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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

If the extra distance of tonight's $100,000 Messenger is the only major question hanging over the head of hot favourite Field Marshal, then trainer Tim Butt is a happy man. Because he says the extra lap of Alexandra Park than what his stable star covered on the way to a brilliant win in the Taylor Mile last Friday shouldn't put punters off. Field Marshal defied the usual Taylor Mile racing pattern by coming from third last at the 1200m mark to loop the field four wide and bolt in, suggesting he has a decent class edge on most he meets tonight. He has been on an impressive improvement curve this season, with a throat operation last year enabling him to show his rare true potential. But his only two defeats this season though have both been at 2600m mobile, when he was outstayed in consecutive starts at Oamakau and Addington in January, at least raising the question of his stamina rating. Butt says he doesn't expect that to undo Field Marshal tonight. "That was a lot earlier in his campaign and while he is a fast horse, he is also a very relaxed horses so I don't think distance will bother him," said Butt. "I know some people might worry because of his past throat problem but it was one of those ones where the operation to fix it either works or it doesn't, and in his case it has." Field Marshal has the gate speed to go forward and try and dominate a race that seems to lack many natural attackers but regardless of where he ends up, he is clearly the horse to beat. My Kiwi Mate should be better over the longer distance and wasn't suited by having to sit parked last Friday so he looks the each way value. Hug The Wind is drawn to be close to the action and warrants respect as does Bettor Spirits in a field where those who don't have to burn too hard early should profit. Earlier in the night it is impossible to go past Spanish Armada in the $150,000 Fillies Sires' Stakes. "She put a line in the sand last week to say she is the best of this crop and I think the draw suits her," says co-trainer Mark Purdon. But Purdon warns there will be little between three-year-old stablemates Dream About Me and Golden Goddess when they resume at Addington tonight. Courtesy of Michael Guerin

This Fridays Taylor Mile is one of the most even fields you will see in a while. Won by Mossdale Connor last year, other stars to win this sort after race include, Christen Me, Terror To Love, Changeover and Elsu. While this year nobody really stands out above the others. After the scratching of Say My Name this morning the Dunn barn have Robbie Burns and Little Rascal engaged. Robbie Burns made an early mistake back on the 31st March, he lost close to 50m and was seen storming home behind Bettor Spirits in a quickly run affair. “Robbie Burns was super last start, he’s a great chance from his draw, and there isn’t much between them both” said John Dunn Little Rascal was another to make an early mistake last week and cost himself plenty of ground in a tidy field. They ran home in 55.2/27.4 off the front and he finished just in behind them after being 5L off them at the 400m. “Little Rascal’s run last week was a lot better then the form line reads, he’s been going nice races and I wouldn’t rule him out of a top 4 placing with a handy trip” said Dunn. Other Canterbury visitors Maverick (Nigel McGrath) and Field Marshal (Tim Butt) look strong chances. Maverick has been a revelation since joining Nigel McGrath’s barn; Owned by A J McGrath and breeders Ken and Anne Marie Spicer, this season Maverick has won 6 from 16, including 5 seconds. "Maverick has travelled up well, his bloods weren't right a while ago and we missed a trial so I’d expect him to improve on this weeks run. The 2700m is more his go" said McGrath. The Tim Butt trained and likely favourite Field Marshal, will look to continue his picket fence line after beating Locharburn last start. Drawn awkwardly on the second line, driver Dexter Dunn will have to at his very best to get the Art Major entire over the line in first place. Hug The Wind (Barry Purdon) and Bettor Spirits (Mike Berger) look the best of the Northerners chances, both have been in super form recently but have tough barriers to work from. While Prince Of Pops (Garlick/Telfer) and Risk (Andrew & Lyn Neal) have drawn perfectly in barriers 1 and 2 respectively. Australian My Kiwi Mate arrives on a flight late this week looking to qualify for the Harness Jewels. With Tact Tate likely to receive the Harness Jewels invite, trainer Craig Demmler will be hoping to qualify his runner through the Taylor Mile and Messenger Andrew Fitzgerald

Back when I was teenager, I played golf with a fella whose short game was about as good as his horse knowledge when I told him who I had backed in the cup. The favourite that year was Flashing Red having just won the Ashburton Flying Stakes and almost every other lead up to the cup going in. One mare in particular that ran a cheeky race at Ashburton was the Open Class mare Foreal (2001 – Washington VC – Krystle). Never the safest from a stand, she missed away in the flying stakes and ran a slasher for fifth. While she missed away in the cup and put pay to her chances at the barrier tapes, I always remember what he said to me regarding the mare. “The difference between her and Flashing Red is that Flashing Red is a real race-horse.” Really? I wish I had infohorse on my old Nokia brick back then as I would have been able to spend the next 10 holes re-educating him on $664,800 in stakes and a career that spanned 5 Group race wins (2 at Group 1) and 12 Group race placings. The horse was quite literally, ‘Foreal’, and is now living up to that same moniker as a mother stamping her mark in the broodmare barn. Syd Brown, the Mosgiel property developer who bred, owned and even trained Foreal for her first two 2 year old starts (both wins) was delighted to see the second foal he has bred from the mare winning his first start of the new campaign. “It was