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The stocks of young harness racing trainer Brad Mowbray continue to go from strength-to-strength. The Russley based horseman picked up three winners from three meetings over the weekend, culminating with the victory of Quite Ideal at Sunday’s Amberley meeting. That win followed up victories in the days before by Ultimate Deisre at Ashburton and Delishka at Forbury Park. “It’s been a good few days, I wish there were more like that,” Mowbray said. Truth be told, Mowbray is riding the crest of a wave in the early stages of 2017 with six winners coming from his stable in the first five weeks of the new year taking his tally for the season to 11 - and there is the promise of a whole lot more too. With a team of 12 racehorses in work, his small, but efficient stable is running like clockwork and the placement of his horses into races that give them the best possible chance of winning has been one of the key elements in his run of form. “It’s been a really good start to year, we’ve been lucky enough to have some good success. “And probably most satisfying is that a few of the wins have come from horses who were nice maidens, but have gone on and done the job up in grade too.” Sunday’s winner, Quite Ideal, is a good example of that. The American Ideal gelding was having his 12th start and picked up his second win after being given time to adjust to the C1 grade following his maiden win at Geraldine prior to Christmas. Ultimate Desire, who won on Saturday, is a different kettle of fish all together though. The dour mare paced her mile in 1:52 to enhance her credentials as a broodmare when the time comes, but she will get a chance to get some black-type too with some lofty assignments ahead. “We will head to the mares’ races with her now, she deserves a crack at those. “And with the best few mares not currently in the country it makes sense to go to them.” Ultimate Desire has split her time between Mowbray and Marlborough trainer Brent Weaver throughout her career - dependent on where her racing schedule lies. With her heading to Group One races, Mowbray could be forgiven for resting on his laurels a bit and just focussing on the task at hand with her, but there’s the enigmatic Tiger Thompson sitting in the wings ready to pounce back into action. “He trialed at Addington last week and I couldn’t have been happier with him. “He beat Ultimate Machete but the most exciting thing I think was the way he handled himself. “There was none of that usual stuff from him, he sprinted up really well and ran in a straight line with no problems. “I think that last preparation has really brought him on.” Tiger Thompson will return to the races at Addington next Friday night before turning his attention to the Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park in early March and then back down to Canterbury for the New Zealand Derby in April.  Matt Markham

