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Time has been called on Lebron. Not the world’s best basketball player and current NBA superstar LeBron James from Akron, Ohio – it’s his namesake, the talented harness racing standardbred. A pacer that provided plenty of slam dunk and explosive performances on his court – the racetrack! His hard running, free-wheeling style of racing made sure he was a fan favourite. Connections have the made the decision to retire their perennial performer following his most recent start at Albion Park on July 12. Fittingly, he goes out as a winner. “I’ve been thinking about when the right time would be to announce his retirement, it’s something I’ve thought about for a number of months. The fact he won at Albion Park last month made the decision much easier, he deserves an ending like that because he’s such a warrior.” Trainer Brian McCall said. A graduate of the Australian Pacing Gold and purchased by Brisbane based builder Sam DiFrancesco, Lebron eventually headed north to the sunshine state. With work commitments keeping him occupied, Lebron was switched to the stables of McCall for further education and experience. As time went by, McCall continued to ply his trade with the young and gangly pacer who showed some of the family’s rich ability. A gelded son of Jennas Beach Boy from the Armbro Operative mare Full Pleasure, Lebron was the third foal from the mare that produced Tiger Island (7 wins - $38k) and then star mare Kept For Pleasure (19 wins - $542k). Others siblings that followed included Its My Pleasure (14 wins - $142k), Don Boston (14 wins - $86k), Nowitzki (11 wins - $233k), Lagoon Beach (5 wins - $34k) and Egodan (10 wins - $87k). It was obvious that Lebron was going to need time; he needed to mature and grow into his big and somewhat awkward frame. Eventually, a lease deal was struck between DiFrancesco and McCall’s partner, Rachel Beaton. He went unraced as a two-year-old. His debut came at Redcliffe in November, 2008 where he was unplaced. But McCall persisted and things started to turn overtime. That persistency was paid on January 11, 2010 when Lebron landed his maiden success at Redcliffe with McCall taking the winning drive himself. With the bulk of his early racing staged on the triangular like shape track of Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, visits to the main track of Albion Park were quite rare. But McCall knew that the bigger spaces at the spiritual home of Queensland harness racing would come, and he was prepared to wait. Lebron would win 8 races at Redcliffe. His first win at headquarters didn’t come until September 1, 2011 when he scored over the 2138m in a time of 2:00.3. It would become the first of many but interestingly, it would be his only victory at that distance range at Albion Park with all other victories over the sprint trip of 1660m. With time, Lebron only got faster and stronger and established himself as one of the best short-course pacers in the state. Lebron would contest a raft of feature events at Albion Park including the Queensland Pacing Championship, Sunshine Sprint, Be Good Johnny Sprint and Wondais Mate. In total, Lebron would win 18 races at Albion Park at the distance of 1660m. “My best memory of him winning was the night at Albion Park he got hammered in front by Devil Dodger and then fought off the likes of Lanercost and Destreos in a mile of 1:54. He took some good scalps during his time and always tried his heart out, it was unfortunate in some of those bigger races he didn’t have much luck in running or barrier draws. “He’s a horse that means so much to Rachel and me, we love him to death and he’s constantly spoiled. He can get cranky at times and will strike and bite but normally those times are few and far between. Like most, he’s battled with niggling issues but we’ve managed it and kept him going because he really enjoyed racing.” A number of drivers had the pleasure of sitting behind Lebron during his career including Pete McMullen, Gary Whitaker, Hayden Barnes, Rob Gorman, Dean Belford, Kelli Dawson, Ray Law, Bart Cockburn, Amanda Turnbull and McCall himself. McMullen handled him in 15 victories. Lebron Fact File; 168 starts 30 wins 40 seconds 20 thirds Prizemoney - $250,550 Fastest time – 1:52.9 Thanks for the memories, we salute you! by Chris Barsby

