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Hot favourite Funatthebeach pulled his army of supporters through in the Group Three $32,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup today. “He felt really good and was travelling well. He’s a lovely horse to drive. He wants to win and you strive to drive these sort of horses,” said driver Tim Williams after the race. In today’s feature pace Williams was happy to stay at the rear of the eight horse field, as Queen Bee Bardon made all the pace. It was Shezacullengirl that carted him into the race with 1300 metres to run, before he improved three wide, coming down the straight to take up the parked spot. “He seems to race kindly that way so I thought we’d just take luck out of it.” In turning in, Funatthebeach mastered Queen Bee Bardon and he ran down to the finish line to beat Royal Bengal by three quarters of a length. The winning time was 4-01.6. “Coming down the straight he dropped the bit but he ran 4-01 off a handicap so maybe he was coming to the end of it.” It was the gelding’s fourth Cup win in five starts. This season he’s won the Geraldine Cup in late November, the Ashburton Cup in December, the Central Otago Cup in early January and now the Invercargill Cup. “He came through his race at Omakau really well because he’s such a great eater and drinker so the runs don’t take too much out of him.” And more Cup starts are on the programme for the Somebeachsomewhere four year old, owned by Trevor Casey and Paul Hailes. “We’re looking at the Amberley Cup (6th February) and on the  February 15th there’s a Free For All race at Addington for him.” Williams says Funatthebeach has improved since his three year old season at which time he was slightly down the pecking order amongst a highly talented group of three year olds in the Purdon Rasmussen stable. “He’s improved a lot. After the Jewels last season they chose to geld him and it’s been a good thing. It’s helped him mature I think.” Sponsors and winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart It was the second time Mark Purdon has won the Invercargill feature. He trained Highview Tommy to win in 2011 with his training partner at that time, Grant Payne. Funatthebeach’s breeders Braeside Lodge, are offering a half -brother by Art Major at next month’s Auckland Yearling Sales. Meanwhile War Admiral, driven inch perfectly by Samantha Ottley, easily won the Brendon Franks Farrier Handicap Trot; the main trot of the day. The style of War Admiral winning for Sam Ottley   -   Photo Bruce Stewart At his last start at Wyndham he blotted his formline, breaking on the final bend when challenging. Ottley has now driven the four year old gelding three times for two wins and a second. Today’s win was his sixth from just seventeen starts and it places him third on the leader board for the end of season Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.   Bruce Stewart

Border rivalry will be to the fore when the What The Hill Drivers Challenge takes place at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Friday (23 November). The challenge repeats last year’s successful format where a team of six from North of the Waitaki took on a team from South of the Waitaki. The North of the Waitaki team took the team honours on that occasion spearheaded by a former Southlander now domiciled in Canterbury, Gavin Smith, who took the Individual honours. However both teams were tied on points going into the final heat so it was a close run thing. As the defending champion Smith returns as part of the north team this year joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange, Samantha Ottley, Tim Williams and Jim Curtin. Attempting to wrest the silverware back onto this side of the Waitaki is the South of the Waitaki team led by the Williamson brothers – Nathan, Matthew and Brad along with Brent Barclay, Craig Ferguson and Allan Beck. The invited drivers compete in four heats with points allocated to the first five home on each occasion with 10 points for a win, 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth and 1 for fifth. Each driver receives the points they accumulate towards finding an individual champion while their points also go into their teams score to find the champion team. The event is a twilight meeting with the first race timed to start at 3.38pm. It is a perfect night to come out and enjoy some top class racing. Admission to the course will be free. One punter will take home a meal voucher from Level One Restaurant & Bar in Invercargill when a draw of all losing on course tote tickets is made after Race 6 while also after race 6 all children on course receive a free bag of lollies.   HRNZ Marketing

