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Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will be training two good chances in this year’s Rowe Cup and has chosen to drive Temporale over One Over Da Moon in the $150,000 Group One feature at Alexandra Park on April 28. “They are both progressing along nicely, but because Suzanne (wife) has a share in Temporale I will probably end up driving him in the Rowe Cup. “The other one is a bit more experienced and even though he hasn’t had much racing in him lately he tends to go well in a fresh state up here. I was pleased with his workout win on Saturday,” Herlihy said. One Over Da Moon and stable junior, Tony Cameron won a five-horse 2700m stand at Pukekohe on Saturday in 3:37.4 (mile rate 2:09.5) and came home in 57.6 and 28.8. The 6-year-old Majestic Son entire started from 40m behind and had one-and-a-quarter lengths and one-and-three-quarter lengths to spare over place-getters and 20m handicappers, KD Hall and Shady Sadie. That was One Over Da Moon's first run back since finishing 10th in the Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway on November 11. All-up he's won 21 of his 63 starts and placed in 10 others for $322,861 in lifetime stakes. One Over Da Moon never raced in last year's Rowe Cup but finished fourth behind Stent the year before. "I was happy with his run on Saturday. He seems well within himself. It will be a bit of an ask without having had much racing but like I said before he seems to race well in a fresh state. "He will have his first start, most probably alongside Temporale in the (Group One $80,000) Anzac Cup the week before the Rowe Cup," Herlihy said. He said he was also happy with Temporale’s second behind fellow 4-year-old Lemond in the feature trot at Alexandra Park last Friday – the $16,000 Haras des Trotteurs Mobile for the R81 and faster square gaiters. "He went well and is trotting nicely at the moment. He's got a few Rowe Cups ahead of him whereas the other one has 'been there and done that'. "Temporale is a promising young trotter who only needs time. He's certainly got the all-round game to go a bit further," Herlihy said. "I was really pleased with his Group Three win the start before," he added. Temporale proved too strong for The Mighty Johnson and Prime Power in that $26,000 Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Cup. He won by five lengths and trotted the 2700m stand from in front in 3:29.9 (mile rate 2:05) and home in 58.4 and 29.3. Temporale has only ever been out of the money twice in 16 starts. He has recorded five wins and nine placings for $86,232 in stakes. Temporale has never lined up in an Anzac or Rowe Cup previously, but One Over Da Moon did finish fifth in the Anzac Cup two years ago behind Sheemon. “It would be nice to have them both start in such a prestigious race like the Rowe Cup. I am hoping they both get in,” he said. Herlihy has never won any of the previous five Anzac Cups but did train and drive One Over Da Moon’s dam – One Over Kenny to victory in the the Rowe Cup in 2007. He’s also driven three other Rowe Cup winners – Gee du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994), and One Over Kenny (2009). Only Peter Wolfenden has driven more Rowe Cup winners (five). They were behind Jewel Derby (1960), Single Cash twice (1968), Single Cash (also again in 1968), Framalda (1977) and Special Pride (1980).   Duane Ranger

