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Tony Herlihy (MNZM) might be the life-line Hughie Green is looking for, otherwise the big hunk of a horse could be on a plane destined for Australia following next month’s Auckland Cup Carnival. The 5-year-old Art Major gelding’s Ardmore-based co-owner and breeder John Green, said he was losing patience with the big pacer who once promised so much. “We haven’t changed his driver purposely. Maurice (McKendry) has Shandale in the race and because they will probably be racing against each other a lot in the future this will be a relatively permanent change until Tony can’t drive him any more. “If the change of driver doesn’t work we will have no option but to send him across the Tasman to race,” said the former top trainer and current Auckland Trotting Club Director. Hughie Green will be attempting to win his 11thrace from 24 starts in the fourth race at Alexandra Park tonight (November 18) – the $14,999 Mitavite Mobile for the R83 to R106 rated pacers.  Hughie Green (R106) is the highest ranked pacer in the seven-horse field with Rocker Band. Seven of his wins have been at Alexandra Park but the distance and draw worries Green. “It’s not going to be easy for him from the widest front row draw over the sprint journey. If they go hard he doesn’t seem to be able to sprint with them like he used to. “He needs a slow pace so he can wind up over the top of him. He’s not the horse I thought he was. To be quite frank he’s been a disappointment and now I wouldn’t even rate him in the top 10 horses I’ve had,” Green said. “His mother (Alta Serena) was certainly better than him and so is The Orange Agent,” he added. Green believed the 2014 Sires Stakes Final at Addington had mentally affected Hughie Green. He was the favourite, led into the straight, and ran inward in finishing a disappointing 11th. “He hasn’t been the same since. In fact if anything he’s been a flop after all the expectation we’ve put in him. He’s a bit of a deceiver and apart from his second in the Auckland Cup last year he’s really done nothing,” a disappointed Green said. In saying that the erratic bay has banked $174,499 in stakes and has won twice from four starts over the 1700m mobile. “Perhaps a new driver might make the difference but we are running out of patience with him. It’s time for him to deliver, especially in small fields like this,” Green said. Toughest for Hughie Green to beat will be Shandale, Rocker Band and the resuming Motown, who lines up for the first time since July 1. He ran third that night behind Shandale and Doubleodeano in a C2 to C4 Pace and Alexandra Park. “’Hughie’ hasn’t even won a listed or Group race here so time is running out for him. He’s going to have to prove to us that he is better than what he is producing, or else it’s Australia for him,” Green said. “It’s all a bit disappointing really because we know he’s got potential. Maybe it’s an Art Major trait? He he is also named after my late father as well, but sadly sentiment doesn’t put food on the table,” Green said.   Duane Ranger

