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Harness racing up-and-comer Turn It Up has remarkably won the Gr1 $250,000 2018 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at only his ninth start. He had to be good to win the race too after a somewhat slow beginning and also being trapped wide for the first 700m. In the end the Courage Under Fire gelding was simply too fast with trainer/driver Mark Purdon sending the speedy 4yo around to the front and dominating for the rest of the race. A very slick last 800m cut out in 54.3 seconds meant game over for the rest of the field with Star Galleria and Tony Herlihy getting closest albeit more than a length from the winner at the line. Mark Purdon said after the race he was always keen to bring him to Auckland at some stage as the horse paces better the Auckland way around.. "When he ran second in the Free For All at Addington that really impressed me and knowing he was a better pacer this way around that sealed it," he said. "We might take him to Australia later, he is still eligible for the Vic Bred series but we will see how he comes through this race before making any decisions.  "There is plenty here for him with the Taylor mile and the Jewels so we will see how it pans out,"  Turn It Up paced the 3200m from a stand in 4-03.0 and the winning margin was one and a half lengths. _______________________________________________________________________ Massive Metro caused a boilover of epic preportions beating the race favourite Marcoola in the Gr1 $96,000 Sims Pacific Metals 2018 National Trot at Alexandra Park tonight. In doing so the 5yo Muscle Mass gelding shaved 0.2 of a second of the New Zealand set by Stig in this race in 2012. Trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett got a huge thrill winning the race as they also trained Paris Metro the dam of Massive Metro to win the same race back in 2004. An emotional Todd Mitchell gave credit to the trainers for supporting him with drives and also for correcting the bad manners the horse had at his last start at Cambridge. "He is a very exciting trotter. "I am not sure what happened last start at Cambridge, but Bernie and Michelle have done a great job with him and rectified that," he said after the race. "He felt so much happier right handed. "When they backed off I thought this is my chance and if we are going to get the front we will get it now. "In the end he had to come off Marcoola's back to beat him so it shows this guy has got a bit of heart." The race was run in 3-21.1 with a final 800m in 57.4 and the last 400m in 29.2 seconds _________________________________________________________________________ Wow how good is he? Ultimate Sniper remained unbeaten winning his sixth race from six starts in tonights $195,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Open final for 3yo pacers. Any questions asked that Ultimate Sniper may not hold the lead off the gate were quickly answered by a flick with the reins from driver Natalie Rasmussen and the imposing son of Bettor's Delight blasted off the gate to lead easily. With no attackers mid race Ultimate Sniper was able to reel off a sizzling last 800m in 54.5 seconds and win easing down by more than three lengths from stable mate Another Masterpiece. Rasmussen had no doubts Ultimate Sniper could hold the lead. "He is just a natural high speed horse. "A lot of these good horses have that high speed and he has just got instant speed so the other horses have to be extra good to get near him at the start," she said post race. The overall time for the 2200m mobile was a quick 2-39.8 and Ultimate Sniper zipped over his last 400m in 26.4 seconds. Top sire Bettor's Delight sired the first three horses in the race a feat he achieved two more times during the night. ________________________________________________________________________ Speedy filly Belle Of Montana made it four wins from five starts when she won the $150,000 Gr1 Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Championship by a narrow margin. Driver Zachary Butcher gave the Barry Purdon trained 3yo a lovely run three deep on the fence and produced her wider at the turn to rush home down the middle of the track to grab the leader Wainui Creek by the barest of noses. "You can not take it away from her, she has won four out of her last five starts now," Butcher said after the win. "She is a filly with high speed and to be competitive against these better ones you need that. "When I pulled her out at the bend and straightened her up she really drove to the line when the plugs came out," he said. Belle Of Montana ((Bettor's Delight - Lady Cullen) ran the mobile 2200m in 2-40.6 with a closing 800m in 57.0 and the final 400m in 27.3 seconds.   _________________________________________________________________________ The Paul Court trained 2yo Mach Da Vinci has dominated the second heat of the Breckon Farms Young Gun Series leading all the way and winning comfortably by a length over the 1700m mobile. A sensation shortly after the start of the race saw the raging hot favourite Smooth Deal go in to an uncontrolled gallop and lose his chance in the race with a stunned Mark Purdon saying after the race he was not sure what caused the $1.05 favourite to break stride. Mach Da Vinci was driven confidently by Joshua Dickie and paced the 1700m journey in a sedate 2-06.4 with a quicker last 800m on 57.6 and a closing 400m in 27.8 seconds. The mile rate was 1-59.6 Mach Da Vinci (Art Major - Mach's Love) is a half brother to the two win 3yo pacer Stun Gun who ran third in a heat of the Young Gun Series last year.   Harnesslink Media

