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By Jonny Turner    Samantha Ottley was typically low key after becoming just the second woman to notch 500 driving wins in New Zealand. Ottley reached the milestone in style at Oamaru on Wednesday  driving Deceptive Lee in the second leg of a treble of wins for Canterbury trainer David Mitchell. The Canterbury horsewoman joins her northern counterpart Nicky Chilcott, a pioneering woman in New Zealand harness racing, as a 500-race winning female driver. Though proud to be something of a pioneer herself, the large number of women now in the driving ranks in New Zealand means Ottley doesn’t think of her achievement as anything too unusual. “It is pretty cool, but it is not really too much to think about, really.” “There are so many girls getting out there and driving which is awesome to see.” “And they are certainly kicking a lot of goals.” Ottley ranks Rocker Band’s Group One win at the Harness Jewels in 2016 as one of the biggest highlights of her career. But it was a different win that crossed her mind as she passed the Oamaru winning post with Deceptive Lee. “It is pretty special to win a Group One race and to do it at the Jewels on a mare like that is right up there.” “But you never forget your first win, either.” “I thought about that as I crossed the line.” “That was here at Oamaru with a horse that mum owned and trained.” “So that was pretty cool.” Ottley drove Nigel Paul to win for her mother, Denise, on her 18th Birthday and in her first-ever race drive in 2008. The trainer has been a big supporter of her daughter throughout her driving career. “She is a huge supporter, she is always watching all of my races and she has been a big part of it,” Ottley said. “There have been a lot of people along the way that have supported me.” “I have worked with some great people like Colin and Julie DeFilippi.” “I probably wouldn’t have driven half of the winners I have without Mark Jones.” “He has been a great supporter.” If Ottley drives La Rosa to win her second NZB Standardbred Harness Million Final for Jones on Friday night at Addington it would top an incredible week for Ottley. “That is fairy-tale stuff, she is a nice filly and she is going super.” “Onwards and upwards, hopefully.” Milestones like Wednesday’s 500 wins are not the focus of Ottley’s career. She strives to drive more winners in each harness racing season. And that is something she is succeeding at. “You have to sit back and think about it really, it is a lot of winners,” Ottley said. “You just cruise through really, the milestones just pop up.” “Each winner I like to try to drive more winners than the previous year.” “Getting a milestone like this, it happens when it happens.” “I am having a bit of luck, certainly the last week anyway.” “I am getting on some nice horses and it has been a good season.” Nicky Chilcott has 648 wins as a driver in New Zealand, giving her a 148 head start in the race to become the first woman to 1000 driving wins in New Zealand. For full results for Oamaru click here

Ottley joins 500 club Sam Ottley has become just the second female driver to record 500 wins in this country. The Teal Pants ambassador went into today's races at Oamaru on 498 wins, only to win race 2 with Mayhem in Malibu ($10.80/$2.40) and then Race 4 with favourite Deceptive Lee ($2.30 and $1.30).  The first to reach the milestone was Nicky Chilcott who’s currently on 648. Ottley's been in fine form this season, and now has 45 winners for the season and looks set to eclipse her previous season's best of 68 wins in 2020. Ottley is one of two South island ambassadors for Teal Pants, the annual campaign to raise awareness about and raise funds for ovarian cancer.  Spirit of St Louis heads north  Spirit of St Louis has moved from his Otago base to South Auckland. The four-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou has gone from Graeme Anderson and Mike Love to Joshua Dickie at Clevedon. With eight wins in 16 starts, his last effort was a fifth in the Group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes final in Invercargill behind Burnham Boy. Four race winner Yankee Party has also changed stables, moving from Katrina and John Price to the stables of his regular driver Nathan Williamson. Dance Craze retired after 24 wins Prolific-winning trotter Dance Craze has been retired. Trained by Anton Golino and expat Kiwi Jack MacKinnon at their Ballarat stables in Victoria, the daughter of Muscle Hill recently pulled up sore. Golino : “It’s not really a bad injury. Any other horse you could probably give her a little break, come back and be fine. But she’s seven now, made half a million and she’s done her job.” She