Luke Edmonds has worked alongside some of the biggest players in the New Zealand harness racing industry for more than half of his life, but this week the 35-year-old’s life took a complete U-turn. Edmonds left his job at Woodlands Stud to work in in the construction and driving industries at the East Tamaki-based Abernethy Projects Limited. He has been employed by some of New Zealand’s best trainers in both Islands starting off with Mark Purdon and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) when they worked together at Ardmore in the late 1990s. “If I didn’t make the change now I’d always be left wondering what if, or what would might have been. Horses are all that I have known since I was young, and I will always be grateful to the industry for what it’s done for me. It’s just the right time to try something different. “Who knows what the future will hold? Standardbreds have been very good to me and maybe after 10 or so years I may return and give back what I have learnt,” Edmonds said. Edmonds started work with 'Abernethy Projects' yesterday (November 14). He said his career change came about via Jay and Sailesh Abernathy’s cousin Dan, who offered him the job at exactly the right time. “Hopefully I’ll get to drive the diggers one day. Sailesh, who works for his father’s company – Abernethy Construction, is a pretty good digger driver. He also goes all right out on the race track too,” said Edmonds. The Auckland-born and educated horsemen drove 20 winners ($152,795) from 296 drives between 2001 and 2011. He also placed 55 times. Edmonds worked for Purdon in both Islands from 1999-2002 and from 2002 to 2010 was employed by Herlihy. He also worked for a couple of years at Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick’s stable at Stonewall Stud before working for Te Akau Stud and then the last 18 months at Woodlands Stud on the outskirts of Clevedon. “It doesn’t surprise me that Mark Purdon is now the champion trainer he now is. He’s so thorough with his horses. It takes a genius to keep churning out the best 2-year-old pacer year after year. That’s where his champions stem from. “As for Tony, well he’s so laid back and nothing seems to faze him. I learnt so much from both of them – valuable knowledge that will stay with me for life,” said Edmonds. Long before he got his first harness racing job at 17, Edmonds visited his uncle Murray in Christchurch every school holidays before he finished high school. “That’s where I got hooked and where I learnt a good work ethic. Uncle Murray had real good family values. I also helped Mark and Tony when I was at school and then they offered me a job. “I got my junior’s licence when I was working for Tony. I have driven, broken in horses, and all the other jobs that come with working in a stable. “Then I decided to give the breeding side of things a go and moved across the road to Steve and Jill Stockman’s at Stonewall Stud. That is where I leant the intricacies of breeding,” Edmonds said. His first winning drive came behind behind the Henk Habraken trained outsider Ozone Vance at Cambridge Raceway on April 5, 2001. The Enterprize Zone gelding and junior driver Edmonds were the $26.60 ninth favourites in the 11-horse field. Edmonds said the 16-race winner Cool Hand Luke was the best horse he had driven in work. “I’ve had some awesome times in the sport which will stay with me forever. Driving the Herlihy trained Puhinui Rainbow to consecrative victories in early 2007 was also a highlight,” Edmonds said. “I just want to thank everyone for what they have done for me in the past 18 years. I have made friends for life and learnt so much valuable equine information and skills. I am so happy with where I go to,” he added. Duane Ranger

The pre-Sires’ Stakes conversation between Steven Reid and Tony Herlihy today will be short. The pair combine with Star Galleria to take on the might of the All Stars, who have four or even five reps in the $170,000 three-year-old Group 1. Usually taking on that many Purdon-Rasmussen runners in a three-year-old race only ends in disappointment one way or another, as we learnt with Hughie Green in this very race two years ago. But after two brave and brilliant heat wins in the north were followed by a trials thrashing of Ultimate Machete last Wednesday, and then Star Galleria drew the best of the favourites, confidence in the Reid-McMullan camp is growing. “I have known he was a good horse for a while,” admits Reid without wanting to talk his new stable star up for fear of a fall. “A few weeks ago I worked him one windy afternoon at Pukekohe and he paced his last 400m in just over 26 seconds. That was as quick as I have ever had a horse work there, as good as Monkey King or Gold Ace. I am not saying he is as good as them yet but he has their speed.” So talent won’t be the issue for Star Galleria and Reid is confident he can cross to the lead after the positive feel he got when buzzed off the gate at the trials. But if he does lead Reid expects pressure from the likes of More The Better and Ultimate Machete. It is not so much team driving he fears, more the fact the Purdon-Rasmussen horses are so good and so fit they don’t let rivals away with dawdling leads. “I think he can lead but I also expect some pressure and then it will be up to Tony to decide what to do next," he said. “A couple of times in the past I have given Tony pre-race instructions but who am I kidding? He has been doing this for decades and I will let him decide what he does out there. “All I will be saying to him is that the horse is spot on and I think he isn’t just a speed horse, he has some bottom to him.” More The Better is still just the favourite after a dominant juvenile season but he has been good without being spectacular so far this term. Which sums up all the Purdon-Rasmussen reps, all look good enough to win but none to be totally feared. More The Better looks the most likely to settle handy to the speed with cover so appeals the most of their team but the race has the potential for an upset, not so much in the winner but definitely the placegetters. The punt: The Herlihy factor might be enough to get Star Galleria home but you would want cover with More The Better. NEW ZEALAND CUP 1: LAZARUS 2: HAVE FAITH IN ME 3: SMOLDA FACT BOX CUP DAY: What: NEW ZEALAND CUP DAY When: First race 12.05pm today. Where: Addington, Chch. Races: $750,000 New Zealand Cup; $170,000 Sires’ Stakes Final, $80,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All; $35,000 Pacing Free-For-All. Punt: Fixed odds all races; head to heads; $50,000 Pick6. View: Trackside starts with preview show from 10am, the live coverage from 11.30am. by Michael Guerin

