Search Results
1 to 16 of 116
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

One of the greats of New Zealand harness racing doesn’t get to see his newest Alexandra Park winner very often. But you can rest assured, John Butcher is watching when Sunset Peak is winning. The former Canterbury trotting mare made it two wins from four starts in the north at Alexandra Park on Friday night, leading throughout as she did two starts ago. She is trained by John and his son David, although truth be known John doesn’t get down to the stables much anymore. The 80-year-old patriarch of one of New Zealand’s great racing families is suffering from lung problems which restrict how much physical activity he can undertake. But it doesn’t stop him watching races on television or keeping up with the industry going-ons via the computer. “He knows everything that goes on in the game, he is the one who tells me,” says David. “But with the lung problem he has got he doesn’t leave the house much. He is a lot better if he doesn’t over exert himself.”
 The father and son have been training in partnership for years but rarely have they had a trotter able to win twice so quickly at Alexandra Park. It helped that Sunset Peak came north well educated by owner Paul McDonald, a Canterbury builder who was training her himself. “I think Paul thought with winter coming and all the work he had on she was better off up here,” explains David. “So Craig Thornley, who had been driving her, put him on to us and she is a lovely horse to get hold of. “To win two so quickly at The Park doesn’t happen very often and you would think she will get down to being a 3:30 trotter (for 2700m stand). “And that is probably good enough to get her at least five wins because when they trot 3:30 off the front they are hard to catch. “The other night she trotted her last three quarters (1200ms) in about even time so the ability is there.”
 The Butchers have never been huge trainers of trotters but have two recent winners in that gait, the other being Larch, among the 9-10 horses they are training. “Soon half the horses at Alexandra Park will be trotters,” jokes Butcher about the new-found depth of the gait in the north. “And they are ideal for up here, races every week and for good money. “So to have a nice one right now is a real bonus.”
 Sunset Peak’s win capped a good night for the family as earlier David’s son Zac drove Atomic Betty to break her maiden and he can probably claim an unofficial training success with Hug The Wind in the $20,000 Smith And Partners Winter Cup. Zac has been in charge of the Barry Purdon stable while the boss has taken a small holiday and had Hug The Wind well enough for driver Brent Mangos to launch him as only Mangos does in the main pace. Aided by a brilliant beginning which gave him field position, Hug The Wind worked forward to get the lead and was way too good in a race where new stablemate New Years Jay also caught the eye when third, promoted from fourth. The favourite Shandale was given a good trip by trainer-driver Maurice McKendry but disappointed, suggesting his season may soon be over. Earlier in the night McKendry partnered the McCaffrey-Paynter trained Ideal Flipflop to a good win in a tough c1 race, the three-year-old pacing 2:40.3 for the 2200m on a chilly night, indicating there is plenty more in store for him. Michael Guerin

Weight of numbers would suggest the winner of tonight’s feature pace at Alexandra Park will be going home in Barry Purdon’s horse float but the training legend warns it may not be one of his. Purdon trains four of the nine starters in the $15,000 main sprint but also has the sole Australian contender for the Jewels in My Kiwi Mate stabled at his property with trainer Craig Demmler. And having gotten to know the four-year-old pretty well over the last six weeks, Purdon says My Kiwi Mate could show up his local mates in race five tonight. “I am happy with all four of mine but My Kiwi Mate was pretty impressive winning at the workouts last weekend,” admits Purdon. “He is a really nice horse coming out of the Taylor Mile and Messenger and even though he has a tough draw he is the one to beat.”
 Purdon has Hug The Wind, Democrat Party, The Faithful and Aliante in the race and says while Hug The Wind is a genuine Jewels chance he might just need the run tonight. “He is there to win but being a stallion he probably needs the racing, as we saw at when My Kiwi Mate beat him at the workouts last weekend. “So of the ones we train I thought Democrat Party might be the best hope. She has worked well since coming up from the South Island and has a better draw than Hug The Wind.” Draws will also play on Purdon’s mind in race six, where he has one of the Jewels four-year-old mares’ favourites in On The Town but he says punters should be careful. “She is going great and I am really hoping for a good draw with her for the Jewels. “But she has the outside of the front line this week and there looks to be plenty of speed inside her, which could make it tricky on her if she goes out hard. “I will leave the decision on that to Zac (Butcher, driver) to see what happens early but even if she isn’t in the early rush she has to be a good chance.” On The Town may be a four-year-old but she has two Derby class three-year-olds in Motown and Walkinshaw drawn inside her and both could break 2:40 for the 2200m so will be hard to get past should they get to the markers pegs first. Jewels contenders will dominate a few other races tonight, with Blazing Under Fire likely to enjoy his return to mobile racing in race three, where he meets a race rival next week in Donegal Bettorgretch, facing the often-tricky Alexandra Park debut. And the open class trotters get a rare mobile sprint in race seven, where the likes of Jag’s Invasion, Queen Kenny and Realmein will appreciate being off levels marks but they all have only moderate records from behind the mobile. Michael Guerin

