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They call him the Long shot Place Prince, but his real name is John Morrison. The young harness racing junior driver has quickly picked up a name for himself at getting home some of the roughest runners in a field into a top three spot. Morrison took over 130 drivers to get his first win, but hasn't looked back since then and has now picked up 5 winners in his first season. Along with those five winners, Morrison has also picked up 16 seconds and 8 thirds. Below is a list of some of the high priced dividends Morrison has upset punters with. Handlebar Hank - 3rd $9.40 Tactical VC - 2nd $16.70 Beaudiene Gambler - 2nd $5.40 Dreamcoat - 2nd - $5.40 Hestia Franco - 2nd $27.60 Rico Gold - 3rd $10.50 Rico Gold - 2nd $23.70 Four of John's five winner have paid over $9.50 on the tote. Tomorrow night at Forbury, Morrison has 6 drives including his first winner Motu Speedy Star, who will line up in the final of the Forbury Claimers series. The 11 year old gelding has been freshened for tomorrows assignment and he loves a dog fight, so if the early speed was on, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Morrison salute the judge on one of his favourite runners. The two highest priced runners Donegal Jimmy Dave and Four Starzzz Shiraz both look the hardest to beat on last weeks efforts. Both priced at $12,000.00 they will start from barriers 8 and 9. While Superior Desire will have his first run for the Robert Dunn barn after being claimed by Craig Parsons a couple of weeks ago. Sam Ottley will do the steering. Laughing Cavalier who has been at Gavin Smith's property lately will start from barrier 5 and is to be driven by Kimberly Butt. The 5yo Mach Three gelding was luckless in a recent amateur drivers event at Addington. Meanwhile, Run To Hide who was claimed last week will line up in race 4. Andrew Fitzgerald  

For the 5th time in his Harness Racing career, leading New Zealand driver Dexter Dunn has saluted on his 200th season winner. Many were expecting Dunn to pick up that milestone at Forbury Park last week (23rd June). The West Melton based driver headed to Forbury needing just the two wins, but could only manage the one. Dunn was successful on Lightning Mach for Cran Dalgety in the feature race for the night, but also picked up four second placing. Straight back on the road, Dexter arrived at Blenheim last friday needing just the one win from eight drives. Driving several runners for long time employer Cran Dalgety and father Robert Dunn, it would be no secret that Dunn would love to bring up his 200th win in one of their colours. But as a shock to all, Dexter couldn't manage a win and had to wait for today's Addington meeting to bring up his 200th. Driving Dusky Eyre for Katiki Beach trainer Ricky Allen, Dunn was off the mark quickly and in his favourite position, in front. From there on Dunn was able to hand up to faviourite Westy Boyz and was always traveling a winner at the turn. Hardly moving in the bike, Dunn captured win number 200 for the 3rd time in a row and 5th time in his career. Andrew Fitzgerald.

Dexter's Harness Racing Digits Career NZ wins: 1764. Record: 220 wins in the 2011 season. Highlights: World Driving Champ; Auckland Cup, Miracle Mile, Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup (twice), NZ Free-For-All. Dexter Dunn hates the number 199. The champion reinsman is not superstitious and has few other bugbears when in the sulky but he admits he will be disappointed if he doesn’t leave Addington tonight with 200 wins,hopefully more for the season. Dunn reined winner 199 for the term at Forbury Park last Thursday so has hardly been stranded on his bogey number but even a week is too long. “I realise I’ll almost certainly get the 200 for the season and probably a few more but I hate being on 199. “I finished on 199 for the season two years in a row (2012,13) and it was really annoying. “I’d rather only drive 190 winners in a season than get that close and miss. “But I’ve got a good book this week and really I should get there.”
 Dunn says while he has a handy book early tonight, it is On The Rantan in race nine who is his best winning chance. “I know he is only a two-year-old taking on older horses but he is pretty good,” says Dunn. “I worked him on Tuesday and he worked like a winner. “And he has very good manners for a young horse so if they go hard early, which I think they will, he might have too much speed.”
 On The Rantan is being aimed as a Breeders Crown campaign in Victoria and would want to go very close to winning tonight to warrant the expense of an Australian campaign. Dunn also rates Rapid Flight in race two a top chance tonight while he suggests punters follow Time Traveller (race three) even though he thinks he might have to settle for second tonight. “He is up against a horse of Dad’s (Robert Dunn) called Freedom Fighter who they think a lot of and it probably should win.”
 Robert Dunn also provides one of the star attractions of tonight’s meeting in Franco Christiano, who is held in huge regard by his trainer.  Franco Christiano resumed with a win at Blenheim last Friday and is also being set for the Breeders Crown but he faces a tricky assignment tonight from a wide draw against the in-form G I Joe among others. Meanwhile, Dexter says while he hopes to get to 200 in a season for the fifth time in his career tonight, he doesn’t expect to challenge his New Zealand record 220 from 2011. “I am driving in Brisbane the next three Saturdays, which means missing three Sunday meetings back here,” he said. “And then I am away for the last two meetings of the season as I am going to drive in Wales and Ireland then have a short holiday. “But getting 200 plus wins is more than enough. As long as it isn’t 199 again.
 Michael Guerin

