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This Saturday's Sapling Stakes at Ashburton Raceway may have only drawn a field of six runners but there is plenty of harness racing talent on show and labelling a winner is not that straight forward. The All Star barn have three runners engaged including the horse many consider the one to beat in More The Better. More The Better was super impressive last week in working during the running and still having too much in the tank in the straight. Driver Tim Williams was thrilled with the effort as he thought the son of Bettor's Delight was a run short going into last weeks race and would be a better horse this week. " He needed that run last week and should strip a much fitter horse this week." " His work this week has been excellent and I think he will be very hard to beat," Tim told Harnesslink today. The stablemate Pacing Major who has only been beaten by a head in both his first two starts has drawn out at six which makes things difficult but Dexter Dunn takes the drive so he has to be a major player here. The third of the All Stars runners is the $200,000 yearling sales purchase in You Gotta Have Faith who has drawn barrier one and will have the services of stable reinsman, Matt Anderson. On his trial efforts to date he has shown enough to be a serious place chance but both the other stablemates look more forward at this stage. So the All Stars barn looks very capable of winning another Sapling Stakes but we think that the Paul Court trained Mongolian Storm can upset the All Stars trio on debut. A $16,000 purchase at last years New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch, Mongolian Storm has had a thorough grounding leading into the Sapling Stakes, winning his last four trials and workouts in some style. The son of Courage Under Fire was super impressive in his latest trial win at Addington last Monday, swooping past the competition in a few strides when driver Blair Orange asked him for an effort at the top of the straight. Mongolian Storm has drawn beautifully at barrier two and with that speed he displayed on Monday, he becomes the horse to beat in our opinion. Trainer Paul Court is really looking forward to Saturday and seeing how his charge measures up. " He is a lovely horse and I think he will go a big race on Saturday." " I am just not sure he is ready to run 1:55 at this stage which they may go on Saturday but he is capable of winning the Sapling Stakes with a run to suit." " I haven't really asked him to run time as yet but I think this race will really bring him on in that respect with a view to the future," Paul said. Paul has been having a dream debut season training on his own account with his barn having two high class two year olds to represent him. Mongolian Hero put in a huge effort for a close third behind More The Better and Pacing Major at Addington last Friday and looms as a major player in all the major two year old races later in the season. He will head back to Auckland for the Young Gun Series early next week while after Saturday, Mongolian Storm will remain in the South Island to target the Kindergarten Stakes and Sires Stakes heats. " I want to keep them apart at this stage for their own benefit," " I am really excited by having two juveniles as good as these two in the barn in my first year training on my own account." " I know how hard it is to get one two year old of this quality so to have  two in the barn is a big thrill," Paul told Harnesslink this afternoon. Whatever the outcome of the Sapling Stakes this weekend, one thing you can be sure of going forward is that Mongolian Storm and Mongolian Hero are are going to be serious players when the juvenile classics are decided over the next four months. Harnesslink Media

Father Dan Cummings would be the last person in the industry in New Zealand to promote himself and his boutique breeding operation as something special but after 35 years of continuous success, he doesn't have to. Since the early 1980s, stock bred at the famous Tuapeka Lodge in Lawrence breeding operation have always commanded a premium at yearling sales in New Zealand. Like Sandy Yarndley in the North Island, Dan lifted the whole preparation and presentation of yearlings to the next level in the South Island from the time he entered the marketplace. Buyers know that yearlings prepared at Tuapeka Lodge have wanted for nothing from day one and when combined with maternal families that have continued to produce age group stars with monotonous regularity, the Tuapeka brand is stronger today than ever. This year Tuapeka Lodge has ten yearlings entered at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch on the 23rd and 24th of February and after perusing the videos they would appear to us to have an outstanding group of yearlings this year. In an attempt to narrow down what we think is the pick of the draft, we have watched the videos of each of the yearlings several times and one horse jumped out at us every time. We are not sure Father Dan will appreciate us singling out one lot but we were so taken with him that we thought he deserved the attention. Lot 456 on the second day at Christchurch is named Culpeka and he is a son of Mach Three from the 1:56.9 Christian Cullen mare in Tuapeka Maddy. Tuapeka Maddy was lightly raced due to ongoing issues with tying up and retired after only a handful of starts but was held in high regard by the stud. The second dam Letatalk has produced that special youngster already in the form of the Mach Three colt, Machtu 1:55.2 ($208,007) who has 16 wins on his card to date. A daughter of Letatalk in Raconteur is the dam of the unbeaten Changeover filly, Talkerup 1:58.2 who is the early favourite for the $150,000 PGG Yearling Sales final for three year old fillies at Addington next week. It is a pedigree full of black print which is very current through the deeds of Machtu and Talkerup so ticks all the boxes pedigree wise. The individual himself is as classy as the pedigree. To us he looked more like a two year old with a real touch of class rather than a yearling heading for the sale ring and the video only convinced us even more that this colt was the pick of the Tuapeka Lodge draft. Tuapeka Lodge have set the standard at the yearling sales in the South Island since their inception and this years batch of yearlings is right up to their usual high standard. To view the Premier Sale catalogue click here. To visit Tuapeka Lodge online for all the Yearlings click on this link. Harnesslink Media  

