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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  

We thought it would be interesting to get the viewpoint of all our regular tipsters with regards how they see the New Zealand Cup this week and so the following selections are how they see the race. Maurice McKendry --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Christen Me Tony Herlihy --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Tiger Tara Sean McCaffrey --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Christen Me Scott Phelan --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me --Christen Me Todd Macfarlane --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason Todd Mitchell --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason John Curtin --- Christen Me -- For A Reason -- Terror To Love Matthew Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Christen Me Nathan Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brad Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- Christen Me Shane Walkinshaw --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brendon McLellan --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Clark Barron --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian Tim Williams --- Adore Me --- Terror To Love --- Christen Me   Terry Chmiel --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- For A Reason Steve Richardson --- Terror To Love --For A Reason -- Tiger Tara Robbie Holmes --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Franco Nelson Gerard O'Reilly --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Tiger Tara  Craig Thornley --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Jimmy Johnstone Jim Curtin --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Ricky May --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Blair Orange --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me John Dunn --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Franco Nelson                                                                 Cup Day Ringaround   With a lot of our regular tipsters involved in Cup Day we thought we would ask them for their best drive from their book tomorrow. Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Eyre I Come in race 1 Tony Herlihy -  Rates Tokohoka from the All Stars team as tough to beat in race 2 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought King Of Strathfield had freshened up nicely and could win race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Like Gerard, Steve thinks that King Of Strathfield will win race 3 Ricky May - Very bullish about Dalton Bromac even fron barrier 9 winning race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Fly Like An Eagle can confound the pundits and win race 5 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Sam is a great place chance in race 6 Maurice McKendry - As you would expect, Maurice thinks Hughie Green will win race 7 Robbie Holmes - If Cyclone Kiwi steps Robbie thinks he will win race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought All Delight was a good place chance at odds, also in race 8 Jimmy Curtin - Thinks Te Kawau from barrier three will win  race 9 Tim Williams - Reckons Here We Go Again can overcome the bad draw and win, also in race 9 Nathan Williamson - Confident that Spash Cola is a big chance to win race 11 John Dunn - Rates No Doctor Needed very hard to beat in race 12 Terry Chmiel - Likes Happy Heidi to run the Quinella with No Doctor Needed  in race 12   Harnesslink Media

Last week saw a big improvement from the week before but the team of tipsters are still not really at peak yet. Maurice McKendry, Sean McCaffrey, Todd Mitchell, Todd Macfarlane, Matthew Williamson and Steve Richardson from the TAB all nabbed winners while another five managed placings. As we countdown to Cup week, there are once again five meetings nationwide and we have selections for all of them. Forbury Park - Thursday night Craig Thornley - Likes Smart Caesar from a mobile to be hard to beat in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Pegasus Kommander from barrier 2 would be hard to beat in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Dwindle Mist is on the improve and can take out race 7   Auckland - Friday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thought the central districts visitor Our Wicklow would be hard in race 1 Maurice Mckendry - Rates the chances of The Orange Agent in race 2 Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path even from barrier 15 can win race 6 Zac Butcher - Likes Chachingchaching to upset Hughie Green in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Eyrewell Pegasus can overcome the 20 metre handicap and win race 8 Tony Herlihy - Likes stable runner Danger Mouse in the hands of Tony Cameron to win race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks A Chance To Dream from barrier 1 could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Jim Curtin - Thought Juliette Bromac was a real chance of winning race 2 Tim Williams - Rates Have Faith In Me back to a maiden very hard to beat, also in race 2  Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Ruby a chance to upset from the mobile in race 3 John Dunn - Likes Monumental to turn his form around in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Confident that Stradowan has improved from first up run and can win race 8   Riverton - Sunday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Majestic Stride a real show of winning race 3 Matthew Williamson - Thought Alley Way even from 50 metres should be too good for them in race 5 Clark Barron - Thinks with natural improvement Sheeza Shark won't be far away in race 7 Dexter Dunn - Likes Courage To Fly to end his run of seconds and win race 8   Kaikoura - Monday afternoon Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought star trialist Princess Galleon could win race 1 Blair Orange - Couldn't see Mighty Flying Major beaten in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Carrickmannon could trouble Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy in race 4 Ricky May - Confident that Mel Gibson can go one better than his last start and win race 5 Sam Ottley - Thinks Price Of Fame will go very close also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Norvic Nightowl a real chance in the Kaikoura Cup, race 8    Harnesslink Media

