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By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Pukekohe trainer Ray Green was dealt a mixed hand at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night. While promising colt American Dealer won the Dawson Harford Mobile Pace (2200m), two of his runners went amiss. American Dealer’s stablemate and race rival Man Of Action looked to have the race sewn up when he kicked clear by a length at the top of the straight, however, he lost all chance when breaking with 200m to go. Later on the card Group One performer Copy That over-raced during the McMurty Farms Handicap Pace (2700m) and was eventually pulled up by driver Maurice McKendry. Trainer Barry Purdon took out the quinella in the race with back marker On The Cards and promising pacer Major Jellis. Green was philosophical about the night and said both Copy That and Man Of Action took no ill-effects from their runs. “Man Of Action should have won, he was well clear, but he just lost concentration halfway up the straight and had a gallop,” he said. “Copy That started hitting the wheels and foot rests with his back feet when he (Maurice McKendry, driver) tried to get him back in behind. “He flipped out and he was off. He did the big bolt and Maurice did the right thing and pulled him up. “There is nothing wrong with the horse, he is 100 percent and pulled up beautifully.” Green was pleased with American Dealer’s winning efforts, with the son of American Ideal now boasting a record of two wins from just three starts. His only unplaced run came in the Gr.1 Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) in March where he finished fourth behind Krug. “It was very good considering it was his first run for quite a while,” Green said. “I was pretty happy with him, he is a little tradesman. “I thought he was probably our best chance of winning the race. “It is our first run in a while and the trials were good, but a trial is a trial, and a race is a race. “You really don’t know where you are at until you put them out there. He went quite well.”

For many of the horses racing at Alexandra Park tonight this is as good as it gets.  The best stakes in the country, equivalent to the peak of summer, but not having to take on the superstar younger horses because most are in winter hibernation.  Winter at The Park is the ideal season for horses who wouldn’t shine at the premier meetings to try to earn a year’s training fees without a Cup horse in sight.  That is the story for most racing there tonight and it makes you wonder why more trainers don’t set their lesser horses for the off-season. Maybe some day they will.  But among the brave battlers and untapped youngsters tonight there will be a horse with a totally different aim. His name is Perfect Stride and he is trying to win his way to the Breeders Crown.  That A$300,000 finale comes up in Victoria in late August and with the news the big name babies from the Jewels aren’t going, Perfect Stride now looms as a serious contender.  His trainer Ray Green knows what it takes to win the Breeders Crown juvenile, he did it with King Of Swing a couple of seasons ago, being smart enough to go where New Zealand’s elite weren’t.  With big-spending owner Emilio Rosati always keen to chase the glamour races, Green is aiming Perfect Stride at the same Aussie pot of gold.  “The owners are keen and I think he is good enough to be very competitive,” says Green. “The series is a bit more challenging this year because the heats and semis are also in Victoria but that also means some other horses from here aren’t going.  “So if he races as well in the next few weeks as we expect then he will go.”Perfect Stride is the younger brother of WA superstar Chicago Bull and has the family ability.  He had the natural speed to go with the better early season two-year-olds and missing the autumn features wouldn’t have done him any harm.  Punters who took the long odds-on about him at Cambridge last week would have felt sick when first a hydraulic malfunction on the mobile meant his race was a moving star (admittedly a good one) and then Perfect Stride had a torrid time being attacked in front.  He only just went down and Green says he is trained on well so he should be winning race five, even against southerner Divinia Bellezza, who stunned when second to Elle Mac in the Jewels two weeks ago. Green loves the winter racing stakes are thinks Lindi Lincoln (race two), The Empress (race four) and Man Of Action (race 10) all have good each way chances.  But for many harness punters the focus of the night will be Addington’s Uncut Gems meeting, featuring the unbeaten pride of Southland racing U May Cullect.  He meets two good horses in Triple Eight and Classic Brigade but he should simply be too fast.   Michael Guerin