Harness racing fixed odds early movers for Rangiora today as at 10:00am Race 1 - Izmok $9.00 - $6.00 is the big mover early with the next best backed runner Gold Sovereign $3.10 who does lead multi betting.    Race 2 - Algranco Albyone $4.20 leads win and multi betting over Red Terror $3.50.   Race 3 - Joey Maguire is the big mover here $11.50 - $4.50 with Eastwood Chieftain $11 leading multi bets.   Race 4 - Calendar Girl $6.50 - $6.00 is easily the best backed runner on the win book over Maddisons Desire $6.00.   Race 5 - Take After Me $41 - $16 is a huge mover and easily leads win betting early over Hall Of Fame $2.00.    Race 6 - Trailer Park Girl $1.90 is racing away in multi betting with some early win money coming for Crystal Slipper $13.   Race 7 - Shadow Galleon $18 is best backed early on the win book but this market is quiet early.   Race 8 - English Rose $3.10 is easily the best backed in win and multi betting.   Race 9 - Ears Burning $5.50 easily leads win betting over Seel The Deal $12.50.   Race 10 - Arditi $14 - $12 is best backed on the win book with Gershwin $3.20 a clear leader in multi betting.    Race 11 - The Honey Badger $1.90 is the good thing of the day judging by the early win and multi support on him.   Race 12 - Mrs Brown's Boy $7.50 is best backed on the win book over Returntorocknroll $15.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Not having to chase his high-class stablemate for a change will be a welcome pleasure for Ears Burning today. The Nigel McGrath trained pacer will tackle this afternoon’s Amberley Cup, and for once this summer he won’t have to look around to see Classie Brigade stalking him or making him work that extra bit harder. The son of Grinfromeartoear has been beaten by his stablemate in four of his last five outings and three of them have been placings. “He hasn’t gone a bad race when you look at it.” McGrath said. “Just ignore the Invercargill run last time, he got a flat tyre early and was never in it. “But I’ve actually thought a couple of times he’s gone just as good as Classie Brigade has despite being beaten.” A relative newcomer at the start of the season to country circuit racing, Ears Burning has handled every hefty assignment McGrath has thrown his way and done it with some distinction too. This season alone he’s filled a placing in behind Classie Brigade, but also the brilliant Mr Mohito. “I’ve got a bit of time for him so haven’t been afraid to put him to the test. “And he’s handled it every time too, I’ve been really impressed with him and am looking forward to what he can do next year because he’s only going to get better.” While 12 months away might be the real future, McGrath is intent on making the most of the current run of form and that should hopefully continue in today’s grass track feature. Although he doesn’t have to line up against Classie Brigade, Ears Burning does still have some serious opposition to contend with in the Amberley Cup including Buster Brady, Mighty Flying Major and Seel The Deal. And he will do so having his first start on a grass track. “To be honest I’m not 100 per cent sure how he will go on the grass. “He has had a workout on one before, and he just went ok. But it looks like it’s going to be a pretty firm surface so he should be able to handle it. “That’s the only thing I’m worried about though, if he races up to the level he has been then he should be right in it you would think.” Off the 10 metre handicap today, a good beginning will be paramount in the $19,499 event with some of his rivals having the ability to jump and run quickly off the front if required. Ears Burning is just one of two runners McGrath has entered as he looks to continue his steady season. From 109 starters, he has produced 20 winners with a strike rate of just over one in five. Last season he trained 37 and with a good team of horses around him currently then that should be achievable again for the Weedons horseman. Stable star Classie Brigade will head to the Summer Cup at Addington later in the month before pointing toward’s the Group One Easter Cup. “We will go to the Easter Cup and then make a decision from there whether we head to Auckland or not.” McGrath’s other runner today is the handy My Wee Man.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Sunny CJ, Gold Sovereign, Di’z Luck, Izmok Race 2: Algranco Albyone, Titanium, Red Terror, Dying To See You Race 3: Rochard Le Fort, Franco Tmick, Jack Hammer, Living Legend Race 4: Cullen’s Joy, Cullenz Diamond, Rapid Flight, Calendar Girlz Race 5: Hall Of Fame, Torrid Bromac, Bite The Bullet, Righteous Brother Race 6: Trailer Park Girl, Crystal Slipper, Carter Michael, Lets Rock N Roll Race 7: Ella Abbe, We’ll Meet Again, Tehoro Dazzle, Time For Diamonds Race 8: English Rose, My Wee Man, All About Henry, Quite Ideal Race 9: Ears Burning, Buster Brady, Mighty Flying Major, Hopeful Harriet Race 10: Gerhswin, All Lit Up, Eyre I Come, All Settled Down Race 11: The Honey Badger, Missinmemate, Buckeye, Mac Toddy Race 12: Mrs Browns Boys, Our Quinn, Late Mail, Ellmers Image Best Bet: Hall Of Fame (Race 5) Value: Cullen’s Joy (Race 4)

Breaking droughts quickly became the modus operandi for grass track racing at Rangiora on Sunday. A number of winners throughout the day’s racing action were putting behind them long sequences without success and, in some cases, tasting success for the first time after numerous attempts. There was no more deserving winner on the programme however than maiden trotter, Native’s Brite Gem. Having start 46 for her career the daughter of Britewell finally dispersed off her maiden status when she led all the way to win the opening race of the day for Austin Thornton and Robbie Close. On seven previous occasions she’d finished second. Often looking the winner 100 metres from the post only to be run down in the dying stages, but there was none of that on Saturday as the free-wheeling mare began to clear away from her rivals inside the final 50 metres. Rusty I Am, a five-year-old son of Sundon and Awesome I Am was the next cab off the rank when he broke through for his first win in the second maiden trot of the day for co-trainer and driver, Pip Wakelin Wakelin, who trains in partnership with Steven Noble, put her charge into the race at the right time and he staved off the challenge of hot favourite, Ace Commander, to win at start 26 after looking more than likely on a number of occasions. Justin and Lynn Smith also found themselves in the winners’ circle when All Lit Up picked up the sixth win of his 54 start career later in the day having not saluted the judge for 24 starts. The wonderfully bred son of Sundon last won a race in August of 2015. The run of drought breaking continued when Caesar’s Quest, who had been side-lined with injury, caused the upset of the day when sneaking home ahead of Augusta at massive odds grabbing his first win since September of 2014. The John McDermott trained pacer had finished fifth in his previous start behind Kardesler at Motukarara but was never given a hope by punters on Sunday paying a massive $63.50 for the win. Another injury casualty, Nolan Sackett was the other returnee to the winners’ circle. The talented Roger Winter trained pacer put together an impressive record in his maiden season, winning twice and placing on four occasions from seven starts with his only miss a fourth at Addington at the end of his last campaign. The Badlands Hanover six-year-old ran a solid fourth behind Cable Beach at Ashburton but wasn’t to be denied on Sunday, finishing stylishly near the outside fence to win in the hands of Matty Williamson.    Matt Markham

