Day At The Track
Dadndave,Harness racing

Dadndave wins Invercargill Cup

He’s been a bit underrated but today at Ascot Park West Melton trained Dadndave had his day in the sun when he won the $30,000 Group Three Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup. This race was not initially on the horse’s radar, but Southern Harness CEO Jason Broad who was raceday Secretary for the recent Nelson circuit, mentioned it to trainer Tim Trathen. “Yeah, Jas mentioned it on the first day at Nelson. I thought it was a bit of a quick turn around and I actually thought the race was next week. A few said it was a bit of a tough call. He’s had a bit of racing but pulled up well (last start) and he’s just been thriving so we bit the bullet. He can have a wee freshener after this,” Trathen said. The Bettor’s Delight four year old brought a consistent form line into today’s feature and his trainer was confident of a good run. “He hasn’t had much luck. At Blenheim he was fairly much last on the turn a couple of times and he ran home in 55. I wasn’t worried about any of them really. I thought if he was handy he’d go well.” Driver Brent Barclay took Dadndave straight to the top which kept the field rolling and at the end of the 2700 metres only Franco Santino which was trailing, got close. The winning margin was three quarters of a length. The winning time was 3-22.9 with the last 800 metres run in 56 seconds. “It was a great drive. I said (to driver Brent Barclay) he usually steps good so let him roll. It worked out great.” This is the first time in twenty three years  the Cup has been run over 2700 metres, as since 1996 it’s been contested over 3200 metres. Dadndave is owned by Trathen, his father John and host at the Yaldhurst Hotel in Christchurch Dave McHugh. “It good for Dad because he’s been a bit sick and Dave’s got a few with us. I’m only allowed to drink at the Yaldy otherwise he’d probably take the horses off me.” Today’s win is Trathen’s biggest since he started training thirty years ago and his first group winner. “I have a few horses but I don’t race that many. I do a few for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen). I just tick away and breed a few of my own.” Winning connections with trainer Tim Trathen fourth from right    – Photo Bruce Stewart. Trathen said he’s expecting two establishments to be going off tonight – the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill and the Yaldy in Christchurch. “I’m staying with Brownie (Ascot Park trainer Murray Brown) so I’ll have a few friends tonight. I’m flying home in the morning. My wife and friends are all at the Yaldy. Dave will be gutted he’s not here. He went to Nelson and Blenheim and said he’d better stay at home this time.”   Bruce Stewart

Amore Lancome stretching out for Kirstin Barclay,Harness racing

Amore Lancome upsets to win crown

The well-bred Amore Lancome is enjoying life in the south. The Art Major mare out of the thirteen win Courage Under Fire mare Lancome has been at the Oreti Beach stable of trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis for four weeks. Amore Lancome won twice for her previous trainer Bob Butt. “Brian West sent her down just to race in the south and race into the winter. Then he wants to breed from her,” said Tank Ellis. This was her second start for the stable after running fifth at Wyndham two weeks ago. She was 6/6 in the betting. “She’s a lovely horse and we were quietly confident.” The winning margin was one and three quarter lengths with Divinia Bellezza running second. Under Wraps enhanced the great record of stallion Terror To Love when he easily won the Sheet Metalcraft Mobile Pace. Trained by Paul Court and driven by Blair Orange the winning margin was three and a quarter lengths from favourite Croesus. Jacks N Jazz made a lot of owners happy when he won the Forklifts New Zealand Mobile Pace, capping off a consistent run of form to win his fourth race. Jacks N Jazz winning at Ascot Park – Spot the winning trainer and owners in the background  – Photo Bruce Stewart Trained by Geoff and Jude Knight at Roxburgh he’s owned by the Have Fun Syndicate, the Goes All Day Syndicate and TW Croft. Bettor’s Delight filly Nikasa won her second race when she took out the Pure Pac NZ Cherries Mobile Pace. Driven by Brent Barclay the Darryn Simpson trained filly beat Revitalise by three quarters of a length. There were nervous moments when Tolkien won the All Things Harness Ownership Trot due to him galloping on or near the line but the Stewards dismissed the enquiry. It was the second win for the Kirk Larsen trained trotter from eighteen starts. The Merv and Meg Butterworth owned trotter Cuchulainn under a great drive by Brent Barclay, won the main trot of the afternoon. While other runners had to work for their spots the five year old Skyvalley gelding trained by Brett Gray did nothing in the run and came with a last run down the middle of the track to beat a game Sekkie Monkey. Third place getter Get Lucky will derive plenty of benefit from the run today. It’s his first run since the Harness Jewels in early June. Betterthanbrie made it a double for the Barclay/Ellis stable when she returned to winning form. Betterthanbrie after winning at Ascot park                             --Bruce Stewart photo The five year last won in July 2019.  Stablemate Chuckles ran second just a neck away from the winner.   Bruce Stewart

Pay Me Speedy,Harness racing

Pay Me Speedy wins on debut

Young Winton trainer Chelsea Faithful feels lucky she was able to secure a lease in the well-bred Pay Me Speedy. Faithful shares in the ownership on the first start winner with her grandparents Norm and Bev Cox and her mother Louise Cox. “I was very lucky to get her off the Horse Trader website. Her full-brother Pay Me Mach was a good horse that Hamish (Hunter) had but he broke down. Hopefully she’s got a wee bit of what he had,” she said. Pay Me Mach started at the races seven times, winning twice and running three other placings. Faithful has had the daughter of Mach Three and Pay Me Painter since the horse was an unbroken yearling. “She’s been great to do anything with. She used to buck every now and then but that’s out of her system now.” In today’s PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace the three year old drew one and trailed pacemaker Weren’t Watching before coming up the passing lane to beat her  by a neck. “I wasn’t overly happy with the run. She’s better than that but it was her first start and she got pretty nervous. I think she got quite hot as well. Nathan was a bit disappointed…… but she did what she had to do.” Faithful’s phone has been ringing with offers, prior to today’s debut. “Mum’s not too worried about selling. Grandma loves her. If she’s not sold I’d like to think she’ll be good enough to run in the Southland Oaks. We’ll look at the Ladyship next though.” Faithful, who’s into her fourth season of training has five horses in work. She  said Tartan Trilogy won nicely at the Winton Workouts on Friday in 3-03 and is likely to race at the second day at Wyndham. “I’m loving the training. You put so much into (it).  It’s disappointing if they don’t go that well but if they win you get a great thrill. I’ve got five boxes – one taken up by the pony, and I have one in the paddock.”   Bruce Stewart

