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Scott Phelan claimed his second Otaki Cup in three years on Sunday but admits he hasn’t had a great deal of luck on the grass since first donning the silks back in 2000. “I think Sunday’s win was my first grass track victory this season. I haven’t won a lot of Country Cups either. I think the only other one was also the Otaki Cup a couple of years ago,” the gifted South Auckland reinsman said. That was in fact behind the Anne-Marie Best trained Tijuana Bromac in 2013. But Phelan was at his driving best when steering the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Sweet Art to victory in the 2015 edition of the Railway Hotel Otaki Cup on the grass. Two days earlier they finished a three-length fifth in the Cup Prelude won by the Tijuana Bromac and Sailesh Abernethy. “She’s the sort of horse that if she can get to the front early she can be hard to beat. She paced along at a solid tempo out in front on Sunday and felt really good turning for home. “At the finish she had plenty in hand. She’s the sort of horse that doesn’t have a lot of high speed but she’s a tough mare who can out-grind them,” Phelan said. The 32-year-old sent the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlic trained Sweet Art straight to the front from their one draw and dictated all the pace to win the 3000m standing start event by 1-3/4 lengths from roughie Cougar Bromac (Stephen Doody). Beckinsale and Kyle Marshall were three quarters of a length back in third. Sweet Art paced the Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s feature event in 3:58.2 (mile rate 2:07.7) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.8 and 28.9. It was the daughter of Art Major’s mare’s fifth win in 33 starts. She was the fifth favourite of 14 and paid $9.10 to win. Phelan, who is one of the best front-running drivers in New Zealand, dictated all the pace from the outset with the 4-year-old. His hands again proved to be the winning of the race. “I think she’s the sort of horse who would go real well in Australia, but I am not sure if that is in the owners’ plans or not. “I think the Wairarapa Cup is. It’s a $15,000 race and is one of her immediate targets and is a race which is well within her grasp,” Phelan said. Sweet Art was bred and is owned by Stonewall Stud. The Geoff Small trained and David Butcher driven Major Change was the only horse to win on both days of the KCHRC’s two-day meeting. On Friday the Art Major gelding justified favouritism ($3.60) by winning the Palamountains Scientific maiden pace, and then he had 2-1/4 lengths to spare in the Personnel Touch Mobile for C1 pacers on Sunday. He paid $3.10 to win and is a promising 3-year-old who can go on with it. Duane Ranger - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand PS - Scott gave Sweet Art as his best drive of the week on the Harnesslink ringaround last week. Fifth on the first day, those who stuck with the ship would have loved the $9:10 dividend on Sunday.  

The racing programme is finally getting back to something like normal this week although there is no meeting in the Auckland/ Waikato region so the number of selections this week reflects that. Our "holiday" selectors were in good form with Scott Phelan, Ricky May, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, Steve Richardson, Bob Butt, Nathan Williamson, Matthew Williamson and Brad Williamson all tipping out winners with Brad getting bragging rights on the back of Nureyev paying $10:90 at Winton. This week we have four meetings in the country covered with some interesting selections from our tipsters. Northern Southland - Thursday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Bullish about the chances of Acolyte in race 4 Bob Butt - Thinks that with an ounce of luck Justalittlebettor can win race 5 even from barrier 8 Terry Chmiel - Reckons Millwood Pink Lady from barrier two will be very hard to beat, also in race 5 Ricky May - Rates Rocker Band very hard to hold out if she gets clear air in race 6 Brendon McLellan - Reckons with his dropback to C1 Sammy The Bull can win race 8 Nathan Williamson - Gives Dwindle Mist a real chance of upsetting the favourites in race 9 Clark Barron - Thought even in a red hot field, Twilight Franco could upset them in race 10    Otaki - Friday afternoon John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates the chances of recent northern import Balius in race 6 Scott Phelan - Likes the chances of Sweet Art off the front mark to win race 7 Steven Reid - Thought Clarius was a chance to upset them in race 8 Peter Scaife - Thought Playaway was due a change of luck and could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Royal Caroline a big chance of leaving maidens in race 1 Craig Thornley - Thought Supreme Gem even from barrier 6 at the mile could win race 3 Robbie Holmes - Gives Petite Royal a chance of turning her form around and winning race 4 Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Bracken Ridge in race 6  Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes the chances of Big Lucy winning first up for the season in race 8 Brad Williamson- Thought Monty Python could make it three in a row in race 9   Oamaru - Sunday Afternoon Matthew Williamson - Rates Brads Kenny a huge chance on his home track to win race 5

