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Following the prior signalling by the Motukarara Workouts Association to cease the local harness racing workouts, a new group is poised to come in and take up the ‘reins’ from the departing committee. At the Special General Meeting and AGM of the Motukarara Trotting Association on Wednesday, 20 November, a new Executive Committee will be confirmed. The Association however requires a further six people to fill the wider committee. It is hoped that Mot’ Workouts will be back up and running prior to this Christmas with the new regime in place. The previous committee, headed up by Noel Scott, David O’Connell and Caroline Bennet, the bulk of which had been involved in the association for decades is stepping aside to usher in new team including Murray Edmonds, Glen and Ross Cameron. Spokesman for the incoming committee, Kerry Cameron, gave HRNZ an update on current happenings. “The previous committee did a great job for a long time and it’s now time a new group took up the task of keeping the workouts going. The key thing is to come out of the meetings this week is fill the committee and ensure we have the members and volunteers to make the workouts happen.” “We’re looking to run the workouts fortnightly but if demand is strong then that might change.” For more information to or register your interest in becoming involved with the Motukarara Trotting Association contact Ross Cameron Phone: 021-345-661 or Email: rossidodz6@gmail.com  

Now that Cup Week is done and dusted for another year, we can focus on the next big thing at Addington Raceway. It is just a month now until Fast10 Horse Racing kicks off on Friday 20 December 2019. It has been an exciting two years developing this concept and there has been great support from across the industry. One such supporter is well known business man, harness racing enthusiast, owner and sponsor, Philip Kennard. “The Fast10 concept is an exciting innovation for harness racing. “Focussed correctly with use of modern technology this concept of having a race meeting from start to finish in less than two and a half hours could be a game changer. “This is also a great opportunity to attract new participants to harness racing, and fast and exciting harness racing programmes could help harness racing like 20/20 cricket did for that sport. “Personally I’m very excited to see this innovation tried by our industry,” said Philip Kennard. There will be an information stand at Addington Raceway during their meetings on 29 November and 7 December to answer everyone’s questions. The first race is scheduled for 11.52am and the last of ten at 2.34pm. Perfect timing for your end of year function, or just one of those two hour lunch breaks. Please visit https://www.addington.co.nz/events-centre/events/fast10-horse-racing/ to book your table and enjoy a sumptuous lunch, in-room entertainment and exciting harness racing action. For further information on Fast10 Horse Racing, please contact: Glenn Hames - ghames.qhr@gmail.com or 0272032746 Tony Russell - trussell.qhr@gmail.com or 0274326522   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

One of the favourites for the Inter Dominions is set for a dramatic late stable change before the series which starts in Auckland next week. But Marcoola will have to pass a veterinary examination today before his move to Hall of Fame trainer Barry Purdon is confirmed. The national trot mile record holder will join Purdon for the series and possibly the entire summer if a endoscopic examination shows him to be clear of any issues after a disappointing performance in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington last Friday. Marcoola lead and faded from the 400m in the group one and even allowing for the solid tempo he still performed well below his best. That has led to today’s examination, or scope as it is commonly referred to, in which Marcoola will be fast worked and have his airways checked immediately after. "There have been a few horses down here struggling with a virus which is hard to detect,” says unofficial co-trainer Clint Ford. “We are not saying that was the problem last Friday but we want to check it out  before we head north to make sure.” If he does come north Marcoola will join Barry Purdon and be trained wholly by him for the series which begins at Alexandra Park on Friday week. “We are too busy down here with my work and other things to be away for five or six weeks, which is what it would be until the National Trot (December 31). “So we have asked Barry to take him over so he has horses to work with, because when you work him by himself he can go a bit crazy. “I will pop up and see him but if he goes to the series, which he will if be is virus-free, then Barry will be in charge.” Sheree Tomlinson, the grand daughter of Marcoola’s trainer Ken Ford, will retain the drive in the series. With exceptional trotter Oscar Bonavena to miss the Inter Dominion, the best version of Marcoola could return to favouritism for the final to be held on December 14, a rare group one Saturday night meeting at Alexandra Park. In a touch of irony the horse who thrashed Marcoola and the rest of his Dominion rivals, Habibi Inta, will also be staying at Purdon’s Clevedon property but in the care of his trainer Paul Nairn while Australian pacers San Carlo and My Kiwi Mate will also be based there. The latter pair will be part of a seven-strong team of Australian pacers to tackle the Inters, joined by Colt Thirty One (Grant Dixon), Bling It On (Craig Cross), Our Uncle Sam (Chris Frisby), Atomic Red and Conviction (both Steve Turnbull). The Australians will add a crucial new dynamic to the series, with their often aggressive racing style and are the silver lining of the series lacking a champion like Lazarus to scare them away. The trotting series is likely to have three Australians in Tough Monarch, Big Jack Hammer and McLovin but the latter, who flew to Auckland last night, will need to please trainer Andy Gath in a workout tomorrow to prove he is over the thumps he suffered in the Dominion on Friday. Stronger than expected local numbers from trainers like Purdon (three) and Steve Telfer (three) in the pacing series mean there is still a chance of three pacing heats on the three nights of the series but that would depend on how many remain in the series after the final payments this Friday. Robert Dunn will have two in the pacing series and four in the trotters and one of the star locals who was in doubt is Star Galleria (Steven Reid) has passed a vet exam and should make the series. The Auckland Trotting Club would ideally like to run three pacing heats per night but the cut-off for that would seem to be 27 horses so they could card nine-horse heats. If the pacing series reduces to two heats per night they should at least have genuine depth and would raise the possibility of three trotting heats being held per night. That series had 32 horses still entered yesterday but with a few lower-grade horses at the bottom. Again 27 acceptors would seem the cut-off for three heats per night or maybe even 30 for the trotters. “We won’t make any decision around that until we know final numbers and have spoken to the Inter Dominion council,” says ATC president Rod Croon. “But we are thrilled to have the 10 Australians coming to really boost the series and some great local interest.”   Michael Guerin

