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Three Southland Harness Jewels runners shared their final hit out in the same race at Ascot Park today with Robyns Playboy beating Rockabilly Blues and Mighty Flying Art finishing fourth. Robyns Playboy was scratched at Gore last Saturday after he was kicked on the leg by stablemate Hans Ideal the Tuesday before the races. Gore was supposed to have been his last run before the Jewels. “If he’d run at Gore I wouldn’t have come here. Very happy with the run and he showed a bit of ticker. He didn’t blow and he surprises you with how fit he is when you think he needs the run,” said trainer Ross Wilson. In today’s Cruickshank Pryde Mobile Pace over 2200 metres driver Craig Ferguson slotted Robyns Playboy into the one one before he took him to the front with a lap to run. He held on to beat Rockabilly Blues by half a length, running the journey in 2-42.5 with Nota Bene Denario nabbing Mighty Flying Art by a nose for third. Winning smile                            - Photo Bruce Stewart  Consequently it’s straight into the Jewels on Saturday at Addington for him where he’s drawn two on the front row. “In the perfect world he’d hop in behind Heisenburg (drawn one) and sit two or three back on the fence all the way. This is going to be a different kettle of fish for him. They’re going to go a 1-53 mile rate which he’s never done before.” Mighty Flying Art’s trainer Murray Brown wasn’t overly happy with his charge’s performance. “Not really. He was travelling real good and then he dropped the bit. When that other horse (Robyns Playboy) went up to take the lead he wanted to go. Brent took a hold of him and he dropped the bit and let him go. He’s done it before. He went in a bit fresh so we’re hoping he won’t do it next start,” Brown said.   Meanwhile Winton mare Rockabilly Blues received a kick by Clerk of the Course horse Vi Et Animo when she was returning to the birdcage. Rockabilly Blues has a dislike of the on-course speakers and she swung round when coming down the lane leading into the birdcage. Clerk of the Course Sally McKay came up to assist and her horse kicked Rockabilly Blues just above the knee, causing it to bleed. The mare’s leg will be monitored over the next few days and it’s hoped she can take her place in the Four Year Old Diamond this Saturday at Addington. Another Jewels runner Wee Man Trouble capped off his preparation with a win at Ascot Park today. The four year old added to his 20 metre handicap when he broke with 2300 metres to run. He regained his gait and stormed home down the middle of the track to win easily by three and a quarter lengths for driver Blair Orange. Wee Man Trouble winning for Blair Orange                - Photo Bruce Stewart. Other winners on the day included Sounds Bettor for Geoff and Jude Knight, Melton Mafia for trainers Gordon and Colin Lee, Sherry Baby for junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson, No More Change for Jamie Campbell and trainer Craig Ferguson and Bettor Rock Again for Ray and Tracee Faithful.   Bruce Stewart

The stars come out at Sweden’s Elitloppet weekend, a glittering two-day occasion packed with quality harness racing, featuring the best trotters in the world. It is also the showcase for the world’s best sires with no less than 80 international stallions having runners in the feature races on both days. Super sires Muscle Hill from the US with 14 representatives, and French trio  Love You (10),  Orlando Vici  (9) and  Ready Cash (8), are the big four when it comes to the feature events, highlighted by the international Elitloppet and Sweden Cup, run in same day heats and final over a mile. Muscle Hill, Orlando Vici and Ready Cash all have two representatives in the Elitloppet itself while Love You has one. French sire Orlando Vici is the only stallion to have two horses in both the Elitloppet and the Sweden Cup, the so-called Mini-Elitloppet, which is the highlight of the first day’s racing. Sweden’s home grown stallions Maharajah, (6), Raja Mirchi (5) and veteran From Above (4), who won the 2003 Elitloppet, also feature prominently, with Maharajah having a runner in both main events and both Raja Mirchi and From Above having two runners in the Sweden Cup, while Italian supersire and former Elitloppet champion Varenne  (5) also has two horses in the Sweden Cup. Veteran US-bred former Hambletonian winner Scarlet Knight (5) who was a heat winner and placed third twice in three Elitloppet attempts, has one horse in the Elitloppet and two in the Sweden Cup. The first day features the five divisions of the Sweden’s elite class trotters and the nation’s top mares division.  International trotters supplement the Lady Snarts race for mares, and Sweden’s biggest staying race, the Harper Hanovers where the trotters often go faster than the pacers do in the equivalent distance NZ Trotting Cup, while headlining day one is the Sweden Cup. Day two features international age groups racing, from three to five years old, an elite monte, and of course the big race itself, the Elitloppet, in two heats and a final over a mile. Stallions with more than a single representative in Elitlopett weekend feature races (origin and total in brackets) include; Muscle Hill (US) (14), Love You  (FRA) (10),  Orlando Vici (FRA)  (9),  Ready Cash (FRA) (8), Maharajah (SWE) (6), Raja Mirchi (SWE) (5) Scarlet Knight (US) (5) Varenne (IT) (5) Andover Hall (US) (4), From Above (SWE) (4), Donato Hanover (US) (4), Pastor Stephen (US) (4), Pine Chip (US)  (4)  Quite Easy (US) (3)  Cantab Hall (US) (3)n Make it Happen (US) (3) Yakee Glide (US) (3) Gift Kronos (IT) (3) Yankee Glide (US) (2) Going Kronos (IT) (2) Googoo Gaagaa (US) (2) Citation Lindy (US) (2) Joke Face (SWE) (2) Lexus Font (IT) (2) Muscles Yankee (US) (2) Prodigious (FRA) (2) Quick Wood (FRA) (2) Scipion du Goutier (FRA) (2) SJ's Caviar (US) (2) Explosive Matter (US) (2).    