Just recently, we applauded the JCA for the manner in which they had handled the Kevin Morton 'race cafe' case and how they had enhanced their reputation in doing so. Unfortunately within a few weeks they have had a shocker with the Zac Butcher case in the New Zealand Free For All during Cup Week. The reasoning that the two JCA representatives Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles put forward for their decision in this case shows a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of harness racing. The case revolves around Zac Butcher puncturing the tyre of Mossdale Conner when he went inside the markers before the passing lane in the $250,000 NZFFA. Ricky May was furious post race, stating that Zac had tried to get inside Mossdale Conner before the passing lane was available and in doing so had punctured his trye, costing Mossdale Conner the win. But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles were firmly of the view that Mossdale Conner's winning chances weren't affected as the hearing transcript shows. "Given the performance of ‘Mossdale Conner’ in the final 250m of the race, it is not clear that that horse demonstrably suffered as a result of the flat tyre." "It cannot be said that the horse would have won the race but for the flat tyre." "On the contrary, after the interference ‘Mossdale Conner’ appeared to continue on with a strong run and was only beaten within metres of the winning post by a fast finishing ‘Tiger Tara’. The margin was a nose." So in the minds of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, Mossdale Conner drags a flat tyre for 275 metres and he didn't have his winning chances affected due to the flat tyre. The reality is there is absolutely no doubt at all that the flat tyre cost Mossdale Conner the win. That they think otherwise is to show a complete lack of knowledge and understanding on behalf of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles of the industry they are meant to be policing. But it gets worse when the two gentlemen come to the penalty for this offence. The starting point for careless driving in a major race is suspension. How long that suspension is should be determined by the circumstances of each case. In this instance Mr Ydgren for the plaintiff suggested a starting point of 3-4 days. Mr Lawson on behalf of Zac Butcher suggested three days or two days and a small fine so he could fulfill commitments he had in upcoming weeks. But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles ignored those guidelines and imposed an $800 fine instead. So not only have Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles completely misread the impact the punctured tyre has had on the chances of Mossdale Conner, they have then gone outside their own guidelines when it comes to penalty.  Their reasoning is as follows. "However, the committee is of the view that to suspend Mr Z Butcher for this careless driving would be a disproportionate response to his actual culpability and taking into account the overall circumstances, Mr Butcher’s very good record and the practical difficulties in suspending him as outlined by Mr Lawson on his behalf the committee is of the view that he can be dealt with by way of fine." Now contrary to what the two gentlemen say above, Zac has a bit of form when it comes to stepping outside of the rules in big races. Last December Zac pushed The Orange Agent out with over 1000 metres to go in the $138,000 Sires Stakes Final at Alexandra Park which tookThe Orange Agent right out of the race which Zac went onto win with Democrat Party. It cost the betting public a small fortune as The Orange Agent was a hot favourite that day. For that offence Zac was fined the princely sum of $300 which caused an uproar at the time. Now Zac has done it again and he has escaped very lightly once again. There are consequences for drivers and trainers when they get things wrong on raceday. What are the consequences for Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, when in a case such as this one they got it so terribly wrong. Harnesslink Media.

