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North Canterbury harness racing trainer Greg Hope has never been slow to point out to journalists his opinion of his outstanding trotter Monbet. Right through his three year old campaign when due to a variety of issues he was playing second fiddle to another outstanding young trotter in Speeding Spur, Greg never let a chance go by without taking the opportunity to tell you that the best was yet to come. That the big son of Love You would continue to improve as he matured into his large frame and if Greg was patient now, he would reap the rewards further down the track. It is a philosophy that Greg and wife Nina, who train the four year old gelding have stuck to again this season with the four year old gelding as they have structured his programme for his long term benefit regardless of the money involved. Even though he dominated the New Zealand FFA on Cup Day this year, he was at home in his box when the $250,000 Dominion Handicap was run three days later.  Now as we approach the $300,000 Southern Star series, Greg is in Australia with his star trotter but not for the big dance. Instead he has targeted the Australasian Trotting Championship and after a brilliant heat win at Ballarat last night appears in a different league to the opposition he will face next week in the $50,000 final. Away slowly as the lone back marker on 20 metres, Monbet tagged on to bunch after 500 metres but when regular driver Ricky May pushed the go button, he quickly looped the field and grabbed the lead and proceeded to run away and hide from a smart field of FFA trotters. At the line he had 19 metres to spare from runner up Super Zeck as Ricky let him coast down to the line. The quality of the win was there for all to see and Monbet carved nearly two seconds off the track record to boot. Ricky May was thrilled with the the first up effort in Australia. "We gave them 20 metres start and still won with a lot in hand so I am rapt with the run." "He was really fresh tonight so I was a bit careful with him early but that run will tidy him nicely for next week and he should strip a better horse again." "I have always said that Monbet was a freakish trotter who has pacer like speed and he looks to have a huge future," Ricky said. Ricky was just as upbeat when talking about his Ballarat Pacing Cup drive Mossdale Conner who ran a creditable fourth in his Australian debut. "I have never known him to get that keen in a race." "Greg had him pretty fresh going into it as he has a big few weeks in front of him but as a result he half pulled himself into the ground." "The way he felt, I didn't think he would have been too far away from the first two if he had settled." "He will be really tight next week so that won't be a problem and I give him a chance of getting amongst it." "The race that will really suit him will be the Hunter Cup where his great standing start manners will make him a huge chance," Ricky said. Harnesslink Media

For the last eighteen months, Stent has ruled the Australasian trotting scene but in the last two months he has lost his crown to a young harness racing four-year- old called Monbet. The son of Love You has thrilled crowds at both Addington and Alexandra Park with displays of raw speed seldom seen in a trotter in this part of the world. Today he added a staying componet to his reportire as he again put the best trotters in New Zealand to the sword in the $80,000 National FFA Trot. Ducking a couple of galloping horses early from his second line draw, Monbet settled in the one by one running line early before driver Ricky May set him alight at the 1400 metres mark to burst forward and grab the lead off Stent.  Attacked a couple of times during the last round, Monbet simply ran away and hid when Ricky asked him for an effort on the corner. Monbet won easing down by 2 3/4 lengths with Ricky hardly moving in the bike. Speeding Spur got home well from three back on the inner to grab second in front of a game One Over Da Moon with Stent a disappointing fourth. A minor highlight of the race was the performance of Prince Fearless who after galloping wildly early and settling a long way from them, was three wide for most of the last lap and stuck on well for a great fifth. It was win number thirteen for Monbet's at just his twenty third start and took his earnings over the $270,000 mark. Monbet  trotted the 2700 metres in 3:22.9, a mile rate of 2:00.9 with closing sectionals of 56.6 and 27.5. Ricky May was all smiles when he came back to the winners circle. " He did that really easy to be honest." " He is really so much more settled this season. " Those couple of breakers around him early didn't affect him at all." " Once he got to the front, I was really confident they wouldn't beat him." " He is clearly the top trotter in New Zealand at the moment," Ricky said. Trained by Greg and Nina Hope, Australians will get to see Monbet later in the season when travels with Mossdale Conner to Victoria Harnesslink Media 

