Search Results
1 to 16 of 105
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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  

Twelve of the best harness racing reinsmen in Australasia lined up this afternoon in Invercargill for the inaugural Trans Tasman driving challenge and no quarter was asked or given as bragging rights for the next twelve months were on the line. Chris Alford, Lance Justice, Greg Sugars and Kerryn Manning formed a strong team for the Australians and Justice was his usual confident self prior to the event. " I have a team of superstars who have probably won more races individually than all the Kiwis put together" he said. The North Island had a formidable lineup with Maurice McKendry, David Butcher, Peter Ferguson and Zac Butcher being a good combination of experience and youth. The South Island team also had talent to burn with Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange and Nathan Williamson who all having big seasons to this point. The points system was run on a 10 - 7 - 5 - 3 - 1 basis over the six races and that meant consistency was just as important as winning a heat. Lance Justice struck first for the Aussies in heat one while Manning and Alford also chimed in with wins  and Sugars a second but they didn't  trouble the scorer much in some heats. Their combined total after the six heats was 45 points with Chris Alford their highest points scorer with 16 from a win and two placings. The South Island team were in the points all afternoon but Ricky May was the only driver to record a win in the six races. Their combined total after six heats was 49 points with Dexter Dunn their highest points scorer with three thirds and 15 points. The two elder statesmen of the North Island team in Maurice McKendry and David Butcher showed their class throughout the day. David Butcher collected points in every race while Maurice had a win, two seconds and a third to lay the foundation for a winning total. Overall the North island team racked up 62 points for a comfortable win while Maurice Mckendry won the individual title on 29 points from his team mate David Butcher on 24 points. The whole day seemed to enjoyed by all the drivers involved and the Invercargill Harness Racing Club should be congratulated for bringing  todays event to fruition. Harnesslink Media - Check results here 

One of the bravest veterans in New Zealand pacing faces a huge battle to replicate his shock run in last year’s New Zealand Cup. Because his champion trainer Barry Purdon says quite simply next Tuesday’s field is stronger. Pembrook Benny was 100-1 to win the great race last season but outside of the winner produced the run of the race to finish fourth, before going even better to win the Free-For-All three days later. Both runs left Purdon beaming with pride and while he is happy the now 10-year-old is at least as good as last season he says the job is tougher. “This time last year he was going into the race with only one start under his belt but now he has had three,” says Purdon. The last of those was an unplaced effort at Ashburton, but a performance which has grown on Purdon. “Initially when I saw they had paced the last quarter in 26 I thought he should have stuck with them better,” admits Purdon. “But when I watched it again he was coming at them again on the line and he had a lot harder run than many of the horses around him. “So it wasn’t a bad run and I’d say he is going at least as good as last year, although obviously he is a year older. “So we just have to hope for a good draw and that maybe he can tuck away and get a nice drag along.” While Pembrook Benny didn’t need those sort of favours last season, Purdon realises he will next Tuesday as this Cup has more depth. “It is definitely stronger,” he says. “You have the first four home from last season but they are joined by Adore Me and Hands Christian who are racing really well. “And then you have the two Australian horses, with good trainers. “We all know how good Terror To Love is and he is still the horse to beat but Adore Me and Christen Me are both going great. “And I have been really impressed by Hands Christian. Mark and Natalie have done a great job to get him going the way they have after how long he had off and you would think he will keep improving too. “So it is shaping as a great race.” While there are not many challenges in harness racing Purdon hasn’t conquered, he is undertaking a new one after his election two weeks ago to the board of directors at the Auckland Trotting Club. That gives the board a very experienced representative for horsepeople and Purdon says he is looking forward to being involved. “It is something different for me and I am hoping to do the best I can for my fellow trainers and drivers but also the club as a whole. “So it is great to be involved.” Courtesy Of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

