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It was a night to remember for Wayne and Lyn Graham. Within the space of 25 minutes, the popular Queensland couple snared their biggest double during their long and decorated careers in harness racing after claiming the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle plus the $80,000 Albion Park Gold Final. Park Life, handled by their son Shane, claimed the Sydney classic while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson handled Jossie James in the home state feature. The respected couple have been a regular fixture in Brisbane harness racing circles for decades and has enjoyed tremendous success with such stars like Sparkling Melody, Mach Alert, Yahoo Buckaroo, Lively Highlander, Bossys Henry, Power In Disguise, Innocent Nero, Rapt In Red, French Heiress and Albert Aralar among others at Moomba Lodge, their property at Beaudesert. Their current team is headed by exciting four-year-old Major Coup, a last start winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park plus this pair of precocious fillies. Park Life, a $16,000 purchase from the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year is raced by Victorian based couple Stephen and Narelle Dickson in partnership with local owner Pete Poulsen. The filly was bred by Mario Di Carlo. From 6 starts to date, the Rock N Roll Heaven – Strawbs Interact filly has recorded 3 wins and 3 minor placings while amassing more than $168,000 in stakes. After drawing the coveted inside gate, Park Life was handled perfectly by the reigning Australian Driver of the Year and sat just off the pace which was set by race favourite High Rolling but that filly could not withstand the strong sprint from Park Life at the top of the long straight before defeating Victorian fillies Perfect Sense and Petacular in a time of 1:53.2. High Rolling finished 5th. The time is the fastest recorded by a two-year-old this season. While celebrations and presentations were underway for the diminutive filly, the couple took time out to witness stablemate Jossie James lead throughout and beat Our Major Day and Rock With Sam in the Brisbane feature. The punters favourite rated 1:55.4 in the 1660m event, slightly slower than her heat success of 1:55.0 eight days earlier. Bred and raced by longtime stable clients Trevor and Louise O’Reilly, the Big Jim – Empty Promises filly has now won 2 of her 4 starts to date. The filly was passed in at $7500 after failing to make the reserve price of $16,000 at the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year. Jossie James has now banked more than $39,000 in stakes. The O’Reilly’s have been breeding from this family for over three generations and have enjoyed considerable success with this lineage. Local horseman Garry Fliedner has played a major role in the development of both fillies and was on hand at Albion Park to share in the celebrations. Both fillies will be aimed at the upcoming QBRED features during the Brisbane winter carnival. Chris Barsby

The QBRED Breeders Classic 3yo Finals were full of high excitement and intense drama. Both divisions were held as Gr.2 $50,000 events at Albion Park last night (Friday) over 2138m and quality was strong with a number of chances heavily spruiked for the respective harness racing finals. In the colts and geldings finals, punters found it hard to split Timmo Time, Frankie Rocks, Leos Best and Catcha Lefty. With Timmo Time making an error at the start, Catcha Lefty charged around the field to lead before reaching the 1600m before the Grant Dixon trained duo of Leos Best and Frankie Rocks making early moves. More interference was met at the bell which enabled Leos Best to find the back of Catcha Lefty. In the straight, Leos Best ($5) finished best via the sprintlane to beat the unlucky Timmo Time ($4.10) by a half neck margin with a further neck away to Catcha Lefty ($2.40 fav) in third. The mile rate was 1:57.0. Leos Best was driven by Bart Cockburn and is raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. The Cammibest – Miss Marleo gelding is a graduate of the Redcliffe Yearling Sale and is now the winner of more than $134,000 in stakes. In the fillies’ final, again, it was a race marred by interference. The Grant Dixon stable was well represented with punters finding it hard to split Cherish The Moment and Get In The Groove. Speedy filly Firebby fired off the gate to lead and ran along at a genuine speed while Cherish The Moment was forced to race without cover. Heading off the back straight, Cherish The Moment gave ground quickly before breaking which caused a massive chain reaction of interference which had a number of fillies in trouble including Reds Jet Star, Covert Beauty and Get In The Groove. At the line, it was Georgia Grace ($20) who made the most of her luck to score by 2.3 metres from Firebby ($26.20) who nosed out Hereiam ($67.50). The winning mile rate was 1:57.4. Georgia Grace is trained by Shawn Grimsey and was handled perfectly by Adam Sanderson. The Rock N Roll Heaven – Grace With Pace filly is raced by Barry Grimsey and his daughter-in-law Michelle Grimsey and was purchased at the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Brisbane Sales after being bred by Kevin and Kay Seymour. Georgia Grace has now amassed more than $60,000 in prizemoney. The Listed $25,000 QBRED Breeders Classic 4yo Finals were also staged and the mares final was taken out by Bettor Promise ($3.40) who outstayed Mathilda Diventa ($4.80) while Bettorthanspecial ($2 fav) finished a close-up third. Despite racing without cover, Bettor Promise rated 1:55.8. The Bettor's Delight – As Promises mare has now won the 2yo and 4yo divisions of the Breeders Classic Finals while finishing 6th in the 3yo Final last year. Bettor Promise is trained in partnership by Shannon Price and Scott Miller and provided Bart Cockburn with another triumph on the night. In the Entires and Geldings Final, race favourite Major Coup ($1.20 fav) led throughout to defeat Constantlysideways ($10) by 3m with Drifting Away ($23.90) in third. The winning mile rate was 1:55.9. Major Coup is trained by Wayne Graham and was handled by his reinsman son Shane. The Art Major – Attracts Attention gelding is raced by his breeder, Terry Flynn. Racing Queensland

