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Victorian trotter, One Muscle Hill will have his only North Island start at Cambridge Raceway on Friday night. The Nicole Molander trained 2-year-old son of Muscles Hill will line up as one of the favourites in the $8,000 Lone Star Riccarton 2yo Sires Stakes Prelude. Even though he is being temporarily being stabled with Dave and Clare McGowan at Pukekohe, the bay colt is being cared for by Molander's stable employee, Monique Burnett. Molander's husband Dean flies in today (Thursday) to take over from Burnett. "We think a lot of him, but need to know just how good he really is, and that's why we have brought him to New Zealand. He is one of a shipment of horses that was bought in New Zealand by his American owners Mark Hanover and Gordon Banks," Molander (Dean) said. "He's all paid up for the Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales races, so we thought why not. Hopefully he can get enough dollars and also qualify for the Jewels final," he added. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will have his one and only drive behind One Muscle Hill on Friday before his brother-in-law, Mark Purdon takes over the reins. "He will head to Mark and Natalie's (Rasmussen) stable after Friday's race." One Muscle Hill was a half-neck winner of his only start at Maryborough on March 2 - the $7,000 Seelite Redwood 2yo Trotters Handicap. He started from gate six and was driven by Gavin Lang. He paced the 1690m mobile in 2:12.5 with a 2:06.1 mile rate. His sectionals were: Lead time: 8.0; first quarter: 32.8; second quarter: 31.9; third quarter: 29.7; fourth quarter: 30.1. He was the $7.50 fourth favourite. "We think a lot of him but the best gauge will be to see how he goes in New Zealand. We would love him to qualify for the Jewels Final at Ashburton in early June and then come back here and prepare for the Breeder's Crown," Molander said. Hanover and Banks paid $57,500 for One Muscle Hill to his breeders Lex and Heather Williams of Waimate’s One Over Lodge at last year’s New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch. One Muscle Hill is the third of five foals out of the three-win Earl mare, Landora’s Pearl. “He’s always looked and acted like a good racehorse over here. He really loves eating. He’s such a laid back character, which should help him in his racing. He never seems to get fired up. “The owners were real keen to bring him to New Zealand. He qualified well here and has carried that into race-day form. We just hope he can repeat that in New Zealand. “We know it’s much tougher over there and that’s why we want to send him there to see exactly where he is at,” Molander said. Only five runners will greet starter Colin Courtney in the 1700m mobile. Toughest for One Muscle Hill to beat will be the John and Josh Dickie trained Paramount King, who has drawn the ace. That 2-year-old son of Love You and Paramount Star has won his last two Auckland non-tote races very easily. Duane Ranger

Atrociously wet conditions didn’t stop The Orange Agent beating this season’s Interdominion champion, Smolda, by half a neck in the Group Two City Of Auckland Free-For-All Pace at Alexandra Park last night. Smolda and Mark Purdon led for all but the last 50m of the 2200m mobile, but Tony Herlihy (MNZM) got the best out of her in the last few strides to win the $50,000 Auckland Co-Op Taxis sponsored pace. In doing so last season’s best female pacer cast aside her mantle of being ‘The Queen Of The Park’ to now one of the best pacers in Australasia. After breaking her fetlock The Orange Agent is now truly back to her brilliant best. Herlihy agreed. “She needed last week’s run (third) and tonight she had to be good because Mark was setting some even sectionals. She felt extra and I think she will be in for a good season,” Herlihy said. The Orange Agent snuck up the passing lane to pace the 2200m mobile in 2:42.79 mile rate 1:59) and home in 26.6. Have Faith In Me (Tim Williams), who sat parked was three-and-a-quarter lengths back in third. Tonight’s 19th win in 28 starts was the result of extreme patience displayed by The Orange Agent’s South Auckland trainer, Brian Hughes. He could have been tempted to retire her to the broodmare’s paddock but instead overcome two leg injuries with her to get the 5-year-old American Ideal mare where she is now. Hughes said The Orange Agent now head to the Breeder’s Stakes at Addington where she would take on Dream About Me and Piccadilly Princess in what promises to be one of the best mares’ races in Australasia this season.  Exciting 4-year-old trotter Temporale made it five wins from 15 starts when he won the Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Handicap for the trotters. The Herlihy (MNZM) trained and driven son of Monarchy led for most of the way in the Group 3 $25,000 event. Immediately after the race Herlihy said he was looking forward to the gelding’sfuture. “He’s a lovely trotter and has come to it real nice this time in. He’s got a lot of potential and it’s just a matter of getting more racing experience into him. “I think he will develop into a nice stayer. We will just progress on with him around here,” Herlihy said. Temporale was having just his second start this campaign after a nice first-up second behind the multiple Group One winning 5-year-old entire, Speeding Spur, seven days ago. He trotted the 2700m stand in 3:29.76 (mile rate 2:05 even) and came home in 58.4 and 29.3. He won by an increasing five lengths and two lengths from stablemate The Almighty Johnson (Todd Macfarlane) and Lemond (Maurice McKendry), who broke earlier in the race. Meanwhile, the $2.60 favourite Bettor Joy proved too strong in the Group Two $80,000 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic for the 2-year-old pacing fillies. The Cran Dalgety trained