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Last week was a mixed bag but two very wet tracks at both Ascot Park and Methven didn't help with the conditions hampering a lot of runners. We managed five winners with the best dividend going to Bob Butt at Methven with Ancient Moonlight while others to select winners were John Dunn, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Scott Phelan and we also had five placings as well. This week there are only the four meetings and we cover them all. Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Gives Soul Hanover a great each way chance in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thinks on his runs to date they can't beat Alta Leroy in race 8    Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Thought Uandmebabe would be hard to beat from her good draw in race 7 Scott Phelan - Very bullish about the chances of Bettor B Amazed, also in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Gives the two year old Shandale a big chance of winning race 8 Steven Reid - Rates Aquickone on her work this week as the one to beat in race 9   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thought Danny Del Vito from barrier one could upset them in race 1 John Dunn - Gives Culinary Delight a big push to return to the winners list, also in race 1 Bob Butt - Looking for the trifecta in race one where Bob thinks Gracious Me will be hard to beat Robbie Holmes - Thought Aile Rouge could get a piece of it at good odds in race 2 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of the very smart Father Christmas, also in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) Reckons Waikiki Beach will beat Chase The Dream and win race 4 Blair Orange - Thinks Habibti Ivy will match it with the boys in the Derby and win race 5 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Tiger Tara would be improved this week and a each way chance in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Knows Alley Way is up against it this week but a great place chance in race 7 Tim Williams - Keeps giving out Have Faith In Me and he keeps winning, this week in race 8 Ricky May - Rapt with the run of Dalton Bromac last week and won't have him beaten in race 9   Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Reckons Leigh Major must be due a change of luck and can win race1 Steve Richardson(TAB) - Really likes the chances of Denn Nee Nose Best in race 3 Clark Barron - Gave Real Raider a big chance to clear maidens in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Thought Franco Tyson would be a great each way chance at good odds in race 8   Harnesslink Media

With the big night of harness racing coming up at Addington on Friday night we thought we would preview some of the group races. This preview is of the Superstars Championship for 4 + 5 year olds 1) Tiger Tara - Starts: 29    Wins: 11    Secs: 7    Thirds: 4    Life: $384,200 Looked a lot more like his old self last start after going through a flat patch after the Cup meeting. Liable to end up in the trail here and from there he is a chance to get some of it. Not sure he can win this but an include for trifecta and first four takers. 2) Ohoka Punter - Starts: 24    Wins: 14    Secs: 5    Thirds: 4    Life: $553,249  Outstanding run for third in Auckland Cup and from this draw he is the horse they have to beat. He has good gate speed so should grab the early lead and hard to see him beaten from there. Tony Herlihy in the bike just increases our confidence that he will win this. Top pick for us 3) Johny Rock - Scratched 4) Meticulous - Starts: 30    Wins: 9    Secs: 5    Thirds: 1    Life: $99,507 Has had a useful season to date with several good performances but this is a big step up in class. Has chased Isaiah home a few times and has not been able to beat him so don't like his chances here. Outside first four player at best. 5) Quick As A Trick - Scratched 6) Lewy Risk - Starts: 33    Wins: 7()    Secs: 5    Thirds: 2    Life: $59,695 Didn't run on in Auckland Cup, beaten 16 lengths after a soft trip back on the inner. His best form has been away from the better horses and several runners here seem to have the wood on him. Not for us. 7) Dalton Bromac - Starts: 13    Wins: 9    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $79,267 Has burst on the scene this season and looks a superstar in the making. Big ask fresh up to take on seasoned horses like Ohoka Punter but no doubting the ability or class. Trialed nicely last weekend and a must have for all combination bets. Race fitness the only question mark. 8) Isaiah - Starts: 33    Wins: 13    Secs: 5    Thirds: 10    Life: $577,492 Has been in great touch all season and will make the step up here. Unlucky in the Chariots Of Fire when blocked for a run when he needed it at the top of the straight. Honest as they come and with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike he will lack nothing on the driving front. Must have for all combination bets. 9) Border Control - Starts: 40    Wins: 18    Secs: 12    Thirds: 5    Life: $511,165 Former star performer who has worked his way back to full race fitness with his recent runs after a long injury layoff. Top run in the Auckland Cup from barrier 12 and that run should have tightened him up even further. Out and out stayer who can do work in his races so small field a bonus for him. Must include for combination takers.   SELECTIONS From the draw and with the benefit of recent racing Ohoka Punter looks very hard to beat and is a clear first pick for us. Dalton Bromac is a serious challenger but his lack of recent racing is the question mark for us. Still capable of pushing the favourite. Isaiah and Border Control are both capable of getting amongst it but hard to see them beating Ohoka Punter or Dalton Bromac on seasons form to date. Throw in Tiger Tara for trifectas and first fours if you want a bit of cover. Harnesslink Media  

