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The smart 3-year-old James Dean is set to resume racing at Oamaru on Sunday. “He had a small bone chip removed from a fetlock after he raced at Kaikoura in October. We got on to it straight away. “He has been back in work three and a half months and has had a good preparation,’’ said Leo O’Reilly, his Rakaia trainer. James Dean won a trial at Rangiora  on June 7 by a neck from Joey Maguire, a rival on Sunday. Joey Maguire, who has not raced since February, is now trained by Mark Jones. Joey Maguire won seven races from the Robert Dunn stable. James Dean cleared maiden ranks at Oamaru as a 2-year-old in May, 2016 at his fourth start. The Santanna Blue Chip colt did not race again until October when he won at Methven before finishing second to Ardent Lustre at Kaikoura. Nerve Of Steel, an acceptor at at Forbury Park on Thursday, is now trained by Donna Williamson at Washdyke. Nerve Of Steel has won at Gore and Invercargill in the past three months after being bought by Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders out of the  Palmerston North stable of Stephen Doody. The 4yr-old has had another change of ownership with former jockey  Stephanie Clark among the new owners of the Art Official 4-year-old. Nerve Of Steel left stride after 100m in the first heat of the Forbury Park sprint series on June 1 and finished last. Stewards placed a warning on his barrier manners. “I have only had him since last Tuesday,’’ said Williamson. Bontz, winner of the first heat of the sprint (1200m) series, was ruled out of the second heat after it attracted 19 nominations. Bontz is assured of a berth in the $10,000 final by dint of her win. Errol Finn, a winner at Invercargill on Saturday in his first start since changing ownership and joining the Roslyn Bush stable of Aaron Swain three weeks earlier, has been nominated for the Oamaru meeting. Errol Finn, now raced on lease by Swain, his mother, Wendy, uncles Ross and Grant Cronin and grandmother, Pat Cronin, The Changeover 5-year-old won his first two starts last season when trained by Daniel Reardon. Dark Ops is now being trained at Washdyke by breeder Alan Clark, who has bought the 4yr-old CR Commando – Constar mare. She won two races when trained by Brent White for Ross McCutcheon, of Temuka. Tayler Strong

Away from the hustle and bustle of the high quality three-year-old age group racing, Billy Badger was always going to be a promising prospect. So when Robert and John Dunn elected to include the talented pacer in their contingent of horses bound for Nelson last week, you knew immediately that they meant business. And when the diminutive pacer backed up some serious support from punters on Friday to break through for a much deserved win there was a sense of mission accomplished. Few probably thought too far ahead than Friday, but the Nelson Winter Cup was still up for the taking and Billy Badger, on Sunday, took the bull by the horns and claimed the winter feature with John Dunn in the bike. Owned by Ross and Angela Gordon, Billy Badger downed some high quality opposition in the Winter Cup, including fellow three-year-old, Mongolian Hero. It was a fitting result for the Gordon duo who have endured a tough season with the loss of the highly talented, Say My Name. Billy Badger, an Art Major colt from Lady Antebellum, has now won six of his 29 career starts and picked up more than $70,000 of stake money along the way. Later in the day on Sunday, the Craig and Aimee Edmonds trained, Rishi, also finished the weekend as a dual winner. A three-year-old by Bettor’s Delight from Reklaw, Rishi was having just his second and third race day starts, but looked ever the consummate professional as he dealt to his rivals on both occasions. The win tripled the season tally for the father and daughter Edmonds combination, who incidentally also picked up their other winner for the season at Nelson when Muscles Galore was victorious earlier this year. Cameron Jones picked up his first New Zealand win as a driver on Sunday when he partnered the Leonne Jones trained, Mr Fahrenheit to success in the maiden trot. The Pegasus Spur gelding, who is a member of the family of the great Tussle, took more starts than most expected to break the maiden status, but never really looked in doubt on Sunday. Driven confidently by Jones, who has won a hoard of races in Australia, the three-year-old wore down his rivals to claim the victory. While it was a relatively short time for him, Mark Gill’s wait with Shadowman has been considerably longer. But the son of Sutter Hanover put it all behind him on Sunday when he burst through the middle of runners to win for Craig Thornley at start 48 in his career. Matt Markham

