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Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety has joined Patumahoe’s Geoff Small as NZ’s most successful trainers of Group One Breeders Crown Final winners after Katy Perry’s hard fought success in last Sunday’s $A297,000 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Both have achieved five Breeders Crown Final successes in the specialised two-four age group categories, just one ahead of NZ’s premier trainer Mark Purdon. Cran Dalgety’s growing list of ABC Grand Final winners is: Sparks A Flyin (2001 3YO fillies), Smiling Shard (2009 2YO colts/geldings), Bit Of A Legend (2012-13 3YO colts/geldings) and Katy Perry (2014 2YO fillies). Former world champion driver Mark Jones partnered Sparks A Flyin. Current NZ champion Dexter Dunn has driven the stable runners since 2009. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is challenging as NZ’s most successful trainer at the Breeders Crown, taking into account his additional three Grand Final seconds _ Smiling Shard (2010 3YO colts/geldings), Onlyforyou (2012 2YO fillies) and Bit Of A Legend (2014 4YO entires/geldings). Northern-based, but Canterbury-raised Geoff Small, set the early pace among the Kiwis. Small’s ABC Pacing Grand Final winners are: Pullover Brown (2003 3YO Fillies), Changeover (2007 3YO Colts/geldings), Tintin In America (2009 3YO Colts/geldings), De Lovely (2010 3YO Fillies) and Cowgirls N Indians (2011 2YO Fillies). He also has a Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA (open class race) to his credit, with All Tiger in 2009. Recuperating Cambridge driver David Butcher has partnered all but one of Small’s ABC winners. Templeton driver Anthony Butt partnered Pullover Brown for her ABC win after also driving her to win the NZ Oaks that season.  Anthony Butt, a close second driving Joanne’s A Delight in last Sunday’s 2YO Fillies Final, also won the 1998 ABC 3YO Fillies Final driving Under Cover Lover, Mark Purdon, who gained early ABC Final training successes with Galleons Assassin (2005 2YO trot) and Fly Like An Eagle (2012 3YO colts/geldings), doubled his quota when (My) Ayra (2YO fillies trot) and Follow The Stars (2YO colts/geldings) delivered last Sunday. His additional driving win with (Our) Twentyten (who he formerly trained) in the 3YO trot final on Sunday, makes him jointly NZ’s top driver in the 2-4YO age group catergories, with David Butcher, who besides the Small-trained winners, also reined Miami H to win the 2010 3YO trot final for trainers Derek Balle and Owen Gillies. Victorian trotting training master Chris Lang is the most successful Breeders Crown trainer with seven wins. His successes, all in ABC trot finals, are: Kyvalley Road (2002-03 2 & 3YO trot), Right Interest (2006 3YO trot), Skyvalley (2008-09 3 & 4YO trot) and Let Me Thru (2009-10 3 & 4YO trot). Lang has also added three Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA wins, a race for open class trotters, with former champ, Sundons Gift (2007-08 & 2010). Lang’s brother, champion Victorian reinsman Gavin, although winless at the Breeders Crown this year, remains the most successful driver in Breeders Crown Finals, with 10 successes. Courtsey Of Cran Dalgety Racing

Champion trainer Chris Lang has announced he will retire from harness racing once his property is sold at auction on October 17. The leading trainer, a pioneer in in the Australian trotting industry, has made the decision to concentrate on his health as he battles Raynaud's Disease, which is a rare disorder of the blood vessels affecting his hands. Lang, 54, told Harness Racing Victoria media this morning he was shattered to have to step away from the sport, but said he was making the tough call for the betterment of his long-term health. “Basically it’s a decision that was forced upon me,” Lang said. “I’ve had a few minor health issues over the last few years, with pneumonia and a lung infection, autoimmune disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and basically I have little ongoing issues that are minor now but because of the lifestyle I lead can lead to far more major issues later on. “I have Raynaud’s Disease, which affects the circulation in my hand, especially during the winters. “At the present time it’s very minor but it has the potential to develop into a far more life-changing condition if I don’t go and try to get it fixed now.” While shattered to have to make the call, Lang said he was determined to pull the pin while he still had some say in the matter and said he won’t rule out returning to training in future. “I’m going to make the decision while it’s still my decision to a degree rather than wait until I’ve got no other option,” he said. “This is possibly just a hiatus for me rather than a retirement. “If I’m able to go away now and get this sorted out then who knows what will happen in the future?” Lang has informed his owners of his decision and stressed it was “business as usual” until his property in Nagambie is sold at auction. Lang, who has developed his property from bare land to a state-of-the-art harness racing training mecca, said he was disappointed to be selling the venue. “When we shifted there about 21 odd years ago it was a bare paddock and to build it into something that Sharon and I are so immensely proud of, I always envisaged being carried out of there in a wooden box to be honest. “We’ve always said though that we want to do the right thing and we feel this is the right thing as hard as it is.” Lang has been an indomitable force in Australian trotting circles for many years. He won the 2009 and 2010 Inter Dominion finals with the glorious squaregaiter Sundons Gift and consequently earned an invitation to the Elitlopp in Sweden. “That was an amazing achievement, really,” Lang said. “Going over there (to Sweden) was in my opinion the greatest experience because it was life-changing. “We brought a whole lot of knowledge back with us from that trip.” Lang, whose other stable champions have included Kyvalley Road, Skyvalley, Let Me Thru, National Interest, Jauriol and Lester Scot, said he remembers attending the Shepparton trials with his trotters and being the only trainer there with squaregaiters. “Now 40 to 50 per cent of horses at those trials are trotters,” he said. “It’s actually amazed me how far trotting has come since then in Australia. I’d like to say I sat back and could see it happening, but that wouldn’t be true. It really has amazed me.” Lang will continue training and driving horses until his property has been sold and said he would likely remain in the sport as an owner afterwards, but he was yet to make a decision on that. He said it would be up to his individual owners to decide how they wanted to handle the transition. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

