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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

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          

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