and Dexter Dunn driven well bred filly got an easy lead and then proved too strong for her 11 rivals pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:06.08 (mile rate 1:59.3). The daughter of Bettor’s Delight had half a length and two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare over Caitlyn Clarke (Scott Phelan) and Sea Of Gold (David Butcher) thanks to a final sectionals of 58.9 and 28.3. “I paid $80,000 for her at the Sales and I thought that might have been a bit much but she has surprised me. She has such wonderful breeding that she’s now developing into one of the better fillies I have trained in recent years,” Dalgety said. Bettor Joy, who drew three on the second line, is out of the late  Alex McDonald’s eight-win Road Machine mare, Joyful Belle. Her older sister, Joyfuljoy (by Mach Three) won 11 races ($339,612) including the Group One3 $200,000 Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond in 2009. “Every time she goes off the property she comes back a better horse. She won four trials before finishing second behind Purest Silk here last week. “She will stay on and contest the Sires Stakes and Sales Series races up here now,” Dalgety said. Duane Ranger

Scott Phelan won his second consecutive Taranaki Cup on the New Plymouth grass yesterday (Thursday) thanks largely to Canadian-based Kiwi trainer, Mark Herlihy. Herlihy, who turned 33 today (Friday) got married to Casie Coleman in Florida last week and his father Tony Herlihy (MNZM) wasn’t expected back from the wedding until today. He will drive at Alexandra Park tonight. Phelan was the replacement driver and nailed the $11,000 Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup for the up to R90 pacers behind the Herlihy trained and R81 ranked Walkinshaw. The Mach Three entire, who started from four on the second row, was the $2.20 favourite. Phelan won last year’s Taranaki Cup behind the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Prince Of Pops. Thirty-four-year-old Phelan, who works for Steve Telfer at Chris Garlick at Ardmore, was delighted with his first drive behind the tough 4-year-old. “He’s a nice horse and felt extra good today. He went into the race in good condition. I hope the Herlihys are happy with the drive because I was rapt to get him home. “I can see why he has won a lot of money in stakes. He just had a nice fell about him. I thought he would be hard to beat going into the race,” said on his long road trip back to Auckland. “It’s always nice driving winners, but New Plymouth has been kind to me. I enjoy driving there,” he added.. The last time Herlihy won the Cup was in 2011 when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory. That was the same margin as Walkinshaw’s sixth career win yesterday. He held out $8.70 (place) outsider Fleeting Grin and Peter Ferguson pacing the 2600m mobile in 3:21 even (mile rate 2:04.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.2 and 30.1. The victory also took Walkinshaw’s earnings past the $100,000 mark. It was his first start in the 2017 North Island Country Cup Series and first on grass. Walkinshaw hadn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw went into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy also won the second event with the Tony Cameron driven first starter, Powder Chief. The 3-year-old was the $8.50 fourth favourite in the 6,000 Taranaki Associated Cleaners Fillies and Mares Maiden. The Bettor's Delight brown filly qualified 6.1 seconds under time when sixth of six at the Cambridge Raceway trials on May 20 last year. She then hinted a win was imminent when winning her 2050m workout at Pukekohe on February 11. Hawera trainer Fred Mitchell also had a good day winning two races and finishing fourth twice from his four starters. He won with the Sailesh Abernethy driven Hold All bets in race four and then repeated the dose a race later with the Kyle Marshall reined Jack Bates. They were the $7.10 third and $8.10 fourth favourites respectively. Mitchell looks poised to record his best season in 13 seasons of training. Last year he conditioned six winners and did the same in 2013-2015. With just under five months of 2016-2017 remaining he has already been victorious five times. Waiau Pa reinsman, Kyle Marshall won the TAB’s Driver Challenge with two wins behind Jack Bates (race 5) and Joemaro (race 7); and three seconds with Bouton (race 2) and Saint Michel (race 3), and Alta Roulette (race 4). Duane Ranger

Taranaki Trotting Club secretary Carey Hobbs has rated this afternoon’s (Thursday) fields as the strongest compiled in the Central Districts this season, and gave a hint as to who to follow at the nine-race New Plymouth meeting. “Even though Brent isn’t down to drive, the Mangos stable is really firing on all cylinders at the moment and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) doesn’t usually come all this way for nothing. “Tony has three in and I really like Walkinshaw in the feature event – the Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup. He’s a class horse taking on lower rated pacers,” Hobbs said. Walkinshaw hasn’t raced in the 2017 North island Country Cup Series yet. In fact the 4-year-old Mach Three entire hasn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw, who will be driven by Scott Phelan for the first time, has an R81 rating and will start from four on the second row. Only the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Beyond the Silence (R85) is rated higher than Walkinshaw in the $11,000 feature pace. Walkinshaw goes into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy last won the Taranaki Cup when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory in 2011. After winning five of the 11 races at Alexandra Park last Friday night, it would be silly to discount another winner from the Mangos