Last week saw a big improvement from the week before but the team of tipsters are still not really at peak yet. Maurice McKendry, Sean McCaffrey, Todd Mitchell, Todd Macfarlane, Matthew Williamson and Steve Richardson from the TAB all nabbed winners while another five managed placings. As we countdown to Cup week, there are once again five meetings nationwide and we have selections for all of them. Forbury Park - Thursday night Craig Thornley - Likes Smart Caesar from a mobile to be hard to beat in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Pegasus Kommander from barrier 2 would be hard to beat in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Dwindle Mist is on the improve and can take out race 7   Auckland - Friday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thought the central districts visitor Our Wicklow would be hard in race 1 Maurice Mckendry - Rates the chances of The Orange Agent in race 2 Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path even from barrier 15 can win race 6 Zac Butcher - Likes Chachingchaching to upset Hughie Green in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Eyrewell Pegasus can overcome the 20 metre handicap and win race 8 Tony Herlihy - Likes stable runner Danger Mouse in the hands of Tony Cameron to win race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks A Chance To Dream from barrier 1 could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Jim Curtin - Thought Juliette Bromac was a real chance of winning race 2 Tim Williams - Rates Have Faith In Me back to a maiden very hard to beat, also in race 2  Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Ruby a chance to upset from the mobile in race 3 John Dunn - Likes Monumental to turn his form around in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Confident that Stradowan has improved from first up run and can win race 8   Riverton - Sunday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Majestic Stride a real show of winning race 3 Matthew Williamson - Thought Alley Way even from 50 metres should be too good for them in race 5 Clark Barron - Thinks with natural improvement Sheeza Shark won't be far away in race 7 Dexter Dunn - Likes Courage To Fly to end his run of seconds and win race 8   Kaikoura - Monday afternoon Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought star trialist Princess Galleon could win race 1 Blair Orange - Couldn't see Mighty Flying Major beaten in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Carrickmannon could trouble Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy in race 4 Ricky May - Confident that Mel Gibson can go one better than his last start and win race 5 Sam Ottley - Thinks Price Of Fame will go very close also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Norvic Nightowl a real chance in the Kaikoura Cup, race 8    Harnesslink Media

Last week we got a good old fashioned kick up the butt with just three of our tipsters selecting a winner and only six overall were in the money. Blair Orange, Terry Chmiel and Nathan Williamson furthered their good record as selectors whilst there were plenty of hard luck stories from others all over the country. They start with a clean slate this week and have come up with plenty of value for readers with plenty of runners whose form is not the best but who our selectors give a real chance to. Manawatu - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Even though he has drawn the second row thinks Art Magic should win race 3   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thought Elliesjet even from barrier 12 would be hard to beat in race1 Steven Reid - Very bullish about Unforgiving from barrier one in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes The Orange Agent to upset Unforgiving in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Boizel even off 40 metres can win race 5 Tony Herlihy - Rates Downunder Stride from barrier one as hard to beat in race 6 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Le Lua Invasion a good chance against the fillies and mares in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green will atone for last week and win race 8 Zac Butcher - Likes Saffron Castleton to turn her form around in race 9   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Quaint Glen a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 Tim Williams - Confident that Adore Me's little brother Have Faith In Me can win race 6 John Dunn - Feedback from stable suggests Light Up Boss will win race 7 if driver at his best Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox just needs a change of luck to win race 8 Sam Ottley - Quite keen on Bird Of Paradise to turn her form around in race 10     Manawatu - Sunday afternoon Todd Macfarlane - Rates Hudy Haxwell a royal show on the second day at Manawatu Peter Scaife - Gives Johnny Vegas a big chance on the second day at Manawatu   Tuapeka - Sunday afternoon Dexter Dunn - Reckons Margarita can make it four wins from her last five in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way can go one better than last week and win race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes stablerunner Onedin Mach to make it four in a row in race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought Drover's Eyre would be tough to roll in race 11   Ashburton - Monday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Confident that Never Fear can turn her form around in race 1 Jim Curtin - Thinks Star Of Dionysis is overdue and can win race 2 Ricky May - Keen on Brilliant Strike who has a decent draw for once to win race 4 Terry Chmiel -Thought That Guy Finn even in that super hot field can win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Last week was on the up  for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8   Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon  Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2  Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson -  Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8   Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9   Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line.   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing returns to Cambridge on Thursday night (September 25th) with the running of the  2014 Te Awamutu Cup over 2700 meters from a stand. Run for a stake of $12,000, it has attracted a smart field of intermediate grade pacers with last weeks Spring Cup winner at Auckland in Beyond The Silence the obvious horse to beat. Drawn three off the ten metre mark, this field is a big drop back in class for Beyond The Silence after he beat Pembrook Benny and company last week. Quick away from a standing start, Beyond The Silence ticks all the boxes and looks a logical favourite and horse to beat but he is no sure thing in a field containing several up and coming pacers. The Brian Hughes trained Pricillas Girl is right in the zone at the moment with two wins and three seconds at her last five starts and receives a ten metre start from Beyond The Silence on Thursday night.  The only query would be the standing start with this being her first but she has Zac Butcher in the bike to help her. The John and David Butcher trained Take The Hint is another starter who has been in rare form lately with his last two runs resulting in very solid placings in strong fields. He does have an awkward draw of one on the ten metre mark especially for a horse having his first standing start but he does have the champion reinsman David Butcher in the bike. If there is to be an upset then the Todd Macfarlane / Craig Sharpe trained Hudy Haxwell looks the horse most likely to cause it. Hudy Haxwell is good from a stand and his course record of 4 wins and 5 placings from just 11 starts speaks for itself. Rockn Ruby from the Brent Mangos barn and Golden Delight from the Geoff Small team are going well enough to run into the placings but there is a few here that look a touch smarter. So for us Beyond The Silence looks tough to beat with Pricillas Girl, Take The Hint, and Hudy Haxwell to fill the minors and Rockn Ruby and Golden Delight to crank up the trifectas and first fours. Harnesslink Media   