Harness racing driver Ricky May is never one to rate a horse unless he is very confident in its ability. When we were doing the Harnesslink ringaround prior to Christmas, Ricky had a lot of handy drives at Westport the first day but settled on Seel The Deal. He was adament that if you could just hold him up for one run, Seel The Deal had a blinding burst of speed which not many on the coast would be able to deal with. The first day just didn't pan out at all with Seel The Deal getting all the wrong breaks and ending up an unlucky fifth. Yesterday Ricky had Seel The Deal away well to trail the talented Idealindiamonds but then ended up three back when Living Legend took up the lead. Seel The Deal was still three back on the inner as they turned for home and his chances didn't look great but when Idealindiamonds which had moved into the passing lane ran out a touch, Ricky and Seel The Deal were through in an instant and but for a rough stride eighty metres out would have won by a lot more than three quarters of a length. Ricky had that told you so look on his face post race when speaking to Harnesslink. " If he can get a run like that, he has a devastating sprint" " I didn't think the gap was going to open at first but Idealindiamonds ran out a touch half way up the straight. " It was a tight gap and I was just about through when I had to check him off Idealindiamonds when he was really flying which is why he put that rough stride in. " Otherwise I think he would have won by several lengths the way he was going," Ricky said. The trainer Grant McStay has had a lot of luck with this family over a long time especially on the grass track circuits. The result of the race was a great advertisement for the Woodlands stallion American Ideal who produced the trifecta in Seel The Deal, Idealindiamonds and Star Of Dionysis. Harnesslink Media   

Riga Doon is one of those horses that most harness racing enthusiasts would love to own. His wins are spaced a fair way apart but he puts in 110% every start and is never far away from the action. Lacking a bit of high end speed, he is often put into the race early on which does leave him a bit of a sitting duck in most of his races. Yesterday was one of those times where things fell into place for Riga Doon and he notched up win number three on the second day of the Westport Christmas meeting. A bold second on the first day of the meeting to Albuquerque, Riga Doon showed further improvement with the run  Restrained by driver Ricky May from his wide draw, Riga Doon settled last in the eleven horse field before Ricky sent him forward three wide to find the death seat with just under a lap to go. Parked out for the rest of the journey, Riga Doon just kept on giving and prevailed in a tight finish by a neck over the highly regarded Bettor Be Smooth. Bred by Cavalla Bloodstock, Riga Doon is a full brother to the brilliant racemare Carabella 1:55.2 ($693,615) but was able to be leased by Judy May and the Phillips brothers as he had a major gait issue when first tried. Driver Ricky May can't believe the changes in the horse since they first got him " He use to hit his knees fairly hard when we first got him and that was the only reason we were able to lease a horse with his breeding." " Kerry Estreich has done an unbelievable job with his shoeing to the point he doesn't touch a knee any more and the spreaders are no longer required." " I brought the spreaders over with us just in case he didn't handle the tricky turns at Westport but he paced beautifully the whole way both days." " He is no star but he gives his all every start so he is always a chance to get some money," Ricky said. The five year old son of Bettor's Delight is never going to reach the heights of his illusturios full sister Carabella but there are still a few more wins in him yet. Harnesslink Media  

It is not uncommon for children of harness racing trainers to try to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Around the industry throughout their life, they try to carve out a career in harness racing in their own right. One who is about to head down that path is Ben Hope. His parents Greg and Nina Hope are at the elite level of the industry in New Zealand and are having a stellar season through the performances of both Monbet and Mossdale Conner. Ben has been enthralled with harness racing from an early age. " I can remember riding in the cart with dad when I was really young." " From there I progressed to Kids Kartz where I had a bit of success with a couple of ponies called Pepper and Bonnie." "I had my first drive on a horse when I was eleven when I drove Jason Rulz which was a big thrill," Ben told Harnesslink this afternoon. Now aged sixteen, Ben has had a few drives at workouts to date for his parents . " So far I have had seven drives for three wins and a second so so far so good." "In the next eighteen months I plan to have plenty more drives at the workouts and to get better with the stopwatch with a view to becoming a junior driver when I turn eighteen." " At this stage I want to focus more on the driving side of the industry." "I have one more year at school and then I will go to work for mum and dad," Ben said. As you would expect, Ben rates his parents as the best trainers he has had contact with while Ricky May is the the top of the driving ranks in Ben's opinion. Ben has already dabbled in the ownership side of the industry, buying the Love You mare Unyielding Spirit for $5,000 " She has won a couple to date and over $20,000 in stakes and been placed in 2:00.1  " She hasn't got much longer on the track as she is in foal to Peak," Ben said. Of all the horses coming through the ranks at the Hopes barn, Ben has a lot of time for a two year old. " He is a two year old called Kingslayer who is a three quarter brother to the former outstanding two year old, Ohoka Arizona." " He may not race at two, but I know dad thinks a lot of him," Ben said. Ben is already quite well known to Trackside viewers as he frequently fronts the interviews for the Hope barn. " I was quite nervous the first time but now I have got use to it I really enjoy it." It is something I would like to do a bit more of in the future,"Ben said.  With his grounding in the industry and his level headed approach to things, Ben Hope is a name to post in your notebook for the future. Harnesslink Media  