The annual Timaru Mother’s Day race meeting on Sunday 13 May will see the fifth edition of the club’s lady drivers races held at Phar Lap Raceway. Two penalty free lady driver races are programmed to be held at the race meeting, which will be sponsored once again by FLAIR and Brosnan’s Transport. Club President Elizabeth Shand is thrilled with the interest Canterbury female drivers have shown in the event. She says it’s important to the club to celebrate the achievements and support of all females in the harness racing community. “The aim of the day is to highlight women in our industry. We want to recognize and promote not just the female drivers but also the trainers, owners, stablehands and partners that are dedicated to harness racing and are great role models for the next generation,” said Shand. This year’s driving lineup features Kirstin Barclay, Kim Butt, Katie Cox, Ineka Lee, Amber Lethaby, Laura McKay, Lauren Lester, Mikyala Lewis, Sarah O'Reilly, Sam Ottley, Charlotte Purvis, Olivia Thornley, Amanda Tomlinson, Sheree Tomlinson, Jess Young and Glenys Chmiel. The mother and daughter combination of Amanda and Sheree Tomlinson will once again add to the spectacle on Mother’s Day, as has been seen in the past between Denise and Sam Ottley. “We would also like to particularly thank trainers Bruce Negus and Robbie Holmes who have been huge supporters of these races of the years in providing horses for these races on a regular basis,” noted Shand. The club will be providing a 'Ladies Meet and Greet' tent on the day where all female race goers can register on the day for competitions and find out about how they can become a part of the industry. “We will also have a number of female harness racing ambassadors there to help celebrate and respect the diversity and culture of our industry. We will offer information on education, careers and ownership and let people know what is available to them,” said Shand. Activities on the day include the annual Mother’s Day Quiz, a novelty race and prize draws will run throughout the day including the opportunity to win in the Ron Brown Jewellers Gold Watch Sweep. Children will be kept happy on the day too with activities including colouring competitions and the kids’ lucky number competition. HRNZ Marketing

Art Major gelding Swamp Major repaid his group of loyal owners when he won the bMAC Sheetmetal Limited Diamonds Day Handicap Pace at Ascot Park today(Sunday). It was the gelding's first win in over two years after he went amiss.  He was good enough as a three year old to run placings behind the likes of Heaven Rocks, Lazurus, Moonrock and Buster Brady. He's been trained for most of his career by Ken Barron but has  recently been transferred to the Woodend Beach establishment of former Southlander Regan Todd.  "He's just got better with racing but that's what you'd expect after being away from the track for so long. I toyed with putting him in the Northern Southland Cup the last time we were down. In hindsight I'm glad we didn't. We were going to go to Ashburton (cancelled meeting) with him so we were real lucky," Todd said. Swamp Major beating Mighty Santana - Photo Bruce Stewart. Going into today's R60 and faster handicap he was one of three runners off the front mark and driver Samantha Ottley made the most of that advantage.  "After Thursday's work we were going into it happy. I knew the back markers would be hard to beat but it was just good that he stepped out and got to the front real early." After trailing for the first part of the race Ottley hooked the gelding out from the trail and took over the lead with two laps to run. She held on to the lead right to the finishing post beating Mighty Santana by three quarters of a length. Swamp Major is owned by breeder Trevor Ryder, along with Allan Lindsay, Scott McCrea, Sue McCrea, Cleland Murdoch and John Duff.  Cleland Murdoch, Trevor Ryder, John Duff, sponsor Brendon McIntyre and Allan Lindsay - Photo Bruce Stewart "I'm pretty lucky really. Most people would start panicking. They've just let me do my thing and the horse has paid them back today."     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Regan Todd trained mare Spirit Of Delight which is part-owned by new Southland Stags Rugby coach Dave Hewett won the $20,000 Southern Belle Speed Series Final at the Central Southland Raceway at Winton today. The four year old, driven by Samantha Ottley came with a late run to get up and beat Especial by a head with a further length and a quarter back to favourite Somejoy.  "The speed was on a little bit early which suited her. They kept going round and I was a wee bit concerned when I got back a bit. I know when she's on her game she's got a wicked sprint which she's shown in the past. She's a typical Bettor's Delight - only does what she has to but when you push the go button she's really got some wheels there," said Ottley after the win. Turning in Ottley had got back further than she would have liked and it took her a while to get Spirit of Delight up and going. But she came with a paralysing run down the outside of the track. "When I hooked her out I was mucking about trying to get my plugs (ear plugs) out. I got balanced up and asked her to go and she really lifted. To her credit there were a couple of nice mares ahead of her so it was no mean feat getting past them. She hit the line strongly and it's great getting these wins that's for sure." Spirit Of Delight (4) beating Especial (6) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time was 1-55.2. It was the second time Ottley has won this race. She won with Rocker Band back in 2016. The win was the mare's second this season and fourth career win. Her only other win this season was on this track at the end of last year when she won the Equine Stakes, driven by Brendon McLellan. Previous Southern Belle Speed Series Winners  Year Winner Driver Trainer Time Winning Sire 2008        Artishake RT May Jamie Gameson 1-56.2            Artiscape 2009 Mywayorthehighway JR Dunn Robert Dunn 1-57.4 In The Pocket 2010 Beaudiene Bad Babe DJ Dunn Murray Brown 1-57.2 Badlands Hanover 2011 Hannah DJ Dunn Jeremy Douglas 1-54.3 Badlands Hanover 2012 Pembrook's Delight MJ Williamson Geoff and Jude Knight 1-56.5 Bettor's Delight 2013 Better To Be Bad BG Barclay Steve Ashton 1-54.4 Badlands Hanover 2014 Helena Jet RT May Greg and Nina Hope 1-54.4 Jereme's Jet 2015 Sell A Bit Stephen NcNally Brent White 1-54.1 Julius Caesar 2016 Rocker Band Samantha Ottley Mark Jones 1-55.4 Rocknroll Hanover 2017 Break Dance Jonny Cox Amber Hoffman 1-53.3 Art Major 2018 Spirit Of Delight Samantha Ottley Regan Todd 1-55.2 Bettor's Delight   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Spirit Of Delight winning her final

Waikato Bay Of Plenty Harness Racing is set to support Team Teal in a big way next Thursday 22 February.   The club is thrilled to announce that they will host the three ambassadors for Team Teal in Nicky Chilcott, Sam Ottley and Sheree Tomlinson.   Nicky of course is a local identity, and Sheree and Sam will available for driving engagements at the meeting.   The track holds fond memories for Sam, after she won the Group 1 Four-Year-Old Diamond with Rocker Band in 2016.   “It’s just so great to be able to raise awareness for such a worthy cause, and to be able to drive at Cambridge again is going to be a buzz.    "I’m just excited to be a part of the ladies night,” Sam said. Whilst driving at the Cambridge course will be a whole new experience for Sheree who will drive there for the first time.   She’s no stranger to breaking new ground of course after becoming the first female driver to win the Dominion Handicap with Amaretto Sun last year.   “I haven’t driven in an official race at Cambridge, but I have been there twice before driving with Kidz Kartz. So I’m really looking forward to heading there and supporting the cause, but this time the sectionals might be a bit different!” said Sheree.   The meeting will be known as ‘Ladies Night Supporting Team Teal 18’ and is set to include a ladies night event oncourse, with a proportion of ticket sales going to support the Woman’s Cancer Foundation and further awareness for Ovarian Cancer.   Tickets are only $30 and include and antipasto platter, reserved seating, drink on arrival and a $10 donation to the Wom- an’s Cancer Foundation.   Club President Rob Lawson said the club was only too eager to help support awareness around Ovarian Cancer and the Team Teal Campaign, which started on February 1 and will end on March 11. “I am delighted that our Club can participate in this wonderful cause – it should be exciting having Sam and Sheree here to add a real highlight to our Ladies Night meeting.” The campaign is running nationwide where all female drivers wear Teal Pants to raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer. For each win the pants gain Harness Racing New Zealand will donate $200, Woodlands Stud $100 and each club donates $100 for a win at their track. So in short, $400 goes to the Woman’s Cancer Foundation for each win during the six weeks.   To book tickets for the Ladies Night at Cambridge, or to book Sheree or Sam for drives please contact the Cambridge Raceway Office on 07 827 5506 or email dave@cambridgeraceway.co.nz     Jess Smith

Harness Racing New Zealand are thrilled to announce that following the huge amount of support for the Teal Pants Campaign, all female drivers have agreed to be a part of the appeal. Starting February 1st 2018, all female race day drivers around the country will wear teal pants to help raise awareness around Ovarian Cancer in New Zealand. The campaign will run until 11 March 2018 and three ambassadors have been selected to also wear teal silks. They are Samantha Ottley (Canterbury), Sheree Tomlinson (Southland) and Nicky Chilcott (North Island). Ottley is thrilled to be a part of the first New Zealand campaign. “I’m so pleased to be able to be a part of such a great cause. It’s such a big thing in Australia, so it’s pretty cool to see us Kiwis getting behind it too. Here’s hoping I can drive a few winners in the pants and