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Young harness racing trainer Abbey Holdaway notched her second career win at Alexandra Park last night and but for a stroke of luck she may have been lost to the industry. After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Todd Mitchell offered her part-time work. “I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses. "I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work." And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early last year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman. She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School. “I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale. “Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train. "I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals. Last night Abbey lined up the 5 year old Monarchy gelding Jogo Bonito for the first time in the CO trot over 2200 meters at Alexandra Park. Previously in the barn of part owner Steven Reid, Jogo Bonito had shown any amount of promise at his previous 12 starts, racking up four placings but never really delivering on his potential. Away safely for Abbey's boss and partner Todd Mitchell, Jogo Bonito settled fifth early before Todd slotted him into the one out one back position with 1400 meters to go. There was no changes from there until approaching the home turn where Todd peeled Jogo Bonito three wide and dashed away for a very impressive 5 3/4 length victory. Jogo Bonito trotted the 2200 meters from a stand in 2:54.1 with closing sectionals of 61.3 and 30. The way Jogo Bonito won tonight would suggest that Abbey Holdaway might not have to wait long for career win number three as a trainer. Harnesslink Media   

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

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

Waikato trainer and administrator Rob Lawson will go into partnership with his son Simon on August 1. Lawson senior will train out of Newstead in the Waikato while Simon will train a team at Pukekohe. “We intend on having a boutique stable of perhaps eight or nine horses, but they will all race in my name. “We could register them in both names but we felt it might jeopardise Simon’s chances of getting more drives,’’ Lawson snr said. “He’s already driving for top trainers like Ray Green, Steven Reid, and Geoff Small when he can. He’s a naturally talented driver who can send them, and save them, when he has to.’’ He said he would head up to Pukekohe regularly to see how Simon is getting on. He believed his son had what it took to be a good trainer. “I’m biased but I know he’s a top driver and I also know he’s been around horses all of his life - so he certainly knows what training is all about. As well as working for me he’s also worked for Peter Simpson, Steven Reid and Geoff Small. He’s learnt a lot from a lot of people.’’ The Lawsons’ will swap their team around from time to time racing at both Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. “We will also be looking to entice South Island owners and trainers to send their horses north to us. I’m vice president at Cambridge but I realise the stakes in Auckland are too good to ignore, so it makes sense to race there. “Even second-placed money at Alexandra Park is nice. Having two stables reinforces our commitment to the industry. I am also going to be the trainers and drivers rep on the harness racing executive – so as you can see the industry means a lot to me and my family.’’ The Nathan Williamson trained The Wonkey Donkey was a recent South Island addition to Lawson’s stable. While in the north the 4-year-old Thanksgiving gelding recorded two seconds and two thirds. Lawson has trained 41 winners from 362 starters since 1991 and he’s also placed 67 times for $248,278 in stakes. His best year was last season when he trained eight winners. This year Lawson has won four times from 12 attempts. Son, Simon on the other hand has had a season in the sulky he will never forget. He won his first group One race behind the Green trained Besotted at Alexandra Park on May 2. That was one of 24 winners for him so far this season – 23 fewer than his best season in 2010. All up Lawson has won 166 of his 1,516 drives. He’s also placed on 322 occasions for $1.3 million in purses. Not a bad effort considering he only started driving in 2009. The Lawsons’ currently have Ton Tine going around at the moment. That son 4-year-old son of Monarchy has won three of his 23 starts “We’ve also got an exciting young rising 2-year-old named Van Mara. We bought him at the yearling sales and he is quite talented. We have a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Smart