put together to start his career. “Maybe he should be unbeaten but that sort of thing doesn’t bother us much,” said Purdon. “They all get beaten some day and it was just one of those things.
 “So that pressure is not on him any more and he can start his next season as a very good horse but with no records to worry about.” Waikiki Beach will return to New Zealand for a six-week spell in the almost unbelievable situation of not being the stable’s highest rated 4-year-old of the new season. That honour lies with three-time Derby winner Lazarus, who is the second favourite for the New Zealand Cup, a race Waikiki Beach has not been nominated for. “They will clash eventually, maybe in a race like the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney next March but not in the open class races this year,” said Purdon. “And while we are aiming Lazarus at the Cup races, I still think there is nothing between them and when they do meet it might just be the horse who gets the better run.”
 Waikiki Beach was part of a rich Purdon treble yesterday, better than the master trainer expected because of tough draws and good local opposition. Harness Jewels winner Partyon remained unbeaten by leading throughout in her A$280,000 two-year-old fillies final, blasting to the lead from the outside of the front line in a race-winning move. Early aggression also proved the key for stablemate Custodian in the juvenile trot, when he pressured key rival Illawong Byron, who broke, leaving Custodian to win untested   Michael Guerin

Trainer Graeme Anderson and junior driver Rory McIlwrick had a 100 per cent record with two dazzling winners, Hopes and Dreams and Arden’s Concord, at the Oamaru meeting on Sunday. Both won in similar style over 2600m from the mobile gate. Arden’s Concord led for the last 1900m and had a five and a half length advantage at the finish. Hopes And Dreams led from the 2100m and won by three lengths. Arden’s Concord ran 3.15.6 (2.01 mile rate) and Hopes and Dreams, 3.15.2. Arden’s Concord has now won five races. Hopes And Dreams has had two wins and a second in three starts since transferring to the Anderson stable for beach training at Westwood in June. She also won last season as a 3-year-old for Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight. A daughter of Christian Cullen and grand race mare One Dream and a $50,000 premier yearling purchase, she is now realizing her potential. Neville Cleaver, of Invercargill who races her with Kevin Strong said she was following the same path as Onedin Mach, who regained winning form when he transferred him to Anderson. Onedin Mach won eight for Nathan Williamson and two  for Anderson before being sold to the United States in 2015. Cleaver said both horses had strained hocks. Phil Williamson trained the winners of both races for trotters, The Silver Fox and Sam Galleon. The Silver Fox was driven by Blair Orange who had his previous win for the Williamson stable  behind Lets Get Serious in the Four-Year-Old Trotters Championship at Addington in 2006. Hayden Galway had his first win as a trainer and owner when I’m A Dreamer cleared C0 ranks. Galway (28) took out a licence last season to prepare two horses at Leeston. The other is Classie Margaret who was twice placed in three starts as a 3-year-old in July. Galway worked for two years for Weedons trainer Jamie Gameson. His grandfather Ray Paget  and great grandfather, John Docherty trained horses. Galway bought I’m A Dreamer as a 2-year-old from Brian West, of Studholme Bloodstock. “She was a December foal and a big filly needing time,’’ said Galway who races the 4-year-old daughter of Art Official – Simply Devine with his father, Anthony and Megan Earl. I’m A Dreamer was having her second start. She is a half sister to Start Dreaming, winner of the group two Robin Dundee Stakes at Menangle in 1.51.9 in February. Another half sister, Its My Style won four races in Australia. I’m A Dreamer is the third foal of Simply Devine. Trainer Brent White and driver Stephen McNally combined for their 50th win when Lindsay Castleton trounced his rivals in a C0 trot. He led for the last 1300m and won by six and a half lengths. White and McNally had their first win with Cassino Woman at a Timaru meeting in 2007. Trouble Rieu, Sell A Bit and Elios have been  good winners for the combo. Lindsay Castleton, a 5yr-old by Sundon from Anna Castleton, is a half brother to four winners including Castletonian (Sires’ Stakes Championship for 2-year-old trotters at two) and Juneamy Castleton. Lindsay Castleton is raced by Waimate breeders Lex and Heather Williams. Lex is out of action with a fractured vertebra. Stoney Eyre, having his first start for Chertsey trainer Garry Bates, led throughout his first race  for seven months. Bates took over the training of Stoney Eyre after the 5-year-old was bought by  a group of owners including Bates’ wife, Liz  in July. Stoney Eyre had a win at Oamaru 12 months earlier from 14 starts when trained by part-owner Craig Kennedy at Cust.   By Tayler Strong

