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Harness racing driver John Dunn grabbed the biggest race of his career when Sundees Son won the $156,000 Gr1 Rowe Cup tonight at Alexandra Park. Fresh from his dazzling win in the Gr1 Anzac Cup last week over the mobile sprint trip of 2200m, Sundees Son had to prove his toughness tonight over the extreme distance of 3200m from a standing start and he did so in convincing fashion. The Majestic Son gelding was away quickly from his unruly second row draw and Dunn bided his time near the back of the field before taking closer order with a lap to go. After finding the front at the winning post for the last time, all John Dunn had to do was sit quietly and the horse did the rest. Sundees Son had the field in trouble at the final turn and he cruised home under his own steam to win in what could only be described as a dominant victory for the Robert Dunn trained 4yo. For John Dunn the win meant a lot. "I settled a lot closer than I thought I would and they sort of backed off the speed a little bit and this horse he can stay as well as sprint so it went a bit to plan. "This race is like the New Zealand Cup for trotters, and I got beat so narrowly in the New Zealand Cup, so this would have to be my best win," he said. "Dad deserves this one. Last week was his first group one with a trotter so tonight will be massive for him as well," he said. Gallant in defeat was defending champion Speeding Spur who trailed and battled on well for second. The John and Josh Dickie trained trotter was having his last race in New Zealand and is now heading for a North American campaign before returning to New Zealand to stand at stud next season. Sundees Son trotted the 3200m stand in 4-06.2. The last 800m was run in 58.2 seconds and the final 400m in 28.5. Sundees Son winning the Rowe Cup   Harnesslink Media  

The men who have been there, done that suggest the best run as much as the best horse will win tomorrow night’s $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. And while the TAB market says the young gun four-year-olds have the wood on their rivals the race is shaping as one of the most even group ones at Alexandra Park in years. Last Friday’s Anzac Cup winner Sundees Son shares the $4 favouritism with fellow four-year-old Majestic Man as bookmakers signal what they see as a changing of the guard in the open class trotting ranks. But Majestic Man’s trainer Phil Williamson says while he couldn’t be happier going into the race the youngsters will need more than sheer ability on their side. “It is a very good race and there are plenty of winning chances,” says Williamson, one of only two trainers in the race to have won both the Rowe Cup and the Dominion, New Zealand’s two marquee trotting races. “I think a lot of it will come down to the run and the horse who has the luck. “This field is that even and at this level luck is crucial. I think Majestic Man will handle barrier one and if he steps away and can trail or be three back on the markers I’ll be happy. “But as good as both him and Sundees Son were last week they can’t just expect to beat these older horses with speed because 3200m is a different type of race. “So yes we can win but it won’t be easy. These races never are.” That opinion is shared by Paul Nairn, the only other trainer in the race who has won both the Rowe and the Dominion. He has Ronald J and Habibi Inta in the Rowe and thinks both can get closer than their fifth and sixths in the Anzac Cup. “Both of them had a bit of bad luck last week, Ronald J got held up a bit and Habibi Inta was hitting the stays on his sulky, which we will fix for this week. “But they are only two of about six or eight chances in the race. “One of the big things in these races is having a horse who can get away good from the standing start and get to the marker pegs because that is a huge help. “Over the 3200m it can be very hard to win if you are covering extra ground in the running line.”
 That would appear to be the problem for horses like defending champion Speeding Spur and Sundees Son, both of whom have to give away starts from the second line and will therefore almost certainly be three wide at some stage. That didn’t bother Sundees Son over 2200m last Friday and he may be so brilliant and in the zone he can still win but he did gallop shortly after the line last Friday so is still very much a take on trust horse at the early stage of his open class career. While the Rowe Cup has a huge array of winning hopes the $100,000 Trotting Derby looks to have two and once against Nairn should be to the fore with Lotamaucle. He was nearly 20-1 when he beat Enhance Your Calm in the NZ Trot Derby last month but is only $2.90 to repeat that as he appears to be a happy horse while Enhance Your Calm bungled his Alexandra Park debut becoming unbalanced and galloping early. The best version of Enhance Your Calm may be too fast for Lotamuscle but even if the favourite can lead it looks like Lotamuscle could be sitting on his back in the trail and that could make for an uncomfortable watch for Enhance Your Calm’s backers. Turn It Up ($1.65)as again opened favourite over stablemate Spankem ($3.60) even though the latter used his better barrier draw to win last Friday’s Taylor Mile and has that advantage again.   Michael Guerin