When Lemond lines up in the Rowe Cup on April 28 it will continue a 60-year tradition for Cambridge-based ‘Hall-of-Famer’, Charlie Hunter (OMNZ). “The Rowe Cup is a race that all trainers of trotters want to win. I’ve been fortunate to have lined up several horses over the years, and of course Jenner won it in 1984. “Young Quinn was the best pacer I have trained but I have sat behind many fine trotters over the years. The Rowe Cup, Dominion, and the former Inter-Dominion Final were the big three we all wanted to win. “I remember running third in the Rowe Cup with Safety Catcher in the late 1950s. The race was won by Recruit and Maurice Holmes. I have a proud family history with the Rowe Cup,” Hunter said. “I can also remember 1963 when I drove Jenner’s grand-dam, Min Scott, to win the Dominion Handicap at Addington. My father (Jack) trained and bred him, and Mum (Nell) owned him. That was a very special occasion,” he added. Min Scott (1957) was a U Scott black mare, who won 12 races for Hunter Senior. In fact he won the national trainer’s premiership the year Min Scott won the Dominion. Jenner had 185 starts from April 22 1980 until February 11, 1989, and won 33 races and placed 49 times for $281,295. John Langdon drove him to win the Rowe Cup because Hunter was still recovering from a smash he suffered in the New Zealand Derby. Some of Hunter’s other quality Rowe Cup starters have included Directorship, Game Folly and 2007-2008 Trotter-Of-The-Year, Sovereignty. Hunter said any other year Lemond probably wouldn’t persevere with the Anzac Cup – Rowe Cup double on April 21 and 28. “With Monbet, Master Lavros and Speeding Spur all out, it’s worth having a crack. Sure we will be on the unruly but that might be a good thing. “Lemond got more room last time he lined up from a stand and finished well for third. I think Maurice (McKendry) will drive him conservatively from back there and give him his chance if the gaps open up at the right time,” said Hunter. “It’s a much more even race now that the guns are not lining up, and he does know the track very well,” he added. Lemond will go into the Anzac Cup after a gutsy two-length win over his age-group foe, Temporale, in last Friday’s feature trot at Alexandra Park, the $16,000 Haras des Trotteurs Mobile for the R81 and faster squaregaiters. Lemond trotted the 2200m mobile from gate one in 2:44.3 (mile rate 2:00.2) and home in 59 even and 29.1. He was the $3.70 second favourite and it was the Love You - Cipollini gelding's sixth win in 21 starts. He's also placed seven times for $67,185 in stakes. Hunter paid a tribute to current trainer, Ross Paynter and former conditioner, Sean McCaffrey. “They have done a good job with him because although he’s a bit erratic from a stand, he is a very promising young trotter. “I still like to fast-work him every now and then – and he gives me a good feel said Hunter, who is in his early 80s. He hoped Lemond could emulate the feats of his former Inter-Dominion Trotting champion – the 14-win Geffin, whom he trained and drove. “Geffin was the first 4-year-old to win the Inter-Dominon Final. He also won both heats as well Lemond is also four, so I’m hoping he can also make a statement on Rowe Cup night,” he added. Lemond is owned by Hunter and his wife Annette, Margaret O'Connell, Fiona Hunter; and was bred by Ross, Howard, and Bryan Paynter. Hunter, the champion trainer-driver, owner, breeder, agent and administrator, was presented with the 2003 Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing award. The award came just six weeks after he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday honours.   Duane Ranger    

Southland horseman Nathan Williamson will be looking to train his first Alexandra Park winner tonight (Friday), but admits it can wait until April 28 if need-be. That’s the night of the 2017 Rowe Cup. Tonight the Williamson trained and driven De Vito will be having his first look at Alexandra Park in an attempt to qualify for the Group One $150,000 feature at the end of the month. “I’ll be trying to win to get a start in the Rowe Cup. The race means a lot to our family because Dad (Phil) won the it in 2007. In trotting we all talk of having a Rowe Cup or Dominion horse. “I’m not getting carried away, but the Rowe Cup is in the back of my mind, if not this year – next year. He’s not even an open class trotter yet – just a good intermediate one. I’d love to get accepted for the race, so we will keep lining up in the lead-up races to see if he can get in. “Friday is the start of his build-up we will see exactly where he stands. He prefers the right-handed way in training back home, so I’m quite hopeful he will trot well,” Williamson said. “But it is his first race up here and no matter what happens he will be better for each run heading into the Rowe Cup Carnival,” he added. De Vito, who will be driven by his trainer, has drawn ideally at two in the feature trot of the night - the $14,999 Haras des Trotteurs Mobile for the R91 and faster squaregaiters. The Sundon gelding is an R82 rated trotter and will be competing against hardened Alexandra Park veterans like impressive last start winners - Prime Power (R114) & Temporale (R188), and Idle Bones (R100) & Yagunnakissmeornot (R82). "He's staying with Bernie (Hackett) and Michelle (Wallis) at Waiuku and is being beach-trained. I've got a lot of time for him. He feels like a good horse in the making. "I'm hoping he runs well up there because he's only five and if he doesn't make the Rowe Cup field this year then he could be back in 2018. I'm thinking the same with Dark Horse and Poppymalda (both five wins)," the Ryal Bush conditioner said. De Vito justified his $2.60 favouritism when winning a C2 to Oc trot from 10m behind by seven lengths at Wyndham two starts back (2:02.6 mile rate), and then he ran third behind Monty Python and Golden Gate at Invercargill last start (March 11). That last assignment was a 3200m standing start - the same distance as the Rowe Cup. He stopped the clock in 4:10. Tonight's distance is a 2200m mobile. De Vito has a 4-1-2 record over that journey and in a career spanning 19 starts back to April 2015, he has won five times - one each at Wyndham, Invercargill (twice), Waikouaiti, and Gore. “He’s a real consistent horse who has won or placed in 16 of his 19 starts. He’s working his way to being a good trotter – but he’s not even in the open class ranks yet. “What I’ve seen of him, I really like. I’ve had him for six starts now and he hasn’t ran worse than third. I got him off Billy Heads last year,” Williamson said. “I think he will be comfortable the right-handed way around and that’s a big factor when it comes to racing first-up at Alexandra Park,” the former St Kevin’s College student added. Williamson will also line up the lightly tried Somebeachsomewhere filly, Excellent, in the fifth race - the $12,000 Sims Pacific Metals Mobile for the 2-year-old pacers. She finished fourth (of six) when second favourite on debut in the $23,000 Group Three Alabar NZ - Caduceus Club Of Southland Fillies Pace (March 11) and then "went big" in the second heat of the $22,000 Sires Stakes heat at Alexandra Park on March 24. "Todd (Macfarlane) drove her well that night and only finished half a neck from winning. That run would have done her the world of good. "She's done well since then and is staying with Robert Dunn at Pukekohe. She drew nine that night and I'll drive her this time from barrier five. I like the way she has improved since arriving in Auckland," said Williamson. With helpful trainers like Dunn, Wallis and Hackett, Williamson said he could see himself campaigning more horses at Auckland when the big money is up. Duane Ranger