Harness racing fixed odds win movers from Oamaru as at 11:30am. Race 1 - Punters only want to be on the $2.50 favourite Jana's Wishs which is no doubt on the back of her recent easy win at the Ashburton trials. The largest early bet is $600 at $2.50. The second favourite Lindsay Castleton is at $2.80 but we expect his odds to drift as more late money will come for the favourite. In multi bets the two favourites are the only runners wanted with double the number on.   Race 2 - Strong support early for the second favourite Floating On Eyre at $3.20 which is no surprise as it comes from the Barron brother's stable and Blair Orange drives.   She leads multi bets over the $3.00 favourite Gypsy's Choice.   Grey Skies at $3.70 is the only ther runner taking some early money.    Race 3 - A big mover early is Jay Yayz Boy $13 - $9.50 but all they want in multi betting is the $2.60 - $2.40 favourite Mr Sharkey another first starter from the Barron brother's stable.   Best backed in the win 'book' is Selling The Dream at $3.30        Race 4 - Another big morning mover is Hold On Arizona $24 - $12  and  surprisingly she is the best backed runner early.   Precious Sara the $2.80 favourite leads multi bets over the second favourite Kardesler.    Race 5 - The only runner they want to be on here is Monty Python $4.80 - $4.60 with the largest bet $1,000 at $4.60.   The three opening favourites Tornado Valley, Ottawa and Monty Python are all equal in multi betting.   Race 6 - The $2.10 favourite Hopes And Dreams is easily the best backed runner.   There is some solid support for Cool Changes at $11 ion the win 'book' but multi wise he doesn't hold many tickets.   Race 7 - A quiet market early but the best backed is Floreta $8.40 - $6.50 over Mickey Jay at $12.   Mach's Terminator the $2.00 favourite dominates multi betting.   Race 8 - This is the race with the lowest early win hold and the only early lead we can give is that the $2.00 favourite Sam's Galleon is all they want in multi betting.   Race 9 - Pay Me Art is the best backed early and is into $4.20 from $5.60 but he is only fifth best backed in multi betting with the $2.50 favourite Arden's Concorde leading over Gimmegold and Aquickone.    Race multi betting favourites in number order are: Race 3 Mr Sharkey  Race 7 Mach's Terminator  Race 6 Hopes And Dreams  Race 2 Floating On Eyre  Race 4 Precious Sara   Best backed runner as at 11:30am race 5 Monty Python.   Blair Orange has opened up as $2.30 favourite in the Drivers Challenge over Stephen McNally $5.50 & Gerald O'Reilly at $6.00 and all the early money is for Stephen McNally.   Stephen Richardson

The master finds himself in an unusual situation on Breeders Crown day tomorrow. Because champion trainer Mark Purdon expects to lose more races than he wins. And he wouldn’t be stunned if his five-strong team came away with only one victory. While a Group 1 win would rate as a successful day for almost any other trainer on the planet, this is after all a man who won seven races on New Zealand Cup day two years ago and regularly dominates entire premier programmes. Point in case, at the Jewels two months ago he won five of nine races. But that won’t be repeated tomorrow. The combination of leaving some of his best talent at home, stronger than usual Australian opposition headed by the powerful Emma Stewart stable and some bad barrier draws has Purdon hopeful rather than confident. His near guaranteed winner should be Our Waikiki Beach, who is $1.10 to win the 3-year-old male pacing final, where his only danger would be getting crossed early from barrier one. But Purdon’s only other favourite is Harness Jewels winner Partyon in the juvenile fillies pace and while she may be the best horse in the race she faces the biggest task. She has the outside of the front line with the connections of second favourite Miss Graceland already stating they are keen to lead from barrier four and stay there. The latter is very good and if she makes Partyon work early then both could be softened up for Victoria’s best filly Petacular to take advantage later. So Purdon has a decision to make early. “There is no point going back but whether we can get across to lead is another matter,” he told the Herald. “She is well and will be improved by her win last week and if she leads she will be very hard to beat.”
