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Congratulations to David Butt, Josh Dickie, Mark Jones, Simon Lawson, and Tim Williams who all tipped out winners last week. Unfortunately Blair Orange came up a  ½ length short of tipping six consecutive winners, with the stablemate that he did highlight as the horse to beat holding on to win narrowly. Let’s find out what the boys have sorted out for us this week: Andrew Armour: Expects Armbro Courage to break maidens at very short notice – Winton, race six. Anthony Butt: Thinks Ideal Power can make it three straight victories – Addington, race seven. Blair Orange: Has opted to go head-to-head with Anthony, tipping Rocknroll Arden in the same event - Addington, race seven. Craig Thornely: Believes Gotta Grunter can break maidens after a string of seconds to open her career. She competes in the sixth race at Rangiora on Sunday. David Butt:  Has a big opinion of One Over Da Moon and expects him to win the second race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Thinks the unbeaten Karanga Red Fantasy, who trialled well behind Adore Me on Monday, will prove hard to beat in race three at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Expects Goodness Gracious Me, who was a game third in the Southland Oaks, to be very hard to beat in the seventh race at Winton on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Has opted for Sunny Vacation as his bet of the week – Alexandra Park, race ten. Ken Barron: Was keen around the chances of Quality Invasion but in the end opted for Majestic Time who will take all sorts of stopping in the NZ Trotting Oaks – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is very happy with Master Lavros and expects him to bounce back to winning for in the race ten at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson:  Thinks talented but enigmatic trotter Bet’s Sun can bet its best foot forward in the third race at Rangiora on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Defy is overdue a winning turn – Winton, race six. Ricky May: Expects extremely talented two-year-old trotter Monbet to prove too good in the first race at Rangiora on Sunday. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Besotted in the Kumeu Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B):  Likes the chances of speedy filly God Forbid who should be better for her fresh up run – Alexandra Park, race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Less can get some money in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Popular, who should be just that with punters after a very good run behind Raksdeal last start – Winton, race two. Todd Mitchell: Expects his stable star Prime Power to prove very hard to beat in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Saratoga – Alexandra Park, race ten. Each-way: Hug The Wind – Addington, race eleven. Smiles For Miles – Winton, race six. Value: Pomme Roy – Addington, race six.

The ring-around continues to gain momentum, so much so that it debuted on The Box Seat last night and will now hold a weekly spot on the show. Last week the Harnesslink ring-around produced seven winners with the best result being the Stephen Richardson tipped Djokovic who romped in by 8 & ½ lengths at odds of $6.20. Other winners included Sunhaven Express, who was victorious at a nice each-way price of $5.30 and $2.20. So, let see what the boys have come up with for us this week! Andrew Armour: Rates Armbro Courage as his best chance of the week – Invercargill, race three Blair Orange: Who is shooting for six winning tips in a row, expects Itz Bettor To Win to remain unbeaten after the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Craig Thornely: Has opted for Smithy in the eighth race at Addington on Friday. David Butt:  Rates Lotalov as a very good each-way bet in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks the highly capable trotter Sheemon will prove very hard to beat in race seven at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Has opted for Zena Mac, who was a bold second last start at Methven – Akaroa @ Motukarara, race four. Jonny Cox: Expects Smiles For Miles to be very hard to beat on Sunday – Invercargill, race three. Josh Dickie: Is bullish about the chances of Destination Moon in the last race at Cambridge tonight. Ken Barron: Expects Mighty Major to be very hard to stop from his inside barrier draw – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is prepared to give The Ultimate Storm one last chance - Addington, race eleven. Matthew Williamson: Rates Zhenya as his best chance of the week – Addington, race ten. Nathan Williamson: Thinks talented filly I Smart can get some money in the Southland Oaks – Invercargill, race eight. Simon Lawson:  Has a high opinion of Unforgiving, and expects her to be very hard to beat in the third race at Cambridge tonight. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Robyn's Raider can make it back-to-back wins in the tenth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Terry Chmiel: Expects Swarozki to be competitive in the second race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Bobbie McArdle, who looks a good each-way chance in race five at Invercargill on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks It's All On will offer some good each-way value for punters – Cambridge, race ten.   Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bets: Alleluia – Addington, race eight Tokohoka – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Blue Eyed Suzie – Invercargill, race seven Value: Holy Grail – Addington, race nine