Rangiora harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:15pm R1 - Natives Brite Gem $7.80 - $7.00 is best backed over Zoned Scarlett $3.20.   R2 - Sky City King $7.50 - $6.50 easily leading win betting over The New Man $11.    R3 - Ace Commander $1.60 is huge in multi betting with Tehoro Dazzle $6.00 best backed in win betting.    R4 - Living Glory $21 - $16 is the big mover here with money also coming for Pretty Janice $7.00.   R5 - The largest early bet today was $2,000 at $3.40 Gee Up Neddy now $3.00.   R6 - Runaway Three $6.00 - $5.50 is easily the best backed runner here over Boults On Fire $2.20.   R7 - Augusta $1.70 is huge in multi betting with the best backed runner in win betting Micky Gee $3.00.   R8 - Nolan Sackett $8.50 - $6.50 is the big mover early with strong support also coming for Goodlookin Chick $3.90 - $3.50.    R9 - Some solid support early for the longshot Precious Pet $51 - $26.   R10 - Curlimore $10 is best  backed over One Big Fella $4.50.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson

Harness racing fixed odds movers for Rangiora as at 12:00pm Race 1 - Shona Mary $7.50 is best backed on the win 'book' over Izmok $4.60 with Idle Boys $3.50 best backed in multi betting.    Race 2 - Returntorocknroll $3.50 is leading multi betting over All Bling $6.60.   Race 3 - Micky Gee $5.20 and Kotare Mist $3.10 are best backed in win betting but the former easily leads multi betting.   Race 4 - Mach's Terminator $3.50 is huge in multi betting and judging by that early support he might start shorter on the win 'book' closer to post time.    Race 5 -  All About Henry $4.00 is easily best backed early in win betting here but Mac Toddy $2.30 easily leads multi betting.   Race 6 - Soney Beatt $3.90 leads multi betting over Galleons Royale $6.50.   Race 7 - Bevan's Cullen $2.90 leads win betting over Glenferrie Classic $2.40.   Race 8 - Mighty Flying Major $2.70 easily leads win and multi betting with some win support also for Imola $6.50.   Race 9 - Gershwin $2.10 leads multi betting over Royal Shine $4.60 with the former easily leading multi betting.   Race 10 - Regal Major $4.40 - $3.90 is all punter's want to be on early in win and multi betting..   Race 11- Bonnie Joan $2.80 is best backed on the win 'book'.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Harness racing filly Terracotta trained by Ken and Tony Barron has been disqualified from a race win at Rangiora on 25th September 2016 after a urine swab tested positive to the anaesthetic Ketamine. After an RIU investigation it was accepted by the RIU that Terracotta had been in a paddock containing Ketamine contaminated grass after a colt was castrated in it 10 days earlier.  Ken and Tony Barron have not been charged over this matter infuriating some trainers who have been charged with similar offences. Craig Edmonds and daughter Aimee were fined $9000 in April after being charged with presenting Harriet Of Mot to race not free of a prohibited substance and John Howe was fined $5000 in November last year after a horse he trained, Jackalack Sue, returned a positive swab to Dextrorphan, commonly found in cough medicines and cough suppressants. Read the full judicial hearing here   Harnesslink Media  