Last week wasn't one of our best but the missing link was our southern tipsters who had a shocker at Winton last Saturday. Everybody else was thereabouts with their selections with Jim Curtin, Todd Mitchell, Maurice McKendry and Ricky May tipping us into winners and we had seven placegetters as well. This week there are only four meetings in the country and we have selections for them all. Taranaki - Thursday afternoon John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Gave Sheza Springfield a big chance of clearing maidens in race 3 Peter Scaife - Likes Prime Legal to improve on his first day run and win race 4 Scott Phelan - Rates Better B Amazed as very hard to beat in race 9 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Styx It To Em was right in the zone and would win race 10   Addington - Friday night John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of Boom Gate in race 1 Blair Orange - Gives Goodness Gracious Me a big chance in race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Jaccka Justy would be hard to beat in race 3 Tony Herilhy - Thinks Hug The Wind will be very hard to beat from barrier 1 in race 6 Tim Williams - Very keen on the very smart Have Faith In Me, also in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Prime Power is at his best and will win race 8   Ascot Park - Saturday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Likes the chances of Geordie Sivad to make it two in a row in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Mokosun from the front line would be hard to beat in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Gives Leigh Major a big chance in race 7 Nathan Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of Statham in race 8 Clark Barron - Not sure if Bonnies Khaleesi can beat Statham but a great place bet, also in race 8   Methven - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes the chances of the first starter Toot Toot in race 1 Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of Ancient Moonlight in race 3 Jim Curtin - Gives Trial Separation a big chance of leaving maidens in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Really keen on the chances of Another Delight, also in race 4 Ricky May - Thought Jack Hammer would be very hard to beat in race 8 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Break Dance is a big chance to make it two in a row in race 9   Harnesslink Media

The pinnacle for harness racing three year olds to aspire to in New Zealand are the two derbies held each year. This Friday night sees the running of this years $250,000 Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park and this is our runner by runner preview of the race Great Northern Derby - 2015 1) Have Faith In Me - Starts - 9  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $202,302 Probably the most talked about horse pre race due to the draw.  Most pundits think he is likely to be crossed early from barrier one which when added in with his history of having a few fancy steps early when rushed out of the gate makes him vulnerable. We are not convinced it is as dire as that and driver Tim Williams is confident gear changes lately have helped him immensely in giving him more confidence. If he does hold up, he immediately becomes the horse that Follow The Stars has to beat A must for all quinella, trifecta and first four players. 2) Express Stride  -  Starts 14  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 5  -  Thirds 3   -   Stakes $126,945 Ultra consistent horse who from this draw becomes a major player. Can leave the gate so able to take advantage of his good draw. Has been beaten by two or three here in the past when it counts and for that reason we just have that slight doubt over his ability to beat this field. Great trainer/driver in Tony Herlihy is a big plus so a must have for quinellas, trifectas and first fours. 3) Kept Under Wraps  -  Starts 11  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $149,805 This horse has a great overall record but just a notch down from the top two or three. Great manners and ringcraft means he is always thereabouts Very similar in makeup to Express Stride and has been the runner up to Follow The Stars on several occasions now. Draw means he is a player here but more  a place than a win chance for us. 4) Robbie Burns  -  Starts 6  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1   -   $18,503 Has really made his mark in the last couple of months but this race has come a bit too soon for him in our view. Has been thrown in the deep end a bit here but won't disgrace himself. Still at this stage a few here look to have a ringcraft and experience advantage which counts for a lot in races like this. Not for us 5) Art Union  -  Starts 22  -  Wins 12  -  Seconds 5  -  Thirds 1   -   Stakes $141,763 He has been a very busy horse all season but continues to race well at the highest level. Great third in the New South Wales Derby last Sunday after burning the gate and not much doubt that Dexter will go forward this week from barrier five as well. Good enough to get some of it but a question mark over his ability to beat two or three here. Trifecta and first four player for us. 6) Itz Bettor To Win  -  Starts 10  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $81,475 He is a real tradesman like horse and one that tends to sneak under the radar most of the time. Is three for three on the track and each win has been better than the last.  Blair Orange climbs aboard so he lacks nothing in the driver department and appeals to us as the most likely upsetter of the favoured trio. Must have for quinella, trifecta and first four takers. 7) Delighful Offer ( 1st Emerg) -  Starts 12  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 4   -   Stakes $34,946 Bit of a surprise to us that he is on the ballot here as we rate him higher than a couple of others that did make the field. Got a bit of bottom to him as he showed when running fourth in the $200,000 sales race on New Years eve at Alexandra Park after sitting parked Not a major player even if he did made it back into the field. 8) Follow The Stars  -  Starts 16  -  Wins 13  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $548,415 Champion two year old who put a couple of below par seconds in Victoria behind him when he comprehensively beat most of these last week Drew the outside of the second line last week, looped them early and beat them up without being extended. Had a few things go his way for all that but stable very confident there was plenty of improvement left in him heading forward to this week. On that basis he is the horse to beat but he doesn't need too much bad luck to come back to this field. Include in everything. 9) Hughie Green  -  Starts 12  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $55,621 The enigma of the field for sure who when he is good, he is very good and when he is bad he is awful. At his best he could win this but very disappointing run in the prelude last week. Not sure he is at the same level he was before he went south for the Sires Stakes final in November when he was just absolutely low flying. If the real Hughie Green comes to play they will know they have been in a race. However needs to improve a lot off last weeks run to be the threat we know he can be. 10) Change Stride  -  Starts 12  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3   -   Stakes $ 47,629 Has been in great form since Cup week at Addington except for last weeks prelude where he got shuffled back on the inner and was no hope from there a long way out so we have put a line through that run. Follow The Stars beat him by a neck in the Waikato Guineas and his third in the Northern three year old stakes in December was also full of merit. Not a winning hope but can certainly bump up those trifectas and first four dividends. 11) Bettor Spirits  -  Starts 24  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 5   -   Stakes $90,958 Needs everything to go his way to be a player in this race and from this draw that is very unlikely to happen. Very disappointing run in the prelude where after getting a great drag into it, he just battled in the straight.  His run three starts back in the sales race on New Years eve was also very disappointing. Not for us. 12) Chachingchaching  -  Starts 18  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1   -   Stakes $75,547 Has always looked capable of matching it with the big boys but went through a bad patch there for a couple of months. Change of driver a couple of months seems to have worked the trick with him and his last few runs have all been full of merit against quality fields. Not a winning chance for us but another one who is more than capable of running into the money with the right run. An added bonus is his driver David Butcher is back to his very best lately after being sidelined last year through injury. 13) Brilliant Strike  -  Starts 11  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 3   -   Stakes $51,460 Yet to finish out of the money in eleven starts and stuck on gamely for third last week after doing plenty of work. Extra distance right up his alley but we are still not completely convinced he is the real deal at this level. Another bad draw and a much stronger field this week means we struggle to see him as a major player here. Outside first four player for us. 14) Hug The Wind  -  Scratched 15) The Faithful  -  Starts 9  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0   -   Stakes $28,055 Is starting to build up a good record but in the main it has been away from the better three year olds. He has beaten a few of these but not any of the main players so from the draw we think he is on mission impossible. Not for us Selections We don't think there is that much if anything at all between Follow The Stars and Have Faith In Me except that Follow The Stars is the complete professional racehorse where as Have Faith In Me still has a few rough edges to smooth out. So Follow The Stars just in front of Have Faith In Me and after that it is a bit of a lottery. Outside of our top two selections, there is not a lot between several runners For quinella and trifecta takers we would take Express Stride, Kept Under Wraps, Art Union, Itz Bettor To Win and Hughie Green A couple to add into first fours would be Change Stride and Chachingchaching Harnesslink Media

