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The Gavin Smith trained Imola absolutely crushed his rivals at yesterdays Rangiora harness racing workouts.   Imola who narrowly beat the All Stars Stable pairing of Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me at last weeks trials, did not give his better performed opposition a chance of beating him yesterday. Driven to lead early by Gavin Smith, Imola (Jereme's Jet - Imprint) put the foot down and just went further in front the further they went. On a very windy day the speedy 5 year old gelding reeled off a sensational last half of 55.7 and quarter in 26.5 to demolish the opposition by 36 lengths. Imola holds a New Zealand Cup nomination and is currently last in the rankings at 28th, but might quickly climb up the order if that workout win is anything to go by. Earlier in the day smart three years old pacers Pat's Delight and Cullenburn, both showed they are ready for a return to the races, when winning their respective heats. Pat's Delight (Bettor's Delight - Righteous Franco) trained by Cran Dalgety was too strong winning his heat for driver Dexter Dunn.  He sped home from midfield on the outer and sprinted his last quarter in better than 27 seconds to narrowly beat the early leader Frankie Jones and Robbie Holmes. Cullenburn (Christian Cullen - Suzys Delight) trained and driven by Benny Hill, was also impressive winning his workout. Cullenburn sprinted a closing quarter in 27 seconds coming from the trail behind the leader Billy Badger to easily beat him in the run home. Harneslink Media

Carl Markham is more hopeful than he is confident that he could have a decent day at Rangiora today. The Methven horseman will take two horses over the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers to the Sunday meeting and has hopes that both could be right in the action if things go their way. Still searching for his first winner this season, Markham will be hoping that either Midfrew Tarpediem or Jean Sebastien can get him that elusive win. “You think you might have a couple of good chances, but you still need things to go your way,” he said. “And that’s what we will need, I think both are capable enough. But you need the luck.” Midfrew Tarpediem looked set to be a player at Timaru last week before he locked wheels on the home bend and lost all momentum. Today he has drawn to do no extra work from one on the second line and with a good run behind Articulight, he might not be the worst. “He was travelling good last week but needs that momentum, this week should work out well for him. “He’s best suited to sneaking through gaps and not covering too much ground and that should happen today. “I think he can run a pretty big race.” Jean Sebastien is on the quick back up from Addington on Friday night where he was spotted storming home after an early gallop in the Darren DeFilippi Memorial. “I’m not quite sure what is going on with the galloping thing at the moment with him. “He’s never been the most fluent of trotters, but he showed on Friday night that the motor is still there because he made up so much ground. “I thought, looking at the field that he’s racing that if he did everything right and didn’t finish in the top three that I would be pretty disappointed. “At his best he would be very hard to beat.” Both horses will be driven today by Markham’s son, Jeremy. Meanwhile, Gavin Smith will welcome back one of his more promising prospects in Red Moon Rising. The three-year-old son of Artsplace hasn’t raced since finishing third to Motu Meteor at Alexandra Park back in December after being struck down by injury. He won his debut at Methven prior to the Auckland trip, impressively and has always been held in high regard. Smith has given the colt a slow, but solid build up towards a return to the track. He’s had two workouts and a trial, with tidy performances in each and looks ready for a strong resumption today. The standing start will provide arguably the most interesting part of his case today, but if he can safely navigate his way through that early challenge then he should be in a good space to become a major contender. Go Davey, One Direction, Bet On A Rascal and Arizona Atom make up some of his tougher opposition. Smith will also be looking for a double for the weekend with All Settled Down. The racehorse-cum-broodmare-cum-racehorse again was an impressive winner over Donsmedad at Addington on Friday night and will be out to repeat the dose in the first heat of the Joan Belcher Legacy Fillies and Mares Mobile Trot. Rangiora Selections Race 1: #14 Don Pierre, #3 Franco Caliph, #11 As Kiwi As, #8 Mr Midnight Race 2: #3 Fiery Comet, #13 Jerry Garcia, #10 Laura Bush, #7 Girls N Boyz Race 3: #7 Tall Poppy, #5 Vyndetta, #6 Corena Lea, #12 Junkyard Mase Race 4: #6 Donsmedad, #7 All Settled Down, #3 Rocknpop, #8 Sarah Palin Race 5: #1 Articulight, #5 Rocknroll Nevin, #10 Midfrew Tarpediem, #3 Leading The Way Race 6: #2 Jean Sebastien, #7 Another Chapter, #1 Monarchy Invasion, #11 Majestic Moment Race 7: #1 Fear Rockn, #2 Flyin Milly Mac, #5 Theboyslightup, #7 Got A Beauty Race 8: #5 Red Moon Rising, #7 Go Davey, #10 One Direction, #11 Bet On A RascaL Race 9: #11 Franco Nate, #1 Jonty James, #10 Beach Skipper, #2 Machjagger Best Bet: #11 Franco Nate (Race 9) Value Bet: #1 Fear Rockn (Race 7)   Matt Markham

