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Morrinsville trainer come lawyer, Dave Iremonger, heads into Friday’s last meeting of the season at Alexandra Park having already achieved his personal goals in 2016-2017. "I’d rate my season a 10 out of 10. My goal at the start of the season was to get to 10 wins and Opawa Speed did that for me last week. To win five of those races at Alexandra Park has exceeded my expectations. I’m delighted with what we have achieved," Iremonger said. Iremonger, who is a property lawyer, used to travel from his Morrinsville base throughout Waikato and Bay Of Plenty seeing to his clients. These days he admits the job is more mobile. "I have 10 racehorses in work and some young ones coming through. I do them all myself when Scott (son) can’t help out. It’s a busy lifestyle but I can do a lot of my work from home these days and only see my clients when I have to," the former policeman said. The 50-year-old’s 10 wins in 2016-2017 have come via Opawa Speed (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on July 21; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 30; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 23; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 2; Speedy Earl (Trent Lethaby) at Hawera on April 17; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Stratford on March 5; Desert Storm (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on January 15; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on December 28; Desert Storm (Kyle Marshall) at Manawatu Raceway on December 15; and Soul man (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on September 16. His previous best, of six wins, was recorded last season. Iremonger has trained 22 winners since 2008 and 13 more between 1992 and 2000. His career stake currently earnings sit at $253,778. He said he would like to finish the season on a high at Alexandra Park again this week with Opawa Speed and Rob Argue looking to repeat their dose of seven days ago in race five; and then Genociate and Dylan Ferguson in the last of the nine races. "They are both good chances if they can get a sit and one crack at them. That’s exactly what Opawa Speed did last week. Robert drove him perfectly. "He got the sit and ran away from them to win by more than six lengths. He was an eight-win horse dropping back in class and no way deserved to be paying $21 in that field. I thought he would go close," Iremonger said. "He’s back in this week only because he feels well and has come through his last race very well. I knew when he had a sit last week he would be very hard to beat. He’s not out of it again this week off the front," Iremonger said. Iremonger has come of age as a trainer this season. He was once the man renowned for winning with other people’s discards, and selling the odd standardbred to Tahiti. But Iremonger wasn’t born into harness racing. "My family always had horses and I rode the pony club circuit when I was a kid. Growing up I wanted to be a jockey but I’m six foot tall and 90 odd kg so that was never gonna happen was it?" "My parents were friendly with Pat Parker from Tirau who had standardbreds and that’s where my harness racing connection started. "Pat bred and raced a pacer named Smokey Grattan and I took to following him," he said. Iremonger bought his first standardbred at a Terry Yule mixed aged sale at Claudelands in the late eighties and it all snow-balled from there. "I love the game but with my other job I think I will always have about 10 in work. Otherwise the workload just becomes a bit heavy," Iremonger said. Duane Ranger  

Even Zac Butcher admits winning the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership could be a bridge too far for him on Friday. Butcher, who has recorded 36 wins at Alexandra Park this season, is two shy of his father David (38). Maurice McKendry (MNZM) is third with 32 wins. "I think I've run out of time. I've only got four drives this week, compared to Dad who has six or seven. "I think I'll come up short, which is okay. My goal at the start of the season was to record more winners than last year's champion, Tony Herlihy (MNZM), and I’ve done that. "I don't mind losing to Dad. He's still the best driver in our family, and probably will be for the next 25 years," Butcher said. The 25-year-old Clevedon driver, rated the Ray Green trained two-year-old, Linc's Tiger as a good winning chance in the first race. Meanwhile Ardmore reinsman, Robert Argue, is going to have to win behind all three of his drives at 'The Park' on Friday if he is going to equal Jack MacKinnon, at the top of the Alexandra Park Junior Drivers' Premiership. Argue, who has recorded six wins at northern headquarters this season, will get behind the Gary Noakes trained Izinthezone (race 3); the Stephen Argue trained My Cash (race 4); and the Dave Iremonger trained Opawa Speed (race 5). MacKinnon, who has won nine races at 'The Park' this season, will drive the Ivan Court trained Arden Lustre (race 4); the Stephen Argue trained Speedy Lavros (race 5); the Robert Dunn trained Lambros (race 6); and Yagunnakissmeornot (race 7). Last year's Junior Driving Premiership came down to a 0.159 of a point on the UDR strike rate, but MacKinnon just held out Andre Poutama and Kyle Marshall. Zac Butcher's boss, Barry Purdon, has the Training Premiership all parceled up. The ‘Hall-of-Famer’ goes into Friday's meeting with 18 wins at Alexandra Park in 2016-2017 - five more than John and Josh Dickie. Last season's senior driving and training titles saw Herlihy (MNZM) claimed his eighth consecutive Alexandra Park driving premiership and his ‘Strike Won’ Ardmore-based stables’, nabbed their fourth straight training title. Herlihy (46) had nine wins to spare over Zac Butcher (37). Josh Dickie (31) was third. Training-wise Herlihy (40) had five wins to spare over Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (35). Barry Purdon (29) was third. With just one meeting left in the North Island in the 2016-2017 season, the Alexandra Park Premierships read (tote races only): DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR D J Butcher 221 38 34 30 .3027 Z E Butcher 205 36 26 29 .2932 M W McKendry 225 32 20 26 .2301 A G Herlihy 216 25 25 32 .2294 B M Mangos 148 23 14 13 .2372 JUNIOR DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR J A MacKinnon 82 9 7 6 .1816 S A Grayling 44 8 6 3 .2803 R G Argue 64 6 6 5 .1719 D P Ferguson 53 5 8 9 .2348 T A Cameron 36 4 4 6 .2284 TRAINERS Trainer Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR B P Purdon 186 29 26 22 .2730 J W Dickie & J I Dickie 131 25 15 11 .2824 A G Herlihy MNZM 177 23 19 29 .2442 M Purdon & N C Rasmussen 76 23 15 9 .4518 R W Green 151 22 25 20 .2818     Duane Ranger

