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Today we start out series on horse ownership – how did it all start? And what are your favourite memories? Today it is prolific and successful owner and businessman Trevor Casey   Trevor Casey can only wonder how many horses he’s owned or part-owned. He knows it in the “many hundreds” and there have been some of the country’s best performers – think Lazarus, Stent, Waikiki Beach, Sky Major, Winterfell, One Change. Lazarus was the best pacer he’s been associated with. “Laz knew it was raceday”, and while his two New Zealand Cup successes were massive highlights, so too the Interdominion win at Perth in 2017. “It was the win but also the manner of the win, to beat the best in Australasia and he sat outside them”. Like his career in business, Casey’s interest in horse racing started modestly and just kept growing. In the 1970s he first became involved in the racing game despite no family history in the industry. His first experience was helping out around the stables of northern trainers Tommy Knowles and Fred Wigg. After leaving school and a stint with the Air Force he bought a foodbar business in Kumeu. “We had it for 10-11 years, it started at $800 a week but at the end it was turning over $10,000 a week.” He then took over the family business, a Toyota dealership in Kumeu, and in the mid-1980s moved his life to Christchurch. He went into partnership with Neil Pilcher at Inter-Island Horse Transport, and was involved there for over a decade before getting into the hospitality trade. He now has a shareholding in three Lone Star restaurants and owns one outright. His latest one at Alexandra Park was due to open just days before the country went into lockdown.   It’s been a trying time for Casey, but like the ups and downs of racing he is trying to be philosophical. “We have bought a couple of $100,000 horses at the sales and they were no good, it’s disappointing but you just turn the page.” “We have to appreciate the highs and get over the lows”. The highs have been numerous, and actually it started with the first horse he part-owned. “It was a Soky’s Atom filly that we brought for $500 at a National Bloodstock sale”. Trained by Jim Cole, Michelle Soky won a two-year-old sales race on debut in 1991, with a winning stake of over $100,000.  “I’d always loved Standardbreds and it just built from there.” In 2015 he had a season he’ll never forget or probably emulate. “I had nearly 100 in a season.”  That’s winners he either owned or had a share-holding in. He has a long and successful partnership with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn – “the best I’ve ever seen” –  though he does use many other trainers as well. He’s always taken special pride in the horses he’d bred himself. Stent -  “my best trotter” – won 30 from 70 races and over a million dollars in stakes. He was given his name after Casey had just had a medical procedure of the same name and while he was in Christchurch hospital he used to go to the “Great Escape Café”. That led to Escapee getting her name. And now one of her progeny has been called Alcatraz. Of some of the other trotters he’s bred, Missandei (2015) was the first Jewels winner to be out of a Jewels winner (Pocaro - 2009). Another horse he had a share in, Sky Major also was the first to win the Harness Jewels as a 2,3 and 4-year-old. Not a breeding expert “but I like to follow families”  Casey and his partner Kate Marriott currently have 20 weanlings out of Sky Major as well as other yearlings and a number of promising young trotters they hope will perform at the highest level. Which brings us to : what’s left in the industry for Trevor Casey?  “I’d love to win a Dominion handicap with one of my trotters”   Harness Racing New Zealand