They’ve driven a combined total of more than 330 winners, but the group of junior drivers contesting tonight’s prestigious Darren DeFilippi Memorial at Addington would give most, if not all, of those wins back to claim victory into tonight’s special event. Premierships and victories are nice. But a win in one of the most sought after races a junior driver will contest in their time in the ranks is high up the pecking order and any young driver will tell you of their desire to get their name on the trophy that means so much to the harness racing industry, particularly in Canterbury. DeFilippi, the son of trainers Colin and Julie, was tragically killed in a car accident while on his way home from the Orari races in 1995, leaving the harness racing community reeling at the loss of such a talented young horseman. In his second season of driving at the time of his death, DeFilippi was already making a big impact on the Canterbury harness scene with 15 winners next to his name and was being touted for bigger and better things. The Memorial race, named in his honour, has been held each season since 1996 with some of the best young driving talents to have worked their way through the junior ranks having been lucky enough to win it. Gavin Smith (twice; Bristle - 2003 and Atomic Dusk - 2005) and Matthew Williamson (three times; Maori Invasion - 2011, Beyond Reason - 2012 and William Lance -2013) are multiple winners of the event. This year a new winner will be crowned, with no previous driving victors going around. The sentimental favourite will be He’s Like The Wind, driven by Loren Lester who currently works for the DeFilippi stable. A big winner at Timaru last week, there is every conceivable chance that the Gavin Smith trained runner can go back-to-back in what is a very open field. New Zealand’s two leading junior drivers, Rory McIlwrick and Matt Anderson are both in with a show. McIlwrick has the power of the Phil Williamson colours on his drive, Danielle Amore. Williamson has trained three winners of the race. Anderson picks up the drive on the talented Robbie Holmes trotter, Redwood Invasion. Often enigmatic, the big trotter has a huge motor and is a chance to jump and run from the one barrier draw. Sheree Tomlinson will fancy herself a chance in the race with the in-form Lord Roydon. The Michael House trained runner has won his last two starts at Forbury with patient Dexter Dunn drives and a repeat performance will see him go close tonight. Jeremy Markham will be hoping he can sign off on his time as a junior driver in the right fashion when he jumps on board his father, Carl’s trotter Jean Sebastien. The trio will contest the race for the third time having finished fourth, second and third in their three attempts. Addington Selections by Matt Markham Race 1: All Settled Down, Craddock, Idle Moose, Sunny Bill Race 2: Boults On Fire, Le Vado, Especial, Covered N Diamonds Race 3: Daylight Robbery, Spirit Of Delight, Bettor Chance, Take After Me Race 4: Hall Of Fame, Ace High, Letsgotothehop, Rishi Race 5: Lord Roydon, Redwood Invasion, Jean Sebastien, Danielle Amore Race 6: Vera’s Delight, Jody Direen, No More Change, Art Exhibit Race 7: Donegal Bettorgretch, Ronald J, Petite One, Jayceekay Race 8: Usain Colt, Billy Badger, Bite The Bullet, Donegal Carrickfin Race 9: Mistahmistah, For The Corz, Honour The Bet, Maninthemirror Best Bet: Mistahmistah (Race 9) Value: Vera’s Delight (Race 6)   DARREN DEFILLIPI MEMORIAL WINNERS   Year Driver Horse Trainer Gait 1996 Jamie Keast   No Need   Mike Austin  (Pace) 1997 Dale Forbes   Incredible Fella   Ron Barron  (Pace) 1998 Mark Jones  Sylvia’s Star   Kevin Townley  (Trot) 1999 Philip Keats  Valiant Heart  Peter Bagrie (Pace) 2000 Stephen McNally  Russ The Legend  Gerard O’Reilly  (Trot) 2001 Lisa Godsall (Orange) Bergen Carl Middleton (Trot) 2002 Kirstin Green (Barclay) Galleon’s Telepathy Michael House  (Trot) 2003 Gavin Smith Bristle Paul Nairn (Trot) 2004 Nick Ydgren Onedin Legacy  Henderson Hunter (Pace) 2005 Gavin Smith  Atomic Dusk Patrick O’Reilly (Pace) 2006 Jonny Cox Lady Segil Phil Williamson (Trot) 2007 Sam Smolenski Amber Gambler Fred Fletcher (Trot) 2008 Shane Walkinshaw  Ronnie Coute Murray Edmonds (Trot) 2009 Regan Todd Unique Star Mark Jones (Trot) 2010 Andrew Veint  Double Bundy Michael Heenan (Trot) 2011 Matthew Williamson Maori Invasion Phil Williamson (Trot) 2012 Matthew Williamson Beyond Reason Phil Williamson (Trot) 2013 Matthew Williamson William Lance Bevan Heron (Trot) 2014 Robbie Close  Aile Rouge Robbie Holmes (Trot) 2015 Jessica Young Arran Chief  Andrew Faulks (Trot) 2017 Katie Cox King Of The Roses John Versteeg (Trot)