two-year-old filly Unforgiving claimed the thick end of the prize in tonight’s $20,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Graduette at Cambridge after staging a brilliant two-horse war with runner-up Bettor Be Supreme. The two fillies, which were clearly superior to their three other rivals, spaced their opposition by some 15 & ¼ lengths after clearing out from the 500 metre mark, but in the end it was the Reid/McMullen trained and Simon Lawson driven filly that come up trumps. Bettor Be Supreme, who is trained by Brent Mangos and was driven by Tony Herlihy, was extremely game in second after leading up, while Santanna Jewel rounded out the trifecta in third. Unforgiving, who is an Art Major half-sister to Charge Forward, paced the 1700 metres in 2-03.7 (1-57.0), with sectionals of 58.4 and 27.6. She has now won two of her five starts and placed on a further two occasions. Unforgiving was one of two winners for the training partnership of Steven Reid & Simon McMullen, who also enjoyed success with Destination Moon, a very impressive 5 & ½ length winner in the last race of the card. The speedy half-brother to Tintin America has now won 4 of his 14 lifetime starts. Other impressive winners on the card included Sky Major, who made light work of his C2-3 rivals when dashing away to win easily in a slick 1-55.9 mile rate. The Group One winning colt, who is currently a $6.50 chance in the New Zealand Derby, will compete in the 3YO Vero Stakes at Addington next Friday before setting his sights on the $175,000 feature. By Mitchell Robertson

The flagships of the Division are the Australasian Classic and New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales held in Auckland Monday 17th February and Christchurch Tuesday and Wednesday 18th and 19th of February. Billed as the “Sale of the Stars” their graduates include seven modern day New Zealand Cup winners, thirty two Harness Jewels winners and thirty one Australasian Breeders Crown winners. Unity under the PGG Wrightson organisation has been a major benefit to the sales. Especially in producing a top quality catalogue, funding a very successful inward buyer scheme and the $1 million Sales Race Series now in its 24th year. Harnesslink is running a short series on some of the yearlings on offer. Lot 6 Premier sale - NERVE OF STEEL SIRE - ART OFFICIAL- His first crop raced in North America last year and made a very encouraging start in the Pennsylvania Sires stakes program against the likes of Somebeachsomewhere and the leading first season sire in Well Said. His son Let's Drink On It 1:51.2 created a big impression as did Xtra Desire 1:52.8. His first crop in Australasia are two year olds in the 2013/2014 season and several have shown up at the early workouts and trials with Taj Bromac the early standout. DAM  - OUR FIRST LADY - She was a $50,000 yearling sale purchase who showed enormous promise before being sidelined with wind issues. Her first foal at stud was the Presidential Ball filly in Presidential Rose who qualified at two and had two starts at three for a win and a second before being sold to Australia for a reported $50,000. Her second foal by Mach Three is Wings Of Hope who also qualified at two but suffered a setback which has meant an enforced break. She is due back into work in three months and is held in good regard by trainer Steven Reid. The third foal and first colt is Nerve Of Steel. Our First Lady is a full sister to Line Of Fire (1:50.3. $240,077) and a half sister to Heres Rommel (1:55.3). Her dam is the very smart race mare Borowan who won 15 races in NSW and Victoria on her way to being voted four year old mare of the year in NSW. The third dam is the race winning mare in Smooth Rowan who left seven winners and is a half sister to Summertime Girl who left the champion pacer, The Falcon Strike ($1.303,000) . OVERVIEW - This great looking horse is the first colt of his dam who had blinding speed but whose wind issues blighted her race career. Her first two filly foals have both qualified at two and the colt is the best type by far that the mare has produced to date. Coupled with his great maternal family, this colt has a lot to recommend him to potential buyers. Lot 32 Premier sale - OFFICIAL EXCUSE SIRE - ART OFFICIAL - The biggest stake earning son of super sire Art Major had his first crop race in North America as two year olds in 2013 . They competed  in the very strong Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program against the great Somebeachsomewhere and the leading first season sire in Well Said. One of his daughters in Sister Stroll (1:54.1. $102,619) created a big impression in her debut season. His first crop in Australasia