Day At The Track
Search Results
65 to 80 of 136

Pembrook absolutely loves racing at Alexandra Park. The 9-year-old son of Courage Under Fire won his 16th race on the tack when easily winning tonight’s Group Two $50,000 Auckland Co-op Taxis City Of Auckland Free-For-All. All up ‘Benny’ has now won 22 of his 90 starts and $867,982. Driven by Zac Butcher the bay gelding was always going to be a tough nit to crack after trailing last year’s race winner, Easy On The Eye. The Barry Purdon trained gelding paced the 2200m mobile in 2:40.60 with final 800m and 400m sectionals in 57.6 and 29.4. Mile rate: 1:57.4. Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) and Besotted (Simon Lawson) finished second and third some two lengths and 1-1/4 lengths back. Butcher said he would be even stronger come next week’s Group One Auckland Cup. “He hasn’t done much since coming back from Australia and he did it real easy tonight. He can only be improved by the run. I’d love to win that race so much,” said Butcher. Pembrook Benny is owned by his trainer, Terry Henderson, J. C. Higgins, K. G. Parry, Dave Sixton, and former All Black coach John Hart. He was bred by W. D. Power and Mrs G. L. Power. The past winners (with drivers and times have been): 2013: Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) 2:42.8. 2012: Sir Lincoln (Maurice McKendry) 2:40.3. 2011: Power Of Tara (Brent Mangos) 2:41.3. 2010: Big Dog (Scott Phelan) 2:45.7. 2009: Monkey King (Ricky May) 2:41.8. 2008: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:43.1. 2007: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:39.0. 2006: Mainland Banner (Ricky May) 2:44.7. 2005: Elsu (David Butcher) 2:40.4. 2004: Sly Flyin (Tony Herlihy) 2:43.0. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Locharburn cemented favouritism for next week’s Group One Woodlands Northern Derby when fighting back to win tonight’s Derby Prelude. The son of Christian Cullen walked them for most of the race before low flying home to win in 2:43.5. The Kevin Chapman trained and Dexter Dunn driven 3-year-old colt sprinted his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 55.4 and 27.8. Mile rate: 1:59.5. He had a head and two lengths to spare over place-getters Maxim (Zac Butcher), who sat in the trail throughout, and Aldo Rossi (Blair Orange). Locharburn has now won eight of his 10 starts and $119,658. He is owned by his trainer and Mrs B.G. Chapman. Breeder: M. J. Stratford. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Southern star Franco Ledger is primed and ready for Saturday’s Interdomion heat at Addington after he obliterated his own Waikouaiti track record by more than 4 seconds on Sunday. After starting from a 50 metre handicap, the biggest handicap ever overcome in the 59 year history of the race, Franco Ledger boomed down the outside to beat Donegals Guest by 1 & ¼ lenghts in an unbelievable time of 4-02.9 for the 3200 metre journey on a grass surface. It was Franco Ledger’s second win in the race in the last three years. Last year the race was taken out by Glencoe VC, who finished third in this year’s edition. The 6-year-old entire has now won 18 races and $369,000 in stakes for Hunter and the What Ever syndicate, who once again attempted to shake the grandstand down as their pride and joy steamed down the outside of the track. The Waikouaiti Trotting Club will race again on Tuesday, March 18, where some of the veterans of Australasian harness racing will take on the industry’s rising stars in an additional Waikouaiti meeting dubbed the ''youth versus experience''. The age for the experienced reinsmen was set at 50 and over, while the youthful reinsman have to be 25 or under. Lance Justice and 23-year-old Amanda Turnball have been invited to compete in the series from Australia, while the two members of the New Zealand 3000 win club, Tony Herlihy and Maurice McKendry, have also been invited to compete. Allan Beck, Ricky May, Peter Ferguson are other experienced New Zealand reinsman invited, while the youth will be represented by Zac Butcher, Samantha Ottley, Craig Ferguson, Dexter Dunn and Matthew Williamson. Waikouaiti trainer Bruce Negus has done much of the work in making the list of invited drivers, who are likely to compete in five penalty-free races on the card. By Mitchell Robertson

Australia’s leading trainer admits two Kiwi stablemates hold all the aces in the $A200,000 Victoria Derby at Melton tomorrow night. Our Maxim and Our Sky Major, who have already quinellaed two group one races in their careers, are drawn to potentially lead and trail in the classic over 2240m. And once that draw came out superstar Sydney trainer Luke McCarthy knew he was in trouble. McCarthy trains the Australian equivalent of the Barry Purdon-trained pair, having pre-draw favourites Bling It On and Lettucerockthem, who also quinealled group one races last season. But tonight they have both drawn wide and McCarthy says that gives the New Zealand three-year-olds a huge advantage. “The Kiwis are both good horses, I know that from chasing them home in the Sires’ Stakes and Harness Jewels last season with Allblack Stride,” says McCarthy. “Then they came over here and my pair beat them in the Breeders Crown because we led and trailed and they simply couldn’t make enough ground over the last 800m. “And I can see the reverse happening this week. I am pretty sure they have the speed to lead and trail and if we have to come around them we might not be good enough. “So they are definitely the ones to beat.”