Even when Star Galleria finished fourth at Alexandra Park last month, Tony Herlihy (MNZM) knew he was sitting behind a better than average 3-year-old.   Fast forward 28 days and Herlihy has now won twice behind the gifted 3-year-old Art Major gelding and is looking forward to sitting behind the Steven Reid and Simon McMullan trained gelding at Addington Raceway on (NZ) Cup Day - November 8.   Star Galleria endorsed his Group One Sires Stakes chances with a dominant win in the fourth NRM Sires Stakes Heat at Alexandra Park last Friday night.   That two length victory from the widest (eight) front-row draw comes on the back of Star Galleria’s head victory in the first heat at Cambridge Raceway on September 22.   “I’d never even driven him in a trial or workout until Steven asked me to drive him last month. He’s a lovely horse that just keeps stepping up every time I’ve asked him to go. You don’t mind travelling to Cambridge on a Thursday night to drive a good horse like that.   “If he keeps improving after every race like the way he has been then I think he can be competitive in Christchurch. Mark (Purdon) and Natalia (Rasmussen) have some nice 3-year-olds but this fella keeps stepping up every time he lines up - and that’s all you can ask a month out from the race,” Herlihy said.   Star Galleria is now the North Island’s best chance to win the coveted $170,000 NRM Sires Stakes Final. After Friday’s win he is now the $5 third favourite to nail the 1950m mobile.   “He felt really good. I think it is only onward and upward for him now. He’s a strong horse with lovely manners. He also relaxes very well in his races.   “He only had one start as a 2-year-old and is very lightly tried. He will be a nice drive in the big race,” 58-year-old Herlihy said.   Herlihy eased Star Galleria to last shortly after Friday’s heat before getting a drag into the race from favourite Jack’s Legend and Zac Butcher.   They then sat parked down the back straight and then in the lane the bay found another gear and left Jack’s Legend and Neighlor (Maurice McKendry) to fight out the minors.   Star Galleria paced the 1700m mobile in 2:02.9 (a slashing 1:56.3 mile rate) and final quarters in 57.8 and 27.4.   “He’s going great at the moment and I think he can only get better. Steven and Simon will have him primed for Cup Day. he’ll be competitive all right,” Herlihy said.   Reid said he would probably give Star Galleria another race in the North Island before lining him up in the New Zealand Cup Trials the week before the Cup.   Star Galleria was bred by Reg Caldow of Wellington. He retained a half share in him, while Reid has a quarter share, as do John and Terese Screen.   He has now won three of his four starts for $28,975 in stakes.   When Star Galleria lines up in the 33rd running of the Sires Stakes final, Herlihy will be attempting to claim the prestigious Group One event for the fourth time.   The Ardmore horseman won the great race with Chokin in 1991, Maheer Lord in 2002, and Fergiemack in 2006.   Reid trained Gold Ace to win race in 2010 when Cambridge reinsman Peter Ferguson did the driving.   “I’m really looking forward to driving on Cup Day again. There’s always a big crowd and it’s a thrill driving there.   “I may take my 4-year-old Walkinshaw down with me. He went real well first-up on Friday. I’ll confirm that in the next week or so,” Herlihy said.   The Herlihy trained and driven Walkinshaw was one of four winners for ‘The Iceman” on Friday.   As well as steering Star Galleria to victory, Herlihy also trained and drove Italian Delight to win the second event and Blackguard’s Corner to win race five.     Duane Ranger