had 24 wins from 50 starts, including the 2017 Breeders Crown series, the 2019 Great Southern Star, and the 2020 Australian Trotting Grand Prix. Dance Craze raced once in this country, a third in the Ruby 4YO trot at the Jewels in Cambridge in 2018. Now she’ll become a mum. Four-for for Dexter Dunn Kiwi star Dexter Dunn has had a four win night at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and is currently the second highest-earning driver in the U.S. for the year. Recently named Driver of the Year for the second consecutive time the 31 year old won with Forevernalways, Rockin The Aces, Whittaker N and Somebeach Baron at the Big M to now have 56 wins for 2021. His earnings of $USA566,249 are second to Trace Terick ($US594,895). Riverton turns 60. The Riverton Trotting Club is throwing a party for the public of Southland when it celebrates 60 years of racing at its annual Cup Day meeting at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Saturday 13 February.On course the day will see feature events including the 31st running of the $15,000 DT King’s Transport Ltd Riverton Cup, the Neville Cleaver Fishing Aparima Trot and the Bill Keast Memorial Gold Chip Trotting Final.   HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk Denise Ottley can vividly remember the time her daughter Sam left home. “It wasn’t my best day, it was just horrible at the start.” “And I didn’t want to leave,”says Sam. At the time the mother and daughter – “it’s always just been the two of us” – were living in South Canterbury and Sam was around 19. “I had a four-bedroom house all to myself,” says Denise, though she says it was her who insisted that Sam leave to take up a job at Colin and Julie DeFilippi’s Canterbury stables, as “I knew if she didn’t go then she’d never go.” At the time Sam had been working at Murray Tapper’s stables in nearby Timaru. A year or so before she left home, Team Ottley had a “fairytale” result, as Denise puts it, at Oamaru in November 2008. Sam won her very first race-day drive on a horse trained by her mother, on her 18th birthday. Nigel Paul was the horse in question. After starting well he went to the lead, then lobbed the trail only to take the passing lane and get the job done. “It’s the stuff you think about in your dreams,” said Sam. “It was pretty exciting,” said Denise, “to train my horse to win on her birthday.” And it was far from a one-off. Rocki Warrrior won five from 38 including the 2017 Tuapeka Cup at Forbury Park. Backmarker Eamon Maguire was the hot favourite but Rocki Warrior stepped well, went straight to the front and stayed there. Sam : “We just thought, let’s just go as hard as we can for as long as we can, and he won easily.” And at the nice odds of 19-to-one. As a driver Denise has had two wins and eight placings in 62 drives, and has trained 30 winners from 441 starts while Sam was the first female junior driver to post 100 winners in New Zealand and currently has 438 wins (4494 drives). In the current drivers’ premiership she is 4th on 51 wins behind Blair Orange, Matthew Williamson and John Dunn. “It’s quite unreal,” says Denise , “to think this is just a little girl from Orari, there’s a lot of pride” Sam : “I pinch myself sometimes, just at the opportunities I’ve had.” In recent years Denise made the move north to join Sam and her partner Stevie Golding. She lives in a separate cottage near the main house. “We don’t live in each other’s pockets,” says Denise, though the pair usually catch up at least once a day. Denise works horses at Ken Barron’s property before looking after the eight she has in work while Sam is busy at Mark Jones’ stable at Burnham six mornings a week. Both reckon they are pretty similar to each other, agreeing “they are easy-going and are passionate about horses”. There’s also a strong work ethic. While at Orari Denise juggled a number of jobs including milking cows, caring for the elderly and doing the bookwork at a local hotel, as well as training her horses. “I remember being at the rest home and whistling them up at dinner time, like I did the cows. Sometimes I forgot which job I was at!” While the COVID-19 crisis has been “strange” both are eagerly looking forward to racing’s return. Denise is keen to qualify a promising trotter she has called “Majesticmite” while it’s another Majestic that Sam has signalled as one to watch. It’s the Mark Jones-trained Majestic Lavros, a last race winner by a nose over One Majic Kenny at Addington in March. As for any special activities they have planned for Sunday? Sam : “Usually we’d be racing at Timaru but we will just probably go for a walk or something.” Denise : “Hopefully I’ll get a box of chocolates, I love chocolate.”