When looking at the Harness Racing New Zealand site this afternoon for some statistics on a couple of stallions we are reviewing, we came across the current seasonal siring figures for the three year olds and were a bit surprised at how well the stock of Rock N Roll Heaven are performing in New Zealand. With small numbers he has tended to fly under the radar a bit but he currently lies sixth on the 3 year old premiership sires list and that is with just 34 three year olds to represent him from this crop. He is not far behind American Ideal on the sires list with under half the number of foals he has and is ahead of Changeover who also has twice as many foals as Rock N Roll Heaven has in this season's crop. So far 17 have lined up on raceday for 11 winners and several of them are preparing for the classics in the next few weeks. A couple of the winners are Australian imports in Benicio ($23,350) who has won three from five to date and the lightly raced filly MacKenzie, (One win ,two placings from three starts) while another import in the form of the very smart Heaven Rocks will make his career debut at Invercargill on Saturday and has early winner written all over him. The best of the New Zealand bred progeny is the Ray Green trained Killer Queen who has won $45,959 this season and is quickly closing in on $100,000 in career earnings. Others to show well above average ability to date include the following: * Emily Blunt - Has won four from eight to date ($18,815) * Alpha Rock - Has won four from five and run second at his other start ($21,854) * Bernie Winkle - Won three from eleven with four second placings as well before being sold to Australia *Celestial Arden - Won three from twelve to date ($17,157) The second crop of Rock N Roll Heaven who are presently two year olds number just 21 in New Zealand and seven have qualified to date but unfortunately the numbers in the years following are again very small. Rock N Roll Heaven has 31 yearlings on the ground in New Zealand but it then drops back to 11 weanlings and just 11 mares served in the last breeding season. All of which adds up to a very steep hill to climb for the young stallion to get the recognition that his results deserve. The one big thing in his favour is that his progeny seem to win multiple races so if he can keep up the great percentages he is currently producing, he will get there in the end. With the performance of his first crop this season, you would expect that Rock N Roll Heaven would serve his biggest book in New Zealand in the next breeding season. Harnesslink Media

Yonkers Raceway Tuesday afternoon begin its annual tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series for harness racing 3 and 4 year-old gentlemen (non-winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec.1). Six, $20,000 divisions went postward, with Arrow (Matt Kakaley, $14.80) the lone "price" horse in the third division. Working out a second-over trip from post position No. 4, Arrow went up and over, whipping pace-setting Steve Said (Eric Carlson) by a length-and-a-half in 1:54.3. Arrow, a 4-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven owned by Growth Opportunities LLC and trained by Tony Farina, is now 3-for-7 this season. Last summer, he won here at 94-1. Tuesday's second Sagamore Hill division had pole-sitting Don'tcallmefrancis (Brian Sears, $5.30) sitting a loose pocket to favored Toni's Affection (Scott Zeron), then picking him off by a neck in 1:53.2. The 3-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding whipped his elders while caving nearly four seconds off his previous life-best. Nifty Norman trained the seasonal-debuting winner for Enzed Racing Stable. The other chalky divisions were won by... --Some Power,g,4 (by Somebeachsomewhere); owner P T Stable/trainer Rich Banca/driver Jason Bartlett; 1:53.3/$4.30; --Team Captain,g.4 (by Somebeachsomewhere); owner Joseph Martinelli Sr./trainer Tony O'Sullivan/driver Bartlett; life-best 1:53.1/$3.70; --Rodeo Romeo,4 (by Rocknroll Hanover); co-owners Oompa's Farm,Robert Mondillo,Michael Day/trainer Chris Ryder/driver Sears; 1:53.3/$2.30; --J T,g,4 (by Badlands Hanover); co-owners (as Burke Racing) (trainer) Ron Burke/Weaver Bruscemi/driver George Brennan; 1:53.2/$3.30. The Raceway's live season continues Thursday evening (first post 7:10 PM), with the newly-relocated $10,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool (program pages available at Frank Drucker