Last week was an improvement from the week before with our tipsters selecting six winners along with eight placegetters so not far away from a great result. Clark Barron, Todd Mitchell, Zac Butcher, John Curtin, Matthew Williamson and Maurice McKendry all got their selections home first to carry on the good strike rate that most of that group have. This week we are covering the four meetings with declared fields but we would suggest that anyone backing a horse at Westport on Friday follows their selection through to Reefton on Sunday. Forbury - Thursday night Terry Chmiel - Gives Moment Of Love a big chance of turning her form around and winning race 4 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of Mokosun in race 9   Westport - Friday afternoon Jim Curtin - Likes the chances of Insignificant even off 30 metres in race 2 Robbie Holmes - Thought As Kiwi As was due a change of luck and could win race 4 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Breakdance can turn her form around and win race 5 Steve Richardson (Tab) - Thought the durable Ideal Arden would be hard to beat in race 7 John Dunn - Rates Geisha Girl a huge chance to make it three in a row, also in race 7 Bob Butt - Gives Georgie Mach a big winning chance even from the unruly mark in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Maurice McKendry - Reckons Yagunnakissmeornot can carry on her winning way in race 2 Blair Orange - Thinks Barry with a drop back this week would be very hard to beat, also in race 2 John Curtin - Gives Chase The Dream a big chance of upsetting Lazarus in race 3  Scott Phelan - Thought First Home, even from barrier eight could upset them in race 4  Tim Williams - Rates Dream About Me a big chance to make it three from three in race 5 Todd Mitchell - Gives Prime Power a great chance of going back to back in race 7 Ricky May - Thinks Jason Rulz is a great place chance from barrier two in race 8 Tony Herlihy - Rates San Diego Love coming in fresh a big chance of winning race 9   Gore - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Gives Taranto a good chance on grass to win race 2 Matthew Williamson - Thought Falcon Asset would be hard to roll in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Statham has kept improving lately and will win race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Thought with a drag into the race Viscountess could get some of it, also in race 7 Clark Barron - Gives Flight Deck a good chance of making a winning debut in race 10