One of New Zealand’s most loved racehorses is set to make a shock departure after contesting the $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday night. Because while nine-time group one winner Speeding Spur might have been expected to retire this weekend, he is instead heading to North America for a rich campaign. Managing owner Andrew Grierson says the reigning Trotter of the Year has not been sold will definitely be returning to New Zealand to stand at stud next season. Speeding Sour faces a second line draw as he tries to defend the Rowe Cup title he won last season and victory in the great trot will almost certainly guarantee him Trotter of the Year again as he is the only trotter to win two group ones already this season. Raced by a partnership put together by Woodlands Stud, Speeding Spur was expected to retire to stud there but Grierson says the opportunity to race in North America and further embellish that stud career was too good to miss. “Eventually we want to stand him at stud in either New Zealand or Australia,” says Grierson, one of the principals of Woodlands Stud. “But getting good mares and a decent book is our greatest challenge with a colonial-bred stallion, even one with his record. “So we will give him his chance up there and he has been staked for some of the major races.” His targets include the US$1million International Trot at Yonkers on October 12 for which Speeding Spur is likely to be the Down Under invite while he has been paid up for a host of other major races, victory in any of which would greatly add to his worth at stud. Even if he can’t be the best in the States, which would be a huge ask at his age, Speeding Spur could easily trot a 1:53 mile on one of the faster tracks, all of which would help secure more mares when he makes his way back home. Owned by a Woodlands syndicate as well as All Blacks Kieran Read and Andy Ellis and former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler, Speeding Spur’s ownership will be restructured for the next phase of his career. “He is not being sold,” says Grierson. “He is 100% owned by Woodlands. He will be leased from Woodlands Stud and raced under a new  Woodlands NZ Racing Syndicate. “The membership of that new syndicate includes some who race him now.” Speeding Spur has been a true racing warrior, winning every season from two to seven-years old. He won three Derbys, the Great Southern Star when it was two sprints races in one night at Melton and also over the short trips of a NZ Trot Free-For-All to the 3200m of the Rowe Cup. In between he has overcome two career-threatening injuries and other issues so has little left to prove in Australasia, already warning his way into the elite trotting millionaires club. He has been trained throughout his career by John and Josh Dickie, with the latter having driven him in all but one of his 27 victories, with Kate Gath having filled in for one Victorian win. Speeding Spur faces a tricky second line in his final New Zealand start on Friday night meaning he could need some early luck to get handy, the position from where he has been most potent during his career. SPEEDING SPUR Breeding: 7h Pegasus Spur- Della’s Speed. Trainers: John and Josh Dickie. Drivers: Josh Dickie (26 wins), Kate Gath (one win from one drive). Record: 55 starts, 27 wins, 20 placings, $1,092,166. Highlights: Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star, NZ Free-For-All, NZ Trot Champs (twice), NZ, Northern and Vic Derbys, Breeders Crown.   By Michael Guerin

The Rowe Cup dreams of one of trotting's Big Three lives on as another's start to fade during a tumultuous week for the open class crop. The comeback of undoubtedly New Zealand's best trotter Monbet appears to have stalled yet again as he is missing from the fields for Rangiora on Sunday, which was to have been his next assignment. And that must bring into doubt his chances of making it to Auckland for the Anzac Cup on April 26 and more importantly the Rowe Cup a week later. Monbet has had just one start in 28 months after a series of leg issues but trainer Greg Hope was, excuse the pun, hoping he had the seven-year-old sound enough for a group one campaign after a recent trials win. But after developing a splint last week that kept him out of last Friday's Trotting Championships and now missing Rangiora on Sunday, it is hard to see how he could be fit enough to race, let alone win in Auckland. While Monbet's northern assault is in doubt Marcoola will be on trial for a trip north when he contests Sunday's race, for which he will now be a hot favourite. He was a huge flop behind Speeding Spur last Friday with driver Clint Ford suggesting the very wet Addington track may have been one reason. "He has handled a wet track before but he didn't seem to enjoy it last week," said Ford. "Maybe it was that and maybe it was the fact he has missed a lead-up race. "But he has worked well since and if he bounces back on Sunday then the trip to Auckland will still be on. "We are still intending to go but obviously we would have to reassess if he fails again on Sunday." Marcoola will be up against last season's Jewels winner Habibi Inta while the feature of the Rangiora card will be the Classic for the pacers where New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer clashes with Chase Auckland, A G's White Socks and Ashley Locaz. It will be Chase Auckland's first start in New Zealand for the season so he has no stake money so far with which to qualify for the Jewels at Addington on June 1. He has this Sunday and the Taylor Mile and Messenger at Auckland as well as possibly some smaller mid-May races to try to win at least $40,000 to get into the Jewels. But because he hasn't earned any money domestically this season he hasn't been listed in the market for the four-year-old Emerald. The TAB released those markets yesterday and there are some real cases of punter beware. Turn It Up and Spankem are the two favourites for the four-year-old male pace but it wouldn't surprise to see either or both bypass the race to spell and prepare for the rich treble of the New Zealand Cup-Inter Dominion-Auckland Cup which are all in New Zealand in the last seven weeks of this year. And the participation of champion three-year-old Ultimate Sniper in the Jewels would seem anything but certain as he has been sent for scintigraphy after being slightly uneasy in his gait when winning the New Zealand Derby last Friday. Michael Guerin