Todays harness racing Pick Six at Winton looks to have a couple of easier legs with some classy Canterbury horses heading down to try to pick up the spoils at Central Southland Raceway. Canterbury trainer Paul Court again has several horses entered for todays meeting with the two win pacer Stickman a top chance in the fourth leg of Pick Six after an unlucky run last start in Southland last start. His first starter Mongolian Warrior also has winning claims in the first leg of Pick Six, after some good trial performances in the Canterbury region. Woodend beach trainer Regan Todd has two horses engaged at the meeting, with Vulcans Star and Ready To Bloom both making the trip South. Ready To Bloom looks to be one of the bets of the day in the last leg of Pick Six. The Bettor's Delight 4yo warmed up with a sharp trial at Ashburton two weeks ago where he ran second and closed strongly with a sub 27 second quarter. Drawn handily at barrier two he looks to be the early leader and a good anchor in the last leg of the $25,000 Pick Six. This afternoon the pick six is on Races 3-8 inclusive and guaranteed to $25,000 if struck. Leg 1     Race 4 [3:51pm] Some good horses who have trialed well have their first starts today. Vulcan Star, Mongolian Warrior and Charlton Reactor all have shown promise at their trials and workouts and all are good chances in the first leg of Pick Six. Our top chance however is Paddyproudfoot who ran a stunning last half in 54.5 when running second at the recent workouts on this track behind Mighty Flying Art who is also running in this race. Paddyproudfoot still looks green but he might be too fast for this field if he is handy to the leaders on the turn.   Leg 2     Race 5 [4:17pm] This leg is a very open field of R40 to 55 trotters and take as many as your budget allows. Brian is the TAB favourite and would be a good chance if he steps but he has been making errors in his races. King Cassidy is another who shows ability and also always has support on the tote but is prone to making mistakes.   Leg 3     Race 6 [4:48pm] Another even field here but we have narrowed it down to four horses in this leg. Double Rainbow gets a better draw to work with and is needed along with Bridesdale Robyn, Iwanadancewitsumbody and Zenola's Art.   Leg 4     Race 7 [5:16pm] Stickman stands out in this leg after an unlucky run at his previous start. The Croupier ran second to Stickman at his first ever start and he would be a good backup along with Robyns Playboy who ran third to Stickman and The Croupier in the same race.   Leg 5     Race 8 [5:43pm] An even field of rated R56 and faster pacers made even trickier with the race being from the stand. Ossessione is a quick beginner who could lead here for a long way and he would be our top pick here. Also needed are Bettor Enforce who trialed well recently, Jabali,Benio Ben and Tiziano.    Leg 6     Race 9 [6:15pm]  The final leg looks an ideal race for Ready To Bloom and quite happy to make him our Pick Six anchor today.   Suggested Pick Six   ($36.00 for 10%) Leg 1     3,7,13 Leg 2     4,5,7,15 Leg 3     2,5,7,10 Leg 4     5,9,11 Leg 5     3,6,8,9,11 Leg 6     2   Harnesslink Media    

Shadow Play colt Stick Man delivered on his $1.60 favourites tag when he won the Hanley Formula Mobile Pace at Gore today. Stick Man was bought as a foal by Reg Storer and trainer Paul Court. Storer shares in the ownership with Georgia Bay Limited. He’s out of the Pacific Rocket mare Aziza who is also the dam of quality racehorse Tiger Thompson. “When we bought him we didn’t know too much about Tiger Thompson so it’s worked out to be a good buy really,” Court said. Stick Man qualified in November as a two year old at Ashburton. “I probably could have raced him but I thought we should look after him. We gave him a bit of time out and he’s come back really good.” In today’s race driver Blair Orange positioned the colt nicely on the outside and moved forward to challenge leader Beaudiene Overtake with a lap to run. He was taken to the lead with 600 metres to run and held on to beat The Croupier by three quarters of a length. “I told Blair not to be unlucky because he was good enough to win and he proved that today. The track was a bit testing. He did it pretty easily and Blair said he knocked off when he got to the front. That’s a sign of a nice horse - they know when to go and when to button off. I think we’re not finished with him yet.” Prior to today’s debut he’d been to the trials twice for a first up second followed by a win at Rangiora on the 25th July. Heading back to the birdcage                          - Photo Bruce Stewart  “When my horses go back to the trials for the first time (new season) it’s a building process. Every trial he’s got better. In the last trial we pepped it up a wee bit and ran home. I expect him to improve quite a bit on that run. He’s still quite big and round so we’ve got a bit to work with.” This was also Stick Man’s first real trip away. “I’m going back tonight so it’s going to be a big long trip for him but he’s handling his first trip away really well.” And Court is upbeat about the progress he thinks the horse can make. “I think he’s a very good stayer but he does have speed. The further and the harder they go it’ll be right up his alley.” And he says he’s got a host of three year olds, all maidens, ready to appear at the races. They include Mongolian Cavalry (Mach Three), Mongolian Spear (A Rocknroll Dance) and Mongolian Machete (Art Major). All three were at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. Meanwhile junior driver Chelsea Faithful got her season off to the perfect start when in her first drive for the all conquering Phil Williamson stable, she drove Pyramid Magic to easily win the Brendon Franks Farrier Handicap Trot. Pyramid Magic and Chelsea Faithful winning easily       -photo Bruce stewart It was the eight year old's twelfth win from eighty eight starts. He's owned by Southlanders Steve Hardiman and Neville Hazlett and won his first race on this course in August 2014.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness

Ambro Ameigo has been with a few trainers but none more patient than Knapdale horsewoman Kath O'Connor. She's had the Armbro Invasion gelding for three seasons now and everything went right yesterday at Ascot Park when the seven year old won his first race at start number sixteen.  "A couple of trainers had tried him, sacked him and he was going on the truck to Gore. My daughter Serenity works at Macca Lodge. She liked him and we thought that if he couldn't make it as a trotter he might make a nice hack," she said. So Kath rang the gelding's breeders Maurice Horton, Ray Paterson and Henry Ford to see whether she could take him on. "They were thrilled. Maurice still thanks me for saving him and we've become really good friends."  In yesterdays race Ambro Ameigo began well to lead early before Cuddly Trouble took over. At the 500 metres driver Robin Swain came away from the trail and was up challenging Cuddly Trouble. Ambro Ameigo trotted down to the line to beat a late finishing Our Budd by a length and a quarter.  "Rob (driver Robin Swain) drove him very positively. He stepped good and did everything right. Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.  At his last start he got knocked over. The time before that at Invercargill be was a bit sore in the feet so we've put pads on. He's a super sensitive horse. We've had good weather down here and the tracks have been hard. That's what tripped him up last time so that's why we've gone back to the pads." O'Connor says that when she got the gelding, he lacked confidence. "He's a girls horse and loves his pats and kisses. That's what turned him round. It taken a long time just to win his trust." He's only the second horse O'Connor has trained. The first was Ronnoco which she won three races with (as a trainer). O'Connor's cousin, the late Brian O'Connor, trained horses in the Dunedin area for many years and Kath has taken over his colours. "I said to Brian when he was alive, one day I'll nab those colours and it's his cart that we use too. Brian loved his trotters so he will be thrilled."  O'Connor grew up going to the races at Forbury with her father and when she moved to Southland the late Colin Baynes was her neighbour at Knapdale. "I worked for him for twenty years. Robin (Swain) taught me how to drive and it went from there."    Ambro Ameigo is a very well related gelding. He's out of the Simon Roydon mare Princess Afton which is a half sister to Frances Jay Bee the winner of six races and the dam of One Kenny (19 wins), One Under Kenny (11 wins) and millionaire trotter One Over Kenny (32 wins and $1,098,007). Princess Afton is also a half-sister to Raymauwarrhen Sun the winner of twenty two races. Andrew Stuart has a three year old colt by Monkey Bones out of Princess Afton called Kenny Del and she's about to have a foal by Superfast Stuart.  Meanwhile Eye Candy became the first winner for Christian Cullen sire Stunin Cullen. The three year old filly trained by Paul Court held on to win by a neck to beat Delightful Deal. Returning with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. Eye Candy has a strong Southland connection being out of Have A Look whose dam Private Encounter was bred by Brian Church and Betty Lee. Private Encounter is a half-sister to Pacific Playgirl which won two races here for Wyndham trainer Gordon Lee before winning a further 16 in Australia.  Stunin Cullen which stands at Pinelea Farm in Canterbury has 84 live foals and nine qualifiers. A handful of those qualifiers have recorded placings on race day.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Ambro Ameigo winning his race

Harness racing speedster and now stud stallion Stunin Cullen might get his first winner as a sire, when the Paul Court trained Stunin Love steps out at Invercargill in Race 5 today. Stunin Love (Stunin Cullen - Love To Live) is a half brother to champion pacer Terror To Love a three time New Zealand Cup winner.  The good looking 3yo colt was a beaten favorite last start at Methven when fresh up, and is again a hot favourite to win at Ascot Park this afternoon in the hands of Blair Orange. Part owner Terry McDonald is expecting Stunin Love to go close, and said this morning, "I am confident he can win today and give Stunin Cullen his first win as a sire"  Terry said " I brought Stunin Love back at the sales for $55,000 so hopefully he can do a good job on the racetrack and also give the sire a leg up by winning a few"  "We have sent Stunin Cullen to Australia in a twelve month arrangement with Yirribee Pacing Stud, which could be longer depending on how well received he is over there". Yirree Pacing Stud in New South Wales stood the stallion Courage Under Fire for a short period, until he died earlier this year, and Stunin Cullen is the replacement. Stunin Cullen(Christian Cullen - Vicario) was great horse on the race track winning eighteen races from forty two starts with earnings of $1,493,716. Harnesslink Media