It was a magic day for southern breeders at the NZB Standardbred National Sale in Christchurch today (Wednesday) with two Southern Bred Southern Reared colts topping the sale, and plenty of others providing a great return for their owners. The Shard, owned by Debbie and Mark Smith of Shard Farm, and Beaudiene Bigtime owned by Dave Kennedy of Bayswater both sold for $170,000. Emilio and Mary Rosati of New South Wales purchased The Shard whilst another regular Australian buyer Jean Feiss, put in the winning bid for Beaudiene Bigtime. “Unbelievable,” said Kennedy when I spoke to him a few hours after the sale. And the follow up question had to be; was that a surprise? “Was it ever. I knew I had a good colt but I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get $170,000. As the day went on I was starting to get a bit worried because the big buyers had been spending their money.” But worry soon turned into elation as Kennedy sat on the sideline watching the bidding war unfold. “It was an unbelievable experience I can tell you. Stonewall Stud were chasing him and Nigel McGrath had a go. There were quite a few onto him. I’m pretty sure Stonewall were the under bidders.” At the end of the day though, it was Jean Feiss who walked away with the Bettor’s Delight - Beaudiene Maja colt. “He’d be the nicest colt I’ve handled. He’s so intelligent and so willing to work with you every step of the way.” Topping the Christchurch sale is becoming a regular occurrence for SBSR. Chicago Cub bred by John and Katrina Price was the top lot last year, selling to Emilio and Mary Rosati for $190,000. In 2016 Shard Farm prepared Mach Shard to sell for $200,000, whilst back in 2015 Bollinger sold for $200,000, and in 2014 Beaudiene Beaufighter was top of the pile. Kennedy said he had a feeling this year’s sale was going to be special for the SBSR group of breeders. “I said to John (Stiven) and Debbie (Smith) that the Southland team had the best group of yearlings that they’ve ever travelled up to Christchurch with. I knew damn well there would be some money coming our way. It was a great day for the Southern boys and girls.” Buyers on the SBSR Tour at Dave and Dawn Kennedys - Photo Bruce Stewart Another success story was Captain Nemo, a Captaintreacherous colt owned by John and Katrina Price of Winton which sold for $110,000. He was first spotted on the SBSR Bus Tour by Ray Green who took a keen interest in him and has now bought him for Lincoln Farms. The Prices also sold their Bettor’s Delight colt out of Surprise Party – another one bought by Jean Feiss, for $100,000. Shard Farm also had a $100,000 sale with Romeo Shard selling to Kennard Bloodstock. Other good SBSR sales were: $90,000 for the Tuapeka Lodge colt The Frankster (Bettor’s Delight – Tuapeka Maddy), $90,000 for Arden’s Ace (Art Major-Venus Serena) and $82,500 for Captain Arden (Captaintreacherous – Southwind Arden). Kennedy says a big part of the success today stems from the SBSR Bus Tour which gives prospective buyers the opportunity to take a look at the yearlings on offer in their own environment, whilst showcasing Southland. One of the trainers on the tour, Ray Green, commented to Kennedy that he could see why Southern Reared horses are so good. “Ray said with all the green grass their bones are so much better. And the climate is so conducive to breeding top animals.” Kennedy states “You can’t buy advertising like that. The guys that come down on the tour just can’t believe it. Bringing the buyers down has been one hell of a win for us.”    Bruce Stewart

