Harness racing can be a great leveler at times and the $32,400 Futurity Final for C0-C5 horses at Addington today was another great example that races are run on the track and not in the bar. New Years Jay was a warm favourite on the back of some super performances over the last few months and Dana Duke was another to attract solid support after a string of smart runs in quality fields. Juliette Bromac led early from barrier one and set up a hectic pace in front. The first surprise came when Dana Duke broke after 400 metres and settled 10 lengths behind the bunch. The three wide train led by Parramatta and Terry Chmiel took off with 1400 metres to run and grabbed the lead off Juliette Bromac. Billies A Star driven by Gavin Smith followed up Parramatta and landed in the death seat before getting cover behind New Years Jay with 800 metres to run. Passing the 600 metres New Years Jay went into a wild gallop after hanging in and striking the wheel of Parramatta and that put paid to her chances. As they turned for home Parramatta lead but was quickly claimed by Billies A Star who shot clear for a 2 1/4 length win. Juliette Bromac got up the passing lane for a game second in front of a fast finishing Lovemetwotimes. The time for the 2600 metres from the mobile was a brilliant 3:10.6, a mile rate of 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 28.9. Trained by Phil Burrows at Fernside, Billies A Star is by American Ideal from a In The Pocket daughter of a full sister to the brilliant Starship 1:54.5 ($341,780). Gavin Smith was full of praise for the trainer post race. " Phil always has his horses ready to run" " When he tells you they are ready, it gives you a lot of confidence,"he said. A bit of a rogue early on, Billies A Star is getting better with each race and Gavin was sure where the credit lay. "Phil has taken his time with this horse and is getting the rewards now," he said. At his present rate of improvement it wouldn't be a surprise to see Billies A Star in some of the 4 year old classics later in the season. Billies A Star Harnesslink media
One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media
New Zealand's best junior reinsman - Zac Butcher - proved just how good a harness racing driver he really is when claiming his second New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship at Addington Raceway tonight (Friday July 20). The 21-year-old Clevedon-based beat South Islanders Matty Williamson and Jack Trainor.
Somehow you just know that tonight's (Friday April 27) victory by Pacific Rapture in the listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Final for 2yo pacing fillies won't be the biggest achievement in Phil Burrows harness racing career for very long.
Phil Burrows is experiencing a new harness racing high. The North Canterbury trainer works a team of 20 at Fernside just out of Rangiora, but it's his two 2-year-old fillies that have him springing out of bed each morning.