Atta Boy Dan on the inside and Phil Your Boots on the outside wagered a side-by-side battle the length of the stretch before harness racing driver Andrew McCarthy got Atta Boy Dan’s nose first to the finish line in win the $36,000 Preferred/Handicap pace on the big Monday, March 7 card at Dover Downs. After twice being handicapped to post 8, Atta Boy Dan finally had a better post position starting from number 3 in the week’s top pace. The Ron Burke trained Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot gelding responded with his second win in six starts this season for Weaver Brucsemi and Burke Racing Stable. Phil The Boots, steered by Tim Tetrick was a game second for the second consecutive start losing by a nose in the Yonkers feature a week ago. Phil Your Boots is also from the same barn as last week’s winner Lucan Hanover, trained by Andrew Harris. Third place in this week’s feature belongs to the Tony Morgan driven good closer, Doctor Butch. Sean Bier Mustang Art steamed from the outside to take the early lead and set fast fraction before Atta Boy Dan finally took the lead on the final turn. In the last of 15 races, 13-1 Casey At Bat never got a call until late in the stretch when Allan Davis got him off the rail fifth and closed with a rush nearing the wire in time to catch apparent winner Apollo Seelster (Tetrick) in the finals strides for a 1:53.1 win in a $18,500 4&5-Year-Old Male Winners pace. Skyway Gladiator (Mike Rossi) finished third. Soto found the passing lane to his liking to catch front-pacing favorite Just A Jolt (Tetrick) at the wire in 1:51 for his second straight victory and third in four and fourth in six starts for trainer Eric Ell and ‘Big Three’ owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta. A brown four-year-old by Rock N Roll Heaven-Incredible Beauty, Soto won for the fifth time this year in eight starts with a second for $38,875 and $151145 lifetime. Sicily (Allan Davis) took third money, Swapportunity finally broke through consecutive seconds to score a 1:52.1 triumph in a $16,000 race for young pacers with Jim Morand winning of his two decisions. The Mach Three-Swap Blue Chip four-year-old gelding held off a fast finishing Grantland (McCarthy) in a photo. Owned by Arlene Paisley, Ed Maas and Nanticoke racing, the former Woodbine Raceway regular made the winner’s circle for the first time in 2016. Big Secret (Jonathan Roberts) was the show finisher. Tim Tetrick scored a four-bagger. George Dennis had a triple. Montrell Teague and Tony Morgan had two wins while trainer Kevin Switzer, Dylan Davis and Brian Malone had trainer doubles and owner KDK Standardbreds had a owner double.  FASHION SHOWDOWN GOES FOR THIRD STRAIGHT IN $20,000 MARES OPEN Fashion Showdown, a winner of two-in-a-row, is the one to catch in the $24,000 Mares Open Handicap faces seven rivals on Tuesday, March 8 at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p m. Chris White's Fashion Showdown has been an impressive winner of the last two female Opens. This week, in the absence of Corey Callahan, Allan Davis will be at the controls for trainer Craig McInnis. Owner-trainer Bob Bailey's Duneside Chella with driver Tony Morgan has been in the money with two wins, two seconds and two thirds in his last six starts. Jeff Clark's Springforth piloted by George Dennis, has been right there in recent starts with a win, three seconds and a third is another starter with a standout record and has not been off the board in her last eight starts. Scandalicious, owned by JFE Enterprises, with Tim Tetrick in the bike, finished a good-closing second last time following a win the week before, starts from post 4 this time, and improvement from outside posts. John McGill's No Respect draws the rail with Ross Wolfenden driving. Returning following a short respite is The Cheyenne Gang's fast Cheyenne Robin with Jim Morand holding the rains. Thus far in 2016, the only four-year-old in the lineup has already had two wins, a second and close-up fourth in her first starts of the New Year. Lou Catana and Vince Bradley's Matinee Dragon and Jonathan Roberts also has an excellent record this meet. There is a strong undercard on a top female pacing loaded card. Dover Downs races Monday through Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m. No Live racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Watch the races and enjoy dining in the Winners Circle Restaurant. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs where there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad

Breeding for the harness racing market in Australasia is never an easy business at the best of times especially if you are trying to market and sell fillies, Buyers are notoriously reluctant to pay anything like the same premium for well bred fillies as they are for well bred colts but we feel that are missing out on a lot of opportunities because the buyers have missed the changes taking place in the stallion market down under. When you look at the present line up of stallions that are dominating the racing scene in Australasia, then just about all the elite stallions are outstanding filly sires. Bettor's Delight is without doubt the best filly sire in the world today, continually churning out champion fillies each season and in big numbers and they are keenly sought after at yearling sales in both hemispheres. Rock N Roll Heaven is another sire whose fillies to be honest are better than his colts in North America, Australia and New Zealand in his siring career to date. American Ideal is another stallion whose fillies often outperform his colts on the track while Shadow Play has five mares amongst his top eight earners in North America. So with such great filly sires dominating the stallion market in Australasia, you would think that fillies would be keenly sought after especially since any well bred ones have a good residual value once they have finished racing which the colts in the main just don't have. Looking through this weekends Australian Pacing Gold Sale at Brisbane and a great number of the fillies would appear to have a high residual value post any racing career. A lot of them come from high profile New Zealand families which are very current in the New Zealand market and have just fetched significant five figure sums at the latest sales in New Zealand. We thought we would highlight a couple of lots from Brisbane that in our opinion would have high residual valve post racing. Lot 450  -  Filly by Mr Feelgood from the Christian Cullen mare Tori Maguire 1:57 ($57,870) The first foal of a smart Christian Cullen mare in Tori France who is a full sister to a champion two and three year old filly in Lizzie Maguire 1:56.5 ($477,366). Christian Cullen is the leading pacing broodmare sire in New Zealand at the moment and for the foreseeable future. A colt by Mach Three from Unrehearsed making him a half brother to Tori Maguire made $40,000 at the recent Australasian Classic yearling sale at Karaka in Auckland. The family is seen as a rich source of  juveniles in New Zealand and has been selling well at the yearling sales for the last 15 years. Lot 431  - Filly by Lanercost from the Bettor's Delight mare in Manhattan Montana 1:57.6 The first foal from a 1:57.6 Bettor's Delight half sister to nine winners including such top liners as Village Hero 1:50.6 ($306,475) and He's My Hero 1:54.3 ($222,293), this is a family that is highly sought after in New Zealand as as can be seen from the latest yearling sales there Two Bettor's Delights colts from Christian Cullen half sisters to Manhattan Montana were sold at the Australasian Classic Sale at Karaka for $80,000 and $60,000 respectively The two Bettor's Delight colts in question are three quarter brothers in blood to Manhattan Montana. At the New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch, a Washington VC half brother to Manhattan Montana made $45,000. Now both the fillies we have highlighted are by young sires  who still have to prove themselves at the highest level but the maternal families are so strong in our view that we wouldn't hesitate adding those two to a broodmare band when they are finished racing. There are numerous other lots for sale at Brisbane on Sunday that are just as well bred in our view and are from families that are in hot demand on both sides of the Tasman. In a lot of ways, the fillies are becoming a better financial investment than the colts these days. Harnesslink Media 