Welcome to one of the strangest days of the harness racing season.   Most race days have a familiar pattern to them for those close to the horses. They work first, then go to the race and work more, hoping the Racing gods smile on them. Raceday is when, hopefully, when all the work pays off.  Tonight at Alexandra Park and Addington that will still be the case, the desire for winning omnipresent. But unlike any other race day of the year what happens on the track tonight might not impact some quite as much as what is revealed on their computers and phone screens just after noon.  Because that is when the draws come out for Jewels days at Addington tomorrow week.  They are the draws that matter more than for any other meeting. These are, after all, group one sprint races with not only big stakes but enormous breeding repercussions.  So just after noon today some dreams will feel a step closer to becoming reality, other will feel like they have ended.  Then trainers, drivers, owners, punters and bookies can start an eight-day game guessing game before the first ever Addington jewels.  Barry Purdon is one trainer who knows his best Jewels chance Belle Of Montana could be odds-on or $4 next Saturday depending what number the computer spits out today.  He wasn’t at all disappointed with her third to Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks last week but if one draws handy and the other the second line this Jewels might be as good as decided.  “They are both very good fillies but if one of them gets a long way in front of the other the one, it is going to be tough to peg back,” muses Purdon. Purdon also has two four-year-old boys heading to the Jewels and they clash in the last at Alexandra Park tonight.  While Benson Boys is enormously improved and not finished winning yet, stablemate On The Cards looks one of the bets of the night. “I don’t give the guys driving instructions but On The Cards seems to like rolling along so I can see him going forward and maybe leading,” says Purdon.  Fifth to Spankem in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger, if he leads tonight he should go to the Jewels a last-start winner.  At Addington some even more high-profile four-year-olds take centre stage as the main race becomes a $13,000 Jewels trial.  The two favourites for the four-year-old emerald in Turn It Up and Ashley Locaz have drawn wide in the 1980m event and the latter will be fitter. So tactics will be crucial but with next week’s race worth almost 12 times as much, don’t expect too many drivers trying to be heroes.  That race also features Elle Mac, one of the hottest favourites of Jewels day for the four-year-old Diamond   Michael Guerin

 Sundees Son will be asked to add a new weapon to his growing arsenal this week and it is one that could ultimately win him the Harness Jewels. The last-start Rowe Cup winner has been the surprise package of the trotting season, his late-season group one double giving him a shot at the Trotter of the Year title. He could almost put that battle to bed if he wins the 4-year-old Ruby at Addington on Saturday week and a crucial step will be the official Jewels trials on the same track this Saturday. While Sundees Son was stunning coming from well back to win both the Anzac and Rowe Cups he can't afford to be giving the likes of Winterfell, Majestic Man and King's Landing a big start over the 1980m mobile. So Sundees Son is, draw permitting, going to be asked to use his gate speed at Saturday's trials.  "We would like him to be able to run the gate this week to give us the option to do that if he draws well at the Jewels," says trainer Robert Dunn. "If he can develop that, and he hasn't had many good draws in mobile races to try in the past, then it is another string to his bow which could be really helpful." Harness Racing New Zealand has had plenty of Jewels withdrawals this week, mainly from horses who weren't likely to make the final 12 or younger horses who have hit the wall. Hardly any major players near the head of the markets have come out. But while some horses are showing signs of wear and tear this deep into the season, Dunn says his four-year-olds Sundees Son and Henry Hubert (pacer) are in great shape. "They both had scintigraphy at Matamata after the Rowe Cup carnival and we are really happy with the results."  Dunn and son John have 11 qualified for the Jewels and expect all to be there. "The one we had a setback with last week was Spellbound, who had a really high white blood cell count after she raced at Addington," he explains. "Her heart rate was 120 bpm 20 minutes after the race and even higher 10 minutes later. "So the blood tests showed what we thought they might but she has been treated and we will look after her to get her blood right and get her back on track for the Jewels." While the Jewels trials will impact the markets of far greater importance will be the draws, set to released at noon on Friday. And in a surprise move the two hottest Jewels favourites, Turn It Up (4-year-old male pace) and Elle Mac (4-year-old mares pace) will clash in a free-for-all at Addington on Friday night. Both were expected to trial this week but will instead race against a former Jewels winner in Ashley Locaz just hours after the draws are released. Meanwhile, the chances of their stablemate Oscar Bonavena making the field for the three-year-old trot are diminishing as he still sits 14th with the trainers of those above him indicating they will start, meaning he is unlikely to even make the ballot.   Michael Guerin

Matthew Williamson allowed himself the moment most young New Zealand representatives surely take on Sunday night. He unpacked his flash new driving colours, the black ones with the silver fern, tried them on and checked out how he looked in the mirror. "It was a bit surreal to be honest, it definitely made me puff the chest out," says Williamson. On Friday, the Oamaru horseman will wear those colours for real but on the other side of the globe in harness racing's World Driver's Championships in Sweden. Harness racing drivers' championships are a curious beast because the best driver could draw the worst horses in the ballot and finish last. And vice versa. But New Zealand drivers have a disproportionately high success rate, with six individual champions in the 29 series that have been contested: Dexter Dunn, Mark Jones, Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy, Robert Cameron and the late Kevin Holmes. The Kiwi success rate can, at least partially, be put down to our drivers being among the most versatile in the world. After all, they drive horses on left and right-handed tracks, in stand and mobile starts, on grass, grit and clay tracks, over a wide range of distances. And of course, they drive both trotters and pacers. That would sum up 28-year-old Williamson, having cut his teeth in the sometimes rustic scene of the deep south before becoming a regular near the top of the national premiership. He leaves tomorrow for the champs which begin on Friday and continue for a week, even driving on the first day of the famous Elitlopp meeting in Stockholm on Saturday. "It is getting real now, it was after I put the colours on Sunday night," says Williamson. "I think a lot of kids grow up hoping they get to wear the silver fern so that is pretty amazing." Williamson made a sacrifice for that privilege, giving up driving at the Jewels at Addington on June 1. "It probably means missing three Jewels drives but I am thrilled to be going." And Williamson is the man for the job because Swedish harness racing is all trotting, with no pacers, and Williamson is from trotting royalty. His father Phil holds the record for the most trotting winners trained in a season in New Zealand and his brothers Nathan and Brad are also top drivers. Remarkably, the quartet drove the first four home in a trotting race at Gore on Saturday. Of Matthew's 780 career successes in New Zealand, 280 have been in trotting races, an extremely high percentage for a leading driver. So while Williamson is going to Sweden to try to win, he is also going there to learn. "It sounds like we will be going to some of the stables over there ... I can't wait to see how they do things with the trotters," he admits. "So while the driving comes first I will be asking their trainers plenty of questions to learn as much as I can and see what I can bring home." Even if he can wear the silver fern to WDC glory, Williamson has an even more important moment waiting for him upon his return. His fiancee, talented reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, is expecting the couple's first child on June 10. "So I am hoping the baby can hold on till I get back."   Michael Guerin