Astute country New South Wales harness racing trainer Chris Frisby is cautiously optimistic his star pacer Our Uncle Sam can recapture his brilliant best on the eve of the NZ Inter Dominion series. Frisby, based at Perthville, in the central highlands, 20 mins south of Bathurst, is clearly frustrated with the campaign so far for his Sportswriter-sired "pocket rocket". "Not a great deal has gone right for us, but we'll keep working at it and pushing on. Surely, we'll get a bit of luck soon," Frisby said. Our Uncle Sam (Sportswriter- Rooftop Fairy (Village Jasper) has drawn the extreme outside alley of barrier eight this Friday night in a $25,000 mobile barrier event at Auckland's 1000 metre Alexandra Park. He will be driven by champion Kiwi reinsman Tony Herlihy. Frisby said blood tests had shown "Sam", as he's known around the stables, to be a bit off color. "He may have had a slight virus. His run last Friday in the Woodlands FFA at Addington behind Chase Auckland was terrible-it wasn't like him at all. He just showed no spark," he said. "The first few runs over here were in standing starts, which he botched losing any chance, so they are probably best forgotten. "But I've been a bit worried because I could tell now and again in his work that he wasn't quite himself. In saying that, when I jogged him on the days leading up to his last run, he was carrying on full of himself and seemed ready to go." Frisby said, however, he was confident his pacer could turn it around this week and "we can look forward to the Inter series (which starts the following Friday) with some hope." He said travelling and being away from home was a learning curve, but it was exciting to be around so many highly regarded horsemen and women. Chris Frisby After the first round of heats over 2200 metres on November 29, the series continues four days later with 1700 metre heats on December 3. The third and final round of heats on December 6 and the $500,000 final on December 14 are both run over 2700 metres. This year sees the premier event return to New Zealand for the first time since 2011. Last held at Alexandra Park in 2011 (transferred from Christchurch after the devastating earthquake of that year). Our Uncle Sam has been a sensational horse for the Frisby family. Frisby was the successful bidder for the "skinny" little horse, at $3500, at the 2015 Bathurst Gold Crown yearling sale. From 69 starts, the now six-year-old has won 18 races with 16 placings for over $415,000. He is an Australian Group One winner and finished second to Tiger Tara in the Inter Dominion grand final in Melbourne last December-the winner clocking a magnificent 1.53-9 for the 2760 metre journey. A few weeks later, Our Uncle Sam again played second fiddle to the rampaging Tiger Tara, this time in the AG Hunter Cup. Our Uncle Sam is known for his fighting qualities and it won't be a surprise to see him lift off the canvas Friday and have Chris Frisby again wearing that renowned big grin.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

This article below on discounting in the business world is very interesting for harness racing breeders to say the least. Discounting has become rampit in the standardbred breeding Industry over the last 10 to 15 years. Almost all stallions at studs in Australia and New Zealand, have been discounted many ways - up, down, sideways and any way you want it to the detriment of all in the Industry. Yes stallion service fees are mostly too high and as a result they are discounted in nearly all cases!  To say this has been good for the harness racing Industry is a joke! In the business world discounting it is a certain road to business failure! Where have all the stud farms gone? There are only a few left in business down under and are all on borrowed time it seems. How much of this is due to discounting?  Discounting service fees certainly has resulted in some breeders leaving the business – breeders ‘compare notes’ as to the price of a service fee! However, there are many other factors that have caused the downturn in breeding numbers in the last few years. The drought in many parts of Australia, the rising costs in breeding – especially vets – and rearing a foal to racing age, the costs for eligibilities, the demise of many breeders with large numbers and the lack of new breeders coming into the game. For some statistics in New Zealand; 1987/88 breeding season there were 8798 mares bred by 308 stallions (6203 foals born)  1997/98 breeding season there were 4473 mares bred by 135 stallions (3227 foals born) 2007/08 breeding season there were 4074 mares bred by 94 stallions (3013 foals born) 2016/17 breeding season there were 2584 mares bred by 85 stallions, (1781 foals born) For statistics in Australia; 1980/81 breeding season there were 18,352 mares bred by 1,477 stallions, (12,109 foals born) 1990/91 breeding season there were 13,464 mares bred by 763 stallions, (9,185 foals born) 2000/01 breeding season there were 9,002 mares bred by 371 stallions, (6,149 foals born) 2010/11 breeding season there were 7,062 mares bred by 307 stallions, (4,875 foals born) 2015/16 breeding season there were 5,474 mares bred by 231 stallions (3,628) foals born) ............................................ (In the 2000/01 season NZ imported semen to Australian breeders resulted in 261 foals born) (In the 2010/11 season NZ imported semen to Australian breeders resulted in 942 foals born) (In the 2015/16 season NZ imported semen to Australian breeders resulted in 1,098 foals born) ..............................................................   