Harness Racing trainer Brendon McLellan is back in Canterbury and hoping to go one better than last year. The Southland horseman arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday night with a four horse contingent to contest winter racing at Addington and around Canterbury over the next month. The main target is the South of the Waitaki Winter Warmer Series which begins next week with the first heat and culminates at the end of the month with an $11,000 Final. The series is available for horses graded up to the C1 level before the close of nominations for the first heat on Friday, July 8 provided they were registered as being trained in the Southland region prior to May 1, 2016. McLellan had moderate success in the series last year with Wick winning two of the four heats before finishing second to the exciting four-year-old Tact Tate who has since gone on to do good things in Australia. “It’s a good series, especially with very no options at home other than Forbury,” he said. “It certainly makes it worth coming up and having a crack anyway.” Three of the McLellan team will line up tonight at Addington to kick off their campaigns. Maiden pacer Luciano meets an even looking maiden field early on in the night and is expected to improve with the run. “I’m picking he’d be a run short, he does go ok though and will improve.” Mr Handleman, who raced in a heat of the South of the Waitaki Series last year goes around in the junior drivers’ event with Craig Ferguson in the sulky. “He’s a bit of an in and out sort of horse. He’s got some ability, but he doesn’t always put it out on the track. “We’ve gone back to the stand because he can begin when he wants too. “He’s here for the Series so we will know where we are at after this week anyway.” The third runner is the consistent Vera’s Delight who has been handed a tough barrier draw of nine in a 1950 metre mobile event for fillies and mares. The field includes Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, Donegal Rundlescreek, My Cash and Kotare Kasai so won’t be an easy task. “She’s got a job in front of her from out there, it’s going to be pretty tough. “But she does go alright and is more than capable, she will take some benefit out of the run too.” McLellan is based at the Woodend Beach branch of the Mark Jones stable while in Canterbury and will split his time between there and his home base in Southland. He is travelling down to Forbury on Friday to drive Vera Mac from his own stable and also Robyn Kim in the opening race of the night. Meanwhile the $3,000 bonuses offered for the First 4’s at Sunday’s abandoned Marlborough meeting have been transferred to tonight’s meeting meaning there’s extra reason to get involved throughout the night. With big even fields there’s every possibility of a few jackpots during proceedings which could see pools get significantly large as the night progresses. Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Westy Boyz, Deva Jones, Fira Sunset, Brylin Rose Race 2: Rapid Flight, Stunning Deal, Dalness Mac, Sheeza GNP Race 3: Freedom Fighter, Art I Am, Regal Grin, Big Buddie Race 4: He’s Like The Wind, Matatoki, Jean Sebastien, We’ll Meet Again Race 5: Kashana, Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, My Cash Race 6: Superfecta, Franco Nate, Woosh Factor, Mighty Empire Race 7: Franco Cristiano, GI Joe, Hypervelocity, Innocent Artist Race 8: Amaretto Sun, Clover Mac, Gee Up Neddy, Tornado Valley Race 9: Letspendanitetogetha, On The Rantan, McClinchie, Gabby’s Star Race 10: Junior, Ballymore Boy, Returntorocknroll, Franco Hamilton Best Bet: Freedon Fighter (Race 3) Value: Kashana (Race 5) Longshot: Franco Hamilton (Race 10) Matt Markham

Freak Harness Racing Trainer Paul Nairn will take two runners to Addington Raceway tomorrow. But don't bother jumping in the car and heading to the local Tab to back them, because his runners Conon Bridge and Wilma's Mate are only there to contest heats of the non tote Australasian Breeders Crown. 3yo Raffaello Ambrosio colt Conon Bridge is up against Blood n Whiskey (Robert Dunn) and My Amour (Greg & Nina Hope) in the first of the non tote events. If the Tab opened up a market you would expect to see Conon Bridge a short priced favourite on the back of his jewels placing. His stable man, Wilma's Mate, a 3yo Pegasus Spur filly owned by Richard Cornelius only has to compete against the Gavin Smith trained Oona. Again she should be winning after her jewels placing. Both runners are to be driven by Bob Butt who looks to have a massive show of picking up a treble when he lines up his own runner Matatoki in race four. A talented 3yo by Swedish stallion Revenue, Matatoki is on the look out for a penalty free win before the end of the season. While his last start was in January a handy recent trial at Ashburton has him well in commission for a winning resumption. With those three races out of the way, Butt will drive Gee Up Neddy in race eight for Yaldhurst trainer Leonne Jones. His recent form has been in top class races and before that the 5yo gelding was a super winner at Rangiora. Butt will also drive Race 1 - Aunty Jan - Phil Burrows Race 10 - Junior - David & Catherine Butt Andrew Fitzgerald