Oscar Bonavena,Harness racing

Get ready for the era of Oscar

Trotting fans should get ready for the era of Oscar, who makes his Australian debut at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight in the Group 1 V L Dullard Trotters Cup, the lead-up to next week’s $250,000 Great Southern Star. His full name is Oscar Bonavena, the New Zealand trotter many are predicting will soon be the best in Australasia, if he’s not already. The great horses, even those in waiting, often end up with one name, like Brazilian soccer players. We get to know them, love them, speak of them so often they become like old familiar friends. Blackie (Blacks A Fake), Quinny (I’m Themightyquinn), Trigger (Smoken Up) and even a one-word champion in Lazarus quickly became Laz. The difference is they all earned their nicknames the hard way. Oscar hasn’t yet. He is like the young gun footballer playing with the men, who just looks faster than them. Several times this season Oscar has jogged past very good horses, including Inter Dominion champion Winterfell at Cambridge last start. But he is yet to win a race worth more than $50,000 and in his greatest test to date he had to settle for third after sitting parked in the National Trot at Alexandra Park two starts ago. He was made to race tough outside the leader, blunting his weapon of sheer speed. And when young upstarts have to play tough with hardened old warriors they can be exposed. Champion trainer Mark Purdon says that defeat may help Oscar overcome his second line draw tonight. “He learned from that,” Purdon said. “He is very fast and sometimes wants to go flat out and he didn’t do himself any favours when he got beaten. “But it taught him to look after himself and the next start at Cambridge he was far more relaxed. “That could be really crucial over the next week because, as we saw at Ballarat last week, you can’t sit back in races over here, so I might have to move with him mid-race. So racing kinder will be important and I think he will.” Purdon thinks so highly of Oscar he will stake him for every major race in North America next year, so if the small but athletic trotter turns out as good as the boss thinks he is the Australasian era of Oscar may be cut short. Purdon is, as so often, at the centre of the New Zealand attack on Melton tonight and realises Self Assured will probably have to sit parked outside Lochinvar Art in the 4YO Bonanza tonight while Stylish Memphis faces a huge task in the Victoria Oaks. “But I actually don’t mind her (gate 13) draw,” he said. “She has so much speed I think she is better coming from behind them and as long as she gets a cart into the race she can still win.”   HRV Trots Media - Michael Guerin

AS is so often the case, Mark Purdon is the key player heading into tonight's huge Melton meeting. Purdon co-trains and/or drives favourites in four of the five major races on the night, including the All Stars’ two most exciting horses Self Assured and Oscar Bonavena. Self Assured has firmed from $1.50 into $1.30 with the Aussie TAB for the Group 1 4YO Bonanza, while Oscar Bonavena has been $1.85 into $1.65 for the Group 1 Dullard Trotters’ Cup. His other key players are: Stylish Memphis ($2.50 favourite in the Victoria Oaks) and Thefixer ($1.65 favourite in the Casey Classic). It looks a dominant hand, but but none of the four races are straight-forward on paper. “Self Assured has come through that huge run at Ballarat really well, but it looks like he’ll have to sit outside Lochinvar Art. He’ll still be very hard to beat,” Purdon said. “It’s hard to see how Oscar’s race will play out because there’s six off the front and six off the back, but he’s very well going into it. I think he’s also learnt a lot from the National Trot defeat and will be a better horse for it.” And barrier 13 has certainly presented a big challenge for Stylish Memphis, who Purdon has been caretaker trainer of and will drive in the Oaks. “It looks like Dr Susan will go straight to the front and if she gets it easy, she’ll be hard to run down,” he said. “Ideally I’d like to drive my filly to come with one run because she’s so fast, but that will depend on the tempo. I don’t want to have to put her into the race too early because she can get keen outside them, as she showed last week,” Purdon said. Even Thefixer has drawn the back row (gate nine) and although he has class over most of his rivals, it won’t be easy against fellow Kiwis Triple Eight (gate seven), Mach Shard (10) and locals like the luckless Ballarat Cup runner Rackemup Tigerpie (two), My Kiwi Mate (six) and in-form NSW visitor Cash N Flow (eight).   By Adam Hamilton

