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Harness racing returned to the grass at Motukarara today (September 28th) and it was notable for junior driver Jessica Young driving a double on the day. Jessica is no novice driver having already chalked up 15 wins and 64 placings prior to today's meeting but today was the first time she had driven a double in her career. The first of the winners was Jessica's favourite horse Roxy Bromac who is trained at West Melton by her father, Paul Young. Settling last from her wide draw, Jessica hooked on to the three wide train at the 1200 metres mark and got a lovely drag into the race before peeling out at the 300 metres  and storming home for a stylish win. It was the daughter of Bettors Delight's seventh lifetime win and took her earnings to $52,629 but Jessica thinks she is not to far away from the broodmare paddock. " She is getting on a real tough mark now and once the grass track circuit is over we may just retire her" she told Harnesslink this evening. "Roxy loves the grass and while she is no better on grass than she is on the grit , she doesn't lose any speed on the grass which is a big plus" "She is actually a terrible pacer but is such a lovely mare to do anything with and is very honest" she said. The second of Jessica's winners today was the Sands A Flyin mare Maybe Flyin who is trained by Ray Needham at Hilderthorpe. Away well from barrier one, Jessica slotted Maybe Flyin into the trail behind the front running Natural Courage and got a lovely run the whole trip. Bursting through along the inner at the 200 metres mark, Maybe Flyin scooted away for an easy win. Jessica has driven for Ray Needham before and was glad to repay the faith he had shown in her. "Ray wasn't going to come here originally but after Maybe Flyin ran a close second at Methven last weekend he had a change of heart and I am glad he did."  "I have driven her for Ray before and she has a sharp sprint if given one run at them" she said The wins have come at a good time for Jessica who along with her family has just moved to a property on the Old West Road at West Melton. The wins were a timely reminder to Canterbury trainers of what a talented young driver Jessica is.  Harnesslink Media        

Harness racing can be tough business at times as luck plays a part of any horses career. One horse who has never had a lot of luck during his 22 starts to date is the Live Or Die gelding, Elliot Daniel. Bred by well known Auckland breeder and owner Bernie Lim and raced by him from the stable of Richard Brosnan, Elliot Daniel has always looked the kind of racehorse that had two or three wins in him but just never got the rub of the green when he needed it on raceday. Rising seven and with just three placings from 22 starts, Elliot Daniel was put on the market recently as the patience of his camp had run out. Enter Steven Reid who was looking for a horse at the time and like a lot of people thought that Elliot Daniel had a couple of wins in him. With a horse now seven, Steven Reid thought the change of enviroment may work the trick with Elliot Daniel and judging by last Saturday's win at the Auckland workouts he may be right. Elliot Daniel ran out a narrow but impressive winner of his six horse heat with the last 800 meters in 58.4 and 400 meters in 27.6. By Live or Die, Elliot Daniel is from the handy Sands A Flyin mare Sequita who won twice and was placed nine times in a brief twenty start career on the track. Sequita is a half sister to Kaiapoi Lil 1:52.6 and is closely related to the former star juvenile in Australia My Handsome Fella 1:59 ($79,573) Tomorrow night at Alexandra Park, Elliot Daniel starts from barrier six in the 4 year old and older 2200 meters mobile with Simon Lawson in the bike and looks a realistic winning chance. All Elliot Daniel really needs is the rub of the green to finally make it to the winners circle. Harnesslink Media

Trainer Lance Justice hopes Im Barney Rubble can notch back to back wins when he contests Friday night’s Vermont Panels Enduro at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. With Brian Gath in the sulky, the six-year-old gelding found the lead last Friday in the Il Gambero Pace over 2240m at Melton and defied all comers in scoring a 1.8m win in a mile rate of 1:58.9. Gath again takes the reins this Friday night, Justice saying he was a firm believer in the “winning form is good form adage”. Justice will climb into the cart behind Machin Out, which ran seventh in the same race as his stable-mate last week, making an early three-wide move before working in the breeze. “He’s going well he just needs a little bit of luck,” said Justice of Machin Out. Friday night’s $20,505 Enduro is a stand-start race and neither of Justice’s entrants has won from the tapes. But that doesn't worry the champion trainer. “They’re both ODS but they both get away pretty good from the stand,” Justice said. The Justice stable could be set for a big night with several serious winning chances on Friday, but potentially none are more exciting than Garibaldi, which will contest the $10,000 Guaranteed First 4 Pools Pace over 2240m. Starting from pole, the four-year-old Sands A Flyin gelding is sure to take some running down after back to back successes. “He’s worked really good during the week and he’s a really nice horse,” Justice said. In the second heat of the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup Justice will start Invasive, which has drawn seven for the 2240m journey. “I was really disappointed with his effort last week,” Justice declared. “Jason (Hackett) said he went OK but I thought he should have gone better. “I’m hoping he can bounce back.” Invasive finished fourth, 4.5m from Blitzthemcalder last Friday night. In Race 5, the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace over 1720m, Justice will line up two runners – Discrimination and Toulouse Lautrec. Brian Gath will pilot Discrimination after winning aboard it last week, while Justice will steer Toulouse Lautrec from gate seven. “I can see him being really hard to beat,” Justice said of Discrimination. On Toulouse Lautrec Justice said, “Barrier seven usually sorts him out”. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The new harness racing star of Sunraysia – unfashionably bred four year old Universal Rock / Annie Teaghan gelding Vee Rock is set to continue his unbeaten record at the Nyah HRC meeting to be held at the Swan Hill Racing Centre on Thursday, when he contests the second heat of the Vicbred Platinum Country Series O for C1 class over 2240 metres. A brilliant winner of the first heat at the Ouyen fixture held at Mildura last Friday in a mile rate of 2-02.2 (last half mile 57.6), Vee Rock is able to take his place in the field due to a paucity of numbers, coming in on terrific  terms as he is now assessed as a C3 class pacer. Trained at Cardross on the outskirts of Mildura by Frank Merceica formerly of Broken Hill, Vee Rock has been ultra impressive to date having first raced on April 23 when victorious at Swan Hill. Avenel concessional reinsman Mark Pitt will again hold the reins. Stanhope trainer/driver Gary Pekin’s Illawong Fantasia coming off two successive victories at Tabcorp Park Melton looks the main danger, while Gary Donaldson’s Gian and the last start Echuca victor Philotes appear to be great trifecta and first four chances. The race will close off the Nyah Quaddie. At Tabcorp Melton during the afternoon, former Kiwi four year old Sands A Flyin/Western Star gelding Garibaldi which created a huge impression winning first up at the same track last Thursday, steps out again from gate three in the Tabcorp Park Melton Pace for R2 to R4 class over 2240 metres, third leg of the Quaddie and second leg of the Daily Double. Trained and driven by Lance Justice, Garibaldi will meet some handy opposition in Adam Kelly’s Lady Suffragette from the pole, Ian Dornauf’s last start impressive Yarra Valley victor Royal Deviate (gate six) and Shannon McLean’s honest Broadway Classic (gate two on the second row). Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