The Pukekohe 3-year-old Art Major gelding who earlier this season beat recent Emerald Jewels winner, Jacks Legend in a Sires Stakes heat (October 14), was back to his very best at Alexandra Park on Friday. Star Galleria didn’t beat any horses of Jacks Legend’s quality in the feature pace, but they way he left them to it by five-and-a-half lengths - in very good time (2:40.1) - suggests he’s as good as what his his Pukekohe trainer/driver, Steven Reid, has made out all all along. “It felt like the old Star Galleria was back. It was good to drive him tonight and get a real feel as to where he’s exactly at in race conditions. It can be different in work but he set some nice sectionals tonight. I was pleased with the way he paced strongly to the line,” Reid said. Star Galleria and Reid led all the way from gate four in Friday’s $14,999 Marlin Transport 2200m mobile for the R67 to R76 pacers. The bay paced a 1:57.3 mile rate and came home in 55.5 and 27.8 on a cold old Auckland night. He was the $3.30 favourite. Reid always thought Star Galleria was a solid Jewels prospect, but when he only qualified on the cusp of the rankings Reid decided to bring him back north, rather than start him against the guns in Ashburton. ““Earlier this season I thought he was just below Alta Machete and Vincent in the 3-year-old ranks. After those two I thought he had the measure of most of the rest. “That’s why I took him to Christchurch last month, but perhaps he’s taken longer than what I thought he would to get over his injury which put him back quite a bit,” Reid said. “And on hindsight perhaps I should have started him in the Final down south, but he wasn’t going like he did tonight, and his long-term welfare is what I’m most concerned about,” he added. Seven months ago Reid would have given Star Galleria little chance of winning so soon. He kicked out at a gate and suffered serious leg injuries. “He got a massive hole in his leg and I actually thought that might be his career all over before it hardly started. The vet told me if the hole had been three or four inches lower on the hock that would have been the end of him ever racing again. “His health comes first and I believe if I look after him he will make a very nice 4-year-old. As far as I’m aware he’s not paid up for the Breeder’s Crown, and now that he’s back healthy again, I think I’ll give him maybe one more race this season and then tip him out,” Reid said. Star Galleria’s fourth win in nine starts also provided Reid with his first driving success of 2016-2017 and first since he steered Mo Casino to win at Alexandra Park in January last year. Meanwhile, the feature trot – the $14,999 Riordan & West Transport Mobile for the R75 to R95 squaregaiters saw Robert Dunn pick up his first win in eight starts with Yagunnakissmeornot. Yagunnakissmeornot relocated from Sean McCaffrey and Ross Paynter's former Cambridge barn in January and Friday’s triumph was her first for the season.. The 5-year-old Love You – Dutch Annie brown mare has now won 13 of her career 41 starts – all 13 of them at Alexandra Park (from 35 starts). Her stake earnings currently sit at $131,129. Duane Ranger

Look for a form reversal from the Matthew Pemberton trained Realmein in the feature trot at Alexandra Park tonight. The Patumahoe horseman said the 8-year-old Real Desire – Cullermein gelding took an extra week to recover from a hard Rowe Cup run on April 28, where he copped the awkward nine draw. “It’s just going to be nice for once to race the opposition on even terms. It can be a bit demoralising having to start him week in and week out from long marks,” Pemberton said. In fact his Rowe Cup run aside (14th), Realmein has started from 40m, 30m and 30m in his last three starts. “The week before the Rowe Cup he looked and felt a million dollars, but the run took it out of him and he’s needed till now to recover. “He’s back to where I want him to be now. Back to his old self. He’s ready to run a race in conditions that finally suit him,” Pemberton said. Regular pilot, Philip Butcher will drive Realmein from gate six (of six) in the $14,999 Riordan & West Mobile for the R75 to R95 trotters. Realmein is the highest ranked trotter in the field with a R95 rating - seven more than K D Hall (5). Realmein has won 13 of his 81 starts ($196,451) - 10 of which have been at Alexandra Park, including one from behind the mobile arm. "The small field will help, but in saying that he is the fastest horse from his previous back marks in the field. "You can never be too confident in racing, but he's ready for this," Pemberton said. Toughest for Realmein to beat will be the Robert Dunn trained and Maurice McKendry driven Yagunnakissmeornot. The 5-year-old brown Love You mare recorded a nice second behind Gentleman Sir on the same track a fortnight. Meanwhile the pacing feature - the $14,999 Marlin Transport Mobile for the R67 to R76 pacers should see the Logan Hollis & Shane Robertson trained and Philip Butcher driven Big Mach make it three wins in a row. The 3-year-old Mach Three gelding, who has drawn five (of eight) tonight, was stylish when winning from gate nine here a fortnight ago. That victory came a month after scoring from gate three. Don't discount the Robbie Hughes trained and Ben Butcher (j) driven Red Magic from the luxury one draw. Duane Ranger

Matt Purvis will travel the farthest of anyone to get to Addington tonight, and all for the one drive. The young junior driver, who it based in Southland will make the trek up to headquarters to take the drive on Dancing In The Dark for the Robert Dunn stable in the junior driver’s event later in the night’s racing. The mare who is owned and bred by members of Purvis’ family gets into tonight’s assignment very well based on her strong last start fourth behind the in-form Donegal Carrickfin when last produced at Addington. The five-year-old mare will start off the second line in the 2600 metre mobile event, but has the capability to work her away around the field and be hard to beat. Sails, who resumed with a solid fourth at Rangiora on Sunday sneaks into the race well too with Katie Cox in the bike. One of the highlights of the night will come in the opening race when the two-year-olds step out again. The All Stars will be represented by the improving Anthem while Cran Dalgety will Pat’s Delight to fly the stable flag. Anthem was very good when running third last time out and Pat’s Delight wasn’t far behind either in fourth so the winner is expected to come from the one of the two runners. “It’s a good race for him, he gets in well,” Dalgety said. “It does look a race between him and Mark Purdon’s one, who got past us late in the Sires’ Stakes Race last week.” With 47 winners on the board for the season thus far, Dalgety isn’t quite going to reach the heights of his premiership win a few seasons back, but he is going to post a good number for the term. He also has chances tonight in Major Rocket and Pembrook Ideal while the enigmatic Debnita Rose will also compete. Meanwhile, Colin DeFilippi is staring down the barrel of a major driving milestone. The champion horseman currently sits on 1994 driving wins in New Zealand for his career and will have just the two chances to improve that number tonight when he drives Princess Harbour and then Supreme Blue Chip later in the night. Jonny Cox, who is driving Anthem in the opener, is also close to a notable mark. Cox has driven 493 winners for his career and does have some handy drives tonight including Anthem but also the likes of Happy Heidi and It’s All Over Now who are good chances.   Super Selector – By Matt Markham Race 1: Anthem, Pat’s Delight, Belle Of Brooklyn, Bettor Sensation Race 2: Native’s Lasting Love, Gin Rummy, Time For Diamonds, Magnafique Race 3: Major Rocket, Power Surge, Kayteeoh Denario, Sheeza GNP Race 4: Bushido, Bubble Gum, Honour The Bet, Hot Off The Press Race 5: Celtic Thunder, Gambling On, Jedi Josh, Greenandwhite Race 6: Fortune Tiller, Got A Beauty, Ashi Jetsun, Elite Excuse Race 7: Real Dash, Eja Patron, Eastwood Chieftain, Franco Caliph Race 8: Man Of Steel, Nomattermee, Sweet Loress, Articulight Race 9: Dancing In The Dark, Sails, Gunpowder, Rocknroll Magic Race 10: Reign On Me, Goodtime Gamble, Redwood Invasion, Kingdom Come Race 11: Canderdel, It’s All Over Now, Nic Mac Willy, Waihemo Art Best Bet: Bushido (Race 4) Value: Fortune Tiller (Race 6)

