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Astrapi isn’t the type you’d want to play cards with but he behaved himself for boss Mark Jones at the Timaru harness racing meeting on Saturday, November 22. Mark stepped him safely from the inside of the back row to be soon trailing three back, but his chances didn’t look good after being held up by the tiring Final Secret at the 400 metres. The former world champion driver manoeuvred him off the markers and gradually let the enigmatic squaregaiter gather top speed in the run home . Mark didn’t risk releasing Astrapi’s removable deafeners. Astrapi, the younger brother to 2006 Moonee Valley Interdominion Trot champion Delft (1:53, US), charged through gaps to win going away by three-quarters of a length from Heza Mighty Monarch, resuming for Nigel McGrath. The winner had loomed as a distinct danger at Ashburton during NZ Cup week before mixing his gait in side the final 200 metres. Mark was confident Astrapi wasn’t far away from a win, providing he held his gait throughout. Astrapi was notching his first win since scoring at Forbury Park in December last year for driver Ricky May. The 5YO Sundon-Miriam gelding was recording his third win from only 23 starts for Lavros Lodge owner Kypros Kotzikas. Mr Kotzikas has also bred other good winners in Lavra Miriam (four NZ wins, 1:57.4), Top Notch Lavros (five NZ wins) and minor winner Lavros The Great from Miriam, a Chiola Hanover mare from Carol Seth, who won three. Meanwhile, results from tests to Mr Kotzikas’ top trotter Master Lavros should be known by the end of next week. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here    

One of the hardest things to get right in the harness racing industry is the management of large syndicates and the issues that go with that. Most attempts at large scale syndication have faltered but one operator who seems to have got the structure right and is having success is the Go Harness group established by Noel Kennard. Run by Noel with the help of former HRNZ journalist John Robinson, the Go Harness syndicates were set up to try to make the cost of racing standardbreds more affordable to a wider cross - section of the public and they have succeeded in bringing a lot of new people into the industry. One of their first syndicates was the "Trotting For Fun" group which was established in late 2012. Initially the syndicate brought Saratoga off Wayne Feiss from Australia. Racing from the All Stars barn prior to being purchased, the son of Muscles Yankee was left with the All Stars team and has done a super job for the syndicate. Since his purchase Saratoga has had 15 starts for 5 wins and 4 placings for $38,378 in stakes. Saratoga was moved recently to the barn of Ken Barron to take advantage of the swimming pool there on the advice of Mark Purdon. When the syndicate was formed three other yearling fillies were leased from well known breeder Ivan McNicholl to round out the syndicate. One was injured as a 2 year old and retired to stud but the other two are on track to make their mark on the racetrack this season. Both remaining fillies are beautifully bred and have both qualified already. Harriet Of Mot is by Monarchy from the very talented Sundon mare Harriet Hughes who won five races from just 13 starts. Harriet Hughes ran second in the Group 2 Trotters Championship to One Over Kenny and third in the Group 1 Trotting derby as a 3 year old. The other filly Eilish Aimee is by Love You and is a half sister to Harriet Hughes as well as Earl Of Mot ($535,756)  Ella Powell ($118,495) and  is a three quarter sister to Amore Stride ($99,156). Eilish Aimee lines up for her first start tomorrow at Timaru and while it is a big ask for a 3 year old filly to do everything right first time, John Robinson knows the ability is there. "The trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds have always had a high opinion of the filly and think long term she could go a fair way." "They have had most of this family through their hands and think Eilish Aimee has a big future," John said. A trial winner at Rangiora last Monday, Eilish Aimee impressed track watchers and driver John Dunn with a very professional display and that has given John Robinson some confidence heading into her debut run. "John was quite impressed with her on Monday and has taken the drive tomorrow." "Whatever she does tomorrow she can have a brief letup and come back in the new year after a short break," he said Harriet Of Mot is also qualified but won't be seen out just yet according to John. "She can still be a bit headstrong so we are in no hurry with her as she has the family ability," he said. John Robinson swears one of the keys to running large syndicates is the communication between the trainers and the syndicates management and he can't  praise Craig and Aimee Edmonds enough. " They are just great to deal with and keep us up to date on everything." " We don't have to ring them, they ring us which makes our job so much easier," John said  Large scale syndications are never easy to manage but the Go Harness team have obviously got the formulae just right judging by their results to date. Harnesslink Media     