A look at some of the action from Thursday’s Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s meeting. DUNN AND ORANGE CONTINUE TUSSLE There’s a battle brewing at the top of the national drivers’ premiership already. Good mates, and fierce rivals, Dexter Dunn and Blair Orange are in the midst of an early season battle for the top spot on the national premiership after the first three months of racing. Just three wins separate the pair with Dunn on 41 and Orange on 38 as both drive winners frequently from one end of the South Island to the other and everywhere in between. They both picked up one win a piece at Rangiora on Thursday with Orange saluting on Blade for Gavin Smith while Dunn saluted with Fratellino for long-time supporter, Kevin Townley. Both drivers are getting strong books of drives at most meetings and despite three quarters of the season remaining there is the potential for things to get really interesting, especially over the summer months when things really ramp up on the racing front.   WHITE COLLECTS HIS FIRST TRAINING QUINELLA South Canterbury horseman, Brent White, entered new territory on Thursday when he produced his first stable quinella in the opening race of the Rangiora programme. The underrated Run To Hide produced a strong, front-running, effort to hold on for the victory ahead of stablemate, Cullens Lady. Off the back of a solid season last term where he equalled his best ever season of 17 winners, White has kicked into gear strongly with seven wins already thanks to a strong racing team over the summer months. Driven forward by Stephen McNally, Run To Hide tossed away a few assumptions that he was a horse who only showed up off a soft run. Ricky May and Cullens Lady looked likely at the top of the straight but battled well to hold down second.   LOW BACK IN THE WINNERS’ CIRCLE After a quiet time of it recently, Raewyn Low got that winning feeling back on Monday. The Ashburton horsewoman produced Linda’s Cullen to produce a victory on Thursday that warranted the toughtline that it wouldn’t be the last time she’s in the circle this season. Low’s last winner was Ardwell’s Key two years ago. Owned by Ron and Dallas Patterson along with George Henderson, Linda’s Cullen has always looked capable of winning a maiden and after a canny drive from Gavin Smith she has now ticked that off the list. It also took Smith to within striking distance of 500 career driving wins with just five wins remaining.   PERSEVERANCE BEING REWARDED To say three win mare Morissette has been a success at stud might be a bit of an understatement - but she does have a perfect record for foals to the races. On 13 occasions the Soky’s Atom mare has been served an on only the one occasions has she produced a foal - a colt by Tinted Cloud who would later be named Burn Off. Clearly not the easiest mare to get in foal, the one result from nearly a decade of trying is doing a good job of making up for it. He notched up the fourth in of his career on Thursday when he came with a withering run for Rory McIlwrick in the final race of the day for trainers Greg and Nina Hope.   HRNZ

Rangiora harness racing fixed odds movers as at 1:00pm Race 1- All the money on the win 'book' is for the $1.90 favourite Expresso Martini with the largest bets $500 and $400 at $1.90.   Race 2 - BD Khaosan $2.40 is huge in multi betting and while best backed also on the win 'book' we expect some big bets to come closer to post-time.   Race 3- Best backed early is Absolutely Delighted $7.40 but Sauchiehall $4.20 leads multi betting over Waihemo Art $4.80.   Race 4- The win 'book' is quiet but the multi betting on the race is well and truly alive with the $1.65 favourite taking all the action.   Race 5 - Linda's Cullen $8.40 is the best backed early over Playingintheshadows $2.10 - $1.90. Tayla Amore was late scratched and a 9% win and 10% place deduction applies to any bets placed prior to 9:03 raceday.   Race 6 - The big go here is Bettor To Be Tricky $3.10 - $2.90 with the largest bets taken $750 & $500 at $3.10.   Race 7 - A very even field here with a $4.00 favourite in Fire One but the best backed is Flashing Diamond $5.00.    Race 8 - All Star Angus $3.20 is the best backed on the win 'book' with only that runner & Fratellino $3.00 taking multi action.   Race 9 - Thisismylastflight $4.20 is the best backed but the favourite Nui Toc Tien $3.60 leads multi bettting. We did take some early money for Cmeerock $15.   Race 10 - The only two they have backed here are Rocki Warrior $2.40 & Kayteeoh Denario $2.80.   Race 11 - Easily the best backed early is Tact Rousey $8.80 - $7.00 over Milwood Daisy $2.90 - $3.10.   Best backed in multi betting (in order): R1 - Expresso Martini $1.80  R2 - BD Khaosan $2.40 R4 - Tachyon $1.65  R6 - Better To Be Tricky $2.90 . R5 - Playingintheshadows $1.90   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Locharburn’s Cup week campaign is back on again. And while trainer Kevin Chapman admits it is only a consolation after the big pacer was forced out of the great race on November 8, it is a pretty serious consolation. The Easter Cup winner fibrillated at Addington last start, dropping out and leaving Chapman with little choice but to pull him from the Cup. “You can’t take on those type of horses over 3200m after any setbacks like that,” he said. But Locharburn has bounced back to peak health and Chapman was more than pleased with his third at the Rangiora trials on Wednesday. “He looks great and Dexter (Dunn) as very happy with him so it is all go for Cup week.”  Locharburn will head to the junior free-for-all on Cup Day and all going well the New Zealand Free-For-All three days later. The latter is shaping as one of the races of the carnival, even if it does end up missing Have Faith In Me and Smolda should they end up going to Perth for the Inter Dominion. It could still have Lazarus, Christen Me, Dream About Me, defending champion Tiger Tara, last season’s placegetter Messini and now Locharburn. Michael Guerin