Last Saturday’s Australian Group One winner - On Thunder Road - could take his place in the prestigious $150,000 Group One Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on April 28. On Thunder Road was simply too good for his Group One opponents in last Saturday night’s $100,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton’s Tabcorp Park The 7-year-old gelding’s owner, Waitara-based Joan Fleming said she would love to bring her horse home to race, but the decision would be left entirely in the hands of his New South Wales trainer and driver Darren Hancock. “We will talk about it. I know he has it scheduled but it’s just a matter of seeing if it’s viable – or what’s on in Australia. Without being over confident I would say there’s a 50-50 chance at this moment,” said Fleming. Fleming is now the sole owner after her husband Joe passed away 18 months ago. They also bred On Thunder Road (Bettor’s Delight – All The Way Home) with their son Tony and his wife Carla. On Thunder Road was the $4.50 second favourite. He trotted the 2240m mobile in 2:43.8 (mile rate 1:57.7). His lead time was 47 flat and his race sectionals were - first quarter: 30.4; second quarter: 28.9; third quarter: 29 even; and fourth quarter: 28.5. He beat the Kiwi-bred Clover Mac and the Finnish-bred Daryl Boko by 2.5m and 5.7m. Thunder Road, as he was know in New Zealand, was one of three horses exported to Australia (as a pacer) in January 2013 when he was three. He never raced in New Zealand. “Joe sent him over un-raced with Authorised and I’ve Gotta Life. We had already built up a good rapport with Darren and had some success. He’s a very good trainer and so good to us. “It’s just a shame Joe died and never got to see the best of him. It’s quite ironic really because Joe never ever wanted a trotter. He was strictly a pacing man,” Fleming said. On Thunder Road, who was a free-legged pacer, was starting to go up and down on the one spot and Hancock suggested that he sell him…..that was until one day when he was working him as a galloping pace-maker. “Darren noticed he was trotting beautifully and then rang us and asked us if he could break him in and change his gait and shoes etcetera. We agreed.” That was in March 2014 after just seven starts (one win) as a pacer. He was out of a pacing family aka a Holmes Hanover - Miss Piggy (by Noodlum) mare, named All The Way Home. Fleming never made it to Australia last weekend to watch her pride-and-joy race, but has been several times before to see him do the business. “I went and watched him get his New South Wales Trotter-of-the-Year award last year and I also saw him in the Great Southern Star and also watched him race on Miracle Mile day. “I get over as much as I can because the Hancocks are just so nice to us. It’s like a home away from home. They really go out of their way for me,” the Taranaki-based breeder said. “It’s just a shame Joe can’t be here with me to watch it all unfold. Even though he wasn’t a trotting man I’m sure he’s smiling down on us all now,” she added. The Grand Prix was On Thunder Road’s 30th win in 60 starts. He has also placed 16 times and has gone a 1:49.9 mile rate. His stake earnings now rest at $377,765. After multiple Group One placings and several Group two and Three wins, On Thunder Road has now won nailed his Group One victory -13 months after gaining his first in the $100,000 Sew Eurodrive Trotters Cup at Menangle. The New Zealand favourite Speeding Spur was scratched on race-day from the Grand Prix with a hoof flare-up. Duane Ranger

