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Rakaia trainer Gerard O’Reilly knew he was going to be hard pressed to qualify Sweet Belle for next month’s Group Three Southland Oaks but her win today elevated her to thirteenth on the Oaks leader board and depending on nominations, it may be enough to allow her a start in the $40,000 harness racing feature. “We’ve left it a bit late to target the Southland Oaks. She was up in the ratings so it’s made it a bit harder,” he said. In today’s race O’Reilly got a lovely trip behind pacemaker Benio Ben. At the 450 metre mark when Benio Ben started to get tired O’Reilly moved the three year old off his back and quickly went to the lead, putting a length on Miss Auckland who was three lengths in front of the chasing bunch. Sweet Belle held on to beat the late charging Belmont Diva by two lengths with Mucho Macho Man a neck back in third. O’Reilly said the Sweet Lou filly knocked off at the end of her race today. “Being a nice race horse she’s just got into the habit of only doing what she has to.” Sweet Belle was broken in by Gerard’s brother Kerry and the Rakaia trainer got her as a yearling. She won a two year old race before she was turned out. “She wasn’t paid up for anything (stake races) so we gave her a wee spell.” Today was her fourth start in the province. She disappointed at her last start, running fifth at Ascot Park. “I think she may have been going through a growing spurt. We put the pull down blinds on her today. She hit the front the other day and didn’t want to go on. The calibre of the field today probably helped.” Sweet Belle is owned by Richard and Stewart Ashworth, Brian McGirr and Martin ‘Moose’ Hickman. “Three of the owners are from Methven – rugby racing and beer people. They came down a couple of weeks ago and made a mess of themselves the night before. Richard and Stewart have had horses with me but it’s the first time for Brian and Martin.” O’Reilly says at this stage he doesn’t intend to push on to the end of season Harness Jewels. “Next year she’ll get stronger and be a nice intermediate grade horse. She’s thriving down here and Jeremy (Douglas) and Britney (Willis) are doing a great job with her. ” The top fifteen qualifiers for the Southland Oaks are: Tac Mac, Sweet Lizzie, Bettastar, Better’s Tart, Leer, Better Talk Art, Braeview Kelly, Debutant Party, Lifes A Beach, Wattlebank Star (with a question mark), Endless Dreams, Don’t Lie To Me, Sweet Belle, Belmont Diva and With Grace. For full Winton results click here!   by Bruce Stewart

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Winton today with an eleven race program starting at 11:36am and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Winton selections 23rd April 2021 Best Bet:  R1 Simone Lindenny Best Value:  R7 Yankee Shard   Race 1 Simone Lindenny (7) Tease My Tartan (5) Galway Girl (1) Eilish Hall (9)   Race 2 Ohoka Agent (1) Lou's Deal (9) Sista Sammy (4) Bonnie Prince Louis (3)   Race 3 Onedin Hurricane (1) Battle Axe (9) Wrecking Ball (4) Father Quinn (7)   Race 4 Ah Mach (6) Cautious Galleon (3) Emerald Abbey (9) Celtic Abbey (7)   Race 5 King Of The North (8) Palisade (9) Top Pocket Chance (5) Prince Envy (10)   Race 6 Magnetic Terror (2) Love Lou Longtime (1) Tommy Waterhouse (6) So Art I (4)    Race 7 Yankee Shard (3) Sweet Belle (9) Benio Ben (1) Tac Mac (4)   Race 8 Jimmy Carter (9) Sekkie Monkey (11) Tweedledee (10) Horace Horse (2)   Race 9 Bettastar (11) Robyns Shadow (10) Port Au Prince (5) Tartan Roxy (2)   Race 10 Keep On Dreaming (14) Idealism (7) Airwaves (8) Dodgethebullet (3)   Race 11 With Grace (14) Calico Hill (6) Boudica (5) Changearound (10)   Harnesslink Media

