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With two thirds of the New Zealand harness racing season over, we thought it was a good time to take a look at how some of our siring charts were tracking. The one that immediately caught our eye was this season's broodmares sires list which is currently headed by the outstanding trotting sire and now broodmare sire in Sundon. Second last year to champion broodmare sire In The Pocket, Sundon has established a healthy lead over his pacing rivals this season and is going to be hard to head off. As of today Sundon holds an advantage of $314,494 over reigning premiership winner In The Pocket  with Holmes Hanover and Christian Cullen close behind. There are few major changes to the list this season below the top handful with the exception being Live Or Die who has dropped down a few places after finishing fifth last year and the emergence of Mach Three whose mares have only left 84 foals old enough to race yet he presently sits in 20th place after finishing 41st last year and is obviously a broodmare sire on the rise. The ability of Sundon to lead the broodmare list is quite a stunning achievement as generally the trotting component  of most meetings is only three races on average yet he is heading off pacing broodmare sires who have at least double that number of races at most meetings. Armbro Invasion is making steady progress as a broodmare sire and has overtaken Chiola Hanover as number two on the trotting only side of things but is well over a million behind Sundon still. On the pacing side of things nothing else is really standing out but Bettors Delight is just starting out as a broodmare sire and after finishing 90th last year, is presently sitting in 62nd place. With Bettors Delight being widely recognized as the best filly sire worldwide by a lot of breeders and with the huge number of  his well performed mares heading off to stud in the next few years, it would seem only a matter of time before he tops the broodmare sires list as well.   Harnesslink Media  

Brent White took two trotters to tonights harness racing meeting at Addington and he held high hopes for one and was just hopeful with the other. Trouble Rieu was his best chance Brent thought while Glendaloch was probably out of it from the unruly mark on ten metres.but a rough place chance if things went his way. Trouble Rieu was away well from the stand for driver Stephen McNally and quickly assumed the lead which he held until it was taken off him by his stablemate Glendaloch with Blair Orange in the bike who looped the field to lead with 1800 metres to go.   Keeping up a steady tempo in front,Glendaloch looked a sitting duck for his stablemate Trouble Rieu in the trail but it wasn't to be as Glendaloch fought off his better credentialled stablemate and then withstood a late challenge from the ultra consistent Xmas Joyella with Trouble Rieu battling on well for third.   It wasn't the result Brent was expecting.   " I thought with the run he got that Trouble Rieu would run straight past him but the old fella is pretty genuine and fought on well,"Brent said.   Glendaloch was purchased by Ross McCutcheon at Timaru one day from David McCormick after the horse had had one gallop too many.   Brent says he hasn't changed too much with the son of Sundon.   " I made a couple of minor changes to his shoes but apart from that we have just worked on leaving him alone really."   " He seems really happy these days and may not have finished yet going by tonights win." Brent said.   Fred Morris, the trainer/owner of Xmas Joyella was smiling post race.   " I brought both of Brent's trotters in tonight on my truck so we have nabbed the trifecta between us, Fred said.   Brent White has built up a great strike rate with a small team and is obviously a trainer on the rise.   PS: Brent made it a night to remember for the Yaldhurst trainer when he produced the smart racemare Sell A Bit to win the C2-C6 mares race in 1:55.3   Harnesslink Media