The well performed trotter Alley Way died on Friday. “We were ready to work him and stopped because all was not well and took him back to the stable and he died of a heart attack,” said his Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson. The 8-year-old Alley Way had twice finished second in four starts after joining the Williamson stable this season. The Monarchy – No Way gelding won 11 races when trained at Winton by Neville Skinner who raced him with Judith and David Ward, of Balclutha and Grant McMaster, of Queenstown. He was bred by Neville and his father, Maurice. Alley Way finished second  to Master Lavros in the 2015 Dominion Handicap and third to Stent and Master Lavros in the Rowe Cup the same year. Mon Archie Way, a last start winner at Invercargill on November 27 from the Williamson stable for the same owners, is back with Skinner. “We had him (Mon Archie Way) to train when his owner was busy. The horse was to have a spell after his win,” said Williamson. Mon Archie Way is by Monarchy from Whizz Way, the dam of No Way and well performed Idid It Myway. Alley Way was the first foal of No Way, a winner by Armbro Invasion. Mon Archie Way is the ninth progeny of Whizz Way. Williamson will shift a team of some 20 horses to Cromwell later in the week, an annual occurrence for Christmas – New Year racing. The team will include promising trotters Zoey’s Gift and Davey Mac, who both qualified in fast time at Oamaru on December 3. “We plan to start Davey Mac (the namesake of Southland racing commentator, Dave McDonald) at Winton on  December 29 and are yet to sort out a race for Zoey’s Gift.” Tayler Strong

Harness Racing Trainer and Driver Dr Luk Chin wasn’t joking when he thought Djokovic could mature into a Rowe Cup horse next season. “I’ve always believed in him but he’s taken a long time to come to it mentally. I had to do a lot of convincing to the stipes early on. He was a hopeless breaker and I don’t think they ever believed he would make a nice trotter, but I never lost faith in him,” Chin said. The stipes had no need for concern at Alexandra Park last Friday night when Djokovic notched up his eighth victory when easily winning the $14,000 Kevin Wehipehana Memorial for C3 to C6 trotters. He was the second favourite of seven and paid $5.60 to win. “He felt as good as he ever has. I don’t think a Rowe Cup start is out of the question so long as he keeps improving. He’s a completely different horse now that he’s five. He used to be a nutter and break all the time. “But he’s been off the unruly mark for a couple of seasons now and he’s finally got his mind around trotting and what it’s all about. Sundons seem to always take a while to get settled and this fella was certainly know exception,” said Chin, who owns, bred and drove the bay gelding. Unlike years gone by Chin had Djokovic flying from his two draw and they led for the remainder of the 2700m stand stopping the clock in 3:30.8 (mile rate 2:05.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.8 and 30 even. They won by three quarters of a length and one-and-a-half lengths to spare over place-getters Gintaras (Richard Brosnan) and Princess Mackendon (Michelle Wallis). “He used to beat himself because his brain wasn’t in tune with racing, but he travelled super on Friday. He was always travelling well in front. I hardly moved the stick. He cruised it and seems to be getting stronger with each race,” Chin said, The Tamahere horseman said he only had Djokovic and Tereskova racing at present. “I’ll keep on racing Djokovic until late July or early August and then I’ll spell him and bring him back for Christmas racing. “I’ve got a couple of yearlings in work so when they are ready I’ll probably retire or on-sell him. I haven’t got a lot of spare time to work too many, so when the youngsters come through I’ll concentrate on them,” he said. The 72-year-old is a workaholic. “I've had 40-plus years of 18-hour days, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my job and have always been very passionate about horses,” he said. Chin is an anaesthetist, pain management specialist, managing director Anglesea Procedure Centre, and medical director at Anglesea Medical Properties in Hamilton. He works his horses at 5am and is usually cleaned up by 7.30am. “Then after work I feed up and shoe them. My wife Robyn says I’m a bit of a workaholic but I’ve always loved harness racing from a very early age. It has played a big part in my life,” he said. “Friday’s win was especially satisfying after Djokovic showed nothing early on,” he added. So Is Djokovic right up there with the best horses he has had? “No I don’t think so. Fayanni was a special horse and probably my best. She was so honest. She won 10 races and more than $200,000. “She has left a Muscles Yankee filly named Annaskova. That was her first foal and I’m hopeful she can do a good job,” Chin said. By Duane Ranger