Rob Argue says he might get the invitation to go and have tea with his father Stephen this weekend following his good deed at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night (November 17). Argue joked things had been a bit tense since he and Precious Moment were disqualified from first when favourite at Cambridge Raceway on October 21. “I bowled over a couple of markers and that cost me. There wasn’t much speaking in the household when I went and visited Dad after that. I had to work for me tea,” laughed Argue. “Na things are sweet. He’s an a good man and a great Dad. The only reason he’s training horses is to further my career and I really appreciate that and what he has done for me in life,” junior driver, Argue added. The 25-year-old made amends at Cambridge Raceway last night when he steered his father’s 5-year-old The Pres mare, Precious Moment to a three quarter length victory in race two – the $6,000 Room Mate Cabins Up To R48 Trot. But Argue senior had an anxious moment at the start after a slow getaway from the 30m handicap which saw them 15 lengths last with two laps remaining. They were then three back and one out at the bell before Argue unleashed the brown mare four-wide down the back straight. She virtually won untouched and unlike her October 21 run there was no victory salute this time. “She would be one of the fastest horses I have trained. She shows real good acceleration when she wants to. That was clearly evident tonight. “Even when she missed away a bit I thought she was still good enough to get around them and win. She’s not the best horse I’ve worked but she’s certainly no mug either,” (Stephen) Argue said. Precious Moment stopped the clock in 2:53.7 (mile rate 2:07) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.6 and 29.8. It was her second win in 30 starts and first since winning for Murray Edmonds at Ashburton last Boxing Day. “We (the Argue family) have leased her until the end of the season when she will go back down south to LindaO’Connell, who owns and bred her,” Argue said. “She will probably line up again at Cambridge in a fortnight,” he added. Last night’s meeting also saw one amateur driver resurrect his career with a victory in race one. Bruce Dickens won the opening amateur event behind the Todd Mitchell trained Shardon’s Pearl. Dickens’ last winner came behind the Doug Gale and Maurice Calder trained Golden Rock at Alexandra Park on September 1999. The feature pace was won by the Rod MacKenzie (Tuhikaramea) trained and James Stormont driven Fizzi Lizzi. The 6-year-old McArdle mare zoomed along the passing lane to win fresh-up after a three month spell. She was the $7.60 fourth favourite in the seven-horse $8,500 Cambridge Community House R68 and Faster Pace. It was her fifth win from 27 starts. She’s also placed five times and won just over $40,000 in stakes. Duane Ranger

It’s taken Robert Argue seven months to drive his fourth career winner. Prior to that you have to go back to the 2010 to have seen him salute the judge. But life has changed for Argue. He now a Dad to 3-year-old Emma and works for one of the North Island’s strongest stables. “Life is great at the moment. My partner and I live in the new sub-division at Pokeno and I travel to Clevedon every day to work. I’ve always wanted to be a driver. I’m glad I decided to return to the game,” the 24-year-old said. At Clevedon he works for John and Josh Dickie at Rosslands Stud. He is also employed by Dave Iremonger at Morrinsville to drive his six-strong team. And it was the Iremonger trained Soul Man that notched up Argue’s first winner of the season when the 6-year-old Real Desire gelding won his second race in 24 starts at Alexandra Park last Friday night.. Soul Man was the $34.30, 11th favourite in the 12-horse field. Tenth favourite Speak Up (Peter Ferguson) ensured a $124 quinella. “We just got there but he won well. It was a great feeling to finally get back in the winner’s circle again. I’m just so appreciative to Dave for believing in me. I want to pay back all his owners’ faith in me by driving well and winning as many races as I can,” said Argue. Argue was born and educated in Pukekohe High School but left at 15. His father Stephen has been a trainer since the early 1980s so it was always highly likely that Argue Junior was going to follow in his Dad’s footsteps. “I’ve been around horses all my life and used to help out Todd Macfarlane in the school holidays. That’s when I got my first taste of fast work and I’ve never looked back since. I absolutely love what I do,” Argue said. Since then he has worked for Geoff Small and Malcolm Shinn. He then returned briefly to Macfarlanes before laving the industry. “I did scaffolding for a couple of years but I always knew trotting was in my blood and it wasn’t until I was helping Dad do fast-work one day that he told me I still had it and should return to what I did best,” said Argue. “Dad got me back into it and I started with the Dickies last November. It was the best move I ever made,” he added. Argue said he would love to represent his country or Island at the New Zealand or Australasia Junior Driving Championships next year. “If I keep driving winners then the rest will sort itself out. I just want to keep improving and maybe one day train a team with my father,” Argue said. He said the highlight of his career to date came behind the Stephen Argue trained Pureora Mac at Alexandra Park on June 16, 2009. “Dad had just trained a winner and then he provided me with my first race-day winner as well. Dad has always been my mentor and inspiration. “He works part-time at Fiskens and only has two horses in work so I can get drives. I respect what he’s doing for me. In fact I am grateful to all the owners and trainers who put me on their horses. “Like all juniors out there we just need a chance to prove ourselves,” Argue said. Argue has had 157 drives since the 2008-2009 season, including four wins, eight seconds, 13 thirds and he has won $48,091 in stakes. His UDR strike rate is 0.814.   Duane Ranger

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