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David McCarthy does a great job at the All Stars Racing Stables with his previews of all of their runners each weekend and this week is no exception with his preview for the big weekend of harness racing ahead. With the kind permission of the All Stars team we have reprinted the preview below. Auckland - Friday night Race 2 Chase The Dream (8) Natalie Form: Impressive late run to win the Sapling Stakes on debut. Ability not in question. Comment: "First time that way round but he has high speed and he is also pretty tough. The sort of hors e you can use a bit and he will still kick on. Doing well up there too" Race 3 Wanna Play (3) Natalie Form: Broke last week after good racing in south Comment:  "One I am not too confident about. Standing starts are not really her thing and she is not quite as good right-handed. On ability she would win it but I have reservations" Race 4 Arden's Choice (6) Natalie    Form:  Strong second to stablemate at Timaru mile rate1.57 plus and home in fast time. Comment:  "There's not much between our fillies and I don't know a lot about some of the others. outside the two favoured ones. I will go with Dream About Me in spite of the draw but my drive Arden's Choice is up there with her and the run of the race will decide  the best of our pair. They haven't had a lot of practice raceday but should be ready.  Dream About Me (11) Tim Form: Won debut at Timaru. Hard form to fault. Comment: see above Race 6 Change Stride (10) Brent Mangos Form: Consistent form over the summer and again last week. Draw no help. Comment: Yes working ok up there and will go a good race but maybe just a little below our other two at this level. Kept Under Wraps (6) Natalie Form: Eye catching trial and then eye catching first upper last week. Danger here. Comment: "The boys up north are very pleased with him and he will improve a lot with that last run after one trial. He will improve again with this but is competitive.  Follow The Stars (13) Tim Form: Brave in Victoria Derby beaten by the draw. Not a good one here either. Comment: "Doing really well up there and I expect him to win even from that draw with any luck at all" Race 8 Classical Art (1) Natalie Form: Progressed nicely from quiet trial to bold run last week. Poised. Comment: "Nothing will beat her out of the gate but the decisions are not easy after that. If I don't go out of the gate she could end up pulling three back on the fence and that is no way to go about it. Its a question whether I hand up to one of the top ones and risk her tugging in the trail or just try and win it from the front which is  hard to do but she is capable of doing it. The tactics will be interesting but I expect her to lead early at least. Linda Lovegrace (5) Ricky May Form: Missed a race last week but flashed home strongly at Ashburton previously. Comment: "I am not too worried about her missing that race last week. She hasn't missed any work. Also she always seems to go really well when she is freshened. Her best races have sometimes been like that. So she is a contender though not my top one. Supersonic Miss (10) Tim Form: Showed her class as false odds last week. Super on best day. Comment:  "I think she is the best chance of the three actually. From that draw she will be out of the early rush and will have options after that. She thrives on racing and should only  have improved with that race.  She gets top billing. Race 9 Border Control (2) Tim Form: Did some work to lead last week from a handicap and beaten by passing lane. Ran fastest time. Still on up.   Comment: "Another good run from a handicap last week and he can still get better. Each way chance and a good one. Smolda (5) Natalie Form:  Outstanding first up last week from a long handicap and should only be improved Comment: "I think he can win. That is based on his first up run last week  which was great and his work this week has them really happy up north. He has stepped up they feel so he should be competitive in this field. " Menangle - Sunday Afternoon Race 3  Fight For Glory (11) Natalie  Form:  Easy winner of her heat and one of the hardest to beat here. Comment: "She doesn't need bad luck but she doesn't need good luck if you get what I mean. Even from that draw  if she gets a reasonable run she should be very hard to beat. Her heat run was most impressive. She is at the top of her game and I think unless I do something stupid or somebody else does she is the one to beat. Race 4 Adore Me ( 12) Natalie Form: Went 1.51 last week but has a woeful draw. Comment: " Mark was happy to just do the training for the day as I am driving the others and if anything comes up he has the time to deal with it. It is all good news on the training front from Sydney. I don't know about that draw, whether to go straight out of the gate or wait a few seconds and see what happens. There is a bit of speed on the front line so it will be interesting. I notice that while Ruby did it hardly any horses win at Menangle  when parked so we will have to see.  