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Kenny and Jo Baynes are having a great season with horses they own either together or in partnership - winning a fair few races, mainly in the trotting gait. Today(Saturday) at Ascot Park in the Arden Lodge Robin Dundee Crown their two runners quinellaed the race with Christian Cullen mare Especial beating Envious her half-sister. Especial is trained by Tony Stratford at Gore while Envious is trained by Jo. Both are out of the Falcon Seelster mare Especial Franco.   “I’d tried to buy some of the mare's progeny but missed out so I bought the mare,” said Kenny. Baynes says as a broodmare Especial Franco has left lots of winners including Elation Franco (8 wins), Equalizer (11 wins), Expressionist (24 New Zealand and Australian wins), and her two local mares Envious (5 wins) and Especial (3 wins). Note: Expressionist won his 24th race at Menangle on Saturday night.  The mare was tragically lost just before Christmas when she was foaling A Rocknroll Dance colt. Both she and the foal died.  “We’ve got a full sister at home to Envious. She’s a two year old but we’re not going to push her.” Especial and Dexter Dunn winning from her stablemate Envious - Photo Bruce Stewart.  Both Envious and Especial were having their first starts this season and Kenny was quick to hand the credit to their trainers. “She’s (Especial) got a huge amount of talent and jogged it. It was a teriffic run from Envious too. She started from gate six and crossed and took the lead. It was a great training effort from Tony with Especial and Jo who works with him with Envious at the Gore track.” Judy and John Stiven from Arden Lodge with Jo and Kenny Baynes - Photo Bruce Stewart. Baynes says as both mares raced well into the winter last season, they were late in coming back into work but that strategy also had another side to it. “We’ve kept them until later in the season so we didn’t have trouble over the summer with seasonal issues. We couldn’t be bothered with that so that’s why we’ve left them until a wee bit later.” Baynes was unsure of where the two mares will go next but there looks to be a bit of travel and fun ahead. “If they’re in form you just push on. Tony rates Especial. You always know when she goes to the front and pins her ears forward that the rest of them are going to be in a power of shit. She’s just got a big motor but she just doesn’t know it. She’s only had six starts.” For most of us looking on, Envious looked to be well above herself. The Crash Crew were unable to get one of her ear plugs in but that didn't bother Baynes. “When Envious is doing that you just know she ready to go. She’s like Jo’s new car. She’s got a new Mustang that wants to eat track,” he said with plenty of Baynes gusto. In today's mares feature Envious lead early before her stablemate took over with a lap to run. Especial held on to beat Envious by three quarters of a length with Tara Tutaia charging home late for third.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Especial winning at Ascot Park

Since War Machine has been with Gore trainer Tony Stratford his formline has been near perfect - 2111011. The giant four year old trotter impressively won again at Wyndham today. In the Clark Barron Racing Stables Handicap Trot driver Dexter Dunn had the gelding nicely placed in the one off running line. At the 400 metres he moved off the back of Too Cool and finished stoutly down the outside to beat Grey Power by three quarters of a length.  "He's a pretty versatile trotter. The other day he did it from the top end but today he showed with a sit, that his speed is pretty wicked too. He's still learning and a bit green in his races. In that final 200 metres he can let down," said Dunn after the win. War Machine beating Grey Power. Nathan Williamson can't bare to watch - Photo Bruce Stewart Dunn says War Machine is doing a good job in the south but at some stage he'll need to be tested against the better quality trotters in the Canterbury region.  "Wolfie (trainer Tony Stratford) says he'll probably have just one more start and have a freshen up. He's done a good job this prep and I guess he'll be heading up the road (Addington) at some stage." War Machine is raced by Kenny and Jo Baynes who are having a great season with their trotters. The couple also own War Admiral which has won two of his five starts. He's also been driven by Dunn. "He's got a lot to learn yet. The ability is definitely there. Looking at him he looks like a four year old. He just has to learn to race in the field and come off other horses backs. It's just about more practice."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  War Machine winning yesterday

