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The old saying in harness racing that the cream always rises to the top all things being equal is never more appropriate than in the case of young North Canterbury trainer Gavin Smith. After  a promising start to his training career, Gavin had struck one problem after another from blood issues to soundness problems and it seemed to be never ending and as a result, Gavin was on the verge of giving the training game away as recently as earlier this year. The harder he tried the worse it seemed to get and not surprisingly Gavin was having thoughts of getting a Monday to Friday job to pay the bills. This from a horseman who looked just a few years earlier to have a huge future in the harness racing industry after a stellar junior driver career. Gavin started out in the industry helping out Murray Hamilton during the school holidays. " Murray was a friend of mum and dads and I would help out there during the school holidays." " The first time I sat in a cart I was hooked and from that time on this is all that I have wanted to do," Gavin told Harnesslink this week. While his parents raced the odd horse, there is no family history of involvement in the industry. " I am pretty sure I am the only one from either side of the family who is involved in the racing industry as a career," Gavin said. Hooked by harness racing, Gavin got his first job in the industry at age 16 when he went to work for Doug Gale. " Doug was really good to work for and I was there for over two years before doing a three year stint with Mark Purdon." " You never stopped learning off Mark and he was always good to watch and learn from." " From there I did over four years with David and Catherine Butt and I can never thank them enough for all the opportuniities they gave me." "It was while there that I got established as a driver and I don't think I would still be in the industry if it hadn't been for their help." " After that I did 18 months working for Graham Rogerson when he was in partnership with firstly Peter Simpson and latterly with Steven Reid and like everyone you work for, you pick up little things from them that helps give their horses that edge," Gavin said. Deciding it was time to go out training on his own, Gavin returned to Canterbury and purchased a 20 acre block at Leithfield beach and it wasn't long before he brought another adjacent 20 acre block. While his driving for outside trainers such as Phil Burrows and Robert Dunn was going great, his own team was forever having issues. " I got a bad virus that went right through the stable and the horses struggled to get over it." " I could never get their blood right and I tested everything to try to get to the source of the problem with no luck." " I just had one of those runs where nothing went right." " It got to the point where I was thinking seriously about giving the training away." " Then I got the opportunity to lease the complex at Dancingonmoonlight and I thought a change of scenery might change my luck so I moved here on April 2nd this year." " The horses were coming right before I moved here and since the move they have continued to improve." "I have put a lot of time into understanding the results of blood tests and I now like to think I can nip a lot of things in the bud before they become a major problem,"Gavin said. Gavin is thankful to his owners who stuck by him even when things weren't going that well. "Trish Dunell has been with me since I started out on my own and she has been great to train for." "She has been so loyal to the stable and its good she is getting a bit of payback now," Gavin said. Over the last few years Gavin has brought a handful of cheaper yearlings at the sales with the aim to turn them over quickly at a profit and been reasonably successful in doing so but now the plan has changed. " I am not buying as many as I use to but the quality is a lot better and they are by better sires." "I really like three that I bought at this years sales." * Filly by The Pres from Howz Lucky for $16,000 * Colt by Muscle Mass from Whosinthenest for $19,000 * Colt by Artsplace from Sirius Flight for $38,000. " They have all shown plenty to date so I am really looking forward to racing them next season," Gavin said. Gavin is also breeding from three mares in Hanover Glory, Bute Falcon and All Settled Down and has covered them with high profile stallions with Hanover Glory going to Sportswriter, Bute Falcon to Mach Three and All Settled Down to Majestic Son. As with all stables Gavin has one horse that he has really high hopes for next season. " I think Scarlett Banner could be very competitive in the big fillies races next season." " I gave her one start this season when she ran fifth to Dream About Me and Arden's Choice and then had to put her aside." " She has just blossomed in the last couple of months and I am really looking forward to next season with her," Gavin said. Since the move to his new stables Gavin has really got his mojo back, racking up 15 wins as a driver and more importantly 10 winners from his own barn. The highlight though was undoubtedly his drive on the Fred Fletcher trained Sunny Ruby to win the 3 year old Ruby on Jewels day. " Fred and Sam did such a great job just to get her there." " She never started to come right until ten days before the race so to have her ready to run 1:54 was a great training achievement." " She use to over race quite badly but they have got her to settle now so they deserve a lot of credit for the turnaround in her attitude." "She has an all round game and I think she will measure up in the best company in time," Gavin said. With the massive turnaround in stable fortunes since the move to his new stables, Gavin is looking to the future with a lot of confidence. " The move has been positive on so many fronts." Not only with the horses but I get to see a lot more of the family not having to travel so much up to Leithfield. "Sara is running the breeding side with her father Robert and so we work in together a lot with the two operations." It is working out really well, Gavin said. Gavin knows how lucky he is to be in the position he now finds himself in. "I know how hard it is for people who don't have family in the industry to get established." "When I have a look now at all the drivers who were about in my junior driving days, only Nathan Williamson and Jay Abernathy have made it in the training ranks which shows you how hard it is for a young trainer to get established in harness racing," Gavin said. With the way his team is performing at the moment and the confidence he is gaining from driving so well at present, Gavin looks poised to reach the high levels that many astute judges in the industry always thought he was destined for. Harnesslink Media