Buster Brady is New Zealand Cup bound and getting fitter by the day, going by his authoritative win in today’s harness racing trial at Ashburton Raceway. The big Real Desire gelding who is nominated for the New Zealand Cup in November, is trained at Weedons by Kyle Austin, and was driven in the trial win today by Blair Orange.   Buster Brady began safely in today’s race and settled last of the five-horse field. Orange started his move from the back at the 900m and sat parked until hitting the go button in the home straight. Buster cruised to the line without being extended in a time of 3-05.6 for the 2400m stand. He ripped home from the 800m in a sizzling 54.7 (hand timed), with the 400m cut out in 26.7. Buster Brady is currently a $51.00 chance for the New Zealand Cup in the TAB fixed odds FF win futures market. Earlier in the day Orange drove a smart 3yo colt called Stunin Love (Stunin Cullen - Love To Live) to victory in impressive fashion. Stunin Love is a half-brother to three-time New Zealand Cup champion Terror To Love. He is owned by Terry McDonald and Eddie Griffin and trained by Paul Court. The speedy colt looked a good horse in the making when he came from three deep on the fence to swamp the leaders in the last 100m to win easily. He ran the 2400m in 3-01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.0 Stunin Love and Blair Orange                                                 Harnesslink Photo   Harnesslink Media

Top harness racing driver Blair Orange is looking to extend his lead in the national drivers premiership at Forbury today (Sunday). Orange leads the drivers premiership with eleven wins this season, one clear of David Butcher who is currently on ten wins. Blair has a good book of drives today and is driving in seven of the nine races programmed at the Forbury track, including all three horses that Canterbury trainer Paul Court has engaged at the meeting. Hypervelocity would be the best of the Court runners today in the last race on the card. The Mach Three five year old ran a good second last start at Kurow and had previously been racing better horses in the Canterbury area. Orange labelled Hypervelocity his best chance this week in the Harnesslink ringaround and he looks a good bet and possible anchor in the $30,000 pick six available today. Last years premiership winner Dexter Dunn is also looking to make up some lost ground, after he missed the first few weeks of the season while he was away at World Drivers Championships in Canada. He also has a good book of drives today and is fresh from winning the Maurice Holmes Vase on Friday night at Addington on the Otago trained Titan Banner. Dexter will retain the drive on Titan Banner in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup in November. Other drivers chances today at Forbury.   Nathan Williamson - Nathan thinks his best chance this week is Scarlett Lane in Race 1 Brad Williamson - Brad says his best drive this week is Get Real on Sunday in Race 4 Sheree Tomlinson - Sheree is going for No More Change as her best drive this week in Race 6 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week is Lorretta Franco also in Race 6 Matthew Williamson - Matthew says his best drive this week would be Articulight in Race 7 Geoff Knight - Geoff says his best chance this week is Fiery Ferret at Forbury in Race 9 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Hypervelocity as his best drive this week also in Race 9   Harnesslink Media

Ideally, a few more would be the perfect result, but even if Paul Court only trains one more winner this season he’ll be a happy man. In just his second season of solo training, the West Melton horseman has drawn level with his debut season tally of wins with 35 victories on the board and four weeks of racing still remaining. That should spell a new personal best by the time August rolls around and Court considers that mission accomplished. “You set out at the start of the season with the goal of going better than the season before,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had a good season again, with some nice horses wearing the colours and doing the job out on the track.” After training in partnership with his father, Graham for seven seasons with close to 100 wins, the pressure was always going to be on the young trainer when he broke out on his own accord. But with 70 winners in his first two seasons and a strong team of horses around him, things are looking pretty bright. “It’s been good to be able to pick up where Dad and I left off in a way, we’d set things in motion and I’ve been able to carry it on which is great.” Incidentally, one of the finds of the season for Court was the horse who registered his 35th victory on Friday night at Addington. And he’s hoping that Malik isn’t finished either. The Somebeachsomewhere colt has now won four of his last five starts and is a horse on the rise. He beat a tidy field of intermediate grade pacers on Friday night showing some impressive qualities in the process. “He’s just getting better and better, I was a wee bit hesitant on Friday because we had taken him off the unruly, but he handled it really well and showed a bit of class against what I thought was a pretty good field. “He’s starting to stand up and show what he’s got now which is great, and the best part is that I think he will just keep getting better. “We’ll press on through the winter with him too, so hopefully he’s not finished.” The other leg of Court’s winning double on Friday night came from Beach Skipper, who took longer to win his first race than anticipated. He’d technically already won a race, but that was a dead-heat at Methven, so Friday’s victory was well overdue. And adding double the delight to the win, was the fact Court did the driving himself. Despite not driving often these days and preferring to leave that job to the likes of Blair Orange and Ricky May, Court has still managed to grab himself a win each season for the past 12 years from very limited opportunities. Matt Markham  

