Last week we had usual suspects tipping out the winners with Blair Orange, Gerard O"Reilly, Ricky May, Clark Barron and Steve Richardson all being successful while eleven of our other tipsters were in the money headed by Robbie Holmes with Nicalea ($6.30) at Timaru. This week we have five meetings to cover and our tipsters have covered them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Todd Mitchell - Thinks Take Charge from barrier two is a big chance in race 4 Steve Richardson - Keen on Speak Up who has been racing with merit at Auckland in race 5 Peter Scaife - Confident of a big run from V C Dell, also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Bullish about Strawberry Courage from the front line in race 6 Auckland - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Haxwell is due a change of luck in race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Le Lua Invasion would be tough to roll in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about My Kiwi Mate in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green can take the step up in race 7 Tony Herlihy - Likes Mighty Regal to go one better than his last start second in race 9 Steven Reid - Rates Sirius Star as well overdue for a win and thinks it will come in race 9 as well Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thinks with last weeks run under her belt that Oh Nova is ready to win race 3 Blair Orange - Confident Mighty Flying Major will be too good in race 4 Ricky May - Very bullish on the chances of Matty Groves in race 5 Craig Thornley - Rates Johny Rock a big chance, even from barrier nine in race 7 Brad Williamson - Quietly confident about the chances of Al Raza in race 8 Methven - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Give Me Strength a huge chance back on the grass in race 1 John Dunn - Confident Return To Sender is primed to win race 5 Jim Curtin - Thinks stable rep Star Of Dionysis is a big chance in the junior drivers event, race 10 Wairio - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes Springbank Ruby to atone for her Timaru effort and win race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks oldtimer Suncrusher can teach the young ones a thing or two, also in race 3 Nathan Williamson - Confident of a big showing from the classy Jag's Invasion in race 4 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Smiling Star can make a race of it with Fly Like An Eagle in race 7 Clark Barron - Quite bullish about Shezacheapy who comes in fresh in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Draw a killer but still likes Double Rainbow in race 9 Harnesslink Media
The outstanding son of Monarchy, Prime Power is due back at the workouts this weekend as he prepares for a season debut at Alexandra Park later in October or early November. The winner of eleven of twenty five starts to date, Prime Power has looked a real star in the making at times but after a brilliant start to his four year old season last year, his form fell away. Even though he ran a close third in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in late May, Prime Power appeared to be short of his best. Trainer/driver Todd Mitchell is contented with his stable star as he prepares to take Prime Power to the workouts this weekend. " I am much happier with him than I was towards the end of his last campaign. He wasn't happy in himself and it showed on the track. A decent break and he has come back a much happier horse and much more like his old self" he said After the disappointing end to the last campaign, a decent break was what was needed but that meant that Prime Power was never going to be ready in time for Cup week at Addington. Todd thought he would have been cutting it really fine to have Prime Power ready for the Dominion Handicap. " I could have tried to rush his preparation to get him ready but with such a big season in front of him it made more sense to skip Cup week and set him for the Xmas carnival at Alexandra Park. He looks and feels a lot stronger this time in and his work leading into this week's workout has been super and I think he could be in for a big year" he said. A winner of the 3 year Harness Jewels in 1:56.5, Prime Power has the gate speed and manners to be a major player where ever he lines up this season on both sides of the Tasman. Harnesslink Media
Another five winners last week with Scott Phelan, Todd Mitchell, Maurice McKendry, Matt Williamson and Blair Orange doing the business while another eight selections filled a minor placing. This week there are four meetings countrywide and we have selections for them all. Forbury Park - Thursday night Matthew Williamson - Thinks Davey's Gift can go back to back in race 2 Nathan Williamson - Thought Bettakatethanneva might upset them in race 8 Alexandra Park - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Quite keen on Even Flo in race 1 after her smart last start third Todd Mitchell - Thinks a couple of gear changes will see Courtney John win race 1 Scott Phelan - Shooting for three in a row with the lightly raced Jazz It Up in race 2 Tony Herlihy - Keen on the chances of Grumpy Possum in race 4 Steven Reid - Likes Elliot Daniel to continue his renaissance in race 9 Maurice Mckendry - Thinks Wings Of a Prayer can take race 10 Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Very confident McArdle Star can make it two from two in race 1 John Dunn - Likes Wesley Silcox to make it three wins from four starts in race 2 Terry Chmiel - Very keen on Parramatta in the Junior Drivers event, race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Keen on the first starter Add No Interest in race 8 Jim Curtin - Thought that The Persuader was overdue in race 8 as well Brad Williamson - Thinks Queen Kenny will be very hard to beat in race 9 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Likes Lookofalegend to leave maidens in race 10 Ricky May - Rates Brilliant Strike a huge winning chance in race 10 as well Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Gerard O"Reilly Thinks Cracklin Rosie is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Sam Ottley - Likes Sterns Arising to cap off some good form in race 8