Many harness racing trainers in New Zealand focus on trotters rather than pacers and one of the most successful in that regard is the Weedons horseman Fred Fletcher.   Whenever Fred lines a trotter in any of the classics it pays to take notice as he has had a great run for longer than I care to remember.   Today at Ashburton he lined up the smart Sundon filly Sunny Ruby in the Group 1 Harness Jewels three year old $100,000 Ruby and although the formline was impeccable, she went out at odds of twelve to one.   Away well to lead from barrier two for driver Gavin Smith, Sunny Ruby took a trail soon after behind the well performed Prince Fearless.   Monbet and Ricky May breezed up at the 500 metres mark and slowly started to wear down Prince Fearless.   Just when everyone was acclaiming Monbet the winner, Gavin Smith angled Sunny Ruby wider on the track and flew late to win a lot more easily than it looked.   Monbet battled on bravely for second in front of the pacemaking Prince Fearless.   Warm favourite Speeding Spur galloped wildly soon after the start and then produced a massive performance to run fifth just under seven lengths from the winner    Sunny Ruby trotted the mile in 1:54.7 which took a massive 1.8 seconds off the previous New Zealand record for a three year old trotter held by Prime Power.   Gavin Smith was quick to heap praise on Fred post race.   " Fred has done a great job with this filly to get her to race a lot kinder and he deserves a lot of the credit for today's win."   " I got a lovely run on the back of Prince Fearless and I thought I was a chance at the 200 metres when she was travelling so well."   "She has tremendously high speed if saved for one run," Gavin said.   Todays Harness Jewels win by Sunny Ruby was Fred Fletchers third and just further added further lustre to his reputation as a great trainer of trotters.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be a great leveler at times and the $32,400 Futurity Final for C0-C5 horses at Addington today was another great example that races are run on the track and not in the bar. New Years Jay was a warm favourite on the back of some super performances over the last few months and Dana Duke was another to attract solid support after a string of smart runs in quality fields.   Juliette Bromac led early from barrier one and set up a hectic pace in front.   The first surprise came when Dana Duke broke after 400 metres and settled 10 lengths behind the bunch.   The three wide train led by Parramatta and Terry Chmiel took off with 1400 metres to run and grabbed the lead off Juliette Bromac.   Billies A Star driven by Gavin Smith followed up Parramatta and landed in the death seat before getting cover behind New Years Jay with 800 metres to run.   Passing the 600 metres New Years Jay went into a wild gallop after hanging in and striking the wheel of Parramatta and that put paid to her chances.   As they turned for home Parramatta lead but was quickly claimed by Billies A Star who shot clear for a 2 1/4 length win.   Juliette Bromac got up the passing lane for a game second in front of a fast finishing Lovemetwotimes.   The time for the 2600 metres from the mobile was a brilliant 3:10.6, a mile rate of 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 28.9.   Trained by Phil Burrows at Fernside, Billies A Star is by American Ideal from a In The Pocket daughter of a full sister to the brilliant Starship 1:54.5 ($341,780).   Gavin Smith was full of praise for the trainer post race.   " Phil always has his horses ready to run"   " When he tells you they are ready, it gives you a lot of confidence,"he said.   A bit of a rogue early on, Billies A Star is getting better with each race and Gavin was sure where the credit lay.   "Phil has taken his time with this horse and is getting the rewards now," he said.   At his present rate of improvement it wouldn't be a surprise to see Billies A Star in some of the 4 year old classics later in the season.   Billies A Star Harnesslink media

There was no ring-around last week however the ring-around the week prior produced five winners. Let’s see if we can top that tally this week. Forbury – Thursday Robbie Close: Thinks impressive last start winner Billies A Star will prove very tough to beat in the third race on the card. Jonny Cox:  Has found some value in the form of stable newcomer Franco Theron – race six. Ken Barron:  Has opted for Livura, who looks a strong chance in race seven, as his bet of the week. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Sage can surprise at value from her ace draw. She also competes in the seventh race on the card. Franklin@Alexandra Park – Friday Scott Phelan: Has opted for Getaway Doug as his bet of the week – race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B):  Rates the chances of Tarn, who was a good workout winner last weekend, in the same event. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who has raced well lately despite receiving little luck. She looks a good chance in race six. Jay Abernethy: Has opted for Pacific Rapture, who finished a nice second in the Golden Girls Final, in the same race. Josh Dickie: Expects Tembi to prove too strong for his five rivals in the last event on the card. Rangiora – Sunday Gavin Smith: Has opted for stable newcomer Zena Mac, who looks a good chance from her ace alley in the second race. Mark Jones:  Rates JC Skipper as his best chance of the weekend – race four. Ricky May: Has selected Mighty Peruvian, who stuck on gamely for second last start. He also competes in race four. Terry Chmiel: Expects impressive trialist Parramatta to prove hard to beat in the fifth event on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): New Deal – race nine.    