The powerful Clevedon combination of Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher won the major training and driving honours - while Purdon trained 3-year-olds also won two age-group titles at the 2014 A Rocknroll Dance North Island Harness Racing awards ceremony at Alexandra Park last night. More than 300 people flocked to the Tasman Room to watch the 21 awards handed out. Fifty nine-year-old Purdon won the Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year, while 23-year-old Butcher won the IRT North Island Driver of the Year. Their age group stars Sky Major and Ideal Belle won the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3yo Colt/Gelding and Filly of the Year awards respectively. Purdon trained Pembrook Benny, Sky Major, Maxim and Ideal Belle to Group One victories in 2013-2014. Butcher also drove the Ray Green trained Beaudiene Boaz in the Harness Jewels 2yo Emerald Final at Cambridge Raceway. Pembrook Benny won the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 15. Sky Major cleaned up the 3yo Emerald Jewels Final at Cambridge on May 31. Ideal Belle also won the New Zealand Oaks at Addington on May 16. Maxim nailed the Victoria Derby at Melton on February 8. Sky Major was second. The same two horses also produced the quinella in Group One Sires Stakes 2yo Final the season before. “You are only as good as the team around you. This is an honour. We had a very good season and I’m grateful to all my staff for that,” Purdon said. Purdon trained 39 winners from 199 starters last season and amassed $953,433 in stakes. Butcher saluted the judge 72 times from his 551 drives. He banked $1.23m in purses. “I drive to win and night’s like this are a real bonus. I’m very proud to have won this award because there are so many good drivers out there. “I am lucky to be part of a very strong stable. Barry is a legendary trainer,” Butcher said. In other highlights Maurice McKendry won the Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms NI Achievement Award, while Richard and Julija Brosnan won the night’s most prestigious (and final) award of the evening – the A Rocknroll Dance Alabar Nevele Stud NI Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing. Adore Me’s victories in the Group One $100,000 Queen Of Hearts Pace and the Group Three $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes assured her the Auckland Trotting Club’s Aged Pace Of the Year title. The Charlie Roberts co-owned and bred champ also won the Caduceus Club’s NI Filly/Mare of the Year. In fact Roberts himself collected two awards winning the Garrards Horse and Hound NI Owner of the Year, and the Hygain NI Breeder of the Year 2014 A ROCKNROLL DANCE NORTH ISLAND HARNESS RACING AWARDS - WINNERS Glen Elgin Farm North Island Groom of the Year - Amanda Kiddie Dunstan North Island Amateur Driver of the Year -John Kriechbaumer Magness Video Ltd / Vid-Com LtdNorth Island Licence to Train /Owner – Trainer of the Year - Andrew Grant Mitavite North Island Junior Driver of the Year - Sailesh Abernethy PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Beaudiene Boaz                       PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Filly of the Year - Linda Lovegrace Breckon Farms North Island 2 year old Trotter of the Year - Yagunnakissmeornot Breckon Farms North Island 3 year old Trotter of the Year - Mum’s Pride Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Sky Major Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Filly of the Year - Ideal Belle               Garrards Horse and Hound North Island Owner of the Year - Charles Roberts Caduceus Club North Island Filly / Mare of the year - Adore Me                                Hygain North Island Breeder of the Year - Charles Roberts IRT North Island Driver of the Year -  Zac Butcher Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year - Barry Purdon Equine Veterinary Services  North Island Broodmare of the Year - Scuse Me                North Island Stallion of the Year - Bettor’s Delight                                       Harness Racing New Zealand North Island Trotter of the Year - Irish Whisper                          Auckland Trotting Club North Island Aged Pacer of the Year - Adore Me                                Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms North Island Racing Achievement Award - Maurice McKendry A Rocknroll Dance/Alabar/Nevele R Stud North Island Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing - Richard and Julija Brosnan Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