Last week was on the up for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8 Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson - Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8 Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9 Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line. Harnesslink Media
Young harness racing trainer Abbey Holdaway notched her second career win at Alexandra Park last night and but for a stroke of luck she may have been lost to the industry. After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Todd Mitchell offered her part-time work. “I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses. "I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work." And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early last year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman. She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School. “I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale. “Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train. "I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals. Last night Abbey lined up the 5 year old Monarchy gelding Jogo Bonito for the first time in the CO trot over 2200 meters at Alexandra Park. Previously in the barn of part owner Steven Reid, Jogo Bonito had shown any amount of promise at his previous 12 starts, racking up four placings but never really delivering on his potential. Away safely for Abbey's boss and partner Todd Mitchell, Jogo Bonito settled fifth early before Todd slotted him into the one out one back position with 1400 meters to go. There was no changes from there until approaching the home turn where Todd peeled Jogo Bonito three wide and dashed away for a very impressive 5 3/4 length victory. Jogo Bonito trotted the 2200 meters from a stand in 2:54.1 with closing sectionals of 61.3 and 30. The way Jogo Bonito won tonight would suggest that Abbey Holdaway might not have to wait long for career win number three as a trainer. Harnesslink Media
Andrew and Lyn Neal won their second Spring Cup at Alexandra Park last night with a pacer they rate equal in ability to their 2000 Auckland Cup winner, Flight South. They won their first Spring Cup in 2010 when Trigirl Brigade won the 2200m standing start event. This time $13.10 fourth favourite Beyond The Silence proved too strong for Norvic Nightowl and Pembrook Benny in the $25,000 Hydroflow sponsored handicap pace. “He’s only had 14 starts and now this is his seventh win. I have always had a considerable amount of time for him. He’s a quality pacer who has come back well this season. “I just wish Dad was here to watch him race,” said driver Lynn Neal, who co-trains the 5-year-old gelding with her husband Andrew at Cambridge. Dad is former Mid Canterbury conditioner, Frank Bebbington, who passed away in August 2012. “Dad bought him and Andrew and I share the ownership in him with Dad’s estate. I’d like to race him at Addington one day but this year is a bit too soon. “He needs more racing for that but even at this early stage of his career I rate him right up there with Flight South - and she is one of the best horses we have trained,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence sat in the trail for most of the way behind Te Kawau and Todd Mitchell. Then in the straight he powered along the passing lane to win by a neck and 1-1/2 lengths. He paced the 2200m strand in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6) with final 800m and 400m sprint s of 56.7 and 27 even. It was his fourth win in seven starts at Alexandra Park. It was a gutsy performance to win third run back after Beyond The Silence missed most of his 4-year-old season with a fractured cannon bone he suffered in a C2 pace at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day last year. “It’s been a slow road back but we have always believed in him and tonight he delivered against some of the North Island’s best. “We thought he would go well tonight and he didn’t let us down,” Neal said. The 5-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding won first up after an eight month spell at Alexandra Park on July 11 and then followed that up a third behind Sky Major and Cyamach a fortnight later. He has now won seven of his 14 starts and placed in three others for $59,615. The race didn't pass without some sensation. Averil's Quest was late scratched within minutes of the start of the race after she was found to be lame in the right foreleg. Pembrook Benny earned a tick mark for his fresh up performance - the New Zealand Free-For-All winner made up plenty of ground in his first public outing for the season. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand
One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media
The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand
The best harness racing drivers from the North and South Islands square off in six races at Alexandra Park on Friday night (August 29th). Named the Island Of Origin series, it has brought together the best drivers in New Zealand in a contest that decides bragging rights between the islands for the next twelve months. Points are scored on a 3 - 2 - 1 basis and judging by the fields and the spread of form horses to both camps, it should be a close and exciting contest. The South Island team is full of talent with last seasons leading driver Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Mark Jones, Blair Orange, Gerald O'Reilly and Jimmy Curtin.. The North Island team is just as talented with the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy teaming up with Zac Butcher, Philip Butcher, Peter Ferguson, Todd Mitchell and Scott Phelan. Most home teams have an edge to start with and that was added to just a little bit by the fact that the Northern horsemen have 31 drives on Friday night compared to 30 for the Southern horsemen. All the races for the invited drivers are penalty free which is a nice bonus for the trainers and owners who have supported the series with their horses. The most interesting race for the invited drivers is undoubtedly race three, the C2 - C5 mobile pace over 2200 meters. Last seasons smart 3 year old Te Kawau looks hard to beat but a couple of real up and comers could prove troublesome with a run to suit. Royal Taz has won his last two for Tony Herlihy in the manner of a horse going places and from his handy draw looms as a genuine threat to the favourite. Pricillas Girl has run two slashers this time in and appeals as a value runner if the other two go to war at any stage. Six of the other runners in the field have either won or been placed at their last start so the favoured trio won't have it all their own way. The invited drivers creates real interest leading into Friday night and the Auckland Trotting Club should be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition. Harnesslink Media
There was no ring-around last week however the ring-around the week prior produced five winners. Let’s see if we can top that tally this week. Forbury – Thursday Robbie Close: Thinks impressive last start winner Billies A Star will prove very tough to beat in the third race on the card. Jonny Cox: Has found some value in the form of stable newcomer Franco Theron – race six. Ken Barron: Has opted for Livura, who looks a strong chance in race seven, as his bet of the week. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Sage can surprise at value from her ace draw. She also competes in the seventh race on the card. Franklin@Alexandra Park – Friday Scott Phelan: Has opted for Getaway Doug as his bet of the week – race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Rates the chances of Tarn, who was a good workout winner last weekend, in the same event. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who has raced well lately despite receiving little luck. She looks a good chance in race six. Jay Abernethy: Has opted for Pacific Rapture, who finished a nice second in the Golden Girls Final, in the same race. Josh Dickie: Expects Tembi to prove too strong for his five rivals in the last event on the card. Rangiora – Sunday Gavin Smith: Has opted for stable newcomer Zena Mac, who looks a good chance from her ace alley in the second race. Mark Jones: Rates JC Skipper as his best chance of the weekend – race four. Ricky May: Has selected Mighty Peruvian, who stuck on gamely for second last start. He also competes in race four. Terry Chmiel: Expects impressive trialist Parramatta to prove hard to beat in the fifth event on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): New Deal – race nine.
Last week was possibly the worst ever for the ring-around with just the one winner. However, that one winner, Equulei, tipped by Jay Abernethy, did pay odds of $10.70 and $2.50. Let’s see what the boys have come up with for us this week: Addington – Thursday Jonny Cox: Thinks 2-win mare Pay Me Quick, who has been in sublime form of late, will be hard to beat against non-win rivals in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the very smart Dalton Bromac, who looks half of the quinella with Wesley Silcox – race four. Matthew Williamson: Expects Very Persuasive to prove very hard to beat in the Golden Girls Final – race eight. Ken Barron: Has a massive opinion of Bracken Ridge and expects him to be simply too classy for his rivals in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race nine. Alexandra Park - Thursday Josh Dickie: Thinks Sunny Vacation, with manners, is the one they all have to beat in race six. Scott Phelan: Thinks the inform Cyamach, who is likely to head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, can continue on his winning ways – race seven. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who looks a strong chance in the eighth race on the card. Simon Lawson: Thinks Shedontloveme is a very good each-way chance in the last race on the card. Kurow – Sunday Blair Orange: Thinks Quaint Glen, who had trialled up stylishly prior to her debut third, can win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Lovetodream, who also looks a good chance in the first race on card. Gavin Smith: Thinks Billies A Star, who has been ultra impressive at the trials, should prove too strong for what looks an average maiden line-up – race five. Mark Jones: Thinks Sunoflindenny, who has been backed and beaten in his first two runs back, can make amends in the sixth race on the card.