This seasons harness racing two year olds have been competing in heats of the Young Guns series since before Xmas and the best of both the colts and fillies run in their respective finals on Friday night.. We plan to preview them both and first up is the colts and geldings final. $100,000 Young Guns Colts and Geldings Final 1) Lazarus - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Two starts for two wins late last year stamped this colt as a very smart juvenile. In both of his races Lazarus drew badly but on both occasions he overcame the draw to win in style. After a short break he can be expected to come back even better and looms as one of the two leading chances, especially from the draw. 2) El Jacko - Gelding by Elsu   -   Trainers - Logan Hollis * Shane Robertson Two starts in his debut season for two sixths. Hasn't disgraced himself in either race but hasn't threatened the placegetters either Hard to make a case for him as a first four player. 3) Code Black - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Robert Dunn One of the more experienced horses in the final with his four starts yielding one win and two fourths. Has beaten most of the field at various times this season outside of the two favourites. Definite trifecta and first four player but hard to see him beating the All Stars pair. 4) Max Phactor - Colt by Art Major   -   Trainer - Mike Berger Beat the older horses on debut at Cambridge in the first of his four starts this season. Has been competitive but not compelling in his three races since. Does have good gate speed but hard to see him finding the front with Lazarus drawn inside of him. Has yet to beat Walkinshaw in three attempts so hard to see him beating the favoured pair here. First four player only for us. 5) Chase The Dream - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Stunning debut win at Ashburton in the Sapling Stakes in 1:54.8 was followed by an equally impressive win last week at Alexandra Park where after being last early, he looped the field midrace and then ran away and hid in the straight in a 1:57.3 mile rate. Has shown real gate speed at trials in Canterbury so can go forward from better draw this week. One of the two leading chances for us. 6) Walkinshaw - Colt by Mach Three   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy Started the season with a tidy run for fifth first up and has got better with every run since. Nice win two starts back and smart second to Chase The Dream last week after leading from barrier seven. Just appears a touch behind the All Stars pair but looks the best of the rest to us. Tony Herlihy in the bike is a big plus for us. 7) Mach Time - Gelding by Mach Three   -   Trainers - Steve Telfer * Chris Garlick Very inexperienced horse who was having his debut run last week when he ran fourth to Chase The Dream. Held in very high regard by his trainers but draw and lack of raceday experience are big negatives for us. Can run first four with a run to suit.  8) Dark Energy - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy His two runs to date have resulted in a fourth and a fifth and both times from favourable inside draws. His draw of eight and the strength of the field makes it very hard to see him as a player here. Not for us Selections The All Stars duo look to have a class edge over this field and the big decision is which one of the two do we favour. Most pundits are leaning towards Lazarus from the draw, but we have gone with the stablemate Chase The Dream. His two runs to date have been outstanding and last weeks look at Alexandra Park will have helped him bigtime. Lazarus has all the ringcraft of a natural two year old and could just as easily beat Chase The Dream but either way there will not be much in it. Walkinshaw is a clear third for us on the back of his last couple of runs andTony Herlihy in the bike. For first fours we like Code Black, Max Phactor and Mach Time. Harnesslink Media 

One of the real international stars of harness racing in Tim Tetrick hit New Zealand yesterday and created a level of interest from the general media that this industry rarely sees. Everybody wanted a piece of the action and being the consummate professional that he is, Tim handled all the attention with a big smile and good humour. The highlight of his first day down under was his one drive at the Auckland Trotting Clubs meeting at Alexandra Park last night. Tim took the drive behind The Fascinator from leading trainer Tony Herlihy's barn and gave New Zealand harness racing enthusiasts a glimpse of why he is so highly regarded in North America. Away well from barrier six in the 2200 metres event, Tim sent The Fascinator forward and had a serious look for the lead through the first 600 metres but Simon Lawson on Strike The Gold wouldn't hand up so Tim restrained her and settled her three back on the inner. Passing the 700 metres, the back runners started their move and Tim eased the mare out into the running line and once again sat up on the wheel of Strike The Gold with The Faithful and Zac Butcher hard on Tim's back. Turning for home Tim and The Fascinator grabbed a narrow lead over Strike The Gold and held it for most of the straight before being caught in the shadows of the finishing post by The Faithful and Zac Butcher. Tim loved the experience of driving in New Zealand. "It was a bit different going right handed to be honest but I really enjoyed it." " The Stewards gave me a lot of do's and don'ts' before I went onto the track but once I got out there the drivers were great in showing me the ropes," Tim told Harnesslink today. Tim didn't think there was that much difference in the driving styles between the two countries. " A lot of people think you drive a lot tighter down under but we drive tight up there as well believe me." "Because the carts are not as wide in New Zealand, the horses are closer to you but its no tighter than what I am use to at home." "People mentioned to me to be aware of drivers pushing out but we do plenty of pushing and shoving at times at home so I was pretty relaxed about it all," Tim said.  Harness racing in New Zealand struggles most of the time to get a lot of mainstrem media attention but Tim Tetrick's visit has put harness racing front and centre and for all that media coverage the industry should give Tim a huge thank you. Harnesslink Media  

