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Contrary to reports throughout Australasia Keystone Del will not contest Alexandra Park’s ‘Triple Crown’ starting on Anzac Day (April 25). Trainer Nicole Molander confirmed with Harness Racing New Zealand today (Wednesday) that the son of Dr Ronerail would now go out for a “well earned” spell. “We want him to bow out for the season on a high. He deserves that. We have spoken to all of his owners and they agree that what he has achieved so far this season is more than enough. “Even though he’s come through his Great Southern Star races really well we don’t want to risk coming to Auckland and have him running there as a tired horse,” Molander said. Keystone Del won his $50,000 elimination heat of the Great Southern Star at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on Saturday and then later that evening went on to beat Stent in the $300,000 final. Both were 1720m mobile Group One events. Molander said the Anzac Cup, the Greenland Cup (May 2) and the Rowe Cup (May 9) were tempting. Her husband Dean even contacted the Auckland Trotting Club last week about lining the former Kiwi trotter up in all three races. “We were never going to make a decision until today. Some reporters jumped the gun. The horse’s welfare always comes first and that’s why we waited until he returned home from Victoria (to New South Wales) before we made any decision on coming to New Zealand. “He’s had 14 races this campaign and done a very good job for us. His welfare always comes first,” Molander stressed. In those 14 races Keystone Del has won seven times and placed on five occasions. All up he has now won 15 of his 32 lifetime starts, placed six times and banked $517,429 for Molander and fellow owners P. T. Hall, M. J. Hall, and A. J. Molander. His fastest mile rate of 1;53.9 was recorded when winning the Group One $100,000 Glenferrie Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2 this year. “We would like to follow the same racing schedule as what we did with him last year. The Glenferrie Challenge is definitely on the radar because no trotter has won that three times in a row. “The Southern Star is also part of the plan. As for New Zealand I think the Rowe Cup and supporting races could be a real possibility this time next year,” Molander said. The 6-year-old bay gelding had nine New Zealand starts for trainer Tim Hall before being exported to Australia on November 14, 2011. In fact he never won a race until his final two New Zealand starts – both of them within three days of each other at Manawatu in October 2012. Molander said Keystone Del would now be spelled for a couple of months. “He’s come back from Victoria in great condition. We’ll probably give him two months off and then get him back into training again, because he takes quite a bit of work getting him back to where he should be at,” Molander said. Keystone Del was bred by P. T and M. J. Hall. He is the second of three foals out of the Aereus mare, Flipside. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Waterloo Sunset, who is the first foal from Rowe Cup winning mare Inspire, was victorious in his debut at Methven on Sunday some 18 months after qualifying at the same venue. The win came courtesy of what was yet another remarkable training performance by Paul Nairn, who trained and drove Waterloo Sunset’s mother to win the 2006 Rowe Cup in what was just her 11th start. And while this big four-year-old son of Sundon might never reach those great heights, he is definitely going to work his way through the grades. “He just looped the field and absolutely jogged it,” said driver Bob Butt. “Paul (Nairn – trainer) asked me to drive him without a stick and I never looked like needing one.” “That certainly won’t be his last win, I think he will be a very good stayer,” he added. Interestingly, the horse that beat Waterloo Sunset in his trial some 18 months ago, Thanksforplaying, was also a winner on the card. Meanwhile, Brian Norman who owned the winner of the feature race at Methven, Arising Easton, trained a double at Wingatui today, where harness racing was run for the first time in around 60 years. By Mitchell Robertson