What began as a spectacular start to the month of December for French stallion Love You became a sensational one last Friday night, with Franco-American’s stock dominating a harness racing premier night at Alexandra Park in Auckland. There were four trotting races at Alexandra Park, and Love You’s progeny won three of them, through new sensation Monbet in the feature event, the Group II Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes  while La Reveur and Yagunnkissmeornot were also winners. And in the other race Love You’s offspring were second (Courcheval)  and third and (Lothario). But it was Monbet’s  performance in the feature which stole the show, prompting his driver Ricky May, the winner of seven NZ Trotting Cups, and both the Dominion Handicap and Rowe Cup, to declare the horse to be the best trotter he has driven. “Stylish Monarch was a good horse, but this one is on another level, but right from the start I knew he was going to be so good,” said May, who first drove him in a trial as a two-year-old, where he says the horse’s ability was immediately apparent. May says Monbet has several attributes which make him so good. “His gait is number one, he has a fantastic gait, from the first time I got on him as a two-year-old I knew he was going to be great by the way he went. Monbet has a pretty good attitude to racing, and has plenty of stamina, which was really tested for the first time in the Lyell Creek Stakes, says May, where the Greg Hope-trained 4YO was forced to sit parked for most of the journey outside no other than two-time Dominion Handicap winner Master Lavros, but still had the ability to go clear at the finish. Love You's stock have been firing at Auckland, where trotting races make up about 40 percent of the card, with Courcheval and La Maitre Dix winning at the start of the month, and La Reveur and Yagunnakissmeornot winning the following week, the latter in a quinella with another Love You product, Lothario the full brother to champion Habibti. And at Addington on Friday night, Bordeaux, made it two wins for the month and three wins in four starts for Phillip Iggo. Love You’s coming of age in Down Under trotting scene is great news for New Zealand breeders, where the stallion’s semen recently became available again through Haras des Trotters. A champion sire in six countries, Love You has not been available so far in Australia, but his tiny numbers of imported progeny have already proved successful  with Amore Stride,  Topnotch Jewel and Kvintet Avenger  winning at Group I level and the exciting mare Arboe, a Group 2 winner about to resume racing shortly. His progeny have won top races all over the  world including the Prix d’Amerique (Royal Dream), Elitloppet (Nahar) and Trotting Masters Final (Ed You). Love You’s offspring have been well to the fore this month too in France as the lucrative Winter Season gets into full swing. Bellina Josselyn won the rich Group  II Prix Ariste Hemard this month, while Village Mystic was third in the Prix d’Amerique qualifier, Prix du Bourbonnais, earning points for the second straight race and looks certain to make the field. Love You is also starting to make his name as a broodmare sire, with the most talked about horse in Europe, Bold Eagle being out of a Love You mare. Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes (Mobile Trot) Harnesslink Media

Leading into last nights $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, the jury was well and truly out on who the best trotter in the country was. Stent, Master Lavros and Monbet all had supporters and those supporters could all make a case as to why 'their' horse should be rated number one. In the two minutes, forty four point six seconds it took to run last nights race, the question of who was the current top dog amongst the trotters was well and truly settled. Ricky May sent Monbet forward from barrier seven but he was caught three wide for the first 800 metres before finding the death seat. Mark Jones on Master Lavros had managed to find Monbet's back early in the race and had followed him around three wide at which point Mark Jones pressed on and found the front with just over 1200 metres to go, again leaving Monbet parked out. Stent from the outside of the second line had managed to slot in to four back in the running line but was a fair way off his adversaries with a lap to go. Mark Jones and Master Lavros applied the afterburners down the back straight in 28.3 which had quite a few in the field struggling but Monbet hadn't gone anywhere and it was obvious on the corner that these two would fight out the finish. Shortly after they straightened, Monbet just changed gear and went sailing on past for an emphatic victory by 2 1/4 lengths from Master Lavros with a further 2 3/4 lengths back to Prime Power. Stent made ground late when it was all over to finish fourth. Monbet trotted the 2200 metres in 2:44.6, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 56.4 and 28.1 The son of Love You has now won twelve from twenty two and over $228,000 in his career to date. Driver Ricky May was fulsome in his praise of Monbet. " He just went absolutely super tonight." " He got a bit keen early on when one of his earplugs came out but he came back to me fairly quickly." " I didn't mind sitting parked as he relaxes so well out there." " He gave me an incredible feel out there tonight and won that so easily." " There is no doubt that he is the best trotter I have ever driven and I think he proved tonight that he is the best trotter in the country at the moment," Ricky said  Greg and Nina Hope have done a wonderful job of looking after Monbet through his two and three year old seasons and are now starting to reap the reward for that patience. Harnesslink Media

