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

The trotting side of harness racing has been a bit light on numbers at the top level in the North Island for the last couple of years but the current season promises to be the best for a few years.  Boizel is back for another year and the rising star Prime Power should be ready to tackle the big bangers this season. And then we come to one of the enigmas of trotting in New Zealand in Irish Whisper who on his best day looks as good as anything going round. Trained by the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy, Irish Whisper has been nursed through his career to this point due to immaturity. " I've had to look after him up to now because he has needed time to strengthen up but he looks a picture this time in and I am really looking forward to the new season with him"said Herlihy "I took him to Australia last year when he wasn't really ready for it but I knew the trip would make him and by the look of him this time in it has." It really is time for Irish Whisper to stand up and I think he will "said Herlihy. Irish Whisper only had six starts in New Zealand last season but managed to win three of them including two narrow wins over the brilliant Stent 1:54.8 ($471,572). The seven year old gelding by Sundon is due to resume on Friday night at Alexandra Park in the C3-OC handicap trot off 40 meters behind and Herlihy is confident of a big run. "I know it's hard off 40 meters but his runs at the workouts have been really good leading into Friday night. If he was to get a nice drag into the race, then I thing he could just about win first up" said Herlihy There has never been any doubt about how good Irish Whisper is with only his immaturity letting him down in the past. This season due to the patience that Tony Herlihy has shown, Irish Whisper may finally fulfill his potential. Harnesslink Media

Last week threw up four winners with Maurice McKendry, James Stormont, Blair Orange and Matthew Williamson tipping out winners why six others were in the money which is not a bad effort. This week we have three meetings again and hopefully we have again passed on the good oil. Cambridge - Thursday night Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green in race 4 will be very hard to beat. Sean McCaffrey - Confident that stable runner Strawberry Miss will go close in race 5 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Huxwell back left handed is a big chance in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Looking for David Butcher to strike with Bute Mach in race 7 Peter Scaife - Bad draw and all,rates Mach Cullen a good chance in race 7  Tony Herlihy - Likes Downunder Stride to make a winning debut in race 8   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thinks Gyrate is overdue to win a race and is a big chance in race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes Indiana Jones in race 4 after last week's great run Ricky May - Sticking with Crackapaca in race 5 after her huge run last week Gerald O'Reilly - Very keen on Zin Zan in race 6 after his big finish last week Blair Orange - Rates Oasis Dream a winning chance in race 10   Oamaru - Sunday Cran Dalgety - Thinks stable runner Uaintseennothinyet is a big chance in race 2 Matthew Williamson - Is very keen on Smokin Bird making it two from two in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Rates Tas Man Bromac a big chance to upset Smokin Bird in the same race Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox is a big chance in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Sterns Arising a chance to go three in a row in race 8   Harnesslink Media

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

One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of  harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media 

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

The best harness racing drivers from the North and South Islands square off in six races at Alexandra Park on Friday night (August 29th). Named the Island Of Origin series, it has brought together the best drivers in New Zealand in a contest that decides bragging rights between the islands for the next twelve months. Points are scored on a 3 - 2 - 1 basis and judging by the fields and the spread of form horses to both camps, it should be a close and exciting contest. The South Island team is full of talent with last seasons leading driver Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Mark Jones, Blair Orange, Gerald O'Reilly and Jimmy Curtin.. The North Island team is just as talented with the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy teaming up with Zac Butcher, Philip Butcher, Peter Ferguson, Todd Mitchell and Scott Phelan. Most home teams have an edge to start with and that was added to just a little bit by the fact that the Northern horsemen have 31 drives on Friday night compared to 30 for the Southern horsemen. All the races for the invited drivers are penalty free which is a nice bonus for the trainers and owners who have supported the series with their horses. The most interesting race for the invited drivers is undoubtedly race three, the C2 - C5 mobile pace over 2200 meters. Last seasons smart 3 year old Te Kawau looks hard to beat but a couple of real up and comers could prove troublesome with a run to suit. Royal Taz has won his last two for Tony Herlihy in the manner of a horse going places and from his handy draw looms as a genuine threat to the favourite. Pricillas Girl has run two slashers this time in and appeals as a value runner if the other two go to war at any stage. Six of the other runners in the field have either won or been placed at their last start so the favoured trio won't have it all their own way. The invited drivers creates real interest leading into Friday night and the Auckland Trotting Club should be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition. Harnesslink Media 