She is the best horse in  the race so unless I stuff it up she should still be the horse to beat. We would decide on an Auckland Cup run after seeing how hard a race she has " Race 5 Hug The Wind (1) Natalie Form: Devastating heat win makes him favourite. Draw might be tricky. Comment: "As I said I would actually have preferred a gate one or two out. You need gatespeed from one and fortunately he has it  What unfolds from there is not so easy to predict.  You run the risk of getting trapped if you hand up to the wrong horses. He is really well and probably the one to beat" Race 6 Isaiah (5) Natalie  Form: Outstanding leadup over a mile last week and improved with that Comment: Well he has stepped up all season really but this will be his biggest test. Sky Major in particular looked very impressive last week and Bling It On is highly rated so from 5 I will just have to see what develops. It was a great leadup last week and he will improve with that so I am very hopeful he can pull it off" Cheviot - Sunday Afternoon Race9 Sophisticated Lady (3) Jim Curtin Emeli Maguire (4) Ricky May Northern Velocity (10) Matt Comment : "Northern Velocity would be the pick of them but she has that woeful draw which will not help.She hopped out of her gear last week but it was just that she lost concentration. She is still a bit  dumb when it comes to racing. The other two are sort of in the same boat. Emeli Maguire might have a break after this. We will see how she goes. She is a lanky filly and has some growing to do. Sophisticated Lady had a run just good enough to qualify at the trials with a race coming up. She might also need a little break after this we will see. Northern Velocity wouldn't want to be giving the other two too much ground turning for home but if all goes well she will be the best of them" Courtesy of All Star Racing Stables - Check Site here                                                                                                                                                                             

Exceptionally-bred filly Makes Every Scents will be out to emulate one of her mother’s feats when she competes at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday. A member of the powerful Belinda McCarthy stable, Makes Every Scents is engaged in the New South Wales Oaks, a feature her dam – Scent – captured in 1997. Prepared by astute horseman Peter Walsh, Scent caused an upset by scoring at 15/1, with Dougals Dream (16/1) and Concorde Lombo, the 6/4 favourite, filling the placings. Like her mum, Makes Every Scents will have to upstage the favourite, Delight Me, with McCarhty's husband, Luke, in the cart. Although successful in her heat last weekend, Makes Every Scents is considered a $12 chance after drawing six. The daughter of Four Starzzz Shark will slot into four with the removal of the emergencies. Also successful in her heat, Delight Me is listed at $2.20 from the pole, with New Zealand raider Fight For Glory the second elect at $2.50. Prepared by champion Kiwi horseman Mark Purdon, Fight For Glory will begin from gate nine. Referring to the Blue Riband as one of the strongest on record, McCarthy is confident Makes Every Scents can join her mother on the honour roll. “We are very happy with her and she is in perfect condition for this,” McCarthy said. “It’s a tremendous Oaks, with so many wonderful fillies engaged. “The draw is a little tricky, but with a touch of luck and the right run she will be right in the finish. “She went well in her heat and her work has been terrific this week.” PAUL COURTS

One of the harness racing highlights for us at Menangle on Sunday's Inter Dominion Final day will be this years New South Wales Oaks which has drawn a really smart group of three year old fillies together. Form 700 New South Wales Oaks. 1) Delight Me - Starts 7 - Wins 6 - Seconds 1  -  Stakes $45,338 Already a big player before the draw, Delight Me is now the equal favourite in our view after drawing barrier one. Won her heat in the quickest time of the four held on Saturday night but did wander about a bit when clear in the last 100 metres which she won't want to do in the final Gavin Lang is a big plus on any horse and hard to see Delight Me anything but first or second on Sunday. 2) Rebel Diamond - Starts 16 - Wins 5 - Seconds 3 - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $49,930 The surprise package of the heats coming from barrier nine for a great second to Delightful Lana in good time. Hard to see her beating two or three here but the draw and Anthony Butt make her a realistic first four player. 3) Whitershadeofpale - Starts 7 - Wins 4 - Seconds 0 - Thirds - 1  -  Stakes $22,775 (Emerg 1) Nice enough run in her heat on Saturday where she followed Dexter and Delightful Lana but didn't do enough for us to make her a real player if she did get manage to get back into the field. Not for us 4) Lovelist - Starts - 11 - Wins 6 - Seconds 0 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $52,922 One of the best runs in the heats in our opinion when she drew wide and worked to the death in the heat against Fight For Glory and only got beaten by Read About Lexy for second in the last ten metres. Has had her runs spaced out this season and should have derived some real benefit from last Saturdays run. Comes into barrier three and why it is hard to see her winning, she is a real first four chance.  