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Nathan Purdon has some bad news for his Dad. But that same news that should make favourite punters feels far more comfortable heading into the first group one of the New Zealand season at Alexandra Park tonight. Nathan co-trains red hot favourite Krug in the $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final, which is actually the two-year-old final carried over from last season when it was postponed in May because of lockdown. Krug’s grip in the race has only improved since as he has gone from strength to strength and has drawn the front line in tonight’s 1700m sprint in which he meets a remarkable seven horses trained by Nathan’s father Mark. While champion trainer Mark has the numbers on his side, Nathan has the firepower to fight them off and says Krug is the best he has been all campaign, daunting for his rivals considering he is unbeaten in four starts since returning. The most telling of those wins came at Addington two starts ago when Krug crossed a recalcitrant It’s All About Faith, the best of the Purdon-Rasmussen youngsters, at the start and easily held him out to win a heat of this series. As good as that was, Nathan says his stable star is better now. Much better. “I wasn’t that confident that night because he had had some issues,” he admits. “And even when he won up here (Alex Park) last start he wasn’t screwed down because he had travelled up that week and was still settling in. “But he is right at his peak now. He has settled in and that has allowed me to train him how I want and his work on Wednesday was very good.” Krug has such high gate speed he is expected to lead from barrier six but the biggest concern may be how hard those inside him fight for the treasured spot on his back, with a hot early tempo potentially leaving them vulnerable to It’s All About Faith, who is by far the best of the All Star’s seven reps. But it would take something special and a new career high from It’s All About Faith to beat Krug unless things get really silly at the front end of the field. American Dealer looks the value place option as he has the gate speed and respect to potentially secure an early lead he would most likely gift to Krug while Nevada has been solid with no luck in his last three starts and appeals as the one most likely to add value to the trifecta. While Krug has been push button for Nathan Purdon, stablemate Fabrizio has been anything but yet the young trainer thinks a trick he learned watching the gallops on television recently might help. Fabrizio burned punters by refusing to go away last start and has a penchant for rearing when not in the mood so Purdon has placed a shadow roll above the four-year-old’s eyes, rather than where they are usually placed further down the nose. “I saw a galloper with it like that on TV recently and they explained it was to stop him rearing up because it can’t see what is above it,” he explains. “We have fitted one to his bridle and he hasn’t reared up since so I am hoping that helps him behave this week.” The best version of Fabrizio can beat former Auckland Cup placegetters Triple Eight and Star Galleria as the latter pair face 35m handicaps in the open pace, their backmarks meaning mid-race moves to drag them into the race will be crucial.   By Michael Guerin

NZB Standardbred graduate Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) will be out to claim his second title belt for the week when he starts as the hot favourite in the Group One Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final (1700m) at Alexandra Park on Friday 18 October.  The Nathan Purdon and Chrissie Dalgety trained star will attempt to continue his brilliant form by winning the $140,000 feature just days after being crowned New Zealand 2YO Pacing Colt Or Gelding Of The Year. Krug goes in to the event after producing a powerful victory in the last heat of the Sires Stakes Series at Alexandra Park earlier this month. Purdon has reported that his star pacer has thrived since that tough effort. “He has come through the run pretty good and he has trimmed up with it,” the trainer said. “He is generally pretty round, but he looks pretty screwed down now. “It is fair to say he is in the best shape he has been.” Krug faces stiff competition, as Friday night’s classy field of confirmed starters are all graduates of NZB Standardbred’s 2019 National Yearling Sale. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen start a powerful line up of seven runners, including Krug’s arch-nemesis It’s All About Faith (NZ) (Captaintreacherous). It's All About Faith has prepared for his Group One assignment by impressively beating a field of older horses after Krug got the better of him in their last meeting. Stag Party (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) is set to be another key player from the Purdon-Rasmussen camp after securing the ace draw in barrier 1. The All Stars trainers also start Nevada (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Aladdin (NZ) (Sweet Lou), Rock Legend (NZ) (Roll With Joe), Delightful Dude (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and Bettor Call Me (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) in Friday night’s feature. American Dealer (NZ) (American Ideal), Captain Nemo (NZ) (Captain Treacherous), and Hot And Treacherous (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) each look serious contenders after their good runs behind Krug in the final heat of the series. American Dealer and Hot And Treacherous have clinched crucial front row draws alongside Steve and Amanda Telfer’s stablemates B D Joe (NZ) (Roll With Joe) and Alta Wise Guy (NZ) (Mach Three),   NZB Standardbred

