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Trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan have reason to celebrate even before they head to Alexandra Park tonight look for more. The long-time friends have lodged papers this week to resume their training partnership in the new season, nine years after last training together. Phelan cut his teeth working with Hall of Famer Purdon and they trained together from 2008 to 2011 before Phelan briefly moved overseas. The 38-year-old first worked for Steve Telfer when he returned from his time in Australia but has been with Purdon for the last few years and is thrilled to be re-entering their partnership. “It is like coming home to me,” says Phelan. “It is a wonderful property which I love and Barry and Katrina have been great to me. “And we have some lovely horses here so I am looking forward to next season even more now.” Purdon may have nothing left to prove in harness racing but he has rarely trained better, with his strike rate last season the highest of his career, albeit with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity these days. “Scott and I get on really well and he is a great worker. But the quality I admire most is he cares about the horses and getting the job done well,” offered Purdon. While the partnership won’t officially resume until the new season in August, the stable could easily have two winners tonight. They have both Major Jellis (10m handicap) and On The Cards (55m) in tonight’s main pace where they clash with NZ’s best three-year-old pacer in Hard Copy (45m) and in-form mare Callie’s Delight (30m). The small field and step up to 2700m distance may partially negate the handicaps for the favourites but the tempo for the first mile of the race could dictate their chances “I think On The Cards will be better for his fresh up run but these are tricky races,” says Purdon. Rival trainer Ray Green feels the same with Hard Copy, who be believes is forward enough to win yet still at the improving stage. “I am happy with him but he has been away for a while and a lot will depend on how fast they go and where they all end up in the running,” says Green. Purdon has impressive debut runner-up Marathon Man in the first race at tonight’s race Wednesday meeting at Alexandra Park, in which he has barrier one rather than the poor barrier he had to come from last start. “He was very good behind what looked a nice maiden winner last start and should be hard to beat,” he says. One of the other highlights of the night is the return of Credit Master and Kenny’s Dream in the main trot (race five) but like Copy That they face big handicaps fresh up and may have to chase a race fit rival like Tricky Ric who won the comparable race last start but doesn’t receive a penalty for that.   Michael Guerin

Barry Purdon has no idea what is behind Jack’s Legend renaissance but he is keen to see if it can extend all the way to a Easter Cup.  So the most in-form pacer in the country will spearhead a stable assault on Addington in coming weeks as Purdon aims at premier racing there on two separate occasions in  the next few months. Jack’s Legend made it four open class wins on end in the City Of Auckland Free-For-All at Alexandra Park last Friday and it was the style in which he achieved the victory that filled Purdon was satisfaction.  “I thought he would go well because he has been in such good form but to it parked and win in that grade is a big performance,” says Purdon.  “There were some good horses in that field and sitting parked has never really been his go but as he had gotten older maybe he is just knuckling down more. They don’t often sit parked to win good races at Alexandra Park.”  While Purdon is full of praise for how new driver Scott Phelan has been handling Jack’s Legend he was just as happy with how regular pilot Zac Butcher had been, so he says the improvement in the five-year-old can’t be put down to that, as good as job as Phelan as done  “He seems to have gotten his confidence back but really there isn’t one reason for it.  “But he is a happy horse so he has earned a trip to Addington.”  Jack’s Legend has of course been to Addington plenty of times before and split Lazarus and Tiger Tara, no mean feat, when finishing second in the New Zealand Cup 17 months ago. He will return for the Four and Five-Year-Old Superstars on March 29 before the Easter Cup a week later.  “He will head down there with Supreme Dominator, who is going down for the Derby.  “Then Jack’s Legend might even come home and have another race before the end of the season because those $25,000 stakes at Alexandra Park are so good.”  Purdon is proud to see his home track boosting stakes to record levels but that won’t be his sole focus for the rest of the season. “After the Easter Cup meeting we will be looking south later in the season with Belle Of Montana and Havtime for the Nevele R and the Oaks and then maybe the Jewels, as we could have some other horses for that month of racing too.”   Michael Guerin

Harness racing speedster Jack's Legend made it four straight wins when he sat parked and out toughed a tidy field in tonights Gr2 $46,000 Auckland Co-Op Taxis City Of Auckland FFA at Alexandra Park.  The Barry Purdon trained Jack's Legend was taken back off the mobile at the start of the race by driver Scott Phelan, before making a forward move with a lap to run to land the parked spot outside race favourite Star Galleria. In the straight Jack's Legend (Bettor's Delight - Larissa Rose) got the measure of Star Galleria and then stuck his head out at the right time to narrowly withstand a late charge from stablemate On The Cards and Zachary Butcher. Star Galleria battled on well for third and Recco Lover was not far away in fourth. "It was a good effort sitting outside Star Galleria and beating him, and also to hold off On The Cards," Phelan said after the race. "I was travelling a bit down the back and when I got to the quarter I wasn't too sure, but he dug deep to the line so I was pretty happy," he said.  Jack's Legend ran the 2200m in a slick 2-40.5 on the rain affected track with a final 800m in 56.3 and a closing 400m in 27 seconds.   Harnesslink Media