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury pacer Heisenberg will be fully focused when he attempts a hat-trick of South Island cup wins in Saturday’s Invercargill Cup. The Robert Dunn trained 4yr-old will be out to add the group 3 Ascot Park feature to his recent Central Otago Cup and Ashburton Cup victories. Heisenberg comes in to Saturday’s 2700m handicap after producing a stunning performance to break the New Zealand record for 2400m in the re-running of the Central Otago Cup at Wyndham, last week. The Art Major pacer strode out powerfully in front and never looked like shirking his task when holding out runner-up and Invercargill Cup rival Nandolo. Two months earlier, Heisenberg may not have shown the same application or tenacity. The pacer was beaten in the Geraldine Cup and Pacers Green Mile at Methven victories when looking to have every chance to win. Dunn and son, John, who manages his father’s South Island stable and who will drive the horse, both knew Heisenberg had more to offer. The pacer is now starting to realise his full potential after developing his will to win. “We were just a bit worried he wasn’t toughing it out at certain times,” Dunn said. “Johnny said he was felt like he was doing things easy in his races and he knew there was more in the tank.” “We always thought he would come to it.” “He was a late developer and we gelded him later on because we knew if we did it early he would lighten up.” “But it was a catch 22, because I think we might have kept him a colt too long.” “So, now he is learning his craft and he is developing the will to want to win a race.” “He is getting smarter all the time and I think it is just the natural progression of racing him.” Applying a galloping hood to Heisenberg’s bridle has helped the 4yr-old’s concentration levels. The pacer has also be aided in his past two cup wins by being in his favoured front-running position. “He just drives so much better with [the hood], without it he tends to run around a bit,” Dunn said. “He is obviously racing where he likes, too.” “He is a strong front-running horse and he likes to get a rhythm.” Heisenberg made a solid beginning before working to the lead in his Ashburton Cup win. John Dunn will almost certainly have the same plan in mind as the pacer reverts back to a standing start event on Saturday. Finding the front on the tight-turning Ascot Park track looks a recipe made to order for Heisenberg. “He is good from a stand and he gets the turns very well, as well,” Dunn said. “Invercargill is a track that if you can sprint around the turn quickly, it is a big advantage.” Kilowatt Kid, Nandolo, Franco Santino and Robyns Playboy all back up after chasing Heisenberg home in last week’s Central Otago Cup. The 4yr-old also clashes with two pacers that have been stopping the clock in sizzling times recently. Bringitonhome reverts back to a staying test after his sensational 1.52.2 mile (1609m) win at Nelson earlier this month. The Regan Todd trained pacer starts from the 10m mark, ahead of 20m backmarker Vintage Cheddar. Vintage Cheddar was brilliant when reeling off a 26.6sec last 400m to impressively win the Wairio Cup in his first start for the season for trainer Alister Black.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Congratulations on a terrific 2019-20 harness racing breeding season. The whole team at Empire would like to thank all our clients for choosing the World Class Sires on offer at Empire Stallions this breeding season; we look forward to seeing lots of healthy foals on the ground come September. Of course it's now sales season, and as always, we will be putting out a comprehensive guide to the lots on offer by Empire sires across the Australian Pacing Gold yearling drafts, starting below with these lots on offer at the Brisbane sale on Sunday 26 January - including the first BETTING LINE yearlings to go under the hammer in Australia. For those chasing a quick return from their sales purchases it's worth noting the Captaintreacherous topped the USA 2YO Pacing Money Winning Sires table for 2019 with his progeny earning over $4.4M, and Somebeachsomewhere in second with $3.2M - over a million dollars ahead of the next sires on the list, which include Pet Rock ($1.01M).                                                                 Lot 1 CAPTAINTREACHEROUS colt (from Famous Forever mare)                                                                                             Lot 6 BETTING LINE colt (from Christian Cullen mare)                                                                                             Lot 8 BETTING LINE colt (from Bookmaker mare)                                                                                             Lot 24 WESTERN TERROR colt (from Flightpath mare)                                                                                             Lot 33 CAPTAINTREACHEROUS filly (from Rock N Roll Heaven mare)                                                                                             Lot 37 SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE filly (from Courage Under Fire mare)                                                                                                                                                                                         Lot 3 BETTING LINE filly (from Major In Art mare)                                                                                             Lot 7 SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE colt (from Bettors Delight mare)                                                                                             Lot 13 BETTING LINE colt   (from Perfect Art mare)                                                                                             Lot 26 PET ROCK filly (from Perfect Art mare)                                                                                             Lot 35 BETTING LINE colt (from Art Major mare)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Click the Sale Logo to see the full Brisbane catalogue and all the pedigrees.   Best of luck to all our consignors - we genuinely appreciate your ongoing support!                                                                                                                                                                                                     317 Tarcombe Road AVENEL VIC 3664 AUSTRALIA p 03 5796 2122    f 03 5796 2137 Australian sales - Les Joslin 0410 414 671 