It was his race to lose. This was the scenario facing brilliant Canterbury trotter Monbet tonight (Friday) at Alexandra Park, Auckland as he faced the harness racing starter in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup, the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series. Following his breathtaking victory last week in the ANZAC Cup and the sad season ending injury to his arch rival Speeding Spur, punters installed the Greg and Nina Hope trained gelding as an unbackable favourite in the North Island’s biggest trotting feature. And he didn’t disappoint. Starting from the inside of the second-line in the 3200m stand start feature, champion reinsman Ricky May wasted little time soon after a safe beginning to put the big striding Love You gelding into a forward position. Taking off at the 2000m mark, Monbet whistled around the field before taking control with 1700m left to run. Thereafter, it was a procession. The lead time was covered in 2:07.5. May allowed Monbet to stride boldly in front while rivals jostled for positions as they battled for second prize. Monbet covered the final mile in sectionals of 31.6, 29.8, 28.4 and 29 seconds. In the home straight, Monbet raced away and scored a dominant victory with a winning margin of 3 ½ lengths over Valmagne while a further 2 ½ lengths back to Queen Kenny in third. The race time was 4:06.3 with a mile rate of 2:03.8. It was his sixth Group One triumph this season. Monbet also becomes the first four-year-old to win the feature since Special Pride who scored back in 1980. The victory provided May with his second victory in the Rowe Cup after scoring aboard with Highwood back in 1988 while it was a first for the Hope’s. While recording back to back victories in APG Trotting Masters events during the past week, Speeding Spur will claim the title after amassing 220points throughout the season while Monbet will finish as the runner-up with 203 points. But with the Gr.1 $NZ100,000 Ruby on Jewels day at Cambridge on June 4 at his mercy, it may be enough to secure both National Horse and Trotter of the Year awards. A fitting result for a magical season if successful. Only time will tell. Chris Barsby

Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald

There is still plenty at stake for Monbet. The exceptional four-year-old trotting talent will start as a prohibitive harness racing favourite this Friday night in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. Following his scintillating victory in last week’s ANZAC Cup where he blew away Speeding Spur who was subsequently diagnosed with a season ending injury, Monbet can’t surpass his arch rival who gathered enough points to hold an unassailable lead heading into the final leg. Speeding Spur has 220 points while Monbet has 103 points prior to Friday’s feature. But there’s still plenty up for grabs for the Canterbury trained star. If Monbet proves successful in the Rowe Cup and then ventures to Cambridge in June for the Jewels and collects another Group One victory, he could easily claim the Trotter of the Year plus the overall Horse of the Year titles. The Love You gelding has already won five Group One races this season. On Friday night, Monbet will face twelve rivals in the grueling 3200m stand start feature including all bar Speeding Spur from last week’s ANZAC Cup. The Greg & Nina Hope trained performer is a stand start specialist but is foreign to the two mile distance range with 2700m being the longest he’s raced. Another intriguing factor to be considered this week for Monbet is his draw, the inside of the second-line. But if there is a scratching to his inside in the great race, Monbet will move from his inside second line draw to the outside of the front line, barrier nine, in direct contrast to what happens in mobile races. Most expect to him win regardless of where he starts from - front or second-line. And favourites have a great record in the race with the punters elect winning 7 of the last 9 editions, the exceptions being Stig in 2013 and I Can Doosit in 2011, the first of his two victories in the feature event. Champion reinsman Ricky May will once again handle Monbet and he is no stranger to success in the premier North Island trotting feature having won the race back in 1988 with Highwood. Key rivals this week include Sheemon, a runner-up in this event two years ago while the improving types of Blackguards Corner and Yagunnakissmeornot will also command respect. Realmein, Jag’s Invasion and Scarrymcleary all have upset chances on current form. Waterloo Sunset, Valmagne, Queen Kenny, Paramount Dream, Al Bundy and Quite A Moment will all require luck to claim the feature. The Canam Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and scheduled to start at 9.13pm local time. Chris Barsby

On paper tonights $145,000 Rowe Cup for elite class trotters at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park looked a one horse race with Stent in outstanding form and a clear favourite. Plenty of pundits were concerned about it being his first standing start for nearly five months and the 3200 metres was another query that was also regularly mentioned in the lead up to the race. As it turned out Stent trotted away brilliantly for Colin De Filippi from the stand to grab an early lead over Alley Way and Matthew Williamson. Mark Jones was away well with the defending champ Master Lavros and worked forward and took over the lead from Stent after 700 metres. There was no loitering in front as Mark Jones looked to take a bit of the speed out those in pursuit of Master Lavros and he kept the tempo up the whole way. Applying even more pressure as they went past the 400 metres mark, it was clear as they turned for home that Master Lavros only had one serious challenger and that was Stent who waited for the passing lane to lodge his challenge. These two knuckled down to fight it out and Stent got in the deciding stride to claim his first of the big 3200 metres cups To Master Lavros's credit it took Stent every inch of the straight at Alexander Park to get his head in front right on the line. Alley Way was 2 3/4 lengths back in third which was a great effort first up in the big time and there was a further four lengths back to One Over Da Moon in fourth. Stent trotted the 3200 metres from a stand in a very quick 4:03.6, a mile rate of 2:02.4 with closing setionals of 57.9 and 28. The time was a new race record, taking one point six seconds off the old record held by I Can Doosit. Colin De Filippi was very emotional on returning to scale, fighting back the tears. " My father won this race forty years ago and it really means so much to me to win this race." " It is a race I have wanted to win for a long time so its very special." " I can't say enough about what a great owner Trevor Casey has been to train for." " Even when things weren't going that well early in Stent's career, Trevor never even once questioned what I was doing" " He deserves all the success he is having," Colin said.  It has been a stellar season for the son of Dream Vacation with tonights win his 13th from just 18 starts this season with earnings of $637,216. Harnesslink Media