Ruthless Kayla and Paravani qualified for the Harness Jewels at the eleventh hour with wins at Oamaru on Sunday. “The order of qualifiers (based on stake earnings in New Zealand this season for the Jewels has now been finalised and the owners of the top 20 horses in each category have been notified,’’ said Darrin Williams, Racing Manager at Harness Racing New Zealand. Acceptances close on Friday (May 26) at noon with confirmation of the final fields of a maximum of 13 horses for the meeting at Ashburton on Saturday, June 3. One Muscle Hill (2-year-old trotter)and Mr Mojito (4-year-old pacer) are the confirmed Australian invitees and an invitation is still out to Rockstar Angel (4-year-old pacing mare). The 3-year-old trotting filly Ruthless Kayla backed up from finishing third to Enghien and President Roydon in the New Zealand Yearling Sales Final at Addington on Friday, albeit a neck and nine lengths from the winner, who was not at his best on a hard surface. Ruthless Kayla won decisively against three-win horses at Oamaru, her second win. She raced handy and finished a length and a quarter clear of She’s Allthe Craze, who came from four back  on the inner with a neck to Red Hot Poker, whose effort was outstanding after leaving stride at the start and losing some 50m. He is in the 4-year-old section of the Harness Jewels. “She (Ruthless Kayla) just keeps getting better,’’ said Kevin Fairbairn, who trains Ruthless Kayla for Ross Simpson, of Karamea Farm, Leithfield (north Canterbury). Fairbairn bred Ruthless Kayla and sold her for $7000 to Simpson through the 2015 PGG Wrightson premier yearling sale. She is by Muscle Mass from Ruthless Jenny, a Britewell mare who won the listed Greenlane Cup at Alexandra Park in 2005 and finished third in a NZ Trotting Championship. It is the family of Tyrone Scottie, who won the NZ National Trot twice; Clover Don (24 wins) and Clover Mac, winner of the group three Coulter Crown at Melton on Saturday. Fairbairn gave Ruthless Jenny to Simpson in 2014 and the latter has bred a filly by Bacardi Lindy for whom Simpson is the NZ agent for frozen semen. Bacardi Lindy is the sire of Dark Horse, a HJ candidate in the the 4-year-old trotter section. Muscle Mass is the sire of five qualifiers for the 3-year-old trotter section. Fairbairn, who trained Whatsundermykilt (2006 Dominion Handicap), qualified Magical Mel for the 4yr-old pacing section of the Harness Jewels in 2012. Jim Curtin, who won the 4-year-old section of the Harness Jewels in 2012 with Franco Emirate, has  the 2-year-old gelding Paravani, a maiden winner at his third start, Paravani a gelded son of Christian Cullen and Enchanter Franco, was a $10,000 purchase by Curtin in the 2016 premier yearling sale when offered by Paul Renwick. Enchanter Franco is a half sister by Badlands Hanover to Elisit Franco (by Falcon Seelster), the dam of Franco Emirate, who was by Christian Cullen. Franco Emirate won his first eight races. Ewen Pycroft, who is among the eight owners of Paravani, drove trotter Stormy Morn in early wins at Greymouth and Addington in 1979 when a junior driver with the stable of Trevor Thomas. Stormy Morn won 32 races. Malik had his third win from six starts when he overcame the unruly position over 2600m (mobile) in a 13-horse field. The 3-year-old Somebeachsomewhere – Slipinn colt is trained by Paul Court for breeders Graham Court, of West Melton, Les  Purdon, Ann-Maree Lund, her sister Jo Lund and Peter Lucas, all of Auckland. The Lunds took over horses after the death of their father, Bob in 2015. Malik is the fourth foal of Slipinn, the winner of four races. Her first two foals are Raffaello,a winner and Aquickone (five wins). Denham Maguire, the highly regarded 3-year-old in the Nathan Williamson stable, was scratched on Sunday due to a blood disorder. Astral Ruler was a late scratching due to showing signs of a cold. Tayler Strong    

Major Hippie added to the puzzle for this Sunday's Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes when he bravely won in the last race today. He was posted three wide early before getting to the front. He was then pressurised a long way from home by Glenburn Joy before having to fight off a late challenge by Dachy to win by a head.  Major Hippie has a week to recover before taking on the likes of Eamon Maguire, Young Conqueror and Whittaker in Sunday's Group Three feature. He is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen who trained the winner of the two year old race today in Ashley Locaz. He was brave in beating the Paul Court trained Hail Christian by half a length in 2-03.3 for the 1700 metre mobile. The time equals the track and Southland record. Kotare Mach recorded the same time on 2009. Matt Anderson and Ashley Locaz winning at Ascot Park  - Photo Bruce Stewart It's likely that both Ashley Locaz and Hail Christian will return to the track this Sunday for the $38,000 Group Three Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