A couple of one-time favourites for the Harness Jewels face a nervous week to even make it to the mega meeting. Because the Jewels campaigns of stablemates Smooth Deal and Oscar Bonavena hang in the balance for very different reasons. Oscar Bonavena rocketed to favouritism for the 3-year-old trot division with a comeback win at Addington two weeks ago but after three rivals passed him on the stakes-based leaderboard he is now ranked 14th to make the field of 12. So his connections have to hope for one withdrawal before the fields are drawn on Friday to even be the emergency for the $125,000 trot at Addington on June 1. Get Lucky was the last horse to usurp Oscar Bonavena with his effortless win in the last race at Oamaru yesterday, the last day for Jewels qualifying. Connections of horses have until Friday to withdraw and the fields of 12 plus one emergency will be drawn at noon. Oscar Bonavena's late fall down the ranking has seen him drift from $1.90 to win his division a few days ago to $2.80 last night. Stablemate Smooth Deal's fall has been even more dramatic as he was the $1.40 favourite to win his division a few weeks ago but has since been beaten twice, including a battling sixth at Addington on Friday night. But he was bouncing around his paddock on Saturday morning, which was enough to deter trainer Mark Purdon from scratching him from the Jewels. "He came home, ate up and has been fine since so maybe it was just one of those nights," said Purdon. "We really don't know but we will get him vetted and then decide. But at this stage, unless the vet examination and blood tests show something is wrong with him, he will still be aimed at the Jewels." Smooth Deal is likely to trial at Addington on Saturday along with many of the Purdon-Rasmussen stars including Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up.   Michael Guerin

“She’s a lovely wee mare who seems to go good on the wet tracks,” said trainer Brett Gray after Born To Boogie won her fifth race at Gore today. The four year old was driven by the country’s leading junior John Morrison who was filling in for a suspended Brent Barclay. Morrison took the Rock N Roll Heaven mare to the front with 2000 metres to run before handing up to Santannas Rocket. Just before the top of the straight Morrison hooked Born To Boogie off the back of Santannas Rocket and she came down the middle of the track to beat him by a length and a quarter with Delightful Deal another length and a quarter back in third. Gray says Born To Boogie’s future may now be in the North Island. The Ryal Bush trainer is slowly getting back to full mobility after Full Noise kicked him in the leg after winning at Winton last Saturday. He says he hasn’t been able to drive fast work for most of the week but is now back in the cart. Full Noise, which ran third today behind Nottingham K Two, will have to wait until tomorrow’s Oamaru meeting before his place at the Harness Jewels is confirmed. Gray said he wasn’t too disappointed with the three year old’s performance today. “It was one of those races. In the past he hasn’t gone so well on the wet tracks. He just got a wee way back today and the wet track just takes the speed out of him.” It wasn’t the fairytale ending for Santanna Rocket’s Southland career. He’s heading to Australia on a 50/50 deal with Robert Morris. The Morris stable have had success with another Santanna Blue Chip gelding James Dean, winning three races with him since December. Meanwhile Robyns Playboy which had to be scratched from the race, is on a course of antibiotics after stablemate Hans Ideal kicked him after work during the week. Stable spokesperson Chris Wilson said it’s hoped that Robyns Playboy will take his place in the Harness Jewels in a fortnight. He said the stable hope to get another run into him before the Jewels after he broke at Winton last Saturday. That misdemeanour was caused by a cut to the mouth. Wilson says Robyns Playboy’s chances of making the Jewels will be known in the next few days. The stable gained some consolation when Swift Robyn won her maiden race and Hans Ideal ran second later in the programme.   Bruce Stewart

Two years ago Fiery Ferret’s harness racing career looked to be over but the Mister Big gelding had other ideas. “We were going to retire him because he had quite sore hocks. The owner Kelvin Reed just had so many other horses. I asked him if I could I have him for my granddaughter as a riding horse and he said that was fine. I put him in the paddock and he hated it so he was back on the jogging frame two weeks later. Kelvin and I went fifty fifty in the horse. He’s won five more races since then,” said co-trainer Jude Knight who drives the gelding in all of his work. Jude trains in partnership with husband Geoff and she says the horse seems to be free of any leg problems. “His legs are better than they’ve ever been. He had weak joints as a two year old. He’s out now for a few months and will be back for the new season.” Knight says there was some confidence in the stable today, as the horse had good wet track form and his warm up indicated to her that he was ready to perform.  “When he was jigging around in the warm up and wouldn’t pace I got confident. When he does that at home it means he wants to get on with the job. Once we got to the lead I was pretty confident.” Driver John Morrison took the six year old straight to the lead and after a few cheap sectionals he went down to the line, beating Groomsman, which trailed him for most to the journey by two and three quarter lengths. “My sister and I booked a trip to Fiji next month. I said to Geoff that I feel so guilty about doing the trip on my own. Now I can pay for it and don’t feel guilty anymore (laugh).” It’s been a great month for Fiery Ferret’s dam Touch Of Rose with three of her progeny winning. The Ideal Touch (American Ideal) won at Invercargill while her older sister Ferritt’s Sister (Bettor’s Delight) won fresh up at Alexandra Park for her new trainer Nicky Chilcott. The mare’s next two foals are colts. One by Art Major, which is a yearling and the other is by He’s Watching.   Meanwhile Nottingham K Two won his second race this season on his home track. Both wins have been in the hands of Southland’s leading junior driver Ellie Barron. Trainer George Orr and Ellie Barron enjoy the win with Nottingham K Two - Photo Bruce Stewart By Bruce Stewart

