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Any NZ$60,000 race is a big one but for Gold Ace the Flying Mile at Cambridge tonight could be a life changer. Win and the harness racing speedster could head back to Australia for one last shot at making an impression for his future stallion career there. And not to mention the small matter of the A$1.6million worth of races he can contest in the space of just six weeks at Melton and Menangle. But lose tomorrow, most likely to Adore Me, and trainer and part owner Steven Reid has to think seriously about staying home and concentrating on the Auckland Cup and Gold Ace ending his racing days here in New Zealand. “I’d love to take him over there for another crack at the big races cause I feel he has some unfinished business. “He was great in both the Victoria and Hunter Cups last year and I’d also like to have a go at a really fast mile time at Menangle. “So if he can win, especially beating Adore Me this week, that is all on.” With that in mind the barrier draw was crucial, Gold Ace securing barrier two and Adore Me to start from four. “All I wanted was to draw inside the mare and have a chance,” said Reid. “We have got that now and I think everybody knows we will be trying for an all the way win. “If Adore Me can sit outside us and beat us then so be it.” Reid says Gold Ace is starting to feel more like the horse who won both the NZ Free-For-All and this race two seasons ago. “I actually think he is back to something like his best,” says Reid. “He has really seemed to come on in the last few weeks and you know that when he starts bucking. “When he was at his best as a three-year-old he used to buck in the prelims and sometimes even in a race. “And he has been doing in this week. I worked him on Wednesday and he bucked like seven or eight times in the warm up. “So he is feeling good. Whether that is good enough to beat the mare we will see.” The NZ TAB opened Adore Me a $1.40 to win tomorrow night, with Gold Ace at $3.40 to upset her, as he did when he downed Adore Me’s stablemate Smolda when he was hot favourite for this race two seasons ago. by Michael Guerin Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Gold Ace’s comeback to credibility has received another boost heading into tomorrow night’s stunning premier meeting at Alexandra Park. The scratching of key rival Pembrook Benny from the $30,000 Founders 1700m has removed the major obstacle from Gold Ace making it back to back wins in the small sprint field. Gold Ace opened the $2.30 favourite with the TAB yesterday morning but shortened into $1.60 after Pembrook Benny, drawn directly inside him, was withdrawn. “He banged a knee somewhere and we had to treat it, which meant he couldn’t race,” said trainer Barry Purdon. “It is nothing serious though so he should be fine for Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve and the Flying Mile at Cambridge (Jan 9).” That means Gold Ace faces just four rivals in the group three race and greatly increases his chances of blasting to the lead as he looks to continue on from his all the way last start win. That was his first Alexandra Park success in over three years and his first win since re-joining Steven Reid and Simon McMullen from the McCarthy stable in Sydney. With his blazing gate speed and the Flying Mile just weeks away he could be in for a far more profitable summer than looked likely, especially as big guns like Christen Me and Terror To Love are having Christmas breaks. His early involvement and the Alexandra Park debut of Dalton Bromac in tomorrow night’s opening race sets up one of the stronger December premier meetings seen at Alexandra Park in years. Adore Me is the $1.22 favourite for the group one Queen Of Hearts even drawn the inside of the second line, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon indicating on The Box Seat TV show last night he would be looking to punch through early behind potential leader Helena Jet. “I think Helena Jet is the second best mare in the race and likely to lead so I’d rather do that than go back and try and come around them all,” said Purdon. Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen also have enormous roles to play in the $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial and the $50,000 Alabar Classic. Linda Lovegrace, with the inside draw, was the first horse backed seriously when the feature race markets opened yesterday, and at $3.20 was nudging excitement machine The Orange Agent’s $3 quote last night. Purdon opts for Sires’ Stakes winner Have Faith In Me as narrowly the stable’s next chance of three standouts in the Alabar Classic but the bookies see it the other way, having Hug The Wind the $2.40 top pick over Have Faith In Me at $2.70. The other group race of the night sees Stent return to Alexandra Park and his beloved mobile short course racing in the $40,000 Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes. That combination and a good draw have seen him open a $2.50 favourite over Prime Power at $3.60 in a line-up that also includes Sheemon and Irish Whisper. Courtesy of Michael Guerin + Harness Racing New Zealand