a great win after all the trials and tribulations he’s been through really, and it was great to see a good outcome!” Field Marshal (2011 – Art Major) won the Prime Panels Mobile Pace comfortably in the hands of Dexter Dunn after flying the gate to hold the lead before handing up and securing a trail. He buzzed up the passing lane in a very quick final 400 of 26.9 to win going away. Syd’s wife Shona who shares in the breeding and ownership of the beautifully bred four year old entire said they were excited for what may lie ahead after the classy display fresh up. “That was his first start since he had surgery on his pallet” she said. “While racing in Australia it was discovered that he had a very severe wind issue and the vet, Alistair Mclean of Werribee Clinic couldn’t believe he was winning with the issue that he had!” Having run a super 1:54 mile at Menangle in February in the hands of Anthony Butt, he was then a disappointing 7th a week later in a heat of the NSW Derby. It was then the wind issue was discovered and the couple’s patience looks to have been rewarded since. For that a lot of the credit must go to Tim Butt who Syd say’s has shown his skill in placing the horse well and taking his time in bringing him back. Syd’s first experience with Standardbreds was typical of most when they catch the bug we call harness racing; “Umm really it was something that was way back when I was in my youth where I went up to Chirstchurch for the cup meeting helping out my next door neighbour Hector Anderton. And he took me up to Don Nyhans place because Hector had a horse there called Snow Globe (1958 – Johnny Globe – Snow Jane).” “I was out there and Don gave me a drive on one of his pacers and I was hooked from tha moment on. From that we went to the Interdominion sale at Forbury Park when they were held there and we bought a mare in foal to Johnny Globe called Omylight (1960 Light Brigade – Scotomy) and that was my start in the industry” he said. Syd was very understating in the success he and his wife have shared since when referring to the family he has bred from dating back to 1966. “I’ve been very fortunate to have bred some horses that were a little bit above average and it gives you a great thrill but also when you’re in this game, when you’ve got livestock, you’ve also got dead stock as well so you do have the ups and downs and it’s never plain sailing. And that’s what you’ve got to learn when you’re in this game is you’ve got to be able to take the knocks as well as the good times” he said. Members of the family to have given the Browns some of those good times mentioned include Sydney James (1968g – Johnny Globe – Omylight) which was the subsequent foal from the Dunedin sale. Syd credit’s the horse for getting him started and getting to the verge of cup class but it was a son of Lordship that took his family and friends on “many nice trips away and allowed me to meet many nice people in the game”. That horse was Regal Light (1971 – Lordship – Omylight) which was a high speed horse and won 11 races whilst under the care of Syd himself throughout the mid to late seventies. Foreal’s dam, Krystle (1985 – El Patron – Diedre) raced with distinction and won five races and placed in 21 more but happened to run into another quality mare in Blossom Lady when racing in the mares classics. Krystle was a broodmare gem leaving more winners in Clontarf (1992g – Vance Hanover), Regal Star (1993g – Smooth Fella – 16 wins & 23 placings in Queensland) and Checkmate (1997g – Jaguar Spur). Like Foreal, her deeds as a grand dam have been replicated with the (1997) Holmes Hanover mare in Coming Up Roses who Syd bred in partnership with his wife Shona. While she was only placed four times in 14 starts for Syd as the sole trainer, her progeny have gone on to bigger and better things for the couple. Regal Dash (2000g – Fake Left) was her first foal and was sold to Australia where it won its first nine of 11 starts including the Group 3 Bendigo Cup. Ask Me Now (2009m – Washington VC) ran a smart second in the Southland Cadeuceus Club Fillies race (Group 3) before going on to win 10 races in Australia and $112,344 in stakes. They have also enjoyed recent success with the smart 5 year old mare Delightful Dash (2010 – Lis Mara) who has won 11 races and had a stellar four year old season running in the money 13 times from 20 starts! With all the success that has come from the family it is hard for Syd to go past the deeds of the super mare Foreal. “To be honest she just couldn’t go from a stand, and some days was even a bit suspect from behind the mobile. She ended up costing herself a chance in the Mircale Mile at Harold Park as a four year old where she galloped on the gate and lost about thirty or fourty meters and flew home to be in a photo for the first four.” “To my knowledge she’s still the only filly to have won the Triple Crown in Auckland (G2 Ladyship Stakes, G2 Sires Stakes Filles Championship, G1 Great Northern Oaks).” She went on that year to win the NSW Oaks in a season where she won 9 of her 12 starts as a three year old. Outside of breeding and training Syd also got into the administration side of racing where he spent 10 years on the board at Forbury Park and eventually became the President of the trotting club. “Under Max Bowden’s term I also headed up a handicapping subcommittee to look at a handicapping system for the industry so I guess you can say I’ve had quite an involvement in harness racing right from breeding to training and even administration.” If Field Marshal’s fresh up win off a long layoff is anything to go by, Syd and Shona Brown will have quite a lot more involvement with the quality stock they continue to breed and race. Story from Breeders’ Weekly Subscribe here: http://goo.gl/DNKSnG View Issue 3 here: https://goo.gl/hRKxfq Brad Reid Executive Manager New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Assn  