The best harness racing driver in the world Tim Tetrick hits Australia shortly when he arrives to represent the United States Of America in the World Driving championships. The series involves a series of twenty drives for each driver in the championships but Tim is keen to have a few drives beforehand to get the feel of harness racing down under. Before coming to Australia, Tim and his wife Ashley will spend over a week in New Zealand and he has already sorted out a drive there.  On Friday night at Alexandra Park Tim will drive The Fascinator for Tony Herlihy. Beforehand he is going to Ray Greens at Pukekohe to have a sit behind a horse in a Australasian style cart to try to get use to the differences in bikes used downunder. Tim has several media events while in New Zealand and has a full itinerary including a few days playing the tourist before heading to Australia at the end of next week. The sulky maker UFO has had a sulky specially made to Australasian specifications for Tim to use in the series in Australia and by all accounts it sports a pretty special paint job. Whilst being interviewed by phone from North America by Greg Hayes on Trots TV, Tim made it very clear that he would welcome the opportunity to have a few outside drives leading into and during the upcoming drivers series. One thing you can be sure of during his visit is that Tim will draw a lot of media attention to the harness racing industry in Australasia while he is here and that can only be a big positive for the industry down under. Harnesslink Media   

North American Hall Of Fame harness racing driver Tim Tetrick is to give harness racing enthusiasts in New Zealand a real treat on Friday night when he takes the reins behind the Tony Herlihy trained The Fascinator at Alexandra Park. Since he starting driving in the late 1990s, Tim Tetrick has taken the industry by storm in North America. His stats as of today are mind boggling to anyone from the southern hemisphere as his numbers below show. Drives - 43,941 Wins - 8522 Seconds - 6613 Thirds - 5662 Total Stakes won - $153,717,572 Tim drove his first winner at age 16 and the records haven't stopped coming since then. Tim holds the record for most winners in a season at 1189 and was the leading driver in North America for seven consecutive seasons. Nicknamed the "Bionic Man" after having two hip replacements done, Tim has been the regular driver for such great horses as Captain Treacherous, Artistic Fella and A Rocknroll Dance. Tim and his wife Ashley will be in New Zealand for a little over a week and have a very full Itinerary in that time. They will visit both Tony Herlihy and Ray Green's training establishments on Friday before Tim will take the reins behind The Fascinator on Friday night at Alexandra Park. On Saturday they are going deep-sea fishing with Tony Herlihy in the Bay of Islands followed on Sunday by the first of two public meetings where people will get the opportunity to get up close to the leading driver in the world. A good part of Monday will be spent at the Auckland sales before flying to Christchurch for the sales on Tuesday with a second public meeting being held that evening. After that Tim and Ashley with the help of local trotting identity Noel Kennard as their guide plan to have a look around the rest of the South Island before flying out late next week. Friday night at Alexandra Park should be a real treat for harness racing followers in New Zealand as we get to witness first hand the driving style and skill of the best in the business. Harnesslink Media

Another one of those weeks where we were there abouts without getting the rub of the green, with a lot of the horses selected by our tipsters having little luck. Five managed to get home first but another five ran second which about sums up the luck at the moment. Blair Orange, Robbie Holmes, Tony Herlihy, Nathan Williamson and the boss John Curtin all picked winners and special mention for the boss who is going for three in a row this week. Our tipsters have gone near and far this week from Winton in the south to Tabcorp Park Melton in Melbourne. Winton - Thursday afternoon Brad Williamson - Rates Mokosun a big winning chance even off 20 metres in race 4 Clark Barron - Thinks Mass Invasion is overdue a change of luck and can win, also in race 4   Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Princess Arts from the draw could roll the hotpot On The Town in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Gives Repeat After Me a great chance of running in three in race 9     Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Reckons Unmissable is ready to win her second race at Manawatu in race 5 Peter Scaife - Rates Mach Cullen from barrier one a big chance to turn his form around and win race 7   Amberley - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Rates last weeks impressive debutant Supershakes hard to beat in race 3 Robbie Holmes - Gives Bridget Blue Chip from her handy draw a chance to upset them in race 5 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought Always Yours would take all kinds of stopping in race 6 Jim Curtin - Rates Star Of Dionysis back to the grass a big chance to win race 8   Auckland - Friday night Steven Reid - Thought  Clarius could continue his good form and win race 1 Tony Herlihy - Likes Walkinshaw to improve on his debut run and win race 4 Maurice McKendry -  Thought his two year old Shandale would have a big show, also in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Our Dainty Lady very hard to beat in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Better B Amazed will be awlfully hard to beat in race 9   Ashburton - Saturday afternoon Tim Williams - Rates Chase The Dream a big chance to win the Sapling Stakes on debut (Race 5) Blair Orange - Thought Goodness Gracious Me could top off a string of placings with a win in race 9   Tabcorp Park Melton - Saturday night Ricky May - Was rapt with "Terrors" run last week and thinks he can win the Hunter Cup   Wairarapa - Sunday Afternoon Todd Mitchell - Rates Te Kawau very difficult to beat in the Wairarapa Cup.   Waikouaiti - Sunday Afternoon Nathan Williamson - Rates Grey Power a big chance on the grass to win race 5 Matthew Williamson  - Thinks if Bet's Sun trots all the way he can beat his brother in race 5 Craig Thornley - Likes the chances of Dream Big to bounce back and win race 8.   Harnesslink Media