Arden’s Concord is now in the Papakura stable of Tony Herlihy after changing hands. The 5-year-old son of Panspacificflight- Madam Maroussia gelding  won six of his 18 starts for Westwood trainer Graeme Anderson, Brian Sceats and Wendy Muldrew.  Arden’s Concord has won  his last two starts, both at Oamaru. His most recent win was under difficulties when a hopple shortener pin did not release. One Over Da Moon, winner of two of his three starts this season for Herlihy, is back with Paul Nairn at Leeston for a South Island campaign. One Over Da Moon won eight races when trained initially by Nairn. The Majestic Son entire has carried on to win another 13 races, the majority with Herlihy. Highview Illusion who was claimed out of the Anderson stable after his last start win at Invercargill, is now with Bruce Graham at Charing Cross. King Kone has his first start since joining the Roxburgh stable of Geoff and Jude Knight at the Northern Southland meeting on Saturday. He will be driven by his new part-owner, Genevieve Crawford, a junior with the stable. The Earl gelding won two races at Forbury Park during the winter when in the care of Craig Buchan at North Taieri for Brent Borcoskie.   Tayler Strong

Steven Reid thought he could win last night’s first 3yo Sires Stakes heat with Star Galleria, but when Tony Herlihy (MNZM) accepted the drive he knew he was on to a winner. “He’s always been a very nice horse but to have Tony on him was a real bonus. He seldom drives at Cambridge on Thursdays these days and when he didn’t hesitate to get in his car and come down and drive him, I thought this fella might be a little bit better than I originally thought,” Reid said. Reid and Simon McMullan trained Star Galleria at Pukekohe. Reid and Zac Butcher had been driving the son of Art Major at the Workouts and Trials and Herlihy only assumed the driving duties when the gelding resumed with a fourth at Alexandra Park on September 16. “That run was better than what the result showed. I thought he could win but to win like he did amazed me. He did everything – and then some – of what we expected of him last night,” Reid said. “Tony can have the drive for life now if he wants,” he added. Star Galleria opened the $3 second favourite in Thursday’s $20,000 NRM 3yo Sires Stakes Heat for 3yo colts and geldings. He started from gate three in the eight-horse field and sat parked throughout to win the 1700m mobile in 2:04.6 (mile rate 1:57.9) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 27.7. It was Star Galleria’s second win in three starts. He also won on debut on the same track on May 27 when he was a warm $1.70 favourite. “Tony said he relaxed early and then travelled beautifully throughout. Tony then said that when he asked him for an effort at the 300m the horse immediately responded. “He gave an effort straight away. He’s still learning what this racing game is all about, but he’s developing into a really nice horse,” Reid said. “I am very happy about heading to Cup day again. He’s the only horse of that quality in our barn,” he added. Reid knows what it’s like to taste Sires Stakes 3yo glory. The Reid trained and Peter Ferguson driven Gold Ace won the Group One feature in 2010 when they drew nine and won as a $13.40 fourth favourite. “I’m never one to get too far ahead of myself and he’s not quite in the Gold Ace class yet. Yes he’s better than Art Form, In fact this fella has more bottom to him, whom one four races before being exported to Australia in March,” Reid said. Reid said he was only well aware of what was yet to come out of the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen 3yo cupboard. “When we head south we know we will have to step up to another class of racehorse. I will give him two more starts up here and then probably line him up in the New Zealand Cup Trials the week before the Cup. “I’m not saying he can’t beat the best on offer but we have only had one heat and there will be more good ones coming out of the woodwork. “In saying that I think the gelding could have gone 1:55 last night if he had to. I’ve liked him the day I saw him at Brent Donnelly’s. I don't usually go in on deals on young horses but this fella really stood out. “We can win the Sires Stakes if he keeps improving – and I know he can,” said Reid. Star Galleria was bred by Reg Caldow of Wellington. He retained a half share in him, while Reid has a quarter share, as do John and Terese Screen. The Barry Purdon trained and Brent Mangos driven Accumulator also qualified for the Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway on November 8 by finishing a head second. There was only a nose back to Favourite Spring Campaign (David Butcher) who was third. Star Galleria is now a loose $7 favourite to win coveted Sires Stakes Final while Accumulator is quoted by the New Zealand TAB at $18. Meanwhile $2.30 favourite Robbie Burns also had to sit parked to win the other feature of the night's racing - the $12,000 Waikato Equine Vet Centre Te Awamutu Cup for R70 and faster pacers. The 85-rated and Robert Dunn trained 5-year-old skipped early from his 20-metre handicap and was seven lengths last before going up to sit parked outside of the pace-making Stunin Banner (Todd Mitchell) at the bell. In the lane John Dunn got everything out of the son of Live Or Die to get up and win by a neck and a neck. Aliante (Brent Mangos) and Stunin Banner filled the minors. The winning time for the 2700m stand was 3:26.8 (mile rate 2:03.2) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 57.4 and 28.1. It was Robbie Burns’ first run back after a three-and-a-half month spell and his seventh win in 24 starts,. he’s also placed seven times for $77,805 in stakes. Last night’s Pick6 had a whopping $275,854 in the pool and resulted in a $13,903.90 shared payout.   Duane Ranger