The article below by Mark Thacker of Sales Exceleration sums up the reasons why discounting destroys a business. Discounting is bad for Business because… It lessens the perceived (and therefore, actual) value of your product or service solution. Simply put, if the customer asks for and receives a discount – regardless of the reason – the perceived value of your solution automatically goes down. There’s an old adage that says an item is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay. So if the price is lower than your claimed value, the actual value can really only match the price paid. And this new belief system can put you in a bad position for future business. It creates an expectation of future discounting. That bad position – with this customer or others in your industry who learn of your discounting practices – only gets worse when the expected pricing is at a discount. And because your earlier discounts have lowered the bar on the perception of value, why should they pay more? Would you? Discounting sets a bad precedent that undermines your future opportunities to maximize margin. It complicates your business dealings. When you offer a discount to one customer, but not to another (perhaps because they didn’t push as hard for it), you are suddenly operating under different price structures for likely the same level of service for the same solution. A variety of pricing levels can create internal chaos and administrative nightmares, especially in larger organizations with larger customer bases.  (And dont breeders love to tell their mates the discounted price that they got a service for?) It demonstrates a lack of confidence in your solution and erodes trust in YOU. This goes back to the idea of value. Even if the customer doesn’t automatically value your solution as you would like, when you start to discount, it shows that you don’t really believe your value proposition either. Prospects sense this lack of confidence and question two things: 1) Is this solution as good as I thought if they are willing to accept less? and 2) Can I really trust this person who wants me to buy it? It squeezes your profit margin unnecessarily. Obviously, if you sell a product or service at full price, your margin will be higher than if you sell at a discount. Conversely, the profit margin you lose through discounting has to be made up for in future opportunities, causing you to exert more sales effort and close more deals at a higher price to compensate. It forces you to cut corners (or at least consider cutting them). To maintain necessary margins after selling at a discount, it will inevitably prove tempting to find ways to lower your costs – either by reducing material costs or the activities associated with servicing the account. While it is always a good idea to find ways to operate efficiently, if you feel forced to unnaturally lower your costs, you could easily cross a critical line where your perceived value takes yet another hit. Better Alternatives Emphasize value The best alternative to discounting is to be crystal clear and confident in presenting your value proposition. Ultimately, it should be irrefutable the prospect will receive an equitable return on investment. In the course of reaching that awareness it is reasonable for the prospect to ask questions, offer objections, and seek the best deal. This is all part of their due diligence as they represent their interests. But if you can answer questions and overcome objections clearly and without hesitation, the value of your solution will become appreciated, and the quoted price will be supportable. Remember, you have two choices when attempting to equalize price and value – so choose raising value over lowering price. Your customer will “get what they paid for” and you just made more money and avoided long-term issues! Eliminate components to stay within budget If budgetary restrictions just can’t allow the prospect to agree to your price, look for ways to reduce or eliminate components from your solution. For instance, your standard solution might include service elements the prospect is not likely to need. If you can make cuts without risking the customer’s satisfaction with your solution, these cuts can make the deal possible while allowing you to stay true to your standard pricing. Just make sure the customer is on board with the modified solution up front. Walk away I’ve said many times that “no” is an acceptable answer. It empowers you (and your prospect) to find a better fit somewhere else. It’s better to walk away than to become hamstrung by a bad professional relationship. Bottom Line: It’s reasonable for customers to expect the best deal possible, but discounting creates a variety of problems for the solution provider. Ultimately, these problems can impact profit margin, customer satisfaction, and your reputation so severely they may threaten your business. Better alternatives include becoming stronger at showcasing your solution’s value, eliminating unnecessary components from your solution to match the customer’s budget needs, or walking away from a deal that won’t be profitable. By Mark Thacker, President of Sales Xceleration.     We will finish of with a real life example here in New Zealand?   When the Warehouse recently made a major management decision to cut regular discounting what happened to the company's profit ? It went up.   How many in our industry have spoken to an associate only to find that they received a lower service fee price than you did?   How many of those breeders have left the breeding business as a result of this unfair business transaction?   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury horseman Jesse Alford became doubly popular with his family when scoring his first win as a trainer with Held To Ransom at Wyndham on Sunday.  