With the four Group 1 races at tonight's harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, we here at Harnesslink decided to do a runner by runner preview of all the Group races. This is our preview of this years Rowe Cup 1) Springbank Sam  -  Starts: 63    Wins: 17   Secs: 8    Thirds: 8    Life: $287,036  Back to a stand this week which he is much more comfortable with. Placed second in this two years ago and has a great record over 3200 metres. Has been in good touch in his last few starts and we like him as a first four chance. 2) Alley Way  -  Starts: 42    Wins: 11    Secs: 10    Thirds: 3    Life: $90,124 Up and comer who had no chance from the draw last week. Can really fly the standing start and looks the early leader and from there will hand up to one of the favourites which makes him a legitimate trifecta and first four player. Driver very confident he can be in it so don't discard. 3) Stent  -  Starts: 59    Wins: 27    Secs: 16    Thirds: 5    Life: $1,027,413 The best trotter in Australasia who deserves to be favourite here but there are several little question marks in this race. This will be his first standing start for nearly five months so that is a worry and of course this race is over 3200 metres which is the distance at which he is most vulnerable. Class and a great driver in Colin De Filippi will get him a long way but no past the post certainty. Include in everything. 4) King Denny  -  Starts: 21    Wins: 9     Secs: 3    Thirds: 0    Life: $202,499  Has really come of age on this campaign and his run last week after being used early was huge. The distance is right up his alley but the issue here is his poor standing start manners. He has yet to go away with the field this time in although he has got better in this respect and is not losing as much ground as he was. Needs to go away with them to be a winning chance so we only have him in as a trifecta and first four player. 5) Mum's Pride  -  Starts: 11    Wins: 8    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $95,901 The find of the season in the trotting ranks but this is his biggest test to date by far. Has great standing start manners which is a big plus here but with only 11 starts lifetime one does worry about the ringcraft a bit. James Stormont is not afraid to be aggressive as a driver but we still think this horse is twelve months away from reaching his peak. Trifecta and first four chance for us. 6) Master Lavros  -  Starts: 39    Wins: 15   Secs: 5    Thirds: 3    Life: $379,154 Last years winner of this race who has been in the wilderness since that win. Trotting the best that we have seen him in his whole career in this campaign and looks to be enjoying his racing again. Can be a bit hit or miss from a stand but we think in his present frame of mind he is a big player here. Loves the 3200 metres and likes Alexandra Park. Include in everything.  7) Sheemon  -  Starts: 54    Wins: 16    Secs: 17    Thirds: 10    Life: $473,792 Right at the top of his game at the moment and loves Alexandra Park. Has beaten Stent at their last two meetings at Alexandra Park in Group 1 races and a game second in this race last year as a four year old. A much better horse as a five year old and with Dexter in the bike he will be given every chance to go one better this year. Include in everything. 8) Flying Isa  -  Starts: 55    Wins: 17     Secs: 5    Thirds: 4    Life: $479,192 Back from a successful stint in Australia but up against it here. Better from a mobile than a stand and we would prefer at a distance a bit shorter than 3200 metres. We find it hard to see him as a threat to the favoured trio. Outside first four player at best for us. 9) Dr Hook  -  Starts: 87    Wins: 17    Secs: 13    Thirds: 11    Life: $434,613 An outstanding trotter who is in the twilight of his career. Will appreciate the move back to a stand but it is still hard to see him being a major player here. Not for us 10) One Over Da Moon  -  Starts: 33    Wins: 11     Secs: 3    Thirds: 2    Life: $179,956  Really nice trotter who is taking on the best trotters around this campaign. Has gone a couple of good races this time in but has several question marks beside his name tonight. We have doubts that 3200 metres really suits him and at his last standing start he broke badly and took no serious part. Not for us. 11) Kincaslough  -  Starts: 30    Wins: 10     Secs: 3    Thirds: 3    Life: $122,986  Has had a very long season to date being around since September and signs of that present in her last few runs. Very capable mare and back to a stand which she much prefers. Did go her best race for some time last week, running on well late but a few here look sharper to us. Outside first four chance at best. SELECTIONS How can you go past Stent in his present form. He does have a few question marks beside his name this week but he is not a millionaire by chance. The two main dangers for us are Master Lavros and Sheemon who quinelled the race last year. Both look to be right in the zone at the moment and just need the rub of the green to threaten Stent. Behind these three are a group who are trifecta and first four players if things go their way in the running. We would  include King Denny, Mums Pride, Alley Way and Springbank Sam in combinations with the three above. Harnesslink Media