barn today. He hasn’t trained a Taranaki Cup winner but he did drive the David and Catherine Butt trained Sweet Courage to victory in 2008. Mangos will be represented by Bouton (race two) Saint Michel (race three) and Alta Roulette (race four). The trio will be driven by Kyle Marshall. Marshall will also drive the Arna Donnelly trained Eldolar in the Taranaki Cup. “He’s been racing really well and has already won four races this season. He meets a nice field here, but with luck in the running he’s certainly good enough to get some of it,” Marshall said. Marshall, who has eight drives, said the Mangos trained first-starter Alta Roulette would be his best drive at the meeting. "He's been trialling real good and won his qualifying trial at Cambridge well under time (6.4 seconds) on February 3. He's a real nice type and has a good draw (3) to work with. I think he will be real tough to beat," the 23-year-old said. He also thought the Mangos trained Bouton and Saint Michel could go also close. “Bouton is another first-starter who has placed in all four of her Auckland and Cambridge Workouts. She’s also drawn three and the grass will be good for her first-up. “Saint Michel (4) can definitely get some of it. The mobile will help him and I think he can run in the first two, but in saying that I think Mighty Sunny is the horse to beat," said Marshall. Duane Ranger

Todd Macfarlane jokingly hopes there’s an airport bomb scare when Tony Herlihy (MNZM) returns from the United States this week. Herlihy and his wife Suzanne have been in Florida celebrating their son Mark’s wedding. Last week Mark Herlihy married leading Canadian horsewoman, and multiple Group One winning trainer Casey Coleman.  “Hopefully Tony might not be able to get back into the country. That’s the only way I’ll get to drive The Orange Agent on Friday,” the Pukekohe reinsman joked. The Bunty Hughes trained The Orange Agent has easily won her three workouts at Pukekohe this time in. Herlihy drove her to win by three-quarters of a length on February 11 and then Macfarlane steered the daughter of American Ideal to two easy two-length victories the last two Saturdays. Her winning mile rates were 2:06, 2:00.9 and 1:59.5 respectively. “Bunty wanted me to drive her off the gate on Saturday so we led early and that was basically it. She led all the way and felt special. She’s certainly a very nice open class pacer. “She showed no signs of her previous injuries,” Macfarlane said. The Orange Agent led all the way pacing the 2200m mobile in 2:43.4 with final 800m sprints of a slashing 55.8 and 27 even. Robbie Burns, The Faithful and Arden's Choice were two lengths, a length and two-and-a-half lengths away. They were the only starters.  “She ran off the gate real nice. I think she’s primed to go a big race first-up. I’d love to be driving her on race-day,” said Macfarlane. The Orange Agent will resume from a 14-month spell in Friday's $25,000 Founders' Free-For-All at Alexandra Park. The Lincoln farms sponsored Group Three event is a 1700m mobile and if she shows the same explosive speed off the machine this week she is going to take some stopping. But trainer Hughes isn’t getting carried away and warns after what the 5-year-old has been through, she is still very much a day-to-day proposition. “When you have a horse go through what she’s been through then you can only take her one day at a time. One day she could be fine and the next she could end up lame. “She’s healthy now but you never take anything for granted in this game. It’s all about getting her fit for premier racing at Alexandra Park in March,” said Hughes. Friday’s assignment will be her first race after winning at Cambridge Raceway on January 8 last year when she triumphed in the Group Two Waikato Flying Mile in 1:56.3. The Orange Agent suffered two breaks in her hind leg and was boxed for three months at a time - twice. At the time of her injury she was New Zealand’s best pacing mare and then while she was on the road to recovery vets found another fracture in her pastern in July last year. The Orange Agent has raced 25 times for 18 wins, four seconds, and banked $562,175 in stakes. Her Group One wins came in the Northern Oaks (3yo), the Nevele R Fillies Final, and the Harness Jewels Diamond - all in 2015. She has had two starts in Australia for a Breeders Crown heat win at Ballarat on August 22, 2015 and then eight days later crushed her 11 opponents in the Group One $175,000 Breeders Crown Final at Melton's Tabcorp Park. She was also crowned 4-Year-Old Pacing Mare of the Year at the 2016 Harness Racing Awards in Christchurch. She is likely to race at Alexandra Park again in March and after that? “You can’t look too far ahead with a horse like this, but if she comes through her Auckland races okay then there are Australia options later in the season,” Hughes said. Duane Ranger

It might have been a lowly $2,000 non-tote trot but the Haras Des Trotteurs 2yo Mobile is one race Josh Dickie won't forget in a hurry. Dickie went into the 1700m mobile at Alexandra Park last night (Friday) with a 50-50 chance of achieving the his 300th career win. And he did exactly that behind the Muscle Hill filly,Star Of Oleysa, that he and his father, John, train at Clevedon. The only other starter was the Brent Mangos trained and driven Storm Cloud. Mangos too had a brilliant night driving five winners and training four. Between the duo Dickie and Mangos drove nine of the 12 races carded.  Owned and bred by Reg Caldow, Star Of Oleysa (who is out of the Pegasus Spur mare, Olesya) started from the ace draw and was aided by a gallop from Storm Cloud at the start. At the end of the 1700m Star Of Oleysa and Dickie stopped the clock in 2:15.6 (mile rate 2:08.