 The irony is the Kiwi pair would probably be more potent with Our Sky Major drawn to lead and Our Maxim on his back, rather than the other way around. Purdon has always rated Our Maxim the speedster and Our Sky Major the stayer of the pair but with the Derby likely to have at least some pressure, both should get their chance. Still, with Our Sky Major double the fixed odds price of Our Maxim, he is clearly the better value option. Our Maxim’s driver Zac Butcher has one of the key drives at Alexandra Park tonight before he heads back to Melbourne tomorrow. He will partner former Southland trotter Cool Cobber in race seven, where he faces a 30m handicap and talented four-year-olds Revenue Maker and Wingsonhai in the best race of the night. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Not even the bravest win of his career in the Hunter Cup has been enough to save Christen Me’s Inter Dominion campaign. The New Zealand pacing sensation will be officially withdrawn today from Inter Dominion series which culminates in a A$750,000 final in Sydney on March 2. That was even after he sat parked and fought off many of Australasia’s best pacers in the A$400,000 Hunter Cup at Melton on Saturday night. The Canterbury five-year-old was magnificent holding out Caribbean Blaster to break an eight-race drought and silence doubts about his will to win a decent group one scrap. But the victory took its toll. “He was a very tired horse today,” said trainer Cran Dalgety last night. “He has had a long, hard summer and to be honest he is about 25kgs below what I would like him to be because it is hard to put on weight while you are in full training. “So we are pulling the pin on the Interdoms, even though some people might find that strange because it is for such big money. “He will come home and go straight for an eight-week spell and then be set for the Grand Circuit again next season, when I am sure he will be bigger and stronger.” Dalgety said while it appeared Christen Me was sore soon after he crossed the line, he was sound yesterday and that in no way contributed to his connection’s decision. “He simply gave 101 per cent and you can only ask them to do that so many times. “And you have horses like Beautide, who was awesome at Menangle on Saturday night, Smolda and For A Reason who are going to be a lot fresher and harder to beat. “So our decision is made and is final.” Dalgety, who missed Saturday’s race because of a leg injury suffered on a jet ski, said Christen Me’s constant companion Murray Howard deserved much of the praise for Saturday’s group one victory.
 “Murray deserves so much of the credit,” says Dalgety. “I have been back and forth to Aussie and Auckland with this horse but Murray is the hands-on man. “And he is the perfect man for the job, he has a great attention to detail and loves this horse.” Those sentiments were echoed by driver Dexter Dunn, whose own attention to detail probably won the Hunter for Christen Me. He let him settle early before pressing on to sit parked, as he has in most big races this season, but instead of going for home once he had the leader beaten, Dunn sat up until the 180m mark. That kept key rival Restrepo pocketed but also meant he didn’t need to use the whip much on Christen Me, a key factor has he seems to resent more than most horses. “I was just a little patient and it was a fine line but it is still a big win, sitting parked to win a Hunter Cup.” Caribbean Blaster was a brave second on Saturday but had his chance while Auckland-owned The Gold Ace was similar in third, both being realistic Interdom contenders. First-time open class contending Kiwi four-year-old Franco Nelson was an eyecatching fourth and will contest at Inter Dom heat in two weeks before his connections decide on that series or the Chariots of Fire the same day. Fellow New Zealand-trained pacers Pembrook Benny, Mah Sish and Easy On The Eye finished well back the former not helped by an early break. But his trainer Barry Purdon tasted success earlier in night when Our Maxim won his heat of the Victoria Derby after a beautiful Zac Butcher drive. Butcher will partner him in this Saturday’s Derby, in which Purdon will also have Our Sky Major, who was a brave third in his heat behind a supersonic Bling It On. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

The Kiwi’s struck their first blow on harness racing's Hunter Cup night with Our Maxim in the third and final Victoria Derby heat. Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher combined to upstage favourite Lettucerockthem via the passing lane. It turned into a race of tactics with Our Maxim utilising his front row draw as he kept working forward to eventually find the top but Luke McCarthy and Lettucerockthem came with to take the front mid-race. Rather than allowing a speed battle to develop, Butcher eventually relented, handing over the lead to the favourite who was working through a sizzling 28.2sec second quarter of the last mile. That mid-race pressure might have proved the difference as Our Maxim just pegged back the favourite in the straight to run a mile rate of 1:55.9. The official margin was a neck by 5.6 metres with Vicbred Super Series winner Major Secret sitting parked for the last lap and putting in a brave performance to make it into the final. Our Maxim has now taking his earnings to in excess of $215,000 from his 18 starts in what was his fourth win. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