Queensland’s biggest harness racing nursery, Burwood Stud, is hoping their good fortune continues this weekend. Owned and operated by the Denning family and situated at Pittsworth on the Darling Downs, the farm covers 1500 acres of basalt and limestone country which provides a perfect grounding for producing elite racehorses. And the proof is there. Last weekend, on the final night of the Albion Park winter carnival, the stud experienced a massive result with their 2YOs born-and-raised at BURWOOD STUD won both $100,000 Group One QBred Triad Finals! Not only that, but juveniles born-and-raised at Burwood Stud trifectaed the 2YO Fillies Final:- 1. IM NORMA JEAN (by Modern Art) (Bred-and-owned by Jeff & Leanne Wallace; trained by Peter Greig; driven by Amanda Turnbull) 2. JANUARY (by Cammibest) (Bred by Burwood Stud, owned by Peter Poulsen, trained by Wayne Graham driven by Adam Sanderson) 3. JOSSIE JAMES (by Big Jim) (Bred-and-owned by Trevor & Louise O'Reilly; trained by Wayne Graham, driven by Shane Graham) It wasn’t just the fillies that stood tall because the $100,000 Group One 2YO Colts & Geldings Final saw one of the runners, Lucifers Legend, being bred at BURWOOD STUD, by resident millionaire successful sire CAMMIBEST, while the winner was also born-and-raised at BURWOOD STUD:- 1. CHANGEOVERME (by Changeover) (Bred-and-owned by Chris and Gayle Garrard; trained by Kylie Rasmussen & Darren Weeks; driven by Mathew Neilson) Burwood studmaster Noel Denning is naturally delighted with the results. “We’re very pleased with the results but without the support of our clients who have been with us for so long, these results aren’t possible. It’s been a very good year and that augurs well for the upcoming breeding season, if the owners and breeders are happy, we’re happy.” Denning said. Other big race results for Burwood this season include the fillies feature at Tabcorp Park, Menangle - $322,000 APG 2YO Fillies Final - 1st - PARK LIFE (Group One) Foaled down & reared at BURWOOD STUD plus at Albion Park - $80,000 Albion Park Gold Final - 1st - JOSSIE JAMES (Group Two)      Foaled down & reared at BURWOOD STUD Outstanding three-year-old Leos Best, a winner of the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final and the $20,000 Redcliffe Derby is a son of resident stallion Cammibest. The bayside club will play host to another feature meeting this Friday night and the stud is well represented in the Listed $25,000 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series 3yo Final including the two favourites in Leos Best and Timmo Time (by Western Edition). These results continue BURWOOD STUD's dominance of young horse racing, and follow in the footsteps of 2YOs bred and foaled at BURWOOD STUD, or by BURWOOD STUD's stallions, in feature races.  Burwood Stud will be standing Cammibest and dual Derby winner Lanercost this coming season. Chris Barsby Fields for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016 Form guide for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016

Talented harness racing pacer Mach Alert is back on track and now looking at next week’s Gr.3 $30,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup. The former Gr.1 Queensland Derby winner was forced to miss the bulk of the Albion Park winter carnival features owing to issues with his hooves, the Mach Three gelding pulled up short in his latest effort behind stablemate Avonnova in the Lucky Creed on June 18. But a sharp trial yesterday (Tuesday) proved the Ian Gurney trained pacer is back on the right track. Mach Alert won the Albion Park 2138m standing start trial defeating Bio Marinus and Spare Me Days in a time of 2:00.3. The final mile covered in splits of 30.7, 30.8, 28.3 and 27 seconds. “He stepped really well, he’s always been a good stand start horse and he felt very comfortable during the workout while he did it within himself over the final stages. His work was really good, he was strong through the line and he seems ready for next week’s Redcliffe Cup.” Winning driver Shane Graham said. Mach Alert is a proven big race performer from the stand with victories in the Premiers Cup (2011) and the recent Flashing Red at Albion Park, the victory in the Flashing Red was only two starts ago. He also boasts a victory over Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling at Menangle while being placed in the 2012 Kilmore Cup behind Bitobliss and Caribbean Blaster. While most of the interstate visitors have headed home this week, the Redcliffe feature looks a great opportunity to make up for some lost time. Goulburn pacer Spare Me Days has remained in Brisbane and will contest this week’s Listed $25,000 Chris Garrard’s Patrons Purse followed by next week’s Redcliffe Cup. The Ifihadyourluck entire has been switched from the stables of Brad Hewitt to local trainer Wayne Graham, a winner of the 2009 Redcliffe Cup with Bossys Henry. Spare Me Days had little luck during his three start Albion Park winter carnival campaign and will be handled for the first time this week by Shane Graham. “He’s a nice horse, his record proves that and I’m looking forward to driving him this week. He wasn’t far away against the big boys in the open class features at Albion Park and he should prove very competitive.” Graham explained. “It’s a good quality field this week and it won’t be easy but he has landed a good draw which is a good start at Redcliffe, the Dixon stable will prove hard to beat while Major Cam beat this horse in the 4yo Championship so that just underlines the depth of this race.” He added. The Patrons Purse last year was taken out by the Grant Dixon trained Majestic Major who was handled by Peter Greig. Chris Barsby Fields for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016 Form guide for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016