Patchy trotting star Sovereignty looks back in top form after a dazzling display at Alexandra Park last night. And his return to form may have come at just the right time with the start of the Alexandra Park ‘Triple Crown’ just a few weeks away. After starting from a 40 metre handicap, driver Maurice McKendry settled Sovereignty in the one-one, before unleashing him in the home straight. He then dashed away from a comprehensive 5 & ¾ length win in a tidy time of 3-28.7. It was the nine-year-olds 27th career victory and 14th win at Alexandra Park. But, while he has won group One races at age group level as well as a National Trot, a Rowe Cup win would put the icing on his racing career. Other impressive winners on the card included classy three-year-old trotter Tout Noir, who extended his win streak to three, while Mach’s Gladiator remained unbeaten at the Park when winning in a smart time of 2-41.0. “We sent him up to Todd (Mitchell) to chase the good stakes on offer and it has certainly worked out well so far,” said co-owner Ronnie Dawe, who has previously raced Continental Auto with Mitchell. “He went through a patch were his form just evened out a bit, but he seems to have improved again of late and is now racing better than ever,” enthused Dawe. Meanwhile, Dawe is confident of success with Free Falling, who holds a NZ Derby nomination, at Methven on Sunday. “Phil (Burrows – trainer) rates him very highly, but I guess we will find out how good he is over the next few weeks,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson  

SA BOTRA are pleased to announce that they have obtained not one but two special guests for their annual fundraiser Christmas in July in the form of Kiwi legends Anthony and Tim Butt.   The brothers have swept all before them in their native country across the ditch and now based in Melbourne they will provide great entertainment when they come under the scrutiny of compare Jim Jacques.   Last year's special guest Gary Hall senior had the crowd on the edge of their seats.   The brothers have won over the past few seasons Interdominion Pacers Final, three Interdominion Trotters Finals, two NZ Cups, two Auckland Cups, five Hunter Cups, eight Dominion Handicaps, four Rowe Cups and many more Group and Listed Races.   Tickets are about to go on sale so contact Lois Randall on 0402978424 to book your ticket for this July 13th event.   Annual Gear Sale   BOTRA is also conducting its annual gear sale at Globe Derby on Sunday April 13th. Lots can be registered between the hours of 8am and 10am with the auction to commence at noon. The famous BOTRA BBQ will be available throughout the day.   Australian Standardbred Breeders AGM   South Australia this year will host the annual Australian Standardbred Breeders Conference and AGM and high on the agenda this year will be the breeding season dates in attempt to bring Australia back in line with New Zealand. The conference and AGM will be held on April 5th. BOTRA will host the delegates from each state that evening at Betezy Park Globe Derby.   Gary Newton  

Kiwi trotter Flying Isa is the new Australasian mile record holder after a stunning performance at Menangle on Tuesday. Usually trained in South Auckland by John and Josh Dickie, the former star juvenile is being campaigned in Sydney by Luke McCarthy. He showed how unlucky he was to be first emergency for the Glenferrie Farm Challenge last Sunday when he trotted a 1:53.2 mile to win a $7000 race there on Tuesday by five lengths. That smashed the record set by Keystone Del when winning the Challenge two days earlier of 1:53.9. Flying Isa is likely to head to the Great Southern Star in Victoria on March 22 before returning for the Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park in May. A former Harness Jewels and Australasian Breeders Crown champion at two, Flying Isa raced below his best at three but returned to something like his peak when second in the Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park last season. He wasn’t the only Kiwi to set a record at Menangle yesterday as Canterbury filly Red Hot Toddy broke 1:52 for a mile when finishing second in her race. While she paced a faster time than the NZ record it obviously won’t count in the record but it will for her future stud career because place times are counted as official. So the Ken Barron-trained filly boosted her broodmare value enormously, even though she didn’t actually win. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

One of New Zealand’s most promising young trotters again proved just how good he was when winning the feature trot at Alexandra Park tonight – but you can forget about him lining up in the prestigious Rowe Cup in May. “It would be silly to start him as a 4-year-old in an arduous 3200m race like that. He will however start against the open class trotters in the Anzac Cup,” said trainer-driver Todd Mitchell. Prime Power gave his 10 opponents a trotting lesson in the $20,000 Swiss Deli Handicap for the C3 to Open Class trotters. The 4-year-old Monarchy gelding stopped the clock in 3:30.6 with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 58.1 and 28.4. Mile rate: 2:05.5. He had 3-3/4 lengths and three quarters of a length to spare over place-getters Duchess Diedre (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Sovereignty (Maurice McKendry. Prime Power, who started from the 30m is owned and was bred by Bryan Macey of Homin Hosed New Zealand Cup (1999) fame. He has now had 21 starts for 11 wins and five placings. “After the Anzac Cup We’ll target the Jewels and then next season we will travel a bit with him as a 5-year-old,” Mitchell said. Prime Power is unbeaten in four starts this campaign and his stake earnings now sit at $148,509. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