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North American every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound.   Third WA Cup winner by American Ideal   Mighty Conqueror, winner of the $450,000 Western Australian Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park, is the third winner of WA’s premier race sired by the Western Ideal horse American Ideal. Earlier winners by him were Soho Tribeca (2018) and My Hard Copy (2015 and 2016). A five-year-old gelding, Mighty Conqueror has developed some good form since being shipped from NZ at the outset of his four-year-old campaign. He has won 13 races in WA including the WA 4YO Championship, Easter Cup and the Pat Cranley Memorial.   He has a good deal in his favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by American Ideal, Mighty Conqueror is out of the Presidential Ball mare Ballroom Babe (1:56.2), whose dam, Soky’s Lass (by Soky’s Atom), was a half-sister to the Franklin Cup winner Vance Glory 1:54 ($218,844), Star Motoring (Cambridge Cup), Star Glory 1:54.2 ($128,329) and to Shardon’s Lass, the dam of the Fremantle Cup winner Shardons Aflyin ($500,651).   Mighty Conqueror                                            --Hamilton Content Creators photo   Ballroom Babe, the dam of Mighty Conqueror, won seven races and at the stud left five winners including Beckinsale (10 wins) and Young Conqueror (7 wins) and is the grand-dam of the promising Victorian three-year-old filly She Will Rock, a winner of three of her six starts to date.   Other top pacers further back in this pedigree were Christopher Vance, Luxury Liner, Surprise Package and Napoleon.     Close relatives win at Melton   Mota Mate and The Fortunate Son, who won consecutive races at Melton last Friday, both belong to the same family.   Mota Mate, the winner of the Vicbred Platinum Country Series Final, is a four-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding out of the noted producer Gemfire, by Torado Hanover from Gold Mistress, by Golden Money Maker from Madame Han.   While The Fortunate Son is a six-year-old gelding by Roll With Joe from Island Dreamer, by Island Fantasy from Dream Chaser, by Classic Garry from Dreamwood, a Lumber Dream half sister to Gold Mistress, the grand-dam of Mota Mate.   This line has been bred from extensively by Goulburn Valley breeder Helen Head and her late husband, Graham, and includes the ‘Cups King’ Safari, the sire of crack racemare Berisari, who won on the same night at Melton.       Sub 1:50 double for Bettor’s Delight   Bettor’s Delight was credited with two new sub 1:50 winners on the same night at Menangle. Wrangler NZ, a six-year-old gelding, won in 1:48.8, while Bettor Enforce NZ, a seven-year-old mare, scored in 1:48.9.   Wrangler, who was bred by Ken and Anne-Maree Spicer, ranks as a brother to the NZ Derby winner Sheriff, being out of Jen Marie (2:01.2), by Christian Cullen from the Falcon Seelster mare Inspiring Dash (1:59), the dam of the outstanding racemare Venus Serena 1:52.1 ($796,397), the Group 1 winner Rona Lorraine ($133,268) and Cracka Stride 1:52.4 ($112,036).   Bred by Ben and Karen Calder, Bettor Enforce, who has won 12 races and almost $140,000 in stakes, is the first produce of Their Excuse (TT1:59), by Falcon Seelster from the Live Or Die mare Last Excuse, a sister to the dual N Z Cup winner Just An Excuse.     APG Brisbane sale on Sunday   The Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sale will be held at Albion Park on Sunday. The entry totals 41 yearlings and breeders from Queensland and NSW are represented.   The yearlings include some royally bred youngsters with some top class racemares such as Forever Gold, Courageous Annie, October Original, Catwalk Beauty, Dont Break My Ark, Pacific Jaccka, Victree Bonita, Paris Pepperell, and others.   There’s half-brothers to a host of smart performers including Colt Thirty One, Sally Fletcher, Forever Gold, Pinup Boy and Sheeza GNP and half-sisters to Rock With Sam, Clintal Do and Hedges Avenue.   A feature of the sale will be the first crop of well credentialled sires Betting Line, Always B Miki, Racing Hill and trotter Sebastian K.       Double for NZ broodmare   The In The Pocket mare Tricky Woman left winners in both hemispheres on the same day last week.   Bettor Trix, a five-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare, won a $US16,000 race in a career-best 1:51.6 at Dover Downs, Delaware, while her younger brother Copperfield posted his second win from only seven starts at Timaru.     A smart racemare in her own right, Tricky Woman has left other winners in Bettor To Be Tricky (1:56), a winner of 11 races and $86,315, and Wat A Woman (1:59.4).   Tricky Woman ranks as a half-sister to Scuse Me (1:53.5), the Group winning dam of Adore Me, Have Faith In Me, Imagine Me, and so on.     Eye-catching win   The highlight of the Geelong midweek meeting was turned in by the three-year-old debutant Private Eye, who broke stride in the last lap and gave the leaders a tidy start.   With 400 metres to run he was still 15 metres from the leaders, and his chance could have been written off. But Private Eye, after recovering his gait, was switched to the outside and stormed home to win by almost a length.   Watch the replay here!   Private Eye’s performance was an amazing one in every respect. He is a son of the American Ideal horse He’s Watching, a top colt pacer and who now stands at Alabar Bloodstock in NZ.   Oh Eye See (1:54.5), the dam of Private Eye, was Armbro Operative mare from Grace Robinson, who proved a great broodmare. She left nine sub 2:00 winners, four $100,000 earners and three Group 1 winners from 10 foals to race.       Won SA St Leger   When he won the $14,000 St Leger at Globe Derby Park on Saturday, Hesashark scored his fourth success on end, and he is entitled to be rated as this season’s top three-year-old in South Australia.   From 12 lifetime starts he has won seven times and been three times placed for $30,000 in stakes.   Hesashark is a gelding sired by the Cam’s Card Shark horse Shadyshark Hanover, who is now standing in North America. He is out of Goodtime Katie, an unraced mare by Grinfromeartoear from the Life Sign mare Lifes Just Magic, the dam of the cup class pacer Idealsomemagic and the Menangle winner Goodtime Slater ($103,888).   Hesashark was bred by Ian and Judi Slater, of the Goodtime Lodge stud, near Colac (Vic.) and was sold as a yearling at the South Australian sales.     By Soho Valencia   Soho Valencia, a well performed Art Major horse from a top broodmare in Benelise, by Vintner, and who is now at the stud in NSW, was represented by his first winner recently in the three-year-old filly Trioli.   She led all the way at Dubbo and has won two of her four starts.   Soho Valencia has been only lightly patronised at the stud and from nine foals in his first crop he has produced a winner and a placegetter from three starters.   Trioli, who is the first foal of the Julius Caesar mare Lily Rapido, belongs to the same family as Royal Three and Mister Langus, two of NSW’s most outstanding colt pacers of the 1980’s.       A real Doozzie!   Doolittle Doozzie, who won her third race for the season at Redcliffe and has now won six races, is one of the best four-year-old mares in Queensland at present.   A product of the Redcliffe Yearling Sale, she has earned $23,280 from only 19 starts. By the Rocknroll Hanover horse Pet Rock and one of his first crop, she is out of the classics winner Cha Ching Chaching (1:56.2), a half-sister to four winners including Irockmyworld 1:57 ($91,881) and the good Tasmanian pacer Vander Jenkins.   Doolittle Doozzie was bred by Burwood Stud, one of Queensland’s leading nurseries who stand Cha Ching Chaching’s sire, Cammibest, and the former NZ superstar Changeover, now making his mark as a sire.     Promising three-year-old trotter   Elite Stride, a runaway winner on debut at the midweek Melton meeting, is a three-year-old trotting colt of all-American parentage.   Bred and raced by Emilio and Mary Rosati, he was got by Muscle Hill from Real Babe, an American bred mare by the Andover Hall horse Donato Hanover. Real Babe, who took a record of 1:52.4 as a five-year-old, was bought by the Rosati’s for $200,000 at a Harrisburg mixed sale in 2013.   She finished up with a stake tally of $386,103.   Real Babe’s dam, Housethatruthbuilt (by Muscles Yankee), won 13 races including the Breeders Crown and Kentucky Futurity and $1.1 million in stakes and was the top three year-old filly of her year.   Elite Stride promises to do this fine family further credit.     Top racemare remembered   Memories of the top racemare of the 2010’s, Shake It Mama, came flooding back with the runaway win of the three-year-old Cool Rocking Daddy at Cobram.   Shake It Mama   A gelding by A Rocknroll Dance, he is the second produce of Shake It Mama, a Mach Three mare whose first offspring, Mamas New Dude (by Western Terror) won twice in December.   Shake It Mama, who was bred and raced by David Sheppard, won 15 races including the Bathurst Gold Tiara and Australian Oaks and $257,588 in stakes. She was a half-sister to the Group winner Fususi 1:59.2 ($180,305) and the Fake Left mare Pyrites (1:57.9), the dam of the Breeders Crown Silver winner Bettor Be Gold (1:52.8) and the Albion Park winner Golden Year (1:54.7).       by Peter Wharton