A pre-start mess almost cost punters dearly before Ohoka Punter surged to his first Alexandra Park win in a year on Friday night. The dual Derby winner led throughout to down trailer No Doctor Needed in a race where Sky Major and Gold Ace never got into winning positions because of a lack of mid-race challenges. But while a 26.6 second last 400m made the win look easy, it could have been far different after Ohoka Punter galloped in the score up. “He actually shied at some horse droppings (not the actual word he used) in the score up and galloped,” said trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. “He got a real fright and almost fell over. He evened up but we had to chase the gate so it could have been a lot worse.” That was why Herlihy had to keep Ohoka Punter up to his work in the early stages of the race, with the incident denting his confidence and seeing him gawk about in the home straight the first time. “But in the end he won really well and like many of those horses he will improve,” he said. Herlihy now has to try and find suitable races for Ohoka Punter to try and get him fit enough to take on the really big guns in the Auckland Cup on March 6. “There will be the free-for-all the week before hopefully but really I’d like to have another race between now and then,” he says. “Taking on those horses won’t be easy so being really fit will be important. “But the Auckland Cup is the logical aim.” And while that means taking on Terror To Love, Christen Me and Adore Me, Ohoka Punter has of course beaten the latter over 2700m mobile at group one level at Alexandra Park, in that remarkable Northern Derby of two years ago. Since then his career has been severely interrupted by tendon problems and Herlihy admits he doesn’t even bother getting Ohoka Punter’s leg scanned any more unless there is a sign of trouble, preferring to look after it as best as possible but treat him like any other good horse. “He seems fine for now but every win is a bonus when you have had leg problems,” he offers. “But I haven’t given up on him being a New Zealand Cup horse because we know the motor is there.” Before then Ohoka Punter has the comparative luxury of dropping back to age group racing for the Taylor Mile and Messenger, although they are almost as strong as the strongest open class races these days. One of his rivals in those could be Sky Major, who stormed home into fourth last Friday in his first start back for the season. Trainer Barry Purdon had gone on record pre-race suggesting the dual Jewels winner may have to be driven with a sit from his wide draw, especially with so much gate speed inside him, and when the midfield horses failed to move down the back straight both he and Gold Ace couldn’t win. But they made ground well, with Sky Major now maybe going to race once more at The Park before heading to Menangle for a February 21 lead-up to the Chariots of Fire on March 1. With him, Ohoka Punter and Gold Ace set to be in Auckland over the next few weeks, it raises the possibility of another rematch to highlight the mid February racing. Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as a lot of our tipsters found out last week when a lot of the selections had little luck on raceday. Both Playaway and Sweet Art had no luck on the first day at Otaki but both won on the second day so it does pay to not drop them in a hurry, Our best performer last week was Steven Reid who nailed Clarius at Otaki at $13:40 and he was unlucky not to make it a double for the weekend on the second day, again at good odds. Other selectors to pick winners were Ricky May, Peter Scaife,Scott Phelan, Blair Orange and Brad Williamson and we picked up three placings as well and a string of fourths. This week we have selections at Motukarara, Blenhiem, Auckland, and Invercargill and Gate Pa. Don't let the selections for Blenheim slip under your guard on Sunday if they miss on Friday. Motukarara - Thursday afternoon Robbie Holmes - Gave us two he couldn't separate. At the Mott it is Willie Shine in race 8 Ricky May - Thought Cullen Keefe could get back on track in race 10 Craig Thornley - Rates Franco Hammond highly and thought he could win again, also in race 10   Blenheim - Friday afternoon Jimmy Curtin - Likes the chances of the Brian O'Meara trained Mach Winger in race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Royal Caroline is due a change of luck and can win race 3  Robbie Holmes - The second of his selections this week is the talented Cyclone Kiwi in race 9 Blair Orange - Rates Take After Me a big chance of making it two wins in a row in race 11   Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Gives Uandmebabe a big show even from the second line in race 2 Maurice McKendry - Rates Hanoverdakash a great each way bet in race 3 Scott Phelan - Thought that Prince Of Pops could bounce back after a brief break and win race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink)- Thought Gamma Lady on her workout win last weekend would win race 5   Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates Charleston Belle a big chance to take out race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Knows the draw is dead against him but still likes Simply Stunning, also in race 9    Invercargill - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Splash Cola could get around the first bend then she would win race 1 John Dunn - Gives Alta Las Vegas a big rap even from barrier eight in race 3 Clark Barron - Gives I'm Full Of Excuses a big chance of taking out race 4 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way on last weeks run should win race 5 Brad Williamson - Thought he might be able to upset big brother with Father Christmas, also in race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Acolyte off the mobile a big chance to turn his form around in race 8 Tim Williams - Thought Meticulous had trained on great this week and would win race 9   Gate Pa - Sunday afternoon Peter Scaife - Confident that a shoeing change will have recent import Winsome Luck winning race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thought Shardon's Pearl would carry on the good work and win, also in race 2 Sean McCaffrey - With no Gold Ace or Adore Me about, he thought Norvic Nightowl could win race 9     