We must apologize for last weeks absense due to the staff member responsible being off ill and the "boss" not picking up the slack. It might have been an opportune time for a break anyway as our tipsters were digging themselves a bit of a hole in the last week or two. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Zac Butcher - Thought Georgies Smile from the ace would be hard to roll in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very keen on the chances of Thanks Shane also in race 2 Scott Phelan - Reckons Santana Jewel is way overdue to win one in race 4 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks if the breaks go her way that Simply Stunning can upset them in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Likes the chances of The Moonraker clearing maidens in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac should continue the picket fence formline in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates The Fascinator a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Reckons Classical Art can keep the winning streak intact in race 5 Blair Orange - Likes the chances of Mighty Flying Major to be a "major" player in race 7 Tim Williams - Not surprisingly Tim thinks that Have Faith In Me will win, also in race 7 Steven Richardson - Has gone a touch rougher with Express Stride to upstage the other two in race 7 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Yagunnakissmeornot can make it six from six at Alexandra Park in race 10 Gerard O'Reilly - Is confident that Zin Zan will strip a lot fitter this week and can win race 11   Addington - Friday night Robbie Holmes - Likes Tehoro Ruby from barrier 1 to break out of maidens in race 1 Bob Butt - Thought if Justalittlebettor could reproduce her Methven run she could win race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Monty Python a big chance to go back to back in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thinks Breeders Crown finalist Field Marshall will be to good in race 11   Wairio - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Grey Power put his best foot forward they wouldn't beat him in race 1 Dexter Dunn - Likes the chances of Leolas Delight making a winning debut in race 2 John Dunn - Very confident that Jay Dub can make it two from two this time in and take out race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks that Vera's Delight can get that long overdue win in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Canardy Lover a big show to go back to back in race 8 Clark Barron - Reckons that Shezacheapy back on the roomy Winton track can win race 9   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Craig Thornley - Thinks Inchbonnie Lad can go one better this week and win race 4   Harnesslink Media  

Bit of the post Cup blues from last weeks tipsters with just Blair Orange, John Curtin, Tony Herlihy, Todd Macfarlane and Nathan Williamson nailing winners while the tipsters racked up seven placings as well. Jimmy Curtin went close with Juliette Bromac at Addington running second when paying $31 to win. This week there is plenty of racing in the south with four meetings and just one in the north and our tipsters have covered all the meetings. Due to the invited drivers series at Invercargill taking over the last six races there, we have no selections from our southern tipsters this week bar Nathan Williamson who is driving at Forbury Park.  Forbury Park - Thursday Night Matt Williamson - Thought Tachma was right in the zone and could win race 1 Nathan Williamson - Gives Strathmores Charm a real chance to go back to back in race 5 Tim Williams - Reckons with the big drop back in class Here We Go Again should win race 6   Alexandra Park - Friday Night John Curtin  (Harnesslink) - Reckons Hot Mach will be too good in race 1 Steven Reid - Likes Blinding Light  with a better barrier draw this week to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Rates Bourbon Street a big chance of clearing maidens in race 6 Scott Phelan - With Spanish Lustre scratched, his best drive is now Le Lua Invasion in race 9   Timaru - Saturday Afternoon  John Dunn - Likes Eilish Aimee to start her career on a winning note in race 1 Bob Butt - Rates Easy Rider a good chance to atone for Ashburton last week and win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Gives Major Patron a big show of turning his form around in race 3 Brad Williamson - Thought the standing start would make Goshawk an each way chance in race 7  Ricky May - Reckons Pay Me Art from the front line will be hard to beat in race 9 Terry Chmiel - Gives Stradowan a winning chance even off 10 metres , also in race 9 Gerard O'Reilly - Likes Jayceekay from the mobile to be too good and win race 10  Craig Thornley - Rates Real Life Hero a big chance to take out race 11   Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Robbie Holmes - Thinks Willie Shine is slowly turning the corner and can win race 1 Jim Curtin - Thought Franco Tyrone was a good chance to win race 12   Invercargill - Sunday Afternoon Maurice McKendry - Thought from barrier 3 Sheeza Shark would be tough to roll in race 8  Blair Orange - Rates Pepe Bromac,even from barrier 12 a chance to beat Sheeza Shark in race 8    Harnesslink Media