The latest gavelhouse.com Standardbred auction is online now with 28 Lots on offer including a quality selection of 11 foals from Woodlands Stud. The catalogue also boasts tried and untried racing stock as well as four broodmares.  Bidding is set to close, starting with Lot 1, from 7pm on Wednesday 29 January. Bidding tips Make sure you're registered and your account is set up properly well before the auction is set to close.  Each auction will auto-extend by adding extra time on if a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds. This will happen indefinitely until no further bids are placed and will also add more time onto each of the subsequent Lots.  Use auto-bids to take the stress out of the final countdown and use the refresh button to make sure your page is keeping up with the live auction. If you have any questions about the bidding process please call 09 296 4436 VIEW FULL CATALOGUE Featured Lots Lot 1 DOWNBY THESEASIDE colt Colt out of the American Ideal mare American Grace, making him closely related to Pacing Grace, Jessie's Cullen, Pacing Major, All U Need Is Faith, Linda Lovegrace, Im A Gigolo and many more. This colt is by the newest sire to the join the Woodlands Stud Stallion roster, Downbytheseaside. He is a sire with a staggering race track record – 35 starts for 22 wins and 10 placings and over $2.1 million in earnings. He took a 1.48.6 race record and was USTA 3yo of the year in 2017 over Huntsville and Fear The Dragon. He was the best of his division before retiring sound and serving two quality books of mares in 2018/19 and 2019/20.  Sire: Downbytheseaside Dam: American Grace Seller: Woodlands Location: Auckland VIEW ONLINE Lot 4 DOWNBY THESEASIDE filly This filly is by the newest sire to join the Woodlands Stud Stallion roster, Downbytheseaside. He is a sire with a staggering race track record for the ages – 35 starts for 22 wins and 10 placings and over $2.1 million in earnings. He took a 1.48.6 race record and was USTA 3yo of the year in 2017 over Huntsville and Fear The Dragon. He was the best of his division before retiring sound and serving two quality books of mares in 2018/19 and 2019/20.  Sire: Downbytheseaside Dam: Divine Seller: Woodlands Location: Auckland VIEW ONLINE Lot 6 DOWNBY THESEASIDE filly Filly out of a six-win American Ideal mare and by the newest sire to stand at Woodlands Stud, Downbytheseaside. He is a sire with a staggering race track record for the ages – 35 starts for 22 wins and 10 placings and over $2.1 million in earnings. He took a 1.48.6 race record and was USTA 3yo of the year in 2017 over Huntsville and Fear The Dragon. He was the best of his division before retiring sound and serving two quality books of mares in 2018/19 and 2019/20.  Sire: Downbytheseaside Dam: Idealistic Seller: Woodlands Location: Auckland VIEW ONLINE Lot 7 WHAT THE HILL filly This filly is by the newest trotting sire at Woodlands Stud, What The Hill. He is a champion son of trotting sensation Muscle Hill, out of a full-sister to Majestic Son. He earned $1.34 million in stakes and took a 1.51.4 record and was the 3YO of his year after defeating the older horses in the TVG including millionaire Crazy Wow. He has served a number of quality mares down under in the last two seasons.  Sire: What The Hill Dam: Miss Continental Seller: Woodlands Location: Auckland VIEW ONLINE Lot 10 DOWNBYTHE SEASIDE colt Colt out of a Bettor's Delight mare and by the newest sire to the World Class Woodlands Stud Stallion roster, Downbytheseaside. He is a sire with a staggering race track record for the ages – 35 starts for 22 wins and 10 placings and over $2.1 million in earnings. He took a 1.48.6 race record and was USTA 3yo of the year in 2017 over Huntsville and Fear The Dragon. He was the best of his division before retiring sound and serving two quality books of mares in 2018/19 and 2019/20.  Sire: Downbytheseaside Dam: Supreme Brigade Seller: Woodlands Location: Auckland VIEW ONLINE   gavelhouse.com

