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Last year 26-year-old Christchurch-born Amanda Grieve returned to Australia after serving an 'apprenticeship' with master NZ horseman Tony Herlihy. Last night at Lord's Raceway Bendigo, Grieve let everyone know she was in business as a trainer, harnessing up her first race winner, Tandias Bromac in the Empire Stallions Super Series 4yo Vicbred mares, 1st heat. The Thompson Bloodstock owned daughter of Art Major that stems from the same family as Bendigo great Mother Courage led all the way to win the Stakes heat impressively for driver Chris Alford in a MR of 1.58.1 for the 2150 metre distance. Glenferrie Shuffle (Jodi Quinlan) charged home for second with Im Smouldering in third place. But the night belonged to former Dean Braun stable employee Grieve, a young lady described by Herlihy who was her boss and mentor for 8 years as "one of his most valued workers. "Grieve has had plenty of good teachers including her father Paul and and on leaving school she had a good grounding with Paul Fitzpatrick in New South Wales and with (Uncle) Dennis Wilson. Greive went to NZ to watch Elsu win the 2005 Inter Dominion at Alexandra Park and got a job with Herlihy where she had many highlights working at his Ardmore barn.  "I got to work with so many good horses like Western Dream, Ohoka Punter and of course One Over Kenny. She was my favourite," Grieve told harnesslink.  Grieve did a lot of the behind-the-scenes work with One Over Kenny and rated her second Rowe Cup win as a career highlight. "She was also the first trotting mare to win $1 million. I loved that horse. I'll never forget her," Grieve said.  Grieve has also worked as a starter's assistant for six years and on premier nights can be seen leading the horses back into the bird cage.  Grieve prefers training to driving but she has had seven drives without saluting. Her father Paul trained eight winners in seven seasons between 1984 and 1998. Mum Katie and dad, Paul are proud as punch about their daughter's success. " Dad & I are very proud of you," Katie Grieve posted on facebook after the win. Meanwhile, recently licenced trainer Amanda Turnbull also notched up her first winner last week. Turnbull, New South Wales’ leading driver, took out the Dunlop Super Dealer Pace at Charlton last Monday with four-year-old Highview Conall. By David Alfred (Bendigo Harness Racing)

Harness racing trainer Warren Stapleton was always destined to work with horses from an early age. His father, who was a publican by occupation,trained a small team of gallopers in the deep south and Warren was the strapper for his fathers select team. Wins in the Dunedin Guineas and the Southland Guineas led to the occasional North Island raid with a win in the Napier Park Gold Cup one of the better results achieved. The first involvement Warren had with standardbreds was when his father took over the Maikiki Hotel and he helped out the renowned local trotting trainer,Clem Scott who had many top class trotters pass through his hands as a trainer. Warren learnt plenty about the square gaiter while there, an experience that would prove invaluable with the many top trotters he trained later in his career. Married soon after, Warren and his wife Wendy moved to the Mid Canterbury township of Chertsey where Warren started work at the local engineering shop. It was while working there that Warren struck up a friendship with Laurence Hanrahan senior that endures to this day. Between them the pair would race many of the horses such as Highwood (14 wins) and October Pride (9 wins) that would establish Warren Stapleton as a trainer. The first few horses they tried were pretty non-descript before they found their first winner in Majestic Pride. She only won a couple of races but as one W.E.Stapleton was her regular driver,maybe she was a touch better than her record suggested. The first horse Warren trained for outside clients was the smart Noodlum colt, Tipperary. Only given to Warren after he had suffered a bad case of salmonella, Tipperary was in poor condition when he first arrived. Treated with a charcoal based paste inherited from his father, Tipperary went on to win eight races although Warren was convinced he was never 100% throughout his career. It was about this time that Warren and Laurie leased a smallish sickle hocked gelding from the Watsons of Dunedin. Named Highwood, he proved a handful to get going but showed any amount of ability from day one. A winner on debut, he gave an early glimpse of how classy he was by winning the Group One New Zealand Trotting Stakes at just his second start. Not long after that win, Highwood began to have soundness problems which were to plague him for the rest of his career. Even with these problems he managed to win 14 races including an outstanding win in the Group One Rowe Cup. It was during Highwood's career that Warren started researching and experimenting with various leg paints in an effort to help him fulfill his potential. The first lesson he learnt was the necessity to correctly identify what had caused the unsoundness in the first place. The lifting of angles and the squaring off of the toe were just two of the things that he found that helped immensely. With his leg paints, Warren tried to replicate what the bodies defenses do naturally when a horse suffers an injury. Hundreds of different