In our prominent harness racing stallion series we have reviewed American Ideal,  Art Major, Bettors Delight, Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire, Mach Three and Western Terror so far and today we have produced an in depth review for the outstanding trotting stallion Sundon (In North America called Sondon) Enjoy the read. Sundon was bred in North America by prominent New Zealand breeder Sir Roy McKenzie whose father established the famous Roydon Lodge stud in New Zealand. He was a son of Arndon who was bred by Sir Roy from his good mare Roydon Gal. The dam of Sundon was the B F Coaltown mare in Sungait Song.  Brought to New Zealand with her foal Sundon at foot, this mare has established an outstanding record at stud in New Zealand. Apart from Sundon she has left Sungait Reb (US,1:57.1s), 15 wins 15 seconds and 8 thirds for $178,000 in stakes, Sunning ($95,077), Sunbeam Song ($14,475) and A Touch Of Sun ($37,576). Sunning is the dam of Burano ($105,000) and other daughters have left Roydon Flash ($214,000) and Solar Fire ($214,00) who is the dam of Sheemon ($137,964). RACE RECORD - Bred to North American time, Sundon was giving away six months to his age group competition when he stepped on to the track at two. But that didn't stop him winning 11 straight at that age and he started the same way at three winning 8 of his first 9. He carried on through to Grand Circuit company as a older horse and although he was a bit inconsistent at times, when he put it all together he was nigh unbeatable. All up he faced the starter 60 times for 27 wins and 8 placings on his way to earning $264,000 AMERICAN STUD RECORD - Sundon was known as Sondon in North America. He never stood in North America but he does have 81 horses who have been imported from New Zealand and they have compiled an outstanding record. They are headed by the brilliant Westland Sun 1:52.3s ($729,624) and include such talented horses as Locofoco 1:53.4s ($714,998), Lets Get Serious 1:52.2m ($621,912), Supreme Pat 1:54.3m ($322,891), and Ima Gold Digger 1:55f ($271,289).  As the stats below show his percentages and average earnings are up there with the very best. US statistics Eligible to race - 81 Winners - 76 $100,000+ winners - 34 Sub 1:54 - 4 Average earnings per starter - $119,716 Average earnings per eligible horse - $116,760 Total earnings to date - $9,457,553 AUSTRALIAN STUD RECORD - Surprisingly he has only produced 259 live foals in Australia (spread over 16 seasons with his biggest crop totaling just 44 foals) which given his complete dominance of the trotting sires list over nearly twenty years is hard to fathom. Never the less from those foals he has sired such standouts as the outstanding I Didn't Do It ($455,554) along with such smart horses as Donny Bouchea ($326,062), Red Samurai ($230,722), Compressor ($212,303), Right Interest ($202,096) and Aleppo Sunrise ($183,090) to name a few. Australian statistics Foals 3yr old and older - 259 Winners - 107 % of winners to foals born 3yr old and older - 41% $100,000 plus - 16 Average earnings per starter - $37,721 Average earnings per eligible horse - $22,000 Total earnings to date - $5,698,092 BROOD MARE STATS - Already his daughters have produced 47 winners in Australia headed by last years leading two year old in I"m Stately ($182,915) along with Sassy Pinevale ($176,195) and Spidergirl ($139,075) for stakes totaling $1,995,461 to date.    NEW ZEALAND STUD RECORD - He has completely revolutionized the trotting breed in New Zealand. From his first crop he has stamped himself as a sensational sire and any look at his record in NZ shows how dominant he has been for over 20 years. He has been voted New Zealand 'Stallion Of The Year' four times and he has been the leading trotting sire for many seasons and even managed to top the overall stakes won by all stallions in 2007 which considering the difference in stakes and racing opportunities in New Zealand is truly remarkable. He has left superstars galore with his male offspring headed by the millionaire and champion Sundons Gift ($1,275,264) along with such top performers as Springbank Richard ($651,245), Whatsundermykilt $510,484), Houdini Star ($427,327), Pompallier ($398,138) and Delft $353,910) whilst his females are headed by the brilliant One Under Kenny ($1,060,394) along with such stars as Allegro Agitato ($524,399), Martina H ($391,867), Our Sunny Whiz ($348,781), Some Direction ($307,804) and Escapee ($242,363). His latest star is Master Lavros ($210,868) who is currently the best trotter in NZ. New Zealand statistics Foals 3yr old and older - 1,706 Winners - 670 % of winners to foals born 3yr old and older - 39% $100,000 plus - 54 $1,000,000, plus - 2 Average earnings per starter - $28,622 Average earnings per eligible horse - $14,562 Total earnings to date - $24,844,368 BROOD MARE STATS - Going to be as dominant here as he has been in the siring barn. His mares have already left 278 winners including Vulcan ($858,793), Sovereignty ($716,496), Paramount Gee Gee ($497,100), Habibti ($258,790), Stent ($283,140), Royal Aspirations ($256,149) and Prime Power ($136,759). Stakes won to date are nearing 10 million and he has the opportunity in the next ten years to set benchmarks as a brood mare sire that may never be bettered. POSITIVES - A dominant sire in Australasia for near on 20 years and now doing the same as a brood mare sire. Completely changed the standard of trotting down under and his ability to lift non descript families is legendary. Credit must be given to his owners who have always kept his stud fee very affordable which has allowed the average breeder to access this great sire. NEGATIVES - The word "HOT" and Sundon have always gone together. Gelding was one of the first things you did when acquiring a Sundon colt, hence the absence of any of his star sons at stud. One that may have proved the exception was the speedy Last Sunset 1:55.2 ($312,423) who died prematurely when looking a very promising sire. He sired just 41 foals before his death of which 16 have started for 11 winners to date that have earned $568,198 in stakes to give him an average earnings per starter of a very good $35,512. He only bred the two small crops of 10 and 31. OVERVIEW - Without doubt the greatest trotting sire to have ever stood in Australasia. His  dominance at stud over such a long period has cast a huge shadow over his competition during that period. With over $40,000,000 on his card worldwide and his daughters now leaving the next generation of stars, Sundon has lifted the trotting breed in Australasia to a much higher level than breeders thought possible. A truly great sire and top brood mare sire. OVERALL RATING - 9.5/10 JC A Sire review - American Ideal A Sire review - Art Major A Stallion review - Bettors Delight A Stallion review - Christian Cullen A Stallion review - Courage Under Fire A Stallion review - Mach Three A Stallion review - Western Terror Harnesslink has had such positive feedback on our "forgotten sires series" that we are running a series of reviews on our more prominent harness racing sires. As they say in racing you can criticize some ones car, house or wife but never their horse, and that still rings true. As a disclaimer to our next chapter of analysis we look to provide educated opinion based on years of industry knowledge and the truest form of critique backed by statistical data. The above PREVIEWS are set to strip back any sugar coated publicity often associated with Stallion promotion and give you the cold hard facts as JC sees them.  (All statistical data was provided by TrackIt for North American stats and the official organizations of New Zealand and Australia)  And here is "The forgotten sires series" This is a series of stallion reviews that Harnesslink have already completed with a view to sheading some light on some of  the "forgotten"sires in Australasia. Elsu - Redemption awaits McArdle - The quiet achiever Santanna Blue Chip - On the up and up! Major In Art - Big and fast Mr Feelgood - Dual hemisphere champion Pay Me Christian - Blistering speed Monkey Bones - All class Tinted Cloud - Still going strong Real Desire - The real deal Washington VC - Continuing excellence Wetern Ideal - A superstar sire Bacardy Lindy - Blue blood Monarchy - Out of Sundons shadow Artiscape - Frozen semen blues? Dream Vacation - Frozen semen superstar Badlands Hanover - Great value Lis Mara - The quiet achiever Brylin Boyz - Potential fulfilled    

