Day At The Track
Majestic Man,Harness racing

Williamson the tactician is ready

By Garrick Knight    When you talk to Brad Williamson, it quickly becomes apparent that he has an aptitude for race tactics. He’s a student of the game. Does his research. Knows his opponents and what he needs to do to beat them. So, it’s no surprise that he has a clear idea in his head ahead of Saturday night’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Alexandra Park. Williamson drives second-favourite Majestic Man for his father, Phil and they face a rather daunting task trying to beat the even-money pop Winterfell, and Mark Purdon. “Just at the moment, Winterfell appears to be in the zone and I don’t think any trotter could sit outside him and beat him,” Williamson says. With that statement he’s justifying what was a meritorious effort by Majestic Man to run third after sitting parked outside Winterfell in a New Zealand record in the final heat last Friday night. This week is a different kettle of fish though – both horses are drawn well and Williamson fancies his chances of finding the markers first. But it’s not as much of a formality as many might think. “It’s a tricky one because obviously Majestic Man has super gate speed, but Winterfell is also a lot quicker than people realise. “I had trouble crossing him in the Northern Derby and I wasn’t able to get across him when we were drawn side by side in another race. “That being said, Majestic Man is in the zone and the markers are the place to be so I have to get there.” Williamson confirmed his father had given him a clear directive accordingly. “Dad mentioned to me that he does want me to cross and, realistically, looking at the race, that’s the only way I could see us winning.” But the lead isn’t something Williamson wants, either. In fact, he wants the trail. “I don’t think he’ll be able to lead and win in this race.” So, does he hand to Marcoola and put Winterfell three back, or is he expecting Purdon to immediately come out and challenge for the front? Honestly? he doesn’t especially care. “Both Winterfell and Marcoola are stayers and when they find the front won’t be giving it away. “So, we’ll be handing up to which ever is the first of them to come looking. “And I’m 90 percent sure that will be Winterfell.” Williamson is banking on his horse’s sheer speed coming to pass in one last stretch battle. “Majestic Man is as fast as anything in the race over a quarter but I’m picking Mark is not going to leave it to a sharp sprint home. “It’s not going to be a slowly run race, that’s guaranteed being an Inter Dominion Grand Final. “Winterfell broke the New Zealand record under a hold last week and probably had a couple of seconds up his sleeve, too.” Even then, it will be out of Purdon’s hands anyway as a bevvy of decent trotters try and get in to the race from wide or second line draws, primarily Marcoola. “It’s not really going to affect me, what the other horses do, because the markers are the place to be in this race. “But, being a Grand Final, I don’t think everybody is going to be sitting back and not moving.” Outside of the big three, Williamson reckons Temporale, who maps to sit four pegs for most of the race, could be the blowout option. “Looking for an outsider, Temporale has got the best draw of the others outside of Winterfell, in my opinion. “He’s drawn to sit on the markers on a likely record run and all he’ll need is a wee bit of luck of the last 800 metres. “And you’d back Tony Herlihy, out of anyone, to find a path through them. “He knows the track better than anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take advantage of a cold shot at them.” With all the planning and thinking done ahead of time, Williamson was looking forward to getting up to Auckland and just taking it all in. After all, he’s a live chance of joining the greats of the game – Anthony Butt, Mark Purdon, Gavin Lang, Tony Herlihy, Barry Purdon, Doody Townley, David Butt, Peter Jones – as the winning driver in an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final. The annals of harness racing history await the lad from Oamaru. “There is just something about it that I’m really looking forward to. “The Inter Doms are all anyone is talking about at the moment and I’m privileged to be a part of it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Bit Of A Legend, harness racing

Bit Of A Legend N to retire

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 12, 2019— Harness racing trainer Peter Tritton, that fairly competent Down Under imported trainer, was asked about Bit of a Legend N, that fairly competent Down Under imported pacer. “We were coming off after a race one night and Jordan (Stratton) said to me, ‘Every driver should have a chance to sit behind a horse like this.’ ” Bit of a Legend N, who rarely ran out of real estate on the racetrack, has nonetheless run out of daylight as a racehorse. The 10-year-old double-millionaire is set to retire after a Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle send-off Saturday night (Dec. 14th). The son of Bettor’s Delight is off to Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH, to begin a stallion career. “I’m going to have to plan a road trip to go see him,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N and Stratton have gone down the road together, the number of memorable miles too numerous to mention. “He’s my favorite horse. No question,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N came over as advertised, having won Australian Breeders Crowns at ages 3 and 4. “Peter (Tritton) told me he was a getting a pretty nice horse,” Stratton said of the then 7-year-old who the late Harry Von Knoblauch purchased for $103,000. “I went to the farm to see him. He just looked good running in the paddock and in his first qualifier (Yonkers, January of 2016), I knew. “He didn’t go much (third, timed in 1:57.1), but the way he drove, the way he carried himself.” Rising through the overnight ranks with two wins and two seconds in four tries, it was time to wear the big-boy pants and the ’16 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Sweep. Bit of a Legend N won all five of his preliminary legs starts, including a stirring, track-record 1:51.2 dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit. In the $609,000 final a week later, he drew well, took control early and won in a facile 1:51 (see accompanying photo). He was (and remains) the only Free-For-Aller to run the Levy table. The 2016 season saw Bit of a Legend N win 13-of-28 starts (with six seconds and one third), socking away $723,850. Proving he was no one-hit wonder, Bit of a Legend N threw down consecutive half-million-dollar seasons in 2017 and ’18. The 2017 Levy saw Bit of a Legend N win twice (with two seconds) during preliminary-round competition before a no-chance-trip fourth (to Keystone Velocity) in the final. He then hit the road, winning the $109,600 Molson (Western Fair, 1:51.3), $260,000 Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga, 1:50.3…at 15-1) and Quillen Memorial (Harrington, 1:52.1).  The next season saw another standout Levy-leg log (two wins, two seconds, one third) and yet another less-than-no-shot trip in the final. From post position No. 7, Bit of a Legend N charged home for second, again to Keystone Velocity. Bit of a Legend N eventually returned to Londontown, looking to defend his Molson (renamed to Camluck Classic) title. He wound up a flat, never-in-it fifth and “the only time he ever disappointed me,” Stratton said. “He’s had some EPM (parasite) issues throughout his career,” Tritton said. “We’ve been able to stay on top of it, usually, but I think that, and the ship up to Canada, was too much for him. His blood was no good, but he bounced back.” Indeed. A week later at Northfield, it was a first-up, life-best 1:49.4 effort in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie, putting away the same horse—Rockin’ Ron—who had dusted his rivals in the Camluck. “Everyone was excited for him,” Stratton said. “There were people, wherever we went, who said he was their favorite horse.” Bit of a Legend N’s 2019 season was hampered by some poorly-timed quarter cracks, essentially costing him any shot of doing damage in the Levy. “It’s never a good time to get them, but this was a bad time for him, and us,” Tritton said. “It took about six or seven weeks to completely heal and the series doesn’t allow for any time off.”  “It not that he’s even slowed down that much, but the competition is just better,” Stratton said. “Before, you could win a race in 1:52. Now, it’s no better than third.” Stratton offered some of the same platitudes about Bit of a Legend N that were bestowed upon Foiled Again by his primary driver, Yannick Gingras. “He can relax and go a quarter in 30 (seconds), then sprint in :27. He won’t do more than what’s necessary. It’s just his way of taking care of himself. Look at his races. The margins are never that much. He knows what he has to do. That’s why he’s lasted so long.” The plan was for Bit of a Legend N to be racing Saturday nights through the end of the season, but after a second-place finish in late November, Tritton detected a bit of a problem with an ankle (“There was nothing to gain by having him go a couple of more weeks”), so the North American racing career ended with 33 wins in 99 starts and earnings of $1,909,935 (more than $2.5 million including foreign take-home). “I’ve had good horses before,” Tritton said, “but he’s different. To have the longevity he’s had and to produce in the big races the way he did, that’s what stands out.” …and they named him right, too. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Mr Harris,Harness racing