As reported by the NZ Herald, Tony Herlihy admits his rivals may hold the fate of One Over Da Moon in their hooves when the standout trotter returns to harness racing at Alexandra Park tonight. And that means the champion horseman wouldn’t be surprised if the best horse at the meeting won by two lengths, or finished a gallant placegetter. “It he could do either and be equally good runs,” says Herlihy. One Over Da Moon returns to Auckland, where he dominated the trot scene last winter, for a three-race programme while usual trainer Paul Nairn is campaigning a team in Australia. So Herlihy hasn’t had much time to reacquaint himself with the speedy stallion, only having driven him a handful of times since he arrived. “He hasn’t had a trial and only arrived up last week so it is hard to get an exact line on him,” explains Herlihy. “He looks great, as you would expect coming from Paul’s place, and when I spoke to Paul on Sunday he said he was trotting great at home before he left him. “But winning any race at Alexandra Park off 45m fresh up is tough. “A lot will depend on how quick they go. If a mare like Sunset Peak steps and trots 3:30 off the front then we have to trot 3:27 to win and that would be hard without a lead-up race. “But if they go a bit slower and he has to trot 3:30 to win and gets a cart into it it becomes a bit easier. “So the tempo will play a big role.”
 Sunset Peak has been the surprise package of the northern winter for John and Butcher, going from unheralded maiden to looking open class material in a handful of starts. Ben Butcher takes the drive tonight so the mare can claim a concession and start on the front line, where she seems happiest and most likely to be able to reach her favoured pacemaking role. “Ben drove her at the workouts on Saturday and if she trots away she might take some catching,” enthused co-trainer John Butcher. For a small field the race is a winter gem, also boasting Cool Cobber, who was excellent in his comeback race last start and Harrysul, who is chasing a hat-trick for Dave and Clare McGowan. Harrysul only fell into win last start after trotting roughly by McGowan says the gelding has worked much better this week and he is confident even though he is not happy to be starting off the same handicap as One Over Da Moon. “I think he has been harshly handicapped but he is going great and the owners are coming up so he will start,” says McGowan. Earlier in the night the Pukekohe stable have exciting trotter Inkyroe in race four. Inkyroe lived up to her huge reputation by bolting in on debut and has a new driver tonight, with Andre Poutama replacing Todd MacFarlane for this race as the latter has his own horse George in the race. “Andre came and drove her on Wednesday and was smiling after,” said McGowan. “It is a big jump from maidens to one-win but I think she will handle it. Her manners early will be the key.”   Michael Guerin

WASHINGTON, PA, June 29, 2016 -- Cue Hall quarter-poled to the front and had little trouble maintaining the lead from there as he captured Wednesday's $14,900 Conditioned Trot at The Meadows in a career-best 1:53.3. Cue Hall was away second behind TSM Photo Bugger, but winning driver Tony Hall moved the 4-year-old son of Andover Hall-Curli Cue to the lead. Cue Hall easily thwarted the first-over bid of Trustworthy Kid and defeated the rallying See The Wind by 1-1/2 lengths. Charles VII finished third. Rich Gillock trains Cue Hall, who extended his lifetime bankroll to $191,126, for owner/breeder Bob Key. Hall piloted four winners and Dave Palone three on the 13-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