A large crowd gathered at Port Pirie to witness the 2014 Port Pirie Cup, and punters came late for the winner, Our Flyin Jazz, who began quickly from the standing start to find the lead, while second favourite Lark Rise missed the start.   From that point Davis Harding was able to control the Cup, to send the Sands A Flyin seven year old to the line a winner by 12 meters from Kapunda Cup winner Exposed, who sat behind the winner but was no match in the straight.  Soul Tana finished a further 12.8 meters away in third spot.   Our Flyin Jazz, who has has only recently joined the Les Harding stables, has now won 16 races and has taken his earnings past the $100,000 mark.   The mile rate of 2.00.1 was a new track record for the 2530 meter event. Our Flyin Jazz covered the distant in 3.08.8 running his last half mile in 58.9.   For driver David Harding the Cup was the middle leg of a treble. Harding also won on Armbro Speedstar and the last race aboard Mattichiello.   Danielle Hill drove a double on The Denman and classy 2 year old filly Whats Emma Got, who will now be set for the BOTRA Nursery Pace. The Max Peake MONTE went to odds on favourite Chuck Wagon with Megan Gee in the saddle. By Gary Newton    

Marooned, a seven-year-old gelding, who boasted a losing sequence of 20 when he was claimed for $10,000 ten weeks ago, delighted his new owners when he stormed home from the rear to win the $50,000 Channel Nine Binshaw Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A tote outsider at 46/1, Marooned was handled expertly by Chris Voak and his victory over the heavily-supported 9/2 third favourite Northern Assassin and Copagin (10/1) came as a major surprise. There were six claims lodged for Marooned when he contested a claimer at Gloucester Park on November 29 and Gloucester Park Harness Racing committeeman Garry Scott was exceedingly happy when he was successful in the ballot. Marooned, who is raced by Scott, his wife Janine, their son Matt and friends Tony Maguire, Alison Tilt and the Manton brothers, is proving a splendid acquisition, with his first eight starts since entering Matt Scott's Serpentine stables producing two wins and a second placing for stakes of $42,845. The New South Wales-bred Marooned was able to contest the heats of the Binshaw Classic, restricted to M1-class pacers, because his classification was reduced from an M2 mark to M1 after he had extended his losing sequence to ten last August. He started out wide from barrier six on the front line in Friday night's 2130m final and Voak eased him back to race on the pegs. Polemarker Shnappy, the 3/1 favourite, set the pace after resisting a strong early challenge from Atlastalone. The pace was solid throughout, and after each of the first two 400m sections of the final mile went by in 29.4sec., Shnappy sprinted the third quarter in 28.6sec. Northern Assassin, ninth in the first lap, started a three-wide move approaching the bell and he got to a narrow lead 300m from home and looked the winner until Marooned flew home out wide on the track. Marooned was tucked away in the pegs in ninth position at the bell. He was still ninth when Voak eased him off the inside with 400m to travel. Marooned then went four wide and was sixth on the home turn before charging home to burst to the lead in the closing stages. The final quarter took 29.5sec. and the winner rated 1.57. Copagin, who raced three back on the pegs, finished boldly, out wide, to be a neck away in third place, with Shnappy wilting to fourth. "Last week his run (fourth to Copagrin) was a hell of a lot better than what it looked," Voak said. "I don't think we would have been any match for Copagrin, but I reckon if he had got clear a little earlier he would have run second. "Often in these type of races, with the hot speed, you need a lot of luck, and we got that. But by the same token the horse still has to be good enough to hit the line. And tonight he certainly ate it up. I drove Marooned for Matt early in December and he finished strongly to beat This Time Dylan (who went on to finish third to Hokonui Ben and Toretto in the WA Pacing Cup). If This Time Dylan was in tonight's field he probably would have been the $2 favourite." When Marooned won from This Time Dylan he sprinted the final 800m in 56.7sec. and the last quarter in 27.6sec. and Voak admitted to Matt Scott that the gelding was quite a bit better than he had anticipated. Friday night's win, paying $46.80 on the tote, was one of several successes by the gelding at handsome odds. His New South Wales successes included wins at $44.70 at Wagga and $17.60 and $48.70 at Menangle. By American stallion Hare Hare, Marooned has earned $145,722 from 17 wins and 15 placings from 72 starts. The victory continued the 25-year-old Voak's great run of successes this season. With 63 wins he is in second place behind Gary hall jun. (72) on the Statewide premiership. He is equal sixth on the Metropolitan premiership table with 22 wins, with Hall showing the way with 53 wins. EMPRESS STAKES IS THE TARGET FOR FAMOUS ALCHEMIST Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. is setting talented New Zealand-bred five-year-old Famous Alchemist for the $50,000 Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on February 28 after she had strolled to victory in the 1730m Alan Vawser Memorial on Friday night. Famous Alchemist, favourite at 7/4 on, was never seriously challenged and she was able to stroll through the lead time in a modest 8.3sec. before simply ambling through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 31.3sec. and 30.8sec. Rarely, in any company, is a leader able to dawdle over the first 800m of the final mile in 62.1sec. Gary Hall jun. gave Famous Alchemist a little more rein and she sped over the final quarters in 28.5sec. and 27.2sec. She was not extended in coasting to victory by a length from 7/1 chance Sensational Gabby, who fought on doggedly after racing without cover. Rocky Marciano, second fancy at 5/2, trailed the pacemaker throughout and was hopelessly blocked for a run in finishing a close third. Hall did not release the ear plugs and Famous Alchemist rated 1.57.3 and could have gone considerably faster. She has led six times at her 20 starts in Western Australia and has won every time. The expected early speed battle between Famous Alchemist (barrier 1) and Sensational Gabby (three) did not eventuate and trainer Ross Olivieri appears to have cured the mare's recent habit of overracing badly in her races. This surprised Hall jun., who said: "I thought that there would have been a lot of speed off the gate and during the week everyone said to me that Famous Alchemist would have trouble in holding up. And we thought that the first half might be run quicker than the last. "But it was one of those races which did not pan out that way and she has led comfortably. Half-way through the race I felt like pulling her one off the fence and putting some pressure on myself. She is a quality mare who has had a few setbacks, and we're happy to have her racing in this sort of form." Famous Alchemist, owned by Karen Hall, has had 37 starts for 12 wins and 12 placings for earnings of $236,219. LIVELONG AND PROSPER REGAINING FORM AFTER SURGERY About a year ago Livelong And Prosper was laid low by injury and his future was uncertain. He was suffering from severe stifle lock in both hind legs and veterinary surgeon Kim Rose had to cut the ligaments in both legs in an attempt to cure the problem. The operation was successful, but when Livelong And Prosper resumed work for Bickley trainer Peter Anderson the somewhat gangling and lightly-framed gelding struggled to reproduce the form he showed when he started his Western Australian career as a three-year-old early in 2012. Anderson then experimented by giving Livelong And Prosper a lighter workload on the training track and concentrated on a lot of swimming in the pool. This decision is paying dividends. The New Zealand-bred gelding has put on weight and is racing with admirable enthusiasm. In his current preparation he has won at Bunbury in November and at Gloucester Park and Harvey in December and he impressed at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he unwound a sparkling late burst to snatch victory from Im Clean Cut and Soho Jackman in the 2130m See It First on Nine Pathway Pace. Despite fast-finishing thirds at his two previous outings, Livelong And Prosper was a 25/1 chance, mainly because of his wide draw at No. 5 on the front line. Soho Jackman, undefeated at three starts since a spell, was favourite at 10/9 on and polemarker Ohoka Kentucky was a firm 6/4 second fancy. Ohoka Kentucky was first into stride, with Gary Hall jun. getting Soho Jackman away brilliantly from barrier six. Soho Jackman poured on the pressure and was held at bay by Ohoka Kentucky before Robbie Williams relinquished the lead after 450m. The early cracking pace had the rest of the field well spread out, mainly in Indian file, with Morgan Woodley able to get Livelong And Prosper across to the pegs in sixth position. Williams took Ohoka Kentucky off the pegs and into the breeze 1050m from home to put some pressure on the leader. Livelong And Prosper was sixth at the bell when Woodley was able to ease him off the pegs before switching him three wide 460m from home. Then the gelding was forced four wide at the 400m when Shannon Suvaljko started a three-wide move with Im Clean Cut. Livelong And Prosper sustained his spirited burst, out wide, to hit the front about 70m from the post and he beat Im Clean Cut (18/1) by a neck, with a neck to Soho Jackman. Ohoka Kentucky wilted to finish fifth. Livelong And Prosper was purchased as a three-year-old by Ken Casellas and Ross Waddell after his four starts had produced one third placing at Alexandra Park. He made an auspicious start in WA, winning at his first two starts, at Harvey and Narrogin in January 2012 before catching the eye with a splendid fast-finishing third to talented three-year-olds Gracias Para Nada and Western Cullen at Gloucester Park the following month. He is now starting to realise