It was worth the wait. After seasons of going agonisingly close to cracking the somewhat mythical century mark, richly talented reinsman Adam Sanderson finally reached his Everest. During the recently completed 2017/18 season, Sanderson finally reached three figures. The Invercargill born horseman finished the term with 100 winners. Bang on, no more and no less. But the satisfaction is obvious. “It’s such a good feeling on a personal level, I’ve been so close on quite a few occasions but come up short but I finally got there. It was actually a much better year than I expected and had very good support from a lot of people including Raboki (Shannon Price & Scott Miller), they really helped me along among others.” Sanderson said. Based in Queensland since the 2011/12 season, the proud Kiwi has obtained strong results each and every year since while firmly entrenching himself in the top bracket of a competitive drivers colony. His season tallies sit at 14, 87, 87, 92, 99, 79 and now 100. Since arriving in the Sunshine State, Sanderson, 29, has been based with astute stable of Darrel Graham at Fernvale and pounced on his opportunities including victory in the 2013 Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace 3yo Fillies Final at Albion Park with Montana Marie. He landed back to back Redcliffe Gold Cups (2016/17) with now United States based pair Five Card Draw and Kept Under Wraps. During the previous season, he triumphed with the classy mare Bettorthanspecial to land the Forever Gold Mares FFA at Albion Park in a time of 1:52.3. Sanderson also prepared 18 winners in his own right as a trainer with My Mastercraftsman, Daenerys Stormborn and Long Road To Fame all contributing to his tally. Leading owner and Christchurch based Trevor Casey is a great supporter of Sanderson and races a number of horses from his stable. “I think the fact that I reached triple figures is the highlight rather than any individual performance; there were many times throughout the season where I didn’t think I was going to make it again. I thought my strike rate was solid too. “Driving a mare like Bettorthanspecial is always a thrill; she’s a good mare and a pleasure to drive so I’ll cherish the memories I have with her now that she is retired. Hopefully, she’ll leave some really handy types. “Looking ahead, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; I try not to overthink things and focus on the basics. I would like to keep improving on the training aspect because I’ve really enjoyed the past season, it’s a challenging caper but very rewarding at the same time and hopefully I can attract some new stock.” Maybe he takes that psyche from his favourite sports team, the New England Patriots in the NFL. Sanderson is hoping to head back to North America to take in more action with the Patriots after watching them live last year at the Meadowlands when they played the New York Jets. “How can you not like the Pats, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? They set the standard…Go Pats!” he quipped. He has five drives this Saturday night at Albion Park. Sanderson has driven 3 winners so far this season. Chris Barsby

Top harness racing trotter Stent is preparing for a comeback at the races later this month, after some pleasing work on his home track.  Trainer Colin DeFilippi gave the nine year old a run at the workouts on the 20th September, where he raced against the maiden pacers. Stent ran home ok without being pushed too hard, and broke 58 seconds for his last 800m. Owner Trevor Casey said "he was sore after that trial so we backed off him a bit. I hope we can get him back to the races, but I am philosophical about it"  "I will do the right thing by the horse and retire him, if there are any more front suspensory problems", he said. Stent has won 30 races from 69 starts and more than one million dollars in stakes.  ____________________________________________________________________________________ Champion mare Dream About Me has surpassed one million dollars in stakes with her 3rd behind stablemate Lazarus in the Canterbury Classic last Friday night.  From only 23 race-day starts, the Purdon/Rasmussen trained mare has racked up 19 wins, with her only unplaced run being a 6th behind Lazarus in last years New Zealand Free For All, which was run in a 1:52.6 mile rate. Dream About Me is nominated for the Terror To Love (G3) Methven Cup, to be run this Sunday on the grass track at the Mt Harding Racecourse.   Harnesslink Media    

One of the greatest years of Trevor Casey's life is about to come to a slight halt at about 9.25pm at Alexandra Park tonight. That is when the gravy train, that is Lazarus, will pull into the station for the last time in 2016-2017. "It's all been a dream and a horse like 'Laz' is a one-in-a-lifetime dream. It would be a great way to end the season with a win in the Messenger. "The race means a lot to me because I part-owned Sky Major when he won it in 2015," Christchurch-based Casey said. Casey also co-owns stablemate, Waikiki Beach (2), who will start one outside Lazarus in the 50th running of the Group One $100,000 New Zealand Messenger Championship. The 2700m mobile, which is sponsored by Auckland law firm Dawson, Harford & Partners, has again attracted New Zealand’s best 4-year-old pacers. But the field of seven would have no doubt been larger had the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained $1.02 fixed odds favourite, Lazarus, headed to the spelling paddock last week, instead of Sunday. “What 4-year-old has ever achieved what he has this season? He’s an absolute champion and even though I’ll also be cheering on ‘Barney’ (Waikiki Beach) I don’t think any horse can get near ‘Laz’, let alone a 4-year-old. “I think he’s two lengths better than ‘Barney’ at this stage of their careers. I’m just going to be so proud to have them both race in my Lone Star colours again. I’d love to quinella the race like last week,” Casey said. Lazarus and Waikiki Beach finished one, two in the Group One Taylor Mile seven nights ago. Lazarus got the better of him by one-and-a-half lengths and paid a miserly dollar to win. That was Lazarus’s 26th career win from 31 starts. He's also placed in five others for $2.1 million in stakes. The son of Bettor’s Delight’s six Group One wins this season have included the coveted New Zealand Cup, the Victoria Cup, the Chariots Of Fire, the 4yo Aussie Bonanza, the New Zealand Free-For-All, and last week's Taylor Mile. This season alone Lazarus has won more than $1.1m in stakes. So was his placing in the Miracle Mile a blemish on almost the perfect season? “No, not really. He was a victim of circumstances if you reversed the run of the winner I reckon he would have won that race,” Casey said. The 56-year-old has been owning standardbreds since 1979 but has never had a season like the one just gone. “I’ve had many winners thanks largely to Lazarus and Waikiki Beach. I think they are the best two horses I have owned, separated by Sky Major. It is going to be a real thrill watching them go around on Friday,” said Casey. He said Lazarus would follow the same schedule as last year, starting with a race like the New Brighton Cup in September. “We didn’t consider the Jewels because he won that at two and the New Zealand Cup is now the main priority. It would be great if he could win two New Zealand Cups. "He's an incredible horse with a fantastic nature. He will tell us when he comes to end of his racing career, but at the moment he is thriving. His stud career is well and truly on hold,” Casey said. Lazarus will be attempting to win his seventh race from eight starts at Alexandra Park, and fifth from seven over the distance. "'Barney' will keep him honest but it's hard to see them getting close to 'Laz". He's loving his racing and is showing no signs of a big season," Casey said.   Duane Ranger