Barry Purdon's day started poorly but it ended with a big smile. Sky Major has drawn the second line for Tuesday's $750,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup but things brightened up significantly in his camp after an imposing cup trial at Addington on Wednesday evening. Purdon and Zac Butcher were all smiles after the multiple Group I winner ran past the field in the final stages of the 2600m trip to win comfortably over Ohoka Punter and No Doctor Needed. Ohoka Punter and Smolda were the major winners from the barrier draw for New Zealand's premier harness race. They will start side by side on the front line with Ohoka Punter at four and Smolda five. But the TAB still moved Sky Major past Smolda as the new favourite after his impressive trial. Sky Major was moved into $3.20 from $4 with Smolda eased out from $3.50 to $3.70. Ohoka Punter was moved out to a point to $7. Purdon and Butcher were more than happy with Sky Major's trial. "It's been a bit of a slow build up," Purdon said. "I guess you could say an old fashion one but he's where he needs to be now." Purdon said Sky Major had came through his run in the Ashburton Flying Stakes with ease. "He probably needed that run tonight to get him through until next week." Sky Major looked like he had been for an afternoon stroll when he returned to the stables and Butcher said he hit the line strongly. Tony Herlihy was happy with the effort of Ohoka Punter who will be a player on Tuesday if he gets an ounce of luck in the running. Australian pacer Corzin Terror led up for most of the trip before falling back behind the front three with Purdon's second runner Lancewood Lizzie in just a five horse field. Canterbury Classic winner Tiger Tara is the biggest loser from the barrier draw. He drew 12 but when third emergency Lewy Risk comes out he will shift into the inside of the second line and follow out No Doctor Needed. Meanwhile, despite reports Australian driver Chris Alford was confirmed to travel across the Tasman to drive Messini, that could change. Natalie Rasmussen will have her injured elbow re-x-rayed later this week and if the results are positive she will look to be back driving on cup day and that would likely include driving Messini. She suffered the injury in race day crash at Methven last month. Sires Stakes favourite Lazarus was missing from the trials but will start from his tricky second line draw in the Group I on Tuesday. Mark Purdon confirmed the $1.80 favourite would definitely be starting on Tuesday. Christen Me was removed from the cup field on Monday and two days later he has officially been withdrawn from the Inter Dominion field along with stablemate Mighty Flying Mac. Trainer Cran Dalgety is vowing Christen Me, last season's horse of the year, will be back to his best in the future. Monbet ran a super trial in the lead up to the Group I NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Wednesday. After working around the field in the running line without cover, Ricky May let the Greg and Nina Hope trained trotter go in the straight and he exploded away from the field. New Zealand Trotting Cup field: No Doctor Needed 1, Franco Nelson 2, Lancewood Lizzie 3, Ohoka Punter 4, Smolda 5, Mossdale Conner 6, Te Kawau 7, Arden Rooney 8, Messini 9, Lewy Risk 10 (E3), Brilliant Strike 11, Tiger Tara 12, Corzin Terror 13, Mighty Flying Mac 14, Sky Major 15, Choise Achiever 16, Mach's Gladiator 17 (E2), Quick As A Trick 18 (E1). Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ    -    Check site here