Harness racing trainer Shawn Grimsey is no stranger to success at Redcliffe. And he’s quite fond of the Redcliffe Yearling race series. Back in 2013, he prepared Designer Style to win the Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series 2yo Final and now he returns to win the inaugural running of the 3yo series. Grimsey prepares the talented Timmo Time, a brilliant winner of his heat last week where he showed a devastating turn of foot over the concluding stages. “He was very good last week, he’s back to his best and his past couple of runs proves that. I thought he was very game in the Premiers Cup and the form out of that race has really stacked up and he was the more impressive of the heat winners last week.” Grimsey said. While this season has been productive, Grimsey believes he’s had his share of near misses which have proven quite frustrating. Timmo Time cost himself victory in the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic when he finished a narrow second behind Leos Best when he made a rare mistake at the start and galloped. He missed a start in the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final while having little or no luck in the Redcliffe Derby back on June 3. The Western Edition gelding must overcome a second-line draw this week after landing gate nine. “It’s been one of those campaigns with this horse but I prefer to look forward rather than dwelling on the past, this race has been on his radar for some time and hopefully we can pick up the pieces this week. “His sectionals were very impressive last week and they will need to be just as good this week if not better given the draw. Leos Best is a high quality horse and his heat victory last week was his typical type of effort, he’ll prove very hard to beat again. “Let’s just hope we can get some early pressure so that will gives us a chance to get into this race, I haven’t spoken to Adam (Sanderson – driver) yet but he normally plays it pretty cool.” The 2016 Listed $25,000 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series 3yo Final will be staged over 2040m. The Grant Dixon trained Leos Best is looking at completing the double after taking the $80,000 2yo final last year defeating Mucho Macho Man and Timmo Time. Leos Best, a gelding by Burwood Stud’s resident stallion Cammibest has gone on to win over $200,000 in prizemoney. Other feature race victories include the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo Final while this season he has collected the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic and the $20,000 Redcliffe Derby. Chris Barsby Fields for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016 Form guide for Redcliffe, Friday 22 July 2016

Harness racing trainer Nathan Purdon has the mindset of glass half full as he approaches the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake this Saturday night. The New Zealand born horseman prepares former dual Derby winner Ohoka Punter in the Albion Park feature, considered as the biggest threat to end the winning run of emerging star Hectorjayjay. To date, Ohoka Punter has come up a little short in his battle with Hectorjayjay who has taken the bragging rights on both occasions they've met. The David Aiken trained Hectorjayjay is aiming for his fifth straight victory this weekend. Ohoka Punter tried valiantly after doing a mountain of mid-race work in the Gr.1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle two starts ago when third before finishing in the same position last week after coming from a long way back. “We’re close but not close enough at this stage, he’s got the wood on us so far and the draw gives him a great chance of extending that record this weekend. Last week, we both had second-line draws and this week we both move to the front-line but unfortunately, his draws have been a little better.” Purdon said. Ohoka Punter starts from gate six with Hectorjayjay drawn to his immediate inside and many believe both pacers will push forward from their front-line draws. But Purdon is very respectful of the skills of champion reinsman Gavin Lang and is not prepared to show his hand. “Gavin is a wonderful driver, he has options because the horse has gate speed but he also showed he is just as good coming from off the pace. Given the pace drawn on our inside, we may just float forward before making a play for the lead without being stuck out wide for too long. “It’s not the best draw but it’s not worst draw, I’ll be having a close look at Gavin at the start and that will probably give me a clearer indication of what I will do. The extra distance is going to suit my horse better; his record over the longer journeys is pretty good. “I’m really happy with his condition right now and he’s pulled up very well from last week so he’s a happy horse but Hectorjayjay has been quite unbelievable in his past two starts. We’re fit and ready but we do require some luck going our way.” The form of Ohoka Punter on Australian soil is outstanding with the Bettor's Delight entire yet to miss a place in 11 starts to date. Previously prepared by champion horseman Tony Herlihy, Ohoka Punter continues to thrive on the Australian racing style and looms as a live chance of claiming his second Gr.1 victory in Australian following his success in the Victoria Derby as a three-year-old. A decision on his future after this weekend is yet to be made, connections have ample options with the New Zealand Cup in Christchurch or the Inter Dominion series in Perth later this year both making strong appeal. Chris Barsby Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 16 July 2016 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 16 July 2016

Despite his winning run, things won’t get any easier this weekend. In-form Sydney harness racing three-year-old Charlaval will face fresh challengers on Saturday night in the Gr.1 $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby at Albion Park. The Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris prepared gelding has secured back to back feature race victories including the Gr.1 Breeders Challenge followed by Saturday night’s feature, the Listed Gold Coast Derby. Charlaval defeated a late charging Stanley Ross Robyn and a game Kimani while several others also caught the eye including My Mastercraftsman, Mattgregor and Fcee. “We were really happy with his effort in the Gold Coast Derby; he got an economical trip and made the most of it. Importantly, he’s comes through the race really well and we’re looking forward to the main event this week.” Morris said. But arriving in the sunshine state to contest the 2680m feature are classy Victorian pacers Brallos Pass and Iceenothink while last start Menangle winner Match In Heaven is also heading north. Both Brallos Pas and Iceenothink come out of the same race at their most recent start; they were placed by Don’t Hold Back in the Gr.1 Vicbred Final at TABCORP Park, Melton on July 2. And New Zealand filly Nek Time, who has swept all before her on Australian soil to date with victories in both the Queensland and Gold Coast Oaks, will also take on the boys this week. Should the Terry and Glenys Chmiel trained filly emerge triumphant she will be the first member of the ‘fairer sex’ to annex the Oaks and Derby. The two classics have been conducted simultaneously since 1972. In recent years, the Queensland Derby has been dominated by clear favourites, Menin Gate last year followed on from the likes of Bling It On, Majestic Mach and Best Deal Yet but this year appears to be very open. The field and barrier draw will be released tomorrow (Tuesday). Chris Barsby