He has only tasted defeat once in his career and Our Waikiki Beach continued his winning record when crowned New South Wales Horse of the Year at the Arthur J Gallagher Industry Harness Racing Awards night in Sydney on Saturday. The NSW Derby winner had nine starts in the state last season resulting in eight wins which was enough to convince the judges, made up of media, to earn 63 per cent of the votes. Owner Trevor Casey was in shock: “He’s an exciting horse and I look forward to him returning to the track over here (Australia),” Casey said. “It’s fantastic to win this Award, I’ll treasure it for life.” Our Waikiki Beach made a clean sweep of awards also being handed the NSW Three-Year-Old of the Year and NSW Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pacer of the Year. Other award winners were: Aquadec NSW Broodmare of the Year – Full Pleasure; Aquadec NSW Sire of the Year – Sportswriter; Bulli HRC NSW 2YO Trotter of the Year – Pegasus Elegance; Cockburn and Co NSW 2YO Filly Pacer of the Year – Shezallapples; Cockburn and Co NSW 2YO Colt and Gelding Pacer of the Year – Astride; Wagga HRC NSW 2YO of the Year – Astride; Bulli HRC NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year – Bacardi Hurricane; Alliance Contractors NSW 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year – Our Dream About Me; Albury HRC NSW 3YO Colt and Gelding Pacer of the Year – Our Waikiki Beach; IntelliTek NSW 3YO of the Year - Our Waikiki Beach; Bulli HRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year – On Thunder Road; Club Menangle Aged Mare Pacer of the Year – Arms Of An Angel; Club Menangle Aged Entire and Gelding Pacer of the Year – Have Faith In Me; Club Menangle Aged Horse of the Year – Have Faith In Me. Amanda Rando