While trotting maestro Paul Nairn is confident of a bold showing from One Over Da Moon on Sunday at Motukarara, he is not prepared to declare last season’s two-year-old Jewels champion a winner. “I don’t think he will be able to make his own luck and win on Sunday but with the right run he is definitely capable of doing so,” said Nairn. “He is as fit as I can have him without having a trial under his belt, but in saying that he will definitely improve off the run.” Nairn said that while the grass track is a slight concern for the three-year-old son of Majestic Son and champion mare One Over Kenny, he thinks he will handle it okay. “He has done a bit of work down the roadside, which is pretty similar to racing on a grass track,” explained Nairn. Nairn also expects his rising star to cope with the standing start. “He is generally a very quick beginner at home, so I am hoping he will translate that to race day,” said Nairn. One Over Da Moon, who won five of his eleven starts as a two-year-old, is likely to race again at Addington on January 31st, before honing in on his first main target – the $25,000 Hambletonian at Ashburton on February 8th. “I want to give him a couple of standing starts before the Hambletonian, as last time in he got quite fiery behind the mobile. While Nairn thinks One Over Da Moon is a good chance from his 20 metre back mark on Sunday, he is vulnerable, which opens things up for up and coming trotter Spell. “She is a very nice wee trotter with a lot of ability,” said co-trainer Peter Jones. “She was extremely tied up at Nelson last start, which makes her run for second even more impressive. She seems better now, so I expect her to be very hard to beat from her front mark.” Meanwhile, Nairn confirmed that champion trotter Stig is back in work after a two week let-up. “We have nothing set in concrete for him at the moment, we will just see how he is feeling,” said Nairn. “He is unlikely to head to Australia for the Great Southern Star, but we may give him a crack at going back-to-back in the Rowe Cup,” Nairn concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

Imagine putting your shoes on back-to-front and then being asked to stretch out better than what you ever have. That’s exactly what West Melton trainer Ken Ford asked of his trotter Rebma just prior to attacking the two-day Nelson meeting at Richmond Park on Friday (January 3) and Sunday (January 5). Ford, who does a lot of his own shoeing, got his mate and Rolleston horseman Derek Jones to turn Rebma’s shoes right around. Result – two easy wins on both days of the meeting. “Derek has done a great job shoeing him. The horse did have a quarter crack and now that problem seems to be behind him. I was very impressed with his runs at Nelson. The reverse shoeing did the trick alright,” said Ford, who watched the meeting on TV from his Canterbury home. Ford’s daughter Amanda Tomlinson took four racehorses, seven Kidz Kartz ponies, and three children north to attend both the Nelson and Blenheim meetings. She also did the driving behind Rebma on both days. Up until Rebma’s two Nelson wins, the 5-year-old gelding had won three of his 31 starts. Ford said a mix of both shoeing and maturity had ensured Rebma’s fourth and fifth career wins. “He’s a son of Armbro Invasion, so he was always going to take time. I think he has the potential to be a Rowe Cup or Dominion horse one day. I’m not saying he can win those races, but he’s certainly got the potential to line up in those big Group One events,” Ford said. Both days Tomlinson quietly worked Rebma into his races and then cruised past his opposition to win by 1-1/2 lengths and 4-1/2 lengths respectively. On day one Rebma won the $8,000 Maxi C1 and faster trot in 3:06.7 (2400m stand), trotting his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 58.8 and 29.6 seconds. His winning mile rate was 2:05.1. Then on day two the gentle bay cleaned up the $8,000 Nelson Building Society C1 and faster trot in 3:58 even (3000m stand). He sprinted home in 61 and 32 and scored with a 2:07.6 mile rate. He started from 10m behind on Friday and then 30m on Sunday. “He’s such a lovely horse to have around. You can do anything with him. He’s so kind and gentle that even the kids can fast work him at home. We love having him around. His lovely nature makes him a bit special,” Ford said. Rebma is ‘Amber’ spelt backwards. He was named after Tomlinson’s champion equestrian horse, which competed with Tomlinson in several New Zealand Show Jumping Championships. “She was killed the night Rebma was born. The old girl was 36. That was sad but this fella has proved to be a worthy replacement,” said Ford. Rebma will race at the Waterlea meeting in Blenheim this Friday and Sunday before returning to his Canterbury base. He is owned and was bred by Ford and Tomlinson. For the record: Forty three-year-old Tomlinson, who was an accomplished equestrian rider before venturing into harness racing, also played open side flanker for New Zealand in the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup. Her daughter, Kerryn has won two New Zealand Kidz Kartz Cups, including this season’s edition of the great little miniature pony race. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

