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Woodend based trainer and advanced amateur driver Miranda Hallett had 3x the number of reasons to celebrate last night after she was successful behind Tufflittlerooster. Not only did Hallett train and drive the 5yo Live Or Die gelding she also lease’s him. Drawn nicely in barrier 3, Miranda quickly had her charge in front where she was able to rate her drive to absolute perfection. While amateur racing is widely known to be run at fast speeds, Tufflittlerooster was able to get away with cheap sectionals thanks to the unusual lack of attackers. Striding down the back in 29.5, Tufflittlerooster always looked to have plenty in the bag winning by a nose over Red River Lochee (John McDermott) with ½ neck back to Cimarron (Wayne Low) in 3rd. The overall time of 3:16.6 and mile rate of 2:01.6 further kicked home how well the winner was rated by Hallett and the fight shown by the well named Tufflittlerooster should see these two visit the winners circle again. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sunny Ruby and Sam Smolenski continue their path towards the Cambridge Jewels with a handy win in last night’s feature trot. Kept away from the Rowe Cup, Smolenski has kept his star mare ticking along down south. Known for her incredible high speed, Sunny Ruby looks the main danger to superstar trotter Monbet at the Jewels and is likely to start 2nd favourite. A comfortable winner by 1 ¼ lengths last night in a handy field, the 4yo Sundon mare cut out her last 800m in 58.2 with the last 400 in a slick 27.8. While from her 40m back mark she trotted the overall 2600m trip in 3.18. Le Lievre’s Gift finished runner up for trainer/driver Jim Curtin, with a further 5 ¾ lengths to Arran Chief in 3rd place for another trainer/driver Andrew Faulks. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray Green caused one of the upsets of the night when his smart 2yo Art Major colt Vasari won heat 3 of the Garrards Sire Stakes Series no33. Driven aggressively by David Butcher from a wide barrier draw, Vasari found himself in front after 400m and Butcher was able to dictate as he does best. With Mark Purdon launching More The Better around the field to find the parked spot at the 1000m, these two talented colts went to war, cutting out the last quarter in 26.7. Butcher was at his absolute best, stealing a cheap 31.2 quarter between the 800 and 400 which ultimately set up his 26.7 quarter and the winning of the race, being able to hold More The Better out by a head. Mongolian Storm finished 3rd beaten 2 ¼ lengths with a further ¾ lengths back to the 4th placed Pacing Major. Paying $10.10 and $2.30 on the tote, Vasari got value punters off to a great start and with Golden Goddess causing the major upset of the night, punters who love to stay away from the short prized favourites would have been laughing to themselves. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Golden Goddess and Michelle Neilson provided the most unexpected upset when they won heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series by 3 lengths. While not a surprise to see an All Stars runner winning by such a large margin, it was the fact that the 3yo Art Major filly, owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth beat previously unbeaten and highly talented Dream About Me. Sent forward by Neilson, Golden Goddess was another allowed to dictate in front and with sectionals of 56 and 25.9, she was never in doubt. While beaten into 2nd and never looking likely, Dream About Me would have lost no admirers considering she was first up for 8 weeks and likely to improve off the back of a sharp 1950m event cut out in 2:22.4, with the last mile recorded in 1:57.4. The next up assignment for both fillies and Vic Oaks winner Piccadilly Princess is the Nevele R Fillies Series Final on the 14th May. These 3 smart fillies are set to clash 3 times over the following 5 weeks. There doesn’t appear to be much between the fillies with draws likely to dictate the result. Andrew Fitzgerald

Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald

The C4 and faster trot at Addington Raceway on Saturday night only drew nine runners but there was plenty of harness racing talent on display. The outstanding Sheemon led the way and even though he was off 40 metres, he was the public betting elect for the race. The enigmatic Waterloo Sunset was well supported as was Jag's Invasion but after that the runners were in double figures. Pyramaid Monarch jumped to an early lead for Brad Williamson and led for the first 1200 metres before John Dunn and Jag's Invasion took over with 1400 metres to run. Sheemon and Dexter Dunn were immediately up to sit on Jag's Invasion wheel and these two trotters looked each other in the eye a long way out from home. Going past the 400 metres mark, they had started to gap the chasing bunch and as they turned for home, the gap back to the bunch was a conserative ten lengths. Just as the public settled down to see which one of the two protanginists doing battle would win the race, Gavin Smith eased Sunny Ruby out from last of the chasing pack and then producing an exhibition of speed over 200 metres that is as quick as anything this writer has seen from a trotter at Addington. Not only did the four-year-old daughter of Sundon sweep on past Sheemon and Jag's Invasion and win by two lengths, but she did it with her driver Gavin Smith sitting dead still in the bike and not moving a muscle. The week before last Saturday night Sunny Ruby had been expected to go a big race but had finished last although Gavin said she had her reasons for the poor display. "It was blowing a gale and the removable hood came off not long after the start and after that she just grabbed the bit and never came back to me." "Trainer Sam Smolenski made a couple of adjustments so the hood couldn't fly off again but the plan on Saturday night was to just get around and get her to relax and let her run home late." "Her biggest problem is she can get really wound up on raceday and that is going to count against her in the big trotting races but if you can give her a run like she got on Saturday night, I think she is good enough to win one of the big ones," Gavin said. Sunny Ruby was privately timed to run her last 800 metres in 56.5 and her last 400 metres in 27.9 but Gavin only pulled her out at the 200 metres mark and she scooted that sectional in a blistering 12.9 and did it with ease. "I know her form looks a bit inconsisitent but it will always look like that because of the way Sunny Ruby races." "But she remains capable of beating any of the trotters going around if she gets that soft trip and has one run at them," Gavin said. Harnesslink Media

One of the trotting sires that continues to pop up in results in New Zealand is the Australian based son of S J's Photo in Bacardi Lindy 1:52.8. Bacardi Lindy is firmly established in Australia with a string of quality trotters on the ground including the grand circuit mare Claudy's Princess ($330,146) along with such smart types as The Boss Man ($148,365) and Bellmac Kody ($113,440) while another five have topped the $50,000 mark to date and he has done that off just 85 foals that are three year old and older. One of the Bacardi Lindy's bred here in New Zealand to find its way to Australia is the very talented filly Amarula who ran third to Speeding Spur in the Victorian Trotting Derby last season. His numbers in New Zealand have never been great and this years three year old crop numbers just 13 foals. But amongst that thirteen are a couple of very smart three year olds who look more than capable of mixing it in the classics in the next few weeks. Leading Southland trainer Nathan Williamson has a Barcardi Lindy filly in the shape of Dark Horse who has won two of her first four starts and in her last start she showed tremendous speed late in the race to fly home for second to the very well performed Pyramid Monarch ($70,570). Dark Horse is back on track at Forbury Park on Thursday night to continue her preparation towards the New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on April 1st and she looms as a definite winning chance. Nathan named Dark Horse recently as the trotter to watch from his barn over the rest of the season. Another Bacardi Lindy to really impress is the Cran Dalgety trained Benchmark. Like Dark Horse, he was bred by the Grice brothers from Mid Canterbury who are two of the most successful breeders in New Zealand harness racing and who continue to produce age group stars year in,year out. Dark Horse and Benchmark are both from Sundon daughters of the Grice brothers champion trotting broodmare in Janetta's Pride  Benchmark has only had five starts in his career to date. A couple of handy thirds were topped off by an excellent win at Addington at his last start in a very slick 2:00.4 mile rate for the 1950 metres. What gave the run even more merit was Benchmark drew the outside of the gate at barrier nine and settled well back in the running before unleashing a powerful late sprint to win going away. Given a break after that victory,Benchmark should come back even better and with the the three year old trotters being fairly even this season, Benchmark is a chance to be a serious player in the upcoming three year old trotting classics.  So Bacardi Lindy from just thirteen live foals has managed to produce both a colt and a filly that are good enough to compete in the classics yet the number of mares going to him continues to stagnate. Maybe if one of these two three year olds in Dark Horse or Benchmark can impress in the classics, New Zealand trotting breeders may finally wake up and support a very talented stallion. Harnesslink Media