The weather is showery and the track is now rated as slushy at the Rangiora harness racing meeting today.   Race 1 - The early money has come for the first starter 'Another Chapter' $3.20 - $2.90 with the next best backed 'Shay Scott' $4.00.   Race 2 - The favourite 'Shineonucrazydiamond' $1.75 is best backed in win and multi betting with the next best backed on the win 'book' been 'Seaswift Joy' $6.40.   Race 3 - Only two runners wanted here in multi betting is 'Jonty James' $2.30 and 'Precious Sara' $2.60.   Jonty James' is going 2 -1 in multi bet numbers over 'Precious Sara',    Race 4 - Some big bets went on the Dexter Dunn driven 'Beautiful Mind' last start but she has opened the 2nd favourite at $2.40 over the first starter 'Beaudiene Delightful' $2.20 - $2.00.   In multi betting 'Beaudiene Delightful' is going 3 - 1 over 'Beautiful Mind'.   Race 5 - A very quiet market early with 'Floreta' the best backed $8.80 over 'Chief Kapai' $11.50.   Race 6 - Not much action early here but 'Hard Days Night' $5.80 - $5.50 is the best backed.   'Dalness Mac' $2.70 leads multi betting easily over 'Hard Days Night'.   Race 7 - This race has had the most action so far with 'Donegal Rundlescreek' leading the way over the $2.10 favourite 'Cullen Who' and 'Lis Rulz' $13 - $12.   Race 8 - 'Chapter One' is the best backed $8.00 - $7.00 with the outsider 'Boomer Bailey' $28 - $23 attracting some interest.   Race 9 - Punters are holding back here on any one runner as all in the market are attracting some money with 'Astrapi' the best backed $11 - $10.   Race 10 - The $2.40 favourite 'Millwood Charlie' is the best backed both on the win 'book' and in multi betting with 'She's A Flyin' getting some interest also $4.40 - $4.20.   Best backed in multi betting in order: R2 - Shineonucrazydiamond  R3 - Beaudiene Delighhtful  R3 - Jonty James  R7 - Cullen Who   The Drivers Challenge is Option 829 and there are only three selections: 1. Dexter Dunn        $1.15 - $1.18 2. Ricky May           $4.30 - $4.00 3. Any Other Driver   $41     Harnesslink media Courtesy of Stephen Richason

There were plenty of smiles in the Rangiora birdcage today when the Peter Robertson trained Bacardi N Coke captured the Fernside Handicap Trot. Driven to perfection by Craig Thornley who is well known for his big smile, the Bacardi Lindy gelding exploded through the gaps to record his second career victory. “He's getting stronger with racing and finally starting to figure out what it's all about” said part owner Maree Robertson. Away quickly from the stand, Bacardi N Coke was slotted into a trailing spot behind Sarah Palin, but with a couple of lead changes, Thornley soon found himself all dressed up with nowhere to go back on the pegs. With some jostling for positions happening up front, Thornley was able to sneak up the pegs before squeezing through between favourite Monkeys Way and Sarah Palin. “We have been getting some acupuncture for him lately and he really seems to be responding to it” The 4yo gelding is owned by Maree Robertson, Peter Robertson, Mitchell Robertson, Michelle Gason and Brad Robertson. Bacardi N Coke Meanwhile, Balcairn trainer and driver Don Burrows picked up his first driving win since 2003 when he saluted the judge with maiden trotter Lightworkofit. His last driving win was In Shot at the Kapiti Coast on the 3rd of January 2003, but since then Burrows also trained 3 winners including Stanley Bay who was successful at Hawera back in April of 2007, Robbie Holmes was the driver on the occasion. Lightworkofit Andrew Fitzgerald