The career of one of the all-time greats of Australasian harness racing is over. Champion trotter I Can Doosit has been retired after his troublesome joint problems flared up yesterday. Trainer Mark Purdon says the fetlock joints which forced I Can Doosit from the racetrack and on to the operating table last season are again showing signs of wear and tear. And when vet Bill Bishop confirmed that to owner Ken Breckon first thing this morning, on his birthday, the call to retire the great horse was made. “He is coming home now to retire at the farm,” said Breckon. “It is a real shame but he has been a hell of a horse and we have loved racing him.” The phone call this morning brought back memories of Breckon’s birthday two years ago when he was stunned to hear his best broodmare Sheezadoosie, I Can Doosit’s dam, had died in a paddock accident on their Waikato farm. But there was one light-hearted moment yesterday for Breckon. A cheque turned up at his Auckland office for the winning stake in last season’s Cochran Cup at Melton, which turned out to be I Can Doosit’s last race in which he finished second. “It turns out the winner I Didnt Do It got disqualified after a long drawn out case, which was only resolved recently. “So we actually got a winner’s cheque for the old boy yesterday after he was retired.”
 The fetlock problems had bothered I Can Doosit last summer and wasn’t helped by the fact he is a huge lump of a horse who has never had the best action, so he put his now eight-year-old body under enormous stress. But those difficulties never stopped him developing from an immature young horse into one of the best trotters to ever race in the Southern Hemisphere. He won the last two ever Inter Dominion Trotting Finals, as well as two Rowe Cups, a Dominion Handicap, NZ Trotting Free-For-All, National Trot and Harness Jewels. They were part of a 55-start career in which he won 36 times, with seven placings for $1,445,774 in stakes, the highest earnings ever for a trotter who raced solely in the Southern Hemisphere. His strike rate would have been higher but for his early immaturity and his problems later in life, although this time last year he had won 18 races in succession, all at the elite level. “He has been a remarkable horse but the problems with his fetlocks won’t get any better so he won’t be tried again,” says Purdon. Purdon revealed only late in I Can Doosit’s career how hard it was to develop him into the intimidating trotting machine he was, with his gait so flawed he would often bash his legs together at full speed, a problem known as “touching” in trotting. “It wasn’t ideal but he wanted to win so badly he kept going,” says Purdon. *Video of I Can Doosit winning last year's Dominion. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