It’s a case of so far, so good for exciting 3-year-old pacer Franco Cristiano. Everything has gone to plan since the Robert Dunn trained son of Bettor’s Delight impressed in his first race day appearance in over seven months when winning at Blenheim Harness Racing Club on Friday. The only fly in the ointment came on Sunday when the meeting was abandoned due to surface flooding on the track taking the opportunity for two quick wins away from his connections. Dunn’s stable vet, Sam Taylor gave the gelding a pass with flying colours after a full examination yesterday upon his return to Woodend Beach and it’s now all systems go as they push toward a race at Addington on Thursday night. “It’s certainly great to have him back,” Robert said from Auckland yesterday. “You always worry about horses who have had injuries like he has but it would appear that the time off might have helped him. “That’s the best I think he’s raced on Friday. He’s never going to be perfect, but it’s a lot better than what he was like. “I still wonder if a lot of his problems were because of the injury, something wasn’t right with him and we can maybe now pinpoint it to the hairline fracture in his pastern.” The plan going forward very much depends on the outcome of Thursday night where Franco Cristiano takes on a stronger field than he raced on Friday. The line up includes Hypervelocity, GI Joe and Innocent Artist so he will need to be on top of his game. “We won’t make any firm plans until after Thursday probably, but it’s pretty likely he will head to the Breeders Crown heat after that. “And that in itself will be a good measuring stick for where we are at because Heaven Rocks will be there as well and from what I have seen of him, he’s a pretty special horse.” That heat for the 3-year-old colts and geldings is set down July 15. The abandonment of Sunday’s meeting won’t have helped Dunn’s chances of pegging back Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in the trainers’ premiership. They are now 14 wins behind and were expecting a couple more to be added on Sunday. “We needed a real good day on Sunday to bring us right back into it I think. “And we could have had one of those days but that’s racing. “It’s going to take something special now I think, but we aren’t out of it. Mark and Natalie will race horses over the next few weeks with Breeders Crown heats and the like, but we’ve got numbers around the place and the plan is to keep pushing toward them and see what happens.” Dunn has 19 horses engaged at meetings between Addington, Forbury and Auckland early on in this week’s racing with a further nine nominated for the Timaru meeting on Sunday. The All Stars in contrast have two runners; GI Joe and Superfecta at Addington and then The Manipulator at Timaru. Matt Markham

Southern Harness Inc will inherit the role of 'super club' in the south and is in line for a funding package approaching $3.7million for the new harness racing season. The Invercargill based entity, which provides racing services for all 14 clubs south of the Waitaki, will receive the funds on behalf of its seven Southland and two Central Otago member clubs. Between them those nine clubs will stage 38 meetings. Details of the package were outlined to harness racing players from throughout the region at a meeting in Invercargill during the week. Murray Swain and Kevin McNaught spoke for the working committee; Edward Rennell and Darrin Williams for Harness Racing New Zealand. The 38 meetings is down two from last season while the five clubs in Eastern Otago will stage 30 meetings, down three. Rennell pointed out this was a case of removing two weaker meetings, usually because of a clash, to create one stronger one and therefore build field size and turnover. He said nine meetings were trimmed from the Auckland and Waikato region for the same reason. Although there will be less meetings in the Southern Harness region, there will be a $350,000 increase in stakes. Swain and McNaught said allocation of those stakes would be one focus of the Southern Harness management team and the other would be setting programmes to maximise the opportunities for the available horses to race more regularly Apart from that, there would be no tampering with the sovereignty of individual clubs. Their assets, identity and local arrangements would remain intact, they said. The bulk of the funding, which includes group and listed race subsidies, will be applied towards stakes. However, $380,000, $10,000 per raceday, will go towards expences. The top four fixtures, Diamond Day plus Northern Southland, Invercargill and Central Otago Cup days will attract the greatest stakes funding. The 21 days at the bottom of the heap will get enough to provide an average race stake of $7,700 with the minimum for any race $6,000. How this will be split is not yet set in concrete. Which side of 60 percent the winner gets will depend on the outcome of a recommendation to pay two percent of the stake to each unpaid runner. For the lowest stake race, this would be $120, enough to pay the driver and get a bit back. There is also the possibility of HRNZ introducing a starter incentive which would add another $50. Some trainers saw this as robbing winners to reward losers and wondered whether they would get their usual percentage. It was also suggested the bonus for 16 starts was a better option but the level of support for any of the proposals was unclear. The $10,000 per day for operational expenses will increase a club's budgeted income for a day to $24,000 at the bottom end, and $95,000 for the biggest day, which is at Omakau in January. On Course turnover, sponsorship and admission are all major revenue contributors on Central Otago's day in the sun in early January but are needed to cover significant New Zealand Racing Board charges for services and staffing of both the tote and Trackside television. Mac Henry

