Search Results
1 to 16 of 148
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

Ever since his first appearance at the harness racing trials this season, the Tim Butt trained two year old Field Marshal has turned heads with his combination of good looks and raw ability. After a series of impressive runs at the trials, Field Marshal was thrown in the deep end with a debut run in the New Zealand Welcome Stakes against the best two year olds in New Zealand. Try as he might, Field Marshal didn't have the ringcraft that night and appeared all at sea for driver Anthony Butt. Given a month gap before he was next produced at Timaru, Field Marshal comfortably accounted for a maiden field at Timaru in a 2:00.6 mile rate for the 2000 meters and looked to be back on track. A week later Field Marshal lined up again at Oamaru against older horses. Drawing nine at the barrier in the 2000 meters mobile , he was three wide until the 700 meter before finding the death seat. From there he fought like a tiger to run a meritorious second to the smart Mako Banner. What made the run even better was that the 2000 meters was cut out in 2:25.4, a mile rate of 1:56.9 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 27.7. After such a hard run, Field Marshal did not race again for five weeks until he went around at Rangiora in a 2000 meters mobile. Sent straight to the front from a handy draw, Field Marshal was pressured in front the whole way which told in the last 100 as he was swamped by a couple of swoopers. The time for the 2000 meters mobile in bitterly cold winter conditions was 2:26.7, a mile rate of 1:58 which was a top effort by Field Marshal as a two year old against older horses. Sent North after that run for a Breeders Crown heat, Field Marshal had a “ walkover” win as he was the only eligible horse nominated. In preparation for tonights race at Cambridge he had a run at the workouts on Saturday and scored a stylish four length win in 2:46.9 for the 2200 meters mobile, a mile rate of 2:02 with closing sectionals of 56.2 and 27.4. It showed that Field Marshal even from his draw of eight tonight in the John Makgill Memorial Pace is the horse they all have to beat. Not only is Field Marshal by the top sire Art Major but he is also from the top mare Foreal. Foreal was one of the best mares of her time in Australasia, taking a record of 1:57.4 on her way to winning $664,800 in a stellar career. Safely through tonight, Field Marshal may yet head to Australia for the Breeders Crown semi finals in August. If he was to make the trip to Australia for the Breeders Crown, Field Marshal has all the credentials to be a serious contender. Field Marshall seen here winning at Timaru   Harnesslink media

Top New Zealand filly Ideal Belle has been scratched from her two-horse Australasian Breeders’ Crown heat at Alexandra Park tomorrow night and has been ruled out of the rich series by trainer Barry Purdon. The New Zealand Oaks winning filly, who would have been one of the favourites for the Group One 3YO fillies division, has suffered a leg injury after being caught in a fence at Purdon’s Clevedon property. The tall American Ideal filly, who showed she was right on song for the series with a smart workout last week, will now head to the spelling paddock. Her scratching means that the Geoff Small trained Zeta Bromac will get a walkover ABC heat win, as will Ideal Belle’s stablemate Sky Major who is still well on track for the 3YO colts and geldings division of the series. In other Breeders Crown news, the Tim Butt trained Field Marshal is set to arrive in Melbourne on August 6 in preparation for the ABC after qualifying in a one horse heat at Cambridge last week, while Katy Perry, who was defeated in her Cambridge heat by Joanne’s A Delight, is already in Australia and will compete in the Tatlow Stakes (Group Two) at Melton on Saturday before heading to a Breeders' Crown Repechage. Katy Perry is just one a strong contingent of Kiwi trained or owned horses that are seat to do battle in feature races across the Tasman this weekend. Others include Messini, Kept Under Wraps, Iceobar, Bettor Rock On, My Arya, Primz Luck, One Over Da Moon, Our Twentyten, and Daenerys Targaryen. However the two highlights of the weekend may come from champion Australian pacers Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up. ‘Trigger’ (Smoken Up) is set to have his last start in New South Wales at Menangle on Saturday and his trainer-driver Lance Justice is expecting a big performance, while ‘Quinny’, who will be reunited with Gary Hall Jnr, will battle it out with Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo, and Avonnova for Group One glory in the Blake’s A Fake at Albion Park on Saturday. After much talk about drivers leading into the race, Lauren Panella has decided to stick with Mach Beauty, while Bart Cockburn, who has been sacked from Avonnova after his interesting drive in the Sunshine Sprint, will take the reins behind Suave Stuey Lombo. Replacing Cockburn in the sulky behind Queensland star Avonnova is Shane Graham, who was victorious in his only drive on the gelding. By Mitchell Robertson  