The combination of less grass, more work and the ace draw give Sheemon a rare shot at revenge over Stent in the $80,000 National Trot today. And while trainer Kevin Townley isn’t getting cocky, he agrees his pony-like trotter has a lot in his favour today. Sheemon is one of the most consistent trotters in the elite ranks but has run into a rampant Stent of late, having to bow to him three times in his last four starts. The most comprehensive of those was at Cambridge last Wednesday when Sheemon tracked Stent in the Flying Mile but as it turned out only one of them was flying. Stent sprinted to a stunning win, leaving Sheemon flatfooted at the 400m, with the latter only making ground late. “To be honest I was disappointed with that,” says Townley. “I am not sure we could have beaten Stent because he was super there but I was surprised he dropped us so quickly. “All I can put it down to is maybe he had eaten too much grass and I had been too easy on him. “So I have cut back his food, stepped up his work and I am pretty confident he will be fitter this time.” A sharper Sheemon will take a power of beating as he has the gate speed to use barrier one and then Dexter Dunn can be the master of his own destiny. “I would never tell Dexter how to drive but I’d love to see him following the right horse,” says Townley. “We probably can’t try for an all the way win because Stent is drawn right behind us so I wouldn’t want to give him the perfect trail but if we get that sort of run then I think we have a really good shot at beating him. “Still, the way Stent is going if he gets off the markers and gets around we could be flat catching him again.” Several of Stent’s performances since he burst onto the open class scene have suggested he is far more potent in sprint trips than today’s 2700m mobile but he is in such great form he can probably still thrive just outside his comfort zone today. If trainer-driver Colin De Filippi takes the gamble to stay on the markers punters will be in for some nervous times but with clear air, often easier to find in trotting races, he is still clearly the one to beat. The big improver could be last year’s winner Irish Whisper, who was adaquete last start but looks set to be handy today, which suits his grinding racing style today. He is part of a very strong driving book for Tony Herlihy today, who has big winning hopes with Darcee, San Diego Love, Express Stride, Ohoka Punter, Walk Of Fame and The Fascinator as well. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

A series of tricky draws for the superstars in the richest races at Alexandra Park on Wednesday have stopped harness bookies in their tracks. So much so they have delayed opening betting on the premier card until today as they try and work out how punters will react. Auckland’s biggest day harness meeting of the year features two group ones, a group two and a $200,000 listed Sales Series race and none of them have seen the early favourite draw well. The group ones have been the cruelest, with Stent drawn one on the second line in the $80,000 National Trot, where luck comes into play as he tries to clean sweep the December group trots in the north. And facing an even more difficult task is exceptional pacing filly The Orange Agent, who will have to come from a second line draw in the $150,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes Championship. While she will still open favourite when the markets come out around noon today, bookies can’t afford to have her red hot because that would mean big name fillies like Classical Art, Linda Lovegrace, Democrat Party or Supersonic Miss start to get out to long odds. “The draws really haven’t helped us sort things out,” admits TAB bookie Richard Wilson. “There are now some really tough markets to line up and work out how punters will react.” The $200,000 Sales Series Pace should still see long-time futures favourites Have Faith In Me and Hug The Wind at the head of the markets but they have lost what appeared to be an iron grip on the race.  While they have front line draws, Have Faith In Me at three and Hug The Wind at six, brilliant beginner Mighty Flying Major now holds the key to the race after drawing the ace. He will lead for certain and then Blair Orange gets to decide whether he relents to one of the Purdon-Rasmussen runners or stays in front, potentially gifting the trail and passing lane to Express Stride, who follows him through. It will be an interesting tactical battle in one of our richest age group races. Ohoka Punter steps up his comeback after a huge return win at Cambridge last Wednesday when he takes on open class opponents like Franco Nelson and Pembrook Benny in the $40,000 Franklin Cup. With Beyond The Silence and Lancewood Lizzie off the front the race won’t be easy for Ohoka Punter (10m) or Franco Nelson (20m) in a race recent open class double winner Gold Ace was allowed to miss to concentrate on mobile racing. He will head to Cambridge for the Flying Mile on January 9, a race he won two years ago, where he is almost certain to meet Adore Me. Meanwhile, the prognosis is looking much brighter for dual Breeders Crown winner Bit Of A Legend after a dramatic end to Friday’s Ashburton Cup. The star pacer galloped and pulled up with a leg in the air in the race, looking to have broken down badly but he was showing no signs of soreness the next day, leaving trainer Cran Dalgety relieved but perplexed. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