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Pukekohe trainers Steven Reid and Simon McMullen had a virus hit a couple of their runners recently, but they have since recuperated and will resume at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Open-class pacer Star Galleria was one of the team who contracted the bug after his pleasing second-up third-placing behind quality pacer Copy That last month. “I was so happy with his third-placing,” Reid said. “He didn’t go bad in his very first start, but he ran last. They got home in 54 off the front, so it wasn’t terrible. He just didn’t pace that well. “When he ran third he paced so much better and I think he hit the line really well. I was really happy with the run. “I came off that thinking we are definitely on the go forward plan for the Cup, but then we ran into that little hiccup a couple of weeks ago where he had a bit of a temperature and we had to scratch him, but he has recovered from it fine.” The son of Art Major will start from the back mark of 35m and Reid believes he will be much better for his run on Friday. “He is going to improve with the run and the 35m behind is probably going to be a bit of a mountain for him to climb,” he said. “From a betting point of view he will probably be better following come Spring Cup time a week later.” Reid is still planning on campaigning Star Galleria in the south this spring, but he said the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) may not be their major target. “He is now seven-years-old and he has had a few niggly issues over the last two or three years,” Reid said. “We don’t have to go to the Cup, we may just go to the Junior Free-For-All and then the Free-For-All on the Friday.” Reid also encountered similar issues with Mr Fantastic after his first-up win last month. “I was really happy with him (when winning first-up), but once again it has been three weeks between races. He also had a bug, which is why he was scratched last start.” Reid believes his charge will be competitive from his ace draw in the Auckland Co-op Taxis 300-3000 Mobile Pace (2200m), but said he will also improve with the run. “He has come through it well and trialled very impressively last Friday, so he is on target,” Reid said. “He has got Harness Millions next week, so I think he will be better for the run. I am expecting him to go very close to winning, but I think he will strip a better horse on the 25th.” Stablemate Commander Cathy will complete Reid’s racing team on Friday night and he is expecting a good showing from the filly in the Pascoes The Jewellers F&M Mobile Pace (2200m). “Commander Cathy has been unlucky,” Reid said. “I have been happy with all three runs, but she can’t get a draw and once again we have drawn the second line (10), so luck is going to play a factor. “But if she has luck I would be very disappointed if she didn’t finish in the top three.”

The All Stars' massive team for the upcoming age group features at Alexandra Park has lost a few members. But that could still see them with seven reps in the $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final to take on Krug on Friday week. The race is actually the two-year-old final delayed from last May because of Covid-19 ,as it the first running of a Harness Millions to be run with much the same field the following week. The All Stars attack is headlined by second favourite It’s All About Faith, who could even start favourite if he draws the front line and Krug is forced to start off the second line. But stablemates Pace N Pride, Shan Noble and First Class are among those who won’t be there. “First Class had a few issues but we got them checked out and he seemed fine then today (Wednesday) we think he had a minor colic attack,” said Mark Purdon. “So he definitely won’t be there next week while Shan Noble has had 10 days off and will be set for the three-year-old Sires’ Stakes heats down here.” But joining It’s All About Faith in the truck north today was Rock Legend and that pair will join Bettor Call Me, Nevada, Stag Party , Delightful Dude and possibly even Aladdin in the Sires’ Stakes, with several of those ranked highly now confirmed not to start. Meanwhile the stable’s forgotten superstar Spankem pleased Purdon at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday pacing 2:28.6 for the 2000m mobile and his last 800m in 56.5 in his second workout back since a suspected hairline fracture in a leg ruled him out of last season after he finished second in the New Zealand Cup. “He has come up really well and having been on the water walker at Matamata for much of the winter he is quite forward,” said Purdon. “So he will head to Oamaru fresh up next Sunday for the Hannon.” Purdon has re-affirmed the fact Inter Dominion champion Ultimate Sniper won’t be heading to the IRT New Zealand Cup and won’t even be nominated.   Michael Guerin

Brilliant wins from star three-year-olds Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and It’s All About Faith (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) sent the anticipation ahead of their clash in the inaugural running of NZB Standardbred’s Harness Million Sale Race Series to a new level over the weekend.  Krug fired first with a tough win on Thursday 3 September in scintillating time at Alexandra Park in heat two of the Garrard's Sires Stakes Series (1700m). The Nathan Purdon and Chrissie Dalgety trained pacer worked hard from barrier 12, before finding the front at the 500m and fighting strongly in the straight to hold out fellow NZB Standardbred Yearling Sales graduate American Dealer (NZ) (American Ideal). Purdon admitted after the win he thought drawing wide on the second row could have been enough to see Krug taste defeat for just the third time in his career. “It was pretty impressive - I didn’t really expect him to win tonight,” the trainer told HRNZ. “Starting from the outside of the backline over a shorter trip and to overcome an obstacle like that was a pretty good effort.” Krug, a son of Bettor’s Delight from two time Group Two-winning mare Champagne Princess (NZ) (Soky’s Atom), stopped the clock in fast 2.00.9 and produced a slick 1-54.4 mile-rate for the 1700m event. The Ray Green trained American Dealer showed he would be a threat to Krug in the $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million for 2YO Colts & Geldings (2200m) at Alexandra Park on 25 September when getting within a head of the winner in an exciting finish. The runner-up’s stablemate Captain Nemo (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) held third ahead of another Harness Million aspirant in Hot And Treacherous (NZ) (Captaintreacherous). Though they finished out of the placings, the next trio of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained pacers hit the line impressively to show they could figure in the series final. Stag Party (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Nevada (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and Aladdin (NZ) (Sweet Lou) each ran on strongly with eye-catching finishes in the quickly run affair. Thursday’s night’s Garrard's Sires Stakes Series (1700m) heat was always going to be a strong reference for the $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million for 2YO Colts & Geldings (2200m), with 11 of its 12 runners graduates of the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales. On the Alexandra Park undercard, B D Joe (NZ) (Roll With Joe) also boosted his Harness Million stocks with a maiden victory over 2200m. It’s All About Faith maintained his position as the number one challenger to Krug with a powerful win for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen at Addington on Friday 4 September. The three-year-old beat a field of more experienced and race hardened opposition over 1980m in style when producing a smart winning time of 2.22.2 and mile rate of 1.55.5. Purdon, who drove the sire Captaintreacherous and Group One-winning mare Veste (NZ) (Christian Cullen), said the race was just what his colt needed ahead of the Harness Million final at Alexandra Park later this month. “He pleased me – he ran it out right to the line in a good time, a good mile rate, so I’m quite happy.” Purdon and Rasmussen have three more contenders for the NZB Standardbred Harness Million for 2YO Colts & Geldings (2200m), who did not step out this weekend. Rock Legend (NZ) (Roll With Joe), Pace N Pride (NZ) and Shan Noble (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) have all shown they are on track for the $200,000 Listed event by producing excellent form for the All Stars Stable this season. At Addington on Sunday 6 September, Show Me Heaven (NZ) (Somebeachsomewhere) burst into reckoning for the $150,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million for 2YO Fillies (1980m) at Addington on Friday 2 October. The Steve and Amanda Telfer-trained filly led throughout to record a smart maiden win over 1980m. Fellow Harness Million aspirant Shanika (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) was third. Two of favourites for the 2YO Fillies final, Avana (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and La Rosa (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) showed they were in good form leading in to next month’s race with third and fourth placings respectively in heat two of the Magness Benrow NZ Sires’ Stakes Series Series for 3YO Fillies (1980m) at Addington on Friday 4 September.   NZB Standardbred

