Day At The Track
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Smart types Libertybelle Midfrew and Sheemon both look set for big seasons after not only winning in emphatic style at Timaru’s Phar Lap raceway today, but also posting track records in the process. Getting the wheels rolling, or in this case the records, was the Nigel McGrath trained Libertybelle Midfrew, who looks to have come back bigger and better than ever. Sent forward by driver Matthew Williamson, Libertybelle Midfrew, who was victorious in last season’s 2YO Fillies Yearling Sales Series, worked hard to find the front before getting no peace in the van. However, she still had the audacity to race away from her rivals to win by six lenghts in a super time of 2-25.9 (1-57.3), a new track record for the 2000m journey at Timaru. The three-year-old daughter of Christian Cullen will now head north to Auckland for premier racing in December, where she will be joined by her half sister, Lulli Midfrew, who is also owned by John & Rebecca Mooney. While Libertybelle Midfrew was highly impressive, so was Sheemon who recorded a time of 3-16.5, eclipsing the previous track record by an unbelievable eights seconds. The Kevin Townley trained son of Monarchy was driven by Brett Thomas in a junior drivers’ event meaning that, unfortunately for those who also have C3 trotters in the country, the win came bearing no penalty. By Mitchell Robertson

If you are new to racing, but want to back a few winners over the weekend I have got one bit of advice for you – Back all the horses trained by Nigel McGrath. The Weedons based trainer has a strong contingent of horses racing this week, spread between Timaru on Saturday and Motukarara on Sunday. Kicking off what should be a great weekend for the McGrath stable is All Cash who, despite his form line which is made up of three duck eggs, is one of McGrath’s best chances of the weekend. “He is a lot better than his form indicates, and he has trialled up super since he last raced,” confirms McGrath. “If he gets things right, I expect him to be very hard to beat.” Next to do battle for McGrath is smart two-year-old filly of last season Libertybelle Midfrew. “It is not going to be easy for her fresh-up in that field but, in saying that, she does have a bit of the X-factor so that may just get her over the line. “She is going to head North after this for the premier racing there in December,” he added. Also sporting the blue colours with a white star on Saturday at Timaru is unbeaten pacer Strawbs Ideal Act, and McGrath expects him to remain that way. “His bloods were out, so I scratched him from the Graduation Final on Cup Day,” revealed McGrath. “I don’t think he was dead right when he won his Graduation heat at Rangiora either, but he seems good now,” he added. “You would think only bad luck, or bad manners, would get him beat on Saturday.” On Sunday McGrath will unleashed five-pronged attack at Motukarara, with two of them looking clear standouts. “Both Ultimate Major and Burning are nice horses who look standouts on paper. I’d be surprised if they don’t both win,” said a bullish McGrath. The former, Ultimate Major, who is currently under offer for big money, was an emphatic debut winner at Rangiora and, to me, looks an absolute shots eye. By Mitchell Robertson

Blue colours and white stars were once again to the fore today at Rangiora, but this time they were the colours of Nigel McGrath and not Mark Purdon. The Weedons trainer combined with driver Anthony Butt for wins with Ultimate Major, Strawb’s Ideal Act, and Burning, while Butt was also successful on the Mark Jones trained Major Sam, giving him a Quaddie. The giant Stawb’s Ideal Act, who worked overtime and still proved too strong at the finish in a mile rate of 1-58.8, will now go forward to the C1 Graduation Final on Cup Day, where he has come up with an unfavourable draw of 16, while Burning, who was also a good winner, will contest the C0 Graduation Final on Show Day. But, perhaps McGrath’s most impressive winner of the day was Ultimate Major, who steered clear of the graduation series and instead gave a weaker bunch of maidens a seven and a half length hiding. The impressive three-year-old was one of two winners for young sire Major In Art, the other was Major Sam, who was also driven to success by Anthony Butt. Below is the field for the C1 Graduation Final on Cup Day made up of the first four horses in each of the three heats:   Race 2 [12:25pm] HYDROFLOW GRADUATION SERIES FINAL (MOBILE PACE)  $20,000, 3YO & OLDER C1 TO C2, 1950m    Racebook    Gear     For C1 to C2 3yo-&-older pacers. For Horses who contested the C1 Graduation Series Heats at the Rangiora HRC Meeting on Thursday, 7th November 2013 Book Form     Name Draw Hdcp Driver Comment 1 352944     Fiery Lustre 1 Ft   Did okay late at Rangiora on Thursday but some here look a bit smarter. 2 1X1323     Pacquiao 2 Ft Ken Barron Another tidy effort on Thursday but below his top standard. E/w claims. 3 30X433     Lumos 3 Ft John Dunn Lost no friends with his effort for 3rd on Thursday. Winning claims. 4 X17526     Irish Kath 4 Ft   Never fired at Rangiora on Thursday. Looking to others in this field. 5 30X893     Bona Ventura 5 Ft   Was seen doing some good work late on Thursday but luck needed here. 6 12     Jack Black 6 Ft Dexter Dunn Gave then plenty to think about in front on Thursday. Well worth a look. 7 907X36     Beaudiene Brilliance 7 Ft   Safely held in his heat at Ranng. Hard to see him turning things around. 8 1X5411     Major Sam 8 Ft   Aided by a brilliant Anthong Butt drive on Thursday. Eachway claims. 9 104332     Raesawinner 9 Ft Blair Orange Only collared late at Rangiora on Thursday. Has claims but horror draw. ---------------------------- Second Line ---------------------------- 10 521X41     Major Moment 10 Ft Gavin Smith Tidy heat winner on Thursday but this looks to be a tricky draw. 11 222735     Handlebar Hank 11 Ft Jamie Keast   12 1244     Burning Ambition 12 Ft     13 1X1552     Mach's Gladiator 13 Ft Brett Thomas(J)   14 14     Boltmaro 14 Ft     15 3X5135     Highview Highlander 15 Ft Colin DeFilippi   16 11     Strawb's Ideal Act 16 Ft     By Mitchell Robertson