WASHINGTON, PA, May 30, 2016 -- Medusa zipped to the front from post 6, held off the late charge of Set Me Up and scored in 1:50 -- fastest ever by an older mare at The Meadows -- in Monday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Medusa suffered narrow losses in her two most recent outings when she stalked the leader from the pocket and couldn't find the Lightning Lane soon enough. On Monday, Tony Hall and the 5-year-old daughter of Better's Delight-Mythical assured that wouldn't happen again when they took control and downed the pocket-sitting Set Me Up by a neck. Spreester was third. The time erased the previous mark of 1:50.2 held jointly by Betterluvnexttime and Continual Velocity. Randy Bendis trains Medusa, who now boasts $296,442 in lifetime earnings, and owns with Tom Pollock. Dave Palone piloted three winners on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows          

The man with the sole responsibility of flying the Australian flag at the Harness Jewels says he hopes the four-year-old Emerald becomes a war.   Because that will be My Kiwi Mate’s best chance of winning. The Victorian pacer warmed up for next Saturday with an easy win from in front at Alexandra Park on Friday night, outstaying his rivals in the hands of Tony Herlihy. It was his first start for a month and followed on from his second to Field Marshal in the Messenger on April 29, with an impressive workout win in between. All of that points to him being a good chance on Saturday but trainer Crag Demmler knows his middle of the front line barrier looks less than ideal, especially with Field Marshal drawn the ace.  “But I think it might work out all right,” says Demmler.  “Our horse will probably have to go forward early but if he can get handy I am pretty sure Titan Banner will come and put some pressure on.  “So if we can be sitting in with cover on a really hot speed, that is what will suit him best.  “Even though he won tonight and went well, he is definitely better coming from off a hot speed as he tends to lose concentration and wait for them when he leads.”
  The win was the first for Demmler’s colours as a trainer at Alexandra Park but punters with a good memory could be excused for thinking it wasn’t. Demmler actually drove Breeny’s Fella, trained by his father Ted, to win a free-for-all at Alexandra Park back in 2000. “My colours are almost identical to Dad’s, but this is the first winner I have trained here.  “It is simply that hard to get a horse good enough to come across here but now we have one I am looking forward to the big day.” My Kiwi Mate was the best of several good Jewels trials on the night, with Democrat Party a slightly luckless third just in behind him while earlier Donegal Bettorgretch, Miss Daisy, Motown and On The Town all suggested they are close to their peaks leading into the $1.2million day. One horse who won’t be heading to the Jewels but provided one of the feel good stories of the night was Foray, who came from near last to win a rare fast grade 1700m mobile trot. The Manawatu trotter was having his second start back for co-owner Matt Hickey after returning from Australia and an earlier spell with Paul Nairn. He stormed home to down Realmein and The Almighty Johnson, the latter producing a fine Jewels trial although he faces a tough second line draw against Monbet. Michael Guerin

An offer he simply could not refuse is the reason Nathan Purdon has delayed his return home.  Purdon has been in Australia for 18 months for stints in Queensland, Victoria and WA, but was starting to pack his bags last month.  Then came a phone call from Tony Herlihy.  “I was all set to return home to work for Dad (Mark) when Tony asked if I would take Ohoka Punter to Queensland and look after him for the big winter races,” Purdon said.  “How can you say no to training a seriously good horse like him.  “I’d had a fair to bit to do with the horse when he was down in Melbourne and Ohoka was with Amanda Grieve (where Purdon was based).”  Purdon and Ohoka Punter headed north “about three weeks ago” and the top class pacer opened his Queensland campaign in fantastic style with an Albion Park win last Saturday night.  The six-year-old sat parked outside his main danger, Majestic Mach, and won in dominant style by 1.6m in a sizzling 1min52.4sec mile rate for 1660m.  “Gee I was impressed with him” Purdon said. “He was never going to lose.  “He’s not the sort of horse who wins by much, but he did that pretty easily and ran good time.  “He should improve too. It’s good to have the time for another lead-up race or two before the big ones.  “There’s another race for him a fortnight and then there is a $30,000 race to kick-start the Carnival up here.”  Purdon said his plan was take Ohoka Punter through the Queensland Carnival and then both will head home.  “Tony’s plan is to set Ohoka Punter for the Perth Inter Dominion if he comes through this carnival well,” Purdon said.  “So it looks like I’ll head home to work for Dad when my work is done up here.”  Purdon said he has been watching in awe from Australia as his father and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen have dominated on both sides of the ditch.  “It’s incredible and somehow the stable seems to keep getting stronger each year,” he said. By Adam Hamilton  