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.2 and 28.9. Dickie was rapt. “It doesn’t matter what type of race it ts, it’s good to win any race. I’m delighted. I am a statistics man and this means a lot. One day I would dearly love to drive 1,000 winners and a lot more Group One events,” Dickie said. “I owe a lot to Dad and all the other owners and trainers for putting me on their horses,” he added. Dickie took eight-and-a-half seasons to achieve the milestone. His stake earnings currently sit at $2.8 million. The 25-year-old alsonotched up his 301st, 302ndand 303rd driving wins behind the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Mr Euroman in the second event, and then combined with his Dad to co-train and drive the $2.80 favourite C K Spur to victory in race five. Then he nailed ninth eventbehind the Dickie trained Kate Black. “It’s been a great night all right. I’ve had some nice drives and landed in some nice positions. It’s been a night to remember. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Dickie said. Meanwhile, Dickie Senior is just two wins away from the 500-training milestone after Star Of Oleysa’s first win at her third start (two previous seconds) and then C K Spur and Kate Black getting the chocolates. Dickie (John) has won 364 on his own and another 133with his son. His collective career earnings stand at $4.1 million. The Ray Green trained and David Butcher driven Northview Hustler caused a slight upset in the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Colts & Geldings Graduate (2200m mobile). The 3-year-old Bettor's Delight colt was the $12.20 fourth favourite and paced the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:40.8 (mile rate 1:57.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28 even. It was his second win in five starts. The female equivalent – the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Fillies Graduette (2200m mobile) was won by the Gareth Dixon trained and Simon Lawson driven American Princess. The brown American Ideal filly, who was the $15.20 fourth favourite, won in 2:40.9 (mile rate 1;57.7) and home in 58.3 and 29 even. That was her first win in six starts. The $14,999 feature pace and trot were both won by Franklin reinsman Brent Mangos, who nailed the $14,999 Stables Cafe 2017 Franklin Cup Racenight Handicap for the R70 to R100 pacers with Maxim. He also trained Maxim, the 2014 Victoria Cup winner.Maxim has now won two of his three starts this campaign and has finished second in the other. ‘Mango’ repeated the dose in the $14,999 Franklin Long Roofing Handicap for the R67 to R109 (& claimers) trotters with the Tony Herlihy trained King of The Roses. Mangos’s third, fourth and fifth driving victories came via first starter, Culpeka in race three, Roi Des Gitans in the 10th event and then Smoldering Ashes in race 11. The Waiau Pa horseman also trained the trio. “It’s great to win any race but five is a bonus. It’s been a real good night. The team is going really well at the moment,” Mangos said. Duane Ranger

Despite a nice win at the Auckland Trotting Club’s Workouts in Pukekohe last Saturday (February 11) the multiple Group One winning mare, The Orange Agent, is still very much a day-to-day proposition. Those words came from her Ardmore trainer, Brian (Bunty) Hughes, three days after the American Ideal mare won her 2500m - R55 and faster mobile in the hands of Tony Herlihy (MNZM). She nailed the six-horse trial (right-handed) by three quarters of a length, stopping the clock in 3:15.9 (mile rate 2:06) and last 800m and 400m in 59.2 and 27.8. The Orange Agent started started from the outside of the front-line and Herlihy eased her to the rear early. The classy mare then got a drag into the race from Bet Out Of El at the 700m and then in the lane had too much sprint for her opponents. She won untouched. That was her first run since winning at Cambridge Raceway on January 8 last year when she triumphed in the Group Two Waikato Flying Mile in 1:56.3. Hughes said he was delighted with where she was at, but wasn’t getting too carried away. “When you have a horse go through what she’s been through then you can only take her one day at a time. One day she could be fine and the next she could end up lame. “She’s healthy now but you never take anything for granted in this game. It’s all about getting her fit for premier racing at Alexandra Park next month,” Hughes said. The Orange Agent suffered two breaks in her hind leg and was boxed for three months at a time - twice. At the time of her injury she was New Zealand’s best pacing mare and then while she was on the road to recovery vets found another fracture in her pastern in July last year. “You can’t look too far ahead with a horse like this, but if she comes through her Auckland races okay then there are Australia options later in the season. “It would be just great to have her back to her best, because she was a quality mare and one of the best of her sex going around,” Hughes said. The Orange Agent has raced 25 times for 18 wins, four seconds, and banked $562,175 in stakes. Her Group One wins came in the Northern Oaks (3yo), the Nevele R Fillies Final, the Harness Jewels Diamond - all in 2015. She has had two starts in Australia for a Breeders Crown heat win at Ballarat on August 22, 2015 and then eight days later crushed her 11 opponents in the Group One $175,000 Breeders Crown Final at Melton's Tabcorp Park. She was also crowned 4-Year-Old Pacing Mare of the Year at the 2016 Harness Racing Awards in Christchurch. The Orange Agent’s first race-day assignment will be in either the Group Three $25,000 Lincoln Farms Free-For-All 'The Founders Pace' or the Charles Roberts $20,000 North Island Standardbred Breeders Stakes for 4-year-old and pacing mares on March 3. “I can’t stress enough that’s she’s day-to-day proposition, but at this stage she is healthy and we just need to get her fit,” Hughes reiterated. Duane Ranger