The North Island Trainers and Drivers Association have appointed Scott Phelan as Youth Development Officer for the region. The role has been created to assist the youth of the industry with their development and knowledge and act as a support role for any young person who may require assistance or advice. Todd Macfarlane of the North Island Trainers and Drivers Association explained that Phelan will be available for all youth in the industry on an open door approach. “There is a lot of talent out there and we want to help nurture them and help them be the best they can be,” said Macfarlane. “Scott will be available in a support role at race meetings and trials and can be contacted at any time.” “He can also assist in enquires and view race videos, and if a rule has been breached he can also help explain what could have been done to help drivers learn from mistakes. The stipendiary stewards are also very supportive of Scott and we feel that this is a positive support base for cadets and young drivers and trainers.” “The trainers and drivers association also would like to thank the North Island Amateur and North Island Owners association for their support financially in creating this role.” Anyone wishing to seek advice or support from Phelan is encouraged to contact him directly on 022-329-9455. The Northern Harness Racing Cadets in conjunction with the North Island Branch of NZ Trainers & Drivers Association will also hold an Industry Field Day at Franklin Park Training Centre. This will be on Monday 26 March starting with lunch at 12 noon and the activities beginning at 12.30pm. Both groups are encouraging the North Island harness trainers to send along their stable hands, cadets and junior drivers so they have the opportunity to gain knowledge from our industry leaders. Speakers on the day will be Graeme Henley on pedigrees, Tony Grayling on stud duties from getting mares in foal until they are ready for the next step which is Yearling preparation. This topic will be covered by Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson. Brent Mangos and Steven Reid will part with their knowledge and opinions for selecting Yearlings to purchase and then following on Derek Balle and Owen Gillies will demonstrate how the breaking and gaiting process works. Syndication with ATC Syndicate Manager Andrew Jamieson will be the last topic on the day. The day will have its share of fun along the way with quizzes, prizes and giveaways for those in attendance. Scott Phelan in his role as the Youth Development Officer along with a delegation of the North Island Trainers & Drivers will be there to co-ordinate and over-see the afternoon. The North Island Trainers & Drivers have organised for an MVP Award for the 2017/18 season with a trip to leading trainer Gary Hall in Perth. This will be points based with all cadets and junior drivers eligible. For any further information on the day contact Sally Waters the North Island Education & Training Co-ordinator on 027 494 2850.

After nailing 442 wins from 3,733 career drives Scott Phelan has now trained his first solo New Zealand winner. The 34-year-old Clevedon horseman achieved that feat with Admiral's Flight in the first event at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club's meeting at Palmerston North last Wednesday. Phelan was rapt, but was quick to point out he had trained other winners before. "I think I trained about 122 when I worked for Barry Purdon (2008 - 2012) and then when I went to Australia I trained about four or five winners in my own name. "It's a great feeling to get that first one out of the way though. I hope it's the start of many more to come," Phelan said. Admiral Flight's first career win in nine starts came just two days after Phelan handed in his resignation at Stonewall Stud, the base of his former employers and Ardmore trainers, Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick. “I’m back working for Barry in the mornings now and then I train my two horses, which are based at Jay Abernethy’s property in Papakura. He’s a close friend and I’m grateful to him for that,” said Phelan. He said Admiral’s Flight had been with him for about six weeks now. He got the 5-year-old gelding from Reg and Earl Drake from Otautau in Southland. He came north with no form but Phelan has now produced two thirds and a win from four starts with the son of Justa Tiger. "He’s no star but goes okay and should win at least a couple more. He felt good today. My other horse in work is a 2-year-old Mach Three filly named Magical Miss. “They are both owned by my mate Lance Goldsmith, who made my first win happen. He’s also my sponsor. I want to thank him, my father (Frank Phelan) and Jay for supporting me in my new training venture,” Phelan said. He said he hoped to build up a small team in the next couple of years and then would decide if he would remain in harness racing. “I’ll just see how things progress along, but at this stage I’m fired up and keen to train and drive. Today’s win has fuelled my fire. You never get sick of that winning feeling,” Phelan said. Phelan said he used some of Purdon’s colours when designing his silks. “I’ve always liked the blue and grey, so I went with that and then put a star in the middle. It was a great feeling to have them paraded in the winner’s circle,” he said. Phelan and Admiral's flight drew three (of seven) in the D & M Webb Mobile for the maiden pacers. They burned early and out-muscled eventual runner-up Wynberg Delight (Philip Butcher) to get the lead after 300m. Admiral’s Flight and Phelan led for the remainder of the race, pacing the 2500m in 3:13 even (mile rate 2:04.2). He won by three quarters of a length and home in 60.3 and 29.9. Phelan has now amassed $4.4 million in driving stakes since he first got in the sulky back in 2000. Meanwhile, Phelan, Ben Butcher, Sailesh Abernethy, and Philip Butcher all drove two winners apiece at yesterday’s 10-strong race meeting. Phelan also saluted the judge with the Willie Fleming trained Rangi Rangdu in the eighth event. Duane Ranger