Oamaru Raceway could have easily been mistaken for the North Pole today. Not only was it was it freezing cold but Father Christmas was there. And, like every Decemeber, he didn’t disappoint. After starting from the unruly, Father Christmas and driver Brad Williamson looped the field three wide with cover with a lap to go, before surging to the front down the back straight. He then kicked strongly in the home straight to hold off a late challenge from Foreverman. Little Bro was a further two lenghts away in third. The Phil Williamson trained three-year-old, who was greeted in the winners’ circle by a syndicate of owners wearing Santa hats, has now won three of his six starts and placed on a further two occasions. However, had it not been for a couple of mistakes his record could be even more impressive. “Phil (Williamson) has always had a big opinion of him and he seems to be getting more full-proof all the time,” said wife Bev Williamson. “We think he has a pretty big future and he should still get better as he is only three,” she added. By top French stallion Love You, Father Christmas was bred to be good and should continue to get even better. He hails from a family of smart trotters including Dependable, Jo Anne, Shirley Temple, Ima Gold Digger, and Doctor Mickey. Meanwhile, junior reinswomen Samantha Ottley and Kimberly Butt both won two races on the card today and tied for first in the Streamline Freight Drivers Challenge. Kim was successful aboard the Tim Butt trained Pantheon and the Robbie Holmes trained Lurah, who provided her with not only her first double but also her first outside win “Before today I had only ever driven winners for Tim Butt (uncle) and Mark Jones (employer-second cousin),” explained Butt. Ottley was victorious aboard Valmagne and Joe The Hunter and now has a four win lead in the Junior Drivers Premiership over northern reinsman Sailesh Abernethy. By Mitchell Robertson

Multiple Group One winning pacer Mah Sish, who was a long-time favourite at Premier Stables, left New Zealand last week and is now a resident of the US of A. “He had been spelling at Todd Mitchell’s and flew out on Thursday,” advised his former strapper, Sonya Swain. Know by many of his biggest fans as 'Baxter', Mah Sish was victorious in 15 of his 54 starts in Australasia with stakes in excess of $800,000. His biggest wins came in the $A400,000 Hunter Cup and the $A150, 000 Ballarat Cup, while he also placed second in the Interdomion Final and the Victoria Cup. Mah Sish was also a creditable fourth in the 2012 running of the New Zealand Cup. The tough Mach Three seven-year-old, who has a huge will to win, is being trained by ex-pat Kiwi Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman, who is also the trainer of world champion trotting filly, Bee A Magician. “It was a sad old week at Premier Stables,” said Swain. “I have never worked with a horse with so much character,” she added. “He is a huge attention seeker, but I love him to bits and hope that he does a great job in America.” Mah Sish had an uncanny ability of winning on Swain’s Birthday, in fact, his last ever win ‘Downunder’ in The Pure Steel came on that exact day, the 25th of January. “That was an extremely emotional night as he had been badly out of form prior to the win. I was in tears that night,” she admitted. Mah Sish was amazingly also successful in the $150,000 Ballarat Cup on Swain’s Birthday in 2013. Mah Sish was originally trained by Dean Taylor, before being purchased for a six figure-sum by clients of Tim Butt, who took the gelding to the next level. It is suspected that Mah Sish has been bleeding in his recent races, but in America he will be able to race with the assist of Lasix, which is an anti-bleeding medication. Also on Mah Sish’s flight were former Reid-McMullen trained horses, Commander Galleon and Destination Moon. Commander Galleon, a seven win trotter, will be trained by Erv Miller, while Destination Moon, who is a speedy three-year-old brother to Tintin N America, will join the barn of Linda Toscano. By Mitchell Robertson

