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View the Alexandra Park harness racing fields click here! Trainer Ray Green has some advice for punters worried about Copy That’s staying stats heading into tonight’s $95,000 Messenger at Alexandra Park. “Go back and watch the Auckland Cup,” says Green. Because Green says Copy That’s massive third in that 3200m thriller on New Years Eve is the only proof punters should need that he will handle the 2700m mobile in tonight’s four-year-old Group One. Copy That is the hot favourite for the Messenger as he tries to complete a double with last week’s Taylor Mile that tends to lead to greatness for those special enough to achieve it. He led all the way last Friday and from barrier two is expected to assume control even easier tonight so the Messenger looks his to lose but any punter looking to get seriously involved in backing him might do a double take as his staying stats: one win in six career starts past 2400m. With his high cruising speed and short coupled frame Copy That probably is at his most potent sprinting but trainer Green says the Auckland Cup third behind Amazing Dream and Spankem after he was parked for much of the race leaves no doubts his stable star will stay. “That allayed any fears for me and should for anybody else,” says Green matter-of-factly. “He was great that night and he was also luckless in the Northern Derby last year over 2700m so I am not worried about that at all. “He has come through last week well and I think he will lead and be very hard to catch.” Copy That has actually won over 2700m from a standing start in a very quick time and had excuses in all his other longer distance defeats so as much as he has yet to totally prove himself as a big boy stayer deeper investigations of his stats suggest he can snare his second group one tonight. He should be aided by what appears to be a lack of pressure in the race. Bad To The Bone poured in on last week over a mile but it would surprise to see him try that over 2700m. So if Copy That can get to the 800m mark having only run even, solid sectionals not only should be be able to whizz home in 55 seconds but his greatest danger, Amazing Dream, will not have had the tempo needed to finish over top of him. Having won both that Northern Derby and Auckland Cup, Amazing Dream is the logical danger if things do get hectic tonight and her male rivals come back to her but she is not really a mare who can do that bullying herself and expect to win at this level. While Copy That will be looking to make a lie of his staying stats in the Messenger, Sundees Son should continue on his way as a staying freak in the $150,000 What The Hill Rowe Cup. He has only had two starts over 3200m and won them both, this race two years ago and the Dominion at Addington in November and he thrives on distance racing, whether driven aggressively with a sit. It would be easy to be concerned by him drawing barrier one at the busy 3200m start but he has actually started from barrier one in standing starts four times in the last 18 months and stepped away beautifully every time. “I am not worried about the barrier,” says driver John Dunn. “He is never super fast away but I am confident he will step away with them and be handy enough.” Aiding Sundees Son is the fact only six horses start off the front line, the other four on the unruly, so he shouldn’t have to stand too long after coming into line first. If he trots squarely throughout he should win but if he does make a mistake then Bolt For Brilliance in the obvious danger while Majestic Man should improve lengths on last week and is likely to be one of the first away of the favourites. Temporale looks the best place value as a good standing start horse and former winner of this race.   by Michael Guerin

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Ray Green is hoping the summer continues as it started. On Friday night the South Auckland trainer recorded a winning double at Alexandra Park, including a quinella in the Gr.3 Sims Pacific Metals – Money For Metal Summer Cup (2200m). Green headed into the race full of confidence with star pacer Copy That, but it was stablemate Tommy Lincoln who took home the spoils after a gun drive by David Butcher. The son of American Ideal began well from the front row to take an early lead where Butcher was able to dictate the pace throughout. Tommy Lincoln kicked clear of his rivals at the 200m mark and recorded a 1-3/4 length victory over race favourite Copy That, with a further neck back to Check In in third. Green was pleased with the quinella and Tommy Lincolns winning efforts. “I thought he went super,” Green said. “Once he led so easily and got away with a bit of murder in front, I thought he was going to be hard to roll.” It was Copy That’s first run back since his well-publicised run in the Gr.1 New Zealand Cup (3200m) last month, and while Green expected him to win, he was still buoyed by his runner-up effort on Friday night. “I thought Copy That would be the one to beat and he has gone huge, I am really happy with him,” he said. “They will now head to the Franklin Cup next week and then possibly the Auckland Cup on the 31st.” Earlier in the night Group One-winning three-year-old American Dealer returned to winning form in the Auckland Co-op Taxis 300 3000 Northern 3YO Stakes Mobile Pace (2200m). The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained First Class broke at the start, making it a four-horse race, and it was all over once American Dealer assumed the lead early in the piece. “That was a gimme really,” Green said. American Dealer has continued to impress Green and he is looking forward to the remainder of his three-year-old term. “He is a classy little horse,” Green said. “He has never gone bad. He is just the consummate professional. “There are some very nice races for him over the next three or four months and we will target most of them. “He is only little, but he is strong, so we will keep targeting those races until he tells us he has had enough.”