In Melbourne.--- A startling declaration from trainer Tim Butt could set up Saturday night’s $400,000 Hunter Cup for his fellow Kiwis. Butt is the undoubted king of Australia’s richest standing start race, having trained the winner five times while his brother Anthony has driven seven Hunter Cup winners. Tonight they have defending champion Mah Sish in the 3280m epic and their confidence has been boosted by a long overdue return to form in a support race on last Saturday’s Ballarat Cup card. Mah Sish seems to have lost all his speed but ground his opponents into the Ballarat track last week so Butt has declared he will adopt similar tactics this week, even if that means going to war with Australian pacing legend Smoken Up. Smoken Up has been greatly boosted by the Hunter race reverting from a handicap to a free-for-all and after drawing barrier four is expected by most to press on toward the lead, with many rival trainers happy to trail him. Not Butt though, who says he wants Mah Sish in front and if he gets there he won’t hand over to Smoken Up, and would even attack him if the latter leads. “I don’t think he (Smoken Up) is going as well as he can and the last couple of times he has lead he has gone too slow,” says Butt. “So we will race him for the lead if we get away well enough. “I know my horse has been struggling for a while before last week but he is back on the improve and he will be a better horse that last week.”
 The very real possibility of an early war in the Hunter plays into the hooves of the speedsters who are able to follow a hot speed, and two of the best of those are fellow New Zealand pacers Pembrook Benny and Christen Me. Christen Me was brave but still unable to win the Ballarat Cup last Saturday and after his New Zealand Cup third in November there are some doubts over whether 3200m really suits him. The best way around that is for him to be given plenty of time to find his feet and then swoop in the race later, which is how most sons of Christian Cullen perform at their optimum. Butt’s early attack promise suggests that could become reality. The fact Pembrook Benny is favoured in a Hunter Cup is one of the more unlikely stories of the harness racing season after he returned home from a Sydney campaign last season looking a spent force. But training genius Barry Purdon has the nine-year-old in the best form of his career and sitting just off the speed he only has to race up to his New Zealand Cup fourth to be a huge hope for young gun driver Zac Butcher, who didn’t even have a licence when Pembrook Benny started racing. Add in the enormously improved Franco Nelson and the surprise addition of Easy On The Eye and New Zealand has five chances in the race on the Australian Grand Circuit that has been kindest to our pacers in the last decade. But the horse to beat is still local star Restrepo, who was outstanding winning the Ballarat Cup after being three wide the last lap. The Ballarat Cup has been far and away the best guide to the Hunter Cup in recent years and Restrepo is a good standing start exponent with a top trainer and Australasia’s most successful ever reinsman Gavin Lang in the sulky. He may have drawn the second line but along with fellow Victorian hero Caribbean Blaster he is a better follower than leader over long distances so his draw only serves to increases his odds without greatly decreasing his chances. Earlier in the night Purdon’s pair of Our Sky Major (race one) and Our Maxim (race three) face tough draws in heats of the Victoria Derby set to dominated by Sydney’s all-conquering Team McCarthy. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and The New Zealand Herald

Many talented types were put through their paces in preparation for tonight’s premier meeting at Alexandra Park at the workouts last Saturday and it is fair to say more than one of them caught my eye. The third heat consisted of seven of the nine two-year-olds that will do battle in the first heat of the Young Guns tonight and, while the Ray Green trained pair of Chachingchaching and Beaudine Boaz were impressive in finishing first and second, there were also a couple of handy runs in behind them. One of them was Tembi, who has opened at very nice odds for tonight’s event. He was never asked for the supreme effort by driver Joshua Dickie and found the line very strongly, finishing hard on the back of second placegetter Beaudine Boaz. He has also impressed me previously at the trials and is definitely one worth specking for value.  Ardee and Follow The Stars also trialled strongly. Race 3  2YO MOBILE PACE.    (Qualifying Time: 2-13.4) Video  Distance: 1700m     Weather: Fine     Track: Fast    Plc Bk Horse Hcap Time Driver Trainer 1 3 Chachingchaching fr 2-16.4 R C Downey R W Green 2 6 Beaudiene Boaz fr     R W Green 3 4 Follow The Stars fr     M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 4 5 Ardee fr     A G Herlihy MNZM Other Starters not necessarily in finishing order UPL 1 Jonny B Good fr     G R Dixon UPL 2 Tembi fr     Ms M J Wallis & B P Hackett UPL 7 Iceobar fr     M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen         In the fifth heat of the day Lewy Risk proved he will have no problems going the Auckland way round by destroying his rivals by eight lengths. Sent straight to the front by Lew Driver, Lewy Risk defied a mid-race attack from Stars And Sounds, before bolting away over the concluding stages. Lewy Risk competes in the fourth race tonight and looks to have a very strong chance, despite meeting a field which includes talented types Someardensomewhere and Ultimate Major.   Race 5  MOBILE PACE. (C1) Video  Distance: 2200m     Weather: Fine     Track: Fast    Plc Bk Horse Hcap Time Driver Trainer 1 4 Lewy Risk fr 2-49.2 L C Driver K D Sefonte 2 3 Stars And Sound fr     B M Mangos & H J Cullen 3 2 Going To California fr     B Purdon 4 1 Bronze Ecstasy fr     J W Dickie & J I Dickie       Margins: 8 lengths, 1 length, 1/2 length Times: Mile Rate: 2-03.7 Last 800m: 57.8 Last 400m: 28.9   Bettor Offer, Cyclone Prince, and Tiago Bromac all trialled up strongly in the sixth heat of the day, with Bettor Offer bursting up the inside to beat the latter pair late in proceedings. He looks very hard to beat from his ace alley in the last race of the night, while Master Charlie, who found the line strongly in the same workout, could be one to spice up Trifectas and First Fours. Race 6  MOBILE PACE. (C2 & faster) Video  Distance: 2200m     Weather: Fine     Track: Fast    Plc Bk Horse Hcap Time Driver Trainer 1 1 Bettor Offer fr 2-50.6 Z E Butcher B Purdon 2 2 Cyclone Prince fr     G R Dixon 3 6 Tiago Bromac fr     S J Reid & S W McMullan 4 4 Chokullen fr     Ms M J Wallis & B P Hackett Other Starters not necessarily in finishing order UPL 3 Sandpark Senator fr     Miss V S Facoory UPL 5 Master Charlie fr     D M Balle       Margins: 1/2 head, 1 length, neck Times: Mile Rate: 2-04.7 Last 800m: 57.3 Last 40   Love Ya Doosie looks set for the Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes after trialling sensationally in the eighth heat of the day.  After starting from 30 metres behind, driver Zac Butcher circled the field to take up the lead, before handing to Dauntless and taking a trail. The half-sister to the recently retired I Can Doosit then galloped down the back straight, before finding her feet again and powering over the top of them to win by ¾ lengths. Race 8  TROT. (C0 & faster) Video  Distance: 2700m     Weather: Fine     Track: Fast    Plc Bk Horse Hcap Time Driver Trainer 1 6 Love Ya Doosie 30m 3-39.5 Z E Butcher B Purdon 2 9 Equulei 30m     Miss A M Matthews 3 8 Dauntless 30m     E J Edwards 4 1 Belles Son fr     K K Chapman Other Starters not necessarily in finishing order UPL 2 Creamee fr     J W Dickie & J I Dickie UPL 3 Sundonna fr     G J Dempsey UPL 4 First Vintage fr     E J Edwards UPL 5 Pretty Awesome 10m     M J Pemberton UPL 7 Maori Invasion 30m     Ms M J Wallis & B P Hackett       Margins: 3/4 length, nose, 2 lengths Times: Mile Rate: 2-10.8 Last 800m: 61.2 Last 400m: 30.7   By Mitchell Robertson

While we are used to John’s brother Dexter Dunn notching up multiple winners on a premier night of racing, John doing it himself is something that is not quite so common. However, no one can take away from his brilliant form at Alexandra Park tonight. Dunn kicked off the night in grand style, combining with father Robert for wins with Return To Sender (Mach Three) and Franco Nelson (Christian Cullen), before stepping it up to the next level and taking out the Group Two Ladyship Stakes with the Geoff Dunn trained superstar filly Venus Serena (Mach Three). Although punters who backed her into $1.90 favouritism did have a few nervous moments when she was beaten for speed and crossed by Angelina Jolie (David Butcher) with a lap to run. “That was probably my fault as I was caught napping a bit,” explained Dunn. “She took a while to wind up when she got the passing lane but she was strong to the line and I think she was holding them,” said Dunn. “It was actually something a bit new for her as last season she was either parked or in front in the majority of her races,” he added. Lincolns Megastar (Roydon Downey) followed Venus Serena up the passing lane to burst into second for a Mach Three quinella, while Ideal Belle (Zac Butcher) was good in third. The disappointment of the race was second favourite Millie Sampson who never really seemed happy and faded to finish last. “I think she has actually come back a bit stronger than last season,” said an ecstatic Dunn. The win continued what has been a brilliant last year for Venus Serena’s trainer Geoff Dunn. “I don’t think even Geoff can believe it,” quipped John Dunn. “After years of battling away