Tim Vince can walk on water… and not just in the shower either. The Kumeu trainer has been on fire notching up six wins from as many starters at three meetings – all in just seven days. Vince made it six-from-six at Cambridge Raceway last night (Friday) when his flagship horse, KD Hall and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) won the $7,000 Fairview Motors Cambridge Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters.  He was the $1.40 favourite, and it was a gutsy performance from his 40m handicap. But the biggest shock of all came from the appropriately named Chal Shocked, who left people gobsmacked, when winning the $10,000 Kiwi Bus Builders Handicap for the R66 and faster pacers. The Jereme’s Jet gelding was the eighth favourite of eight and paid a whopping $34.60 to win. Bought from the South Island for a mere $5,000 in September last year, the 5-year-old got up in the last stride to beat second favourite M o casino (Zac Butcher) by a nose. Typically humble, Vince diverted all the praise to Ardmore driver, Scott Phelan. “I’m rapt for Scotty. We have been friends for over 20 years and this year has been a tough one for him. He’s a such a good driver and I want to support him as much as possible. “You don’t win more than 400 races and earn more than $4.3 million in your career by just sitting there. He’s a very talented driver and I’d never hesitate putting him on. The industry needs experience and quality like him,” 61-year-old Vince said. Vince has now doubled his season tally from six to 12 wins in just seven days. The latest half dozen victories now means he has recorded a season best. Last season he won nine races and to date has nailed 41 career victories ($311,123) since taking out his licence in 2012. "It's all luck. We have had the good draws, the good runs, and not one of our drivers has put a foot wrong. Any other day we might have drawn wide, got back and be running on for perhaps a place. "This harness sport is like a game of poker. You never know which hand you will be dealt. We have had a lot of luck. It's not a trainer thing," the ultra modest Vince said. His golden run of form started last Friday night at Cambridge when Chal Shocked and Vince’s partner, Sheryl Wigg in the $8,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Amateur Mobile for the Up to R63 pacers. Then later on that card, KD Hall and Herlihy nailed the $10,000 Breckon Farms R60 and faster trot. Then a day later Drover's Eyre and Wigg won the $6,000 Classic Cuisine Amateur Drivers R63-plus pace at Rotorua. Four races later Monnay and Brent Mangos were too good in the $8,000 Ruck N Maul Rotorua Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters. “I’m just an amateur trainer who tried to get the best out of people’s unwanted horses. I do my best to place them where I can. “KD Hall ($10,000) is the most expensive horse in our barn. Drover’s Eyre only cost us $2,000, and we paid just $6,000 for Monnay,”Vince said. “I recently bought another amateur horse from the South Island named Franco Hamilton for Sheryl to drive. He’s won twice and placed twice from his last four starts in Otago and Southland,” he added. On the way home from Cambridge last night, Vince and Wigg were at odds about KD hall’s career. “I want to retire him because I think he’s met his mark.The ratings will tell you that. He’s been so good to us and deserves a nice early retirement. He’s only seven but that is my gut feeling. “But Sheryl wants to start him in a 3000m race at Tauranga next start. He might start in that. We will just wait and see, but because of his rating my heart is telling me to call it quits with him. He deserves that,” Vince said. The son of Quite Easy had to work hard to notch up his 10th win in 62 starts last night. He started beautifully from his back-mark and after 400m found himself in fourth position. Herlihy then had him in the one-one at the bell. Then the master driver swept to the lead at the end of the back straight before holding on to win by half a length from Primus Inter Pares (Scott Phelan. KD Hall trotted the 2700mstand from 40m behind in 3:29.1 (mile rate 2:04.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.4 and 29.7.  Meanwhile Vince said he would continue to race Chal Shocked. “He’s also met his mark, but I don’t mind so much with him because I’m thinking one day he will be back in the amateur races again and Sheryl will be able to drive him. “He’s turned out way better than what I thought he would. That was a gutsy win last night, but it was all Scotty. That was one hell of a drive. “I don’t think we would have won that race last night had it not been for his prowess in the bike,” said Vince. Vince also paid a tribute to Wigg and Tabatha Fensom. “They do all the work at the stable. I’m nothing more than a stablehand. Without them we would not be winning,” he said. Duane Ranger

Former pacing hero Christopher Vance has died. The New Zealand and Auckland Cup star as well as Miracle Mile winner passed away on Monday at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, where he had spent his retirement. A lodge representative said the 30-year-old gelding had a colic attack so was put to sleep. “He was a wonderful old horse and everybody here loved him.” The $1.7million earner was laid to rest next to champion galloper and best mate Rough Habit, the pair having been mates for nearly two decades. Among those saddened by the news was former trainer Barry Purdon. “He was real gentleman,” said Purdon. “He has great speed and manners and was a lovely horse to do anything with. “So I am glad he got to spend his retirement there being looked after so well.”Christopher Vance raced in a golden ear against Chokin, Golden Reign, Master Musician, Blossom Lady, The Bru Czar, Franco Ice and his own stablemate Mark Hanover. Yet as well as the three