Trainer Ray Green has some good news about his great horse. Because southern fans may not have to wait as long as they thought to see the first clash of pacing two excitement machines Copy That and Self Assured. Copy That was even more dazzling winning at Alexandra Park on Thursday night than he has been so far this campaign, overcoming being roughed up early to zoom clear of some serious horses at the top of the straight. The four-year-old looked certain to be vulnerable after an early burn with Inter Dominion runner-up Mach Shard saw them record one of the fastest opening 600m of a 2200m mobile at Alexandra Park. But while Mach Shard dropped out, Copy That exploded clear to win in a stunningly fast 2:36.4, a 1:54.5 mile rate with a 27.8 last quarter and driver Maurice McKendry certain he could have gone faster. “Maurice said if he had given him a tap with the whip he could have won by two or three lengths more,” said trainer Green. Copy That still put two and a half lengths on Check In and Dance Time, both of who were good and definitely better than their higher-rated stablemate Triple Eight. “I was happy with two of my three but I still think Triple Eight can go better,” said trainer Steve Telfer. But while a lot can change on the road to the New Zealand Cup it is getting harder and harder to see how any of Copy That’s northern opponents will be coming from behind him to beat him any time soon. He has developed real toughness to go with his massive motor and looks an all-round pacer now with just some more distances races needed to prove his credentials. The son of American Ideal will now have nearly three weeks away from the races before the Spring Cup and then Green says he could head south to aim at the Ashburton Flying Stakes it what would, all going well, be his first clash with Cup favourite Self Assured. “I’d like to get him to Ashburton then the Cup trial,” says Green. The possibility of the two stars, unbeaten this season, clashing in the Flying Stakes would put the race back to what has been for much of the last 20 years, the race that decides favouritism for the New Zealand Cup. Self Assured undoubtedly deserves that honour at the moment but if Copy That can get in front of him in any race, even the New Zealand Cup, he is going to take an enormous amount of running down. Meanwhile, Thursday night was a successful one for Green with American Dealer and Captain Nemo into the Sires’ Stakes Final on September 18 while Tommy Lincoln recorded a career best 2:38.4 to down some talented intermediate grade rivals.   Michael Guerin