he is finally getting the success he deserves.” Just when John Dunn thought things couldn’t get any better, they did. Replacing Dexter Dunn who is in Perth to drive Bit Of A Legend in tonight’s Golden Nugget, John gave Regulus a beautiful run in the trail before diving up the passing lane to win the $25,000 Northern 3YO Stakes narrowly over Maxim, who was allowed to set the terms in front. The son of Mach Three and Hunter Franco upset at odds of $23.50 and $6.80. Te Kawau was very game in third, while Sky Major loomed large on the home bend but come to the end of his run in the concluding stages, fading to finish fourth. Meanwhile champion mare Adore Me continued her rampage, treating her rivals with contempt in the Northern Breeders Stakes, while Easy On The Eye posted an emphatic all of the way win in the feature Group Two Franklin Cup. *Dunn then went on to win the last race on the card with Elios, giving him five winners for the night. By Mitchell Robertson    

For many of us it was just another cold wet miserable night at Manawatu but for champion driver David Butcher, it was much much more. The legendary Waikato reinsman headed to Palmerton North with a respectable 1997 wins to his name but, after reining home an early double, his third win for the night aboard Celtic Warrior made him just the fourth New Zealand driver, behind Tony Herlihy, Maurice Mckendry, and Ricky May, to drive in excess of 2000 winners in this country. Most families would have settled with that and called it a great night, but not the Butchers, they were back to put the icing on the cake half an hour later when David  won his fourth straight race on Dougie Maguire, beating sons Ben (Real Faith) and Zac Butcher (Mister Dann), giving them an extremely rare family trifecta. For the record: Butcher’s four winners for the night were: Okey Dokey, Saucy El, Celtic Warrior, and Dougie Maguire. Top ten most successful drivers by wins Tony Herlihy *3213 Maurice Mckendry *2989 Ricky May *2416 David Butcher *2001  Colin DeFilippi *1947 Peter Wolfenden  *1762 Peter Ferguson *1774 Maurice Holmes *1666 Anthony Butt *1676 Jim Curtin *1405   By Mitchell Robertson

If there was a horse that deserved a Group One win in New Zealand it was today’s $200,000 Woodlands Stud New Zealand Free-For-All winner Pembrook Benny. The now nine-year-old has been in and around the placings in some of New Zealand’s biggest races since he burst on to the scene as a three-year-old but, until now, he had never won one. “He really was overdue a big one,” said an ecstatic Zac Butcher. “He has been close so many times,” he added. Butcher was once again singing out praise to his boss Barry Purdon, who has produced yet another sensational training performance. “The man is an absolute genius,” claimed Butcher. “He has this horse sounder and better than he has ever been, and at the age of nine! Pembrook Benny was third-up for the season today after returning home from a winter campaign in Australia. He was a great fourth at Alexandra Park first-up before finishing an even better fourth in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday. “We left him in Australia to race over the winter as there wasn’t much for him back home,” said Butcher. “He won a few races over there, but his form soon tapered off. “He can get a bit sour sometimes when he travels but he absolutely loves it at Barry’s. As soon as he got home he starting pricking his ears and bouncing around again. Butcher said that he was absolutely stoked with Benny’s fourth in the New Zealand Cup and that he was quietly confident going into today. “He came through the run surprisingly well and had plenty of spring in his step yesterday. I think keeping him fresh has been the key this time in,” explained Butcher. “Or perhaps he is like a fine wine and is just getting better with age,” he quipped. It was Zac Butcher’s fourth Group One driving success, and third at Addington. “I would like to pay a huge thanks to all of the owners of this horse. There have been a couple of times were I probably have pulled the wrong rein and, being a young fella, they could have easily opted for someone with more experience like the old man (David Butcher) or Tony Herlihy but they stayed loyal to me.” Pembrook Benny, by Courage Under Fire  is owned by B Purdon, T F Henderson, J C Higgins, K G Parry, D H Sixton, J B Hart and was bred by W D Power, Mrs G L Power paced the one mile journey in 1-54.3. It was a North Island quinella with Easy On The Eye finishing a game second after serving it up to Australian raider Suave Stuey Lombo, who folded in the home stretch. Fellow Australian Caribbean Blaster was herculean in third after being trapped three-wide from the 1100. Meanwhile favourite Chisten Me galloped when in tight quarters at the start and did well to recover for seven, finishing just two and a half lengths from the winner. “The one mile start at Addington is an absolute joke,” said driver Dexter Dunn. “I’m not just saying that because of what happened today, I’ve been saying it ever since it came in. Today was just the proof of the pudding.” By Mitchell Robertson      