The second day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club's meeting has been abandoned due to track flooding. Sunday's first race was set to go at 11.45am but the meeting was canned shortly before 11am due to adverse weather and track conditions including surface flooding. There is currently no replacement date for the second leg of the meeting. Mat Kermeen

Breaking out on your own after a successful harness racing partnership that has lasted many years is supposed to be hard yakka, but Paul Court can be forgiven though for thinking it’s all a little too easy. The West Melton horseman, who was alongside his father Graham in training partnership for close to a decade, is making a pretty good fist of the solo training caper and yesterday, on the first day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting, he picked up his first training hatrick. “It’s been a pretty dream start really, better than I could have ever expected anyway,” Court said. Yesterday’s three wins came less than 24 hours after Stunin Dude won at Forbury Park on Thursday night in the hands of Blair Orange and it was the Postman who was in the sulky for two thirds of his Friday success. Orange drove both Hypervelocity and Expressive Victor to victory while Ricky May was on board Courage To Live who won the last race of the day. “I thought that they were all good chances, but for all three to win was great. “You got to the race expecting to have a good day and often it’s the opposite.” Expressive Victor’s win in the Winter Cup Prelude was impressive. The 4-year-old mare, who was second behind Rocker Band in the 4YO Ruby at the Harness Jewels three weeks ago, overcame an early bobble to sit off the speed before unwinding brilliantly down centre track to secure victory. “The gallop was a bit of a worry, she’s usually such a good beginner. “Blair said she got a bit of a fright when the tapes went, I don’t think one on the 10 metre line was a good draw for her.” The imposing mare will start a warm order favourite on Sunday to go back-to-back on what is fast becoming her favourite track. From five starts on the Waterlea Raceway surface she’s won twice and placed on as many occasions with her only failure coming when she choked down and crashed to the deck at the Summer meeting earlier this year. Both Hypervelocity and Courage To Live will both also be in action on Sunday.   The former will have to deal with the impressive Franco Cristiano who made light work of his race track return earlier in yesterday’s programme for Robert and John Dunn. Courage To Live also has a tough ask from a wider draw, but his free going racing style means he will be on the speed at some stage in the race and that’s here he seems to race best. “He probably lacks that really high speed, but he will just keep going. “I was pretty impressed with the way he won, he looked like he could have kept going at that speed too. “He’s just got better and better each time I’ve taken him to the races.” Closely related to Terror To Love, the Jereme’s Jet colt was one of two winners for Terry McDonald who also shares owns Hypervelocity. McDonald went had the perfect day on Friday with Letspendanitetogetha, who he owns with good friend Reg Storer, finishing second to Courage To Live. While Court’s three wins was impressive, Orange’s driving talents were on full display. He won three races to go with the three he picked up on Thursday night, taking him to 117 winners for the season and 16 wins clear in second position on the national premiership which is being led by Dexter Dunn. Dunn endured a winless day at the office and will have to wait until next week to get New Zealand win No. 200 as he’s on a plane to drive Christen Me in Queensland on Saturday night and isn’t returning to Blenheim for Sunday’s meeting. Matt Markham