We thought it would be interesting to get the viewpoint of all our regular tipsters with regards how they see the New Zealand Cup this week and so the following selections are how they see the race. Maurice McKendry --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Christen Me Tony Herlihy --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Tiger Tara Sean McCaffrey --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Christen Me Scott Phelan --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me --Christen Me Todd Macfarlane --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason Todd Mitchell --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason John Curtin --- Christen Me -- For A Reason -- Terror To Love Matthew Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Christen Me Nathan Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brad Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- Christen Me Shane Walkinshaw --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brendon McLellan --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Clark Barron --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian Tim Williams --- Adore Me --- Terror To Love --- Christen Me   Terry Chmiel --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- For A Reason Steve Richardson --- Terror To Love --For A Reason -- Tiger Tara Robbie Holmes --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Franco Nelson Gerard O'Reilly --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Tiger Tara  Craig Thornley --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Jimmy Johnstone Jim Curtin --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Ricky May --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Blair Orange --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me John Dunn --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Franco Nelson                                                                 Cup Day Ringaround   With a lot of our regular tipsters involved in Cup Day we thought we would ask them for their best drive from their book tomorrow. Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Eyre I Come in race 1 Tony Herlihy -  Rates Tokohoka from the All Stars team as tough to beat in race 2 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought King Of Strathfield had freshened up nicely and could win race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Like Gerard, Steve thinks that King Of Strathfield will win race 3 Ricky May - Very bullish about Dalton Bromac even fron barrier 9 winning race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Fly Like An Eagle can confound the pundits and win race 5 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Sam is a great place chance in race 6 Maurice McKendry - As you would expect, Maurice thinks Hughie Green will win race 7 Robbie Holmes - If Cyclone Kiwi steps Robbie thinks he will win race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought All Delight was a good place chance at odds, also in race 8 Jimmy Curtin - Thinks Te Kawau from barrier three will win  race 9 Tim Williams - Reckons Here We Go Again can overcome the bad draw and win, also in race 9 Nathan Williamson - Confident that Spash Cola is a big chance to win race 11 John Dunn - Rates No Doctor Needed very hard to beat in race 12 Terry Chmiel - Likes Happy Heidi to run the Quinella with No Doctor Needed  in race 12   Harnesslink Media

Last week saw a big improvement from the week before but the team of tipsters are still not really at peak yet. Maurice McKendry, Sean McCaffrey, Todd Mitchell, Todd Macfarlane, Matthew Williamson and Steve Richardson from the TAB all nabbed winners while another five managed placings. As we countdown to Cup week, there are once again five meetings nationwide and we have selections for all of them. Forbury Park - Thursday night Craig Thornley - Likes Smart Caesar from a mobile to be hard to beat in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Pegasus Kommander from barrier 2 would be hard to beat in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Dwindle Mist is on the improve and can take out race 7   Auckland - Friday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thought the central districts visitor Our Wicklow would be hard in race 1 Maurice Mckendry - Rates the chances of The Orange Agent in race 2 Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path even from barrier 15 can win race 6 Zac Butcher - Likes Chachingchaching to upset Hughie Green in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Eyrewell Pegasus can overcome the 20 metre handicap and win race 8 Tony Herlihy - Likes stable runner Danger Mouse in the hands of Tony Cameron to win race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks A Chance To Dream from barrier 1 could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Jim Curtin - Thought Juliette Bromac was a real chance of winning race 2 Tim Williams - Rates Have Faith In Me back to a maiden very hard to beat, also in race 2  Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Ruby a chance to upset from the mobile in race 3 John Dunn - Likes Monumental to turn his form around in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Confident that Stradowan has improved from first up run and can win race 8   Riverton - Sunday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Majestic Stride a real show of winning race 3 Matthew Williamson - Thought Alley Way even from 50 metres should be too good for them in race 5 Clark Barron - Thinks with natural improvement Sheeza Shark won't be far away in race 7 Dexter Dunn - Likes Courage To Fly to end his run of seconds and win race 8   Kaikoura - Monday afternoon Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought star trialist Princess Galleon could win race 1 Blair Orange - Couldn't see Mighty Flying Major beaten in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Carrickmannon could trouble Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy in race 4 Ricky May - Confident that Mel Gibson can go one better than his last start and win race 5 Sam Ottley - Thinks Price Of Fame will go very close also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Norvic Nightowl a real chance in the Kaikoura Cup, race 8    Harnesslink Media

