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The Rangiora Harness Racing Club are holding their spring meeting at Addington on Thursday night and while there is a small card of only eight races, some talented horses are involved. The smallest field of the night is the C7-OC handicap trot which has only drawn a field of five starters but all five are quality  racehorses.  The Paul Nairn trained Lotalov is having her first start for the season and has gone well in that state in the past. Throw in the fact she is good from a stand and her Addington record is 4 wins and 4 placings from 11 starts and she is not out of it at all. The Fiery Ginga is third up for the year and trainer Allan Clark is expecting a big run. "I was a bit disappointed the other night at Addington with how he drove so I changed a couple of things and his work since has been super. He gets a start from his main competition so I going to try to take advantage of that" he said. The winner of 27 races to date has a great standing start record (17 wins) and course record (10 wins) so looms as a live chance. The third of the runners off the front is the Bevan Heron trained Uncas who always seems to go good at this time of the year. All of his eight wins have been from a stand and his first up win recently was full of merit. Big show with a run  to suit. The first of the runners off ten meters is the Geoff Dunn trained King Of Starthfield who is in great nick at the moment. All of his three runs this time in have been first class and the small field will suit him down to the ground. He has won 21 races but only 2 of those at Addington so track record is a small concern. The second horse on ten meters and last of the five runners is the champion trotter Stent who was last season's Australasian Trotting Masters Champion. All his course and distance stats are outstanding and he looks hard to hold out even if  he is only 90% ready.   Trained by Colin Defilippi, Stent won fresh up last season and is on course to do the same this year. A small field but one of real class. Stent for us on class alone with the main dangers being King Of Strathfield and Uncas with The Fiery Ginga and Lotalov fighting out fourth place. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing meetings at Oamaru are not really a place where you would normally find a real up and comer racing. They have their quality races such as the Hannon Memorial for the open class horses which was run today (September 14th) but in the main its a racetrack for the nice horses who are just finding Addington a touch too hard. Today's C1-C2 trot at Oamaru drew a big field of 15 with some really nice trotters amongst them who were in good form. The public made the Paul Nairn trained Waterloo Sunset the favourite from the 10 meter mark even though he was having his first run in nearly four months and he had been unsighted at trials and workouts. Driven by in form reinsman Bob Butt, Waterloo Sunset missed away from the standing start and settled five lengths behind the field in the early stages. Monty Python had found the front and was setting a steady pace while Waterloo Sunset was still last with a lap to run. Passing the 800 meters Waterloo Sunset was still two lengths last and at least 15 lengths from the leader and was still amongst the tailenders as the field turned for home. Monty Python was claimed half way up the straight by Ottawa before he in turn was claimed by a withering late burst from Waterloo Sunset which saw him get home by a neck with Bob Butt hardly moving in the bike. Waterloo Sunset trotted the 2600 meters in 3:22.8, with closing sectionals off the front of 58.9 and 30.1  Coming from last and at least 15 lengths off the lead at the 800 meters mark to win was a good indication of how good the run of Waterloo Sunset was. A 5 year old entire by the legendary sire Sundon, Waterloo Sunset is the first of the former outstanding trotting mare Inspire ($147,468) who won the 2006 Rowe Cup (Group One) Inspire is a full sister to the former brilliant age group trotter Enthusiast ($90,585) who won 11 races as a two and three year old and a half sister to the smart Call You Later ($73,174) The grand-dam Enthuse is a half sister to the former outstanding trotter Sundowner Bay ($259,856) who won 18 races. It is a family that master trotting trainer Paul Nairn has had a lot of success with over the years. Going by todays  effort, Waterloo Sunset looks poised to add to that record and appears headed to open class in a hurry. Harnesslink Media    

It never takes long in harness racing for a horse to be forgotten when its not racing every week. People move on quickly and focus on what is racing. Habibti 1:56.5T ($283,007) falls squarely into that group as the forgotten superstar of trotting in Australasia. The daughter of Love You had an amazing 3 year old season last year in which she won The New Zealand Trotting Stakes (Group 1), New South Wales Derby (Group 1), New South Oaks (Group 1) and the Victorian Oaks (Group 1) amongst her nine wins. She accounted for Blitzthemcalder, Sheemon, Spidergirl and Royal Aspirations amonst others during the season. Coming back early as a 4 year old, Habibti jumped straight in the deep end and took on Australia's best trotters in Melbourne. The best win was undoubtedly in the Dullard Cup (Group One) where she accounted for Keystone Del, My High Expectations and Aleppo Midas amongst