What Makes News? For some time now I have given up watching mainstream television, mainly because I can't handle the countless mind-numbing reality shows, and the news is full of petty bickering and points scoring between politicians who should know better (Election year hasn't helped that!). My spies tell me that the potentially horrific smash at Westport last week was shown on the News (not sure which channel) making it obvious that the general media is only interested in harness racing when there is a crash, or some form of drug related sensation. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often so that coverage is minimal. The only other recent positive coverage was Zac Butchers' wonderful display of showmanship on beating his dad in the Drivers' premiership eighteen months ago. Got me thinking though, if the mainstream channels want sensationalism, why not give it to them. A reality show featuring nasty harness racing crashes? Obviously permission would need to be granted by the people involved in the incidents, but it would surely rate higher than "Outer Mongolias' Ugliest Bodies" or "What I found In My Great Uncles Garage", or some of the other drivel currently on offer! You know the old saying, any publicity etc., etc. Maybe sponsorship could be gained from a manufacturer of safety gear? While on the subject of Westport, it is slightly sad to see that the Club, renowned for being both forward thinking and extremely hospitable, refuses to acknowledge the need for a passing lane at Patterson Park. Using the Stipes' Report from last Friday as a guide, there were a total of 26 horses who were ‘denied clear racing room' in the straight. When I broached this with a Club official, I received a similar response that I probably would have given myself about 10 years ago - that there is still (usually) only one winner in each race. While that is difficult to argue with, one of the suggestions put forward was that punters needed to back drivers who didn't drive for luck, and moaned when they were unlucky. That argument tends to collapse when the drivers on some of those denied a run the other day included Jim Curtin, Robbie Holmes, Pete Davis and Gavin Smith, all of whom are virtual stalwarts of West Coast harness racing. The problem is that for every one of those 26 horses denied a run, there are dozens of disgruntled punters (aka customers) with a nasty taste in their mouth. Yes I admit, I had that taste four times during the day! Come on Westport, move with the times on this one, and move a few marker pegs. Northern Branch February 2014 The Associations' Northern Branch recently met to discuss the latest issues facing that area, and began by giving a vote of support to Northern starter Frank Phelan. Those present acknowledged, however, that all starters should come under scrutiny as part of the job and, on occasions could do things better. (As an aside to this topic, the Association received a communication from Mr Brian Macey, the owner of Prime Power, who was singled out for criticism in a recent article on standing starts. Brian agreed with Paul Nairns' comments concerning poorly behaved horses from standing starts, and reported that his horse had recently been given intensive standing start practice. The happy outcome was Prime Power stood perfectly last week, began beautifully, and duly won. Congratulations to the connections on making the effort - it goes to prove that it can be done for most horses) Matters arising from the Canterbury minutes were covered, including online nominations, the bulls-eye barrier draw, and the introduction of photo licences, all of which were supported. Concern was expressed at inconsistencies shown by the RIU in penalising the connections of horses that were late scratched due to being sold. Some received no penalty, while fines tended to vary from $200 to $350, and no bearing seemed to be given to whether or not another horse on the ballot had been denied a start. A letter has been drafted, and the matter was to be referred to the National Council for consideration. The state of Northern all-weather tracks was discussed, with the Cambridge and Manawatu surfaces being praised thanks to the use of conditioners etc., however there was concern over the consistency of Alexandra Park, partly due to the material containing a large amount of shell. It was decided to invite ATC officials to the next Branch meeting to discuss this and other matters. Chairman Peter Ferguson reported that horses that are claimed are still not being swabbed as a matter of course. The Committee felt that this should take place to ensure the integrity and safety of all concerned. (This opinion was subsequently supported at National Council level and a letter has been forward to the RIU). The matter of the payment of driving fees for those engaged for horses that are subsequently scratched was discussed. It is understood that jockeys receive half of their fee if this occurs, and the feeling is that drivers should receive the same, instead of the full amount being retained by the Club. The main point to this argument is that for most drivers, it does not take many of these to mean breaking even or losing money after expenses on a nights racing. Also, after drivers are declared, the chances of gaining another drive after a scratching were virtually non-existent. This matter will be referred to the up-coming National Council meeting for consideration. By Dave Neal/Peter Cook (NZ Trainers and Drivers Association)