Life in a smaller harness racing stable and plenty of pampering has been the secret to the rejuvenation of Pegasus Spur gelding Sin Bin.    The well bred squaregaiter started his racing life with Ryal Bush trainer Nathan Williamson who managed to get a win out of him and a number of minor placings.   "He rang me in August and told me he was finished with him." "He's a horse that takes a bit of work. John keeps him right with his chiropracting, and having Franksie (farrier Brendon Franks) in the ownership he keeps his shoeing right." "John does a lot of massage with him." "He seems to get quite sore around the girth and over the bum. He gets a lot of TLC from me and no one else drives him except me." "I think he likes the smaller stable and bigger tracks," said co-trainer Tracie McGrannachan who trains the gelding with John Cox at Winton.    Sin Bin is out of the talented Sundon mare Jo Anne who won twelve races including the New Zealand Trotting Stakes as a two year old. She was bred by Ashburton brothers Keith and Bevan Grice.    "I was just talking to Bevan." "He's going to be ninety in a couple of months and he's absolutely stoked with the win. They ring me every few weeks to see how he's going. They absolutely love it."   Yesterday's win was the geldings second in eighteen starts and caps off two thirds and a last start second.    "The only time he hasn't gone good for us is was when he got pushed over the pegs at Cromwell."    McGrannachan says the big gelding isn't worked by himself as he tends to get keen and is difficult for her to hold.     "A lot of his work is done on the lead. I'm not strong enough to hold him. If I drop in behind John's back he's perfect - doesn't tighten the rein. If we go out by ourselves we're a gone burger."    Sin Bin is owned by Tracie, husband Murray, their nephew Quinn Stewart, Tracie's dad John Cook, Brendon Franks and John Cox.     The win was the first of three for Ryal Bush reinsman Shane Walkinshaw. He won the next race driving Comic Book Hero and won later in the day with The Big Boss.  Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness Racing  -  Check site here  

West Melton harness racing trainer Clint Ford was more nervous than he has been for a long time going into tonights running of the Sires Stakes Trotting Prelude with his talented three year old trotter Marcoola at Addington Raceway. A trial last week where Marcoola hadn't trotted very well had Clint a bit worried pre race but Marcoola never looked like putting a foot wrong from the time the gate went. Out well to challenge hot favoutrite Conon Bridge for the lead early on, Clint slotted Marcoola into the trail after 300 metres and tracked Conon Bridge every where from then on. When the passing lane presented itself, Marcoola was quickly into it and slowly but surely wore Conon Bridge down before drawing clear by a length the last little bit. Conon Bridge fought on for second but was slightly disappointing after a soft run in front while Wilma's Mate provided a minor highlight of the race by rushing home for third after galloping badly after 100 metres. Clint was all smiles post race. " I was confident that Marcoola could match it with the good ones tonight." "He was coming in fresh after ten weeks away from the races but he races well in that condition." " He traveled lovely the whole trip and I was pretty confident a fair way out he would be hard to beat" Clint said. Clint has always had a big opinion of the son of Sundon and has been fighting off the agents lately. " I turned down huge money for him recently but the family has had a lot of smart trotters over the years and I think Marcoola could be the best of them" "His mother had all the ability in the world but was so difficult to manage." "Being a Sundon from her you would think he would be unmanageable but he is the opposite." A kid could drive him he is so laid back and nothing upsets him." " I would love to win the Trotting Derby in a months time so that's were he is headed," Clint said. Bob Butt was philosophical about the defeat. " He has over raced in front and that has cost him in the end. " I should have let him roll a bit more but I was getting a soft trip so I held him back to the field." " At least we have a month to sort that out," Bob said. The Ford family have been having a great run with their trotters lately and tonights win just added further kudos to what has already been a hugely  successful season to date. Harnesslink Media  