Since the inception of the Harness Jewels, none of the harness racing stars that have won at the Harness Jewels have been able to win three in a row.   That was before today when Sky Major won the Group 1 Harness Jewels $150,000 four-year-old Emerald and became the first horse to rack up three Jewels wins in three successive years.   Following Quick As A Trick through from the second line, driver Zac Butcher was lucky to miss the melee with Sky Major when Quick As A Trick broke after 200 metres causing a lot of horses plenty of problems.   Zac somehow managed to plot a path through the carnage and landed in the one by one after Te Kawau had worked to the front.   Zac popped out of the one by one at the 500 metres and quickly went up to Te Kawau and grabbed the lead with 300 metres to go.   However Te Kawau wouldn't go away but Sky Major held him comfortably by a length in the end with Messini running on well late for third in front of a slightly disappointing Tiger Tara in fourth who trailed most of the journey but didn't kick on in the straight like most thought he would.   The son of Art Major paced the mile in a sedate 1:54.1 but the closing sectionals were very smart at 54.8 and 24.7   Zac Butcher let out a whoop as he came back to the birdcage.   " That means so much to me to drive the first horse to win three Harness Jewels."   "As always master trainer Barry Purdon had him spot on and the way he was travelling on the corner I thought I would hard to beat."   " He was still travelling at the finish but I said to Jim Curtin as we were pulling up that we had been flying over that last 400 metres,"   It takes  a special horse to win three Harness Jewels and this horse is a special horse," Zac said.   The other treble completed by Sky Major's win was that of prominent owner Trevor Casey who shares in the ownership of three winners at todays Jewels meeting in Missandei, Lazarus and Sky Major.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing glamour mare Venus Serena has always been looking over her shoulder for a Barry Purdon trained runner throughout her career.   Last season it was Ideal Belle who beat her in the Oaks and pushed her so close in last seasons Harness Jewels.   This year in the Group 1 $150,000 four year old Diamond at the Harness Jewels at Ashburton the new challenger was another Barry Purdon trained runner in Lancewood Lizzie.   Drawn one off the front line,driver Zac Butcher hustled her out of the gate early and lead for the first 800 metres before handing up to the favourite Venus Serena and John Dunn.   These two went clear as they turned for home and Zac waited and waited before launching up the passing lane at the 200 metres mark with Lancewood Lizzie.   They quickly grabbed Venus Serena and dashed away for an easy win with Venus Serena battling on gamely to be clearly second.   Sweet Art never left the inner the whole journey as she sat on Lancewood Lizzie's back and fought on gamely for third in front of Willow who finished well late.   Lancewood Lizzie paced the mile in a swift 1:52.7 with closing sectionals of 54.7 and 25.4   Zac Butcher was full of compliments for trainer Barry Purdon on returning to the birdcage.   " Barry always has them spot on for the big day."   " She felt super the whole way and I handed up to Venus Serena as she was the horse to beat."   " I was pretty confident at the 200 metres mark as she was travelling super and once I moved into the passing lane, she picked her up pretty easily actually, Zac said.   John Dunn was rapt with the run of Venus Serena.   "I couldn't have asked for any more, she has gone super," John said.   One sad note post race was that Gracious Star was found to have suffered multiple fractures of the right front pastern and she was humanely euthanised.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing trainer Ray Green always seems to have a smart two year old or two each season and has become known as one of the best two year old conditioners around. So when Ray tells you he has a bit of time for a juvenile, it pays to take notice. The two year old in question is Zach Maguire who lines up for his second lifetime start at Alexander Park on Friday night. A $34,000 purchase at last years Australasian Classic yearling sale, Zach Maguire made a good fist of his debut when a close up third to the smart Sir Ritchie. Ray thinks he still has one or two little kinks to iron out with the Bettor's Delight colt. " He is not the finished product yet but he is getting better all the time." " The one attribute of his that I really like is his high speed" "He is a colt with a big future and being a Bettors Delight he should just get better and better with racing." " He's a keeper," Ray said. Ray was going to have two babies in tomorrow night but it looks like he may have to scratch his other runner, the Mach Three filly Tuapeka Sky. " She came out of the paddock lame so I will just have to get her checked out." " It is a shame because I have a lot of time for her." " She also has a lot of speed and I think will develop into a lovely three year old next season," Ray said. One thing that has changed at the Lincoln Farm setup recently has been a change in the stable driving arrangements. Ray was quick to dismiss any talk of bad blood in the change. " A lot of the new syndicates we have set up are requesting we put up some of the leading drivers and so to accommodate them we have made the change." At this point in the main we are using David and Zac Butcher," Ray said. Ray Green has a great record with young horses and this years crop headed by Killer Queen and company look sure to keep his name to the fore over the next twelve months. Harnesslink Media 

Last nights New Zealand Oaks was meant to be a one horse affair with last weeks Nevele R Fillies winner The Orange Agent expected to dominate once again. However her wide draw this week had some pundits saying she was vulnerable and when the heavy rain and strong winds set in, no one really knew what to expect. Fight For Glory, who had pushed The Orange Agent last week had also drawn poorly at one on the second line so luck was going to play a part. As the gate left, Maurice McKendry took The Orange Agent  back from her wide draw while Natalie Rasmussen on Fight For Glory managed to get off the inside after 200 metres and into the running line. Shortly afterwards Natalie circled the field with Fight For Glory and grabbed the lead with just over a mile to run. Natalie then decided to make it a catch me if you can race and kept up a hot tempo in front. Passing the 500 metres, Natalie launched Fight For Glory and she put four lengths on the opposition as they turned for home. Although getting tired the last 100 metres Fight For Glory was still a length in front at the finishing line. Democrat Party and Zac Butcher finished on for second just a half head in front of a very unlucky Linda Lovegrace who came from well back for third. A close up fourth was The Orange Agent who didn't seem all that happy in the conditions. Natalie was mobbed by the connections in the winners circle post race and was full of praise for the Art Major filly. " As soon as I got off the inside, I decided to get on the pace because she is so hard to run down." " She is such a genuine filly and I thought they would have trouble getting past her." " She is just such a pleasure to drive and even though they got a bit close in the last little bit, I knew she would see it out," Natalie said. Blair Orange on Linda Lovegrace was rapt with her run. "We could have got off at the 1200 metres mark into the running line but I decided to stay on the inner." "She got held up a wee bit but has really found the line when clear." "It was a super run," Blair said. Maurice McKendry thought while The Orange Agent had run a creditable fourth, she wasn't entirely happy in the conditions. " She didn't feel as sharp tonight and all I can put it down to is the track conditions," Maurice said. Last nights win by Fight For Glory has breathed a bit of life back into the Harness Jewels race for the three year old fillies with The Orange Agent not as dominant as previously thought. Harnesslink Media