Top trotter The Fiery Ginga, who forged himself into the hearts of New Zealand racing fans with his toughness and pure grit, is unlikely to race again after fracturing a sesamoid. The now seven-year-old son of CR Commando burst on to the racing scene as an early two-year-old and was quick to hit the headlines and show his toughness, finishing second two days in a row in March of 2009. In total, the trotter affectionately known as 'The Ginga' has raced on 121 occasions, for 27 wins, 24 seconds, 16 thirds, and stakes of $359,729. The Fiery Ginga', who was scratched from the $100,000 Grand Prix and Melton on Saturday, will now be boxed for a month at the Victoria property of Noel Shinn before returning to New Zealand, where he will then be boxed for a further two months. '' I will try him again in six months but any sign of a problem and he will be finished.'' Said his trainer Alan Clark The Fiery Ginga last raced in New Zealand on the 16th of February where he overcame a 50 metre handicap to easily beat a field of 11 at Invercargill. Karanga Red Fantasy remains unbeaten Karanga Red Fantasy has had three starts for three different drivers, but that hasn’t stopped her from greeting the judge on each and every occasion. After wins on the West Coast for drivers Gavin Smith and Todd Woodward, it was junior reinsman Craig Ferguson who got his turn today, steering the four-year-old Red River Hanover mare to success in a heat of the ‘Youth versus Experience’ Drivers Series at Waikouaiti. Starting from a 10 metre handicap, the mare made a good beginning and was quickly up vying for the lead, before a nifty bit of driving saw Craig Ferguson drop her into the trail. She then boomed up the inside in the home stretch to win nicely by 2 & ¾ lengths. Because the race was part of an Invited Drivers Series the win came penalty-free, meaning the Bob Forrester trained four-year-old will remain a C2. So, while the mare has had three different drivers so far in her short career, something tells me it won’t be long until someone cements themselves to the seat. Other impressive winners on the card included trotters Queen Kenny and Valmagne, who were both handled by Maurice McKendry, while two-year-old Springbank Eden, a $127,500 purchase at last year’s Yearling Sales, was also a winner. By Mitchell Robertson

Congratulations to Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, Matthew Williamson, and Nathan Williamson, who were last week’s top tipsters. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week Andrew Armour:  Likes the chances of Armbro Courage in race five at Winton on Saturday. Anthony Butt: Is bullish about the chances of capable maiden Blingiton in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Thinks Gentle Western will prove awfully hard to beat in the tenth race at Winton on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks war horse Stig can return to winning form in the fifth race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Rates Zena Mac as a good each-way prospect in the first race at Motukarara on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Expects William H Bonny to be very hard to beat in the second race at Winton on Saturday. Ken Barron: Has a lot of time for smart trotting filly Majestic Time, who was impressive at the recent Addington trials. She will compete in the sixth race at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Cam Before The Storm can make it three straight wins at Winton on Saturday. Nathan Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of I Smart in seventh race at Winton on Saturday. Scott Phelan: Has opted for Washington Diva as his bet of the week – Manawatu, race three. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Think First Holme might be exactly that in the first race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Tim Williams: Rates the chances of capable three-year-old Bettor Buy It in the race twelve at Winton. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Cullies Delight in the last race at Manawatu tonight as his bet of the week. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: Tazzy’s Devil – Alexandra Park, race 10 Each-way: Johnny Fox – Addington, race three Value: Spinyback – Motukarara, race one  