The late Sir Roy McKenzie had a long term influence like no one else on the harness racing industry in New Zealand with the possible exception of his father who started it all ninety plus years ago. With the importation of stallions and mares from North America, Sir Roy completely changed the New Zealand industry and gave it a lift that can still be felt today. From stallions such as Sundon to mares whose daughters have left us stars such as Monbet, Sir Roy McKenzie was instrumental in dragging the New Zealand breeding industry up to international standard. One mare that Sir Roy imported who initially was very disappointing was the Adios mare Tina Rainbow.  Tina Rainbow had plenty to recommend her from a breeding prospective, being a half sister to Vicar Hanover 1:59.1 ($266,323)  who was a star on the grand circuit in the 1960s in North America and a half sister to the dam of Vance Hanover who dominated the New Zealand stallion scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s However two of her daughters turned that initial disappointment around in the next generation with Tina Scott producing the brilliant racehorse and successful sire in Knight Rainbow 1:57.7 (22 wins) ($243,693) while another daughter in Rainship produced the brilliant racemare Waihemo Rainship 1:58.2 (8wins) ($99,270) Waihemo Rainship was just as good in the breeding barn leaving eight winners including such smart colts as Anvils Revival 1:57.7 ($162,810), Tempest Anvil 1:52 ($91,600), West Coast Anvil 1:58.9 ($69,047) and Anvil's A Christian 1:58.3 ($56,346). The fillies she produced weren't much inferior if at all, including the very talented Anvil On Fire 1:55 ($81,862) whose first foal Karmic Fire was a six length winner on debut recently. Another daughter in Waihemo Anvil 1:59.2 has already produced two classy individuals in Anvil's Big Punt 1:57 ($131,980) and the high speed mare Anvil's Delight 1:54.4 ($60,941) to carry on a trend of a family that seems to produce just as many smart fillies as it does colts. There are a few from this family in this years yearling sales but the one that took our eye was Lot 141 at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd. Named Bebe, she is a daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight from the racewinning Christian Cullen daughter of Waihemo Rainship in Bella Anvil.. Being bred on the same cross as Lazarus and Chase The Dream is never a bad start for any horse at the moment when trying to impress yearling buyers and the individual herself has a touch of class as you can see from the photos. The Sir Roy McKenzie influence on harness racing in New Zealand shows no sign of tapering off and the performance of Waihemo Rainship at stud is just another successful chapter to add to the record. Harnesslink Media  

One of the huge differences between trotting in the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere is the number of elite level trotters down under that still have a lot of pacing blood in their pedigree. With breeders in the south unable to access top line trotting bred sires until recently, a lot of the pacing sires that were available were bred over trotting line mares at the time with the result that they are still quite prominent in a lot of trotting pedigrees down under. The most famous of those trotters of course would be the brilliant Lyell Creek 1:52.4 ($2,130,319) who did a great job in North America late in his career but there are numerous examples of other pacing bred mares who are having an influence on trotting down under. One mare whose influence continues is Meriden. The daughter of the Race Time stallion Farm Timer only won a couple of races on the track as a pacer but at stud produced two elite level trotters, one to a pacing sire and one to a trotting sire. Merinai (19 wins) was a daughter of Tuff Choice, a son of Windshield Wiper who was a major disappointment at stud in New Zealand in the early 1990's. Her half brother Rosscoe (17 wins) was a son of the champion trotting sire Sundon so we are none the wiser there as to why they both trotted. Some times daughters of pacing bred mares such as Meriden do not breed on but that is far from the case with Merinai who has established a very strong trotting progeny record at stud. Top of the pile todate is Sunny Elegant 1:57.2 ($102,330) who was an age group star in Australia but she is just in front of Miss Pegasus ($86,391) and Wingsonhai ($62,626). The first daughter of Merinai to go to stud in Sun Mist has done a great job producing Pretty Sunday ($166,629), Sonofanearl ($117,798) and Rosemma ($82,994) from her six winners. It is a family that is finding itself represented more and more at the yearling sales as each season  goes by and this year there is a well bred colt at the Australasian Classic yearling sale at Karaka on February 22nd. Named Popcorn Sutton, he is the third live foal from Classic Armbro, a race winning daughter of Armbro Invasion and Merinai. The first foal from Classic Armbro is the Love You three year old Tough Love who has qualified for Lou Driver from Balcairn in smart time and looks promising. Sam Bourbon will not be a name known to a lot of Southern hemisphere breeders but he has been doing a fine job in Europe with his initial crops and is a highly regarded stallion by breeders north of the equator. The way Merinai has bred on at stud, which has now been continued by her daughters suggests Popcorn Sutton has plenty to recommend him to lovers of the trotting gait. Harnesslink Media  

Last-start St Arnaud Trotters Cup winner Irish Whisper will be chasing two cup wins in two weeks in the Cohuna Car Sales Bill Poxon Memorial Gunbower Trotters Cup on Sunday. The Tony Peacock trained eight-year-old has twice beaten New Zealand champion Stent, so he’s always had ability, but Peacock has him at the peak of his powers right now. He did plenty of work last Sunday but still proved too strong with Damian Wilson in the sulky. Wilson will drive the son of Sundon again this weekend. “We haven’t had him long but he’d gone all right at the trials." "He’s beaten Stent twice." "We knew he was going good and he’d run a good race,” Peacock said of the St Arnaud success. “He’s got ability that’s for sure.” Nicole Molander and Chris Alford will combine with former Kiwi Dead Cat Bounce, who attacked the line strongly last week after making an early break behind Irish Whisper, while Brent Lilley trained trotter Sun Of Anarchy is sure to have plenty of supporters.   CODY WINNELL