5) BB's Inspiration - Starts 8 - Wins 2 - Seconds 0 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $13,251 Sat four back on the inner in her heat and did run on well but she was in by far the slowest heat of the four run on the night. If she did make it back into the field it is hard to see her playing a major part in proceedings. Not for us  6) Makes Every Scents - Starts 12 - Wins 6 - Seconds 3 - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $101,240 Used from barrier 7 to lead on Saturday night but then threw out the anchors in front in what turned out to be the slowest heat of the four run. Sprinted home well but out on her feet the last bit and query about strength of heat. Tactial speed an advantage but appeals as a first four chance to us rather than a winning chance. 7) Butterfly Princess - Starts 23 - Wins 4 - Seconds 3 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $36,655 Showed speed to lead from barrier six, set a sharp pace and then fought on well after appearing gone on the corner. She did set up the fastest heat of the four on the night but had a really hard run in the process. We think that it was her grand final performance just making it out of the heats. Not for us. 8) Smooth Showgirl - Starts 14 - Wins 3 - Seconds 3 - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $88,307 In her heat she dropped back to last from barrier nine and was still last at the 800 metres mark. She then got a lovely drag into the race via the three wide line and did finish the race off really well. Can't afford to get so far back this week as they won't come back to her like they did last week. Can't win on last weeks run but outside first four chance if she can stay handier. 9) Du Vella - Starts 12 - Wins 4 - Seconds 2 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $28,634 Big push for this filly from some pundits but we have yet to be fully convinced. She got a beautiful run  in her heat which was the weakest of the four in our opinion and even though the leader threw out the anchor at the 100 metres, Du Vella still only ran second. Two places further out this week at the barrier in a much stronger field means we can't see her winning this and only have her as a first four chance. 10) Delightful Lana - Starts 16 - Wins 8 - Seconds 2 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $101,724 Smart win in her heat but up against it from the draw this weekend but not completely out of it in our view. In her favour is the fact she can do work and still run those big sectionals at the end. Yet to be out of the money in ten starts at three in very strong fields so definite quinella and trifecta chance especially with one Dexter Dunn in the bike. 11) Fight For Glory - Starts 15 - Wins 6 - Seconds 6 - Thirds 0  -  Stakes $217,317 Was the most impressive heat winner by a margin in our opinion but the draw has evened up the contest with Delight Me. Fight For Glory ran home in 54.9 on Saturday night and Natalie didn't even pull the ear plus or the sliding blinds so you would think there was still plenty in the tank. Appears to be right in the zone at the moment and has an all round game so the draw while bad won't stop her being super competitive. 12) Read About Lexy - Starts 17 - Wins 7 - Seconds 5 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $103,795 Not to sure what to make of her heat run, even now. Got a lovely run last Saturday and was well beaten by Fight For Glory but did fight doggedly for second. Take Fight For Glory out and she went fine so we think she is still a place prospect. Has only finished out of the first three once in seventeen starts so even from the ten hole has to be a first four player Selections A two horse war for us with Delight Me and Fight For Glory the two we couldn't separate. If anyone else is going to spoil the party and split these two in our view it will be Delightful Lana and after that there is a swag who you should consider for trifectas and first fours. We would include Rebel Diamond, Lovelist, Makes Every Scents, Du Vella and Read About Lexy Harnesslink Media