others. Returning to New Zealand, Habibti just started to show signs that all the racing and traveling was taking its toll on her. Trainer/ driver David Butt convinced the owners to miss all the rich plums on offer and give the mare a well deserved break with a view to her coming back bigger and better at five. Prior to that Habibti was served and conceived to top trotting sire Majestic Son and the embryo was transferred to a surrogate mare who is due to foal later in the year. After a lengthy spell Habibti returned to the Butt barn in early May and she is on track to return to the trials in September with a view to being ready for Cup week at Addington. Thought is being given to another embryo transfer early in the new season with Angus Hall and Andover Hall the main sires in consideration. To add further to Habibti's value as a future broodmare is the emergence of her full sister Habibti Ivy who was 11 seconds under the previous New Zealand record for 2400 meters from a stand when she qualified for trainer Paul Nairn in 3:09.5 at Ashburton on Tuesday 29th July. On that run, Habibti Ivy will be a serious player in the 3 year old classics next season. Meanwhile Habibti only needs to reproduce her early 4 year old form to once again become a serious contender in all the major trotting races next season. After looking after Habibti's welfare so well in the last twelve months, David Butt and the ownership group deserve to reap the rewards of their patience over the next twelve months with this outstanding mare. Harnesslink media      

Lex and Heather Williams now have two Homfield trophies sitting side-by-side in their living room. One of them was won by One Over Kenny in 2005 and the other by her son One Over Da Moon at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. “It’s pretty cool that he managed to win the same race his mother did,” said co-owner and breeder, Lex Williams, who travelled over to Australia to watch him race on Friday. “It definitely was a huge thrill,” he added. One Over Da Moon is being trained by Chris Lang during his Australian Campaign. Lang also did the driving on the three-year-old Majestic Son colt on Friday. “He is on a round trip and will return to Paul Nairn after the Australasian Breeders Crown,” advised Williams. One Over Da Moon was given a nice run in the one-one by Chris Lang, before coming three-wide around the final bend and powering away to win by 2.4 metres over Guiltless and Daenerys Targaryen , who also found the line well. Favourite Twentyten faded to finish last after racing parked outside the leader. “Chris Lang said he may be small but he doesn’t feel it when you are sitting behind him,” said Williams. Although Williams and wife Heather were at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday to soak up the atmosphere, he was extremely disappointed that the race wasn’t televised back in New Zealand. “There were three horses with Kiwi connections in the race, so I think it is absolutely disgraceful that the race wasn’t shown live,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

Chris Lang's standing as king of the trotters remains well and truly intact after victory in last night’s Group 2 VHRSC Holmfield at Tabcorp Park Melton. The Nagambie trainer-driver guided his newest stable gun One Over Da Moon to a 2.4m win in the 1720m race for three-year-old trotters, the winning mile rate of 1:59.4 the fastest of the colt’s career so far. Formerly trained in New Zealand by Paul Nairn, One Over Da Moon – a New Zealand Harness Jewels champion as a two-year-old who galloped out of contention in the three-year-old Jewels ranks last month – was back to his best last night. The winner started at $3.70 on the tote after the majority of punters sided with last-start New South Wales Trotters Derby winner Our Twentyten as their top Holmfield pick, backing him into $1.70. Off the back straight, favourite punters might have been forgiven for heading to the queue early as Our Twentyten whizzed past early pacemaker Asdenro, which had given a bold sight. But just 200m later things had changed dramatically. Turning for home Our Twentyten was gone, dropping back through the field dramatically in the home straight to wind up last. Guiltless rattled home to run second for Daryl Douglas, while Our Twentyten’s stablemate Daenerys Targaryen, driven by Greg Sugars, used the sprint lane to finish third, ahead of a bold Asdenro, which kept on kicking to run fourth for Haydon Gray. Another trotter it might pay to keep an eye on out of the race is Spidergrace, which lost considerable ground when it galloped approaching the home turn before balancing up once more and making up many lengths in the straight to beat two home. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Masterful trainer Paul Nairn says two things need to happen for One Over Da Moon to overcome his tricky one on the second-line barrier draw and win the 3YO Ruby at Cambridge on Saturday. “We are probably going to need some breakers so we can clear a pocket,” said Nairn. “And we can’t be one of them,” he quipped. If One Over Da Moon and David Butt can work away from the fence Nairn says that it is ‘game on.’ “He showed how good he is in the Northern Derby and I was very pleased with his run at Addington last week,” he added. But, One Over Da Moon’s two main rivals were both very impressive on Saturday when trialling at two different venues, meaning the son of Majestic Son and champion mare One Over Kenny is going to have to be at his brilliant best if he is to be crowned a Jewels king for the second year running. Mum’s Pride smashed his rivals by 11 and a half lenghts at Cambridge on Saturday, while dual Derby winner King Denny downed a field of maiden pacers at Alexandra Park. But, perhaps the most noted miler in the field is start trotting filly Majestic Time, who finished second in the Jewels last season before winning the Hambletonian over the sprint trip in February. She is somewhat the forgotten runner in Saturday’s 3YO Ruby, but she clearly didn’t handle the Alexandra Park way of going last start, and has tactical speed. Which could prove crucial come Saturday. To view the market for the 3YO Ruby click here. By Mitchell Robertson

Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn. “He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?” The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base. When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.” “The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!” Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired. But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed. “His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.” “If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded. Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career. Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped. Stig fact file: lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6 Stakes: $855,096 Sire: Armbro Invasion Dam: Naraya (Gekoj) Owners:  T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat. By Mitchell Robertson    

After a couple of hiccups at the start of the season, last year’s top two-year-old trotting colt One Over Da Moon looks back on track as he heads towards the $80,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby on April 11. This was highlighted by the three-year-olds emphatic all of the way victory last night at Addington against older C2 & faster trotters. “He was having a few issues with a knee around Hambletonian time, but I have treated that and now only work him on soft surfaces during the week,” advised trotting maestro, Paul Nairn. “He seems right back on top of his game at the moment, and should take further improvement out of last night’s run,” he added. Nairn now plans on racing One Over Da Moon at Addington again next week, before tackling the Group One feature. “The 2600 metres will be right up his alley,” says Nairn confidently. “But there are a few nice ones who he is going to have to beat including Majestic Time, who seems to have come back really well.” “Still, I think my fella is as good as any of them,” he added Nairn also enjoyed success last night with smart trotting mare Lotalov, who will now contest next week’s $25,000 4-5YO Trotters Championship. But, while both Nairn and Mark Jones enjoyed doubles on the card, it was the Purdon and Rasmussen team that stole the show, winning five of the eleven races. Among those winners were smart types Alleluia and Linda Lovegrace, both of who look set for very big seasons. Meanwhile, the career of champion trotter Stig looks in jeopardy, with a decision to be made on his racing future on Monday. By Mitchell Robertson

Waterloo Sunset, who is the first foal from Rowe Cup winning mare Inspire, was victorious in his debut at Methven on Sunday some 18 months after qualifying at the same venue. The win came courtesy of what was yet another remarkable training performance by Paul Nairn, who trained and drove Waterloo Sunset’s mother to win the 2006 Rowe Cup in what was just her 11th start. And while this big four-year-old son of Sundon might never reach those great heights, he is definitely going to work his way through the grades. “He just looped the field and absolutely jogged it,” said driver Bob Butt. “Paul (Nairn – trainer) asked me to drive him without a stick and I never looked like needing one.” “That certainly won’t be his last win, I think he will be a very good stayer,” he added. Interestingly, the horse that beat Waterloo Sunset in his trial some 18 months ago, Thanksforplaying, was also a winner on the card. Meanwhile, Brian Norman who owned the winner of the feature race at Methven, Arising Easton, trained a double at Wingatui today, where harness racing was run for the first time in around 60 years. By Mitchell Robertson

What Makes News? For some time now I have given up watching mainstream television, mainly because I can't handle the countless mind-numbing reality shows, and the news is full of petty bickering and points scoring between politicians who should know better (Election year hasn't helped that!). My spies tell me that the potentially horrific smash at Westport last week was shown on the News (not sure which channel) making it obvious that the general media is only interested in harness racing when there is a crash, or some form of drug related sensation. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often so that coverage is minimal. The only other recent positive coverage was Zac Butchers' wonderful display of showmanship on beating his dad in the Drivers' premiership eighteen months ago. Got me thinking though, if the mainstream channels want sensationalism, why not give it to them. A reality show featuring nasty harness racing crashes? Obviously permission would need to be granted by the people involved in the incidents, but it would surely rate higher than "Outer Mongolias' Ugliest Bodies" or "What I found In My Great Uncles Garage", or some of the other drivel currently on offer! You know the old saying, any publicity etc., etc. Maybe sponsorship could be gained from a manufacturer of safety gear? While on the subject of Westport, it is slightly sad to see that the Club, renowned for being both forward thinking and extremely hospitable, refuses to acknowledge the need for a passing lane at Patterson Park. Using the Stipes' Report from last Friday as a guide, there were a total of 26 horses who were ‘denied clear racing room' in the straight. When I broached this with a Club official, I received a similar response that I probably would have given myself about 10 years ago - that there is still (usually) only one winner in each race. While that is difficult to argue with, one of the suggestions put forward was that punters needed to back drivers who didn't drive for luck, and moaned when they were unlucky. That argument tends to collapse when the drivers on some of those denied a run the other day included Jim Curtin, Robbie Holmes, Pete Davis and Gavin Smith, all of whom are virtual stalwarts of West Coast harness racing. The problem is that for every one of those 26 horses denied a run, there are dozens of disgruntled punters (aka customers) with a nasty taste in their mouth. Yes I admit, I had that taste four times during the day! Come on Westport, move with the times on this one, and move a few marker pegs. Northern Branch February 2014 The Associations' Northern Branch recently met to discuss the latest issues facing that area, and began by giving a vote of support to Northern starter Frank Phelan. Those present acknowledged, however, that all starters should come under scrutiny as part of the job and, on occasions could do things better. (As an aside to this topic, the Association received a communication from Mr Brian Macey, the owner of Prime Power, who was singled out for criticism in a recent article on standing starts. Brian agreed with Paul Nairns' comments concerning poorly behaved horses from standing starts, and reported that his horse had recently been given intensive standing start practice. The happy outcome was Prime Power stood perfectly last week, began beautifully, and duly won. Congratulations to the connections on making the effort - it goes to prove that it can be done for most horses) Matters arising from the Canterbury minutes were covered, including online nominations, the bulls-eye barrier draw, and the introduction of photo licences, all of which were supported. Concern was expressed at inconsistencies shown by the RIU in penalising the connections of horses that were late scratched due to being sold. Some received no penalty, while fines tended to vary from $200 to $350, and no bearing seemed to be given to whether or not another horse on the ballot had been denied a start. A letter has been drafted, and the matter was to be referred to the National Council for consideration. The state of Northern all-weather tracks was discussed, with the Cambridge and Manawatu surfaces being praised thanks to the use of conditioners etc., however there was concern over the consistency of Alexandra Park, partly due to the material containing a large amount of shell. It was decided to invite ATC officials to the next Branch meeting to discuss this and other matters. Chairman Peter Ferguson reported that horses that are claimed are still not being swabbed as a matter of course. The Committee felt that this should take place to ensure the integrity and safety of all concerned. (This opinion was subsequently supported at National Council level and a letter has been forward to the RIU). The matter of the payment of driving fees for those engaged for horses that are subsequently scratched was discussed. It is understood that jockeys receive half of their fee if this occurs, and the feeling is that drivers should receive the same, instead of the full amount being retained by the Club. The main point to this argument is that for most drivers, it does not take many of these to mean breaking even or losing money after expenses on a nights racing. Also, after drivers are declared, the chances of gaining another drive after a scratching were virtually non-existent. This matter will be referred to the up-coming National Council meeting for consideration. By Dave Neal/Peter Cook (NZ Trainers and Drivers Association)

Stig is becoming trotting’s version of the Never-ending Story. The veteran trotter, already the hero of one of the greatest comebacks in racing history, takes on rivals up to seven years younger than him at Addington tomorrow night. Remarkable as that is, if he performs up to the level trainer Paul Nairn expects, he will be on a plane to Melbourne next week for the A$350,000 Great Southern Star. Rising 12-year-olds embarking on Trans Tasman campaigns may be unheard of but Nairn says even after a disappointing season, Stig’s connections are keen for a crack at the richest prize in Southern Hemisphere trotting. “I know at times he hasn’t been as sharp as he can be this season, which you are going to get with a horse his age,” admits Nairn. “But he is trotting well now and feeling no real soreness. “I think he will improve on his last start (second) and if he races well this week he will head back to Melton.”