As Ray Green started his training career he never dreamed of getting to the New Zealand Cup. He dreamed of getting to Panama. Not that there is any harness racing in Panama and Green hadn’t actually set out to go there. But it is testament to the fact that Green, who trains favourite Copy That in today’s $540,000 IRT New Zealand Cup, took the longest possible road to today’s iconic race that his path there led through Panama. While many of the trainers and drivers in today’s 3200m group one are bred into the industry, Green travelled the world to get to Addington. “I actually started in harness racing properly about 1972 when they were setting up racing in Wales,” remembers Green. “They wanted a young guy to travel all the New Zealand horses to Wales by boat. So I said I’d do it but the ship broke down in the middle of the Pacific and as we sat there doing nothing all I wanted to do was get to our next stop in Panama.” Green made it there and then to Wales where he trained slow horses before a stint back in Australia picking fruit and a second harness racing job in the English Midlands when the industry started there. “There wasn’t much money in it but I had some fun and earned a living.” When Green returned to New Zealand he worked his way up to being No.1 man for big-spending dual-code racing operation Lincoln Farms. As their facilities became world class and the cheque book for the sales got bigger Green emerged from racing shadows and as a smiley 75-year-old he has his first New Zealand Cup starter today. “I have become a better trainer as I have trained better horses, the two things go hand in hand,” he explains. “Better horses race in the best races against the best trainers so you learn from them and you learn from your mistakes. “So it has been a long road but we are here now and I am enjoying it. You have too. It is a huge deal the New Zealand Cup, especially down here, but I’m not going to get down if we don’t win it.”Copy That can win it and maybe should win it. He has developed enormously this season and has the motor to match it with Self Assured and Spankem, the trio looking far and away the main winning chances in the race. Copy That and Self Assured have the huge advantage of front line draws and the drag race to the winning post the first time, with 2400m still to run, may decide the race. “If he leads he they will really struggle to catch him,” says Green. “There are some very good horses here but he is as good as them and he is thriving. “He is lovely and quiet at home but at the races be just turns into a monster. He is ready.”Copy That has yet to race over 3200m so there is that doubt and barrier one could be tricky but Blair Orange is driving like a man possessed and it would surprise to see him get locked away. Self Assured can, and maybe should, beat Copy That is he steps better and gets in front of him, their closeness in the market suggesting just how hard such things are to predict. Spankem can definitely win and Thefixer is a former Cup winner albeit struggling with soundness while Classie Brigade is a warrior who would love a hot tempo to dull Copy That’s sprint. But maybe this is Day of Ray. The boy from Taumarunui who went around the world on a broken boat to get to the Addington’s winner’s circle.  Courtesy of NZ Herald   by Michael Guerin

With Copy That catapulting himself into joint favouritism for the New Zealand Cup 75-year-old trainer Ray Green's becoming a small screen star. He has been in demand since Copy That's win in the Ashburton Flying Stakes with Newshub the latest major media outlet to profile both horse and trainer in its 6pm news last night.  

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Pukekohe trainer Ray Green was dealt a mixed hand at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night. While promising colt American Dealer won the Dawson Harford Mobile Pace (2200m), two of his runners went amiss. American Dealer’s stablemate and race rival Man Of Action looked to have the race sewn up when he kicked clear by a length at the top of the straight, however, he lost all chance when breaking with 200m to go. Later on the card Group One performer Copy That over-raced during the McMurty Farms Handicap Pace (2700m) and was eventually pulled up by driver Maurice McKendry. Trainer Barry Purdon took out the quinella in the race with back marker On The Cards and promising pacer Major Jellis. Green was philosophical about the night and said both Copy That and Man Of Action took no ill-effects from their runs. “Man Of Action should have won, he was well clear, but he just lost concentration halfway up the straight and had a gallop,” he said. “Copy That started hitting the wheels and foot rests with his back feet when he (Maurice McKendry, driver) tried to get him back in behind. “He flipped out and he was off. He did the big bolt and Maurice did the right thing and pulled him up. “There is nothing wrong with the horse, he is 100 percent and pulled up beautifully.” Green was pleased with American Dealer’s winning efforts, with the son of American Ideal now boasting a record of two wins from just three starts. His only unplaced run came in the Gr.1 Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) in March where he finished fourth behind Krug. “It was very good considering it was his first run for quite a while,” Green said. “I was pretty happy with him, he is a little tradesman. “I thought he was probably our best chance of winning the race. “It is our first run in a while and the trials were good, but a trial is a trial, and a race is a race. “You really don’t know where you are at until you put them out there. He went quite well.”