The All Stars barn principals Natalie and Mark probably have to check each morning at the moment just to see which country they are in. The duo travel between Christchurch, Sydney and Auckland so much at the moment that it must make their heads spin at times. Mark will spend  this week in Sydney preparing the team for the big day at Menangle on Sunday. Natalie is already back in Christchurch after her big night at Sydney preparing the team for meetings at Addington and Auckland. Natalie will head to Auckland on Friday and then over to Sydney after the Auckland meeting. Natalie will take the drives on all of their runners on Sunday including Adore Me. The Auckland based team at the moment is under the care of Duane Marfisi and Tim Williams. Natalie was pleased with how things panned out on Saturday night at Menangle "We were especially happy that the Sydney team had a really good hitout because it is such a testing track and nearly all of them needed a strong race." "Isaiah  thrilled me with his run." I thought with his lack of recent racing if he got fourth even with that run in a race that quick he was doing well and he did better than that." "Mark was very pleased with Adore Me as you might think." "Isaiah's draw in the Chariots is quite a good one without having had time to analyse the form." "But he will improve heaps with the run." "Hug The Wind and Fight For Glory were both great." "Hug the Wind has drawn one." "I would have preferred two to four to be honest but we will take one." Fight For Glory has a tough draw but she is at the top of her game and she can tough it and still sprint home so it could have been worse." " They were all good," Natalie said. Its hard to comprehend at times how many top horses are part of the All Star barn but this weekend is a good example of their depth of talent. On Friday night they will line up serious winning chances in the Great Northern Oaks and City Of Auckland Free For All before heading to Sydney where they have big chances in the New South Wales Derby, Oaks, Ladyship Mile and Chariots Of Fire. Harnesslink Media

The draws for four of the big harness racing features at next Sunday's huge Interdominion Grand Final day at Menangle were done this morning and we have added some brief comments on how the favoured runners have fared. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 FORM 700 Chariots Of Fire was conducted this morning. 1. MISTER JAY CEE 2. IAM MR BRIGHTSIDE 3. BLING IT ON 4. ALTA JEROME 5. OUR SKY MAJOR 6. ISAIAH 7. EL FUEGO                                         EMERGENCY 2 8. YANKEE ROCKSTAR 9. ALL EYES ON US 10. MESSINI 11. ALLELUIA                                          EMERGENCY 1 12. HECTORJAY JAY The draw has really turned this race into a three way battle with the two Kiwis Our Sky Major and Isaiah drawn slightly worse than Bling It On but both the Kiwis can probably do a bit a bit more work than Bling It On which sets it up as an intriguing contest The Belinda McCarthy trained Bling It On has firmed into favourite with TAB.COM.AU after the draw and is now $3.00.  New Zealander pair Isaiah and Our Sky Major hold the second line of betting at $3.50. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 CAMARDA & CANTRILL NSW DERBY was conducted this morning. 1. HUG THE WIND 2. KILCULLEN 3. ART UNION 4. BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET               EMERGENCY 2 5. SLUGGEM 6. LETS CUT LOOSE 7. CORPORAL LUNA 8. SPORTY SPOOK 9. PADRISIMO 10. IDEAL FOR REAL 11. AZTEC BROMAC 12. SPARE ME DAYS                               EMERGENCY 1 After the draw this really looks like Hug The Winds race to lose. Art Union from the draw looks the only real chance to roll the favourite with the other two horses from the heats that really impressed in Ideal For Real and Aztec Bromac both having their work cut out from the draw The Mark Purdon trained Hug The Wind dominates the market and is currently a $1.65 chance with TAB.COM.AU after the draw.  Art Union and Ideal For Real are the equal second favourites and are $4.20 chances. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 FORM 700 NSW Oaks was conducted this morning. 1. DELIGHT ME 2. REBEL DIAMOND 3. WHITERSHADEOFPALE                     EMERGENCY 1 4. LOVELIST 5. BBS INSPIRATION                             EMERGENCY 2 6. MAKES EVERY SCENTS 7. BUTTERFLY PRINCESS 8. SMOOTH SHOWGIRL 9. DU VELLA 10. DELIGHTFUL LANA 11. FIGHT FOR GLORY 12. READ ABOUT LEXY The barrier has really opened up this race. After the heats Fight For Glory looked very hard to beat but the draw has certainly fallen the way of her main challenger in Delight Me with barrier one and with Fight For Glory out at nine it is too hard to call. From the heats last night both Delighful Lana and Du Vella look an outside chance with runs to suit but it is hard to go past the favoured pair TAB.COM.AU has reopened the market for the NSW Oaks with joint favourites for the event.  The Emma Stewart trained Delight Me and the Mark Purdon prepared Fight For Glory are $2.50.  Delightful Lana and Du Vella sit on the next line of betting at $7.50 The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 CORDINA CHICKEN FARMS LADYSHIP MILE was conducted this morning. 1. FRITH 2. PAS ULTIMATE DELIGHT 3. DYNAMITE DENN NEE                 EMERGENCY 2 4. BEAUTY SECRET 5. MAJOR FOXY STYX 6. TACT HAYLEYS DELIGHT 7. LATERRON                                  EMERGENCY 1 8. COURAGEOUSNQUICK 9. RATHMORE LADY 10. PEMBERTON SHARD 11. ELUSIVE CHICK 12. ADORE ME Before the draw this looked an Adore Me benefit but with her at ten and Frith at barrier one the race all of a sudden has become a real competitive affair. Adore Me got beaten from the same visitors draw last year but she is certainly a bigger and better mare this year. Weather she can give Frith such an advantage and still beat her is the $64,000 question TAB.COM.AU suggests the Ladyship Mile is a two horse race. In a classic Trans-Tasman battle Mark Purdon’s super mare Adore Me is the $1.80 favourite despite the wide draw while the Australian mare Frith trained by Bruce Harpley is the second favourite and priced at $2.50. The Gr. 1 barrier draws for the Bohemia Crystal Free For All and Trotters Standing Start will be conducted on Monday morning at the offices of HRNSW. Harnesslink Media