Temporale’s chances of chasing a second Rowe Cup hang in the balance.  But trainer-driver Tony Herlihy hopes to have a better guide as to whether he can make the Auckland carnival by later in the week.  Temporale threw a spanner in Herlihy’s works when he pulled up during the open class workout at Pukekohe on Saturday suffering from atrial fibrillation.  While many horses can quickly return to normal after the heart problem, Temporale was still slightly out of rhythm today so will head to the vet clinic.  “Sometimes when they fibrillate its not a big deal but this time he has taken a while to come back to normal,” said Herlihy.  “So he can go to the vet and get worked on and hopefully he will be back to normal soon and we can press on to the Rowe Cup meeting.  “But it is a setback. Not only does it mean we are starting to get close to the Anzac Cup (April 26) but also because he stopped he didn’t really have a run on Saturday.”That workout was won in impressive style by Massive Metro and he heads to the open class mile at Alexandra Park this Friday to take on Lemond, a race Temporale could have used to start his autumn campaign.  He now faces going into the Anzac Cup fresh up if he is to be ready for the Rowe Cup on May 3, a race Temporale won two years ago and ran third in last season.  If he doesn’t make the carnival the rangy trotter then quickly runs out of major open class targets for the rest of a season which has already been a rollercoaster ride for him.  His most profitable performance of the season was his close second in the Great Southern Star at Melton in January. Temporale isn’t the only former Rowe Cup winner whose participation in this year’s carnival is unsure, with Monbet trying to book himself a trip via Rangiora on Sunday.  The exceptional trotter missed last Friday’s NZ Trotting Champs after developing a splint in a hind leg but his trainers the Hopes are confident it is not a major problem.  “He jogged fine this morning and we have nominated him for Rangiora on Sunday,” said Ben Hope, son of trainer Greg and Nina.  “So he is goes well there then we would like to head to Auckland for the two races up there but we will no more after Sunday.”  Meanwhile, Victorian trainer Andy Gath is still undecided whether former Kiwi trotter McLovin will come to the carnival.  He has won seven of eight for Gath in Australia and could return home for both the Anzac and Rowe Cups after another win at Melton last Saturday.  “I haven’t completely made up my mind yet but I am leaning toward going,” said Gath.   Michael Guerin

Monbet’s road back to the top of New Zealand trotting just took another detour.  But driver Ricky May is hoping his latest setback doesn’t cost the former Horse of the Year a shot at the Rowe Cup in a few weeks.  The great trotter has only had one start back after a nearly two and a half year layoff during which he has battled a range of leg problems and general unsoundness.  With a race under his belt last month he won at the trials on March 13 and was all set for his return to group one action in the $100,000 NZ Trot Championships at Addington on Friday.  Except Monbet won’t be there after developing a splint in one of his hind legs.  “It shouldn’t be that big a deal and Greg (Hope, trainer) wasn’t that worried about it when I spoke to him yesterday,” said regular driver Ricky May.  “He was about 70 per cent on starting him this week so it wasn’t that bad but he has obviously decided against it.  “It is a real shame because he trialed so well and Greg thought he was ready to go after giving him a proper workout the other day. “But obviously it is still annoying him so it looks like he will miss this Friday.”  Hope could not be contacted last night.  Friday’s 2600m mobile was to be the first clash of trotting’s big three in Monbet, Speeding Spur and Marcoola.  The latter two are in the nominations for Friday’s group one and Monbet could theoretically join them still has nominations have been extended until this morning.  But if he doesn’t then May hopes Monbet can be back on track for the Anzac Cup (April 26) and Rowe Cup (May 3) both at Alexandra Park. The Trotting Champs won’t be without real depth though as rising stars Winterfell, King’s Landing and Sundees Son step up to the open class group one level for the first time. Friday night’s meeting is one of the strongest of the year with the $200,000 New Zealand Derby for the pacer and the $100,000 equivalent for the trotters as well as the Easter Cup.  Ultimate Sniper retains favouritism for the pacing Derby even after an expensive last-start gallop, rated a $1.70 by the TAB ahead of stablemate Jesse Duke at $4. Letterkenny Boy, who is third favourite in the futures market for the Derby has not been nominated and is instead entered for a lower grade race on Friday night so is very much a case of punter’s beware.  Enhance Your Calm will be unbackable in the Trotting Derby while the Easter Cup is likely to bring together New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer, Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up and Miracle Mile hero Spankem. But the shock of that race is the entry of superstar three-year-old filly Princess Tiffany, because her high rating means there are no other races on Friday, outside the Derby, she is eligible for. But she won’t be starting it was just trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen making a point about how poorly off the best three-year-olds, especially fillies, can be treated by the rating and programming systems when the country’s best filly can’t find a suitable race. Michael Guerin