Last week the ring-around produced six winners with Matthew Williamson, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, Ricky May, John Dunn, and I all delivering the goods. The best result was my tip Spell which romped in at odds $5.50. Let’s see what winners we have in store for you this week: Cambridge – Thursday Jay Abernethy: Thinks Equulei can kick the ring-around off in style in the first race at Cambridge. Simon Lawson: Rates Betty Boop Brogden as a good each-way chance in the fourth race on the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Miss Lotty, who was seen doing her best work late when second last start. She looks a good chance in the first race. Brent Mangos: expects impressive trialist Vibhuti to prove very tough to roll – race four. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Djokovic, who looks a bold chance in race five. Scott Phelan: Rates the chances of inform pacer Cyamach, who looks a strong chance despite meeting a very good field in the sixth race at Alexandra Park. Addington – Friday Ken Barron: Expects both Bracken Ridge (race two) and Quaint Glen (Rangiora race 3) to prove very hard to beat. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race two Mark Jones: Thinks the consistent Jaccka Len can break through for another win – race five. Gavin Smith: Rates She’s Extreme as a good place chance in the sixth event on the card. John Dunn: Is expecting a big run from two-year-old filly Cullens First Meddle – race six. Tim Williams: Has opted for smart mare Here We Go Again, who downed likely favourite Fifth Edition in her last start – race eight. Matthew Williamson: Expects Ohoka Benson to be hard to beat in what looks an average C1 field – race ten. Rangiora – Sunday Terry Chmiel: Has opted for the inform That Guy Finn, who looks a good chance despite meeting a strong C1 and 2 line-up – race six. Jonny Cox: Thinks Explosive Art can continue to explode through the grades – race nine.
Harness racing trainers' Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick have never had a horse line up in a Breeders Crown Final before, but they won’t be too perturbed if Cyamach doesn’t make the trip across the Tasman next month. “It all depends how he comes through his next race at Alexandra Park on July 25, but after Friday’s race we couldn’t be happier with him,’’ Telfer said. “We will make a decision on the Breeders Crown then. “If we do decide to go he will race over there (Victoria) on August 17 and 24.’’ Cyamach was an impressive winner of last Friday’s fifth event at Alexandra Park – the $14,999 Prudentia Law Mobile for the C2 to C5 pacers. Scott Phelan rushed the recent Winter Cup winner to the lead from barrier five soon after the start of Friday’s 2200m mobile. From there they dictated all the pace to easily win in wet conditions by 2-1/4 lengths in 2:44 even. Central Districts visitor Te Kawau (Todd Mitchell) was an impressive first-up second after sitting outside of Cyamach for the last lap. Cyamach paced a creditable 1:59.9 mile rate in the wet and windy conditions. He sped his last 800m and 400m in 56.6 and 27 seconds. It was his ninth win in 36 starts. His bank balance stands at $154,926. Someone knew Cyamach would win. NZ harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson said he received a $5,000 win bet on Friday afternoon on Cyamach at $2.60. That was his also closing price. Telfer is really starting to warm to the exploits of talented 4-year-old. “He’s going really well at the moment. He’s really started to strengthen up and mature lately. He’s a nice horse who has always had speed. But now that he’s strengthened up he’s turned the corner again. “He’s the best we have got.’’ The former Australian, who came to New Zealand from rural New South Wales in 1995, said he was really enjoying his work at present. “We have a nice team, great staff, and a very nice place to work. “Chris is great to work with and Scotty (Phelan) is doing a brilliant job in the sulky,” the 43-year-old horseman said. “I can’t forget my sister Amanda (Tidswell) too. It’s a team effort,” he added. While a Breeders Crown trip would be a real highlight, Telfer said the desire to remain in NZ and focus on some our big races was huge. “It would be nice to win a Breeders Crown but to be honest I’d prefer to win a big Group One race here. “If Cyamach does go then he’s going to have to step up to the next level. Even though there will be some nice 4-year-olds missing good ones like Lennytheshark and Chilli Palmer will be there. “He will either go to Australia or be spelled after his next race,” Telfer said. He said he was quite happy to target the Group One 4&5-year-old races like the Taylor Mile and NZ Messenger with Cyamach next season. Looking to the future Telfer said to watch out for a Grinfromeartoear-Spicey colt named Ashton K. “He’s a rising 3-year-old who has been up for a while now. He trialled real nice as a 2-year-old and we have all got a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Last week the ring-around produced four winners, all at relatively good value. This week we have a smaller ring-around than usual due to some technical problems, however I am sure it is still chock-a-block with winners. Forbury – Thursday Nathan Williamson: Thinks Nickelson can give Father Christmas a run for his money in the fifth event tonight. John Dunn: Expects Alta Jerome to be hard to bowl from his handy barrier draw in race number six on the card. Tim Williams: Rates the chances of Queen Of The Crop in race eight. Matthew Williamson: Is very bullish about the chances of Lionel’s Meddle in the claimers’ event – race eleven. Alexandra Park – Friday Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Te Amo Bromac – race one. Josh Dickie: Rates the chances of Stellar Kamwood in the fourth event. Todd Mitchell: Rates the chances of Cyclone Prince, who finished sixth in the 3YO Emerald. He looks the one to beat in race number six. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Norvic Nightowl, who finished a creditable fourth in the 4YO Emerald. – race eight. Ashburton@Addington – Friday Ken Barron: Expects Mighty Major to prove very hard to beat in race one on the card. Blair Orange: Thinks he can bring up his 100th winner for the season aboard Someardensomewhere – race four. Cambridge – Sunday Scott Phelan: Thinks Megs First is a strong each-way chance in race eight. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Ton Tine in the same event. Ashburton – Sunday Ricky May: Has opted for The Emperor Robyn, who looks well placed in the first event on Sunday. Mark Jones: who found some good place value in Eastburn Mara, has opted for Kowhai Whiz in the fourth event.