Arna Donnelly has three chances of repeating her Stratford Cup success of two years ago when Eldolar (4), No Way Else (7) and Hudy Haxwell (9) will line up in Sunday’s grass track feature. The $10,000 Quinton Oakes Builders Stratford Cup for the R60 and faster pacers has attracted 10 starters. Donnelly rated Eldolar - the horse that cost just a dollar - as the pick of her trio. "The 10 metre handicap won't bother him in what appears to be a weaker field than Thursday's Taranaki Cup. "He acquitted himself very well in that race and got held up at a vital stage in the straight. I was delighted with his fourth. This is easier but he will need a good run to get over the top of them," Donnelly said. The Cambridge trainer said she probably wouldn't be driving in the race, instead offering the drives to Ky​le Marshall (Eldolar), Phil Butcher (No Way Else) and Scott Phelan (Hudy Haxwell). "Kyle drove Eldolar the way I wanted on Thursday and is driving well. I'll save my drive for Imajollywally in the last. "He can win race eight, but so can stablemate Zakspatrol (Phelan)," said Donnelly. Donnelly trained and drove Ideal Success to win the 2015 Stratford Cup in3:28.2. The race record for the 2600m stand is held by the Todd Mitchell trained and driven Sound Of Thunder, who stopped the clock in 3:25 flat eight years ago. No Way Else, who also starts on the same 10m handicap as Eldolar, won three starts ago in a R56-R73 junior drivers event at Cambridge Raceway, but his form has tapered off since then. Like No way Else, Hudy Haxwell is having his first start at Stratford. He has missed a cheque in his last two starts but has placed on the grass previously. Up until two starts ago his form-line read 3343. “I just like the way Eldolar is going at the moment and even though he hasn’t won a Cup this season he has gone huge, going from a maiden at the start of the season to winning four races since December,” Donnelly said. Eldolar, No way Else and Hudy Haxwell are rated R74, R72, and R79 respectively. The toughest for them to beat should be the Derek Balle trained and David Butcher driven Kenrick (R72), who was the third favourite in Thursday’s Taranaki Cup. The Donnelly cause is also assisted by the fact that Taranaki Cup winner Walkinshaw won’t be lining up the Sunday’s discretionary handicap. Past winners of the Stratford Cup have been: 2016: McRoyal (3:34.4) - Driven by Todd Mitchell and trained by Dave & Clare McGowan. 2015: Ideal Success (3:28.2) - Driven and trained by Arna Donnelly. 2014: Randalstown (3:38.3) - Driven by Phil Butcher and trained by Tim Hall. 2013: Tyler Maguire (3:33.0) - Driven by Kyle Marshall (j) and trained by David Marshall. 2012: Murphy Maguire (3:34.4) - Driven by David Butcher and trained by IanSmall 2011: Another Impact (3:33.6) - Driven by Logan Hollis and trained by Dave & Clare McGowan. 2010: Family Spirit (3:30.8) - Driven by Phil Butcher and trained by Todd Mitchell. 2009: Sound Of Thunder (3:25.0) - Driven and trained by Todd Mitchell. 2008: Scherger Rein (3:29.4) - Driven by Maurice McKendry and trained by Sean McCaffrey. 2007: Miss Abigail (3:26.2) - Driven by David Butcher and trained by Colin Butler. 2006: Southern Raider (3:31.0) - Driven by David Butcher and trained by Geoff Small. Duane Ranger