Last week was a memorable one for the New Zealand bets of the week ring-around. Aside from my three tips which all won, Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Gavin Smith, Jim Curtin, Ricky May, and Todd Mitchell also tipped out winners. The best result was Gavin Smith’s bet of the week in The Mighty Falcon, who got home at odds of $10, while my value bet of the week Scotlynn Jiggs ($7) wasn’t too far behind. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Andrew Armour: Thinks two-year-old First Flight In is a good each-way prospect in the fourth race at Gore on Sunday. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented two-year-old The Jazzman will be tough to beat from his inside alley in the eighth race at Forbury Park tonight. Blair Orange: Rates the chances of Strike On Command in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Craig Thornley: Will take the reins behind Franco Harrington at Reefton where he expects him to be very hard to beat. David Butt: Thinks Georgie Mach can go back-to-back in the eighth race at Westport on Friday. Gavin Smith: Who was last week’s top tipster, has opted for True Legend in the fourth race at Westport on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the talented but enigmatic Sunchita can win the tenth race at Westport on Friday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of Sharpenuff in the eighth race at Gore on Sunday. Ken Barron: Thinks Sapling Stakes runner-up Mighty Flying Major will be tough to beat in race eight at Forbury tonight.  Mark Jones: Thinks The Ultimate Storm will take a power of beating in the third race at Forbury Park tonight.  Matthew Williamson: Expects Quick As A Trick to regain top form in the 12th race at Forbury tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Aidan’s Rocket will be tough to toss in the last race at Gore on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has thrown out some value in the form of Goodboy Tiger – Forbury, race seven. Tim Williams: Thinks Waitoto Express has a good each-way chance in the seventh race at Gore on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Expects Cyclone Kate to be thereabouts in the Delightful Lady Classic at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: The Ultimate Storm – Forbury Park, race three Each-way: Linda Lovegrace – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Whynotagrey – Gore, race two.

Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including Eyre I Come, who opened up at $31 fixed odds. Let’s see if we can dig up some more value this week. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented trotter Thebestove will be hard to beat in tonight’s Sales Series Trot at Addington. Blair Orange: Thinks Twentyten, who showed plenty of ability as a two-year-old, can make a winning return at three – Cheviot, race two. David Butt: Expects Lothario to make amends for his last start gallop in the third race at Cheviot (Addington) on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates The Mighty Falcon as a good each-way chance from his ace alley in the first race at the Cheviot meeting at Addington on Sunday. Jim Curtin: Believes the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Cheviot, race five. Ken Barron: Thinks Mighty Mara can make a winning debut in the first race at Addington on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Believes in form trotter Springbank Sam can carry on his winning way – Cheviot, race seven. Ricky May: Expects Pal Amino, who has trialled up nicely for her fresh-up assignment, to be tough to toss from her ace barrier in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess, who caught the eye flashing home late last start, is a good each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. Todd Mitchell: Expects Prime Power to add to his picket-line fence in fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet : Free Falling – Cheviot, race four. Each-way:  Unforgiving – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Scotlynn Jiggs – Addington, race ten.

This week’s ring-around is smaller than usual as many trainers and drivers have been busy during the week with the sales. However, I am sure the ring-around will, like always, throw out a few winners. Andrew Armour: Believes Macardo is a good bet in the third race at Wyndham on Saturday. Craig Thornley: Thinks Franco Harrington, who was desperately unlucky at Waikouaiti, can make amends in the ninth race at Methven on Sunday. David Butt: Expects Lothario to be hard to beat in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates Vincennes as a good each-way chance in the fifth race at Methven on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Timaru, race one. John Dunn: Expects Lovemetwotimes to be tough to toss in the sixth race at Timaru on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Simply Susational is a good each-way chance from his ace alley in seventh race at Timaru on Sunday. Scott Phelan: Is bullish about the chances of Rocknroll Lass in the sixth race at Manawatu tonight. Stephen McNally: Has opted for the talented Trouble Rieu as his bet of the week. He competes in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B):  Has been impressed by No Doctor Needed at the trials. He makes his debut in the last race at Wyndham on Saturday. Simon Lawson: Will wait until Monday for his best bet – Bute Mach – Avondale, race ten. Tim Williams: Thinks smart last start winner Come On Jaccka can repeat the dose on Saturday – Wyndham, race ten. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best bet – Franco Harrington –Methven, race nine. Each-way – Lovemetwotimes – Timaru, race six. Each-way - Tazzy's Devil - Alexandra Park, race eight. Value – Eyre I Come – Timaru, race three.