The NZ Oaks was won easily in the end but it might well have been won at the beginning. Natalie, in superb form with three Group wins from three drives, thought so when she was able to swing in from three wide and get in front of Belle of Montana. But her decision to improve in the middle stages to take the front while the sectionals were a little relaxed was the key to an easy win. “She felt good and I though I will be off and make the ones most likely work to beat her. She never really felt like she would be beaten in the run home. A great filly and she was on her game tonight” The win heightened the 3yo Filly of the Year award contest which Belle of Montana looked to have a lead after the Nevele R last week. Now it is likely to come down to the Harness Jewels in two weeks. Princess Tiffany ran close 3.08 for the 2600m breaking by close to a second the record set by Spanish Armada two years ago. She continued a great run for owners Phil and Margaret Creighton and Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who separately set new records on the night. One aspect of that was that the Whitelocks Kayla Marie completed a “double second” chasing Belle of Montana home in the Nevele R Final and Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks. Bubbled Up again looked a little off her peak finishing midfield after having enjoyed a nice run The Oaks win by Princess Tiffany “It seems surreal -but its actually real” -that sum up by Mike Woodlock co-owner of One Change with Trevor Casey and All Stars, seemed to sum up the remarkable rise of the two year old with his five for five win in the $170,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington. As for Trevor tears came to his eyes as he remembered his long time partner, the late Neil Pilcher, an original owner of the youngster after he was passed in as a yearling for $20,000 Bought post sale by the stable for $30,000, Neil’s share was taken up by All Stars on his death and Mike, a retired teacher at St Andrews College who helps out at All Stars, was offered a share. He had previously raced a horse successfully with “Pilch”. As chief admirer and handler Ashleigh said “the dream continues” after One Change, looking headed by Flying Even Bettor close to the post kicked back to win. Natalie had given him the run of the race but said afterward it went “nothing like I expected” “I didn’t know how much gate speed he had because he hasn’t be used out of the gate previously. But he had it and we got the break. I wasn’t sure we’d won. Flying Even Bettor, which went a terrific race came back at us and I wasn’t confident at all” One Change has now won over $200,000 not a bad return on his yearling price. He now heads to the Jewels and possibly the Breeders Crown in August if all goes well in the interim. “He’s done nothing wrong and shown he has the early speed as well” Mark said “Smooth Deal was disappointing and he will come out of the Jewels on that run. He is going backwards when he should be going forward” His recovery rate raised questions as well, Natalie said later. But Amazing Dream compensated Bill and Jean Feiss handsomely with an impressive win in the rich PGG Wrightson Sales Final. Natalie wasn’t afraid to use her ability to get handy and then lead and she held on gamely to win well. “She’s a good filly and she is improving. She has always been game but she has a bit of speed too which I used tonight. That was a top effort from her really” Meanwhile even Mark was somewhat taken aback with the ease of Winterfell’s win the FFA Trot which guaranteed him a start in the Jewels. “Really he won that easily and while I expected a top run I didn’t think it would be that easy” Mark said of the big trotter who has hit peak at the right time.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

Early season perception clashes with late-season reality in the two group ones at Addington tonight.  The trick for punters is to work out which one matters more.  At different stages of the season it would have seemed farcical there could be a better two-year-old male pacer than Smooth Deal or a superior three-year-old filly to Princess Tiffany in the country.  But the score cards between that pair and their new division leaders in One Change and Belle Of Montana suggest the latter two might be the best of their crops.  But that pendulum could swing back the other way just as easily at tonight’s huge premier meeting.  One Change is unbeaten in three starts but has drawn (barrier four) outside Smooth Deal (two) in their $170,000 final over 1980m mobile.  When Smooth Deal was thrashing his opponents over the summer tonight’s draw would have suggested he would lead and win and plenty of punters would have been piling into a $1.20 divvy to boost their multis.  But cracks in his armour started to appear when he broke for no reason in two races and even worse he led easily and was grabbed on the line by One Change in the Sales Series Pace two weeks ago so will instead start around $2 tonight.  He was found to be affected by a virus soon after that last-start defeat but champion trainer Mark Purdon admits Smooth Deal is no longer than stable’s clear-cut juvenile star.  “We really don’t know which one is the better of them now,” says Purdon.  “So either of them could win this week and while we expect Smooth Deal to be better than last start, One Change might be too because he worked very, very well here on Tuesday.”  While there is plenty of talent in the juvenile crop it is hard to imagine one of the pair not winning whereas the $150,000 New Zealand Oaks might have a little more scope for an upset.  Belle Of Montana was mega impressive coming from well back to beat an almost identical field in the Nevele R Final last Friday and has the draw (five) to go forward and gain a huge tactical advantage over Princess Tiffany, who starts on the second line.  As stunning as Princess Tiffany has been at times, Belle Of Montana’s record this season is clearly better (3-0 head to head) so she has to be the favourite tonight.  “From that barrier I think she can come out a bit early and go forward but I will leave that up to Zac (Butcher),” says master trainer Barry Purdon.  That suggests Belle Of Montana could be seen in a different role tonight as all her major wins have come after sit-sprint tactics, even taking a trail 1200m out when a red hot favourite in the Victoria Oaks two starts ago.  She looks stronger mentally and physically than she was at the start of her debut season so should be ready to change tact and and easy lead would make the Oaks hers to lose. Still, Princess Tiffany has too much x-factor to dismiss while the likes of Northern Oaks winner Best Western and even Belle Of Montana’s stablemate Havtime have shown enough to suggest that are at least place value with their advantageous draws. Meanwhile, at Alexandra Park tonight comeback filly Tickle Me Pink should continue on her winning way even off the second line in the Northern Trotting Oaks.   Michael Guerin