Another harness racing season is under way in New Zealand and Charlie Roberts is continuing to have that golden run that he has been on for a few years now. Tonight Charlie had a first starter in the Vetpro Equine Supplements Pace at Alexandra Park in  the form of Walk Of Fame. The 3 year old daughter of Bettor's Delight flew the gate from barrier five in the 2200 meters mobile event and grabbed an early lead before handing up to Linda Mac after 400 meters. From there she got a lovely run to the corner from where the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy angled her down into the passing lane and she finished far too well for her competition to run out an easy winner by two lengths. It was a very tradesman like performance for a filly having her first lifetime start. Walk Of Fame paced the 2200 meters in 2: 47.3 with the last 800 meters in 57.4 and 400 meters in 28.4. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Walk Of Fame has plenty of ability as she would have to be one of the best bred fillies in New Zealand. Not only is she by a great filly sire in Bettors Delight but Walk Of Fame is from a full sister to the champion In The Pocket mare Tupelo Rose 1:51.4 ($871,753). Not only was Tupelo Rose a great racemare but she has fashioned a great record as a broodmare as well. Not only has she left Willy Mucha 1:50.2 ($348,020) but one of her daughters Capelo Rose is already the dam of Machapelo 1:51.2 ($582,941) and Resistance Futile 1:49.4 ($246,983) Walk Of Fame looks to have inherited much of the family ability going by the ease of her win tonight. Whatever Walk Of Fame does on the racetrack, her residual value when she retires to the broodmare barn will be huge. Harnesslink Media  

Junior harness racing reinsman Matt Anderson got his All Stars career away to the best possible start when guiding juvenile pacer Bettor With Bourbon to victory at Rangiora today. In what was his first ever drive for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Anderson sent the Bettor's Delight two-year-old to the front from barrier three before taking a trail behind favourite Western Art. He then looked flat down the back straight but under the urgings of Anderson he picked up the bit again and finished strongly along the passing lane to down Western Art by half of a length. Livura finished a further length and a half away in third. Anderson, who only started work with All Stars a fortnight ago, took up a spot with the country's leading stable after an opening appeared as a worker and junior driver earlier this month when Purdon's sons Nathan and Michael headed away on their big OE. With the encouragement of mate Nathan, Anderson was quick to, not only take up that opening, but also notch up his first winner in the bullet proof colours. Anderson, 22, returned home to Canterbury to take up the position after spending six months in the North Island working for Purdon’s brother-in-law, leading trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Anderson said that he had learned a lot from Herlihy and had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the North but he had struggled for drives during his six month stint. "I was stoked to get a good opportunity for All Stars so soon after joining the stable and was pleased that I didn't let them down," beamed Anderson post-race. "Hopefully it is the first on many for the stable." "I am really enjoying working for Mark and Natalie," he added. "They have phenomenal team around them and putting on the colours certainly gives you a lot of confidence." Anderson, who looks a natural in the sulky, does not come from a racing background but gained earlier experience in harness racing through Canterbury trainers Dean Taylor and Robbie Holmes. Matt, who won his first race aboard the Robbie Holmes trained Highview Ember at Rangiora back in August of last year, has now won seven races from just 57 drives. *Bettor With Bourbon was All Stars 21st individual two-year-old winner this season. Their 20th was Big Lucy, who was successful in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat on Saturday night. By Mitchell Robertson