NZB Standardbred’s class of 2019 will take important steps towards the inaugural running of the lucrative Harness Million Sale Race Series when they take to the track across New Zealand this weekend.  All eyes will be on star colt Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) when he steps out, alongside a host of his fellow National Yearling Sale graduates in a heat of the Garrard's Sires Stakes Series (1700m) at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. The $155,000 Christchurch purchase swept all before him before the national lockdown hit and has continued that brilliant form with three sensational wins for trainers Nathan Purdon and Chrissie Dalgety since racing resumed in June. The Bettor’s Delight pacer, from former star racemare Champagne Princess (NZ) (Soky’s Atom), goes in to Thursday night’s race after confirming his star status by downing his arch rival It’s All About Faith (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) at Addington. Purdon told media this week Krug should strip a fitter horse for that outing when he starts on Thursday night. Krug’s tricky barrier 12 draw gives his key rivals American Dealer (NZ) (American Ideal) and Hot And Treacherous (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) an excellent chance to test him and boost their prospects ahead of the $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 2YO Colts & Geldings (2200m) for last season’s two-year-olds held at Alexandra Park on 25 September. The Ray Green trained American Dealer comes in to Thursday night’s race after ducking and diving his way to a good win over older horses at Alexandra Park last month. The Brian and Gareth Hughes trained Hot And Treacherous, who starts from barrier 6, comes in to Friday night’s race after running strong wins in two of just three career starts. The All Stars quartet of NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sale graduates in Delightful Dude (Bettor’s Delight), Nevada (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Stag Party (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), and Aladdin (NZ) (Sweet Lou) add depth to Thursday night’s exciting race. It’s All About Faith will also continue his build up towards the NZB Standardbred Harness Million in a minor event at Addington on Friday night. Though beaten, the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained pacer was far from disgraced in his last meeting with Krug when running scintillating sectionals in his second placing. The three-year-old should dispatch a lower grade field with ease on Friday night. Despite her brilliant deeds before lockdown, Passion And Power (NZ) (Art Major) has not yet been rated the favourite in betting for the inaugural $150,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million for (last season’s) 2YO Fillies (1980m) at Addington on October 12. That could quickly change when the Robert Dunn trained pacer lines up in heat two of the Magness Benrow NZ Sires’ Stakes Series (1980m) for 3YO Fillies Pace at the same track on Friday night. Dunn told media this week the filly was fit and ready for her first post-lockdown assignment after having three workouts. Starting from barrier 2, Passion And Power has a major draw advantage over the current favourite for the NZB Standardbred Harness Million fillies race in La Rosa (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight). The speedy Mark Jones trained filly must overcome starting from the outside of the front line comes in Friday night’s race. La Rosa comes in to the event after running third to a serious contender for the 2YO colts and gelding’s division of the Harness Million series in Shan Noble (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight). La Rosa has made her way to the top of early betting for the Harness Million 2YO Fillies’ event by showing plenty of high speed in four placings from just four starts. Passion And Power and La Rosa will clash with several Harness Million aspirants in Braeview Kelly (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Get Back (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and Avana (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight). Harness Million Series 1 eligible graduates will also have the opportunity to contest their three-year-old races set to be ran in the new year. The incentive scheme incorporates an easy one-time qualifying fee and one-off entry fee, with a total combined purse of $1 million to be raced for.   Garrard's Sires Stakes Heat 3 Pace for 3YO Colts & Geldings Pace (1700m) Thursday 3 September HORSE DRAW DRIVER TRAINER American Dealer   1 David Butcher Ray Green Captain Nemo   2 Andre Poutama Ray Green Delightful Dude   3 Brent Mangos Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen General Montana   4 Zachary Butcher Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan Cya Art   5 Shane Butcher Steve & Amanda Telfer Hot And Treacherous   6 Maurice McKendry Brian & Gareth Hughes Alta Wiseguy   7 Benjamin Butcher Steve & Amanda Telfer Nevada   8 Joshua Dickie Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Stag Party   9 Natalie Rasmussen Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Wavethebill   10 Todd Mitchell Derek Balle Aladdin   11 Mark Purdon Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Krug   12 Blair Orange Nathan Purdon & Chrissie Dalgety   Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes Series for 3YO Fillies Pace (1980m) Friday 4 September HORSE DRAW DRIVER TRAINER Lifes A Beach   1 Sheree Tomlinson (J) Tony Barron Passion And Power   2 John Dunn Robert Dunn Darling Me   3 Mark Purdon Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Bettor Twist   4 Tim Williams Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen Itz To The Macs   5     Braeview Kelly   6 Blair Orange Tony Stratford Ariella   7 Robbie Close Dean Taylor What's Your Secret   8 Natalie Rasmussen Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen La Rosa   9 Samantha Ottley Mark Jones Get Back   10 Jim Curtin Murray Edmonds Avana   11 Olivia Thornley (J) Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen   NZB Standardbred

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Group One winner Temporale will be back to his happy place on Thursday night, behind the mobile at Alexandra Park. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett-trained eight-year-old has won 11 of his 17 careers starts from behind the gates, all at the Auckland track, and he will look to add to that tally on Thursday night. The son of Monarchy showed he was back to his best in his first-up effort at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago where he put in a herculean effort off his 50m handicap to beat all but Resonate home over the 2200m trip. “It was a really good run, we didn’t expect him to get that close, but he just stepped away so well and got handy early, which was the making of the race for him,” Wallis said. Rated 34 points higher than his nearest rival, Wallis is expecting a good result from her charge on Thursday, especially from the mobile. “He is so good off the mobile, he is going to be tough to beat,” she said. Temporale will head to Christchurch in November on a two race mission, but his trainers are electing to keep him in Auckland for as long as possible in the lead-up. “We will stay up here as long as we can, but if the numbers drop off then we will have to head down south,” Wallis said. “The Dominion (Gr.1, 3200m) will be his main target, but we will probably go down for the Free-For-All (Gr.1, 1980) as well.” Wallis and Hackett will also line-up six other square-gaiters at Alexandra Park on Thursday. Rain Mist And Muscle, Magnafique, and Hill Of Peace will contest the Lonestar Alex Park Performance Of The Night Handicap Trot (2700m). “Rain Mist And Muscle just missed away at her first start for us. She had been trialling really well. If she can get away and get handy she should run home well,” Wallis said. “Hill Of Peace is the best one of our three in there, but she is also very inexperienced. She has only had two starts for the one win. She is good enough if she trots all the way. “While Magnafique is near the end of it.” The Waiuku trainers will also line-up a trio of runners in the Speeding Spur Tender Closes 23 Oct Handicap Trot (2700m). “Invictus is a lovely horse,” Wallis said. “He went well first-up, we were happy with him. He just got squeezed going into the first bend and had a gallop. He came home really well for second. Off the front, if he steps well and gets handy he shouldn’t be far away. “Red Castleton is probably a notch below the other two and Vatican Hill is quite a smart horse in the making, but his manners aren’t 100 percent yet. He has got speed, so he can sit off them and if he does everything right he can run over the top of them.”