Just recently, we applauded the JCA for the manner in which they had handled the Kevin Morton 'race cafe' case and how they had enhanced their reputation in doing so. Unfortunately within a few weeks they have had a shocker with the Zac Butcher case in the New Zealand Free For All during Cup Week. The reasoning that the two JCA representatives Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles put forward for their decision in this case shows a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of harness racing. The case revolves around Zac Butcher puncturing the tyre of Mossdale Conner when he went inside the markers before the passing lane in the $250,000 NZFFA. Ricky May was furious post race, stating that Zac had tried to get inside Mossdale Conner before the passing lane was available and in doing so had punctured his trye, costing Mossdale Conner the win. But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles were firmly of the view that Mossdale Conner's winning chances weren't affected as the hearing transcript shows. "Given the performance of ‘Mossdale Conner’ in the final 250m of the race, it is not clear that that horse demonstrably suffered as a result of the flat tyre." "It cannot be said that the horse would have won the race but for the flat tyre." "On the contrary, after the interference ‘Mossdale Conner’ appeared to continue on with a strong run and was only beaten within metres of the winning post by a fast finishing ‘Tiger Tara’. The margin was a nose." So in the minds of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, Mossdale Conner drags a flat tyre for 275 metres and he didn't have his winning chances affected due to the flat tyre. The reality is there is absolutely no doubt at all that the flat tyre cost Mossdale Conner the win. That they think otherwise is to show a complete lack of knowledge and understanding on behalf of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles of the industry they are meant to be policing. But it gets worse when the two gentlemen come to the penalty for this offence. The starting point for careless driving in a major race is suspension. How long that suspension is should be determined by the circumstances of each case. In this instance Mr Ydgren for the plaintiff suggested a starting point of 3-4 days. Mr Lawson on behalf of Zac Butcher suggested three days or two days and a small fine so he could fulfill commitments he had in upcoming weeks. But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles ignored those guidelines and imposed an $800 fine instead. So not only have Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles completely misread the impact the punctured tyre has had on the chances of Mossdale Conner, they have then gone outside their own guidelines when it comes to penalty.  Their reasoning is as follows. "However, the committee is of the view that to suspend Mr Z Butcher for this careless driving would be a disproportionate response to his actual culpability and taking into account the overall circumstances, Mr Butcher’s very good record and the practical difficulties in suspending him as outlined by Mr Lawson on his behalf the committee is of the view that he can be dealt with by way of fine." Now contrary to what the two gentlemen say above, Zac has a bit of form when it comes to stepping outside of the rules in big races. Last December Zac pushed The Orange Agent out with over 1000 metres to go in the $138,000 Sires Stakes Final at Alexandra Park which tookThe Orange Agent right out of the race which Zac went onto win with Democrat Party. It cost the betting public a small fortune as The Orange Agent was a hot favourite that day. For that offence Zac was fined the princely sum of $300 which caused an uproar at the time. Now Zac has done it again and he has escaped very lightly once again. There are consequences for drivers and trainers when they get things wrong on raceday. What are the consequences for Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, when in a case such as this one they got it so terribly wrong. Harnesslink Media.