Leading Southland trainer-driver Nathan Williamson had another big day at the office yesterday at Wyndham. It started in the first when the well bred young trotter I'doitmyway lived up to her pedigree and cleared maiden ranks at just her second start By Sundon out of Whizz Way she's a full-sister to Appian Way (6 wins), Idid It Myway (14 wins) and Any Old Way (6 wins) I'doitmyway has big shoes to fill but in the space of three weeks she's made the initial step very well.   "When she qualified a couple of weeks ago, that was her first time off the place." "She qualified by herself so it was a big step into the deep end when she ran last week (at Wyndham)." "She handled that well and she was better today." "She's better off the place than she is at home so that's why we've carried on racing her."   "She also can be a bit of a handful at home - her nick name is Fizz." "She's got a liking for the big tracks so that's why we've started at these two Wyndham meetings." "She can have a wee break now and then race on the bigger tracks around Christmas time," said trainer driver Nathan Williamson.   The promising Bernie Winkle also cleared the maiden grade today to give Williamson an early double.   "Couldn't have wished for a better trip." "He was one out and one back and he ended up three wide with cover." "He pounced on them pretty quickly turning for home." "He's just got a bit of a habit of knocking off when he gets to the lead." "He did enough to get there quite nicely." " He's got a bit of speed and I think he'll get better as the season goes on."   After a slow start to the season, Williamson, Southland's leading trainer last season, is starting to get some runs on the board both locally and also in Canterbury.   Tas Man Bromac, the star of the stable ran second to Maverick on Cup Day while Statham improved on his second at Rangiora, coming out to win the Macca Lodge sponsored South Of The Waitaki Mobile Pace on Show Day at Addington.   "He's(Tas Man Bromac) just had an easy week and will have another one this week and then both him and Statham will be racing again in the cup races around Christmas." "Tas Man Bromac's main aim for the season is the Invercargill Cup at the end of January while Statham will probably go for some of those grass cups like Waikouiti and Oamaru - not that he's any better on the grass but a big horse like him will be suited by the big spaces."    Later in the day Williamson continued his good relationship with the much improved Machrie. The gelding has turned a bit of a corner after trainers Katrina and John Price changed his training regime. Bruce Stewart Reproduced with permission of Southland Harness Racing   -   Check site here      

After their six winners on New Zealand Cup Day, a lot of pundits were predicting that the all conquering All Star barn could have an even bigger day on Show Day yesterday. Prince Fearless was the most impressive of the Cup Day winners from the All Star barn, bolting in by over 13 lengths in very quick time and he was a very short priced favourite in the first race yesterday. However as all racegoers know there are no certainties in racing and that's how it played out. Waterloo Sunset and Bob Butt made a flyer from the 10 metre mark and were in front after 200 metres. Bob kept the huge son of Sundon up to the mark in front until Prince Fearless and Mark Purdon looped the field with 800 metres to go and assumed control. Just when everybody thought Prince Fearless would cruise clear for an easy win in the straight, Waterloo Sunset and Bob flew up the passing lane and went straight on past Prince Fearless for an emphatic victory.  Bob thought he was a chance to roll the favourite. " Waterloo Sunset had been going super prior to Tuesday's run having run second to Stent the start before." " He wasn't a happy horse Tuesday, missing away and not trotting any good at all." " Paul (Nairn) thought a splint was troubling him and treated it after Tuesday" " Today he trotted the best he has ever trotted and I was confident a fair way out I would be tough to beat," Bob said. Trainer Paul Nairn was just happy to have his huge trotting star back on track. " He is such a big horse that he has a few niggles off and on so I am happy to have him back on track after Tuesday's effort." "We will look at the big trot at Geraldine at the end of the month with him next but Auckland in December is on the radar as well," Paul said. Waterloo Sunset has always looked a top trotter in the making and it is a credit to Paul Nairn that his patience is now starting to pay off. Harnesslink Media