Veteran pacer just keeps on winning

By Garrick Knight    Like a fine wine, Mister Harris is seemingly just getting better with age. The 10-year-old veteran pacer, a winner at Manawatu on Thursday evening, is in career-best form for his Hawera trainer, Willie Fleming. He’s won three of four starts this season and now sits on nine for his career. “I’m bloody rapt with how he’s going,” said Fleming. “I haven’t done anything different with him, the only thing I can see is that I’ve changed my feed. “Whether that’s it, I don’t know, but Scott Dickson made a point of telling me today when the horse was warming up that he looked bloody well.” Fleming took over training Mister Harris at the start of last year, when his breeder and then owner/trainer, Dave Cambie got injured. “Dave had cut the end off his thumb and didn’t want it getting infected, so he sent me the horse to look after for a while. “I actually had him when he got his last win in Dave’s name and he then retired from training and got out of the game.” He offered Fleming the horse on lease and it was an easy proposal to accept. “Dave was made a life member at the Taranaki club before he retired but has now backed right away from it all. “He’s trying to get a bit more golf in, I think. “But he still watches the horse and was the first one to ring me after the race today.” Fleming reckoned he knew Mister Harris was on song for his five-horse race yesterday in the tie-ups before going out on the track. “He gave me a couple of nips and flicked his foot at me. “When he’s grumpy like that, I know he’s going to race well. “He’s a really neat old horse with a bit of character about him.” Fleming actually expected his near-perfect start to the season (four wins and a placing from five starters) to continue a few races later when Sonny Reactor lined up in one of the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship (AYDC) heats. “The other fella, I thought he was a real chance. The better chance of the two. “But he just over-raced which was disappointing. Ben Butcher said I just had him too well.” Where to now is the big question for Fleming with Mister Harris, who now finds himself an R67. “You tell me because I don’t know. We were lucky that the first win this season was penalty-free, which gave us a lifeline, but he’s getting up there now. “He seems to love racing at Manawatu so I’d like to keep him here if I can. “Last season I tried to pick up a couple of country cups with him on the grass, but he seems better on the hard surface. “The days of him winning from in front are gone, I think, but he’s still got one hell of a sprint when saved up for one run at them.” Another three heats of the AYDC were held and it was series leader Sarah O’Reilly again holding court with two seconds and a fourth to maintain her lead heading in to tonight’s final heat at Alexandra Park. Cam Hart, from Sydney, is the only one that can beat her for the title, but will need a minor miracle as he drives the rank outsider, Johnny Mac. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Sarah O'Reilly,Harness racing

AYDC update leading into the final race

Heats seven to nine of the of the 2019 Hanley Australasian Drivers Championship were held at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday with three first time AYDC winning drivers saluting. Series leader Sarah O'Reilly extended her lead in the series to 11 points, with the final race held at Alexandra Park on Friday night. With 17 points awarded to the winner of the final race, Cameron Hart would have to win or finish second with O'Reilly finishing down the track to upset the kiwi. Victories tonight were shared by New Zealander, John Morrison, West Australian, Corey Peterson and Queensland representative Matt Elkins, with the Australians both saluting for the first time on New Zealand soil. Elkins drove Ripsnorter for trainer Michael House to an all the way victory in heat seven of the series with the Brisbane local thrilled with his first AYDC win, ''It was great to tick a New Zealand winner off my bucket list'', he said following the win. Series leaders Sarah O'Reilly and Cameron Hart again both drove consistent races to fill the placings. Western Australian Corey Peterson drove Sheikh Yabooty to a fast finishing win from a near impossible four pegs position in heat eight. In a tight finish, Sheikh Yabooty prevailed over the favourite Matai Minky for Corey Peterson and Play Ball for Victorian Zac Phillips. Peterson was appreciative for the Manawatu Club hospitality after his victory ''Thanks to the Manawatu Harness Racing Club for a great few days in Palmerston North, with some great times had by all.'' In the final heat of the night, Ace Stride backed up his Tuesday win with another first over crush victory for South Island representative John Morrison. O'Reilly drove another placegetter, her fourth for the series along with two winners, with Matt Elkins rounding out the trifecta. The AYDC drivers now fly north to Auckland for the final heat at Alexandra Park on Friday and to experience the Inter Dominion on Saturday night to complete their trip.   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner    The chance to capture the race that has got away awaits champion reinsman Tony Herlihy when he drives Sicario in Saturday night’s Interdominion Pacing Championship final. New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman winning the race on a $101 outsider in his 15th attempt is just one of the fairy tale endings this year’s Alexandra Park Championship can bring. Herlihy is approaching the opportunity with the calmness that has seen him known as “The Ice Man” for the past four decades, as well as with his signature sharp wit. “Its a great race to be a part of, you get a good view when you’re out there – its harder when you’re in the crowd, you can’t get a look in,” Herlihy quipped. Herlihy has got the best of views of the three horses that have denied him victory in Australasian pacing’s greatest test of stamina. The reinsman was runner up with Christopher Vance in 1991, Sly Flyin in 2006 and a promoted second with Chokin in 1995. “We have gone some great races, but we just haven’t been able to win it.” “There have been a couple there that have gone really good.” “Sly Flying went great behind Elsu and Christopher Vance went great behind Mark Hanover – he just nutted him out of it.” Sicario’s $101 odds suggest he is not the horse to help Herlihy win his elusive pacing final However, the Brent Lilley trained pacer in to Saturday night’s 2700m mobile feature with one claim that the five other horses paying $101 do not. The Victorian pacer reeled off the fastest last 800m of the entire Interdominon series when reeling off a 52.8sec sectional when running fourth behind Cruz Bromac on night three. The strong performance, when coming from well back in the field, gives Herlihy hope he could land another pacing final placing. “He is a first five chance, we just need that little bit of luck in the running with him.” “He was ordinary the first night, but he has improved since then.” “He went super the second night, I was pretty sure he would have run in the money the second night.” “But, I just couldn’t get him out in the straight to get a clear crack at them.” Sicario may need all of the skill that has won Herlihy 3,514 races in New Zealand to find him a perfect spot in the running. The gate speed the horse showed on night one, the only time Herlihy has asked him to leave quickly, does not suggest he could be first to the markers after Saturday night’s start. “He would have been able to put a neck or half a length on them if I really hunted him on the first night.” “But I didn’t worry about that, because they weren’t going to let me cross.” My Kiwi Mate looks to have first option on the lead from barrier 1, with fast beginner Chase Auckland likely to be able to keep pace with him from barrier 1 on the second row. Sicario has On The Cards, who beat him out of the gate on night one, drawn outside him in barrier 4. Herlihy has had contrasting fortune in Interdominion Trotting Finals and will be out to extend his record as its all-time leading driver with Temporale on Saturday night. The reinsman goes in to the 2700m mobile feature with wins to his name behind Diamond Field (1994), Pride Of Petite (1997), Buster Hanover (1998) and Delft (2006). All Temporale needs is some Ice Man magic to work him in to the race from his second row draw and he will be right amongst the finish. “Hopefully he can get a good run, there are four or five there that are going really good, so hopefully we can have a bit of luck with him,” Herlihy said.   