John Dickie thought all his Delightful Lady Classic dreams had come tumbling down early last week. His impressive debutante winner on February 10 – New York Rain was found cast and upside down in her stall. Dickie’s son and co-trainer, Josh and Canterbury trainer Paul Court assisted the promising 2-year-old and then vets were called in. “We had to scratch her from last week’s race. We got the vet in on Tuesday afternoon because she had tied up and the bloods showed that. Then we treated her throughout the week and she just kept rapidly improving,” Clevedon-based Dickie said. Remarkably the brown American Ideal filly the lined up at the Auckland Trotting Club’s Workouts at Alexandra Park last Saturday and went a quicker time than what she won on debut. New York Rain beat Alta Shangri La and Delilaah by one-and-a-quarter lengths and five lengths, pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:04.8 (mile rate 1:58.1) and came her last 800m and 400m in 57.8 and 28.5. New York Rain drew seven of eight in the fifth Young Guns heat at 'The Park' on February 10. She and Simon Lawson were last early and then three back on the outer before looming up three-wide on the turn and then proving way too strong in the straight. New York Rain was the $6.40 fourth favourite that night and paced the 1700m mobile in 2:07.2 (mile rate 2:00.4) and home in 58 even and 27.4 beating Gold Orchid (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Purest Silk (Brent Mangos) by three quarters of a length each way. “It’s incredible to think how much she recovered in a week, and she’s trained on brilliantly since. The only thing we don’t like about her chances on Friday is the draw (13), but she’s still good enough to win it,” Dickie said. New York Rain will start from five on the second row in the Group Two $80,000 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic for the 2-year-old pacing fillies. Her dam Ohoka Moon (In The Pocket), who was trained by Steven Reid, won nine races ($112, 963), including a placing in the 2007 Northern Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. “She’s improving at just the right time. I think she has got a huge career ahead of her. She hasn’t got a lot of speed but she just keeps on truckin. She’s got a big motor and we are excited about her. “There’s plenty of 2-year-old races for her up here this season, so hopefully we can start off with a Group Two win on Friday,” Dickie said. New York Rain will be wearing the blue and white colours of Dickie’s good friend – the late Simon Pavlovich. “I requested Simon’s colours after he passed away last year. I had known Simon all of his life and we used to knock around together. He was a friend and a good horseman and someone who was very special to me. ”I got his colours as a mark of respect to him - so I can always remember him,” Dickie said. New York Rain is owned by Dickie (John) and his partner Linda German, and was bred by Cavalla Bloodstock. Speaking from Melbourne, Dickie said he rated New York Rain and Speeding Spur as his two best winning chances of the weekend. Speeding Spur has drawn the outside of the front-line in Saturday's Group One $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton's Tabcorp Park. “Just about every time we have taken the horse to Melton we have copped the visitor’s draw. It’s becoming more than coincidence. “But we’ve won from out there previously with him and I’m very confident he can do it again. He is very fit now,” said Dickie. Dickie advised Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) stewards on Thursday that Speeding Spur has suffered swelling in a hind fetlock.   The multiple Group One-winning trotter will be examined on Friday.     Duane Ranger

The training partnership of Steven Reid and Simon McMullan ended on Sunday (January 15) because McMullan wants to be near his Christchurch-based father, Barry who is unwell. McMullan starts working for Paul Court in Christchurch next Monday (January 23). “Dad’s been a bit crook of late and I want to be near him when he’s not well. It’s a shame because Steven has been ‘huge’ for my career, and it was sad leaving him. “He was a bit surprised with the news, but I have to do what I think is right. You only have one father,” 28-year-old McMullan said. McMullan and Reid bagged 71 winners from 535 starters from 2014 to 2017. They also placed 144 times and won $839,059 in stakes. He said one of his greatest thrills was developing and working Charge Forward into a better than average racehorse. “I drove him in seven of his eight wins. He was a lovely horse who won more than $100,000. Another highlight was all the friends I made in the North Island - so many horsemen and women. I won’t mention them all because if I leave one out I’ll know they’ll let me know. “I’ve had such great times in the North Island and I’ll never ever forget my time here, but the biggest praise has to go to Steven. He made my career. It was him who put my name out there, and he was the one who taught me the most,” McMullan said. McMullan was born in Christchurch and educated at Burnside High School. He did work experience at Brent Lilley’s barn in Kaiapoi and through him got a job working for Brendon (Benny) Hill. “I’d always liked horse racing and after working for Benny for a couple of years he got me a job working for Steven in Pukekohe. “I was 17 when I started working for Steven, I was there for five years then I went and worked for Doug Gale for nine months, before returning to Steven again,” McMullan said. He said he was looking forward to joining a stable, which at its peak could have up to 50 horses. “It will be a new experience. I think the most Steven had in work at any one time was 26 or 27. I just want to go down there and take it all and do my best,” McMullan said. So will he be driving down south? “I just want to take it one day at a time with Paul. My main focus is Dad,” he said. McMullan has driven 55 winners from 657 starters between 2008 and 2016. He also placed 131 times and won $430,923 in stakes. He has had one placing from nine drives this season. This is his second year as an open driver. McMullan has also competed in a couple of New Zealand and Australasian Junior Driving Championships. Duane Ranger