Well known New Zealand harness racing trainer Cran Dalgety would probably tell you that Australia is his second home due to him spending so much time there. Due to the continuing success that Cran is having in major races in Australia, it is only natural that he trains horses for several owners who call Australia home. One of those horses is the smart three year old filly Delightful Lana who is owned by BJF Bloodstock which is managed by the Melbourne based Brendan James and his wife Anne. Purchased out of the New Zealand Premier sale in 2013 for $26,000, Delightful Lana finished midfield in several of the fillies classics in New Zealand at two but has really come into her own this season at three with several stylish wins. Those wins encouraged Cran to bring her to Sydney for the New South Wales Oaks heats tonight at Menangle and she didn't let the team down with a stylish victory in the fourth and last heat. Miss Riviera Belle and Lauren Panella flew the gate to lead early from the outside barrier while Dexter Dunn slotted Delighful Lana into the one by one early from barrier five. Content to sit there through the first 1500 metres, Dexter came out three wide at the 900 metres and found the death seat alongside Miss Riviera Belle as they passed the 800 metres mark. As they turned for home Dexter got a break on the field and although Rebel Diamond  and Anthony Butt closed late, Delightful Lana held on for a deserved victory. Delightful Lana paced the 2400 metres in 2:55.8, a mile rate of 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 56.6 and 28.6. While Fight For Glory was super impressive winning her heat earlier in the night, Delightful Lana did enough tonight to suggest she will be a serious challenger to the favourite in the final on Sunday week. Harnesslink Media 

It was hard to get any consensus among harness racing scribes this week about which filly would come out on top in the second heat of the New South Wales Oaks tonight at Menangle. Punters also had trouble sorting the field out with several runners at single figure odds. The Belinda McCarthy trained Makes Every Scents was the shortest of those in single figures and worked her way to the front from barrier seven for driver Luke McCarthy. There was no real mid race pressure with the well supported CC Chevron content to sit outside the leader and control the tempo. Passing the 400 metres mark Luke let the brakes off and Makes Every Scents shot clear as they straightened for the run home. CC Chevron didn't kick on and it was left to Du Vella with Anthony Butt in the bike to storm home late from midfield to make a race of it but Du Vella came up short by half a neck at the finishing line. A daughter of Four Starzzz Shark, Makes Every Scents is from the former smart Holmes Hanover mare in  Scent 1:57.9 ($122,082) Makes Every Scents paced the 2400 metres in 2:57.1, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 27.8. This heat was run over three seconds slower than the first heat won by Delight Me and both Makes Every Scents and Du Vella are going to need to lift to be serious winning chances in the Oaks final on Sunday week. Harnesslink Media 

The old adage in harness racing of breeding the best to the best to get the best was never more evident than in the win of Delight Me in the first New South Wales Oaks heat at Menangle tonight. They don't come any better bred than Delight Me with the daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight having the former great racemare Cornsilk 1:52 ($555,046) as her dam. The Emma Stewart trained filly was settled midfield in the running line by leading reinsman Gavin Lang and there she stayed until the 600 metres mark where Gavin tipped her three wide. Looming up to the leaders on the corner, Delight Me quickly put the issue beyond doubt and didn't have to be driven out to record a stylish victory. Delight Me won with so much ease that it is hard to see any of the minor placegetters in this heat playing a major part in the New South Wales Oaks on Sunday week. Delight Me paced the 2400 metres in a quick 2:54.1, a mile rate of 1:56.7 with closing sectionals of 56.2 and 27.9 Cornsilk was purchased by leading Western Australian breeder Robert Watson while still in North America and brought back to Australia to breed from. It is a very expensive excercise to undertake and following her return Robert has sold all her progeny through the yearling sales and in our view deserves any success that comes his way. Harnesslink Media