New Zealand raises $19,000 for Team Teal   Harness Racing New Zealand are thrilled to annouce that we have raised $19,000 for the Teal Pants Campaign.   The campaign which started on February 1 and finished on March 12 was run for the first time in New Zealand this year and we are extremelyhappy with the results.   We had a total of 39 reinswoman win races throughout the period with each win receiving $400 in donations.   Harness Racing New Zealand donated $200, Woodlands Stud $100 and the Club $100.   The total money raised will be sent to the Womens Cancer Foundation to help with research around Ovarian Cancer.   We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our reinswoman for getting behind this fantastic cause and wearing the teal pants, and a special thank you to our Ambassadors- Sheree Tomlinson, Sam Ottley, and Nicky Chilcott.   We would also like to thank the following for their contribution to this cause: - All NZ Harness Racing Clubs - $100 per win - John Bougen - Reefton INC - Prize for “Wear teal and win” - Hororata Trotting Club - Teal Day - Auckland Trotting Club - Hosting the Women’s Day Shoot - Reefton Trotting Club - Teal Day - Cambridge Raceway - Hosting Ladies Night - Michelle Wallis - Losing driving fees - Woodlands Stud - $100 per win - Kirstin Barclay - Winning driving stakes - Jay Abernethy - $200 donation - Nicky Chilcott - $100 donation - Methven Florist - Flowers for the Fashion Contest - Gore Harness Racing Club - Donation - The Butchers Pie - Vouchers for Fashion Contest - Haircare Market Bush Inn - Prizes for Fashion Contest - Amanda Tomlinson and David Broadhurst - Hurunui Raceday Donations - Kidz Kartz - Wearing teal ribbons - Flair - Donation - Addington Raceway - Charity of the Month - Trackside - Wearing teal and promoting the campaign   Once again we thank everyone for taking part in this fantastic cause. We are already looking forward to supporting this campaign next year. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me on the details below.   Courtney Clarke Harness Racing New Zealand

They’ve both won two races at Rangiora this season, but only one of either Thisismylastflight or Rocki Warrior can make it three in the past 12 months in today’s Rangiora Winter Cup. The duo are two of only five horses who have won at Rangiora Harness Racing Club meetings this season and are joined by; Witheze, Donegal Carrickfin and Run To Hide - none of whom are racing at today’s final meeting for the season. Tackling the $12,000 event today, the pair both have strong each way chances. Rocki Warrior hasn’t been seen at the races since the end of January, but the Denise Ottley trained pacer looked ready to resume with a big run at his most recent trial where he incidentally beat, Thisismylastflight. Three quarters of a length separated the pair and the big Washington VC gelding has the added advantage of drawing on the front line which suits his usually quick stand start manners. The win would also give his driver, Sam Ottley a good chance to push for overall driving honours at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club meetings. She’s driven seven winners at the club’s meetings, a tally bettered only by Ricky May (9) and Dexter Dunn (8). Gavin Smith is the other in contention with his seven winners as well. The mother and daughter Ottley combination have a chance earlier in the day as well with OK I’m Bad who was third in that same trial won by Rocki Warrior. Thisismylastflight hasn’t been seen other than that trial since running fourth to James Dean at Timaru at the start of the month, but the Steven McRae trained pacer has done a wonderful job in his short career. The Panspacificflight gelding has a big motor and Craig Thornley may elect to unleash it today. James Dean is a big chance in the Winter Cup based on his Timaru win for Leo O’Reilly while Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn have a strong chance from Alpha Rock. Greg and Nina Hope and Robert Dunn, who both train out at Woodend Beach, head into the meeting with six winners from the Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s season with Terry and Glenys Chmiel their closest opposition with four wins.   Matt Markham’s Rangiora Selections Race 1: Fiery Comet, Family Night, Sunrise Spur, Tehoro Nova Race 2: Boomer, Out Of Aces, Bicton, Vyndetta Race 3: Got A Beauty, Zakspatrol, Bevan’s Cullen, Northview Major Race 4: Tara Tuatia, Spondulicks, Admiral, Dance N Jewel Race 5: Shes’a Tricky Bridge, Eden Franco, Crackared, Sans Le Sou Race 6: Run Boy Run, OK I’m Bad, Takitimu Express, Den’s Legacy Race 7: James Dean, Alpha Rock, Rocki Warrior, Thisismlylastflight Race 8: Ygritte, Diana Harbour, Cuddly Jess, Rocknpop Race 9: Man Of Steel, Toll Gate, Take After Me, Ask Me Art   Best Bet: Fiery Comet (Race 1) Value: Ygritte (Race 8)