combinations and ingredients were tried  before Warren was happy with the balance and performance of his paints. He soon became known as the go to man when the vets had run out of ideas. Over the next twenty years Warren would put countless high class racehorses back on the racetrack and in the winners circle. Over the last ten years Warren has scaled back his racing team and focused instead on the research and development of new paints and products. Of late his focus has been on the development of stem cells in powder form in conjunction with an international company and the production of a powerful immune system booster that has no with holding period. Recently we visited Warren in his laboratory down in Mitcham in Mid Canterbury to get his insight on some of the better horses he has nursed back to health in the last thirty years. The following is a roll call of the horses that Warren rated highly: Cedar Fella When he first came off the transporter, I just about put him straight back on. You could put your fingers between the cannon bone and the tendon and touch your other fingers. The tendon had completely come away from the bone. But he responded brilliantly to the treatment I gave him and won ten races for me including the Group One Dominion Handicap and a heat of the Inter-Dominions at Auckland in New Zealand record time. McGrady Came to me with a really bad hock.  Patched him up and set him for the open class trot on New Zealand Cup day.  I was really confident as his work had been tremendous.  He paid $60 for the win and I needed a wheelbarrow for the cash. He then ran a great third to Lyell Creek in the Dominion Handicap and was then sold to Australia. Tomba Came to me after Massey University had had a couple of goes at pinpointing his problems without success. He had several problems actually but I got him to function, running a nice sixth in the Dominion Handicap on a rushed preparation. Sold to Joe Muscara and he went super in North America winning $136,000 in his first six months before a freak accident ended his career. Smooth Trickster He had been retired when I was offered him. He had issues with both his front legs and also had an issue with his overall balance. Only started twice for me,winning the second against Shortys Girl and Annies Boy at odds of $51 to one. I was very confident leading into the race as his work had been outstanding at home. Needed the wheelbarrow again. Another one that was sold to Joe Muscara and he won $156,000 in North America. Sly Flyin Bruce Negus asked me to have a look at him after he missed nearly 12 months through unsoundness and the vets had recommended retiring him. He had issues with both his front legs and I treated him at Bruces for quite a while. Made a few changes in how he was set up and got him back to the track. He went on to win a further 23 races which gave me a lot of personal satisfaction. Freeway Don He hadn't raced for six months when I got him. I thought I had him sorted out when I lined him up at Invercargill first up for me and he duly obliged, beating Annies Boy but was sore the next morning. It took me another nine months to get him back to the track. The secret to him was that he was a big slabby horse and every time he moved from a stationary position, he whacked his fetlock for a stride or two. Put a boot on him 24/7 and that resolved a major part of his ongoing problems. Another one to go to Joe Muscara in North America, earning over $135,000 up there. Delft I wasn't that keen to take him at first as there was a fair bit of acrimony about his removal from the care of his previous trainers but Joe Muscara rang me and asked for a favour and after all his support I couldn't say no. I was very disappointed at the condition of his legs on his arrival and he had other serious issues as well. I slowly got him back and managed to win the $50,000 Dullard Cup in Australia. Not long after that I convinced Joe to send him back to North America and he didn't disappoint, winning in 1:53 Golden Reign Jayne and Noel stayed with me while campaigning Golden Reign at the 1995 Inter-Dominions in Christchurch. Golden Reign got knocked down badly on the last bend in the second round of heats and was injured and they were going to scratch him out of the series. I convinced them to let me treat him and we got him to his third round heat which he won and then Jayne and Noel managed him beautifully in the week leading up to the final which he duly won. They were very appreciate of my help at the time and even now drop off some duty free vodka when visiting New Zealand. Vance The Conqueror I got him as a six year old maiden that had broken down several times. He was allergic to everything,had shocking knees and was riddled with arthritis but boy did he have a motor. Only won six for me but without doubt the bravest horse I ever trained. No Hero One of quite a few gallopers I have treated over the years.  