A shock announcement from world renown owner Neven Botica has paved the way for the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star’s first ever invitee to possibly tackle the event in the second edition of the race. It may come a year later than many first thought, but the highly credentialed Imperial Count could now target the race after flying to New Zealand to stand at Barra Equine stud. The North-American squaregaiter, who has amassed almost $700,000 in earnings and has a best lifetime mark of 1.53.2, has been competing against some of the world’s best trotters in recent years. However with Botica keen to get him to the Southern Hemisphere as a breeding proposition; it has opened the door for a Great Southern Star tilt. “Last year he had a little hiccup at the last minute before he entered quarantine on his way down for the Great Southern Star and because of the horse he was, it didn’t make sense to take a chance with him,” Botica said. “He came back and in his last start he broke the track record at Yonkers, it was a 1:54 mile rate on an 800-metre track. “He is going to stand at Barra Equine. He is in quarantine at the minute but he gets out next weekend and I’m thinking while he is only a five-year-old, I should give him a crack at a race like the Great Southern Star.” With plenty of life still in his legs, Botica will make a final decision in a few weeks however the initial signs are looking positive that the fledgling race could have its first ever international raider from North America. The next step will be for Imperial Count to come back into work in the Shaky Isles according to Botica. “He’ll come back into work in New Zealand initially while he covers some mares and he will tell us how he is going,” he said. “He is by Angus Hall who is the sire of Majestic Son so it is already proven that the line works down here. He has a good high speed gait and he is very versatile which is an added advantage.” Botica, famous for owning another superstar squaregaiter in Sundons Gift, will also have a runner in the rich Breeders Crown Final of the Open Mares Trot to be run in America on Sunday morning our time. Beatgoeson Hanover broke the world record at Pocono in late September and will tackle the $250,000 mares trotting feature race at the very same track on Sunday. In a win for the globalisation of our great sport, SKY Racing, through their SKY 2 platform,  will show the majority of the meeting live this weekend. HRV Media