It is probably a good thing Ohoka Punter isn’t in a leg of the $250,000 Pick6 at Cambridge tomorrow. Because a horse as brave as the forgotten superstar doesn’t need the pressure of being everybody’s Christmas anchor in his first race for exactly 11 months. Not that trainer-driver Tony Herlihy isn’t confident the five-year-old can win his comeback race, but he knows how testing fresh-up runs in the intermediate grade can be. Ohoka Punter has raced just once in the last 18 months and resumes off a 20m handicap in a full field in race six tomorrow. But with Cambridge carding 12 races at one of its strongest meetings in years, the $250,000 which jackpots from last Thursday starts on race seven. Which maybe gives Ohoka Punter some latitude for punter forgiveness if traffic or a lack of race fitness see him beaten fresh-up. But first a recap. With the remarkable feats of Adore Me, Christen Me and Terror To Love in the last month you could be forgiven for having slightly grainy memories of Ohoka Punter. He is the muscular pacer who has won 11 of his 18 starts, nearly $500,000 and never been unplaced. He came from the second line to win the Victoria Derby last year then downed Adore Me and Franco Nelson in one of the truly great Northern Derbys a month later. Already a 1:51 miler, his troublesome tendons are the only judder bar between him and being a major Cup winner. Which is why when they flare up, Herlihy puts the wonderful pacer straight to the paddock because he deserves the chance to be the great horse he has the potential to be. He warmed up for tomorrow’s return with two recent workouts, the second at Alexandra Park last Saturday when he hit the line locked together with NZ Cup runner-up Franco Nelson. Which sounds pretty good form for a $10,000 race at Cambridge. “I was very happy with him,” said Herlihy. “He obviously improved with his first workout and they went 2:42 (2200m mobile) and home in 55 seconds on Saturday and he felt good. “So I am more confident after that that he can win fresh but it is never easy, especially in a big field at Cambridge where it is so hard to come from off the pace.” The no-push out rule should enable Herlihy to move mid-race if the pace slackens so expect Ohoka Punter to open short with the bookies for tomorrrow’s afternoon fixture. At any normal Cambridge meeting Ohoka Punter would stand out but tomorrow he is just one of the many real deal horses on show. Dalton Bromac will back up from his national record run at Alexandra Park against Venus Serena, with Franco Nelson scratched from the $50,000 JLT Futurity. And Stent will be take on Sheemon and Dominion winner Jaccka Justy in the Flying Mile Trot.   Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

We must apologize for last weeks absense due to the staff member responsible being off ill and the "boss" not picking up the slack. It might have been an opportune time for a break anyway as our tipsters were digging themselves a bit of a hole in the last week or two. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Zac Butcher - Thought Georgies Smile from the ace would be hard to roll in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very keen on the chances of Thanks Shane also in race 2 Scott Phelan - Reckons Santana Jewel is way overdue to win one in race 4 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks if the breaks go her way that Simply Stunning can upset them in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Likes the chances of The Moonraker clearing maidens in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac should continue the picket fence formline in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates The Fascinator a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Reckons Classical Art can keep the winning streak intact in race 5 Blair Orange - Likes the chances of Mighty Flying Major to be a "major" player in race 7 Tim Williams - Not surprisingly Tim thinks that Have Faith In Me will win, also in race 7 Steven Richardson - Has gone a touch rougher with Express Stride to upstage the other two in race 7 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Yagunnakissmeornot can make it six from six at Alexandra Park in race 10 Gerard O'Reilly - Is confident that Zin Zan will strip a lot fitter this week and can win race 11   Addington - Friday night Robbie Holmes - Likes Tehoro Ruby from barrier 1 to break out of maidens in race 1 Bob Butt - Thought if Justalittlebettor could reproduce her Methven run she could win race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Monty Python a big chance to go back to back in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thinks Breeders Crown finalist Field Marshall will be to good in race 11   Wairio - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Grey Power put his best foot forward they wouldn't beat him in race 1 Dexter Dunn - Likes the chances of Leolas Delight making a winning debut in race 2 John Dunn - Very confident that Jay Dub can make it two from two this time in and take out race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks that Vera's Delight can get that long overdue win in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Canardy Lover a big show to go back to back in race 8 Clark Barron - Reckons that Shezacheapy back on the roomy Winton track can win race 9   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Craig Thornley - Thinks Inchbonnie Lad can go one better this week and win race 4   Harnesslink Media  

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