A WORKOUT the Auckland-way of going is all that stands between former Kiwi trotter McLovin and an Anzac/Rowe Cup raid. Trainer Andy Gath admitted a mix of relief and excitement when McLovin bounced-back to winning form and smashed the clock at Melton last Saturday night. It made a lie of his flop seven days earlier and took his Aussie record with Gath to three wins from four starts. “He beat a good field and ran time. He’s very smart,” Gath said. “We’d almost shelved Auckland after the previous run, but he’s put his hand up again for sure. “He’s certainly good enough to take. We know he’ll be competitive. One of the races is a mobile, the other a stand. He’s now won two of each for us.” Gath said McLovin had come through Saturday’s win well. “We’ve got the time to give him another run here,” he said. “As far as a decision on Auckland goes, that hinges on when we try working him that direction at home. If he handles it, we’ll head across.” Interestingly, McLovin tends to hang out a little in his Aussie races so he could actually be even more comfortable going the opposite direction. The other upside of an Auckland trip now is the experience ahead of heading back for the Inter Dominion series at the end of the year. Meanwhile, the reigning Inter Dominion winner and stablemate Tornado Valley is out spelling. Team Gath’s huge recent success with trotters looks set to continue with them adding another former Kiwi, Il Pirata, to the stable. The eight-year-old son of Love You only won seven races from 75 NZ starts, but did run another 31 placings and – in recent times – has been up against hot opposition. Il Pirata’s last-start run was a close second to emerging star Sundees Son on March 3. “His form certainly reads well. Yes he’s a veteran and hasn’t actually won that many races, but he’s run lots of placings. I guess what we’ll find out is how genuine he is once he starts racing over here,” Gath said.   Adam Hamilton

It was cool and it was very calculated. That’s the best summation of Speeding Spur following his harness racing victory in tonight’s (Friday) Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the 100th edition. The father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie timed their run at the North Island trotting feature with pinpoint accuracy with their much lauded six-year-old entire. Already a winner of six Gr.1 events prior to tonight, this is the race that the Clevedon based duo desperately cherished and he delivered a comfortable victory defeating Monty Python and Temporale in the 3200m stand-start feature. Stepping safely and swiftly, young Josh Dickie applied immediate pressure to Monty Python and gained an easy lead soon after the start although outsider The Almighty Johnson briefly challenged within the first 600m of the event. Race favourite Enghien also began safely but drifted back before settling in the second half of the big field. The lead time was covered in 2:00.8. As the field worked inside the final mile, Speeding Spur led the way from Monty Python in the trail but the moves from back in the field were coming with Destiny Jones peeling three-wide which was followed by last week’s Anzac Cup winner Lemond. The first quarter of the final mile was covered in 32 seconds. Entering the home straight to reach the bell lap, Ricky May set Enghien alight three-wide while defending champion Temporale tracked up behind him. Passing the winning post with a circuit left to run, Dickie made the call to allow Enghien to stride clear in front which left Temporale providing cover for Lemond while Monty Python was pushed a spot further back against the pegs. The second quarter was covered in 29.2 seconds. With the major players occupying the key front-end positions, the pressure only intensified. Enghien led the way down the back straight and traveled strongly but his rivals were starting to close the gap. The third quarter was posted in 29.1 seconds. Approaching the home straight, Enghien drifted slightly up the track which presented a great passage for Speeding Spur. With Dickie driving aggressively, Speeding Spur raced clear from a game Temporale who gave strong chase while Monty Python and Lemond started to wind up. At the finish, Speeding Spur scored by a margin of ¾ length from Monty Python with a further 2 lengths back to Temporale in third placing. Enghien finished 7th. The final section was covered in 29.8 seconds. The overall time was 4:08.2 with the winning mile rate covered in 2:04.8 – well outside of the race record set by Stent three years ago at 4:03.6 (2:02.4). “This victory is very special and deeply satisfying given what this horse has gone through over the past couple of seasons. He’s incredibly talented and possesses a deep desire to win every time he starts, this is a team effort and many have played a huge role to achieve this dream.” Winning driver Josh Dickie said. Overall, Speeding Spur has won 20 of his 40 starts with earning close to $800,000. The victory catapulted Speeding Spur into second place on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters leaderboard with 108 points while the Victorian trained Sparkling Success gripped to victory with 160 points. Chris Barsby