huge Grand Circuit races he won, he also scored in a New Zealand Free-For-All, NZ Messenger and Northern Derby. He was a potent force with Tony Herlihy in the sulky but while there NZ and Auckland Cup wins were testament to his manners and ability, it was his Miracle Mile success of 1991 that was his greatest moment. Up against Westburn Grant looking to become the first three-time winner of the race as well as his own three-year-old stablemate Chokin, Christopher Vance was written off by Australian experts and they looked right when he was last with a lap of Harold Park to go. But he unleashed one of the great sprints in Miracle Mile history to down Defoe, with Westburn Grant third with Chokin crashing to the track distressed. While he was never as dominant again as during that golden summer of 1991-92, Christopher Vance raced at the highest level for another four years, adding the likes of Victor Supreme, Brabham and even Il Vicolo to his rivals. Michael Guerin

Frustrated, disappointed and now relieved. That’s how Tony Herlihy (MNZM) has felt about his promising 4-year-old pacer Walkinshaw’s last three starts. The master Ardmore horseman was disappointed that he missed away at Kaikoura and then disappointed he didn’t run on when finishing fifth in a $20,000, C3/4 Pace at Addington. “Even though it was a quick time at Addington I still thought he could have run on better. I don’t know what it affected him down there but he wasn’t 100 per cent. Maybe it was the travel but I’m just delighted that he’s getting back to where he should be. “He got a nice trip the other night but 2:39.2 is still a good time. I think he will be a real nice horse in 12 months because the breed seems to take time,” Herlihy said. Walkinshaw notched up his fifth win in 26 starts in last Friday’s $13,999 Generation Homes R67-R99 Pace at Alexandra Park. The son of Mach Three and Monaro bolted in by six-and-three-quarter lengths with a 1:56.4 mile rate for the 2200m mobile. He and Herlihy came home in 57.2 and 28.4. Walkinshaw was the $3.10 second favourite and took his stake earnings to $93,232. “He’s a good little stayer and I think he will mature into a nice horse. I didn’t nominate him for the (Auckland) Cup this year because I think he’s 12 months away from the elite class. “I’ll race him during the Cup Carnival and plan his racing after that. There are some nice four-year-old races for him next year,” Herlihy said. Clients of Herlihy’s (R S Tomlinson, P Morris, P J Hailes, and S W Waters) paid $50,000 to Te Kuiti breeder Bruce Spurdle for Walkinshaw at the 2014 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. Friday’s victory was his biggest to date, but Walkinshaw did place in this year’s Group One Woodlands Northern Derby behind Lazarus and Chase The Dream. “He’s getting stronger all the time and he can stay a bit. I liked the way he resumed from his spell and won well here first up. Then we took him to the South Island. He seemed well at home this week and showed that on Friday,” Herlihy said. The fact that all five of Walkinshaw’s wins have been from behind the mobile doesn’t concern Herlihy. “I think he will take to it okay. He’s an entire and is learning all the time. It’s something we will look at but he gives me the impression he will cope all right,” said Herlihy. Herlihy trained and drove three winners at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He now leads the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership by one win from Zac Butcher, 15-14. He also narrowed the gap on his brother-in-law Barry Purdon in the Training Premiership. Purdon now leads 15-14. The race after Walkinshaw’s win Brent Mangos drove the Herlihy trained Blackguard’s Corner to victory. Herlihy also trained and drove $1.50 favourite Classy Chapel to win the eighth event. His other driving victory came in race four via the Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained Makarewa Jake. He’s now driven 17 winners in 2016-2017 and 3,404 ($35.4m) in his career. Training-wise Herlihy has bagged 15 victories this season and 827 ($10.2m) all-up. Duane Ranger

When Jim Cole tells you Barefoot Barbie has a nice feel to her and can go through the grades you know the Pukekohe horseman is not talking hogwash. You only had to be at Alexandra Park last night to see that. After talking to him you also realise the experienced Franklin trainer knows a thing or two about squaregaiters. Cole drove the legendary 38-win Canterbury trotter Tussle for the late Derek Jones when she won at Alexandra Park in June 1983. Cole also drove, and co-trained with his late father George, the eight-win 1972 trotter Dione Hanover, the 11-win dual gaited (four trotting) 1976 gelding Milson Gold, and he also drove the nine-win 1967 squaregaiter Slane. So yes Cole does know what it takes to make a good trotter. He insists Barefoot Barbie is not, and may never be half as good asTussle or the others mentioned above, but she is showing the right foundation on which to launch a successful career. The Cole-trained and driven chestnut couldn’t have been more impressive in the $12,400 Winger Motors Handicap for the up to R46-R54 trotters. Even though the Bacardi Lindy mare was startled at the start, and swung sideways, she was still clever enough to switch straight into a trot from the 2200m stand. She even recovered so well that Cole was able to maintain the lead and the markers from the ace draw. The rest was a mere formality. Barefoot Barbie strolled to the line untouched to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths in 2:56.1 (mile rate 2:08.8) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.4 and 30.7. She was the $3.80 favourite. The 5-year-old chestnut was only having her second start after finishing a length-second on debut at ‘The Park’ a week earlier. Cole said she showed big