Gore trainer Tony Stratford is on a bit of a roll. Early into the new season he has four winners on the board from just sixteen starters. The latest two winners came at Invercargill yesterday when Macandrew Majic and Benio Ben won their respective races. Macandrew Majic easily won the More FM Mobile Pace by eight and a half lengths.  "I've had him since we were up at Macca Lodge. His first start was a duck egg but he galloped away from a stand and took no part. He ran third at his next start and fifth at Forbury when they ran 2-41.0. At his next start be was pulled up because he fractured a hind pastern. It was quite bad. Brendon Bell did the op and we just wanted to save him and look after him. He's got four or five screws in his leg and he was out for six months" said Stratford. This was the five year old's first start for eleven months and it was a very good training feat by Stratford who readied the gelding for yesterdays race with just two workouts.  "When we kicked off again we didn't have any problems with him. He had a good workout at Gore which he won in good time and we had a quiet run around at Winton. I was expecting a bold run." Macandrew Majic is part owned by Megan Tutty (nee Reidie) who used to work for Murray Brown. She shares in the ownership with her parents and two brothers. Meanwhile one of the early season finds in Southland, Benio Ben also trained by Stratford continued on his winning way when he won the Net Ten EOM at Macca Lodge Mobile Pace. It was the four year old's second win this season. Driven by Matty Williamson the gelding began well to lead before handing up to Rockaball. Williamson then came out of the trail to take up the running. The winning margin at the end of the 2200 metre journey was a length over Rockaball. "He went awesome. I wasn't expecting too much to be fair because it was such a step up. I said to the owners if he ran in the top four I'd be happy," said Stratford. The time was a slick 2-41.8 with the last half run in 57 seconds and the final quarter in 28.5.   "He burnt twice in the first six hundred metres and held them out easily really."  In the birdcage - Photo Emma McSoriley  The first Southland Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland Meeting at Ascot Park is Benio Ben's next target and then Stratford will look at the South of the Waitaki race on Show Day during Cup week. "I always thought he was a pretty nice horse but he was disappointing when he qualified so we biffed him out. This year he hasn't worked super at home but he's doing it when it matters (on raceday)." The Gotta Go Cullect gelding was bred by Alan Steel, Stratford's uncle and his good friend Trevor McCall.  "He's got a real high cruising speed. Most horses when they're running halves in a minute you know they are. He's doing it as though you're running a half in ten. A bit like Pulp Fiction." Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Benio Ben winning at Ascot Park

Maiden pacer Benio Ben proved too smart for his rivals at Winton today. "It surprised me the way he won but I've always had a bit of an opinion of him. Matty (Matty Williamson) was stoked with the way he went at Gore. I was quietly confident he'd go good and could win but I was impressed with that win. They don't often win by nine or ten lengths here, " said trainer Tony Stratford.  He's by Gotta Go Cullect and was bred by Alan Steel, Stratford's uncle and his good friend Trevor McCall. He's out of the Soky's Atom mare Benio's Ella. From barrier five Williamson took him straight to the top and commentator Dave McDonald summed it up perfectly when he said "Benio Ben bashes them up big time." The four year old's winning margin was nine and three quarter lengths. The winning time for the 2400 metre mobile was 2-58.2 - last half in 58.0 and the last quarter in a smart 27.3. Benio Ben will now contest the first $12,000 Nuggets Championship Mobile Pace at the Northern Southland meeting on 7th October. "Those nice ones have to do it at both ends. He did that at Gore. He squirted off the gate and was still giving at the other end and he did that today."   Benio Nen winning by 9 lengths Bruce Stewart Southern Harness Racing

Harness racing driver Matthew Williamson was the star of the show at Forbury yesterday (Sunday) when he bagged four winners and two second placings from his eight raceday drives. Williamson started his winning run when Schnapps narrowly won the second race for trainer Tony Stratford. Schnapps (Changeover - Shining Cloud) was ignored by the punters going out the fifth favorite in a field of eight runners and paying $15.70 to win on the tote, and $18.00 on the fixed odds FF win. Schnapps settled back in the field while hot favorite Link To Collect ran along in the lead. Near last turning for home, Schnapps zoomed home wide on the track to get up and win by a nose.   The five year old gelding paced the 2200m journey in 2-46.1 with a closing 800m in 60.5 and 400m in 30.6. Outsider Schnapps winning narrowly Martin McGuinness won the next race for Williamson sneaking up the inside to narrowly beat the big TAB FFwin shortener Shards Halo. He is trained at Mataura by Lyndon Bond and won by a neck, pacing the 2200m mobile in 2-46.3. Martin McGuinness getting up the passing lane to win Matthew's other two wins came via Articulight and Stylish Duke.  