 Stig won a A$50,000 heat of the Great Southern Star at Melton last year before galloping in the final, although he never really looked happy on the Victorian track. But this year’s event, which comprises two heats and a final in the same night on Saturday, lacks a superstar in the form winner Vulcan was last season. So a fully fit and sound Stig could still out tough his younger rivals. He will need to be good to cement the trip as he meets one of the new breed of open class trotting in this country in Royal Aspirations, who has developed from a speed freak age group trotter into a genuine topliner. Nairn also expects a bold return tomorrow night from his Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon, who is over recent problems, but summer star Any Old Way is not and is heading for the paddock. If Stig does make it to Victoria he will join defending champion Vulcan, Stent and The Fiery Ginga in the GSS, as well as Kiwi-owned favourites Flying Isa and Keystone Del. But Vulcan’s high-profile stablemate Peak faces a long layoff after x-rays yesterday confirmed a splint bone issue, yet trainer Tim Butt says it could have been worse. “We were worried he had a suspensory issue but that scanned fine today,” says Butt. “But it looks like he has a splint bone issue, which is easier to fix. “So he will have an operation next Monday and hopefully can be back in work in three months.” Peak created a huge impression winning his first two New Zealand starts after being imported from Scandinavia last spring before being struck down by the issues. Meanwhile, tonight’s Manawatu meeting sees one of the great dropback tips of the new handicapping system in Jarcullembra. A former New Zealand Cup starter, Jewels runner-up to Terror To Love and the winner of over $200,000 in stakes, Jarcullembra hasn’t won for nearly two years so has dropped back to being assessed as a five-win horse. That sees him starting against horses who will never scale the heights he has been to in tonight’s $12,000 Palmerstonian, suggesting he will be at short odds in the 2000m mobile. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Mike Ward won the Group One New Zealand Messenger Championship in 1996, but Saturday’s victory by Majestic Time in the Group Three $25,000 Neumann’s Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton was his career highlight. Ward owned and bred Decision Time but Mark Purdon trained him for 10 days before that Messenger triumph. “I think this win is even sweeter because even although we also bred this filly, and our family also owns her, I did the training this time round,” the West Melton horseman said. Majestic Time was the fourth favourite in Saturday’s 1609 metre mobile trot and paid $9 to win. She and driver Ken Barron had 1-1/2 lengths and a length to spare over place-getters, Any Old way (Paul Nairn) and Thebestlove (Anthony Butt). Winner’s time: 1:58.6. Last 800m: 58.4. 27.8. Majestic Time is owned by Ward, his wife Pauline, daughter Susan, and son Craig. “I’ve always had a bit of time for her. That’s why I gave my kids a share in her. I didn’t want to give them a dud,” Ward said. The bay filly is by Majestic Son out of the Ward owned and trained five-win ($54,939) Sundon mare, Time To Shine. She left four foals but died last year while foaling to a Muscles Yankee filly. “It’s a real honour to win a big race like the Hambletonian. It’s a prestigious race, especially here in Canterbury. She will make a good broodmare one day,” 63-year-old Ward said. He said there was still one win he would now dearly love to win – the Group Three New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on April 4. “It’s the only major race on the calendar where she will get to take on her on sex. She beat the boys and girls on Saturday and should be tough to roll against the fillies. “But this is racing and you can never take anything for granted because you just don’t know who is going to come out of the woodwork, especially from the North Island,” said Ward who is a builder by trade and works three horses at West Melton. Mark Purdon won the last three Hambletonian Classics with Paramount Queen (2013 in 1:59.7), Escapee (2012 in 1:59.5), and Kylie Ree (2011 in 1:59.9). Purdon might not have won yesterday’s big trot but he and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen did claim their own Group Three prize on Saturday when he drove Follow The Stars to win the $25,000 Teltrack Sapling Stakes for 2-year-old pacers. Isaiah also won the same race from him in 1:57.2 last year, but Follow The Stars beat that time recording a blistering a 1:53.2. The Geoff Dunn trained Venus Serena was again brilliant in the third heat of the $15,000 Nevele R Fillies heat, recording the fastest mile of the day in a lightning 1:52.2. Driver John Dunn late last month told HRNZ the 3-year-old Mach Three filly was the best horse he had driven. She further endorsed that reputation on Saturday with her quickest career mile win, and 10th in 15 starts. Venus Serena has now banked $434,152 in stakes. Ashburton again proved to be one of the fastest tracks in New Zealand on Saturday when the 10 races carded all produced sub two-win miles. In fact Majestic Time’s 1:58.6 triumph was the slowest of the day. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Yes, they're on old chestnut and it's likely they will always be a discussion point. At the recent Greater Canterbury Branch meeting, Paul Nairn was the latest to express concern at some aspects of this method of starting races. He is a firm supporter of standing starts, but his beef is that, on numerous occasions, it is the horse that misbehaves that gains an advantage over the ones that are well schooled, and well behaved. The latest glaring example of this was Prime Power at Alexandra Park, not once, but twice over the holiday period. The horse was rearing, dancing about and generally behaving in an unruly fashion, but at the precise moment when he was almost charging the barrier, it was released and he got a flyer. Hardly fair on the other runners. These horses are labelled unruly for a reason, and should not be advantaged. Paul feels that teaching a horse to stand is an integral part of training, and if the animal can't do that, as some can't, restrict it to mobiles. He also feels that badly behaved horses should face consequences. I understand in Southland, the Clubs, horsemen and Starters have apparently reached agreement that if any horse is playing up behind the tapes, as long as it is not interfering with another runner, the race will be started and the offender will be left behind. In Canterbury it can vary, but on occasions at least the impression is that a misbehaving horse can gain an advantage over ones that have been standing for a while. At Forbury Park, who would know - to be honest the standing (and I use the word advisedly) starts there are bordering on farcical! I mean, apart from anything else, is gabbling something intelligible and yelling ‘Right" as loud as you can good for nervous horses? The problem is, we are all one Country, and often horses and drivers move around New Zealand and are faced with wondering what policy the starter in that area is following. Often it's too late when they find out. I recently attended a Starters meeting where a number of matters were covered off, but there was little, if any, mention of all starters doing their job the same way!? We can only hope that when, as seems likely, the RIU take over the employment of these officials, some form of uniformity can be reached. Peter T Cook (Courtesy of the New Zealand Harness Racing Trainers and Drivers Association)

A young driver’s first win is always a very memorable one.  But North Island junior reinsman Jack Mackinnon says his third career win aboard Dr Hook at Alexandra Park last night provided him with an even greater thrill. “He is a horse I have had a lot to do with in the past, so to drive him on raceday and win like that,  was very special," said Mackinnon, who started helping Nairn to during his trips to Auckland about four years ago. Given a 20 metre let-up in the handicaps through Mackinnon being a concession junior driver, Dr Hook made a quick beginning and positioned up well, before being shuffled back to last after Mackinnon opted to stay in when the backmarkers moved around the field. Mackinnon then cut the eight-year-old son of Dr Ronerail loose at 500 metres, and after ranging up to them stylishly on the home bend, he quickly raced on by to win emphatically by 6 & ½ lengths. Mackinnon celebrated the win with a fist pump as him and his old favourite Dr Hook crossed the line. “I wasn’t too worried when we were last at the 500 as I knew they had gone very hard up front,” explained Mackinnon. “When he was younger he was always a tough horse that could just run hard the whole race but now that he's developed some speed he can come of their backs and sprint past them which he proved last night,” he added. Dr Hook competed last night with no front shoes on, a trick which Mackinnon says helped his trotting gait. “He raced in the National Trot (third) and Lyell Creek Stakes (third) with no front shoes,” said Mackinnon.  “Paul (Nairn-trainer) had the idea (to race him with no shoes on) about a year ago but you have to wait until they have a bit of toe on otherwise it stuffs up their feet.” Mackinnon was very thankful to Paul Nairn and Dr Hook’s connections for giving him the opportunity on such a good horse. Mackinnon will now head to Tauranga on Sunday, where he has two good chances in Ruby Castleton and Trotupastorm, both of whom he trains himself. “Trotupastorm, like Dr Hook, has been training on the beach so I am expecting a good run from him.” “And Ruby Castleton definitely has the ability to win but there are a few question marks over her manners,” concluded Mackinnon. By Mitchell Robertson