improvement in seven days. “That’s what encourages me. Her improvement from race to race has been excellent. Everything I have asked her to do so far she has done with ease. She seems to be fairly laid back and is taking everything in her stride,” Cole said. He said he would now ‘play it by ear’ as to what he does with the promising mare. “Everything is a learning curve for her now. She will probably race at the Auckland Cup Carnival but I’ll just see how she comes through this race. I want to do what’s best for her. “Horses like this don’t come along every day. She certainly makes my job worth getting up for,” said Cole who has just the one racehorse in work. Cole said he would never have come across Barefoot Barbie had it not been for the kindness of his former Pukekohe friend, horseman, and blacksmith, John Amoore. “John and his partner Sheryl retired to Waihi and asked me if Dianne (wife) and I wanted the horse. That was a wonderful gesture. John was a very good horseman himself but is now happily retired down the line. “He took quarter horses to the United States. He was also a very good blacksmith and trained several (eight) winners. I hope the horse can keep winning for them even though Dianne and now own her,” said Cole. Barefoot Barbie was bred by the John Ewing Trust. “She hasn’t put a foot wrong yet but still has a hell of a lot to learn. Not only does she trot okay but she’s just a lovely animal to have around the place,” Cole said. Meanwhile, Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained and drove three winners at the meeting and now leads the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership by one win from Zac Butcher, 15-14. He also narrowed the gap on his brother-in-law Barry Purdon in the Training Premiership. Purdon now leads 15-14. The Iceman trained and drove $3.10 second favourite Walkinshaw to easily win race five and then a race later Brent Mangos drove the Herlihy trained Blackguard’s Corner to victory. Herlihy also trained and drove $1.50 favourite Classy Chapel to win the eighth event. His other driving victory came in race four via the Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained Makarewa Jake.   Duane Ranger

After maintaining a stranglehold on the training and driving premierships for more than a decade at Alexandra Park, Tony Herlihy’s (MNZM) success could be stymied by his brother-in-law Barry Purdon, who lives just 10 minutes away. Clevedon-based Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon, leads all three premierships at Alexandra Park. When he was informed of his success he was a tad baffled. “Are you sure that’s right? I’d still love to be a junior driver and I’d love to be on top. Wow what a thought to have might lifetime ahead of me again,” Purdon joked. But it was advice handed down to the North Island’s leading junior driver by Purdon that has ensured Sean Grayling’s success. Grayling had committed to a job at Paul Fitzpatrick’s stable in New South Wales last month but after talking to his mentor and boss, he made a last-minute decision to stay at home. “It’s the best advice I’ve ever had. Barry is a ‘master trainer’ and you never get sick of listening to him. He said my time would come for overseas. Barry has put a lot of faith in me and I’m just rapt I can repay him back with some wins. “Amanda Kiddie has also been kind to me. I just want to thank Barry, Amanda and all the owners who have put me on. Staying home is starting to pay dividends for me,” 20-year-old Grayling said. He’s now won nine races in 2016-2017 – the same as his personal best he achieved last season from 63 drives. He’s had 41 drives in almost five months this season. Eight of them have come at Alexandra Park. Then there’s Purdon’s number one stable driver, Zac Butcher who is ‘The Park’s’ leading open driver with 14 wins – two more than the current Alexandra Park champion, Herlihy. Grayling and Butcher’s wins would never have happened had Purdon’s team not been the strongest it has in decades. Purdon leads the training premiership at Alexandra Park with 15 wins – four more than Herlihy. “I’ve got to win something. Tony’s been winning everything up here. it’s about time he shared it around,” said Purdon, who’s younger sister Suzanne is married to Herlihy. On a serious note Purdon said he owed the success to his hard-working staff and loyal band of owners. “The owners have been more supportive than ever, especially in recent seasons. They have bought about 17 horses from the Sales in the last four years, and some of those youngsters are really starting to show some potential. “You are also nothing without staff and our team have been exceptional. Congratulations go to Zac and Sean because they are very keen and enthusiastic about everything they do,” Purdon said. Purdon has trained 21 winners from 41 starters in 2016-2017 and has an amazing 0.4580 strike rate. He currently sits fourth on the New Zealand training premiership – six behind Greg and Nina Hope. All up he’s trained 2,388 career winners since 1977 – 1,463 with his father Roy (MBE), 122 with Scott Phelan, and 803 in his own name. Grayling sits second on the national junior driving premiership with nine wins – eight behind Otago’s Rory McIlwrick. He’s now saluted the judge times 24 since he started driving in 2013. As for Butcher, he has now driven 21 winners nationally and is 28 behind pace-setter, Dexter Dunn. Career-wise Butcher has driven 532 winners since 2008. Meanwhile, the Auckland Trotting Club’s Racing manager Kevin Smith reminded people that initial nominations for the Auckland Cup and the National Trot close this Friday at 11am. “There is no nomination fee or sustaining payment if nominated by this date. Noms can come through to our racing office line via (09) 631 1163,” Smith said. His Racing Assistant, Regan Cotter, also commented on the Purdon dominance at ‘Northern Headquarters’ in 2016-2017. “Barry is on fire in trainers and Zac is leading Tony in open drivers premiership, while Sean Grayling is ticking along quite nicely for a junior with eight wins already this season. “Well done to all,” Cotter said.   