raise a bit of money!” The first female driver to win the Dominion Handicap, junior driver Sheree Tomlinson is excited to be able to help the cause. “It’s a great way to be able to support women with ovarian cancer, but to also help raise awareness about it and band together as an industry,” Tomlinson said. “I’m really looking forward to being an ambassador for this important cause.” For Nicky Chilcott the chance to be an ambassador hit her on a personal level. “When I was asked to be an ambassador I jumped at the chance to help. My mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer 25 years ago and I’m thrilled to say she is a survivor of it, but I know how hard it was on her and the extended family going through that. She’s very lucky to be here,” said Chilcott. “If we can help anyone going through that terrible experience then I think that’s a huge part of giving back.” The Teal Pants movement initially started in Victoria in 2014 following the loss of Duncan McPherson’s wife Lyn in 2010 to ovarian cancer. It then was held throughout Australia last season. Determined to ensure her passing was not in vain, McPherson came up with the concept to raise awareness, as the symptoms of ovarian cancer often are not obvious. It is a silent killer. He found that often partners of the women taken by ovarian cancer were left lost and without support also, which meant he was often on the other end of a cold call from men who just needed to talk to someone who could understand and help them cope. McPherson has focused a lot of the awareness campaign around targeting men to get them to support their female partners in getting tested early if something doesn’t seem right. But the main message around the Teal Pants Campaign in both Australia and New Zealand is the dire need for better awareness, services and early detection. HRNZ Marketing

Mark Jones has joined an elite group of harness racing trainers by training the winners of 500 races. Jones was sitting on 497 wins before the Nelson two day meeting kicked off on Friday.  He won with Saveapatrol, and the The Bus on Friday and then again with The Bus in the Nelson Cup yesterday to bring up his milestone. The Bus (Art Major - Rondel Franco) was impressive on Friday for driver Samantha Ottley, running a 1-59.0 mile rate to easily account for a rating 54 to 69 field. He was even better yesterday rating a 2.00.5 mile rate from a stand over the staying test of 3000m. Cable Beach was just as impressive in second after leading for driver Dexter Dunn but he could not withstand the late burst from The Bus who beat him by a neck at the line. Saveapatrol (Christian Cullen - Rondel Franco) a converted pacer who easily won his first trotting the first day at Nelson is a half brother to The Bus. Both horses are out of the good mare Rondel Franco who won 2 races in New Zealand before being exported overseas and winning another 35 races in the USA and Canada. The Bus winning the Nelson Cup yesterday. Harnesslink Media

Burnham trainer Mark Jones rarely heads south without a horse ready to win and a plan to be executed. The Bus driven by Samantha Ottley duly won for Jones today and I suspect the plan may be to line up in a special maiden initiative introduced by Southern Harness this season  - a $12,000 Nugget Mobile Pace Final at the Northern Southland meeting on 7th October. The Bus is now qualified for this race and the conditions of the series allow him to carry on winning in the meantime. Jones is also a fan of the Northern Southland Club and has been a sponsor for a few seasons. All horses that start between today's Gore meeting and the end of September in non-win races and accumulate enough points will be eligible to start in the final.  And Jones's plan could also extend to getting early points on the board for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in April.  In today's race Ottley eased the three year old into his stride from a tricky second line draw. She moved The Bus out with 1800 metres to run but was beaten to the jump by a fast move from Clark Barron driving Some Excusesomewhere. Ottley got onto the back of the Barron runner and was taken forward with cover. With just under a lap to run The Bus had taken up the running from the favourite Black Ops.  The Bus held on to win by three quarters of a length from Black Ops with Benio Ben another length and three quarters back in third. The Bus beating Black Ops                               - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He was a wee bit too smart today which he had to be from the draw. But he had to get round them. He did it quite comfortably but actually knocked off at the end. He still had a bit there (at the finish). It's his first trip down here and there looks to be a bit of improvement in him," said Ottley after the run. Last season The Bus raced in the Young Gun Series in Auckland against the likes of Alta Maestro and Spankem.  