Duke Of Cornwall’s blazing gate speed is set to put him where he needs to be at Saturday’s Wairio Mile Day. The Lauren Pearson trained two-year-old comes into his Winton assignment after beginning his career with a creditable fourth placing in last month’s Kindergarten Stakes. After flying the gate and then trailing the winner Akuta, the colt rallied strongly along the passing lane for driver Brent Barclay. “Brent was really happy, he was kicking himself a little bit that he didn’t stay in front and make them run along a little bit,” Pearson said. “But, we were really happy with his run.” Pearson admitted before this week she had no intentions of racing her promising two-year-old against older horses in race 11 on Saturday. But her hand has been forced. “The two-year-old race never went ahead last week, so it is going to be a little bit hard racing the maidens.” “The good thing is that it is only a mile.” “But it still can be hard, they are seasoned horses he is racing, most of them.” Saturday’s race is key for Duke Of Cornwall’s preparation for the Group Three two-year-old event coming up at next month’s Diamonds Day Meeting. That race will be a major pointer as to whether Pearson, Barclay and owner Lester Smith aim their pacer at bigger targets, like the Sires Stakes Series. “He is paid up for everything, so I just think Lester is just going to assess it as he goes,” Pearson said. “A big assessment will be after Saturday and then our aim, which is Diamonds Day.” Duke Of Cornwall’s gate speed is set to give him a major early advantage over his main rival on Saturday, Love Lou Longtime. The two-year-old starts from barrier 4, while his Nathan Williamson trained and driven rival starts from barrier 4 on the second row. Pearson also lines up Insist The Win, who she also owns, in race 3. The four-year-old has also drawn handily in barrier 3. The trotter’s chances of leading early in his mile assignment do not look as strong as his stablemate’s. “The only thing is that the two with the gate speed are drawn inside us,” Pearson said.  “He was a bit average last time but he is a trotter that will get better with age.” Insist The Win was fifth behind Zoned Scarlett in his last outing at Ascot Park and gets no better chance to improve on that run than in Saturday’s even line up.” “I would be disappointed if he couldn’t run in the first four.” Barclay also takes the reins behind Insist The Win. The leading Southland reinsman has eight drives on Saturday’s 11 race card. Wattlebank Star (race 6), Pearl Harbour (race 7) and Leer (race 8) looking among his best eachway chances.   by Jonny Turner

Southland is fortunate to have a very strong group of Country Cup horses this season and today it was the consistent Vintage Cheddar’s turn to win. Pre-race debate centred on the handicaps and how this would play out in today’s $20,000 Winton Businesses Cup. The main players were expected to be Robyns Playboy (20 metres), Vintage Cheddar and U May Cullect (30 metres) and backmarker Pembrook Playboy who was starting off 40 metres. When the tapes were released Pembrook Playboy galloped, adding at least 10 metres to his handicap while Vintage Cheddar settled sixth behind pacemaker Sagwitch. When Memphis Tennessee moved up on the outside running line inside the last 1000 metres driver Brent Barclay slotted Vintage Cheddar on his back with U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy getting into that train. At the 400 Barclay moved Vintage Cheddar out three wide and U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy started to make their runs. On straightening, he encouraged the six year old to power up and he shot two lengths clear of his two main rivals. That was the winning of the race – Vintage Cheddar holding on to beat the late charging U May Cullect by a diminishing three quarters of a length, with Pembrook Playboy a half a length back in third. “Yeah, went super. He got a beautiful run and when Brent asked him to go he went. It was perfect. And good to get one back on Nathan (Williamson – Pembrook Playboy). He’s been a force to be reckoned with all season and finally we were able to turn the tables on him,” said trainer Alister Black. Vintage Cheddar’s time was 2-57.9 while U May Cullect ran the journey post to post in 2-58.1 and Pembrook Playboy 2-57.3. The last 800 metres off the front was 56.4 and 400 27.3. “It’s very competitive and I’d say this would be the strongest the Country Cups grade has been for a while. They’re all pretty even.” It was a first for Brent Barclay to win his home town cup. His father Keith won the race in 1977 with Forward Play. Black says Vintage Cheddar’s main end of season aim is the Group One $100,000 Easter Cup at Addington on 3rd April. “He still has to front up to the top liners, which he hasn’t done, but he’s raced the tier underneath and been very competitive. We might go to Christchurch for a couple of Free For All’s then he’ll go to the Easter Cup and come home for the Country Cups Final and that’ll probably be us for the season.” Vintage Cheddar is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson. Winning connections            --Bruce Stewart Photo Earlier in the day Black won with three year old trotting filly Dont Ask, owned by Lindsay Thomson. “She trotted all the way and that’s twice she’s got round now. I’ll probably wait until the Gold Chip Final. She just has to learn her trade. She’ll be better next season.”   by Bruce Stewart