He’s already grabbed a Group One winner this weekend, but Jonny Cox’s feature race weekend might not be over.  The talented horseman made the most of a pickup drive on classy two-year-old filly Elle Mac on Friday night at Alexandra Park in the Caduceus Club Classic for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.  It was Cox’s first Group One pacing victory having won a Dominion Handicap with the ill-fated Jaccka Justy and his first winning drive at Alexandra Park since 2007 when he drove Washakie to victory while based in the North Island.  Today, at Rangiora, Cox has another strong pickup drive for the All Stars stable in Piccadilly Princess in the Rangiora Classic, giving him the perfect opportunity to complete a unique treble for the harness racing weekend.  Having driven a winner at Forbury on Thursday night and then one at Auckland on Friday, Cox will be shooting for three from three meetings when he gets out on the track with Piccadilly Princess.  The classy mare was an eye-catching sixth in last weekend’s Easter Cup behind Heaven’s Rock after missing away from the stand start. The Bettor’s Delight four-year-old reverts to the mobile today but does have the outside barrier draw to contend with.  That will put the mare’s fate in the hands of Cox who will have to look to get into the race at some stage, especially with noted speedsters Franco Nelson  and Field Marshal likely to be handy to the speed from early on in proceedings.  The Rangiora Classic hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the All Stars in the past with Imagine That’s win back in 2005 the last time they tasted success. Purdon won the race as a driver in 2009 when he drove Fake Chance to victory for Stan Moore.  As well as Piccadilly Princess they have Chase The Dream in this year’s edition with Sam Ottley doing the driving. Classie Brigade, who was also very good in the Easter Cup, will give Nigel McGrath a chance at big race success as Blair Orange looks for his third win in the race having won with Pure Power (2011) and Belkmyster (2015).  Super Selector – By Matt Markham  Race 1: War Spirit, Red Hot Poker, Gin Rummy, Native’s Lasting Love Race 2: Patanjali, Honour The Bet, Bubble Gum, Playingintheshadows Race 3: Ohoka Jimmy, Rock N Roll Delight, Omar Sharif, Sails Race 4: Donegal Carrickfin, Celestial Arden, Shillelagh, Christopher Banner Race 5:  Whittaker, Mongolian Hero, Shineonyourcrazydiamond, Franco Hampton Race 6: Sexy Rexy, Daiquiri, Foreverman, Galleon’s Royale Race 7: Franco Nelson, Piccadilly Princess, Classie Brigade, Chase The Dream Race 8: A G’s White Socks, Forgotten Highway, Sparkling Delight, Torrid Bromac Race 9: Lavros Jack, Belle’s Son, Royal Shine, Destiny Jones Race 10: Sacred Angel, Debnita Rose, Sweet Mary, Classie Margaret Best Bet: Whittaker (Race 5) Value: Sexy Rexy (Race 6)

Kim Butt wouldn’t mind if they held races at Orari every week. The talented junior driver made it two wins from as many meetings at the South Canterbury track on Sunday when she piloted OK I’m Bad to success for local trainer Denise Ottley at the Geraldine Trotting Club’s meeting. Butt had found herself in the winners’ circle at the first meeting their for the season, incidentally also in the junior drivers’ event, when she managed to get Real Torque home over the top of his opposition. Sunday was a little different though with Butt dictating terms from the outset and holding far too many guns for her rivals. “It worked out really well, we managed to get across them easy enough and then got a pretty good time of it in front,” Butt said. “He’s a nice horse, he felt really strong coming up to the home turn and he really kicked when I asked him too. “I’m just really lucky that I was given the opportunity to drive him by Denise and Sam (Ottley), you always know when you get on one of Denise’s horses that you are going to have a chance.” The win took Butt’s tally for the season to 10 and in with a sniff of her best mark of 20. A six-year-old gelding by Badland’s Hanover, OK I’m Bad’s win was his second from 10 starts. He’s a half-brother to the extremely talented Lislea’s Flame who unfortunately had his career cut short by injury. While Mum tasted success, Sam Ottley made sure she wasn’t left out of the action when she produced a confident drive on Trailer Park Girl to win impressively. Ottley is fashioning a good record on her old home track, winning races frequently when they do race there. A Courage Under Fire filly trained by Steve Dolan, Trailer Park Girl backed up a good second on debut behind Carter Michael with the victory on Sunday and there’s promise of plenty more. “She’s a really nice filly,” Ottley said. “When you get on one of Steve’s horses you can be quite confident because you know they are always ready to go a big race.” The win took Dolan’s tally for the season to eight, from just 17 starters, which sees him with the highest UDR of a trainer in the country who has had more than 10 starters for the season. Matt Markham

The Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes is shaping up to be a real beaut this year and the Mark Jones trained Whittaker added his name to the list of candidates for the harness racing Group Two feature on Diamonds Day in late April. In the McKnight and Brown Mobile Pace driver Sam Ottley settled Whittaker five back on the outside with Lilac Flash taking the early leaders role before Manuka Valley took over. This left Whittaker parked.  "It wasn't the plan to be there. They went hard early and were playing a bit of mickey mouse up front so I thought we'd stay out of it. He's a pretty relaxed horse and it didn't worry him being there," said Ottley. With 1200 metres to run Lilac Flash was taken out of the trail to the lead again. At the 400 Ottley had Whittaker up challenging Lilac Flash with the main danger Grand Rainbow on Whittaker's back. On straightening Ottley let the Sportswriter gelding loose and he ran home too well to beat Grand Rainbow by a length and three quarters with another three quarters of a length back to Lilac Flash. The winning time was 2-40.9. Whittaker and Sam Ottley easily winning at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart. "The mile rate surprises me because he just did it so comfortably. He knocked off at the end with nothing around him but he was doing it easily." Whittaker was purchased at the 2015 Australian Classic Yearling Sales in Auckland by Nigel McGrath for $20,000 when named Melman. He was initially trained by Mark Jones's mother Leone winning a workout and qualifying as a two year old in May 2016. He was then purchased by Greg Brodie.  "He's only had three starts and couldn't have done more in all of them. He is a lovely horse. He's exciting and hopefully he can go a wee way. He's got high speed - lightning quick really."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Mark Jones trained Glenferrie Classic proved her versatility by winning the 2600 metres Alabar Cromwell Cup today in the hands of Sam Ottley.  Nine days ago she won the Equine Stakes at Winton over the sprint distance of 1609 metres, then driven by Stevie Golding. The four year old mare is royally bred, being by Bettor's Delight out of New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner and is owned by Equine Investment Limited, Matai Farms Limited, G.M. Saunders, Mrs S.J. Saunders and B.R. Duffy. One of Matai Farm's directors, Bathan Muir is on the committee of the Wyndham Harness Racing Club.  Glenferrie Classic galloped away before settling third on the inside. Ottley then decided to sit parked with just over a lap to run before getting cover when stable-mate Perissa arrived. She then popped out with 650 metres to run and challenged the leaders. Glenferrie Classic led heading for home and held on to beat a late charging Statham. The winning margin was a neck. The time of 3-27.2 was over 7 seconds outside the track record held by Glencoe VC when he won the 2012 cup. "It didn't help when she didn't pace away. I probably got to the front a bit soon but I didn't want to be boxed in. To her credit she sprinted from a long way out and stuck on," said Ottley.  This was her second win from two starts on the grass. She won at Methven in early December.  "She's got stronger and has raced good on the grass and the grit. This was her biggest test today against race hardened horses. She's got stronger this season."   She has now won four races from sixteen starts and it's likely that she'll target the Southern Country Cups final on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park in April.  The winning connections - Photo Wayne Huddleston - Wild Range Photography Glenferrie Classic's dam Mainland Banner which won seventeen of her twentytwo starts has done a great job as a broodmare. All of her foals have won races - Stunin Banner (15), Return To Sender (8) Peruvian Banner (1) and Rocker Band (10). "She looks like Rocker Band but they are totally different. This mare is laid back and almost lazy whereas Rocker Band has great speed, can get on the steel and pull. Glenferrie Classic is more of a stayer."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Samantha Ottley’s first winning drive at Alexandra Park on Friday (November 4) never panned out like she thought it would. Driving what she described as one of the fastest horses she had ever sat behind, Rocker Band simply out-sprinted her seven rivals in the $14,000 Movenpick Mobile for the R77 to R107 pacers. “There was talk that she would just lead and win but when I came out of the gate that wasn’t the case. I knew there were a couple of pacers who could fly the gate and when that happened I had to ease back,” 26-year-old Ottley said. The Mark Jones trained Harness Jewels winner, Rocker Band, was third last early from her six-draw and remained there until Ottley made her move with 900m remaining. “I had to take luck out of the equation. She was travelling well and I just had to put her into the race. Zac (Butcher) advised me that if there’s cheap sectionals run in sprint races here you have to be handy on the turn to win. That was great advice,” Ottley said. Rocker Band then sat parked down the back straight the last time and then in the home straight was simply too strong winning by three quarters of a length and pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:01.4 (mile rate a slashing 1:54.9) and last 800m and 400m in 55.5 and 27.5. “She can be a bit of a trick at times. Even though she relaxed early she did lose an a length of so turning for home. But then wow what a feeling to go up outside a good horse like Ideal Belle and go past her. “I’ve driven some real nice horses like Stylish Monarch, Stent and Pure Power in the past, but this mare