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Prodigal Seelster registered his first success as a sire when Ive Already Told You scored an emphatic harness racing victory at Forbury Park last Thursday night. Starting off the unruly position in a 2200m mobile, Ive Already Told You was taken back to the tail of the bunch early and then driver Blair Orange decided it was time to move on the $1.30 favourite when the pace slackened. They zoomed around the field and into the lead with a lap and a bit to travel, and from there the result was never in any doubt. Speeding down the back straight in 28.4, Ive Already Told You coasted home in 28.7 to score by more than six lengths in a 2:00.9 mile rate. "The earplugs were still in and Blair never touched him - he could've won by twice as much," enthused trainer Stephen Boyd. "He's not a bad animal, this one." The gelding's talent has been on display right from the word go when he won two public appearances as a 2-year-old, one of them a workout at Motukarara in November last year. The other was an Ashburton trial victory six months ago in June, but Stephen knew the horse had gone in the wind even prior to the trial so a scheduled soft palate operation went ahead soon afterwards. Ive Already Told You finally made his debut at Addington early last month, and despite a couple of breaks and formline of '97D' in his first three raceday outings he'd actually been performing terrific - hence the reason why punters sent him out at microscopic odds a few days ago. "The trip to Forbury was more for education than anything else," Stephen says. "And it's really helped him. He had a couple of days off afterwards, but I put him on the lead yesterday and he was just... 'wow'. "He's in again at Addington this Thursday night, and I'm expecting him to go another cracker!" Stephen is well known for being a seller of young horses, and understandably the phone "hasn't stopped" ringing since Ive Already Told You's win last week. The offers haven't quite been up to the mark yet, but Stephen admits that he might struggle to let the half-brother to Nek Time go anyway because he's developed a real soft spot for him. "You couldn't ask for more in a horse," he says of the 3-year-old son of Jenna's Beach Boy mare Braithwaite, who's known affectionately around home as Zorro.  "He's full of beans the whole time, but he's got such a cool personality and there's not an ounce of nastiness in him whatsoever. "The best way to describe him is that he's just a goof, like a big dumb kid who's always playful. "He's got a bloody big motor too, and once he strengthens into his large frame he's going to be a classy individual. "I really think that in time he could be something quite special." Ive Already Told You isn't the only Prodigal Seelster Stephen's got either; he also trains Vi Lee, a filly out of Mackles Creek who's the same age. Also a trial winner at two, Vi Lee became her sire's first starter at the races when she lined up and ran fifth at Ashburton in mid-July this year, but Stephen says she wasn't quite right that day and was diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Back from a spell now, Vi Lee had a quiet run at the Motukarara Workouts over the weekend and isn't far away from resuming. Rated almost as highly as Ive Already Told You, she'll "definitely win races". Spurred on by the talent his Prodigal Seelsters are showing at home and on the racetrack, Stephen bred another couple of mares to the stallion this season.  

Prodigal Seelster is now the sire of a couple of impressive harness racing qualifiers after a son and daughter both earned their tickets at Ashburton yesterday. Following on from his trial win at Motukarara 10 days earlier, Ive Already Told You lined up against four others of the same age and gender and thrilled his connections by running second. Settling with one behind them in the mile trial yesterday, Ive Already Told You and driver Jeremy Markham eased into the one-one around the final bend and got humped out three-wide, but the strapping Prodigal Seelster gelding never let it affect him and continued to run to the line strongly. Ive Already Told You wasn't pushed to finish just over a length in arrears of the winner, recording a personal time of 2:00.8 after the final sectionals went by in 58 flat and 27.7. Bred and raced by Tony Stewart and Angela Boyd, Ive Already Told You is trained by the latter's husband Stephen who says the 2-year-old has earned himself a brief let-up now. "He can go out for six weeks," Stephen said. "So it won't be long, but he'll be that much better for it once he comes back in. "He's going to make a nice horse, I quite like him." Prodigal Seelster didn't have to wait long for his second qualifier, as it eventuated in the very next Heat on the Ashburton programme. Vi Lee had just a couple of opposition in the 2-year-old fillies mobile mile, and after drawing between them she slotted straight onto the back of the leader from the outset and stayed there the whole way. At the finishing line she and driver Jeremy Markham were one and quarter lengths away, having paced the mile in 2:01.3 after sprinting home in 57.1 and 27.6. Also trained out of Stephen's Aylesbury barn, Vi Lee was bred and is raced by his father John and has a bright future ahead. "I just know how little I've done with her so far - and how much she's going to improve," Stephen said enthusiastically "Neither of these Prodigal Seelsters are anywhere near screwed down yet." Harnesslink Media