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones is considering the $A200,000 New South Wales Oaks for exciting harness racing filly Rocker Band. The NSW Oaks have $A20,000 heats scheduled at Menangle on February 21, with the final on March 1. Greg Brodie (Queensland owner) is keen on her to go for it,” said trainer Mark Jones. “First, we have to see if we pay the late payment for the Nevele R Fillies Series. We’ll be guided by Ricky (May’s) thoughts but it looks like we’ll pay it,” he said. Rocker Band, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner (1:55.1, 17 wins & $684,580), was surprisingly beaten into second first-up on a slushy track at Winton by Rakarolla in a 1:57.9 mile. However, she was much too good in a C0 fillies and mares pace at Invercargill on Thursday, January 15,  starting a hot $1.40 favourite, despite a tricky inside back row draw. Driver Ricky May eased her out from three back on the markers to stride clear at the 1600m and she was always in control from that point. Rocker Band lifted her work rate from the home turn to dash away by 4 1/4 lengths from Leola’s Delight (three back) and Thinking Smart (trail) to win in 2:47.5 (2:02.6 mile rate for the mobile 2200m. The winner quickened over her last 800m in 57.6s and her final 400m in 27.6s. Rocker Band is a half-sister to Peruvian Banner (1:52.1, US), Stunin Banner (11 wins, 1:59.5) and Return to Sender (four wins, 1:57.4 rate, 2400m). Her dam Mainland Banner, the only 4YO mare to have won the NZ Cup, was sold by Cullen Breeding in 2010 to Australian Glenferrie Farm owner Peter Chambers, for $135,000 at an Addington dispersal sale. Also the 2005 NZ Oaks winner and runnerup in an Auckland Cup, Mainland Banner can only leave foals by embryo transfer. Mr Chambers, who bred Rocker Band and her half-sister Glenferrie Classic (by Bettor’s Delight), before taking her to Australia two years ago, subsequently sold Rocker Band to Mark Jones. Glenferrie Classic also changed hands, being purchased by a group of NZ owners last year, including Gavin Saunders, who raced the ill-fated 1989 New Zealand Cup winner, Inky Lord. Mark Jones then passed Rocker Band on to fellow major Australian stable client, Greg Brodie, as a replacement for Ultimate CC, after the latter failed to fulfill her initial promise even though Ultimate CC did win a Nevele R Fillies Consolation. Mark qualified Rocker Band at Rangiora on April 7, winning in a smart 2:31.7 (mobile 2000m), from other smart fillies and subsequent 3YO filly winners in Storm Maguire, Whitershadeofpale (now unbeaten in four NSW starts and a 1:53.9 Menangle miler) and Maritime Arden. He then gave her time out with the prospect of developing into a classic 3YO. Meanwhile, last season’s Trotter of the Year Master Lavros will now miss the Glenferrie Challenge (also to be run on March 1) and be set for another Rowe Cup on April 24 after returning to work on Monday. By Jeff Scott - Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables  

Popular harness racing trainer Paul Fitzpatrick has set his sights on the upcoming Breeders Challenge finals and is hoping to continue the success he enjoyed last year. Fitzpatrick prepared talented mare Obahma Joy to win the four year old mares' division twelve months ago and believes his leading chances come in the shape of two other well performed fillies. "The stable has been running very well this season, we just missed 100 winners last season but with more than two months of this season to go we should get to 100 this time around," Fitzpatrick said. "Sally Fletcher is probably my leading Breeders Challenge hope, she should have finished closer in the Bathurst Gold Tiara and was impressive winning a heat last week but Ocean Diva has her fair share of ability too and I have another couple ready for the semis as well." Ocean Diva finished second in the New South Wales Oaks behind the David Kennedy trained Shes A Runa and has been in great form since winning three consecutively. "Ocean Diva is eligible for the Breeders Crown as well and we were considering going to Queensland for the Oaks but she still has a lot to learn and that's my only little concern with her. When she learns what it is all about she is going to get better I think." "Lenny The Legend is another one I'm hoping will get through to the Breeders Challenge, he has only had the three starts but he is an improver and he has come a fair way in a very short time. We will probably geld him before we turn him out and I think he is going to make a nice horse." Last season was the first one in recent memory when Fitzpatrick failed to get 100 winners. "It was a very slow start for my stable this season but the winners have started to flow. I'm still working the same size team as I did so nothing much has changed, just the results have improved a little bit." By Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |  