Did Hanress Racing owner Neil Pilcher have a wee inkling or was it yet another smart business move by Trevor Casey? A few days prior to Our Waikiki Beach’s first defeat in 20 starts at Menangle yesterday (Tuesday) Casey bought out Pilcher’s third share in the gifted 3-year-old. Casey now owns two thirds of Our Waikiki Beach with the remaining third owned by Cheryl Rasmussen of Australia. “Neil doesn’t want to travel around as much as he used to and I’m the opposite when I work allows. He’s had a lot of success in racing and I made an offer to him. “I wanted to keep the major shareholding in New Zealand,” Casey told Harness Racing New Zealand a few hours before Our Waikiki Beach’s shock 1.4 metre second behind outsider Ideal Situation in the $9,000 C91.3 FM Mobile for the C5-plus pacers. The $1.10 hot favourite and Luke McCarthy led into the straight but was overhauled 50m out. The winning time for the mile was 1:52.8 with 28.3, 28.9, 27.9, and 27.7 sectionals. It was also the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained bay’s first defeat in 13 starts on the track. He has recorded a 1:50.6 mile at Menangle. But Casey who travelled to Sydney to watch his pride and joy run, rated the Somebeachsomewhere gelding right up there with Lazarus and Stent as the best horses he has owned. “Mark and Natalie have always had a high opinion of this horse and he has reinforced that on the racetrack. He could be anything. People have told me he could easily go a sub 1:50 mile. There’s not much between him and Lazarus but just now I’d probably rate him second just behind Lazarus,” Casey said. “It’s amazing to think that I part-own two of the best 3-year-olds going around in Australasia,” he added. Casey and his co-owners paid $70,000 for Our Waikiki Beach at the Melbourne Sales, simply because they wanted to buy a well-bred Somebeachsomewhere gelding. The 55-year-old Christchurch businessman said the horse nicknamed ‘Barney’ would line up in a Breeder’s Crown heat in Sydney next week before heading to Melton for the Finals next month. Thereafter Casey said Our Waikiki Beach would spell for six weeks and then come back and tackle the big 4-year-old races in both Australia and at Alexandra Park. “The Chariots Of Fire, the Taylor Mile and the Messenger are races I’d like to see him start in but as always Mark and Natalie will make the final call. “They are very astute trainers and I back them in all they do. I’m guided by them,” said Casey. He said Our Waikiki Beach would not start in this year’s New Zealand Cup but fellow 3-year-old Lazarus would. “No we will be concentrating on the 4-year-old races with him next season. He will line up in a Cup one day but not next year. That is Lazarus’s target and at this stage of their respective careers he’s more the Cup horse,” said Casey. As for records Casey said enjoy them while you can. “They all get broken eventually. I just love seeing my horses win and if they happen to break records or run quick times, then that’s a bonus,” he said. Our Waikiki Beach has won four Group 1 races. As a 2-year-old he won the Australian Pacing Gold, the New South Wales Breeders Challenge and the Australasian Breeders Crown. This season he took out the rich New South Wales Derby. The gelding has won $674,221 in his career and there has never been a faster three year old in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Waikiki Beach equalled the time set by Border Control of 1:50.6 when he won a race at Menangle in February. Only six standardbreds have won more than 19 consecutive races in Australasia. San Simeon holds the record with a winning streak of 29. Lucky Creed, Maori’s Idol and Courage Under Fire won 24 races in a row while Aachen and Lyell Creek won 20. With his second placing on Tuesday Our Waikiki Beach joined Satinover, Hyperstat, Village Kid and Lombo Pocket Watch with 19 consecutive wins. Auckland Reactor won his first 17 races in a row. Duane Ranger

Talented three-year-old pacer My Mastercraftsman has arrived in the sunshine state. The New Zealand gelding arrived in Brisbane today (Wednesday) after being transferred from the leading Christchurch stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to gifted young harness racing horseman Adam Sanderson. My Mastercraftsman is raced by successful owner/breeder Trevor Casey. With the 2016 Racing Queensland / UBET winter carnival fast approaching, My Mastercraftsman will be set for a number of features highlighted by the Gr.1 Queensland Derby on July 16 at Albion Park. “He’s a great addition to the stable and I can’t thank Trevor enough for the opportunity, obviously we’re aiming at the Derby but there are a number of features that he is eligible for so we have good options available to us.” Sanderson said. Sanderson, a native of New Zealand, has been based in Queensland for a number of years and is based with leading trainer Darrel Graham while working a small team of his own which is spearheaded by consistent trotter Saratoga. Like My Mastercraftsman, Saratoga was a one time member of the All Stars stables before venturing to Australia. My Mastercraftsman scored an impressive victory at Newcastle last Saturday night where he registered a new ‘PB’ time of 1:53.3. Handled by John McCarthy, the son of Bettor's Delight recorded sectionals of 27.9, 29.4, 28.5 and 27.5 seconds. “It was an impressive performance last week and he looks like he’s still on the way up, he did it very easily and should prove very competitive here in Brisbane in the coming months. “They’ve been patient with him, he was unraced as a two-year-old and he’s putting it all together nicely now, he certainly gives the impression he will continue to improve as he gets a bit older. “He’s fit and in-form so we’ll start looking at our immediate options and keep building to the Derby in July. The Redcliffe and Gold Coast Derby’s are other targets while I have a few other options with him.” My Mastercraftsman has 3 wins and 5 minor placings from 12 career starts to date. The 2016 Queensland Winter Carnival spans from 3 June - 30 July with races held at Albion Park Raceway and Redcliffe Harness Racing Clubs. Chris Barsby