One of New Zealand’s best trainers of standardbred horseflesh also knows how to bring out the best in the people that work for him. Robert Dunn’s stableemployee in Pukekohe, Jack MacKinnon, has come of age this season under his boss’s tutelage, and that was clearly evident at Alexandra Park last night (Friday). The 21-year-old former Mount Albert Grammar student displayed his growing prowess in the sulky when he got two longshots home for the powerful Robert Dunn and Steve Telfer/Chris Garlic stables. MacKinnon drove the Dunn trained roughie Cobra Banner to win the 11th race by one-and-a-quarter lengths - at odds of $61.50 and $10.30.  He was the 11th favourite of 11 resulting in the highest winning dividend at Alexandra Park since the Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained Commander Paris (Todd Mitchell) paid $73.50 and $12.90 (10th favourite of 10) on March 11 last year. MacKinnon also drove the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Check In to win the sixth event at odds of $15.70 and $3.80. They won by one-and-a-half lengths and were the sixth favourites of 11. “I’ve been really lucky that top trainers from top stables like Robert and Steve/Chris have believed in me. Most of my 11 wins this year have been for them and they are both in the top three North Island trainers. “Working for Robert has really bettered my driving and I think I have improved. He is an amazing trainer. He pays so much attention to detail and spends so much time on every horse. He is meticulous and you never stop learning from someone like him,” MacKinnon said. MacKinnon has driven 11 winners this season and looks certain to beat his personal best of 12 he set last year. He is currently four wins behind the North Island’s leading junior, Dylan Ferguson. But MacKinnon’s two wins at ‘The Park’ last night have seen him close to within two victories of the now New South Wales-based junior,Sean Grayling, who stillleads the ‘Alexandra Park Junior Driving Premiership’. “I would love to win the Alexandra premiership again. It was great to win that last year. It’s the premier track in the north and we all love to win there, but being the top North Island junior means a little more to me. “If I can achieve that, then the Alexandra Park titleshould take care of itself. The ultimate would be to keep learning and then win the New Zealand Junior Championship before I enter the open ranks,” MacKinnon said. And speaking of ‘drivers on fire’, Cambridge reinsman David Butcher increased his lead at the top of the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership from 20 to 24 wins last night. He drove four winners on the 12-strong card and his 53 wins this season now sees him in fifth place on the national driving premiership. The ‘Butcher quartet’ started in the first event when the with the 5-year-old Sundon mare he trains - Sunset Peak – proved too smart, and then he nailed an early hatrick behind the Telfer/Garlick and Lew Driver trained Rocknroll Princess and Gentleman Sir in races two and three respectively The 51-year-old Cambridge reinsman, nicknamed ‘The Chief’, also steered the Telfer and Garlick trained Step Up to win the ninth event. Telfer and Garlick won three races on the programme and took their season tally from 26 to 29 wins and in doing so moved into the top 10 on the national trainers premiership. “Steve and Chris are great to drive for because they always have their team spot on. I also drove Check In to win for them two starts back at Cambridge. That’s three straight for him now. “He had the draw (1) to work with tonight and I thought he might go close, but Cobra Banner’s win was a bit of a surprise, because he drew five and needed everything to go right so he could have one last go at them – and that’s exactly what happened,” said MacKinnon. Four horses recorded sub two-minute mile-rates last night. The first came in the fourth event via the Frank Cooney/Tate Hopkins trained and Maurice McKendry driven Churchill Downs (1:58.8); Check In (1:57.0), Step Up (1:56.3) and the Brent Mangos trained and driven Maxim. Mangos said he would decide in the next couple of days whether he would now take Maxim to Addington Raceway to contest the Group One $100,000 Easter Cup on Saturday week (April 15). It was the 2014 Victoria Derby winner's eighth victory in 25 starts and took his career earnings to $421,511. Several North Island drivers were plying their craft at the New Zealand Derby meeting at Addington Raceway last night which allowed MacKinnon and Butcher to make big moves on the Alexandra Park Driving Premierships. Here’s how the ‘Top-5’ table stands (wins plus movers) after last night’s meeting: Open Drivers: 1) David Butcher 20 to 24 wins; 2) Maurice McKendry 19 to 21; 3) Zac Butcher 19, 4) Brent Mangos 18 to 19; 5) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 18. Junior Drivers: 1) Sean Grayling 8; 2) JackMacKinnon 4 to 6; 3) Robert Argue 2; 4) Dylan Ferguson 2; 5) Andrew Drake 1.   Duane Ranger  