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Auckland again tonight with an eleven race program starting at 5:10pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good night of racing.   Alexandra Park Thursday 3rd September 2020   Race 1 Kango desperately unlucky last start and well drawn. Top selection here.…… Military Man good effort to lead all the way last start. Can win from the nice draw if he can lead early.… Jack Ryan has been in good form but tricky draw here. He will have to do some work to win but needed in exotics... Emmber running some decent and comes up with the ace draw. Can upset with a good run in transit Selections:  Kango (2),   Military Man (3),   Jack Ryan (8),    Emmber (1)   Race 2 Millwood Billie rule a line through first start failure as workout and trial form is fantastic. Top selection here……. Yea Baby very disappointing last start when well supported. Can make amends here…… Smokinhotcheddar  terrible draw but has ability and running on at workouts. Not the worst and can get into the placings with luck in the running…… Dixie Reign has a bit of ability and perfect draw. Can run top three and is over the odds. Selections:  Millwood Billie (11),   Yea Baby (10),   Smokinhotcheddar  (15),   Dixie Reign (2)   Race 3 Taipo trialled well before two good run after. Can run top three with luck in the running here.….. B D Joe has trialled ok and will probably start favourite here. Can win ….. Apieceoflou from a strike rate stable and big motor but bad draw.Include…. Colin Bromac ok fresh up and drawn to get a cosy run in transit. Top three player Selections:  Taipo (2),   Apieceoflou (8),   B D Joe (5),  Colin Bromac (1)   Race 4 Krug horrible draw for the 1700m mobile but has the motor to overcome it. Starts hot favourite and should go close….. American Dealer good form and possible early leader. Will be hard to beat with a good run on the markers….. Hot And Treacherous biggest test to date but highly rated by connections. Can run top three…. Aladdin getting better with racing but tricky draw. One for longer odds. Selections:   Krug (12),   American Dealer (1),   Aladdin (11),    Hot And Treacherous (6)   Race 5 First Class went too bad to be true last start when hot favourite. Draw against but give another chance …… Mimi E Coco has won her last two and drawn ok. Include in combinations… Kerri Maguire gets back to a good draw and good win three starts ago. No surprise to see her in the money here….. Doc Holliday good win last start and can do it tough if needed. Include in combinations Selections:  First Class (8),   Kerri Maguire (1),   Mimi E Coco (3),   Doc Holliday (2)   Race 6 Christianshavtime only just beaten last start and well placed here. Can run top three at decent odds….. Magilligan Point good finish here last start and up to taking this. One for longer odds…… Fabrizio getting fitter and form is nearly picket fence. Include even from bad draw… Im A Gigolo good win last and will probably go forward early. Can win Selections:  Christianshavtime (3),   Magilligan Point (1),   Im A Gigolo (7),    Fabrizio (12)   Race 7 Bolt For Brilliance galloped last start as hot favourite. Big on ability and barring mistakes should go close to winning this.……. Daisy Hill from a strike rate stable and keeps stepping up. Winning claims again.… Vatican Hill racing well and up to taking this out with manners. Include….. One Majic Kenny getting fitter and gets a head start on favoured runners. Big chance of running in top three here Selections:  Bolt For Brilliance (11),   Vatican Hill (12),   One Majic Kenny (10),  Daisy Hill (13)   Race 8 Copy That big run to win last start and drawn to lead. Should be winning again……. Triple Eight he will be fitter for his last start effort and drawn to land near the speed early. Good winning claims.… Mach Shard tidy finish last start in a strong field. Might try for the front with his gate speed and can place….. Belle Of Montana coming back into form and has a big finish when saved for one run at them. Can place from tricky draw Selections:  Copy That (1),   Triple Eight (3),   Belle Of Montana (7),  Mach Shard (4)   Race 9 Temporale big on ability and no handicap this week. Should go close to winning and will start a hot favourite here……. Paramount King draw not great but loves the mobile and track. Good chance of running in top three..… Kenny's Dream another with a good draw who could trail here. Can finish into the placings again….. Sertorius going ok and top driver booked. One for longer odds in this field. Selections:  Temporale (4),   Paramount King (8),   Kenny's Dream (1)    Sertorius (2)   Race 10 Bettor Call Me top win last start and should be winning again here. Tricky draw the only concern……. Marathon Man drawn a bit wide but will probably head forward early. Winning claims at decent odds with a run close to the pace...… Down The Hatch bad draw to contend with but good win last start. Place hopes best….. Sheffield Sparky looked a bit flat last start and draw not good. Previous form was ok and place claims best Selections:  Bettor Call Me (11),   Marathon Man (6),   Sheffield Sparky (7)    Down The Hatch (13)   Race 11 Hill Of Peace has been freshened after winning here last start. Can run top three with a good run in transit……. Uncle Louis easy win here last start but manners a query. Big winning chance if he can get around with no mistakes...… Miss Slippers good from a stand but tricky draw. Place chances best here….. Horace Horse drawn to land closer to the pace. Not the worst and can place with manners Selections:  Hill Of Peace (8),   Uncle Louis (3),   Horace Horse (1)    Miss Slippers (9)     Harnesslink Media