Torrid Bromac, who is awaiting a flight to the United States after a change of ownership last week, won for caretaker trainer Gavin Smith at Oamaru on Sunday. “I have only had him (Torrid Bromac) a week so I can’t take much of the credit,’’ said the Kaiapoi (north Canterbury) – based Smith. “I bought him for Mike Casalino in America. He asked me to keep the horse fit as there is not a flight out until June 30.” The New Jersey-based Casalino has purchased other New Zealand pacers recently in Sir Richie, Hezabluechipboy, Media Queen and Nerida Franco. Sir Richie won four races when trained by Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins and latterly three for Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick. Hezabluechipboy won two for Jason and Megan Teaz; Media Queen three for Cran Dalgety and Nerida Franco three for Steven McRae. Casalino earlier bought Kotare Yael and Carrickmannon. Torrid Bromac, a 4-year-old entire by Courage Under Fire – Tanisa Bromac, won five races when trained by Steven McRae and later two for Regan Todd when raced by Max Taylor, of Halswell. Torrid Bromac set a track record of 3.11.8 (1.58.7 mile rate) for 2600m (mobile) at Oamaru in May last year. He ran 3.15.8 from a stand on Sunday and won by two and quarter lengths. He has rated 1.56.7 for 2000m (mobile) at Omakau. Torrid Bromac raced in the open for much of the way and out finished the favourite Ultimate Desire. Brad Mowbray, the trainer of Ultimate Desire, won with Gypsy’s Choice and Speedy Mach, taking his tally for the season to 19 wins. His previous best was nine in nine seasons as a public trainer. Gypsy’s Choice was having her second start for Mowbray after being leased two months ago by a group of owners. The 4-year-old Live Or Die mare had won from the stable of John Hay at Methven in September. Speedy Mach, who had not raced for four months, led for most of the way over 2000m. One Over Da Stars, a half-sister to One Over Da Moon, finished boldly to notch her first win as a trotter. She is a 3-year-old filly by Love You from two-time Rowe Cup winner One Over Kenny raced by Waimate breeders Lex and Heather Williams and their son, Brad, of Palmerston. One over Da Stars is the first horse raced by Brad. The filly is trained by Brent White. One Over Da Moon has won 22 races but he went off stride at Melton on Saturday night. Tijuana Taxi was impressive in her second win as a trotter. She came from tenth at the 400m to score by two and a half lengths. Tayler Strong  

With uncut gems on the line, a princess would be a more than fitting winner tonight at Addington. And Gavin Smith feels he has the perfect candidate for a major race success in one of three new races to the calendar at tonight’s meeting - the Uncut Gems. Smith picks up the drive on North Island mare, Rocknroll Princess in the $40,000 event and the pair will be looking to emulate their effort when they last combined at Addington, which saw them impressive victors. The Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained mare hasn’t been sighted since the Harness Jewels, but will relish a drop in class for tonight’s assignment - even from her outside of the second line draw. “She was massive the last time I drove her at Addington,” Smith said. “Her bad draw at the Jewels over a mile pretty much took her out of play straight away, but back to the 2600 metres should really suit her I think. “With no real superstars in the mix she has to be a pretty big show.” Domiciled at the Robert Dunn stable on Woodend Beach while in the South Island, Rocknroll Princess should start close to favourite in what is a reasonably even looking field. Her potential in the second race of the night could see Smith kick off in style on what should be a good night at the office. He has a number of his own runners engaged at the meeting, including the reigning two-year-old Trotting Filly of the Year, Di’z Luck who is again a chance in an open maiden trot. Smith was blaming himself her for her last start effort at Ashburton but is still realistic about her chances tonight. “She was driven upside down last time out, as she is better saved for the one run. “We’ve got a tough draw this week, but she will be running on strong at the end of things.” Smith will chase a second uncut gem when He’s Like The Wind lines up in the trotters’ event - taking on the likes of Lemond and Dark Horse. He too disappointed when heavily supported at Ashburton. “He was awful,” Smith said. “So I’ve upped his workload and made a few changes in his diet. “I wouldn’t say I’m sure he’s 100 per cent, but at his best he could probably lead them up and place I think.” All Settled Down will also line up for the North Canterbury trainer, and on her best day she would go close to winning tonight in an even field, but her chances often are a reflection of her mood and manners. “I’m not sure a big gap in between her races was the right thing for her last time. “She’s good enough to win, and her work has been strong, but she will need to behave and get that little bit of luck.” Smith’s final runner tonight is arguably the most exciting prospect in his stable in two-year-old Bright Diamond who looked set to cause a major upset short of the post at the Harness Jewels before he laboured late and finished fourth. “I thought his run was super, we were over the moon with it.” The promising colt lines up in a $8,000 two-year-old event tonight and even with some quality opposition on hand to try and spoil his party, Smith still feels he’s a big winning chance. “I think he will be hard to beat, even with some really nice types in there.” Smith also has a decent each way chance early in the night with Sharknado who will operate from a handy draw for Phil Burrows.   Matt Markham’s Addington Selections Race 1: Idle Moose, Di’z Luck, Sunrise Spur, Unique Marshall Race 2: Rocknroll Princess, Sails, RR Sand Dollar, Amazon Lily Race 3: Vinny Gambini, Sharknado, Covered N Diamonds, Camwell Park Race 4: Pirate Bay, Indianna Dreaming, Daylight Robbery, Hayley Nicole Race 5: Dark Horse, Lemond, Petite One, He’s Like The Wind Race 6: Sheriff, Bright Diamond, Angel Of Harlem, Samskara Race 7: Mongolian Storm, Duplicated, Shineonyoucrazydiamond, Franco Tai Race 8: All Settled Down, Craddock, Rum In The Sun, Cuddly Jess Race 9: Cash N Flow, Moonrock, Superfecta, Usain Colt Race 10: Jungle Gem, Burning Rubber, Motu Bettor Be Quick, Dance N Jewel Best Bet: Cash N Flow (Race 9) Value: All Settled Down (Race 8)