Hectorjayjay has won the harness racing Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint tonight at Albion Park in a last-minute run from behind that has to be seen to be believed. The bay gelding spent the vast majority of the race in the back of the field, only making his run for the line at the 400 metre mark sitting five wide. Hectorjayjay is in the midst of brilliant form, beating his stable mate and Inter Dominion winner Lennytheshark only recently in the Len Smith Mile, and now running down the brilliant Christen Me to take out tonight’s feature race. Handler and travel companion of Hectorjayjay, Kima Fenning, said she was used to the horse coming from  behind but tonight’s late run had her thinking. “To be honest, I wasn’t too worried at the start of the race because I’ve seen him come from way behind before, but at the 400 mark when he was still second last I thought we were in a bit of trouble,” “I saw when he came out on the top of the straight, I saw him put in that little extra that he does, but then again I saw Christen Me get a run and I thought “Oh, we might be in trouble here”, but he’s just an amazing horse and he never puts in a bad run, he just always does that little bit extra,” said Fenning. Harness racing Operations Manager Brett Rail was impressed with the great run and the flow-on effect it has for harness racing. “It was an outstanding race, and it’s the type of race that brings people back to trotting,” “To see the son of Dream Away come from the tail of the field in a virtually impossible position to beat horses like Christen Me, who’s probably the best in Australasia, it was an outstanding field and an outstanding race.” “I think Hectorjayjay is the next one on the block, he’s ready to take over the mantle and become the best horse in Australasia I’m sure,” Rail added. The 2016 DPMA Queensland Oaks (2138m) was another high-quality race on the cards tonight, with the gutsy three-year-old filly Nek Time (Gotta Go Cullect) working hard to grab the lead early and take home the win in a blistering time of 2 minutes 34.2 seconds. Brett Rail praised the run and the stunning victory. “The winner Nek Time was an absolutely outstanding run, she did so much work early and through the run,” “It was a super-fast time, and the way that horse just kept going it was just an unforgettable race to watch, hopefully she goes on to the Derby for a Picket Fence next week,” Rail added. The 2016 Garrard’s Gold Coast Derby was the other feature race of the night, and it was always going to be a hard to separate the contenders, all entrants very even on paper. Both the winner Charlaval and runner-up Stanly Ross Robyn did a great job to grab their win and place, Rail full of praise for the quality three-year-olds. “It was an outstanding field of three-year-olds, Charlaval from the draw had a good run and was an outstanding winner,” “There are a number of horses in that race that can easily win the Derby, barrier draws are going to be all important for that one,” said Rail. The ground-breaking Picket Fence promotion offers trainers and owners the chance to win a share of $111,000 in bonuses if their horse can win three races in a row in Queensland including one of four feature races on Blacks A Fake Night. At this time the Bill Cosby-trained Slippery Jade is eligible for the two-year-old filly’s bonus, Chris Petroff’s Maestro Bellini is eligible for the two-year-old colt’s and gelding’s bonus, while the Chmiel-trained Nek Time will be in the running for the bonus in the Derby. Blacks A Fake night will be held next Saturday, July 16.  

Harness Racing Form analyst Trent Orwin previews the Group 2 Sunshine Sprint (1660m) at Albion Park on Saturday night.    The biggest question that arises is which Ultimate Art will leave the gate on Saturday night? Will it be the last-start-winning Ultimate Art who showed plenty of gate speed to lead, or will it be the one from two starts ago who was easily crossed when beginning from barrier one?   Let’s hope it is the six-year-old entire that can hold up because our chances hinge upon that. If Ultimate Art is crossed at the start, it is going to be extremely hard for the Cran Dalgety-trained seven-year-old champion Christen Me.    This race will be run at a very strong tempo but it should be dominated by those on the speed.    I can only envision four winning chances no matter how the race is run and they are Ultimate Art, Avonnova, Christen Me and Hectorjayjay.   Avonnova must lead in order to win the race; he is racing in excellent form and can run a great race from the breeze but it is hard to fight off high-quality horses that haven’t spent a penny in the run.   So down to three chances. When I first saw the draw I thought Hectorjayjay can get a great run and swoop over the top of them. But then I delved deeper into the numbers and realised that Hectorjayjay is going to be three, four or five-wide in a last half that should be around the 55-second mark.    Running a personal last half of 54 seconds is definitely in Hectorjayjay’s arsenal. Trying to gun down horses that can also run a similar last half on the pegs is another question and it remains to be seen where this star pacer will land in running.   Ultimate Art has been in beast-mode in Queensland and thoroughly deserves a big race win this season. He is going to cop plenty of pressure and could be left a sitting shot for Christen Me.   I’m sure some people were disappointed that Christen Me was beaten last start when $1.60 favourite but the run was terrific. He covered plenty of ground in the final circuit and clocked somewhere close to 54.8 seconds for his own last half while racing off the track for most of the final 800m.    Glenferrie Hood came from behind Christen Me to beat him which seems an immediate concern about how good the Kiwi’s run was, but there was a reason for that; Glenferrie Hood left the 1 out 2 back position with 300m left to travel to run down Christen Me by a 1.1m margin. In contrast, Christen Me made his run with around 550m left to travel and the third quarter (27.6) was quicker than the final quarter (28.2).   As mentioned earlier, the start is crucial so let’s hold our breath, hope Ultimate Art leads with Christen Me on his back and wait for Dexter Dunn to use the sprint lane to charge past the leader and claim another feature race success with this New Zealand champion.   reprinted with premission of