Scott Phelan won his second consecutive Taranaki Cup on the New Plymouth grass yesterday (Thursday) thanks largely to Canadian-based Kiwi trainer, Mark Herlihy. Herlihy, who turned 33 today (Friday) got married to Casie Coleman in Florida last week and his father Tony Herlihy (MNZM) wasn’t expected back from the wedding until today. He will drive at Alexandra Park tonight. Phelan was the replacement driver and nailed the $11,000 Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup for the up to R90 pacers behind the Herlihy trained and R81 ranked Walkinshaw. The Mach Three entire, who started from four on the second row, was the $2.20 favourite. Phelan won last year’s Taranaki Cup behind the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Prince Of Pops. Thirty-four-year-old Phelan, who works for Steve Telfer at Chris Garlick at Ardmore, was delighted with his first drive behind the tough 4-year-old. “He’s a nice horse and felt extra good today. He went into the race in good condition. I hope the Herlihys are happy with the drive because I was rapt to get him home. “I can see why he has won a lot of money in stakes. He just had a nice fell about him. I thought he would be hard to beat going into the race,” said on his long road trip back to Auckland. “It’s always nice driving winners, but New Plymouth has been kind to me. I enjoy driving there,” he added.. The last time Herlihy won the Cup was in 2011 when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory. That was the same margin as Walkinshaw’s sixth career win yesterday. He held out $8.70 (place) outsider Fleeting Grin and Peter Ferguson pacing the 2600m mobile in 3:21 even (mile rate 2:04.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.2 and 30.1. The victory also took Walkinshaw’s earnings past the $100,000 mark. It was his first start in the 2017 North Island Country Cup Series and first on grass. Walkinshaw hadn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw went into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy also won the second event with the Tony Cameron driven first starter, Powder Chief. The 3-year-old was the $8.50 fourth favourite in the 6,000 Taranaki Associated Cleaners Fillies and Mares Maiden. The Bettor's Delight brown filly qualified 6.1 seconds under time when sixth of six at the Cambridge Raceway trials on May 20 last year. She then hinted a win was imminent when winning her 2050m workout at Pukekohe on February 11. Hawera trainer Fred Mitchell also had a good day winning two races and finishing fourth twice from his four starters. He won with the Sailesh Abernethy driven Hold All bets in race four and then repeated the dose a race later with the Kyle Marshall reined Jack Bates. They were the $7.10 third and $8.10 fourth favourites respectively. Mitchell looks poised to record his best season in 13 seasons of training. Last year he conditioned six winners and did the same in 2013-2015. With just under five months of 2016-2017 remaining he has already been victorious five times. Waiau Pa reinsman, Kyle Marshall won the TAB’s Driver Challenge with two wins behind Jack Bates (race 5) and Joemaro (race 7); and three seconds with Bouton (race 2) and Saint Michel (race 3), and Alta Roulette (race 4). Duane Ranger

Taranaki Trotting Club secretary Carey Hobbs has rated this afternoon’s (Thursday) fields as the strongest compiled in the Central Districts this season, and gave a hint as to who to follow at the nine-race New Plymouth meeting. “Even though Brent isn’t down to drive, the Mangos stable is really firing on all cylinders at the moment and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) doesn’t usually come all this way for nothing. “Tony has three in and I really like Walkinshaw in the feature event – the Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup. He’s a class horse taking on lower rated pacers,” Hobbs said. Walkinshaw hasn’t raced in the 2017 North island Country Cup Series yet. In fact the 4-year-old Mach Three entire hasn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw, who will be driven by Scott Phelan for the first time, has an R81 rating and will start from four on the second row. Only the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Beyond the Silence (R85) is rated higher than Walkinshaw in the $11,000 feature pace. Walkinshaw goes into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy last won the Taranaki Cup when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory in 2011. After winning five of the 11 races at Alexandra Park last Friday night, it would be silly to discount another winner from the Mangos barn today. He hasn’t trained a Taranaki Cup winner but he did drive the David and Catherine Butt trained Sweet Courage to victory in 2008. Mangos will be represented by Bouton (race two) Saint Michel (race three) and Alta Roulette (race four). The trio will be driven by Kyle Marshall. Marshall will also drive the Arna Donnelly trained Eldolar in the Taranaki Cup. “He’s been racing really well and has already won four races this season. He meets a nice field here, but with luck in the running he’s certainly good enough to get some of it,” Marshall said. Marshall, who has eight drives, said the Mangos trained first-starter Alta Roulette would be his best drive at the meeting. "He's been trialling real good and won his qualifying trial at Cambridge well under time (6.4 seconds) on February 3. He's a real nice type and has a good draw (3) to work with. I think he will be real tough to beat," the 23-year-old said. He also thought the Mangos trained Bouton and Saint Michel could go also close. “Bouton is another first-starter who has placed in all four of her Auckland and Cambridge Workouts. She’s also drawn three and the grass will be good for her first-up. “Saint Michel (4) can definitely get some of it. The mobile will help him and I think he can run in the first two, but in saying that I think Mighty Sunny is the horse to beat," said Marshall. Duane Ranger