Gavin Smith said he would have never brought Great Things Happen back to New Zealand if he didn’t think he could win the ANZAC and Rowe Cups. The Love You-Calamity Gal gelding arrived in Auckland this morning (Thursday) and was then was floated to Robert Dunn's stable at Pukekohe. Smith was due to fly up early this afternoon to drive the 5-year-old bay in Friday's Group One $100,000 ANZAC Cup at Alexandra Park. "The original plan was to spell him back here (Kaiapoi) and then get him ready for the Dominion in November, but when I saw that some of the good ones like Monbet, Speeding Spur and Master Lavros weren't lining up I thought these two Group Ones were well within his grasp," Smith said. The North Canterbury trainer, driver said the plan all along was to ease Great Things Happen into the open class trotting ranks with easier assignments in Australia. "He's had seven races over there with Greg Sugars and won four of them. Greg has done a good job. I'm really looking forward to his next two Alexandra Park starts. "He's racing well and it would be a dream to train and drive the winner of an ANZAC Cup or Rowe Cup. I've always loved trotters and the Dominion and Rowe Cup have always been high on my bucket list," said Smith. Great Things Happen goes into Friday's 2200m Free-For-All with an easy 12-metre victory in last Sunday's Group Three $20,000 Warragul Trotters Cup. He was the $1.50 hot favourite and drew seven of nine in that 2,627m stand. He has drawn 10 on Friday. "It's not the draw I wanted. If they can hold up it would be a nice draw, but he's a free-going trotter who likes to bowl along. I don't think Alexandra Park will be a problem because he has raced there before," said Smith. “I wouldn’t be lining him up if I didn’t think he could win on both nights,” he stressed. Great Things Happen has had one race at 'The Park' for a two-length third behind Quite A Moment (Ricky May) and Bordeaux (Dexter Dunn) in the Group One $80,000 National Trot last New Year's Eve. He has also won twice from three starts over the 2200m mobile. Great Things Happen has had 11 wins from his 24 career starts and placed in five others for $107,597 in stakes. He has won his last two Australian races and on February 23 he nailed the Group Three $25,000 Tontine Trotting Championship from 40m behind. His National Trot placing is his best New Zealand performance in a Group race so far. “He’s a very exciting trotter and is probably a couple of months away from footing it with the absolute top-liners. The ANZAC and Rowe Cups were never part of his plan until the guns withdrew. “This time next year I expect him to be right up there with the best trotters in New Zealand and Australia. After next Friday’s Rowe Cup I will take him home to the spelling paddock,” Smith said. The first three runners in the ANZAC Cup will be guaranteed a start in the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday week (April 28). Great Things Happen is owned by Ted Edwards and Sara Smith. Edwards also bred him with Gary Edwards. Duane Ranger

HE is bred to pace and riddled with niggling issues, but boy On Thunder Road can trot. Trainer-driver Darren Hancock labelled it one of most satisfying wins when he nursed On Thunder Road back to peak form and fitness after some recent back issues to dominantly win the $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m) at Melton last Saturday night. The son of Bettors Delight missed a couple of recent home state NSW features after developing back issues following a failed Melbourne raid. But he returned to Melbourne and showed his best form by leading throughout in the Grand Prix in a sizzling 1min57.7sec mile rate. The race changed with the scratching of favourite Speeding Spur, but the way On Thunder Road went he would have been very hard to beat regardless. Hancock drove aggressively early and took the lead from much-improved recent Kiwi import Clover Mac. Classy mare Sunny Ruby, heavily-backed to start a $2.10 favourite, sat parked briefly, grabbed the one-one trail, loomed as a big threat on the home turn, but ran way below her best in eighth spot. On Thunder Road easily held-off a gallant Clover Mac to win by 2.5m with the much-travelled Daryl Boko in third spot. BACK-TO-BACK Young Cup wins with stable star Spare Me Days capped a defining night in Brad Hewitt’s career last Saturday. Hewitt made the big country cup night his own by training and driving four of the nine winners, including the three features. Spare Me Days returned to his sparkling best when he stormed home from well back to snatch Young Cup victory from Miracle Mile contestant Yayas Hot Spot in a slick 1min58.4sec mile rate for 2480m. It followed a dominant win in the Cup 12 months earlier. Hewitt’s other feature wins came with Our Triple Play, who thrashed hot favourite Astride by a big space in the Young Derby. Our Triple Play is part-owned by Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker. Croker and Hewitt’s night got even better when the heavily-backed Sheza Sharpie led throughout to win the Young Oaks. Hewitt’s other win on the night came when Bettors Delight four-year-old Recipe For Dreaming led throughout in race seven. THE Miracle Mile came around a bit quickly for Tiger Tara, but it’s clear the former star Kiwi pacer is going to be a big player in Australia. Having just his third Aussie run for trainer Kevin Pizzuto, the six-year-old produced a monster run to win in a 1min50.8sec mile at Menangle last Friday. Tiger Tara drew wide, raced three-wide much of the trip and still kept finding plenty in the run home for driver Todd McCarthy to stave-off the fast-finishing Mach Doro by a half-neck. It was McCarthy’s first drive on Tiger Tara and capped a massive day at Menangle for him. McCarthy snared four wins at the meeting, the others coming on Rakarazor (1min53.9sec), Match Point (1min51.9sec) and Outrageous El (1min52.3sec). It will be interesting to see if Pizzuto whisks Tiger Tara down to Melbourne to tackle Lennytheshark in next Saturday night’s Group 2 Kilmore Cup. DON’T be surprised if Australia’s hugely successful Teal Pants campaign spreads to NZ next year. The brainchild of Duncan McPherson, who lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer in 2010, this year’s Teal Pants campaign raised over $110,000 for the Women’s Cancer Foundation – Ovarian Instuitute. Participating female drivers compete in teal pants and between them an amazing 288 races in the 39 days of the campaign from February 1 to March 11. KIWI horseman Gavin Smith had an armchair drive on former Kiwi trotter Great Things Happen in a support race on the huge all-trotting card at Melton last Saturday night. The five-year-old son of Love You, now in the care of Greg Sugars, was on his best manners, speared to the front from gate three and won by 15m in a slick 1min58.5sec mile rate for 2240m. It some consolation for Smith after his three-year-old trotting filly Dix Luck worked hard early and tired for eighth in the Group 1 Need for Speed final earlier in the night. SOMETIMES a certain driver just clicks with a horse. We’ve seen it plenty of times before and it certainly seems the case with young NSW driver Martelle Maguire and Epaulette. Maguire teamed-up with the Craig Cross-trained Epaulette by chance when she drew the gelding as her drive in the Ladies Invitational drivers’ race at Menangle on Miracle Mile. In career-best run, Epaulette blazed his way to an all-the-way 1min50.8sec mile win. Cross and connections then booked Maguire again for last Friday’s Menangle meeting and the result was a similarly impressive all-the-way win, this time in a 1min51.1sec mile. IT is Bathurst’s big time of year with the huge Gold Crown Carnival starting this week. Bathurst golden girl Amanda Turnbull has returned “home” for the carnival and launched it with a treble last Friday night – all three winners trained by her father, Steve. Amanda led throughout on Cherry Mahoney in race two, the third on Zaras Choice and race seven on Royal Aurora. GAVIN Lang can thank Kate Gath’s fascination with Justin Bieber for landing the winning pick-up drive on big, burly former Kiwi pacer Maximan at Bendigo last Friday night. Gath was part of sell-out crowd to watch “Biebs” in full flight at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Meanwhile, Lang took the reins on Maximan as he returned to form and came from the back row to win in a slick 1min53sec mile rate for 1650m. FORMER Kiwi trotter Al Bundy is loving life in Adelaide. The Great Success gelding made it two wins from as many runs – both off big handicaps -  for new trainer Greg Norman when he came from 40m behind to win the Gawler Hambletonian last Saturday night. The Gawler Pacing Cup went to Les Harding’s gelding Bettor Party. Adam Hamilton