After waiting his whole life for that one special horse, Geoff Dunn has now got two of them. Dunn has been a lifelong harness racing battler with a famous last name but without the horsepower to back it up. Until now. Last season the Canterbury horseman found sensational filly Venus Serena, who gave him his first group one wins and ended her season as the Harness Jewels champion and juvenile filly of the year. Dunn thought that was as good as it gets. But then along came Tiger Tara, a decent two-year-old last season who has gone to another level this term and remained unbeaten in yesterday’s $180,000 Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington. Now Dunn has two group one winners and a potential golden summer ahead. His Bettors Delight colt was trapped wide early before surging to the lead and, as he has all season, defied his rivals to run him down. Bettor Offer, courtesy of an economical drive from Zac Butcher got closest and Isaiah was game but it was hard to take anything away from the winner. “I knew last season he would come back better as a three-year-old but you don’t expect this,” said Dunn. “He is so tough and he just doesn’t want to be run down. “Last season with Venus was great but the Sires’ Stakes, on my home track on Cup day, that is something else all together.” Dunn is the brother of Robert Dunn and uncle of champion drivers Dexter and John and he wasn’t the only one reaching a new level yesterday. His long-time friend Gerard O’Reilly was tasting group one success for the first time behind Tiger Tara and remarkably is probably the first member of the famous O’Reilly clan to drive a group one winner in more than 20 years. Tiger Tara will now head to Auckland for the Christmas carnival with a plethora of group one options around Australia laid out in front of him. The same applies to yesterday’s first group one winner Peak, who showed enormous courage to win the $80,000 Trotting Free-For-All. The former Swedish trotter was having just his second start in New Zealand since being the star lot of a three-horse package purchased from Scandinavia by clients of the Tim Butt stable. He was impressive winning first-up at Ashburton but had to be even better yesterday as he had to burn early and was then attacked by The Fiery Ginga and after looking beaten at the top of the straight refused to line down. Butt is adamant Peak will be better over Friday’s 3200m distance of the Dominion Handicap and then he plans to get his owner’s investment back all over New Zealand and Australia. “We will head to Auckland and then Melbourne and Sydney,” says Butt. “He is a great stayer and wants to win but we haven’t pushed the go button on the speed with him yet because to be honest we have rushed him up for this carnival. “But I am certain he will keep getting better.” As good as the group one winners were, there was also plenty to like about the winning performances of Adore Me, Saveapatrol and Didjamakem Bolt in the supporting races. Adore Me was allowed to settle early then work to the lead and beat the older male pacers in the junior free-for-all, with trainer Mark Purdon to decide today whether she takes on the open class stars in the New Zealand Free-For-All on Friday. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Owner Terry McDonald and trainers Graham and Paul Court are proud to finally be able to call their horse Terror To Love a champion. Because, quite clearly, that’s what he is. And no one, in their right mind, can now argue against them - After all, he has just won his third consecutive New Zealand Trotting Cup, equalling the legendary False Step and Indianapolis – And what a win it was! The Western Terror six-year-old who up until now has been, for reasons unbeknown to me, labelled as just a “great horse”, today earned his spot as champion – Something that, despite what many media personnel have said, Christen Me and Adore Me are yet to do. Whilst Terror To Love equalled the record for the most wins in the New Zealand Cup today, his driver Ricky May managed to go one better, breaking the late Cecil Devine’s record of six wins in the great race. However, an always modest Ricky May will be the first person to remind you that Devine trained  his six winners as well, while he has “only driven his seven”. But, at the start, the fairytale story didn’t look likely with Terror To Love making an uncharacteristic mistake at the start. “After he missed away I really did think it was all over,” admits Owner Terry McDonald. “It wasn’t until I saw how well he was travelling on the bend that I regained my confidence,” he added. Graham Court however, was confident as soon as ‘Terror’ landed the top. “Obviously I was worried when he missed away, but I was just hoping that Ricky (May) would get around them as I knew that, with Fly Like An Eagle in front and Christen Me locked up, the lead would be there for him,” said Court. “As soon as he got the front, I knew they wouldn’t beat him,” he added. Although Christen Me had beaten Terror