Harness racing throws curveballs at trainers all the time and it always seems to be with the horses with all the ability. Tony Herlihy is still scratching his head over the performance of the outstanding trotter Irish Whisper in the Flying Mile at Ashburton on Labour Day. After drawing barrier one, Irish Whisper led early and then trailed the hot favourite Stent after 200 metres before ending up three back on the inner when Vulcan sped to the lead. Stent came out of the trail at the 600 metres and grabbed the lead and Irish Whisper also came off the inner at the same time to be parked at the 500 metres mark. As they straightened for home Stent shot away and left them to it with Irish Whisper battling into seventh, nearly seven lengths from the winner. It was a very disappointing run for the son of Sundon who has proved more than a match for Stent in previous clashes between the pair. Tony was at a loss to explain the performance. " I was very disappointed with the run and thought he should have run in the money with the trip he had. "He has matched it with Stent in the past and he had settled in really well down south so I was expecting a big run," he said Tests taken afterwards have not shone any light on the reason for the below par performance so Tony aims to carry on towards the Dominion with him. " We took a blood after Monday but everything looks fine so we are none the wiser. "I have put him in at Kaikoura as he seems well in himself. "We will just put a line through Ashburton and press on," he said Irish Whisper has won 11 races to date and $154,957 and has always looked capable of winning a race like the Dominion Handicap so it may not pay to discard his chances off the back of one below par performance. Harnesslink Media

Last week we got a good old fashioned kick up the butt with just three of our tipsters selecting a winner and only six overall were in the money. Blair Orange, Terry Chmiel and Nathan Williamson furthered their good record as selectors whilst there were plenty of hard luck stories from others all over the country. They start with a clean slate this week and have come up with plenty of value for readers with plenty of runners whose form is not the best but who our selectors give a real chance to. Manawatu - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Even though he has drawn the second row thinks Art Magic should win race 3   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thought Elliesjet even from barrier 12 would be hard to beat in race1 Steven Reid - Very bullish about Unforgiving from barrier one in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes The Orange Agent to upset Unforgiving in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Boizel even off 40 metres can win race 5 Tony Herlihy - Rates Downunder Stride from barrier one as hard to beat in race 6 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Le Lua Invasion a good chance against the fillies and mares in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green will atone for last week and win race 8 Zac Butcher - Likes Saffron Castleton to turn her form around in race 9   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Quaint Glen a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 Tim Williams - Confident that Adore Me's little brother Have Faith In Me can win race 6 John Dunn - Feedback from stable suggests Light Up Boss will win race 7 if driver at his best Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox just needs a change of luck to win race 8 Sam Ottley - Quite keen on Bird Of Paradise to turn her form around in race 10     Manawatu - Sunday afternoon Todd Macfarlane - Rates Hudy Haxwell a royal show on the second day at Manawatu Peter Scaife - Gives Johnny Vegas a big chance on the second day at Manawatu   Tuapeka - Sunday afternoon Dexter Dunn - Reckons Margarita can make it four wins from her last five in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way can go one better than last week and win race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes stablerunner Onedin Mach to make it four in a row in race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought Drover's Eyre would be tough to roll in race 11   Ashburton - Monday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Confident that Never Fear can turn her form around in race 1 Jim Curtin - Thinks Star Of Dionysis is overdue and can win race 2 Ricky May - Keen on Brilliant Strike who has a decent draw for once to win race 4 Terry Chmiel -Thought That Guy Finn even in that super hot field can win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Thirteen-win pacer Lets Elope has ended his New Zealand career on a triumphant note. The winner of $324,978 is scheduled to leave for Australia either Wednesday (October 22) or next week. Co-owner/trainer Frank Cooney said he was left with no option but to send the 6-year-old Real desire gelding abroad. He said he made the decision well before Friday’s win in the $14,000 Smart Choice Mobile for the C3-C9 pacers at Alexandra Park. “There’s just nothing for him up here now until possibly Christmas and the New Year. He’s not quite good enough to compete against the (NZ) Cup horses and he would be handicapped out of it if he stayed up here. “Australia was the obvious option because he will be a M1 pacer there,” Cooney said. Let’s Elope was quoted at $151 to win the New Zealand Cup. He will now head to Victoria and race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park in the Brent Lilley colours. “He may come back one day because he’s owned here in New Zealand but to be honest I think he will win more over there and that’s where he will stay,” said Cooney, whose wife Anne co-owns Lets Elope with Peter Haslam and Warren Outrim. Haslam pointed out that lets Elope had never been beaten once he got to the front in his races. That trend continued in Friday’s 2200m mobile. Brilliant anticipation from driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) saw Lets Elope sprint hard to the lead when hot favourite Hughie Green broke wildly at the 600m. The 3-year-old galloped for 200m yet still managed to finish a huge third – half a length and 7-3/4 lengths behind Lets Elope and Norvic Nightowl. Imajollywally was later promoted to third. Lets Elope stopped the clock in 2:41.8 (mile rate: 1:58.3) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 56.1 and 26.6. Co-trainer Tate Hopkins said it was very difficult for any horse to make up ground from the back when the good horses were coming home in 56 and 26. “That’s why he’s not going to the (NZ) Cup Carnival. It’s just too hard for a horse like him to make up ground on the top horses when they are going that fast. “And they are likely to go faster in the Junior and Senior Free-For-All down south. Those were the two races he probably would have started in,” Hopkins said. “It’s sad to see him go but Frank has made the best decision for both the horse and owners,” he added. Cooney said Lets Elope was the equal best horse he had trained – alongside eight-win ($101,050) mid-1980s pacer, Kurahaupo Eden. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