For many of the horses racing at Alexandra Park tonight this is as good as it gets.  The best stakes in the country, equivalent to the peak of summer, but not having to take on the superstar younger horses because most are in winter hibernation.  Winter at The Park is the ideal season for horses who wouldn’t shine at the premier meetings to try to earn a year’s training fees without a Cup horse in sight.  That is the story for most racing there tonight and it makes you wonder why more trainers don’t set their lesser horses for the off-season. Maybe some day they will.  But among the brave battlers and untapped youngsters tonight there will be a horse with a totally different aim. His name is Perfect Stride and he is trying to win his way to the Breeders Crown.  That A$300,000 finale comes up in Victoria in late August and with the news the big name babies from the Jewels aren’t going, Perfect Stride now looms as a serious contender.  His trainer Ray Green knows what it takes to win the Breeders Crown juvenile, he did it with King Of Swing a couple of seasons ago, being smart enough to go where New Zealand’s elite weren’t.  With big-spending owner Emilio Rosati always keen to chase the glamour races, Green is aiming Perfect Stride at the same Aussie pot of gold.  “The owners are keen and I think he is good enough to be very competitive,” says Green. “The series is a bit more challenging this year because the heats and semis are also in Victoria but that also means some other horses from here aren’t going.  “So if he races as well in the next few weeks as we expect then he will go.”Perfect Stride is the younger brother of WA superstar Chicago Bull and has the family ability.  He had the natural speed to go with the better early season two-year-olds and missing the autumn features wouldn’t have done him any harm.  Punters who took the long odds-on about him at Cambridge last week would have felt sick when first a hydraulic malfunction on the mobile meant his race was a moving star (admittedly a good one) and then Perfect Stride had a torrid time being attacked in front.  He only just went down and Green says he is trained on well so he should be winning race five, even against southerner Divinia Bellezza, who stunned when second to Elle Mac in the Jewels two weeks ago. Green loves the winter racing stakes are thinks Lindi Lincoln (race two), The Empress (race four) and Man Of Action (race 10) all have good each way chances.  But for many harness punters the focus of the night will be Addington’s Uncut Gems meeting, featuring the unbeaten pride of Southland racing U May Cullect.  He meets two good horses in Triple Eight and Classic Brigade but he should simply be too fast.   Michael Guerin

It was a magic day for southern breeders at the NZB Standardbred National Sale in Christchurch today (Wednesday) with two Southern Bred Southern Reared colts topping the sale, and plenty of others providing a great return for their owners. The Shard, owned by Debbie and Mark Smith of Shard Farm, and Beaudiene Bigtime owned by Dave Kennedy of Bayswater both sold for $170,000. Emilio and Mary Rosati of New South Wales purchased The Shard whilst another regular Australian buyer Jean Feiss, put in the winning bid for Beaudiene Bigtime. “Unbelievable,” said Kennedy when I spoke to him a few hours after the sale. And the follow up question had to be; was that a surprise? “Was it ever. I knew I had a good colt but I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get $170,000. As the day went on I was starting to get a bit worried because the big buyers had been spending their money.” But worry soon turned into elation as Kennedy sat on the sideline watching the bidding war unfold. “It was an unbelievable experience I can tell you. Stonewall Stud were chasing him and Nigel McGrath had a go. There were quite a few onto him. I’m pretty sure Stonewall were the under bidders.” At the end of the day though, it was Jean Feiss who walked away with the Bettor’s Delight - Beaudiene Maja colt. “He’d be the nicest colt I’ve handled. He’s so intelligent and so willing to work with you every step of the way.” Topping the Christchurch sale is becoming a regular occurrence for SBSR. Chicago Cub bred by John and Katrina Price was the top lot last year, selling to Emilio and Mary Rosati for $190,000. In 2016 Shard Farm prepared Mach Shard to sell for $200,000, whilst back in 2015 Bollinger sold for $200,000, and in 2014 Beaudiene Beaufighter was top of the pile. Kennedy said he had a feeling this year’s sale was going to be special for the SBSR group of breeders. “I said to John (Stiven) and Debbie (Smith) that the Southland team had the best group of yearlings that they’ve ever travelled up to Christchurch with. I knew damn well there would be some money coming our way. It was a great day for the Southern boys and girls.” Buyers on the SBSR Tour at Dave and Dawn Kennedys - Photo Bruce Stewart Another success story was Captain Nemo, a Captaintreacherous colt owned by John and Katrina Price of Winton which sold for $110,000. He was first spotted on the SBSR Bus Tour by Ray Green who took a keen interest in him and has now bought him for Lincoln Farms. The Prices also sold their Bettor’s Delight colt out of Surprise Party – another one bought by Jean Feiss, for $100,000. Shard Farm also had a $100,000 sale with Romeo Shard selling to Kennard Bloodstock. Other good SBSR sales were: $90,000 for the Tuapeka Lodge colt The Frankster (Bettor’s Delight – Tuapeka Maddy), $90,000 for Arden’s Ace (Art Major-Venus Serena) and $82,500 for Captain Arden (Captaintreacherous – Southwind Arden). Kennedy says a big part of the success today stems from the SBSR Bus Tour which gives prospective buyers the opportunity to take a look at the yearlings on offer in their own environment, whilst showcasing Southland. One of the trainers on the tour, Ray Green, commented to Kennedy that he could see why Southern Reared horses are so good. “Ray said with all the green grass their bones are so much better. And the climate is so conducive to breeding top animals.” Kennedy states “You can’t buy advertising like that. The guys that come down on the tour just can’t believe it. Bringing the buyers down has been one hell of a win for us.”    Bruce Stewart