Following three very successful runnings of the Seasonal Super Series held at Addington this season, the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) will stage a fourth Super Series on Friday 8 August 2014. The three rounds of the Series held in October and December 2013 and May this year, proved to be very successful with a good level of runners (an average of 13 starters) competing in both the finals and consolations. It was encouraging to see a “spread” of winners from a wide range of trainers taking out their share of the stakes, providing a number of different owners with a healthy return. As well as some current top 20 premiership placed trainers including Robert Dunn, Terry and Glenys Chmiel, Ken Barron, Tim Butt, Nigel McGrath, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen cashing in, wins were achieved by Peter Bagrie, Brian Fahey, Gavin Cook, Craig Edmonds, Alex Hastie, Barry Ford and Noel Taylor. Total stakes paid out in the new Series will result in approximately $400,000 including the August round. The fourth Series, to be staged also at Addington, will once again cater for lower grade horses with projected stakes totalling greater than $100,000 over six events. There will be opportunities for:    C0 pacers at 3 May 2014 – Stake $23,500  C1 to C2 pacers at 3 May 2014 – Stake $23,500  C0 to C2 trotters at 3 May 2014 – Stake $23,500 Consolations for these races will be run should numbers warrant, with each consolation carrying a total stake of $12,500. All starters in the open race (final) are to receive a minimum stake of $500 and all starters in the consolations will receive a minimum stake of $250. There is no enrolment fee payable. Field selection will be based on a points system. To qualify to start in these races on 8 August 2014, a horse must have started at least twice at a NZMTC meeting between 10 May 2014 and 31 July 2014. With nine NZMTC 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 later in the year on 10 October 2014 under like conditions. Full details and conditions are to follow and can be viewed www.addington.co.nz. Alternatively, please call Brian Rabbitt or Richard Bromley of Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094. Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

A close association with All Stars going back 12 years will end in July when Blair Orange strikes up a new career combining training with driving. Blair has entered into an agreement with Ken Barron to operate a training/driving operation similar to that which Ken enjoyed with his mentor John Lischner which resulted in Ken ultimately taking over the training operation. Blair will continue to drive free lance where he can and is sure to be seen in the All Star colours again-but not as a stable associate which he has been since 2002.  "The only reason for my leaving is that this is an opportunity too good to miss” Blair said. "It was always going to come to this sooner or later because I intended striking out on my own. This is just an ideal way to take the next step. Mark and Natalie have been involved through the process and we part on the best of terms. I have been grateful for what happened to me during my time at All Stars. It lifted me into the big time you could say and gave me great opportunities I would not have got otherwise. We have always had a good relationship and that will continue. But you have to keep moving forward. I was due to do that. I am looking forward to the challenge'' Blair was approached by Ken after the latter decided he would take a step back from race driving and concentrate more on stable administration.  Both Mark and Natalie offer Blair all the best in his new venture. As Natalie put it "We wish Blair all the best. He had been with the stable 12 years or so after all and has always been an important member of Mark's team and he justified that confidence and was very loyal.  There always comes a time when you move on and this is a good opportunity for him'' Blair joined All Stars within a couple of years of leaving junior driver ranks. In December 1997 he drove his first winner, Whizza Nova, at Reefton, trained by Tim Butt who was then his employer. His winning total in stakes was just over $7000. By 2007 his winning drives had topped $1m a season in earnings having built steadily during his stay with All Stars and have rarely dropped below that figure. Blair has set a stack of personal records including seven Harness Jewels wins and set such marks as four of the last 8 runnings of the Welcome Stakes. All Stars have helped him push his total wins to 929 and he should join the 1000 club before the end of the year. Even if the 1000th winner does not come in All Stars colours Blair would be the first to say its contribution to his career has been crucial. By David McCarthy (Courtesy of ALL STARS STABLES)

Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn. “He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?” The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base. When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.” “The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!” Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired. But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed. “His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.” “If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded. Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career. Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped. Stig fact file: lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6 Stakes: $855,096 Sire: Armbro Invasion Dam: Naraya (Gekoj) Owners:  T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat. By Mitchell Robertson    

Harness racing prominent breeder-owner Pat Driscoll knocked down the three top-priced lots at the second Pryde’s EasiFeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale held at Tabcorp Park Melton on March 23. Driscoll, who trades as Yabby Dam Farms, pocketed a cool $119,000 for his three-strong draft including the sale topping colt at $41,000, a son of USA superstar Muscle Hill out of the Malabar Maple mare Calder Luck, a half-sister to the multiple Group 1 placegetter Calder Sensation, Calder Image and Bella Cheval. The handsome youngster was bought for a syndicate by John and Maree Caldow, who developed and trained Calder Sensation, a winner of 16 races and $142,762. An Angus Hall colt out of Maori’s Dream, the grand-dam of the top priced lot, realised the second highest price of $40,000. He was knocked down to Romsey trainer Chris Alford on behalf of stable clients Phil Walshe and Craig Nott. While another of the Muscle Hill progeny, a colt from the USA bred Let’s Be Happy, the dam of Bathurst Gold Coronet winner Verbier, was garnered by Christchurch trainer Tim Butt for $38,000. Two Angus Hall youngsters, one out of the Muscles Yankee mare Lindy’s Two Step (1:57.4) and the other from the useful Sundon mare Pinevale Ellason, realised $30,000 and $28,000 respectively. Majestic Son, a leading sire of juvenile trotters, had three head sell including a gelding out of the R C’s Dee Jay mare Howdoudo, the dam of Vicbred champion Split Image, which was haltered by Chris Lang Jnr for $30,000. Two Majestic Son colts out of strong New Zealand-bred mares from Harness Breeders Vic committeeman Gerard Moloney’s draft sold for $22,000 and $20,000. Former local champion Skyvalley was the sire of the highest priced filly Aldebaran Eve, out of the Victoria Oaks winner Aldebaran Dream, consigned by Aldebaran Park and sold for $18,000, while a Skyvalley colt from the 2YO and 3YO Trotter of the Year Jauriol realised $20,000. Running Pinevale, also a Victoria Oaks champion, was represented by her second foal, a colt by NZ-based import The Pres, who was knocked down for $22,000. Of the 36 lots offered, 31 were sold for an average price of $16,359, up almost 25 percent on last year. by Peter Wharton