his full potential and should improve on his record of seven wins, 16 placings and $45,235 in stakes from 46 starts. By American stallion Falcon Seelster, Livelong And Prosper is the second foal out of Badlands Hanover mare Nicolosa, who had only five starts for one win (at Alexandra Park in August 2006). Nicolosa is the first foal out of Al Cioccolato, who won at her only start, as a three-year-old at Forbury in May 2001. Woodley said that he felt confident after the fast lead time and with the pressure being applied in front. "I was confident until we were pushed four wide at the 400m," he said. "However, he knuckled down well in the straight." UNWANTED ARTISTIC COPPER SHOWS HER CLASS Prominent breeder Mike Howie was disappointed when Artistic Copper failed to attract a single bid at the 2012 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale. But now is quite happy that nobody was interested in the filly, who had a reserve price of $10,000. Howie decided to keep the filly and gave her to Andrew De Campo to be prepared for racing. Artistic Copper boosted her earnings to $83,125 when she gave a polished frontrunning exhibition to score a three-length victory over the fast-finishing Lipizzaner in the $21,000 Love Child On Nine WA Sales Classic for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Artistic Copper, hot favourite at 3/1 on, started from barrier two and Matt White dashed her to the front after 120m. After moderate quarters of 31.7sec. and 31.3sec., Artistic Copper sped over the final sections in 28.7sec. and 28.3sec. to win easily from 8/1 chance Lipizzaner, who fought on solidly from sixth and last at the bell. Shez Sensational was a half-length away in third place after racing without cover in the middle stages. This gave Artistic Copper her second success in a feature event for fillies. White drove her to victory in the group 1 $100,000 Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies last April. She now has raced 13 times for four wins and one placing. "She is a lot stronger this time in," said White. "She has got better with every run this preparation and she has put it all together now." Artistic Copper is by American stallion Artistic Fella, who earned $2,604,855 from 26 wins, ten seconds and four thirds from 52 starts. He set a world record rate of 1.49.3 over 1700m and in seven of his wins he rated 1.48.4 or better and in another five wins he rated faster than 1.50. ROBINSON GETS VEITCHTY HOME IN A THREE-WAY PHOTO Trainer Michael Robinson made full use of a needle-eye opening in the final stages of the Fat Tony On Nine Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to send 9/1 chance Veitchy through on the inside of the pacemaker Sargent Sonny to score in a thrilling three-way photo. The camera revealed that Veitchy had scored by a nose from 9/4 favourite Sparkling Seelster, with a head to Sargent Sonny, the 3/1 second fancy. "He always finishes strongly and hits the line well," Robinson said. "He's so consistent and I love driving him. It's a pleasure to have this little horse." Robinson was happy to take the trail behind the pacemaker Sargent Sonny, with Sparkling Seelster in the breeze and 6/1 chance Soho Highroller in the one-out, one-back position. Sparkling Seelster got his nose in front 20m from the post, but just failed to hold off the fast-finishing Veitchy. Veitchy, who won at seven of his 26 starts in New Zealand, has earned $73,795 from 11 wins and 21 placings from 71 starts. He is raced by Dion Poolman, Ashlee Cortopassi, Barry Street, Christian McArthur, Kirsty Ferguson, Simon Campbell-Hardwick, Brett King, Haley Morland, Frank Ranaldi and Richard McArthur. The six-year-old by Sands A Flyin is related to several good winners, including The Cavalier, who won 15 races and $248,089. He is the second foal out of I'llmakemyname, who had only one start, for a win as a three-year-old at Bay of Plenty in October 2005. NORTHVIEW PUNTER ANSWERS A FEW QUERIES "There has probably been a little bit of a question mark over him lately, whether he is still up to his best form," Gary Hall jun. said after driving Northview Punter to a convincing victory in the first heat of the Block On Nine Lewis Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Well the New Zealand-bred four-year-old, favourite at 10/9 on, certainly showed that he is in splendid form as he surged past stablemate Real Hammer and into the lead after 450m and then relaxed with a muddling 31.5sec. quarter before he sprinted over the final three 400m sections in 29.7sec., 28.1sec. and 28sec. to score by just over two lengths from Pacific Warrior, rating 1.56.8 over the 2130m journey. Pacific Warrior, second fancy at 9/4, raced three wide early and then in the breeze and he was gallant in defeat. Mein Guy ran on from sixth at the bell to be a fair third, with Mohegan Sun finishing boldly to be an eye-catching fourth. "There were questions about his form and tonight we were definitely going to find out," Hall said. "We got away with a bit once we got to the front. Northview Punter is a class animal and when he finds the rail he's a hard horse to get over." Northview Punter, a Bettors Delight horse who is prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., has already earned $208,215 from 16 wins and 11 placings from 34 starts. BOBBY TEAL LEADS AND MAKES IT FOUR WINS IN A ROW Former Victorian pacer Bobby Teal, who managed just one win from his first 25 starts in Western Australia and had a losing sequence of 20 three months ago, has struck a purple patch of form and his smart all-the-way win in the 2503m Mark Readings Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night was his sixth victory from his past nine starts and his fourth in a row. Forrestdale trainer Jarrad Humphries has produced the Life Sign six-year-old in grand shape in the past three months and Kyle Harper has relished the opportunity to drive the standing-start specialist who has contested 44 stands in his past 45 starts. Bobby Teal, equal favourite at 7/4, was not extended in leading throughout to win by 5m from the equal fancy J Walker, who started from 20m and sustained a strong three-wide burst from ninth at the bell. Lord Coburn (22/1) who raced three back on the pegs, ran on strongly to finish third. Once Bobby Teal jumped to the front Harper was able to get the gelding to relax and he was able to amble through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.1sec. before he lifted his rating and reeled off final quarters of 29.3sec., 28.5sec. and 29.5sec. "A lot of stands recently have been run the same way, with the leader being able to get it easy early and then run a quick time over the final 1200m," Harper said. "Most of these fields are made up of evenly-matched bunches. "There was nothing tonight to put a lot of pressure on and that makes it easy to get what you need, and if the horse is good enough he will prove hard to run down." Bobby Teal, owned by Albany businessman Harry Capararo and Queenslander Wayne Innes, has raced 72 times for 12 wins and 24 placings for stakes of $80,966. TAJIES GIRL FINISHES FAST TO CAUSE AN UPSET West Australian-bred four-year-old Tajies Girl caused an upset when she started at 31/1 and finished strongly to get up and snatch victory from 5/4 on favourite Hoylakes Firstlady in the 1730m The Voice On Nine Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The win, by a head, was a triumph for young owner-trainer-reinsman Chris Butt, who had the Blissfull Hall mare poised to strike in the one-out, one-back position throughout. Hoylakes Firstlady started from the No. 1 barrier and was beaten out by Am Opulent from the No. 3 barrier. However, Am Opulent was unable to cross to the pegs and was forced to race without cover all the way. Butt bided his time and waited until the home turn before switching Tajies Girl three wide. Tajies Girl sprinted strongly and burst to the front in the final 15m, with the final quarter being run in a smart 28.6sec. Am Opulent fought on gamely to be third. The winner rated 1.58.5. Tajies Girl, a sound second to Bonsu at Pinjarra last Monday, drew favourably at barrier two in Friday night's race, but Butt was left to Ponder his tactics. "When the draw came out I wasn't sure how it was going to work out," he said. "And as things turned out we got the perfect trip and she got the job done. "She has been racing well in the country, but she is a bit limited and has to be held up for one run." Tajies Girl is out of Classic Rendezvous, who produced Lord Matao, who has had 42 starts for eight wins, eight placings and $65,040. Tajies Girl now has had 27 starts for four wins, six placings and $32,003 in prizemoney. Classic rendezvous was unplaced at three starts as a two-year-old in early 2000 before being retired. SHARDONS ROCKET APPROACHES $300,000 MILESTONE Seemingly indestructible nine-year-old Shardons Rocket moved a step closer to reaching $300,000 in prizemoney when Chris Lewis drove his assertively to score a solid all-the-way victory in the 2130m A Current Affair Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Owned by Ashley and Gavin McPhail and trained at Byford by Tony Svilicich, Shardons Rocket is an iron horse who has raced 137 times for 25 wins and 47 placings for stakes of $297,102. He was favourite at 5/4 on and Lewis drove him hard from the No. 2 barrier to get past the polemarker Touch Me Toes and into the lead after 80m. Pride of Colorado, resuming after a spell, raced wide early before moving into the breeze and then Lewis increased the tempo, with Shardons Rocket dashing over the final three quarters in 29.3sec., 28.4sec. and 29.2sec. He had to fight grimly to hold on and beat 9/1 chance Rojen Cruz, who raced three back on the pegs before Chris Voak brought him home with a fast run, out five wide on the track. Pride of Colorado battled on gamely to be a close third, a nose ahead of Whos Mistake. On All Fours, who had won at his two previous starts and had enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, lacked sparkle and finished sixth in the field of seven. by Ken Casellas  