Outstanding Kiwi pacer, Christen Me, will have to overcome a tricky second line draw if he is to win Saturday night’s harness racing Group Two Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park. The Cran Dalgety trained gelding will start from the inside of the second row in the 1660m event - the same draw which saw him beaten in the Wondias Mate two weeks ago. On that occasion his regular pilot, Dexter Dunn, was able to extricate his charge off the fence and into the running line early but that task might not be quite as simple this week. In his favour is that he follows out an in-form Ultimate Art who does have strong gate speed. So Dunn will have a decision to make early on as to whether or not he takes the gamble at staying on Ultimate Art’s back or whether he tries to get off the fence again. Dalgety, who is currently holidaying with his family in America, said late last week that Christen Me had progressed on nicely since his first up run and was doing well in the care of his travelling companion, Murray Howard. “The reports from Muz have all been very positive,” Dalgety said. “He should be an improved horse with that run under his belt but he will have to be because it’s going to be a lot stronger this time round.” Len Smith Mile winner, Hectorjayjay has made the trip to Queensland for this week and then next’s weeks $200,000 Blacks A Fake - while Ohoka Punter adds another dimension to the race as well. The Nathan Purdon trained pacer, who was third in the Len Smith Mile after doing a power of work hasn’t been blessed with a great barrier draw either, starting from the outside of the second line. Fellow Kiwi pacer, Nek Time received a much better draw in her bid to win back-to-back Oaks for Terry and Glenys Chmiel. The speedy filly, who dominated Saturday night’s Gold Coast Oaks has drawn up well in barrier four this week for the $75,000 Group One Queensland Oaks. Owned by Robert and Sharyn Symon, Nek Time is an outside chance of extending her Brisbane stay to contest next week’s Queensland Derby. If she was to win this week she would then be in line for a $30,000 bonus as part of the UBET Picket Fence Initiative which rewards horses who can win twice in the lead up to the grand finale night of racing on July 16 and win one of four selected races on that programme. Already a winner of the Southland Oaks and Harness 5000 on New Zealand soil this season a win this weekend and then potentially even the following week would cap off an incredible season. From 16 starts this season the daughter of Gotta Go Cullect has won on six occasions with six further placings. She’s won $90,000 in the process with the promise of a lot more both on and off the track in the future. Matt Markham

Harness Racing Co-trainer Terry Chmiel is toying with the idea of extending Nek Time's Brisbane campaign after she won the Gold Coast Oaks in Brisbane on Saturday night. Another big run by Nek Time in next Saturday's Queensland Oaks could persuade Chmiel and training partner wife Glenys to consider starting her in the Queensland Derby a week later.  Wins in all three races would earn her a Picket Fence Bonus of A$30,000 (NZ$31,360). A grade race on the same programme as the Derby is also an option for Nek Time.  Reinsman Dexter Dunn drove Nek Time in front in Saturday's Gold Coast Oaks (2138m mobile), with the filly fighting off two challengers for the early lead. Nek Time held on comfortably by two lengths in a mile rate of 1:56.6. She sped over the closing 800m in 57 and 400m in 28.9. "She had a good blow afterwards and should improve for next week," Terry Chmiel said from Brisbane. The daughter of Gotta Go Cullect doesn't need to lead and can work a bit in races.   "She's in the zone, let's hope she stays in it." Southland owners Robert and Sharyn Symon were at Albion Park for the win. "It was a pretty big thrill . . . the club really turned it on for us," Robert Symon said. Glenys Chmiel, who is looking after the team at Leeston, will join her husband and the Symons in Brisbane on Thursday. Nek Time's win on Saturday also marked the first time the Chmiels had raced a horse in Australia. Terry has not driven there, unlike Glenys who finished third in the Australasian Junior Drivers' Championship in South Australia in the 1990s. Dexter Dunn's other two drives on Saturday night were Rubys Bad Boy (fifth) and Candyliscious (fifth). Meanwhile, Our Waikiki Beach has drawn No 1 for a C5 and faster mobile mile at Menangle, Sydney, on Tuesday. The unbeaten three-year-old, trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, will be shooting for his 20th win. Luke McCarthy is booked to drive. The race will be televised on Trackside at 7.17pm (NZ time). Among his rivals is ex-Kiwi Four Starzzz Flash, who has not won since his success in the Group III Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington in September, 2013. Mat Kermeen