Harness racing, or trotting and pacing as it is also known, has all but disappeared off the map in Hawke's Bay. But there's a glimmer of hope in the local ownership links with rising 3-year-old pacing star King of Swing, which has had nine starts for six wins, three second placings and stakes of $206,000 in just six months of racing, including the rich Australian Breeders Crown final ending the King's 2-year-old season at Melton in Victoria. Owned by Property Brokers Napier real estate agents Rod and Sue Fleming in partnership with breeders Lincoln Farms Bloodstock, run by longtime friends John and Lynne Street, and fourth shareholder Neville McAllister, of Wellington, and trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe, King of Swing is now one of the favourites for the Gr 1 $170,000 NZ Sires Stakes final on New Zealand Cup Day in its first South Island start at Addington, Christchurch, on Tuesday. "We've never been to cup week," said Mr Fleming. "It's one of those things that's always been on the bucket list." On the reins will be David Butcher, driver in seven of the starts and five of the wins, and King of Swing has the ace draw for the 1950 metres race, with all six wins having come from draws of 1-4 on the front line behind the mobile. Rod Fleming, a New Zealand indoor bowls representative, says he and his wife can barely believe their good fortune in getting a successful horse they saw at the races for the first time at start No 7 when it won the Australian Breeders Crown final on August 27, claiming stakes of $A142,500. "We've known John and Lynne (Street) for many years, and we were at the races one day and he said let's go into a couple of partnerships," he said. One was King of Swing, named not after any cricketer or jazzman but after Mick Jagger, and the other Vasari, which won eight races as a 2- and 3-year-old in New Zealand before being sent to Australia. "I wanted a racing 2-year-old and John suggested this bloody good horse," said Mr Fleming. "He said it's one of the best in the barn, and he's got a fair number." More pertinently was that the trainer reckoned it would make a good late 2-year-old and ultimately with the formline substantiating the promise the choice was made to capitalise on the extra month of 2-year-old racing in Australia, where it qualified for the Breeders Crown final by winning a heat at Bendigo. After winning the final over 2240m, it returned to New Zealand and where many might have decided on a spell, the King's connections went straight back into eyes on a Breeders Crown-Sires Stakes transtasman double rarely otherwise contemplated. King of Swing won a heat at Cambridge on October 5 and was just beaten in the Northern Sires Stakes final on October 27 at Alexandra Park, scene of its first four starts from which it emerged with two wins and then two second placings. "This is going to take us a lot of places," he said. Mr Fleming would love to see harness racing revived in Hawke's Bay, although he said that living in the Bay and having the horse trained 380km away and racing at a distance makes the trips away for the action a big event, as they intend it will be on Tuesday for their first trip to Addington and the racing-dominated show week in Christchurch. Harness racing in Hawke's Bay has had an off-and-on history, but dates back to what is recorded as the first trotting "on the east coast" in a paddock at Stortford Lodge in 1891. The Hawke's Bay Trotting Club had its own course in Hastings up to 1899, there were also trotting meetings at Waipukurau in 1908-09, and meetings at the Hastings Racecourse in 1920-21 included the first Hawke's Bay Trotting Cup. The most recent era started with equalisator betting races at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in 1978, graduating to on-course-only totalisator betting at the club's annual two-day meeting from 1980 to 1988, leading to a move to Hastings Racecourse, full totalisator betting and the club's merger with galloping clubs to create Hawke's Bay Racing Inc. The last of the annual trots meetings in Hawke's Bay was in 1997, and the last time trots were seen "on the east coast" was when four races were incorporated with gallops at Hastings in October 1998. Lone fulltime Hawke's Bay trainer Wyn Nation has long since ceased his operation just south of Waipukurau, the now-late Colin Briskie eased out of training in Dannevirke. Lone remaining trainer, former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby representative Ricky Allen, who had mixed training horses on the beach at Waimarama with managing the Taradale RSA, and who had major success with trotters Rua Kenana and Levrik in 1988-89, moved to the South Island where he continues training at Katiki Beach, near the Moeraki Boulders on the North Otago coast. His most successful recent season was 2014-2015, with seven wins - four to Starlight Starbright and three to Zachary Smith. His one win as a trainer to date this season was with trotter Dusky Eyre at Addington in August. He's also been deputising for Sir Richard Tayler as president of the Waikouaiti Trotting Club since Sir Richard took ill earlier this year. By: Doug Laing Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green has trained the quinella in the first heat of the NRM Sires Stakes Series at Cambridge Raceway last night. Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing led all the way in the hands of Philip Butcher to narrowly beat the Green trained stablemate Recco Lover by a short margin. The winner paced the 1700m journey in a 1-56.0 mile rate with a closing 800m in 56.0 and the final 400m in 27.1 seconds.  King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) and Recco Lover (Bettor's Delight - Castellina Lover) have both qualified for the $170,000 Group One Final at Addington on November 14. The Robert Dunn trained Alta Maestro, who was the TAB favourite in last nights race sat parked and faded to finish last. Tim Vince trained a double at last nights meeting when both Drover's Eyre and Romanite won their respective races.  Romanite won the amateur drivers race and paced a quick 1-57.4 mile rate when winning over 1700m in the hands of Sheree Wigg. The Art Official gelding zipped over his last 800m in 55.7 seconds to beat the Vince trained stablemate Curlimore. Drover's Eyre led all the way when winning the highest rated race of the night for junior driver Jack McKinnon. The Falcon Seelster eight year old was having his 87th start, but showed there was still some pep left in his legs with a 56.4 closing 800m off the back of a 2-01.3 mile rate for the standing start 2200m. King Of Swing winning last night Harnesslink Media