Last week was possibly the worst ever for the ring-around with just the one winner. However, that one winner, Equulei, tipped by Jay Abernethy, did pay odds of $10.70 and $2.50. Let’s see what the boys have come up with for us this week: Addington – Thursday Jonny Cox: Thinks 2-win mare Pay Me Quick, who has been in sublime form of late, will be hard to beat against non-win rivals in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the very smart Dalton Bromac, who looks half of the quinella with Wesley Silcox – race four. Matthew Williamson:  Expects Very Persuasive to prove very hard to beat in the Golden Girls Final – race eight. Ken Barron: Has a massive opinion of Bracken Ridge and expects him to be simply too classy for his rivals in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race nine. Alexandra Park - Thursday Josh Dickie: Thinks Sunny Vacation, with manners, is the one they all have to beat in race six. Scott Phelan: Thinks the inform Cyamach, who is likely to head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, can continue on his winning ways – race seven. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who looks a strong chance in the eighth race on the card. Simon Lawson: Thinks Shedontloveme is a very good each-way chance in the last race on the card. Kurow – Sunday Blair Orange: Thinks Quaint Glen, who had trialled up stylishly prior to her debut third, can win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Lovetodream, who also looks a good chance in the first race on card. Gavin Smith: Thinks Billies A Star, who has been ultra impressive at the trials, should prove too strong for what looks an average maiden line-up – race five. Mark Jones: Thinks Sunoflindenny, who has been backed and beaten in his first two runs back, can make amends in the sixth race on the card.  

Last week the ring-around produced six winners with Matthew Williamson, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, Ricky May, John Dunn, and I all delivering the goods. The best result was my tip Spell which romped in at odds $5.50. Let’s see what winners we have in store for you this week: Cambridge – Thursday Jay Abernethy: Thinks Equulei can kick the ring-around off in style in the first race at Cambridge. Simon Lawson: Rates Betty Boop Brogden as a good each-way chance in the fourth race on the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Miss Lotty, who was seen doing her best work late when second last start. She looks a good chance in the first race. Brent Mangos: expects impressive trialist Vibhuti to prove very tough to roll – race four. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Djokovic, who looks a bold chance in race five. Scott Phelan: Rates the chances of inform pacer Cyamach, who looks a strong chance despite meeting a very good field in the sixth race at Alexandra Park. Addington – Friday Ken Barron: Expects both Bracken Ridge (race two) and Quaint Glen (Rangiora race 3) to prove very hard to beat. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race two Mark Jones: Thinks the consistent Jaccka Len can break through for another win – race five. Gavin Smith: Rates She’s Extreme as a good place chance in the sixth event on the card. John Dunn: Is expecting a big run from two-year-old filly Cullens First Meddle – race six. Tim Williams: Has opted for smart mare Here We Go Again, who downed likely favourite Fifth Edition in her last start – race eight. Matthew Williamson: Expects Ohoka Benson to be hard to beat in what looks an average C1 field – race ten. Rangiora – Sunday Terry Chmiel: Has opted for the inform That Guy Finn, who looks a good chance despite meeting a strong C1 and 2 line-up – race six. Jonny Cox:  Thinks Explosive Art can continue to explode through the grades – race nine.  