A small place bet on a horse at a low-key country meeting in the North Island led Ashburton owners, Stuart and Liz Leadley to buying boom two-year-old pacer, Alta Maestro. The Ashburton dairy farmers are dabbling more and more into the world of harness racing but haven’t had the best of luck with injuries curtailing many of their promising horses.  Owners, or part owners, in Alta Las Vegas and the very talented Franco Christiano, the Leadley’s weren’t looking to buy at the Yearling Sales when Alta Maestro was set down for sale.  “Robert Dunn had rung me and said he’d spotted a colt, who was simply stunning,” Leadley said. “He also said he was a brother to Alta Las Vegas, but I said to him that we weren’t going to be buying that year and that was that. “On the Sunday before the sale there was a race meeting in the North Island a horse called Alta Teresa was racing and I said to Liz that I was going to have a bet on the horse and if we collected off it that we would buy the colt.  “It ran third and I made a very small profit, but we rang Robert that night and said we would buy him.” The move has turned out to be one of the most fortuitous ones the Leadley’s have made since getting into horse ownership with Alta Maestro making an immediate impact when stepping out onto the track.  The Robert Dunn trained pacer has now won three of his four career starts and last Thursday night at Cambridge set a New Zealand record for a two-year-old pacer over 1700 metres when smashing his rivals by four and a half lengths.  The showy colt paced the distance in 1:59.7 and the Leadley’s were on hand to witness it.  “He was very impressive, it was great to be able to be there to watch him go. “Robert speaks very highly of the horse, he told me one day he thinks he might just be the brainiest horse he’s ever trained to which I said to Liz must mean we own Mr Ed.  “Hopefully this is just the start of it for him though.” In winning, Alta Maestro qualified himself for the $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Final in May at Alexandra Park in Auckland.  The Leadley’s rarely miss one of their horses racing and Stuart said they loved the being able to go and enjoy watching their horses race.  “That’s our life at the moment, following race horse and rugby. Probably in the wrong order though.” Alta Maestro winning at Cambridge Matt Markham

Alta Maestro saved his best career performance for Cambridge Raceway last night (Thursday) when smashing the New Zealand 1700m mobile record for 2-year-old pacers. The Art Major - Alta Camilla colt lowered More The Better's record set at Alexandra Park by 0.3 of a second. His time of 1:59.7 even beat Better B Amazed’s national mares' record of 1:59.9 that she set at Alexandra Park last April. Trained by Robert Dunn, Alta Maestro went into the race having won two of his three races. His only blemish came last start at Alexandra Park when he finished third behind Mach Shard and Spankem in the Group One $100,000 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes. He sat parked that throughout that night when he was one-one in the betting. He was again the warm $1.60 favourite last night. Driver Dexter Dunn praised the colt’s performance in last night’s first heat of the $20,000 Garrards New Zealand Sires Stakes heat. . “He’s back on track now. We were attacked early on but he felt awesome throughout the race. It was only in the final 50m I had to keep him up to his work. He couldn’t have been more impressive. “He was travelling so fluently throughout. The New Zealand record was a bonus,” Dunn said. Alta Maestro set a sizzling mile rate of 1:53.3 and sprinted his final sectionals in 56.6 and 28.3. He had four-and-a-half lengths to spare over the second placed second favourite, Culpeka and Brent Mangos. Dunn said he had driven some nice 2-year-olds in his career including Smiling Shard and Bit Of A legend and rated this fella not too inferior to them at the same time early in their careers. “He’s only had four races but what he’s shown us so far, he’s going to be a very handy 2-year-old. He just felt so fluent tonight. He wasn’t quite himself last start,” said Dunn. Alta Maestro is now ranked second behind Mach Shard for the Group One $200,000 Emerald 2yo Jewels Final at Ashburton on June 3. All his major 2-year-old races will now all be in the South Island. There's the Group Two $40,000 Welcome Stakes at Addington Raceway on April 7; the Listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales Final at Addington on May 12; and the Group One $170,000 Garrards Sires Stakes Final, also at Addington Raceway on May 19. “He’s got an exciting schedule ahead and tonight’s race has put him in good stead for those big races down south. Dad has always had a lot of time for this fella and I can see why. “He relaxed really well in front and just felt like a good horse. He seemed to really enjoy tonight’s race. We will find out in the next couple of months as to where he sits in the 2-year-old pecking order, but from my opinion he’s right up there,” Dunn said. Alta Maestro is owned by Tinwald couple Stuart and Elizabeth Leadley and was bred by the Alta Breeding Company Limited at Waiau Pa. They paid $100,000 for him at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. Meanwhile local trainer Arna Donnelly notched up her 100th career training victory when the Andre Poutama driven Bet Out Of El won at $14.60 odds in the 10th race. Donnelly was aboard stablemate, No Way Else, who finished eighth. Bet Out Of El paced the 2200m mobile in 2:40.2 (mile rate 1:57.2) and came home in 57.2 and 28.7. It was the 4-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding's fourth win in nine starts. All up Donnelly has now trained 100 winners from 946 starters since 2003. She's also placed 184 times and banked $681,640 in career stakes. It was her 20th win from 115 starters this season. Donnelly has also driven 158 winners since 1998. Duane Ranger  