Stig is becoming trotting’s version of the Never-ending Story. The veteran trotter, already the hero of one of the greatest comebacks in racing history, takes on rivals up to seven years younger than him at Addington tomorrow night. Remarkable as that is, if he performs up to the level trainer Paul Nairn expects, he will be on a plane to Melbourne next week for the A$350,000 Great Southern Star. Rising 12-year-olds embarking on Trans Tasman campaigns may be unheard of but Nairn says even after a disappointing season, Stig’s connections are keen for a crack at the richest prize in Southern Hemisphere trotting. “I know at times he hasn’t been as sharp as he can be this season, which you are going to get with a horse his age,” admits Nairn. “But he is trotting well now and feeling no real soreness. “I think he will improve on his last start (second) and if he races well this week he will head back to Melton.”
 Stig won a A$50,000 heat of the Great Southern Star at Melton last year before galloping in the final, although he never really looked happy on the Victorian track. But this year’s event, which comprises two heats and a final in the same night on Saturday, lacks a superstar in the form winner Vulcan was last season. So a fully fit and sound Stig could still out tough his younger rivals. He will need to be good to cement the trip as he meets one of the new breed of open class trotting in this country in Royal Aspirations, who has developed from a speed freak age group trotter into a genuine topliner. Nairn also expects a bold return tomorrow night from his Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon, who is over recent problems, but summer star Any Old Way is not and is heading for the paddock. If Stig does make it to Victoria he will join defending champion Vulcan, Stent and The Fiery Ginga in the GSS, as well as Kiwi-owned favourites Flying Isa and Keystone Del. But Vulcan’s high-profile stablemate Peak faces a long layoff after x-rays yesterday confirmed a splint bone issue, yet trainer Tim Butt says it could have been worse. “We were worried he had a suspensory issue but that scanned fine today,” says Butt. “But it looks like he has a splint bone issue, which is easier to fix. “So he will have an operation next Monday and hopefully can be back in work in three months.” Peak created a huge impression winning his first two New Zealand starts after being imported from Scandinavia last spring before being struck down by the issues. Meanwhile, tonight’s Manawatu meeting sees one of the great dropback tips of the new handicapping system in Jarcullembra. A former New Zealand Cup starter, Jewels runner-up to Terror To Love and the winner of over $200,000 in stakes, Jarcullembra hasn’t won for nearly two years so has dropped back to being assessed as a five-win horse. That sees him starting against horses who will never scale the heights he has been to in tonight’s $12,000 Palmerstonian, suggesting he will be at short odds in the 2000m mobile. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Capable middle-grade pacer Cam Before The Storm, who was transferred to the barn of Geoff & Jude Knight after his last start win in the Cheviot Cup, looks set for a good couple of months in the South after a dominant victory in Yesterday’s Gore Grass Cup. The speedy McArdle five-year-old, who was victorious on 10 occasions for former trainer Tim Butt, was sent south to seek better racing opportunities, which is exactly what he got in yesterday’s $10,000 Gore feature. After starting from his 30 metre back mark, Matthew Williamson settled the showy five-year-old last of the pack, before asking him to slide forward at the 1300 metre mark. He then kicked strongly in the homestretch to hold of Run Fat Boy Run by three quarters of a length. The win took Cam Before The Storm’s stake earnings in excess of $100,000 Meanwhile, Colleen Negus, who is the wife of Waikouaiti trainer Bruce, notched up her first driving success when winning aboard Goodboy Tiger. “I thought I was going to have to pull right back to get a go put then a wee gap appeared up the inside,” said Negus. “He has had over forty starts but he is actually getting better and better with his trotting - more solid.” It was Colleen’s first driving success after 27 previous attempt, so has also finished a in the money on four other occasions. By Mitchell Robertson      

Ten horsemen and one horsewoman were inducted into the Noel Taylor New Zealand Trotting Hall Of Fame on Auckland Cup night last Friday. But it was harness racing legend, Charlie Roberts, who stole the limelight at the 4pm ceremony. He was one of four industry participants who were also bestowed with ‘Harness Racing Contribution Awards’. Mr Roberts, who turned 90 this month, left hospital on Friday especially to be at the function and to watch Adore Me run second in the Auckland Cup.  A renowned veterinarian, breeder, stud master and owner, Mr Roberts has been a driving force in New Zealand harness racing circles for more than 60 years. Initially involved in thoroughbreds it has been his association with Woodlands stud that has kept him a household harness racing name. For example at last year’s annual Harness Racing Awards he Christchurch Mr Roberts won five trophies including Owner and Breeder-of-the-Year, as well as awards for his champion stallion and broodmare Bettor’s Delight and Scuse Me. As co-owner of Christen Me and Adore Me, added to his status as a true harness racing legend. Mr Roberts is also the only person to be named Breeder-of-the-Year in both the standardbred and thoroughbred codes. Being an original shareholder in Sir Tristram is another one of the many feathers in his cap. Long before Woodlands Stud Mr Roberts was associated with Haunui Farm, and later qualified as a veterinary surgeon based at Takanini. He became an expert on the reproductive aspect of breeding and more than six decades ago he helped set up the original swabbing proceedings on a national basis. In 1976 Mr Roberts established the Riverside Veterinary and 11 years later the Auckland Vet Centre in partnership with Andrew Grierson, who is now the leading advisor to both codes in all veterinary matters. In partnership with Grierson, Mr Roberts in 1987, bought what was then ‘Harness World’ at a mortgagee sale. They returned its original title of Woodlands and revolutionised standardbred breeding in New Zealand by concentrating on shuttling stallions from the United States and then buying the Southern Hemisphere rights. In The Pocket was the first and his line changed the face of breeding in this country. Then Bettor’s Delight made an even greater impact, now dominating premierships on both sides of the Tasman as well as premierships in North America. He has also been our most dominant forces at recent yearling sales. The 15 people to receive a commemorative plaque and Hall Of Fame cap were: TRAINING ACHIEVEMENT (500 wins or more): Tim Butt – 583 wins and $7,406,072. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) – 670 wins and $8,304,330. Doug Gale – 524 wins and $4,809,758. John Hay – 530 wins and $4,168,136. Grant Payne (Mark Purdon) – 585 wins and $14,433,012. David and Catherine Butt ¬– 676 wins and $5,420,711 DRIVING ACHIEVEMENT (1,000 wins or more): Dexter Dunn – 1,232 wins and $12,047,272. David Butt – 1,100 wins and $9,789,301. Ken Barron – 1,024 wins and $8,557,176. Jim Curtin – 1,430 wins and $11,225,559. 3,000 WINS: Maurice McKendry – 3,002 and $25,452,271. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HARNESS RACING: Charlie Roberts. Alby Gain. Bob McArdle Pat O’Brien. Note: Statistics were as at March 10, 2014. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing NZ)