Ray Green is not stupid --- which means Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing will try for an all the way win at Cambridge tonight. The exciting three-year-old has drawn the ace in the first heat of what looks a very even Sires’ Stakes series, with the northern crop having way more depth than recent season. Already King Of Swing has won at group one level, as has race rival Mach Shard while Alta Maestro paced a couple of national records last season and returned with a win against older horses at Alexandra Park last Friday. There is little between the trio or their other three rivals tonight but early season Sires’ Stakes heats tend to be dominated by leaders and trailer as the sprint distance and reluctance for fresh horses to be given hard runs can often mean those up front get handed the race. Alta Maestro showed blistering gate speed last season but trainer Robert Dunn was keen to see him driven less aggressively when he won last Friday and if he opts for similar tactics tonight then King Of Swing should lead, always crucial in a Cambridge sprint. And Green says that will be the plan, especially after King Of Swing led to win the $300,000 Breeders Crown at Melton in late August.  “We would be stupid not to use the ace draw around Cambridge so that will be the plan,” says Green.  “He only had a week off after the Breeders and won well at the workouts last Saturday so I think he is ready for a 1:55 mile rate this week.” While Alta Maestro is an obvious danger, Green thinks his stable second stringer Recco Lover could trail and have an upset hope. “He has very good speed and isn’t much inferior, if at all, to King Of Swing. So if he trails he has a good hope.”  Mach Shard returns after a great start to last season but having little luck later and trainer Barry Purdon knows he faces a huge task from barrier five.  “We have seen enough of these Sires’ Stakes heats at Cambridge to know how hard they can be to win if there is no pressure so I am hoping they have a go at each other early,” says Purdon.  The heat is strangely not a leg of tonight’s $100,000 Pick6, one that lacks any real anchors but also has a few legs with only two or three major chances so it worth attacking.  The problem child for Pick6 punters is Agincourt, who should win the last leg on raw ability but whose manners have let punters down twice in as many starts. He should be anchored on one ticket but well covered on another. Michael Guerin