His trainer Paul Nelson was a pleasure to deal with,implementing all the changes that I suggested. Patched him up to win the Grand National and he was voted Jumper Of The Year that season. .................................................. Harnesslink - Was there any horses that you didn't get back to the track that you really liked? Tartan Clansman - This one really annoyed me at the time. I had him 100% right and ready to go but I outsmarted myself by changing his shoes and lost him and never got him back. Harnesslink - Can you give us a rundown what you manufacture and sell? Well I manufacture quite a few products such as Electrolytes and the range of leg paints which are sold through various outlets. I have just started to trial a new Immune Booster that I have been working on which has no with holding period. The product is still in its early stages but I am very happy with the results so far. It seems to have the added bonus of helping a couple of mine who are bleeders/have ulcers. I have also been involved in the development of stem cells in powder form with an international company. Some of the initial results have been really exciting but we still have a fair way to go to get to the finished product. I also make my own processed feeds which allows me the luxury of being able to vary the mix to accommodate each individual horses needs. Harnesslink - Is there anything really get under your skin? One of my biggest gripes is having people bring you horses which they insist are very smart but unsound only to sort the soundness issues out and then find the horses can't get out of their own way. I have also had numerous horses given to me to train that are unsound, but as soon as I have fixed their soundness issues, the owners arrive with the float and take the horse home before I get a chance to line them up. They only do it once though. Harnesslink - Thanks Warren for taking the time to talk to us. It is much appreciated   

Top harness racing horseman Mark Jones was confident Master Lavros would be declared Rowe Cup champion before entering the inquiry room at Alexandra Park, Auckland, on Friday, May 10. Dexter Dunn, driving runnerup Sheemon, put in a protest after Master Lavros drifted outwards under pressure in the run home, but there wasn’t enough in it to change the result. Mark says the professionalism of all participants in the inquiry was pleasing. “Not just because I won, but it was probably one of the best inquiries I’ve been involved with,” he said. “Everyone stuck to that facts. Dexter was very good. He never went out of his way to overturn it and Kevin Townley (Sheemon’s trainer) was extremely good.” Mark said John Muirhead (Stipendiary steward) was very good and fair with his interpretation of events. “He said Mr Jones had run out but has not made any contact and I cannot say that Mr Dunn would have beaten Mr Jones.” “I would have hated the backlash if we’d been put out,” Mark said after delivering with the $3 favourite. “I think Kevin Townley felt a bit bad about it, but you have to look at it from their situation. They’re doing their best to win the race too.” “Even before we went in there Kevin said I don’t want to protest and I don’t want to win a race like that.” Kypros Kotzikas, the owner of Master Lavros, was asked for his interpretation of events and according to Mark quite simply told the inquiry: “I don’t know why we are here. We did nothing wrong and did not interfere with that horse.” The Judicial Control Authority agreed the home straight movement wasn’t enough to change the placings, although they took $450 from Mark for allowing Master Lavros to shift outwards. Mark says there are adjustments to turn a trotter like Master Lavros around from racing left-handed at Addington, which he prefers, then rig him differently to race right-handed. Mark says Master Lavros was running on empty the final 100m in the Rowe, but when Sheemon challenged, he put his head down and toughed it out. “Probably six months ago he wouldn’t have done that,” he said. “All it boils down to is that good horses just want to do it.” Master Lavros, three back on the outer, zipped up a lap out and strode to the front at the 700m. He held the booming finish wide of Sheemon by a neck, trotting the 3200m in 4:06.4 (2:03.4 mile rate), the last 800m in 60.1s During the race, Mark says it was as good as Master Lavros had trotted. “During the running he felt a million dollars,” he said. Master Lavros had mixed his gait in the Greenlane Cup, and has also broken at other times during the season, but Mark says he can’t find anything wrong with him. “He has a few niggles but nothing that you could say is a problem. What probably makes things a lot worse is that mentally when he does make one mistake and gallops, he loses the plot.” He expects him to come back better at six and is looking forward to the horse proving himself in Australia. The Rowe win was very satisfying for Mark as a horseman, emulating father Peter, who drove Tussle to win the 1985 Rowe and 1986 Dominion, and also won the 1990 Dominion with Sundon. It also came as a bonus as it was a late decision to keep him going another month for the Rowe. He now heads to the spelling paddock the winner of 15 races from 31 starts for $351,468 in stakes. Mark, who was recording his 61st training win of the term in the Rowe, with the team earning over $680,000 in stakes, says the season had exceeded expectations. “We’ve probably won the right races with the right horses,” he said. “But it will probably be my best for a few years. Numbers-wise we’re way down,” he said. However, having a “flagship” horse and the raging favourite to be crowned NZ Trotter Of The Year, is the icing on the cake. “Cran (Dalgety, former boss) always said that. You can win 100 races in a season but no-one really remembers it unless you have a flagship horse that wins some big races.” Maximising their potential takes skill and management. Mark continues to make most of the right calls with Master Lavros and providing he stays sound, the huge Sundon gelding will cement his claim as NZ’s leading squaregaiter. By Jeff Scott (MARK JONES RACING)