It was an easy decision for the Executive of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Association and sponsor PGG Wrightsons’ to make, awarding Scuse Me bred and owned by Charles Roberts with the Prestigious Broodmare of Excellence award. Scuse Me’s progeny reads like a ‘who’s who’ of racehorses and the mares are going on to breed champions of their own. She was chosen due to her overall lifetime contribution to the breed. This award ranks her as one of New Zealand’s top broodmares of all time and took into account her successful racing career, that of her progeny and descendants following. Scuse Me who is nearing old age at 20 years old, is by B G’s Bunny out of Super Smooth. During her race career, Scuse Me won the Group 1 Great Northern Oaks and recorder her fastest recorded mile rate, 1.53.3, set at Alexandra Park when winning the Group 2 Noel Taylor 4YO Mile. Retired after the 1998 season all of Scuse Me’s progeny that went on to race have won, with superstar mares Imagine Me and Adore Me being the pick of the bunch. Below is a summary of her progeny, outlining their achievements on the track and as broodmares: Megabucks by Life Sign born 1999, winner of 5 races before being exported to the United States where he went on to record a mile rate of 1.49.6. Splendid Dreams by Dream Away born 2001, winner of 2 races. Dam of multiple Group race winners Hands Christian and Christen Me both by Christian Cullen. La Filou by In The Pocket born 2002, winner of 1 race. Dam of winners Fagan by Dream Away and The Dip by Bettor’s Delight. Coca Vicola by Il Vicolo born 2003, winner of 1 race. Dam of winner Makah Warrior by Sands A Flyin. Pardin Me by In The Pocket born 2004, winner of 1 race in New Zealand. Exported to Australia where he won a further 10 races. Imagine Me by Dream Away born 2005, winner of 9 races including Group 3 North Island Breeders Stakes. Dam of one foal yet to race. Toledo by Christian Cullen born 2006, winner of 7 races. Exported to Australia in 2012. Abide With Me by Christian Cullen born 2007, winner of 4 races. Idolise Me by American Ideal born 2008, winner of 3 races. Exported to Australia in 2013. Adore Me by Bettor’s Delight born 2009, winner of 12 races including five at Group One: HarnessJewels 3YO Diamond, Canterbury Breeders NZ Oaks, Nevele R Fillies Series Final, Northern Oaks andSires Stakes Fillies Championship. Congratulations Charles on breeding a wonderful mare and we wish you continuing success in the seasons to come. Kiely Buttell Executive Manager, NZSBA