Mark Purdon is warning punters Dream About Me is no certainty at the Harness Jewels. The winner of 14 races from just 15 starts has been crunched into $1.35 favouritism in the pre-barrier market for the three-year-old Diamond, following her almost unbelievable win in the Group I New Zealand Oaks on Saturday. Purdon, who co-trains the Bettor's Delight filly with Natalie Rasmussen, said the win was easily a career-best performance at Addington Raceway but believes the barrier draws will play a key role in the Group I Jewels on June 4. Dream About Me's form in the Oaks is leading to comparisons with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's 2014 New Zealand Trotting Cup winner Adore Me.  And if the winner of more than $750,000 in stakes does draw poorly, Purdon is rejecting speculation that she only has to line up to win. "I wouldn't say that over a mile at Cambridge. The draws will be crucial and the other two fillies (Golden Goddess and Piccadilly Princes) are very good to so you wouldn't want to have too much bad luck," he said. Purdon and Rasmussen along with Dream About Me's owners will not be drawn into a decision on heading across the Tasman for the Breeders Crown until the Jewels are out of the way. "We'll probably make final decisions after the Jewels. "She's had a great season and there are the mares' races for next year so it will come down to whether we go that way (Breeders Crown) or set her for those mares' races here nest season," Purdon said. Dream About Me settled second to last in Saturday's Oaks from her second line draw but with around 1500m to run Purdon was on the move around the field, three wide without cover. It took the pair more than half a lap to get to the breeze in driving rain and windy conditions and Purdon admitted after the race he was questioning whether the filly had enough left in the tank to finish off the 2600m trip. "I thought it would come down to a dour sort of stayers' race and the last furlong would be down to the survival of the toughest and thankfully it turned out she was the toughest." Purdon was helped by the tiring Amazon Lily giving him the opportunity to duck into the trail behind leader Golden Goddess before taking an inside run to win by half a length. "She's just exceptional," Purdon said of Dream About Me. Golden Goddess is a $3.40 chance for the Jewels with the third All Stars stablemate Piccadilly Princess ($6) the only other runner in single figures. The All Stars stable trained the trifecta in the Sires Stakes for two-year-old colts and geldings with More The Better again edging stablemate Pacing Major. More The Better is a $1.80 favourite for the two-year-old Emerald at the Harness Jewels with Pacing Major at $2.50. Titan Banner, a newcomer to the Purdon and Rasmussen stable, has moved into a $2.50 second favourite for the four-year-old Emerald following his upset win over Christen Me in the Winter Cup. Christen Me did start 20m behind Titan Banner, formerly trained by Graeme Anderson, and only went down by a neck. Field Marshal, who is recovering well following a bout of colic last Tuesday, remains Emerald favourite at $1.65.     Purdon and Rasmussen trained six of the 12 winners at Addington with Bettor Be Gold, The Manipulator and Heaven Rocks joining the three feature winners. Purdon drove five winners with Rasmussen picking up one. The All Stars stable then picked up a Group II placing at Menangle when High Gait finished second in the New South Wales Trotting Oaks on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Purdon's son Nathan picked up his first training win on Saturday night when Ohoka Punter, formerly trained by Tony Herlihy, won his the first start of his Queensland campaign. Mat Kermeen