The Greg Brodie sponsored invited drivers competition at the harness racing meeting at Waikouaiti today was keenly fought out between ten drivers from all over New Zealand as well as a couple from Australia. Lance Justice and Amanda Turnbull crossed the Tasman for the competition and were joined by David and Zac Butcher from the North island as well as a good cross section of the leading drivers from Canterbury down to Southland. There were two parts to the competition with the individual title at stake as well as the team competition with six established drivers making up the experienced team and the six younger drivers making up the youth team. Points were available from 12 to the winner down to 1 for last in each heat. The first heat was taken out by Zac Butcher on the Margo Nyhan trained Canndew with Aveross Rustler and Dexter Dunn finishing second and Scanreco Bay and Ricky May third.  The second heat saw Booster trained by Nathan Williamson make it four in a row with Ken Barron in the bike while Flagpole and Craig Ferguson ran into second ahead of Balagio and Jim Curtin. Heat three was for the one win grade and saw the Steven McRae trained No Mas with Amanda Turnbull in the bike home first just ahead of Livy Franco and Zac Butcher and Red Under Fire and David Butcher The fourth heat was for trotters and another Steven McRae trainer runner in Indiana Jones was too smart with Craig Ferguson in the bike in front of Blue Don and Zac Butcher with Anothersuperstar and Matthew Williamson in third. Heat five was taken out by the recent addition to the Graeme Anderson barn in Onedin Mach who had Ricky May in the bike in front of Destined For Glory and Dexter Dunn with Graduate Under Fire and Jim Curtin running into third. The last of the six heats for the invited drivers was taken out by the Greg and Nina Hope trained Bobby T with Ken Barron in the bike in front of Sammy The Bull and Craig Ferguson who ran second with Scotlynn Justis and Matthew Williamson in third. When the points were all tallied up, Zac Butcher had romped home with 51 points, well clear of Ken Barron and Craig Ferguson on 44 points. For his efforts Zac was presented with a commemorative scroll and a $2000 cash prize courtesy of sponsorship from Greg Brodie and he gets to hold the Greg Brodie Drivers Challenge Trophy for twelve months. The youth team were too strong for the experienced team coming out on top by 243.5 points to 229.5 points. Points for each team were as follows:                               Youth Team                                                                         Experienced Team                               Zac Butcher - 51                                                                  Ken Barron - 44                               Craig Ferguson - 44                                                            David Butcher - 43.5                               Matthew Williamson - 43                                                     Lance Justice - 38                               Amanda Turnbull - 38                                                         Allan Beck - 36                                Samantha Ottley - 34.5                                                        Ricky May - 35                               Dexter Dunn - 33                                                                 Jimmy Curtin - 33                               Total Points - 243.5                                                            Total Points - 229.5       This is the second year that the invited drivers competition has been held and if today's event is anything to go by, it has a great future. Harnesslink Media    

The long awaited return of one of last season's harness racing glamour girls in Ideal Belle took place at Alexandra Park on Friday night and as expected the daughter of American Ideal was a comfortable winner. The New Zealand Oaks winner from last season has always looked a filly that would get better with time and the now four year old looked a mare going places in a hurry. It was Ideal Belle's first standing start but Zac Butcher got her away quickly and she settled into the trail behind the free going First Home. With no mid race challengers Zac was able to wait until the straight to ease Ideal Belle into the passing lane where she dashed past First Home in the last 100 metres for a comfortable first up win. Ideal Belle paced the 2700 metres from a stand in 3:27.9, a mile rate of 2:03.9 with smart closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27. Zac Butcher was confident a long way out that she would win. "She handled the standing start really well" " She feels like a mare who will develop into a really quick beginner before too long." " To be fair she is only about 80% tonight but I knew if I got the right run she would be way too good for them and that's how it turned out." " I just let her get to the line under her steam," Zac said. After her stellar three year old campaign, Ideal Belle suffered bad cuts to her hind legs when she got them caught over a fence which has delayed her four year old debut. The main aim for the season now is for her to qualify for the Harness Jewels at Ashburton on May 30th. Zac always thought that Ideal Belle would come back better at four. " She has always had a lot of potential and was always going to get better with time." " I think she should eventually end up in the big Cup races, Zac said. With the retirement of both Adore Me and Helena Jet in the last few weeks, the time is right for Ideal Belle to stake her claim to the top spot amongst New Zealand mares. Harnesslink Media  