Mid Canterbury drivers Ricky May and Gerard O'Reilly have been good friends for as long as either can remember but all that was put aside yesterday in the New Zealand Free For All when they fought out the finish of the $250,000 Group1 event at Addington Raceway. In a titanic home straight duel that went right to the wire, Tiger Tara with Gerard in the bike just got the call over Mossdale Conner and Ricky May. Tiger Tara and Mossdale Conner are not two of the glamour horses on the New Zealand harness racing scene, they had both been going super all season in the elite grade. Ricky lead yesterday with Mossdale Conner and was not in the mood to hand up while Gerard and Tiger Tara slotted into a lovely trail behind Arden Rooney in the one out,one back position. Turning in these two locked horns but it took Tiger Tara the length of the straight to get his nose in front of a game Mossdale Conner. Gerard was unsure if he had got up on returning to the winners circle " I knew it was really close but was unsure if we had made it." " We got a lovely run behind Arden Rooney but you never quite know you are travelling with Tiger Tara during a race as he is such a relaxed horse." " With his manners he is a lovely horse to drive and he is always up for a fight like we had today." "He just never stops trying," Gerard said. Ricky May was fuming after the race, claiming that a flat tyre he received on the last bend had almost certainly cost him the win. " Greg (Hope) had put the sliding blinds on today and we just flew the barrier and the instructions were to not hand up." "Zac was on my back with Sky Major turning into the home straight but he has tried to get through on my inside before the passing lane and has punctured my tyre." "There was never enough room and I am positive it cost Mossdale Conner the win." "I am gutted for Greg and Nina and the owners because he should have won the race," Ricky said. An enquiry was opened into the incident but was adjourned due to the fact Zac Butcher had already left the course to fly back to Auckland for drives he had at Alexandra Park last night. None of that controversy should take the gloss of a great win by Tiger Tara. Geoff Dunn, Gerard O"Reilly and Tiger Tara are a great combination and yesterday's win at the elite level will not be the last. Harnesslink Media

The open class trotting ranks are already brimming with talent and they were strengthened further today when Monbet announced his arrival at the elite level with an emphatic harness racing victory in the $80,000 New Zealand Trotting Free For All at Addington on Cup Day. The four year old son of Monarchy had always looked well above average at three and at four he has come back bigger and better.   Settling three back in the running line, driver Ricky May pressed the go button at the 400 metres mark and he looped the field and shot clear for an easy win.   Trainer Greg Hope was full of praise for Monbet, post-race.   "He showed today that he can compete with the very best and I'm thrilled with the run."   "I know Stent and Master Lavros weren't there today but they have their grand final on Friday and Monbet's grand final was today."   "I am 99.9% confident that Monbet won't be lining up in the Dominion on Friday."   "From here we will head to Auckland," Greg said.   Ricky May was happy things had worked out as planned.   "We thought there was plenty of speed on the front line so we decided to stay out of the early burn and settle handy.   "When I asked him to go he looped them pretty easily actually."   "He has pacer like speed if you can save him for one run but he is a great stayer as well so he is the complete package," Ricky said.   Greg and Nina Hope have been very patient with Monbet and are now starting to reap the rewards.     Harnesslink Media

Harness racing gelding Spirit Eclispe doesn't have any idea of how lucky he is.   Seriously hurt in 2013, the six-year-old son of Jeremes Jet has had no expense spared in his recovery and all at no cost.   Veterinary surgeon Bill Bishop donated all his time and expertise and that resulted in Spirit Eclispe making a slow but steady recovery.   Nigel McGrath took over the training, again at no cost.   The reason for the huge generosity by both Bill and Nigel was the decision to give any stakes won by Spirit Eclispe in his second go at racing to the cancer charity, Ronald McDonald House.   Placed in his first couple of starts back, no one really expected Spirit Eclispe to beat a handy field of C1 pacers on Cup Day at Addington today.   Away well to trail the leader, he took the passing lane in the straight and to the roars of the huge crowd oncourse, held on for the win.   Driver Ricky May was as surprised as anyone.   “He got a great run and went to the front quite easily actually.”   “ He was getting a bit tired the last bit but it is a great result for everyone involved” Ricky said.   Bill Bishop was just blown away by the win.   “What a fantastic result, incredible that he has been able to win on Cup day.”   “When you start something like this you hope for the best but this is just unbelievable.”   “ I am having to pinch myself, it all seems a bit surreal,” Bill said.   The old saying that good things happen to good people fits the Spirit Eclispe story perfectly.     Harnesslink Media