Ohoka Punter’s chances of taking the Del-Re National $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night from his harness racing compatriot Smolda were given a boost at tonight’s barrier draw. Tony Herlihy’s New Zealand  hope drew barrier three, inside Smolda (barrier five), for the last Hunter Cup to be run with a standing start.  Geoff Webster’s Franco Ledger took barrier one and will be joined on the front row by fellow Victorian hope Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ballarat’s It Is Billy (barrier four), Messini (barrier six) and Webster’s other runner, Flaming Flutter (barrier seven).  Webster said “he couldn’t be happier” with Franco Ledger, who chances were greatly boosted by the draw, hosted by the Caduceus Club at the MCG. “He’s been going quite well,” Webster said. “I drove him at Shepparton and he felt good to me, and with that run and this barrier draw he should be a good each-way chance.” Driver Anthony Butt has held the reins for Franco Ledger of late, but will steer Ohoka Punter on Saturday night. Butt said in barrier three Ohoka Punter had “drawn perfectly”. “He needed to draw the front row and it has fallen well for him,” Butt said. Adam Hamilton of TAB.com.au said the draw had made Ohoka Punter favourite at $3, after Smolda eased to $3.20. That was short-lived however and, after the first few bets all went the way of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup winner, Smolda was drawn back into $3 equal favourite. Good Form’s Jason Bonnington said Smolda wasn’t the best from the standing start and expected a lot of horses would battle for the breeze early. “We do think that Ohoka Punter will lead and that probably Smolda will find the breeze eventually,” Bonnington said.  “It is the last standing start Hunter Cup as we know and anything can happen. We can make predictions, but we really don’t know what is going to happen on the first line.”  Bonnington picked Smolda on top, while Good Form’s Blake Redden said the barrier draw had convinced him to switch and tip Ohoka Punter to win.  Del-Re National Hunter Cup barrier draw: 1 - Franco Ledger 2 - Yankee Rockstar 3 - Ohoka Punter 4 - It Is Billy 5 - Smolda 6 - Messini 7 - Flaming Flutter 8 - My Hard Copy 9 - Mossdale Conner 10 - Im Corzin Terror 11 - Five Star Anvil 12 - Franco Nelson 13 - Star Chamber 14 - Jason Rulz by Michael Howard

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

 Amanda Kiddie may never have trained a winner but she is going for a double at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. And her last win came there just five nights earlier. Confused? Read on. Kiddie has just started training and so far had only had a handful of start with old trotter Brookby Prince, who has been battling away as he always does. But just because she hasn’t trained a winner yet doesn’t mean Kiddie hasn’t been a winner herself this week because she took out the Groom of the Year award at the North Island Awards dinner at Alexandra Park last Saturday night. And just in the nick of time, because now she has a trainers licence she won’t be eligible for that category next season. “This award has been 10 years in the making,” she said on Saturday after what as a popular announcement. Kiddie’s last boss was Tony Grayling, who has retired from training to work at Woodlands Stud, which is how she inherited both Brookby Prince but more importantly Ideal Flybye, who makes her debut from the new stable at Alexandra Park tonight. The mare showed real talent last season and is way better than her class two assessment. Kiddie admits she is a hard mare to train but punters would be smart to keep an eye on her in the months ahead. Ideal Flybye does meet a tough field tonight, with the five-year-old up against the likes of The Wild Card and Electric Chapel, both of who will make it most of the way to open class. The Wild Card looks the value bet in the race as he was third to Cyamach and Te Kawau last start and six of his seven wins have come in Alexandra Park mobiles. He has the services of Tony Herlihy who will also partner the favourite for the feature trot in Leanne’s Boy. He has emerged a real up and comer over the winter and his win last Friday was effortless against similar opposition. Leanne’s Boy does however go back 10m for that and the run of the third-placed Sunshield last Friday was eyecatching after an early gallop so if he trots throughout he could give the favourite plenty to chase. Leanne’s Boy is just one favourite backing up from last Friday, with Lucky Fortune (race 10) and I Got Rhythm (race four) trotters who can win again as the remain in the same grade after penalty free wins in invited driver’s races. Courtesy Harness Racing New Zealand

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

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