are two year olds in the 2013/2014 season and while it is very early both "Coaster " Howe and Gavin Smith have had promising types at recent trials in Canterbury. DAM - PRECIOUS EXCUSE--  she is an unraced Acquisitor (Albatross / Ambiguity) daughter of the broodmare gem Excuse me. This filly is the fifth foal of her dam who is developing a great record at stud. Her first was the smart colt in Precious Lord (p3,1:59.5) and he was quickly followed by the filly I Cee U (1:58) and her full sister Crazy Mach (1:58.6). The fourth foal was Machs Excuse who looked to be the best of them all, being un-beaten at trials and workouts before suffering a career ending pedal bone injury. She is now at stud. The grand-dam Excuse Me is one of the best broodmares of the last 30 years. Not only did she leave eight winners including the very smart Mighty Hurricane (15 wins) and No Excuse (19 wins) but her daughters and grand-daughters have produced a string of elite racehorses headed by the dual New Zealand Cup winner in Just An Excuse ($944,068), DB Bopper (1:50. $690,000), Second Wind (1;49.8. $341,000),  Franco Sequel (1:51. $356,121) and Smooth Performer ($184,355). OVERVIEW - A lovely long barreled filly from a mare who has yet to miss at stud. With the incredible number of elite horses close up in her pedigree she would appear a great prospect on both the track and at stud. Her residual value when she goes to stud will be significant. JC  

Samantha Ottley, Andre Poutama, and Simon McMullan will represent New Zealand at the Australasian Young Drivers Championship in New South Wales, Australia, from February 25 to March 2. Qualification for the Series, which will be run over 10 heats, was completed last Friday (January 31). The final race will be competed for on Inter Dominion grand final day at Sydney’s Tabcorp Park Menangle. Ottley, with a massive 111 points was the South Island’s leading qualifier – 55 points ahead of second-placed Robbie Close. Third was Matt Anderson on 47 points. Poutama’s 49 points, was four more than second placed McMullan in the North Island qualifiers. Ben Butcher was six points adrift in third with 39 points. Sailesh Abernethy actually finished first with 64 points, but because he is over 25 years of age he is ineligible to compete. McMullan won the UDR qualifiers with a strike rate of 0.3403. Abernethy was top qualifier with 0.3810, while Andrew Grant (0.3778) and Nicole Harris (0.3651) actually finished ahead of him, but they only had five and seven drives respectively . They needed a minimum of 15 drives to qualify. Ottley’s 0.3603 was also higher than McMullan’s but she had already booked her flight across the Tasman as the leading South Island driver. Ottley and Poutama will be representing New Zealand for the first time, but McMullan has driven in an Australasian Young Drivers Championship previously – that being in the Perth in 2012. McMullan, who only just qualified this time around with 16 drives, said he had Harness Racing New Zealand’s Marketing and Communications Executive, Stacey Markham to thank for qualifying. “I didn’t even realise I was a chance of getting there until Stacey rang me up. She said if I finished first or second at Cambridge last Friday I’d qualify,” McMullan said. McMullan duely won behind the Dream Vacation gelding that he and Steven Reid train named Commander Galleon. The 5-year-old was favourite in the second event and won easily by 3-1/2 lengths. “I’m delighted to be going again. I think the Perth experience will help me a lot this time around. I want to thank all the trainers who put me on this season, especially Brian Hughes. I had three drives for him and had two wins and a third. That was a huge help,” the Pukekohe horseman said. McMullan, who is now 24, will be too old to compete in next year’s Series and is desperate to go out a winner this time. “I finished down the field in Perth, but I did drive a winner. I know there’s a bit of luck involved with the horses and the draws that you get, but when you do get on a good horse you have to make the most of it. “There have been some really good juniors who have won the Series and gone on to good things, so horsemanship does come down to it. I’ll be watching all the videos when the draws are made and I’ll see how they have been driven,” said McMullan. Harness Racing New Zealand is providing the three junior drivers with return flights and merchandise. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