Tim Vince can walk on water… and not just in the shower either. The Kumeu trainer has been on fire notching up six wins from as many starters at three meetings – all in just seven days. Vince made it six-from-six at Cambridge Raceway last night (Friday) when his flagship horse, KD Hall and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) won the $7,000 Fairview Motors Cambridge Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters.  He was the $1.40 favourite, and it was a gutsy performance from his 40m handicap. But the biggest shock of all came from the appropriately named Chal Shocked, who left people gobsmacked, when winning the $10,000 Kiwi Bus Builders Handicap for the R66 and faster pacers. The Jereme’s Jet gelding was the eighth favourite of eight and paid a whopping $34.60 to win. Bought from the South Island for a mere $5,000 in September last year, the 5-year-old got up in the last stride to beat second favourite M o casino (Zac Butcher) by a nose. Typically humble, Vince diverted all the praise to Ardmore driver, Scott Phelan. “I’m rapt for Scotty. We have been friends for over 20 years and this year has been a tough one for him. He’s a such a good driver and I want to support him as much as possible. “You don’t win more than 400 races and earn more than $4.3 million in your career by just sitting there. He’s a very talented driver and I’d never hesitate putting him on. The industry needs experience and quality like him,” 61-year-old Vince said. Vince has now doubled his season tally from six to 12 wins in just seven days. The latest half dozen victories now means he has recorded a season best. Last season he won nine races and to date has nailed 41 career victories ($311,123) since taking out his licence in 2012. "It's all luck. We have had the good draws, the good runs, and not one of our drivers has put a foot wrong. Any other day we might have drawn wide, got back and be running on for perhaps a place. "This harness sport is like a game of poker. You never know which hand you will be dealt. We have had a lot of luck. It's not a trainer thing," the ultra modest Vince said. His golden run of form started last Friday night at Cambridge when Chal Shocked and Vince’s partner, Sheryl Wigg in the $8,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Amateur Mobile for the Up to R63 pacers. Then later on that card, KD Hall and Herlihy nailed the $10,000 Breckon Farms R60 and faster trot. Then a day later Drover's Eyre and Wigg won the $6,000 Classic Cuisine Amateur Drivers R63-plus pace at Rotorua. Four races later Monnay and Brent Mangos were too good in the $8,000 Ruck N Maul Rotorua Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters. “I’m just an amateur trainer who tried to get the best out of people’s unwanted horses. I do my best to place them where I can. “KD Hall ($10,000) is the most expensive horse in our barn. Drover’s Eyre only cost us $2,000, and we paid just $6,000 for Monnay,”Vince said. “I recently bought another amateur horse from the South Island named Franco Hamilton for Sheryl to drive. He’s won twice and placed twice from his last four starts in Otago and Southland,” he added. On the way home from Cambridge last night, Vince and Wigg were at odds about KD hall’s career. “I want to retire him because I think he’s met his mark.The ratings will tell you that. He’s been so good to us and deserves a nice early retirement. He’s only seven but that is my gut feeling. “But Sheryl wants to start him in a 3000m race at Tauranga next start. He might start in that. We will just wait and see, but because of his rating my heart is telling me to call it quits with him. He deserves that,” Vince said. The son of Quite Easy had to work hard to notch up his 10th win in 62 starts last night. He started beautifully from his back-mark and after 400m found himself in fourth position. Herlihy then had him in the one-one at the bell. Then the master driver swept to the lead at the end of the back straight before holding on to win by half a length from Primus Inter Pares (Scott Phelan. KD Hall trotted the 2700mstand from 40m behind in 3:29.1 (mile rate 2:04.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.4 and 29.7.  Meanwhile Vince said he would continue to race Chal Shocked. “He’s also met his mark, but I don’t mind so much with him because I’m thinking one day he will be back in the amateur races again and Sheryl will be able to drive him. “He’s turned out way better than what I thought he would. That was a gutsy win last night, but it was all Scotty. That was one hell of a drive. “I don’t think we would have won that race last night had it not been for his prowess in the bike,” said Vince. Vince also paid a tribute to Wigg and Tabatha Fensom. “They do all the work at the stable. I’m nothing more than a stablehand. Without them we would not be winning,” he said. Duane Ranger

Primus Inter Pares didn’t handle the sticky track at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday and can make amends on the second-day (Thursday evening). That’s the opinion of 6-year-old’s Waikato-based co-trainer Ross Paynter. He said the brown gelding would also be better for Tuesday’s first up run in seven months. “Scotty (Phelan) said he didn’t like the track on the first day which caused him to gallop. He’s got a bit of a motor but will have to trot all the way to win on Thursday. “He’s way better than what he showed us on the first day,” said Payne who trains Primus Inter Pares with Sean McCaffrey at Cambridge. The son of Dr Ronerail will start from 10m behind in the $8,000 Paul Claridge Electrical Handicap for the R50 and faster rated trotters. Primus Inter Pares is rated 60. “He (Primus Inter Pares) only has to trot like he did at the Cambridge last Saturday. He went well good time that day. If he does things right he’s definitely the best of our four chances on Thursday,” Paynter said. Primus Inter Pares finished second behind Lemond (30m) in a seven-horse up to R90 trot. He trotted the 2700m handicap from 30m behind in 3:33.4 (2:07.2) mile rate. Toughest for him to beat tonight will be the R86-rated Master Monarchy who ran third from 45m behind on the first day. He gets the same handicap tonight. Paynter also commented on the three other runners from his stable fronting tonight. Here’s what he had to say: Race 2: Armabluechipboy (3) – "He raced good on first day. He lacks a little bit of gate speed. I just wish he could leave the gate a bit quicker. He’s an honest little horse who I think would be an each-way chance with trip.” Race 6: Artanne (5) – "She’s a nice little filly but still has quite a lot to learn. With right run she will sprint on okay. Still got to get find some ring-craft but I liked the way she came home on the first day. If she’s on or near the pace she can win.” Race 7: Spyda (4) – "He has good gait speed and if he gets to front without too much work he will be hard to beat especially on the tight Manawatu track. He’s also got a short sprint and the Manawatu home straight suits him nicely. He won well on the first day and can do so again but he will need to get to have own terms in front.” Duane Ranger