New Zealand’s most exciting young pacer will make a surprise return to Alexandra Park this week but there will be almost nobody there to see him. Because even with the entire country at Covid alert Level 2 from yesterday racing at the north’s two huge meetings this week will go ahead without crowds or owners. Both Alexandra Park and Te Rapa have confirmed their meetings will be held behind closed doors even though they will host some of New Zealand’s elite horses. Alexandra Park not only sees the surprise return of Krug as well as open class star Copy That but Saturday’s meeting at Te Rapa contains the first serious race of the thoroughbred season, the group two Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate headlined by Avantage and Julius. Alexandra Park had the option to allow owners in separate areas but with Auckland effectively at Level 2.5 they decided it was better to get safely through this week with hopefully a return to the far less restricted Level 1 not too far away. While nobody wants to see New Zealand yo-yoing up and down the alert levels that scenario is a financial nightmare for the racing industry because while racing can continue at Level 3, the sport can attract massive crowds right around the country over summer. While any Covid-19 outbreak has far more important and serious ramifications than the racing industry’s concerns, a cluster and subsequent enforcement of Level 2 or 3 would be financially disastrous for carnivals like Cup week in Christchurch or the Christmas-New Year period in Auckland. The good news is harness racing fans will have some genuine class to watch this week, albeit via the television. Copy That will be red hot to continue of his winning path to the New Zealand Cup after drawing barrier one in the 2200m free-for-all at Alexandra Park on Thursday but it is the participation of Krug at the meeting that is the most surprising. He is in the north for the $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final in two weeks to be followed by the A$200,000 Harness Millions a week later and having brilliantly won the Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington 11 days ago he didn’t need to contest Thursday’s heat. But co-trainer Nathan Purdon has taken the opportunity to re-acquaint him with Alexandra Park even though by being a heat winner he has to start the outside of the second line. “I think this race works in well for him heading into the final in a couple of weeks,” says Purdon, the son of champion trainer Mark Purdon. Krug defied a huge betting drift to smash Its All About Faith in their Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington two weeks ago and Purdon admits he wasn’t confident he could win that race. “He had had a cold and we had eased up on his work so he definitely wasn’t at his peak,” says Purdon. “So I was surprised he could beat Its All About Faith last start but you will see a better horse this week. “With the month he has ahead of him ideally we would like to drive him with a sit but we realise because he is usually the favourite that isn’t so easily done.”   by Michael Guerin

Due to restrictions under COVID-19 Alert level 2.5 in the Auckland region, the upcoming Alexandra Park race meeting on Thursday 3 September will remain behind closed doors. We recommend watching the race meeting from home, either on Trackside, SKY channels 62/63 or streaming from the Harness Racing New Zealand website: www.hrnz.co.nz Your health is our number one priority and we have been working hard to create a safe environment for you. This will hopefully be only for this Thursday night and will be reviewed after this week. We need to keep racing going so we need to take all precautions that this does happen at this point in time. Let me know if you have any queries. Regards, Karen Karen Blanchard| Acting Racing Manager / Manager Sponsorship & Franklin Park

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Dual-Island trainer Robert Dunn recorded a perfect result at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, recording a winning double with his two starters. Promising trotter Resonate took advantage of his front row draw in The Alex Bar & Eatery Handicap Trot (2200m), taking a front-running role after stepping away well. Driver Brent Mangos was able to dictate the pace throughout, withering the field down to race favourite Bolt For Brilliance and Group One winner Temporale turning for home. Bolt For Brilliance broke shortly after, while Temporale was unable to reel in Resonate, with the latter recording a three length victory, with a further 10 lengths back to Sertorius in third. Dunn was pleased with the win, particularly after Resonate blew what was almost a certain victory last start. “He got lost a little bit when he got four or five lengths off them in front turning for home and he tends to knock off a wee bit when he does that,” Dunn said. “He was just fitter for that run and it was a nice drive by Brent tonight. “Once he led up I thought he would take a little bit of beating, although Bolt For Brilliance on his back might have rolled him (had he not broken).” Although Dunn thinks Resonate is up to taking on the feature trotting races in Christchurch this spring he said the five-year-old gelding will likely stay north this year. “Resonate is better Auckland way around and we have already got Woodstone, Pres The Belle, Sundees Son, and Pretty Majestic heading to the Dominion (Gr.1, 3200m), so we will probably keep Resonate up here. “He has been doing a great job and he is really going to make the grade in the feature trots. The next 12 to 18 months is going to be very advantageous for him.” Earlier in the night stablemate One Majic Kenny also made amends for his last start antics when taking out the Haras des Trotteurs Handicap Trot (2700m) by three-quarters of a length. The four-year-old gelding broke rounding the final bend when first-up at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, which Dunn said was out of the norm for the usually consistent trotter. “It took us by surprise a little bit because he had been driving beautifully at home and he trialled up nicely,” he said. “We changed a little bit of gear on him and changed the shoeing on him and straight away it made a huge difference, so we were really pleased with that.” Dunn said Our Majic Kenny has travelled north to his Pukekohe stable in preparation for a couple of feature targets. “He is heading towards the Sires’ Stakes and the Sales Series,” Dunn said. “He will probably head south for the Cup meeting after that, although if he continues to trot well up here he may stay on and get ready for the premier races in December.”