Last week the ring-around produced five winners including Kowhai Sunrise (Mark Jones), who romped in at odds of $6.10. Let’s see what racings leading lads have got for us this week. Forbury Park – Thursday Gavin Smith & David Butt:  Have both opted for Eagles Nest, who is a lot better than his form suggests. However, he does run into a couple of smart types in Media Queen and Smokin Bird – race three. Stephen McNally: Has opted for Bonora Boy who will also attempt to break maidens in the third event. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Nickelson will get some money again tonight – race four. Matthew Williamson: Has a good book of drives, but rates Al Razza as the best of them – race nine. Tim Williams: Thinks Memorable can get a slice of the pie in the last race of the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Ken Barron: Has opted for last start winner Real Intentions as his bet of the week. She also competes in the first event. Scott Phelan: Thinks Prince Of Pops, who was an impressive last start winner, can double the dose on Friday. – race one. Josh Dickie: Has opted for debutant Connoisseur, who has been impressive at the trials.  He competes in the third race on the card. Blenheim– Friday Jonny Cox: Thinks capable trotter Free Dreams can win his stable debut – race five. Craig Thornley: Rates the chances of Al’s Courage, who was very good on both days of the Nelson circuit. Ricky May: Rates Franco Salisbury as his best drive of the week – race eight. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Swarovski will prove very hard to beat in the eighth race on the card. Anthony Butt: Is very bullish about the chances of Motu Prince Of Peru – race eleven. Blenheim - Sunday Blair Orange: Has opted for Vice Consul, who will come into the meeting fresh on the second day. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Vice Consul  

After all the hoopla of Jewels day at Cambridge yesterday, harness racing today, at a low-key  Ashburton meeting was a return to normality. But that’s not to say there weren't some very promising horses racing. The mares and fillies mile looked a two horse affair on paper between the very speedy Lis Mara 3 year old filly, Delightful Dash and the talented 4 year old Red River Hanover mare Karanga Red Fantasy. Delightful Dash with Dexter Dunn in the bike led with ease from barrier six with Karanga Red Fantasy and Gavin Smith dropping straight onto her back from barrier three. Dexter kept up a very solid tempo and turning for home looked to going as good as anything. But Gavin Smith was only foxing and passing the 150 meters mark he eased Karanga Red Fantasy out of the trial and she brushed past Delightful Dash in the shadows of the post to record her fourth career win in just her seventh race day appearance. She stopped the clock at a very impressive 1:54.1 with closing sectionals of 55.7 and 26.9. Delightful Dash lost no admirers in finishing a half-length away in second while Crimson Glory was the best of the rest, running into third four and a half lengths from the winner. The first two to finish today both appear capable of further wins in the near future.   Harnesslink media

Congratulations to Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Todd Mitchell, Joshua Dickie, Jonny Cox, and Nathan Williamson who all produced ‘the goods’ last week. The best result was Katieellen Castleton, who was backed into a closing price of $6.50. Let’s see what good oil the boys have come up with on this massive week of harness racing. Addington - Thursday Colin DeFilippi: Has opted for Strathfield Sun, who recovered well to finish fourth after an early gallop last start - race one. Gavin Smith: Was impressed with Karanga Red Fantasy’s fresh-up second behind Anton Oliver, and think she can go one better in race six tonight. Mark Jones: Has opted for Rock Till You Drop on the back of a couple of impressive workout performances. - race six. Ricky May: Is bullish about the chances of Nevertheless, who has been very good in his last two starts - race seven. Franklin - Friday Jay Abernethy: Likes the chances of Pacific Rapture, who produced a big performance after breaking behind the mobile last start- race six. Simon Lawson: Has opted for the consistent Gold Elite - race eight. Josh Dickie: Rates Kippenberger as a good each-way chance- race nine Forbury Park - Friday Nathan Williamson: Thinks Mr Majestic can break his maiden status in the first race on Friday. Tim Williams: Believes it won’t be long before Mordecai cracks maidens. Probably Friday night- race three. Cambridge Harness Jewels - Saturday Greg Hope: Thinks he has Monbet right back on top of his game and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the 2YO Ruby - race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has also opted for Monbet on the back of an impressive workout at Cambridge. - race two. John Dunn: Thinks Venus Serena has a cracking winning chance despite her tricky second-line - race three. David Butt: Thinks One Over Da Moon only needs a touch of luck to be a major player in the 3YO Ruby - race four. Ken Barron: Thinks that if Majestic Time is at her best come Saturday she will be a force to be reckoned with - race four. Anthony Butt: Has opted for smart filly Joannes A Delight, who should strip a better horse this week after missing work last week due to a foot abscess - race five. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Supersonic Miss - race five Todd Mitchell: Is very happy with Prime Power, who will attempt to defend his Jewels title on Saturday - race seven. Matt Markham (HRNZ): Rates Prime Power as the bet of the day on Harness Jewels Day - race seven. Ashburton - Sunday Dexter Dunn: Has a good book of drives on Jewels Day, but has instead opted for Artismee in race two on Sunday Stephen McNally: Thinks Hikoi is closing in rapidly on his maiden win- race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks last start winner That Guy Finn, can repeat the dose on Sunday - race seven. Sam Ottley: Rates the chances of Mattjestic Rebeck - race nine. Invercargill - Monday Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of King Louie - race five. Clark Barron:  Rates Royal Taz as his best chance of the weekend - race eleven.  