Rod Mackenzie has Fizzi Lizzi absolutely fizzing at present. The 67-year-old Tuhikaramea cattle dealer has now trained the McArdle mare to consecutive feature race victories at Cambridge Raceway in the last fortnight. That happened when Fizzi Lizzi and James Stormont triumphed at Cambridge Raceway last night (Thursday) in the.$7,500 O'Connor Warren Insurance Brokers Handicap for the R56 and faster pacers. Fizzi Lizzi, who started from a 10m handicap with her R76 rating, was the $5.60 third favourite in the six-horse field. But the 6-year-old has no right to be winning one race let alone the six she has already racked up from 28 life-time starts. “She has had breathing problems for much of her career and since I put the Cornell Collar on her she has come right, especially her last four starts. “She could have had an operation to see if it could be fixed, but I went for the collar option instead. Stunin Cullen had the same problems and he wore one throughout his career and won more than $1 million,” MacKenzie said. Fizzi Lizzi has now won three of her four starts this season, but it was a bold Stormont drive that got the mare home this time round. The Pukekohe reinsman sat fourth along the markers early before going to and sit parked at the bell. Then at the 400m Stormont said let’s go and that’s when Fizzi Lizzi said goodbye. That move was the winning of the race. She had four lengths up her sleeve at the winning post, pacing the 2700m stand in 3:26.5 – 1.6 seconds quicker than when she won two weeks earlier. Her winning mile rate this week was 2:03 even and she came home in 57 flat and 27.6. “The win means she will now have to take on the better quality horses at Alexandra Park but that’s fine, she’s won three races there and is a new horse this season. “The way she won last start I thought she would be tough to roll again. She’s got the speed to do a good job. As you can see she can run a slick quarter,” MacKenzie said. He then paid a tribute to his life-long friend Graeme Rogerson. “I’ve known Graeme since I was about two. We were both bought up at Te Rapa and then we shifted to Tuhikaramea about the same time 35 years ago. “We are neighbours now and he let’s me have run of his place and his track. He has state-of-the-art facilities there. I don’t think you would find a better training facility in New Zealand,” MacKenzie said. “I just want to thank Graeme for the continued use of his track and property,” he added. MacKenzie only ever has two horses in work, the other being the two-win pacer, Saucy Rebel. He said the best horse he had trained since taking out his licence in 1982 was Fizzi Lizzi’s older half-sister, Averill’s Quest (by Badlands Hanover). “She won nine races and more than $100,000. This one isn’t bad but she’s got a wee way to go to catch up on her half-sister,” MacKenzie said. He has now trained 68 winners from 494 starters in his career. He’s also placed 117 times and last night’s victory took his career stake earnings past the $506,000 mark. Meanwhile, the individual highlight of the meeting came from Clevedon reinsman Scott Phelan who drove more than a third of the card to victory. His first win came via the Arna Donnelly trained Sexy Rexy in race one, and then two races later he and the Steve Telfer/Chris Garlick trained Sir Richie won and went a slick 2:41.5 to score. Phelan’s third win came behind the Tim Vince trained Drover’s Eyre in the fifth event. “It was a good night at the office. I had six drives and also finished third in the last race (Olivia’s Secret). They all won quite well. I was especially pleased with the way Arna’s trotter won from his unruly mark. “He’s lightly race and felt like he might have a bit of a future,” said Phelan who will have a big month driving No Doctor Needed at the Auckland Cup Carnival. Phelan has now driven 14 winners this season ($128,404) and all-up has reined home 411 career winners ($4.2m) since first jumping in the bike back in 2000. Duane Ranger