Last week we got a good old fashioned kick up the butt with just three of our tipsters selecting a winner and only six overall were in the money. Blair Orange, Terry Chmiel and Nathan Williamson furthered their good record as selectors whilst there were plenty of hard luck stories from others all over the country. They start with a clean slate this week and have come up with plenty of value for readers with plenty of runners whose form is not the best but who our selectors give a real chance to. Manawatu - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Even though he has drawn the second row thinks Art Magic should win race 3   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thought Elliesjet even from barrier 12 would be hard to beat in race1 Steven Reid - Very bullish about Unforgiving from barrier one in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes The Orange Agent to upset Unforgiving in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Boizel even off 40 metres can win race 5 Tony Herlihy - Rates Downunder Stride from barrier one as hard to beat in race 6 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Le Lua Invasion a good chance against the fillies and mares in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green will atone for last week and win race 8 Zac Butcher - Likes Saffron Castleton to turn her form around in race 9   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Quaint Glen a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 Tim Williams - Confident that Adore Me's little brother Have Faith In Me can win race 6 John Dunn - Feedback from stable suggests Light Up Boss will win race 7 if driver at his best Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox just needs a change of luck to win race 8 Sam Ottley - Quite keen on Bird Of Paradise to turn her form around in race 10     Manawatu - Sunday afternoon Todd Macfarlane - Rates Hudy Haxwell a royal show on the second day at Manawatu Peter Scaife - Gives Johnny Vegas a big chance on the second day at Manawatu   Tuapeka - Sunday afternoon Dexter Dunn - Reckons Margarita can make it four wins from her last five in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way can go one better than last week and win race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes stablerunner Onedin Mach to make it four in a row in race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought Drover's Eyre would be tough to roll in race 11   Ashburton - Monday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Confident that Never Fear can turn her form around in race 1 Jim Curtin - Thinks Star Of Dionysis is overdue and can win race 2 Ricky May - Keen on Brilliant Strike who has a decent draw for once to win race 4 Terry Chmiel -Thought That Guy Finn even in that super hot field can win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Last week we had usual suspects tipping out the winners with Blair Orange, Gerard O"Reilly, Ricky May, Clark Barron and Steve Richardson all being successful while eleven of our other tipsters were in the money headed by Robbie Holmes with Nicalea ($6.30) at Timaru. This week we have five meetings to cover and our tipsters have covered them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Todd Mitchell - Thinks Take Charge from barrier two is a big chance in race 4 Steve Richardson - Keen on Speak Up who has been racing with merit at Auckland in race 5 Peter Scaife - Confident of a big run from V C Dell, also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Bullish about Strawberry Courage from the front line in race 6    Auckland - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Haxwell is due a change of luck in race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Le Lua Invasion would be tough to roll in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about My Kiwi Mate in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green can take the step up in race 7 Tony Herlihy - Likes Mighty Regal to go one better than his last start second in race 9 Steven Reid - Rates Sirius Star as well overdue for a win and thinks it will come in race 9 as well   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel  - Thinks with last weeks run under her belt that Oh Nova is ready to win race 3 Blair Orange - Confident Mighty Flying Major will be too good in race 4 Ricky May - Very bullish on the chances of Matty Groves in race 5 Craig Thornley - Rates Johny Rock a big chance, even from barrier nine in race 7 Brad Williamson - Quietly confident about the chances of Al Raza in race 8   Methven - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Give Me Strength a huge chance back on the grass in race 1  John Dunn - Confident Return To Sender is primed to win race 5 Jim Curtin - Thinks stable rep Star Of Dionysis is a big chance in the junior drivers event, race 10   Wairio - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes Springbank Ruby to atone for her Timaru effort and win race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks oldtimer Suncrusher can teach the young ones a thing or two, also in race 3 Nathan Williamson - Confident of a big showing from the classy Jag's Invasion in race 4 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Smiling Star can make a race of it with Fly Like An Eagle in race 7 Clark Barron - Quite bullish about Shezacheapy who comes in fresh in race 8  Shane Walkinshaw - Draw a killer but still likes Double Rainbow in race 9   Harnesslink Media