Ray Green has broken his Australian major race drought with the most unlikely of horses. The South Auckland trainer claimed the richest win of his career when King Of Swing led throughout in the hands of David Butcher in the A$285,000 ($310,000) Breeders Crown two-year-old pacing final. The rangy pacer capped a remarkable rise from obscurity, winning his group one just three months after he debuted and without having contested any of the feature juvenile races at home. That didn't deter Green, the trainer for Lincoln Farms, from giving him his shot at Australia's best and his improvement curve has peaked at the right time, with Butcher's perfect drive a massive help. Green is no stranger to campaigning horses in Australia, having won decent races with Badlands Bute and training Sir Lincoln to a luckless second in the Victoria Derby. "But on the whole we haven't had a lot of luck over here so to finally get a really big one is very satisfying," said the jovial 71-year-old. "He has always looked a good horse but we waited until he told us he was good enough to bring over here." The win eclipses the Auckland Cup that Sir Lincoln won as the richest race taken out by a Lincoln Farms pacer and King Of Swing has Derby horse written all over him. King Of Swing His win was the highlight of a mixed day for the Kiwi challengers, with Canterbury filly Renezmae the other to taste group one glory. She led throughout in the two-year-old fillies trot for 23-year-old trainer Jack Harrington, who must surely be one of the youngest New Zealand horsemen to prepare a group one winner. Harrington has quickly built up a 25 horses stable after getting into racing with no family background. "I got into it because my Dad liked a bet so to be here, winning a Breeders Crown, is pretty amazing," says Harrington. "I was welling up when I was being interviewed after the race, I was worried I was gonna start crying," he laughed. Renezmae Punters who backed the All Stars' three runners probably felt like crying too as they had a rare off day. While Partyon was a brave third in her final, More The Better and Sicario both finished unplaced. More The Better was the shock of the day, galloping when in front after 600m as a red hot favourite. And the Kiwi juvenile pacing fillies were a mixed bag, with Bettor Joy below her best when unplaced after leading, leaving fellow Canterbury filly Angel Of Harlem to chase home stunning winner Nostra Villa. By Michael Guerin  

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green grabbed a training double last night when both Linc's Tiger and Rocknroll Lincoln won their respective races easily in  wet conditions at Cambridge Raceway.  Linc's Tiger gave his sire Sir Lincoln another boost, trailing for most of the race before bolting away in the straight to win by 4 lengths and running a quick 57.7 for his last half in the slushy conditions. Rocknroll Lincoln was even more impressive winning in a very quick mile rate of 1:57.5 for the 2200m mobile. His winning time of 2:40.7 was superb considering he led and was attacked twice in the running before winning untouched for driver David Butcher. Cambridge trainer Nicky Chilcott, also trained a double for the night when Shay Scott and Harry H won the two trotting races on the card. Shay Scott showed his liking for the track when winning his second in three weeks at Cambridge Raceway. Although his winning margin of 4 lengths was not as impressive as when he won by 27 lengths three weeks ago, he still won with plenty in hand suggesting there are more wins in store for the eight year old Sundon gelding. Harry H (Muscles Yankee - Sound Of Chiola), a recent addition to Chilcott’s barn won the the higher rated R51-84 handicap stand later in the night. The half-brother to former eighteen win trotter Martina H trailed for most of the race and got the upper hand close to the line to win by a length from the fast-finishing favorite Lovely Bundy. Trainer Arna Donnelly trained her second winner of the season when 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding Bet Out Of Ell won the feature event last night. His time of 2:43.7 was only just outside of Awesome Armbro’s national stand start record for 2200m.  Bet Out Of Ell (Bettor's Delight - Elle Mary Rose) started from a handicap of 20m and the race was held in wet conditions making the run of the winner even better. Donnelly was confident of a good showing, thinking the drop in class last night would suit the horse and he duly obliged.       Harnesslink Media