SA BOTRA are pleased to announce that they have obtained not one but two special guests for their annual fundraiser Christmas in July in the form of Kiwi legends Anthony and Tim Butt.   The brothers have swept all before them in their native country across the ditch and now based in Melbourne they will provide great entertainment when they come under the scrutiny of compare Jim Jacques.   Last year's special guest Gary Hall senior had the crowd on the edge of their seats.   The brothers have won over the past few seasons Interdominion Pacers Final, three Interdominion Trotters Finals, two NZ Cups, two Auckland Cups, five Hunter Cups, eight Dominion Handicaps, four Rowe Cups and many more Group and Listed Races.   Tickets are about to go on sale so contact Lois Randall on 0402978424 to book your ticket for this July 13th event.   Annual Gear Sale   BOTRA is also conducting its annual gear sale at Globe Derby on Sunday April 13th. Lots can be registered between the hours of 8am and 10am with the auction to commence at noon. The famous BOTRA BBQ will be available throughout the day.   Australian Standardbred Breeders AGM   South Australia this year will host the annual Australian Standardbred Breeders Conference and AGM and high on the agenda this year will be the breeding season dates in attempt to bring Australia back in line with New Zealand. The conference and AGM will be held on April 5th. BOTRA will host the delegates from each state that evening at Betezy Park Globe Derby.   Gary Newton  

One the potential greats of New Zealand pacing has been struck down by injury and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Two-time Derby winner and 3-year-old of the year Ohoka Punter has suffered a recurrence of the tendon problems which plagued him last season and will spell immediately. That ends any possible Auckland Cup tilt and puts the Taylor Mile-Messenger double in May in doubt, which would also rule out the May 31 Harness Jewels. While a scan of his troublesome tendon yesterday revealed the problem was not as bad as first feared over the weekend, the 4-year-old is unlikely to be seen until next season and will be treated with kid gloves afterwards. And he deserves to be because if trainer Tony Herlihy can keep Ohoka Punter in one piece he might be the best of a vintage crop of 4-year-olds and Herlihy's best chance to train a major Cup winner. While he was magnificent last season, Ohoka Punter always had the look of a genuine Grand Circuit star, with the scope and stamina to take the step into the big time. Last season he was not only good enough to beat Adore Me, Franco Nelson and Border Control in the race of the season, the Woodlands Northern Derby, but downed Aussie hero Guaranteed in the Victoria Derby. "It is disappointing he has an issue with his leg again but we will look after him and give him all the time he needs," said Herlihy. He wasn't the only disappointed trainer yesterday as Tim Butt reluctantly withdrew imported trotter Peak from the A$200,000 ($216,100) Glenferrie Farm Challenge in Sydney on March 2. Butt thought he was getting on top of soreness issues with the talented chestnut but now knows he won't make the great race, with his place in the five-strong New Zealand team being taken by The Fiery Ginga. Meanwhile, New Zealand's two Inter Dominion headliners Terror To Love and Smolda have drawn to dominate their $50,000 heat at Addington on Saturday night. Terror To Love drew barrier one in the 2600m mobile event, with Smolda at two and the rest of the six-horse field given no hope. While a top two finish would be good enough to get both pacers an invite to the A$750,000 Inter Dominion Final on March 2, a key question will be whether whoever finishes second still wants to go. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of the NZ Herald)