The return to racing under claiming conditions has Expresso Martini a standout at the Oamaru Harness Racing Club meeting on Wednesday. Expresso Martini, the winner of nine races and assessed at C6 is competing against C1 to 3 horses in the mobile 2600m (race 10). He is in the field courtesy his $6000 price tag. The last time the Graeme Anderson-trained Expresso Martini raced under similar conditions was at Washdyke on November 19 when he won by five and a half lengths. His stablemate Eamon Maguire will be all the rage in race 9. The 3-year-old winner of three races and second in his two other starts, has had the chance to freshen since he was runner up at Forbury Park  on October 23. Cable Beach, a fresh up winner in a smart 2.55.6 for 2400m (mobile) at Ashburton on December 26, could step up a grade in race 7. A Somebeachsomewhere 5-year-old entire trained by Paul Court, Cable Beach was having his first race for seven months. He won at Addington from five starts last season. American Spirit, a good third last time out in the Roxburgh Cup, has been scratched from race 7. “He has just not come through his Roxburgh race as well as I would have liked so I will just back off him,’’ said his trainer Darryn Simpson. Jonny Cox has taken over the training Prestine, who is to race at  the Nelson meeting on Friday and Sunday. Bill Roberts, who has been training Prestine, fractured ribs in a training accident. Prestine won first up at a Nelson meeting in June, 2014 when trained by Tim Butt. Prestine has been placed in her last three starts. Mossdale  Conner, who returned to winning form in the Roxburgh Cup on January 4, has the Invercargill Cup next on his programme. The Greg and Nina Hope –trained Mossdale Conner will be handicapped on 30m for the $32,000 race over 3200m on January 28.He started from 40m in the Roxburgh Cup and added to his handicap at the start. Stablemate Quite A Moment, winner of the group one National Trot on December 31 is booked on a flight to Melbourne on January 25. She has the Dullard Cup at Melton three days later followed by the Great Southern Star. Quite A Moment has gained 10 or her 16 wins in Australia. She won the group three Lenin Free-For-All at Melton last February and finished third to Speeding Spur and Glenferrie Typhoon in the Great Southern Star. Tayler Strong

He won 18 races and just under $1.5 million in stakes and tonight at Alexandra Park (Friday) Stunin Cullen gets his chance to prove himself as a sire. The now 11-year-old son of Christian Cullen and Vicario will have his 2-year-old colt, Royal Tribute, line up at the races for the first time in the $8,500 Breckon Farms 2yo Pace at Alexandra Park tonight. Canterbury trainer Paul Court said Royal Tribute was the most forward of his 2-year-olds currently in work. “We’ve got a few Stunin Cullens and we like them all. They all seem to have a bit of zip and this fella is a lovely horse. He has improved every time he has stepped out on to the training track – especially from his first workout to his second,” West Melton-based Court said. Court said Royal Tribute qualified 2.1 seconds under the required time when third behind Ocean Ridge and John The Plumber at Ashburton on November 15. “Then he improved a heap when winning well at the Chertsey Trials a week later. He paced the (mobile) mile in 2:02.5 that day. He's settled in well in Auckland and I couldn't be happier with him,” said Court. Tonight’s juvenile race is a 1700m mobile, the same distance as the two Breckon Farms Young Guns heats at ‘The Park’ on December 16 and 31. “The Alexandra Park way around shouldn’t bother him, but you can never be too confident when 2-year-olds step out on to the racetrack for the first time. “But this fella developed a lot earlier than the others and he has a bit of toe. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t make it as a racehorse. Whatever he does on Friday he will be better for it,” Court said. He said Royal Tribute’s dam - Ians Choice (by P Forty Seven) was a half-sister to the champion Group One winning mare Nearea Franco. “He’s got the bloodlines and the gait and the early in indications are promising. Ricky (May) will give him every possible chance from his nice draw,” Court said. As well as Royal Tribute, who starts from gate three, there will also be two Bettor's Delights colts (Spankem and Bettor B Abeliever); two Art Major colts (The Bus and The Brooklyn Brawler); one Somebeachsomewhere colt (Arden’s Winstar); and an Art Official gelding (Lagarto) lining up in the seven-horse opening event. Their Trials and Workouts form (with trainer and driver) reads: 1) THE BUS (Trainer: Mark Jones; Driver: Mark Jones) - Winner of his last two Trials and Workouts - the former when qualifying 0.9 seconds under the qualifying time at Addington on November 2, and then bolting in by four lengths in a six-horse workout at Rangiora on November 23 - mile rate: 2:02.9 2) LAGARTO (Gavin Smith/Jay Abernethy) - A first, three seconds and a fourth in his last four Southland and Canterbury 93) Workouts and Trials. Best mile rate: 2:02.7 when second behind Royal Tribute at Chertsey on November 22. 3) ROYAL TRIBUTE (Paul Court/Ricky May) – Qualified 2.1 seconds under the required time when third behind Ocean Ridge and John The Plumber at Ashburton on November 15; and then won decisively over the mobile mile (2:02.5) at the Chertsey trials on November 22. Ricky May drove the gelding both times. Racing in Angela Purdon's (Pukekohe) name. 4) THE BROOKLYN BRAWLER (Robert Dunn/ Maurice McKendry) - Followed up his Workout win (2:06 mile rate) at Pukekohe on November 26 with a nine-length second in a Maiden Pace here last Friday. He was fourth favourite that night. 5) ARDEN’S WINSTAR (Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen/Tim Williams) - Third behind stablemate Spankem in a slow time at Rangiora on October 26 and then he got a bit more serious when going 2.3 seconds under the qualifying time when a length second behind Spankem at Addington on November 2. 6) SPANKEM (Purdon & Rasmussen/Rasmussen) – SCRATCHED 7) BETTOR B ABLEIEVER (Steven Reid & Simon McMullan/Zac Butcher – Runner-up to Alta Maestro and Jack Mac at the Pukekohe Workouts on November 19 and 26. The latter performance saw him g 4.2 seconds under the qualifying time. Shame about the draw. Duane Ranger