Top squaregaiter Master Lavros will be sent to Matamata for further extensive tests after mixing his gait in the Dominion Handicap at Addington on Friday. Last year’s Dominion winner and the reigning Trotter of the Year hasn’t been 100 percent this spring. Despite the efforts of trainer Mark Jones to turn him round for Show day, the huge Sundon gelding gave further evidence of a hidden issue troubling him. “We’ll send him to Matamata and get them to run the dye through him,” Mark said. “We’re getting nothing the way we’re going so we’ll find out exactly what it is and let mother nature take its course ,” he said. The Overport trainer is prepared to give Master Lavros as much time as he needs to regain full health. Master Lavros, only six and young for a trotter, is the veteran of only 36 starts for 15 wins and earnings of $358,646. He stepped well from the inside of the back row on Friday, settling third, but broke when moving up in the open with 2450m left. He was out of contention thereafter, finishing 11th to runaway winner Jaccka Justy, for Westwood Beach (south Dunedin) co-trainer and driver Jonny Cox. The winner backed up was  backing up from a fast late finish for fifth in Tuesday’s NZ Trotting Free-For-All. Settling five back on the outer after beginning off the unruly, Jaccka Justy improved with three-wide cover behind Doctor Hook from the 700m to the turn and unleashed an undeniable run turning for home. Jonny Cox, who trains with partner Amber Hoffman, couldn’t hide his delight, saluting as he crossed the line, the winner clocking a strong 4:05.2 for the 3200m. The successful strike-rate trainer emulated a great family tradition with squaregaiters. Jonny was just nine when former family hero David Moss won the first of his two back-to-back Dominion Handicaps at Addington in 1993. Jonny’s father John Cox prepared the giant-sized Gekoj gelding David Moss at Winton for the first 15 of 31 wins. David Moss went on to win just over $490,000 in stakes. Due to southern commitments, John Cox sent David Moss to Canterbury trainer Robert Cameron for both Dominion wins, and for feature north racing to former Papakura trainer Clive Herbert. Jonny’s late grand-father, Harry Cox, a successful Winton trainer, prepared and drove Poupette for an upset win in the 1965 Interdominion Trotting Grand Final at Forbury Park. This was Jonny and Amber’s first Group One training success in the $255,000 feature, securing the $137,500 winning bankroll for owner, Charlie and Ailsa Small. Last season, they gained a Group Three win with the same horse in the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup. Jaccka Justy has now raced 49 times for 13 wins and five placings for $224,718 in stakes. The Westwood Beach trainers and Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones have built up a good rapport during their training careers. They have been able to utilise each others facilities when their respective horses travel around the South Island for racing opportunities. Courtesy Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here  

Harness racing at its best is back on show at Addington today as the second big day of Cup week gets underway. Today is a public holiday in Canterbury and the crowds flock to Addington to soak up one of the best days of the harness racing season.   As on Cup day, the first race is for the C4-OC  squaregaiters which includes most of the trotters just below the elite level.   The race turned into a triumph for young South Canterbury trainer Josh Kennett as his charge Valmagne upset at odds 21/1.   Away well for driver Colin Defilippi, Valmagne settled in the trail early before ending up three back on the inner when The Fiery Ginga went to the front at the 1800 metres mark.   The Fiery Ginga was hotly challenged by King Of Strathfield with 600 metres to go which enabled Colin to get Valmagne off the inner and ready to pounce which he did at the 200 metres mark and raced away for an emphatic win by 2 3/4 lengths.    Valmagne trotted the 2600 metres in 3:18.5, a mile rate of 2:02.8 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29.1   Colin was quick to credit Josh for the performance by Valmagne.   "Josh always turns them out ready to run."   " His horses never let you down."   " Valmagne is a really honest horse and always gives you 100%," he said.   Todays win was the seventh for the son of Sundon and along with 13 placings it took his earnings over the $50,000 mark.   Josh Kennett is a young trainer who is quickly earning himself a reputation as trainer on the up.   Valmagne Harnesslink media