Last Saturday’s (October 12) Gore Harness Racing Club’s meeting produced a couple of training firsts in the eighth and 11th events. Both Earl Drake and John Price have been involved in harness racing for years but achieved their maiden victories when Liam Sienna and Surprise Party both scored narrow 2200m mobile victories. Otautau-based Drake (53) and his father Reg (73) trained Liam Sienna to a head victory in 2:47.1, while Price and his wife Katrina, who train near Winton, got Surprise Party up by a neck in 2:48.2. Junior driver Carl Hanna and Nathan Williamson were the respective reinsmen. Liam Sienna was the Drake father/son combo’s only starter since they went into partnership on August 1. Reg has been training since 1983 and has had 11 winners and 29 placings from 175 starters, while Earl, who is a builder by trade, has always helped out. “It’s a good feeling to get the first win out of the way early on. We are working five at the moment, and that includes three 2-year-olds. “Dad paid $16,000 for 'Liam' at 'the Yearling Sales. It was the year of the earthquake. We gave him to Hamish Hunter as a 2-year-old and he won three races with him. “He’s a bit underrated and is a really nice horse to train,” Earl said. Liam Sienna is a 4-year-old Elsu gelding out of the former Tony Grayling trained four-win Sands A Flyin mare, Whata Breeze. Liam Sienna is owned by Mrs P.J. Drake and Reg Drake. He was bred by Alabar Stud. Reg Drake is a life member of the Wairio Trotting Club while Earl is a past president. They are both committee members. Meanwhile, Southland company executive John Price had recorded a second and a third before nailing his first winner at his ninth attempt with Surprise Party. It was the well-bred daughter of Christian Cullen and Champagne Party’s first win in five races. The Tony Herlihy trained and driven Champagne Party mare won 14 races and $159,226. Up until August 1 Price’s wife Katrina had been training with her father-in-law Roger. They started out in 1999 and went on to win 76 races and more than $500,000. “John’s delighted with the win. Relief more than anything. Mind you it’s not really his first. He’s always helped out in the weekends. It has been a family operation,” Katrina said. She said they were working a team of 11, comprising mainly youngsters. They recently retired three-win 6-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare Easybet to stud, while McArdle 5-year-old gelding Ardghal had been sold. He won nine of his 35 starts and $76,313. Price said Surprise Party would spell for a few days now before being brought back for racing next month. “She was terribly gaited early on and I think it was only her rich bloodlines that kept us persevering with her. She’s still on the unruly and has plenty to learn. “She’s getting better with racing experience and she has placed a couple of times and was the favourite ($4.20) on Saturday,” Price said. Surprise Party is owned by F. J. Price, K. V. Price, T. G. Bell, Mrs V. I. Bell, F. R. Price, H. L. Price, and was bred by Cullen Breeding Limited. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