Our Waikiki Beach remains unbeaten after 16 runs and a large majority of harness racing followers expect the three year old to make it 17 on Saturday night at Newcastle when he resumes from a short break. The son of Somebeachsomewhere last raced in the New South Wales Derby and after winning that narrowly was taken home to New Zealand to prepare for another raid on the Australian racing riches. Should Our Waikiki Beach win on Saturday night he will join Glenerrol, Lombo La Fe Fe and Auckland Reactor with 17 successive victories and will only be one behind Radiant Venture, Garry's Advice, Take A Moment and I Can Doosit. Courage Under Fire won 24 in a row before he tasted defeat while San Simeon holds the record with 29 straight wins. Owner Trevor Casey will make the trip from New Zealand to Newcastle this Saturday but is not feeling any nerves in the lead up to Our Waikiki Beach's resumption. "I don't get nervous that he is going to lose because all horses get beaten. It is going to happen one night so instead of dreading that moment I'm going to enjoy having him," Casey said. "He is back in New South Wales to target the Alabar Breeders Challenge and then Mark (Purdon) is keen to take him down to Victoria so he can have a crack at the Breeders Crown." Our Waikiki Beach has had two trials in New Zealand and was beaten in both of them however the defeats are of little concern to Casey. "He ran third behind Locharburn in his first trial at Addington and then he went to Rangiora and he went head and head with (My) MacKenzie all the way down the straight and she just pipped him." "Mark is happy with where the horse is at so that gives me confidence and I'm just hoping I can find my way to the track on Saturday night because I have never been there before." Casey would have liked to see Our Waikiki Beach compete in the Jewels but understands why the gelding wasn't invited. "I think the horse would have been a drawcard for the day itself but I understand why he wasn't invited. He hasn't won the prizemoney at home to earn a start, there has been a bit of a fuss made of it here in New Zealand but I accept the final decision. "It wouldn't have been ideal for the horse anyway because he would have had to fly back and forth between New Zealand and Australia which is something he can probably do without." Our Waikiki Beach will compete in race six at Newcastle on Saturday night. Greg Hayes

Harness racing horses just don’t win 16 races in a row. Yet Our Waikiki Beach is definitely something special and he reached that mark in style with another remarkable win in today’s $$200,000 Coca-Cola Amatil New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The three-year-old gelding gave the Mark Purdon stable their third Group One for the day . . . with the Miracle Mile still to come. Driver Natalie Rasmussen explained Our Waikiki Beach only ever did what he had to do to win. And that was the case again today as the son of Somebeachsomewhere held off Cant Refuse (James Rattray) to score by 2.1m with Zee Dana (Nathan Jack) third in a 1:55.5 mile rate. It was a relieved Rasmussen who received the Derby trophy, explaining Our Waikiki Beach had been getting a little bit too fired up at his most recent start which had been a slight concern. “We’ve tried to keep him calm before his race since then,” she said. “But he’s a good boy. He just what he has to do.” And no-one does it better in the three-year-old ranks than Our Waikiki Beach who may yet rival some of the great horses with his unbeaten run. Part-owner Trevor Casey said he never expected to have a ‘second’ horse to win that many in a sequence. “I had something to do with Courage Under Fire, who won 25, but this bloke is now starting to stack up the wins as well,” said Casey. Rasmussen said she always felt Zee Dana (third) would be her biggest danger because he was so impressive in his record heat win. “Amanda Turnbull [trainer] has him flying at the moment,” she said. “But we were confident with our guy. “Mark and I don’t really go out to try and set records like that – we’re just happy if our horses are fit and healthy and going well. “Of course you have to aim for the big Derbys. “And I’d have to be happy with a day like this. They don’t come along every day.”