The last leg of this years Australian Pacing Gold Sales Series will be held at the Albion Park Sales Complex in Brisbane on Sunday, starting at 11am and even though there are only fifty lots on offer, there is a real depth to the lots catalogued. A lot of the lots wouldn't be out of place at any sale in Australasia such is the strength of their pedigrees and we have decided to highlight a handful just to prove our point. Lot 415  -  Colt by Art Major from Courageous Annie 1:52.6 ($201,551) This is the first foal from the brilliant Courage Under Fire racemare Courageous Annie who took a lifetime mark of 1:52.6. on her way to winning 15 of her 27 starts. Courageous Annie was a $105,000 purchase at the New Zealand Ready To Run sale of her year which gives you a good idea of her value in the incredibly strong New Zealand market. This colt would attract attention where ever he was offered for sale in Australasia and to have him in the Brisbane catalogue is a big coup for the auctioneers. Lot 417  -  Colt by Christian Cullen from English Elegance 1:53.2 ($174,923) English Elegance was a top two and three year old filly in New Zealand as her record shows and she has done even better in the broodmare barn. Her first six foals have all been winners and all in better than 1:58.4, the whole six of them. Those winners include such smart types as Elegant Christian 1:53.9 ($219,389) who has won 14 from 25 to date and is a full brother to the colt being offered on Sunday. Other winners from English Elegance include Major Moment 1:54.2 ($149,983) and the mare Meet Me In Mayfair 1:58.4($45,793) whose first foal made $37,000 at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd  Lot 424  -  Colt by Rock N Roll Heaven from Sassi (NZ) A half brother to four winners including such talented horses as Mark Anthony 1:54.6 ($190,600) and Assassinator 1:55.9 ($96,303), this colt is from a half sister six winners including the champion New Zealand age group performer in Roman Gladiator 1:55.8 ($424,516) and ill fated Scorching 1:57.9 ($117,138). It is a highly sought after New Zealand family with a reputation for producing high class juveniles. The grand dam of this colt  in Assisi was the star two year old filly of her year in New Zealand and has done a huge job in the broodmare paddock. Lot 426  -  Colt by Bettor's Delight from Joyous Times 1:57.9 ($88,824) A Bettor's Delight colt who is the first foal from a quality race winning mare is going to get the buyers bench active anywhere in the harness racing world and here will be no different. The bonus is the rest of the family on the pedigree page is very strong with such standouts as Joy's A Babe 1:55.1 ($221,504), Jaccamo 1:53.3 ($281,471) and Son Of Fortune 1:58.2 ($118,537) all close up in this colts pedigree. When you look at his photo on the APG site, you can quickly see what a classy individual he is and in our opinion he is an early short priced favourite to top the sale on Sunday. Lot 432  -  Colt by Auckland Reactor from Medium Strip This is a colt from the first crop by the champion son of Mach Three in Auckland Reactor from a half sister to one of the best racemares of all time in Queensland in Forever Gold 1:51.7 ($700,593). Drop Dead Gorgeous 1:54.4 ($345,836) and The Red October 1:57.8 ($175,639) are close up in the pedigree so plenty of depth there as well. At the recent New Zealand sales, several of the leading trainers outlaid good money for yearlings from the first crop by Auckland Reactor. Mark Purdon lead the way with three yearlings including the colt, Chase Auckland for $45,000 but he had plenty of company with Brent Mangos, Greg Payne, Sean McCaffrey and Nathan Williamson also taking an Auckland Reactor home which bodes very well for his future as a stallion. We could carry on here for quite a while reviewing these yearlings in the Brisbane sale such is the depth this year. We think it is the best overall catalogue we have seen in Brisbane for a long time and judging by all the photos of the yearlings we have looked at on the APG site, the stock are in wonderful order heading into Sunday's sale. Harnesslink Media