Richly talented open class performer Mach Alert is out of the winter harness racing carnival. The Mach Three gelding has been battling hoof issues and trainer Ian Gurney has reluctantly made the decision to back off and allow him time to fully recover. Mach Alert was aiming at the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint (July 9) followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. “It’s disappointing but the horse comes first, his whole career has been thwarted by injuries and niggling setbacks and this is just another one of those issues that we have to deal with. He’s got bad corns and I’m going to get them sorted, you can’t take on horses like Christen Me, Hectorjayjay, Ohoka Punter, Ultimate Art and Nova when you’re not right so he’s out.” Gurney explained The former Queensland Derby winner recorded back to back victories recently at Albion Park including the Listed $25,000 Flashing Red but failed at his most recent start. Mach Alert finished a well beaten 8th at his most recent start in the Gr.3 $30,000 Lucky Creed on June 18 at Albion Park, the race was won by his stablemate Avonnova. While it’s disappointing for Gurney, the popular horseman still has two chances heading into the open class features with dual Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova plus former Queensland Pacing Championship winner Ideal Scott. Both pacers are racing in excellent form. Avonnova starts on Saturday night in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood at Albion Park where hostilities will be renewed with Ultimate Art. The free legged pacer ended the winning sequence of Ultimate Art at 8 wins in their most recent outing in the Lucky Creed two weeks ago. This week, Avonnova faces a tricky draw on the inside of the second-line while Ultimate Art has drawn ideally in gate two in the 2138m mobile start feature. Ideal Scott will next start in the Sunshine Sprint next week after running a slashing second in the Wondais Mate last week behind the late closing Glenferrie Hood in a time of 1:52.4. The American Ideal gelding led up in the 1660m feature. Chris Barsby

Queensland Winter Harness Racing Carnival will heat up when a vast quality of interstate and New Zealand three-year-olds converge on Queensland to stake their claim in the Picket Fence Bonuses worth $111,000. The ground-breaking Picket Fence promotion offers trainers and owners the chance to win a share of $111,000 in bonuses if their horse can win three races in a row in Queensland including one of four feature races on Blacks A Fake Night on 16 July. The upcoming three-year-old features including the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks and Derby will be hotly contested, with quality horses like Kimani, Charlaval and Nek Time looking to secure two victories in the lead-up to the Blacks A Fake finals night at Albion Park on July 16. Nek Time, who will be targeting the Gold Coast Oaks this Saturday is one of the leading contenders for Picket Fence Bonuses, having come back from a spell in March and performing well. The three-year-old filly has won four of her last eight starts in New Zealand, setting a national record in the G2 Southland Oaks by a widening margin at Invercargill back in April. The Terry and Glenys Chmiel-trained filly arrived in Australia just under two weeks ago and is settling in well, staying at Ian Gurney’s property and being looked after by Nathan Purdon. “She’s been doing really well since she’s been there, she’s as bright as a button and it’s a nice property up there so she’s settling in well,” said Chmiel. While all is going well, Chmiel said the three-year-old filly can be quite temperamental and likes being the boss in any given situation. “She’s temperamental, she’s a one-person filly and she quite likes the wife,” “She’s pretty competitive on and off the track and likes to be in charge, in the last few months she’s really developed and grown into herself, she’s developed into a nice three-year-old,” said Chmiel. Chmiel is happy with Nek Time’s form since arriving in Queensland, last Friday’s trial over 1660 meters at Albion being covered comfortably in a time of 1:55.2. “We were pretty happy with the way she trailed the other night and she’s drawn well for Saturday (Fr2), hopefully we can lead from the front.” Other three-year-olds to watch out for include locals Catcha Lefty, Leos Best, Mattgregor and Son Of Mara. Leos Best is enjoying a good run, winning five of his last nine starts, including his last start, the Rising Stars C3/C4 Final at Albion Park on June 18. Catcha Lefty narrowly missed out on a second Picket at Albion Park last start in the Rising Stars C1/C2 Final on June 25, coming in third. Son Of Mara is a strong Queensland horse who has already earned himself a Picket, but the New Zealand and interstate rivalry is tough, and with the likes of Living Again and Roarn already having earnt a Picket as well, many more local and visiting horses will be working hard to open their campaigns with a win in the near future. Albion Park will have a 10 race card including four feature races this Saturday night. With a total prize money pool of $171,000 the four feature races are the Garrards Gold Coast Oaks for three-year-old fillies, the Horsepower Four-year-old Championship, the Garrards Premiers Cup and the Mr Feelgood Open Pace. Racing starts at 5.12pm. Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 02 July 2016 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 02 July 2016