Mitchell Kerr will play multiple roles at today’s Westport Trotting Club meeting. The former successful junior driver, who is now trying his hand out at the training caper, will also be in charge of the driving duties for the Robert Dunn stable with John up in Auckland for tonight’s premier meeting. Kerr will have two of his own runners engaged at the meeting, including the unbeaten three-year-old Forgotten Highway who still holds a nomination for the Group One New Zealand Derby. The Bettor’s Delight gelding hasn’t raced since winning at Methven back in September but has looked very good in his workouts and trials ahead of his resumption today. A big bonus too is the Methven victory which gives the indication that he should have no problems in handling the track at Patterson Park. Kerr also have Supreme Banner engaged who, after a string of placings, looks a good chance to break the maiden status at either today’s meeting or at Reefton for the second day on Sunday. From the Dunn stable he has three drives, Kotare Mist, Cimarron and Bevan’s Cullen., The latter will start in the Kawatiri Cup off a 20 metre handicap following on from a big win at Geraldine a fortnight ago and then a bold second behind Motu Premier at the Hororata meeting at Methven. That form has been franked with Motu Premier then stepping out to win last weekend’s Cheviot Cup. The back mark will make things difficult, especially with the racing pattern at Westport, but form carries horses a long way and Bevan’s Cullen is most definitely a horse in form. Johnny Eyre, who won the Reefton Cup back in December and placed at Westport, will provide his biggest challenge considering his impeccable stand start manners and love of a grass track surface. Clasina Maria is also highly credentialed on the green tops while Karanga Red Fantasy and Precious Sara are also noted grass track performers.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Supreme Banner, Born Again Delight, Magic Blaze, Rainy River Race 2: Westar Bella, Deva Jones, Majestic Moment, Tehoro Tease Race 3: Motu Bettor Be Quick, Master Jordy, Lets Rock N Roll, Idealagain Race 4: Rockon Styx, Scoob Operator, My Nikayla, Green Fingers Race 5: Forgotten Highway, Garry’s Legacy, Lolita Franco, Markim Race 6: Alantic, Take After Me, Shadow Rider, The Valiant Race 7: Johnny Eyre, Bevan’s Cullen, Clasina Maria, Karanga Red Fantasy Race 8: English Rose, Novak, Buckeye, Star In The Future Race 9: Distinctive Del, Indie, Mogul, Midfrew Tarpediem Race 10: Destiny Jones, Arditi, Tehoro Dazzle, Beg Hall Best Bet: Forgotten Highway (Race 5) Value: Alantic (Race 6)

Robert Dunn is knocking on pacing’s golden door and he is hoping Alta Maestro is the key. Dunn finds himself in the rare position of having the odds-on favourite in the first group one juvenile race of the harness racing season at Alexandra Park tomorrow night (Friday). It is not just rare for him, its rare for anybody whose names isn’t Purdon or Rasmussen.  The All Stars have completely dominated juvenile racing in this country, and when they choose Australia as well, for the last three seasons, winning virtually every major juvenile race they contest. But that is not how the market sees tomorrow night’s $100,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns, with Dunn’s colt Alta Maestro red hot to remain unbeaten. The All Stars still have the second and third favourites so normal service could resume but so far this season their start has been slower than usual --- winning none of the Young Guns heats nor the Sapling or Kindergarten Stakes. For Dunn, who trains in an unofficial training partnership with his son John, having a top flight juvenile colt is season changing. “If you can get a genuinely top colt then you start thinking about some big money races both here and in Australia that we haven’t been part of for years.  “A lot of water can go under the bridge before then but we are already favourite for a group one and after that a good baby has races like the Sires’ Stakes, Sales Series, Jewels and the Breeders Crown in Aussie.  “They are huge money races and we might have two horses worth aiming at them because The Brooklyn Brawler (last week’s Kindergarten winner) is eligible for the Vicbred series.  “So it is a pretty exciting time for us and something we would like to target more going forward.” Alta Maestro not only won his two heats of the Young Guns but has been spectacular  at the workouts the last two weekends, all of which is capped by having the best draw of the favourites tomorrow night.  “Draws are crucial in these juvenile races because gate speed and racing handy are so important.  “And more importantly this horse has improved since he last raced. I think he will lead on Friday and they will need to be good to beat him.”Alta Maestro will be odds-on while Ultimate Machete has opened $2.40 favourite over stablemate More TheBetter in tomorrow’s Woodlands Northern Derby.  Smolda has opened favourite for his return to Alexandra Park in the City of Auckland Free-For-All, over The Orange Agent, Waikiki Beach and Have Faith In Me. Michael Guerin