Pepper Tree Farm is excited to be partnering with Alabar for the stud future of these three world class young harness racing sires – Sportswriter, Rock N Roll Heaven and Roll With Joe. “Alabar has been keen to be involved with these exciting stallions and the timing was right for us to move forward together with our plans,” announced Pepper Tree Farm principal Rob Vandyke. “After 20 years of standing sires at Pepper Tree Farm, my wife Julie and I were looking to reduce our physical workload while maintaining our commitment to and financial investment in these great young sires.” “With our long standing and highly successful partnership with Alabar in Art Major, we knew this was the partnership we wanted for these young sires. With their outstanding reputation at the forefront of the Standardbred breeding industry, including their large client base and their farm in New Zealand, Alabar can value add to the careers of these young stallions.” Alabar will stand the stallions and they will be marketed under the Alabar umbrella. Alan Galloway, owner of Alabar, could not be more pleased. “We are always looking to increase the quality of the stallions we can offer to our clients,” stated Alan. “It is not often you get the opportunity to manage three quality young stallions such as Rock N Roll Heaven, Sportswriter and Roll With Joe. We are extremely thankful to Rob, Julie and the whole team at Pepper Tree Farm for this opportunity and we cannot wait to offer these stallions to our clients.” Pepper Tree Farm, who recently sold one of their properties as part of the planned stud reduction, will continue to operate as a smaller, boutique Standardbred stud farm with permanent resident mares. “We remain committed to the Standardbred breeding industry and to the future of these world class young sires and look forward to their progress and journey in partnership with Alabar,” said Rob. Rock N Roll Heaven p2, 1:50.4; 3, 1:47.6 - $2,748,818 2014/15 Australia’s Leading First Crop Sire and 2nd overall. Sire of 6 Group winners, incl two Group 1 winners, from his debut Australian crop. Sire of 2015 USTA 3yo Filly of the Year Divine Caroline from his debut North American crop. Sportswriter p2, 1:49.4; 3, 1:48.6 - $1,566,460 2015 Leading Ontario Sires Stakes Pacing Stallion. 2014/15 Leading Australian 2yo Sire by winners. 2014/15 Leading NSW Sire. Roll With Joe p2, 1:53.2; 3, 1:48.4 - $1,805,102 USTA 3yo Pacing Colt of the Year. Full brother to Bettor’s Delight. Debut crop of 2yos dominated New York Sires Stakes program – Leading money winning 2yo Pacing Sire in New York in 2015. For further details on these stallions please head to  

The second leg of this years harness racing Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale is being held in Sydney at Randwick today and it has taken an age to get into its stride. The first thirty lots were a bit of a struggle with a lot of buy backs but it slowly got a bit of momentum as we moved into the second thirty and leading New Zealand trainer Mark Jones set it going when he chased and secured Lot 234 for his New Zealand barn. A big upstanding daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, she is the first foal from the former outstanding age group performer in Joyfuljoy 1:51.6 ($480,422). A Harness Jewels winner at three at Ashburton, Joyfuljoy carried on at four and then in North America as an older mare. It has been a very smart  fillies family in New Zealand with Joyfulbelle 1:56.3 and Jumpforjoy 1:55.8 just a couple who have being competitive in age group classics over the last ten years. Mark Jones went to $65,000 for her which got the sale moving from then on. Mark thought he had got a bargain. " She is a lovely big filly by a sire who is predominantly a filly sire. " Rock N Roll Heaven fillies have done a great job all over the world and I thought on type she would fetch a bit more than she did." " The beauty in buying here is you you get two bites of the cherry with them." " You can race them in classics in  both countries for good money so it makes sense to buy here. "Her dam was a brilliant age group filly and the whole family is full of smart fillies so I am glad to get her for what I did," Mark told Harnesslink this afternoon.  Later in the sale Mark went back and dipped his toe in the market again and  bought a striking son of Somebeachsomewhere from a Falcon Seelster daughter of Tanisa Vance who sold as Lot 340 for $47,000 The number of Kiwis buying at the APG Yearling Sales continues to grow each year and it will keep doing so while they can buy quality fillies like Lot 234. For the full details on Lot 234 click here. Harnesslink Media   