The career of one of the all-time greats of New Zealand harness racing could be over. Champion trotter I Can Doosit could be retired this morning after his troublesome joint problems flared up yesterday. Trainer Mark Purdon says the fetlock joints which forced I Can Doosit from the racetrack and on to the operating table last season are again showing signs of wear and tear. "He is still a fair way from being ready to race so if he is having problems now it could be a real issue," Purdon told the Herald. "He is definitely feeling one of them and maybe both so we got him x-rayed and we will look at those with Bill Bishop [vet] tomorrow and then make a decision. "The final decision will be up to Ken and Karen [Breckon, owners] but it doesn't really look that good." The problem is even worse with a topline trotter than a good thoroughbred or even pacer because they take so much ground work to even get to the trials, let alone the races.   And I Can Doosit is an extreme case as he is a huge lump of a horse who has never had the best action, so he puts his now eight-year-old body under enormous stress. But those difficulties haven't stopped him developing from an immature young horse into one of the best trotters to ever race in the Southern Hemisphere. He won the last two ever Interdominion Trotting Finals, as well as two Rowe Cups, a Dominion Handicap, NZ Trotting Free-For-All, National Trot and Harness Jewels. They were part of a 55-start career in which he won 36 times, with seven placings for $1,445,774 in stakes, the highest earnings ever for a trotter who raced solely in the Southern Hemisphere. His strike rate would have been higher but for his early immaturity and his problems later in life, although this time last year he had won 18 races in succession, all at the elite level. "He has been a remarkable horse which is why, if his fetlocks are going to be giving him issues, he could be retired," says Purdon. Purdon revealed only late in I Can Doosit's career how hard it was to develop him into the intimidating trotting machine he was, with his gait so flawed he would often bash his legs together at full speed, a problem known as "touching" in trotting. "It wasn't ideal but he wanted to win so badly he kept going," says Purdon. Even if this morning's vet report is better than expected, the writing now appears on the wall for the champ as he is still so far from race fitness and after the fetlocks were operated on last season there don't appear to be many treatment options left. Meanwhile, Purdon will briefly give up the reins behind wonder mare Adore Me when she returns to Alexandra Park this Friday night. Stable driver Blair Orange will take the reins behind the great pacer for the $30,000 Breeders Stakes, her first Auckland start since finishing second in the Woodlands Derby last season. "Blair was going up to drive a couple of our other horses and I am very busy down here so was happy for him to drive her too," explained Purdon. Purdon will come north on Sunday to oversee his 14-strong northern team for the next month. Adore Me is set to clash with Bettor Cover Lover in a meeting of New Zealand's glamour mares on Friday week. Can't do it any more? *Champion trotter I Can Doosit could be retired today. *He is suffering fetlock issues even though he hasn't raced since February. *The eight-year-old has won more money than any other trotter to have raced solely in the Southern Hemisphere. *Adore Me will have a new driver this Friday. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald

Speedy trotting mare Escapee will head to Victoria next month to join the barn of ex-pat kiwi trainer Brent Lilley, where her owner Trevor Casey thinks she will be suited to the rich sprint races. But, first she will attempt to gain Group One glory in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day. “The Trotting-Free-For-All is the sole aim, as she will not be backing up in the Dominion,” said Casey. “We tried that last year and it’s fair to say it didn’t exactly pan out,” he added. Casey said that the dual Derby winner was not suited to two mile racing, which rules out New Zealand’s two biggest trotting races – The Dominion & the Rowe Cup. “Mark (Purdon) has done a great job with her, but he agrees she is much better suited over there where she can race over sprint distances for at least $20,000 most weeks. Escapee is booked to fly out the Tuesday after Cup Day. Her first two aims are the Bill Collins Mile (7/12/13) and the Dullard Trotters’ Cup (14/12/13), which are both worth $50,000. “Both of those races are from a mobile start, which also suits her,” stated Casey. Casey said that Purdon will be going over to drive her in her first two starts. “After those two races there is the Australasian Trotting Championship and The Great Southern Star, so there is definitely plenty coming up for her.” But before that, Escapee will look to get back to her best form at Addington this Friday night, after a late gallop cost her running at least a place in Monday’s Ashburton Trotters’ Flying Mile. “She got the speed wobbles at Ashburton and starting touching herself in behind, which she can do on occasions,” said Casey. “Mark has since made a shoeing change so hopefully that will rectify the problem for both Friday and the Trotting Free-For-All,” he added. Casey also has last season’s New Zealand Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year Daenerys Targaryen in work with Lilley. “I decided to leave her over there after the Breeders’ Crown. She comes back a maiden over there, whereas here she would be a C3,” Casey concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