Articulight (Art Official - Light Of The South) came with one run at them in a restlessly run race where there was several attacks for the lead. Articulight was one of the few horses who sat back and did no work in the running. Matthew launched the six year old gelding at the 600m to quickly grab the lead and shoot clear to win easily in a 2-01.2 mile rate for the 2200m. Williamson was confident before the race saying Articulight was his best drive of the week and the horse proved him right winning as he liked. Articulight winning easily Stylish Duke  (Monarchy - Yankee Diedree) was impressive leading all the way in the R65 to R90 trot. Williamson had him in front after 800m and he kept up a strong run to win easily from the Phil Williamson trained stablemates Pyramid Magic and Pyramid Monarch. Stylish Monarch trotted the 2700m in 3-33.3 with closing splits of 58.2 and 29.3 Stylish Duke proving too strong Blair Orange also grabbed three wins during the day to increase his lead in the national drivers championship to four over David Butcher. Harnesslink Media  

The South of the Waitaki Winter Warmer Series wouldn't be the same without Brendon McLellan and although he is down on numbers this year, he will be represented when the first of three heats is run at Addington on Friday night. McLellan all but made last year's final his own, winning it with Mr Handleman and running third and fourth with Luciano and Vera's Delight. On the way, he also won two of the heats and one of the heat winners, Vera's Delight will be carrying the stable colours again this July. A seven-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight, she finished third, first and fifth in the three heats and McLellan is looking for more of the same. “She should be competitive again,” he said. Brett Gray produced Northview Betta to run fifth in the final last year and hopes El Capitan can improve on that this year. The Elsu four-year-old has a rating of 58 and his thirds last month at Invercargill and Oamaru point to a good showing on Friday. Stablemate and rating 54 mare Machjagger will also race at Addington on Friday. Gray plans to bypass the series this week but might line her up in the later heats. His current tally of 20 pacing and six trotting winners this season places him third behind Phil Williamson (42 trotters and one pacer) and Graeme Anderson (33 pacers) on the winner's table for trainers in the region. The series is for pacers assessed at up to rating 60 as of Monday 3, July who since May 1, have been with a trainer based south of the Waitaki River. To run in the final on July 28, a horse must compete in or be eliminated from at least two of the heats on 7, 14 and 21 July. The first and third heats will be over 1950 metres, the second heat and final over 2600 metres, and all will be mobile starts. Anderson said he is down to five in work at the moment and has nothing of that rating ready. Fourth on the table is Williamson's son Nathan (17 trotters and three pacers). Gangnam Style won the first heat for Williamson last year before finishing eighth in the second and being scratched from the final. Williamson hoped to have the rating 58 four-year-old on hand this year but is not sure now. “He finished second at Forbury Park last week but it was just an average second,” he said, “I'm getting tests done and he'll only go if his health is ok. Toby O'Gara is a possible but he'll probably go to the paddock after Forbury Park this week.” Tony Stratford has rating 56 filly Jody Direen primed for the heat on Friday and unbeaten Especial in another race, before joining the series a week later. “It's just so they are not against each other the first week,” Stratford said. “I'm very happy with them, they're both quality horses and have trained up to the mark. It is their first trip away but they are both good eaters and doers.” Craig Ferguson said the second line draw didn't help No More Change at Timaru on Sunday but he was pleased with the way she hit the line and looking forward to her over 1950 metres at Addington on Friday night. He'll also have Mordecai in the race, considers the six-year-old a “run or to away” but likely to improve through the series. Ferguson will handle No More Change himself with Sheree Tomlinson in charge of Mordecai. Melina Lowe, a winner at the final Invercargill meeting of the season before missing at Forbury Park, will represent Kirk Larsen on Friday. “Her last start was in the sprint series (1200 metres) at Forbury Park and she never got into it,” Larsen said. “The 1950 will suit better, she's a rating 55 so these are ideal races for her.” Mac Henry