The win of Waihemo Art at Waikouaiti on Tuesday belonged to 16-year-old Alana Cameron.   Waihemo Art, a 7-year-old gelding was bought for $700 as riding horse for Alana 18 months ago when retired out of the stable of Gavin Smith. Waihemo Art had failed to win a race in 18 starts.   “He(Waihemo Art) wouldn’t go fast enough when Alana rode him so we put him back into work,’’ said her father, Paul.   Waihemo Art is raced in the name of Alana’s mother, Vicki as Alana is two years too young to race a horse. Alana and friend junior driver John Morrison were still able to stand alongside Waihemo Art for a photo opportunity after the race.   Waihemo Art joined the West Melton stable of Michael House,  when it was decided to return him to work. House has trained other horses in the ownership of the Camerons. Waihemo Art has now won four races and he repeated his success of 12 months ago in the race for amateur driver at Waikouaiti with Alan Edge in the sulky, who drove Zimfandel to win the $10,000 Sir Lincoln Graduation Final on Tuesday summed up the performance: “He did it easy.” Dexter Dunn   Dunn allowed the 3-year-old to settle back in the field and angled him wide in the closing stages for the best part of a rain affected track. Zimfandel came on to win by two and a half lengths. Master Jordy did well for second after racing handy from the 1200m from a second line draw.   The win was penalty free for the Bruce Negus-trained Zimfandel. The owners Murray and Jo Clay also won a service to Sir Lincoln.   Matai Katie, who was switched from pacing to trotting, made the grade at her ninth start. “She is the only trotter in the family,’’ said her Edendale owner-trainer-driver Alex Milne who races the 6-year-old Elsu – Matai Princess mare with his wife, Karen. Matai Katie was placed in four of her 18 starts as a pacer before she qualified as a trotter two years ago.   Alex Milne, the late father of Alex began an association with the family 50 years ago when Matai Song (Flying Song – Trout Stream) won him one race from 44 starts. Matai Song left Matai Dreamer, who won 17 in New Zealand including the 1979  Great Northern Derby. Alex jun drove Wai Matai, another of the progeny of Matai Song in a race at Waikouaiti in 1973.   The $40,000 Northern Southland Cup on March 11 is a target for Titan Banner, who  is back in the Westwood stable of Graeme Anderson. Titan Banner, who has not raced since finishing eighth in the Auckland Trotting Cup on December 31, had a lucrative seven month campaign from the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen for three wins including the Franklin Cup and third placings in the NZ Cup and Harness Jewels.   Anderson disclosed  the plan for Titan Banner after producing Hopes and Dreams to win on Tuesday. The 4-year-old mare led for most of the way.   Invercargill owner Tom Kilkelly and trainer Kirstin Barclay combined to win C0 races with Don’t Pass I’m Fast and Grace Burns, both driven by Andrew Suddaby. Don’t Pass I’m Fast, a 4-year-old Art Official – Fast Winger mare was a $16,000 purchase at the 2014 premier yearling sale. Kilkelly bred Grace Burns, a 4-year-old by Grinfromeartoear from Gracie May. Don’t Pass I’m Fast, bred by Ray and Maureen Beale, is the ninth individual winner left by Fast Winger, the dam of Armbro Winger and Still Laughin, each the winner of seven races.Gracie May has also left the winner Riverboat Grace.     Tayler Strong