Master Canterbury horseman Colin De Filippi has driven in heaps of Group One races to get too excited about training and driving his first Dominion Trot winner - but the 61-year-old does know he’s got a huge show of doing just that at Addington Raceway next month. “I’m never one to get carried away about winning Group Ones because there’s so many good horses in the race and so much can happen both between now and race-day and then in the actual race. “In saying that I couldn’t be happier with where Stent is at,” De Filippi said. The 5-year-old son of Dream Vacation was ultra-impressive at Addington Raceway on Friday night (October 18) when winning his first start since finishing third behind Cyclone U Bolt and Escapee in the Harness Jewels final at Ashburton on June 1. Stent was simply too strong in the $10,000 Rosalie Bay’s Breeders Crown for 6-plus win trotters. Owner Trevor Casey nailed the quinella when favorite Escapee ran second. “It’s the first time he’s put on weight while he’s been out. He’s come back bigger and stronger this time in, and he’s trotting really well,” De Filippi said of last season’s Group One $100,000 Anzac Trot winner. Stent settled in the second half of the field and then De Filippi sent him three-wide in the home straight to be left parked at the bell. They then got cover thanks to Raydon down the back straight. The duo then pounced at the 400m and hunted down the favorite Escapee, and then breezed past her to win untouched by three quarters of a length. Stent, who started from the 10m back mark, trotted the 2600m stand in 3:17.8 (mile rate: 2:02.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.1 and 28.7 seconds. He was the second favorite and paid $3.70 to win. De Filippi said Stent was always traveling well. “The spell has done him the world of good. He’s always been the type of horse who needed time. From day one he told me he was talented. “I don’t think I helped matters by racing him as a 2-year-old. But now that he’s five he’s really starting to hit his straps,” De Filippi said. De Filippi said the Dominion Trot was one race he always wanted to win. “I drove Pompallier to win it for Richard Brosnan back in 2005 and I did run third in the race with Dad’s horse Cee Ar (1975). “I’ve won the other big trot, the Rowe Cup, with So Long Eden (1995), so it would be nice to train and drive this fella to Dominion win. “But like I said you can never get too far ahead of yourself in this game,” the master horseman said. De Filippi said Stent would have one trial and then race at Kaikoura before the $200,000 Dominion Trot on November 15 (Show Day). Stent was bred by Casey and M.J. and Mrs J.M. Bowden. He is the first of three foals (and only winner) out of the 11-win ($116,114) winning Sundon mare Belle Galleon. The talented bay has now won 11 of his 30 starts and placed in 12 others for $213,642 in purses. Video attached Courtesy of  Duane Ranger and Harness Racing New Zealand