Harness racing warrior Speeding Spur has won the 2018 (Gr1) $156,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park this evening, beating a large field of quality trotters in the process. The John and Josh Dickie trained 6yo began well for driver Josh Dickie and found himself in the lead before trailing behind the favourite Enghien with one lap remaining. He then used the passing lane to his advantage in the straight and found the line strongly, finally winning by three quarters of a length. An emotional Josh Dickie paid tribute to the horse after his comfortable win in the gruelling 3200m race. "He's an amazing horse this bloke," he said after driving the horse to victory. "There were times we did'nt think we would get him back to this stage, and here he is winning group one races. "I take my hat off to the horse, he has got an incredible amount of guts and determination and he just does'nt know when to give up. "He felt terrific at the quarter and the gap sort of opened up at the top of the lane and he just did it so easy at the end," he said. The time for the 3200m Stand was 4-08.2 with a closing 800m run in 58.9 and the 400m in 29.8 seconds. Monty Python tracked the winner all the way and closed strongly at the finish for second, with last years Rowe Cup winner Temporale battling into third. Speeding Spur (Pegasus Spur - Della's Speed) has now won 20 races from 40 lifetime starts and taken his stake earnings to $799,000 dollars.   Speeding Spur winning the Rowe Cup tonight. Harnesslink Media

Sometimes you just can't beat experience. Harness racing driver Tony Herlihy, 58, showed all of his in driving Temporale to an upset win in the Group I $150,000 Rowe Cup Trot at Alexandra Park in Auckland on Friday night. Herlihy joined the great Peter Wolfenden at the top of the Rowe Cup (3200m) honours board with his fifth winning drive in harness racing's big northern trot - and he did it with an inch-perfect run. As the field fanned out in the home straight, Herlihy stayed cool on the marker pegs and when favourite Habibti Ivy moved out just enough, he and Temporale pounced, going to the line easily, to beat Habibti Ivy, drvien by Blair Orange, by a long neck. Bordeaux, who raced outside the leader, battled gamely for third. "Blair's mare moved out in the straight and gave us just enough room to get through without touching a marker peg," a smiling Herlihy told Trackside. READ MORE: Too easy for Lazarus in the Taylor Mile Temporale has been one of the rising trotters in the north and didn't deserve to be at a $35 price after a stout fourth in the Anzac Cup a week earlier. The four-year-old was a big horse, who was continuing to develop, Herlihy, the horse's trainer, said. Herlihy's wife Suzanne is one of the owners of the horse. His previous wins in the cup were behind Gee du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994) and One Over Kenny (2007 and 2009). Temporale It was a case of deja vu in the main pacing race, with Lazarus leading home the same All Stars trifecta as the Taylor Mile a week earlier. From his inside barrier, Lazarus scorched to an early lead and was untroubled to win, even though Waikiki Beach got as close as a neck on the line. Golden Goddess boxed on well for third. It was Lazarus 12th Group I win, and his 27th from 32 starts overall. He will now go for a spell before returning for the spring. Lazarus His win was the second Group I victory of the night for the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen combination, after the classy Elle Mac claimed the 2YO Sires Stakes Championship, while Enghien was far too good in the night's other Group I the Northern Trotting Derby for three-year-old trotters.  Both horses won Group I races the week before. Elle Mac Enghien Reprinted with permission of Stuff

Sometimes once you break the drought its keep raining. And that was the case on two fronts when Temporale caused one of the biggest upsets of the harness racing season in the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Group one trotting winners at 34-1 are rare in New Zealand but a fast start and perfect run on the markers saw the four-year-old outsprint favourites Habibti Ivy and Bordeaux in the north’s richest trot. And that is where the broken drought comes in. Until last season no four-year-old in over 30 years had won the Rowe Cup - Monbet did it in 2016 and now Temporale has made it two in a row. More remarkably, until The Orange Agent won the Breeders Stakes at Addington a few weeks ago New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman Tony Herlihy had been undergoing his own personal drought, with no group one driving wins in over three years. Now he has two in April and also trains Temporale, with his wife Suzanne also sharing in the ownership. Herlihy thought Friday night’s race may have been a year too soon for Temporale but his drive helped enormously and the son of Monarchy looks like being a factor in open class trotting for years to come. His win also started a stunning double for one of Temporale’s owners Kevin Riseley, who also shares in the ownership of Lazarus, who 30 minutes later ended his season with an effortless win the Messenger Pace. He led and outsprinted stablemate Waikiki Beach in a 54 second last 800m, with Riseley watching from Australia as his four-year-olds completed the group one dream double. Earlier in the night Elle Mac in the Sires’ Stakes Fillies Final and Enghien in the Northern Trotting Derby ended any arguments over who is the best of their respective crops when they bolted in. Enghien added gate speed to his arsenal and led all the way while Elle Mac overcome a second line draw over 1700m to remain unbeaten.   Michael Guerin    