Fifth Edition has wound back the clock to win his second Rangiora Harness Racing Winter Cup in three years and fourth winter cup of his career. The Cran Dalgety-trained pacer spent almost 18 months away from the races because of injury but the patience of his connections was rewarded at Rangiora on Sunday when he brought up his first win since July 2014. Fifth Edition beat home back-marker Tijuana Bromac​ by one and a quarter lengths with a further half head back to Flyin Heather in third. Fifth Edition is raced by his breeders John and Margaret Smith, Tony and Gay Moody plus Brent Smith and Case Witteman​. Sunday's win was just his fourth start since returning to the races. Dexter Dunn, who drove Fifth Edition to victory, said the win was all about repaying the patient owners. "It's great for John and Margaret Smith, they have been with Cran for a long time and they just love racing," Dunn said. After the win, Brett Smith paid credit to Dalgety for getting Fifth Edition back from his injury troubles where he needed bone chips removed from an ankle. Dunn believes his two runs in Nelson last week gave him the fitness edge for his Rangiora win. "He did it pretty easy in the end, he was under a hold at the line," Dunn said. Fifth Edition quickly caught the main pack from his 30m handicap, aided by front-marker and favourite The Manipulator being slow away. Dunn was able to find the one-one when brother John took Callenberg​ up to challenge The Manipulator for the lead. With 600m to run and Callenberg tiring, Dunn launched Fifth Edition three wide to chase down the Mark Purdon​ and Natalie Rasmussen-trained The Manipulator down. The Manipulator faded to fourth with his softening up form Callenberg clearly taking its toll. Meanwhile, unbeaten colt Our Waikiki Beach will remain in New South Wales rather than heading to Brisbane for the Queensland Derby. A trip to Queensland was being considered last week after connections missed the cut off for his nomination for the semifinals of the New South Wales Breeders' Challenge. Part-owner Trevor Casey has confirmed he will race at Menangle and in a Breeders Crown heat before heading to the Breeders Crown final to round out his season.​ Mat Kermeen

Southland Harness Racing Trainer/Driver Nathan Williamson has his eyes firmly set on a personal milestone and will look to take another step or two towards his goal tomorrow at Rangiora. Currently sitting on 85 driving victories for the season, 7 in front of his previous best of 78 wins in 2013, Williamson is looking to post his first century. With just 6 weeks of the season remaining, that means you will see Nathan traveling around more, starting with Rangiora tomorrow (Sunday). Down to drive Pyramid Mustang in the first race for father Phil, the 3yo Monarchy gelding will be well backed after a last start 2nd at Forbury Park. In an even bunch of maiden trotters, that could be win number 86. In Race 5, Nathan will drive Hannity for Timaru based trainer Colin Harrison, who was a handy 3rd on debut, although the 4yo Lis Mara gelding does meet a field full of some handy 2yo's including Time Traveller for Cran Dalgety. Bobbins will be another Phil Williamson runner in with a good chance tomorrow. Set to start of 10m, the 4yo mare has been good without being spectacular lately, but in an even field she could be the upset chance. The best chance of Nathan's day has to be his own runner Sun's Invasion, who is a clear stand out in Race 9. Her form since a spell has been outstanding and even from a tricky draw, it could be another step closer to the century for Williamson. Williamson will finish off his day with Just Ben in the last race of the day. He will need some luck in a handy field. Andrew Fitzgerald

You won’t miss John McDermott’s smile over the next few weeks, because it’s one of the largest anyone in Harness Racing has at the moment. The past few weeks have been some of the best for the Prebbleton based trainer and amateur driver. It all started with the win of She’sa Tricky Bridge, on Premier day at Addington back on the 14th of May. The 3yo Stonebridge Regal filly cracked her maiden victory and gave McDermott one of his biggest victories’s to date. A week later and McDermott was down to drive Sheza Springfield and Shantahlia Knight in the first two heats of The Dexion New Zealand Amateur Drivers Championship. That night saw John salute the judge on both occasions and head to Rangiora leading the pack on maximum points. Luck continued when John was drawn to drive Franco Exeter in the third heat. “I could never have dreamed of picking up two wins at Cambridge, I drew a couple of nice horses and the luck went our way on the night” said John Apart from a failure at Forbury Park back at the end of April, the 5yo Lis Mara gelding hasn’t missed a top two finish for Burnham trainer Mark Jones. Sent forward from a wide draw, Franco Exeter took up his customary leading role and McDermott let the Wayne Higgs owned gelding roll along at a steady tempo. “The Dominator John McDermott” as commentator Mark McNamara called him, was off and gone at the 500m and had most of the field off their feet. Franco Exeter managed to hold on and win by ½ length over a fast finishing As Kiwi As (Gavin Cook), with 2 ¼ lengths back to Going Going Gone (Sheryl Wigg). “The connections weren’t that confident after his last start failure, but his previous form had been so good” said McDermott. One punter was that confident that John would go 3/3 that they placed a whopping $3,500.00 to win on Franco Exeter. Somehow even with maximum points from the first 3 heats, there was a chance that John could be pipped at the post, but that was put to bed when he took inside runs on outsider Midfrew Tarpediem to finish strongly for 5th and secure a maiden NZ amateur title. “They told me coming into the last I had to either beat Sheryl home or if she won, it would turn into having to beat four home to win, and three home to win on a count back." "It’s been a wonderful competition; having four heats this year has been great. Last year they only managed to get the 3 heats and some drivers only got to have two drives, but thanks to all the trainers and connections at Cambridge and Canterbury, we had full fields and several of those trainers backed their horses up from Friday night which really helped.” Sheryl placed 3 times and won the last heat, usually that sort of form would win most drivers series in New Zealand but nobody could begrudge McDermott’s victory, nor the smile on his face after achieving his career highlight (to date). She’sa Tricky Bridge Sheza Springfield Shantahlia Knight Franco Exeter Andrew Fitzgerald