Especial lived up to her name at Ascot Park on Saturday when with the perfect trip she got the perfect result in the 1700 metre Join The Tri Code Syndicate Fillies & Mares Mobile. One of seven fillies in the 12-horse lineup, the daughter of Christian Cullen was parked briefly before getting the one-one after 300 metres. A lap later the trail horse dropped off, Especial immediately took her spot and when the passing lane arrived, shot clear on debut like a real professional. According to winning driver Matt Anderson it was effortless but not quite as polished as it seemed. “She is still green and when she hit the front all but pulled up,” he said. Bred and raced by Kenny and Jo Baynes, Especial is out of Especial Franco, member of a family Kenny Baynes was keen to have a bit of. He bought Especial's half brother Extra Special Iam, was under-bidder on another half brother Equalizer and tried over the phone to buy yet another, Expressionist. Soon after, Especial Franco was advertised in the Harness Weekly and the Baynes bought her. Envious, five wins and also a winner on debut at Invercargill, was the mare's first foal for them and Especial the next. She is trained at Gore by Tony Stratford who has had to be patient. “She's had a few niggly issues, just wee things like mud fever that set you back, the time's probably helped her though,” he said, “she's only had one workout and one trial, this was her third run. She's beautiful to sit behind, the Christian Cullen gait and she's got gas, a pretty nice filly, could be an open class mare in 18 months.” Nathan Williamson was the only driver to strike twice, winning two of the three trotting races. First up was a mare he trains himself, Splash Cola in the McKnight & Brown Mobile Trot and she did it style, clearing out by eight lengths to score her first win since January 2015. It was the fourth win for the mare having just her fourth start since being away from racing for more than two years. “She's had numerous injuries, was too fresh in her first two comeback races then was knocked and broke on Monday,” Williamson said, “she's still improving, I'll keep her going now.” Splash Cola completed the 2200 metres from behind the mobile in 2:46.8, The Williamson trained and driven Dwindle Mist set the track record of 2:45.2 in December 2014.  Sundons Wish, trained by Ian Jamieson, backed up from his win on Monday to take the Thanks To Our Volunteers Handicap. Williamson replaced Dexter Dunn in the sulky on Saturday. Matt Purvis, the former Canterbury junior driver who joined the Williamson enterprise at the beginning of the season, broke through for his first win in Southland when guiding Dancing In The Dark to victory in the Pinelea Farm Fillies & Mares Mobile Pace. Trained by Robert Dunn,the mare is co-owned by Matt's father, John Purvis and has been staying with Williamson. She is a half sister to Born To Run, a two year old trained by Williamson and driven by Purvis for a second and a fourth in his only two starts. Purvis said the juvenile is spelling at the moment and will be back as a three year old, and he himself is also staying on. “I'm flatting in a house at Tisbury with Craig Ferguson and Sheree Tomlinson, that made it an easy transition,” Purvis said, “I've enjoyed my time in the south, plenty of opportunities, a lot to learn from Nathan, a pleasure to work with such good horses.” Purvis has now won three times on Dancing In The Dark and advanced his career tally to 34.  “It was good to get a win in the south and one for Dad,” he concluded.   Mac Henry

In the last two months Kenny, Jo and Penny Baynes have had a good run with their horses Jody Direen, The Night Hawk, Too Cool have all of whom have won. Kenny and Jo race horses under their own names while Kenny and his sister-in-law Penny race under the Baynes Racing banner. Kenny and Jo's run continued today at Ascot Park when debutant Especial beat Ideal Conquest by a length and a half.  The Christian Cullen filly was bred by the couple and is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Especial Franco which Kenny Baynes bought in 2012.   Matt Anderson, Jo Baynes, Kenny Baynes and Especial - Photo Bruce Stewart "I missed out on buying Expressionist (Live Or Die - Especial Franco) at the sale because I was making a phone bid and the power went off. McRae (Ken McRae) said the mare (Especial Franco) was for sale in the Harness Weekly so I snapped her up. She's (Especial) is nicely gaited and she's got a big ticker so we've just waited for her," said Kenny Baynes who part owns the filly with his wife Jo. Trained by Tony Stratford at Gore, Especial qualified in May on her home track.  "She got caught in a fence as a two year old. We were doing the pre-training of her, Jody Direen and Too Cool and they were set to go to the workouts at Christmas but they got colds," said Jo. Jo says she and Kenny will continue to pre-train all of the Baynes horses and then send them on to other trainers. "It seems to be a winning formula." Especial's half sister Envious raced at Alexandra Park last night running seventh. "She does go good that way round but I think she's missing her mum. Derek Balle is looking after her. She should have gone better than than but we'll take some blood off her. I may have to go up there." Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Breeding doesn't always count for everything but when Louie won the Regent Car Court Pace it didn't surprise breeding buffs. The Christian Cullen four year old is impeccably bred being out of the eleven win Holmes Hanover mare Chloe Hanover. He had shown promise in a limited harness racing career for Wayne Adams before transferring to Tony Stratford's Gore stable earlier this year. “He’s a well mannered horse that’s good to do anything with. We’re just taking over from the good job that Wayne did. I think they had a few problems with him cross firing. I don’t think you ever correct a cross firer but you can help them and we’ve possibly done that,” said Stratford. He was having his second run for the Stratford stable having finished fifth at Winton earlier this month.   “He seems to be pacing good. Dexter was pleased with the way be paced at Winton and Blair said he was very nice today.” Driver Blair Orange took the gelding to the lead before handing up to Ideal Conquest with a lap to run. With 300 metres to run he pulled Louie off the back of a tiring Ideal Conquest and held on under a strong drive to beat one of the outsiders Matai Valour by half a length. Louie is owned by Alan and Liz Sloan of Invercargill and their two daughters. He was bought at the Sale of the Stars for $52,000. Meanwhile promising two year old trotter War Admiral also in the Stratford barn has been turned out for the season. “They just went a bit quick that day we lined up. They ran the first 800 from a stand in 64 seconds and being a two year old he just was not used to that. He threw a shoe as well.” Another promising maiden pacer from the stable The Night Hawk who was a race rival to Louie, was scratched this morning. “He had a puffy leg so I had to scratch him. He’s a really nice horse and he would have been pretty hard to beat if he was in that race today.”   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

John Cleland was back as a winning owner after a break of 22 years when Captain Mannering cleared out from his maiden rivals at Forbury Park last night (Thursday). Cleland, of Waikaka (Southland) came back into  ownership to race Captain Mannering with his sons, Jason and Shane. The 3-year-old trained at Gore by Tony Stratford had been minor placed in four of his other seven starts. Captain Mannering belongs to the family that provided Cleland with his previous winner, Jay Cee’s Fella in the 1995 Roxburgh Cup. Jay Cee’s Fella was then sold to Australia. Cleland raced Jay Cee’s Fella (Son Of Afella – Wild Vine) with trainer Ken McRae, then based at Waikaka. Jay Cee’s Fella (Son Of Afella – Wild Vine) won five races in New Zealand. His sister, Canshe Win won a race for Cleland and McRae at Gore in 1994 and she was sold cheaply as a broodmare to Owen Crooks. She left Check Back (by Live Or Die), who won races at Addington and Rangiora  for Crooks when trained by Margot Nyhan. Check Back is the dam of Captain Mannering (by the Christian Cullen horse Justa Tiger), the last of her four foals. Captain Mannering settled seventh after starting from outside the front line. He improved  from the 800m, led at the 400m and won by eight and three quarter  lengths. Pembrook Ideal ran a track record for a 3-year-old of 2.40.5 for 2200m (mobile). Her time, a 1.57.4 mile rate, bettered the mark of 2.41.1 set by Howard Bromac in 2003 and equalled by Bakari last year. The previous best for a filly was 2.41.4 by Cullen Who. Pembrook Ideal led over the last 1500m. “She just pulled too hard last week and choked down. I didn’t give her the chance tonight,’’ said her driver Dexter Dunn. The 3-year-old trotter The Dominator, tried with removable deafeners, won at his fourth start. He is trained at Washdyke by Donna Williamson for Pleasant Point breeder Stephen Bell. The Dominator (by The Pres) is a half-brother to Rydgemont Milly, who has won two races this season from the Invercargill stable of Mark and Debbie Shirley. Rydgemont Milly (by Monarchy) is leased to Debbie.These are the first two foals of Domination, who won 10 races for Bell and Ray Scott when trained by Murray Tapper. Williamson, a veterinarian, has five standardbreds and a thoroughbred in work. She is also weaning 25 foals at present. She provides agistment for mares including those owned by Gavin Chin, of Dunedin, the co-breeder of Lazarus. She prepared five for the premier yearling sale in February, among them a half-brother by Art Major to Lazarus sold for  $120,000  Williamson also operates a base for artificial insemination, handling some 120 mares each season. Tahlia Franco was claimed for $5000 by Tracey Whittaker, of Christchurch after finishing fourth to Machie Mach. The claim was decided by ballot between two entries.   Tayler Strong  