He resumed this season at Addington last Friday night.  "I was really pleased with his run at Addington the other night. I know it was only fifth but it was a good fifth. He was nice and relaxed today because he can go the other way." The three year old Art Major colt is raced by loyal stable client Grant Hatton. He's out of the Falcon Seelster mare Rondel Franco which won thirty seven races in a career that included racing in New Zealand, Canada and America. Hatton raced The Bus's half brother Saveapatrol which won eleven races including the first ever Northern Southland TC Futurity in 2013.     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Harness racing driver Samantha Ottley managed to grab two driving wins last night at Addington and she did it by winning two of the trotting races with pacing bred mares.  Ottley drove outsider Michelle to a dominant win at long odds in the first trotting race of the night. At bolters odds of over $36.20 and $7.30 on the tote, Michelle who has been a serial breaker in her races, finally trotted all the way and cruised to an easy win over second favorite Still Eyre and driver Matthew Williamson. Michelle (Live Or Die - Eves Apple) is a pacing bred mare trained by Mark Jones and owned by Wayne Higgs. The lightly raced mare has taken a while to adapt to the trotting gait but is clearly going to win more races judging by last nights impressive performance. A few races later, Donegal Bettergretch won the R60 and Faster trot last night in a quick 3-19.7 for the 2600m stand. Donegal Bettergretch (Bettor's Delight - Donegal Gretchen) was driven to the lead early by Ottley and the pacing bred mare trotted well and proved too strong for her rivals, winning comfortably from Petite One and driver Colin DeFilippi. DeFilippi is sitting on 1999 lifetime driving wins and was a bit unlucky not to finish closer with Petite One as she was last at the 400m and was held up for most of the run home, until a late gap saw her close strongly into second. Top reinsman Blair Orange has moved to a two win lead in this seasons drivers premiership. Orange is sitting on eight wins for the season, two wins clear of David Butcher who is poised to narrow the gap with his good book of drives at Alexandra Park tonight. Amazon Lily got the ball rolling for Blair last night when she began well from the standing start and was quickly around to lead and controlling the race in front. The Ken Barron trained daughter of Bettor's Delight had too much speed for the opposition and won as she liked pacing the 2600m stand in 3.23.1. The last 800m of 57.5 was the quickest of the night until the last race when Orange adopted similar tactics on another Barron trained horse in For The Corz.  For The Corz also led early and controlled the race from the front before whipping over her last 800m in an identical 57.5 to win easily giving Blair and Barron a double for the night.    Samantha Ottley driving Michelle to victory.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing trainer Paul Nairn has Ronald J primed and ready to go in Race 6 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs meeting tonight at Addington. Nairn does not think the mobile start tonight will worry the big Love You gelding and the small field should suit his style of racing.  Young junior driver Stacy Whatuira has driven Ronald J in all six of his wins and the times the horse is running suggests that he is a logical anchor in tonights $25,000 Pick Six starting in Race 5 Pick Six Preview   Leg 1     Race 5 [7:24pm] Mark Jones holds the key to this leg with his two speedy 3yo pacers The Bus and Si Si Senior. Mark has opted to drive Si Si Senior who came home in very fast sectionals in his first start to the races. With a run closer to the pace he should be hard to beat in this field. The Bus will be driven by Samantha Ottley and he won a workout easily at Rangiora on the 9th August with Sam doing the driving and could try to lead in this race. Van Laddie is another in form horse needed, with driver Blair Orange declaring him his best drive of the night. Leg 2     Race 6 [7:49pm] Ronald J looks to be the clear anchor of Pick Six and should win with no mistakes.   Leg 3     Race 7 [8:16pm] Malik was disappointing last start but his bloods were out and he has been freshened for this. He won a workout recently in preparation for this race and he will be hard to beat if he can find the front at some stage. Lovetodream drops back in class here and gets the services of Matt Purvis with a junior claim. She ran home in 54.7 from back in the field last start which suggests she can win if handier on the turn this week.   