Exciting Kiwi trotter Stent is the is the 2013/14 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master. The Colin and Julie DeFilippi trained five-year-old displayed great tenacity throughout the series contesting four of the six legs which resulted in a Group One victory in the Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton. Stent was placed in the other three events he contested. The six leg Trotting Masters series comprises of the Hellers Dominion Handicap, Glenferrie Farm Challenge, Australian Trotting Grand Prix, Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, ANZAC Cup and the Canam Rowe Cup. Stent finished the series with 260 points, 40 points clear of his nearest rival Keystone Del who managed to win both the Glenferrie Farm Challenge on his home track of TABCORP Park, Menangle plus the Great Southern Star. The Dream Vacation gelding amassed more than $200,000 in prizemoney this season. The top five point scorers on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters this season were; Stent (260 points) Keystone Del (220) Master Lavros (201) Superbowlcheerleader (101) My High Expectations (90) The crowning of Stent continues this amazing record New Zealand trotters possess at the elite level following on from last year’s hero Vulcan while names like I Can Doosit, One Over Kenny, Mountbatten, Allegro Agitato, Take A Moment and the ultimate champion Lyell Creek. The opening leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters was held in November at Addington during Cup week and giant trotter Master Lavros proved he was a star on the rise when he proved too strong for aging warrior Stig with Stent third. The 3200m stand start feature was covered in a time of 2;03.2. Action then headed to Sydney for the Glenferrie Farm Challenge and born again trotter Keystone Del finished best to score defeating Stent while Elegant Image filled third placing. The 1609m mobile feature was covered in a time of 1;53.9. With the spotlight firmly on Melbourne for the next two legs, Stent stood tall and claimed a thoroughly deserving victory in the Australian Trotting Grand Prix defeating Aleppo Midas and My High Expectations. Stent rated 1;59.1 for the 2240m mobile feature. The Great Southern Star which comprises of heats and final on the same program was taken by Keystone Del who finished with a well-timed sprint to defeat Stent and My High Expectations. The 1720m mobile feature was covered in a time of 1;56.5. The final two legs of the series were hosted by the Auckland Trotting Club at Alexandra Park and the ANZAC Cup was taken out by the mare Superbowlcheerleader who nosed out Aussie invader Zedalite while Cool Cobber finished third. Superbowlcheerleader rated 2;00.9 for the 2200m mobile feature. Master Lavros started the season with a victory in the Dominion and ended the series with another victory by claiming the Rowe Cup after holding off the challenge of Sheemon with Boizel back in third. The 3200m stand start feature was covered in a time of 2;03.9. It was another wonderful season but Stent is the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master, congratulations to Colin and Julie DeFilippi and owner Trevor Casey. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Mark Jones has always had huge faith in Master Lavros and tonight the giant five-year-old gelding justified it by winning the Group One Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. In doing so, Master Lavros not only cemented himself with the Trotter of the Year title, but also helped Jones emulate what his father Peter achieved in 1985 when winning the prestigious race with grand trotting mare Tussle. “He’s a great horse and he had to be the best one tonight as he was made to work hard mid-race,” said Mark Jones post-race. Master Lavros drifted out during the run home causing the runner-up Sheemon to race wider on the track but Mark Jones was adamant that it didn’t affect the results and stewards agreed by eventually dismissing the inquiry. “The other horse got outside my wheel but he held him easy in the end,” said Jones. Jones thanked owner Kypros Kotzikas for his support after the race and was also full of praise for stable foreman, Regan Todd. “This horse has a few issues and causes us some headaches and heart breaks sometimes but Regan (Todd) does a lot of the work with him which makes my job a lot easier. He virtually sleeps with the horse,” he added. Master Lavros, who trotted a very good 4.06.4 when winning tonight’s feature, will now be spelled before returning in the spring to defend his Dominion title. Boizel finished strongly into third, giving him his second placing in the great race, while Cool Cobber rounded out the First4. By Mitchell Robertson