Tonight harness racing followers at Addington Raceway were witness to an outstanding run from last seasons dual derby winner in King Denny. After galloping away from the ten metres mark, King Denny with co-trainer Mark Purdon in the bike settled a long way off the pace early which was set by Monty Python. With 1600 metres to run, Mark eased King Denny into the running line from the rear and slowly worked his way forward. By this time Clover Don had taken over and King Denny ended up on his wheel passing the 600 metres mark.  Just when the run should have been taking its toll as they turned for home, King Denny just went up a gear and went to the line a comfortable winner. Credited with an official time of 3:21.3 for the 2600 metres from a stand, King Denny was privately timed to run his last 2400 metres in a very quick 2:59.6 after his early gallop. What made the run even more meritorious was King Denny ran into a strong easterly in the home straight. Mark Purdon was rapt with the run " He has gone huge really" " To sit parked and run into that strong breeze and still win like he did was a top effort," Mark said. Mark is not to concerned with his tardy beginnings at his last two starts. " He never got any experience of stands as a three year old as most of his races were mobiles." " He is getting better but just needs a bit more practice on raceday," Mark said. Future plans for the four year old son of Majestic Son are based around a trip to Auckland. " We will keep him close to home over Easter and just race him at Addington. " The long term aim is to have at his peak for the Rowe Cup at Auckland," Mark said. The manner in which King Denny has won his last two starts would suggest he is a huge chance to take home the silverware in Auckland. Harnesslink Media  

NZ Trotter of the Year Master Lavros is set to have another trial this week for Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones. Master Lavros made a return to the track at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday, September 17, but wasn’t pushed after losing ground early. “He missed away bad being so fresh,” Mark said. “But I was very happy with afterwards.” Master Lavros wasn’t asked for a serious run in the C1 and faster trot taken out by fellow 40m marker Phil’s Gift, who trotted the 2600m (stand) in 3:26.6 for driver Stevie Golding. Mark has a return to racing earmarked for the big Sundon gelding in a $12,000 C4-0C trot over 2600m at Addington on October 3. He’s had a great long slow build-up,” Mark said. Master Lavros will be a leading hope to repeat last year’s dominant Group One Dominion Handicap success at the New Zealand Cup meeting. Now six, the Kypros Kotzikas-owned trotting star is still lightly-raced, despite kicking off his career with three starts at two. He’s faced the starter only 31 times for 15 wins and five placings, banking $351,468. Last season, he won seven of 15 starts, securing his place in NZ trot history as the winner of three NZ Group One trot races in the same season. He was spelled after taking out the G1 Canam Rowe Cup at Auckland on May 9. Master Lavros also won the G1 $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington in April in a NZ record for the mobile 2600m of 3:13.1 (1:59.4 rate). For good measure, he also won two Group Three trots at Addington last term, the $25,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Summer Trotting Free-For-All (mobile 1950m) and $25,000 Dr Cliff Irvine Memorial Canterbury Park Trotting Cup (2600m). Unfortunately, his only start in Australia resulted in gallop in the Glenferrie Challenge at Menangle on March 2, but will be given the chance to show his best across the Tasman this season. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing - Visit site here

On Sunday SA BOTRA will host their annual fundraiser "Xmas in July" to be held at the Globe Derby this Sunday starting at noon with the special guest of honor being champion New Zealand reinsman Anthony Butt. Hall of Famer Butt, who has achieved most things in the sport of harness racing including New Zealand, Auckland, Hunter, Rowe Cups and four Inter Dominion finals in a stellar career to date.  Butt, will be interviewed by race caller Jim Jacques in what should be great entertainment. Also during the afternoon you will have a chance to bid on one of nine stallion services that will go under the hammer and in that line up is some of Australia’s most sort after sires: Auckland Reactor, Smiling Shard, Lombo Pocket Watch, Gotta Go Cullect, Western Edition, Tiz A Masterpiece, Art Official, Elsu BG’s Folly, Cullen’s Legacy and Artesian. Tickets are just $40 and includes a three-course meal so please contact Lois Randall on 0402978424. by Gary Newton   