In Melbourne.--- A startling declaration from trainer Tim Butt could set up Saturday night’s $400,000 Hunter Cup for his fellow Kiwis. Butt is the undoubted king of Australia’s richest standing start race, having trained the winner five times while his brother Anthony has driven seven Hunter Cup winners. Tonight they have defending champion Mah Sish in the 3280m epic and their confidence has been boosted by a long overdue return to form in a support race on last Saturday’s Ballarat Cup card. Mah Sish seems to have lost all his speed but ground his opponents into the Ballarat track last week so Butt has declared he will adopt similar tactics this week, even if that means going to war with Australian pacing legend Smoken Up. Smoken Up has been greatly boosted by the Hunter race reverting from a handicap to a free-for-all and after drawing barrier four is expected by most to press on toward the lead, with many rival trainers happy to trail him. Not Butt though, who says he wants Mah Sish in front and if he gets there he won’t hand over to Smoken Up, and would even attack him if the latter leads. “I don’t think he (Smoken Up) is going as well as he can and the last couple of times he has lead he has gone too slow,” says Butt. “So we will race him for the lead if we get away well enough. “I know my horse has been struggling for a while before last week but he is back on the improve and he will be a better horse that last week.”
 The very real possibility of an early war in the Hunter plays into the hooves of the speedsters who are able to follow a hot speed, and two of the best of those are fellow New Zealand pacers Pembrook Benny and Christen Me. Christen Me was brave but still unable to win the Ballarat Cup last Saturday and after his New Zealand Cup third in November there are some doubts over whether 3200m really suits him. The best way around that is for him to be given plenty of time to find his feet and then swoop in the race later, which is how most sons of Christian Cullen perform at their optimum. Butt’s early attack promise suggests that could become reality. The fact Pembrook Benny is favoured in a Hunter Cup is one of the more unlikely stories of the harness racing season after he returned home from a Sydney campaign last season looking a spent force. But training genius Barry Purdon has the nine-year-old in the best form of his career and sitting just off the speed he only has to race up to his New Zealand Cup fourth to be a huge hope for young gun driver Zac Butcher, who didn’t even have a licence when Pembrook Benny started racing. Add in the enormously improved Franco Nelson and the surprise addition of Easy On The Eye and New Zealand has five chances in the race on the Australian Grand Circuit that has been kindest to our pacers in the last decade. But the horse to beat is still local star Restrepo, who was outstanding winning the Ballarat Cup after being three wide the last lap. The Ballarat Cup has been far and away the best guide to the Hunter Cup in recent years and Restrepo is a good standing start exponent with a top trainer and Australasia’s most successful ever reinsman Gavin Lang in the sulky. He may have drawn the second line but along with fellow Victorian hero Caribbean Blaster he is a better follower than leader over long distances so his draw only serves to increases his odds without greatly decreasing his chances. Earlier in the night Purdon’s pair of Our Sky Major (race one) and Our Maxim (race three) face tough draws in heats of the Victoria Derby set to dominated by Sydney’s all-conquering Team McCarthy. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and The New Zealand Herald