By Jonny Turner    All Stars trotter Kings Landing will need to call on his class when steps out for the first time this season at Addington on Friday night. Each of his rivals will have a significant race fitness edge over the 5yr-old, when he starts for in a competitive 1980m feature trot. Kings Landing has looked to have thrived since his last start at the Harness Jewels when winning two trials and a workout ahead of his return from a decent winter spell. But, driver Tim Williams is weary that nothing quite gets a horse ready to take on a smart field like the benefit of race fitness. “His class is going to take him a wee way, but it is definitely not going to be easy taking on some of those seasoned horses first up.” “That would be the only concern.” “The way the draws have fallen, being preferential, that is in his favour.” “It won’t be easy, but if he got the right run and the race unfolded to suit, him he is definitely good enough.” The three horses drawn on the outside of the front line bring both class and race fitness to Friday night’s race. Pres The Belle will be looking to replicate the emphatic win she produced under the same conditions as her 1980m mobile victory in her first run after the Interdominions at Addington, last month. Destiny Jones drops massively in grade after producing a sound fifth in the group 1 National Trot at Alexandra Park in her last start. The 8yr-old has a slight draw advantage in barrier 7 over both Pres The Belle (8) and Great Things Happen (9). Great Things Happen should relish a return to mobile racing despite his draw. The 8yr-old was forced to chase from massive 60m handicaps in his two starts at the recent Nelson meeting. Tailored Elegance is in a similar position to Kings Landing – starting fresh up against race-hardened opposition in race 2 with Williams in the sulky. Though, it is not the class of her opposition that is the main concern ahead of her first start as a 3yr-old. It is how she will be able to negotiate a capacity field from barrier 7. “She has come back well, but being drawn out a little bit wide in a full field probably won’t make things easy,” Williams said. “She is another one that her class should take her a long way in there.” “She generally has good manners, so there is no reason why she shouldn’t go a really good race.” Williams will also combine with another fresh All Stars runner at Addington on Friday night in race 4. First starter Picture Me faces a similar assignment to his stablemate Tailored Elegance when he starts from barrier 12. “He is a little bit the same as Tailored Elegance – he is in a full field and has a tricky enough draw,” Williams said. “He is going to need the right suck in to it or to make a move.” “It is just going to depend on how the race is run from that draw.” “On his trials, he keeps putting his hand up, so on that he is a good chance.” Picture Me has won two Rangiora trials ahead of his debut and beat rival Chubby Checker in the latest of those. Williams has a standout book of drives at Friday night’s Addington meeting that includes strong eachway chances Cheezel (race 5) and Szybka Lane (race 8). The reinsman also combines with Lets Hustle (race 3), Red Hot Poker (race 9) and Peraki Reactor (race 10).  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Pukekohe mare Best Western is booked to fly to Christchurch next week for two black-type features but first she’ll head to Alexandra Park on Friday night. Her trainer, Jeremy Young, says last season’s Northern Oaks winner is nearing “cherry-ripe” status. “I’m happy with her; she’s working really well and seems very bright,” he said. “I want to have her cherry-ripe for the two Addington races, but she’s pretty close to the mark.” Best Western was an unlucky fourth last week after being held up before the passing lane when trailing a tiring leader. “She just got held up a little bit and there was a very slight snotty nose after the race. “But that’s cleared up now and isn’t a concern. “It had been 17 days since her New Years’ Eve run and I feel like last week has sharpened her up even more.” Complicating matters this week is a wide draw plus the fact her stablemate, On A Roll, is in the same race and has drawn decidedly better. “The stablemate will be going forward so I guess that means we’ll have to look to go back with Best Western.” On A Roll has been a bit of a surprise package for Young since coming north in the early spring. She was effectively ‘sacked’ by previous trainers, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and arrived at Young’s with no great ambitions. “When we first got her up here from Mark’s, I thought she would be a C2 or C3 horse, maybe. “If we were lucky, we’d be able to get a bit of money for the owners. “But she ran second to Lulu Le Mans, then won one, and then placed a few more times. “So, I threw her in the Group races before Christmas against the best fillies and I thought the second run, especially, was excellent. “She was four-wide down the back and had no right to run fifth, but still battled on well.” It also gave Young and driver, Sailesh Abernethy, an insight in to how she is best driven. “Sailesh and I thought we’d try something different last week and let her roll along in front.” The result? A five-length win in a sensational 2.39.4 (1.56.6 MR). “She’s a funny horse in that she won’t outsprint anything, you’ve got to let her run the whole way. “I had Stylish Memphis here at the same time and she would beat On A Roll off her back every time because she had so much speed. “On A Roll is better off leading and rolling along or even sitting parked, so that’s how we intend to drive her this week and in the future. “More aggressively.” The Oaks races are now firmly in the plans for On A Roll. Rounding out Young’s team this week is Tommy Tukaa, who returns to Alexandra Park from back-to-back wins at Cambridge over the holiday period. “I know he only won at Cambridge, but I think he’s an ‘Auckland horse’ all the same. “Those wins will have given him a bit of confidence and his work has been a lot better since. “The draw is awkward this week but I would expect, just being on the fence the whole way, that he should be able to run in the first three.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    One of our greatest ever trotting mares has died. Martina H, the last mare to win the Dominion Handicap, was put down after taking ill suddenly at Woodlands Stud on Monday. Her former trainer, Derek Balle, said, it was a sad end for the winner of over $400,000, but he looked back fondly on her racing career. “She was such a great mare. “Always had lameness issues, but would get up behind the gate or tapes and trot like a stag. “She had such a big heart. I wouldn’t mind another one like her.” Balle was in his 30s when she won the Dominion, Rowe Cup, multiple races across the Tasman, and threw away an Inter Dominion Grand Final with the winning post in sight. “She took me on plenty of journeys and experiences and, at the time, I probably took it for granted a little bit, you know? “I was a young trainer that got to go to the Inter Dominions at Moonee Valley, down to Addington for the Dominion. “Just great times and ones I look back on fondly.” Balle was going through a tough spot at one point during Martina H’s career and her 2005 Rowe Cup win stands out as his personal favourite, for more than the obvious reason. “Her best performance was beating Delft in the Rowe Cup, but it meant a whole lot more to me. “My mum was very sick and died about a week later. “I had been spending a lot of time at the beach with the horse which was such a big stress relief. “I’d be crying for half an hour on the way out to the beach but when we got there, the worry just went away for a little while. “She helped me through quite an emotional time.” She ran second in the 2004 Inter Dominion Final in Melbourne and was 100 metres away from going one better at Alexandra Park a year later. It was a race that features greats of the track like Take A Moment, Lyell Creek, Delft and Sumthingaboutmaori. “The final was up to $250,000 but she had had a leg problem leading up to the series and I was tossing up whether to even line her up 10 days beforehand. “We blistered the leg and she ended up winning her first heat, running second to Allegro Agitato in the second heat and then winning again on the third night. “Her run in the final was massive. “She drew one the second row and ended up getting parked three-wide down the back. “We went out by four at the top of the straight and I thought she was home. “But I gave her a slap on the bum when I shouldn’t have, because she was trying her hardest, and she rolled in to a gallop 100 metres out. “Play On, who sat three-fence, came up the markers to win and we got disqualified for galloping across the line. “She did deserve to win that; it was a massive performance.” Balle was actually in the throes of buying Martina H, believing that the 22-year-old still had a foal or two to give, “Kevin Marr, her owner, has just sold his property at Karaka where he grazes all his horses during the year. “He didn’t want to pay grazing so was looking at selling all his horses and I’d been talking to (wife) Raelene about buying Martina H. “She had a What The Hill filly foal at foot and was back in foal and since she was always pretty healthy, we thought we might even be able to breed another one out of her to try and get a filly. “But before we said yes, Kevin text me on Monday to say we’d lost her. “She was being walked in the barn at Woodlands Stud then stumbled over. “They called the vet but didn’t know whether it was colic or a seizure but it all went downhill very quickly and they had to put her down. “It saved me $10,000. Usually with my luck, it would have happened a week after I paid for her.” The daughter of Sundon had eight foals, seven of them after retiring and did leave a Group 1 winner. “Miami H was great; he won seven or eight races including a Breeders Crown Final at three. “He was very very good, and the best she left, but he always had a clubby foot and ended up breaking down in the spelling paddock.” The Scruff won seven without being a world beater while Philadelphia H won two and is now at stud with Balle training her three-year-old son, Isaac H. “She had a bad foaling after that, a Dream Vacation which was huge and had to be cut out. “We nearly lost her and it took her quite a few years to get back in foal after that. “But we now have a Love You two-year-old colt that’s working up nicely and then the What The Hill weanling filly, too.” Martina H is seventh on the all-time New Zealand-bred trotting mare stakes ladder behind One Over Kenny, Pride Of Petite, Tussle, Allegro Agitato, Landora’s Pride and Quite A Moment. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

FORMER champion Kiwi driver Anthony Butt is genuinely buzzing heading towards Melton’s huge meeting on Saturday night. Despite his stellar record in some of Australia’s biggest races, headlined by seven Hunter Cup wins, Butt’s record in the Victoria Derby and Oaks has been bleak. Remarkably, he hasn’t won a Derby and has only jagged the one Oaks title, aboard Geoff Small’s brilliant Pullover Brown way back in 2003. “My one chance of winning the Derby was Lavros Star (1997). I won the heat on him, but got suspended and Ricky May won the final on him,” Butt recalled. The now NSW-based Butt is confident of turning it all around at Melton this week. And the punters have thrown their support behind him. Butt trains and drives heavily-backed Derby favourite, Line Up, who ran blistering time leading throughout in his heat at Ballarat last week and is drawn to lead again from gate three. He’s been $2.40 into $2.25 on the Aussie TAB since drawing gate three. “It’s a fantastic draw, especially being inside Governor Jujon, who looks the main danger,” Butt said. “Line Up really impressed me last week. He only came to us a couple of weeks before the heat, but obviously I’d driven him in those big races over in NZ. “He’d been working well and I was keen to hold the front. He did a terrific job in quick time after having to sprint three times. “He’s a great chance of leading again and has come through the heat win really well.” Butt’s hopes of winning a second Oaks sit with Cran Dalgety’s speedy and improving filly, Dr Susan, who led, then took a trail on Stylish Memphis and got clear too late when second in her heat at Ballarat. “She was only starting to wind-up on the line last week. I was keen to hold the front, but Mark (Purdon, driving Stylish Memphis) had one crack at me and then his filly started to pulling hard, so when he came again I took the trail knowing it was a heat,” Butt said. “There will be no handing-up this week, that’s for sure. We’ve drawn really again (gate five) and can hopefully find the front, while Stylish Memphis is outside the back and will have to work hard to get around the field and outside of us. “Maybe she will just be too good Stylish Memphis, but Dr Susan is one of those fillies who has just absolutely thrived on the trip away. She’s getting better and better.” Dr Susan has been backed from $3 into $2.50 and is now equal favourite with Stylish Memphis on the Aussie TAB.   Adam Hamilton