Its been a game of changing owners over the last two years for Ultimate CC, who bowed out of NZ racing a winner of the $15,000 Nevele R Fillies No.36 Consolation at Addington on Saturday, May 10. Initally a $135,000 buy-back at the yearling sales, Ultimate CC was then purchased post the sales by Peter Chambers for under the six figure asking price. Mr Chambers then on-sold her to fellow Australian Overport Lodge stable client Greg Brodie, who recently passed her on to trainer Mark Jones. Mark had sold Mr Brodie a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, which appears to have a more promising future, with the transfer of Ultimate CC to Mark’s WDC 03 (World Driving Champion 2003) Limited company as part of the deal. “She was in a hard grade and Greg’s not interested in breeding them.” Mark said. The Mainland Banner filly, named Rocker Band, is a half-sister to Peruvian Banner (1:52.1, US), Stunin Banner (11 wins, 1:59.5) and Return To Sender (four wins, 1:57.4 rate, 2400m). “I’ve turned her out for a few months and she’s had an operation. She’s a nice type,” Mark said of Rocker Band, who qualified winning a Rangiora 2000m trial in 2:31.7 on April 7. Mark was going to breed from Ultimate CC, but when a good offer came, he reasoned it wasn’t worth it for him waiting years to get her foals on the ground. “Stuart Valentine arranged it. I don’t know who the new owner is but she’s off to Melbourne,” Mark said. Ultimate CC, who picked up a $9000 winning stake on Saturday, has a bit going for post her race career with her breeding (Christian Cullen-TK Swift). She leaves NZ the winner of three and five times placed from 15 starts for $24,086 in stakes and has a fastest winning mile rate to date of 2:00.3 (1800m) on the grass at Waikouaiti. She has placed in a 1:58.1 rate (1609m) and ran a slick final 800m in 56.4s to win Saturday’s consolation. Ultimate CC responded to a smart front-running drive by Mark, who was allowed an easy run front in the mid stages. She kicked best in the straight to hold Armazem, Going To California and favourite Speights Girl (parked over the last 700m) by three-quarters of a length, rating 2:02.2 for the full 1950m. The win was Mark’s 62nd training win of the season. He holds third on the NZ trainers premiership this term behind the Purdon/Rasmussen barn (130 wins) and Robert Dunn (79 wins). SMOKE N SANTANNA SHOULD DEVELOP AT THREE Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones will give last week’s maiden winner Smoke N Santanna his chance in next week’s 2YO Garrards Sires Stakes Silver before tipping him out till next term. “Hopefully he’ll be in the Consolation and then the paddock,” Mark said. “He’s a very nice horse but its scary how good the two-year-olds are this season. “He’ll be better at three,” he said. Smoke N Santanna, a son of the smart racemare Smoke N Mirrors (10 wins for $189,675 in stakes), justified his $1.90 favourtism against the older maidens in the Avon City Ford Mobile Pace at Addington on Friday May 2. He appreciated a significant class drop back after finishing unplaced in three two-year-old starts in April. Driver Jonny Cox didn’t rush the Santanna Blue Chip colt early from the three gate for his maiden victory, being left parked. Cox’s inquiry for the front at the 1200m was denied by Gavin Smith (San Diego) but Cox knew Smoke N Santanna was travelling like the winner down the back, letting him surge to the front at the 600m. The favourite raced several lengths clear on the home turn and was allowed the luxury of easing down over the final 100m, winning untested by 3 1/4 lengths. Smoke N Santanna rated 2:00.4 for the mobile 1950m, the leaders running their last 800m in 61.3s and final 400m in 30.7s. He showed his promise qualifying in early December at Addington in a 2:02.5 rate (1950m). Smoke N Santanna is raced by his breeders, Peter and Debbie Smith, and Peter’s mother, Patricia, who also race Smoke N Santanna’s year older half-brother Smoke N Grin, the winner of one from three from the Dunedin stable of Jonny Cox and Amber Hoffman. The Mark Jones stable notched a winning Addington double, advancing to 60 wins for the term when Tuxedo Max also scored a clear-cut win in the C1-2 Blue Star Taxis Handicap Pace. Tuxedo Max, a 3YO colt by former top pacer Elsu from Paris Hilton (by Village Jasper), appreciated the strong tempo over the 2000m stand. He settled sixth for catch driver Jimmy Curtin, slotting into the running line, then hooked wide at the 400m to reel in Jericho, who had dashed clear the 500m. Tuxedo Max sailed past the pacemaker at the 200m and was unchallenged in the run to the wire, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths in 2:30.4 (2:00.9 mile rate), the leaders last 800m in 58.9s and final 400m in 30.2s. His time was just 0.9 of a second outside the NZ 3YO colts and geldings mark, set by Classie Mach in 2012. “He’s doing a nice job. I can’t believe no-one has bought him!,” Mark said. This was his second win from seven starts. He gets a chance to further his solid record in the C1 mobile pace at Timaru this Sunday. By Jeff Scott (MARK JONES RACING)