Copy That at least partially answered perhaps the main question hanging over his New Zealand Cup chances with a brave win at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. The exceptional four-year-old gave favourite punters little reason for concern as he was good from the standing start and settled perfectly in the 2200m, gunning down leader Check In from the top of the straight. Copy That always looked like he was going to get home and had a length to spare at the line, with Star Galleria a gutsy third after a torrid run in the middle stages. Not as sharp though were four-placed Mach Shard, who was only ok after a lightning quick start to settle second while Triple Eight was beautifully driven but performed below his best in fifth. Both can be forgiven as they were second up and 2200m standing start races when the leader puts the foot down all the way can undo horses early in their prep. So from a New Zealand Cup point of view any horses beaten last night can be forgiven. But the fact Check In ran them so hard and took his rivals out of their comfort zone added to the impressive nature of Copy That’s win because this time he has to show stamina, not just raw speed as he has up the lane in his las two starts. Last night he was tractable and fast but also in for the fight and he is going to need to be that if he is going to have a realistic chance in the NZ Cup. We still don’t know if he has the stomach yet for a brutal 3200m and he was, after all, beaten in the Woodlands Derby, albeit when tactics worked against him. But driver Maurice McKendry says Copy That will stay. “He had to stay a bit tonight because we were chasing and he knew he had had a run,” says McKendry. “He had to fight to the line and while he won easily enough it wasn’t an easy race. “So I don’t think staying is going to be an issue for him.” The fact Copy That handled the standing start is also one less worry for punters and it would be an ideal NZ Cup script if he and his northern mates stayed north to create a different form line away from Self Assured and the southerners, to leave us all wondering pre-Cup. One horse who won’t be heading to the Cup is Wainui Creek, who blew the standing start as did stablemate Belle Of Montana. “She (Wainui Creek) is heading to Perth soon and she will join the Bond stable to be set for the mares races over there,” said co-trainer Scott Phelan.   Michael Guerin

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    While Auckland is currently under Level 3 restrictions, Clevedon trainer Joshua Dickie said with racing still allowed to occur under strict protocols at Alexandra Park on Thursday it has just been business as usual for his training operation.  “With Level 3 at the moment it’s just business as usual for us, which is great,” Dickie said.  “It is pretty normal. We are still racing and we are here on the farm all the time, so it is no different for us.”  Dickie’s team wasn’t affected by the exclusion of Auckland-based horses at Cambridge Raceway’s meeting last week and he said he doesn’t mind the regionalisation of racing at the moment. “We didn’t have anything in at Cambridge last week,” he said. “Ben Aubron, who works for us, he had his trotter (Xebec) in, so he missed out, but we don’t have many racing down in Cambridge at the moment, so it wasn’t a concern for us.”  Looking towards Thursday, Dickie will take five runners competing at Alexandra Park’s meeting, including Group Three performer Sertorius who will contest The Alex Bar & Eatery Handicap Trot (2200m).  The seven-year-old son of Muscles Yankee began his preparation with two runner-up performances, but Dickie has been disappointed with his last two unplaced outings. “He was pretty disappointing in his last start, but since then he has had a slight layoff and a workout last Friday,” he said.  “He has trained on pretty well, but there are a couple of handy trotters in there on Thursday that are going well.  “He probably needs a bit of luck, but he should be thereabouts.”  Stablemate Dreamers Delight will attempt to break maiden ranks in the Jeremy Young Racing Stables F&M Mobile Pace (2200m) and Dickie is happy with the four-year-old after her last-start placing at the Auckland track.  “It was a handy maiden field last start and it’s no exception this week, if anything it looks a bit stronger,” Dickie said.  “She is consistent and tries hard and will just need a bit of luck against a couple of those maidens of Barry’s (Purdon, trainer), they look pretty sharp, but she won’t be far away.” Kuyomi is another stable runner who has been pleasing Dickie of late, having recorded her maiden victory two starts back before finishing runner-up in rating 55 grade last week. “Kuyomi had a good run last time. She jumped up from a maiden straight into that, so I was pretty happy with her,” Dickie said. Five-win mare Callie’s Delight hasn’t put a foot wrong this time in, winning two of her six races and placing in her four other starts.  Dickie has been duly impressed with her efforts and he is expecting another bold showing on Thursday. “Callie’s Delight is going really well,” Dickie said. “She was a bit stiff not to win the other night, she just got a bit too far back on the pegs and made up really good ground up the lane.  “If she races like that again she will go pretty close.”  Later in the night Cyber Attack will make his raceday debut in the Auckland Co-Op Taxis 300-3000 Handicap Trot (2200m).  The four-year-old son of Andover Hall won his 2500m trial at Pukekohe on Friday, but Dickie is expecting it will take a couple of starts for the gelding to find his way on race night.  “Cyber Attack is a nice little trotter,” he said. “He is probably in a week early, but he needs the race night experience, hence why he is going around on Thursday.  “He is one to follow. I do like him and it will probably take him a few starts to get the hang of it, but when he does get it right I think he will win a couple of races soon enough.”