Swedish trotter Daryl Boko could make his first public outing in New Zealand as soon as next week. West Melton harness racing trainer Tim Butt said the six-year-old Majestic Son trotter has continued to thrive in the last few weeks. Daryl Boko is on track for cup week but is still no certainty and Butt said while it would be great to see him racing in the big time so soon, the winner of nine races from 28 starts would not be rushed if he was not ready. "We'll just play if by ear and give him a couple of quiet trials and see how it goes," Butt said. "He'll tell us when he's ready, there's still a bit of fine tuning to go yet but the main things is to go to the trials and work out where we are and what we need to change." If Daryl Boko is ready to go for cup week, Butt said he would be leaning towards racing on only one of the two days. "I'm probably more inclined to go for the Dominion (Handicap) because it's a prestigious race, it's the bigger stake and I think he is a pretty good little stayer. "Generally the French and Swedish trotters are pretty good stayers because they are used to going quick the whole way, the run each half in a minute they don't loiter around, that's just their style of racing," Butt said. In the northern hemisphere Daryl Boko has won over a mile right through to 3100m. Daryl Boko arrived in New Zealand in early August and went straight into work at Butt's Premier Stables after coming out of quarantine. Butt said because the seasons are back to front for Daryl Boko, and it's been a strong relatively cold spring, he has started to develop his winter coat but overall he had acclimatised well. Daryl Boko's last race day start in Sweden was on July 2. Butt has experience with bringing in trotters from the Northern Hemisphere and that was paying dividends with the preparation of Daryl Boko. Scandinavian trotter Peak looked to be the future of Butt's already lengthy trotting legacy when he won his first two starts in the 2013 Group III Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and the Group I NZ Trotting Free-For-All but picked up a suspensory ligament injury in the Dominion Handicap three days later that ended his racing carer. Peak began a successful stud carer but Butt and many of Peak's syndicate went looking for a replacement and found Daryl Boko. If Butt can bring out Daryl Boko's best form, it would be good enough to challenge the current crop of top liners. Meanwhile, Stent, Master Lavros, Habibti and Kincaslough have all been nominated to return to Addington this week for the Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup on Friday. Sheemon, who did not race last week and Alley Way, who has not raced since May, are also in the nominations. Harness jewels winner King Denny will trial at Addington on Tuesday. The Group II Canterbury Classic looks likely to be the strongest pacing field this season, with Smolda resuming to take on Christen Me plus Brilliant Strike, Te Kawau and Ideal Success in the nominations to join the crop that have already contested the Maurice Holmes Vase and Avon City Ford Cup. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

He did it with Peak in 2013 and now Canterbury harness racing trainer Tim Butt is hoping another Swedish trotter named Daryl Boko can get him back into the big time. The five-year-old flew into New Zealand last weekend and will join Butt's Premier Stables in another week and, hopefully, be ready to contest the feature trotting races at cup time in November. He will be a welcome recruit for Butt who has just ended one of his quietest seasons since he started training, producing only 85 starters for just six wins.  Butt has been on the lookout for a replacement for Peak since he galloped out of the 2103 Dominion Handicap in only his third start here and was later found to have injured a hind suspensory ligament. It was a cruel blow for Butt and the syndicate which imported Peak and two other trotters from Scandinavia as Peak won his only two other starts, the Trotters' Flying Mile at Ashburton and NZ Free-for-all at Addington. "He was an awesome horse to drive and could have been anything," said Butt who attempted to bring Peak back but eventually retired him to stud, where at Alabar he is now attracting a lot of attention. Unable to buy one of the better trotters here, Butt also tried importing one from the United States in the well performed Imperial Count but that project foundered when the horse bled in his first race here, last September's Ordeal Cup. "We didn't know what we needed when we bought the last lot from Scandinavia but Peak proved up to the best and we didn't want to go below his standard this time. "Even though Kvintet Avenger also won a Group I race in Australia (the Trotters Cup at Menangle) you have to pay good money for the really good ones. "I didn't want an old horse, who'd done it already, I wanted a young, up-and-coming one, and they're not easy to get." Butt entrusted his search to Swedish trainer Sofia Arronson who worked for him here in 2006 and she eventually hit the jackpot securing Daryl Boko from Veijo Heiskanen for a sum well into six figures. Most of Butt's loyal owners who had shares in Peak have come in on Daryl Boko, with a few newcomers as well, Butt said. "I didn't initially want a gelding - with a stallion you always have a stud career to fall back on - but Peak was pretty colty and geldings actually settle in better to new surroundings. "Daryl Boko is five by northern hemisphere time but he's had only 28 starts and is untapped." Butt said he had clocked Daryl Boko in several of his races and he had run the equivalent of  2:25 for 2000 metres and 3:57 for 3200 metres, times which would win him any race in New Zealand. With nine wins, four seconds and three thirds and NZ$130,000 in stakes, Daryl Boko had shown he was a top flight contender, winning a heat of the Finnish Trotting Derby (2640m) last September and running third in the $NZ165,000 final. Peak had won the Denmark Derby, a slightly inferior quality race.  