SPRINGSTEEN TRIUMPHS FOR HARPER AFTER A BAD START Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old Springsteen stamped himself as an up-and-coming summer carnival prospect when he overcame a terrible start to outgun his rivals in the $21,000 Garrard’s Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup over 2902m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Springsteen, the heavily-supported even-money favourite, dismayed his backers when he galloped badly off the front line and quickly dropped back to eighth. But his 23-year-old trainer Kyle Harper finally got Springsteen into a pacing gait and then dashed him forward with a powerful three-wide burst which took him to the front after 900m. The gelding had lost 35m at the start and many punters thought that the early effort to get to the lead would leave him vulnerable in the closing stages. But Springsteen showed a touch of class after Harper had given him a much-needed breather with moderate quarters of 32sec. and 31sec. in the first half of the final mile. Springsteen then warded off a stern challenge from dour stayer and 30m backmarker Shardons Rocket as he accelerated sharply and sprinted over the third quarter of the final mile in a sizzling 27.6sec., followed by a final quarter in 28.9sec. Springsteen went to the post powerfully and defeated the gallant Shardons Rocket by 2m, rating 2.2.1 over the marathon journey. Shardons Rocket fought on grandly after racing in the breeze over the final 1500m. This Time Dylan, who raced without cover early, finished solidly, but was badly hampered for room in the home straight to be third, just in front of False Promise. “When he galloped I wasn’t overly worried because he usually gets down pretty quickly,” Harper said. “But tonight he didn’t get down as quickly as he normally does and after 30 to 40 metres when he was still cantering I was a little bit concerned. “But once he hit his straps I thought I would just balance him up three deep around that bend and work him forward. Once I got to the front and was able to get the quarters I got I was pretty confident again. We got that breather after a solid first half. “When Shardons Rocket moved alongside Springsteen I was still quite happy, mainly because we had got that soft half. I reckon Shardons Rocket got a nose in front down the back (at the 450m mark), but I wasn’t worried. Once I levelled up with him at the 400m I was confident I had his measure. “I haven’t got any plans for him at the moment. I’ll just see how he pulls up. He’s not just a stand horse and is just as good in mobiles.” Springsteen, who is owned by John Kirkpatrick, Nigel Bruce and Warren Went, had 19 starts in New Zealand for five wins and seven placings. He raced five times in stands over 2600m for four wins and a third. He has won at six of his 15 WA starts and his record stands at 34 starts for 11 wins, nine placings and stakes of $92,217. His victory gave Harper his second success in the BOTRA Cup, after his success with 25/1 outsider Outstandin last year. Harper’s father Lindsay also won the BOTRA Cup twice, scoring with Ariege in 1998 and Shattering Class in 2000. This was the second successive year that Harper had defeated a horse trained by Tony Svilicich and driven by Morgan Woodley into second place in the BOTRA Cup. Twelve months ago Outstandin beat 7/4 favourite Mysta Magical Mach. Springsteen’s dam Holms Spirit earned $50,323 from four wins and eight placings from 65 starts. Her first foal Im Jasper the Ghost has won five times in WA and has earned $55,730 from his seven wins and 23 placings from 77 starts. MIDNIGHT DYLAN GIVES BROWN HIS THIRD WIN IN CRANLEY MEMORIAL Noted frontrunner Midnight Dylan left his rivals floundering in his wake when he produced a sparkling display to score an effortless victory in the $21,000 Pat Cranley Memorial over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old’s win by two and a half lengths from Empire Flame at a 1.56.3 rate gave reinsman Colin Brown his third success in this event, following wins with Can Return Fire in 2008 and Motu Treasure in 2010. Midnight Dylan, second fancy at 2/1 behind 6/4 favourite The Ragpickers Dream, surged straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier and after a moderate first 400m section of the final mile in 29.4sec. Brown virtually gave the opposition no chance when he was able to let Midnight Dylan amble through the second quarter in 30.9sec. Midnight Dylan was not seriously challenged. He covered the third quarter in 29sec. before sprinting over the final section in 27.7sec. Empire Dream (12/1) raced without cover and fought on well to be second. Western Cullen, a 35/1 chance sustained a good three-wide burst from seventh at the bell to be third. The Ragpickers Dream, who started from the back line and settled down in 11th position, fought on gamely from ninth (three wide) at the bell to be fifth. Midnight Dylan, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, won once from nine starts in New Zealand and now has earned $145,325 from 12 wins and 18 placings from 54 starts. Interestingly, he raced against Western Cullen four times as a two-year-old in New Zealand and finished behind him every time. He also competed against Springsteen, Heez Orl Black and Mein Guy in New Zealand. Springsteen won the BOTRA Cup on Friday night, Heez Orl Black was unplaced behind Chaldea earlier in the night and Mein Guy was successful in a race at Kalgoorlie on the same night. Midnight Dylan, by Mach Three, is out of Midnight Skipper, who is a younger sister to Sandy Bay, who raced 28 times in WA between 2003 and 2005 for 12 wins and seven placings. Sandy Bay’s most notable victory in a career of 40 starts for 13 wins, 13 placings and $198,896 was in the 2907m Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park in 2005 when he was driven by Chris Lewis and defeated Ohoka Ace and Baltic Eagle. Midnight Slipper, by Presidential Ball, was out of the Victorian-bred mare Kirlian, who raced as a two and three-year-old, earning $94,300 from five wins and four placings from only 20 starts. She finished second to Donna Who in the Australian Gold final for two-year-old fillies at Harold Park in April 1993 before winning the Pink Bonnet Mile on the same track in July that year. Midnight Slipper raced 49 times for two wins, ten placings and $29,835. TILBROOK, SUVALJKO AND BOTICA COMBINE FOR A WINNING DOUBLE Herron trainer Peter Tilbrook brought two four-year-olds to Gloucester Park on Friday night and he was all smiles when he left for home, contemplating the stylish victories of Loving You and Senor Jet. Both pacers started a firm favourite and were driven in fine style by Shannon Suvaljko. The wins also gave owner Neven Botica a double. Loving You, favourite at 11/8, started from the inside of the back line in the 1730m Regency Food Mares Pace and she trailed the pacemaker and 5/2 second fancy Bettor Whitby before Suvaljko eased her off the pegs 220m from home. Loving You was switched three wide on the home turn and she finished strongly to burst to the front 50m from the post before scoring by just under a length from Terra Into The West, who had taken the lead with 130m to travel. Bettor Whitby, who had overraced, held on to be third. This brought up four wins in a row for Loving You, an Art Major filly bred by Botica. Loving You has already earned $67,372 from seven wins and ten placings from 28 starts. She is the third foal out of New Zealand-bred mare Roustabout, who raced 12 times for four wins, two placings and $33,171. Roustabout’s first foal is Arousing, who has raced 60 times for seven wins, 19 placings and $64,973. Tilbrook produced Senor Jet in fine fettle for his first start for four months when the New Zealand-bred gelding started favourite 5/4 on and gave a bold frontrunning display to beat the fast-finishing Ardens Southee by 5m in the Slater Gartrell Sports Pathway Pace over 2130m. Toretto, making his first appearance since winning at Gloucester Park 11 months ago, began speedily from barrier three, but was unable to cross Senor Jet, who started from the prized pole position. Senor Jet sprinted over the final 400m in 28.6sec. and Toretto fought on gamely to finish third. Senor Jet rated 1.58.7 and took his record to five wins and two seconds from only ten starts for stakes of $22,977. After one win from three New Zealand starts he has chalked up four wins and two seconds from seven WA outings. A DOUBLE KEEPS VOAK AT THE TOP OF THE PREMIERSHIP TABLE Chris Voak continued his outstanding start to the 2013-14 season when he completed a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night by driving 25/1 outsider Chaldea to a surprise victory in the 2130m first heat of the David Strom Leading Driver Gary Hall jun. Preux Chevalier Pace. The 25-year-old Voak, who had been successful earlier in the night with hot favourite Smirking, maintained his lead on the Statewide reinsmen’s premiership table. At the end of the night Voak’s record for the first five weeks of the season stood at 19 winners and 21 placegetters from 94 drives, giving him the lead over Shannon Suvaljko (17 wins and 20 placings from 73 drives), Colin Brown (17 wins and ten placings from 52 drives) and Gary Hall jun. (15 wins and 16 placings from 56 drives). Chaldea, one of three runners in the event trained at Waroona by Bob Mellsop, had been placed at his four previous starts, but was disregarded by punters, mainly because he was at a distinct disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line. Mellsop elected to drive Little Boy Blue (4/1) and he engaged Nathan Turvey to handle 40/1 chance Notabadexcuse. Polemarker Myouri (5/1) set the pace, with stablemate What God Knows in the breeze, 3/1 favourite Heez Orl Black in the one-out, one-back position and Chaldea in eighth spot. When Brown sent Ballas Arockstar (14/1) forward approaching the bell, Voak was quick to follow that gelding’s three-wide burst with Chaldea. Chaldea sustained a strong finishing run and burst to the front in the closing stages to score by a head from Myouri, with outsider Courage Tells impressing in finishing fast from 11th at the bell to be a half-length away in third place. Chaldea dashed over the final 800m in 58.2sec. and rated 2.0.3 to end a losing sequence of 12. A winner at three of his ten New Zealand starts, he has had 32 starts in WA for six wins and 12 placings to take his overall earnings to $63,661. Chaldea is by Western Terror