Kristie Hill has always wanted to campaign a horse at Alexandra Park and now thanks to her father Brian and enigmatic trotter Sunchita, she fulfilling that dream. Hill snr, who trains in Nelson, took Sunchita to Auckland and Kristie took over the reins a couple of days before the 6-year-old mare had her first race at Alexandra Park last Friday. Sent out a $3.40 second favourite and under the guidance and driving exploits of Tony Herlihy, the daughter of Sundon never looked like losing. Away well from her 10 metre handicap, Sunchita settled handy to the pace before Herlihy sent her forward to find the lead at the 500 metre mark from where she simply out-trotted her opponents – winning by 1 ½ lengths. It was Sunchita’s third consecutive win, fifth this season, and seventh in a career spanning 51 starts. She’s now banked $52,101. “She had to earn her trip up north and prove to us she was worthy of going up there and she did that at Nelson.’’ Hill senior said. “I have campaigned Single Lord and McShane up there before but this is the first time Kristie has been in Auckland with one of our team. “She has lots of friends up there and she always believed Sunchita would go well that way around because that’s the only way we train her back home.’’ He said Sunchita would have two more starts at Alexandra Park over the next two Fridays before returning home. The father and daughter combination both believe the often frustrating trotter has finally turned the corner and put it all together on the track. “If she keeps improving the way she is, well who knows she could start in the Dominion Handicap in November, I don’t want to get ahead of myself but that is the goal. “It’s every trainer’s dream to have a horse line up in either the Dominion or Rowe Cup.’’ Kristie is staying with Steve and Ann Phillips in Waiau Pa, while Sunchita is being stabled half an hour away at Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis’s Waiuku barn. “She loves being beach trained and the wet track on Friday would have suited her, she has really turned the corner now,’’ Kristie said. “We haven’t made too many changes to her gear. “Once upon a time she either finished first or last because of her tendency to gallop. “I think we can put her recent improvement down to maturity.’’ Hill, who is the former Education Manager for Harness Racing New Zealand, said the stakes at Alexandra Park also swayed their decision to bring Sunchita north. “The money on offer was too good to resist and I always wanted to bring her up here because I felt she would go better this way around. “It was a great performance first-up and a brilliant drive by a brilliant reinsman.’’ Hill is a graduation driver who has won 12 races since 1998. She has also placed 38 times from 293 starts for $93,897 in stakes. Two of those wins have come aboard Sunchita while Blair Orange and Jimmy Curtin have also won on her twice prior to Herlihy’s victory on Friday night. Hill said she wasn’t tempted to jump in the sulky and have a drive around Alexandra Park on this trip and was happy to leave the driving duties to Herlihy. “No I won’t be getting in the sulky when I’m up there, why would you put me in the sulky when one of the best drivers in the world can do the business?” Brian and Kristie own Sunchita and also bred her. She is the third of six foals (and most successful) out of Hills’ three-win Dancing Master mare, Carmenchita, who was also trained by Hill. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Breeding wise Poppymalda has a lot to recommend her. By champion harness racing trotting sire Armbro Invasion, Pollymalda is from the Sundon mare In The Sun who is a full sister to the former standout trotter Sundowner Bay 18 wins ($259,856). In The Sun is also a half sister to the dam of the brilliant Enthusiast 1:59.5 ($90,585) who won 11 races as a two and three year old, Inspire 9 wins ($147,468) including the Group One Rowe Cup and Call You Later, 9 wins $73,174. The great race mare Framalda (22 wins) is another standout trotter close up in the pedigree. So it should be no surprise that Poppymalda looks to have inherited all of the family ability. Having just her second lifetime start last night at Forbury, she was sent out a short priced favourite even though she drew the outside of the second line. That was due in no small part to her huge run on debut where she lost a 100 meters early but still finished a close up sixth. Last night she settled last of the bunch before coming out with a round to go to work forward to the death. She remained there until they turned for home where she shot clear with driver Nathan Williamson sitting as quiet as a church mouse as she cruised to the line,an easy winner. The stock of Armbro Invasion are noted for getting better with age so Poppymalda looks to have a big future ahead of her if her first two runs are anything to go by. Poppymalda Harnesslink media

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