would be the fastest horse I’ve sat behind. Her sectionals were so quick yet she felt so relaxed,” Ottley said. Rocker Band has now won 10 of her 28 starts and placed in five others for just under $175,000 in stakes. Her career highlight came at Cambridge Raceway on June 4 this year when she won the $150,000 Group One 4yo Mares’ Diamond. “That was a real thrill winning the Jewels but it was also great to win my first race at Alexandra Park. I must have been there five times now. It’s a lovely track to drive on. I just hope I can retain the drive,” Ottley said. She said she would love to sit behind the royally bred 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover - Mainland Banner mare on at ‘The Park’ on December 31.. That’s when Rocker Band will line up in the prestigious Group One Rosslands Queen of Hearts Pace for our country’s best pacing mares. “I want to keep my bum firmly on the sulky seat that she drags around. In saying that I never expect it. Mark has been so good to me since I joined him just over a year ago. “When I went there I thought I would get the occasional drive, but he’s put me on everything, and I’m so humbled by that especially when he’s a world champion driver and is watching me drive his horses from the grandstand!  “I can’t thank Mark enough. His belief and faith in me has been phenomenal,” Ottley said. “Actually I would like to thank everyone who has supported. I’ve had such a good start to the season and I’m so grateful to all the owners and trainers who have put me on their horses,” she added. Ottley has already driven 16 winners ($110,334) this season and 219 ($1.7m) since her career started in 2008. She currently sits fifth on the national driving premiership, and is New Zealand’s top female driver – 10 clear of second-placed Natalie Rasmussen. Meanwhile, other highlights from Alexandra Park onFriday included two wins each from Brent Mangos, Barry Purdon, and Steve Telfer/Chris Garlick. Mangos trained and drove Mr Good And Evil to win the first race and then just over half an hour later he steered the Purdon trained Rariza to victory in race two. Purdon's other triumph came via the Zac Butcher driven $1.60 favourite Raptor's Flight in the third race, while Telfer and Garlick trained Rhythm N Blues (Scott Phelan) and Ideal Roman (Jack MacKinnon) to win races six and eight respectively. Morrinsville conditioner Daniel Erickson also trained his first winner when Todd Mitchell got Turbulent Flow up in the last stride to win the 10th event. Story on Erickson follows this week.   Duane Ranger

Mark Jones put his near perfect day at Methven yesterday down to one mitigating factor – Sam Ottley. The Burnham horseman enjoyed a gold letter day at the first grass track meeting for season, winning three races and picking up a second placing as well from his five runners for the day. And Ottley was on board all of them, continuing her golden start to the season as the combination between her and Jones continues to prosper. “I’ve got to give a lot of the credit to Sam,” Jones said. “She summed each one up perfectly and had them all in the right places at the right times, she really is driving as good as anyone going around at the moment in my opinion.” The Jones/Ottley combo kicked things off with Rocknroll Nevin, who despite running up the track down the back straight, was too good for her opposition – surprising her trainer slightly. “She was pretty good last week at the trials, but I probably didn’t expect her to win the way she did. “She’s always been a nice horse, and everything fell into place for her which helps.” The run continued in the very next race when Ammisaduqa backed up a very good trial at Methven eight days earlier with a strong victory over the 3000 metres. After a handy enough run on debut the Gotta Go Cullect gelding was driven confidently by Ottley and he won impressively by a length to break the maiden status. “He was the one I was most confident with I think, his trial last week really impressed me. “I didn’t give Sam any instructions, but she drove him perfectly.” When Perrisa led the feature pacing event of the day and was too tough for her opponents, things started to look even better than Jones could have dreamed of at the start of the day. The former claiming mare, who could have been picked up for a fair price a few weeks back, got her own way in front and ran away at the top of the straight. “We’ve had a few problems with her but the grass is her real go in life and when she gets her own way she’s pretty hard to peg back. “We’ll keep targeting grass track racing for her over the next few months before she heads to stud later in the season.” The three win haul was nearly four when Zena Mac was very good when finishing second behind Shadow Rider in the last. Jones has made a grand start to the season winning seven races from just 30 starters – and he’s pretty surprised about it. “It’s the smallest racing team I’ve ever had I think, but there’s some really nice young ones. “I’m looking forward to next season.” Ottley’s start to the season has been just impressive, she’s won eight races from 30 drives and continues to kick goals when given the chance. Jones reported yesterday that his star mare Rocker Band would be heading North this week for her immediate racing. “She’ll go to Barry Purdon and we will target the Spring Cup in a couple of weeks and then the Holmes DG a fortnight after that. “Alexandra Park have been great and really looked after us and the best part is she should get a race every week up there without having to take on the best of them.” Stable trotting star, Master Lavros, is progressing nicely towards resuming later in the year. The Dominion is off the table and Jones is looking at a first up run in the Green Mile at Methven in December.    Matt Markham