It is harness racing semi-final time for the kiwi Breeders Crown runners at Bendigo on Saturday night in Australia. The first heat of the night is the Woodlands Stud semi-final for the 2yo colts and geldings and New Zealand is represented by both King Of Swing and Master Moonlite. King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) is trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe and is having his first Australian start. David Butcher will do the driving from a tidy barrier position of three and he could possibly lead from there and be hard to beat. Master Moonlite (Art Major - Miss Moonlite) who won fresh up in Australia on the 9th August, has not fared so well with the barrier draw, coming in at five on the second row. Anthony Butt will drive him on Saturday night with Dexter Dunn likely to get back on for the final if he qualifies. In the second heat, impressive filly Our Angel Of Harlem has drawn perfectly to lead at barrier two.  Trained by Barry Ward at West Melton, Our Angel Of Harlem was late arriving in Australia, due to a delay at Christchurch airport with fog last week, but is now settled in ready to rumble according to trainer Barry Ward. Our Angel Of Harlem (Mach Three - Paradise City) won her final hit out at the Ashburton workouts last week leading all the way for driver Jimmy Curtin in a slick 2:58.9 for the mobile 2400m. She won easily under a hold and paced the last 800m of that workout in a quick 56.9 seconds. Angel Of Harlem or Our Angel Of Harlem as she is named in Australia, will be driven in the semi-final by Anthony Butt who will also do the steering in the final if she qualifies on Saturday night.  Starting in the same heat is Our Bettor Joy from the Cran Dalgety stable. She has drawn barrier 10 and will be starting from three on the second row, which is not ideal, but she does have the services of master driver Gavin Lang to guide her around the Bendigo track. Up against the two New Zealand fillies is the impressive Art Major filly Nostra Villa, who has won all seven of her starts this season. Trained by Emma Stuart, Nostra Villa has drawn badly at one on the second line giving a clear advantage to the kiwi fillies in that heat. Partyon from the All Stars Stable starts in the first semi-final for the 3yo fillies and has drawn perfectly in barrier three. She looks a good thing to lead and then be hard to beat for driver Luke McCarthy. Another All Stars runner in More The Better starts in race five the first semi-final for the 3yo colts and geldings. More The Better (Bettor's Delight - Lucky Pocket) has drawn poorly at barrier 7 with his main danger The Little General faring much better after drawing the pole position of one from the mobile over 2150m. Also in that heat is ex- All Stars Stable runner Stars Align who has won five out of six starts in Australia for owners’ G J Kennard, P I Kennard, P J Creighton, M C Creighton, G R Douglas and K J Riseley. He has drawn badly at six on the second line and will need luck in the running to feature in the finish. Big Mach (Mach Three - Outback Girl) for Logan Hollis starts in the second 3yo semi-final and has drawn barrier 8 and will start from one on the second line needing luck. He is up against the Merv Butterworth owned Motu Meteor who is building an impressive record in Australia for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. Sicario (Somebeachsomewhere - Bettorthanyou) for the All Stars Stable in the second 2yo semi-final is the last kiwi breeders contender for the night and he has drawn well at barrier four for driver Luke McCarthy.    Harnesslink Media      

Trainer Ray Green and driver David Butcher have different views over how clear cut tonight’s feature pace at Alexandra Park will be. Butcher says while he chose Vasari over last-start Winter Cup winner Northview Hustler, he isn’t sure he has made the right choice. Yet Green is adamant he has. “I think Vasari is clearly the better horse and definitely our better chance,” says Green, who is still on track for his best season ever. “He had his issues with Vasari but has always been a good horse, and now we have gelded him he is right back into it. “This might be his first standing start, but he has handled the ones I have given him at home well, and he is too good a pacer not to step safely. “Northview Hustler is a real little pro, typical of the Bettor's Delights, but I don’t think he is as good as Vasari.” Butcher, who will win the North Island Driver’s Premiership again, needs a bit more convincing. “The difference is I am sure Northview Hustler (who will be driven by Andre Poutama) will step up because he did for me last start in the Winter Cup. “Whereas Vasari I am not sure about, because I haven’t seen him do it. “So while I am driving Vasari I could have just as easily gone the other way.” The pair highlight a potentially good night for Green, whose high class juvenile King Of Swing takes on older horses in race six.“We think a lot of him and he is still very much a chance to go to the Breeders Crown in Victoria next month,” says Green. “He is very big and raw but he has a good motor, so we will see how he goes in his heat next week.” As sharp as King Of Swing has looked, Butcher warns punters tonight poses a tricky test for the juvenile. “He might be too good for them but against the older horses it is hard to make your own luck, so he is no good thing.” Green also has impressive workout winner Alta Shangri La in race one while Butcher takes his stable star Sunset Peak to the 1700m mobile trot to finish tonight’s eight race programme. “She is racing well but the way Yagunnakissmeornot won last week I can’t see us beating her,” says Butcher. Addington also race tonight, with two legs of the national junior driver’s champs, the remaining two legs to be held at tomorrow’s Forbury Park day meeting, which was transferred from last night because of the weather.   Michael Guerin