It has been a bleak Inter Dominion for the Aussies, but our Australian correspondent Adam Hamilton gives us his thoughts on Grand Final night. THE BEST AUSSIE HOPE Despite his poor draw, it still has to be TOUGH MONARCH (R6, n11) in the Trotting final. He’s got the class, has hit the line strongly past two runs and could run into a place if everything panned out. Next best would be MY KIWI MATE (R8, n1) because he’s drawn the pole, will get a cosy run and is right back to his very best form. Also a sneaky place hope. BEST BET Well, it’s a more a multi-builder because $1.35 is skinny, but the buzz around OSCAR BONAVENA (R3, n8) and the way he worked Wednesday morning says he’ll win for fun and continue on the pathway to greatness. VALUE BET Speed is a wicked weapon and MAJESTIC MAN (R6, n1) has plenty of it. Expect him to zip to the front then trail favourite Winterfell. If it’s genuinely run, he should give it a serious crack along the sprint lane when it matters. BEST ROUGHIE He’ll be double-figure odds and OUR UNCLE SAM (R7, n6) certainly drops in grade in the virtual consolation. Went for home far too early last week and certainly wasn’t disgraced. Not ma many winning chances here and he’s definitely one of them.   By Adam Hamilton for HRNZ

It was a perfect morning from the All Stars least perfect horse. And it was all you needed to see if you want to back Winterfell to win the $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final on Saturday night. On a morning when trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were left beaming after the private workouts of many of their superstars at Pukekohe, it was Winterfell who was the star of the show. And it was some show. Not many stables in the history of harness racing could roll a team that includes the first and second favourites for the $500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final, with Cruz Bromac and Ultimate Sniper hitting the line together after the latter trailed until they sprinted up the straight at the end of 2400m. Both look spot on, Cruz Bromac the more natural track worker, Ultimate Sniper wearing far more gear, in a muck of sweat but pacing fluently on the tightish, flat Pukekohe track. The conveyor belt of class didn’t stop there, with Thefixer sharp as he came from last to brush up alongside Another Masterpiece and Self Assured also over 2400m, the latter pair looking where they need to be for their support races at Alexandra Park on Saturday. Other Grand Final contenders Chase Auckland and Ashley Locaz will have their final workouts today, with new driver John Dunn to partner the latter for the first time. And before the Inter pacers strutted their stuff, the stable flexed some serious newcomer to the carnival muscle in Northern Trot Derby winner Enhance Your Calm and New Zealand’s most exciting trotter Oscar Bonavena, with little Oscar sitting behind his far bigger stablemate and picking him up in the last 200m. It was all slick stuff, horses deliberately hitting the line together, not a step out of place, no hanging or heads tossed in the air. Professional, daunting. “It was a really, really good morning,” said Mark Purdon. “We were happy with all of them so things are very much on target for Saturday.” But while there was a phenomenal amount of elite horse power on display the eyecatcher was Winterfell. He started this Interdom series the problem child of the open class trotting ranks, having finished 104-lengths last at his previous start, beaten 33 lengths when sixth of eight the start before. Remarkably for a horse who finished his three-year-old season looking a potential champion he has won only four of his next 14 leading into this series, finishing unplaced in six of them. They are rare numbers for an All Stars Group One player. The sort of numbers that might see a less talented horse ostracised to another stable. Or another country. But something has clicked since Winterfell arrived north. The Winterfell that Purdon has been so happy with at home is finally accompanying him to the races. He was still wayward winning on night one, was taught how to settle in the field when it became apparent he couldn’t win on night two and looked back to his outstanding best winning his final round heat in national record time. That improvement curve continued all the way to yesterday when he worked with leading three-year-old pacers One Change (Sires’ Stakes winner) and Flying Even Bettor. Winterfell was bombproof trailing the galloping pacemaker whereas for several starts in the last 12 months he would have wanted to join in the galloping fun. He looked big, strong, trotting squarely but more importantly he looked a racehorse, no gawking, swerving or looking for excuses. He looked like an Inter Dominion Trotting Final winner in waiting. “He has gone from strength to strength up here,” says Purdon. “He still did a few little things wrong on night one but he has been perfect since. “He went a record last Friday and I am sure he can go faster again this week and I’d like to be in front.” Winterfell can probably afford to get crossed early and still be handed the lead because of the respect he has regained during this series. With yesterday’s faultless trackwork display another stamp in his passport out of Crazy Town, it is going to take something special to beat Winterfell on Saturday night.   Michael Guerin