By Majestic Son, the leading age group trotting stallion in New Zealand, Daryl Boko was actually bred in the United States out of the Donerail mare Insider Trade. Butt said while Daryl Boko had been stuck in quarantine for four weeks in England and would have a fortnight couped up here before being released, he raced as recently as July 2 so his job of readying him for racing would be easier. "But to be racing by cup time we can't afford anything to go wrong." Butt said he was in a rebuilding phase after many horses had reached their mark and were sold. His team was down to only 14. "It's tough going. We've had to start again and the owners aren't there like they used to be - they don't want to compete against the big stables like Mark Purdon, Robert Dunn and Cran Dalgety. "But we have some nice young ones coming along." Butt served notice that he was on the front foot again, with two wins from his first two starters of the season in Franco Harrington and Prestine, placing him second on the premiership after two weeks. But he knows it will take a while again before he enjoys the highs of 2006 and 2007 when Flashing Red won the New Zealand Trotting Cup twice and, more recently, 2011 when he was seventh on the trainers' ladder with 47 wins racing high achievers like Vulcan, Stunin Cullen, Choise Achiever and Raglan. Barry Lichter Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

Alabar have added some European flair to their harness racing line up with the arrival of the exciting trotting sire, Peak. If travel truly does make you more interesting, then breeders should be infatuated with Peak. He was born in Denmark, his father is French, his mother is Danish and her father is American. He raced around Europe and scored his greatest success in the Group 1 Danish Trav-Derby in Denmark as a 4yo. As a Group 1 winner of 8 races, Peak headed a daring syndication package put together in 2013 by New Zealand trainer Tim Butt and his reinsman brother Anthony. Peak was magnificent in his New Zealand debut against the open class trotters in the Group 3 Ashburton Flying Mile. He hadn't raced for over three months, he'd spent several weeks in quarantine in Europe, had travelled around the world and then spent another two weeks sitting in quarantine in New Zealand - but he was still good enough to work hard for the lead, be taken on and stick to his guns to win by a neck in 1:57.6. Two weeks later he raced in the Group 1 NZ Trotting free-for-all at Addington on New Zealand Cup Day. He was parked for the first 800m and then had to work hard for the lead. Given no peace in front, he was headed half way down the straight but - as only the best horses can - he found the stamina to fight back and win (in a 1:57.7 mile rate). "He had every reason to get beaten but he just refused to lie down" was what Anthony Butt enthused on returning to scale. Next up came the Group 1 Dominion Handicap where his two outstanding performances installed him as one of the favourites. Shuffled back early, Peak mounted a run around the field to be right in contention only to break with 200m to go. The reason for the uncharacteristic break was soon apparent with Peak sore in a hind leg after the race. Cruelly, this was to be his last start. It is thought the lameness was the flaring up of an injury that stemmed from him kicking out at a stable wall not long after he arrived out of quarantine. The Butts have been fighting a losing battle to get their star trotter back to the racetrack ever since. Peak actually served 40 mares in New Zealand last season while continuing to be trained and rehabilitated - this is a very solid result considering only two trotting sires served more mares than this in New Zealand for the season. Now officially retired, Peak will no doubt serve a much greater book of mares - being on full time stud duty and based at Alabar with his semen promoted in not only New Zealand but also across the Tasman. Anthony Butt described Peak as: "The most clean gaited trotter I have ever driven. The perfect trotter - speed, gait, heart and manners. When I ask him to go he goes - and keeps going." Tim Butt is equally taken with him: "He's such a beautiful horse with a massive heart and superb attitude. He has an unbelievable gait - far superior to any other trotter I've trained. His will to win was his biggest asset." Peak is an example of the ever increasing impact European trotting is having around the world. The likes of the 1:49 trotter Sebastian K and the $5 million winner Commander Crowe have come from Europe to conquer North America. The top free-for-all trotters from North America are venturing to Europe for races like the Elitlopp - as they know this is the Holy Grail. And in Australia and New Zealand, the deeds of Love You as a sire and the likes of Peak on the racetrack have certainly opened the eyes of many to the quality that abounds in Europe. Of note, the great Commander Crowe - the European champion who franked his greatness by venturing to North America as an 11yo and winning the US Breeders Crown - is by a son of Buvetier D'Aunou, the sire also of Ganymede - the sire of Peak. Both Peak and Commander Crowe are flashy chestnuts with a thin white blaze. Ganymede is a super-sire in Europe. In 2014 he was the champion sire of France (for the second time) and runner-up champion sire in Italy. He also has a number of successful siring sons at stud. In Australia, Ganymede has a handful of foals bred from frozen semen. They include the $195,000 winner, Vincennes which won the Vicbred Final as a 4yo and was placed second to Stent in the final of this year's Great Southern Star. Peak is from a daughter of the outstanding sire Sugarcane Hanover - a grandson of Arnie Almahurst. Sundon is another notable grandson of Arnie Almahurst. This link certainly lends weight to the feeling that Peak is an attractive option for daughters of Sundon - something that is vital for any trotting sire in this part of the world. (Of note, Stent is a current superstar that carries a double-up of Arnie Almahurst in his pedigree) Peak will stand at Alabar's Auckland farm at a fee of NZ$2,500 (plus GST). His semen will be available in Australia at a fee of A$2,500 (incl GST).  