Willie Fleming doesn’t mind driving the 20 hours and 1,600km in seven days just for Rory McIlroy. That’s the round-trip twice from his Hawera base to Alexandra Park. He and his 3-year-old colt did it last week and won the $12,000 Mitavite Maiden and they are want to repeat the doseagain tonight (Friday). But the 60-year-old retired dairy farmer knows only too well how tough Rory McIlroy’s assignment is at Alexandra Park this evening. “I wouldn’t take him all that way if I didn’t think he was good enough to be competitive. I’d like to then take him to Christchurch and take on the big guns. I know there’s some powerful stables out there but you get nowhere running scared,” Fleming said. Rory McIlroy will be looking to win his second race in six life-time starts when he linesup from gate seven in the night’s richest race at Alexandra Park – the $22,000 NRM 3yo Sires Stakes fourth heat. David Butcher steered him to a sedate, but gutsy 2:47.3 victory (mile rate 2:02.3) last Friday. Scott Phelan is the replacement driver tonight. Butcher will get behind the likely race favourite Vasari, who is resuming from his last start ninth in the 2yo harness Jewels Final on ninth at Alexandra Park on July 1. Rory McIlroy was the $24.50 sixth favourite last week and got there by a head from one on the second row. “He’s a nice horse and is potentially the best I have owned, bred and trained. I would love to line a horse up in a Sires Stakes Final again,” Fleming said. Fleming lined up Matai Man (Gene Robb) in Auckland Reactor’s Sires Stakes Final in 2007. They finished 10th. “He was the nicest horse I’ve raced. He had five winsand won more than $50,000, but this fella could potentially be the best if he is allowed to reach his potential,” said Fleming. I’ve always liked ‘Rory’ since day one. We were always going to hang on to him simply because we love racing. The clever thing would probably have been to accept the offers and sell, but it’s going to take another five years to get a good 3-year-old and even then who knows what we will get,” Fleming said. “It’s not easy training horses down this way but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the price you pay for wanting to live in ‘the Naki’ - New Zealand’s top province,” he added. Fleming bred Rory McIlroy with his wife Brenda and son-in-law Kieran More. They also own the colt with Fleming’s Wanganui mate, Michael Donoghue. Vasari aside, last start winner and Sires Stakes bound 3-year-old Star Galleria will be the toughest to beat in tonight’s 1700m feature pace. The Steven Reid and Simon McMullan trained son of Art Major will be vying for his third win in four starts. Throw in the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) factor and you have a horse that could win his second straight Sires Stakes heat. Star Galleria and Herlihy won the first heat at Cambridge Raceway from barrier three over tonight’s distance in 2:04.6 (mile rate 1:57.9). They beat most of tonight’s opposition that night and it looks as though only the eight draw can stop them again. “He’s always been a very nice horse but to have Tony on him was a real bonus. He seldom drives at Cambridge on Thursdays these days and he didn’t hesitate to get in his car and come down and drive him last start. I think this fella might be a little bit better than I originally thought,” Reid said. “I am very happy about heading to Cup day again. He’s the only horse of that quality in our barn,” he added. Star Galleria was a loose $7 Sires Stakes Final favourite after he won at Cambridge last start. he’s now at $12.   Duane Ranger

The strong Auckland-based Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick stable opted for easier pickings at Manawatu Raceway yesterday and then duly won three of the seven races on offer. They had four pacers nominated for the first day’s meeting yesterday on Tuesday and won with Brookes Rose (race 2), Flying Arizona (race 3), and Our Wicklow (race 5). Scott Phelan drove all three. Garlick said their fourth runner, Olivia’s Rose, didn’t get much luck in the running and finished sixth behind Brookes Rose. “Brookes Rose was probably out most impressive winner but I wouldn’t write Olivia’s Secret off on the second day (Thursday evening). “She was second favourite behind Brookes Rose on Tuesday and never really got a go at them. Even though she’s drawn badly (10) in the first tomorrow, I think she is one for value and if things go her way she can win,” Garlick said. Following the first day of the season at the Palmerston North track, the Telfer and Garlick team have now won four races this season and believe they can add to that tally tomorrow night. “They are all racing easier opposition to what they have met up here and at Cambridge. Brookes Rose led from the start and won well. That was pleasing because she had been a bit disappointing early on. “It was good for her to get that first win out of the way. I think she can win a C1 race all right but it might be a wee bit tougher from six tomorrow after drawing two on the first day,” Garlick said. “She does have gate speed so it will be up to Scotty at the start to see if she can get across them,” he added. Garlick was also impressed with Flying Arizona who won from barrier five when a $3 second favourite. “We’ve only had him for about six weeks. He came from up from Ashburton after he had one start there, and now he’s won second-up for us after finishing a disappointing seventh at Cambridge last month. “That was a nice drive by Scott. He got all the gaps at the right time and then won well by a neck. he’s drawn eight compared to five yesterday. He has gate speed as well but I think Scott will drive him for luck this time. He can back up,” Garlick said. Our Wicklow, who won from gate seven, has drawn the widest front row nine draw in the fourth event on Thursday. “He went okay in his first two runs at Cambridge. He has got some speed and show that on the first day. It’s going to be tough to win from out there and it will be interesting to see who he follows out, but he can repeat,” Garlick said. He said Brookes Rose was probably the pick of their quartet tomorrow but said with the trip anyone of the four could win. “The 3-year-old filly is the only one of ours to cop a front row draw so the others are going to have to rely on a bit of luck, but they can all go close. “That’s why we brought them down here for the easier pickings,” said Garlick. Phelan was the most impressive driver on day one with three wins followed by Andre Poutama who won the last two races on his former home-track behind the Ray Green trained Lincoln’s Keepsake in race six and the Craig Sharpe trained Rarangi Jewel in the last event.   Duane Ranger