Another five winners last week with Scott Phelan, Todd Mitchell, Maurice McKendry, Matt Williamson and Blair Orange doing the business while another eight selections filled a minor placing. This week there are four meetings countrywide and we have selections for them all. Forbury Park - Thursday night Matthew Williamson - Thinks Davey's Gift can go back to back in race 2 Nathan Williamson -  Thought Bettakatethanneva might upset them in race 8   Alexandra Park - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Quite keen on Even Flo in race 1 after her smart last start third Todd Mitchell - Thinks a couple of gear changes will see Courtney John win race 1 Scott Phelan - Shooting for three in a row with the lightly raced Jazz It Up in race 2 Tony Herlihy - Keen on the chances of Grumpy Possum in race 4 Steven Reid - Likes Elliot Daniel to continue his renaissance in race 9 Maurice Mckendry - Thinks Wings Of a Prayer can take race 10   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Very confident McArdle Star can make it two from two in race 1 John Dunn - Likes Wesley Silcox to make it three wins from four starts in race 2 Terry Chmiel - Very keen on Parramatta in the Junior Drivers event, race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Keen on the first starter Add No Interest in race 8 Jim Curtin - Thought that The Persuader was overdue in race 8 as well Brad Williamson - Thinks Queen Kenny will be very hard to beat in race 9 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Likes Lookofalegend to leave maidens in race 10 Ricky May - Rates Brilliant Strike a huge winning chance in race 10 as well   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Gerard O"Reilly  Thinks Cracklin Rosie is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Sam Ottley - Likes Sterns Arising to cap off some good form in race 8

Last week was on the up  for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8   Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon  Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2  Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson -  Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8   Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9   Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line.   Harnesslink Media

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

The best harness racing drivers from the North and South Islands square off in six races at Alexandra Park on Friday night (August 29th). Named the Island Of Origin series, it has brought together the best drivers in New Zealand in a contest that decides bragging rights between the islands for the next twelve months. Points are scored on a 3 - 2 - 1 basis and judging by the fields and the spread of form horses to both camps, it should be a close and exciting contest. The South Island team is full of talent with last seasons leading driver Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Mark Jones, Blair Orange, Gerald O'Reilly and Jimmy Curtin.. The North Island team is just as talented with the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy teaming up with Zac Butcher, Philip Butcher, Peter Ferguson, Todd Mitchell and Scott Phelan. Most home teams have an edge to start with and that was added to just a little bit by the fact that the Northern horsemen have 31 drives on Friday night compared to 30 for the Southern horsemen. All the races for the invited drivers are penalty free which is a nice bonus for the trainers and owners who have supported the series with their horses. The most interesting race for the invited drivers is undoubtedly race three, the C2 - C5 mobile pace over 2200 meters. Last seasons smart 3 year old Te Kawau looks hard to beat but a couple of real up and comers could prove troublesome with a run to suit. Royal Taz has won his last two for Tony Herlihy in the manner of a horse going places and from his handy draw looms as a genuine threat to the favourite. Pricillas Girl has run two slashers this time in and appeals as a value runner if the other two go to war at any stage. Six of the other runners in the field have either won or been placed at their last start so the favoured trio won't have it all their own way. The invited drivers creates real interest leading into Friday night and the Auckland Trotting Club should be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition. Harnesslink Media 

There was no ring-around last week however the ring-around the week prior produced five winners. Let’s see if we can top that tally this week. Forbury – Thursday Robbie Close: Thinks impressive last start winner Billies A Star will prove very tough to beat in the third race on the card. Jonny Cox:  Has found some value in the form of stable newcomer Franco Theron – race six. Ken Barron:  Has opted for Livura, who looks a strong chance in race seven, as his bet of the week. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Sage can surprise at value from her ace draw. She also competes in the seventh race on the card. Franklin@Alexandra Park – Friday Scott Phelan: Has opted for Getaway Doug as his bet of the week – race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B):  Rates the chances of Tarn, who was a good workout winner last weekend, in the same event. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who has raced well lately despite receiving little luck. She looks a good chance in race six. Jay Abernethy: Has opted for Pacific Rapture, who finished a nice second in the Golden Girls Final, in the same race. Josh Dickie: Expects Tembi to prove too strong for his five rivals in the last event on the card. Rangiora – Sunday Gavin Smith: Has opted for stable newcomer Zena Mac, who looks a good chance from her ace alley in the second race. Mark Jones:  Rates JC Skipper as his best chance of the weekend – race four. Ricky May: Has selected Mighty Peruvian, who stuck on gamely for second last start. He also competes in race four. Terry Chmiel: Expects impressive trialist Parramatta to prove hard to beat in the fifth event on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): New Deal – race nine.    