There’s 50,000 reasons to get involved in Sunday’s Pick6 on the second of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting. It’s a quality pot to chase on a Sunday afternoon and it has the potential to get even higher than it’s guaranteed price. As well as the big pot, $3,000 will be added to every First Four at the meeting. To help you get a slice of the Pick6 pie, we’ve done the hard work and gone through the six legs with the hope of pointing you in the right direction. We’ve produced two options for you too chase. One featuring a few more selections for a decent outlay and a second which is a bit shorter and gives you a chance at a bigger piece of the prize if we’re successful. Leg One - Race 4: The toughest leg to kick things off, without doubt. Plenty of form running through here from the first day of racing including three winners. We’d suggest taking a wee spread here to ensure you get through the first leg, or even perhaps a ticker with a spread and then a ticket with just a few. 1 Hopeful Harriet and 2 Glenferrie Classic were both impressive on Friday and are drawn up for a lead/trail scenario which should have them both in the race up to their eyeballs. 10 Sauciehall and 11 Dancing In The Dark, Friday’s other winner, following them both through and should be thereabouts again. Expect an improved effort from 4 Thisgirlisonfire as well. She could easily win. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach: 1 Hopeful Harriet, 2 Glenferrie Classic, 4 Thisgirlisonfire, 10 Sauciehall & 11 Dancing In The Dark. The Short & Sweet Ticket: 1 Hopeful Harriet & 2 Glenferrie Classic.   Leg Two - Race 5: Not a lot easier here to be honest because it’s a trot. And so much hinges on the first 100 metres of the race as opposed to the final 100 metres. 11 Kowhai Monarch was so impressive on Friday that he picks himself. Follows speed well and will be given every opportunity. 4 Blood And Whiskey was eye-catching on Friday and should have taken some benefit out of the run. He’s dangerous if close enough. 3 Redwood Invasion, 9 No Bacardi Damit and 11 Clifden Clowers were all good on Friday and with manners can figure again. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach : 3 Redwood Invasion, 4 Blood And Whiskey, 9 No Bacardi Damit & 11 Kowhai Monarch. The Short & Sweet Ticket: 4 Blood And Whiskey & 11 Kowhai Monarch   Leg Three - Race 6: He’s got to come off the second line draw, but the run of 10 Letspendanitetogetha on Friday should see him hard to beat. He’s going to have to get around them at some stage, but is good enough to do it. His biggest danger will be a free-wheeling 6 Courage To Live who was too good for most of these on Friday and should be again. 2 Recipe For Dreaming has a good draw to use so must be included. 9 Martin John the other to consider. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach: 2 Recipe For Dreaming, 6 Courage To Live & 10 Letspendanitetogetha The Short & Sweet Ticket: 6 Courage To Live & 10 Letspendanitetogetha   Leg Four - Race 7 It’s short and sweet here. 1 Franco Cristiano was that impressive on the first day that he shouldn’t really be beaten on the second day. Look no further. 4 Celestial Arden  will get close again, but not close enough. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach: 1 Franco Cristiano The Short & Sweet Ticket: 1 Franco Cristiano   Leg Five - Race 8: 4 Expressive Victor simply smashed them on Friday in the Cup Prelude and barring accidents will do the same again. Usually steps like a toff and is pretty hard to catch in front. Good luck to her opposition. 5 Highview Freddy is his only danger. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach: 4 Expressive Victor & 5 Highview Freddy The Short & Sweet Approach: 4 Expressive Victor   Leg Six - Race 9: It’s back to being a little tougher at the end of the day, just like it was at the start. Plenty of winning chances in here. 1 Mighty American looked a little unlucky on the opening day but should get a good run from a good draw. Looks hard to beat. 5 Mrs Browns Boys and 7 Gabby’s Star were just ok on Friday, but will be better here. Expect a big run from the latter. 12 Il Divo of the back row looks the other strong winning hope while there will be plenty of talk for 4 Twitter Bromac and 6 Arizona Atom after good runs on Friday. What We Suggest: The Cautious Approach: 1 Mighty American, 5 Mrs Browns Boys, 7 Gabby’s Star & 12 Il Divo The Short & Sweet Approach: 1 Mighty American, 7 Gabby’s Star   Our Suggested Bets:   The Cautious Approach: L1: 1,2,4,10,11 - L2: 3,4,9,11 - L3: 2,6,10 - L4: 1 - L5: 4,5 - L6: 1,5,7,12. $100 spend give yous $26% of the dividend.   The Short & Sweet Approach: L1: 1,2 - L2: 3,11 - L3: 6,10 - L4: 1 - L5: 4 - L6: 1,7 $32 spend gives you $2 worth of the dividend.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: 4 The Foot Tapper, 3 Taimate Raffa, 5 Carribean Fizz, 6 Sunny Bill Race 2: 2 Art I Am, 8 Yukon Gold, 11 A Better Dancer, 4 Trixie Bromac Race 3: 9 Prada’s Ideal Dahling, 11 Donegal Carrickfin, 8 Supermoshi, 1 Ballymore Boy Race 4: 2 Glenferrie Classic, 1 Hopeful Harriet, 10 Sauciehall, 11 Dancing In The Dark Race 5: 4 Blood And Whiskey, 11 Kowhai Monarch, 9 No Bacardi Damit, 3 Redwood Invasion Race 6: 10 Letspendanitetogetha, 6 Courage To Live, 2 Recipe For Dreaming, 9 Martin John Race 7: 1 Franco Cristiano, 4 Celestial Arden, 6 Hypervelocity, 2 Molly Sims Race 8: 4 Expressive Victor, 5 Highview Freddy, 2 Graduate Under Fire, 8 Tijuana Bromac Race 9: 1 Mighty American, 7 Gabby’s Star, 5 Mrs Browns Boys, 12 Il Divo   Best Bet: Art I Am (Race 2) Value: Gabby’s Star (Race 9) Matt Markham