Canterbury trained The Brooklyn Brawler added his name to the winners list of the harness racing time honoured Alabar New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes when he held off a late challenge from favourite The Devils Own at Wyndham yesterday. After sitting out in the open for the first 400 metres driver John Dunn took The Brooklyn Brawler to the top. He was pressured briefly by Alta Shelby who steamed up on the outside but Dunn retained the lead. It appeared halfway down the straight that both Tuapeka Trick and The Devils Own would run past him but the courageous colt held on to beat The Devils Own by half a length.  "He's lovely when he gets to the front. A big strong type who likes rolling along. He's not the sort of horse that can step the wheel and sprint a decent quarter so the draw and the tempo of the race suited him. He's still a big dummy and I thought they were going to run straight past him but he heard them coming and dug in deep. That's what you always like in a horse, " said Dunn after the race.  Judy and Ian Neumann with John Dunn and The Brooklyn Brawler - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time was 1-54.4 a fraction outside the race and track record of 1-54.3 jointly held by Le Sol and Itz Better To Win. This was the second time trainer Robert Dunn has trained a Kindergarten winner. The first was with National Glory in 1988.  The Brooklyn Brawler is owned by Ashburton brothers Ian and Alan Neumann.They also race horses with larger groups, including Franco Cristiano the winner of nine races who ran eighth in yesterday's Wyndham Cup. The win was The Brooklyn Brawlers second. His first was in Auckland in December. Subsequent to that he ran nineth in a race won by his stablemate Alta Maestro before running second to Cole Porter in the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton.  "He only flew home from Auckland two days before the Sapling Stakes - which took a wee bit out of him. He might have been a wee bit jaded a couple of days later." Dunn says he won't go back to Auckland as Alta Maestro, who's won both his races, is the stable's main Young Gun horse. The Neumanns have had a long association with harness racing in the South Canterbury area. Ian and Alan's parents raced horses successfully before the brothers ventured into the game.   Chadfield was their first horse. He started three times as a two year old running fifth in the 1983 New Zealand Sapling Stakes (won by Natural Guy) before being sold to Australia.   "That was our very first horse. Robert said it was tremendous money 'so take it because you know you'll get a good horse one day that you'll want to keep.' The next horse was Tyron Scottie," said Ian. Tyron Scottie was by Noodlum and was bred to pace.  "He wouldn't  pace for two or  three different trainers. An old fella called 'Stropper' White said one day that he'd have a look at the bloody thing. A month or two later he said to us, do you know a young guy called Patrick O'Reilly. We said yes and he said I might give him to him to train because I can't travel as far as I need to travel with this horse. We said you're joking and he said no he's a trotter not a pacer."  He ended his career with twenty one trotting wins, including the Group Two National Trot in Auckland in 1987 and 1988. And he also ran second to Yankee Loch in the 1989 Group One Rowe Cup. "He raced against the best trotters that went around I reckon." The Neumann family have had a lot of horses with O'Reilly including Ashton (three wins) and Dorothy's Choice (4 wins).  More recently they owned All Royal Gal which won the Group Three Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes at Alexandra Park. She was trained by Robert Dunn and has since been sold to Australia.  Ian says The Brooklyn Brawler is their first two year old group winner and was quick to thank northern driver Maurice McKendry for some of the early advice and work he did with the colt while he was stabled in Auckland. "I believe Maurice McKendry helped nuture him while he was in the North Island. He had trouble with teeth and didn't go that way round very well. Morrie Mac keep on telling us the horse would develop into a nice three year old so we weren't hoping for too much as a two year old."    The Neumann family have also been great sponsors of racing. The main race in their sponsorship portfolio is the Group Three Neumann's Bandag Hambletonian Mobile Trot for two year old trotters held in their hometown of Ashburton.  They own the Neumann Tyre group in Ashburton and also The Tyre General brands throughout the South Island.  The Brooklyn Brawler was originally named Art Green (New Zealand Bachelor). He was purchased by Robert Dunn for $45,000 at the national sales and subsequently gained a more masculine name. The Brooklyn Brawler is the name of Steve Lombardi a professional wrestler in America.  A two year old race at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park this Saturday is the next assignment for the Art Major colt.    Bruce Stewart Southern Harness racing

Yagunnakissmeornot’s new trainer Robert Dunn thinks the 5-year-old mare can go close in tonight’s Group Three $25,000 Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes at Alexandra Park, but deep down thinks she might be a run short. “Even though we are giving Idle Bones (40m) a 20m head-start, the Brent Mangos runner still looks the horse to beat. Our mare had two to three weeks off when we got her and we haven’t been able to get a suitable trial into her since then. “Don’t get me wrong she’s a classy animal and has been working well. She’s a beautiful looking horse and a natural athlete and can win, but the lack of racing is a slight concern,” Dunn said. Dunn obtained Yagunnakissmeornot off Sean McCaffrey, who after living in Cambridge for 50 years, this month takes up a position with Yabby Dam Farms in Ballarat. Yagunnakissmeornot last raced raced on January 26 at Alexandra Park when she finished a six-and-a-half length eighth (of 11) in a $15,000 Dunstan Mares R60 to R116 handicap trot. Tonight she will be driven by John Dunn for the first time. The daughter of Love You and Dutch Annie will be attempting to win her 13th race from 35 starts in the Sims Pacific Metals-sponsored 2700m standing start event - a distance she has been victorious five times from 15 attempts. In fact all 12 of her wins have been at 'The Park' and Dunn said he can see why. “She’s a lovely gaited trotter and it’s a pleasure having her in our barn. It comes as no surprise to us that she’s one of the favourites. Even though she’s not quite 100 per cent I think she can still measure up,” he said. Idle Bones was paying $1.70 favourite when the New Zealand TAB's fixed odds market opened mid-week. Yagunnakissmeornot was quoted at $3.30 and Sunset Peak (10m) was at $8.50. The remaining seven were all paying double figure dividends. Unlike the other two favourites Yagunnakissmeornot doesn’t have the unruly tag beside her name. “We really like the way she steps and have been impressed by her fluent gait. It’s just a matter of getting work into her and progressing along until the Rowe Cup next month (April 28),” Dunn said. He said that McCaffrey had told him the mare hadn’t been finishing off her races the way he wanted to and that was something Dunn had been looking at. “Sean just couldn’t put his finger on it. He said she was starting to wilt in her last 50 metres. He vet-checked her and there was nothing come from it, so it is something we will monitor and work at closely. “I think the little break will have done her the world of good. She gives me the impression that she is getting back to the form that saw her get to open class,” Dunn said. Yagunnakissmeornot finished a one-and-a-half length third in this race last year behind All Royal Girl and Whitney. She was the favourite that night and started from 30m behind. Meanwhile, Dunn had no hesitation labeling his two-win Bettor’s Delight gelding, Wrangler, as his best winning chance at Alexandra Park tonight, despite starting from four on the second row in the first event. The 3-year-old will start one of the favourites in the $20,000 Brancott Estate Mobile for the up to R63 pacers. “He’s a nice gelding and I was really happy with the way he went last start. That was a nice third and he’s back in grade now. That was a big strong run and I’m expecting him to do even better on Friday, even from out there,” he said. Duane Ranger