Art Union should not be lining up for career start number two in the Resource Recycling Technologies NZ $8,000 Pace for 2-year-olds at Addington Raceway on Saturday. In fact he should have been retired long before his racing career started. Trainer Cran Dalgety said the well-bred Art Major colt could easily have been wandering around in a paddock now retired from what he termed a “one in a million” injury. “He could have been racing for us three months ago, but we lost valuable ground with him. If you raced a thousand times you wouldn’t see what happened to the poor buggar in a trial at Ashburton back in December. “He was in the one-one and the parked horse came back on him and he got his foot stuck up in the cart and fractured his hock,” Dalgety said. Vets then told the West Melton horseman there was little or no chance of Art Union ever racing again. They did toy with operating and putting a screw in his leg but Dalgety opted against it. “I told the vets if he was out in the wild he wouldn’t be able to get operated on, so we just swum him. It’s a bit of a miracle but time, swimming, and Mother Nature have cured it,” Dalgety said. “Well fingers crossed it’s cured. He’s shown no signs of distress and has bounced back well from his win the other night,” he added. Art Union won his Motukarara Workout on April 5 and then his Rangiora Trial two days later before making a winning debut at Addington Raceway last Friday (April 11). The brown colt was backed into a $3.20 favourite and never looked like losing the $8,000 Spectators Bar & Bistro Open ‘Til Late Mobile Pace. He won the 1950m mobile by 1-1/4 lengths in 2:24.2. Mile rate: 1:58.9. last 800m: 57.2. Last 400m: 27.4. Art Union was eased back early, improved to be parked at the 900m and then drew clear inside the closing 100m proving too strong for Dana Duke (Gavin Smith) and Abbey Cullen (Stephen McNally). “His dam Sparks A Flyin (21 wins and $627,218) was a very good horse winning several big races here and was a New South Wales Oaks winner. She also went 1:51 in America. She was also 3yo Filly-Of-The-Year and just keeps popping them out for the Wakefields (owners and breeders),” Dalgety said. Art Union is a half-brother to earlier classy performers, Diomedes (1:57.5), Empyrean (1:56.2), Bettor’s Fire (1:57.4) and Safedra (1:56.3). Last Friday he became the fifth sub 2:00 winner from Sparks A Flyin (1:52). Dalgety said he would race him in the Sires Stakes heat at Addington after this weekend’s mission, and if he still didn’t have enough money in the bank he could possibly head north to qualify for the 2yo Emerald Final at the Harness Jewels meeting at Cambridge Raceway on May 31. “He’d be right up there with some of the best colts I’ve trained. He has really bulked up since coming back from his injury. He now looks like a 3-year-old. “He’s a tall and long legged creature. Almost thoroughbred like. He’s certainly no flash in the pan,” Dalgety said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Riverina filly Shes A Runa caused a massive upset when taking out the Form 700 New South Wales $200,000 Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. The daughter of Jeremes Jet was given a gun run by local reinsman Jarrod Alchin behind the leader, the highly-fancied My Willow, and obtained an inside run to take out the Group One in 1:59.1. At odds of $25.50, Shes A Runa held out the fast-finishing Ocean Diva ($55.70), who was a half-head away in second with early leader My Willow a little over a metre away in third. The second favourite Nike Franco struck trouble in the home straight when locked between runners and driver Chris Alford did his best to control the filly and not let her fall. Subsequently the pair finished last. High-priced winners seem to be the order of the day with Little Red Cloud taking out the first at $18.70 and stablemate Essbee Doubleyou winning the second at juicy odds of $19.60 with the NSW TAB. Harness Racing NSW

The Form 700 NSW Oaks is shaping as a showdown between New Zealand and Victoria after their two hotshots drew perfectly for tomorrow week’s $200,000 final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Victorian Nike Franco (Chris Alford) and My Willow (Natalie Rasmussen) staged a two-horse donnybrook over the concluding stages before Nike Franco hung on to win heat two of the NSW Oaks preludes at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. But Chris Alford had to drive desperately on the daughter of McArdle to hold off My Willow, although stewards entered a protest for possible interference to the runner-up over the concluding stages, which was dismissed after a half-hour hearing. Alford was also successful in heat one of the Oaks when Quick Draft ran down Mindarie Priddy in the shadows of the post to score an exciting win, leaving Alford with the perfect problem – which filly to drive in the final. Final field for the Form 700 NSW Oaks is: Nike Franco My Willow Mindarie Priddy Shes A Runa  Whereibylong Red Hot Toddy Quick Draft Joys A Babe (EM2) Spicy Stride Distant Memory Bettors Package (EM1) Ocean Diva Harness Racing New South Wales ARGENT STAKES FORM 700 NSW OAKS HEAT ONE FRITH FORM 700 NSW OAKS HEAT TWO