Alford missed watching the victory up close after putting family before going to the races and took in the win while attending a baby shower for expectant partner Josie Reid. Held To Ransom's win meant Reid, who is due to give birth in January, did not just receive baby-related gifts at the celebration. And the 5yr-old's victory meant she was not the only one going home from the event with a present. Alford races Held To Ransom with his mother, Petra Curnow, Reid, her brother, Campbell Reid, and her sister-in-law, Joelle Reid. The trainer's family members came into the mare's ownership after Alford struck up a deal with his employer, Andrew Stuart. "I joked to Andrew one day about five weeks ago, and said `would you take a certain amount of money for the horse?"' Alford said. "He looked at me and said `yes', so, I messaged a couple of people that I knew were keen on getting a horse." The purchase of the pacer prompted Alford to apply for his trainer's licence. Alford did not have wait long to strike his first success with that licence as Held To Ransom's win came in just his second start for his stable. The Cantabrian was keen to purchase the Live Or Die mare as he and Stuart were both aware of the horse's ability. She has been unable to show much of her potential at the races because of hoof problems. "She is quite a good mare. We think she can win a couple, but she has got a lot of issues," Alford said. Alford trains Held To Ransom at Woodend Beach to help the mare's battle with her feet issues. Yesterday's win gave him quick reward for the earlier starts he has each morning before going to work for Stuart. "I normally get up a bit earlier and train her from the beach and swim her a lot," Alford said. "I feed breakfast to her and then go to Andrew's place and then come back in the afternoon and finish up with her." Alford said he would have won his first start as a trainer with the horse had he not handed the lead away in her first start from his stable. The trainer's commitments in Christchurch meant Jonny Cox drove Held To Ransom to win on Sunday.  Rather than being frustrated at missing out on the winning drive, Alford was happy Cox was able to be the driver who brought home his first winner. "It was awesome that Jonny could win with her.“ “He is one of my best mates - he is the reason I am in racing." Stuart, who developed the horse before selling her to Alford's family, also earned credit as the winning breeder alongside partner Becky Sutorius. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Aussie trainer Steve O’Donoghue has turned the page on San Carlo’s failed New Zealand Cup raid. He and co-trainer Bec Bartley put the rare, below-par showing down to a steep learning curve for them and their stable star. And now it’s all about making the most out of the next 12 days before the start of the Auckland Inter Dominion series. “It’s the first time he’s let us down,” O’Donoghue said. “Of course you go through everything afterwards to think why … we’ve put it down to the grass. He wasn’t having his usual food and probably ate too much of that great grass they have over there. “He pulled-up with a higher than usual heart rate and couldn’t stop farting after the race. “Bec worked him yesterday (Saturday) at Mark and Natalie’s, going the Auckland way, and he seemed back to his old self.” San Carlo was due to head to Auckland to day and will be stable with Barry and Katrina Purdon. “I don’t really know Barry, but Dennis Wilson (former NSW trainer) gave me a leg-up and I’ve texting Barry. I met he and Katrina in Christchurch the other day and they were fantastic,” O’Donoghue said.  “Bec is in charge this trip, I’m back home, so being able to stay with a great trainer like Barry and gets some tips along the way can only be a huge help. “Bec is actually staying at their house, which makes everything so much easier.” The best of San Carlo can certainly be a major factor in Auckland. You only have to go back to his Victoria Cup run where he did all the work outside the leader in a record-smashing time and was only edged-out for third for Cruz Bromac, who went on to win the NZ Cup and look a good thing beaten in the NZ free-for-all.   by Adam Hamilton

By Garrick Knight     Steve Green will never forget the day he knew he had a decent trotter. Because it was the same day that he thought he was going to die. That trotter, Recycle, cleared maidens at Alexandra Park on Friday night, endorsing recent placings and solid trial form. Green, an electrician who trains a few horses on a small track in Pukekawa, half an hour south of Pukekohe, was over the moon. “It was a pretty special night. An emotional night,” he told HRNZ. “Seeing Andre (Poutama, driver) get out of the cart to have his photo taken with the horse after all we’ve been through with him. “I was pretty emotional. I’ll cherish that photo until the day I die. “And I didn’t get much sleep last night after the race; I was up looking at programmes.” Recycle, a four-year-old son of Monkey Bones, was close to being sacked a number of times. So much so that Green believes if he was with any other trainer, he probably wouldn’t be around anymore. “It took me about two years to make him. That’s the long and the short of it. “I’d sacked him twice and he was having his last run one day when the bit broke.” It’s a day Green will never forget. “The only thing I could think of was I was going to die. “I’ve only got a small track here and the bastard just kept increasing and increasing his speed. “After ten rounds he finally stopped and turned around. “After 15 minutes of sweating and shaking – me not the horse – I took the gear off him and he didn’t have a mark on him. “From that day on I knew I had something.” Green has pottered around with a modicum of success for many years, but before Friday, he’d never won a race with a trotter. He hadn’t even lined one up for seven years. “My partner, Sue (England), always wanted a Monkey Bones grey horse and we tried to get two or three but missed. “Then we found this one but he wasn’t grey. “The deal was if she got it, she would work it. Well that didn’t really pan out,” he joked. Driver Andre Poutama has warned Green that the next grade up for trotters at Auckland is a stiff rise, so he’s considering an alternative, for more than one reason. “I haven’t been able to go to Cambridge with him because it’s taken nine months to get him going that way around. “But he did it twice this week and trotted absolutely faultlessly. “I don’t want to go straight back to Auckland, so I’m thinking of something a little easier. “And I remember Gary Hillier saying to me a trip away can make a horse.” Next stop? Palmerston North. “I think that would be logical.” Green says a few potential buyers have been ‘kicking tyres’ but not exactly endearing themselves to him. “Some of the prices have been a bit of a lottery but no one has actually fronted up with the money. “Most of them say, imagine what he’ll do in another stable. “And I say, well, he wouldn’t be here if he had been in another stable.