The Group Three Hambletonian Classic is next on the agenda for the classy Tim Butt trained three-year-old trotter Thebestlove, who set a new New Zealand record for 3YO trotters at Rangiora today. “He is a lovely trotter, who I think can go a fair way,” said driver Anthony Butt, after the gelding made it two wins from as many starts. “He has speed, he can stay, and the manners are there also, so he really is the all-round package,” he explained. Thebestlove had a slight bobble just as the gate got rolling, but Butt said that was more his fault than anything. “I had him way back off the gate, so he just panicked trying to chase it,” said Butt. “He came down quickly though and actually left the gate really well. After finding the front, Butt let the son of Love You and Kathy Galleon roll, before increasing the tempo further down the back straight. “I knew the hardest horse to beat (Lothario) was outside me so I wanted to make sure he worked,” Butt explained. Thebestlove had two lengths to spare on Lothario at the line, with a further two lengths back to K D Muscles in third. His time of 2-29.0 (1-59.8) shaved 0.4 of a second off the former three-year-old record of Paramount Geegee, who also set his record at Rangiora. Through a new incentive brought in at the last Rangiora board meeting, the connections of Thebestlove picked up an extra $3,000 on top of the stake due to the fact he set a New Zealand record, while his breeder also picked up $1,000. “He is out of a speedy type in Kathy Galleon (6 starts, 3 wins), while his sire Love You should add a bit of toughness,” analyzed Butt.  When asked if there had been any interest in the young trotting talent, Butt said that Thebestlove probably wouldn’t be for sale. “He is co-owned by the richest man in New Zealand (Graham Beirne),” quipped Butt. Meanwhile, Butt was very happy when news came through that Mah Sish had drawn number one for Saturday’s $A400,000 Hunter Cup. “He is generally a really good beginner, so I am very happy with the draw,” he enthused . “We will be doing our best to hold up and won’t be handing to anyone,” he added. Another to impress at Rangiora today was last season’s 2yo Harness Jewels runner-up Majestic Time (Majestic Son – Time To Shine), who trotted just 1.6 seconds slower than Thebestlove when effortlessly downing his maiden rivals by 2 & ¼ lengths.  He will also compete in the Hambletonian Classic on February 8. By Mitchell Robertson

Defending champion Keystone Del is among the list of horses being considered for the Australian team for the Glenferrie Farm Trotters Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2. With five Australian trotters and as many from New Zealand to be invited to contest the $200,000 Group One, the Nicole Molander-trained gelding is one of nine that could possibly line-up for what already looks to be a strong Australian team. Others dominate in the minds of selectors include the David Aiken-trained duo My High Expectations and Cold Sister as well as star squaregaiter Blitzthemcalder. Kyvalley Blur who is trained by master trotting conditioner Chris Lang senior, former pacer Mister Zion as well as Elegant Image, Aleppo Midas and Stoned I Am are considerations also. While the Australian team will be finalised in the coming weeks following the results of races, the New Zealand representatives have been selected. The New Zealand team being selected early to allow for travel are Dullard Cup winner Habibti, Danish Derby winner Peak, Anzac Cup victor Stent, Hellers Dominion winner Master Lavros and recent National Trot winner Irish Whisper. Three reserves have been added to the team being Vulcan, The Fiery Ginga and Sovereignty who could be called upon if neccessary. Team New Zealand: Master Lavros (trainer Mark Jones) Stent (trainer Colin De Filippi) Peak (trainer Tim Butt) Irish Whisper (trainer Tony Herlihy) Habibti (trainer David Butt) Reserves Vulcan (trainer Tim Butt) The Fiery Ginga (trainer Alan Clark) Sovereignty (Trainer Sean McCaffrey) Team Australia*: My High Expectations (trainer David Aiken) Kyvalley Blur (trainer Chris Lang) Mister Zion (trainer Geoff Webster) Keystone Del (trainer Nicole Molander) Elegant Image (trainer Andy Gath) Blitzthemcalder (trainer Dean Braun) Aleppo Midas (trainer Michael Eastman) Cold Sister (trainer David Aiken) Stoned I Am (trainer Bill Walker) *Five to be selected and one reserve

1 to 16 of 148
1 2 3 4 5 Next »