The flagships of the Division are the Australasian Classic and New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales held in Auckland Monday 17th February and Christchurch Tuesday and Wednesday 18th and 19th of February. Billed as the “Sale of the Stars” their graduates include seven modern day New Zealand Cup winners, thirty two Harness Jewels winners and thirty one Australasian Breeders Crown winners. Unity under the PGG Wrightson organisation has been a major benefit to the sales. Especially in producing a top quality catalogue, funding a very successful inward buyer scheme and the $1 million Sales Race Series now in its 24th year. Harnesslink is running a short series on some of the yearlings on offer. Lot 6 Premier sale - NERVE OF STEEL SIRE - ART OFFICIAL- His first crop raced in North America last year and made a very encouraging start in the Pennsylvania Sires stakes program against the likes of Somebeachsomewhere and the leading first season sire in Well Said. His son Let's Drink On It 1:51.2 created a big impression as did Xtra Desire 1:52.8. His first crop in Australasia are two year olds in the 2013/2014 season and several have shown up at the early workouts and trials with Taj Bromac the early standout. DAM  - OUR FIRST LADY - She was a $50,000 yearling sale purchase who showed enormous promise before being sidelined with wind issues. Her first foal at stud was the Presidential Ball filly in Presidential Rose who qualified at two and had two starts at three for a win and a second before being sold to Australia for a reported $50,000. Her second foal by Mach Three is Wings Of Hope who also qualified at two but suffered a setback which has meant an enforced break. She is due back into work in three months and is held in good regard by trainer Steven Reid. The third foal and first colt is Nerve Of Steel. Our First Lady is a full sister to Line Of Fire (1:50.3. $240,077) and a half sister to Heres Rommel (1:55.3). Her dam is the very smart race mare Borowan who won 15 races in NSW and Victoria on her way to being voted four year old mare of the year in NSW. The third dam is the race winning mare in Smooth Rowan who left seven winners and is a half sister to Summertime Girl who left the champion pacer, The Falcon Strike ($1.303,000) . OVERVIEW - This great looking horse is the first colt of his dam who had blinding speed but whose wind issues blighted her race career. Her first two filly foals have both qualified at two and the colt is the best type by far that the mare has produced to date. Coupled with his great maternal family, this colt has a lot to recommend him to potential buyers. Lot 32 Premier sale - OFFICIAL EXCUSE SIRE - ART OFFICIAL - The biggest stake earning son of super sire Art Major had his first crop race in North America as two year olds in 2013 . They competed  in the very strong Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program against the great Somebeachsomewhere and the leading first season sire in Well Said. One of his daughters in Sister Stroll (1:54.1. $102,619) created a big impression in her debut season. His first crop in Australasia are two year olds in the 2013/2014 season and while it is very early both "Coaster " Howe and Gavin Smith have had promising types at recent trials in Canterbury. DAM - PRECIOUS EXCUSE--  she is an unraced Acquisitor (Albatross / Ambiguity) daughter of the broodmare gem Excuse me. This filly is the fifth foal of her dam who is developing a great record at stud. Her first was the smart colt in Precious Lord (p3,1:59.5) and he was quickly followed by the filly I Cee U (1:58) and her full sister Crazy Mach (1:58.6). The fourth foal was Machs Excuse who looked to be the best of them all, being un-beaten at trials and workouts before suffering a career ending pedal bone injury. She is now at stud. The grand-dam Excuse Me is one of the best broodmares of the last 30 years. Not only did she leave eight winners including the very smart Mighty Hurricane (15 wins) and No Excuse (19 wins) but her daughters and grand-daughters have produced a string of elite racehorses headed by the dual New Zealand Cup winner in Just An Excuse ($944,068), DB Bopper (1:50. $690,000), Second Wind (1;49.8. $341,000),  Franco Sequel (1:51. $356,121) and Smooth Performer ($184,355). OVERVIEW - A lovely long barreled filly from a mare who has yet to miss at stud. With the incredible number of elite horses close up in her pedigree she would appear a great prospect on both the track and at stud. Her residual value when she goes to stud will be significant. JC  