Waikato Bay Of Plenty HRC News – Thursday 16 May Thursday 16th May – Crack Up Quiz Night At The Races Crack Quiz night- SOLD OUT   But we still have race night dining available in the Skyline lounge which is open to the public and has everything you need for a great night out - views, delicious meals and full bar & tote facilities - doors open at 5pm! - reserve your table here: https://www.eventspronto.co.nz/event473 Thursday 6th June – Lads night at the races hosted by Jim from The Rock! It's our first Lads Night at Cambridge Raceway and we're setting the bar high. Along with an awesome night of horse racing, beers and bants, there will be celebrity dual sulky races - Featuring Jim & a couple of players from the Chiefs. Tickets are only $20 and include a Corona (or non-alcoholic drink) on arrival More info here: https://www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/lads-night/   Alexandra Park – Friday 17 May Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs! We’re laying out the canvas and painting a spectacular night filled with glorious harness racing, fine dining, beautiful music and a hint of romance. Join us at Alexandra Park for our ever popular French Night in Top of the Park on Friday 24th May. Packages starting from $65 per person. Indulge in the festivity of Mid-Winter Christmas with Alexandra Park! Embrace the winter chills whilst enjoying the hottest harness racing New Zealand has to offer! With four function rooms and a variety of packages over four mid-winter Friday nights starting 21st June until 12th  July, there is something to suit everyone. Dream of mulled wine, an all-you-can-eat Christmas-themed buffet and lively social atmosphere. Explore the best Alexandra Park has to offer, but don’t forget to book quickly as these popular nights don’t last long. Book online at www.alexandrapark.co.nz. To find out more info, call 09 631 1165 or email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz   Addington Raceway and Events Centre – 17 May IRT HARNESS JEWELS  - Remember to book your perfect spot! We are delighted to host the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington. Please see below details of all the festivities. Welcome Pre Function Dinner – Thursday 30 May 6.00pm Silks & Satin Lounge, Level 2 Metropolitan Stand Hosted by Greg O’Connor and Michael Guerin, this special evening will celebrate the history of this wonderful event.  Included in the festivities will be the IRT Harness Jewels commentators Tony Lee, Mark McNamara and Aaron White who through their commentaries, will highlight this special race series.  As part of this night HRNZ will present the IRT Harness Jewels colours to the leading set of connections in each category. Evening includes; Three course plated dinner Cash bar facilities available $70 per person $650 for a table of 10 To book or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz IRT in association with TAB Harness Jewels Golf Day – Friday 31 May This is a Four Ball Best Ball Stableford event to be held at the Templeton Golf Club.  The day will start with a pre-game BBQ from 10.30am with teams teeing off from 11.30am.  There will be a prize giving post game. Individual $50 per player Sponsorship $250+GST per hold including a team of 4 To book or for more information please contact Greg O’Connor at greg.o’connor@tab.co.nz IRT Harness Jewels – Hospitality Packages – Saturday 1 June Ruby Lounge Located on level 3 of the Metropolitan Stand, enjoy panoramic views over the track in a lounge setting with casual seating.   Ideal for groups of friends wanting the best views, in a more relaxed atmosphere where you can mix and mingle with other racing enthusiasts. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Ruby Lounge · Complimentary drink on arrival · Stand-up grazing stations with an array of antipasto and seafood platters, fresh salads, carvery meats, fresh breads, hot vegetables, and a dessert selection · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $195 per person Silks & Satin Lounge Soak up the atmosphere and excitement in one of our largest lounges on course. Located on level 2 of the Metropolitan Stand with uninterrupted views of the winning post, this is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after positions for those wanting the complete hospitality experience. Allocated seating is at shared tables of 10 people. Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Silks & Satin Lounge · Three course buffet lunch, including cold meats, seafood and salads, hot dishes, carvery, and mouth-watering desserts · All beverages included – premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Live entertainment · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $295 per person Spectators Punters Lounge This is the perfect place for racing enthusiasts wanting a relaxed and casual place to mix and mingle. Enjoy the comfort of lounge facilities with access to the front of the Lindauer Lawn to watch all the trackside action. Spectators also offers a large screen, bar leaners and casual seating. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to Spectators Punters Lounge · Continuous spit roast grazing stations including fresh vegetables, seasonal salads, pork, Canterbury lamb and sweet treats · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $125 per person      For hospitality bookings or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz All details and booking forms are also on our website – addington.co.nz. We are looking forward to hosting an outstanding day of our sport on Saturday 1 June.  Have a great week. From the Addington Team   Rangiora Harness Racing Club - 26 May – Pink Ribbon High Tea The Rangiora Harness Racing Club will be hosting a Pink Ribbon High Tea at their May 26 meeting, to help raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. We're taking part in the Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign this year to help support Breast Cancer Foundation NZ's vital work. High Tea at the Rangiora Races -26th May 12:15 to 4:30 PM  Rangiora Racecourse, Westbelt Tickets $75.00, of which $20.00 goes towards the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. Phone: 021-738-007 Email: canterburycountryharness@gmail.com Get your friends together and glam yourselves up for a fabulous afternoons entertainment.  Tables of 6 and 10.  A glass of bubbles on arrival.  Prizes for best dressed and much more.................... The money raised will be used to fund research projects and medical grants to help improve survivorship, as well as support patients and their families during treatment and recovery. Donate today to help make zero deaths from breast cancer a reality. https://pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz/page/rangioraharnessracingclub   Nelson Harness Racing Club news – 7/9 June The Nelson Harness Racing Club’s winter race meeting will be on Friday June 7 and Sunday June 9. First race each day is scheduled for 11.30 am.  There is no gate charge and race books will be available from the secretary office and the driver’s room. The weather forecast (as always) is for fine weather so make sure you come on up and enjoy some Nelson sunshine and hospitality!! FOOD & BEVERAGES Hot food and drink will be available in the Drivers Room for all trainers, drivers and their staff.  A coffee cart will be outside the numbers room in the stabling area.  Food and drink will also be available to purchase in the bar and at the food and drink stalls. Don’t forget the famous scallop pies will be available from the OTB rooms!! BBQ & BREAKFASTS The club would like to invite all trainers, drivers, staff and owners to attend a BBQ on Thursday 6th June in the Waimea Room under the main grandstands from 5 -7pm.  The club are putting this on in recognition of your continued support of our race meeting.  There will be raffles available so bring a few coins. Breakfast will be again available from 7am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings at the OTB rooms.                                                                           Nelson Pine Industries are again sponsoring our Prelude and the Nelson Winter Cup which we are excited to announce will be for stakes of $10,000 and $14,000 respectively. Please note this is now a R56 & Faster race and you will be racing for stakes over the two days of $24000.                                  MIKE AUSTIN MEMORIAL TROT We will be again running the “Mike Austin Memorial Trot” this race is for R40 and faster trotters and will be run on the second day of the meeting over 2400m.  The winner will receive a trophy and a dress rug.  The club would like to thank Jill Austin and family as well as Blair & Lisa Orange for their support.  This race will be a wonderful tribute to “Mike” a great educator and trainer of the square gaiter and once a local Nelson lad. Just to note the R40 and faster Handicap trot on both days will be run over the 2400m distance. BEST PRESENTED HORSE The best presented horse in each race will win their trainer a bag of horse feed kindly provided by Dunstan Horse Feeds. PICK PINK We will be again running our Pink Pick Selections we will be asking drivers of the selected horse in each race to wear a pink helmet cover. We have had a really great run with this promotion so keep an eye on the picks. THE NELSON HRC RACE DAY ONE PROGRAM DAY TWO PROGRAM For nominations and stabling please contact Jason Broad (Race Day Secretary) on 03 5446616 or 021 127 2912 For all other inquiries please call Kristie Hill on 021621075.   Addington Raceway - IRT Harness Jewels News and Owner Privileges Harness Racing New Zealand and Addington Raceway would like to take this opportunity to notify all harness racing owners about the owner privileges on offer at the 2019 IRT Harness Jewels on Saturday 1 June 2019. This year all owners with a horse entered (including all members of a syndicate) will receive a welcome pack.  This year two drinks vouchers and two owner’s lanyards will be included in each pack.  Please wear these lanyards at all times to ensure you gain access to The Sapphires Lounge and The Stables. The Sapphires Lounge is for owners and members and is located on Level 1 of the Metropolitan Stand where it’s all about the racing. There will be large screens with all the live action, TAB facilities and a range of tasty deli food and cash bar facilities available (please note there is no allocated seating). Please present your owner’s lanyard to our host on arrival. The drinks vouchers can be redeemed in the Sapphires Lounge and/or at the owner’s bar on Blanc de Blanc Lawn (in front of the Breckon’s Winners Bar).   Owners are encouraged to enjoy their drink vouchers at the owner’s bar prior to their race before moving to the seating bowl to enjoy all the action. An email will be sent to all owners following the release of the final fields on Friday 24 May with full information.  The welcome packs are able to be collected from Addington Raceway’s Office from the following dates and times; Tuesday 28 May – Friday 31 May between 9.00am – 4.00pm Saturday 1 June from 10.30am onwards. Please note these will need to be collected by owners on an individual basis. Please also be aware that the health and safety of all patrons and licence holders is a priority for HRNZ and Addington Raceway, so there will be a limit of ten owners at a time visiting their horse in The Stables. Syndicate managers are asked to please be aware of this for health and safety reasons and plan to allow owners to see their horse in a safe manner in line with the guidelines. The festivities for the week commence with the Welcome Dinner on Thursday 30 May at 6.00pm at Addington Raceway.  Be sure to join us for dinner where the IRT Harness Jewels commentators Tony Lee, Aaron White and Mark McNamara will reminisce about the Jewels History and preview Saturday’s Jewels line up.  To book tickets please visit https://www.addington.co.nz/racing/irt-harness-jewels-at-addington/irt-harness-jewels-welcome-dinner/ The hospitality options at Addington Raceway for the IRT Harness Jewels are also selling fast, so should you wish to enjoy the nine group one races from the comfort of our lounges and hospitality areas make sure you check out our options: https://www.addington.co.nz/racing/irt-harness-jewels-at-addington/irt-harness-jewels-hospitality/ General admission will be just a gold coin donation at the gate with all proceeds going to St John. Good luck to those with horses on the leader board and also over the final stages of qualifying. We look forward to seeing you all at the IRT Harness Jewels on Saturday 1 June. Jewels front line limit Owners and trainers are reminded that the front line limits for all Jewels races will be 8. Overall field size for the Jewels is 12 plus 1 ballot (11 New Zealand runners plus 1 Australian invite or 12 New Zealand runners). With all races being over 1980m from the mobile gate it is in the best interest of the punter to have consistent front line limits on this day. Should the ballot draw on the front line and not regain a start the configuration may be 7 on the front line and 5 on the second line instead of 8 and 4. IRT Harness Jewels Celebration Dinner – Thursday 30 May Hosted by Addington Raceway and HRNZ, the IRT Harness Jewels Celebration dinner will be held at Addington Raceway on Thursday 30 May from 6pm. Join us for dinner where we will look back at the previous 12 years of this wonderful concept. This will include Jewels commentators Tony Lee, Aaron White and Mark McNamara reminiscing on the Jewels history. Hosted by Greg O’Connor and Michael Guerin, the night will include a preview of Saturday’s Jewels and recognition of some of the unsung heroes. It will also include the presentation of tour leaders colours to the leading connections in each section of this year’s series from both New Zealand and Australia. Tickets are $70 per person, or $650 for a table of ten, and includes a drink on arrival, three course plated dinner and cash bar facilities. To book or for more information visit www.addington.co.nz or call 03 339 7908.   HRNZ Marketing