Australians haven’t seen the last of star Kiwi harness racing performer Our Sky Major. Although part-owned on both sides of the Tasman, the son of Art Major is trained in New Zealand by champion horseman, Barry Purdon. As for his latest Aussie adventure, Our Sky Major captured the Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle just moments ago. Driven by Zac Butcher, Our Sky Major accounted for Bling It On and Isaiah in 1:51.5 for the 1609-metre trip. Pleased with the four-year-old’s performance, Purdon revealed Our Sky Major will return to Australia – Victoria to be precise - later in the season for another shot at Breeders’ Crown glory. Our Sky Major finished third in the two-year-old division and fourth last season. First, the entire will return to the Shaky Isles for the Taylor Mile, Messenger and Harness Jewels. “He will go home now for our major four-year-old races, but will be back for the Breeders’ Crown in August,” Purdon said. Our Sky Major’s victory provided Purdon with his fourth triumph in the Chariots Of Fire since its inception in 1995. Capturing the inaugural running with Gingerman, Purdon also scored with Franco Hat Trick in 1998 and Holmes D G ’99. PAUL COURTS

AT the top of home straight those on Our Sky Major in the Form 700 Paleface Adios Stakes at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight probably thought the $1.90 favourite was no chance of winning. Awkwardly placed three-back along the pegs, it was only halfway in the last stretch the son of Art Major gained a dream run to hit the lead and earn his spot in next Sunday's Chariots Of Fire. Even reinsman Zac Butcher didn't think the space would open up. "At the 600m I was praying for a clear gap," Butcher said. "It was a dream run and he is a lovely horse." Local pacer Alta Jerome dictated the speed in front going through the first half in 56.6s. As Alta Jerome's condition faded he angled up the track in the home straight allowing Our Sky Major to burst through to his inside and take out the $51,000 Group Two. Victorian gelding Hectorjayjay also gained a clear run from behind the leader to finish second while Alta Jerome held on for third in a mile rate of 1:51.7. Mister Jay Cee finished fourth also making it through to the Chariots Of Fire. The above-mentioned horses join last week's Hondo Grattan Stakes winner Bling It On into next Sunday's $200,000 Group One along with Messini, Iam Mr Brightside, All Eyes On Us, Yankee Rockstar and Isaiah, with the emergencies being Alleluia and El Fuego. The barrier draw for the feature event will be held at the Harness Racing New South Wales offices at 9:30am tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Amanda Rando

One of the real international stars of harness racing in Tim Tetrick hit New Zealand yesterday and created a level of interest from the general media that this industry rarely sees. Everybody wanted a piece of the action and being the consummate professional that he is, Tim handled all the attention with a big smile and good humour. The highlight of his first day down under was his one drive at the Auckland Trotting Clubs meeting at Alexandra Park last night. Tim took the drive behind The Fascinator from leading trainer Tony Herlihy's barn and gave New Zealand harness racing enthusiasts a glimpse of why he is so highly regarded in North America. Away well from barrier six in the 2200 metres event, Tim sent The Fascinator forward and had a serious look for the lead through the first 600 metres but Simon Lawson on Strike The Gold wouldn't hand up so Tim restrained her and settled her three back on the inner. Passing the 700 metres, the back runners started their move and Tim eased the mare out into the running line and once again sat up on the wheel of Strike The Gold with The Faithful and Zac Butcher hard on Tim's back. Turning for home Tim and The Fascinator grabbed a narrow lead over Strike The Gold and held it for most of the straight before being caught in the shadows of the finishing post by The Faithful and Zac Butcher. Tim loved the experience of driving in New Zealand. "It was a bit different going right handed to be honest but I really enjoyed it." " The Stewards gave me a lot of do's and don'ts' before I went onto the track but once I got out there the drivers were great in showing me the ropes," Tim told Harnesslink today. Tim didn't think there was that much difference in the driving styles between the two countries. " A lot of people think you drive a lot tighter down under but we drive tight up there as well believe me." "Because the carts are not as wide in New Zealand, the horses are closer to you but its no tighter than what I am use to at home." "People mentioned to me to be aware of drivers pushing out but we do plenty of pushing and shoving at times at home so I was pretty relaxed about it all," Tim said.  Harness racing in New Zealand struggles most of the time to get a lot of mainstrem media attention but Tim Tetrick's visit has put harness racing front and centre and for all that media coverage the industry should give Tim a huge thank you. Harnesslink Media  