Gavin Smith didn’t want to be one of those people who gets stuck in the nervous nineties for too long. Three months was long enough as it is, so when Imola took apart a tidy field of pacers in Sunday’s Rangiora Summer Cup, the North Canterbury horseman allowed himself a sigh of relief as he notched up the 500th driving win of his career. It’s been a long 12 weeks, but Smith can head into the busy Christmas and New Year racing period with the weight off his shoulders now and just enjoy the fact he has achieved something that only a small percentage of drivers get the privilege to do. “I certainly didn’t want to get stuck on a mark for too long,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have finally reached 500 wins, a bit of a relief, but a pretty cool feeling at the same time.” It was fitting too that Smith was able to reach the milestone on one of his own horses as the training side of his harness racing career has become a major thing in the past few years. Based out of the immaculate Dancingonmoonlight Farm in Ohoka, Smith’s success in the past few seasons as a trainer has been excellent and he’s slowly building a consistent and more than capable team of horses around him. Sunday’s winner Imola is the perfect example of that. The Jereme’s Jet gelding won once in 10 starts as a three-year-old but has come back this season and performed with distinction, winning four of his 14 starts so far and placing on a further two occasions for stake earnings of close to $25,000. He’s also picked up a Met Multiplier cheque from Addington Raceway worth $7,500 – making for a profitable month and a bit for his owner, Aaron Johnstone. “We targeted getting the met multiplier and probably raced him at Addington a bit too much to get him there. “He’s actually been racing really well for most of the season, but getting away from Addington has probably helped him a bit too.” Smith said the Nelson Cup in January was a potential target now for the progressive pacer. His 500th win comes almost exactly 15 years after his first, Went Motoring for Jeff Whittaker at Methven. His 61 winners last season was a personal best tally for a 12 month period and coupled with 28 training wins, things are ticking along quite nicely.  Matt Markham

The first South Island harness racing juveniles to step out publicly in the new season have been at the workouts in the last few weeks. Yesterday at Ashburton "Art Banker" a 2yo filly by Art Official scooted over a mile by herself in 1;59.8 with closing sectionals of 57.0 for the 800m and 27.0 for the 400m. Trainer Gavin Smith was very happy with the run saying "she does have a lot of speed".  A race later and Gavin had a 2yo colt by Auckland Reactor and also a 2yo gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven racing. They finished second and third behind the Tim Butt trained Tribeca who won the 1609m race in 2:01.2 speeding over the last 800m in 57.1 and 400m in 26.8. Gavin thought both his went good. "The Auckland Reactor colt actually has a bit of a cough this week and went better last week" he said. "He will be turned out and prepared for the "Young Gun" series if not sold prior".   The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding might have one more workout and then he too will be set for the "Young Gun" series. Gavin said all three of his 2yos at the Ashburton workouts were for sale.            Harnesslink Media  

The equation with Sunny Ruby these days is pretty simple, be patient and then be patient a little bit longer. Do that and the camp behind arguably the fastest trotter over 100 metres in the country is going to be a big force in any race she lines up in for the remainder of the season. Don’t do it though and you run the risk of things going wrong. “Not much seems to go right for us when we drive her different than with a sit,” trainer Sam Smolenski said. “But her speed is her best weapon so we better utilise it.” A stunning fresh up winner earlier in the season, Sunny Ruby went off the boil slightly in her next three starts but it was more Smolenski trying to figure out a few things than the horse not putting in 100 per cent. He changed her work schedule at home, increasing the tempo of her work which seems to be doing the trick. “I’ve been working her pretty hard, just to take that freshness out of her that can often see her get pretty keen. “We seem to be getting somewhere which is good.” Sunny Ruby put all her eggs in a row on Friday night at Addington when she burst over the top of Alley Way and Amaretto Sun to win the Group Three Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. It was vintage Sunny Ruby combined with a heady drive from Gavin Smith who waited until almost the last possible moment to get her into the clear before she charged to the line. Smolenski is looking at both Cup Week features with the mare and all going well she will contest both. He’s also got the advantage of the pull down blinds up his sleeve which he’s quite keen to keep in ice until the Dominion Handicap. Meanwhile, Jack Harrington’s short, but impressive, training career may complete another first this season. The rising star of the training ranks may make his North Island debut later in the season with his exciting trotter Hey Yo who was victorious again on Friday night. The Northern Breeders Trotting Stakes later on in the year is on the agenda for the deceptively fast wee trotter. “I’d love to take her up there, it’s a good option because there won’t be a lot down here for her at that time of the year,” Harrington said. “We probably won’t see her until Cup Day now, she’s had a pretty busy time of it so we will just take it easy and maybe look to a trial.” Harrington watched from the stand as Robbie Holmes handled the driving duties on Friday night and Holmes timed his run to perfection after copping a bit of a shuffle up the markers with plenty of lead changes. But once clear she stormed to the line to win with a plenty in store.   Matt Markham