The  victory of Master Lavros turned back the clock. The giant gelding led throughout to claim his second Gr.1 $255,000 Hellers Dominion at Addington in Christchurch defeating Alley Way and Sheemon in the 3200m stand start harness racing feature. Master Lavros scored in this event two years ago. The winning drive from Mark Jones, a former world driving champion, was inch perfect as he dictated terms nicely in front while race favourite Stent sat midfield in the moving line after a tardy beginning. Jones was able to quicken and slacken the speed which made it awfully hard for his rivals to find their groove. It was a perfect reminder that Jones is a truly gifted reinsman, one of the very best in Australasia. And while Jones is listed officially as the trainer, the man that pours his heart and soul into the gifted trotter is Regan Todd. Operating two stables, Jones is based at Burnham while Todd operates the Woodend Beach stables, of which Master Lavros is based and trained. Since winning this event back in 2013, connections have been left frustrated and perplexed as the gelding struggled to regain that dominating form that catapulted him to early stardom. The expectation and pressure created cracks and last season proved disappointing with only two victories from 11 starts, many breaks were made in running. But the seven-year-old has returned in solid form this season and the reason is simple, he’s sound and trotting perfectly. Master Lavros rated 4:05.9 which equates to a milerate of 2:03.6 while he covered his final 800m in a slick 57.6 seconds. The time was slightly slower than what he recorded two years ago. Master Lavros is now a dual Dominion champion while he has also collected the North Island’s major trotting event, the Rowe Cup. His earnings have now surpassed $500,000. The Sundon – Lavra Noblesse gelding is raced by his breeder, Kypros Kotzikas. Race favourite Stent finished fifth and had his chance after his early miscue, the Dominion proving to be his ‘bogey’ race. The next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will be staged on February 6, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton. by Chris Barsby

From the time he stepped onto a racetrack as a four year old, Waterloo Sunset has always looked a horse headed to the best grades. An entire by Sundon from the Rowe Cup winning mare Inspire, Waterloo Sunset is a blue blood in anyones language and he has the ability to go with the bloodlines. Last night at Addington Raceway he comfortably won his fifth race from just twenty starts and in doing so edged closer to being a genuine open class contender. Paul Nairn is a master trainer of squaregaiters and he has always thought that with time Waterloo Sunset would make it to the elite level in New Zealand. " I have always thought a lot of him from day one and I still think he will get better yet" " We have come a long way with him but I think the best is yet to come." "One thing I do know is that he is the biggest horse I have ever trained," Paul said. When you see Waterloo Sunset in the flesh you can understand Paul's sentiments as he is one huge piece of horseflesh. That in itself has meant waiting for Waterloo Sunset to fill out into his massive frame but as a six year old he now looks ready to kick on. Never afraid to back his horses up, Paul intends to keep Waterloo Sunset active over the next few weeks. " He can go to the big trot at Kaikoura on Monday and then race during Cup week," Paul said. Regular driver Bob Butt is confident that Waterloo Sunset has what it takes to be competitive in the top grade. " He is such a different horse this time in to what he use to be." " He use to get really fired up before the start and even during his races but the trips to Auckland have help turn him into a different horse" "He is much more relaxed these days and his manners are really good now"  " He gives you such a great feel when you are driving him and he is the best horse I have driven," Bob said. Paul Nairn has such a big opinion of Waterloo Sunset that he covered some of his own mares with the stallion last season. " I served three mares with him last season and the first of them is due shortly so he about to become a dad for the first time." " He has all the attributes of a top horse and I can't see why he won't leave them," Paul said. Waterloo Sunset has been very patiently handled to date and that patience looks like it is about to pay off. Harnesslink Media