The judicial system in harness racing in New Zealand is one of those creatures that attracts criticism from time to time when it is seen to do little about incidents sometimes while at other times appearing to be heavy handed in their decisions. It is a fine balancing act to try to be even handed and at the same time protect the all important image of the industry we are all involved in. The stewards have to rely on the JCA to get it right and when they don't everybody wears the blowback that follows. Most of the time you could argue they get it right but the volume of emails we have received since the final of the Sires Stakes final for 3 year old fillies at Auckland on New Year Eve would suggest that in relation to that particular race, the JCA have erred badly. When Maurice McKendry on The Orange Agent went to improve three wide 1200 metres out in that race, he did so in the knowledge that he couldn't be pushed out wider under the current rules until 1000 metres from the finish . What his move did do was flush Mark Purdon on Supersonic Miss out three wide in front of him at the 1150 metre mark which should have given Maurice a nice drag into the race. Instead Zac Butcher on Democrat Party  pushed him out four wide at that point and he got onto the back of Supersonic Miss instead of Maurice. Maurice had no option but to drop back but couldn't slot in as Fight For Glory had legally got on to the back of Democrat Party in the three wide line which meant while his opposition was going forward, Maurice was dragging The Orange Agent back so he could drop into the three wide line. With the last 800 metres off the front being run in 54.6 and the 400 metres in 27 flat, The Orange Agent was no chance to run in the money from the time she was pushed out four wide. Instead of being handy when the speed went on at the 800 metres,The Agent Orange was well back in the field and wide. As to be expected the siren went and the stewards looked at the video and applied the rules as they stand. With The Orange Agent finishing 5th some 12 lengths from the winner they were never going to be successful in having Democrat Party relegated before the JCA. They did however charge Zac Butcher under rule 869 and its various sub -sections in that between the 1100  metres and the 1000 metres he had pushed Maurice McKendry and The Orange Agent out four wide when not entitled to do so. Zac pleaded guilty before the JCA and was fined the sum of $350 - and that is what has so many of our emailers so upset. This was a Group 1 race worth $150,000 and is keenly sought after by owners of fillies for their resume later on. In this case The Orange Agent was the dominating favourite and basically had her chances extinguished when shunted out four wide by Zac Butcher on Democrat Party. The penalty must fit the offense in these cases and to fine someone $350 for breaking a longstanding rule in a $150,000 Group 1 race is manifestly inadequate. The owners and trainer have done nothing wrong and to penalize them in circumstances such as these would be wrong. But the driver is guilty in this instance of a major infraction of our rules and the penalty should have reflected that. The message that the $350 fine sends to all drivers in major races in New Zealand is that if you do happen to knock the favourite out of contention, the consequences are likely to be very minor. A more appropriate penalty in our view would have been a fine in line with the drivers percentage that Zac will receive for driving the winner. That would have sent a clear message that major infractions are going to have major consequences. Not that the stewards covered themselves in glory with the other issue raised by a lot of the people contacting us. Kate Perry drew barrier eight in the race and was sent forward bigtime to grab the lead after 200 metres and then refused to hand up to the favoured runner Classical Art for the next 400 metres as the two fillies drew clear in a lead time of 40.3. Natalie Rasmussen had an excuse on Classical Art as one of the deafeners had come out and she started to badly over race. Todd Mitchell on Kate Perry had no such excuse and having run her first 600 in 40.3 from barrier eight, she predictably started to give ground from the 700 metres mark, finishing last 47.4 metres from the winner. Kate Perry was no show of playing a part in the outcome of the race after 600 metres and that was due entirely to a miscalculation on Todd's behalf. The stewards inquired of Todd re Kate Perry's performance but accepted his explanation that she was disappointing. Surely he should have been charged with failing to give Kerry Perry every chance to win the race and their failure to even charge him has left a lot of industry insiders shaking their heads. We must add that this is not and should not be construed as an attack on either Zac Butcher or Todd Mitchell. They are both outstanding drivers but like all human beings they make mistakes occasionally. Like everyone else in the wider community you have to be accountable for your actions. What the stewards and the JCA have done on this occasion is badly let everybody else in the industry down. It is a bad look for harness racing when industry participants are either not charged or fined a miniscule amount for serious misjudgments. JC