In a dramatic climax to the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, emerging harness racing stayer Temporale proved triumphant tonight (Friday) in the Gr.1 $156,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. Prepared by champion horseman Tony Herlihy, the four-year-old Monarchy gelding finished fast along the passing lane to beat quality mare and race favourite Habibti Ivy and Bordeaux in a driving finish. The victory provided Herlihy with his 5th success in the event. Previous winners came via Gee Du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994) and One Over Kenny (2007 & 09). Beginning brilliantly to lead, Temporale was quickly taken on by Habibti Ivy before Prime Power attacked for the premier position. With Todd Mitchell dictating terms in front with Prime Power, the lead time was covered in 2:07.1 while Habibti Ivy and Temporale both secured soft trips on the inside. The first half of the final mile was covered in 32.9 and 30.1 seconds. With little or no pressure applied to Prime Power, the race quickly developed into a sprint home with those close to the marker line holding the advantage. Heading off the back straight, Prime Power tripped the third quarter in 28.8 seconds while Habibti Ivy and Temporale sat poised waiting on the passing lane. In the straight, Habibti Ivy quickly raced to the lead but Temporale was coming fast deep into the sprint lane and scored by a neck margin at the finish with a further length away to Bordeaux in third. The final quarter was timed in 28.8 seconds. The Cup was covered in 4:07.9 – a mile rate of 2:04.6, well outside of the race record of 4:03.6 which is held by Stent who set the mark in 2015. “He’s a nice little trotter that got away perfectly and ended up with easy trip on the inside, he sprinted really well in the straight and it’s a pleasing victory.” Herlihy said. Since returning from a break, Temporale has been placed in four of his five starts which includes two victories. Temporale has now won 6 of his 18 starts with 9 minor placings while amassing more than $170,000. Temporale Not only were runners vying for the lucrative prizemoney and bragging rights for the North Island’s major trotting event, the race was on to be crowned the Trotting Master for the current term. Heading into the final leg of the five race series, the leaderboard was a logjam with 11 runners a chance of picking up the title. Sydney trained performer On Thunder Road led the way with 101 points but connections elected to bypass the remaining two legs staged in Auckland during the past week leaving the door open for a New Zealander to swoop. And swoop they did. With her victory last week in the ANZAC Cup followed by her second placing in the Rowe Cup, flashy mare Habibti Ivy has come from virtual obscurity to be crowned the 2016/17 Trotting Master. Habibti Ivy is prepared by Paul Nairn. Chris Barsby

The late great Derek Jones achieved the feat with Rewa Scott in 1953. His son Peter did it in 1985 with Tussle, and grandson Mark Jones matched the accomplishment with Master Lavros in 2014. Now Leonne Jones, the wife of Peter, will be attempting to become the first solo female trainer to win the prestigious Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday night with Gee Up Neddy. "I'm very proud of her but in saying that Leonne did most of the work with Tussle when she won the Rowe Cup back in the mid-1980s,’’ Peter Jones said. "It was Leonne's idea to start "Neddy" in the Rowe Cup. It was her that convinced me to enter the horse and go for it. She said if we weren't in this year we might never nail it again.” By that the 60-year-old Canterbury horseman meant the race was very winnable. "The big guns like Monbet, Speeding Spur and Mark's Master Lavros aren't there so that makes it a very even field. "The horse is improving all the time and even though it is going to be tough to win it, he won't disgrace himself," Jones said. Jones decided not to renew his licence at the start of the 2015-2016 season. "Leonne taking over then meant I didn't have to do all the thinking and could just drive the team in work for her. Leonne is the brains and voice of the stable. "It's worked out real well. Leonne has done a fantastic job with the horses for years now and the only difference the winners are now in her name," Jones said. "I had some minor health problems and it's all worked out well," he said. Jones is staying in the North Island with Jim Cole at Pukekohe. His wife is training their team back in Yaldhurst. "If the brains trust of Jim Cole, myself and Leonne can't drum up a Rowe Cup winner together then no-one can," Jones joked. "You will be unlikely to get her on the phone back home either. She's a workaholic," he added. Jones was right about his wife. She was busy working the team when HRNZ tried to contact her (three times) but Jones said that was typical of his wife. "Leonne has always been such a harder worker both in the stable and at home. She often puts the horses before herself. I'd love her to win the Rowe Cup, If anyone deserved that she does," Jones said. Jones (Leonne) has trained 15 winners in two seasons - eight this season and seven last year. She has also had 21 place-getters and won $118,134 in stakes. Gee Up Neddy has provided Jones with two of her winners this season - at Phar Lap Raceway onDecember 29 and Addington Raceway on March 16. From 2010-2011 to 2014-2015 Jones also trained another 55 winners with husband.   Duane Ranger