Harness racing, or trotting and pacing as it is also known, has all but disappeared off the map in Hawke's Bay. But there's a glimmer of hope in the local ownership links with rising 3-year-old pacing star King of Swing, which has had nine starts for six wins, three second placings and stakes of $206,000 in just six months of racing, including the rich Australian Breeders Crown final ending the King's 2-year-old season at Melton in Victoria. Owned by Property Brokers Napier real estate agents Rod and Sue Fleming in partnership with breeders Lincoln Farms Bloodstock, run by longtime friends John and Lynne Street, and fourth shareholder Neville McAllister, of Wellington, and trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe, King of Swing is now one of the favourites for the Gr 1 $170,000 NZ Sires Stakes final on New Zealand Cup Day in its first South Island start at Addington, Christchurch, on Tuesday. "We've never been to cup week," said Mr Fleming. "It's one of those things that's always been on the bucket list." On the reins will be David Butcher, driver in seven of the starts and five of the wins, and King of Swing has the ace draw for the 1950 metres race, with all six wins having come from draws of 1-4 on the front line behind the mobile. Rod Fleming, a New Zealand indoor bowls representative, says he and his wife can barely believe their good fortune in getting a successful horse they saw at the races for the first time at start No 7 when it won the Australian Breeders Crown final on August 27, claiming stakes of $A142,500. "We've known John and Lynne (Street) for many years, and we were at the races one day and he said let's go into a couple of partnerships," he said. One was King of Swing, named not after any cricketer or jazzman but after Mick Jagger, and the other Vasari, which won eight races as a 2- and 3-year-old in New Zealand before being sent to Australia. "I wanted a racing 2-year-old and John suggested this bloody good horse," said Mr Fleming. "He said it's one of the best in the barn, and he's got a fair number." More pertinently was that the trainer reckoned it would make a good late 2-year-old and ultimately with the formline substantiating the promise the choice was made to capitalise on the extra month of 2-year-old racing in Australia, where it qualified for the Breeders Crown final by winning a heat at Bendigo. After winning the final over 2240m, it returned to New Zealand and where many might have decided on a spell, the King's connections went straight back into eyes on a Breeders Crown-Sires Stakes transtasman double rarely otherwise contemplated. King of Swing won a heat at Cambridge on October 5 and was just beaten in the Northern Sires Stakes final on October 27 at Alexandra Park, scene of its first four starts from which it emerged with two wins and then two second placings. "This is going to take us a lot of places," he said. Mr Fleming would love to see harness racing revived in Hawke's Bay, although he said that living in the Bay and having the horse trained 380km away and racing at a distance makes the trips away for the action a big event, as they intend it will be on Tuesday for their first trip to Addington and the racing-dominated show week in Christchurch. Harness racing in Hawke's Bay has had an off-and-on history, but dates back to what is recorded as the first trotting "on the east coast" in a paddock at Stortford Lodge in 1891. The Hawke's Bay Trotting Club had its own course in Hastings up to 1899, there were also trotting meetings at Waipukurau in 1908-09, and meetings at the Hastings Racecourse in 1920-21 included the first Hawke's Bay Trotting Cup. The most recent era started with equalisator betting races at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in 1978, graduating to on-course-only totalisator betting at the club's annual two-day meeting from 1980 to 1988, leading to a move to Hastings Racecourse, full totalisator betting and the club's merger with galloping clubs to create Hawke's Bay Racing Inc. The last of the annual trots meetings in Hawke's Bay was in 1997, and the last time trots were seen "on the east coast" was when four races were incorporated with gallops at Hastings in October 1998. Lone fulltime Hawke's Bay trainer Wyn Nation has long since ceased his operation just south of Waipukurau, the now-late Colin Briskie eased out of training in Dannevirke. Lone remaining trainer, former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby representative Ricky Allen, who had mixed training horses on the beach at Waimarama with managing the Taradale RSA, and who had major success with trotters Rua Kenana and Levrik in 1988-89, moved to the South Island where he continues training at Katiki Beach, near the Moeraki Boulders on the North Otago coast. His most successful recent season was 2014-2015, with seven wins - four to Starlight Starbright and three to Zachary Smith. His one win as a trainer to date this season was with trotter Dusky Eyre at Addington in August. He's also been deputising for Sir Richard Tayler as president of the Waikouaiti Trotting Club since Sir Richard took ill earlier this year. By: Doug Laing Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green has trained the quinella in the first heat of the NRM Sires Stakes Series at Cambridge Raceway last night. Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing led all the way in the hands of Philip Butcher to narrowly beat the Green trained stablemate Recco Lover by a short margin. The winner paced the 1700m journey in a 1-56.0 mile rate with a closing 800m in 56.0 and the final 400m in 27.1 seconds.  King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) and Recco Lover (Bettor's Delight - Castellina Lover) have both qualified for the $170,000 Group One Final at Addington on November 14. The Robert Dunn trained Alta Maestro, who was the TAB favourite in last nights race sat parked and faded to finish last. Tim Vince trained a double at last nights meeting when both Drover's Eyre and Romanite won their respective races.  Romanite won the amateur drivers race and paced a quick 1-57.4 mile rate when winning over 1700m in the hands of Sheree Wigg. The Art Official gelding zipped over his last 800m in 55.7 seconds to beat the Vince trained stablemate Curlimore. Drover's Eyre led all the way when winning the highest rated race of the night for junior driver Jack McKinnon. The Falcon Seelster eight year old was having his 87th start, but showed there was still some pep left in his legs with a 56.4 closing 800m off the back of a 2-01.3 mile rate for the standing start 2200m. King Of Swing winning last night Harnesslink Media

Ray Green is not stupid --- which means Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing will try for an all the way win at Cambridge tonight. The exciting three-year-old has drawn the ace in the first heat of what looks a very even Sires’ Stakes series, with the northern crop having way more depth than recent season. Already King Of Swing has won at group one level, as has race rival Mach Shard while Alta Maestro paced a couple of national records last season and returned with a win against older horses at Alexandra Park last Friday. There is little between the trio or their other three rivals tonight but early season Sires’ Stakes heats tend to be dominated by leaders and trailer as the sprint distance and reluctance for fresh horses to be given hard runs can often mean those up front get handed the race. Alta Maestro showed blistering gate speed last season but trainer Robert Dunn was keen to see him driven less aggressively when he won last Friday and if he opts for similar tactics tonight then King Of Swing should lead, always crucial in a Cambridge sprint. And Green says that will be the plan, especially after King Of Swing led to win the $300,000 Breeders Crown at Melton in late August.  “We would be stupid not to use the ace draw around Cambridge so that will be the plan,” says Green.  “He only had a week off after the Breeders and won well at the workouts last Saturday so I think he is ready for a 1:55 mile rate this week.” While Alta Maestro is an obvious danger, Green thinks his stable second stringer Recco Lover could trail and have an upset hope. “He has very good speed and isn’t much inferior, if at all, to King Of Swing. So if he trails he has a good hope.”  Mach Shard returns after a great start to last season but having little luck later and trainer Barry Purdon knows he faces a huge task from barrier five.  “We have seen enough of these Sires’ Stakes heats at Cambridge to know how hard they can be to win if there is no pressure so I am hoping they have a go at each other early,” says Purdon.  The heat is strangely not a leg of tonight’s $100,000 Pick6, one that lacks any real anchors but also has a few legs with only two or three major chances so it worth attacking.  The problem child for Pick6 punters is Agincourt, who should win the last leg on raw ability but whose manners have let punters down twice in as many starts. He should be anchored on one ticket but well covered on another. Michael Guerin