Leading New Zealand harness racing trainer Tim Butt will arrive in Sydney on Thursday morning with talented three-year-old My Field Marshal in preparation for Saturday night’s Simpson Memorial at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  The son of Art Major was placed in last season’s Breeders’ Crown Final, although Butt admits it will not be an easy task after drawing wide this weekend. “Yeah the draw is going to make it tough for him, but he is not a speed horse anyway,” Butt said. “He likes to sit just off them and come with the one run, so his chances are normally dictated by the speed of the race. “He’s a lovely big three-year-old out of a mare called Foreal, she ran some great races in Sydney and won races like the New South Wales Oaks and the Ladyship Mile at Harold Park.” Butt believes it will not be the last time he races in Sydney this preparation. “The plans at this stage are to take him down to Melbourne for the Victorian Derby heats, and if he comes through that well, then we might look at concentrating on the New South Wales Derby heats,” Butt explained. “He’s a pretty nice horse, he isn’t a superstar by any means, but I think he will do a good job in some of the better three-year-old races in Australia.” My Field Marshal isn’t the only horse making the trip across the Tasman with Butt confirming his talented trotter Realmein is on the move as well. “I am bringing Realmein across for some of the feature trotting races too,” Butt said. “It is a bit of a shame I don’t have a fast class pacer to bring across at this stage, so unfortunately I will not have a representative in the Inter Dominion in Sydney. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Australia though and hopefully the stable can have a bit of luck.” GREG HAYES

The Butt brothers Tim and Anthony announced today that their imported superstar trotter Peak had been retired and would now take up full time stud duties. Peak was the flagship for an attempt by the Butt brothers to strengthen the trotting breed down under. The trotting breed in Australasia has always been the poor cousin in the harness racing industry in the Southern Hemisphere. Pacing has always been in the ascendancy and with access to the best sires in the world for the last fifteen plus years has closed the gap with North America. Trotting broodmare owners have not been as well served over the same period but in the last two or three years attempts have been made on several fronts to change that. One of those attempts was the importation of three well bred and performed European trotters by the well respected Butt brothers. Having witnessed first hand on their travels to Europe the ability and gait of European sired trotters, the Butt brothers imported the three entires and syndicated them to stable clients with a view to racing them first and then standing them at stud if they proved themselves in local conditions. As most people realize, it was a very brave decision to try to bring three stallions half way around the world and attempt to get them to adjust to the different racing style in New Zealand and the different training methods. The first of the three stallions to set foot on a New Zealand track was the son of the French super sire Ganymede in Peak. Although not 100% ready,Peak made his New Zealand debut in the Group 3 trotters Flying Mile at Ashburton in October 2013 and what a debut it was. Parked early, Peak worked to the front after 400 metres for Anthony Butt but was attacked from a long way out by The Fiery Ginga which should have made him a sitting duck in the straight. The whole way up the long Ashburton straight Peak lead and come post time he was still in front after cutting out the mile in 1:57.6. It was a wonderful introduction to New Zealand racing and held the promise of better things to come. Second up was the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting FFA on Cup Day in 2013. Parked for the first 800 metres, Anthony took Peak to the front with 1200 metres to go and in a replay of Ashburton was immediately attacked again by The Fiery Ginga. Clear as they turned for home, Peak was challenged by a wall of trotters with 100 metres to go and when seemingly beaten got off the canvas to come back and grab the win. Peak's winning time was 2:26.4, a mile rate of 1:57.7 over the 2000 metres which was just outside the New Zealand record held by I Can Doosit It was a stunning performance and one that cemented him as one of the favourites for the $250,000 Group 1 Dominion Handicap three days later. Away well, Peak was shuffled back in the running line before joining the three wide chain at the 800 metres mark. Sent four wide by Anthony at the 500 metres mark, Peak looked poised to challenge as he ranged up to the leaders with 200 to go but then uncharacteristically broke and lost all chance. Sore the next morning, Peak has fought soundness issues ever since. Given a long break, Peak was readied for the 2014 New Zealand Cup meeting but when the pressure went on the soundness problems returned. Already available to New Zealand trotting breeders as Peak combined training with stud work, Peak has already served over twenty mares this season and with the announcement today of his retirement from the track that number should swell by a lot more before the end of the breeding season. The Butt brothers have had several champion trotters through their barn over the years with the likes of Lyell Creek 1:52.4 $2,961,137 and Take A Moment 1:56.7 $1,164,356 to name just two but their is no mistaking how highly they rated Peak. Anthony was effusive in his praise of the son of Ganymede. “The most clean gaited trotter I have ever driven. He is the perfect trotter with speed, gait , heart and manners. When you ask him to go he goes, and keeps going” he said. Tim was no less impressed by the abilities of Peak. “He is such a beautiful horse with a massive heart and superb attitude. He has an unbelievable gait, far superior to any other trotter I have trained. His will to win was his biggest asset,"  he said. Standing for a fee of $2500 +GST, Peak should get his chance to make it as a sire. The two other trotters brought in from Europe with Peak have been a mixed bag to date. Kvintet Avenger had one start in New Zealand before joining the Brent Lilley stable in Victoria where he has looked a trotter on the rise. In seven starts for Lilley, Kvintet Avenger has had five wins and two placings for $41,388 in stakes and looks headed for the best grades.  The other import was Sir Lexington who has won one race from six appearances to date but has had a decent spell and bigger things are expected of him when he resumes shortly. All things considered the Butt brothers should take a lot of heart out of the fact they were able to transport a horse like Peak half way around the world and turn him out a winner at the highest level. Harnesslink Media      