As Maurice McKendry counts down to the biggest milestone in New Zealand racing, trainer Sean McCaffrey has become his new best friend. McKendry goes into the weekend on 2994 career driving wins in New Zealand, looking to become only the second man after Tony Herlihy to rein 3000 winners in either code here. In typical McKendry fashion he isn’t getting carried away, knowing he will double membership of the 3000 club sooner rather than later. “I suppose I’ll start thinking about it when I get to 2999,” he laughs. “But it is not that big a deal any more, somebody else has already done it.” Cambridge trainer McCaffrey provided McKendry with two winners at Otaki last Sunday and gives him two serious chances of trotting winners tonight. The best is Sovereignty, who comes in well even off a 40m handicap in race eight. He won well at Cambridge two starts ago and had to give key rival Flying Isa a 10m start and valuable field position last time, but meets him off level marks tonight. “He is still trotting well, even with a few little niggles, and he will be hard to beat.” So too will the McCaffrey-trained Mollyz Luck in race two, especially if she can get away safely. McKendry trains and drives Jetcraft in race 10 and while he won’t be a maiden for long he does meet some handy rivals tonight, especially the Steven Reid-trained pair of Destination Moon and Raffaello. “He is a handy maiden and was a good second last start so has a definite chance.” McCaffrey also provides three winning hopes for McKendry at the Gate Pa grass track meeting on Sunday. “I think Sodeska will be hard even off his big handicap,” he offers. “And I don’t mind Sean’s filly in the maiden trot Golden Future (race two) if she gets things right. “Strawberry Heart (race five) has been going good races in probably better fields so Sean’s team is going really well.” By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

A controversial weekend has raised doubts over the big race campaigns of two of New Zealand’s best pacers. But for now their $1million campaigns remain on track and set to start with a rare clash between the pair this Saturday. Christen Me and The Gold Ace will meet for just the fourth time in the A$175,000 Ballarat Cup on Saturday night, a rich lead-up to the A$400,000 Hunter Cup a week later. The pair are the early favourites for both those races as well as among the big four in the market for the A$750,000 Inter Dominion in Sydney on March 2. But questions emerged over the weekend about whether they would actually be allowed to start in some of those target. The Gold Ace was the star of the weekend after the Auckland-owned pacer sat parked to win the Shepparton Cup, downing the likes of Smoken Up and suggesting he is back to his all-conquering three-year-old form when he was consistently too good for Terror To Love. After bobbling slightly from the 20m mark, The Gold Ace sat parked and beat one of the best Victorian fields of the season, justifying co-owner Steven Reid’s decision to send him to the powerful Belinda and Luke McCarthy stable for the summer. But while The Gold Ace would be the favourite for both the Ballarat and Hunter Cups, his connections feared missing the race under the unusual rules of the Hunter. They state a horse must have begun safely in a standing start race in the last year to be eligible for the Hunter and because The Gold Ace bobbled away it was ruled he had not met that criteria. But that was re-visited by HRV bosses and stewards yesterday who ruled The Gold Ace had begun safely before having to take evasion action which made him gallop briefly on the way to his massive win. So he will be allowed to start in the Hunter without having to race in another standing start, clearing the way for the mobile-start Ballarat Cup lead-up this Saturday as well. “I am glad to see common sense prevail because he is flying and he can win these races,” said driver Luke McCarthy. So while The Gold Ace is now all systems go for the richest six weeks of the year, the pacing’s world was abuzz with weekend reports long-time Inter Dominion favourite Christen Me was going to miss the A$750,000 classic. They quoted co-owner Vicki Purdon bizarrely saying Christen Me would race in the Hunter Cup but then come home and miss the Sydney race. Trainer Cran Dalgety quickly poured cold water on the story, saying no definite decision would be made about the Inter Dominion until after the Hunter Cup. “If we win the Hunter Cup or go very well it is going to be hard to pack up and go home,” said Dalgety matter-of-factly. Still, the story was enough to see the Australian TAB suspend betting on the Interdom until the situation was clarified. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of the New Zealand Herald) *After further consultation with Vicki Purdon and trainer Cran Dalgety, Harnesslink still believes that Christen Me will more than likely miss the Interdomions.