The ring-around was a bit quiet last week, producing just four winners. Those who did pick winners were Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, and I. However, the ring-around rarely has two bad weeks in a row, so this could be the time to jump on the bandwagon. Good luck and happy punting! Andrew Armour: Thinks Double Impact can make up for his last start mishap in the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Blair Orange: Rates the consistent Juneamy Castleton as a good each-way prospect in sixth race at Motukarara on Sunday.   Craig Thornely: Thinks North American import Johny Rock can make his presence felt in his New Zealand debut – Addington, race ten. David Butt: Has opted for the talented yet untrustworthy Mundaka. He will compete in the first race at Addington on Saturday. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes will be very hard to beat provided she can overcome her tricky barrier draw. Motukarara– race ten. Jim Curtin: Hopes Damon Runyon can finally break his maiden status in the sixth race at Addington on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Rates Danny Cool as a good each-way prospect in race six at Invercargill on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Voluntad will give them something to chase for her ace alley in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Expects the consistent Red Under Fire to be ‘there or thereabouts’ again in the fourth race at Motukarara on Friday. Mark Jones: Expects Superior Desire to be very hard to beat in the first race at Motukarara on Friday. Matty Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Milligan from his handy gate in race four at Invercargill on Sunday. Ricky May: Said he couldn’t look past NZ Cup champion Terror To Love – Addington, race eight. Scott Phelan: Thinks the aptly named Big Ern will prove hard to beat in the fourth race at Stratford on Sunday. Simon Lawson:  Likes the chances of Art Major debutant Love Is My Drug – Alexandra Park, race seven. Stephen McNally: Has opted for Easy Empress in the third race at Motukarara on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Cyclone Prince will be tough to toss in the tenth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Mister Harris in the ninth race at Stratford on Sunday. Tim Williams: Thinks classy mare Here We Go Again will be very hard to beat in the ninth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Don’t Call Me Su – Motukarara, race four Each-way – Bootie Bromac – Invercargill, race four Value -  Playaway – Addington, race three                                                                                                                 

Last week the ring-around produced five winners, including both my best and each-way bet of the week. The best result was my each-way bet of the week in Mashika, who opened at a quote of $6.50 but was eventually backed into a $2.20 favourite. So, what’s winning this week? Anthony Butt: Thinks extremely talented two-year-old The Jazzman will be very hard to beat in Saturday’s Sapling Stakes at Ashburton. Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chances of Jay Dubb, who was an expensive purchase out of the barn of Mark Smolenski. The classy two-year-old is set to do battle in the first race at Winton on Friday. David Butt: Has opted for Eagles Nest, who looks a good each-way prospect in the Sapling Stakes on the back of some strong trial form. Gavin Smith: Thinks capable mare Vincennes will be hard to stop in the fifth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. John Dunn: Thinks Princess Galleon only needs to trot to win the second race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of the unpredictable but talented Chiola Belle. She competes in the tenth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Spanish Angel can break through for his maiden victory in the third race at Manawatu tonight. Mark Jones: Thinks stable newcomer Jaccka Len will prove very hard to beat in the twelfth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Matty Williamson: Likes the chances of capable three-year-old trotter Zhenya.  She goes around in the fourth race at Rangiora today. Nathan Williamson:  Rates Harry Mac as a good each-way prospect from his ace alley in race five at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Ricky May: Thinks Delightful Dash can go one better in the second race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Scott Phelan: Likes the chances of Starry Delight in the second race at Manawatu tomorrow. Simon Lawson: Believes Ace Of Delight is his best drive of the week – Alexandra Park, race six. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for On A Promise in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Rip Roaring should break his maiden status in the ninth race at Rangiora tomorrow. Tim Williams: Likes the chances of talented 3YO Bettor Buy It, who competes in the ninth race at Winton on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Expects Lost In Bangkok to be hard to beat in the fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – A Boy Named Rosie – Ashburton, race eight. Each-way – Smart Alex – Rangiora, race seven. Value – Hairy Maclary – Rangiora, race three.  