Last week was possibly the worst ever for the ring-around with just the one winner. However, that one winner, Equulei, tipped by Jay Abernethy, did pay odds of $10.70 and $2.50. Let’s see what the boys have come up with for us this week: Addington – Thursday Jonny Cox: Thinks 2-win mare Pay Me Quick, who has been in sublime form of late, will be hard to beat against non-win rivals in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the very smart Dalton Bromac, who looks half of the quinella with Wesley Silcox – race four. Matthew Williamson:  Expects Very Persuasive to prove very hard to beat in the Golden Girls Final – race eight. Ken Barron: Has a massive opinion of Bracken Ridge and expects him to be simply too classy for his rivals in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race nine. Alexandra Park - Thursday Josh Dickie: Thinks Sunny Vacation, with manners, is the one they all have to beat in race six. Scott Phelan: Thinks the inform Cyamach, who is likely to head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, can continue on his winning ways – race seven. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who looks a strong chance in the eighth race on the card. Simon Lawson: Thinks Shedontloveme is a very good each-way chance in the last race on the card. Kurow – Sunday Blair Orange: Thinks Quaint Glen, who had trialled up stylishly prior to her debut third, can win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Lovetodream, who also looks a good chance in the first race on card. Gavin Smith: Thinks Billies A Star, who has been ultra impressive at the trials, should prove too strong for what looks an average maiden line-up – race five. Mark Jones: Thinks Sunoflindenny, who has been backed and beaten in his first two runs back, can make amends in the sixth race on the card.  

The Cameleon mare Slangevar was no great shakes on the racetrack, winning just once from 15 starts and taking a mark of 2:01.6. However being a half sister to the former age group star Mr Williams 1:56.7 ($133,242) and another handy horse in Piper Heidsieck 1:53.4 ($78,988), Slangevar was given her chance at stud and has proved that you don't need to be a star on the track to be a star in the broodmare barn. Tonight (July 25th) at Alexandra Park, Slangevar's only three foals old enough to race were all in action and none of them let the mare down. First up was the 3 year old Badlands Hanover filly Cheers Kathy who was sent out favourite in race one. Sent straight to the front by driver Scott Phelan, Cheers Kathy took a trail behind Miss Lotty after 200 meters and received a lovely drag from then on. Angling off Miss Lotty's back as they turned for home, Cheers Kathy quickly put the issue beyond doubt, winning by an ever increasing 2 ¾ lengths. It was the first win for the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained filly and took her stake earnings to $14,552. Cheers Kathy paced the 2200 meters in 2:47.5, a mile rate of 2:02.5 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29. Cheers Kathy Next up in race two were Cheers Kathy's two half brothers in the 2 year old Prince Of Pops and the 4 year old First Holme who both race out of the Telfer and Garlick stable as well. Sent out of the gate by driver Zac Butcher, Prince of Pops ended up in the death after 200 meters outside the well supported Fizzi Lizzi while the Scott Phelan driven First Holme settled well back in the field from his second row draw. First Holme was sent forward with 1100 meters to go, finding the death outside Fizzi Lizzi a lap out and giving his stablemate a nice drag home. Peeling out on the point of the turn, Prince Of Pops shot clear for a comfortable win with Party Boy running on well for second and First Holme sticking on well for third. It was the third win for the gelded son of Changeover and took his earnings in his debut season to $26,948. Prince Of Pops paced the 2200 meters mobile in 2:43.8, a mile rate of 1:59.8 with smart closing sectionals of 56.4 and 28.2. Prince Of Pops With two winners and a place getter on the night from her three foals eligible to race, Slangevar is certainly making her mark in the broodmare barn.   Harnesslink media

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