Tim Butt knows enough about training horses at the elite level to know that it will take more than a miracle for him to win one of the two main features at Addington tonight. But it’s not going to stop him from trying. One of our champion horseman over the past two decades will take three horses to tonight’s Premier meeting at Addington, two of whom he confesses have very little, if any hope, and one which he considers a cracking each way chance. The each way bet is Franco Harrington. And Butt says punters shouldn’t drop the big pacer after he was disappointing when beaten at his last start. “He’s a bit of a funny horse,’’ he said. “He probably should have won his last start, but I think you’ll see a better version of him this week.’’ The other of Butt’s chances tonight are Pass Them By who takes on a star-studded field in the Canterbury Classic and old stable favourite, Vulcan, who begins his Dominion Handicap campaign. Pass Them By has shown more the a glimpse of the form that first attracted Butt to him this time in but he still faces a massive task from a second line draw. “It’d be a surprise if he won it. “He’s going really good, but unfortunately he is just a couple of notches below the really good ones. “This race should give him a really good hit out before Methven next week which is our main aim with him at this stage. “I would have said he was a chance of sneaking a place had he drawn the front line but starting from the second row makes things that wee bit tougher and he would need lots to go right.’’ Then there is the Vulcan. Don’t bother asking Butt what to expect from the almost millionaire trotter – because he doesn’t know. His last public trial was that bad that every test imaginable was undertaken, but all were to avail with nothing being able to be detected. “It was a bit of a head scratcher. “At the end of the day we have put it down to him getting on a bit and he has thrown in the odd shocker along the way in the past. “We are really happy with him other than that. “But he’s got to find a few lengths to be competitive this week that’s for sure. “What you know with him though is that he will get better and better with racing.’’ Butt knows time is running out for the multiple Group One winner, but he’s keen to give his old mate, who has given him so many thrills as much opportunity as possible to reach the $1 million mark. “He deserves to achieve that feat I think. “It’s something a bit special because not many trotters have achieved it and when you consider what he has done in his career it would seem to be a fitting thing to happen.’’ Vulcan’s contest tonight in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup a race which Butt has won twice before with his two brilliant trotters, Lyell Creek (2000) and Take A Moment (2001).  By Matt Markham Harness Racing New Zaland

Champion harness racing trainer Tim Butt will decide within the next few weeks whether to persevere with top trotter Vulcan. Failing to recapture his best form last season, Vulcan is yet to impress Butt during his track work, with the horseman stating the multiple Group One winner is “at the crossroads.” Vulcan is engaged in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup on Friday night, which is one of three strikes the son of Earl will be granted. Earmarking two more races for the squaregaiter, Butt will decide Vulcan’s future after those assignments. “I am right at the crossroads with him at the moment,” Butt said. “He trialled well in his first hit out, then didn’t go so well last week. “I got him checked out and nothing is amiss with him, so it’s likely just age and hard runs catching up with him. “He isn’t far away from his top, but just can’t get to the peak, which is where he needs to be to race at the level he is at. “He’ll go around on Friday night, then there are races for him at Ashburton and Kaikoura, with those to decide his future.” As for his Addington engagement, Vulcan shares the 20-metre back line with early favourite, Habibti, with the pairing giving up-and-comer Kincaslough a 10-metre start. “Habibti is the one to beat,” Butt declared. “Her runs this time in have been solid and she’ll be right at her peak now. “Kincaslough is only new to this level, but has looked impressive getting through the classes.” Boasting 10 Group One wins, Vulcan’s earnings sit on $983,319, with Butt keen to break the million-dollar barrier. “He has done a terrific job and won a stack of Group Ones without being an out and out champion,” Butt said. “Even if he doesn’t get through this season, he’s done more than enough. “That said, I’d like to get him past a million dollars in earnings.” PAUL COURTS

The dream is fast becoming a reality for team Tiger Tara. The gritty four-year-old rocketed his way into New Zealand Trotting Cup contention with a professional victory in the time-honoured Hannon Memorial at Oamaru yesterday. And for Bob and Jen Sandford along with their co-owners John Gould and and Geoff Dunn – who also does the training – things are starting to fall into place nicely. The intention was never to push Tiger Tara toward a Cup start, but it was instead to let him find his own feet. Something he is doing in style. A bold second to Christen Me in the Maurice Holmes Vase pointed toward a big showing from the Sires’ Stakes Final winner of last season and he didn’t disappoint. “It’s all getting a bit exciting,’’ Bob Sandford said after the race. “To be honest we probably didn’t have too many expectations coming into this prep, we were just happy to see how things panned out. “But it looks now like we might get a shot at the big one.’’ Handled expertly by Gerard O’Reilly, Tiger Tara jumped out of the one out one back position rounding the final bend and his blistering speed got him to the line. And while in reflection that might not seem like anything special – especially considering that none of the big guns of this year’s Cup were in attendance for the race – when you break the performance down, it’s full of merit. He’s run his last 800 metres in better than 55.5 second and clocked his last mile in 1.55 as well. O’Reilly was forced to move a lot sooner than he had hoped which left the pair a sitting duck but when Four Starzzz Flash ranged up to win at the 150 metre mark, Tiger Tara kicked. The win should see him move high up into the Top 15 rankings for the Cup when the next round is released tomorrow afternoon. Dunn wouldn’t commit to where he was headed next but he gave an indication that it would probably be more likely to be the Canterbury Classic next month as opposed to the Avon City Ford Cup next Friday night. “We will have to sit down and have a think about that one.’’ Four Starzzz Flash looked a lot more like his old self with a barnstorming finish to run second. “He’s a funny horse, you need to keep him on the job and up on the nickel,’’ Dexter Dunn said. “He just got held up for long enough that I think it might have cost him going close, but Geoff’s horse was always going to keep fighting.’’ Pure Power, who led the field throughout and set up a 3.14.4 time for the 2600 metre stand – the third fastest running of the Hannon – finished third, but was later relegated to fourth behind Pass Them By after it was deemed the big pacer had shifted across the track and into the line of the Tim Butt trained runner.  Courtesy Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Following four successful running’s of the Seasonal Super Series held at Addington, the  New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (Met) will stage a fifth Alabar Super Series on  Friday 10 October 2014.  As well as some leading trainers including Robert Dunn, Terry and Glenys Chmiel, Ken  Barron, Tim Butt, Nigel McGrath, Cran Dalgety, Robbie Holmes, Brendon Hill and Mark  Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen cashing in, wins have been achieved by Peter Bagrie, Brian  Fahey, Gavin Cook, Craig Edmonds, Alex Hastie, Barry Ford, Noel Taylor and Kevin  Townley. Total stakes paid out in the Series will result in approximately $470,000 including  the October round.  The fifth Series, to be staged also at Addington, will once again cater for lower grade horses  with projected stakes totalling greater than $70,000 over three events.  There will be opportunities for:  C0 pacers at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500  C1 to C2 pacers at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500  C0 to C2 trotters at 9 August 2014 – Stake $23,500 All starters in these races are to receive a minimum stake of $500. There is no enrolment fee payable. Field selection will be based on a points system. To qualify to start in these races on 10 October 2014, a horse must have started at least  once at a Met meeting between 22 August 2014 and 3 October 2014. With five Met meetings at Addington during this period there is ample opportunity for owners and trainers  to prepare their horses for the series. It is the intention of the NZMTC that a similar series will take place early in the New Year on  30 January under like conditions.  Full details and conditions are to follow and can be viewed www.addington.co.nz.  Alternatively, please call Brian, Richard or Colin of Addington’s Racing Department on (03)338 9094. Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager - Addington

Blair Orange finished at the All Stars stable in July after a decade associated with the best stable in the country- and he has plenty to show for it. He finished on a high breaking into the "100 club" for the first time, the latest in a string of records he has established over the years. "My target was 50 at the start of the season. I thought I was doing well when I got to 75 and then I thought, well I might as well go for the 100. I might not get a chance to get that close again" With help from the Mark Jones stable he achieved his target -well ahead of any previous season. The stimulus All Stars gave his young driving career speak for itself. He had of course helped make his own luck, making marked improvement to rein 37 winners in the 2002 season mostly for smaller trainers like Trevor Craddock, Mike Austin, Craig Buchan, Kevin Townley, Andrew Stuart, Brian Kerr, John Parsons, Michael House and Peter Cowan. It is significant that his 100th winner for this  season was for Austin and his last driving night under the All Stars banner features a drive for Buchan. But the chance to work with Mark Purdon was going to another level and Blair has always aspired to go to the next level. "Mark rang me out of the blue. I had never driven for him. We talked, he made me an offer and I accepted. " Ohoka Atom was his first winner for the stable but one of his biggest thrills came a month later when Waihemo Hanger won at the Cup meeting. "I had never driven a winner on Cup Day so that was special ." Ironically one of his earlier regular drives for Mike Austin, Ado's Invasion, was second handled by Mark Jones. Blair's career had started nearly seven years earlier when he was with Tim Butt and drove Whizza Nova to win at Reefton in 1996. He won 18 races in his first season for All Stars but by 2007 topped $1m in stakes won thanks chiefly to Ohoka Arizona, Fiery Falcon and Steve McQueen. In only one season since have his stakes won been less than seven figures. His best season for the stable in  terms of wins was 2012 when he won 46 for All Stars from a season driving  total of 81. However even in his final season with Mark and Natalie driving many of the A graders he won 39 races for the stable.  