Ray Green has broken his Australian major race drought with the most unlikely of horses. The South Auckland trainer claimed the richest win of his career when King Of Swing led throughout in the hands of David Butcher in the A$285,000 ($310,000) Breeders Crown two-year-old pacing final. The rangy pacer capped a remarkable rise from obscurity, winning his group one just three months after he debuted and without having contested any of the feature juvenile races at home. That didn't deter Green, the trainer for Lincoln Farms, from giving him his shot at Australia's best and his improvement curve has peaked at the right time, with Butcher's perfect drive a massive help. Green is no stranger to campaigning horses in Australia, having won decent races with Badlands Bute and training Sir Lincoln to a luckless second in the Victoria Derby. "But on the whole we haven't had a lot of luck over here so to finally get a really big one is very satisfying," said the jovial 71-year-old. "He has always looked a good horse but we waited until he told us he was good enough to bring over here." The win eclipses the Auckland Cup that Sir Lincoln won as the richest race taken out by a Lincoln Farms pacer and King Of Swing has Derby horse written all over him. King Of Swing His win was the highlight of a mixed day for the Kiwi challengers, with Canterbury filly Renezmae the other to taste group one glory. She led throughout in the two-year-old fillies trot for 23-year-old trainer Jack Harrington, who must surely be one of the youngest New Zealand horsemen to prepare a group one winner. Harrington has quickly built up a 25 horses stable after getting into racing with no family background. "I got into it because my Dad liked a bet so to be here, winning a Breeders Crown, is pretty amazing," says Harrington. "I was welling up when I was being interviewed after the race, I was worried I was gonna start crying," he laughed. Renezmae Punters who backed the All Stars' three runners probably felt like crying too as they had a rare off day. While Partyon was a brave third in her final, More The Better and Sicario both finished unplaced. More The Better was the shock of the day, galloping when in front after 600m as a red hot favourite. And the Kiwi juvenile pacing fillies were a mixed bag, with Bettor Joy below her best when unplaced after leading, leaving fellow Canterbury filly Angel Of Harlem to chase home stunning winner Nostra Villa. By Michael Guerin  

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green grabbed a training double last night when both Linc's Tiger and Rocknroll Lincoln won their respective races easily in  wet conditions at Cambridge Raceway.  Linc's Tiger gave his sire Sir Lincoln another boost, trailing for most of the race before bolting away in the straight to win by 4 lengths and running a quick 57.7 for his last half in the slushy conditions. Rocknroll Lincoln was even more impressive winning in a very quick mile rate of 1:57.5 for the 2200m mobile. His winning time of 2:40.7 was superb considering he led and was attacked twice in the running before winning untouched for driver David Butcher. Cambridge trainer Nicky Chilcott, also trained a double for the night when Shay Scott and Harry H won the two trotting races on the card. Shay Scott showed his liking for the track when winning his second in three weeks at Cambridge Raceway. Although his winning margin of 4 lengths was not as impressive as when he won by 27 lengths three weeks ago, he still won with plenty in hand suggesting there are more wins in store for the eight year old Sundon gelding. Harry H (Muscles Yankee - Sound Of Chiola), a recent addition to Chilcott’s barn won the the higher rated R51-84 handicap stand later in the night. The half-brother to former eighteen win trotter Martina H trailed for most of the race and got the upper hand close to the line to win by a length from the fast-finishing favorite Lovely Bundy. Trainer Arna Donnelly trained her second winner of the season when 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding Bet Out Of Ell won the feature event last night. His time of 2:43.7 was only just outside of Awesome Armbro’s national stand start record for 2200m.  Bet Out Of Ell (Bettor's Delight - Elle Mary Rose) started from a handicap of 20m and the race was held in wet conditions making the run of the winner even better. Donnelly was confident of a good showing, thinking the drop in class last night would suit the horse and he duly obliged.       Harnesslink Media