Addington Raceway and Events Centre Hello Everyone, Last two racing meetings for the year – Friday 13 & 20 December This Friday the first race is at 5.30pm and next Friday has a start time of 11.30am. Be sure to get on track to enjoy a great couple of days of racing! Spectators is open for some great burgers & pizzas, as well as some quick treats from the IRT Stables BBQ!  To book a table with all the Christmas trimmings, please 03 338 9094 or email info@addington.co.nz to check availability.   Limited spots left. Thank you everyone for a fabulous year! We wish to thank you all for your support in 2019.  It is extremely appreciated.  We have loved hosting you all on course!  Bring on 2020! Merry Christmas We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.  Good luck with all your racing over the New Year period. Back on Track Buffet $35 pp Special Offer – January We look forward welcoming you back on Friday 24 & 31 January for some excellent racing. To kick start the year, we are offering a back on track buffet special offer!  Only $35 per person!!  Bookings are essential.  To book please call 03 338 9094 or email info@addington.co.nz Take care, travel safe and we look forward to seeing you in January. From all the Addington team   INNOVATIVE RACE MEETING AT WINTON  The Winton Harness Racing Club are trialling a great new innovation at their meeting at Central Southland Raceway in Winton this Sunday 15 December. To promote exciting racing every race will be subject to a maximum field of just ten horses. The concept is being tried to give a tighter class of racing and with smaller fields every horse in each race will have a better chance in the running. The ten horse limit should provide a good show for spectators with good quality racing. Ten races are scheduled for the day with the feature race being the AON Insurance Equine Stakes. With the Christmas season upon us the club is treating the children on course to free mini jeep rides while Santa will also pay a visit with some treats for the kids. Kidz Kartz will be on course to race and there will also have a Whitebait stand which is a fundraiser for Kidz Kartz, the whitebait having been donated by Gerald Cayford. The first race is scheduled from 12.17pm and admission to the course is free. Tent sites are still available for this meeting and at the Wairio Trotting Club’s meeting at Winton the following weekend on Saturday 21 December. Lindsay Beer Promotions Officer Southern Harness Racing 03 217 4288 021 351 499   SOUTHERN HARNESS RACING CHRISTMAS FUNCTIONS Christmas is on the way! And so are our pre-Christmas race meetings. December is a fantastic month for racing with pre-Christmas events at Winton – Winton Harness Racing Club (Sunday 15 December) and Wairio Trotting Club (Saturday 21 December). There are tent sites available at all three meetings for your Christmas function or get together. Contact us today for full details and conditions. Lindsay Beer - 021 351 499 / lindsay.beer@xtra.co.nz   Women changing the look of Rangiora Harness Racing Club  By SHELLEY TOPP The Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s administration team has three new women members.  Denise Carlson and Melissa Higgins have both joined the committee and Miranda Donnell is the club’s new secretary and administrator. The women will seek to attract more people to the club’s meetings, particularly women, promote harness racing and  and help lift the club’s social media profile. Two of the women, Denise and Melissa  already had a connection with the club before joining the committee as their husbands are also committee members. Miranda, who lives near the Rangiora racecourse, wanted to be part of something in the local community.  "When I met with some of the committee members I could see how passionate they were about the club and I thought it would be nice to be part of that,’’ she said. "Rangiora harness racedays bring back fond memories of when we used to go when the kids were young.  They loved it.  We did too.'' Melissa has a family connection with harness racing. "My parents have owned horses since I was born and my Dad trained his first winner late last year,’’ she said.  "I have been involved with in harness racing all my life. I love the people you meet following your horses to different places to race.'' Denise is also a regular on raceday, supporting her husband Ray, who is the club’s vice-president. "Joining the committee seemed like a natural step,’’ she said."The raceway is in a beautiful location, the vista is amazing. I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't enjoyed coming to the races at Rangiora. There is nothing quite like going to a country harness race meeting. I've been to quite a few around New Zealand and I haven't come across a better country course (than Rangiora) yet.'' Denise and Melissa have replaced Maria Perriton, the former sole woman committee member, who resigned this year after 13 years’ service. Club president, Greg Wright said only four other women had been committee members in the club’s 69-year history. "However, racing, like most other institutions, has evolved over the last decade to accept and expect women committee members,’’ he said. "I hope our current, more diverse, committee will be able to develop a better presentation of racing and our club's meetings in particular to appeal to a wider audience.’’    Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club We are thrilled to confirm that we have been granted a one day racing licence to race on the Otaki Maori Race Course, Otaki on Sunday 2nd February 2020. Grass track racing at it's very best. The tentative Programme is already posted on the HRNZ Website. It is planned to host 9 races on the day, with minimum stakes of $10,000 per race (The highest stakes of any grass track meeting in the North Island.) Features will be the Otaki Trotting Cup for the pacers run over 3000 metres from the stand with a stake of $12,000 and the Wellington Trotting Cup for the trotters run from a stand over 3000 metres with a stake of $12,000. The Friday prior to our KCHRC Otaki race meeting (being Friday 31st January 2020) will see Manawatu Harness race at Manawatu Raceway. Therefore horses who wish to travel from the South Island or upper North Island to race 2 days could nominate for both meetings. Grass track horses could race at Rotorua on Sunday 26th January, then a week later race at Otaki on the grass. Sunday 2nd February will be an Interislander Summer Festival of Racing Race day at Otaki. The Committee is working tirelessly to make this day a major success. Hosting Kidz Kartz from Taranaki, free children's entertainment, an All Up Place competition with a prize of $500. Recently Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club held it's AGM. After 20+ years at the helm President Mary Colman retired to take the role of immediate Past President, and was honoured with a Life Membership of the Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club. The new Club President is Chris Craddock who had served as Vice President for the proceeding 10+ years. (With harness family roots originating in ‘the Buller’, Westport.) Kapiti Coast Harness has a new expanded Committee and is really looking forward to hosting an outstanding day on the Otaki Maori grass track Race Course on Sunday 2nd February 2020.   Cheviot Harness Racing Club – Stallion Tenders The Cheviot Harness Racing Club has one stallion tender on offer. PEGASUS SPUR – sire of Speeding Spur Sire of Speeding Spur Sire of Paramount Gee Gee 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $3,000+GST. Please send all tenders to kirsten_mcnabb@yahoo.co.nz

