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Harness racing at Gore on Sunday starts the southern season in the deep south. With big fields and many horses coming in fresh with little trial and workout form, it will be a difficult to job to pinpoint where each horse is at in terms of picking a winner. With fields like that it is often better to stick with the bigger stables. Riversdale trainer Tony Stratford has four runners engaged and all are winning hopes. Mucho Macho Man is possibly the pick of them as far as ability goes. Tony thought enough of the horse to send him to Auckland for a 2-year-old race as a juvenile where the son of Mach Three finished fifth of six starters in a  race at Alexandra Park in December 2015. Ashleighs Flight, Ted Cady and Deceitndesire are also engaged and all have claims in their individual races. Blair Orange is making the long trip south to drive three of the Stratford runners and he also has a drive in every race all with good chances. He will be short on the fixed odds drivers book based on the number and class of the horses he is driving. Blair thinks his best drive at Gore is Really Desirable who has been racing at Forbury Park for her last eight starts. The 4yo mare and  daughter of  Real Desire has good gate speed and could lead of the gate in a field devoid of race day form.   Harnesslink Media Selections Gore Race 1: Duchess Grace, Trouble Del, Matai Jetstar, Loxi Clairborne. Race 2: Harriet Price, Swap Over, Dennis Lillee, Green Fingers Race 3: Really Desirable, Balius, Sweet As, Backseat Chick Race 4: Pyramid Magic, Sun's Invasion, The Jinja Ninja, Madam Spur Race 5: Seduce Me, Ted Cady, Tact Ollie, Thunda Down Unda Race 6: Mucho Macho Man, Honey Cullen, Ideal Art, Real Love Race 7: Jetsdream, Risk Factor, Ossessione, Franco Nixon Race 8: Frank The Tank, Skyfall, Justasip, Raphoe Race 9: Jabali, Whoosh Factor, Bold Ruler, Pulling The Strings Best Bet: Frank The Tank(Race 8) Value Bet: Harriet Price(Race 2)   Harnesslink media  

The battle between three Southland four year olds continued at Gore on Sunday when Pulp Fiction, I'm Full Of Excuses and Tas Man Bromac renewed a rivalry that started last season in the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes.   It was the locally owned Pulp Fiction who triumped when he recorded his tenth win in his twenty four race career.    "We targeted this race because he's owned here and it's nice for him to do the job," said trainer Tony Stratford."   "It was only the gelding's fifth start this season. He won first up at Oamaru in September before minor placings at Gore, Kaikoura and Invercargill."   "He's come up super and Oamaru seems like a long time again." "He could have easily won his last three starts but things haven't worked out for one reason or another."   In yesterdays Mataura Licensing Trust Gore Trotting Cup the four year old entire began well from the 30 metre mark. Stablemate Even Flo set a fast early clip before Pulp Fiction in the lightning fast move by driver Dexter Dunn took the lead with just under 1600 metres to run.     "We don't tell Dexter how to drive him as he knows the horse better than anyone. "I was hoping that if he got away well that he'd get around the field." "With as much speed as he's got you just can't give those horses a start and come wide so I was pleased to see him go round when he did."   Pulp Fiction was joined by favourite Tas Man Bromac with a lap to run. At the top of the straight Dunn cut away from Tas Man Bromac and Even Flo. I'm Full Of Excuses made up many lengths from the back to get within one and three quarters of the length of Pulp Fiction with Tas Man Bromac four lengths away in third.     "As long as he comes through this well he'll go to Omakau then we'll probably give him a wee let up and run him in the Invercargill Cup." "I can't see him having too many more starts this season to be fair." If we look after him this year maybe he'll be in the big one (New Zealand Cup) next year."    He's owned by Alan Steel, his son Raymond Steel and Allan's other son Chris's partner Sally McCann.    Pulp Fiction time of 3-20.9 was a new race and track record. The previous race and track record was held by Tartan Lady who recorded 3-21.1 in 1998.    This is the first time Stratford has won the Gore Cup as a trainer. He drove the Ian Wilson trained Oreti Beach to win the race in 2005.  Bruce Stewart  -  Southland Harness Racing  