The harness racing trials at Rangiora Raceway today were full of quality bloodstock, especially in the qualifying and juvenile heats that were run. It is hard to comprehend how the juvenile fields have been so small this season and races unable to be held when you witness the depth of talent on show today. Star Qualifiers Heaven Rocks - 3 year old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven from Mendecilo Purchased out of the APG Melbourne sale in 2014 by Kennard Bloodstock, Heaven Rocks produced a qualifying run right out of the top draw. Settling fourth for Tim Williams, Heaven Rocks was still there at the 800 metres but then unleashed a final 800 metres of 55.2 and a 400 metres of 26.8 (privately timed) to flash past them late for an easy win. His overall time of 2:29.5 for the 2000 metres from the mobile equates to a mile rate of 2:00.2 and was nearly seven seconds under qualifying time. The run of Heaven Rocks overshadowed the smart performances returned by both One Big Fella (Mister Big - Killarney) and Donegal Rundlescreek (Bettors Delight- Boyd's Creek) who finished second and third and who both look capable of winning a race at short notice. Don Pierre - 4 year old by Diedre Don from Paris Belle Don Pierre was successful twice back in October as a pacer but lined up today in the qualifying heat for trotters and put up a performance that suggests he has a big future in the trotting ranks. He trotted away safely for trainer driver Sam Smolenski who immediately set a tempo not often seen in a qualifying heat for trotters. The further they went, the further Don Pierre went clear and he eventually stopped the timer for the 2600 metres at 3:25.8, a mile rate of 2:07.3 which is nearly 14 seconds under the required time. The official winning margin was 20 lengths and Sam let him ease down the last bit which explains the 31.6 last quarter. Don Pierre looked to have a bit in reserve in our view at the finish Sam Smolenski enjoyed some success earlier in the season with Don Pierre's full sister Paris Princess who won four races in a short space of time before being sold to North America and Don Pierre looks to have the ability to follow in her footsteps. Vincent  -  2 year old colt by Art Major from Kept For Pleasure A $130,000 purchase out of the 2015 APG Sydney sale by longtime All Star client, Jean Feiss, Vincent showed today that he has the talent to go with the price tag. Allowed to settle back in the field by Tim Williams, Vincent was still near last last on the final bend. Eased to the outside, he just went straight past them for an outstanding win over a couple of more than handy two year olds. Vincent cut out the 2000 metres in 2:32.5, a mile rate of 2:02.6 with his closing sectionals a very quick 55.3 and 27 and he ran through the line really strongly. Ready To Fire  -  2 year old filly by Somebeachsomewhere from Fight Fire With Fire A $37,000 purchase by Graham Rogerson at last years Australasian Classic Yearling Sale, Ready To Fire looks the part and has the motor to go with it. Allowed to settle in midfield by Tim Williams, she quickly ranged up to them on the last corner and then proved too strong in the run to the line. Ready To Fire paced the 2000 metres in 2:30.3, a smart mile rate of 2:00.9 while her closing sections were 57.2 and 27.9. Delightful Memphis  -  2 year old filly by Bettor's Delight from Memphis Melody A $46,000 purchase at the 2015 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale by Wayne Higgs, Delightful Memphis lined up in a nine horse maiden heat today. Mark Jones was content to sit last with her the whole way before unleashing her as they turned for home. She just swept on by for an emphatic win that stamped her as a filly of real ability. She paced the 2000 metres in 2:30.4, a mile rate of 2:00.9 and we timed her over her last 800 metres in 57.4 and 27.6 and she seemed to do it with plenty in reserve. Already the subject of a six figure offer, Delightful Memphis is targeting the next Young Guns heat at Alexandra Park on March 4th. Mr Kalypso  -  2 year old colt by Art Major from Kalypso A $90,000 purchase at the Sydney Apg Sale in 2015 by Mark Purdon, Mr Kalypso only ran fifth in his heat today but it was a top effort and stamped him as a colt to watch. Caught behind a tiring runner at the 600 metres,Mr Kalypso lost contact with the leading group but at the finish he was right up with them again,making up a lot of ground late. We timed him to run his last 800 in 56.9 and 400 metres in 27 even and Tim Williams was letting him do it under his own steam. One to watch where ever he goes. Harnesslink Media  

The Nathan Williamson trained Bernie Winkle capped off a consistent formline by winning his third race at the harness racing meeting at Ascot Park on Sunday . The stable expected the son of Rock N Roll Heaven to progress through the grades a bit quicker than he has but Williamson says he’s taken some time to get his head around the racing game.  "He's needed to figure out what's required. He showed a lot of ability at home, had a lot of high speed and he's just starting to show it at the end of his races now. He's also got a wee bit more race savvy because he knows what's expected," said Williamson. After stepping nicely Williamson decided to take the gelding to the lead. "He's generally a good beginner and I was happy to stay out of that early rush. He had to go a bit to get to the front but he’s got that sharp speed so you can do most things with him. We got an easy time in front which made a big difference." Post win, local buying agent Geoff Gibson-Smith was on the scene and Williamson confirmed that Bernie Winkle is on the market. "He's on the market and we'll just have to see whether they want to buy him. He's on the market so if he's not sold now he will be in the next few weeks."  He’s owned by Barry Dent, Robyn Jones and Ross Jones. Later in the programme Bernie Winkle's half-brother Statham, despite missing some work during the week, proved too classy when winning the ILT Foundation Summer Cup. He led early before handing up to Regal Ideal. He came home late on the inside to get up by a head beating Devil May Care. The last half was cut out in 54.9. Williamson won last year’s edition of the Summer Cup on the Austin Stack trained Sheeza Shark in race record time of 3-21.3. The Southland driver was in Christchurch on Friday night driving the Brent Shirley trained Costa Del Magnifico to win the Alabar Super Series Handicap beating Seel The Deal by half a length. The 2600 metre event was run in 3-18.6. with the last 800 in 55.5 and 400 metres in 26.7.  "Yep great win. He's a lovely big horse and I'm looking forward to the future with him. He's got a lot more speed now because I think his gait has got a lot better. He's also got stronger and showing more and more speed. He got home in 26.7 the other night at the end of a race. A season ago it would be been 28." Williamson has driven the Mach Three entire for most of his wins. "He's probably going through the grades quicker than my horse (Tas Man Bromac) at this stage so maybe if his racing's in Canterbury in the near future I'll be able to stick with him right through."  Bruce Stewart  -  Southland Harness Racing  -  Check site here  