Spankem is not likely to return to the tracks any time soon but there was better news over the fetlock injury that sidelined him from the Inter Dominion series. Originally he was programmed to have an operation on the injury. However after x rays there was doubt raised whether an operation was in fact necessary. All Stars veterinary experts and shared the x rays with other experts who came to the same conclusion. So in the meantime Spankem will have another month’s rest, Mark said, and will then be reassessed probably with further tests at the Matamata Veterinary Services where internationally sophisticated procedures will establish the immediate future with more precision. However the likelihood that an operation on the injury may not be necessary now will shorten the recovery period for the Miracle Mile winner of $1.3m though it will be some time before he is seen out again. Stablemate Turn It Up is at All Stars doing light exercise but his racing future is still in doubt. That All Stars would have five starters in the Inter Dominion Grand Final including the first two favourites after two such stars suffered setbacks is a testimonial to the depth of the current team with Self Assured also being allowed to miss the series in favour of the Auckland Cup.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Believe it or not, but only two horses from the previous Inter Dominion Trotting series will strut their stuff again this year. And they’re both Aussies. Twelve months ago, former New Zealand gelding Tornado Valley dominated the Inter Dominion Trotting Championships in Melbourne leaving everyone and everything in his wake including Tough Monarch and Big Jack Hammer. Plenty has changed since. Firstly, the defending champion did not make the trip across the Tasman Sea and secondly, the wave of challengers they face this year is deep and loaded with exquisite talent. Undoubtedly, the challenge is monumental to keep the famed trophy on Australian soil but both are there and ready to take their place and that gives them hope. Mighty mare Scotch Notch proved it can be done when successful here at Alexandra Park back in 1983 for legendary Victorian horseman Graeme Lang. The David Aiken trained Big Jack Hammer will start from the inside gate in the 2700m mobile start feature while the Rickie Alchin prepared Tough Monarch faces a second-line draw after landing gate 11. Their efforts throughout the three heats have been mixed but good enough to qualify so they have a fighting chance. But will that be enough? The Australian duo will need to bring their absolute best because the local contingent oozes class and a ripping race awaits. Leading the charge is the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained rising star Winterfell who gains a perfect opportunity to enhance his reputation after drawing ideally in gate two. The Majestic Son five-year-old has looked sharp winning two of his three heats and will clearly make his presence felt early. The last time an Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final was staged in Auckland was 2011 and Mark Purdon reigned supreme with champion performer I Can Doosit. In fact, Purdon has trained five previous winners including I Can Doosit (twice), Buster Hanover and Pride Of Petite (twice) Winterfell is clearly capable of adding his name to the famed list of previous winners. Big brother Barry is no stranger to Grand Final success either after preparing the likes of Night Allowance and Diamond Field; speed machine Marcoola will represent his stable this weekend. Marcoola is a proven big race performer and despite drawing gate eight, the outside of the front-line, the Sundon entire will carry plenty of support. Young Sheree Tomlinson takes the drive and will look to emulate the deeds of Kate Gath last year as a female Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final winner. Another wonderful horseman with previous Inter Dominion success is Paul Nairn, the Christchurch based trainer scored with Call Me Now back in 1995 and chases his second piece of silverware with the richly talented Habibi Inta. The recent Dominion winner will start from gate ten and only needs an inch of luck to take this. Beach training duo of Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett are duly represented by outstanding duo in Temporale (gate 9) and Massive Metro (gate 13). Both trotters have performed exceptionally well throughout the series and have winning claims. Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy will partner Temporale and victory will provide the trainer/driver combination their second Inter Dominion winner after combining with giant gelding Delft back in 2006. Herlihy has driven four Inter Dominion winners - Diamond Field, Pride Of Petite, Buster Hanover and Delft. Rising star Majestic Man (gate 4) is another trotter clearly good enough to claim the big event. His heat efforts have been sublime and the father/son combination of Phil and Brad Williamson are chasing their maiden Inter Dominion success. Local trotter Paramount King has stamped himself as a major player following his terrific heat efforts but faces a second-line draw after landing gate 12. Prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, they will be looking to go one better after finishing as the runner-up last year with Speeding Spur behind Tornado Valley. The Robert and John Dunn stable have two runners engaged with Valloria (gate 6) and Bonnie Highlander (gate 7) representing their strong stable. Like Bonnie Highlander, Destiny Jones (gate 3) is looking to become the first mare since Sumthingaboutmaori (2004) to claim the Inter Dominion for the fairer sex. The Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final is the second leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and follows on from the Dominion at Addington in Christchurch last month won by Habibi Inta. The four remaining legs include the Great Southern Star (1/2/20), Australian Grand Prix (29/2/20), ANZAC Cup (24/4/20) and Rowe Cup (1/5/20).   Chris Barsby

When a youthful Mark Purdon captured the 1991 Auckland Inter Dominion aboard Mark Hanover trained in partnership by legendary father Roy and older brother Barry, little did he realize what the future was to hold. All in, the Purdon’s have figured in nine Inter victories, three in the pacing ranks and six with the trotters. For champion trainer/driver Mark it has been a ritual to go in search of Australasia’s most prestigious harness event, with success coming on several occasions. Following Mark Hanover, A few years went by before Mark’s name began to become dominant, especially in the trotting ranks scoring with Pride Of Petite in 1996 (Melbourne), and 1997 (Adelaide) when driven by brother in law Tony Herlihy which became one of the greatest races ever seen at Globe Derby Park, then came Buster Hanover (Sydney) in 1998 with Herlihy again the winning reinsman. Thirteen years elapsed before I Can Doosit trained and driven by Mark with Grant Payne as associate trainer scored successive victories – Auckland in 2011 and Melbourne 2012. Back in 1993 Mark’s father Roy had combined with Barry to land the 1993 Trotters Grand Final in Auckland with Night Arrow. In 2016 and 2017 it was the pacers that really made Mark a force to be reckoned with when two outstanding horses Smolda and Lazarus came on the scene. Smolda being victorious in 2016 and Lazarus 2017 when both series were held in Perth. Partner Natalie Rasmussen is no stranger to the Inters either after her outstanding pacer Blacks A Fake scored at Hobart in 2006, Adelaide 2007, Melbourne 2008 and Menangle 2010 and could have easily been five after going down narrowly to Mr Feelgood at the Gold Coast the year before. Barry Purdon himself will have two Grand Final runners this year when A G’s White Socks and Mach Shard step out to do battle. Since registering the partnership, Mark and Natalie have qualified five horses for this year’s series headed by Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, Chase Auckland, Thefixer and Ashley Locaz. With Mark, Barry and Natalie being the most prolific name in New Zealand and Australian harness racing, the name Purdon will be prominent for a long period of time to come.   Len Baker

By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trotting fanatic Rob McIntosh will realise a lifelong dream if Majestic Man wins the Interdominion Trotting Final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night. McIntosh is one several Otago and Southland based members of the Griffins Syndicate, which race the 5yr-old from Phil Williamson’s barn. Few owners have shown the dedication to the Interdominion series McIntosh has over the past two years. Last year he was on hand to witness Griffins Syndicate trotter Monty Python run in all three heats of Melbourne Interdominion before he ran third in its final to Tornado Valley. McIntosh travelled back and forth from Oamaru to work around his work commitments as a truck driver.  He has not missed a step Majestic Man or Monty Python have made at Alexandra Park during this year’s series. McIntosh’s passion for trotting means it would be almost impossible for him not to be at the track on Saturday night to watch Majestic Man again. That passion is driven by his earliest involvement in the sport at a young age. And it is one that is linked to the 1965 series run in McIntosh’s home province at Forbury Park. “Where it really began was I used to go over to Harry Cox’s stable at Winton and work with the racehorses - he was mum’s uncle,” McIntosh said.  “I loved it.” “He had a big photo over the fireplace of a horse winning the Interdominion trotting final at Forbury Park called Poupette.” “Every time I went there I always looked at that photo and thought hopefully one day I could be involved in a race like that myself.” “Right to this day, forty odd years later, I can still envisage that photo.” McIntosh developed a passion for the trotting gait that could have led him close to Interdominion success in 1994. A friend told the trotting enthusiast of an opportunity to join the syndicate that raced former hardy Southland squaregaiter Diamond Field. But, McIntosh did not pursue it because he felt the Cox trained David Moss, as well as another former Southland trotter Night Allowance, would have the horse’s measure in big races. McIntosh said he shared a joke with Diamond Field’s winning driver Tony Herlihy about the near miss during this year’s series. McIntosh was given the opportunity to take a vacant spot in the Griffin’s Syndicate after being involved in a similar syndicate years on McIntosh has not looked back since then as the group have racked up dozens of trotting wins. “I have had a ball being in the syndicate.” “You get to meet a lot of great people and have a lot of fun.” “Syndicates are a great way for people to be involved without it costing a lot of money.” McIntosh is not the only Oamaru based member of the syndicate. The mother and daughter duo of Glenda and Kirsty Stevenson also race Majestic Man. Several owners are also based in Dunedin and further south. McIntosh said more than 20 of the Griffin’s Syndicate to be on hand to watch Majestic Man on Saturday night. There looks a big chance for the group to be celebrating a win, going on Majestic Man’s three excellent heat runs. Win, lose or otherwise McIntosh said will be proud of his horse and he was already planning his trip to next year’s Interdominion in Sydney. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