This is it; the harness racing title is up for grabs. The final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series takes place on Friday night with the running of the Gr.1 $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland. It’s the premier trotting event in the North Island, staged over the marathon distance of 3200m and staged from the standing start featuring a wide array of talent. A field of 14 with 3 emergencies has been drawn to contest the major event. And the honour roll features some of the who’s who of trotting, recent winners include Monbet, Stent, Master Lavros, Stig, I Can Doosit (x 2), Sundons Gift, One Over Kenny (x 2), La Coocaracha, Take A Moment and Lyell Creek (x 3) among others. First staged back in 1918, Whisht proved triumphant while other past champions include Waikaha, Neil Volo, Great Admiral, Aerial Scott, Battle Cry, Pohutukawa, Single Cash, Sir Castleton, Idle Scott, Wagon Apollo and Merinai among many others. Another great name will join that illustrious list. And another Trotting Master will be crowned. The APG Trotting Masters is staged from November through until April and takes in five events spread across the southern hemisphere. The major races include the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC and Rowe Cups. Total stake money is $880,000 for the five features. Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters Champion. And as it stands, Sydney trotter On Thunder Road leads the point scoring with 101 points while Monbet, Glenferrie Typhoon and Habibti Ivy all have 100 points. On Thunder Road won the Grand Prix while finishing near the rear in the Great Southern Star, Monbet (Dominion), Glenferrie Typhoon (Great Southern Star) and Habibti Ivy (ANZAC Cup) earned their points through their solid victories. So, can On Thunder Road hang on and claim the title? Or will he be usurped in the final event of the season? 11 of the 14 runners can snatch victory while another runner can at least share the title. Those in the mix include Habibti Ivy (100), Quite A Moment (63), Lemond (60), Daryl Boko (49), Eyre I Come (40), Bordeaux (25), Temporale (20), Gee Up Neddy (10), Prime Power (4), Great Things Happen (3) and High Gait (2) while Wilmas Mate (1) can equal On Thunder Road. Only Realmein and One Over Da Moon can’t claim the title. Only Daryl Boko has contested each and every leg of the series this season. The last Australian trained Trotting Masters champion was Sundons Gift back in 2010/11 for Chris Lang while A Touch Of Flair (2007 – joint winner) and La Coocaracha (2002) have also proved successful. The domination of the Kiwi’s in the Trotting Masters is obvious with the likes of Speeding Spur (2016), Stent (2014/15), Vulcan (2013), I Can Doosit (2012), One Over Kenny (2007 & 2009), Mountbatten (2008), Allegro Agitato (2006), Take A Moment (2003/04) and Lyell Creek (2000/01 & 2005) all being crowned since the turn of the century. Previous winners as either a trainer or a driver competing in this year’s edition include Greg & Nina Hope, Ricky May, Mark Jones, Paul Nairn, David Butt, Tony Herlihy, Mark Purdon, Maurice McKendry and Tim Butt. McKendry will partner emerging talent Lemond and is aiming for his 5th victory in the race following previous wins with Mairo Sultan, Directorship, David Moss and Our Sunny Whiz. The Rowe Cup will be a special race and for a number of reasons but who will get their hands on the trophy? Suddenly, it all comes down to one race. Chris Barsby

Gavin Smith said he would have never brought Great Things Happen back to New Zealand if he didn’t think he could win the ANZAC and Rowe Cups. The Love You-Calamity Gal gelding arrived in Auckland this morning (Thursday) and was then was floated to Robert Dunn's stable at Pukekohe. Smith was due to fly up early this afternoon to drive the 5-year-old bay in Friday's Group One $100,000 ANZAC Cup at Alexandra Park. "The original plan was to spell him back here (Kaiapoi) and then get him ready for the Dominion in November, but when I saw that some of the good ones like Monbet, Speeding Spur and Master Lavros weren't lining up I thought these two Group Ones were well within his grasp," Smith said. The North Canterbury trainer, driver said the plan all along was to ease Great Things Happen into the open class trotting ranks with easier assignments in Australia. "He's had seven races over there with Greg Sugars and won four of them. Greg has done a good job. I'm really looking forward to his next two Alexandra Park starts. "He's racing well and it would be a dream to train and drive the winner of an ANZAC Cup or Rowe Cup. I've always loved trotters and the Dominion and Rowe Cup have always been high on my bucket list," said Smith. Great Things Happen goes into Friday's 2200m Free-For-All with an easy 12-metre victory in last Sunday's Group Three $20,000 Warragul Trotters Cup. He was the $1.50 hot favourite and drew seven of nine in that 2,627m stand. He has drawn 10 on Friday. "It's not the draw I wanted. If they can hold up it would be a nice draw, but he's a free-going trotter who likes to bowl along. I don't think Alexandra Park will be a problem because he has raced there before," said Smith. “I wouldn’t be lining him up if I didn’t think he could win on both nights,” he stressed. Great Things Happen has had one race at 'The Park' for a two-length third behind Quite A Moment (Ricky May) and Bordeaux (Dexter Dunn) in the Group One $80,000 National Trot last New Year's Eve. He has also won twice from three starts over the 2200m mobile. Great Things Happen has had 11 wins from his 24 career starts and placed in five others for $107,597 in stakes. He has won his last two Australian races and on February 23 he nailed the Group Three $25,000 Tontine Trotting Championship from 40m behind. His National Trot placing is his best New Zealand performance in a Group race so far. “He’s a very exciting trotter and is probably a couple of months away from footing it with the absolute top-liners. The ANZAC and Rowe Cups were never part of his plan until the guns withdrew. “This time next year I expect him to be right up there with the best trotters in New Zealand and Australia. After next Friday’s Rowe Cup I will take him home to the spelling paddock,” Smith said. The first three runners in the ANZAC Cup will be guaranteed a start in the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday week (April 28). Great Things Happen is owned by Ted Edwards and Sara Smith. Edwards also bred him with Gary Edwards. Duane Ranger