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Wyndham born and bred trainer Regan Todd won the feature pacing race of the day at Wyndham today when seven year old Art Major gelding Swamp Major won the time honoured Hunter Family Handicap Pace. Driver Kirstin Barclay settled Swamp Major third behind early pacemaker Benio Ben. “He began super and we settled three back, and he was absolutely charging,” Barclay said. With 1500 metres to run Robbie Close took stablemate Bringitonhome forward and reached the front with 1250 metres to run. At that point Barclay moved Swamp Major off the inside running line and got the gelding into gear with designs on the lead. “When the other horse galloped (Yorkshire) I thought we might as well not be unlucky. When I saw the stablemate go to the front I was hoping he’d let me go.” By the 600 Swamp Major, Robyns Playboy and Bringitonhome had shot clear of the rest of the field. Barclay began chasing up the big gelding and he responded gamely, holding out and late charging Triroyale Brigade by a length and a quarter. “He was actually travelling okay at the end but he switched off because he had no horses around him. He felt like he had a bit left in the tank but I had to throw the reins at him to keep him interested.” The winning time for the 2400 metres was 2-58.8 with the last 800 metres run in 60.1 seconds. “Wasn’t the prettiest of drives but I got the job done.” Swamp Major was by bred Trevor Ryder who owns the Invercargill based roofing and plumbing business Ryder Roofing. He shares in the ownership with friends Alan Lindsay, Scott and Sue McCrea, Cleland Murdoch and John Duff. “The horse is an absolute gentleman – a child could drive him in a race. He must be one of Sam Ottley’s favourites because she calls him The Big Dude. She’s right. He’s pretty cool.” Swamp Major began his racing career with Ken Barron but injury saw him move to a beach training regime and to Regan Todd. From only twenty five career starts over five seasons he’s now won five races, his last win being on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park in April 2018. As a three year old he was good enough to run third behind Lazarus and Classie Brigade in the Flying Stakes of 2016. Unfortunately injury prevented him from racing 18 months and he completely missed his four year old season. Todd, who trains at Woodend Beach north of Christchurch, was introduced to the harness game at the Young Quinn Raceway. His grandfather Ray Todd trained at the Wyndham course for years, and local trainer Brendon McLellan provided young Todd with his first winning drive when Elite Under Fire won at Gore in April 2009. Todd moved to Canterbury early in his career and worked for Mark Jones for a while before branching out on his own in 2011. He has now trained over 100 winners from his Woodend base. Todd also trained King Of Heroes to win earlier in the day today. The Washington VC gelding, who has Southland connections in his ownership, came down the outside of the track to win the Kubala Seeds Mobile Pace by two and half lengths. He was driven by Robbie Close. Meanwhile Gore trained Renegade Rose recorded her first win after five placed runs behind some handy pacers. Renegade Rose easily clearing maiden ranks     – Photo Bruce Stewart Driver Matty Williamson took the three year old straight to the front and she proved too strong for Rakastella, winning by a length and three quarters. The three year old Sweet Lou filly is trained by Tony Stratford and is owned by Braeview Limited whose principle is Paul Pearce. Pearce had success a few season ago with Mach Three filly Luminesce, which won four races for Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams.   Bruce Stewart

Wyndham committee man Ian Hunter has spent the past decade developing his trotting breed. And the win by the highly talented Andy Hall which won on debut at the Young Quinn Raceway today highlights the breed’s continuing success. Hunter has bred a host of winners from Andy Hall’s dam Delcola, (herself the winner of six races) which include Splash Cola (9), Delestic (3) and Delson (3 wins from 8 starts). Andy Hall was made favourite in today’s race on the back of some impressive workout wins. From barrier one he began slowly but safely for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. “The only way I thought he could make a mistake was if I tried to rush him at the start,” he said. After racing back for the first part Williamson was able to get a good drag into the race when Susies Way started to move up in the outside running line with 1000 metres to run. At the 600 Williamson moved the giant trotter out three wide and progressed forward. At the top of the straight Andy Hall was on equal terms with Susies Way but proved too strong at the finish, winning by two and a quarter lengths. “He showed good manners, trotted well and finished the race off so I couldn’t have been happier. He’s got a nice way of trotting and generally he’s quite solid that way.” Williamson has had the Andover Hall gelding since he was a young horse and he says at times he’s been a bit of a handful but the talent has always been there. “He was broken in and had a prep as a young horse, then he had preparations at two and three. He’s just kept on growing. He’s been in and out of the stable so he’s been well schooled. That’s probably where he gets his good manners from.” Williamson says he’ll back off the horse a bit now and he probably won’t be seen at the races for at least another four weeks. “I’ll keep him on the big tracks for now. He’s promising, and looks like a horse with a bit of a future.” In the second trot of the afternoon Williamson, driving the favourite and last start winner Sekkie Monkey, had to settle for second. After sitting parked for the entire journey she couldn’t quite get to pacemaker Whatwillbeewillbee driven astutely by Jonny Cox. The winning margin was a nose. Cox had won earlier in the day on Held To Ransom, providing young trainer Jesse Alford with his first winner. Alford was unable to drive the mare as he was suspended at last weekend’s Wyndham meeting for careless driving. Cox salutes – First winner for trainer Jesse Alford – Photo Bruce Stewart Meanwhile the first season training partnership of Ross and Chris Wilson scored back to back wins when Swift Robyn won her second race and Bridesdale Robyn won her sixth race in a heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series. At the 600 metres driver Craig Ferguson launched Swift Robyn forward in a lightning move. She was three wide and challenging just before straightening for the run in and came down the middle of the track bravely holding on to beat Bettors Atom by a length and a quarter. Bridesdale Robyn was the winner in Race Four. Ferguson blasted her off the gate from the wide draw and got to the top after a short battle with Team Kiwi. Bridesdale Robyn (7) winning her Southern Belle heat    – Photo Bruce Stewart From that point the Christian Cullen mare ran her rivals along at speed. Heading up the straight, Bridesdale Robyn and Team Kiwi had a good old battle with the Wilson trained mare getting there by a head. The 1609 metres was run in 1-55.5.