Mark Purdon has talked about his start in the trots and the champions who have passed through his hands in a must-listen, free wheeling chat with Tooth Be Told podcast host Paul Campbell. The New Zealand trainer-driver, who said he "never had any aspirations to do anything else", spoke about his family's passion for harness racing and a champion called Lazarus. "He was phenomenal, he just had everything," Purdon said. "And just a beautiful horse to work with, very intelligent, nothing smart about him or cocky about him, he's just one of the boys. Just a beautiful horse to work with. He was just a champion, an out and out champion." CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN:   HRV Trots Media

The Marlborough Harness Racing Club are looking confidently to the future after seeing off their first 100 years in appropriate fashion over the weekend. The Waterlea-based club celebrated 100 years of racing at the Blenheim venue with a well-attended two-day meeting. MHRC chairperson Petrina Shutkowski said that there was high-class, exciting racing action on both Friday and Sunday, with good numbers turning out for the Interislander Summer Festival Day on Sunday. “We had a really good crowd on course [on Sunday] because the weather was good and there were lots of activities for kids. On-course turnover was also strong. “The fields were really strong, with good form. We had to eliminate some horses from the original nominations because we just didn’t have spaces in the fields for them.” There was also live entertainment on-course, plus a special centenary race book designed to mark the occasion, a display of memorabilia in the Waterlea Hall and some vintage cars to honour the historic occasion. “People were just happy to be involved,” suggested Petrina, who envisages a bright future for the sport in this region. “I think harness racing in Marlborough is pretty strong.  There are a number of trainers and a base of horses here … that’s what drives these meetings … so it’s still positive for harness here.” Although the two-day summer carnival will be the only harness event staged at Waterlea in future, with the winter meeting not taking place, Petrina is confident support levels are high going forward. “Harness Racing New Zealand have been pleased with us in recent years, especially since we have moved to the grass track. We have attracted really strong fields and good numbers of nominations. “Also, the visiting trainers enjoy themselves [in the top of the south] … they brought the kids, stayed in Nelson for a few extra days, went to the beaches and the wineries. They mark it in their calendar as a sort of summer holiday.” To help co-ordinate harness racing in the area a Seddon Shields District organisation has recently been formed, involving representatives from Reefton, Westport, Marlborough, Nelson and Kaikoura. They have combined to purchase a mobile start 4WD vehicle, with a view to sharing resources, knowledge and information. Meanwhile, on the track at the weekend, Stars Tonight, superbly driven by top reinsman John Dunn, claimed a notable Waterlea double. The four-year-old gelding, trained by Robert Dunn at Woodend Beach, took out the “100 Years Racing at Waterlea Cup Prelude” on Friday evening, then prevailed in the 100th racing of the Marlborough Cup on Sunday. He was the favourite on both occasions. On Friday he won by a neck from Dadndave, while on Sunday he truly underlined his dominance, scoring by three and a quarter lengths from Hayden’s Meddle, followed by Dadndave in third. On the first day Dunn drove Stars Tonight astutely, staying parked midfield until the final bend when he surged to the lead then held off a fast-finishing Dadndave. Two days later Stars Tonight was well clear at the line. After a strong start he went to the head of the field with a round to go and, despite having to hold off a challenger on the bend, kicked well clear halfway down the straight to win the 100th Cup in fine style. Petrina suggested that Stars Tonight had run “probably the fastest last half on the grass track that has ever been”. “That’s an indication of the quality of the track and the horses as well … it was pretty impressive.” Stars Tonight was one of two double winners across the historic meeting, the other being Heavyweight Hero, trained and driven by Bob Butt from Woodend Beach, who won the sixth race on each day. John Dunn, with three wins was the leading driver across the two days, while Robbie Close, Blair Orange, Sarah O’Reilly and Bob Butt drove two winners apiece. Robert Dunn was the top trainer, with three successes, while Jim and James Geddes and Butt managed two training successes each. Madiba, until recently trained by local trainer Don Morrison, also picked up a win on the first day. Peter Jones Reprinted with permission of The Marlborogh Weekly