The conditions may not appear to suit the best pacer at Alexandra Park tonight but looks can be deceiving. Because No Doctor Needed is still the one to beat in the handicap pace and the first horse needed by those chasing the $40,000 Pick6. The open class pacer is on the road to the New Zealand Cup but was surprisingly beaten into third by similar opponents to what he meets tonight at his last start. Why that could worry punters is that race was under mobile conditions and No Doctor Needed led, whereas tonight he faces a 35m handicap, so he is technically worse off. But countering that could be three factors --- his natural improvement since his comeback race, the small size of tonight’s field and that his key opponents tonight are all fresh up. “He will definitely be a better horse now tonight, he was only 85 per cent fit for that race so the racing will help,” says co-trainer Steve Telfer. “And I wasn’t disappointed with him that night, he ran home (800m) in 55 seconds.”
 While he is almost certain to settle last tonight his main rivals --- Ideal Belle, Start Dreaming and Little Rascal --- are all having their first starts back for the new term so are probably not ready to make their own luck over 2700m. So driver Scott Phelan may have the opportunity to love mid-race without too many traffic concerns. While No Doctor Needed is the only Cup contender on show tonight both Ideal Belle and Start Dreaming are proven group one mares and trainer Barry Purdon admits he can’t choose between them. “They are very different mares, Ideal Belle is a very good stayer while Start Dreaming is probably faster,” explains Purdon. “So a lot will come down to how the race is run and that isn’t really in our control. But they are both forward enough to be there because they trialled well behind Hughie Green last Saturday.” Purdon also opted for Laredo Torpedo (race eight) as one of his better chances tonight dropping back into a weaker maiden race so he is a Pick6 must. Tonight’s meeting hosts a punting novelty in the first of three Alexandra Park heats this season for the Addington Punter of the Year challenge. Punters who fancy their harness knowledge or a bit of fun can enter tonight’s on-course competition for $500, with a minimum $50 bet per race. The punter or team with the highest balance from their $500 at the end of the night keeps that money plus wins $2000, with the top three from each heat invited to the national final at Addington on Show Day (November 11), which has a $50,000 first prize. Alexandra Park will also host heats on September 30 and October 14, with more details available at the Addington and TAB websites. Michael Guerin

Sportswriter 1:48.6 ($1,566,460) has been carving out a fine record for himself in both North America and Australia over the last  two or three years but has tended to fly under the radar a bit here in New Zealand due in the main to the fact that he has had no stock on the ground to this point. That all changed tonight when the Telfer/Garlick team produced a very smart son of Sportswriter in the form of the two year old colt The Lone Ranger at the Harness Racing Waikato meeting at Cambridge Raceway. A son of the former smart racemare Cruzee Lass 1:57.4 ($99,544), The Lone Ranger had been very impressive at the recent Franklin workouts, winning a 2050 heat in a 2:00.5 mile rate with a super last 400 metres of 26.7 and on the strength of that run he was installed a warm favourite even though he was facing older horses. The workout win at Franklin was smart enough to convince driver Scott Phelan to label him his best drive of the week to Harnesslink this morning for the Bets of the week ringaround. And the smart looking colt didn't disappoint with an impressive debut win after having little luck in the running. Away well from his second line draw, The Lone Ranger was left to face the breeze for the last 1600 metres outside the leader Whale Rider who set a hot tempo in front. When Scott asked The Lone Ranger for an effort at the 400 metres, he quickly mastered Whale Rider and then comfortably held off a late challenge by Bet Out Of Ell to record an impressive debut win. The Lone Ranger paced the 2200 metres in 2:43.5, a mile rate of 1:59.6 with closing sectionals of 60.5 and 28.4 and looked to do it with something in reserve. Sportswriter's oldest foals in New Zealand are two year olds this season and number just fourteen in total so tonights win by The Lone Ranger was a great advertisement for his young sire with this years round of yearling sales just over three weeks away. Harnesslink Media

After running 8th in last week's New Zealand Trotting Cup for the Robert Dunn stable, No Doctor Needed is now northern bound and will continue his racing career under the guidance of Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick at Papakura. No Doctor Needed raced 27 times out of the Woodend Beach stable and recorded nine wins and eight placings for just over $121,000 in stake-earnings. Robert advised today that principal owner Scott Plant had suggested a change of driver for the horse after his unplaced run in the cup and favoured northern reinsman Scott Phelan in this role. As Phelan is a regular driver for the Telfer/Garlick stable it made sense that the horse be relocated to the north. Plant already has a number of horses trained by the partnership as too does another owner in Steve Stockman through his role with Stonewall Stud. Robert wishes the connections all the best for their future racing of "The Doctor." Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -    Check site here

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