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.