If Australian-based Southlander, Sonya Smith, can win either the ANZAC or Rowe Cups in the next fortnight then all of her racing dreams would be fulfilled. The Victoria horsewoman trains the Fred Fletcher and Sam Smolenski owned Sunny Ruby at Gavin Lang’s former property in Melton. In fact she has trained the 5-year-old Sundon - Bright Diedre mare since Smolenski took her to campaign in Australia in late January. On January 28 the Smolenski trained and Mark Purdon driven Sunny Ruby won the Group One Dullard Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. A week later she placed in the Group One Great Southern Star. Then on February 17 Sunny Ruby won her first Group One for new trainer Smith and driver Anthony Butt in the Alderbaran Park 2017 Maori Mile at Bendigo. "I couldn't believe my luck. Sam just left the horse with us because he thought there were more options for her over here. "She has been absolutely amazing and made my year. Wow, if she won in New Zealand that would be a dream come true. I don't think I would ever stop celebrating," Smith laughed. She also joked that Butt was her strapper and driver while Sunny Ruby was campaigning in New Zealand. "Ants is doing all the work with her when she arrives at Andrew and Lyn Neal's Cambridge property on Thursday morning. Another Australia, Darryl Boko is also staying there. "Our mare will have two races at Alexandra Park and then return to Australia because there are so many Group races for her here in the autumn," Smith said. "I'll see how she goes in the ANZAC Cup and then I might fly over and watch her in the Rowe Cup a week later," she added. Sunny Ruby will be looking to become the first Australian-trained trotter to win the Group One ANZAC Cup this Friday night. The last time an Australian trained trotter won the Rowe Cup was in 2002 when La Coocaracha and Kerryn Manning nailed the coveted 3200m Group One trot. Although he is yet to win an ANZAC Cup, Butt is no stranger to driving Rowe Cup champions. He’s achieved that feat five times with Lyell Creek (2000, 2001, and 2004) and Take A Moment in 2003. “I’d love to win the Rowe Cup, simply because of it’s great history even though Ants thinks the horse would probably perform better over the ANZAC Cup 2200m mobile. “I’m just happy to have a trotter in both races. I’m a Kiwi and I know what those races mean to trainers over there. She has given me so many happy times already. I can’t believe Sam left the horse with us. I’m just eternally grateful,” said Southlander Smith, who spent 10 years working for Tim and Anthony Butt before migrating to Victoria. Sunny Ruby has also won the Group Three Charlton Trotters Cup on February 27 and the Group One Knight Pistol Trot on March 3. In New Zealand Sunny Ruby won 15 of her 55 starts including the Group One Harness Jewels 3YO Ruby (2015), and last year she nailed the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes and the Group Three Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. All up she's won 19 of her 63 starts and placed in 14 others for $360,020 in stakes. "She's a wonderful mare to work with. I think she can perform well in New Zealand because she likes to travel and she has won on the track previously," Smith said. Sunny Ruby has raced three times at Alexandra Park for a win and a placing. That win came in the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes just prior to her heading to Australia (December 16). "She beat a similar field to what she meets this Friday, so I'm forever hopeful. Ants will give her every chance," Smith said. Sunny Ruby has drawn 15 of 15 in Friday's sixth running of the Group One $100,000 ANZAC Cup. No Australian-based square-gaiter has ever won the Free-For-All. Sunny Ruby was bred by Fred Fletcher.   Duane Ranger

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