Harness racing trainer / driver Mark Purdon could be excused for having a bit on his mind this week. There were the yearling sales, where he secured about 15 new babies to join the country's most powerful stable. And there's the small matter of planning a five group-one race assault on next week's Inter Dominion carnival in Sydney, headlined by Smolda and Adore Me. But for a few hours tonight Purdon will allow himself to become a spectator watching his early raiders at Alexandra Park in the countdown to Auckland Cup week. Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen have three runners there tonight, all to be handled by Blair Orange as the boss has chosen to stay home and drive at Methven. But he expects all three to be highly competitive and hopefully kickstart a successful weekend.   Rocknroll Arden starts the night in the Oaks trial and even allowing for the class of her northern opponents she will be close to favourite after finishing second to Venus Serena in a national record 1:52.2 mile at Ashburton last start. "She is a good filly and races well at Alex Park so she will go close, even though Snooki is a good filly and there is a bit of depth there," said Purdon. He sends debut-winning juvenile Jay Dub north for the last heat of the Young Gun series, with the youngster having some historical pressure on his back. He was bred by, and named in honour of, the late Jack Smolenski, one of harness racing's great trainers who had a spectacular record at Alexandra Park. "He is a lovely horse, although probably not as advanced as my best juvenile Follow The Stars at this stage," says Purdon. "But it looks like we have got him into a good heat for him and he can win providing he has some luck from that wide draw." While both horses will have strong support, Purdon rates Bonechip in the last race his best chance of the night. "He is actually better right-handed which is one reason he is up there," says Purdon. "And with the small field he is going to be hard to beat." Purdon will then turn his attention to Menangle tomorrow night where Willow and Isaiah need only to finish top five in their heats to qualify for the New South Wales Oaks and Derby respectively. Willow is unbeaten but meets exciting Victorian filly Nike Franco so faces a big test, while Isaiah has drawn the weaker of the two Derby heats. "He needed his run at Addington last week and is ready for a good hit out this week before the Derby," Purdon says. Purdon will take champion mare Adore Me to Addington for a private workout on Monday before she heads to Sydney with Smolda on Tuesday, where they will join up with tomorrow night's starters as well as Border Control. That should see the stable with five fancied runners in group one races worth A$1,550,000 on Sunday week. Both Smolda and Adore Me have been nominated for the Auckland Cup so could return to Alexandra Park for the great race five days later. "I will wait to see what happens on that Sunday before making that decision." Smolda is shortened to be joint favourite for the A$750,000 Inter Dominion Final, for which the barrier draw will be held on Monday morning. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald  

After a stunning Victoria Derby heat win on Saturday night by his star pacer Bling It On, owner Harvey Kaplan was left speechless and is now counting down the hours to Saturday night's Gr. 1 final. It will be the first time Kaplan has had a starter in a Derby and in his current form Bling It On will be incredibly hard to beat. "His performance on Saturday in the heat was breathtaking, he is simply a once in a lifetime horse, what other horses find impossible to do he makes look easy," Kaplan said. "I'm pretty sure it is the fastest last half ever run at Melton, he did it with the plugs in and while it isn't a major factor, a lot of people forget that he is a late December foal." Kaplan has a very strong band of broodmares and normally concentrates on racing fillies but Bling It On may change all of that. "It would be a dream to have a horse of mine go onto be a successful stallion and I am mindful of not over racing at this stage of his career, it's hard not to get excited by him." While Kaplan will be at Melton to watch Bling It On on Saturday night he admits he will be keeping a close eye on Sky Racing with his talented filly Nike Franco competing in the Raith Memorial. "Team Purple will be out in full force at Melton to support Bling It On in the Victoria Derby but Nike Franco will race at Menangle and she is a pretty good filly, she is very green plus her mum didn't race until she was four so this weekend is by far the toughest test of her career." "On raw ability alone I think she is more talented than Baby Bling was at the same age but she still needs to learn to be a racehorse." Nike Franco is being set for the New South Wales Oaks on Inter Dominion Grand Final day. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Champion harness racing driver Luke McCarthy made it back-to-back Group Ones when six-year-old mare Our Sixpence led all the way to win the Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park's Grand Final today (Sunday March 3)

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