Leg 4     Race 8 [8:46pm] This leg is quite tricky with a big field of trotters and many chances. Alvira Hest beat a similar field easily last week and could win again with the same trip but she does go back another 10m this week. We suggest taking as many as the budget allows, but include: Medusa, Dusky Eyre, Rum In The Sun, Redwood Invasion, Rocknpop and Alvira Hest   Leg 5     Race 9 [9:16pm] Another big field here with the TAB favorite being Matau Gem. She went well here when leading last time to the track and driver Gavin Smith thinks she is his best drive this week, so she is a possible anchor. Others worth including are Bound To Impress who has been running home late in most of her starts from back in the field and she could trail here from the ace draw. Also Boomer and Christmas Toyboy from the second row are chances.   Leg 6     Race 10 [9:46pm]  The final leg is an even go and again as many as the budget allows. Gunpowder has been racing well and has drawn to race handy. The 2600m distance will suit and he is the TAB favorite. Others needed are, Bohannan, Kiwi On Show, Bettor Chance, Martin John and My Wee Man.   Suggested Pick Six   ($21.60 for 20%) Leg 1     4,7,10 Leg 2     3 Leg 3     7,9 Leg 4     3,6,7,15,16,17 Leg 5     3 Leg 6     3,4,8,9,10,11   Harnesslink Media          

The combination of Mark Jones and Samantha Ottley has been one to follow in the south this season and they look to have the closest there is to an anchor in the pick six at Wyndham on Sunday, with Whittaker in the last. After sitting parked, Whittaker was dominant at Invercargill in the C0 grade. The step to C1 is unlikely to worry him and the three draw should only make it easier. A junior drivers race kicks off the six and it is hard to go past Don Domingo from the two gate. He was cut down by Raukapuka Ruler taking the passing lane to make it three in a row last week at Addington but should be harder to get past here. Don Sebastion, Bettor Enforce and Glenburn Joy are others worthy of inclusion. Race seven is the second leg and looks a bit harder but despite being unproven from a stand, Rakarover has got to go in. He has drawn three, ironically, his first front-row draw this year, and first time inside six in his career, but looks well equipped to cope. Equally as unknown from a stand is Southbound Train who looked okay when third on debut at Wyndham, although four and a half lengths behind Rakarover. Vera Mac, Navajo Art and A Smart Excuse were second third and fourth from a stand at Invercargill last week while former local Jimmy Nga is well versed from behind the tapes. Power Surge is a risk on debut but has stand-start workout form from Canterbury last year. Shezza GNP was beaten last week in her first run for the season. From one off the gate again, this time second up, she looks the one to beat in the third leg with Aidan Junior the hardest. Race nine is shaping up like a battle between Kayteeoh Denario and RR Sand Dollar with Dexter up against Blair. The one draw in the Equine Stakes didn't work out for Kayteeoh Denario who was crossed and shuffled. With a wall in front of her turning in, she waited then flew for third. Expect Dexter to make the draw work better for him. RR Sand Dollar sprinted hard from the 800 last week and just went down. Other Canterbury runners worthy of inclusion are Dancing In The Dark, Layton's Lass and Aymar. Seaswift Joy can do no wrong and looks the best in race 10 on her adopted home track. However, it is her first from a stand so for insurance look to Rakarolla from 10 metres, along with and Statham and Highview Freddy off 20. Mac Henry

Samantha Ottley will be attempting to become just the second woman to win the North Island’s most prestigious female race with Rocker Band at Alexandra Park tonight, but she also realises there’s one massive hurdle to get past. Ottley (26) said it would be a dream to win the $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts Pace for New Zealand's top fillies and mares at 8.44pm, but knows only too well that next week’s $2.80 Auckland Cup favourite is the horse to beat. Last December Natalie Rasmussen steered Fight For Glory to victory to become the first female driver to win the Queen Of Hearts. Tonight she has handed over the reins on Dream About Me to Mark Purdon. “Mark and Natalie’s mare looks a class above the field, but anything can happen in racing and we have drawn two compared Dream About Me’s eight. We can win but we will be relying on Dream About Me to have an off night,” Ottley said. As well as the Group One Queen Of Hearts Pace there will also be four Group Two events competed for tonight. They are the Group Two $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship 3yo Fillies Stakes; the Group Two $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes for the open class trotters; the Group Two $50,000 Alabar 3yo Classic; and the Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup. Ottley has three drives tonight but only one ‘Group’ assignment. On November 4 the Mark Jones trained Rocker Band provided Ottley with her first Alexandra Park winner when they out-sprinted their seven rivals in the $14,000 Movenpick Mobile for the R77 to R107 pacers. Rocker Band also provided