Driving a favourite who is expected on to win on New Zealand Cup Day at Addington Raceway is nothing new for Ricky May but doing it with a trotter is. May has won four of the last six New Zealand Trotting Cups but in 2015 his most talked about drive is in the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all. Greg and Nina Hope's rising star of the trotting ranks, Monbet, is yet to win in genuine open class company but he has been crunched into $1.75 favouritism for his toughest test yet.  His price might be too short for some punters, but is not overly surprising given his blistering finish in the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and his cup trial, where he ran away from a handy field with ease. May was all smiles after the trial and although he does not like to get ahead of himself, he did admit it was impossible not to take confidence into the race. Also in Monbet's favour is his barrier draw of two for the 1950-metre mobile. All signs indicate May will be looking for an early lead. "Even right through last season we never really had a decent draw so we will be using it," Greg Hope said. Monbet's last start was a fifth in Ashburton, when he made up stacks of ground on upset race winner One Over Da Moon and champion square gaiter Stent, who finished second. "If we had have had a better draw I think we could have gone close," May said. One Over Da Moon is second favourite at $3.75 and starts from the ace with trainer-driver Tony Herlihy not being drawn into whether he would look to hold the front. "We'll just take it as it comes and see what pans out on the day." Classy mare Habibti ($13) and duel acceptor Waterloo Sunset ($18) are the value in the race and there will be plenty of interest surrounding the first New Zealand start for Tim Butt's Swedish import Daryl Boko ($18). Starting from the outside of the front line will make life difficult but the run will provide an interesting gauge of where Daryl Boko is at leading into Friday's $250,000 Dominion Handicap. Meanwhile, Cran Dalgety's cup plans have taken a hit with the scratching of one time favourite Christen Me but he is hoping stablemate Bit Of A Legend, also scratched from the cup, may be some chance of upsetting the horse many regard as the next big thing in the Group III junior free-for-all. Have Faith In Me, a $1.20 favourite from the second line over 2600m, will be running through stacks of multis but Dalgety said he will not get it handed to him on a plate. Bit Of A Legend appears to be well over the odds at $13 with his form line deceiving because he has been blowing the standing starts. "If the cup was a mobile start he would still be in it," said Dalgety who also has Art Union in the race as a $6 chance. "He's been missing away but he's been going super after his mistakes." Bit Of A Legend will contest the Group I New Zealand free-for-all on Friday. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of  Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

The harness racing meeting at Rangiora on Thursday saw the debut of the four year gelding Star Fantasy for the old team of Benny Hill and Ricky May. The son of Gotta Go Cullect drew badly on the second line but was very well supported by the betting public off the back of a series of impressive trial runs in Canterbury. Three wide with cover for most of the last lap, Star Fantasy burst down the outside late to win narrowly without being knocked about by driver Ricky May. Developed in Southland by Nathan Williamson, Star Fantasy qualified for Nathan at Gore at the end of August. " I owned a part of him and I am in the process of developing new stables so he was for sale right from the start." "I always thought a bit of him and it doesn't surprise me he won first up" Nathan said. Ricky May was bullish about the chances of Star Fantasy before the race and predicted a bright future for him post race. " He is very green and has lots to learn so there is a lot of upside to him." " I didn't really ask him for too much in the straight as he was always going to win anyway." " Once he gets a bit of ringcraft, he could go a fair way," Ricky said. Trainer Benny Hill  was more than happy with Star Fantasy's first up effort " He has got a lot to learn but there is plenty to like about him." " He just needs to be taken quietly at this stage or you could undo all the good work." " Ricky is the perfect driver for a horse like this" " We will just see how he comes through this race first but we may head to Ashburton next week,"Benny said. In the process of rebuilding his team at the moment, Benny has several promising young horses in the pipeline that will be seen out at workouts and trials in the next few weeks. Harnesslink Media  