Tony Milina is a name well known in the harness racing industry in New Zealand due to a string of top horses he trained through the 80s and 90s such as Elmer Gantry (18 wins) and Mister Square (16 wins) Last night at Alexandra Park his daughter Lisa turned the clock back as she produced her first runner in a race and in her fathers famous colours. It was approiate that the runner was a trotter as her father Tony was always a dab hand at producing talented square gaiters. Lisa has owned the trotter in question, Moment Of Truth for over a year but up till now she has had to have him trained by other people. " I only got my licence a week ago so up till then I have been helping out his trainers whenever I could. "Dad taught me everything I know so I had a good teacher," Lisa said. Moment Of Truth was having his 138th start last night and Lisa is the twelfth trainer to have started the son of Sundon. " He behaves like a five year old around the place. "You would never guess that he was a twelve year old," she said. Away well for driver Todd Mitchell from his 10 metre handicap, Moment Of Truth settled in the last couple and was still there with 800 metres to run. Easing out three wide with cover from the 600 metres, Moment Of Truth came four wide as they straightened for home and used the whole straight to swamp the leaders in the last 50 metres for win number 23. For a large part of the race Moment Of Truth hung quite badly but Lisa wasn't worried. " It is just the way he goes "There is nothing wrong with him to make him hang like that. "We have tried a pole on him but he just fights it big time so you are better to let him have his own way," she said  Lisa was still pinching herself this morning that she was able to win a race with her very first starter. "It might be a good time to retire with a UDR of 1000," she joked this morning Lisa is not sure how much longer Moment Of Truth can keep racing but as long as he is competitive and enjoying it she will press on. "There are a couple more races at Alexandra Park coming up and then the grass track circuit over Xmas and New Year.  "As long as everything is good with Moment Of Truth we will be there," she said The Milina name has a proud tradition in New Zealand harness racing and Lisa looks more than capable of adding to that legacy. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing throws curveballs at trainers all the time and it always seems to be with the horses with all the ability. Tony Herlihy is still scratching his head over the performance of the outstanding trotter Irish Whisper in the Flying Mile at Ashburton on Labour Day. After drawing barrier one, Irish Whisper led early and then trailed the hot favourite Stent after 200 metres before ending up three back on the inner when Vulcan sped to the lead. Stent came out of the trail at the 600 metres and grabbed the lead and Irish Whisper also came off the inner at the same time to be parked at the 500 metres mark. As they straightened for home Stent shot away and left them to it with Irish Whisper battling into seventh, nearly seven lengths from the winner. It was a very disappointing run for the son of Sundon who has proved more than a match for Stent in previous clashes between the pair. Tony was at a loss to explain the performance. " I was very disappointed with the run and thought he should have run in the money with the trip he had. "He has matched it with Stent in the past and he had settled in really well down south so I was expecting a big run," he said Tests taken afterwards have not shone any light on the reason for the below par performance so Tony aims to carry on towards the Dominion with him. " We took a blood after Monday but everything looks fine so we are none the wiser. "I have put him in at Kaikoura as he seems well in himself. "We will just put a line through Ashburton and press on," he said Irish Whisper has won 11 races to date and $154,957 and has always looked capable of winning a race like the Dominion Handicap so it may not pay to discard his chances off the back of one below par performance. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing in New Zealand lost one of its racetrack stars this week when the outstanding trotting racemare Superbowlcheerleader was retired due to injury. Since joining the All Stars team last year, she had gone ahead in leaps and bounds and looked to be in for a huge season. Originally with the Wallis/Hackett barn for whom she won six races, Superbowlcheerleader was purchased last year by Brian West and Sue Grainger first and foremost as a future broodmare. The daughter of Sundon had won six races and close to $40,000 and after being purchased,she was transferred to the All Stars barn at Rolleston for a few more starts before becoming a broodmare. However it soon became apparent that Superbowlcheerleader was far from finished an the racetrack. Always known to be a touch headstrong like a lot of the Sundon's, Superbowlcheerleader showed the All Star team enough to suggest that they should press on with a race career. It took half a dozen starts for the All Stars team to get her to the winners circle but she kept on improving and a 3rd in the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Championship to Master Lavros in a 1:59.4 mile rate for the 2600 metres had everyone sitting up and taking notice. At her next start Superbowlcheerleader won the $95,845 Group 1 Anzac Cup over Zedalite after sitting parked for the majority of the journey in what was undoubtedly her best win. She started this season with a neck second to Kinscaslough in New Zealand record time and looked to be peaking nicely for all the big trotting races around Cup week. Since being purchased and transferred to the All Stars barn, Superbowlcheerleader had faced the starter 19 times for 4 wins and 5 placings for stakes of $99,337. She goes to stud with an overall record of 47 starts for 10 wins, 5 seconds and 8 thirds for stakes totaling $139,782 When spoken to this morning Brian West while disappointed with how it ended, has loved the ride with the mare. " We purchased her really as a broodmare and to have her turn around and race like that has been a huge thrill"  he said. " Mark and Natalie have done such a great job with her and I feel for them a bit as they thought she was shaping up to have her best season yet. "We haven't decided on a stallion for her yet but there is no shortage of world class sires available,"  he said. Superbowlcheerleader is the 3rd foal from the Britewell mare Brite Paula. The first two are both winners in Going Commando - 6 wins ($37,477) and Hot Holiday -17 wins ($159,404) while Brite Paula herself is a full sister to the former age group star Super Command -11 wins ($185,803) The third dam is the brilliant trotting mare Paula Scott who raced in North America in the 1970s, taking a record then of 2:00 and earning $123,198. and she was a half sister to the great trotting mare Paulette who won the 1971 Group One Rowe Cup. It has been a great trotting family for over 40 years and Superbowlcheerleader will get her chance at stud to further enhance its standing. Harnesslink Media

The man behind New Zealand’s best trotter isn’t panicking, even if Master Lavros is leaving punters licking their wounds. Last season’s Dominion and Rowe Cup winner has been a money muncher this season, beaten twice at Addington as a hot favourite in a week. The first loss was simply brutal, the giant trotter galloping and losing all chance as a $1.40 favourite in his comeback race 11 days ago but the second, at Addington last Friday, was potentially more baffling for trainer Mark Jones. Master Lavros had the perfect run and loomed up to win at the 300m mark before battling into fourth, clearly outpointed by winner Habibti. That has cost him favouritism for next month’s Dominion Handicap and continues a frustrating form rollercoaster over the last year when he usually wins or runs unplaced. “It was disappointing,” admits Jones. “But there is no point panicking so I am trying to concentrate on the positives. “At least he trotted better last week so I’ll put the performance down to trainer error. “I think he blew out because he is not fit enough. That is my fault because last season I tried to look after him and worried about working him too hard. “But he is bigger and stronger this season and I have to remember he is a racehorse, not an ornament.” So Jones has entered Master Lavros in a lowly $12,000 trot at Addington on Friday to ensure his fitness levels don’t drop as the countdown to the Cup carnival begins. “I know he will improve, and he will have too because Habibti was very good the other night. “So we have our work cut out, but I am not losing faith.” Habibti wasn’t the only big shortener after last Friday as she moved into Dominion favouritism, with Terror To Love now $2.50 to win the New Zealand Cup on November 11. His sizzling win over Franco Nelson and Christen Me in the Canterbury Classic last Friday means unless Christen Me can do something dramatic in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on October 27, Terror To Love will remain a warm favourite to win his record fourth Cup. The major Cup player missing from last Friday’s race was Smolda and he looked sharp winning at the Addington trials yesterday. He beat stablemates Messini and Fly Like An Eagle over 2600m standing start in 3:13, his last 800m in 55 seconds. Smolda, rated a $9 chance for the Cup, will start off 30m in the Methven Cup on Sunday. Another to impress at yesterday’s trials was dual Jewels winner Venus Serena, who won her first public outing for the season with a 56 second last 800m. Meanwhile, three Australian-trained pacers remain in New Zealand Cup contention, with the connection of For A Reason, Seel N Print and Abettorpunt all indicating they are keen to bring them to Addington. Courtesy Of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