The second day of the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch had been going through a bit of a flat patch when Lot 409 walked into the sales ring. A colt by Mach Three named Mach Shard, he is a half brother to the former champion two and three year old Smiling Shard 1:53.7 ($1,089,753) and the top racemare in Pemberton Shard 1:55.2 ($225,212) Straight away the tempo of the sale changed as all the big hitters came out to play. $100,000 came and went in a hurry and not long after the $150,000 mark went by the board. Finally the tempo slowed but Barry Purdon who had been in from the start was not going to be denied and when the colt was knocked downed for $200,000,it was Barry who was holding the final bid. Barry was a happy man to have secured what he thought was the pick of the colts in the southern sale. "I was starting to get a bit nervous at the $130,000 mark but Kevin and Trevor were keen to carry on." " I was really taken with him and luckily have owners who are prepared to back my judgment.'' He's a really athletic colt with a great back end on him."  Barry said. Barry was referring to two of the most successful owners in harness racing in Australasia at the moment in Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley who have been riding a crest of a wave of success over the last 18 months. Barry has been building up a fantastic record with his sales purchasers over the last seven or eight years and he certainly looks to have unearthed another outstanding type going by the individual in the ring this afternoon. Mach Shard, as you can see from the photo is built like a bull, very strong through the chest and shoulder and just looks like an early runner. With the half brother Smiling Shard already standing at stud in Australia, there is the added bonus that Mach Shard has that option open to him if he can go as good on the track as he looks off it. " Both Somebeachsomewhere and Auckland Reactor are by Mach Three and at stud these days so Mach Three is a proven sire of sires. "Mach Three has proven he's well capable of leaving top horses and the mare is obviously proven too," Barry said. Harnesslink Media

Turning down a Group I start is not easy but Trevor Casey his hoping his sacrifice will pay off.  Bookmakers have Stent as short as $1.80 to win the $250,000 Group I Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway on Friday. Nine of the Dominion field went around in the Group I NZ free-for-all trot on Tuesday but Stent was left at home. Stent has 30 victories and multiple Group wins but a Dominion victory would rank up there with the best for Casey, who races the 7-year-old son of Dream Vacation. "It's like the New Zealand Cup for the trotters," Casey said. The champion trotter was third two years ago behind Master Lavros and ran home for a disappointing sixth last year but was later found to be struggling from asthma-like symptoms. Co-trainer Colin DeFilippi is happy with how Stent has progressed since his last start at Kaikoura and says he is in perfect fettle to try to win his first Dominion at his third attempt. But Casey is not getting carried away despite Stent's heavy favouritism. "They don't come easy, they never do, even though we are in a favourable position you've still got to go out there and do it." Casey is sure Stent wold have backed up but said he wanted to do the best thing by his horse and give him the best chance in the Dominion. "We went to Kaikoura because we were a run short but he ran a national record time so we thought it would be best to go in fresh rather than race on Tuesday." Stent went under Sheemon's national record of 3-00.6 set at Kaikoura 12 months earlier by 0.4 sec. Mark Jones is predicting Master Lavros, second favourite at $6, will be improved on his fourth in Kaikoura. "He needed that run up there, he hadn't raced for three weeks," he said. Habibti was good when finishing third behind Monbet and Alley Way on Tuesday in the NZ free-for-all after sitting parked for the first half of the 1950m. "I was happy with her but I thought she probably should have run second," co-trainer David Butt said. "She just died in the last 60 or 70m so we have to just have to hope she improves with that run but it's hard to know." Butt, who trains in partnership with wife Catherine, said the former derby winner has bounced through the run. Habibti has not raced over two miles but his trainers are picking the distance will not be an issue. "I don' think it will worry her, she's always been a good little stayer,"  Butt said. Butt is hopeful rather than confident that Habibti can defeat the likes of Stent, Master Lavros, Sheemon and Alley Way. Last year's runner up, Sheemon, was disqualified on Tuesday but his run was much improved on recent outings and at his best will be a wining chance. Swedish trotter Daryl Boko broke rounding the final bend on his New Zealand debut and further improvement is expected on Friday. Greg and Nina Hope might not have their boom 4-year-old Monbet in the field but do have two runners in Quite A Moment and $81 outsider Harrysul. Quite A Moment is at $16 but has to be a strong place chance on her form since returning home from Australia. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ    -    Check site here