Harness racing trainer Tony Statford has developed a reputation for always having a handy two year old or two in his stable over the last few years so it was no surprise when he produced the quinella in the two year old fillies race at Invercargill yesterday. Tony had four of the six runners in the Southland Standardbred Breeders Pace for two year old fillies  and he was not surprised that the Changeover filly Envious came out on top. " She is a natural two year old with high gate speed so I thought she would be tough to beat." "She is beautifully gaited with great manners so that will take you a long way in those two year old races, " Tony said. Away first for driver Dexter Dunn from barrier three, Envious took a trail behind the favourite Tact Rousey soon after the start and then waited until the passing lane to sprint through and simply bolt in by 2 3/4 lengths over her fast finishing stablemate Gotta Bewitched who came from last at the 600 metres mark. Envious paced the 1700 metres in 2:06.9, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 29.1 and she seemed to do it with a fair bit in reserve. Gotta Bewitched was equally impressive in finishing well for second with her tendency to get her head round just part of her makeup according to Tony. "She ia actually a beautiful pacer with great manners but she likes to run with her head on the side." "We were thrilled with how she finished yesterday but we are going to have to get her to straighten that head carriage up," Tony said. Tony is having his best season ever in 2014/2015 with 12 wins already in the bank and he is in no doubt about why. " I was offered the opportunity to train out of Macca Lodge by the owners Brent and Sheree McIntyre and have been here since July 1st last year." " They are real enthusiasts and it is a real pleasure to work for them, Tony said. The star of the team is undoubtedly Pulp Fiction who has won five from seven as a three year old and is being aimed at the Southern Supremacy Final and then possibly a Derby tilt. "He is such a lovely wee horse." "He is not very big but he has a fantastic gait and great manners." " We thought he was going to finish top five in the Sires Stakes Final at Addington during Cup Week until he was checked in the straight." "That race gave us a lot of confidence going forward that he is not out of place in those classics," Tony said. As you would expect with a horse of his class the offers have poured in over the last few months but the horse is not going anywhere in a hurry.  " My father in law brought him to have something to race. "He is in his eighties so he is getting a great thrill out of his performances and has no intention of selling him, Tony said. Harnesslink Media  

This Thursdays harness racing meeting at Forbury Park in Dunedin sees the running of the second heat of this seasons 3 year old Sires Stakes Series and it has drawn a field of eight talented second season pacers. Seven of the eight are last start winners and several have had multiple wins in their last few starts. The way the draw has worked out would suggest that Art Major's son Art Union from barrier one is going to be awfully hard to beat. Trained by Cran Dalgety and to be driven on Thursday by champion reinsman Dexter Dunn, Art Union has won five of just ten starts and his season debut at Addington ten days ago was outstanding. After a big mid-race move, Art Union roared over his last 800 in 55.9 for an easy win and with natural improvement from that run, Art Union looks the horse they have to beat. One thing for certain is he won't have it all his own way with the very smart son of Art Major in Pulp Fiction drawn right beside Art Union in barrier two. Competitive at the top level at two, Pulp Fiction has come back a far better horse at three with his three starts this season yielding three wins and all by big margins. Trained by Alan Stratford at Riversdale, Pulp Fiction will have leading reinsman John Dunn in the bike on Thursday night. Another son of Art Major in Mighty Flying Major is the interesting horse of the field. Brought out of the yearling sales for $67,500 and raced out of the Ken Barron barn by long time stable clients Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, Mighty Flying Major was a major player as a 2 year old in most of the big races but placings were his lot until late in the season when he strung four wins together at Alexandra Park. In form reinsman Blair Orange takes the drive on Thursday night Given a short break after his Auckland races, he has had two workout wins in recent weeks to fit him for Thursday night but Ken Barron thinks he may be a run short. " He only had three weeks off and he has done a lot of conditioning work and is really well in himself but he maybe a run short. "He has had a couple of workouts but missed one due to the weather so he may need the run to be honest" he said. Ken thinks the draw hasn't helped his chances as well. "Drawn out at seven with Art Union drawn one makes it really difficult but with the run under his belt he should be cherry ripe for the heat at Addington next week" he said  The All Stars team have two in and both have shown enough to be respected especially since they are from the hottest stable in the country Have Faith In Me and Alta Ronaldo are both very talented but have drawn awkwardly and may need a bit of luck while Tas Man Bromac has been going great guns but this is a big step up in class. So for us it is Art Union and Pulp Fiction to fight it out and Have Faith In Me, Alta Ronaldo, Tas Man Bromac and Mighty Flying Major for trifectas and first fours. For the Forbury Park fields click here. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing returned to Winton today (September 7th) and it was notable for seeing the first winner by the son of The Panderosa in Panspacificflight 1:50.6 ($442,953) in New Zealand. Available through Macca Lodge at Gore, his oldest crop in New Zealand have just turned three and number just 23. Several showed up at trials as two year olds but none had saluted the judge until today. The Manipulator had qualified seven seconds under time at Gore and with leading driver Dexter Dunn in the bike,he was sent out a short priced favourite on debut. Dexter let The Manipulator find his feet early from barrier one before he sent him to the front after 300 meters. The Manipulator always looked to be travelling well in front and Dexter hardly moved in the straight as he held all the challengers comfortably at bay. Trained by Tony Stratford at Riversdale, The Manipulator paced the 2400 meters from the mobile in 3:01.5, a mile rate of 2:01.7 with smart closing sectionals of 56.9 and 27. The Manipulator is the second foal from the top Presidential Ball racemare Luckisaladytonight 1:54.1 ($151,249). The first foal is the Laurence Hanrahan trained Cullen Keefe who is unbeaten in two so far. The grand dam Delightful Chance went 1:57 while the third dam Missy Lou is a half sister to the champion pacer Christopher Vance 1:54.6 ($1,747,167) Panspacificflight has done a great job in North America with over $9,000,000 on his card to date and his current crop of 2 year olds sit 13th on the North American charts ahead of Rocknroll Hanover, McArdle and Always A Virgin. His fastest runner to date is Paco Labrook 1:48.4 ($539,768) who is also from a Presidential Ball mare like The Manipulator. There is never a better time for a stallion's progeny to shine than in the spring when breeders are making up their minds about consorts for the coming season and in The Manipulator, Panspacificflight has produced a smart horse at just the right time. PS: First Flight In with Dexter in the bike made it two for the day for Panspacificflight when winning later on the program from the outside of the second row. Harnesslink Media    