Prodigal Seelster's first crop of harness racing 2-year-olds numbers just 16, but a few of them have already started making a big splash with their trainers. Stephen Boyd took his two Prodigal Seelster babies off the place for the first time two days ago, lining up the gelding Ive Already Told You and filly Vi Lee in a juvenile trial at Motukarara, and they walked away with almost the perfect result after running first and third respectively. "I led up on my guy and the filly ran home nice from back on the fence," Stephen reported, adding that Jeremy Markham partnered the latter for him. Ive Already Told You won the mobile mile Heat "quite easily" in 2:07.3, sprinting home in 59.9 and 29.1 to score by half a length. "They're both big, strong horses; really powerfully-built, and good looking types too. "In fact, Jimmy Curtin drove another one in the Heat for me and couldn't believe that my guy was only two - he reckoned it looked like a 4-year-old! "They're both going to take a wee bit of time, due to their size, but Ive Already Told You should make a beaut 3-year-old and Vi Lee might even target the Young Guns Series in Auckland this season yet." Next up for Stephen's pair of Prodigals is a qualifying trial at Ashburton a week tomorrow, and he's expecting them to both get their tickets. "We went 2:07 at Motukarara, so I think they'll quite comfortably run about two minutes around Ashburton," he said. "And what I also like about them is that I know they'll improve a lot more yet." Stephen's heard through the grapevine that there could be some 2-year-old events programmed at Addington sometime next month, so if they end up getting off the ground then he says his two Prodigals are definite candidates. Highly regarded as a conditioner of young equine talent, every season Stephen gets asked to break in and educate dozens of horses for outside stables including the powerful All Stars barn of Mark Purdon's and Natalie Rasmussen's. And of the 30+ 2-year-olds he's handled so far this year, he says his two Prodigal Seelsters are "right up there, in the top half of them at least". Ive Already Told You (out of the racewinning Jenna's Beach Boy mare Braithwaite) and Vi Lee (a daughter of Holmes Hanover mare Mackles Creek, 3 wins) continued the encouraging start made by Prodigal Seelster with his first crop, because this sire has now had a trio of triallists and all three have run in the money. Boulton Home was the first to step out, making an appearance at Ashburton on October 31. A son of Lordship's Falcon and thus a half-brother to four winners including Crystal Star (11 wins), Boulton Home got a bit overawed by the whole occasion but still managed to run third in his three-horse Heat, albeit some distance from the winner. Harnesslink Media  

“What a bitch she was as a young horse!.I couldn't wait to get her off the place!” That's Robert Earle's early recollection of 'Maiden Rome', the Elrae Lodge harness racing mare now well and truly considered part of the family. The 7 year old's 1.59 victory in the 'Prodigal Seelster Summer of Speed Series' opener at Methven this month was her eighth win and third for the calendar year. A giant leap from going around in the amateur ranks this time last year. Chatting from Tuscon, Arizona where he was attending the annual world racing conference, Rob Earle puts his homebred's best year down to beach training. “She was feeling her old joints around our home track and was 'hot or cold' on race days because of it I think. I was travelling away a lot and Steve Golding had just started working with Greg and Nina Hope's beach stable. He wanted a horse to keep on the board with the race driving and had won with her in the past so they made a logical team.” The combination started with back to back 'metro' wins in July, collected the $7500 Addington 'met multiplier' bonus along the way and the form held all spring! Enough, in fact, for 'Maiden Rome' to be among nominations for the New Zealand Cup no less, then be considered unlucky not to win a couple of other country cups to boot. “She helped me with an amateur drive victory at the Tuapeka races last year and I really thought that was us just about done with the winners circle.” Maiden Rome at Methven Rob Earle doesn't get as many opportunities as Maiden Rome to show his race day talents given the time he spends overseas as CEO for the once high profile '123 Racing' product. The bet type which had enough presence down under to back a live broadcast of New Zealand Cup day in 2007 has since gained traction in the USA. It's introduction at several major tracks has helped '123' accumulate a million dollar turnover the last three months. Earle's making another 'push' for his pet project in Australasia this year, hence the '123' race colours on 'Maiden Rome' at Methven. “We've teamed up with the addington123.com website this season and I'm keen to revisit the New Zealand and Australia prospects in the New Year. I think we were just ahead of our time back then.” Meantime the other pet, 'Maiden Rome' continues on an extended racing schedule. Earle admits she should really be in foal but that's for next season now given her 'Summer of Speed' form heading to Boxing Day's holiday heat in  Ashburton. “Actually we bred her from a free service so the Prodigal Seelster series might be the right formula for Maiden Rome too” thinks Rob. The bloodlines are a tidy match and the 'Summer of Speed' seems a good fit so far. “She's definitely the best horse we've had. The only one to truly pay her way.” Easy as 1 2 3 this racing game eh? Link here to the Ashburton Summer of Speed Heat (R9 on Boxing Day) Prodigal Seelster Camluck Cam Fella Most Happy Fella Nan Cam Lucky Lady Striking Image Just Our Luck Platinum Seelster Western Hanover No Nukes Wendymae Hanover Parcel Abercrombie Barbret Maiden Rome Julius Caesar In The Pocket Direct Scooter Black Jade Pleasant Franco Bo Scots Blue Chip Pleasant Evening Jazz Tempo Shiney Key Abercrombie Keystone Shineola Jazzmania Enterprise Royal Tempo  Sheldon Murtha.  Top Of The Trots Media.