It is harness racing semi-final time for the kiwi Breeders Crown runners at Bendigo on Saturday night in Australia. The first heat of the night is the Woodlands Stud semi-final for the 2yo colts and geldings and New Zealand is represented by both King Of Swing and Master Moonlite. King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) is trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe and is having his first Australian start. David Butcher will do the driving from a tidy barrier position of three and he could possibly lead from there and be hard to beat. Master Moonlite (Art Major - Miss Moonlite) who won fresh up in Australia on the 9th August, has not fared so well with the barrier draw, coming in at five on the second row. Anthony Butt will drive him on Saturday night with Dexter Dunn likely to get back on for the final if he qualifies. In the second heat, impressive filly Our Angel Of Harlem has drawn perfectly to lead at barrier two.  Trained by Barry Ward at West Melton, Our Angel Of Harlem was late arriving in Australia, due to a delay at Christchurch airport with fog last week, but is now settled in ready to rumble according to trainer Barry Ward. Our Angel Of Harlem (Mach Three - Paradise City) won her final hit out at the Ashburton workouts last week leading all the way for driver Jimmy Curtin in a slick 2:58.9 for the mobile 2400m. She won easily under a hold and paced the last 800m of that workout in a quick 56.9 seconds. Angel Of Harlem or Our Angel Of Harlem as she is named in Australia, will be driven in the semi-final by Anthony Butt who will also do the steering in the final if she qualifies on Saturday night.  Starting in the same heat is Our Bettor Joy from the Cran Dalgety stable. She has drawn barrier 10 and will be starting from three on the second row, which is not ideal, but she does have the services of master driver Gavin Lang to guide her around the Bendigo track. Up against the two New Zealand fillies is the impressive Art Major filly Nostra Villa, who has won all seven of her starts this season. Trained by Emma Stuart, Nostra Villa has drawn badly at one on the second line giving a clear advantage to the kiwi fillies in that heat. Partyon from the All Stars Stable starts in the first semi-final for the 3yo fillies and has drawn perfectly in barrier three. She looks a good thing to lead and then be hard to beat for driver Luke McCarthy. Another All Stars runner in More The Better starts in race five the first semi-final for the 3yo colts and geldings. More The Better (Bettor's Delight - Lucky Pocket) has drawn poorly at barrier 7 with his main danger The Little General faring much better after drawing the pole position of one from the mobile over 2150m. Also in that heat is ex- All Stars Stable runner Stars Align who has won five out of six starts in Australia for owners’ G J Kennard, P I Kennard, P J Creighton, M C Creighton, G R Douglas and K J Riseley. He has drawn badly at six on the second line and will need luck in the running to feature in the finish. Big Mach (Mach Three - Outback Girl) for Logan Hollis starts in the second 3yo semi-final and has drawn barrier 8 and will start from one on the second line needing luck. He is up against the Merv Butterworth owned Motu Meteor who is building an impressive record in Australia for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. Sicario (Somebeachsomewhere - Bettorthanyou) for the All Stars Stable in the second 2yo semi-final is the last kiwi breeders contender for the night and he has drawn well at barrier four for driver Luke McCarthy.    Harnesslink Media      

Trainer Ray Green and driver David Butcher have different views over how clear cut tonight’s feature pace at Alexandra Park will be. Butcher says while he chose Vasari over last-start Winter Cup winner Northview Hustler, he isn’t sure he has made the right choice. Yet Green is adamant he has. “I think Vasari is clearly the better horse and definitely our better chance,” says Green, who is still on track for his best season ever. “He had his issues with Vasari but has always been a good horse, and now we have gelded him he is right back into it. “This might be his first standing start, but he has handled the ones I have given him at home well, and he is too good a pacer not to step safely. “Northview Hustler is a real little pro, typical of the Bettor's Delights, but I don’t think he is as good as Vasari.” Butcher, who will win the North Island Driver’s Premiership again, needs a bit more convincing. “The difference is I am sure Northview Hustler (who will be driven by Andre Poutama) will step up because he did for me last start in the Winter Cup. “Whereas Vasari I am not sure about, because I haven’t seen him do it. “So while I am driving Vasari I could have just as easily gone the other way.” The pair highlight a potentially good night for Green, whose high class juvenile King Of Swing takes on older horses in race six.“We think a lot of him and he is still very much a chance to go to the Breeders Crown in Victoria next month,” says Green. “He is very big and raw but he has a good motor, so we will see how he goes in his heat next week.” As sharp as King Of Swing has looked, Butcher warns punters tonight poses a tricky test for the juvenile. “He might be too good for them but against the older horses it is hard to make your own luck, so he is no good thing.” Green also has impressive workout winner Alta Shangri La in race one while Butcher takes his stable star Sunset Peak to the 1700m mobile trot to finish tonight’s eight race programme. “She is racing well but the way Yagunnakissmeornot won last week I can’t see us beating her,” says Butcher. Addington also race tonight, with two legs of the national junior driver’s champs, the remaining two legs to be held at tomorrow’s Forbury Park day meeting, which was transferred from last night because of the weather.   Michael Guerin