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    The lure of a penalty free win has progressive Canterbury pacer Yorkshire trekking to Wyndham on Sunday. The Steven McRae trained 4yr-old heads south after adding to his nearly perfect race record with a fighting win on Ashburton Flying Stakes day. Yorkshire has looked well up to competing at the New Zealand Cup Carnival in the three wins from  just four starts. The appeal of a penalty free win has outweighed taking the A Rocknroll Dance pacer to the nation’s biggest harness racing stage.  “It is a $15,000 race and penalty free for junior drivers, so it is a good opportunity for him,” McRae said. “He has won three races pretty quickly, so it he could get a penalty free one it would be ideal.” “He has shot up the grades, so he will be racing the big fish soon and he will still be a pretty green horse.” Yorkshire’s greenness was on show in his last start win at Ashburton. The horse was headed in the straight when his mind was not fully on the race in front of him, before he rallied again for driver Craig Thornley and won. “Craig said he was as green as anything,” McRae said. “Coming up to the bend it was a matter of what he was going to win by.” “The others come up to him and run past him before he went again and he pulled away at the post.” “He feels like he will run all day - he is definitely good enough.” Canterbury junior driver John Morrison has been charged with keeping Yorkshire’s mind on the job on Sunday.  The combination of Yorkshire’s greenness and his quick rise through the harness grades means McRae goes in to the 2400m handicap with full respect for his horse’s rivals. “It is quite a good field – there are two or three that could easily beat him and he could even beat himself.” Leading Southern pacer Robyns Playboy will chase the first penalty free win of his eight-win career in Sunday’s event for reinswoman Sheree Tomlinson. The Ross and Chris Wilson trained 4yr-old comes in to the Hunter Family Handicap after producing a big finish to win the Tuapeka Cup. Robyns Playboy (30m) will give Yorkshire (10m) a 20m head start on Sunday. Sunday’s race features the return of former smart 3yr-old Mighty Flying Art. The 4yr-old ran second behind Paddyproudfoot in his only workout ahead of his return to racing.  It is possible McRae may campaign Yorkshire on the Otago and Southland Christmas and New Year racing circuit following Sunday’s race.  However the pacer could also head to the spelling paddock over summer. “He has only had four starts, but he has been in work eight or nine months, so he will tell us when he is ready for a wee spell,” McRae said.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Westwood Beach pacer Spirit Of St Louis showed his class on the nation’s biggest harness racing stage when winning at the New Zealand Cup Carnival’s Show Day meeting at Addington yesterday.  The 3yr-old scored the biggest victory of his fleeting career when dashing along the inner to win race 3, the South Of The Waitaki event, for trainer Graeme Anderson and driver Matthew Williamson. The win gave Cantabrian Trevor Casey a race to race double as a breeder and owner after Lone Star Lad took out the previous event. Casey races Spirit Of St Louis with of a crew of Anderson’s owners who are spread between Canterbury and Southland. The 3yr-old’s win continued a brilliant winning strike rate Anderson has built with Casey’s breed. It’s an association that started when the pair were having morning tea at Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Stars stable after watching their horses work. “It all started when Trevor sent me a horse called All Star Magician,” Anderson said. “I had Titan Banner at Mark and Natalie’s place and we were there one day having morning tea.” “Trevor offered the horse to me because Mark was finished with him, so I took him home.” “We ended up winning three in a row with him before we sold him.” Anderson and Casey combined to win three races with Bettor Sensation before Spirit Of St Louis arrived in Dunedin. Anderson admitted the pacer did not look like a potential standout when he got him. “He was just a wee thing and he had a horrible big split on one leg.” “But he has developed in to a nice horse, he has got high speed and a cruisy nature.” Spirit Of St Louis’ victory took his career record to three wins and a second placing from four starts. Anderson said he will need to carefully place the horse as his rating continues to rise. “He has got up in the ratings pretty quickly, but we are going to have to keep going.” “He has got the Sires Stakes Silver next and then there is a 3yr-old race for him at Gore.” “At least in those races he is racing his own class.” “I would love to give him a month off after Gore and then get him ready for races like the [New Zealand] derby and the Southern Supremacy.” Williamson was denied another driving win when Lone Star Lad out-sprinted Fanny Hill to win race 2. The victory was a deserved one after the trotter, bred and solely raced by Casey, had campaigned consistently throughout the spring. Friday’s race could be the last time Lone Star Lad starts from trainer Regan Todd’s stable. The 5yr-old is under off to Australian buyers. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

An old-fashioned workload produced a new best version of Habibi Inta in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington yesterday. And after his graphic demolition job in our richest trot the big stallion has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals in the Inter Dominion Trotting series which starts at Alexandra Park in 13 days.  Habibi Inta made the most of a perfect Blair Orange drive and the early gallop of favourite Oscar Bonavena to bolt away with the group one, giving Orange the dream double of Cup week after his New Zealand Cup on Tuesday.  Already a group one winner at the Harness Jewels two seasons ago, Habibi Inta went to a whole new level yesterday and that was after some tough love from trainer extraordinaire Paul Nairn.  “After he won at Kaikoura last week I kept the work right up to him,” explains Nairn.  “I knew he would have to be fit, really fit for the 3200m and he handled the work beautifully.  “I thought he could win because he was so fit but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he could do that.”