While trotting maestro Paul Nairn is confident of a bold showing from One Over Da Moon on Sunday at Motukarara, he is not prepared to declare last season’s two-year-old Jewels champion a winner. “I don’t think he will be able to make his own luck and win on Sunday but with the right run he is definitely capable of doing so,” said Nairn. “He is as fit as I can have him without having a trial under his belt, but in saying that he will definitely improve off the run.” Nairn said that while the grass track is a slight concern for the three-year-old son of Majestic Son and champion mare One Over Kenny, he thinks he will handle it okay. “He has done a bit of work down the roadside, which is pretty similar to racing on a grass track,” explained Nairn. Nairn also expects his rising star to cope with the standing start. “He is generally a very quick beginner at home, so I am hoping he will translate that to race day,” said Nairn. One Over Da Moon, who won five of his eleven starts as a two-year-old, is likely to race again at Addington on January 31st, before honing in on his first main target – the $25,000 Hambletonian at Ashburton on February 8th. “I want to give him a couple of standing starts before the Hambletonian, as last time in he got quite fiery behind the mobile. While Nairn thinks One Over Da Moon is a good chance from his 20 metre back mark on Sunday, he is vulnerable, which opens things up for up and coming trotter Spell. “She is a very nice wee trotter with a lot of ability,” said co-trainer Peter Jones. “She was extremely tied up at Nelson last start, which makes her run for second even more impressive. She seems better now, so I expect her to be very hard to beat from her front mark.” Meanwhile, Nairn confirmed that champion trotter Stig is back in work after a two week let-up. “We have nothing set in concrete for him at the moment, we will just see how he is feeling,” said Nairn. “He is unlikely to head to Australia for the Great Southern Star, but we may give him a crack at going back-to-back in the Rowe Cup,” Nairn concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

Junior reinsman Jack Mackinnon will be rewarded for the time he has spent helping trotting maestro Paul Nairn over the past four years, when he takes the reins behind Dr Hook at Alexandra Park on Friday night. “It is going to be a huge thrill to drive him on raceday as he is a horse I have had plenty to do with,” explained Mackinnon, who started helping Nairn during his trips to Auckland about four years ago. “I met him through David Branch and things have just spiralled from there,” said Mackinnon. “He really is a pleasure to be involved with and he has taught me a lot,” he added. Mackinnon has been the caretaker trainer of 13 win trotter Dr Hook since his last start failure at Cambridge on January 10. “I have been training him on the beach out at Michelle Wallis’s and he is absolutely thriving on it,” enthused Mackinnon. “His work on Tuesday was super and I am expecting a very big run from him.” Through Mackinnon being a concession Junior Driver, Dr Hook gets a 20 metre let-up in the handicaps, which could just be enough to see the eight-year-old son of Dr Ronerail bounce back to winning form. “Flying Isa and Sovereignty are the two hardest to beat but they are both of 40 metres, while through the handicapping concession we are only off 20,” explained Mackinnon. “So all things being equal he should be hard to beat.” Mackinnon also has two stable representatives competing at Tauranga on Sunday, including stable newcomer Trotupastorm. “I have been working him on the beach as well and he seems to be really enjoying it,” said Mackinnon. “He’d have to be an each-way chance if he was on his game.” Mackinnon’s other runner this weekend is Ruby Castleton and while the ability is definitely there, the manners may not be. “She is a touch on mad side, but if she was to do things right she would she would take a lot of beating,” confirmed Mackinnon. Mackinnon has currently driven two winners, but looks a strong chance to add to that tally this weekend, hopefully with his old favourite Dr Hook. Meanwhile, last season’s Great Northern Derby winner Ohoka Punter is set to resume in the ninth race at Alexandra Park tonight. “I have been happy with his last two trial wins, so he should be hard to beat,” said Herlihy. “Obviously he will improve with a bit of race fitness, but you have to start somewhere,” he added. Herlihy originally had Chariots Of Fire aspirations with the hugely talented Bettor’s Delight four-year-old, but after consulting his father-in-law, the legendary Roy Purdon, he may now opt to set him for the local classics. “Roy said it’s too early to rush him into the ‘Chariots’, and that’s why I we will probably give it a miss.” Ohoka Punter has drawn well in barrier three for tonight’s $13,000 Auckland Cup Festival C4 to C7 pace, his first race start since finishing third behind Border Control in the Group One Harness Jewels 3yo Final at Ashburton on June 1. “I’m really happy with everything he has done so far this time in. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won, but then again it wouldn’t surprise me either if blew out a bit in the final stages either,” said Herlihy. With the Chariots Of Fire most likely off the radar, Ohoka Punter’s main short-term targets will be the Auckland four-year-old features in May – namely the Taylor Mile and New Zealand Messenger. “After that we will programme his racing from there but there’s always racing for him here during the winter. Long-term there’s the Jewels and then hopefully at the end of the year, the New Zealand Cup,” Herlihy said. By Mitchell Robertson

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