The last 16 months of Vasari’s career has hardly panned out as his connections could have liked. And it really hasn’t panned out the way Vasari would have liked it. But when the highly-talented three-year-old bolted to an effortless win at Alexandra Park on Friday night he finally looked like the horse he promised to be as a late juvenile. The long-striding son of Art Major may have been harshly judged for much of this season, with perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to him being his win in a Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington last year. That night he lead and beat juvenile of the year More The Better, just a month after thrashing his opponents in a SIres’ Stakes heat at Cambridge by six lengths in a 1:55 mile rate. After that level of performances anything but group one glory was going to seem like a waste of Vasari’s talent but luck deserted him in the best races as a juvenile and then an old problem kicked in this term. Trainer Ray Green told driver David Butcher that by the time colts get to midway through their three-year-old season they either adapt to being a boy around girls or they can’t handle it. “One night at Alexandra Park he didn’t try and when I came back in Ray summed it up nicely. He said ‘he has turned into a werewolf,” laughs Butcher. So Vasari was gelded and now his mind is back on racing he looks more like his old self. “He has always had the ability and the good thing about him is he relaxes so well. “He felt great out there tonight and that is a very handy ability to have, the ability to park out and relax then kick hard  “So who knows how far he can go now, after all, he is still only a three-year-old.” The win was Vasari’s fifth and he should have little problem adding more in coming weeks and then the question will be whether Lincoln Farms want to keep him here in New Zealand or send him to somewhere like Menangle, where he would look suited. But with the stake rises coming at Alexandra Park, maybe the days of handy mid-grade horses heading off shore will become less common, with a Vasari well capable of winning good money at home if the better-end races get off the ground. His win extended Butcher’s huge lead in the North Island drivers premiership on a night when his son Zac landed two and brother Phil reined Pakipaki to an impressive win in a good fillies and mares race. With Alta Intrigue second to Vasari it provided Ray Green with the quinella and took him to 28 wins for the season, still with a shot at his personal best of 31 set in 2012. Already Green has bettered last season, is almost level on stakes won that term and has a better strike rate so has done another huge job to sit fifth of the northern trainers on the premiership. Michael Guerin  

Northview Hustler is an unassuming little fella, who in work, seldom gives his trainer Ray Green the impression he could beat a maiden field let alone a quality Winter Cup line-up comprising of last year’s Auckland Cup runner-up. But that’s not to say that Green didn’t think his three-year-old could beat his older and more experienced rivals in the feature pace last Friday at Alexandra Park. “He’s an average worker but he’s a whole new racehorse when the day tote opens. He’s a tough little fella and I thought if he stepped away cleanly he would be right in it. “But to win like he did surprised me a bit. He’s an unspectacular sort of horse who always has the ability to do the unexpected. He seems to be able to rise above and beyond,” Green said. The R77 ranked Northview Hustler displayed a heap of character and guts to sit parked for the last 1300m and then win the $20,000 Smith & Partners Lawyers sponsored 2017 Winter Cup. All nine of the runners in Friday's feature pace for the R70 to R104 ranked pacers were four years or older - all except Northview Hustler. The three-year-old black Bettor's Delight - Northview Desire colt was only having his 11th start compared to some in the field who had raced seven and eight times more than that. David Butcher settled Northview Hustler fourth along the markers (in single file) not long after starting from their 10m handicap. That's where they remained until Butcher went and sat parked with him at the 1300m. Then for the remainder of the race the talented colt showed more heart than Mother Theresa to hold out 2016 Auckland Cup runner-up and the 102-ranked favourite, Hug The Wind (Zac Butcher), by half a neck. Second favourite Bettor's Pocket (Tony Cameron) was a neck back in third. Northview Hustler paced the 2700m stand in 3:22.5 (mile rate 2:00.6) and came home in 57.6 and 28.6. He was the $8 fourth favourite. “I’m proud of him. To be honest I thought Alta Intrigue and Vasari were my best winning chances on the night and they finished second and third in the last race. “That was his fourth win now and he’s done much better than we thought he might after less than a dozen starts. We will just race him over the winter and see what develops. “He will tell us where to next. He’s only ever raced at Alexandra Park. The Breeder’s Crown isn’t a reality but Australia could possibly be next season. I think he will make a nice four-year-old,” Pukekohe-based Green said. Northview Hustler was ranked in the top 10 for the 3YO Emerald Jewels Final but Green opted to race him at northern headquarters instead. He has now banked $54,249 for his owners - Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd, Shannon Flay (Mangere), Ian Gradwell (Henderson), Chis Western (Mairangi Bay), Ian Middleton (Greenlane, and the Four Legs Syndicate). He was bred by Murdoch Bloodstock Limited. Meanwhile Waiuku trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett won both Breeders Crown heats with Our Rosa (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Mass Destruction (Hackett). The latter won by a walk-over. Their recent Monte Saddle Trot winner, Majestic Ali, won the feature trot – the $14,999 Princess Manoja Stakes for the R47 to R60 trotters. It was Majestic Ali's fourth win in 28 starts and the five-year-old Majestic Ali mare provided Herlihy (MNZM) with his second win of the evening. The 'Iceman' got his hatrick in the ninth event when the three-year-old filly he trains - Moving Money - won easily in 2:47.4 (2200m mobile). Duane Ranger