 It was a career statement win from Habibi Inta as he sat off the hot speed set by Marcola and jogged past him at the top of the straight.  It was a dramatic reversal of their previous clash at Ashburton when Marcoola thrashed him by 13 lengths, showing how the right horse on the day wins the group ones this season. Nairn will now bring the big, muscular six-year-old to Auckland for an Inter Dominion where some of his key rivals have question marks hanging over their heads.  Aussie raider Tough Monarch was a brave second yesterday capping a great week while veteran Monty Python surged into third while Marcoola was out of gas at the top of the straight. Another Australian visitor in McLovin suffered a case of the thumps but should be good to go for the Inters, a series Oscar Bonavena will miss.  The latter was slightly checked into a gallop after 400m when horses galloped both inside and outside, leaving trainer-driver Mark Purdon enormously disappointed as he tailed off. Punters didn’t enjoy it much either.  But Purdon bounced back two races later when Chase Auckland made the most of the trail-passing lane run to win the $200,000 NZ Free-For-All. A brave and luckless fourth in the NZ Cup three days earlier, Chase Auckland got all the luck this time as he was destined to be three back on the inside but Cruz Bromac galloped when heading to the lead, which left Classie Brigade in front and Chase Auckland in the luxury spot.  All the main players from the F-F-A will head to the Inter Dominions where they will be met by a fresh wave of Australians.   Michael Guerin

By Jonny Turner  Patience was rewarded and the winner’s podium overflowed with happy owners when Chase Auckland sprinted to victory in the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington yesterday. Driver Tim Williams helped the All Stars pacer get group 1 rewards for his consistent spring when securing a perfect run in the trial that set up the 5yr-old’s win. The win meant the Addington Birdcage was again flooded with jubilant owners as the large Alabar Racing Syndicate celebrated their pacer’s first win in an open class group 1 feature.  Syndicate manager, Ivan Behrnes, poured praise on Williams after the race and not just for his cool and calm drive. The reinsman has been instrumental in helping Chase Auckland developing in to a genuine open class force, Behrnes said.  “He can be a bit of a handful, as you could see after the race, but he has been really in the zone in his races this season.” “It is a credit to Tim, you can often see them just going around in the prelim on his own, keeping him relaxed.” “They have really got a great combination since he has become his regular driver.” A patient approach from his trainers has also been key to Chase Auckland developing from one-time age group star to top line Grand Circuit performer. All Stars trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen did not rush the horse after he suffered a muscle problem that set his 4yr-old season back.  “Mark and Natalie kept saying be patient, he wasn’t ready for these kind of races last year, it was too soon for him,” Behrnes said.  “But this season everything has gone perfectly and he has looked a picture.” “He has had a fantastic build up, he has looked a picture and we were hopeful he could develop in to a stayer.” “He has always had the speed, which you could see again today.” Many expected Chase Auckland to blast off the arm and easily slot in to the trail behind the likely leader, Classie Brigade. That was not the case when the newly relaxed Chase Auckland was too chilled out behind the mobile and did not display the blazing gate speed he has in the past. “I was back off the gate - It’s the first time he has raced from behind the mobile this season,” Williams said.  “But it just shows how quick out the others were.” Despite the early moves not playing out as expected, Chase Auckland and Williams still landed in the trail behind Classie Brigade. In a complete turnaround in race fortunes from the New Zealand Cup, the breaks went Chase Auckland’s way when they went against his stablemates in the New Zealand Free-For-All. Spankem was unable to take the lead from Classie Brigade and Cruz Bromac went roughly, losing a handy spot. An overflowing winners podium after Chase Auckland's FFA win                           --HRNZ photo On Tuesday, Chase Auckland copped the bad luck in Cruz Bromac’s New Zealand Cup. The pacer was forced to make his run wide on the track after two of his rivals started stopping quickly in front of him. The Auckland Reactor gelding charged home pacing the fastest closing 400m and 200m sectional times of the great 3200m race.  The Alabar Racing Syndicate were left wondering what might have been after having to settle for fourth placing.  “We were so disappointed on cup day, he was in a excellent spot and Tim drove him tremendously,” Behrnes said.  “He was ready to go today after running the fastest sectionals in the cup.” “It was a huge thrill.” Classie Brigade, who also came out of the New Zealand Cup with a hard luck story held second in the New Zealand Free-For-All, a length from Chase Auckland. Cruz Bromac recovered from his early gallop to produce a huge performance to run third.