Talented harness racing filly Zara’s Delight is ready to go again. The Rock N Roll Heaven – Barely Legal three-year-old has not raced since being a beaten favourite in the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton last May. After working hard throughout, Zara’s Delight finished 6th behind Jilliby Jitterbug in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Following a lengthy break, the Jack Butler trained filly is set to attack in her latest campaign. “I wanted her to have a big break and she got that, we spelled her at Bathurst following the Melbourne campaign which me made by road and she’s been back in work for some time. She’s a lot bigger now and she’s really thrived during her time away from the track, I’m hoping she rewards us with a big season.” Butler said. Zara’s Delight has indicated she’s returned in fine form following some neat trials at Albion Park over the past fortnight. Her latest trial (Tuesday) was a convincing 14m romp in a mile rate of 1:57.0 for the 1660m event after racing without cover. The previous trial was a hard held third placed effort behind talented filly Cherish The Moment in a time of 2:01.1. But these latest efforts were marked improvement on her first official trial last month which resulted in a mediocre 6th beaten some 13.75m behind Frankie Rocks. “Fortunately we discovered that she was suffering from a throat complaint and that explained the performance because that was way out of character, we had to treat the problem and we backed right off on the work while she recovered. “Given that we had such a great foundation underneath her before this bump in the road, it didn’t take long to bring her up to peak fitness again. I’m sure we jumped on this issue before it became much worse so we got luck in many ways. “I’ve been really pleased with her latest efforts, I told Bart (Cockburn – driver) not to come off a helmet in her first trial back while she was allowed to stretch right out today and she finished off in a good last half, she pulled up well and I think she’s ready to head back to the races now.” Butler will scan the programs but the long term aim appears to be the Brisbane winter carnival later this year. The Gr.3 $40,000 Gold Bracelet at Bathurst next month has already been ruled out. “We won’t be heading back to Bathurst with her, I think that series comes up a little too soon plus I don’t want to travel her that far by road again. I’m planning on giving her a couple of runs within the next month before building her up over the coming months. “The Queensland Oaks is the long term aim while both Gold Coast and Redcliffe Oaks are also heavily favoured, at this stage we might just stick close to home rather than hitting the road with her this season.” Zara’s Delight is raced by Sydney businessman Rod Smith. by Chris Barsby

If there is one thing you can be sure of heading into this years round of yearling sales in New Zealand, it is that the usual handful of stallions will dominate proceedings. Bettor's Delight just continues to raise the bar every year with his progeny dominating Australasian harness racing like no stallion in living memory and will deservedly be the most sought after sire. Hot in pursuit will be his biggest challengers in Art Major, Mach Three and Somebeachsomewhere but after that, the pacing stallion picture becomes a lot less clear. Rocknroll Hanover and Rock N Roll Heaven have had their moments at past sales and do have particularly strong offerings this year which may lift their results up to the top level above The averages for all of the other stallions at last years round of sales suggested buyers were a lot less forgiving of issues or faults with progeny of what we called the "second tier stallions". Some made reasonable money but a lot would have struggled to break even which in the context of what a lot of these sires have produced would seem an unfair result. In our view there is a lot of value for money to be had in the progeny of the second tier stallions at New Zealand sales and this year is no exception. Most of these stallions have shown they can leave that classic winning youngster but just not at the same frequency as the Bettor's Delights of this world. A good example for us is Lot 117 at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale. Named Lacey's Lad, he is a son of Lis Mara from the race winning Christian Cullen mare in Van Seraa. Van Seraa has three foals that are three years or older on the ground and to date she is batting at 100% winners to foals * Raesawinner - 1: 56.7 ($ 92,821) - By Elsu * Georgia's Jury 1:57.3 ($59,871) - By Lis Mara * Van Mara - 1:58.2 ($15,150) - By Lis Mara Georgia's Jury was a classic filly at three, running second to Adore Me in the three year old filly Sires Stakes final while Van Mara is a three year old who won recently at Alexandra Park. So this years offering is a full brother to two smart winners and the individual himself is a strong athletic looking colt so he ticks a lot of boxes for prospective buyers. To us he is typical of the value for money yearlings available at the sales by second tier stallions and deserves more than a passing glance from prospective buyers. Harnesslink Media  