ALEXANDRA PARK’S TOP 10 DRIVERS (as at today, November 21): 1) Zac Butcher 14 wins. 2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 12. 3) David Butcher 11. 4) Maurice McKendry 10. 5) Josh Dickie 9. 6) Sean Grayling (j) 8. 7) Phil Butcher and Brent Mangos 5. 9) Todd Mitchell 4. 10) Jay Abernethy, Sailesh Abernathy, Rob Argue, Richard Brosnan, Arna Donnelly, Dylan Ferguson (j), Todd MacFarlane, Jack MacKinnon, Kyle Marshall, Andrew Neal and Scott Phelan - all 2 wins each.   TOP 10 TRAINERS: 1) Barry Purdon 15. 2) Tony Herlihy 11. 3) John & Josh Dickie 10. 4) Steven Reid & Simon McMullan 8. 5) Ray Green 7. 6) Brian Hughes and Michelle Wallis/Bernie Hackett 5. 8) Richard Brosnan, Frank Cooney, Arna Donnelly, Logan Hollis/Shane Robertson and Brent Mangos - all 3 wins each.   JUNIOR DRIVERS: 1) Sean Grayling 8. 2) Rob Argue, Jack MacKinnon and Dylan Ferguson - two wins each. 5) Rest = 0 wins.   Duane Ranger

The North Island’s leading Auckland Cup and National Trot prospects emerged at Alexandra Park last night (Friday).   Last year’s Auckland Cup runner-up Hughie Green was simply too big and strong for his six opponents in the feature pace, while Idle Bones set a New Zealand record in the R70 to R99 Trot.   They won their respective 1700m mobiles by three lengths and three-and-a-half lengths respectively. It was Hughie Green’s 11thcareer win and Idle Bones’ 12th and they paid $2.90 and $1.90.   Idle Bones and her trainer/driver Brent Mangos stopped the clock in 2:03.8 beating Allegro Agitato’s 2007 national record for trotting mares by 0.7 of a second.   The grey Monkey Bones mare trotted a 1:57.2 mile rate and came home in 58 even and 29.5.   And it was a smart drive by Tony Herlihy (MNZM) who got Hughie Green home in the fourth event – the $14,000 Mitavite Mobile for the R83 to R106 rated pacers. Hughie Green was rated 106 prior to the race and that is why he started from the widest front-row draw.   "It was a nice drive by Tony. He got back and then got him into the one-one before securing the lead with just under a lap to go.   "He will stay on the horse now as we head towards the Auckland Cup on New Year's Eve," said Gareth Hughes, who trains the big lump of a horse with his father Bunty at Ardmore.   “If he didn’t win tonight, you wouldn’t think he would be much chop in the Auckland Cup. It was a must-win race and the big fella obliged,” Hughes added.   Herlihy was having his first drive behind Hughie Green because regular pilot Maurice McKendry is now committed to the 4-year-old entire he trains – Shandale.   Herlihy notched up his 3,401st winner when Hughie Green stopped the clock in 2:00.3 (mile rate 1:53.9) and last half and quarter in 56.3 and 28.2.   Win number 3,400 came a race earlier when he trained and drove 5-year-old Monarchy gelding, King of The Roses, to a neck victory in the $14,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Handicap for the R36 to R71 trotters.   Maurice McKendry, who finished third in the race behind Hughie Green and Rocker Band (Samantha Ottley), is second on the New Zealand All-Time Driver’s Premiership with 3,162 wins.   Hughes said Hughie Green had come through the race well and had eaten up everything last night. He will now target the Group Three $30,000 Summer Cup on December 9, the Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup a week later and then the Group One $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup on December 31.   Co-owner and breeder John Green termed Hughie Green a disappointment up until last night. Earlier in the week he said if he didn’t measure up in that race and in December the 5-year-old son of Art Major and Alta Serena would do his future racing in Australia.   “John is right in what he says. Even though he ran second in last year’s Auckland Cup (in March) he hasn’t won a Group or Listed race yet, so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Obviously the main target is to go one better in this year’s Auckland Cup and with some of Mark’s (Purdon) nice horses either spelling or at the Interdominions, we might have a chance,” Hughes said.   Hughes said it was a matter of just improving the horse from now until the last day of the year.   “He’s gone okay this time in without getting too excited but I must admit last night’s win brought a few smiles to our faces,” he said.   Meanwhile, Hughie Green’s full sister, 3-year-old bay filly Hughie’s Sister, was expected to make her first public appearance over the mobile mile at the Pukekohe Workouts today.   Hughes said she was a promising type just like the stable’s other winner at Alexandra Park last night – 3-year-old American Ideal – Nicolosa filly, Kaitlyn.   “She’s a nice little racehorse too, whom we have got an a bit of time for. She won her Workouts the week before and we thought she might go a bold race tonight.   “We were delighted with Maurie’s drive and the way she won,” said Hughes.   Kaitlyn, who was the $2.90 favourite, has now raced twice for a win and a third – both over the 2200m mobile at Alexandra Park.   She stopped the clock in 2:46.1 (mile rate 2:01.5 ) and home in 59.7 and 28 flat.   Footnote: There was sad news at Alexandra Park last night when people learnt of the death of Greg Bosma, who was in his 40s.   The jovial and long-time security employee (20-plus years) at ‘The Park’ sadly succumbed to cancer leaving this writer and many, many Alexandra Park patrons absolutely devastated.   Duane Ranger

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

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