Belle Of Montana has been gifted the perfect opportunity to make the Filly of the Year a one-horse race.  Because if she win the $150,000 NZ Oaks at Addington on Friday night the title is certain to be hers and the barrier draws have put her in the box seat to do just that.  The flying Clevedon filly made it three group ones for her debut season when coming from the second line to win the Nevele R Final at Addington last Friday but it was a third victory of a different kind that might be just as important in the FOTY voting.  For the third time in as many meetings Belle Of Montana beat arch rival Princess Tiffany, who was only third and appeared to race at least a couple of lengths below her best.  Princess Tiffany had started favourite and her trainer Mark Purdon suspects the NSW Oaks winner may have suffering from tying up problems last Friday, although a blood test indicated she was not overly affected by a virus which has troubled much of his team.  Excuses aside, Belle Of Montana now has a 3-0 lead in the head-to-head battle with Princess Tiffany so the latter would need to win both the Oaks this Friday and the Jewels on June 1 to have much chance of turning voters back her way in what is one of the more valuable titles handed out at the annual harness racing awards.  The problem for Princess Tiffany is she has drawn the second line again whereas Belle Of Montana is drawn to start from barrier five and one of the likely early leaders is her own stablemate Havtime.  That and the respect Belle Of Montana has earned with her string of group one wins suggest she will have a healthy lead over Princess Tiffany in the first lap of Friday’s 2600m classic. And there is the possibility, backed up by the stats, that Belle Of Montana may simply be the better filly.  The market for the Oaks will open today but the pair share Jewels favouritism at $2 each, which may not change greatly until after the draws on Friday week.  That market split is almost mirrored by the two-year-old male pacers, where One Change is $2 and Smooth Deal $2.20 for the Jewels and they also go head to head this Friday night.  They have both drawn well on the front line so neither should have an excuse in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes and after winning the Sales Series if One Change can down his stablemate again he also take a big lead in their category for the HOTY.  The Sires’s Stakes Trot for the juveniles, the three-year-old Sales Series Trot and an open class trot add some squaregaiting strength to the second-last premier meeting of the season.   Michael Guerin