After a relatively slow start to the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch today (Wednesday February 20) - Lot 33 Ohoka Hall - sparked up the harness racing sale when a bidding war resulted in the grandson of Landora's Pride ($426,867) selling for $127,500.

The Australians were left with a few crumbs after New Zealand's big guns blasted the locals off the track at Saturday's feature harness racing meeting at Melton.

All honours in the Simplot Australasian Trotting Championship went to harness racing trainer/driver Geoff Webster and Mister Zion when the dual gaited Group winning gelding made it a double at the elite level.

Sundons Gift has been one of Australia's most lauded squaregaiters. A globetrotter in the true sense of the word, his harness racing career was halted after illness crippled him to a point where the Lang team thought he was best served in a retirement paddock.

One of Australia's trotting legends will soon have a special place at Shepparton's Quest Harness Racing Complex with the official opening of the 'Sundons Gift' spectator deck. Minister for Racing Denis Napthine will officially open the new facility at Saturday night's Shepparton Gold Pacing Cup.

With all nominations received for the 2012 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has today published the first rankings. Eighty nominations have been received, but late nominations will be accepted until noon on Monday December 19 upon payment of the late nomination fee of $2200.

Uncertainty surrounding Trans-Nullarbor transport may hold the key to a prestigious pair of Tabcorp Park features this weekend. Canny Lara-based harness racing conditioner Dean Braun has accepted for Friday night's $50,000 4YO Championship at Gloucester Park with both Mustang Mach and Night Of The Stars but remains in limbo with flights to Perth on standby only.

Smoken Up capped an all-conquering season when he was tonight crowned as 2010/11 Victorian Horse of the Year at Tabcorp Park, Melton. The Lance Justice-trained harness racing superstar won 12 of 18 starts at home and abroad, including the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and a successful defence of the Len Smith Mile, netting over $1 million in prizemoney in the process.

Chris Lang Jr is one of the new forces to be reckoned with on the Australian harness racing scene, but the talented 25-year-old also wants people to know that he is a public trainer and keen to make a name for himself as an equine conditioner.

Sixty-six days after a myriad of dramas across the ditch scuppered his quest for a third straight Inter Dominion title, champion Nagambie squaregaiter Sundons Gift returns to harness racing this Friday night in the most appropriate of circumstances.

Master Clevedon harness racing trainer Barry Purdon has always believed in Raydon and tonight at Alexandra Park (Friday April 1) the 6-year-old gelding duly repaid that faith in the third trotters heat of the 2011 Inter Dominion Championship.

The changing of the guard took just 90 minutes on the opening night of the Interdominion harness racing carnival at Alexandra Park.

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