It is not that often that horses from the central districts of the north island are sent out the hot favourite at the northern harness racing capital of Alexandra Park. But then Te Kawau is not your normal central districts horse. Going into tonights race as the warmest of favourites was due in no small part to the outstanding runs he put up last season at three against Locharburn, Sky Major and company. With two runs back against Cyamach to help him to full fitness, Te Kawau looked very hard to beat and so it proved. Steadied from his second row draw by driver Zac Butcher in the 2200 meters mobile event, Zac sent him forward with 1400 to go and grabbed the lead off Royal Taz with 1100 meters to run. From there Te Kawau always held too many guns for the opposition and comfortably held them at bay in the home straight. Pricillas Girl continued her rich vein of form to grab second after starting from the outside of the second row while early leader Royal Taz was a nose away in third. Te Kawau paced the 2200 meters in 2:43.71 with closing sectionals of 57.3 and 27.3 It was his sixth win from just 14 starts along with five minor placings and stake earnings of $39,727 When you look at how Te Kawau is bred it is no wonder he is smart. By the champion sire Bettors Delight , the dam of Te Kawau is Haylin Express, a daughter of Christian Cullen who won $44,438 on the track and Te Kawau is her first foal. The grand dam by Holmes Hanover is a half sister to the brilliant Agua Caliente 1:55.3 ($413,027) and the ill fated Haylin Fella (7 wins) who died suddenly in Auckland after being sold for big money to Queensland interests. A big striking looking individual, Te Kawau looks to have come back better than ever and should grace the better four year old races later in the season. Harnesslink Media    

The best harness racing drivers from the North and South Islands square off in six races at Alexandra Park on Friday night (August 29th). Named the Island Of Origin series, it has brought together the best drivers in New Zealand in a contest that decides bragging rights between the islands for the next twelve months. Points are scored on a 3 - 2 - 1 basis and judging by the fields and the spread of form horses to both camps, it should be a close and exciting contest. The South Island team is full of talent with last seasons leading driver Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Mark Jones, Blair Orange, Gerald O'Reilly and Jimmy Curtin.. The North Island team is just as talented with the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy teaming up with Zac Butcher, Philip Butcher, Peter Ferguson, Todd Mitchell and Scott Phelan. Most home teams have an edge to start with and that was added to just a little bit by the fact that the Northern horsemen have 31 drives on Friday night compared to 30 for the Southern horsemen. All the races for the invited drivers are penalty free which is a nice bonus for the trainers and owners who have supported the series with their horses. The most interesting race for the invited drivers is undoubtedly race three, the C2 - C5 mobile pace over 2200 meters. Last seasons smart 3 year old Te Kawau looks hard to beat but a couple of real up and comers could prove troublesome with a run to suit. Royal Taz has won his last two for Tony Herlihy in the manner of a horse going places and from his handy draw looms as a genuine threat to the favourite. Pricillas Girl has run two slashers this time in and appeals as a value runner if the other two go to war at any stage. Six of the other runners in the field have either won or been placed at their last start so the favoured trio won't have it all their own way. The invited drivers creates real interest leading into Friday night and the Auckland Trotting Club should be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition. Harnesslink Media 