The ring-around continued its tremendous run of form last week, with long shot winners Platinum Princess ($7.80), Juneamy Castleton ($11.80) , and Happy Heidi ($7) all rolling home at good odds. Other winners tipped out in the ring-around included Lothario, Jaccka Lonny, Crackaheiny, Ton Tine, and Snow Fairy. So, let’s see what the good oil is this week Andrew Armour: Thinks Nureyev, who has finally landed a good barrier draw, will be extremely hard to beat in the fourth race at Invercargill on Saturday. Anthony Butt: Rates the chances of All Cash from his ace alley in race seven at Addington tonight. Blair Orange: Thinks Art Critic will be very hard to beat in the third race at Motukarara on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Believes Bettor Not Knowing  is a strong each-way chance in race four at Addington tonight. Jim Curtin: Rates the chances of Damon Runyon who looks a strong each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. John Dunn: Thinks Princess Galleon is capable of getting some money in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Ken Barron: Rates Red Under Fire as his best of the week. He competes in the second race at Motukarara on Sunday. Mark Jones: Rated Goodness Gracious Me as his best chance of the week, but because that race is a non-tote, he has opted for Sunoflindenny in the first race at Addington tonight. Matt Williamson: Rates the chances of Ultra Shock in the seventh race at Invercargill on Saturday. Nathan Williamson: Thinks The Wonkey Donkey can regain form in the third race at Invercargill on Saturday. Ricky May: Thinks Ranfurly Rulz will prove very hard to beat in the first race at Invercargil on Saturday. Sam Ottley: Has a lot of time for Spell, and thinks she will be hard to roll in the eighth race at Motukarara. Simon Lawson: Thinks Bettor Offer will be amongst the Barry Purdon fight in the last race at Auckland on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Believes Rip Roaring has a good chance of breaking his maiden status in the third race at Addington tonight. Tim Williams: Rates Come On Jaccka as his best chance of the week. He competes in the fourth race at Invercargill on Saturday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink Best bet – Art Critic – Motukarara, race three. Each-way – Dr Hook – Alexandra Park, race eight. Value – Spell – Motukarara, race eight.

Last week was yet another good one for the ring-around with John Dunn, Mark Jones, Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, and yours truly all tipping out winners. Let’s see if we can repeat the dose this week. Blair Orange: Has opted for last start winner Best Bones. She goes around in the ninth race at Oamaru on Sunday. David Butt: Thinks Lothario, with manners, will take all sorts of stopping in race nine at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks Jaccka Lonny will be hard to beat from his ace alley in race four at Invercargill today. Gavin Smith: Has opted for All Shook Up, who will do battle in the sixth race at Oamaru on Sunday. John Dunn: Rates the chances of Crackaheiny in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Platinum Princess can get some money in the fifth race at Invercargill today. Ken Barron: Thinks Planet Princess is an each-way chance in race eight at Addington tomorrow. Mark Jones: Likes the chances of Juneamy Castleton, who should be hard to catch in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Matthew Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Galleons Triumph, who also competes in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Hector McFeckle can trot and win the first race at Otaki on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine, who looks a strong chance in fourth race at Otaki on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks that Hi Jinx is a strong chance with right run in race seven at Addington Todd Mitchell: Thinks Snow Fairy will be very hard to beat in race five at Otaki. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Superbowlcheerleader – Addington, race five Each-way – Happy Heidi – Invercargill, race two Value – Karen Dana – Oamaru, race one  

After a couple of weeks absence during the Christmas/New Year period, the ring-around is now back in action and ready to once again steer you in the direction of a winner or ten! Blair Orange: Thinks Bio Marinus will take all sorts of beating in the eleventh race at Blenheim on Friday. Craig Thornley & Terry Chmiel:  Think the consistent Thorn In My Side will be tough to roll from her frontline position in race seven at Blenheim on Friday Gavin Smith:  Has opted for four-win mare All Shook Up, who looks well placed in the ninth race at Oamaru today. Jim Curtin:  Is bullish about the chances of Star Of Dionysis. He competes in the sixth race at Blenheim on Friday. John Dunn: Has opted for stable newcomer Light Up Boss. He competes in the fourth race at Blenheim on Friday. Mark Jones: Just needs to stay in the cart to win aboard Sunoflindenny in the fifth race at Blenheim on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks the consistent Scotty’s Image can break his maiden status at Oamaru today. Ricky May: Has opted for Live The Dream in race six at Oamaru today. Scott Phelan: Thinks Rocknroll Lass is a good each-way chance in race one at Cambridge on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for the consistent Ace Of Delight who has a strong chance in the second race at Cambridge on Friday. Stephen McNally: Gives Culinary Delight a chance in the sixth race at Blenheim on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Might have found some value in the form of Westburn Courage. He competes in the Morrinsville Cup on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks classy three-year-old Cyclone Prince can atone in the Waikato Guineas at Cambridge on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet – Mixed Emotions – Oamaru, race ten. Each-way – Thorn In My Side – Blenheim, race seven Value – Somebeach N Clovelly – Cambridge, race five By Mitchell Robertson