When leading harness racing trainer Greg Hope was looking for a close relative of his star trotter Monbet to purchase as a broodmare, he never for one moment envisaged that she would win back her purchase price before going to stud. But that is exactly what happened when Greg purchased the talented Monarchy mare The Earth Moved for $12,000. " I had a serious look at another mare from the family but she had suffered a broken knee earlier in her life and I was worried about how that may play out down the line." "When I sent her home, they offered me The Earth Moved who had just been sent back by the people who had her on lease."  " I really liked her straight away and brought her soon after," Greg told Harnesslink this week. Not that the decision to buy The Earth Moved was unanimous in the Hope household. " Nina wasn't exactly that keen initially but I think she has come round now," Greg said. Greg purchased The Earth Moved near the end of August and in four starts since she has won three on the grit plus a fourth on the grass at Methven where she wasn't entirely happy on the puggy wet track. Since her purchase The Earth Moved has put $16,271 into the kitty and her latest win at Addington on Friday night was undoubtedly her best. Several lengths off the leader going past the 400 metres mark, The Earth Moved swooped down the outside for an emphatic victory in the hands of Ricky May. " She was always going to pick Young Stranger up in the straight before he had a late gallop, so I just eased her down the last bit ." " She has really high speed when saved for one run," Ricky said. Greg was rapt that The Earth Moved had grabbed that elusive sub two minute mile rate with her 1:59.3 rating in Friday nights win over 1950 metres. " It certainly doesn't hurt if you are selling them at the sales to have a bit of black print beside their name,  Greg said. And that is where the future of The Earth Moved lies, in the broodmare paddock. " I have booked her in to Love You" "Love You is available here this year through Dave Sanders which is great after he has missed the last two years." "The resulting foal will be a 3/4 brother or sister in blood to Monbet," Greg pointed out. With this years Australasian Breeders Crown two year old colts/geldings winner Conon Bridge being another close relative excelling on the track and Monbet looking to have come back even better at four, The Earth Moved is certainly looking one very valuable broodmare. Harnesslink Media 

Every week, Harnesslink produces the harness racing ringaround where a group of twenty odd of our leading drivers give us their best tips for the weekend racing. Results in the main have been good with the odd shocker thrown in but last night at Addington Raceway the tipsters had a night to remember. The drivers selected horses in seven races last night at Addington and bagged five winners which is a great strike rate. In started in the first when Gavin Smith selected Paris Princess who led form go to whoa and returned a healthy dividend of $6:60 Blair Orange was the next tipster to see the winners circle with the very talented Southern GNP who was backed in very short but never gave his supporters any cause for concern with an effortless victory. Onto race 6 and Mark Jones was very bullish around the chances of Franco Harrington and the way he cruised to the front and ran away and hid in the home straight showed that his confidence was not misplaced. In race 8, North Canterbury trainer/driver Robbie Holmes had two horses involved in the race and he was very keen on the chances of Clean Break with Gavin Smith in the bike even from the outside of the gate, with Robbie taking the reins on the stablemate Tehoro Holly. The win dividend of $8:70 for Clean Break was a great return for the inform trotter. As happens, the best was saved for last. Three of our tipsters chose their best drives of the week in race 9 last night. Ricky May, John Dunn and Bob Butt were all keen on the chances of their runners and as it turned out none of them were far off the mark. John Dunn worked to the lead on Mr Meddle with Bob Butt settling in the trail with Justalittlebettor and Ricky May and Change The Rulz snookered away four back on the inner. John got away with a couple of cheap quarters in front with Mr Meddle which left enough in the tank to fight off all the challengers in the home straight. Ricky May and Change The Rulz flashed late for an unlucky second just in front of Justalittlebettor and Bob Butt who held third. Mr Meddle paid $10:90 for the win with the quinella paying $15:30 and the trifecta a healthy $185:20 Throw in the double result of Clean Break and Mr Meddle of $49:50 and followers of the ringaround should have made plenty last night. Harnesslink Media

It is not unusual for leading harness racing trainer Phil Williamson to have multiple entries in trotting races but tonight at Addington, Phil has three two year olds entered in the maiden trot which is not something that happens that often. All three young trotters have shown ability at trials and workouts so to get a better line on the pecking order we spoke to Phil on how he rates his three runners. " Well there is not a lot between them to be honest." " They all go near enough without looking like being anything special." They are  all handy enough and it wouldn't surprise me if one of them won tonight. " You won't miss Blazing Under Fire as he has heaps of white on him." " He is qualified at both pacing and trotting but is a much nicer trotter so thats what we will race him as." " To be honest he would have to be the smallest horse racing in New Zealand." " Winners Shout is a nice horse who is bred to go all right on his dam's side but I think his sire might be holding him back a bit." " His manners are good and that will take you a fair way in maiden trot races." "Astral Ruler has had a run at the races so that is an advantage and he is probably the most reliable of them all." "Ricky May has the drive so he would have to be a real chance." " At home there is very little between them to be honest so I will be a lot wiser about them after tonight's race, Phil said. Phil Williamson is never short of a handy trotter and it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of his three two year olds take out the maiden trot tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

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