History suggested there was only ever going to be one winner of today’s DG Jones Trotting Cup at Banks Peninsula. And it suggested right. A quick look through the previous three editions of the premier grass track trotting event on the calendar pointed towards the ever-green 11-year-old, Clover Don, as being the horse they all had to beat. Not only was he an impressive last start winner in the Ordeal Cup at Addington, but the Robbie Holmes trained and driven trotter held a rather incredible record in the race – one which was only furthered this afternoon. In 2011 he finished fourth behind Vulcan before returning twelve months later to run third behind champion trotter I Can Doosit. Then, as any natural progression would suggest, he went one step closer when finishing second behind Jaccka Justy last year. So a win today was really the only option. And boy did he deliver. In front of an aggressive drive by Robbie Holmes the big square gaiter was awesome in beating some quality opposition which included Group One winners Sheemon, Habibti, Stent and Royal Aspirations. Cut loose rounding the final bend Clover Don sprinted clear and was too strong in the run to the line beating a game Sheemon and a fast-finishing Habibti. Holmes said that as funny as it may sound, he was only ever really a passenger from the 800 metre mark as you can’t fight Clover Don for his head too much. “He did it pretty much on his own really,’’ Holmes said. “He’s a pretty incredible horse, he just loves getting out there and doing his own thing. “I wasn’t too worried when we kicked clear because I knew he would keep fighting and he was probably going just as good at the winning post as what he was at the top of the straight.’’ The win rockets Clover Don right into contention for the up-coming trotting features and Holmes won’t hesitate to line him up in any of them. “He thrives on racing so we will press right on. “Not that it matters at the end of the day, but I think he might be starting to earn a bit of respect out there. “He’s probably going better now than he ever has.’’ David Butt, the co-trainer and driver of Habibti, was rapt with his mare’s performance but again questioned her 20 metre handicap. “She’s gone super, but the 20 metre handicap cost her really. “She won a $50,000 Group One in Australia last year that probably wouldn’t measure up as a Group Two over her and then finished down the track against our good ones. “Sure she won first up, but that was a C4 front and she got soundly beaten we lined up against the good ones a week later. “So I thought it was pretty harsh for her to get 20 metres when you look at some of those in front of her who got off a lot lighter. “Australia will be the place for her after Cup Week.’’ The road to the Dominion Handicap will return to Addington this week for a graded C4-OC handicap trot which will see the resumption of last season’s Trotter of the Year, Master Lavros. Courtesy of Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand    

NZ Trotter of the Year Master Lavros is set to have another trial this week for Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones. Master Lavros made a return to the track at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday, September 17, but wasn’t pushed after losing ground early. “He missed away bad being so fresh,” Mark said. “But I was very happy with afterwards.” Master Lavros wasn’t asked for a serious run in the C1 and faster trot taken out by fellow 40m marker Phil’s Gift, who trotted the 2600m (stand) in 3:26.6 for driver Stevie Golding. Mark has a return to racing earmarked for the big Sundon gelding in a $12,000 C4-0C trot over 2600m at Addington on October 3. He’s had a great long slow build-up,” Mark said. Master Lavros will be a leading hope to repeat last year’s dominant Group One Dominion Handicap success at the New Zealand Cup meeting. Now six, the Kypros Kotzikas-owned trotting star is still lightly-raced, despite kicking off his career with three starts at two. He’s faced the starter only 31 times for 15 wins and five placings, banking $351,468. Last season, he won seven of 15 starts, securing his place in NZ trot history as the winner of three NZ Group One trot races in the same season. He was spelled after taking out the G1 Canam Rowe Cup at Auckland on May 9. Master Lavros also won the G1 $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington in April in a NZ record for the mobile 2600m of 3:13.1 (1:59.4 rate). For good measure, he also won two Group Three trots at Addington last term, the $25,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Summer Trotting Free-For-All (mobile 1950m) and $25,000 Dr Cliff Irvine Memorial Canterbury Park Trotting Cup (2600m). Unfortunately, his only start in Australia resulted in gallop in the Glenferrie Challenge at Menangle on March 2, but will be given the chance to show his best across the Tasman this season. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing - Visit site here

The trotting side of harness racing has been a bit light on numbers at the top level in the North Island for the last couple of years but the current season promises to be the best for a few years.  Boizel is back for another year and the rising star Prime Power should be ready to tackle the big bangers this season. And then we come to one of the enigmas of trotting in New Zealand in Irish Whisper who on his best day looks as good as anything going round. Trained by the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy, Irish Whisper has been nursed through his career to this point due to immaturity. " I've had to look after him up to now because he has needed time to strengthen up but he looks a picture this time in and I am really looking forward to the new season with him"said Herlihy "I took him to Australia last year when he wasn't really ready for it but I knew the trip would make him and by the look of him this time in it has." It really is time for Irish Whisper to stand up and I think he will "said Herlihy. Irish Whisper only had six starts in New Zealand last season but managed to win three of them including two narrow wins over the brilliant Stent 1:54.8 ($471,572). The seven year old gelding by Sundon is due to resume on Friday night at Alexandra Park in the C3-OC handicap trot off 40 meters behind and Herlihy is confident of a big run. "I know it's hard off 40 meters but his runs at the workouts have been really good leading into Friday night. If he was to get a nice drag into the race, then I thing he could just about win first up" said Herlihy There has never been any doubt about how good Irish Whisper is with only his immaturity letting him down in the past. This season due to the patience that Tony Herlihy has shown, Irish Whisper may finally fulfill his potential. Harnesslink Media

The trotting side of harness racing has been one part of the industry that seems to have been holding its own in recent years. More and more North American and European sires are now available to Australasian breeders and one that is making a big impact is the son of S J's Photo in Bacardi Lindy. Imported by Ross Simpson, Bacardi Lindy has spent time in both Australia and New Zealand and these days is resident at Morley Park in Victoria. A son of S J's Photo from the brilliant Valley Victory mare Rum Boogie 1:55 ($900,908), Bacardi Lindy made $115,000 when sold at Tattersalls as a yearling and recouped that and more on the track winning $207,546 and taking a mark of 1:52.8 Bacardi Lindy made a slow start with his first crop but his stock have just kept improving and several starting showing up in the age group classics. Claudy's Princess ($198,746) was a star 3 year old last season while The Boss Man ($95,132) was another of his better performers in the 4 year old ranks as  Bacardi Lindy established himself as the the best of the Australian based trotting sires. His profile in New Zealand has been pretty low key to this point but that may be about to change with the emergence of the smart 2 year old Cocktail Waiter. Even though the season is only six weeks old in New Zealand, Cocktail Waiter has already qualified and in great fashion for a trotter this early in the season. He won his qualifying trial at Oamaru over 2000 meters from the mobile in 2:41.4, a mile rate of 2:09.8 with a closing 800 meters of 60.3 Cocktail Waiter is the second foal from the Sundon mare Gina and is owned and trained by Alan Clark of the The Fiery Ginga fame. Allan Clark was suitably impressed by the run. "He is such a lovely horse to do anything with. He is a beautifully gaited individual and has a touch of class that the good horses have and really finds when you ask him. I am pretty confident Cocktail Waiter will be a major player in all the good 2 year old trotting races later in the season", he said. Alan borrowed Gina to breed Cocktail Waiter after the mares first foal Clifden Clowers ($33,653) had been a handy winner and he remembered a full sister to Gina in The Great Pretender had raced in the Jewels as a 2 year old. As smart as Cocktail Waiter looks to be, Alan had high hopes for a filly by Bacardi Lindy until her sudden death. "I thought she was a touch better than Cocktail Waiter to be honest but I found her dead in her paddock one morning which was a real shame. The Bacardi Lindy's have really impressed me to date and I will be sending a couple of mares this season for sure,"he said. The way his stock are starting to fire on both sides of the Tasman, Bacardi Lindy could be in for a very busy stud season. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing meetings at Oamaru are not really a place where you would normally find a real up and comer racing. They have their quality races such as the Hannon Memorial for the open class horses which was run today (September 14th) but in the main its a racetrack for the nice horses who are just finding Addington a touch too hard. Today's C1-C2 trot at Oamaru drew a big field of 15 with some really nice trotters amongst them who were in good form. The public made the Paul Nairn trained Waterloo Sunset the favourite from the 10 meter mark even though he was having his first run in nearly four months and he had been unsighted at trials and workouts. Driven by in form reinsman Bob Butt, Waterloo Sunset missed away from the standing start and settled five lengths behind the field in the early stages. Monty Python had found the front and was setting a steady pace while Waterloo Sunset was still last with a lap to run. Passing the 800 meters Waterloo Sunset was still two lengths last and at least 15 lengths from the leader and was still amongst the tailenders as the field turned for home. Monty Python was claimed half way up the straight by Ottawa before he in turn was claimed by a withering late burst from Waterloo Sunset which saw him get home by a neck with Bob Butt hardly moving in the bike. Waterloo Sunset trotted the 2600 meters in 3:22.8, with closing sectionals off the front of 58.9 and 30.1  Coming from last and at least 15 lengths off the lead at the 800 meters mark to win was a good indication of how good the run of Waterloo Sunset was. A 5 year old entire by the legendary sire Sundon, Waterloo Sunset is the first of the former outstanding trotting mare Inspire ($147,468) who won the 2006 Rowe Cup (Group One) Inspire is a full sister to the former brilliant age group trotter Enthusiast ($90,585) who won 11 races as a two and three year old and a half sister to the smart Call You Later ($73,174) The grand-dam Enthuse is a half sister to the former outstanding trotter Sundowner Bay ($259,856) who won 18 races. It is a family that master trotting trainer Paul Nairn has had a lot of success with over the years. Going by todays  effort, Waterloo Sunset looks poised to add to that record and appears headed to open class in a hurry. Harnesslink Media    

Harness Racing Australia has announced the winners of the various breeding awards, with Art Major leading the way. The siring sensation, which stands for Alabar, topped five categories, including leading sire by winners for the third time. Art Major, which produced 303 winners, was also leading juvenile sire for the sixth time. Veteran stallion Holmes Hanover saw his legacy continue as the leading broodmare sire in winners, overall stakes and three-year-old stakes. Sundon led the way yet again in the trotters’ divisions, taking out the leading sire by stakes and broodmare sire. HRA’s awards are sponsored by IRT - the world’s most trusted international horse transporters. IRT have been in operation for more than 40 years, with the company an ideal partner in recognising precious bloodstock. The HRA award winners are: LEADING SIRE BY STAKEMONEY BETTORS DELIGHT USA (for the 3rd time) 407 Starters 290 Winners 905 Wins $9,215,974 LEADING SIRE OF 2YO’S BY STAKEMONEY ART MAJOR USA (for the 5th Time) 63 Starters 30 Winners 69 Wins $1,382,817 LEADING SIRE OF 3YO’S BY STAKEMONEY ART MAJOR USA (for the 4th time) 123 Starters 80 Winners 231 Wins $2,349,133 LEADING JUVENILE SIRE BY STAKEMONEY (2&3YO’S)  ART MAJOR USA (for the 6th time) 186 Starters 110 Winners 300 Wins $3,731,950 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE BY STAKEMONEY  HOLMES HANOVER USA (for the 6th time) 445 Starters 275 Winners 718 Wins $5,255,879 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE OF 2YO’S BY STAKEMONEY| IN THE POCKET USA (for the 1st time) 24 Starters 14 Winners 23 Wins $701,235 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE OF 3YO’S BY STAKEMONEY HOLMES HANOVER USA (for the 2nd time) 58 Starters 