Steven Reid has been in the harness racing industry long enough to know that horses have a shelf life and that is why he he looking at the immediate future of his stable star Gold Ace in such a measured fashion. Trained by Steven all the way through, Gold Ace has provided the South Auckland trainer with some of his most memorable career highlights. A winner as a 2 year old, Gold Ace really came of age as a 3 year old winning ten races from fifteen starts including the $166,000 Sires Stakes Final, the $200,000 New Zealand Derby and the $150,000 Harness Jewels. Gold Ace kicked on as an early 4 year old when he trekked to Perth and took out the $50,000 4 year old championship followed closely afterwards by the $175,000 Golden Nugget.  Stabled at Gary Hall's during their time in Perth, the connections of Gold Ace knocked back an offer of $1,000,000 during their stay there from their host. From there Gold Ace has moved between New Zealand and Australia with some of his more memorable performances included winning the $100,000 Cranbourne Cup,  the $147,500 New Zealand Free For All and an outstanding 3rd in the $400,000 Hunter Cup. Numerous placings behind such greats as Christen Me, Terror To Love and Sir Lincoln are present throughout his racelines. Based in New South Wales with Luke McCarthy earlier this season and not quite performing up to his usual high standards, the decision was made to return Gold Ace to New Zealand to Steven Reid and to set him for the New Zealand Free For All in Cup Week. While he ran a creditable fifth in a super strong field, Steven is aware the end of his racing career may not be far away. "I was happy enough with his run at Addington as he didn't get much go his way but he was still a wee way off the speed." " He has done everything right heading into the Summer Cup on Friday night but I just don't know if we can beat Franco Nelson," Steven told Harnesslink this week.  "We will head to the FFA at Auckland before Xmas and then on to the Flying Mile at Waikato early in January and if he continues to improve and race well we will head to the Auckland Cup. "If he is not competitive in those races then maybe its time to retire Gold Ace to stud, " Steven said  A 7 year old son of champion sire Bettors Delight, Gold Ace has a pedigree to match his racetrack performances. He is bred on the "golden cross" of Bettors Delight over an In The Pocket mare and his pedigree is littered with high class performers. The full sister Gold Elite 1:57.3 $70,037 and full brother Strike The Gold 1:55.8 $45,759 are both smart types. The last two full brothers to Gold Ace to go through the ring at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale have both made $75,000. The grand - dam Touch Of Gold has produced Seeking The Gold 1:50.4 ($250,785)  Golden Son 1:54.4 ($86,585) and Golden Charm 1:59 - the dam of Coppertone 1:50.4 ($119,076) Gold Ace is closely related to the brilliant juvenile Smiling Shard 1:53.7 ($1,178,793) who is now at stud in Australia. Steven knows how hard it is in todays competitive stud scene but is determined to give Gold Ace his chance. " He has everything you look for in a sire - Breeding - Conformation - Performance - Longevity" " Priced right, I am sure he will get his chance to prove himself " " I will certainly be supporting him and so will a few close to the barn so he will get his chance," Steven said. So why one door on Gold Ace's career is starting to close, another one is starting to open. Harnesslink Media

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

 Steven Reid’s New Zealand Free-For-All assault has taken two unusual turns which leave him with half the firepower he expected to have. Reid and training partner Simon McMullen will still have former winner Gold Ace in our biggest sprint two weeks tomorrow, but last season’s runner-up Easy On The Eye won’t be back. He has been sold to Australia where he has joined the Newcastle team of Shane Tritton. “We got fair price for him and in this business you have to sell them sometimes,” said Reid. “I am sure if he had stayed here he could have won what we got paid for him over a year or two but then expenses come out of that. “But I think he can do a good job for Shane.” Tritton is thrilled with his purchase and says the seven-year-old son of Christian Cullen has settled into his galloping work programme well. “We have liked him for a long time and we think enough of him that we are aiming him at the Miracle Mile. “We know that won’t be easy to get into but at this stage he will clash with Stuey (Suave Stuey Lombo) in the Newcastle Mile and we can see where he is at after that.” But Reid has been playing snakes and ladders with NSW’s leading trainers, sending Easy On The Eye over but getting Gold Ace back from the McCarthy stable. And he says he will only have one more trial before Cup week. “He is well and has come back looking good,” says Reid. “But he won’t have a lead-up race. We will go to the Cup trials, not for the main Cup trial but for something shorter that day. “Then we have two options. Obviously he is going to the NZ Free-For-All and that is his main aim and he will almost certainly go in fresh. “But he does have the option of the junior free-for-all on Cup Day if we think he needs a race, but that is unlikely.” Easy On The Eye’s departure to NSW and the recent loss of Lets Elope to Victoria, where he will have his first start for Brent Lilley next week, leaves the North Island open class stocks at their lowest ebb in years. Pembrook Benny leads that pack with some handy graduates from intermediate grade like Norvic Nightowl and Beyond The Silence coming through but even with five or six quality southerners coming north after Cup week, there could be some big races with class four type fronts around over the summer. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