Two confident John Dunn drives netted perfect results in two of the big races at Addington on Friday night. Dunn grabbed the Premier Mares Championship with Better Be Amazed and also took home the Summer Cup with Captain Dolmio. North Island visitor, Better Be Amazed - who is trained by Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick - picked up a much deserved big race win after producing so many great efforts in similar races during her career. “She deserves it,” Dunn said. “She just keeps going.” Dunn worked around the field during the mid stages and held too many guns for C A Penny and the pace-making, Ultimate Desire who filled the minor placings. Earlier in the night though Captain Dolmio announced himself as a future open class star with his front-running effort to win the Summer Cup. The Southland owned pacer ran a hot field into the dirt and will now be pointed at the Easter Cup. “He’s got a great heart, and he did that all tonight with a bandage hanging round his legs. “The two miles of the Easter Cup should really suit him too.” Dunn was also over the moon with the effort of Alta Orlando who flew home late for fourth. The stable also picked up a win with Letspendanitetogetha who helped extend the Robert Dunn lead on the trainers’ premiership. Mark Jones had double the reason to smile following the night’s feature trot. Jones trained the winner, Eyre I Come, but also took great satisfaction out of the performance of Master Lavros, who was mighty in defeat with his effort for third. The Burnham horseman refused to let the performance of his star trotter stand in the way of Eyre I Come’s effort though. “I’m rapt for Grant Hatton, he’s just in love with the horse,” Jones said. “And it’s been a testing one for him, because we’ve been told by more than one person that he would never race again. “The ability has always been there, he’s just had some bad luck with injuries, both of his knees are buggered.” Eyre I Come looked the goods a few years back when he produced a stunning performance to win on Cup Day but that’s when the bad luck started. He will now head towards Auckland and a shot at the Group One double of the ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. Master Lavros will be there too. “He will probably have 10 days off now and then come back for Auckland, I was very happy with him tonight.” Master Lavros was attacked throughout the race by Marcoola, but kept fighting strongly, going down for second narrowly to Everybody Knows who split the Jones pair. Spanish Armada made light work of her $146,000 assignment in the opening race of the night - NZ Yearling Sales 3YO Fillies Final. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained filly, who was driven by Rasmussen, led from arch-rival Delightful Memphis and showed all her class to win comfortably. “She’ll be on a plane to Auckland this week,” Rasmussen said. “I’m really happy with her at the moment.” Spanish Armada has now won 10 of her 13 career starts and picked up more than $540,000 in stakes.   Matt Markham  

Owner and breeder Colin Hair can now boast a perfect record when it comes to racing two-year-old trotters. He’s one for one. The Kaiapoi based enthusiast, who holds the position of finance chair on the board of Harness Racing New Zealand had never had a starter in a two-year-old trot, despite an association with trotters that spans back over many years. “For one reason or another, I’ve never raced one,” Hair said. “The family is traditionally one that gets better with age, so that might have something to do with it. “But it’s nice to have finally ticked it off for sure.” Hair’s first foray into the world of baby trotters came at Addington on Friday night when Sundees Son stepped out for the Robert Dunn stable with Ross Houghton in the sulky. The son of Majestic Son overcame a skip, hop and jump in the score up to race his way to the lead early and never looked back. “He races without a crupper,” Houghton said. “And as we were going forward I noticed that the saddle had slipped right up onto his shoulders so he’s done well to keep trotting. “It was a good performance, we just need to teach him to be a racehorse now.” With a victory first up - worth over $4,000 - the pressure is now off for the gelding and Hair is quite excited by that prospect. “We don’t have to chase for a Harness Jewels spot or anything now, we’ve got the money in the bank so we can just work on getting him sorted. “I think after that performance tonight we can look at races like the Sires’ Stakes.” The fifth foal of three win mare Stardon, Sundees Son has a bit of breeding behind that traces right back through a lot of Hair’s success as an owner and breeder. Stardon was a daughter of Chiquita Dee who left open class trotter, Uncas who is now plying his trade in Australia. “He’s doing a good job over there, my intention is still to bring him back at some stage.” With just the two broodmares at home, the breeding side of things is relatively quiet at the moment. Sundees Son is the only racehorse currently too, although we will see Woodstone step up in the near future. He’s a three-year-old son of The Pres who qualified last year in impressive fashion at the Cup Trials beating subsequent race winner, Gentleman Sir. Prior to that he had produced three tidy seconds behind the very talented Arnold. “He can certainly trot a bit, so I’m looking forward to having him back on the track.” Sundee’s Son’s victory last night took Houghton to six winners for the season, his best tally since 2003 when he was a junior driver and picked up 11 wins. The victory also kept the Dunn stable at the top of the trainers’ premiership, albeit now in a tie with the Greg and Nina Hope stable on 56 wins each after they picked up a double last night. Matt Markham