Ottley with one of her career highlights at Cambridge Raceway on June 4 this year when they won the $150,000 Group One 4yo Mares’ Diamond. “I’ve driven some real nice horses like Stylish Monarch, Stent and Pure Power in the past, but Rocker band is one of the fastest horses I ever sat behind. “She’s now won and placed for me in her last three Alexandra Park starts,” Ottley said. Last Friday the royally bred 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover - Mainland Banner mare finished a four-and-a-quarter length third behind Dream About Me and Arden’s Choice in the Group Three $25,000 Caduceus Club Northern Breeders Stakes. She trailed and then ended up three-deep when Dream About Me hit the lead at the bell. They were snookered and came late when the race was all over. Dream About Me stopped the clock in an impressive 2:40.2 (mile rate 1:57.2) and home in 57.4. and 27.2. That time was 0.5 seconds slower than Fight For Glory's triumph in last year's Queen of Hearts Pace. "She ran on well along the markers when the race was all over. She just got held up at the wrong time, but I was rapt with the way she sprinted home. “She hit the line very well. I think she can finish in the money on Friday and hopefully if things go our way and the favourite has an off night we can upset her. We certainly have the speed,” Ottley said. Ottley paid a tribute to her boss – Mark Jones. “Mark has been so good to me since I joined him just over a year ago. When I went there I thought I would get the occasional drive. “But Mark has put me on everything, and I’m so humbled by that especially when he’s a world champion driver and is watching me drive his horses from the grandstand! “I can’t thank him and all the owners and trainers who put me on enough. His belief and faith in me has been amazing,”Ottley said. In April 2014 Ottley became the first female driver to notch up 100 wins when she reined the Michael House trained appropriately named Gogirl Bromac to victory. To date she has driven 21 winners from 177 starters this season, and all-up in a career dating back to 2009, the Geraldine born and educated horsewoman has won 224 races from 2,444 starters. She’s also placed 399 times for $1.77m in career stakes. Ottley is currently seventh on the national driving premiership. She is the leading woman driver in New Zealand with 21 wins – three more than Rasmussen. The first Queen Of Hearts Pace was contested in 1996 and was won by Adio Routine and Colin De Filippi. Duane Ranger

Young West Melton trainer Jason Lethaby geared up three horses at the Riverton meeting yesterday and all three won. Ideal Rule and Richard Le Fort, both trained by him won, while Ariadne Lavros trained by Mark Jones won the Southland Standardbred Breeders Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. All three were driven by Samantha Ottley. Ideal Rule started the roll when she won the Net Ten EOM at Macca Lodge Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace beating Trendy's Bad Girl by one and quarter lengths.  "Running in a race for fillies and mares (Ideal Rule) was the main reason we came down. There hasn't been too many races like that at home and the other race for the big horse (Richard Le Fort) suited him being a non-preferencial race," said Lethaby. From barrier five Ideal Rule was posted without cover early before being covered up by Manuka Valley. Ottley got out when she wanted to and drove out the American Ideal filly to win by a length and a quarter.  Ideal Rule and Samantha Ottley winning                     Photo Bruce Stewart. "I was very confident with her. She'd been working and trialling real good so I knew if she got a good run she'd be pretty hard to beat and that's what happened," Lethaby purchased the filly at the 2015 Sale of the Stars for $6,000. She's was breed by David Jones of Rakaia and is out of the unraced Christian Cullen mare Cullens Rule.  "She qualified nice behind a few of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's nice ones. We were going to race her as a two year old but we decided to give her time. I think she'll do a real good job and we plan to qualify her for the Southland Oaks."  His second winner came two races later with Jereme's Jet gelding Richard Le Fort. Ottley blasted the five year old out of the gate and lead at the winning post for the first time. With 400 metres to run she pinched a break and that proved to be the winning of the race. He held on to beat Longevity by a neck.  Richard Le Fort (7) beating Longevity (white helmet) on the inside - Photo Bruce Stewart "We've had him for a year. We bought him off Mark Jones for a group of guys. It was their first race horse. He trialled up real good. He was such a big lanky horse we thought we're give him a month off and let him strengthen but he never came back any good. We had a couple of starts with him and he only went average so we sent him onto a hill block for eight months. We brought him back in in the middle of May and worked him up nice and quietly through the winter, and it's seems to have worked with him."