 Pacing Major also faces a tricky draw in the A$280,000 juvenile boys final and was only steady when second last week so will need to improve or hope hot favourite Tingara Beach gets crossed at the start to turn the race upside down early. Harness Jewels winning trotter Custodian galloped in his final lead-up last Friday so Purdon is not only wary of that but of Redwood winner Illawong Byron in the juvenile trot. “I think the second line will suit my horse but Illawong Byron is very good and he will be hard to beat.”
 And Purdon realises My MacKenzie, probably only the fourth or fifth best 3-year-old filly in his stable, is racing for place money at best against Heavens Trend and Rocknroll Magic in her final. But Kiwi trainer Paul Nairn could claim two finals tomorrow with Wilma’s Mate and Conon Bridge both in perfect form for their 3-year-old trot finals while the Auckland-owned pair of Our Regal Love and High Gait also have serious hopes.   Michael Guerin

Phil Williamson, who reached 500 training wins last Sunday, is on the march on Oamaru this Sunday to reach his main target, that number of wins with trotters.   Williamson has specialised in trotters and 481 of his wins have been with the square gaiters. That total  is remarkable, considering  he usually only has two race opportunities on a programme. He has been training for 24 seasons and amassed a record tally of 58 wins, all with trotters, for the season that concluded on July 31.   “It was nice to  reach 500 and it would be even better if we can do it with trotters,’’ said Phil.   It is a family operation with his wife, Bev and sons, Matthew and Brad and Matthew’s partner, Charlotte Purvis in the team and earlier, son Nathan, now Southland-based and successful in his own right as a trainer and driver. Farrier Malcolm Oakes is a key member and Steve Allen has been with the stable four years.   Phil has The Silver Fox and Monty Python in race 5 and Sam Galleon in race 8 at the Oamaru meeting.   The Silver Fox was a fresh up winner at Oamaru on July 19 The  gelding  has since won at Addington. “He was disappointing at his last start but we are prepared the turn the page on that,’’ said Phil.   Monty Python, who has not raced since March, won at Invercargill (twice) and Addington last season. “I am happy with how forward he is and he always goes well fresh,” said Phil.   Monty Python is off 40m with The Silver Fox off 10m. They could find Ottawa a formidable opponent.  Ottawa finished second to the talented Amaretto Sun  at Addington last week following a powerful run for second to Arran Chief at Oamaru.   Sam Galleon finished a close third  to My Amour at Oamaru on August 7.  Sam Galleon had won his previous start fresh up at Forbury Park in July.   “He has to be a good chance,’’ said Phil.   Race rival All Settled Down, who was pulled up after leaving stride early at Addington on Thursday night  will have a change of driver. Trainer Gavin Smith has opted to stand down and give the job to Kimberly Butt, who is driving Alison Stokke for his stable in the race for junior drivers. All Settled Down resumed  after almost three years away from racing with a close second at Oamaru on August 7 and the Sundon mare won her next start by eight and a half lengths at Rangiora.   Allison Stokke ran second  to Rummage  at Addington at her last start and Rummage won again there on Thursday.     Taylor Strong