A relatively good summer, improved track grooming and the injection of some quality Canterbury horses led to a bumper season for track records in the Southern region. Forty one track records were broken over all southern surfaces during the 2015-2016 season which wrapped up at Invercargill on Queens Birthday Monday - the highest number for many years. And twenty of those were also Southland records. The Club that hosted the most track records for the season was Invercargill where 7 pacers made the list and 6 trotters were added to the record books. The Young Quinn Raceway at Wyndham had 6 pacing and 1 trotting record broken, Central Southland Raceway at Winton had 6 pacers break records. All other southern surfaces got amongst the action, Gore all weather (2 pacers), Omakau (2 pacers and 1 trotter), Roxburgh (1 pacer and 2 trotters), Gore Grass (4 pacers and 1 trotter) and Cromwell Grass (1 pacer and 1 trotter). Heading the class of record breakers was Nek Time who broke the 2400 metre mobile record at Winton in February running 2-53.0 which was also a New Zealand record for a three year old filly. She also broke the 2700 metre mobile record at Invercargill for three year old fillies running 3-19.4.  Meanwhile a number of Southland trainers are heading towards personal best seasons. Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray is currently sitting on 24 winners which is 10 more than his previous best season of 14 in 2015. Gray trains for Australian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth who purchase horses in the province and many stay here initially before heading to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in Canterbury, Tony Herlihy in Auckland or to Australian trainers. Clark Barron recorded 22 training wins this season 4 more than his previous best of 18 in 2011 while Ascot Park trainer Brent Shirley who is only in his fourth season of training finished the season with 20 winners - 4 better than his old PB of 16 in 2014. Alister Black was another young trainer to improve his standing with 13 winners. His previous personal best was 8 in 2013. Driver Nathan Williamson was the only driver of note to better his driving PB. He currently has 86 wins on the board, that’s 8 better than the 78 he drove in 2013.   Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness

Hamish Hunter became the first Southland based Harness Racing trainer to join the elite 500 club when I Try won at Forbury Park last night (Thursday 23rd). I Try is owned by  Hunter and loyal clients of the stable The What Ever Syndicate. Together, they also own the stable's biggest winner, Franco Ledger. I Try is a Mach Three four year old. Tonight he raced three back on the rails and found room in the straight to get up and nab Pembrook Harry.  "It was pretty good for a middle of the road trainer as I describe myself. I was aware I was getting close as my family informed me," said Hunter.  Hamish Hunters best season was in 2014 when star pacer Franco Ledger was a leading stake earner. That season he racked up 33 wins from 339 starters and $347,376 in stakes. "He's back in work (Franco Ledger). He's a 100 percent sound and all going well we'll have one more go at the cup. It's probably be his last chance."  In 1989 he recorded his best UDR ranking when he started horses 174 times for 23 wins, 18 seconds and 14 thirds for a UDR .2165. Horses racing that season included Betonim, Benachie Lad and Admiral Luca. He's won the Southland trainers premiership 6 times; 1985, 1986, 2007 (jointly with Brendon McLellan and Kirk Larsen), 2008 (jointly with Murray Brown), 2011 and 2014. Out of his 500 training successes he's driven 374 himself. His first winner was Karen's Pride at Waikouaiti in October 1976. He won five races on the mare between October and June of that season. In the following two season's he had the services of half brothers Good Too and Model Hardcraft. Model Hardcraft won his first three races as a two year old including the 1979 New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham. Good Too won eight races for Hunter. Hunter has trained three winners in one day three times; Forbury Park October 1984 (Heiden, Sissy Bogart and Tapado Time), Invercargill September 2001 (Catalina Dreaming, Galleons Treasure and Grenadier) and Northern Southland October 2005 (Grenadier, Rockie's Dream and Mainstay).  Of all the Southern Harness feature races it's the Wairio Cup that he's won the most: Josephine Bret (1984), Yandoon (1992), Grenadier (2004), Franco Ledger (2013) and Canardly Lover (2014).  List of major winners: Franco Ledger (25 wins) Malaz (15 wins)  Nursemaid (14 wins) Devil May Care (11 wins) Canardly Lover (10 wins) Good Too  (8 wins) Grenadier (8 wins)  Cornell (8 wins) Betonim (8 wins) Model Hardcraft (7 wins) Holmezy (7 wins) Galleons Treasure (7 wins) Southern Boy (6 wins) Christian Ruler (6 wins) Stand Asquire (6 wins) Galleons Cheer ( 5 wins from just nine starts) Nordette (5 wins) Blueberry Hill (5 wins)  Benachie Lad (5 wins)  Admiral Luca (5 wins)  Congratulations Hamish - great effort. Meanwhile, Dexter Dunn got win number 199 for the season behind Lightning Mach for trainer Cran Dalgety. Four Starzzz Shiraz won heat 4 of the Claimers series for new trainer Brian Norman & driver Blair Orange, and Run To Hide was claimed by Canterbury Junior Driver Andrew Fitzgerald. Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness.