As this years series of yearling sales draws closer, the progeny of the leading sires in Australasia are once again under the harness racing spotlight as buyers study pedigrees and inspect likely types. All the usual siring suspects are available again this year, headed by the champion sires Bettor's Delight and Art Major along with Somebeachsomewhere, Mach Three and Rock N Roll Heaven to name just a few but one stallion whose name we haven't heard much in discussions is the very well performed,Well Said. With his first crops in Australasia only turning two this year, Well Said has had no progeny down under to represent him to date which makes it incredibly hard to establish yourself when the stallion marketplace is as strong and as crowded as it is in Australasia. Both of his initial two year old crops in Australia (23) and New Zealand (14) are so small as to be insignicant which came as a real shock to us here at Harnesslink. Afterall, Well Said has already established himself in the Northern Hemisphere as an elite sire at the highest level. A 'Blue Blood' pedigree to die for which was coupled with a sensational racetrack career saw Well Said given every opportunity when he went to stud. And he hasn't disappointed with a great record to date with numbers that suggest he deserves to be recongnised as one of today's elite sires. From his first crop he produced the brilliant Uffizi Hanover 1:50.3 ($767,258) along with such standouts as Tellitlikeitis 1:48.4 ($513,917) and Southwind Silence 1:52.2 ($504,496). With that crop now just turning five in North America, Well Said is touching $90,000 per average starter which is a sure sign that he will become a member of the elite $100,000+ club of stallions who average six figures per starter. The second crop of Well Said carried on the good work as three year olds in the 2015 season with the likes of Lost For Words 1:49.3 ($913,571) and My Hero Ron 1:49.2 ($445,773) starring on the track and this crop already has an average per starter of nearly $70,000 so no drop off there. While Well Said was well represented in most of the age group classics from his first two crops, the one misgiving some breeders held was could he produce that dominant youngster that everyone is looking for. Well Control The Moment 1:49.4 ($461,457) from his third crop put that doubt to bed in emphatic fashion at two last season, dominating the division in a manner that we hadn't seen for several years. His win in the Metro Pace in 1:49.4 was one right out of the box as he destroyed a quality field by lengths and he is the horse to beat in all the major three year old classics in North America in 2016. Standing at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania for $7,500 in the 2016 season, Well Said is now firmly established in the North American stallion marketplace which begs the question of what is happening in the Southern Hemisphere. Well Said only has nine yearlings for sale in New Zealand this year and just eleven in the three legs of the Australian Pacing Gold which makes it really difficult for him to get any oxygen in the marketplace. While there are only twenty Well Said yearlings for sale down under, several of them are from very well performed maternal families and at this stage one of those yearlings starring on the track next season at two is probably the only way Southern Hemisphere breeders and owners are going to reconise the elite stallion in their midst. Harnesslink Media

It seems success with two-year-old pacers comes naturally for prominent harness racing owner-breeders Charlie and Connie Beadman. In Launceston last Friday night the Beadmans' juvenile Rocknroll Turbo made his debut in the Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes and the son of Rock N Roll Heaven never let them down. With Rohan Hillier in the cart, Rocknroll Turbo travelled sweetly in the one-out-one-back position and when asked for the big effort in the home straight he ran down the leader and hit the line with over a metre to spare from No Fear No Failure with Swap Me a close-up third. It was a professional performance from the Paul Hill-trained colt that is from the Beadmans' good producing broodmare Laagirl. The Beadmans enjoyed success with Jerrys Jet that was Tasmania's top two-year-old and last season he was a close-up second to Mister Lennox in the voting for the three-year-old of the year award. Rocknroll Turbo covered the 1680-metre trip in 2m.006.9 for a mile rate of 2.01.6 running home his last 800m in 58.7s.   Peter Staples  

Harness racing breeders worldwide usually have one wish when the studmaster rings them up to tell them that their mare has had a foal.  Please let it be a colt. There are exceptions of course with older mares and the like where you are trying to keep your connection to the family alive but in the main, a colt is what is hoped for. Up to now a couple of the elite stallions in Bettor's Delight and American Ideal have consistently produced fillies of equal class to their colts so not producing a colt is not as frowned upon as much with these two stallions. Now it appears we have a third elite level sire who is establishing a record on a par with the other two stallions mentioned above. Rock N Roll Heaven's first crop have just completed their three year old season in North America and have made a great debut, finishing second on the sires list behind Bettor's Delight and ahead of all the other elite stallions in use worldwide. Rock N Roll Heaven has done that off the back of a trio of outstanding fillies who are far and away his biggest stake earners. Sassa Hanover 1:49.4 ($1,052,700) heads the trio but is closely attended by Divine Caroline 1:49.2 ($887,945) and Band Of Angels 1:50 ($487,180) Any stallion would be proud to have produced any one of those three fillies but to have done so from his first crop is a real feather in the cap for Rock N Roll Heaven. The first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven to hit the tracks In Australia in 2015 produced similar records to their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. Rock N Roll Heaven finished second to Bettor's Delight on the two year old siring charts and once again his three top earners were all fillies. Jilliby Jitterbug 1:56.5 ($179,485), Rocknroll Magic 1:56.5 ($151,321) and Heaven's Trend were all elite class fillies and a great advert for their sire. These three fillies were the only $100,000 two year old winners produced by Rock N Roll Heaven in Australia last season. In New Zealand, Rock N Roll Heaven only produced a small first crop of just 37 foals which negated him having any impact on the siring charts but his two best performers from that crop are the fillies Killer Queen 1:55.6 ($93,973) and Emily Blunt (4 wins from 6 starts todate.) What is blindingly obvious from the statistics above is that not only are the Rock N Roll Heaven fillies high class, but in the main they are better than his colts. That is not to say that the Rock N Roll Heaven colts are not doing a good job, but that his fillies are doing an exceptional one. If things continue on as they have started with Rock N Roll Heaven, that phone call from the studmaster in future may have the breeder with their fingers crossed hoping for a filly. Harnesslink Media

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