The fact that Messini is returning to  the All Stars barn for a New Zealand Cup  preparation is not really a surprise. He has been there done that before with the Harness Jewels in June. But he has a better chance than many of the nominees going on his best performances in this country -which have all been from the All Stars barn. On Cup Day last year just after Bill and Jean Feiss sold a half-share in him to a syndicate which includes Trevor Casey , he smashed a record winning the Junior Free for All running 3.07.2 (mr 1.55.4) in the hands of Natalie, a stunning start to a great Cup day. He then ran a respectable sixth in the NZ FFA before transferring to Brent Lilley's Melbourne stable. After a short campaign in the four year old features in Auckland where his form was below par he celebrated being back at Rolleston with a withering win over Tiger Tara, Sky Magic and Dalton Bromac in the Christian Cullen FFA running 2.18.3 the last half in 54.8. Mark was again at the helm in the Harness Jewels when a 14 marble saw him back and making a big run in the middle stages. He couldn't quite foot it with Sky Major which came out of the one one when Mark attacked and lost second late to Te Kawau but it was a tough effort.                                                                                                   And if there is a drive going in the Cup for the stable Tim Williams is sure to put his hand up. Tim won his first race for Mark and Natalie when he was given the drive on Messini in the Kindergarten Stakes at a time when Tim was based in Southland. It all went good which is probably why Tim is where he is today. David McCarthy Reproduced with permission of All Star Racing Stables  

Harness racing can be trying at times as anyone who has been in the industry for any length of time will be able to tell you. One who knows this better than most at the moment is owner of the year, Trevor Casey For all his recent success Trevor is experiencing a few bumps in the road trying to keep Escapee's new campaign on track The plan had as its immediate aim the Dominion Handicap in November. The plan is up in the air at the moment but that doesn't mean that she won't be racing this season Its just that she won't be racing from the All Stars barn. Mark and Duane Marfisi knew that Escapee would need special handling during her comeback but with the big spring team getting ready for racing, the extra time required to put into Escapee was just not available at the All Stars barn. As a result, Escapee is to be tried in in a different environment. Never an easy horse to train, Escapee has had a long absence after having a foal but after a very promising start this time in at the All Stars barn, she has caused problems for Duane. "When she gets upset she just takes off and one day when we had a gear problem I had trouble pulling her up on the straight track." "She just never came back to me" Duane said. Mark trialled her a few days later but she pulled very hard and he recommended a different approach to owner, Trevor Casey. " Mark thought that since he wouldn't be home at Rolleston for several weeks yet, that a move away from All Stars might help, " Trevor told Harnnesslink today. "After consulting with Mark, I have moved Escapee to Ken Barron's barn." " Blair (Orange) is there and he handled Escapee a lot when he worked at All Stars. " He has driven her and knows her so it seemed a logical move." " She is off to the trials at Ashburton on Tuesday so we will all be a lot wiser after that," Trevor said. Escapee has always been a high class race mare and would certainly add another dimension to the trotting features in New Zealand if she made a successful comeback to the track. Harnesslink Media

Only one category tested the judges in the annual harness racing awards on a night where the industry honoured a bunch of super talented horses. Star pacers Dream About Me, The Orange Agent, Adore Me and Have Faith In Me, who were the toast of the 350-strong Christchurch audience on Saturday night, took a clean sweep of the 25 votes cast, with Sky Major inexplicably stealing one vote from Christen Me in the four-year-old and older section. But the votes were well split between three outstanding two-year-old colts and geldings, with the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Chase The Dream (11 votes), outpointing his stablemates Waikiki Beach (7) and Lazarus (7). Chase The Dream, with Group I wins in the Young Guns Final and Sires' Stakes, obviously had the home plate advantage with the deeds of Waikiki Beach, unbeaten in 10 starts, almost exclusive to Australia. With Group I scalps in the Australian Pacing Gold and NSW Breeders Challenge, Waikiki Beach won four more races than Chase The Dream and banked $324,081 to Chase The Dream's $212,026. It reflected the strength of the crop that Lazarus, with six wins from eight starts and $265,562 in stakes, including the Group I Harness Jewels in 1:52.9, was an also-ran. And it also reflected the dominance of the season for Purdon and Rasmussen that four of the six pacing category winners came from their All Stars Stables. The voting was clearcut in all the trotters' categories, Speeding Spur and Conon Bridge capturing all 25 votes while one vote for Jewels winner Missandei stopped juvenile High Gait from getting a perfect score and one judge gave King Denny the nod over Stent, the winner of seven Group I races and $640,000 in the four-year-old and older section. The only conceivable excuse could be that they didn't turn the page on HRNZ's performance sheets and missed seeing the feats of Sheemon and Stent, although how the person could have forgotten the extraordinary feats of Stent beggars belief. Kincaslough (22) and Sunny Ruby (21) completed the list of trotting winners. Stent was a unanimous choice for trotter of the year while Christen Me (13) triumphed in the pacer of the year, losing six votes to champion mare Adore Me and two to Have Faith In Me. The judges were also split on overall Harness Horse of the Year, Miracle Mile and Victoria Cup winner Christen Me (13) outpointing New Zealand Cup heroine Adore Me (6), Stent (4) and dual Derby winner Have Faith In Me (2). Other awards: Owner: Trevor Casey. Breeder: Charlie Roberts. Broodmare: Scuse Me. Stallion: Bettor's Delight. Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Driver: Dexter Dunn. Junior driver: Stevie Golding  Cadet: Sean Grayling. Outstanding contribution: John Reedy. Barry Lichter Reproduced by permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