The last 16 months of Vasari’s career has hardly panned out as his connections could have liked. And it really hasn’t panned out the way Vasari would have liked it. But when the highly-talented three-year-old bolted to an effortless win at Alexandra Park on Friday night he finally looked like the horse he promised to be as a late juvenile. The long-striding son of Art Major may have been harshly judged for much of this season, with perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to him being his win in a Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington last year. That night he lead and beat juvenile of the year More The Better, just a month after thrashing his opponents in a SIres’ Stakes heat at Cambridge by six lengths in a 1:55 mile rate. After that level of performances anything but group one glory was going to seem like a waste of Vasari’s talent but luck deserted him in the best races as a juvenile and then an old problem kicked in this term. Trainer Ray Green told driver David Butcher that by the time colts get to midway through their three-year-old season they either adapt to being a boy around girls or they can’t handle it. “One night at Alexandra Park he didn’t try and when I came back in Ray summed it up nicely. He said ‘he has turned into a werewolf,” laughs Butcher. So Vasari was gelded and now his mind is back on racing he looks more like his old self. “He has always had the ability and the good thing about him is he relaxes so well. “He felt great out there tonight and that is a very handy ability to have, the ability to park out and relax then kick hard  “So who knows how far he can go now, after all, he is still only a three-year-old.” The win was Vasari’s fifth and he should have little problem adding more in coming weeks and then the question will be whether Lincoln Farms want to keep him here in New Zealand or send him to somewhere like Menangle, where he would look suited. But with the stake rises coming at Alexandra Park, maybe the days of handy mid-grade horses heading off shore will become less common, with a Vasari well capable of winning good money at home if the better-end races get off the ground. His win extended Butcher’s huge lead in the North Island drivers premiership on a night when his son Zac landed two and brother Phil reined Pakipaki to an impressive win in a good fillies and mares race. With Alta Intrigue second to Vasari it provided Ray Green with the quinella and took him to 28 wins for the season, still with a shot at his personal best of 31 set in 2012. Already Green has bettered last season, is almost level on stakes won that term and has a better strike rate so has done another huge job to sit fifth of the northern trainers on the premiership. Michael Guerin  

Northview Hustler is an unassuming little fella, who in work, seldom gives his trainer Ray Green the impression he could beat a maiden field let alone a quality Winter Cup line-up comprising of last year’s Auckland Cup runner-up. But that’s not to say that Green didn’t think his three-year-old could beat his older and more experienced rivals in the feature pace last Friday at Alexandra Park. “He’s an average worker but he’s a whole new racehorse when the day tote opens. He’s a tough little fella and I thought if he stepped away cleanly he would be right in it. “But to win like he did surprised me a bit. He’s an unspectacular sort of horse who always has the ability to do the unexpected. He seems to be able to rise above and beyond,” Green said. The R77 ranked Northview Hustler displayed a heap of character and guts to sit parked for the last 1300m and then win the $20,000 Smith & Partners Lawyers sponsored 2017 Winter Cup. All nine of the runners in Friday's feature pace for the R70 to R104 ranked pacers were four years or older - all except Northview Hustler. The three-year-old black Bettor's Delight - Northview Desire colt was only having his 11th start compared to some in the field who had raced seven and eight times more than that. David Butcher settled Northview Hustler fourth along the markers (in single file) not long after starting from their 10m handicap. That's where they remained until Butcher went and sat parked with him at the 1300m. Then for the remainder of the race the talented colt showed more heart than Mother Theresa to hold out 2016 Auckland Cup runner-up and the 102-ranked favourite, Hug The Wind (Zac Butcher), by half a neck. Second favourite Bettor's Pocket (Tony Cameron) was a neck back in third. Northview Hustler paced the 2700m stand in 3:22.5 (mile rate 2:00.6) and came home in 57.6 and 28.6. He was the $8 fourth favourite. “I’m proud of him. To be honest I thought Alta Intrigue and Vasari were my best winning chances on the night and they finished second and third in the last race. “That was his fourth win now and he’s done much better than we thought he might after less than a dozen starts. We will just race him over the winter and see what develops. “He will tell us where to next. He’s only ever raced at Alexandra Park. The Breeder’s Crown isn’t a reality but Australia could possibly be next season. I think he will make a nice four-year-old,” Pukekohe-based Green said. Northview Hustler was ranked in the top 10 for the 3YO Emerald Jewels Final but Green opted to race him at northern headquarters instead. He has now banked $54,249 for his owners - Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd, Shannon Flay (Mangere), Ian Gradwell (Henderson), Chis Western (Mairangi Bay), Ian Middleton (Greenlane, and the Four Legs Syndicate). He was bred by Murdoch Bloodstock Limited. Meanwhile Waiuku trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett won both Breeders Crown heats with Our Rosa (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Mass Destruction (Hackett). The latter won by a walk-over. Their recent Monte Saddle Trot winner, Majestic Ali, won the feature trot – the $14,999 Princess Manoja Stakes for the R47 to R60 trotters. It was Majestic Ali's fourth win in 28 starts and the five-year-old Majestic Ali mare provided Herlihy (MNZM) with his second win of the evening. The 'Iceman' got his hatrick in the ninth event when the three-year-old filly he trains - Moving Money - won easily in 2:47.4 (2200m mobile). Duane Ranger

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