and is out of the unraced New York Motoring mare Summer Solstice, whose dam, the unraced Sands A Flyin mare Love And Light produced good winners Mr Chin and Im Light Hearted. Mr Chin, by Village Jasper, won four races in New Zealand and one in Australia (as a three-year-old at Menangle in June 2006) before winning 30 times in America. He had 225 starts for 35 wins and 57 placings for prizemoney of $407,317. Im Light Hearted has raced 107 times for 12 wins, 31 placings and $118,097. MAKE ME GRIN HAS CALLEGARI SMILING Astute Busselton trainer Michael Callegari has a good eye for a horse and he made a wise decision last November when he made an offer to buy a lightly-raced four-year-old by the name of Make Me Grin. Callegari produced Make Me Grin in superb condition at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Ashleigh Markham drove him to a convincing victory in the 2130m Remote Foods Pathway Pace at the five-year-old’s first appearance at that track. It was also the gelding’s first start since March. “Make Me Grin was owned by Ryan Bell and his Dad Peter was working him on the track where I was training my horses,” Callegari said. “I liked the look of him, so I made an offer and got him for $3000.” Callegari races Make Me Grin with his mother Margaret and the gelding has had 11 starts for them for two wins and three placings for stakes of $11,488. Before that, Make Me Grin had won once (at Bunbury) from six starts. He had been purchased by Ryan Bell for $26,500 as a yearling. At his first start for Callegari, Make Me Grin finished a nose second to Dougie Bromac at Bunbury last December before he set the pace and was a most impressive winner over Livelong And Prosper at Albany on New Year ’s Eve. However, the gelding’s next starts, five at Albany and three at Bunbury, produced just two minor placings. “I kept taking him down to Albany every week and I don’t think he handled all the travelling,” Callegari said. “So I sent him for a long spell before giving him a nice long preparation.” Make Me Grin was a 13/2 chance from barrier three on the front line. He mustered plenty of early pace and Markham sent him past the 7/4 favourite Mene Jaccka and into the lead after 300m. After dawdling through the first 400m section of the final mile in a very slow 33.4sec. and the next quarter in an ambling 31.1sec., Make Me Grin sped over the final 800m in 57sec. to win by a length from 11/4 chance Northview Cardle, who raced in the breeze over the final 1300m. Make Me Grin is out of the Safely Kept mare Spirit Away, who earned $71,250 from nine wins and 19 placings from 64 starts. Make Me Grin traces back on his dam’s side to several outstanding WA pacers of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Magic Flute, Eroica, Flute Song and Enrico. Star Song, the dam of Magic Flute and several other winners, was an elder half-sister to the South Australian-bred Modulation, who contested the 1957 interdominion championship series at Gloucester Park. Both Modulation and Magic Flute were unplaced in the final won by the South Australian frontrunner Radiant Venture. SANJAYA CHARGES HOME FROM LAST Well-travelled New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Sanjaya, whose ancestry on his dam’s side traces back to champion New South Wales pacer Don’t Retreat, gave promise of better things to come when he surged home from ninth in a field of nine at the 350m mark to score an easy victory in the 2536m Force Equipment Service And Hire Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Sanjaya, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen. and driven by his elder son Clint, was a 6/1 chance from the outside of the front line and at his third start after a spell. Hall restrained Sanjaya back to last as Romulus (7/1) sped to an early lead from barrier three. Heavens Delight (7/1) overraced in the breeze and Bet Your Life, a newcomer from Victoria and favourite at 4/1, enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back. Chris Voak sent Bet Your Life to the front 250m from home, with Jar Zinyo (10/1) unwinding a solid three-wide burst. Sanjaya was last passing the 350m mark as Hall followed the three-wide run of Jar Zinyo. Jar Zinyo got to a narrow lead in the closing stages before being swamped by the fast-finishing Sanjaya, who scored by a length at a 1.59.7 rate. The final 400m was covered bin 28.9sec. Sanjaya ended a losing sequence of eight and took his record to 60 starts for 12 wins, 16 placings and $84,064. He had 24 starts in New Zealand for two wins and six placings, 15 starts in New South Wales for four wins and five placings, 11 starts in Queensland for four wins and four placings and ten starts in WA for two wins and one placing. Sanjaya’s great, great, great granddam Tui Scott produced Don’t Retreat, a star of the 1970s when he had 112 starts for 55 wins, 32 placings and stakes of $340,317. Don’t Retreat qualified for the final of the interdominion championship in Brisbane in 1977 and Melbourne a year later, but was unplaced in both events. Sanjaya also is related to recent Perth winner Me Old Mate, who has raced 39 times for nine wins, eight placings and $64,126. OUR MAJOR MARK GIVES HIS BACKERS A SCARE New Zealand-bred six-year-old Our Major Mark, favourite at 5/1 on, gave his backers plenty of palpitations when he looked beaten on the home turn in the 2130m Central Fruit Sales Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The pacemaker Kiss Chasey (10/1) had shaken off Our Major Mark on the home turn and looked set for victory. But Our Major Mark, who had dropped back more than a length behind the leader (after racing in the breeze for most of the way) fought back grimly to get his nose in front 10m from the post. He won by a neck from Kiss Chasey, with Copagrin battling on into third place after enjoying the run of the race in the one-out, one-back position. Our Major Mark drew the prized No. 1 barrier and was looked upon as a certainty to set the pace. But, surprisingly, Our Major Mark lacked early sparkle and settled in fourth place before Colin Brown quickly eased him off the pegs and took him three wide to move outside Kiss Chasey after 500m. This was Our Major Mark’s eighth win from 15 starts in WA for trainers Greg and Skye Bond and it took his earnings past $600,00. He won at ten of his 39 New Zealand starts and twice from six starts in Victoria before arriving in WA. The son of Art Major now has amassed $609,275 from 20 wins and 16 placings from 60 starts. He has graduated from an M0 mark to an M1 classification. Our Major Mark was an outstanding performer for Mark Purdon as a two-year-old in New Zealand when he won three group 1 events and one group 2 event. He won the group 2 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park in March 2010, an $80,000 group 1 event at Addington in April, the group 1 Sires Stakes at Addington in May and the group 1 Emerald at Cambridge in June. SMIRKING FIGHTS ON DOGGEDLY TO SCORE NARROWLY South Australian-bred six-year-old Smirking, the seventh foal out of WA-bred mare Princess Talaria, responded doggedly to heavy punishment to scramble to a half-head victory over 27/1 outsider Ya Dreamin in the 2536m Red Pepper Catering Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained by Ross Olivieri and driven by Chris Voak, Smirking was hot favourite at 3/1 on and he burst straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier. Colin Brown sent Ya Dreamin forward, three wide, soon after the start and the gelding moved alongside Smirking after 500m. Ya Dreamin poured on the pressure in the final circuit and the final two 400m sections were covered in 28.9sec. and 28.7sec. Voak had to wield the whip vigorously over the final 450m to stave off the determined Ya Dreamin. This was Smirking’s third win from nine WA starts after he had raced 21 times in South Australia for nine wins and eight placings. Princess Talaria (by Northern Lights) was bred in WA and she was successful as a three-year-old at Gloucester Park and Harvey in 1999 before winning three races in Victoria as a four-year-old. Princess Talaria produced Oztreos, who won at his first seven starts (all at Globe Derby Park) and he earned $123,278 from 21 wins and 12 placings from 50 starts. Smirking’s maternal granddam Minerva Reef produced ten winners, including The Maitre Dee, who won seven races in a row at Gloucester Park as an eight-year-old early in 2000 before retiring with a record of 140 starts for 19 wins, 32 placings and $107,161. ADDA PATERNAL SUIT DELIGHTS LOONE Oldbury trainer-reinsman Shane Loone celebrated his surprise victory with Adda Paternal Suit in the 2536m The Gate Leading Trainer Gary Hall Senior Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night with an extroverted display of uninhibited exuberance. Adda Paternal Suit, the 26/1 outsider in the field of eight, worked hard in the breeze for 1150m before getting to the front 350m from home and racing away to score by 5m from Arousing and Benjamin Banneker. Loone thrust his left arm skywards and wielded the whip jubilantly as Adda Paternal Suit coasted to the post. Loone and Maria Petricevich outlaid $19,000 to claim Adda Paternal Suit on September 13 and now the West Australian-bred seven-year-old has had two starts for his new owners for a good fourth to Springsteen in the Kalgoorlie Cup and Friday night’s impressive victory for stakes of $13,710 which have boosted his career record to 93 starts for 21 wins, 28 placings and $228,705. The win ended a losing sequence of 12 and Adda Paternal Suit was eligible to contest Friday night’s event for horses classified M1 to M4 after he received a drop-down concession from an M5 to an M4 mark when his losing sequence reached ten. Polemarker Arousing (9/1) was first into stride and Bronze Seeker (9/2) and Rojen Cruz (8/1) raced wide early before Morgan Woodley sent Bronze Seeker to the front after 600m, leaving Rojen Cruz in the breeze. Loone had Adda Paternal Suit out three wide before getting the gelding into the breeze with 1500m to travel. Benjamin Banneker, favourite at evens, raced in last position before Gary Hall jun. sent him forward with a three-wide burst 1350m from home. Benjamin Banneker was kept three wide until Adda Paternal Suit got to the front with 350m to travel. He fought on solidly to be third, just a nose behind Arousing, who finished strongly after trailing the pacemaking Bronze Seeker, who was a close-up fifth. by Ken Casellas  