They call him the Long shot Place Prince, but his real name is John Morrison. The young harness racing junior driver has quickly picked up a name for himself at getting home some of the roughest runners in a field into a top three spot. Morrison took over 130 drivers to get his first win, but hasn't looked back since then and has now picked up 5 winners in his first season. Along with those five winners, Morrison has also picked up 16 seconds and 8 thirds. Below is a list of some of the high priced dividends Morrison has upset punters with. Handlebar Hank - 3rd $9.40 Tactical VC - 2nd $16.70 Beaudiene Gambler - 2nd $5.40 Dreamcoat - 2nd - $5.40 Hestia Franco - 2nd $27.60 Rico Gold - 3rd $10.50 Rico Gold - 2nd $23.70 Four of John's five winner have paid over $9.50 on the tote. Tomorrow night at Forbury, Morrison has 6 drives including his first winner Motu Speedy Star, who will line up in the final of the Forbury Claimers series. The 11 year old gelding has been freshened for tomorrows assignment and he loves a dog fight, so if the early speed was on, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Morrison salute the judge on one of his favourite runners. The two highest priced runners Donegal Jimmy Dave and Four Starzzz Shiraz both look the hardest to beat on last weeks efforts. Both priced at $12,000.00 they will start from barriers 8 and 9. While Superior Desire will have his first run for the Robert Dunn barn after being claimed by Craig Parsons a couple of weeks ago. Sam Ottley will do the steering. Laughing Cavalier who has been at Gavin Smith's property lately will start from barrier 5 and is to be driven by Kimberly Butt. The 5yo Mach Three gelding was luckless in a recent amateur drivers event at Addington. Meanwhile, Run To Hide who was claimed last week will line up in race 4. Andrew Fitzgerald  

Harness Racing Driver Sam Ottley is enjoying the best week of her career at the moment. After her win with Rocker Band in the 4yo Diamond on Jewels day last Saturday, Ottley hasn't looked back and went on to record a treble at today's Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting. It was three wins in the space of four races for the Woodend based reins women, which included a double for her employer Mark Jones. Although it all started with the upset of the day in Race 4, when Ottley reined home Feel Real for Kaiapoi trainer Glenn Scott paying a whopping $44.40 and $7.00. With the favourite galloping early, Sam had the 3yo Real Desire filly straight into the trail, behind the Jones driven, Southbrook. From there on it was just a small matter of having to get past Southbrook and first starter Regal Grin, who was ultra brave on debut for Ken Barron and the goHarness Buy, Race and Sell Syndicate. In the next it was Kowhai Monarch who got the chocolates for Ottley and Jones. The 4yo gelding by Monarchy is owned by J G & Mrs D J Hartnell and recorded his 3rd career victory when winning by 1 ¾ lengths over Clifden Clowers (John Morrison) and ¾ lengths to Yankee Commando (Murray Edmonds) in 3rd. Ottley left the best for last with her drive on Croft Bay, who was drawn awkwardly on the back row. Sitting near last with a lap to run, Ottley was off and gone to sit parked before being able to out toughen the rest of the field and recording a neck victory over Ardent Lustre (Blair Orange). All three runners will back up tomorrow for the 2nd day of the meeting, with Kowhai Monarch looking Sam's best chance to double up. Andrew Fitzgerald

Rocker Band’s greatest performance may have been her last. The dazzling Jewels winner came from a seemingly hopeless position on Saturday to give harness racing driver Samantha Ottley her first group one victory and kick off a day of drama for some of those who got locked up on the markers.   Favourites like Dream About Me and Pacing Major were luckless and stormed into minor placings after being locked away, but Lady Luck smiled on Ottley and Rocker Band after they were pushed to four back on the inside.   She unwound in a style her NZ Cup-winning dam Mainland Banner would have been proud of but trainer Mark Jones fears he now has nowhere to go with the mare.   “She comes back a class eight mare next season and there are really only three major races for her to be aimed at, and even they mean taking on The Orange Agent and Dream About Me,” says Jones.   “There just aren’t enough mares races for the best mares and most of them aren’t good enough to race the male cup horses.   “So she might be better off in the broodmare paddock, with her record and breeding.”