One of the surprise favourites for the Harness Jewels could be forced out of the million-dollar meeting by a mere $10 in stake earnings.  Because the fate of three-year-old trotting favourite Oscar Bonavena now lies in his rival’s hands.  The exciting young trotter raced to the head of his market with a stunning comeback win against older horses at Addington last Friday night.  So crushing was the victory Oscar Bonavena replaced stablemate Enhance Your Calm as favourite for the $125,000 Three-Year-Old Ruby at Addington on June 1, being rated a $1.95 chance to Enhance Your Calm’s $2.10.  The only problem is Oscar Bonavena isn’t guaranteed a Jewels start and could be knocked out of contention this weekend, with the final day for Jewels qualification being Sunday.  He sits 10th on the stakes-based entry table but there are only 11 New Zealand-trained invites to each Jewels race if an Australian is invited to that division.  The connection of Victorian trotter All Cashed Up have accepted an invite so there will only be 11 spots for locals and that is where things get tricky for Oscar Bonavena.  He is not racing this week and sits on $24,700 in stakes but Southland trotter Full Noise only needs $530 to get past him which he should achieve with a third placing or better in a moderate trot field at Gore on Saturday.  That would push Oscar Bonavena into the last of the 11 spots with others able to leagfrog him.  Swiss Miss, who sits just $1150 behind Oscar Bonavena, could pass him with a top four finish in the Northern Trotting Oaks at Alexandra Park on Friday night but she may not pose much problem to the favourite’s Jewels chances.  “We are actually looking at keeping her in the north for a few starts to target some lower grade races because the stakes are so good,” said Swiss Miss’s trainer Gavin Smith. “So I doubt we would take her back south for the Jewels.” Fortunato, Peakz Luck and Sunny’s Little Jestic could all also overtake Oscar Bonavena if they won the Oaks, but up against Tickle Me Pink that looks unlikely.  But a much greater threat comes from Southland trotter Get Lucky, who sits just $370 behind Oscar Bonavena heading into the weekend  He is one of the favourites for the $75,000 Sales Series Trot at Addington on Friday night but money won in sales races doesn’t count toward Jewels qualification because they are restricted.  But trainer Alister Black is also nominating Get Lucky for a trot at Oamaru on Sunday and will decide whether to start there after Friday night’s race.  If Black takes Get Lucky to Oamaru he only needs to run top four against what will be mainly older battlers to snare the last qualifying spot because he sits $370 behind Oscar Bonavena and fourth at Oamaru is worth $380. So the fate of the Jewels favourite could be decided by $10 in earnings.  “Alister is aware that is what we need to do because the Sales Series race doesn’t count for the Jewels qualifying so he will definitely be in at Oamaru and Alister will decide whether we start or not,” said Get Lucky’s driver Brad Williamson.  Trainer Mark Purdon is aware of the precarious position Oscar Bonavena finds himself in but has decided to stick to his plans and hope they are still be in the field come Sunday night.  Oscar Bonavena does, of course, have the option of also getting into the field through a higher earning rival pulling out but the connections of most of those above Oscar Bonavena has indicated they are targeting the Jewels.  Another well in the market but not certain to be at the Jewels is Alta Maestro, one of the speed influences of the day but now only rated 50-50 to be there.  Driver John Dunn says the four-year-old has what could be a potential knee problem and while he has only missed two or three days work a veterinary examination today could determine his chances of making it to Addington. Michael Guerin