Junior harness racing reinsman Matt Anderson got his All Stars career away to the best possible start when guiding juvenile pacer Bettor With Bourbon to victory at Rangiora today. In what was his first ever drive for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Anderson sent the Bettor's Delight two-year-old to the front from barrier three before taking a trail behind favourite Western Art. He then looked flat down the back straight but under the urgings of Anderson he picked up the bit again and finished strongly along the passing lane to down Western Art by half of a length. Livura finished a further length and a half away in third. Anderson, who only started work with All Stars a fortnight ago, took up a spot with the country's leading stable after an opening appeared as a worker and junior driver earlier this month when Purdon's sons Nathan and Michael headed away on their big OE. With the encouragement of mate Nathan, Anderson was quick to, not only take up that opening, but also notch up his first winner in the bullet proof colours. Anderson, 22, returned home to Canterbury to take up the position after spending six months in the North Island working for Purdon’s brother-in-law, leading trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Anderson said that he had learned a lot from Herlihy and had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the North but he had struggled for drives during his six month stint. "I was stoked to get a good opportunity for All Stars so soon after joining the stable and was pleased that I didn't let them down," beamed Anderson post-race. "Hopefully it is the first on many for the stable." "I am really enjoying working for Mark and Natalie," he added. "They have phenomenal team around them and putting on the colours certainly gives you a lot of confidence." Anderson, who looks a natural in the sulky, does not come from a racing background but gained earlier experience in harness racing through Canterbury trainers Dean Taylor and Robbie Holmes. Matt, who won his first race aboard the Robbie Holmes trained Highview Ember at Rangiora back in August of last year, has now won seven races from just 57 drives. *Bettor With Bourbon was All Stars 21st individual two-year-old winner this season. Their 20th was Big Lucy, who was successful in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat on Saturday night. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness Jewels winner Beaudine Boaz is set to make his Australian debut in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Saturday. And if his recent Byford trial where he mile rated 1:58.6 on his way to an impressive win is anything to go by he will take all sorts of beating. The Badlands Hanover colt dashed his last half in 56.4 in his trial and impressed driver Gary Hall Jnr, who bypassed the opportunity to drive Im Themightyquinn in Queensland in order to handle the 2YO Emerald winner in his main hit-out before Saturday’s prestigious two-year-old event.  Beaudiene Boaz, who is a half-brother to top mare Beaudiene Bad Babe, is just one of a few expensive purchases made by clients of the Gary Hall Snr stable in recent months.  Other classy New Zealand juveniles they have snapped up included high priced fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic. Meanwhile, impressive debut juvenile winner Connoisseur, who was purchased out off the barn of John and Joshua Dickie by clients of  Greg Bond for a large six-figure sum, will miss the Golden Slipper, with his new connections opting to spell him before bringing him back for early three-year-old racing. Rycroft, an Elsu two-year-old who was also very impressive when winning his debut for Tony Herlihy at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, is also in Perth after being secured for big money. He has joined the stable of Mike Reed, who has enjoyed tremendious success with former kiwi filly Libertybelle Midfrew this season. Rycroft, like Connoisseur, will now be spelled and will therefore miss this weekend’s two-year-old feature. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness Jewels winner Beaudine Boaz is set to make his Australian debut in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Saturday. And if his recent Byford trial where he mile rated 1:58.6 on his way to an impressive win is anything to go by he will take all sorts of beating. The Badlands Hanover colt dashed his last half in 56.4 in his trial and impressed driver Gary Hall Jnr, who bypassed the opportunity to drive Im Themightyquinn in Queensland in order to handle the 2YO Emerald winner in his main hit-out before Saturday’s prestigious two-year-old event.  Beaudiene Boaz, who is a half-brother to top mare Beaudiene Bad Babe, is just one of a few expensive purchases made by clients of the Gary Hall Snr stable in recent months.  Other classy New Zealand juveniles they have snapped up included high priced fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic. Meanwhile, impressive debut juvenile winner Connoisseur, who was purchased out off the barn of John and Joshua Dickie by clients of  Greg Bond for a large six-figure sum, will miss the Golden Slipper, with his new connections opting to spell him before bringing him back for early three-year-old racing. Rycroft, an Elsu two-year-old who was also very impressive when winning his debut for Tony Herlihy at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, is also in Perth after being secured for big money. He has joined the stable of Mike Reed, who has enjoyed tremendious success with former kiwi filly Libertybelle Midfrew this season. Rycroft, like Connoisseur, will now be spelled and will therefore miss this weekend’s two-year-old feature. By Mitchell Robertson

Last week was a bit quieter for the ring-around with just Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Ken Barron, David Butt, and Tony Herlihy tipping out winners. Hopefully we can top that performance this week Cambridge - Thursday Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Present Arms - race three. Josh Dickie: Rates juvenile Monterey Jack as good each-way prospect in the sixth race on the card. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach, who was an impressive last start winner, can repeat the dose in the fifth race on the card. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Ace Moment in the fourth event. Addington - Friday Craig Thornley: Thinks capabale type Al's Courage will measure up well in what is a very strong line-up - race seven. Samantha Ottley: Would love to win the Darren DeFilippi Memorial and thinks she can with Jayceekay - race seven. Ricky May: Has opted for Dalton Bromac who was super impressive when winning his South Island debut. - race eight. Anthony Butt:  Rates Gotta Go Artelect as a good each-way chance in the same event. Blair Orange: Has opted for Franco Tevez, who finished third last start, in the ninth event at Addington. Oamaru - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for Monnay, who has been herculean when overcoming back handicaps to win his last two starts. He will attempt to do that again in race five. Mark Jones and Jonny Cox: Both think smart filly Goodness Gracious Me, who was super at the recent Motukarara workouts, will prove very hard to beat in the seventh race. Nathan Williamson: Has selected capable three-year-old Onedin Mach, who races well when in a fresh state. He will take all sorts of beating in the ninth race.        