Another session of harness racing trials were held at the Rangiora Raceway today (March 2nd) and as is the norm these days, they unearthed several promising horses in both the qualifiers and in the C0 and faster heats. Qualifiers 1) Lavros Jack -  4 year old by Bettor's Delight from Lavra Ruby A beautifully bred pacer but all Lavros Jack wants to do is trot. Missed his ticket a couple of weeks ago for an early scramble but no such problems today and won his qualifying trotting heat like a horse that wont be a maiden long. Straight to the front and ran them along at a good clip and never looked in danger at any stage. His time was over eight seconds under the qualifying mark and with a little bit more experience, he is going to furnish into a nice horse. 2) Claus  -  3 year old gelding by Tintin In America from B G's Chance This half brother to the very smart Fake Chance 1:56.9 ($232,328) looks to have inherited a lot of the family ability. Manners were excellent from the stand and seemed to do it all within himself. Bettered the qualifying standard by over four seconds and looks the type that won't be long registering that first win Two Year Olds 1) Mr Kalypso  -  2 year old colt by Art Major from Kalypso Another Australian import for the All Stars barn and this one has breeding to burn. He is a half brother to three $100,000 winners including the millionaire pacer Caribbean Blaster 1:52.6 ($1,113,677) and his trial performances have been top class lately. Today he settled three back on the inner before coming off at the 500 metres and despite being held back to the competition, won with a lot in hand in good time. He paced the 2000 metres in 2:32.7, a mile rate of  2:2.8 with closing sectionals of 57.1 and 27.4 and did it easily. Very competitive in any race the All Stars barn line him up in over the next few weeks. Very talented. 2) Ariadne Lavra - 2 year old filly by Art Major from Hilarous Lavra Lined up against the older horses in a maiden heat and gave them a fair old spanking. Drew wide at barrier six but just had too much speed for some handy maidens. Her overall time of 2:31.1 was smart on its own but her closing sectionals of 56.2 and 27 flat were exceptional and she did it easily. Looks a Sires Stakes filly on that run and won't be out of her depth there either going by todays effort. 3) Di'z Luck  -  2 year old filly by The Pres from Howz Lucky A full sister to the very smart two year trotter of a couple of years ago in Primz Luck, this filly is a half sister to a further five winners including Madison Luck (11 wins) and Lanez Luck (7 wins)  She settled last today in the five horse field for two year old trotters before improving from the 600 metres mark and running past them in the home straight with trainer driver Gavin Smith sitting very quietly in the bike. It was a very impressive performance and she was privately timed to run her last 800 metres in a sharp 58.5. Looks to be plenty of upside to to Di'z Luck and she is one to keep an eye out for in the upcoming two year old trotting races. C1 + Faster Pace 1) Artful  -  3 year old filly by Art Major from Ouch La Fe Fe Very impressive performance today which was following up a top third in the $150,000 PGG Wrightson Sales Race at Addington. Followed Emily Brunt around from the 500 metres when that filly improved and then went straight by her in the last 150 metres for an emphatic win over a classy filly. Her last 400 metres of 26.6 was the quickest of the whole day and she seemed to do it without too much urging from driver John Dunn. Seems to have improved even further from her Addington run and will have plenty of opportunities against her own sex in the next few weeks to further her already handy record. Harnesslink Media

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