Harness Racing Trainer Paul Court has a Blenheim winter double in mind to wind down Expressive Victor's stellar season on a high.  Court will start the Harness Jewels runner-up in the Winter Cup Prelude on the first day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club's double header and she is likely to go again in Sunday's Winter Cup. Expressive Victor was given a week off following her second in the four-year-old Diamond behind Rocker Band. She has not been sighted publicly since but her West Melton-based trainer is confident she is forward enough to be competitive on both days Waterlea. "If anything she might be better for the run on Friday, but I wouldn't be coming if I didn't think she could (win)," Court said. Expressive Victor starts off 10m in Friday's Prelude but being the reliable and speedy beginner she is from the stand, the winner of seven races should be able to find the front if Blair Orange wants it. Court believes Expressive Victor is versatile and is not concerned if she does not lead. The daughter of Changeover raced by the De Novo Syndicate has chalked up five wins and six minor placings from 16 starts this season to exceed Court's expectations. "We always thought she was a pretty handy horse that could win two or three pretty quick but she just keeps stepping up." But Expressive Victor has not been the only bright point of Court's first season training on his own accord. Before Thursday night's Forbury Park meeting, he had already tallied 25 winners and could not be happier with how the season has panned out. He spent seven seasons training in partnership with his father Graham - highlighted by three consecutive New Zealand Trotting Cup victories with champion pacer-turned-sire Terror To Love. Thirty winners for the season looks possible but Court is not targeting any specific number. "I'm over the moon really. I didn't think about how many we might get beforehand, I just like to let it play out and see what happens. "I've been really happy with how many runners we have had in the Group races and how competitive we have been in them," Court said. Court also has a couple of leading hopes in c1 races over 2300m on the first day at Blenheim. Hypervelocity​ (race 6) and Courage To Live (race 9) both start from barrier two and although Court is not brimming with confidence, he rates both winning chances. The Bruce Hutton-trained Ideal Arden, who won the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude and Nelson Winter Cup will look to repeat the double in Blenheim. Highview Freddy​ ran two placings behind Ideal Arden at Nelson with stablemate Graduate Under Fire finishing just in behind with two top five finishes for the Robert Dunn stable. "Highview Freddy would have to be the pick of them just on that Nelson form," stable representative John Dunn said.      The highlight for the Dunn stable will be the return of exciting pacer Franco Cristiano​ who makes his makes his comeback from a long injury layoff in the c2-c3 pace over 2300m. The three-year-old was one of the main challengers to the All Stars colts before fracturing a pedal bone earlier this season. "He's pretty forward, he's had two nice trials," Dunn said. Mat Kermeen

Its been a seven month absence from the track, but talented three year old Franco Cristiano looks set to make a winning return on day one at Blenheim tomorrow for Harness Racing Trainer Robert Dunn. Good enough to win a Sires Stakes heat in the spring, Franco Cristiano was well supported in the final on Cup Day. However, after blowing to bits soon after the start, he would take no part in the Group One feature, won outstandingly by Lazarus. Shortly after this, Franco Cristiano headed north to Pukekohe under Robert's tutelage. However, very soon things began to unravel for the talented Bettor's Delight 3yr old. He had been a bit off in his work and Robert's worst fears were realised when after a scan, a hairline fracture of the pastern was revealed. After a successful surgery, he returned to the beach nearly three months ago and has been given plenty of time as he makes his progress back to the track. It was a winning turn at last week's Ashburton trials that told John that all was well and that it was time to get back to the track. "He was pretty impressive alright and just jogged it in some pretty quick sectionals." The news gets even better for his very patient connections. "He does seem a very different racehorse this time in and is definitely a lot more settled. Of course you never know until you get to the races though," said John. While the TAB have him installed the shortest of favourites in the early markets at $1.10, John said that first up, he must be some sort of risk. "Celestial Arden is in good form and is race fit, so we will need to be near enough to get the win." Win or lose, plans are a bit up in the air past tomorrow. "We are no certainty to go around again on Sunday. We will see how he is after the race, how he eats up and that sort of thing, but we won't be taking any risks with him." When assessing the rest of the team's chances tomorrow, John was a little frustrated by some of the draws and felt that perhaps their chances will be better on day two. "I really liked Mr Preston, but we have had to pull him out after he pulled up sore yesterday. Blood And Whisky is probably one of the best chances after Franco Cristiano. While he broke at the trials last week, I have made a couple of gear adjustments since then. He seems a nice type and should get one pretty quickly. Then later in the day, Highview Freddy and Graduate Under Fire should both go good races. They have both been near enough."Ex And when asked where things sit in terms of the much talked about premiership race, John was quite philosophical about things. "Realistically we will need to get a few wins this weekend if we are any chance. We will just keep on doing what we are doing and either way it has been a great season." Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