After twelve days of holiday in balmy Bali, there is plenty to recap. So, here goes... *Wastney knocks down six figures Marlborough based -owner, Brian Wastney, has slammed down a six figure offer for the impressive Rangiora winner (August 18) Strawbs Ideal Act.   The tall four-year-old son of American Ideal was going to, as his trainer-driver Nigel McGrath put it, “Hurt them!” before he scrambled and lost 20 metres at the 250 metre mark. Yet he still managed to regain his composure and power home for 1 & ¾ lengths win over capable maiden, Vice Chairman. The skip was put down to his hopples being too long for the easy track conditions. The offer is said to have been made by a prominent Queensland owner. The impressive type will now line up next week in a Junior Drivers event, where he will attempt to give Nicole Harris her first win. *First driving win for Matt Anderson Junior reinsman, Matthew Anderson, claimed his first winner at the same Rangiora meeting in what was just his second raceday drive.  His first drive resulted in a second on the same horse that gave him win number one – Highview Ember. The 21-year-old, who has got no family involvement in the sport, got into racing through some of his class mates at St Thomas of Canterbury College. His early education in racing was with former Amateur Driving Champion, Gavin Cook, before spending two years with Dean Taylor. When Robbie Close changed stables nine months ago and went to Greg & Nina Hope’s, Anderson took the vacancy he left at Robbie Holmes. “Robbie and Carla are great to work for and have taught me a lot.” “I also owe a big thank you to Highview Ember’s owners Hamish Scott & Kim Lawson. It wasn’t actually a Junior Drivers race so it was very good of them to give me the opportunity.” Anderson was also thankful to his sponsor, major galloping owner, Ray Coupland. *NZ bets of the week ring-around/ Keeping Up Joneses: To the writers of the dozens of emails we received regarding the disappearance of these two segments – don’t threat! They will both be back next week. *For the record: The last ring-around produced six winners and two quinellas. The biggest win divvy came courtesy of Simon Lawson and Surreal Moment ($10.80). While the quinella with Josh Dickie’s tip, Hezadoo Early, returned a tidy $23.70. *Greater Canterbury AGM 2013 A small but select group of members attended the recent AGM of the Greater Canterbury Branch, along with Edward Rennell and Andrew Morris from HRNZ. Subjects discussed included handicapping, turnover, nominations, and opportunities for fillies and mares and lower grade trotters. A suggestion that four year-old awards be handed out for the past season was also made. As reported previously Anthony has decided to stand down as Chairman of the Greater Canterbury Branch, and Ken Barron was voted in to replace him. Anthony’s' shoes will be very difficult ones to fill; he has been extremely active and pro-active as Chairman, both in the public eye and behind the scenes, being part of numerous Committees on a wide range of matters, and handling countless other issues and dramas that have cropped up during the years of his tenure. He has graciously agreed to continue to be part of the Committee, and will no doubt contribute much more in the future. To the read Peter Cook’s full report on the meeting on the NZ Harness Racing Trainers & Drivers Association website click here. by Mitchell Robertson

Nigel McGrath is going into the Harness Jewels with plenty of confidence. After all, his horse did just break the 2600m New Zealand three-year-old record of none other than Auckland Reactor.

Oamaru junior driver Matthew Williamson has driven 86 winners this harness racing season but he rated his 87th victory at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday April 26) as the highlight of 2012-2013.

Onedin Mach and Crusader Banner both went into yesterday’s (Sunday April 14) two-year-old race at Winton with big reputations but it was the Nigel McGrath trained son of Mach Three who came out on top.

It may have taken Democracy ten starts to win his first race, but the Nigel McGrath trained 4yo looks like he has well and truly hit his straps now. Today's (Wednesday February 6) $18,000 harness racing feature was the son of Christian Cullen's fifth career win and fourth in his last eleven starts.

West Melton trainer Nigel McGrath will be looking for a New Zealand Yearling Sales Series double when he lines up Allura and Sunday Girl in the $175,000 3yo fillies' harness racing feature on Friday night at Addington.

Classiesistar in one word was 'astonishing'. The rich PGG/Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 3YO Final worth $225,000 attracted a stunning field of harness racing pacers on New Year's Eve at Alexandra Park but one shone above the pack that being the Nigel McGrath trained colt by Christian Cullen.

They say that patience is rewarded in time, and that just may be the case with the Nigel McGrath trained Classiesistar, who was ultra impressive taking out tonight's (Friday October 26) sixth and final harness racing heat of the NRM Sires Stakes. The victory made it four wins from as many starts.

It was smiles all round for harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath and his trusty side-kick Megan McIntyre at tonight's (Thursday) Addington meeting when the pair combined to win two races on the program.

The Paul McCartin trained MC Blizzard looks to be a nice trotter in the making judging by his performance at New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club's harness racing meeting held at Addington Raceway tonight October 9th (Saturday).

High flying harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath has someone to thank for his ongoing success over recent weeks other than his own abilities as a horseman and that of his race stock. McGrath has the services of stable foreman Megan McIntyre to lean on.

The Templeton stable of harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath has been running hot over the past few weeks with the experienced horseman winning eight races in the space of 10 days.

Former 'Young Guns' champion Anvils Best Ever stamped his mark as one of harness racing's major players in the up-coming Sires Stakes Final on Cup Day, with an authoritive victory in heat five of the Sires Stakes series at Addington Raceway tonight (Friday).

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