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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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