Updated 8am Friday Morning Todd Macfarlane produced the top tip for last week with his winning tip, Mr Natural winning at Alexandra Park, paying a nice $5.10 & $2.00. John Dunn deserves a honorably mention with his tip Katgotstyle who raced twice last week and was successful on Sunday at Rangiora paying $9.10. Others to tip winners were Andrew Fitzgerald, Kyle Marshall and Matt Cross. This week we have a few additions to the ring around - "Short priced special" will hopefully be one you can anchor in all bets. While a new mystery tipster will try to bump up our winning %. This week we cover 3 meetings, including Blenheim which is a dual meeting so make sure to follow the tips through to the second day. Forbury Park Thursday Night Brad Williamson – Madison Jane, Race 1. (2nd, $3.40 tote) Nathan Williamson – Gangnam Style, Race 2. (1st, $1.70, 1.40 tote) Rory Mcllwrick – Golden Gate, Race 6 (1st, $4.70 $2.30 tote) Craig Ferguson – Van Eva, Race 7. (2nd, $2.80 tote) Mystery Tipster - Hudson Sally, Race 8.  (7th) Matt Cross - Highview Illusion, Race 8. (2nd, $1.60 tote) John Dunn - Donegal Jimmy Dave, Race 11. (2nd, $1.50 tote) Blenheim - Friday Afternoon/Sunday Afternoon Blair Orange - Wot Up, Race 1. John Curtin - Glenferrie Classic, Race 2. Andrew Fitzgerald - Dancing In The Dark, Race 3. Ricky May - Pradas Ideal Dahling, Race 3. Jonny Cox - Thisgirlisonfire, Race 5. Peter Scaife - Also likes - Thisgirlisonfire, Race 5. Robbie Holmes - Gabby's Star, Race 7. Short priced special - Franco Cristiano, Race 7. Alexandra Park - Friday Night Todd Macfarlance - Stunning Shadow, Race 2. Mark Jones - Aymar, Race 4. Kyle Marshall - No Way Else, Race 6. Jay Abernethy - Elliot Daniel, Race 6. Dylan Ferguson - On The Razzle, Race 6. Scott Phelan - Rocknroll Princess, Race 9. Andre Poutama - Norvic Ruby, Race 10. Gavin Smith - Di'z Luck, Race 11. Andrew Fitzgerald

The Nelson Harness Racing Club is adamant it will continue its 125-year legacy for many more to come despite a difficult climate for the industry. Club president John McKenzie was quick to dismiss any speculation that the future of harness racing at Richmond Park was in any jeopardy. He said the recent Winter Cup meet as one of the best attended for some time. The club has had a difficult year as it faces an estimated $140,000 tax bill after discovering late last year that it had over-claimed on GST for the past four years. A junior auditor uncovered the accounting error after finding the club had claimed for GST on stakes payments to all winning owners and trainers instead of claiming only for those that were already GST-registered. At the time, McKenzie said the potential bill was "concerning" but that Inland Revenue was informed of the error immediately Speaking last week, he said the matter was now before the IRD and declined to comment further.  However, McKenzie said the club was still in a good position. "It's certainly hard for all racing clubs to make ends meet at the moment and our committee has undergone a significant restructuring period over the last six months. "We will, however, keep holding our two race meets each year. As long as I'm here there will still be a club." The club had received great support from the Canterbury harness fraternity in attending the Nelson races, McKenzie said. He pointed to a sharp drop in horse breeding numbers and fewer drivers on the harness circuit as reasons for any perceived dip in field numbers. Unlike Australia where the racing industry was big enough to support weekly meetings at a variety of venues, he said provincial locations like Nelson struggled to get the corporate backing to support them. "There's not the big money in it right now and you're seeing more horses that do have the talent heading (overseas) for that very reason," he said. The summer and winter trots have been a popular fixture on the Nelson events calendar for generations. In recent years, the family-friendly aspect had been extended to include kids entertainment and on course activities. While having such facilities came at a cost to the club, McKenzie said it was seen as an investment in introducing harness racing to a wider audience. The club leases the Richmond Park facilities from the Nelson A & P association on a right to use basis. Along with McKenzie an eight-strong committee works behind the scenes throughout the year to ensure the four race days run as smoothly as possible. Club membership sits at about fifty. Attracting larger numbers to race meetings is the main focus of the club - which in turn would bring in greater revenue. McKenzie said one of the challenges faced was educating people on the betting process, therefore enabling more first time punters to try their luck. As it stands, clubs receive 16 cents for every betting dollar placed on site but only 10 cents to the dollar on every bet made off the track. The latter figure includes those using their mobile device to access TAB accounts, which often means punters in the Richmond Park grandstands are choosing the convenience of an online transaction over waiting in line. The next Nelson Harness Club meet is the summer meet scheduled for January 13 and 15. Tim O'Connell Nelson Mail Reprinted with premission

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