The former harness racing trotting queen Escapee is back in full work. The former age group trotting queen was retired to stud in 2013 but she is now to attempt a comeback aimed principally at the Group 1 Dominion Handicap in November at Addington Raceway. She has been in work for some time at Rolleston under the direct eye of the All Star foreman Duane Marfisi who has taken a keen interest in her comeback which is a strong sign she can regain her peak form for owner Trevor Casey. Escapee had a filly foal in her absence to Muscle Hill but she is still only seven and at her best would be a match for nearly any open trotter about. Escapee was first or second in 20 of her 34 starts to date (11 wins) and has already won over $270,000. "It seemed worthwhile when you considered everything."  "She had a suspensory problem when I retired her but she is well over that and much more settled than she used to be now as an older mare as well." "She is still the only trotter around who has beaten Stent more times than he has beaten her." She has not been overraced and is still quite young as trotters go." " She is not that far away from the trials but if we have any problems with her I won't risk her, she can go straight back in the broodmare paddock," Trevor said Trevor's star trotter Stent is keeping his passport in the draw this year as far as North America goes. Invited to an  US$1,000,000 International trot at Yonkers on October 10th, Trevor has had to decline the invitation this year. " Stent has had a good break and there is just not enough time to get him ready for such a challenging race." "We would be taking on the best in the world and you can't do that on a rushed preparation." " I told the North Americans that if he continues this season to race as well as he did last season then we would love to come up and match him with the best next year," Trevor said Harnesslink Media

A dream season for one of the country's most prolific harness racing owners ended on Friday but there's no time for rest. Trevor Casey started Friday on 90 winners for the season. It hasn't been confirmed as an official record but common sense would suggest it will be. A shoe in for owner of the year at next weekend's Harness Racing New Zealand awards night, Casey has enjoyed major success with the likes of Stent, Sky Major, Waikiki Beach, Lazarus, My Arya and Missandei. Casey had three runners on the final day of the season but wasn't concerned if he couldn't pick up a win: "I didn't think I'd ever get this many and I doubt I'll get this many again. "There's only one way to go from here and that's down, I'm very realistic about that in this game." Casey is straight back into action on Sunday with Harness Jewels winner Missandei and My Arya in Group I races at Maryborough in Victoria. Missandei will contest the Group I Redwood Classic along with the other two standouts of the two-year-old trotters crop from the New Zealand season, High Gait and Conon Bridge. Casey won the race in 2013 with Daenerys Targaryen and also had My Arya in the field last year. "I'm very proud of that record, to have one in the race the last three years," Casey said. The Kiwis haven't had any luck with the barrier draws for the $50,000 mobile over 2190m. High Gait has drawn barrier six, Conon Bridge the inside of the second line and Missandei barrier 12. Casey is happy with where Missandei's at given she's after she has won a race and two trials since transferring to the Brent Lilley stable after the Jewels but still rates High Gait the one to beat from the front line. The Paul Nairn-trained Conon Bridge blew his chances in the Jewels with a break but did return to Ashburton to win a C1-C2 trot on July 19 before heading across the Tasman. Mark Purdon will drive High Gait, Anthony Butt takes the reins on Missandei and Bob Butt has crossed the Tasman to drive Conon Bridge. My Arya will have her second start back after a break in the Group I Victoria Trotters Derby. Casey said her last start second was better than it looked after a gear change to remove the over-check and pole did not work. My Arya has won eight of nine starts in Australia this season and Casey is expecting plenty of improvement as the Angus Hall filly prepares to win back to back Breeders Crowns. She will start from barrier four in the 2690m mobile but Casey said Speeding Spur will be tough to beat despite his second row draw. Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

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