While Dexter Dunn has been driving in career best form in the last few months, Zac Butcher has had a quiet time by his own high standards. However we all know that form is temporary and class is permanent as Zac showed today with a series of great drives on Group 1 day at Auckland. From the moment Zac got Democrat Party home in the big fillies race, he just seemed to drive with that touch more confidence that success brings. When it came to the Franklin Cup (Group 2) Zac was aboard Lancewood Lizzie and why she had been going great guns against Adore Me lately, one or two looked a bit classy. Away well from her front mark in the 2700 metres stand, Zac took Lancewood Lizzie straight to the front and set up a steady tempo before applying the anchors at the 1600 metres mark. Allowed to pace a middle 800 metres in a pedestrian 65 seconds, Lancewood Lizzie was always going to be hard to roll and so it proved as she brushed home the last 800 metres in 55.5 and the last 400 metres in a sizzling 26 seconds flat giving nothing off the pace any chance of playing a part in the finish. Lancewood Lizzie still had 1 1/4 lengths to spare at the finish of the $40,000 race with Beyond The Silence and Willow getting closest. Zac was unapologetic about the slow mid race sectionals. " Some might say I stole that but she had to be good enough to take advantage of the speed." " She is a lovely mare and given that kind of run is very hard to beat," Zac said. While it looked for a while in the straight she may get run over Zac was very confident the whole run home. "She does tend to knock off a bit in front when clear but when they get close enough for her to see them around the half winkers, she gets going again," Zac said. Zac thought that with the right run she could be competitive in some of the better races. "She is a big mare with a lot of speed and is very genuine so she is a chance in any race if she gets the right run, " Zac said. Harnesslink Media PS: Zac produced another top class drive to get The Faithful home in race10      

We must apologize for last weeks absense due to the staff member responsible being off ill and the "boss" not picking up the slack. It might have been an opportune time for a break anyway as our tipsters were digging themselves a bit of a hole in the last week or two. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Zac Butcher - Thought Georgies Smile from the ace would be hard to roll in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very keen on the chances of Thanks Shane also in race 2 Scott Phelan - Reckons Santana Jewel is way overdue to win one in race 4 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks if the breaks go her way that Simply Stunning can upset them in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Likes the chances of The Moonraker clearing maidens in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac should continue the picket fence formline in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates The Fascinator a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Reckons Classical Art can keep the winning streak intact in race 5 Blair Orange - Likes the chances of Mighty Flying Major to be a "major" player in race 7 Tim Williams - Not surprisingly Tim thinks that Have Faith In Me will win, also in race 7 Steven Richardson - Has gone a touch rougher with Express Stride to upstage the other two in race 7 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Yagunnakissmeornot can make it six from six at Alexandra Park in race 10 Gerard O'Reilly - Is confident that Zin Zan will strip a lot fitter this week and can win race 11   Addington - Friday night Robbie Holmes - Likes Tehoro Ruby from barrier 1 to break out of maidens in race 1 Bob Butt - Thought if Justalittlebettor could reproduce her Methven run she could win race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Monty Python a big chance to go back to back in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thinks Breeders Crown finalist Field Marshall will be to good in race 11   Wairio - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Grey Power put his best foot forward they wouldn't beat him in race 1 Dexter Dunn - Likes the chances of Leolas Delight making a winning debut in race 2 John Dunn - Very confident that Jay Dub can make it two from two this time in and take out race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks that Vera's Delight can get that long overdue win in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Canardy Lover a big show to go back to back in race 8 Clark Barron - Reckons that Shezacheapy back on the roomy Winton track can win race 9   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Craig Thornley - Thinks Inchbonnie Lad can go one better this week and win race 4   Harnesslink Media  

1 to 16 of 116
1 2 3 4 5 Next »