Drivers John Dunn and Gavin Smith were in potent form on the first day of Nelson’s two -day summer carnival, winning a combined total of five races on the 12 card program. Smith enjoyed early success when producing tidy front running displays aboard Bettor Not Knowing and Tricky Girl, before Dunn overhauled him in the Streamline Freight Drivers Challenge, combining with father Robert for a treble, highlighted by the win of Donegal’s Guest in the Nelson Cup Prelude. “He has been going some very big races in behind some pretty classy animals, so we were confident of a bold showing,” said Dunn. “He is quite a nice horse, and the way he went yesterday you would expect him to be very hard to beat again on Sunday,” he added It was Donegal Guest’s third run on the Richmond Park track and his second win. His other resulted in a close-up second. Smith and Dunn also provided the Quinella in the eighth race with Nikola narrowly downing Spunky Monkey who, like stablemates Bettor Not Knowing and Tricky Girl, was sent to the front by Smith. Amberley trainer-driver Jamie Keast was another who enjoyed a good day at the office, finishing in the money on four occasions and winning a heat of the Canterbury Mares Speed Series with Seven Point One. “We have had her at our place on the beach for a week and she has just been jumping out of her skin,” said Keast, who steered the Lis Mara mare to a 1-56.1 victory. “She is pretty classy when she is at her best, so if we can keep her in that form I would expect her to be very hard to roll on both the second-day and in the Canterbury Mares Final,” he enthused.  Meanwhile, those who I jotted down in my ‘Blackbook’ as unlucky on the first day are Kerryn Kylie, Gryate, Franco Tyson, Coyote, Spell, Candy Styx, Woodlea DJ, and Thorn In My Side. By Mitchell Robertson

Last week was possibly the best ever for the ring-around with a stunning 9 out of eighteen drivers tipping out winners. Those to tip out winners were: Anthony Butt, Craig Thornley, Jonny Cox, John Dunn, Ken Barron, Mark Jones, Nathan Williamson, Ricky May, and Terry Chmiel. The best result was Craig Thornley’s tip – Supreme Gem, who proved too strong at odds of $10.10 A hard act to follow, but let’s see what we can do: Andrew Armour: Isn’t driving Awesum Teddy this week, but he does expect him to win – Wairio – race eight. Anthony Butt: Thinks the consistent Astral Traveller is a good each-way chance in race five at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Has opted for the smart Vice Consul in race eight at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith & Steve Richardson: Both think that Sleepy Tripp will return to winning form in race seven at Addington on Friday. John Dunn: Is bullish about the chances of Sheemon in race five at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Likes the chances of stable newcomer Idle Eyre. He competes in the ninth race at Forbury tonight. Josh Dickie: Likes the chances of Voluntad, who was big in defeat on debut. She goes around in the fourth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Has once again opted for the smart Pacquiao, who competes in race six at Addington on Friday. Mark Jones: Thinks Astrapi can repeat the dose in race three at Forbury Park. Mark Purdon: Thinks Whisper Jet is one to follow over the upcoming Auckland carnival - Alexandra Park. race four. Matthew Williamson: Rates the chances of The Shakey Mistress in race six at Forbury Park tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Music will prove too strong in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Ricky May: Thinks Vega Sicilia will be tough to roll in race four at Rangiora on Sunday. Sam Ottley: Has opted for Kid Galahad as her bet of the week – Addington, race nine. Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach can win the sixth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Simon Lawson: Thinks Valencey is one to pencil down for the Christmas Eve meeting at Cambridge. Stephen McNally: Rates Ares as a good upset chance in race two at Addington on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Likes the chances of Harry Johnson in race ten at Alexandra Park. Tim Williams: Expects Bettor Buy It, an extremely impressive trialist, to be winning race eleven at Winton on Saturday. By Mitchell Robertson

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