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Harness Racing Driver Sam Ottley is enjoying the best week of her career at the moment. After her win with Rocker Band in the 4yo Diamond on Jewels day last Saturday, Ottley hasn't looked back and went on to record a treble at today's Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting. It was three wins in the space of four races for the Woodend based reins women, which included a double for her employer Mark Jones. Although it all started with the upset of the day in Race 4, when Ottley reined home Feel Real for Kaiapoi trainer Glenn Scott paying a whopping $44.40 and $7.00. With the favourite galloping early, Sam had the 3yo Real Desire filly straight into the trail, behind the Jones driven, Southbrook. From there on it was just a small matter of having to get past Southbrook and first starter Regal Grin, who was ultra brave on debut for Ken Barron and the goHarness Buy, Race and Sell Syndicate. In the next it was Kowhai Monarch who got the chocolates for Ottley and Jones. The 4yo gelding by Monarchy is owned by J G & Mrs D J Hartnell and recorded his 3rd career victory when winning by 1 ¾ lengths over Clifden Clowers (John Morrison) and ¾ lengths to Yankee Commando (Murray Edmonds) in 3rd. Ottley left the best for last with her drive on Croft Bay, who was drawn awkwardly on the back row. Sitting near last with a lap to run, Ottley was off and gone to sit parked before being able to out toughen the rest of the field and recording a neck victory over Ardent Lustre (Blair Orange). All three runners will back up tomorrow for the 2nd day of the meeting, with Kowhai Monarch looking Sam's best chance to double up. Andrew Fitzgerald

Harness racing driver Natalie Rasmussen has got up off the canvas like a prizefighter to win the Methven Cup. All looked rosy when Messini and Rasmussen won the Group III event, in the Art Major entire's first start back in New Zealand after campaigning in Australia with former Canterbury trainer Brent Lilley. But earlier in the day Rasmussen was smashed onto the track in race six after her drive Emmanuel appeared to slip just after the field he rounded the home bend. In a nasty crash, Gabby's Star, Maximus Prime, Stoney Eyre were all brought down. Drivers Robbie Holmes, Bob Butt and Rasmussen all escaped serious injury but Sam Ottley was airlifted to hospital after suffering moderate spinal injuries. She was to have x-rays on Sunday night. All horses involved are understood to have escaped serious injury. Rasmussen, who co-trains Australasia's leading harness racing stable with Mark Purdon, said she was a bit "battered and bruised" but it was going to take more than a few scrapes and cuts to keep the gritty Australian out of the sulky. The win does not give Messini automatic entry to the New Zealand Trotting Cup but it almost certainly assures his spot and Rasmussen said that takes some pressure off. "If he didn't go any good today we might have had to go to Ashburton just to try and get him a start and I think that would have been a bit soon for him to back up," Rasmussen said. Messini went into the race ranked 18th for the cup and although he did not upset any super stars he did beat four runners ranked ahead of him and with further defections from the top 15 likely he should be joining All Stars stablemate Smolda in the cup. Messini's next start will likely be the Kaikoura Cup Rasmussen and Purdon were expecting a bold run given Messini's quality horse but his driver puts the win down to getting such a good trip. It was a typically patient and calculated drive from Rasmussen who was happy to settle well back in the running line after starting from the 30m tape. But everything fell into place when Ideal Success made a three wide move with around 1000m to run and Rasmussen was able to jump on board the train behind Te Kawau. "It really helped that we didn't have to come out until very late, he hasn't had to do any work in the running," she said. Messini tired in the final stages to shrink his winning margin to half a length but he can be forgiven in his fresh up run over 3000m on the grass. "I think he'll definitely improve off the run," Rasmussen said. Methven was Messini's first run since the Breeders Crown on August 30. Messini paced the trip in 3-51.7 with a mile rate of  2-04.2 and closing sectionals of 58.0 and 29.5. Quick As A Trick put in a super run for second after being slow away from the tapes with No Doctor Needed, Mighty Flying Mac and Te Kawau filling out the top five. Cup hopefuls Belkmyster, Mach's Gladiator, Ideal Success and Lewy Risk did their chances more harm than good when finishing back in the field. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -  Check site here 

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