Royal Tribute an impressive looking son of Stunin Cullen has improved on his trials third last week by winning todays 2yo qualifying heat at the Chertsey harness racing trials.   Stunin Cullen had oodles of speed and Royal Tribute looks to have inherited a fair bit of that speed judging by todays win on the Ashburton track. The colt cruised to an easy one length victory in very hot conditions for driver Ricky May. Royal Tribute ran the 1609m journey in 2-02.5 with a fast final 800 metres in an impressive 56.5 seconds with a closing 400m in 26.6 seconds. He is trained by Paul Court and owned by his father Graham who stands Stunin Cullen at Pinlea Farm Stud.   Royal Tribute running third at last weeks trial. (Todays video will be available later)   Harnesslink Media  

Breaking out on your own after a successful harness racing partnership that has lasted many years is supposed to be hard yakka, but Paul Court can be forgiven though for thinking it’s all a little too easy. The West Melton horseman, who was alongside his father Graham in training partnership for close to a decade, is making a pretty good fist of the solo training caper and yesterday, on the first day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting, he picked up his first training hatrick. “It’s been a pretty dream start really, better than I could have ever expected anyway,” Court said. Yesterday’s three wins came less than 24 hours after Stunin Dude won at Forbury Park on Thursday night in the hands of Blair Orange and it was the Postman who was in the sulky for two thirds of his Friday success. Orange drove both Hypervelocity and Expressive Victor to victory while Ricky May was on board Courage To Live who won the last race of the day. “I thought that they were all good chances, but for all three to win was great. “You got to the race expecting to have a good day and often it’s the opposite.” Expressive Victor’s win in the Winter Cup Prelude was impressive. The 4-year-old mare, who was second behind Rocker Band in the 4YO Ruby at the Harness Jewels three weeks ago, overcame an early bobble to sit off the speed before unwinding brilliantly down centre track to secure victory. “The gallop was a bit of a worry, she’s usually such a good beginner. “Blair said she got a bit of a fright when the tapes went, I don’t think one on the 10 metre line was a good draw for her.” The imposing mare will start a warm order favourite on Sunday to go back-to-back on what is fast becoming her favourite track. From five starts on the Waterlea Raceway surface she’s won twice and placed on as many occasions with her only failure coming when she choked down and crashed to the deck at the Summer meeting earlier this year. Both Hypervelocity and Courage To Live will both also be in action on Sunday.   The former will have to deal with the impressive Franco Cristiano who made light work of his race track return earlier in yesterday’s programme for Robert and John Dunn. Courage To Live also has a tough ask from a wider draw, but his free going racing style means he will be on the speed at some stage in the race and that’s here he seems to race best. “He probably lacks that really high speed, but he will just keep going. “I was pretty impressed with the way he won, he looked like he could have kept going at that speed too. “He’s just got better and better each time I’ve taken him to the races.” Closely related to Terror To Love, the Jereme’s Jet colt was one of two winners for Terry McDonald who also shares owns Hypervelocity. McDonald went had the perfect day on Friday with Letspendanitetogetha, who he owns with good friend Reg Storer, finishing second to Courage To Live. While Court’s three wins was impressive, Orange’s driving talents were on full display. He won three races to go with the three he picked up on Thursday night, taking him to 117 winners for the season and 16 wins clear in second position on the national premiership which is being led by Dexter Dunn. Dunn endured a winless day at the office and will have to wait until next week to get New Zealand win No. 200 as he’s on a plane to drive Christen Me in Queensland on Saturday night and isn’t returning to Blenheim for Sunday’s meeting. Matt Markham

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