The scratching of key rival Easy On The Eye has all but handed Christen Me tonight's $60,000 Flying Mile at Cambridge - on two counts. While the superstar pacer would have been a hot favourite even with Easy On The Eye in the race, the Pukekohe pacer's withdrawal has made life much easier. If Christen Me still has one obvious Achilles heel it is his nervousness in tight surroundings, especially at high speed. So having a brilliant beginner like Easy On The Eye pushing down on him at breakneck speed in the short run into the first bend at Cambridge might have been enough to make Christen Me think twice about life. Easy On The Eye is a noted front runner, who might have been happy to stay in front and park Christen Me, a position few open-class miles are won from. Those concerns disappeared for Christen Me fans when trainer Steven Reid scratched Easy On The Eye.   "He is clearly not right," says Reid. "He was never really travelling at the Park the other day [Tuesday], even before he galloped that shadow, which he would normally never do. "So, he can have a small break and get ready for Auckland Cup time." That leaves Christen Me with just four rivals and the likelihood of running straight to the front and winning easily. "To be honest it wouldn't have bothered me if he had had to sit parked because he is that well I think he still could have won," says his trainer Cran Dalgety. "But if we are lucky enough to run to the front now then all the better." Dalgety says Christen Me worked superbly earlier this week at Pukekohe and has taken no harm from a torrid start to the season. As a 1:50.5 miler who finished second in the Miracle Mile two starts ago, he looks the Pick6 anchor tonight and anything but a decisive victory will raise huge doubts over his favouritism for the Inter Dominions in March. Bettor Cover Lover now looks the most likely trailer and therefore the quinella hope, although Pembrook Benny was awesome at Alexandra Park on Tuesday and if he gets the right sort of run, or is even launched to the lead early, he could be the closest chaser. While the Flying Mile looks a done-deal, the main trot has a few more layers to it. Irish Whisper was tough winning the National Trot at Alexandra Park on Tuesday and deserves favouritism but he is still not bulletproof and local hero Sovereignty has the gate speed to put himself in the right place early. Victory for him would be appropriate as he is owned by one of the greats of New Zealand harness racing in Charlie Hunter, whose 80th birthday tonight's race celebrates. Horses spilling over from the just-finished Auckland carnival will be the key runners tonight, starting with Duchess Diedre chasing a Harness Plus bonus in race one. While local Mista Mara is the logical favourite in race seven, punters should include Windinherhair, who comes in beautifully tonight, having being reassessed to class four and also receiving a 10m mares' allowance. She has taken on Franco Nelson and Adore Me her past two starts so only has to handle the stand to test Mista Mara. Onlyforyou, who has been luckless for the past month, looks a good each-way chance against the Purdon-Rasmussen pair of Sabellian and Whisper Jet in race nine. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald    

The trainers of Easy On The Eye say the draw nobody usually wants actually improves their chances in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. The speedster was one of the hidden gems in a generally underwhelming Kaikoura Cup on Monday, running on well after being checked into an early gallop. He is still long odds for the Cup, both because he lacks a certain x-factor and has doubts over how much he will enjoy a hard 3200m but co-trainer Simon McMullen is surprisingly upbeat about starting from barrier one. “I think it suits him and we are rapt to get it,” explains McMullen, who trains in partnership with Steven Reid. “He is usually a very good beginner and if he does that again then he might even be the first leader and can roll along and choose who we hand up to, which would probably be Christen Me or Terror To Love. “If we are following them or at worse three deep on the markers he might have a place chance.” McMullen’s enthusiasm is rare as many trainers hate drawing the ace in the Cup, which often has a very long build-up to the tapes being released, meaning the horse who starts from one has to stand the longest. And can then be forced