Abbey Holdaway says she owes her first training victory to her boss and partner, Todd Mitchell. The 26-year-old Waikato horseman had her green, white, and black colours in the winner’s circle for the first time when Celeris won the Cambridge Primary Mobile Trot at Cambridge Raceway on Tuesday. “It was a huge thrill," she said. "Actually I was excited just getting my trainer’s licence, but now after six starts this happens....I’m still buzzing.” After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Mitchell offered her part-time work. “I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses. "I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work." And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early this year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman. She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare, as well as her only horse in training – Celeris. “I paid $2,000 for him off Adrienne Matthews in March last year. "Chris Gillies then trained him for me before I got my licence. "I had my first start with him in March. His previous best finish for me was sixth,” Holdaway said. Celeris drew 10 of 10 at Cambridge on Tuesday and was characteristically slow away. Mitchell had the Pegasus Spur gelding in sixth place (three-back on the outer) at the bell and then took lead at the 400m. They hung on to win by three quarters of a length, trotting the 2200m mobile in 2:48.8 (mile rate: 2:03.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.5 and 30.5. He was rank outsider and paid a whopping $83.40 to win. “He’s such a slow starter especially from stands, and I thought he might have gone a bit better from the mobile - and he did. "He was slow away again but it was a nice confident drive by Todd. “I won’t forget this win in a very long time,” Holdaway said. Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School. “I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale. “Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train. "I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals. “I would like to sell Celeris now and then perhaps lease another one. “I’m totally hooked,” she said. Holdaway shares in the ownership of Celeris with Neill and Aaron Bowrey. The 6-year-old was bred by Matthews, Johnnie Butcher and Philippa. Butcher. He is the 12th of 13 foals out of Game Pride mare, Game Robinson. Trained and driven by the late Max Robinson, Game Robinson won five races between 1989 and 1992. Her last foal – The Fat Controller (by Britewell) – was her most successful in New Zealand, winning 11 races and just over $150,000. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Last week the ring-around produced six winners including Jewels champions Monbet, Venus Serena, and Supersonic Miss. Let’s see what good oil some of harness racing’s leading lads have come up with for us this week. Forbury Park – Thursday Jonny Cox: who has been enjoying a purple patch of form, has opted for Expressive Art in the third race on the card. Sam Ottley: Thinks Smoken Roman will prove very hard to beat in the fifth race on the card. Matthew Williamson: Rates Al Raza as a very good each-way chance on the seventh race on the card. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the very consistent Nickelson is a good each-way chance again – race eleven. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for the Phil Williamson trained Monnay in the same event. Alexandra Park – Friday Todd Mitchell: Thinks Princess Sophia, who is dropping back from Harness Jewels Company, can give a sight in race four. Ken Barron: Rates the chances of Pacquiao, who was a luckless fifth in the 4YO Emerald – race five. Jay Abernethy: Thinks Equulei can get herself into the finish of the last race on the card. Nelson – Friday Mark Jones: admits he doesn’t have a great team in this week, but rates Eastburn Mara as the best of them – race two. Anthony Butt: Has a tidy book of drives at Nelson but rates capable trotter Gregory R as the best of them – race five. Blair Orange: Has opted for smart mare Sunchita in the same event. John Dunn: Rates stable newcomer Cindi Arma the best of what is a very good book of drives on Friday – race six. Tim Williams: Think Here We Go Again is a very good chance in race nine provided she steps away. Craig Thornely: Has opted for Al’s Courage, who was huge in fifth last start after missing away. He looks the one to beat in the last race of the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Madiba Magic – race twelve.