Unusually Noel Kennard wasn't looking for this particular opportunity. His head and office space were full of the inspired 'Go Harness' syndicate schedule when a trip with an American friend speculating at the 2014 New Zealand Yearling Sales brought about a stallion conversation.   “Holiday driving around the south island with Gordon Banks last summer brought Prodigal Seelster to light among many road trip racing topics” recalls the guy behind the 'Go Stallions' banner.   Comfortably the top performer from a family full of 'black typers' the Canadian son of Camluck had come onto the stallion market and was priced right for a player more comfortable in economy class on such journeys.   “The same sort of conversation led to Monkey Bones” Kennard recalls, “I was quizzing various people if there was a place in the market for a Grey trotting stallion back then. Laughter on all sides from memory”.   Accelerate forward to this summer and the frantic end of the breeding season.   Like most stallions, Prodigal Seelster has a lighter book of mares than he or Noel would fancy.   Never short of a promotional idea, Kennard is hoping a prodigious play that kicks even 'pay on live foal' to the back paddock will help his stead get lucky with the expected late comers.   “Have you ever bred a foal where you don't have to pay the service bill until the horse is qualified for the races?”   Sounds like the start of a holiday drive.   Of course not Noel..what's the catch?   “The only real condition is there won't be any discounts when the qualifying time comes or if the horse is sold. Is that a punt worth taking in this market?”   You'd think so Noel and we're hardly up the road yet.   Noel's early Christmas doesn't end there either. 'Go Stallions' has three freebies to the modern day 'Seelster' wrapped and ready for the 'Prodigal Seelster Summer of Speed' starting on Methven's monster December day at the trots.   Kennard's hope is the winner, the fastest and the lucky also ran through the race series will benefit from genes selected to compliment speed breeds like Christian Cullen,In The Pocket, Bettors Delight and other modern bloodlines based around Direct Scooter.   Each of the entries has enough form to win heat one but the actual victor might be standardbred breeders with the help of a "first, Noel".........   Sheldon Murtha.   Top Of The Trots Media.

The 'CSBA Summer of Speed' is another push from the association representing and promoting interests of standardbred breeders in Canterbury.  Scheduled to start the first week of December it's a race series that gives good class mares an opportunity to upgrade their 'CV' with an eye on a post racing life at stud explains CSBA deputy chairman Martin Pierson.  “We have to be urgent in the breeding sector of the sport. Incentives to keep good mares in New Zealand producing the foals that'll  'put on the show' in the future is a priority right now.”   Pierson is part of a sub-committee formed by the association targeting areas it sees as helping turn a tide of decreasing harness horse numbers caused by a financially strapped breeding sector.  “The absolute top tier mares can look after themselves, it's those chasing we're losing too quickly to keep a sustainable population of quality horses coming on. Those 2nd tier mares are being exported to Australia mainly, filling up race fields and stud farms in Victoria and New South Wales instead of Canterbury and New Zealand.”  A tighter summer race schedule and new supporting stallion group are two fresh starts this season for the races recently known as the Christian Cullen Mares Series.  The 'Prodigal Seelster Summer of Speed' starts at Methven on December 7th then moves to Addington just under a fortnight later on the 19th.   The C2 and faster pacing mares then stretch their legs at Ashburton's renowned speedway on Boxing Day before heading back to Addington on January 16 and a last bid at qualifying for the $16 000 final at Ashburton, February 7th.  All races will be over a mile which immediately brings the controversial start point at Addington for such events into question again. Pierson says the series sub-committee debated more than one issue strongly and mile racing at New Zealands premier track came back frequently.  “We've opened the class eligibility a little wider this summer with a total stakes won cap of $65k which will help keep about half a dozen C5, 6 and 7 mares in the mix. Addington's mile start provides a natural barrier draw handicap which, as we've seen already this spring, keeps the C2 mares very competitive with the more tightly assessed girls who'll get their shot matching motors at Methven and Ashburton.”  Methven's grass track venue also came under review says Pierson but while it scored down on the 'fast track fast times' objective, the prospect of 14 runners in front of the club's typically big crowd on a summers day was deemed a great start for the series.  In addition to backing the $9000 heats and $16 000 final, stallion owner Noel Kennard has proposed a package of free services to 'Prodigal Seelster'.  Prodigal Seelster winning the “Battle of Waterloo”  Not only for the winner of the 'Summer of Speed' final but the fastest mare through the series and in fact all competitors will be in a draw for a 'free date' with the stallion.  “He's locked in for 3 years” Pierson enthuses. “That gives the CSBA confidence to develop the series and the stallion is exposed to quality, fast mares coming through the series”.  Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association  

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