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Classie Brigade showed Southlanders when he won easily at Winton Raceway on Saturday against older more experienced campaigners that he'll be a serious contender for the end of season Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes .   The Bettor's Delight colt was driven by Ricky May who's been associated with him from day one.   "I actually drove him the first time he went off the place." It was at a workout at Methven (February 2015) and he slipped over but he got up and paced and I've driven him ever since," said May.   He had six starts at two, recording two seconds.   "He was a nice two year old and got third in the Sires Stakes Final at Addington (behind Lazarus and Chase The Dream) at three so he's been right there." At Auckland (in the Sales Series Final) a hopple shorter came out going into the first bend and hit him in the stomach and he started bucking." "It was a shame because it was the first time he'd drawn handy." "He's come down here instead of going to Auckland," Ricky said.   In today's Plumbing World Mobile Pace, May decided to stay out of the early rush and settled in the one one as All Jokes Aside sped to the top. With Macy Blue Chip softening up the leader, May waited until the 400 metres before he got a nice tow into the race on the back of an improving Machie Mach. Just before straightening May let the colt run and he quickly improved to challenge All Jokes Aside. Halfway down the straight he'd hit the lead and came away to win easily by one and a half lengths from All Jokes Aside. The winning time was 2-57.1.   "I didn't let him run out of the gate." "He's run out of the gate a couple of times but today I decided not to go out." It worked out good really. He got a nice run. He's good at coming off their backs," Ricky said. Classie Brigade is out of the seven win Mach Three mare Trigirl Brigade and has strong Southland roots.   His fourth dam Paula Brigade won six races for Harry Cox. She was owned by the late Peter (AD) Campbell.     Ryal Bush trainer Nathan Williamson bought a full brother to Classie Brigade at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale in Auckland last week for $50,000.  Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness Racing - Check site here  

The inaugural running of  Southern Harness Racing's “ Diamonds Day” is based around the finals of the Southland Oaks, the Southern Supremacy final and the Southern Country Cups final all being held on the same day at Ascot Park in Invercargill..   The first of these to be run today was the Southland Oaks which looked a two horse race on paper but as we all know races are never run on paper.   Rocker Band had been in great form all season and even from the second line was sent out a warm favourite in front of the Cran Dalgety trained Donegal Kahlum who drew badly on the outside of the second line.   The well performed Smokin Bird and Jonny Cox lead early and held the lead for the first 700 metres before handing up to Dexter and Donegal Kahlum who had looped the field from last.   Rocker Band and Ricky May were seemingly cruising three back on the outer before taking off with 1300 metres to go and finding the death seat with 900 metres to run.    When the pressure went on at the 500 metres Rocker Band surprisingly folded immediately and drifted back through the field.   Donegal Kahlum headed for home in front but Smokin Bird after a lovely run in the trail zipped through on the inside and claimed a well deserved success.   Donegal Kahlum fought on bravely for second in front of a very unlucky Princess Arts who ran on well for third after being three wide for most of the last round.   Jonny Cox was all smiles post race.   “The race panned out beautifully for my filly.”   “She got the run of the race and was travelling like a winner a long way out.”   “ The draw made a lot of difference and if you reversed the draw you probably reversed the result,”Jonny said.    The irony of picking up the drive from Matthew Williamson after his recent suspension for a raceday duel with Jonny was not lost on Jonny Cox.   “ It is just the way it worked out and it could just have happened the other way round to be honest,” Jonny said.   Trainer Kevin Court has a rich pedigree in unearthing age group talent and in Smokin Bird he has a filly who won't be out of place in the New Zealand Oaks and Harness Jewels.   Smokin Bird Harnesslink Media 

Most harness racing pundits ( Us included) thought the Southern Supremacy final at Ascot Park Raceway, Invercargill was a battle between four horses with Tas Man Bromac, Statham, Pulp Fiction and Costa Del Magnifico looking to have a class edge on the rest. No one told I'm Full Of Excuses and the three year old son of Jereme's Jet got his nose in front right on the post to cause a huge upset in the biggest race for three year old colts and geldings in Southland. As expected Statham and Brent Barclay led early but before long Dexter Dunn and Pulp Fiction circled the field and attacked him and grabbed the front with two rounds to go. I'm Full Of Excuses had been in the one by one early before being left parked with a mile to go when Smithy went to the front but he again found the one by one when Tas Man Bromac moved to the death with a lap to go. Tas Man Bromac eyeballed Smithy off the back and grabbed the lead as they turned for home and half way up the straight looked home but bit by bit I'm Full Of Excuses reeled him in and stuck his nose out right on the line to claim a memorable win. Pulp Fiction fought on well for third 1 ¼ lengths away with Smithy the best of the rest 7 ½ lengths away. I'm Full Of Excuses paced the 2700 metres in a very quick 3:22.4 in the windy conditions with closing sectionals of 59.2 and 28.6. Trainer/ driver Clark Barron had an odd doubt or two pre race weather I'm Full Of Excuses was up to some of his opposition. “ I thought a couple may have a class edge on him but I knew the distance would suit him.” “ He won his first couple of starts and that was a handicap in a way as he didn't know a thing about racing yet was up a grade. “ The more ring craft he has got with racing the better he has gone and he won his last start really easily in smart time so I knew he would go good today.” “With the speed on the whole way that really suited him but it took the whole straight to get there,” Clark said. Clark has had I'm Full Of Excuses all the way through. “Ollie (Owner) brought the dam out of the trotting calendar from Dave Clark down here so he has been here from day one.” “He is a real nice looker and I have always had a bit of time for him,” Clark said. Clark had already reached the 1000 wins as a driver earlier in the meeting and capped off a great day with the trainer/driver double in the Southern Supremacy. Harnesslink Media