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight New Zealand’s leading driver capped an unforgettable week with victory in the country’s biggest trotting race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange, three days removed from winning the New Zealand Cup, pulled off another double-figure-priced upset when Habibi Inta blew his opponents off the track in the $300,000 Dominion Trot. Orange combined with trainer Paul Nairn in victory and paid tribute to the master trainer of trotters post-race. “He’s an outstanding trainer; it’s just like when you drive for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen). “His horses are fit and healthy and they just trot beautifully and I’m just a lucky guy to be sitting here.” Habibi Inta was a last-start winner at Kaikoura but punters preferred Purdon and Rasmussen’s boom four-year-old, Oscar Bonavena. But he struck trouble on the first bend and took no further part. Second favourite Marcoola, hunting back-to-back wins in the race, led up but couldn’t muster any more down the straight as Habibi Inta cleared out. “Going in to the race, I never thought we could beat Oscar Bonavena or Marcoola,” said Orange. “I thought we could run second or third. But once again it comes down to Paul’s ability to have them ready on the day. “We got a bit of luck and the horse did the rest.” Nairn was typically under-stated after adding yet another Group 1 to his record, and a third Dominion after Call Me Now in 1995 and Stig in 2008. “I’m thrilled. “He’s been working sensational but I thought there were four or five good winning chances in the race. “I kept the work up to him after Kaikoura because I knew he’d have to go very well, and it worked.” Julie Maghzal owns the Love You stallion and was in shock shortly after receiving the trophy. “I can’t believe we’ve won it, I just can’t believe we’ve won it,” she said gazing with amazement at the grandiose trophy. “I’m absolutely thrilled and elated to see him do what I always knew he was capable of. “He’s been nurtured all the way by the nicest, most lovely man you could ever have dealings with. “Paul and I have been together in racing for a long, long time.” Maghzal is in love with Habibi Inta and says he will stand as a stallion one day, privately if not commercially. “He’s a beautiful, beautiful animal and a very solid trotter and I’ll definitely be breeding from him later on. “His sister, Habibti Ivy, just had a wee filly by Father Patrick a few days ago so it’s been a great week. “I’m just so happy to have everyone here to share the day with me; my brother, daughter, all my family and friends. “To win this race means so much – and I was just happy to have a horse in it.” The final word went to Orange, who acknowledged former mentor Mike Austin in his speech. “My first thought when I crossed the line was my late mate Mike Austin. “I drove a lot of trotters for him and I know he’d be so proud. Thanks MG.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A trip to Southland is looming on the horizon for Thursday’s ultra-impressive debut winner Ashburton, Bundoran. The three-year-old Sir Lincoln gelding showed rare speed to surge up the passing lane and beat another handy type in Unico Veloce, justifying the faith his connections have in him. “On ability we were confident,” said co-trainer Amber Lethaby, who also did the driving. “He took a couple of cracks at qualifying because he just got a little bit over eager to do things. “But he’s got a lot better with every run he’s had and his ability has never been in question.” After stepping well from the mile-and-a-half standing start point, Lethaby opted to take a trail on Bundoran behind Unico Veloce. The latter got a fairly soft lead in front, but was touched up by Calypso Rock in the 500 metres approaching the home straight. It took the sting out of the leader and allowed Bundoran to accelerate past him with ease over the last furlong. “Even if that didn’t happen, I’m pretty sure I probably would have got the leader anyway because we think quite a bit of our fella.” Australian interest is there in the horse, and regular high-end buyer from Perth, Greg Bond, inspected the horse on Wednesday before flying home, but no deal has been reached as yet. “I couldn’t say for sure whether he’s staying here or being sold; we’ll have to wait and see. “We’ve had some interest but maybe the Sir Lincoln factor is putting a few of them off. “To us, we know he’s a nice horse and we’re not going to let him go for nothing.” So, Southland might be next, with Lethaby’s husband and training partner, Jason, mapping out a course for the horse. “It’s back to the drawing board now, pretty much, and seeing what we’re serious about. “I’m not too sure but I know Jason was keen on getting him down south and looking at some of the Southern Supremacy heats. “Time will tell whether that’s going to work out or not. “At the moment, we’re sticking him to stands so we’re going to have to put him in mobiles if that’s a real option.” Lethaby says they’ve never had a Sir Lincoln in the stable before, but purchased him on type for just $5,000 at last year’s Christchurch yearling sale. “He’s the only one we’ve got in the stable. “He’s isn’t tall, but is strong and really solid. There’s still plenty of improvement in him too. “My husband owns half of him with three other guys, just loyal owners that we’ve had with us for a long time. “And we’re all just absolutely stoked to have a good horse.” One race later, Canterbury media darling Cassie Fahey, home from Australia to cover Cup Week for Sky Racing, had cause to celebrate. Her family’s horse, Cheezel, won the junior drivers’ race at her first start for Woodend Beach horseman, Regan Todd. Fahey, along with sister Tess and dad, Brian, were there to celebrate what was the daughter of Betterthancheddar’s fourth win, the previous three coming under Brian’s tutelage. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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