The headline above is a question that we here at Harnesslink get asked repeatedly in the weeks leading into the New Zealand and Australian harness racing yearling sales each year and this year has been no different. As we try to explain to people, everyone has a different view on what makes or breaks a pedigree and how their preference can be influenced by their opinion of the stallion and not the maternal family involved. We rarely find ourselves in full agreement with people on this matter which is not surprising when you consider the variety of bloodlines offered at New Zealand sales these days. We are never afraid to state our opinion and looking at this years catalogue we came to a decision pretty quickly and conclusively. Lot 460 at The New Zealand Premier Sale in Christchurch on behalf of Cavalla Bloodstock a filly named Pearl White has as good a pedigree page as you will find in any sales catalogue worldwide. She is a daughter of the champion sire Artsplace who has lifetime figures as a sire that are just mind blowing. *Total Stakes won worldwide of over $182,000,000 *18 $1,000,000 winners *468 $100,000 winners *48 in 1:50 or better Artsplace is now dominating the broodmare ranks in the same fashion with numbers that are hard to comprehend. *Total stakes worldwide of over $345,000,000 *11 $2,000,000 winners  *42 $1,000,000 winners *849 $100,000 winners *1452 in 1:55 or better Pearl White is a daughter of the very quick Western Hanover mare West End 1:52.4 ($139,346) who was stakes placed at three before being imported downunder by Cavalla Bloodstock. West End made a healthy $85,000 when sold at Harrisburg as a yearling The second dam of Pearl White is the Matt's Scooter mare Grand Lady who also went 1:52.8 on the way to earning $235,571 but it is in the breeding barn that she has established herself as one of the best broodmares anywhere in the world in the last twenty years with a string of outstanding progeny. One of the all time great racemares in Glowing Report 1:49.4 ($2,095,144) was the best of them and being by Artsplace, she is a three quarter sister to Pearl White. Another three of her progeny have broken the 1:50 mark and all of them were involved on the Grand Circuit in North America. *Perfect Union 1:49 ($723,598)  -  By The Panderosa *Urgent Action  1:49.6 ($699,700)  -  By Artsplace *Get It Now 1:49.8 ($406,984)  -  By Western Hanover Another three quarter sister to Pearl White in the Artsplace mare Must See 1:52 ($487,122) is the dam of the brilliant racehorse and now sire, Well Said 1:47.6 ($2,569,342). Yet another daughter in Subtle Charm 1:55.6 has already produced Jazz Band 1:51.4 ($407,084) and Scandalous Hanover 1:49.3 ($363,570) to just keep the roll going. So Pearl White is a three quarter sister to Glowing Report 1:49.4 ($2,095,144) and a three quarter sister to Must See 1:52.4 ($487,122), the dam of Well Said ($2,569, 342) It is a world class pedigree and convinced us very quickly to make Pearl White our selection for the best bred yearling at this years sale. To view the New Zealand Premier Sale catalogue click here. Harnesslink Media

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