Last week was a bit quieter for the ring-around with just Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Ken Barron, David Butt, and Tony Herlihy tipping out winners. Hopefully we can top that performance this week Cambridge - Thursday Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Present Arms - race three. Josh Dickie: Rates juvenile Monterey Jack as good each-way prospect in the sixth race on the card. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach, who was an impressive last start winner, can repeat the dose in the fifth race on the card. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Ace Moment in the fourth event. Addington - Friday Craig Thornley: Thinks capabale type Al's Courage will measure up well in what is a very strong line-up - race seven. Samantha Ottley: Would love to win the Darren DeFilippi Memorial and thinks she can with Jayceekay - race seven. Ricky May: Has opted for Dalton Bromac who was super impressive when winning his South Island debut. - race eight. Anthony Butt:  Rates Gotta Go Artelect as a good each-way chance in the same event. Blair Orange: Has opted for Franco Tevez, who finished third last start, in the ninth event at Addington. Oamaru - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for Monnay, who has been herculean when overcoming back handicaps to win his last two starts. He will attempt to do that again in race five. Mark Jones and Jonny Cox: Both think smart filly Goodness Gracious Me, who was super at the recent Motukarara workouts, will prove very hard to beat in the seventh race. Nathan Williamson: Has selected capable three-year-old Onedin Mach, who races well when in a fresh state. He will take all sorts of beating in the ninth race.        

Fly Like An Eagle was back "home'' last Monday resuming with All Stars in a bid to go one better than his second in the New Zealand Cup in November. Since being sold out of the stable earlier this year Fly Like An Eagle has largely been with Tony Herlihy but his form deteriorated as his long season wore on. The Mach Three star had a busy winter and spring as a four year old leading up to his great Cup bid and then continued a campaign in Australia and in the north. It was all too much so now he is back where he started his wonderful career. Winning the two year old male Jewels a Derby and just being beaten in the New Zealand Cup the next season is rare. The one to get close was Highview Tommy, now at stud though he did not win a Derby, Fly Like An Eagle  is one of at least five horses All Stars could have headed for Cup honours. Other possible contenders HANDS CHRISTIAN resumed hoppling last week. He is recovering from successive tendon injuries with all that implies but so far is so good. ADORE ME is back in work after a five week break following the Jewels. ARDEN ROONEY's staying efforts as a  four year old has earned him a possible Cup start. Mark and Natalie have always considered the top staying races would be his forte. SMOLDA is back in work at Rolleston and will probably appear around September/October also. He seems 100 per cent In the wings still is DIDJAMAKEM BOLT pre-training across the Tasman but at this stage he is not a Cup contender. It does not seem likely Mark and Natalie will again have a four year old in Cup contention as ISAIAH probably the most likely contender has so far had superior form at shorter distances.  But the list is far from set in concrete with several months to go before the big race. Normally however the All Star decisions on Cup runners are made by this time of the year. BORDER CONTROL SIDELINED Missing from the list of NZ Cup propositions for All Stars stable is the tough BORDER CONTROL a tough stayer seemingly born for a race like the Cup But unfortunately a leg problem has proven more extensive than originally thought and the decision has been made to put the Australasian three year old record holder over the mile out for a long spell. Border Ctontrol has been a tough fighter all through his career his win in the NZ Derby and wonderful performance in the Harness Jewels 3yo in 1.50.6 stamped him as one of the best in the business.This season  has not gone his way but a 53.9 800m at Addington reminded everyone how good he was. Hopefully he will be back better than ever next year. By David McCarthy (ALL STARS RACING STABLES)

The Jacobsen Headstones mobile pace last night at Auckland was all the talk in the harness racing community this week prior to the race. A two year old son of Christian Cullen in Crockets Cullen trained by Brent Mangos was all the rage on the back of some smart performances at the trials recently. If you listened to the tipsters he was a past the post certainty, but as we all know in racing there is no such thing. Even though the field was only small at just seven runners, what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for with its quality. Aside from Crockets Cullen it included two other two year olds in Bettormack and Rycroft who had also been excelling at trials as well of late. Throw in smart maidens such as Under Worked and Shedontloveme and you had all the ingredients for a fascinating race. Shedontloveme led off the gate before handing up to  Bettormack who in turn handed up to Crockets Cullen after 500 meters. Rycroft had settled last from his wide draw but took off with 950 meters to go to work forward to the death seat. Turning for home Rycroft quickly asserted his superiority and went to line for a comfortable 1 ¼  length win over Shedontloveme who just nosed Bettormack out of second with Crockets Cullen weakening to fourth. The son of Elsu who is trained and was driven by the “iceman” Tony Herlihy, paced the 2200 in the smart time of 2:44.4 with closing sectionals of 57;9 and 28.8. From the famed Black Watch family, Rycroft is from the In The Pocket mare Futures So Bright who is a half- sister to such smart types as Pulsation 1:53.2 ($128,511)  Anescape 1:50.6 ($122,027) and Forever Now 1:57 (106,288) Judging by the ease of his win tonight over such a talented field, this won’t be the last time that Rycroft is first to greet the judge on race night.   Rycroft Harneeslink media

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