Freak Harness Racing Trainer Paul Nairn will take two runners to Addington Raceway tomorrow. But don't bother jumping in the car and heading to the local Tab to back them, because his runners Conon Bridge and Wilma's Mate are only there to contest heats of the non tote Australasian Breeders Crown. 3yo Raffaello Ambrosio colt Conon Bridge is up against Blood n Whiskey (Robert Dunn) and My Amour (Greg & Nina Hope) in the first of the non tote events. If the Tab opened up a market you would expect to see Conon Bridge a short priced favourite on the back of his jewels placing. His stable man, Wilma's Mate, a 3yo Pegasus Spur filly owned by Richard Cornelius only has to compete against the Gavin Smith trained Oona. Again she should be winning after her jewels placing. Both runners are to be driven by Bob Butt who looks to have a massive show of picking up a treble when he lines up his own runner Matatoki in race four. A talented 3yo by Swedish stallion Revenue, Matatoki is on the look out for a penalty free win before the end of the season. While his last start was in January a handy recent trial at Ashburton has him well in commission for a winning resumption. With those three races out of the way, Butt will drive Gee Up Neddy in race eight for Yaldhurst trainer Leonne Jones. His recent form has been in top class races and before that the 5yo gelding was a super winner at Rangiora. Butt will also drive Race 1 - Aunty Jan - Phil Burrows Race 10 - Junior - David & Catherine Butt Andrew Fitzgerald

The rain kept coming and so did the winners for Kaiapoi based Harness Racing Driver/Trainer Gavin Smith. For the past few days Smith has watched his good mates Robert and John Dunn's team dominate. The Dunn's picked up trebles at Forbury on Thursday, Nelson on Friday and Auckland on Friday night. Not to be out done, Smith also picked up a double on the first day of Nelson Harness Racing Club's annual two day winter meeting with his own runner Alison Stokke and the Bruce Hutton trained Ideal Arden. And by the end on of racing on Sunday, there was only one person people on course were talking about, and that was Smith. After dominating the 9 card meeting with 4 driving win's which included 2 training wins. Alison Stokke, a 3yo Bettor's Delight filly, put the writing on the wall for Friday's maiden victory with a strong 2nd at Ashburton 5 days earlier. Making a flying from the tapes, Smith had the filly who is owned by his wife Sara and J Chin, out front and running along nicely before handing up to Sam Ottley and 2nd favourite Glenferrie Classic with 1400m to run. It all nearly turned to disaster though when Glenferrie Classic galloped in front, causing Alison Stokke to break for several strides before Smith was able to get her back down into a pace. With the galloper safely negotiated, Gavin asked his charge for a full effort and cleared out to win by 1 ½ lengths over Bobby M (Robbie Close) and Cullen's Bardon (Stephen McNally). Although it was the drives on Ideal Arden in the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude and Cup that had most people impressed. Using the American Ideal gelding's stand start speed to lead out on both occasions, Smith then handed up to the Robert Dunn trained Highview Freddy, who is well known as a front runner. From there on it was just a matter of Smith extracting the Bruce Hutton trained 6yo to either the inside or the outside of the leading and zipping away. Ideal Arden was the only runner to record a win on both days of the meeting. Smith started off his Sunday morning with a well deserved win aboard It's How You Use It who is trained by former stable employee Lawrence McCormick. The 5yo mare by Diedre Don recorded her maiden victory at start number 18 for owners, J T Morrison, A J Morrison, M J Gallagher, A Palmer, Mrs J E Lowe and Lawrence himself. Smith also recorded wins with pacer Melanie Ohara, who galloped on the first day but thanks to a change in bit was a strong maiden winner. While He's Like The Wind put up a improved performance after galloping late on day one to record win number three of his career. Andrew Fitzgerald

Weedon’s based trainer Nigel McGrath has set his sights on the Harness Jewels with smart 3yo Ears Burning. Well supported by punters at Addington today, the 3yo Grinfromeartoear colt didn’t disappoint his followers with a dominate win in the 7th race of the afternoon. “He’s won really nicely; we had to burn around to find the front but he was strong after that. There is a super series race for him next week and then hopefully a jewels start” said McGrath. Currently 12th on the Jewels leader board , Ears Burning will drop back to 13th with the return of the All Stars runner Chase The Dream who is making his way back to New Zealand after competing in the WA Derby. The Super Series race Nigel refers to is the C0 and Faster Mobile pace which Ears Burning sneaks into, while it is a preferential barrier draw meaning he will pick up an average draw, there wouldn’t be many, if any horses to fall into those conditions that are going as good as he is. Meanwhile, McGraths star colt and Jewels leader Classie Brigade has had a wee freshen up and is preparing well for his Jewels challenge. “He will have one trial and go to the Jewels” said McGrath. Ears Burning Great Things Happen put pay to a handy trot field today when he boomed up the passing lane for trainer/driver Gavin Smith. Today’s victory was the Love You geldings 5th in a row and 7th career win, and pushed him up to 18th in the Jewels standings, just under $3,000.00 shy of the 12th placed, Greg/Nina Hope trained Everybody Knows. Owned by E J Edwards and Sara Smith, Great Things Happens was the first foal out of 7 win S J’s Photo mare Calamity Gal, who was trained by Gavin for her last two career starts. Today’s winning time of 3.17.4 was impressive, but so was the run of runner up Harriet Of Mot, who’s amended time from her 30m back mark was 3.16.4 and put the writing on the wall for the 4yo mare to be very competitive at the Harness Jewels. Her performance capped off a great day for Noel Kennard’s GoHarness Syndication’s brand when recent purchase Order Online won for trainer Ken Barron and the GoHarness Buy Race & Sell Syndicate. The 3yo Washington VC gelding was purchased out of the Clark Barron stable earlier last month and delivered a great mothers day victory for some owners. GoHarness always have shares available so don’t hesitate to get in contact with them, their details can be found at Great Things Happen Order Online Andrew Fitzgerald