To Love in two of the three lead up races that they clashed in, Graham Court had told Terry McDonald he would not be beating them today. “Graham told me at the start of the week that I would have to give up smoking so I sounded alright in the winning speech,” quipped McDonald. “He was only 80% in his first two lead-up races and 90% in the Ashburton Flying Stakes,” confesses Court. “I really did peak him for today, “Court said while celebrating over stiff Whisky. Although Terror To Love is now an undisputed New Zealand champion, he still has unfinished business across the Tasman. “The Miracle Mile and the Interdominion Final are now our two main targets,” said Court. “I’m keen to show the Aussies just how good this horse is.” And as for an attempt at four consecutive New Zealand Cups – “It’s too early to say. It’s another year away, I’m definitely not writing it off though.” Terror To Love paced the 3200m standing-start journey in 3-57 (Second fastest ever to Changeover) which, when you consider that he lost at least 20 metres at the start, is simply staggering. “This horse really does mean the world to me and family and today I am, without a doubt, the happiest man in the world,” concluded McDonald. The run-down: 2013 winning mile rate: 1:59.1 Last 800m: 56 even. Last 400m: 27.7. Placings: Fly Like An Eagle (Mark Purdon) 2, Christen Me (Dexter Dunn) 3, Pembrook Benny (Zac Butcher) 4, Caribbean Blaster (Kate Gath) 5. Margins: Neck, 1-1/4 L, ¾ L, 2-1/4 L. Winning dividend: $2.70 (second favourite). Winning owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited. Winning breeder: Terry McDonald.  By Mitchell Robertson

Lets Elope is not paid up for the New Zealand Cup but Thursday’s (September 26) Te Awamutu Cup winner is still likely to be seen on Cup Day at Addington Raceway. His trainers Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins were delighted with the 5-year-old Real Desire gelding’s decisive two-length victory on at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday. It was his second run back since finishing sixth behind Christen Me in the Jewels Final in June. “We were rapt with the run. He follows speed well and he’s improving towards Cup class nicely, but he’s not ready for the top company just yet. “He could be ready come Auckland Cup time but for now we will just ease him into it. He needs more tough racing,” Cooney said. Maurice McKendry had Lets Elope (30m) poised three back on the outside at the bell in Thursday’s $12,000 3-6 win pace. Then when they were in the one-one turning for home it was just a matter of how much Lets Elope would win by. At the end of the 2700m stand they had two lengths and three quarters of a length to spare over Bettor Romance (Zac Butcher) and Freespin (Scott Phelan). Winner’s time: 3:25.5. Mile rate: 2:02.4. Last 800m: 58.6. Last 400m: 28.3. He was the second favourite and paid $4.10 to win. Hopkins said it was vital that Lets Elope now kept improving and that meant he had to take on stronger fields. Therefore a trek south was now was the obvious move. “There’s not much up here in the North Island for him so we will most probably head south depending on what the owners say. There are a few possibilities but the Junior Free-For-All on Cup Day and the 3200m stand on Show Day appeal. “The Kaikoura Cup is also a possibility,” Hopkins said. Cooney said he would talk to Canterbury horseman Colin De Filippi this week about Lets Elope’s schedule and whether or not De Filippi was able to drive him. Lets Elope provided the Taupaki training duo with their first win at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday. He has now won 10 of his 45 starts and placed 15 times for $273,662 in stakes. Lets Elope is owned by Anne Cooney, P.J. Haslam, and W.H. Outtrim. He was bred by Old Ridge Services Number 4 Ltd. He is the third of five foals out of the one-win Soky’s Atom mare Alta Vista. Meanwhile Cooney, who was almost killed in a driving accident at Alexandra Park in July last year, said he was still missing driving. “It’s something I really enjoyed. I saw the doctor a couple of months ago and it could still be six to 12 months if at all. That really frustrates me, but that’s the way life is,” Cooney said. He said he was just thankful to have Hopkins as his partner. “It’s very satisfying to know that when the horses go away, like they did to Cambridge last night, they are going to be looked after. Tate has been great. The partnership is going well,” Cooney said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Easy On The Eye’s effortless Spring Cup victory at Alexandra Park last Friday night (September 20) even surprised his Franklin trainers Steven Reid and Simon McMullan. “He’s been working okay but this was his first run back since he won the Winter Cup three months ago. We gave him a month off after that and because he’s such a big horse we thought he might need the run,” McMullan said. Even driver Peter Ferguson, who was having his first drive back since the Jewels in Ashburton due to a serious thumb injury suffered two years ago, was