Stig could race until he’s 14 according to co-owner Jim Boyd. For now trainer Paul Nairn is just taking one race at a time with the 2012-2013 Trotter-of-the-Year. The 11-year-old gelding makes his return to racing at Addington This Friday night (September 6) in the $12,000 Sims Metals Handicap Trot. Stig will start from the 30m mark. “This will be his lead-up to the Ordeal Cup. He’s pretty sound at the moment. Any little niggles he’s had in the past certainly haven’t got any worse. “We’ve had no hiccups in his preparation so there’s no reason why he can’t carry on from where he left off last season. He’s certainly showing no signs of his age or soreness,” Nairn said. “And he’s still got that will to win which is encouraging,” he added. Nairn said Stig was in the same condition as what he was this time last year, but was starting his racing a month earlier. He said he would be better for the run but his natural talent would take him close to winning. The more seasoned fellow 30m back-markers The Fiery Ginga and Sovereignty will be toughest for Stig to beat. The son of Armbro Invasion started last season with a second behind Sovereignty at Addington on October 5 and then went on to win six of his 12 starts and $227,029 – including the Rowe Cup in May. Now the winner of 23 of his 53 starts and $816,486 Stig is looking to make amends of his second behind I Can Doosit in last year’s Dominion. His Hamilton based co-owner Boyd, who is renowned for writing and then singing a song about Stig after each of his victories, said he was set to put pen to paper again this season. “I wrote one when he won Trotter-of-the-Year and I also wrote one when he won the Rowe Cup. I’m getting one ready for the Dominion,” Boyd said. Nairn has won two Rowe Cups with Inspire in 2006 and Stig this year. He will have a three-pronged attack on the Group Ones this year with Dr Hook and Raydon also representing the stable. “Dr Hook is also coming along nicely and Raydon was sent to us from up north from Matt Hickey and is progressing well. We should see him at the end of the month,” Nairn said. As for another Australia mission with Stig, Nairn replied: “I’m playing that one by ear. There are not many 2700 races over there and he would have to line up in sprint races against much younger horses. “There’s also not as much money on offer over there for the trotters as what there is here. We’ll attack the Dominion and then head north for the racing at Alexandra Park and Cambridge again. We worry about Australia then,” Nairn said. As for Boyd: “I just want to keep writing songs about him,” Boyd said. Stig is also owned by Tim and Andrea Butt, Mrs R.I. Boyd, R.G. Thomas, and Mrs J.A. Gordon. He was bred by Jessleigh Harness Bloodstock. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett take a bow – a very big bow. The Waiuku husband and wife duo pulled off one of the best training feats of 2013 at Alexandra Park last Friday night (August 16). The Franklin couple won their first race of the 2013-2014 after bringing their stable star - Harry Johnson - back from a serious suspensory image suffered in his last trotting event, also at Alexandra Park, on September 2, 2011. Remarkably the 7-year-old son of Muscles Yankee has now won all five of his starts for Hackett and Wallis after previously placing twice from four starts for Tim Butt and Prop Anderson. “We’ve obviously had to take our time with him. He’s done the miles now and even though he’s not a good track worker he’s certainly the goods out on the track. “Delft would be the best trotter we have trained and even though this fella has got some way to achieve what Delft did, he’s on the right track. Michelle and I rate him highly and think he can get to open class alright,” Hackett stated Harry Johnson was the second favourite of 12 in Friday’s Brooks Bulk Haulage 3-plus win $8,000 Trot. He and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) started from the 10m handicap and they were fifth and on the one-one with two laps remaining. They remained in that position until 'The Iceman' asked him to lift at the 400m. In the home straight Herlihy let the 7-year-old have his head and they simply cruised past their opponents to win easily by 1-1/4 lengths and a neck. Charlemagne (Phil Butcher) and Phoebe Revival (Nicky Chilcott) filled the minors. Winner’s time for the 2700m stand: 3:30.8. Mile rate: 2:05.6. Last 800m: 59.5. Last 400m: 30.5. “It was a superb drive wasn’t it? Harry makes our job really worthwhile,” said Hackett who works a team of 13 at Karioitahi Beach just west of Waiuku. “We would love a few more horses though. A few more in the barn would be just what the doctor ordered,” he added. Harry Johnson was bred by his owner Ross Johnson. His partner Janine Cole and parents C.C. (Colin) and Mrs M.F. Johnson also have shares in him. “Ross and Janine have two daughters and I think Harry is the son they never had. I think that’s how he got his name anyway,” Hackett said. Harry Johnson is the eighth foal of 12 foal out of the above average 10-win ($138,660) Chiola Hanover mare, Inda Bank. He is her most successful foal. Next best is his full brother, the late No No Yankee. He won three of his five starts for Butt and Anderson before dying in April last year. Hackett said ‘Harry’ would continue to race throughout the winter. “This was a just a stepping stone because he only had two workouts coming into the race. He will tighten up for sure,” said Hackett. Long-term Hackett and Wallis would dearly love to win a Rowe Cup – and the way ‘Harry’ is stringing them together that could be less than a year away. “You never know with this fella because when he broke down a couple of years ago, we thought that might be that. But he’s so strong and tough. I think there’s a few more wins left in him,” Hackett said. By Duane Ranger Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

Three years ago it appeared Stig's harness racing career was over. A leg injury had left him doing promotion work for dual sulkies. Fast forward 36 months and the rising 11-year-old is now the Group One $150,000 Rowe Memorial Cup champion for free-for-all trotters.

How I think punters should attack Friday night at Alexandra Park. An in-depth preview of all four group ones.

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