 Jones owns Rocker Band, a Rocknroll Hanover mare, but leases her racing right to Greg Brodie of Courage Under Fire fame.   “I am thrilled she won for Greg because he has been with me all the way along and also for Sam.   “Some people ask me why I don’t drive her myself but if I did I would have been worrying all week about what she needed in the race, instead of just training her.   “And I have been given plenty of opportunities so it is nice to give them to somebody else.”   While Jones is a former World Driver’s Champ, current title holder Dexter Dunn was also a winner on Saturday with both Donegal Bettorgretch and Field Marshal.   Field Marshall was typical Dunn, off the gate fast then controlling the tempo of the race, easing to his third group one on end for trainer Tim Butt.   Butt will bring him back next season for the Cup meeting but he may not be an ideal New Zealand Cup horse, with the plethora of mobile races in Australia appealing more.   Dunn’s drive on Donegal Bettorgretch was aggressive and broke the heart of leader Missandei before hot favourite Marcoola galloped when challenging her in the home straight.   His trainer Clint Ford said his case wasn’t helped by Marcoola having no lead up races and being too fresh, the problem causes by him winning his way through to class six in late April, making suitable races hard to find.   Donegal Bettorgretch has strengthened into a good filly and is a rarity on two counts --- being by champion pacing sire Bettors Delight and one of the few squaregaiters trained by Cran Dalgety. MIchael Guerin

The salute said it all as Rocker Band and harness racing driver Sam Ottley came flying down the outside to take the $100,000 NRM Evolve 4yo Diamond. For her first Harness Jewels drive, Ottley produced an absolute special to manoeuvre the Rocknroll Hanover mare off the pegs coming into the back straight. It was that move that would secure Ottley her biggest victory to date. “This is right up there with the greatest day of my life, infact I think it is the greatest day of my life” said Sam Ottley Owned by Greg Brodie of Australia, Rocker Band took her record to a handy 9 wins and 5 minor placings from just the 24 starts. Early speed from Miss Daisy (John Dunn) and Lusty Mac (Phil Butcher) is exactly what the Mark Jones trained mare asked for. Todays win was Mark's first Jewels training victory. Mark Jones said “I've trained horses for Greg for years, but i've never actually met him before. It was a great drive from Sam, she deserved a shot at it and she delieved". Winning Time & Margin: 1-53.39MR, with a neck back to Expressive Victor (Blair Orange) in 2nd and ½ length back to favourite Democrat Party (Nathan Williamson) in 3rd. Rocker Band Andrew Fitzgerald

Twelve of the best harness racing drivers in Australasia ventured to Waikouaiti yesterday for the third running of the invited drivers series. The series pits drivers under 30 against drivers over 50 and created a fair bit of interest with fathers and son's in different teams. On paper Dexter Dunn looked to have drawn a handful of very competitive drives and that was how it turned out over the eight races. Dunn won races with  Holdon Toyaspurs, De Vito, Franco Exeter and Eh Ef El. In doing so, he amassed 71 points which was just enough to hold off a very determined Sam Ottley who finished second just three points adrift of Dexter on 68 points It was the second time that Dexter Dunn had  won the "youth versus experience"  invitational drivers series at Waikouaiti. With Dexter and Sam scoring so well, they helped the "youth" win the team event with 319 points against 297 for the "experience" team. Dexter Dunn won the inaugural series in 2014 and has since won a world driving championship in Australia in 2015 and finished second in the International All Stars driving series in Australia last week. Dexter has continued to dominate the New Zealand driving premiership this season and is on track to challenge his season best of 220 which he set in 2011 This seasons premiership will be his ninth in a row. The Auckland Reactor At Alabar Pace was the tightest assessed race on the programme and drew a really strong field including Delightful Dash, Tas Man Bromac and Pocket Of Jewels but it was left to the old warrior Devil May Care to show a clean pair of heals to his younger competition. The seven year old has been in career best form this season and Ricky May gave him a lovely run in the one by one the whole journey before shooting forward on the bend and quickly grabbing the lead which he held to the finish. Tas Man Bromac in the hands of Sam Ottley galloped early and was still last on the final bend but unwound stylishly in the straight to claim second in front of a game Delightful Dash who had lead for the last lap. Yesterday's victory by Devil May Care was his tenth lifetime and took his stake earnings over the $100,000 mark and in his present form there are more wins in store yet. Harnesslink Media

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