Woodend based trainer and advanced amateur driver Miranda Hallett had 3x the number of reasons to celebrate last night after she was successful behind Tufflittlerooster. Not only did Hallett train and drive the 5yo Live Or Die gelding she also lease’s him. Drawn nicely in barrier 3, Miranda quickly had her charge in front where she was able to rate her drive to absolute perfection. While amateur racing is widely known to be run at fast speeds, Tufflittlerooster was able to get away with cheap sectionals thanks to the unusual lack of attackers. Striding down the back in 29.5, Tufflittlerooster always looked to have plenty in the bag winning by a nose over Red River Lochee (John McDermott) with ½ neck back to Cimarron (Wayne Low) in 3rd. The overall time of 3:16.6 and mile rate of 2:01.6 further kicked home how well the winner was rated by Hallett and the fight shown by the well named Tufflittlerooster should see these two visit the winners circle again. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sunny Ruby and Sam Smolenski continue their path towards the Cambridge Jewels with a handy win in last night’s feature trot. Kept away from the Rowe Cup, Smolenski has kept his star mare ticking along down south. Known for her incredible high speed, Sunny Ruby looks the main danger to superstar trotter Monbet at the Jewels and is likely to start 2nd favourite. A comfortable winner by 1 ¼ lengths last night in a handy field, the 4yo Sundon mare cut out her last 800m in 58.2 with the last 400 in a slick 27.8. While from her 40m back mark she trotted the overall 2600m trip in 3.18. Le Lievre’s Gift finished runner up for trainer/driver Jim Curtin, with a further 5 ¾ lengths to Arran Chief in 3rd place for another trainer/driver Andrew Faulks. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray Green caused one of the upsets of the night when his smart 2yo Art Major colt Vasari won heat 3 of the Garrards Sire Stakes Series no33. Driven aggressively by David Butcher from a wide barrier draw, Vasari found himself in front after 400m and Butcher was able to dictate as he does best. With Mark Purdon launching More The Better around the field to find the parked spot at the 1000m, these two talented colts went to war, cutting out the last quarter in 26.7. Butcher was at his absolute best, stealing a cheap 31.2 quarter between the 800 and 400 which ultimately set up his 26.7 quarter and the winning of the race, being able to hold More The Better out by a head. Mongolian Storm finished 3rd beaten 2 ¼ lengths with a further ¾ lengths back to the 4th placed Pacing Major. Paying $10.10 and $2.30 on the tote, Vasari got value punters off to a great start and with Golden Goddess causing the major upset of the night, punters who love to stay away from the short prized favourites would have been laughing to themselves. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Golden Goddess and Michelle Neilson provided the most unexpected upset when they won heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series by 3 lengths. While not a surprise to see an All Stars runner winning by such a large margin, it was the fact that the 3yo Art Major filly, owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth beat previously unbeaten and highly talented Dream About Me. Sent forward by Neilson, Golden Goddess was another allowed to dictate in front and with sectionals of 56 and 25.9, she was never in doubt. While beaten into 2nd and never looking likely, Dream About Me would have lost no admirers considering she was first up for 8 weeks and likely to improve off the back of a sharp 1950m event cut out in 2:22.4, with the last mile recorded in 1:57.4. The next up assignment for both fillies and Vic Oaks winner Piccadilly Princess is the Nevele R Fillies Series Final on the 14th May. These 3 smart fillies are set to clash 3 times over the following 5 weeks. There doesn’t appear to be much between the fillies with draws likely to dictate the result. Andrew Fitzgerald

The C4 and faster trot at Addington Raceway on Saturday night only drew nine runners but there was plenty of harness racing talent on display. The outstanding Sheemon led the way and even though he was off 40 metres, he was the public betting elect for the race. The enigmatic Waterloo Sunset was well supported as was Jag's Invasion but after that the runners were in double figures. Pyramaid Monarch jumped to an early lead for Brad Williamson and led for the first 1200 metres before John Dunn and Jag's Invasion took over with 1400 metres to run. Sheemon and Dexter Dunn were immediately up to sit on Jag's Invasion wheel and these two trotters looked each other in the eye a long way out from home. Going past the 400 metres mark, they had started to gap the chasing bunch and as they turned for home, the gap back to the bunch was a conserative ten lengths. Just as the public settled down to see which one of the two protanginists doing battle would win the race, Gavin Smith eased Sunny Ruby out from last of the chasing pack and then producing an exhibition of speed over 200 metres that is as quick as anything this writer has seen from a trotter at Addington. Not only did the four-year-old daughter of Sundon sweep on past Sheemon and Jag's Invasion and win by two lengths, but she did it with her driver Gavin Smith sitting dead still in the bike and not moving a muscle. The week before last Saturday night Sunny Ruby had been expected to go a big race but had finished last although Gavin said she had her reasons for the poor display. "It was blowing a gale and the removable hood came off not long after the start and after that she just grabbed the bit and never came back to me." "Trainer Sam Smolenski made a couple of adjustments so the hood couldn't fly off again but the plan on Saturday night was to just get around and get her to relax and let her run home late." "Her biggest problem is she can get really wound up on raceday and that is going to count against her in the big trotting races but if you can give her a run like she got on Saturday night, I think she is good enough to win one of the big ones," Gavin said. Sunny Ruby was privately timed to run her last 800 metres in 56.5 and her last 400 metres in 27.9 but Gavin only pulled her out at the 200 metres mark and she scooted that sectional in a blistering 12.9 and did it with ease. "I know her form looks a bit inconsisitent but it will always look like that because of the way Sunny Ruby races." "But she remains capable of beating any of the trotters going around if she gets that soft trip and has one run at them," Gavin said. Harnesslink Media

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