Don’t be surprised if you see Robbie Close achieve high honours amongst our best Junior Drivers this season. The 21-year-old reinsman, as he puts it, ‘wants to give the Juniors a real crack’ in 2013-2014. And one man who believes in his driving abilities is one of our greatest all-time reinsman, Methven maestro, Ricky May. It was May who convinced Kaiapoi trainer Brendon Hill to give the former South Aucklander the drive last Friday night (August 23) behind the talented Bettor Rock On. The 4-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding is now unbeaten in two starts this season after May drove him to one-two-win victory at Oamaru on August 4. Close had Bettor Rock On in front soon after the start of the $5,500 Muscara Standardbred Pace for Junior Drivers. From that point they proved too strong in the run home pacing the 2600m stand in 3:19.3 (mile rate: 2:03.3), with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.2 and 28 seconds flat. He was the $2.90 favourite. Outsiders Tyron’s Falcon Ella (Jessica Young) and Massimo (Matt Purvis) were second and third some 1-3/4 lengths and 1-1/2 lengths away. “He’s a really nice horse – probably one of the best I’ve driven. He was doing it easy, but he did knock off with about 100 to go. “It was really good of Ricky and Brendon to give me the drive. He felt like a good horse. “It was really pleasing to hear that Ricky had been impressed by some of my drives lately. Drivers like him and Blair Orange are reinsmen I really look up to,” Close said. Close transferred from South Auckland to Canterbury four years ago from his home town of Waiuku. He’s just started his fourth season. He’s driven 43 winners – 22 of them last year. Asked if he felt the pressure, especially when sitting behind a warm favourite, Close replied: “Pressure has never been a concern. I am pretty relaxed actually. I talk to the other drivers and really don’t think about anything until the starter says ‘Go’. “I really enjoyed driving Bettor Rock On. Even though he’s a bit green you can tell he’s going to be a very nice horse.” Bettor Rock On is the fourth of six foals out of the 17-year-old one-win Caprock mare, Jingle Belle Rock. Her first two foals – Great Balls A Flyin (by Sands A Flyin) and J D Fortune (Washington VC) won three and six races respectively. Bettor Rock on has now raced 18 times for four wins and eight placings. He’s won $32,716 in purses. He is owned by Hill, D.P. McHugh, P.M. Ellis, and Peter Yesberg. He was bred by Yesberg, and A, and R. Hemingway. Close regarded Bettor Rock On As his number one drive so far. “Donaldson and Lachlan Jack are some other nice ones I’ve driven also. They are right up there,” he added. For the record Close has driven two winners and two place-getters from eight drives this season. He worked for Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett in Waiuku and had a short stint with Barry Purdon before transferring south and taking up a position with Robbie Holmes at Amberley for three years. Close has been with Greg and Nina Hope since just prior to last Christmas. By Duane Ranger Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

Thursday June 20 was a terrific day for Bolinda harness racing trainer Brent Lilley who brought up three winners for the day - a double at Charlton in the afternoon and one Geelong in the evening.

Former Otago harness racing trainer and breeder Peter Cowan would have been smiling down from heaven last week.

Leading South Australian harness racing driver David Harding increased his lead in the States Leading Driver award with a treble at Globe Derby Park on Saturday.

In its second season, the first heat of the Christian Cullen mares' harness racing series ticked all the boxes. John Mooney the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Chairman was delighted with the outcomes reporting that.

Brendon Hill asked the question of New Zealand harness racing hero Monkey King, but the 10-year-old today (Thursday September 13) told 'Benny' - "enough is enough".

Retired dual New Zealand Cup hero Monkey King is on the verge of a surprise harness racing comeback.

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