a bit stunned by the easy of Easy On The Eye’s 14th win. “He won with plenty in hand. I didn’t even have to ask him to go. He didn’t feel like a horse who was having his first run back after a spell,” said Ferguson. ‘Fergy’ had Easy On Then Eye in front after 200 metres and the 6-year-old son of Christian Cullen never looked like giving away the lead at away any stage of the 2200m stand. At the finishing line Easy On The Eye had two lengths to spare over stablemate Charge Forward (Simon Lawson), who was having his second run back after a five month spell. Favourite Besotted (Maurice McKendry) was a neck back in third after bobbling away at the start. Winner’s time: 2:43.6. Mile rate: 1:59.6. Last 800m: 55.4. Last 400m: 27.1. Easy On The Eye will now head to Christchurch this week to tackle the big guns in the Avon City Ford Cup. “After that we might tackle the Ashburton Flying Stakes and then possibly the (New Zealand) Cup trial if needed. We would like to start him in the Kaikoura Cup because the distance is ideal for him, but won’t because he’s such a big framed horse who wouldn’t handle the bends too well,” McMullan said. It was Easy On The Eye’s 14th win in 37 starts. He’s also placed 13 times for just over a quarter of a million dollars in prize money. Easy On The Eye is owned by Ken and Karen Breckon, G.K. Breckon, T.C. Screen, and M. Ng. He was bred by Doctors M.J. Evans and T.B. Taylor. Meanwhile, Reid, McMullan, and Ferguson were also victorious on Friday with their six-win pacer Tiago Bromac, who was resuming from a four-month spell. The 4-year-old McArdle gelding had a length to spare over Bettor Romance and Zac Butcher in the ninth event – the Auckland Reactor@Alabar mobile for 3-5 win pacers. “He’s like Easy On The Eye a bit. We thought he might need the run too, but he keeps stepping up. We will just keep ticking away with him up here and then concentrate on the big 4-year-old races with him later in the season,” 24-year-old McMullan said. Tiago Bromac paced the 2200m mobile in 2:46 flat with a 2:01.4 mile rate. His last 800m and 400m sectionals were 57.7 and 27.3. The Reid-McMullan team had a good night on Friday. As well as Charge Forward's second in the Spring Cup they also placed Jogo Bonito in race one. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

In Melbourne.--- Brian Hughes is adamant the new star of Australian pacing hasn’t been lost to New Zealand for good. Hughes trained Ideal Scott to win last season’s Northern Derby but sent the long-striding speedster to leading Sydney trainers Luke and Belinda McCarthy a few months ago because of a lack of winter racing opportunities in New Zealand. The results have been dazzling, with Ideal Scott having already won the A$100,000 Blacks A Fake in Brisbane and now a hot favourite to win the A$100,000 ABC four-year-old final at Melton on Sunday. Luke McCarthy, who has taken over as top dog in Australian harness racing, already rates Ideal Scott potentially the best horse in his stable, an opinion backed up by his 53.8 second last 800m at Melton last Sunday. But while races like the Miracle Mile now look within Ideal Scott’s reach, Hughes says he will return to his South Auckland stable at some stage. “I am glad we sent him over there and thrilled to see the way he is racing,” said Hughes. “And we will keep talking to Luke to work out what races he sees over there for him. “But I am sure he will come back at some stage. He might even divide his time between the two countries, which is what a lot of good horses have to do anyway.” Ideal Scott is one of three high-class pacers Hughes and his partners have sent to Australia over the winter, with Courage To Rule and Delightful Christian also racing at the Breeders Crown. Courage To Rule has been on a winning run in Sydney after arriving there beautifully assessed but faces an awkward task from the ace draw on a fast front line in the A$60,000 ABC Free-For-All at Melton tonight. “He has a horse outside him who should cross him and that could make it tricky for us if we got locked away,” admits McCarthy. And Delightful Christian, who pulled too hard in her semi-final last Saturday, meets a genuine superstar in Frith in her final on Sunday. Meanwhile Hughes, just back from an European vacation, takes two winning chances to Alexandra Park tonight. Machtu makes his three-year-old debut in race six and shouldn’t be a maiden for long. “He has shown enough but his recent workouts haven’t been that taxing so I wouldn’t be surprised if he needed the run tonight,” said Hughes. May Fly comes into race five well for in-form junior driver Simon McMullen and gets her chance to return to form as the northern junior drivers try to work out some sort of pecking order after the three best of recent years --- Zac Butcher, Simon Lawson and Josh Dickie --- all graduated to the senior ranks. The main pace of the night should prove easy picking for Freespin (R8, No.7), who drops a long way in grade from taking on Besotted last start. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

65 to 80 of 136