Nathan Williamson has been on fire since the Gore meeting just after Xmas and Saturday at  Invercargill was another stellar day for the young harness racing trainer. Nathan added another four training wins to the resume which took him up to eleven wins since Xmas while he has also driven sixteen winners in the same period. Nathan also reached another milestone yesterday when Splash Cola won the first race with that win notching up his 500th success in the sulky. Given out by Nathan as his best drive for the meeting in the Harnesslink weekly ringaround, Spash Cola won like a horse with a big future. Nathan though wasn't entirely happy with the mare's performance. "She has still got a fair bit to learn" "She didn't trot that well early but got better the further she went" " With a bit more experience I think she can go a long way," Nathan said. The second of Nathan's quartet for the day was the smart American Ideal three year old Tas Man Bromac who took 3.4 seconds off the old track for 2700 metres from a stand by a three year old when he streaked away for an easy win by 3 1/2 lengths in 3:22, a mile rate of 2:00.4. The mark was also 1.6 seconds inside the old New Zealand record for the distance set in 1999 by Seafield Raider Registering his fifth win from just nine starts, the colt is obviously well above average and Nathan was confident going into the race. "The trip away to Addington last week did him the world of good" "He was working great before the trip north but has worked better again since his return." "He is just such a lovely horse to do anything with" "Our longterm aim with him is the Southern Supremacy but he will still need to keep improving to match it with the likes of Pulp Fiction," Nathan said.  The third of Nathan's winners was the three year old Changeover gelding Cool Changes who improved from a first up fourth to take out the maiden 2200 metres mobile in a style that suggested that there are a few more in store. Nathan has a bit of time for the inexperienced gelding. " He is one of those horses that you have to keep after a bit." "He is a real lazy laid back kind of character but he keeps going." " He doesn't have real high speed but can still run time due to his strength, Nathan said. The fourth and last of Nathan's winners was the very smart Armbro Invasion mare Poppymalda who came from a long way off them at the 600 metres mark to grab Queen Kenny close to home and notch up win number three at just her seventh start. Nathan was thrilled with her performance. " She just keeps getting better and better."  " She was timed to trot her last 800 metres in 56.4 and that was after being out three wide so it was a great run. "Our longterm aim is the Harness Jewels at Ashburton and with that in mind we thought we might take her up to Addington this week for the experience," Nathan said. Nathan is having a stellar season to date training wise with twenty five wins in the bank and he is well on the way to beating his season's best of thirty five wins set in 2013. Nathan knew at the start of the season that he had a good team around him. " I kind of  figured we might be in for a big season but we did lose a couple of our most promising horses early on to injury  but other horses in the stable have preformed better than we thought so we haven't felt the loss of those horses as much as I thought we would. " Nathan said. Nathan, who has been driving for just ten years has quickly matured into a leading driver on the New Zealand harness racing scene, having already won five Southland driving premierships. Nathan continues to go from strength to strength and it looks a given that his stature in the industry will continue to rise in the coming years. Harnesslink Media   

Six figure yearlings at the yearly sales have become common place in the last few years but six figure sums for trotting bred yearlings are still a bit of a rarity at harness racing sales. One of the biggest sales prices for a trotting bred yearling ever seen in New Zealand was that paid for the royally bred colt yesterday Eden. By the brilliant North American super sire Angus Hall, Springfield Eden was the second foal of the four win Sundon mare, Landora's Special who was a daughter of the brilliant racemare Landora's Pride ($426,857). Two half sisters to Landora's Special had made the maternal family the hottest in Australasia. First Landora's Gift produced the outstanding trotter Sundon's Gift ($1,275,264) while another half sister Invasions Pride left Let Me Thru ($453,945) The first foal from Landora's Special is the very promising Eyre I Come who judging by his super win on Cup Day in November is headed for the top. So all in all everything pointed to Springfield Eden being a star and hence why he made $127,500. Things started out promisingly enough when he finished fourth in the first couple of 2 year old trots in Canterbury behind the likes of Monbet, Ayra and Wanna Play. That was quickly followed by an easy win against the older horses at Waikouaiti but from there the wheels fell off with two unplaced runs in the 2 year old classics after early mistakes. Springbank Eden had started his 3 year old season the same way, blowing the standing start in both his early season races at Winton and Wairio. Yesterday at the Omakau Raceway in Central Otago, Springfield Eden had one thing in his favour - the race was from behind the mobile. Sent forward from barrier four by driver Matthew Williamson, Springfield Eden set a solid tempo right from the start and it was obvious a long way out that he had the field in trouble. And thats how it turned out with Matthew hardly moving in the cart as Springfield Eden went to the line a comfortable two length winner. Springfield Eden trotted the 2000 metres from the mobile in 2:33.4, a mile rate of 2:03.4 with closing sectionals of 59.9 and 30.2. Matthew thought it was the mobile that made all the difference yesterday. "He hadn't looked like stepping at his first two starts but he has always been good behind the mobile" "He has real good speed off the gate which is a plus," Matthew told Harnesslink this morning. Matthew thought that Springfield Eden still had a few issues to sort out before any thoughts of taking on the best 3 year olds were entertained. " We are still having issues with his gait but he is getting better." "There is no doubting the ability but you have to be doing everything 100% when you are taking on the best and he is not there yet. " He is as good a looking horse as you would see and lovely to do anything with so he is worth waiting for," Matthew said. The win continued Matthew's good run over the holiday period with him having racked up four wins and numerous placings since the Gore meeting on Boxing day. Harnesslink Media  