Sheezus provided local harness racing breeders Macca Lodge with an early breeding double at Gore today. Trained by Tony Stratford on the course for his sister's father in-law Pete Hughan from Wellington, the Panspacificflight filly in the hands of Dexter Dunn proved too good for a large maiden field of fillies and mares. Her winning margin was a length and a quarter and her time of 2-18.6 broke the three year old fillies track record of 2-29.0 previously held by Canderdel. Sheezus and Dexter Dunn (white and green colours)   - Photo Bruce Stewart. "I've always like her. When Mach Of The Man who was owned by Pete was getting to a stage when he was reaching his mark we got this filly," said Stratford. Despite her win today Stratford is conscious of not over racing the filly and waiting for her to develop into a four year old.  "If we don't overdo her this time round she could develop into quite a handy mare. At the end of the day she's probably not up to those better three year old fillies. In time though she could develop into a Southern Belle Speed Series mare. Sh's got good gas."  In the previous race the Macca Lodge bred Tangled Up In Blue won for Macca Lodge owner/trainer Brent McIntyre. Both horses are by Panspacificflight.  Meanwhile Stratford's former stable star Pulp Fiction notched up his first win in Australia last night when he won at Menangle.  "It was good to see him go to the line well like he did a lot of times down here. He went down to the line without being touched in 1-51 so that was great. I think a couple of times over there they've over driven him but in his last couple of runs they've been more positive especially when last week he came from last and ran third in 1-50."  Stratford says Pulp Fiction's previous owners have set aside some money to buy at next weeks sales but short term are enjoying racing the promising Bettor's Delight gelding Lilac Flash.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Magicol Delight improved on his debut second when he lead all the way to win the Omalass - The New Dried Molasses Mobile Pace at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. "I've always had a lot of time for him. He hasn't done a lot. He's a very inexperienced horse. We went to Omakau off the back of just one workout then he won today," said Gore trainer Tony Stratford after the win. The three year old is owned and raced by his breeders Paul and Margaret Collet who did farm at Wright Bush and are now retired and on a small holding between Alexandra and Clyde. Magicol Delight qualified at Gore in October 2015 as a two year old behind stablemates Mucho Macho Man and The Honey Badger andwas put aside to mature and develop. "Although he doesn't look it, he's a big boy. He's twelve months away to be fair. Being a Bettor's (by sire Bettors Delight) out of a nice mare he could develop into a good horse."  Winning connections                                                   - Photo Bruce Stewart Driver Dexter Dunn made the most of the horse's good draw and took the gelding straight to the lead. He held on to beat a late inside charge from Manuka Valley and a spirited finish out wide by Navajo Art.  "He got a nice draw and was able to utilise it."   Stratford said Magicol Delight will have his next start in a three year old race at the Invercargill Cup meeting at the end of the month.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Pulp Fiction became the first horse to win the Sir Lincoln Riverton Cup when he scored by five and a quarter lengths in race record time at Ascot Park yesterday. The Tony Stratford trained five year old also won the feature in 2014 as a three year old.  He was the lone starter off the 40 metre mark and driver Dexter Dunn caught the tape release perfectly. With 1600 metres to run the five year old entire was still second last with Bettor Enforce making the play up front. With 750 metres to run Dunn set Pulp Fiction forward at great speed and he'd reached the lead within 300 metres. He strolled down to the finish line to win by five and a half lengths from a game Bettor Enforce with Devil May Care running home late for third.  "He was pretty much spot on today. His work during the week was as good as he's ever worked so we were pretty confident. Dexter was full of admiration for him. He said he just jogged it," said Stratford. His time of 3-22.3 was a new race record bettering 2008 Riverton Cup winner Presidential Reign's time of 3-26.5. The track record for the distance of 3-20.1 is held by Isaiah.   Victory salute by Dexter Dunn                                                                 Photo Bruce Stewart. The plan now for Pulp Fiction, who has won twelve races and is assessed as a C8 pacer, is to start in the junior Free For All at Addington on Cup Day.  "We're under no illusions that he possibly will be outclassed but if he pust a performance together like he did today he won't disgrace himself. If Dexter can't drive him Matt Anderson will."  Despite regular interest from buyers in purchasing the Art Major entire the connections are holding firm.  Winning connections and club officials                                             Photo Bruce Stewart.  "There'll come a time when he's sold but I still reckon he's got unfinished business here. I think he can win an Invercargill or a Northern Southland Cup. I believe he wasn't even fifty per-cent right last year and he still only got beat by three and a half lengths (Invercargill Cup). I'm hoping he'll hang around for that."   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Debbie Larkins gained her first win as an owner/trainer/driver when Rydgemont Milly downed visiting favourite Trouble Giero to win the Zilco/Carpet Plus Willy's Flooring Trot at Gore on Sunday. Larkins races the mare on lease and shares the training with her partner Mark Shirley. They'd previously had success with Strategic Miss (twice) and Another Windermere. Conrock, in April 2013 when trained by Shirley alone, provided Larkins with her first driving success. Rydgemont Milly is the first foal of the Sundon mare Domination, winner of 10 races when trained by Murray Tapper. It was Tapper who recommended Rydgemont Milly to Larkins and Shirley. “Murray broke her in, he said she would take time,” Shirley said, “she has high speed and that will carry her when she strengthens. She is a solid trotter.” The Gore win made up for the Monarchy mare's bad luck at the Northern Southland meeting where she enjoyed a good trip in the one-one on the back of favourite Sky Tower, until the 400. At that point the eventual winner Explosive Star arrived on Rydgemont Milly's outer to lock her in and then Sky Tower broke and carted her out the back. Dan Wilson gained his first win as a breeder/owner/trainer when Lucas capitalised on a perfect Brad Williamson drive in the Dwain's Service Centre/MLT Forest Lodge Tapanui Pace. From four off the gate, Lucas enjoyed the one-one until the 600. From there, he was pushed forward, took control before the turn and ran clear in the straight. “He's always had speed, he just needed the right run,” said Wilson whose only previous wins were as the owner-trainer of Hadrian, twice successful early in 2014. Wilson said he grew up with horses, his parents raced horses, his father Lindsay and Uncle Ian train and his sister is the partner of trainer Tony Stratford. Lucas is the only horse he has in work. The gelding is out of Village Kiwi, a mare Wilson acquired from her previous trainer the late Alan Scobie. Prior to breeding form her, Wilson raced Village Kiwi for a time from his father's stable and gained a third at Ascot Park. Earlier in the day Williamson had won the SBS Claimers Mobile on The Charging Moa and was the only driver to land two winners on Sunday. The Charging Moa, by 2008 New Zealand Cup winner Changeover from the 2008 New Zealand Cup fourth placegetter Specials Ops, had a claiming price of $10,000 and wasn't claimed. In fact, no claims were lodged for any of the runners. Ariadne Lavra, the only representative at Gore of Burnham trainer Mark Jones, did the business impressively in the Otamita Servicing Ltd stand-start pace. She was racing in Southland for just the second time, having contested the group three Caduceus Club Two Year Old Fillies Classic at Ascot Park in March. Brent Barclay was aboard that day when she finished third behind stablemate Delightful Memphis and the Purdon/Rasmussen rep Renske B. Barclay took the reins again on Sunday and had the daughter of Art Major in front after 350 metres. They were never seriously tested from then on and careered away in the straight to win by four and three quarter lengths. Other Canterbury trainers to taste success were Steve McRae from West Melton and Brent White of Temuka. McRae had three at the meeting and won the Colin Baynes Memorial Fillies and Mares Pace with Narelle Franco. She is the first foal of National Franco who a few years earlier won races at Ascot Park with Craig Thornley in the sulky. He was also the winning driver of Narelle Franco who is now four and was having just her second start, after finishing third on debut at Washdyke last week. “She was a bit weak last season but has strengthened up,” Thornley said. The stable also picked up a placing in the Gore Windscreens N Glass Mobile with Franco Tristan. The four year old looked the winner when he loomed up on the turn but had to settle for third. “He hit the front and pulled up,” commented Thornley. Victory went to Ultimate Fella, White's sixth starter on the day. Earlier, he'd gained a placings with Trouble Giero who finished runner-up to Rydgemont Milly, plus Dark Ops and Run To Hide who both finished third. The third of Dark Ops was behind Blazing Under Fire in the Jaccka Lodge Handicap. Blazing Under Fire, a C2 entire trained by Phil Williamson, was driven by junior Rory McIlwrick and recorded the day's biggest winning margin of six and a quarter lengths. The win was penalty free under the conditions of the race because Blazing Under Fire was driven by a junior. The win helped McIlwrick retain a margin of four wins over Sheree Tomlinson at the top of the national premiership.   Mac Henry

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  

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