Mark Jones is hardly screaming from the rooftops but he is starting to find some confidence in Master Lavros. The giant trotter stepped away from the tapes and went on to a one and three quarter lengths win in Friday's Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington Raceway with a display that puts him right in the Group I Dominion Handicap scrap. Sure there was no Stent, but Jones is starting to feel that the son of Sundon could be close to the sort of form that saw him win the Dominion in 2013. "He was feeling that good at the bend I probably could have gapped them by four or five lengths at the bend," Jones said. The improvement this week gave Jones plenty to smile about after he was run down late by Stent seven days earlier. Master Lavros strode home to win in 3:18.8 for the 2600m and Jones gave the impression there was plenty left in the tank had it been required. But the trainer-driver has plenty to think about in the coming days and weeks. The logical next step would be Ashburton for the Group III Trotters Flying Mile on Labour Day but with Master Lavros' manners from his two stands back being so good, Jones is thinking he may be better off to avoid the mobile start at Ashburton and head to Kaikoura. "I just don't know if the mobile will help us at the moment," Jones said. But if he does head to Kaikoura, he could potentially have to skip the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all on Cup day. "I just think that could be a bit too much to do those three so close together," Jones said. Wherever Jones goes, he knows he is past the issues that plagued Master Lavros' season last year. Master Lavros trotted to the lead mid race and Jones had the field right where he wanted them and never gave up the lead. The Greg and Nina Hope pairing of Quite A Moment and Harrysul were much improved when running into second and third. Greg Hope was rapt with the effort of both trotters and said they would now likely head straight to Ashburton. Sheemon was disappointing in the final 300m to finish fourth after racing in the one-one and trainer Kevin Townley will have the classy trotter vetted to try and better understand the underwhelming performance. A fresh-up Alley Way was fifth in his first start for the Colin and Julie DeFilippi barn but was five lengths of Master Lavros. Colin DeFilippi said he expected a little better but was happy enough first up. He will line Alley Way up again at Addington next Friday. Habibti and Kincaslough blew their chance with mid race breaks. David Butt, who co-trains Habibti with wife Catherine, said it was disappointing but he confirmed he was also likely to head back to Addington next Friday night. The talented mare was super last week in her first race back in 11 months after a suspensory ligament injury and Butt is confident Friday night's break was just a small bump in the road. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here  

If Master Lavros can get the first 30 metres right, the next 2570 should be no problem. The 2013 Dominion Handicap winner starts his campaign at the harness racing meeting at Addington on Friday night as he heads towards the 2015 edition of the Group I. A $12,000 trot is hardly the glitz and glamour of the $250,000 Dominion but with Stent, Habibti and Kincaslough in, it shapes as an interesting leadup. Trainer Mark Jones has hardly had the perfect build up after Master Lavros missed a trial last week due to a minor illness, but Jones knows the giant 7-year-old son of Sundon is in much better shape than last year when was plagued by issues early in the season. Those issues made for frustrating times for Jones and his owner Kypros Kotzikas as manners continually blew his chances in races that should have been easy kills. In his only trial this preparation, Master Lavros skipped away from the tapes to give the field a 100m head start, something he cannot afford to do on Friday night. Master Lavros stepped perfectly in his final three stands last season and Jones puts the trial blemish down to being a bit fresh. "There's always a small question mark with him fresh up but I'm pretty confident he will step away this week, he seems very settled," Jones said. All the big bangers start off 30m with Habibti and Kincaslough off the unruly. "Because he's off 30m there isn't much in front of him and that's when he usually steps away best," Jones said. Jones is happy with Master Lavros' fitness despite missing the Rangiora trial and believes he could be fit enough to win. "Missing the trial could have been a blessing because the track was slushy," Jones said. "He's been trotting super so I'm pretty happy with him." Bookmakers currently have Master Lavros a $3.60 favourite to win the Dominion, with Stent at $3.80 and Sheemon at $5.50. Meanwhile, the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club has increased its minimum stake to $7500 from November 1. Club chairman Barry Dent said stakes and bonuses have risen 20 per cent at Addington since 2012. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ  -  Check site here

Harness racing breeders in Australasia saw the passing of the great racehorse and sire Sundon this year but his impact on breeding downunder continues to grow. With the end of the season in New Zealand in sight, we thought we would have a look at his stats this season and yet again he has been dominant on all fronts. With his win in the 2015 sires premiership for trotters, Sundon took his 15th consecutive title as the leading sire of trotters in New Zealand. During that period he also managed to win two New Zealand Siring premierships covering all starters This year Sundon will also take out his fifth consecutive New Zealand trotting broodmare premiership with a lead of over $2,000,000 on his nearest rival. Even more impressive this year was his feat of winning the overall broodmare sires premiership with a lead of over $300,000 on last years winner In The Pocket The record across the Tasman is no less impressive. If he wins the premiership this season and he is $60,000 in front at the moment, then it will be  Sundon's13th successive title in Australia. The broodmare title in Australia is also a non event with Sundon nearly $2,000,000 in front of his nearest competitor. Sundon is currently setting records for premiership wins that are unlikely to ever be challenged. He is without doubt the greatest trotting stallion to have stood in Australasia and he isn't finished yet. Harnesslink Media

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