Andre Poutama is just three victories away from achieving his goal of 30 wins in his first season as an open horseman. The 25-year-old Ray Green employee has seven nice drives at Alexandra Park on Friday night, and even though there are no stand-outs he believes he has a couple of nice winning prospects. The Franklin reinsman believed the Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El, in the seventh race, was his best winning chance of the night. “I think Arna is trying to qualify him for the Jewels Final. He’s got no Lazarus to contend with tonight,” Poutama said. Here’s what Poutama had to say about his book of drives: Race 2: The Eddy Clarke trained Whitecliff Chapel (7) – "She has been a bit disappointing after her spell and is slowly coming back to form. This field isn’t so strong and she did run home well two starts back. She can run in four.” Race 3: The Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S (9, 10m) – "He just needs the right run dropping back in this class. I think he found the 2700m a bit long last start and I think the 2200 will suit him. He’s a hope because he does everything right.” Race 4: The Ray Green trained Rocknroll Lincoln (6) - “He’s a 3-year-old colt who has suffered from poor draws lately. He was brave in front last time when he got attacked down the back. That took a wee bit out of him. If he can stay out of it early and then attack late I think he can be right in this. Each-way.” Race 5: The Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Rhythm N Blues (9) - "Another 3-year-old who was game last start after leading them and setting up a good time. He didn’t really get a breather that night. It depends what they do up front this time, but he loves racing and is not out of this.” Race 6: The Ray Green trained She's Ideal (4) - “Lightly raced mare who still has a lot to learn. She doesn't possess any real speed yet and she's not up there with the top 4-year-old mares going around but she does have a bit of talent and is drawn okay. She's the sort of pacer who is going to get better and better with racing. Race 7: The Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El (4) - “He sat parked and did all the work in the New Zealand Messenger last start and this is a big drop in class. there’s no Lazarus to contend with this time. He’s on the verge of a Jewels (17th & $2,690 short) start and I think Arna wants to take him to Ashburton. I think he is one of the better chances in the race and probably my best drive of the night.” Race 9: The Jason and Megan Teaz trained Mortician (1) - “Three-year-old trotting gelding that went real well at Manawatu last week when favourite. He ran second behind The Hulk that night and is a capable trotter on the verge of claiming his second career win. This field doesn’t seem as strong as what he’s been racing. He can win but it depends on what Mortician shows up.”   Duane Ranger

It's not often a trainer can get a tad annoyed when his horse goes too fast, but that's how Franklin trainer Ray Green felt about Linc's Tiger's easy win at in a five-horse trial at Pukekohe on Tuesday. The promising 2-year-old son of Sir Lincoln bolted in by five-and-a-half lengths, pacing the 2050m mobile (left handed) in 2:34.7. That was a whopping 7.5 seconds under the qualifying time. The brown colt's winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he came home in 57.7 and 28.4. "We have always been pleased with the way he's been developing. He's just a little fella but to be fair Nate (Delany) had him going a lot faster than what we wanted this early in his prep. The driver got a little bit carried away, but that’s to be expected, he’s young and only had a couple of race-day drives. "That was just the second time the colt has been off the property. We still have to get a bit of work into him before he is ready for race-night. We like him a lot but you have to remember it's all very well winning a qualifier because it's a different story come race-night," Green said. He said Linc's Tiger would have another trial this weekend and then perhaps he would line up in a 2-year-old race at Alexandra Park late this month or next month. Linc's Tiger is the only foal out of the unraced Real Desire mare, Tigerzureal, who qualified 2.9 seconds under the qualifying time at Alexandra Park in June 2011 Tigerzureal was the 10th of 12 foals left by the 15-win ($491,957) Butler B G mare, Tigerish. That multiple Group One-winning mare was a better than average 2-year-old herself, winning five out of eight races and placing in the other three. Linc’s Tiger was bred by Lindsay and Pam Turner of Top Notch Lodge in Pukekohe. Lincoln Farms paid $50,000 for the brown colt at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “He’s a very speedy little fella. He pulled up well and has come through the race without a problem. He did it all quite comfortably, which is promising,” Green said. The only other qualifier yesterday was the James Stormont trained and driven That Girl Of Mine, who beat the qualifying mark by 0.7 of a second in her two-horse 1609m mobile trot. The 2-year-old Great Success bay filly trotted the mile in 2:10.4 and came her last 800m and 400m in 62.9 and 32.1. She won by 17-and-a-half lengths. She is owned by B L Hill, Mrs M Hill, C G Walker, and Mrs N M Walker; and was bred by Frank Weaver at Takanini. She did not go through the Yearling Sales. That Girl Of Mine is the second of four foals out of the un-raced Sundon - Pride Of Petite mare, - Petite Sunshine. That mare did however qualify 0.3 seconds under time at the Auckland Trotting Club's Trials on October 13, 2009. That Girl Of Mine's grand-dam - Pride Of Petite, was also a multiple Group One winning mare, who raced 142 times and won on 35 occasions, placed 40 times and netted $811,816. She raced between March 1991 and March 1999. Duane Ranger