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones kept the wins ticking over for owner Kypros Kotzikas with a winning double earlier this week to end the 2014 racing year. He scored narrow wins behind close relatives, Charming Lavra, at Motukarara on Monday, December 29, and with Astrapi, at Rangiora on New Year’s Eve. Charming Lavra, first-up since last racing in June, stepped well from the outside of the front row and trailed up three back on the outer in the Phil Murfitt Orthodontist Trot. Mark switched her three wide with cover behind Native’s Brite Gem at the 600m and she unwound well wide out to just head off Tehoro Ruby (trail) and front-runner Need Success. She trotted the 2180m from a stand in 2:57.6, a mile rate of 2:11.6, with the leaders last 800m in 62.8s. Charming Lavra, a 3YO daughter of CR Commando, is the first foal from Lavra Miriam (1:57.4, four wins), an Earl half-sister to 2006 Melbourne Interdominion Trot Final winner Delft (1:53, US), Top Notch Lavros (five wins), Lavros The Great (one), Honky Tonk Hero (one) and Astrapi (now four wins from 27 starts). She only raced four times at two, picking up a third and a fourth against the older maiden trotters, before being spelled. Charming Lavra is raced by Kypros Kotzikas with partner Jane Campbell. Mr Kotzikas’s white and blue Lavros Lodge colours were to the fore again a couple of days later at Rangiora when Astrapi held Kowhai Whiz by a nose in the Bob Butt Sponsored by ‘The Yaldy’ Mobile Trot. Mark found a good trailing spot on the outer for Astrapi, with Kowhai Whiz (Glenys Chmiel) tracking their every move. The pair knuckled down to it over the final 30m with Astrapi, the 5YO gelded son of Sundon and Miriam, just lasting in a useful 2:32.3 for the mobile 2000m. His time, however, didn’t threaten Just A Cracker’s Rangiora track mark for trotters over the trip of 2:29.2, set four years ago. Courtesy of Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Racing Stables  -  Check site here  

The Gore Harness Racing Club was the scene yesterday of just another reminder of how talented the Williamson clan is when the family completely dominated the Xmas meeting. Phil tends to take a back seat this days as his three sons have gone about establishing themselves as top horsemen in their own right. Race one was a portent of things to come for the day when the Phil Williamson barn runner Brads Kenny absolutely bolted in on debut by 8 3/4 lengths with Nathan and Brad driving the minor placegetters for a "Williamson" tfifecta. A 3 year old son of Monarchy from the former 3 year old Trotting Filly of the year in One Over Kenny ($87,919), Brads Kenny was purchased by Phil Williamson for the Met Eight Syndicate at the 2013 sales at Christchurch for $26,000. Even though he qualified at two, Brads Kenny has been given plenty of time before making his debut yesterday. Driver Matthew Williamson was suitably impressed with yesterday's effort. " It was a real good effort for a young trotter having his first start" " He does have great manners though so I thought he would do things right," Matthew told Harnesslink today. " He is not very big like a lot of that "Kenny" breed but he is beautifully gaited and has a future," Matthew said. No one in the stable is getting too carried away at this stage and plans at the moment are to set him for the Northern Southland meeting on January 15th. "We will just race him in the grades down here and see how he progresses," Matthew said. Not to be outdone, Nathan Williamson trained and drove the short priced winner of race 2 in Statham. Another making his debut yesterday, Statham was sent out a $1:50 shot on the back of some impressive trials performances. The 3 year old son of Bettor's Delight is from a full sister in blood to the former Harness Jewels winner in Joyfuljoy 1:51.3 ($339,612). After qualifying Statham as a 2 year old in 2:00.2 for the mile, Nathan turned him out to strengthen up. " The owners have been really patient and I think it will pay dividends in the long run." "He won yesterday on raw talent and great manners but I don't think you will see the best of him until he is four" "He is such a big horse and when he matures he will make a lovely older horse," Nathan said. No sooner had Nathan won race 2 then he was at it again taking out race 5 with the talented Sundon trotting mare Dwindle Mist.  Starting off 40 metres behind, Dwindle Mist came with a strong staying run from well back in the field to grab her fourth win in her last six starts. Nathan thought the two false starts may have undone her yesterday. " She caused the first false start when she went through the barrier strand and then on the second attempt she got the tape around her legs. "On the third attempt she bounded away but came down quickly but settled well back so I didn't think I could win the race from back there." "When I looked up at the 800 metres, we were miles from the leaders but she ran home great," Nathan said. Trained for her first two wins by his father Phil, Dwindle Mist was sent to Nathan to give her a change of scenery and she hasn't looked back. "She is really in the zone at the moment and I don't think she has stopped winning yet." "We will head to Roxburgh next where she will be off 50 metres but I don't think that will stop her, Nathan said. To cap off a great day, Nathan trained and drove his third winner for the meeting when the Jereme's Jet 4 year old mare Kiwi Focus took out the last at odds of 27 to 1. Last early in the 14 horse field, Kiwi Focus was three wide for nearly a lap before finding the death at the 900 metres mark and then proved too strong in the straight for the Dexter Dunn driven Ohoka Royal in a 2:00.6 mile rate. Nathan was quietly confident of a big run prior to the race. "Her work at home has been excellent and everything pointed to a big run" "She finished close up behind Statham at the recent trials in a 56.6 half so I thought she would go good" " I cant believe she paid $27.00 but the owners are happy because they had a punt on her," Nathan said. All things considered it was a great day for the Williamson boys and the way their horses went it might pay to follow them over the holiday period. Harnesslink Media   