Altogether he has won $12.6m in stakes for owners over the years. His biggest month for All Stars was in March of 2009 when he drove 11 winners for the stable going close with 10 in the same month this season. So as he heads for his own training career -though with plenty of free lance driving still part of the package-what has he learned. Naturally the answer is "a lot". "Obviously the overall organisation is something you don't work with often. I have worked in other top stables such as Tim and Anthony's but there is always something different they do, something you can pick up on. The handling of the two year olds has been one of the great experiences for me. How they are brought along and managed and each one assessed for what they can handle as youngsters. Then how they are managed during their campaigns. There was a lot in that'' "But the overall routines and stable management was just as important. So much to learn and adapt when I go out on my own training. Mark is a master at planning a programme so the horses peak for the big days. Not many can do it like he and Natalie can'' " From a driving viewpoint the horses at All Stars give you confidence in what you are going. That is a hell of an advantage and it carries over to your other drives " If it was so good why leave ? "I would have been quite happy to stay to be honest if an offer like Ken's (Barron) had not come along. But I was going to have to strike out a bit more on my own sooner or later and this was a deal I thought too good to let pass. It could open the way for me to have my own training operation which is the long term aim. In the meantime I will still be doing a lot of free lance driving and some of that for Mark Jones who has been such a boost to me this season." Blair is aware there are plenty with doubts he is doing the right thing but that is of no concern to him. "While I was mulling over the offer I had a few doubts myself but once I made the decision I was confident it was the right one and what anybody else thinks is not important to me.  It would be fair to say Blair Orange came to All Stars still an apprentice and left as graduate with honours on the driving track. So what were his five most memorable experiences at the stable ? In no particular order: LENNON "I won a lot of races with Lennon in my first season with Mark and races like the Kindergarten, Welcome, Sapling and the Sires Stakes. He was a class horse and he gave me a lot of confidence that I could measure up in the big stuff" WAIHEMO HANGER  "He have me my first winner at the Cup meeting and that was a huge thrill for me at the time. You don't forget things like that" AUCKLAND REACTOR- "I won the Taylor Mile behind him. He was just a terrific horse. He had that something extra you never forget " ADORE ME -"Winning the Easter Cup gave a thrill like Auckland Reactor had. A special horse to drive" HIGHVIEW TOMMY " He might have only run second in the Cup but second in the Cup was a big thing for me. It is the race everyone wants to win and we went close. He gave me a lot of other big moments too and Tommy could be full of surprises so you never knew quite what was going to happen" (Blair set some sort of record with Highview Tommy too driving him to win in five successive seasons. Maybe not even Mark has done that with one of the team in Blair's era). Courtesy Of All Stars Racing

Harness racing can be really frustrating at times when you know horses have ability to burn but they are having problems translating that into performances on the racetrack. New Deal fits into that category bigtime but he is finally starting to repay his supporters with displays more in keeping with his ability. Before New Deal ever had his first start, he gave a glimpse of how talented he was at a trials meeting at Rangiora. In a maiden 2000 meters trial, New Deal led early, steadied and then brushed home in 54.6 and 26.9 without being driven out. It was a display of raw talent that was not missed by punters but what New Deal didn't have in those early days was ringcraft. New Deal was prone to every mistake in the book and raced accordingly with just one win in his first ten starts.  He started to turn the corner late in his last campaign, winning two of his last three starts and resumed recently with an emphatic win at Rangiora. Sent straight to the front by regular driver Colin DeFilippi, New Deal toyed with his rivals in the 2000 meters mobile, winning in a 1:59.6 mile rate with smart closing sectionals of 55.8 and 27.3. Tonight at Addington, New Deal has drawn two at the barrier over his pet distance of 1950 meters and if he brings his "A" game to the table he will be very hard to beat. However the strength of the field means New deal will need to be at his best as there are several promising horses drawn handily in the 1950 mobile for C3 - C5 pacers. The Tim Butt trained Franco Harrington has drawn barrier one and the son of Lis Mara is coming off a great second to Dalton Bromac at his last start. Weather 1950 meters is really his go is debatable but the draw and ability means he is a big chance. Lewy Risk from barrier four has Ricky May in the bike tonight and he looms as another winning chance with four of his five wins coming at 1950 meters. His last start third to Dalton Bromac was also full of merit and given a run to suit will be very competitive. The last of the main chances is Lumos form the Robert Dunn barn who has drawn barrier six and he comes into the race with a great last start third to Christen Me and Lochaburn. It is an enormous drop back in class here but the 1950 meters has not been kind to Lumos in the past with just one win from 13 attempts. Class will take him a long way but we would prefer him over more ground. So for us, New Deal to continue his progression through the grades with Franco Harrington, Lewy Risk and Lumos  the main dangers.  Throw in Hi Jinx and Florin for trifecta and first four players. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing needs its pin up stars and there’s no bigger star at the moment in Australasia than Follow The Stars. Punters backed Follow The Stars into $1:10 after a brilliant semi final win at Ballarat last Saturday. One punter dropped $50,000 on Follow The Stars at that money and he would have had few worries during the running. The Mark Purdon trained son of Art Major was at his brilliant best today at Tabcorp Park Melton, taking out the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Final for two-year-olds. Working straight to the lead despite an outside-front-row draw, Follow The Stars controlled the race like he has done nine times before (from 10 career starts -- and his only defeat came in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand when he got knocked over, so he arguably he should have a perfect record). Follow The Stars cruised home by 4.9 metres over stablemate Kept Under Wraps for Greg Sugars, while My Field Marshall, from the Tim Butt stables, made it a trifecta for the Kiwis. While the Kiwi trainers dominated the race, there was a strong Australian connection with the winner – with Lauriston Bloodstock having bred the winner. Follow The Stars recorded a winning mile rate of 1:56.7, finishing off with a smart 55.7secs for the last half-mile. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

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