All Cashed Up has been confirmed as the most recent Australian horse to be invited to compete in the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington Raceway on Saturday 1 June.   Following the announcement last week that Majestic Player will represent Anton Golino and Yabby Dam Farms in the 4yo Ruby, stablemate All Cashed Up will line up in the 3yo Ruby in the Green Harness Jewels colours also.   All Cashed Up is a son of Ready Kash and has won four of 13 career starts.   He was a brave third in Saturday night’s NSW Trotting Derby despite being attacked for the first half of the race when in front. He went down fighting and was not far off the winner despite working overtime early on in the race.   “He’s a tough bugger,” said Golino. “He’s a typical son of Ready Kash he has a little bit of a crazy streak to him but I think that’s what makes him good.”   Golino reported the horse has pulled up well and has come through Saturday night’s race in good order. (Full information can be found in the interview attached)   All Cashed Up is owned by Pat Driscoll of Yabby Dams Racing, which is an exclusive trotting focused farm, following European training styles and focusing on the best trotting bloodlines worldwide.   This is reflected in the breeding of All Cashed Up, being by Ready Kash out of a Kadabra mare.       Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Such is the ease in which star Southland pacer U May Cullect is winning, today driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay had to remind the five year old that getting to the line first is what good pacers do. “I had to give him a wee slap today. He’s just got into the habit of pulling up because there’s no competition. He’s actually going to be better coming off their backs. But really happy as that was a nice step up in grade,” she said after the gelding scored another emphatic victory at Winton today. From barrier three Barclay took the Tom Kilkelly owned gelding straight to the top and he easily won the 1609 metre trip by three lengths from stablemate Paddyproudfoot.  “Paddy went super. I was rapt with a wee man.” The winning time was 1-53.1. “There was a race for him at Addington but we decided to stay down here and support the local clubs at the end of the season because people are coming out to see him.” U May Cullect winning today Although in front again today, Barclay says she’d like to educate U May Cullect to race in the field. “If we can get a preferential race he should get a draw and take a sit. The first time in that higher grade that’s what I’d like to do to give him confidence.” So what’s next? “No plans. We’ll take him week by week. He still needs a spell somewhere along the line.” U May Cullect returning after winning - Photo Bruce Stewart This was the gelding’s fifth start and fifth win and I can’t remember the last Southland trained pacer to win their first five starts. Microscopic, after running fourth on debut won his next six races while Honkin Vision ran second on debut then won four straight. Later in the day today the Mitchell Kerr trained Zinny Mac driven by Nathan Williamson broke the track record for three year old colts and geldings. His time of 2-54.3 was 0.1 of a second better than the previous record broken in December by Robyns Playboy. The win was one of two for Kerr who trained Justasec to win the last race of the day. The win was also one of three for Southland’s leading reinsman Nathan Williamson. Meanwhile Jonny Cox did the right thing for his family by winning the Cox Family Celebration Trot on the Amber Hoffman trained Imran Khan. The Pegasus Spur six year old won by an impressive five lengths and Cox threw in a victory salute well before the winning post for good measure. Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart Imran Khan is part-owned by Trackside presenter Mark McNamara and Matt Cross, jockey Samantha Wynn and ODT Journalist Jonny Turner.   Bruce Stewart

Wildwest had tongues wagging at Central Southland Raceway today when he impressively won on debut by twelve and a half lengths. “He’s always been a nice horse. We’ve always looked after him. He’s lost a bit of condition on the way through so we’ve put him aside then brought him back. He’s still a bit untapped,” says driver Brent Barclay. The Raging Bull three year old is trained by Barclay’s partner Lauren Pearson at Winton and was sent out hot favourite on the back of some impressive workouts and trials form. With the weight of money on the horse Barclay had no option but to take the horse to the front once he was safely underway from the stand. “I was a little bit worried at the start when he got a bit jumpy but he stepped real nice. He’s got a lot of speed and I would have liked to have seen him in behind today but in that type of field you have to drive him like the best horse.” His time was 3-03.6. The track record for three year old colts and gelding is 3-01.3 which was recorded by Shorty’s Chance in 2009. “It just felt like 3-10 not 3-03 but he’s very deceptive.” Wildwest winning his first start today The three year old has been patiently handled and local trainer Ian Jamieson managed his first two preparations. “He used to buck a bit early on but he’s been a real gentleman lately.” Wildwest is owned by Kevin Strong who has bred and raced many horses over the years. “He’s had so much bad luck so that’s why we’ve looked after him. It’s just great for Kev.” Trainer Lauren Pearson, Wildwest, Kevin Strong and driver Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart Barclay says the horse has been attracting the attention of buyers prior to his debut today. “We’ve had a lot of interest in him but we’ll discuss that with Kev.” And as for his future racing programme? “Probably Invercargill. He wouldn’t be going to Gore. I got suspended. There would have been plenty lining up to drive him there (laugh).” Pearson trained Wildwest’s dam Bay Jet which was by Jereme’s Jet. Bay Jet ran third and first at workouts but never qualified. Wildwest is her first foal. Wildwest in by the Christian Cullen stallion Raging Bull which won five of his ten starts for Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety.    Bruce Stewart

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