After setting up two New Zealand records in the north and being gunned down for second in both races, Raksdeal did some record breaking of her own in heat two of the Nevele R Fillies Series at Ascot Park on Saturday.  Kept out of the early speed duel between Luminesce and Goodness Gracious Me, trainer-driver Clark Barron sent the tough Western Ideal filly to the with a lap to go, keeping the pace on, before careering away for an ultra impressive victory. At the end of the 1700 metres she was two and a quarter lengths in front of Goodness Gracious Me with a further length and three quarters back to Luminesce. The 1700 metres was covered in 2-01.4 - a mile rate of 1-54.9. It was a new track record in three categories; open grade with Zapp holding the previous record of 2-03.2 (2010), a new mares record held by Hannah 2-01.7 (2011) and the three year old fillies record held by Flying Anvil of 2-02.5 (2013) also fell. Raksdeal is not eligible for the NZ Yearling Sales Fillies Final on Friday, so will instead take in a Harness Plus race at Wyndham next Sunday. Meanwhile, Pulp Fiction, who was successful on debut in the two-year-old event at Invercargill on Sunday, will head to the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton in a fortnight. "We've had a couple of good two-year-olds; Le Sol and Monaghan but this guy is lengths better. But it's early days yet and we've got to keep our feet on the ground,” said trainer Tony Stratford “He's got good gate speed and he's a beautifully balanced and gaited horse. And he can go forward when you like in a two year old race. Tim (Williams) never pulled the ear plugs he was doing it that easy. So we've still got a bit up our sleeves." By Mitchell Robertson

The Tony Stratford trained Flying Diamonds has delivered on a consistent basis all season for Southland harness racing owners Kevin Fairbairn and John Duff. On Saturday (April 30) at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club's meeting the four year old son of Falcon Seelster returned his connections their biggest cheque to date when he won the Southern Country Cups Final at Ascot Park.

You could tell by the look on New Zealand's leading harness racing driver Dexter Dunn's face that he knew he was in for a big season with Tony Stratford's smart juvenile pacer, Monaghan. The 2-year-old proved too good for his 14 rivals in today's $25,000 Sapling Stakes at Ashburton Raceway.

When harness racing trainer Tony Stratford lined up Monaghan in today's (Wednesday) two year old race at Winton he was well aware of the horse's potential to win. His opinion was vindicated when the son of McArdle scored a decisively on debut in the hands of leading reinsman Dexter Dunn.

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