A solo workout at Alexandra Park on Wednesday was all the convincing Mark Jones needed to know he's not wasting his time with Master Lavros in this week's $150,000,Group 1 2014 Canam Rowe Cup. New Zealand's best open class trotter let his faithful supporters down again with two gallops in last week's Greenlane Cup, but Jones wasn't letting the disappointment of that run get in the way of what lies in wait on Friday night. "I'm putting it down to driver error," Jones said of last week's performance. "I tried to rush him around them too early in the race and we have found out that when he gallops once he generally does it twice. "I'm not too worried by it though, he was probably a little bit too fresh.....he's a lot better this week." Jones flew North during the week to work Master Lavros and said his work was exemplary. "If he trots on Friday night as well as he did when I worked him then I'm going to be very happy. "His work was very good." Master Lavros will need to overcome, not only his issues of last week, but also an awkward second line draw if he is to become one of very few horses to complete the notable Rowe Cup and Dominion Handicap double. "He's a great stayer, and I think he is the best horse in the race but we are going to need some luck." Last week's Greenlane Cup winner, Sheemon , is one of a number of chances in the Group 1 event outside of Master Lavros. The Kevin Townley -trained runner has shown a real liking for Alexandra Park winning three times and placing twice from five starts. Australian raider, Zedalite has been the subject of plenty of support since arriving in New Zealand as is expected to also play a hand in one of New Zealand's most prestigious trotting features of the year. By Matt Markham (Harness Racing New Zealand)

In the last few months there have been more grey trotting winners than ever before and that comes down to one thing - The influence of trotting stallion Monkey Bones. The grey son of champion stallion Andover Hall, who was good enough to win $237,280 during his racing career, enjoyed further success last night at Cambridge when Sir George Grey notched up his fifth career win. The Derek Balle trained trotter now sits seventh on the Harness Jewels leaderboard for the 3YO Ruby. Other progeny of Monkey Bones that have been doing a good job include Doctor Bones, who recently notched up a double which included a win in the Super Series C1-2 Trot, while the emerging Jayceekay has looked tremendous in her short career to date. Monkey Bones will be represented in tonight’s Group One Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park by Bonechip, who finished a creditable third in last week’s Greenlane Cup. Other impressive winners at Cambridge last night included Ardee, who may be heading to Perth despite sitting fifth in the Harness Jewels rankings, while two-year-old filly Giuliana Rancic is definitely one worth keeping an eye on. By Mitchell Robertson

Champion harness racing driver Dexter Dunn enjoyed a grand night with the squaregaiters at Alexandra Park, winning both of the Group features for the trotters on the eleven race card. Combining with ex-pat Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley, Dunn upset some of the more fancied runners with Twentyten in the Hutton Racing Stables Sires Stakes, winning at odds of $15.40. “The race panned out perfectly but he has won pretty easily on the end,” said Dunn, who positioned the Muscles Yankee three-year-old in the trail behind One Over Da Moon.  He then bursted up the inside when One Over Da Moon went ‘bush’ on the home bend to win comprehensively by 3 & ¼ lengths over Derby winner King Denny and the wayward One Over Da Moon. Twentyten, who was having his first start for Lilley and his new connections after being purchased out of the All Stars barn, has now won 4 of his 12 starts for stakes over $65,000. He will now compete in the Trotting Derby next week before rounding out his New Zealand season in the Harness Jewels. Unfortunately, North Island trotting talent, Tout Noir, who made a break at the 1100 metres, broke down in the event and will need operated on, meaning his season has come to a brutal end. Dunn then went on to win the Group 3 Greenlane Cup with the Kevin Townley trained Sheemon, adding further to the Rowe Cup puzzle next week. By Mitchell Robertson

After emphatic wins at Alexandra Park on March 21 and April 4 Sovereignty’s season has come to an abrupt end meaning a third tilt at the prestigious Rowe Cup on May 9 has had to be abandoned. The Sean McCaffrey trained and Charlie (ONZM) & Annette Hunter owned 9-year-old came right into Rowe Cup calculations with three wins and five placings from 12 starts this season, but the plug was pulled last week – just hours before he was expected to line up in the third annual Anzac Cup. Hunter said he was disappointed that Sovereignty would now be spelled for the remainder of the season, but said the welfare of the 2007-2008 Trotter-Of-The-Year always came first. “We discovered a corn in his foot after he trained at Te Awamutu last week. We swam and jogged him on Thursday morning and then on Friday he was lame. “The vet looked at him again and we decided without a race under his belt it would be too big a mission for him to start against the best in a two mile race,” said owner Charlie Hunter. Sovereignty finished 9th in the time honoured event last year when ninth favourite, and in 2011 he was fourth when fifth favourite. The Monarchy gelding would have been vying for his third Group One victory since embarking on his racing career back on September 21, 2007. Hunter said it was a shame that he now won’t be able to claim his second Rowe Cup Jenner