Last week the ring-around produced six winners including, Waitoto Express ($6.40), Doubleodeano ($6.10), and Lancewood Lizzie, who was backed in from an opening quote of $9 and ended up starting a warm favourite. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week! Cambridge - Thursday Todd Mitchell: Expects Jovani, who was a luckless fresh-up sixth, to prove hard to beat from her ace alley - race three Simon Lawson: Is bullish about the chances of two-year-old Blinding Light, who will shoot for two from two in the sixth race on the card. Jay Abernethy: Is expecting the inform Beta B Quick to go another good race - race nine Josh Dickie: Expects Giuliana Rancic to make a winning debut on the back of some handy trial form - race ten Alexandra Park - Friday Blair Orange: Expects in form trotting mare Paramount Queen to carry on her winning way- race one. Scott Phelan: Rates Pretty Awesome as his best drive this week - race three. Anthony Butt: Has opted for Joanne's A Delight, who was a brilliant third after dragging a flat tyre last week - race four. David Butt: Thinks a few gear changes and the extra distance can see One Over Da Moon claim Group One glory in the Northern Trotting Derby - race six. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Franco Nelson, who has recorded some very good sectionals in his last two starts, is a very good chance in the NZ Messenger - race seven. Forbury - Friday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for Imperial Ace as his best bet of the week - race two Nathan Williamson: Thinks Nothingforthemedia is a very good chance at odds in the same race - race two Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of Play Action, who was a very good second behind a smart type last start. Take a boxed quinella and trifecta with the three of them? - race two Mark Jones: Thinks Jaccka Len can cap off some consistent form with a win in race five on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Never Sighted, who looks very hard to beat on debut off the back of some super trials performances - race seven Addington – Saturday Dexter Dunn: Thinks Speights Girl will take all sorts of beating in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the talent Monbet as his bet of the week - race five Craig Thornley: Rates Playaway as a good each-way chance - race six John Dunn: Thinks Say My Name can give Alta Orlando a run for his money in the Sales Series Final – race ten. Timaru - Sunday Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Field Marshall - race three Samantha Ottley: Rates Spell, who has been very good in her last two outings, as her best chance of the week - race six Gavin Smith: Thinks Waihemo Art can get some money in what looks an average maiden line-up - race nine. By Mitchell Robertson

Last week the ring-around produced seven winners, with Mark Jones, Stephen Richardson, Blair Orange, David Butt, Simon Lawson, Terry Chmiel, Jonny Cox, and Ricky May all producing the goods. Let’s hope for a repeat performance this week! Forbury Park - Thursday Andrew Armour: Has opted for Al Raza, who will look to go one better after a nice debut second - race two. Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of Tagataese, who smashed his rivals in a penalty free maiden claimers race last start. He competes in the third race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for the consistent Waitoto Express, who should add to his bank balance on Thursday - race five. Matthew Williamson: Had the choice of three drives in the last race at Forbury but opted for Lionels Meddle, who looks well placed in the tenth race on the card. Alexandra Park - Friday Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chance of Full Speed Ahead, who was an emphatic winner at Addington last start - race one. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for the smart Doubleodeano, who looks the main threat to Full Speed Ahead. - race one. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Rates the chances of smart filly Lancewood Lizzie, who is now trained by Barry Purdon - race four. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Linda Lovegrace - race five David Butt: Thinks One Over Da Moon can make the most of his ace alley in the Northern Trotting Derby - race eight. Ken Barron: Expects star trotting filly Majestic Time to prove very hard to beat in the Northern Trotting Derby - race eight. Anthony Butt: Will take the reins behind Aussie raider Zedalite, who was a very good second in the Anzac Cup last week - race ten. Nathan Williamson: Has taken The Wonkey Donkey north and expects him to be very competitive in the last race on the card. Addington - Friday Mark Jones: Thinks two-year-old Smoke N Santanna will be very hard to beat in what looks an average maiden line-up - race one. Gavin Smith: Thinks the consistent Naughty Maravu can be competitive despite his tricky barrier draw - race eight. Thames@ Alexandra Park - Sunday Josh Dickie: Has opted for Live At Speed, who drops back from a handy fifth in a much stronger field last start - race one. Jay Abernethy: Rates Riverboat Sue as his best chance of the week- race five. Ashburton – Sunday Ricky May: Believes Franco Salisbury, who was a fast-finishing fourth last start, will prove hard to beat from his ace alley – race seven. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess looks very well placed in the ninth race on Sunday.    