Each week, Queensland Harness Racing commentator Chris Barsby does a ring around and gets the inside info on a big list of Australasian based runners. Queensland trainer/driver Darrell Graham heads back to a specialist on Monday, his broken leg is healing well. Champion Perth trainer Gary Hall headed for operation on his hand next Monday. Has constant swelling. He will be out of action for a couple of weeks Talented Sydney trotter Cyclone Lucky Seven headed to Menangle trials next week for trainer Alex Alchin. - Last start was mid march. Star pacers for Shane Tritton, Arms Of An Angel & Salty Robyn both back doing pace work. No set plans for either speed machine. Last start Group 1 runner Three Of The Best is back in Queensland, starts Friday week in Breeders crown heat, decisions to be made after that. In-form couple Nathan Jack and Amanda Turnbull arrive in Queensland next week with 3 runners. Fcee, Neon Sky & Eye See Diamonds. Reigning Australian Driver of the Year Shane Graham, already has over 200 winners this season and celebrates his 52nd birthday today. Millionaire mare Frith will have one more start before a well-deserved break. Starts Saturday week in the Adore Me mares event at Menangle. Top Goulburn horseman Brad Hewitt arrives in Brisbane today with his winter carnival team headed by Spare Me Days. Talented 3yo Stanley Ross Robyn has also made the trek north and will start in both the Gold Coast and Queensland Derby classics. Victorian trainer Andy Gath will make final decision on Three Ways & possible Queensland Derby trip after he starts next Tuesday at Bendigo. Birthday celebrations today for Gareth Hall – he's planning a big party in Brisbane next week when he cheers home Hectorjayjay. Good race tomorrow at Albion Park when Queensland Derby aspirants Kimani (Matt Craven) & Mattgregor (Chantal Turpin) clash. Smart pacer My Kiwi Mate is headed to the Winter Championship series next week at Melton. Good trial this week after NZ Campaign. Despite an impressive trial this week, former Kiwi 3yo He Can Fly will remain in Sydney. Connections were eyeing Queensland Derby Last start Group 2 Breeders Classic winner Maestro Bellini is bang on target for Qbred triad Final on July 16. Starts new week. North American speedster Hurrikane Kingcole is facing a battle to make a successful comeback down under. Team McCarthy working overtime. Plans remain intact for SA Derby winner Brallos Pass to head north for Queensland Derby on July 16. Faces poor draw in Group 1 Vicbred Final this week Chris Barsby

Super pacer Christen Me has come through the first run of his Australian harness racing campaign with flying colours. The gelding’s trainer, Cran Dalgety said on Monday that there was a bounce in the step of his star on Monday morning after he was initially a quite tired horse on Sunday. Christen Me finished third in Saturday night’s Wondias Mate at Albion Park. The defeat was a shock one, but considering he drew one on the second line over a mile and was then forced three and four wide in a 27.1 third quarter, the run of the former Miracle Mile winner was full or merit even though the winner, Glenferrie Hood, came off his back inside the final 150 metres to swamp him and leader Ideal Scott. “I thought the run was super. Dexter (Dunn) said he was flying coming off the back,” Dalgety said. “He was a bit jaded yesterday and then again today. “But there was a bit of a bounce in his step this morning as well so I’m happy with where we are at. “I guess initially it probably looked disappointing, but when you break it all down it was a very good run. “And it’s a run which he will improve on. “He tries so hard every time he races so it seems to take a little extra out of him than it might another horse so his recovery is just as important as anything else.” The defeat, and the decision not to race again until the Sunshine Sprint on July 9 means that they will forgo the opportunity to win a $50,000 bonus as part of the UBet Picket Fence initiative. Horses are required to win two races in the lead up July 16, which has been touted as Finale night with four selected races carrying bonuses if their winners have won two races in the lead up the meeting. Christen Me’s bonus was worth $50,000 but Dalgety was happy to now be looking ahead to the two major assignments without any other distraction. “It would be nice, it’s $50,000 after all but the horse owes us nothing so he comes first. “That should ensure now we are ready for the next two races and are firing on all cylinders.” Dalgety is due to return to Christchurch today with Christen Me’s right hand man, Murray Howard taking over the day-to-day control of the pacer in the lead up to the Blacks A Fake. “Muz knows the horse better than anyone. “He’ll have him ready for the big show I’m sure of that.” Back on home soil Dalgety has a race of his own to focus on. He’s currently third on the national trainers’ premiership with 57 wins, but has the Greg and Nina Hope (55), Mark Jones (52) and Phil Williamson (51) stables breathing down his neck.  He’s got 13 horses engaged over three meetings in both the South and North Islands this weekend including unbeaten two-year-old On The Rantan who will look to make it three wins in as many starts in his bonus run in the C1 grade at Addington on Thursday night. Matt Markham