With the big day of harness racing at Invercargill on Diamonds Day on Sunday, we here at Harnesslink thought we should an in depth preview of some of the feature races. This preview is of the Southern Supremacy Final 1) Man I'm Good  -  Starts: 6    Wins: 0    Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $1,114 Nice horse in the making but this is a huge step up to what he has been racing. We struggle to see him as a serious first four player in this field.. Not for us. 2) Christian Grey  -  Starts: 7    Wins: 2   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $8,556 Talented three year old with a nice draw here but class of field against him. There are four here that look better to us regardless of the runs they might get. Not for us 3) Statham  -  Starts: 7    Wins: 4    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $26,761  Real up and comer who has impressed from day one. Out and out stayer who will love the 2700 metres and is right in the zone at the moment. Nathan has gone with the stablemate driving wise but it took him most of the week to decide which  horse to drive which shows how little there is between the two Williamson runners. Big winning chance and a must have for all combination bets. 4) I'm Full Of Excuses  -  Starts: 9    Wins: 3    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $15,044 Has won three races from just nine starts but does seem a bit one dimensional at this stage. Will see out the 2700 metres better than some but hard to see him troubling the favoured quartet. Outside first four player at best. 5) Robyn's Bad Boy  -  Starts: 11    Wins: 1   Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $7,569 Another horse who will win a few more in the future but hard to make a case for him here. This field has real depth this year and we can't see him finishing in four. Not for us. 6) Tas Man Bromac  -  Starts: 11    Wins: 7   Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $43,393 The find of the season in Southland amongst the three year olds and he has hardly put a foot wrong all season. Good enough to have gone round in the Derbies but the stable have targeted this race instead all season. Is cherry ripe for this and the 2700 metres won't hold any worries for him as he already holds the New Zealand record for the distance from a stand. The horse to beat for us. 7) Smithy  -  Starts: 11    Wins: 3   Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $27,661  Speedy son of Mach Three who we would prefer over something shorter at this level. If he drawn in close he would have been a first four player for us but from out there at seven we struggle to see him as a major player. Outside first four player at best                                                                          SECOND LINE 8) Costa Del Magnifico  -  Starts: 13    Wins: 3   Secs: 7    Thirds: 1    Life: $23,333 As game as they come and he will appreciate the 2700 metres Perennial placegetter this season but all of his runs have had merit and he won't give in without a fight. From the draw he would need a few things to go his way to be a winning chance but a must have for all combination takers 9) Pulp Fiction  -  Starts: 18    Wins: 8   Secs: 0    Thirds: 4    Life: $60,190 Most tightly assessed horse in the race and has Dexter in the bike which is a big plus. Nagging doubt for us whether a true run 2700 metres is his best distance and he will need to be at his absolute best to topple the Williamson pair. A winning chance but a must for all combination takers.   SELECTIONS Tas Man Bromac is top pick for us but it is a close thing with his stablemate Statham. For us these two have been set for this race all season and are right in the zone over a distance that they will love. Pulp Fiction can upset these two but will need to lift from his recent runs and Costa Del Magnifico will run his usual honest race and is a serious first four player. We struggle to see too many of the other runners playing a major role here and we think these four we have picked here have a big chance of making up the first four Harnesslink Media

Every now and again when you are out and about at the harness racing trials around Canterbury you come across a horse with " potential star" written all over them. So it was yesterday at the Rangiora workouts when Robbie Holmes produced a very smart three year old in Kiwi Legend who gave his opposition windburn as he went past them in his maiden heat. Held in very high regard by Robbie, Kiwi Legend has all the hallmarks of a top class horse with breeding to match his ability. He is a son of the champion sire Art Major from the very smart racemare Kiwi's Can Fly who recorded four wins and two placings from just seven starts in a career restricted by injury. Kiwis Can Fly was a half sister to the champion racemare Kiwi Ingenuity 1:52.1 ($491,821) who was also raced by Kiwi Legend's breeders Put through the yearling sales at Christchurch, Kiwi Legend was brought home by his breeder Hamish Scott when he only made $25,000 and syndicated which has turned out to be a very astute decision. Given time to fill out into his generous frame,  Kiwi Legend is now ready to let the rest of us see what Robbie has known for a while as he builds towards his career debut on Saturday week. " He is a lovely horse to do anything with and he has such a great attitude" "We have waited for him to fill out and mature but I think we will rewarded in the long term for our patience," Robbie told Harnesslink last night. Yesterday was the first time that Robbie had asked Kiwi Legend to seriously stretch out in his workouts and trials to date. " His race debut is fast approaching so he needed to do a bit more yesterday with a view to Saturday week." "He has really high speed and can sustain that speed from a long way out," Robbie  said. The immediate aim for Kiwi Legend is to qualify for the Southern Supremacy Final in April but Robbie has not given up hope of  a Derby start. " We nominated him for the Derby and he will tell us over the next few weeks if we are being realistic or not." " I am pretty confident that he will measure up," Robbie said. This season's crop of three year olds has been notable for the number of talented horses racing and Kiwi Legend looks set to add to that depth in the next few weeks.  Harnesslink Media

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