Last week we had usual suspects tipping out the winners with Blair Orange, Gerard O"Reilly, Ricky May, Clark Barron and Steve Richardson all being successful while eleven of our other tipsters were in the money headed by Robbie Holmes with Nicalea ($6.30) at Timaru. This week we have five meetings to cover and our tipsters have covered them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Todd Mitchell - Thinks Take Charge from barrier two is a big chance in race 4 Steve Richardson - Keen on Speak Up who has been racing with merit at Auckland in race 5 Peter Scaife - Confident of a big run from V C Dell, also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Bullish about Strawberry Courage from the front line in race 6    Auckland - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Haxwell is due a change of luck in race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Le Lua Invasion would be tough to roll in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about My Kiwi Mate in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green can take the step up in race 7 Tony Herlihy - Likes Mighty Regal to go one better than his last start second in race 9 Steven Reid - Rates Sirius Star as well overdue for a win and thinks it will come in race 9 as well   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel  - Thinks with last weeks run under her belt that Oh Nova is ready to win race 3 Blair Orange - Confident Mighty Flying Major will be too good in race 4 Ricky May - Very bullish on the chances of Matty Groves in race 5 Craig Thornley - Rates Johny Rock a big chance, even from barrier nine in race 7 Brad Williamson - Quietly confident about the chances of Al Raza in race 8   Methven - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Give Me Strength a huge chance back on the grass in race 1  John Dunn - Confident Return To Sender is primed to win race 5 Jim Curtin - Thinks stable rep Star Of Dionysis is a big chance in the junior drivers event, race 10   Wairio - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes Springbank Ruby to atone for her Timaru effort and win race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks oldtimer Suncrusher can teach the young ones a thing or two, also in race 3 Nathan Williamson - Confident of a big showing from the classy Jag's Invasion in race 4 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Smiling Star can make a race of it with Fly Like An Eagle in race 7 Clark Barron - Quite bullish about Shezacheapy who comes in fresh in race 8  Shane Walkinshaw - Draw a killer but still likes Double Rainbow in race 9   Harnesslink Media

Last week was on the up  for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8   Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon  Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2  Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson -  Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8   Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9   Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line.   Harnesslink Media

Tony Cameron deserves a break in life.   For the second time his 26 years the South Auckland horseman has defied death.   Cameron, who is employed by Tony and Suzanne Herlihy at Strike Won Stables, was knocked out cold in a training accident at Ardmore on Thursday (September 11) at about 11am.   “I didn’t know a thing about it. I woke up in the hospital on Thursday night. They had to put me under because I was getting too anxious. I think my halfback days were coming back to me.   “Then I thought what am I doing here? I can only tell you what happened from what my workmates told me,” Cameron said.   Cameron, who has driven seven winners since starting out as a junior driver in 2012, was told he was that he was working a filly and the horse in front of him ran out and dislodged him before he was knocked out.   The outer shell of his helmet was torn to shreds. Cameron lay on the track until the ambulance crew arrived from Papakura, which is 10 minutes away.   Cameron spent the weekend in hospital and was released on Monday. He has passed all of his rehab tests and is now just waiting for a clearance to drive.   “I feel as though I can drive now but the doctors have said ‘No’ at this stage. It was just one of those freak accidents. I hope to be back doing light duties the week after next.   “Im not getting the headaches they said I would. I fully understand the risks in the game and I want everyone to know it was absolutely no-ones fault. It was just one of those freak accidents,” said Cameron.   Five years ago Cameron was diagnosed with cancer. He was told he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin's disease). The cancer originated from white blood cells called lymphocytes.   Cameron said if hadn't contracted the disease he may never have followed his father Dale into the harness racing game.   "I'm the youngest of four children in our family and the only one who got into harness racing. When I left high school I did brick laying for a couple of years and then worked as an engineering labourer.   "Then when I got cancer I thought life was too short and it was time I did something I really enjoyed. I learnt the basic skills off Dad and have been working for Tony Herlihy at Ardmore for just over a couple of years now. He has been really good to me and taught me heaps. You can see why he is a champion horseman," Cameron said.   Cameron is bred to be a top horseman. His father Dale has trained and driven more than 30 winners, while Dale's cousin - Robert was the 1993 World Driving Champion in Macau.   Cameron was born on December 3, 1987 in Southland but shifted to Pukekohe when he was two. He was educated at Waiuku College. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

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

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