Ray Green’s Pukekohe stable has four talented 2-year-olds lining up in $25,000 Young Guns heats at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday), but he believed Northview Hustler (R4) and Alta Intrigue (R8) were his best winning chances. Fresh from a stint in Singapore, the Pukekohe trainer reckons he has a couple of winning prospects at ‘The Park’ tonight, but thought Northview Hustler’s trials form and Alta Intrigue’s consistency gave them the edge over the others. Stable junior, Andrew Drake, who turned 21 yesterday (Thursday), rated Spring Campaign as his best drive of the night. “I would be all over Sea Of Gold if it wasn't for the draw. She is a lovely filly, but from seven I will be going back and then having to go forward again, and that just might be a bit tough for her. “Spring Campaign is a lovely horse drawn two and he might have enough gate speed to hold the front and that’s where he likes to be. He’s tough horse,” Drake said. Green currently sits on 198 training success. Here’s what the man from Lincoln Farms had to say about his seven chances: Race 2: Recco Lover (3) – "He’s a nice horse who is scratched due to a bruised heel." Race 2: Royal Gamble (4) David Butcher – "He’s a good little horse and I think he will just keep on improving. He reminds me a lot of Beaudiene Boaz, who was the same early on and then developed into a nice pacer. They have similar traits. He’s got better and better and I like him in this.” Race 4: Northview Hustler (4) – David Butcher - "This colt has been trialling real well and I like his chances a lot from the kind draw. He won real well on debut and won’t be far away this time either.” Race 5: Alta Shangri La (3) – David Butcher – "She is a nice filly who has the edge over her stablemate in this race simply because she has the better draw. We have kept a low profile with her. She is a half-sister to Alta Intrigue and can go close if things go right for her.” Race 5: Sea Of Gold (7) - Andrew Drake (j) - "This filly also has quite a bit of talent but she is drawn out a bit and will need a nice trip to get some of it. She won a trial and beat some nice fillies in doing so. If she does get luck in the running she won’t be far away either.” Race 6: Naya (1) – David Butcher - "She is a little bit green still, but has ability, She’s drawn to lead and if she does that it will suit her racing style down to the ground. She’s drawn to get some of it.” Race 8: Spring Campaign (2) Andrew Drake (j) – "He goes very well and has run two nice seconds at Cambridge and Alexandra Park behind some nice horses. He has a better draw this time around and won’t be far away. I think Andrew will give the colt every possible winning chance in this.” Race 8: Alta Intrigue (4) Zac Butcher - Another 3-year-old colt who was only just beaten last start and before that was runner-up in the Waikato Guineas behind the talented Mark Purdon runner (More The Batter). This appears to be a bit easier, and even though they are all nice horses, I rate this fella as one of our better winning prospects on Friday.” Duane Ranger

Harness racing over the last week saw impressive runs by two of the Sir Lincoln early 2yos. John The Plumber (Sir Lincoln - Eves Apple) produced a big run from well back in the field on the turn to run second in a maiden race at Timaru on the 18th January. Trainer Bruce Negus said " I was quite pleased with his Timaru run as he got well back, but finished quickly in what was a strong maiden field. They ran a 2:00 mile rate on the wet track which makes the run even better "    "I will be starting him in the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton on the 4th February and he needed to race well against the maidens at Timaru to be starting in that field." Bruce thinks they could go around 1:55 for the mile in the Sapling Stakes, and said "there are some nice 2yos trialing at the moment and it should be a competitve race"  Two days after John The Plumber ran second at Timaru another Sir Lincoln 2yo colt Lincoln Sky (Sir Lincoln - Toast Of New York) also ran second at  Cambridge after showing good gate speed to lead early. He fought on well for second after trailing for the last 800m. A big improver in the Ray Green stable, Lincoln Sky could be a player in the classic races later in the season. Sir Lincoln now has seven qualifiers from his first crop with good feedback on his stock, with "well gaited" and "speedy" being the common quotes from trainers.   Harnesslink Media

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