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

An old saying in harness racing is you never know where your next smart horse may come from. Last nights outstanding winner at Alexandra Park in Blinding Light fits that description to a tee. A son of the Christian Cullen sire Charles Brosnan, Blinding Light is owned by well known northern horseman and now transport operator, Les Purdon. Les was down at Graham Courts property in Canterbury when he was taken by the cut of several of the progeny of Charles Brosnan. "Graham had quite a few there and I was really taken by their type and appearance. "I thought they were as nice a bunch of yearlings as I had seen," Les told Harnesslink this morning. Fast forward a few months and Graham had sent one of the yearlings north to Les in appreciation for his help over a few transport matters. Already broken in when he arrived, Les liked him from the start. "He is a great looking horse, a real Christian Cullen type "Just  a nice horse to do anything with" he said. Placed with Steven Reid, Blinding Light just kept getting better the more they worked him. Qualifying in February, the then 2 year old Blinding Light lined up against the older horses in his debut in March at Cambridge and absolutely brained them. A smart third at his second start, Blinding Light went poorly at his next start due in the main to a bout of colic and was spelled straight after. Brought back up slowly, Blinding Light was working the house down at Reids but as he was getting ready for his season debut this week they were blindsided a touch when he was placed in the C1/C2 pace even though he was still a maiden. In the end it mattered little as Blinding Light give them all a start and a beating. Allowed to settle last from barrier five by driver Simon Lawson, Blinding Light was still last as they went past the 400 metres mark. Angled wider on the track as they turned for home, Blinding Light breezed on bye in the blink of an eye for an emphatic victory. He paced the 2200 metres in 2:44.4, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with closing sectionals off the front of 56.9 and 28.6 Blinding Light was privately timed to run his last 800 metres in 55.6 and 400 metres in 27.5 and seemed to do it with a bit in reserve. Les has taking a fair bit of ribbing from friends and associates about racing a Charles Brosnan but as he knows Blinding Light doesn't know what he is by. "Blinding Light doesn't  know who his sire is and he is from a half sister to Dream Out Loud 1:48.4 ($316,246) and the grand dam is a half to Defoe 1:53 ($262,895) so the family is strong. "The way Blinding Light goes I wouldn't mind another couple of Charles Bronsan's" he said. Blinding Light is yet another example of judging a horse on his performance and not what he is by. Harnesslink Media    

One of the notable withdrawals from the Holy Grail of harness racing, the  New Zealand Cup is the Steven Reid trained pacer, Easy On The Eye. Ranked ninth on the list for entry into the Addington feature in November, the connections of Easy On The Eye weren't that keen on a Cup start according to trainer Steven Reid. " He is not really a two miler and we weren't that serious about starting to be honest. We nominated him in case there was a high attrition rate amongst the top handful but that didn't happen so we took him out when the sustaining payment was due," he said. Easy On The Eye had his first start for the season in last weeks Holmes D G Pace at Alexandra Park and performed up to his trainers expectations. "He really needed the run so to finish third at this stage of his preparation after sitting parked is about right for where he is at this point of his campaign" Steven told Harnesslink this week. Even though Easy On The Eye is not heading south for the New Zealand Cup, he will still be at Addington for Cup Day. Steven plans on taking a two pronged attack to Addington for supporting races during Cup week and is confident they will be very competitive. "Easy On The Eye will race on Cup Day in the Junior Free For All and then then go into the New Zealand Free For All on Show Day. "The two mobile sprints are right up his alley and as he proved last year he can be very competitive over the sprint trips. We have had an offer for the horse so these plans may change," he said The other horse that is making the trip south is the stable star Gold Ace and Steven gives him a real chance of winning the New Zealand Free For All. "I won't start Gold Ace on Cup Day and will kick off his season in the Free For All on Show Day. "He goes super fresh and a lot of the Cup horses struggle to go as good on Friday after a hard run in Tuesday's Cup so I think we are a real chance" he said. Gold Ace has come back from Australia in great order and Reid is looking to trial him before his resumption. "The Cup trials before Cup Week is where we are aiming to start him prior to the Free For All if everything goes to plan" he said. Both of the Reid team excel over shorter distances and will attract solid support during their Cup Week engagements. Harnesslink Media

The harness racing gypsy Gold Ace has arrived back home where it all began as he prepares to remind New Zealand racegoers what they have been missing. The seven year old entire by Bettors Delight arrived at Steven Reid's stable yesterday after spending the last 12 months racing out of the Luke McCarthy stable. The "Reidman" was happy with the last 12 months. " Gold Ace won the $100,000 Cranbourne Cup, $50,000 Shepparton Cup and ran third in the $400,000 Hunter Cup earning over $200,000 in the process so its been a good 12 months" he said "His couple of runs at the start of this campaign were below par and had Luke scratching his head so we thought we would bring him back to New Zealand and race him here," Reid told Harnesslink today. Gold Ace has done an outstanding job right from day one and goes into his seven year old season as the winner of 20 races and $1,128,709 in stakes and Steven is confident more wins are in store. "Luke has sent him back in terrific order and we have already mapped out a tentative program for him starting with the Free For All during Cup week". "We will give him a run from behind the mobile at the Cup trials and that will tell us weather we start in the Junior Free For All on Cup Day or weather we resume in the Group 1 Free For All on Show Day" he said "We wouldn't have looked at the race if it was still over a mile but with it reverting back to 1950 metres that makes the draw no where near as important"he said.  Gold Ace might be back at his home base at Pukekohe but he is certainly a different horse to the one they are used to according to Reid. "He is has been very colty since he stepped off the float and you have to watch yourself around him now. We will race him this season and then with his record he deserves a chance to prove himself as a sire next year" he said. Arguably the quickest horse off the gate in New Zealand before his spell in Australia, Gold Ace will add further interest to the open class races in New Zealand this season. Harnesslink Media 

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)

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