Early 'Fixed odds' betting Alexandra Park as at 12:45pm raceday.   Race 1 - Some early support for the first starter I Am The Greatest has seen his opening odds shorten in from $4.00 - $3.60 and he has replaced Bro Fawkes $3.50 - $3.80 as the 'Fixed Odds' favourite. I Am The Greatest leads multi bets over Grenado at $5.50.    Race 2 - Best backed is Step Up $4.60 - $3.90 and the filly leads multi bets over the longshot at $18 This Excuse Is Fine.    Race 3 - The first starter Acceptance has been heavily backed and is now into $6.00 from his opening odds of $13. Money is also starting to come for the half brother to 'Christen Me' in Accumulator $3.10 - $3.00. Neighlor $5.00 - $5.50 is the next best backed runner. Acceptance does lead multi bets over Accumulator.   Race 4 - The big mover in this race is the filly Poppy Drayton $15 - $7.00 but in multi betting all punter's want is the Barry Purdon trained Rariza. She is yet to attract any serious money but we expect soem big bets on her late and judging by the multi support she could close at around $1.50. Up All Nite at $11 has taken some money so might be worth including in any exotic bets.   Race 5 - In early betting all they want is Little Bro $4.40 - $4.00 and he leads multi bets over the $25 longshot Yaldy Boyz.    Race 6 - This race is very even betting wise early but the $2.80 favourite Mr Euroman does lead multi bets over Major Ben $3.40 and Mo Casino $16.   Race 7 - The $2.30 favourite One Over Da Moon is easily the best backed in win and multi bets with the only other runner attracting support Harrysul at $5.40.   Race 8 - Another race with even win money support on most runners but well ahead in multi betting is the $1.90 Arden's Choice which gave the 'book' a decent loss when winning her last start at Alexandra Park. Beyond The Silence was late scratched at 8:37 this morning and any fixed win bet taken prior to this time will have 17% win and 16% place deductions apply.     Race 9 - Easily the best backed runner on the card is Snow Raker $2.20 - $2.00 and at this stage no other runner is attracting any early money. He leads multi bets over Stunning Shadow $2.70 and Emmerson Margaret $11.   Race 10 - Blood And Whisky is easily the best backed $3.10 - $2.80 and no other runner is attracting any money. Blood And Whisky leads multi bets over Jomo $8.50.   Race 11 - The only two runners they want in the last are the longshots in Kellandra Babe $18 - $10 and Kusima $29 - $21. The $2.90 favourite Stars Delight leads multi bets over Booming Jet $3.10.   Best backed runners number order in early multi betting: Race 4 - Raiza $1.65 Race 8 - Arden's Choice $1.90 Race 7 - One Over Da Moon $2.30 Race 10- Blood And Whisky $2.80 Race 6 - Mr Euroman $2.80

Murray Edmonds went to Addington last night thinking one win from his three chances would be a nice result but left at the end of the night with two winners next to his name and a big smile on his face. The Motukarara horseman tasted double success in conflicting conditions last night with one win not quite expected, but hoped for, and the other completely from left field. After a good, consistent, run of form in recent weeks, Fatal Reunion was due a winning turn and she lobbed the trail throughout behind a keen to run Just A Dude everything fell into place. “She’s managed to pick up a bit of money before she won a race too which is a great result,” Edmonds said. “Her manners and ability to follow speed should mean she remains competitive up in grade but you never quite know. “She’s taken a while to come to it, I decided that instead of trekking to the trials I was better off racing her and it took a while to get her up to full fitness.” A half-sister to Heavyweight Hero, a two-year-old trotter last season who was sold to clients of Todd McFarlane, Fatal Reunion has a little breeding on her side. She’s closely related to Edmonds very good young trotter of a few years back, Running On Time. The stable’s second win came courtesy of a bold front running display from Chivasion. In front of the guidance of Stepehen McNally, the under-rated trotter was allowed to dictate terms in front and never really looked back - with-holding the late