With just nine days to go to the first Fast10 Horse Racing event at Addington Raceway, Quick Horse Racing would like to advise the following information regarding the race day: RIU Will have extra staff available and ensure that the judicial side of things is well in hand. Horses are expected to be on track ten minutes prior to race start time. A senior horseman will be available to assist should an inquiry occur. Horses will be allowed on track to warm-up before they are due to race – trainers and drivers are aware of the rules around this.  In the event of a false start, the starter has been notified to keep the horses in line and continue around the track to re-start as soon as possible. Stable Area All trainers and drivers involved will be contacted once the fields are out to remind them of their requirements around timings.  There will also be recommendations to have extra staff and carts on hand if they have a few horses racing.  We will not be using Stridemaster on this occasion.  The numbers room will allocate the coloured saddlecloths and cap covers together and the cap covers will be collected by Starters Crew at the end of each race and returned to the numbers room for re-allocation.  Fast10 will have a representative in the stables to assist. Fields There will be 11 horses selected for each race including one emergency.  Ten horses will start with a grid of 6 on the front line and 4 on the second row.  Nine races will be 1980m and one will be 1609m and all mobile starts. Sponsors To date we have secured eight of ten sponsors.  These sponsors will receive the same benefits that Addington provides all sponsors.  Sponsors will also be promoted widely on Social Media. Pre Race Promotions Tony Russell will MC in the Silks Lounge. Ten minutes before each race, two promotional girls will parade a sign notifying guests of the next race.  This will be choreographed to music. (30 seconds) Immediately following this a preview of each race will be broadcast into the room televisions.These previews will be pre-recorded and provided by Greg O’Connor and Matt Cross. One minute before race start, Matt Cross will sound the bugle recording to notify patrons the race is about to start. The promotional girls will be in the birdcage with the signs to coincide with the bugle. Owner For The Day Promotion This will be available to Silks Lounge Ticket Holders only.  A losing ticket draw will be completed after race eight and ten people will be drawn and allocated a horse in race 10.  They will “own” the horse allocated with the winners getting a photo in the birdcage and get to celebrate in the Winners Bar.  They will be provided with a $200 prize from Fast10 Horse Racing, along with a set of Coasters.  There will be no impact in any way on the real connections of the winning horse.  This has been done to encourage ownership in harness racing. Trackside and SKY1 Coverage We are thrilled to announce that all races will be broadcast as a stand alone meeting on Trackside 1 in New Zealand, and the first eight races will also feature on SKY1 coverage in Australia, with the last two events on SKY2. Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point and if anyone has any last minute suggestions, they are always welcome.  We look forward to this being an exciting and successful event.   For further information on Fast10 Horse Racing, please contact: Glenn Hames - ghames.qhr@gmail.com or 0272032746 Tony Russell - trussell.qhr@gmail.com or 0274326522