Despite tasting defeat, talented young harness racing horseman Nathan Purdon walked away from last Sunday’s Sydney feature meeting a content person. Purdon prepared Ohoka Punter for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle and the star pacer produced a courageous effort to fill third placing behind the David Aiken duo of Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark in a time of 1:50.5. Following two brilliant victories at Albion Park, connections decided to take at throw at the stumps and head south for the sprint feature rather than stay and wait in Brisbane for the upcoming winter carnival features. And the two start campaign proved very successful. “He performed at a very high level in both starts, his first-up win was very impressive and I thought his effort in the Len Smith was very commendable given how much work he did and the time they posted. The top two finishes are wee nice horses.” Purdon said. The New Zealand horseman has returned to Brisbane and Ohoka Punter is due back tomorrow (Thursday) in readiness for next week’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. The open class features during the carnival are loaded with stars including Hectorjayjay, Christen Me, Avonnova and Ultimate Art but Ohoka Punter is right there with them and Purdon is just hoping for some luck. “The Brisbane style of racing is very hard and a little unforgiving so we need to be at our best and have lady luck on our side in both events. The barrier draw for each race will go a long way in determining who gains the advantage. “The best part about last Sunday was the way he came through the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way he pulled up and his recovery was great so that’s very pleasing as we head into the Brisbane features.” Champion reinsman Anthony Butt handled the dual Group One winner in Sydney but Purdon will take the lines himself in both Albion Park features. The barrier draw for the Sunshine Sprint will be conducted next Tuesday (July 5). Chris Barsby

A new weekly harness racing segement on, Around the Traps will, each Tuesday, put together happenings from around New Zealand and Australia over the weekend just been. NEK TIME TRIALS IMPRESSIVELY Speedy Canterbury 3-year-old filly, Nek Time, was an impressive winner of a trial at Albion Park on Friday night as she readies herself for the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks. The Terry and Glenys Chmiel trainer filly, who is based at the stable of Ian Gurney, paced her 1660 metre trial in 1:58.9 which equates to a 1.55 mile rate. The Southland Oaks winner, will kick off her campaign in the Gold Coast Oaks this weekend before tackling the Queensland Oaks a week later. Dexter Dunn has been booked to drive the filly during her Australian campaign. TELFER/GARLICK TEAM DRAW LEVEL North Island trainers, Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick drew level with their best ever season tally of 37 with a winning double at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The Papkura Stable won on Friday with River Emperor and First Home to take them to 37 and continue what has been a great season. Just inside the Top 10 trainers on the national premiership, the partnership have produced 16 individual winners this season with Better B Amazed (5 wins), Prince Of Pops and Ashton K (4 wins) and Superimposed, No Doctor Needed, American Flybye and Ideal Flybye (3 wins) their best performers. MAINLAND BANNER’S PERFECT RECORD The win of Glenferrie Classic on Friday at Blenheim kept former New Zealand Trotting Cup winning mare, Mainland Banner’s strike rate perfect. Of the five foals the daughter of Christian Cullen has produced, all five have now been winners with Glenferrie Classic the latest. Aside from Stunin Banner (13 wins) her other four foals; Peruvian Banner (1 win), Return To Sender (8 wins), Rocker Band (9 wins) and Glenferrie Classic (1 win) have all been embryo transfer foals. Incidentally, Stunin Banner will race this weekend at Alexandra Park in a claimers event carrying a price tag of $9,000. He is currently domiciled with Todd Mitchell. GILL SUSPENDED Marlborough horsewoman, Kendra Gill has her licence suspended until the middle of August on the opening, and only, day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s meeting on Friday. Gill, the daughter of local trainer, Mark, was suspended for careless driving after her charge, Gotta Ticket was shifted into a position in which there is was insufficient room to allow it to happen. Gill’s suspension ends on the 14th of August. OUR WAIKIKI BEACH TRIALS TODAY Embattled 3-year-old pacer, (Our) Waikiki Beach will trial today (Tuesday) at Menangle as he continues his preparations for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown. In the care of leading Australian stable, Belinda McCarthy, the unbeaten pacer, who has won all 20 of his career starts, is earmarked to return to the race next Tuesday in a C3-C5 pace before tackling a heat of the Breeders Crown seven days later. VOTING CLOSED Voting for the annual Harness Racing New Zealand Awards, which are to be held in the Mashina Lounge at Christchurch Casino on Saturday, July 30, closed on Friday. There has been plenty of speculation around the Awards this year - in particular the battle for Horse of the Year between freakish pacer Have Faith In Me and superstar trotter, Monbet. 29 votes are allocated for each of the categories, which this year include the return of the 5-year-old and older categories. The voting panel is made up largely of members of the harness racing media in New Zealand which also includes commentators and Trackside presenters. BREEDERS CROWN HEATS KICK OFF The first round of heats for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown will be held this week. Addington plays host to heats for the 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings as well as the 3YO Trotting fillies. Three horses will go around in the male event; Blood And Whiskey, Conon Bridge and My Armour while the fillies race will be contested by Oona and Wilma’s Mate. Further heats will be held at Addington on the 8th, the 15th and the 22nd of July and at Cambridge on July 10 and 21. By Matt Markham

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