to scoot early to stay handy. But in the case of Easy On The Eye it at least gives him a shot at getting a drag along behind one of the favourites, whose coattail’s have been lucrative this spring. He isn’t the only stable star chasing the big money this week, with Reid campaigning The Gold Ace in New South Wales where he was a brave second fresh-up in a stunning 1:49.4 mile last Saturday. The Gold Ace once again draws poorly in tomorrow night’s A$75,000 Newcastle Mile and probably needs to win one of three lead-up races over the next 15 days to earn a spot in his ultimate aim, the A$750,000 Miracle Mile on November 30. Closer to home the Reid/McMullen camp have been on a roll at Alexandra Park and that should continue tonight in the Breckon Farms Pace with Tiago Bromac. He ranks among the most improved pacers in the north and downed Besotted last Friday, albeit with the advantage of a 20m start. He has an advantage of a different type tonight in race fitness over the likes of Averil’s Quest and Five Card Draw and that, coupled with driver Peter Ferguson’s trademark aggression, suggests he will be very hard to catch again. “He has surprised us the way he has just kept improving and this week is no harder than last Friday so he has to be a huge again,” says McMullen. A potential serious open class player for the summer is Realmein, who should win the opening trot tonight. He has rare speed for a trotter, which was on show when he flashed home late in his seasonal debut last Friday. While he faces a 40m handicap tonight he has only five opponents standing in front of him and if within four lengths on the leader starting the final bend he should win. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Pukekohe trainers Steven Reid and Simon McMullan were on the ball when nominating their talented 4yo gelding Franco Nikau for races at Addington over the next two months.   In making the trip south Franco Nikau, in the hands of leading north island driver Peter Ferguson, made it three starts for three wins at Addington last Friday night defeating a tidy field of one win pacers. He now looks a strong chance to make it four wins on end in backing up this Friday night when he will be chasing the thick end of a healthy $21,000 stake on offer, by way of the new Seasonal Super Series of races being staged at Addington.   He will compete in the non-win as at 31 August Final raced behind the mobile over 2600m. Accompanying this will be two further Super Series Finals, one for one to two win pacers at 31 August and one for up to two win trotters at 31 August both for stakes of $21,000. There will be consolations for all three finals for a stake of $12,500 each.   Not only will Franco Nikau be competing for $21,000, but in having his second start at Addington this Friday is now eligible for the Glenys & Philip Kennard Graphite Developments Show Day Futurity on Friday 15 November for a stake of $36,000.   So after assessing the opportunities and mapping out their programme, the next month or so could well prove very profitable for the Reid - McMullan team and the owners of Franco Nikau.   It is the intention of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club that another Seasonal Super Series will take place on Friday 20 December under similar conditions.   Details on both the Seasonal Super Series and the Glenys & Philip Kennard Graphite Developments Show Day Futurity can be viewed at www.addington.co.nz.   Alternatively, please call Brian Rabbitt or Richard Bromley of Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.   Ged Mooar

Steven Reid is currently enjoying a holiday in Hawaii, but the weather isn’t the only think heating up this week for Reid. So is his stable back home, meaning his training partner Simon McMullen has a busy week ahead. “We have runners at Cambridge, Alexandra Park, and Addington, so it’s all on,” said McMullen “Stable employee Michael Blakemore headed south with Easy On The Eye and Franco Nikau this morning. ”They arrived in at 6am and are being stabled at Spreydon Lodge,” he added. McMullen said he was stoked with Easy On The Eye’s Spring Cup win. But admits it is hard to see him beating either of the big two, Christen Me and Terror To Love, in Friday’s Canterbury Classic. “We were pleasantly surprised with his Spring Cup win as we thought he would be a run short, so either he was more forward than we thought or he has really stepped up this time