This is another of our previews for harness racings big day this Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton. Before we start we would like to wish Harvey Kaplan all the best with his two outstanding three year olds. It is a notable achievement to have two huge chances on a day as big as this.  3 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the semi finals at Ballarat last Saturday night, this division had a ready made favourite in Nike Franco but after an early gallop she only ran fourth in her semi final and gave her opposition renewed confidence that she was beatable. Now with Nike Franco having drawn at four on the second line in the final, the result is not as clear cut as it seemed just a week ago. Nike Franco has been the standout filly all season but she has missed the money in both the New South Wales and the Victorian Oaks and is beatable. So who put their hand up in the semi finals at Ballarat. Just Cala was allowed to drift back from barrier four in the first semi final and ended up last at the 800 meters mark before getting a drag up from Rocknroll Arden and finishing over the top of them for a brilliant win. In the same heat Spicy Stride had a shot at the lead, failed and then badly over raced for most of the race yet still got off the canvas to run second. Ocean Diva was sent forward early from barrier seven when the pace was hot and stuck on well for third after racing parked for most of the race. In the second semi final Nike Franco got her front legs clipped early and galloped and then looped the field to lead mid race before not surprisingly battling the last 150 meters to finish a close up fourth. The winner of the semi final Quick Draft went huge after settling back from her second row draw. Sent forward three wide from from the back at the 700 meters, Quick Draft kept giving in the straight to score a great win. The last 800 meters off the front was run in 55.6 and 400 meters in 27.1 which makes the run of Quick Draft look even better. Barynya followed Quick Draft everywhere she went but couldn't pick her up in the straight and Our Santa Catalina finished nicely for third after working early in the race. SELECTIONS We are not as bullish about Nike Franco as we were before the semi finals with two or three others looming as major challengers. Still at the end of the day class is permanent so Nike Franco is top pick but from four second line it will not be easy. Just Cala and Quick Draft only have to bring their semi final form with them to be serious winning chances. Barynya will need luck from barrier eight but has upset them before and Ocean Diva is in the same boat from outside of the second row. Spicy Stride and Our Santa Catarina for first four takers.   3 Year Old Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final This looked a two horse war before the semi finals and in our view nothing much has changed now heading into the final. In the first semi final, the late scratching of Messini robbed the race of a lot of interest. Major Crocker ambled to the front from barrier four over Will Mach My Word who ended up in the trail from barrier one. Alleluia worked forward and found the death after 500 meters and that was more or less the finishing order. Major Crocker flew the last half in 55.5 and quarter in 26.9 to give those off the pace little hope of being in the first four.  Alleluia grabbed second with the trailer Will Mach My Words ending up in third. The unlucky runner was Lettucerockthem who looked to have plenty to offer with little room. The second semi final was full of quality and was billed as a match race between Sky Major and Bling It On and that is how it panned out. Saloon Passage from barrier one got crossed early by Hectorjayjay who immediately handed up to Sky Major. Half a lap later Zac Butcher on Sky Major handed up rather easily to Bling It On who immediately threw the anchor out. The race turned into a sprint home from the 400 meters with Sky Major getting out 150 meters from home and claiming Bling It On in the shadows of the post with the last 400 meters in 26.4. Hectorjayjay held third and Jilliby Jagger did well for fourth after being three wide for a lap. Saloon Passage after being beaten out of the gate overaced but still finished the race off well to run fifth. SELECTIONS The draw says Bling It On should win but we think Sky Major is still the one to beat even from the outside of the second line. Its a big call but Sky Major is right in the zone at the moment and won the Harness Jewels in New Zealand two months ago from five on the second line. Clearly Bling It On will be favourite and tough to roll from barrier three However there are several horses who are lining up to spoil the party and this is how we see them. The next three horses from the semi finals that impressed us in no particular order were Lettucerockthem, Major Crocker and Saloon Passage who unlike last week are all drawn  to be in the running line this week.  For first four players the next two cabs off the rank for us are Jilliby Jagger and Alleluia. Harnesslink Media  

1 to 16 of 105
1 2 3 4 5 Next »