Two of the most exciting young horses in the country provide punters a difficult puzzle to solve in the feature races at Alexandra Park tonight. Because if Copy That (R8, No.4) and Bolt For Brilliance (R9, No.3) have the manners to match their motors tonight they will almost certainly be too fast for their older, better-credentialed rivals. But one false step by either could leave punters with a financial bleeding nose. Bolt For Brilliance is a former Jewels winner in a vintage crop of now four-year-old trotters and the way he peeled off a 27-second last 400m when winning at the Pukekohe workouts last Friday suggest the best-behaved version of him wins tonight. His champion trainer-driver Tony Herlihy expects him to be dialled in to the standing start but admits it is not always that simple, especially fresh up. “I think he will be fine cause he has been stepping well at the workouts,” said Herlihy. “But there are some good race-hardened horses in there who won’t make it easy.” Two of those of horses Herlihy knows well, he trains race rival Kenny’s Dream while used to train Rowe Cup winner Temporale, who now resides with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett for beach training. “I drove Temporale at the workouts two weeks ago and he is really well but if they all step off the mark and race well it would be very hard to see him giving Bolt For Brilliance a 40m start over 2200m. “So it isn’t an easy race but I glad to have him back (Bolt For Brilliance) and looking forward to his clash with Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride, because it looks a very good bunch.” Copy That was so stunning last start beating all the rivals he faces in tonight’s main pace it is impossible to tip against him, especially if he happened to secure his favoured pacemaking role again. But that is no gimme tonight as he faces only the third standing start of his career rather than the mobile he drew well in last start. Copy That has yet to win in two standing starts but neither was because of poor manners but making tonight even more difficult is the fact he faces a 10m handicap, with four rivals behind him on the 20 back mark, creating a less that ideal potentially claustrophobic situation for him. Trainer Ray Green is confident Copy That will handle the standing start but even a smooth but slow beginning could see him settle behind key rivals like Belle Of Montana, Triple Eight or Mach Shard, who would be reluctant to let him have his own way after. So those first five steps in tonight’s 2200m stand could determine whether Copy That continues on his winning way or whether one of those three key rivals get their chance, especially as they should all be significantly improved by their first up runs. Triple Eight could be best suited by the conditions but he will be without regular driver David Butcher tonight and all the Waikato-based horsepeople are excluded from tonight’s meeting because of the Auckland region’s Level 3 lockdown status. Tonight’s meeting will also be closed to the public and owners, with racing participants only allowed.   Michael Guerin

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    The renewed training partnership of Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan will have a strong presence at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, with 18 representatives. The stable’s charge will be led by Wainui Creek, Belle Of Montana, and Mach Shard in the Garrards Horse & Hound Pukekohe Handicap Pace (2200m), where they will tackle impressive last start winner Copy That. Wainui Creek has drawn one on the front row and Phelan is confident of a bold showing from the Group One winner, who he will drive on Thursday. “Wainui Creek is generally pretty good away from the stand and being 2200m it is a race that will suit her,” Phelan said. “I think she will be a decent enough chance on Thursday.” Phelan labelled Belle Of Montana as the stable’s leading light in the race after her first-up runner-up effort, but he said she will need to be on her game from her 20m mark. “It was a good performance first-up,” he said. “It’s a small field, but 20m is enough of a handicap. She will finish off the race as she usually does and hopefully it is good enough.” Mach Shard will also start from the 20m mark and Phelan said if he steps away well he should be competitive. “He is generally good away from the stand. If he can get in front of Copy That he will be a pretty good chance,” he said. While hopeful his trio will perform well on Thursday, Phelan admitted it will be a tough ask to beat the in-form Copy That, who will start behind the 10m tape. “Copy That dominated last time and he looks like he has stepped up, which you expect from the good ones. It will be a really good race,” Phelan said. Earlier in the night the Clevedon horsemen will be looking to kick off the night in winning fashion, with five representatives in the opening race on the card, the Jeremy Young Racing Stables F & M Mobile Pace (2200m). Phelan will take the reins behind consistent filly Sky Delight, who has finished runner-up in all three of her career starts to date, and pleased her trainers with her workout win at Pukekohe last week. “Sky Delight is a really nice filly, she raced really well last time,” Phelan said. “She has trialled up well, so I expect a good run.” Last start placegetters Jemma and Dixie Reign, along with debutants Angel Of Montana and Miss Montana, will complete the stable quintet in the race. “Jemma went a pretty good race last time, she won’t be too far away,” Phelan said. “Dixie Reign is going to need a bit of luck from out there (barrier 7). She has had a few starts now and is hardened enough. “Angel Of Montana has got a bad draw (8) and will have to be driven for luck this week, but she is a nice enough filly. “And Miss Montana has been pretty good at the trials. She is quite a nice filly, so it will be good to see her go around.” Of the stable’s other starters, Phelan highlighted four-year-old trotter Horace Horse as one of their better chances on Thursday. The son of Quaker Jet has won his only start to date and he will be out to keep his undefeated record intact in the Haras des Trotteurs Handicap Trot (2700m). “Horace Horse has come back really well,” Phelan said. “He looks quite a nice horse. He has trialled up really well and we expect him to be pretty hard to beat as long as he does everything right.”

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