37 Winners 95 Wins $901,485 LEADING SIRE OF TROTTERS BY STAKEMONEY SUNDON USA (for the 12th time) 115 Starters 66 Winners 154 Wins $1,283,366 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE OF TROTTERS BY STAKES SUNDON USA (for the 4th time) 119 Starters 73 Winners 203 Wins $1,865,422 LEADING SIRE OF WINNERS  ART MAJOR USA (for the 3rd time) – 303 LEADING SIRE OF 2YO’S BY WINNERS  SPORTSWRITER USA (for the 1st time) - 33 LEADING SIRE OF 3YO’S BY WINNERS  ART MAJOR USA (for the 3rd time) – 80 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE BY WINNERS  HOLMES HANOVER USA (for the 8th time) – 275 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE OF 2YO’S BY WINNERS  SAFELY KEPT USA (for the 2nd time) – 19 LEADING BROODMARE SIRE OF 3YO’S BY WINNERS  SAFELY KEPT USA (for the 2nd time) – 46 PAUL COURTS

Well knowned and respected harness racing stallion owner and promoter Noel Kennard is feeling a touch better tonight after James Castleton upset the favourites in the Metalcorp Ltd Handicap trot at Addington Raceway. At this point last night Noel was wondering if he was going to be around to see the seven year old gelding by Sundon race after suffering a heart attack and being rushed to the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital. Good luck was shining on Noel last night as he was only three minutes from the hospital when the attack happened and after an over night stay he is now resting at home tonight. James Castleton is only a recent addition to the Kennard racing team having been brought out of the Northern All Aged sale at the end of May for a paltry $600. A full brother to the talented Castletons Sun who won eight, James Castleton had won a race when in the barn of Graham Rogerson and Peter Blanchard but was out of form when sold at Auckland. Now trained at West Melton by Ken Barron, James Castleton had looked unlucky two starts back at Addington but was still overlooked by most pundits leading into the race. Settling back, James Castleton only had three behind him after 400 meters and he was shuffled back to last with a lap to run of the 2600 meters race. Thats when driver Blair Orange got onto the back of of the three wide train and from there he got a lovely drag up until the corner where he eased off Indiana Jones back and sprinted quickly to grab a game Silver Fox in the shadows of the finishing line for a very smart win. James Castleton trotted the 2600 meters in 3:22.1 in cold conditions and I'm sure the performance was a tonic for Noel after yesterday. Harnesslink would like to wish Noel all the best and a speedy recovery and the way James Castleton won tonight, he might have plenty to cheer about in the next few months. Harnesslink Media    

The talented Love You mare Habibti steps back onto a harness racing track for the first time in over seven months when she lines up in the Dominion Trading Company handicap trot at Addington tomorrow night (September 5th). The winner of 13 races from just 29 starts,the David Butt trained and driven mare has been off the scene since the end of January 2014 when not quite at her best.  Instead of chasing the big money in Australia, it was decided by everyone involved that a lengthy break was what was required to help her get over all the racing and travel she had done in her career to date. It now looks like a wise decision as Habibti has come back better than ever judging by her couple of serious runs at trials and workouts recently to ready her for tomorrow night. A nice win over Sheemon with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 28.7 showed Habibti had lost none of her trademark speed. She backed that up with a quiet run at last Mondays Rangiora trials where Habibti ran third to race rival Clover Don with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.9. Everything points to Habibti being the one they all have to beat tomorrow night but she certainly won't have it all her own way. Clover Don is also having his first run back for the season tomorrow night and the big free going son of Sundon is ready going by Monday's trials run. These days in the barn of Robbie Holmes, Clover Don has had four runs at Addington for his new stable for two wins and two seconds against the elite trotters so ignore him at your peril. The other three trotters off  the 25 meters handicap with Habibti and Clover Don are King Of Strathfield (21 wins)  Jaccka Justy ( 12 wins) and King Kenny (9 wins) and all three are more than capable of being in the finish but it is hard to see them toppling both Habibti and Clover Don. So for us it is Habibti just in front of Clover Don with the other three backmarkers close up behind the favoured duo. Harnesslink Media

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