Last week was a disappointing one for the ring-around with just Blair Orange and Mark Jones producing the goods, however a form reversal is expected this weekend.   Here is what some of New Zealand's leading harness racing participants came up with for us this week.   Addington - Thursday   Josh Dickie: Was pleased with Speeding Spur in his South Island debut and expects him to be hard to roll in the feature two-year-old trot - race two.   Mark Jones:  Has opted for impressive trialist Fleeting Grin, who should take all sorts of stopping in race five on the card   Craig Thornely:  Expects Gotta Grunter, who is now on the beach with Mark Jones, to break maidens at short notice - race five   Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Was impressed with the way Fifth Edition found the line last start. He looks well placed in race six on the card after dropping back from C2.   Matthew Williamson: Thinks Mokosun can make it three wins on end in race eight on the card.   Nigel McGrath:  Believes that Heza Mighty Monarch will take a power of beating if he is to do things right in race ten.   Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Has opted for Iceobar on the back of an eyecatching fresh-up third - race eleven   Gavin Smith:  Thinks Waihemo Art is a strong chance in what looks an average maiden line-up - race twelve   Alexandra Park - Friday   Blair Orange: Expects a bold preformance from  Paramount Queen in the first race of the card. Stephen McNally: Thinks K D Muscles, who has been racing well in age group company, looks the one in race three.   Scott Phelan: Rates Sweet Art  as a good each-way chance- race seven   Todd Mitchell: Was impresed with how Prime Power worked during the week and expects him to be very hard to beat in the Anzac Cup - race nine   David Butt: Expects One Over Da Moon to prove too good if he can jump to the lead early - race eleven   Simon Lawson: Has opted for classy two-year-old Beaudiene Boaz - race twelve   Gore - Saturday   Tim Williams:  Thinks Bettor Buy It  will prove hard to beat in the Southern Supremacy- race ten   Rangiora - Sunday   Terry Chmiel: Thinks Dynamic Party looks well placed in race two despite his tricky barrier draw.   Ken Barron: Believes Pacquiao can top off a string of good runs with a win in race five.   Jonny Cox:  Is bullish about the chances of Jaccka Justy, who was a game second behind Master Lavros last start - race seven   Ricky May:  Expects Terror To Love to finish his season in style in the Rangiora Classic - race eight

Last week the ring-around produced five winners including my each-way bet of the week Dream Gal, which bolted in at odds of $6 and $1.80. Others to tip out winners included Mark Jones, Steve Richardson (TAB), Todd Mitchell, Matt Williamson, and Tim Williams. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Cambridge - Thursday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for unbeaten juvenile trotter The Driving God - race five. Scott Phelan: Thinks Seven Blue Chips can make the most of his ace alley in race number six. Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Thomas McBride to prove very hard to beat in the seventh race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine as his Harnesslink Bet of the Week – race nine. Forbury - Thursday Nathan Williamson: Thinks the very consistent Nickelson will get some money in race three. Ricky May: Is very bullish about the chances of Pay Me Sush in the sixth race on the card. John Dunn: Has opted for Graduate Under Fire, who has been in brilliant form of late. He looks well placed in race number seven. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes looks well suited to the short 1200 metre sprint distance in race nine on the card. Terry Chmiel: Expects Moondyne Joe, who was in need of a run when third in a good field last start at Addington, to prove too good - race eleven. Blair Orange & Mark Jones: Have both opted for Strike On Command, who is unbeaten from two appearances at Forbury Park - race twelve. Jonny Cox:  Rates Sara Holley, who has drawn well for Thursday’s assignment, as a very good each-way bet. She also competes in the last race on the card. Tim Williams: Has added to the puzzle by tipping Bobbie McArdle in race twelve. Trifecta perhaps? Addington - Saturday Josh Dickie: Was impressed with how Speeding Spur trialled on Monday and expects him to highly competitive in the Two-year-old Trotting Stakes - race four. Anthony Butt:  Has opted for impressive two-year-old trialist Curlimore, who looks a great chance from a good alley in race number six. Matthew Williamson: Expects Zhenya to appreciate the drop back in class in race number seven. Craig Thornley: Thinks Given only needs to trot to be competitive - race eleven. Ken Barron: Was very pleased with Pacquiao last start and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Snooki – Hawera (Saturday), race three. Each-way: Prince Fearless – Addington (Saturday), race four. Curlimore  - Addington (Saturday), race five Value: Dark Side  - Forbury Park (Thursday), race five.