gave victory in the great race in 1984. John Langdon drove him that night because Hunter was still recovering from a smash he suffered in the New Zealand Derby. “He will be brought back in the spring and is likely to make a hit-and-run assault on the Dominion Handicap at Addington in November. “In hindsight we stayed down there too long last year. This time I think we will just head down for the big race and then come home. “He’s had a few injuries in his career and we want to look after him during his 10-year-old season,” Hunter said. Meanwhile McCaffrey said there was no point going into a big race like the Rowe Cup “half cooked” and withdrew his nomination today (Thursday May 1). “He’ll go out to the paddock now and will tell us when he’s ready to race again. There’s no way you can bring a horse like this back to a race like the Rowe Cup when he’s not ready. “For that to happen we really needed to start him last week. It’s a shame but it’s the best decision we could make for him,” McCaffrey said. Sovereignty has now banked $780,386 in 94 starts. He’s won 28 races and also placed 34 times. Two of those victories have come in Group One events - the Group One 3yo Northern Trotting Derby in 2008, and the Group One National Trot in 2010. He also won the then Listed 3yo Harness Jewels ruby Final in 2008 and has also placed in several Group One and Two events. He was bred by Roydon Lodge. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Rodney Petroff admits he should have dug deeper into the Harness Racing New Zealand rule book before visiting this country for the first time in his 32 years. The Melton (Victoria)-based reinsman said his initiation into the New Zealand was one he wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Moments after the third annual running of the Group One Anzac Cup the hooter blew and there was an inquiry was into Petroff’s drive behind Australian trotter, Zedalite. Zedalite finished a nose second behind Superbowlcheerleader, but his placing wasn’t safe because the protest was lodged by David Butt who was driving the fourth placed Dr Hook. He alleged Zedalite interfered with Dr Hook by not racing straight over the concluding stages. The 5-year-old son of Zooma kept second but Petroff was then slapped with a $450 fine by the JCA (Judicial Control Authority) for overuse of the whip. “It’s totally different to what I’m used to. Racing the right-handed way around is a whole new ball game. I should have known the rules better. It’s a bit different over there to here. “You can get away with a quick elbow-wrist action here in Australia and in New Zealand that’s what I thought I was doing. But I think you count the number of flourishes here and they are not so much of a flick but more of a hitting action” Petroff said. He breached Rule number 869(2)(a) which states no horseman shall use his whip in an unnecessary, excessive, or improper manner. Whereas in Australia the whip rule states that excessive use comes into being if: Rule 156(4)(a) The tip of the whip is drawn back further than the driver’s shoulder (b) If the whip action involves more than a wrist and elbow action. (d) If the whip is used other than a flicking motion. “Obviously what I done was wrong and the rules have been enforced and I will abide by them. Like I said I should have known better,” Petroff stressed. Petroff arrived back in Australia the day after his little drama to drive his stable representatives, McRita and Antiquities into third and fourth respectively at Bendigo on Saturday night. But Anthony Butt will drive Zedalite in Friday's Group Three $30,000 Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Cup. Petroff hopes to be back a week later for the Rowe Cup. “This trip is his first time away from home and he’s already acquitted himself extremely well. I’m looking forward to coming back because he’s a good standing start horse and even better over the 2700m than the 2200m. “Last week’s run showed he’s going to be very hard to beat – even from 30m behind. There’s nothing like experience,” Petroff said. Tweed Heads (NSW) born Petroff said Zedalite had developed into a much stronger horse every time he got behind him. He believed he would strip even fitter this week and then fitter again for the Rowe Cup the following Friday,” said Petroff. Petroff moved to Victoria 13 years ago. His family have long been involved in harness racing and his older brother Chris (35) is one of Queensland’s top drivers, having driven more than 1,000 winners. Petroff (Rod) drives for several trainers including Zedalite’s conditioner Brent Lilley. He also works a team of seven at the Melton track – the best of them being McArdle 4-year-old mare McRita, who has won five of her 29 starts and $31,667. As for Zedalite the bay gelding has now raced 70 times for 21 wins, 28 placings, and $223,256 in stakes. He’s won two of his seven starts over Friday’s 2700m standing start distance, and also placed twice. Zedalite is being cared for by Lilley’s partner Tracey Cullen in Cambridge. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Exceptional reinsman Blair Orange nailed his second Group One victory in less than a week when guiding Superbowlcheerleader to success in the $100,000 Group One Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. The much improved trotter, who is now trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, was parked out for the majority of the trip, yet still proved too strong for the fast finishing Aussie raider Zedalite, who is trained by ex-pat Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley. Cool Cobber closed well to finish in third, while favourite Prime Power was a disappointing fifth after enjoying the gun run in the trail. The 5YO Sundon mare, who bought up her tenth career win tonight, will now compete in next week’s Greenlane Cup before eyeing up the $150,000 Rowe Cup, which is the last leg of the Alexandra Park ‘Triple Crown’. Superbowlcheerleader, who is owned by Mrs S Grainger along with Brian West of Studholme Bloodstock Limited, was originally trained by Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett before joining the All Stars barn. Meanwhile, Ray Green and Lincoln Farms enjoyed success on the card with smart juveniles Strike The Gold and Beaudiene Boaz, who were both impressive winners, while the Tony Herlihy trained and Emilio Rosati owned Express Stride earned himself a spot in the Sires Stakes Final when winning a non-tote heat of the rich series earlier in the evening. By Mitchell Robertson

Top trotter Stent has been ruled out of the upcoming ‘Triple Crown’ at Alexandra Park by his co-trainer Colin DeFilippi and will now head for a well deserved spell. “I haven’t been happy with him since he got back from Australia,” advised DeFilippi. “He just seems jaded and has had a few problems with corns, so he will head to the spelling paddock before preparing for the Cup carnival. Stent’s brilliant Australian campaign included wins in both the Trotters Grand Prix and a heat of the Great Southern Star, while he also placed second in the Glenferrie Challenge and the Great Southern Star Final. “He won well over $A150, 000 in Australia, so I think he deserves a let-up,” he added. Meanwhile, the first leg of the ‘Triple Crown’, the Anzac Cup, will be run at on Friday night with a field that will include Superbowlcheerleader, Clover Don, Prime Power, Sovereignty, and Boizel, Flying Isa, and Zedalite, who will all return from Australia for a shot at Group One glory. One trotter that won’t be there is Master Lavros, with his trainer Mark Jones opting to steer clear of the mobile event with the giant gelding. “I want to stick to the standing starts with him so he will miss this week and race in the Greenlane Cup before eyeing up the Rowe Cup,” said Jones. By Mitchell Robertson  

Master Lavros isn’t the only talented trotter that Mark Jones will take north early next month. He will also take exciting three-year-old trotter Eyre I Come, who joined his stable recently after his previous trainer, David Gaffaney, was bought out by prolific harness racing owners Merv & Meg Butterworth. “Grant Hatton, who owns horses with me including Saveapatrol, owns the other half and Merv & Meg have raced horses with me in the past, so the decision was made to send him to me with a North Island campaign in mind,” advised Jones, who helped Hatton select Eyre I Come at 2012 Premier Yearling Sale. “David Gaffaney has done a super job with him but I am hoping Mark (Jones) and beach training will be able to take him to the next level,” said Grant Hatton. Eyre I Come, who is by Majestic Son out of a race winning daughter of Landora’s Pride, has had four starts and the only time he got around safety he won impressively over handy trotter Trouble Rieu. However, his reputation is so big he started second favourite in the Sales Series Trot and fifth favourite in the NZ Trotting Derby despite his intractability. “Ricky is confident he would have been very competitive in the Derby had he not galloped after handing up the parked position,” said Hatton. Jones confirmed that the Great Northern Trotting Derby would be his main aim but said that he was also likely to start in the Sires Stakes Trotters Championship the week before. Meanwhile, Jones was very happy with the run of Master Lavros on Friday night as he progresses towards the $150,000 Rowe Cup. “He had to beat that field but I was very pleased with the way he did it,” said Jones. “He will miss the Anzac Cup next week, as I want to stick to standing starts with him, but he will start in the Greenlane Cup the week after,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson  

A New Zealand record run by top squaregaiter Master Lavros in the $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington on Friday, April 11, has earned him a Auckland Rowe Cup trip. Master Lavros adds to his Group One tally, wearing down Clover Don in the $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington. Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones was considering spelling the 5YO Sundon gelding but Friday’s performance has Master Lavros in the frame to attempt a Dominion-Rowe double. “I was rapt with him. At this stage, I will head to the Rowe Cup and look at the Greenlane Cup ($30,000) the week before the Rowe ($150,000, May 9), then the paddock,” Mark said. Master Lavros was a luckless fifth as a relatively raw 4YO in last year’s Rowe Cup, won by veteran Stig from Springbank Sam and Boizel. All honours were with Master Lavros in Friday’s Group One trot free-for-all. He trotted the mobile 2600m in 3:13.1 (1:59.4 mile rate), shaving 0.2 of a second off Ima Gold Digger’s mark set when winning the daytime 2010 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at the NZ Cup meeting. The Kypros Kotzikas-owned squaregaiter, who lost his unruly tag for mobiles after the record-breaking win, came from last of the 10 runners, being timed over his last mile in 1:56.2. After moving up parked over the final lap, Mark was able to drop the big bay down to the markers behind strong front-runner Clover Don when trailer Royal Aspirations couldn’t hold his ground at the 700m. This was probably the winning of the race. Master Lavros was able to renew his energy for a final sprint lane crack at Clover Don inside the final 200m. Master Lavros did the rest, showing his toughness to win going away by three-quarters of a length, with Mark allowing himself a salute in a rare show of emotion. The Overport Lodge trainer had considered missing the Trotting Championship after Master Lavros was defeated in the $25,000 Glenferrie Farm 4 & 5YO Trotters Championship a week earlier. A late decision was made to give the horse his chance, with Master Lavros showing his class, notching his fifth win from 12 starts this term and his 13th win from only 28 career starts for $268,428 in stakes. Mark Jones racked up his 55th training win for the season in the Trotters Championship (following a Forbury double last Thursday). He is third on this season’s premiership by runaway leaders, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (112) and second-placed Robert Dunn (75). By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing)  

Last year’s Rowe Cup place-getter and New Zealand record holder - Boizel – is back in New Zealand and set to tackle the Group races at Alexandra Park within the next month. The Tony Grayling trained 7-year-old gelding arrived back in New Zealand on March 28 after a second, third, seventh and 10th in four races at Tabcorp Park, Melton in Australia from February 15 to March 15. “He went really well in the Cochran Trotters Cup first up and then was an unlucky third in the Free-For-All the following week. Then he went off the boil. “I don’t know whether it was the heat, the bush fires, or he just wasn’t feeling well, but he wasn’t up to competing in the Great Southern Stars Series. Instead we wanted to look after him for the big races back here at Alexandra Park,” Grayling said. The Franklin horseman was referring to the Group One $100,000 Anzac Cup on Anzac Day (April 25), the Group Three $30,000 Greenlane Cup on May 2, and the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on May 9. “He was a bit tired when he came home but Chris Alford did a terrific job with him. I went over for the first 10 days and then came back to my team. “I’ll definitely line him up in the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup but I’m not sure about the Greenlane Cup. I’d like to get a trial into him before Anzac Day but the Easter break might put a dampener on that. I’m not too perturbed though because he’s bouncing around again and working very well,” said Grayling who works a team of 20 at Pukekohe. Boizel finished third behind Stig and Springbank Sam in last year’s Rowe Cup. Six months later the son of Dream Vacation set a New Zealand 2400m standing start record of 3:01 flat in Free-For-All Trot at Kaikoura. Boizel settle well back in that field that day while Stent and Master Lavros set a solid clip in front. He was three deep and second last down the back the last time and then in the straight Dexter Dunn threaded his way through the field to knock over Stent in the shadows of the post. He won with 2:01.3 mile rate and trotted his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 59.1 and 29.9 seconds. Boizel was the fourth favourite of the nine starters and paid $11.80 to win. “He placed in the Jewels but that was the best race of his career beating good horses like Stent and Master Lavros. The longer the go the better he is because he’s an out-and-out stayer. The Rowe Cup’s 3200m distance is ideal for him. “We will want a hot pace like they went at Kaikoura and then he will be in his element. He can stay all day. He’s a very good one-paced horse who just keeps bowling along,” Grayling said. Boizel has raced 29 times for 11 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds. The brown gelding has won $167,469 in stakes. “He’s my stable star and a very good trotter when he’s right. Every trainer would love to win a Rowe Cup. We went close last year. Hopefully we can go two better this time around,” 48-year-old Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn. “He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?” The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base. When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.” “The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!” Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired. But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed. “His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.” “If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded. Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career. Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped. Stig fact file: lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6 Stakes: $855,096 Sire: Armbro Invasion Dam: Naraya (Gekoj) Owners:  T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat. By Mitchell Robertson    

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