The ever decreasing numbers of harness racing  mares being bred makes it essential that we get the best use of those horses we do have racing and there can be little doubt that the drop back system is helping in that regard. Available to all horses 4 years + older who have not won in their last ten starts, the drop back provision has meant a new lease of life for a lot of horses and kept a lot of horses racing when otherwise they would have been retired or sold. One of the latest examples to take advantage of the system is Friday nights winner at Addington Raceway in Dixie Commando.  A six win mare, Dixie Commando last raced before Friday night in May against the likes of Kincaslough, Jaccka Justy and Dr Hook and she finished a tidy fourth on that occasion. With the drop back to a nine rating Dixie Commando sneaked into the C2-C4 trot over 1950 metres and co - trainer and driver James Geddes thought she would be hard to beat. " It was a big drop back in class to what she had been racing and even though she drew barrier nine I thought she would be very hard to beat." " She has always gone good fresh in the past so she had a lot in her favour on Friday night," James told Harnesslink yesterday. James has always had a lot of time for the daughter of CR Commando. " She is such a beautifully gaited mare and lovely to do anything with." "High speed is her other biggest attribute so the mobile sprints suit her," James said. Badly injured as a 5 year old, Dixie Commando had a pastern screwed together but the injury has had no long term affects on the mare. " She doesn't do much at home at all to be honest" "She is quite an athletic type and we just keep her ticking over," James said. On Friday night James and Dixie Commando made a flyer from barrier 9 and were able to slip into the trail behind the tearaway early leader The Bog. With The Bog setting a quick tempo in front, James never had to leave the trail until 150 metres from the finish and quickly claimed The Bog for a comfortable victory with the best of the rest being Astrapi who was 2 3/4 lengths away in third. Dixie Commando trotted the 1950 metres in 2:25.7, a mile rate of 2:00.2 It was Dixie Commando's 7th career victory and along with 22 placings she has now earned $76,139. James said serious consideration was given to sending Dixie Commando to the breeding barn earlier in the season. " We did give it serious consideration but with the drop back system in play we thought their might be a win or two in her yet," James said. When Dixie Commando does retire to the breeding barn, she has plenty to recommend her for that role. Dixie Commando is a daughter of the Sundon mare Galleons Tribute who is a half sister to the outstanding broodmare Rob The Nest who has left such standouts as Galleons Assassin 1:55.4 ($327,286) and King Of Strathfield 1:56.8 ($253,950) amongst a plethora of talented trotters. The way Dixie Commando won on Friday night however means that may not happen any time soon. Harnesslink Media  

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    

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