Art Union should not be lining up for career start number two in the Resource Recycling Technologies NZ $8,000 Pace for 2-year-olds at Addington Raceway on Saturday. In fact he should have been retired long before his racing career started. Trainer Cran Dalgety said the well-bred Art Major colt could easily have been wandering around in a paddock now retired from what he termed a “one in a million” injury. “He could have been racing for us three months ago, but we lost valuable ground with him. If you raced a thousand times you wouldn’t see what happened to the poor buggar in a trial at Ashburton back in December. “He was in the one-one and the parked horse came back on him and he got his foot stuck up in the cart and fractured his hock,” Dalgety said. Vets then told the West Melton horseman there was little or no chance of Art Union ever racing again. They did toy with operating and putting a screw in his leg but Dalgety opted against it. “I told the vets if he was out in the wild he wouldn’t be able to get operated on, so we just swum him. It’s a bit of a miracle but time, swimming, and Mother Nature have cured it,” Dalgety said. “Well fingers crossed it’s cured. He’s shown no signs of distress and has bounced back well from his win the other night,” he added. Art Union won his Motukarara Workout on April 5 and then his Rangiora Trial two days later before making a winning debut at Addington Raceway last Friday (April 11). The brown colt was backed into a $3.20 favourite and never looked like losing the $8,000 Spectators Bar & Bistro Open ‘Til Late Mobile Pace. He won the 1950m mobile by 1-1/4 lengths in 2:24.2. Mile rate: 1:58.9. last 800m: 57.2. Last 400m: 27.4. Art Union was eased back early, improved to be parked at the 900m and then drew clear inside the closing 100m proving too strong for Dana Duke (Gavin Smith) and Abbey Cullen (Stephen McNally). “His dam Sparks A Flyin (21 wins and $627,218) was a very good horse winning several big races here and was a New South Wales Oaks winner. She also went 1:51 in America. She was also 3yo Filly-Of-The-Year and just keeps popping them out for the Wakefields (owners and breeders),” Dalgety said. Art Union is a half-brother to earlier classy performers, Diomedes (1:57.5), Empyrean (1:56.2), Bettor’s Fire (1:57.4) and Safedra (1:56.3). Last Friday he became the fifth sub 2:00 winner from Sparks A Flyin (1:52). Dalgety said he would race him in the Sires Stakes heat at Addington after this weekend’s mission, and if he still didn’t have enough money in the bank he could possibly head north to qualify for the 2yo Emerald Final at the Harness Jewels meeting at Cambridge Raceway on May 31. “He’d be right up there with some of the best colts I’ve trained. He has really bulked up since coming back from his injury. He now looks like a 3-year-old. “He’s a tall and long legged creature. Almost thoroughbred like. He’s certainly no flash in the pan,” Dalgety said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including my bet of the week and my two each-way bets of the week. Others to tip out winners were Jonny Cox, Steve Richardson, and Ken Barron. Let’s see if some of the trainers and drivers can hold up their end of the bargain this week! Forbury – Thursday Dexter Dunn: Has surprisingly opted for Phat Freddy’s Drop, who will look to break maidens in the first race on the card. Jonny Cox: Rates Mako Banner as a very good each-way chance in race three. Quinella with Katy Perry perhaps? Craig Thornley: Was pleased with U Can I Can at the recent Motukarara workouts - race four Mark Jones: Expects Ultimate CC to prove very hard to beat in the ninth race on the card Terry Chmiel: Is expecting a bold performance from Angus T Jones in the ninth race. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Expects Cheers Kathy to be very hard to roll in the first race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for impressive last start winner Destination Moon - race six Todd Mitchell: Is a very big fan of Mach's Gladiator, and expects him to be hard to roll in the ninth race on the card. Addington - Friday   Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chances of Paramount Queen, who looks very well placed in race two. Anthony Butt: Thinks Thebestlove is a big chance in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four David Butt: Warns punters not to drop One Over Da Moon, who also competes in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Locharburn to prove to strong in the NZ Derby - race nine Ken Barron:  Rates the chances of capable two-year-old filly Livura, who has drawn well for Friday’s assignment - race twelve Gavin Smith: Thinks Dana Duke could be well over the odds in the same event - race twelve Invercargill - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for the capable yet enigmatic Bet's Sun, who would only need to trot to win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Thinks Just A Delight, who has finished second in her last three outings, is overdue a winning turn - race ten Andrew Armour Thinks Blanco, who has raced well since joining the barn of Tom Kilkelly, is a good each-way chance in race eleven. Motukarara – Sunday Ricky May: Believes Franco Salisbury will take all sorts of beating from his ace draw – race seven. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Char Do Neigh – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Dream Gal – Forbury Park, race five Emmanuel – Addington, race three Value: Ranfurly Rulz – Addington, race one  

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