in. Hopefully it is the latter,” he laughed. McMullen said that in his opinion Easy On The Eye is the third best horse in Friday’s $40,000 feature, and believes that’s where he should be in the betting order. “In saying that, they are all good horses and a lot of them have beaten him before. But I do think he is a better horse now than he was then,” he added. McMullen and Reid also have talented four-year-old Franco Nikau engaged at Addington, and he looks more of a realistic winning chance. “Steven and I both have a very big opinion of him, and think he will eventually work his way through to open class. “He is down there to qualify for the $40,000 Show Day Futurity,” said McMullen. “There is also a $21,000 race for him next week,” he added. McMullen has no qualms about Franco Nikau going right-hand, and even went as far to say he will be better. But he does think the son of Lis Mara will improve on anything he does on Friday. “He still has a bit of strengthening up to do. I think he will be an even better horse in 12 months time. Meanwhile, McMullen will be on-course at Alexandra Park on Friday, where he has Charge Forward and Kiwi Ideal engaged in the feature 5-7 win pace “We are rapt with how Charge Forward has come back, but he was a bit average at the recent workouts, so that is a slight concern. Still, from the front mark he looks a good each-way chance. As does Kiwi Ideal, who McMullen thinks will have benefited greatly of his fresh-up run. “He missed a workout before that race, so he should strip a much better horse this week.” When asked what he rated as best overall chance of the week, McMullen said he was very bullish about the chances of maiden trotter Jogo Bonito, who goes around in the fifth race at Alexandra Park. “He seems to be getting better every start. I expect him to be very hard to beat.” By Mitchell Robertson          

Easy On The Eye’s effortless Spring Cup victory at Alexandra Park last Friday night (September 20) even surprised his Franklin trainers Steven Reid and Simon McMullan. “He’s been working okay but this was his first run back since he won the Winter Cup three months ago. We gave him a month off after that and because he’s such a big horse we thought he might need the run,” McMullan said. Even driver Peter Ferguson, who was having his first drive back since the Jewels in Ashburton due to a serious thumb injury suffered two years ago, was a bit stunned by the easy of Easy On The Eye’s 14th win. “He won with plenty in hand. I didn’t even have to ask him to go. He didn’t feel like a horse who was having his first run back after a spell,” said Ferguson. ‘Fergy’ had Easy On Then Eye in front after 200 metres and the 6-year-old son of Christian Cullen never looked like giving away the lead at away any stage of the 2200m stand. At the finishing line Easy On The Eye had two lengths to spare over stablemate Charge Forward (Simon Lawson), who was having his second run back after a five month spell. Favourite Besotted (Maurice McKendry) was a neck back in third after bobbling away at the start. Winner’s time: 2:43.6. Mile rate: 1:59.6. Last 800m: 55.4. Last 400m: 27.1. Easy On The Eye will now head to Christchurch this week to tackle the big guns in the Avon City Ford Cup. “After that we might tackle the Ashburton Flying Stakes and then possibly the (New Zealand) Cup trial if needed. We would like to start him in the Kaikoura Cup because the distance is ideal for him, but won’t because he’s such a big framed horse who wouldn’t handle the bends too well,” McMullan said. It was Easy On The Eye’s 14th win in 37 starts. He’s also placed 13 times for just over a quarter of a million dollars in prize money. Easy On The Eye is owned by Ken and Karen Breckon, G.K. Breckon, T.C. Screen, and M. Ng. He was bred by Doctors M.J. Evans and T.B. Taylor. Meanwhile, Reid, McMullan, and Ferguson were also victorious on Friday with their six-win pacer Tiago Bromac, who was resuming from a four-month spell. The 4-year-old McArdle gelding had a length to spare over Bettor Romance and Zac Butcher in the ninth event – the Auckland Reactor@Alabar mobile for 3-5 win pacers. “He’s like Easy On The Eye a bit. We thought he might need the run too, but he keeps stepping up. We will just keep ticking away with him up here and then concentrate on the big 4-year-old races with him later in the season,” 24-year-old McMullan said. Tiago Bromac paced the 2200m mobile in 2:46 flat with a 2:01.4 mile rate. His last 800m and 400m sectionals were 57.7 and 27.3. The Reid-McMullan team had a good night on Friday. As well as Charge Forward's second in the Spring Cup they also placed Jogo Bonito in race one. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Easy On The Eye wasn’t the only one who resumed on a winning note in last night’s $25,000 Spring Cup at Alexandra Park, his driver Peter Ferguson also did after being sidelined since June due to a reoccurring hand injury. Hence the whip flourish as he crossed the finishing line. After speeding to the lead early, Ferguson and the Steven Reid & Simon McMullen trained son of Christian Cullen dictated terms in front before packing too much punch for stablemate Charge Forward (Simon Lawson) in the home stretch. Besotted, who copped a minor check at the start, paced roughly around the final bend before powering home for a close-up third. Easy On The Eye paced the 2200m journey in a tidy 2-43.6. His final sectionals were recorded in a slick 55.4 and 27.1. Ferguson, Reid and McMullen then doubled the dose when Tiago Bromac was successful in the ninth race. He was also resuming on the back of a lay-off. Out of Ferguson’s other three drives, he managed to rack up a further two placings. Giving him an impressive UDR of .5778 Easy On The Eye is owned by K G Breckon, Mrs K D Breckon, G K Breckon, M Ng and Mrs T C Screen, he is currently paying $21 for a win and $5.50 for a place in the New Zealand Cup ‘Futures’ market. By Mitchell Robertson

“Steven (Reid) had no right to make me a partner in his training establishment. He has rewarded me for being with him for seven years. I’m extremely grateful.” Those were the words from Simon McMullan after he trained his first two winners at Alexandra Park last Friday (August 16). The Reid and McMullan trained Roger Ramjet and Sweet Jane won the first and fourth races at the Franklin Trotting Club’s meeting. Twenty four-year-old McMullan was over the moon with his first two wins. “It’s a great feeling alright. I backed off the driving a bit when we travelled with our team last year. Even though I’d like to have a crack at the Australasian Juniors later in the season training is where it’s at for me right now. “I love working horses and I love working for Steven. He is the consummate professional. He has rewarded me and now I just want to keep experience this winning feeling,” McMullan said. “I am grateful to what he and Wendy have done for me,” he added. Both Roger Ramjet (Todd Mitchell) and Sweet Jane (Simon Lawson) were backed into favourites in their respective maiden paces on Friday. Reid and McMullan only had two starters to the races that night and McMullan said he was stoked to have come away from his home-town meeting with a 100 per cent strike rate. McMullan was educated at Burnside High School and has worked for Brent Lilley, Brendon Hill and Doug Gale prior to coming to Reid’s Pukekohe stable. His work ethic soon ensured he was stable foreman before being promoted to a partner on August 1. “I didn’t expect this. I’ve learnt so much from Steven. In fact every trainer has taught me something new. That’s the great thing about this sport – you never stop learning. I am still only young and try and digest every piece of information that is given to me,” said McMullan. He said he was still excited about being able to work for a former New Zealand champion trainer and one of the country’s leading stables “We’ve got a powerful stable when you take into account the top horses like Gold Ace, Easy On The Eye and Kiwi Ideal. They are the guns but then again we’ve also got a lot of promising ones coming through like Destination Moon. “He’s our best 2-year-old and Martine Maguire would be our best 2-year-old filly. She won a $25,000 race at Cambridge in March. “We’ve also got a really nice Lis Mara 4-year-old named Franco Nikau who only qualified on August 13. He’s one to watch out for when he lines up. Then there’s Charge Forward (eight wins) and our best trotter Commander Galleon (six wins),” McMullan said. Commenting on Friday’s two winners, McMullan said: “Three-year-old Roger Ramjet has a lot of potential and will win more races. And now that Sweet Jane has won one I think she will go in with it. A lot of horses do that after breaking their duck." By Duane Ranger Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

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