After 3259 wins it is still there for Maurice McKendry. Not just the talent. That was never in doubt. Never has been since the little fella left Methven nearly 40 years ago to try his luck in the big smoke. What is still there is the rush, that thrill a good horse can still give even a legend even in “the twilight of my career.” That twilight has shone a little brighter during this Inter Dominion after McKendry got the call up to partner A G’s White Socks. Just three weeks ago A G’s White Socks wasn’t coming to the series and McKendry was resigned to watching it from the driver’s room after his sole Interdom steer, trotter Lemond, was withdrawn. Now McKendry goes into Saturday’s final with two heat wins under his belt and maybe the best chance to upset hot favourite Ultimate Sniper. A G’s White Socks reminded us how good he is with his two heat wins and peeled off a sizzling last 800m in defeat last Friday. McKendry has also had an Interdom to remember, perfectly patient winning his opening night heat, aggressive enough to attack an All Stars runner and wrest control of his second round heat. So how does it feel to be one of the stories of an Inter Dominion which must have felt like it had passed McKendry by? “It has been fun,” he says with his trademark half giggle. “After Lemond got pulled out I thought I wouldn’t be part of it all and then I got the call up for this horse, which I really didn’t see coming. “I didn’t know what to expect from him but I have really enjoyed it. “Even at this stage of my career, when maybe I am getting close to winding down a bit, that feeling is still the same when you drive a good horse. “When they let down and sprint is a great feeling. It is fun, a rush, even now.” That is one reason McKendry still loves going to work at 64 years old, because the sensation is the same as four decades ago on the training tracks of Mid Canterbury. “I love the speed. I always have. And when you sit behind the good horses and they let down, it feels special. “So to be here, driving a horse trained by Barry in the final, it is a real bonus.” It is odd to think that McKendry needs to remind us of his talents. He is, after all, one of only two New Zealanders with over 3000 domestic wins. The other is his good mate Tony Herlihy, who McKendry has sat next to in the Alexandra Park driver’s room for as long as anybody remembers. Like famous Brazilian soccer players they require only one name inside the industry, say Tony or Maurice and everybody knows who you are talking about. But their Inter Dominion records are vastly different, Herlihy with 37 total career victories at the Interdoms including four trotting finals, McKendry has nine heat wins. That is not about ability, but opportunity. And those opportunities are becoming rarer. “It has always been hard to get on good horses, it is a hard game,” says McKendry. “And it is harder now because there are less horses and less trainers, and many of the bigger stables already have their drivers. “But I am still getting a few drives so I am in no hurry to retire. I think I’ll know when I have had enough or I am starting to lose it.” The last fortnight tells us that won’t be any time soon. So what does Saturday hold for McKendry and his rejuvenated Grand Final hope? From barrier seven A G’s White Socks looks best placed of the favourites to try and bustle to the lead and maybe take a sit on hot favourite Ultimate Sniper? “Hard to tell,” says the understated one. “It doesn’t look the strongest front line so he might be able to work around them and get in front of Natalie’s horse. “But if I try and it doesn’t work out that can go bad. I’ll ask Barry (Purdon) what he thinks but he will probably tell me he is fine with whatever I think,” comes the laugh again. “So you can’t have too much of a plan. Sometimes you go on your gut instinct as the gate pulls away, “And to be honest, sometimes that is completely wrong.” The good news for A G’s White Socks punters is, 3259 times the gut instinct has been right. THE MAGIC MAN Who: Maurice McKendry Career record: 3259 New Zealand driving victories. Stakes: $28,846,425 in New Zealand. Highlights: 10 New Zealand driving premierships. Next: Pilots A G’s White Socks in the $500,000 IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night.   By Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight    Two vastly-contrasting days at Manawatu Raceway saw a change of leader in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship on Tuesday. New South Welshman, Cameron Hart, had been perfect through the first three races of the series, going unbeaten. But the wheels fell off in a big way when Hart’s first two drives took no part in their races and were pulled up, giving him the least possible points yield. In contrast, Canterbury’s Sarah O’Reilly had a near-perfect day, recording two wins and a second placing to leapfrog to the top of the table with three heats to go. “I was lucky to drive some nice horses today,” said O’Reilly. One of them was Auckland visitor Ace Strike, who was too good in the last on the card despite sitting parked. “He had good gate speed but Rake wasn’t going to hand up to me. “So, I just let him do his own thing out parked and he was nice and relaxed. “I thought rounding the last bend that we could pick the one in front up because he just kept responding.” The tour was only originally supposed to have two heats at the meeting, but an excess of nominations meant the juniors were treated to three heats. “I would like to thank the trainers who put their horses in the champs,” said O’Reilly. “I’m having a great time so far and it is great to meet new people on the trip.” O’Reilly sits on 65 points, seven clear of Hart, who managed a fifth behind Scelta Uno in the final heat of the day, while kiwis Benjamin Butcher (45) and Sheree Tomlinson (39) are next best, then Perth’s Corey Peterson (36). Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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by Garrick Knight    When you talk to Brad Williamson, it quickly becomes apparent that he has an aptitude for race tactics. He’s a student of the game. Does his research. Knows his opponents and what he needs to do to beat them. So, it’s no surprise that he has a clear idea in his head ahead of Saturday night’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Alexandra Park. Williamson drives second-favourite Majestic Man for his father, Phil and they face a rather daunting task trying to beat the even-money pop Winterfell, and Mark Purdon. “Just at the moment, Winterfell appears to be in the zone and I don’t think any trotter could sit outside him and beat him,” Williamson says. With that statement he’s justifying what was a meritorious effort by Majestic Man to run third after sitting parked outside Winterfell in a New Zealand record in the final heat last Friday night. This week is a different kettle of fish though – both horses are drawn well and Williamson fancies his chances of finding the markers first. But it’s not as much of a formality as many might think. “It’s a tricky one because obviously Majestic Man has super gate speed, but Winterfell is also a lot quicker than people realise. “I had trouble crossing him in the Northern Derby and I wasn’t able to get across him when we were drawn side by side in another race. “That being said, Majestic Man is in the zone and the markers are the place to be so I have to get there.” Williamson confirmed his father had given him a clear directive accordingly. “Dad mentioned to me that he does want me to cross and, realistically, looking at the race, that’s the only way I could see us winning.” But the lead isn’t something Williamson wants, either. In fact, he wants the trail. “I don’t think he’ll be able to lead and win in this race.” So, does he hand to Marcoola and put Winterfell three back, or is he expecting Purdon to immediately come out and challenge for the front? Honestly? he doesn’t especially care. “Both Winterfell and Marcoola are stayers and when they find the front won’t be giving it away. “So, we’ll be handing up to which ever is the first of them to come looking. “And I’m 90 percent sure that will be Winterfell.” Williamson is banking on his horse’s sheer speed coming to pass in one last stretch battle. “Majestic Man is as fast as anything in the race over a quarter but I’m picking Mark is not going to leave it to a sharp sprint home. “It’s not going to be a slowly run race, that’s guaranteed being an Inter Dominion Grand Final. “Winterfell broke the New Zealand record under a hold last week and probably had a couple of seconds up his sleeve, too.” Even then, it will be out of Purdon’s hands anyway as a bevvy of decent trotters try and get in to the race from wide or second line draws, primarily Marcoola. “It’s not really going to affect me, what the other horses do, because the markers are the place to be in this race. “But, being a Grand Final, I don’t think everybody is going to be sitting back and not moving.” Outside of the big three, Williamson reckons Temporale, who maps to sit four pegs for most of the race, could be the blowout option. “Looking for an outsider, Temporale has got the best draw of the others outside of Winterfell, in my opinion. “He’s drawn to sit on the markers on a likely record run and all he’ll need is a wee bit of luck of the last 800 metres. “And you’d back Tony Herlihy, out of anyone, to find a path through them. “He knows the track better than anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take advantage of a cold shot at them.” With all the planning and thinking done ahead of time, Williamson was looking forward to getting up to Auckland and just taking it all in. After all, he’s a live chance of joining the greats of the game – Anthony Butt, Mark Purdon, Gavin Lang, Tony Herlihy, Barry Purdon, Doody Townley, David Butt, Peter Jones – as the winning driver in an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final. The annals of harness racing history await the lad from Oamaru. “There is just something about it that I’m really looking forward to. “The Inter Doms are all anyone is talking about at the moment and I’m privileged to be a part of it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ
YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 12, 2019— Harness racing trainer Peter Tritton, that fairly competent Down Under imported trainer, was asked about Bit of a Legend N, that fairly competent Down Under imported pacer. “We were coming off after a race one night and Jordan (Stratton) said to me, ‘Every driver should have a chance to sit behind a horse like this.’ ” Bit of a Legend N, who rarely ran out of real estate on the racetrack, has nonetheless run out of daylight as a racehorse. The 10-year-old double-millionaire is set to retire after a Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle send-off Saturday night (Dec. 14th). The son of Bettor’s Delight is off to Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH, to begin a stallion career. “I’m going to have to plan a road trip to go see him,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N and Stratton have gone down the road together, the number of memorable miles too numerous to mention. “He’s my favorite horse. No question,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N came over as advertised, having won Australian Breeders Crowns at ages 3 and 4. “Peter (Tritton) told me he was a getting a pretty nice horse,” Stratton said of the then 7-year-old who the late Harry Von Knoblauch purchased for $103,000. “I went to the farm to see him. He just looked good running in the paddock and in his first qualifier (Yonkers, January of 2016), I knew. “He didn’t go much (third, timed in 1:57.1), but the way he drove, the way he carried himself.” Rising through the overnight ranks with two wins and two seconds in four tries, it was time to wear the big-boy pants and the ’16 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Sweep. Bit of a Legend N won all five of his preliminary legs starts, including a stirring, track-record 1:51.2 dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit. In the $609,000 final a week later, he drew well, took control early and won in a facile 1:51 (see accompanying photo). He was (and remains) the only Free-For-Aller to run the Levy table. The 2016 season saw Bit of a Legend N win 13-of-28 starts (with six seconds and one third), socking away $723,850. Proving he was no one-hit wonder, Bit of a Legend N threw down consecutive half-million-dollar seasons in 2017 and ’18. The 2017 Levy saw Bit of a Legend N win twice (with two seconds) during preliminary-round competition before a no-chance-trip fourth (to Keystone Velocity) in the final. He then hit the road, winning the $109,600 Molson (Western Fair, 1:51.3), $260,000 Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga, 1:50.3…at 15-1) and Quillen Memorial (Harrington, 1:52.1).  The next season saw another standout Levy-leg log (two wins, two seconds, one third) and yet another less-than-no-shot trip in the final. From post position No. 7, Bit of a Legend N charged home for second, again to Keystone Velocity. Bit of a Legend N eventually returned to Londontown, looking to defend his Molson (renamed to Camluck Classic) title. He wound up a flat, never-in-it fifth and “the only time he ever disappointed me,” Stratton said. “He’s had some EPM (parasite) issues throughout his career,” Tritton said. “We’ve been able to stay on top of it, usually, but I think that, and the ship up to Canada, was too much for him. His blood was no good, but he bounced back.” Indeed. A week later at Northfield, it was a first-up, life-best 1:49.4 effort in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie, putting away the same horse—Rockin’ Ron—who had dusted his rivals in the Camluck. “Everyone was excited for him,” Stratton said. “There were people, wherever we went, who said he was their favorite horse.” Bit of a Legend N’s 2019 season was hampered by some poorly-timed quarter cracks, essentially costing him any shot of doing damage in the Levy. “It’s never a good time to get them, but this was a bad time for him, and us,” Tritton said. “It took about six or seven weeks to completely heal and the series doesn’t allow for any time off.”  “It not that he’s even slowed down that much, but the competition is just better,” Stratton said. “Before, you could win a race in 1:52. Now, it’s no better than third.” Stratton offered some of the same platitudes about Bit of a Legend N that were bestowed upon Foiled Again by his primary driver, Yannick Gingras. “He can relax and go a quarter in 30 (seconds), then sprint in :27. He won’t do more than what’s necessary. It’s just his way of taking care of himself. Look at his races. The margins are never that much. He knows what he has to do. That’s why he’s lasted so long.” The plan was for Bit of a Legend N to be racing Saturday nights through the end of the season, but after a second-place finish in late November, Tritton detected a bit of a problem with an ankle (“There was nothing to gain by having him go a couple of more weeks”), so the North American racing career ended with 33 wins in 99 starts and earnings of $1,909,935 (more than $2.5 million including foreign take-home). “I’ve had good horses before,” Tritton said, “but he’s different. To have the longevity he’s had and to produce in the big races the way he did, that’s what stands out.” …and they named him right, too. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
by Garrick Knight    Like a fine wine, Mister Harris is seemingly just getting better with age. The 10-year-old veteran pacer, a winner at Manawatu on Thursday evening, is in career-best form for his Hawera trainer, Willie Fleming. He’s won three of four starts this season and now sits on nine for his career. “I’m bloody rapt with how he’s going,” said Fleming. “I haven’t done anything different with him, the only thing I can see is that I’ve changed my feed. “Whether that’s it, I don’t know, but Scott Dickson made a point of telling me today when the horse was warming up that he looked bloody well.” Fleming took over training Mister Harris at the start of last year, when his breeder and then owner/trainer, Dave Cambie got injured. “Dave had cut the end off his thumb and didn’t want it getting infected, so he sent me the horse to look after for a while. “I actually had him when he got his last win in Dave’s name and he then retired from training and got out of the game.” He offered Fleming the horse on lease and it was an easy proposal to accept. “Dave was made a life member at the Taranaki club before he retired but has now backed right away from it all. “He’s trying to get a bit more golf in, I think. “But he still watches the horse and was the first one to ring me after the race today.” Fleming reckoned he knew Mister Harris was on song for his five-horse race yesterday in the tie-ups before going out on the track. “He gave me a couple of nips and flicked his foot at me. “When he’s grumpy like that, I know he’s going to race well. “He’s a really neat old horse with a bit of character about him.” Fleming actually expected his near-perfect start to the season (four wins and a placing from five starters) to continue a few races later when Sonny Reactor lined up in one of the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship (AYDC) heats. “The other fella, I thought he was a real chance. The better chance of the two. “But he just over-raced which was disappointing. Ben Butcher said I just had him too well.” Where to now is the big question for Fleming with Mister Harris, who now finds himself an R67. “You tell me because I don’t know. We were lucky that the first win this season was penalty-free, which gave us a lifeline, but he’s getting up there now. “He seems to love racing at Manawatu so I’d like to keep him here if I can. “Last season I tried to pick up a couple of country cups with him on the grass, but he seems better on the hard surface. “The days of him winning from in front are gone, I think, but he’s still got one hell of a sprint when saved up for one run at them.” Another three heats of the AYDC were held and it was series leader Sarah O’Reilly again holding court with two seconds and a fourth to maintain her lead heading in to tonight’s final heat at Alexandra Park. Cam Hart, from Sydney, is the only one that can beat her for the title, but will need a minor miracle as he drives the rank outsider, Johnny Mac. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ
Heats seven to nine of the of the 2019 Hanley Australasian Drivers Championship were held at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday with three first time AYDC winning drivers saluting. Series leader Sarah O'Reilly extended her lead in the series to 11 points, with the final race held at Alexandra Park on Friday night. With 17 points awarded to the winner of the final race, Cameron Hart would have to win or finish second with O'Reilly finishing down the track to upset the kiwi. Victories tonight were shared by New Zealander, John Morrison, West Australian, Corey Peterson and Queensland representative Matt Elkins, with the Australians both saluting for the first time on New Zealand soil. Elkins drove Ripsnorter for trainer Michael House to an all the way victory in heat seven of the series with the Brisbane local thrilled with his first AYDC win, ''It was great to tick a New Zealand winner off my bucket list'', he said following the win. Series leaders Sarah O'Reilly and Cameron Hart again both drove consistent races to fill the placings. Western Australian Corey Peterson drove Sheikh Yabooty to a fast finishing win from a near impossible four pegs position in heat eight. In a tight finish, Sheikh Yabooty prevailed over the favourite Matai Minky for Corey Peterson and Play Ball for Victorian Zac Phillips. Peterson was appreciative for the Manawatu Club hospitality after his victory ''Thanks to the Manawatu Harness Racing Club for a great few days in Palmerston North, with some great times had by all.'' In the final heat of the night, Ace Stride backed up his Tuesday win with another first over crush victory for South Island representative John Morrison. O'Reilly drove another placegetter, her fourth for the series along with two winners, with Matt Elkins rounding out the trifecta. The AYDC drivers now fly north to Auckland for the final heat at Alexandra Park on Friday and to experience the Inter Dominion on Saturday night to complete their trip.   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc
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