challenges of both Kingdom Come and Jean Sebastien. At odds of close to $28-to-one, the win came as a bit of a shock to punters but not so much Edmonds. “I’ve always thought he would be alright, but he flipped a palate which put us back a bit.” A good fifth in her previous start was a pointer towards a return to form. “He just loves rolling along and doing his own thing and we managed to get that which is the bonus.” Owned by Sue England, Chivasion is out of Lady Chiola who was a product of the late Carl Middleton. He’s now won two of his 28 starts and judging by last night’s effort it won’t be his last. The winning brace for Edmonds gave him first double since Paint The Moon and Danke won at Rangiora in 2012. “It’s been a while, I know that much,” Edmonds quipped. Earlier in the night Well Said gained his first New Zealand winner when Afterdinnerspeaker was victorious - giving Ken and Tony Barron their first success as a training partnership in the process. The son of the well-performed mare, Luckisaladytonight, did it tough throughout, sitting parked in the hands of Ken Barron before grinding his way to victory.   Matt Markham  

There are eleven races at Alexandra Park tonight and some big pools up for grabs. Harness racing in the Auckland region is on the up with larger than normal fields carded and fourteen horses having their first start at the races this evening. One of those first starters is Rariza (4m Courage Under Fire - Stunning), an unraced mare who qualified in the south for former trainer Chris McDowell. Rariza is obviously a quicker than average horse winning a maiden workout last Saturday pacing a blistering last 400m in 26.7. She is short on the fixed odds market currently at 1.65 another indication of the ability of the mare, Driven by Zac Butcher she will be very hard to beat in Race 4 this evening and possibly an anchor in the third leg of the first quaddie starting in Race 2. The last Quaddie of the night has a starting pool of  $40,000 and is worth a lazy dollar or two with a standout in the first leg. Quaddie - Races 8-11 inclusive guaranteed to $40,000 if struck  Leg 1 Ardens Choice looks a standout in this leg and is short on the TAB fixed odds market. She should go close to winning this and possibly the only logical anchor in the quaddie. Leg 2 This leg is a bit harder with several main chances. Snow Raker has gate speed and should lead here. Jay Abernethy thinks Snow Raker is his best drive of the night so needs to be included. Stunning Shadow, Emerson Margret and Turnbulls are all worth including on previous form. Leg 3 A very tricky leg of trotters here and no clear standout among them. A bigger spread is needed and include Jomo, I Got Rythm, Mr Natural, Majestic Gal, Opawa Speed and Blood and Whisky. Leg 4 Not the easiest of legs to finish the quaddie but Stars Delight has been racing well and is one of the better chances. Also needed are Luna De Miel, Booming Jet, Runcle and Kusima   Leg 1      6 Leg 2      3,4,10,12 Leg 3      1,2,5,7,8,10 Leg 4      1,2,3,6,9 $18.00 for 15%      Auckland Selections Race 1 Bro Fawkes S, I Am The Greatest,Tuhimata Lass,Grenado Race 2 Step Up, This Excuse Is Fine, Kilkeel Lady, He's Novak Race 3 Acceptance, Accumulator, Check In, Happy Magic Race 4 Rariza, Up All Nite, Lincolns Superstar, Shieldmaiden Race 5 Little Bro, Saint Michel, Inkyroe, Cool Son Race 6 Perfect Storm, Bevan's Cullen, Mr Euroman, Killer Queen Race 7 One Over Da Moon, Cool Cobber, Harrysul, Regal Petite Race 8 Arden's Choice, Bronze Over, Doubleodeano, The Faithful Race 9 Snow Raker, Stunning Shadow, Emerson Margaret, Turnbulls Race 10 Blood And Whisky, Jomo, I Got Rhythm, Mr Natural Race 11 Stars Delight, Runcle, Kusima, Booming Jet   Harnesslink Media  

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