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He’s been a bit underrated but today at Ascot Park West Melton trained Dadndave had his day in the sun when he won the $30,000 Group Three Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup. This race was not initially on the horse’s radar, but Southern Harness CEO Jason Broad who was raceday Secretary for the recent Nelson circuit, mentioned it to trainer Tim Trathen. “Yeah, Jas mentioned it on the first day at Nelson. I thought it was a bit of a quick turn around and I actually thought the race was next week. A few said it was a bit of a tough call. He’s had a bit of racing but pulled up well (last start) and he’s just been thriving so we bit the bullet. He can have a wee freshener after this,” Trathen said. The Bettor’s Delight four year old brought a consistent form line into today’s feature and his trainer was confident of a good run. “He hasn’t had much luck. At Blenheim he was fairly much last on the turn a couple of times and he ran home in 55. I wasn’t worried about any of them really. I thought if he was handy he’d go well.” Driver Brent Barclay took Dadndave straight to the top which kept the field rolling and at the end of the 2700 metres only Franco Santino which was trailing, got close. The winning margin was three quarters of a length. The winning time was 3-22.9 with the last 800 metres run in 56 seconds. “It was a great drive. I said (to driver Brent Barclay) he usually steps good so let him roll. It worked out great.” This is the first time in twenty three years  the Cup has been run over 2700 metres, as since 1996 it’s been contested over 3200 metres. Dadndave is owned by Trathen, his father John and host at the Yaldhurst Hotel in Christchurch Dave McHugh. “It good for Dad because he’s been a bit sick and Dave’s got a few with us. I’m only allowed to drink at the Yaldy otherwise he’d probably take the horses off me.” Today’s win is Trathen’s biggest since he started training thirty years ago and his first group winner. “I have a few horses but I don’t race that many. I do a few for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen). I just tick away and breed a few of my own.” Winning connections with trainer Tim Trathen fourth from right    – Photo Bruce Stewart. Trathen said he’s expecting two establishments to be going off tonight – the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill and the Yaldy in Christchurch. “I’m staying with Brownie (Ascot Park trainer Murray Brown) so I’ll have a few friends tonight. I’m flying home in the morning. My wife and friends are all at the Yaldy. Dave will be gutted he’s not here. He went to Nelson and Blenheim and said he’d better stay at home this time.”   Bruce Stewart
The well-bred Amore Lancome is enjoying life in the south. The Art Major mare out of the thirteen win Courage Under Fire mare Lancome has been at the Oreti Beach stable of trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis for four weeks. Amore Lancome won twice for her previous trainer Bob Butt. “Brian West sent her down just to race in the south and race into the winter. Then he wants to breed from her,” said Tank Ellis. This was her second start for the stable after running fifth at Wyndham two weeks ago. She was 6/6 in the betting. “She’s a lovely horse and we were quietly confident.” The winning margin was one and three quarter lengths with Divinia Bellezza running second. Under Wraps enhanced the great record of stallion Terror To Love when he easily won the Sheet Metalcraft Mobile Pace. Trained by Paul Court and driven by Blair Orange the winning margin was three and a quarter lengths from favourite Croesus. Jacks N Jazz made a lot of owners happy when he won the Forklifts New Zealand Mobile Pace, capping off a consistent run of form to win his fourth race. Jacks N Jazz winning at Ascot Park – Spot the winning trainer and owners in the background  – Photo Bruce Stewart Trained by Geoff and Jude Knight at Roxburgh he’s owned by the Have Fun Syndicate, the Goes All Day Syndicate and TW Croft. Bettor’s Delight filly Nikasa won her second race when she took out the Pure Pac NZ Cherries Mobile Pace. Driven by Brent Barclay the Darryn Simpson trained filly beat Revitalise by three quarters of a length. There were nervous moments when Tolkien won the All Things Harness Ownership Trot due to him galloping on or near the line but the Stewards dismissed the enquiry. It was the second win for the Kirk Larsen trained trotter from eighteen starts. The Merv and Meg Butterworth owned trotter Cuchulainn under a great drive by Brent Barclay, won the main trot of the afternoon. While other runners had to work for their spots the five year old Skyvalley gelding trained by Brett Gray did nothing in the run and came with a last run down the middle of the track to beat a game Sekkie Monkey. Third place getter Get Lucky will derive plenty of benefit from the run today. It’s his first run since the Harness Jewels in early June. Betterthanbrie made it a double for the Barclay/Ellis stable when she returned to winning form. Betterthanbrie after winning at Ascot park                             --Bruce Stewart photo The five year last won in July 2019.  Stablemate Chuckles ran second just a neck away from the winner.   Bruce Stewart
Young Winton trainer Chelsea Faithful feels lucky she was able to secure a lease in the well-bred Pay Me Speedy. Faithful shares in the ownership on the first start winner with her grandparents Norm and Bev Cox and her mother Louise Cox. “I was very lucky to get her off the Horse Trader website. Her full-brother Pay Me Mach was a good horse that Hamish (Hunter) had but he broke down. Hopefully she’s got a wee bit of what he had,” she said. Pay Me Mach started at the races seven times, winning twice and running three other placings. Faithful has had the daughter of Mach Three and Pay Me Painter since the horse was an unbroken yearling. “She’s been great to do anything with. She used to buck every now and then but that’s out of her system now.” In today’s PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace the three year old drew one and trailed pacemaker Weren’t Watching before coming up the passing lane to beat her  by a neck. “I wasn’t overly happy with the run. She’s better than that but it was her first start and she got pretty nervous. I think she got quite hot as well. Nathan was a bit disappointed…… but she did what she had to do.” Faithful’s phone has been ringing with offers, prior to today’s debut. “Mum’s not too worried about selling. Grandma loves her. If she’s not sold I’d like to think she’ll be good enough to run in the Southland Oaks. We’ll look at the Ladyship next though.” Faithful, who’s into her fourth season of training has five horses in work. She  said Tartan Trilogy won nicely at the Winton Workouts on Friday in 3-03 and is likely to race at the second day at Wyndham. “I’m loving the training. You put so much into (it).  It’s disappointing if they don’t go that well but if they win you get a great thrill. I’ve got five boxes – one taken up by the pony, and I have one in the paddock.”   Bruce Stewart
Trotting fans should get ready for the era of Oscar, who makes his Australian debut at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight in the Group 1 V L Dullard Trotters Cup, the lead-up to next week’s $250,000 Great Southern Star. His full name is Oscar Bonavena, the New Zealand trotter many are predicting will soon be the best in Australasia, if he’s not already. The great horses, even those in waiting, often end up with one name, like Brazilian soccer players. We get to know them, love them, speak of them so often they become like old familiar friends. Blackie (Blacks A Fake), Quinny (I’m Themightyquinn), Trigger (Smoken Up) and even a one-word champion in Lazarus quickly became Laz. The difference is they all earned their nicknames the hard way. Oscar hasn’t yet. He is like the young gun footballer playing with the men, who just looks faster than them. Several times this season Oscar has jogged past very good horses, including Inter Dominion champion Winterfell at Cambridge last start. But he is yet to win a race worth more than $50,000 and in his greatest test to date he had to settle for third after sitting parked in the National Trot at Alexandra Park two starts ago. He was made to race tough outside the leader, blunting his weapon of sheer speed. And when young upstarts have to play tough with hardened old warriors they can be exposed. Champion trainer Mark Purdon says that defeat may help Oscar overcome his second line draw tonight. “He learned from that,” Purdon said. “He is very fast and sometimes wants to go flat out and he didn’t do himself any favours when he got beaten. “But it taught him to look after himself and the next start at Cambridge he was far more relaxed. “That could be really crucial over the next week because, as we saw at Ballarat last week, you can’t sit back in races over here, so I might have to move with him mid-race. So racing kinder will be important and I think he will.” Purdon thinks so highly of Oscar he will stake him for every major race in North America next year, so if the small but athletic trotter turns out as good as the boss thinks he is the Australasian era of Oscar may be cut short. Purdon is, as so often, at the centre of the New Zealand attack on Melton tonight and realises Self Assured will probably have to sit parked outside Lochinvar Art in the 4YO Bonanza tonight while Stylish Memphis faces a huge task in the Victoria Oaks. “But I actually don’t mind her (gate 13) draw,” he said. “She has so much speed I think she is better coming from behind them and as long as she gets a cart into the race she can still win.”   HRV Trots Media - Michael Guerin
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