The decision by harness racing trainer Robert Dunn not to start Alta Orlando in the Nelson Pine Industries Prelude the first day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club meeting certainly paid dividends when he took out the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup on day two. Alto Orlando won Sunday's feature race in a time of 3min 46.8sec for the 3000m event. Driver John Dunn took the race to his rivals slipping away on the final bend to win by six lengths from Hopeful Harriet and the fast finishing Mighty Flying Major. The gelding by Courage Under Fire is owned by Dunn's wife Jenna and father Robert, as well as Mitzi Taylor and Dr Marg Evans. Dr Evans also co-owns the second-place getter, Hopeful Harriet, with her husband Dr Bruce Taylor. John Dunn certainly had a great meeting, winning eight of the 22 races programmed. Robert Dunn trained six winners over the two days, while Greg and Nina Hope trained five winners over the weekend.   In the battle for the driving premiership, Blair Orange was leading by one win coming in to Sunday's racing but rival and good mate Dexter Dunn reined home three wins with Orange not securing a win to leave Dunn two wins ahead. Locally trained mare, Tattinger Rose, flew the flag for the Top of the South when she won the Dick Saunders Memorial Pace for Ian, Sue and daughter Nicole Thomas along with Kath and Darryl Eginton.   The club was delighted with the two days' racing which attracted a sizeable. By Kristie Hill Reprinted with permission of The Nelson Mail

Two of New Zealand’s leading harness racing stables have cast their nets far and wide this Boxing Day - nearly 373 kilometres to be exact. Woodend Beach trainers, who currently sit second and third on the national trainers’ premiership, have a big number of horses racing today across both the harness meetings on offer at Ashburton and Westport. There’s 12 horses in total wearing the distinctive double blue colours of Greg and Nina Hope while their neighbours, Robert Dunn beat them by one with a team of 13 across the two meetings. Incidentally both stables have chances in the two features of the day, the Ashburton and Westport Cups. Mossdale Conner flies the flag for Team Hope on the eastern side of the Island as he continues to look win his second race in almost two years. An improved third behind the in-form Ears Burning last time out showed we might not be too far away from seeing the best version of the former New Zealand Trotting Cup placegetter. With Ricky May heading to Westport to handle the team over there, the Hopes have tried to keep things as familiar as possible for their Ashburton time by engaging the services of another gold capped driver in Matty Williamson to drive their three chances. Williamson drove Mossdale Conner last time out and will also pick up the drive on Emily Blunt who he won on at Addington at her last start and also debutant, Gold Sovereign - a full brother to outstanding open class trotter, Sovereignty. On the Coast, the Hope stable looks particularly strong. They have two chances in the Westport Cup in Ranfurly Rulz and Burn Off. The former has local ownership connections, so a win would be a popular result. The Dunn stable have a leading contender in the race in Say My Name who returns from an enforced layoff after showing plenty of promise in his last campaign. He also meets the talented Buster Brady who returns off the back of his strong Geraldine victory fresh up. Dexter Dunn will drive the four-year-old with Blair Orange staying to drive in Ashburton. Alta Orlando will fly the stable flag at Ashburton in the small, but select Ashburton Cup field with Ross Houghton doing the driving. There is currently one win separating the two stables with the Hope stable on 34 wins for the season to the Dunn’s 33 winners. Super Selector - Ashburton - By Matt Markham Race 1: Ace Commander, Beg For Chevron, Gold Sovereign, Izmok Race 2: Chloe, Pay Me Interest, Patanjali, Nicky Anew Race 3: Boults On Fire, Playingintheshadows, I Am Yours, Nearis Green Race 4: Bailey’s Rock, Culley Backy, Pradas Ideal Dahling, The Valiant Race 5: Runaway Three, Hilarious Magic, Cullenz Diamond, Lets Rock N Roll Race 6: Franco Saxon, Christopher Banner, Eh Ef El, Torrid Bromac Race 7: Maverick, Mossdale Conner, Classie Brigade, Ears Burning Race 8: American Tart, Miss Daisy, Emily Blunt, RR Sand Dollar Race 9: Beg Hall, Jean Sebastien, All Lit Up, Don’t Look Back Race 10: Stars Align, Cable Beach, Nolan Sackett, Pay Me Way Best Bet: Chloe (Race 2) Value: Maverick (Race 7)   Super Selector - Westport - By Matt Markham Race 1  Returntorocknroll, Dali’s Masterpeice, Indie, Supreme Harmony Race 2: Lord Roydon, War Spirit, Ronald J, Michelle Race 3: Warloch, Smooth Mara, Shark Attack, Samarias Falcon Race 4: Franco Tmick, Franco Lamar, Dream To Reality, JJ’s Delight Race 5: Helena Ideal, Garry’s Legacy, Li Na, Master Jordy Race 6: Jonty James, Precious Sara, Midfrew Tarpediem, Monet Grace Race 7: Buster Brady, Say My Name, Johnny Eyre, Ranfurly Rulz Race 8: Sarah Palin, Medusa, Royal Shine, My Armour Race 9: Earthquake, Wobbegong, Young Mister Grace, Danse Macabre Race 10: Sails, Knockmanaugh, Extreme Spark, Lottie Franco   Best Bet: Lord Roydon (Best Bet) Value: Sails (Race 10)

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