Today’s win in the Southern Belle Final, taken out by Plutonium Lady was very similar to that of Rocker Band in 2016. Both horses were four year olds, both trained by Mark Jones and driven by Sam Ottley, and it doesn’t end there. “She (Rocker Band) was in Auckland a week before and came south and won this race (too). Mark is a big supporter of the Southland races. They look after us really well down here,” Ottley said. From barrier five Ottley pressed the turbo early to take the lead. “She got to the top comfortably, it was always the place to be. She just got to roll along and dictate and do what she wanted. She was happy there and ran up the straight nicely.” At the end of the 1609 metre journey Plutonium Lady held on to win easily by three and three quarter lengths from second favourite Yankee Party who came home well from last.   Today’s win was the Bettor’s Delight mare’s ninth and it lifted her stake earnings to $157,159. “Her ratings have probably shot through the roof and its gets so hard now at that sort of mark. You just have to weigh up the options.” Sam Ottley with Plutonium Lady        --Bruce Stewart Photo Both Ottley and Jones are big fans of this mare’s Series and have supported it over the thirteen years it’s been running. “These sorts of races are awesome and what a quality field it was today. She’s been up and down the country. It doesn’t seem to worry her. When the good money is on you just have to chase them.” It was Plutonium Lady’s third win in a row on the back of scoring a double in Auckland. “She’s hit a real purple patch.” Meanwhile Leer lived up to her reputation, when she won on debut for Charlton trainer Bruce Wallace and driver Brent Barclay. Leer is out of the Jereme’s Jet mare Bay Jet and is a half-sister to Wildwest, the winner of nine of his fifteen starts in Australia including his first seven. Forbury Park trainer Darryn Simpson trained the quinella in Race Three with Emdeegee driven by Sarah O’Reilly beating stablemate Zealous Spur. Both horse are owned by Geoff Clarke. Captain Pins capped off good place form by going one better in winning Race Four, his maiden race. The Captaintreacherous gelding unleashed a great burst of speed to hit the front and held on to beat With Grace by a half a length. RK Finn continued Wyndham trainer Craig Ferguson’s good season in the following race when he capitalised on a good trip behind pacemaker Calico Hill to win by half a head. It was the gelding’s second win in eight starts. The much travelled Ivana Legacy won Race Six, her ninth win for Invercargill trainer Shannon Armour. The seven year old American Ideal mare has been active at Addington recently, but has returned home to Southland and finished an unlucky fourth at the Northern Southland Meeting last weekend. Her win today was one of three for Brent Barclay. Quality trotter Chinese Whisper made a successful return to racing when he got up to win Race Nine. It was the Sundon gelding’s seventh win in just thirteen starts for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. He last raced at Forbury Park in October. View the full Winton results click here!   by Bruce Stewart

Robyns Playboy looks the best placed of the Winton Cup runners facing mission almost impossible on Saturday. The Ross and Chris Wilson trained pacer and several of his key rivals will take on the massive task of turning the tables on Southern star Pembrook Playboy following his scintillating win in last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup. Robyns Playboy rallied hard for third for driver Sheree Tomlinson in the Group 3 event after their chances of getting closer were effectively extinguished when they were held up on the home turn. “Getting held up didn’t help, but Sheree said she was more worried about holding third than chasing the second horse,” Chris Wilson said. “He did blow out a wee bit because they went that hard.” “But he has come through it fine and I think he will back up alright.” Robyns Playboy made a flying beginning in last week’s feature, leading soon after the start from his 10m handicap. Though he goes back another 10m this week there are two key factors in his favour when he reunites with regular driver Craig Ferguson. The five-year-old gets an extra 10m advantage over Pembrook Playboy who starts from the 40m back mark and the race shortens from 2700m to 2400m. All those factors could add up to Robyns Playboy being the hardest for Pembrook Playboy to beat or the best quinella option for punters to take with him. “He will turn his 20m handicap into 10m, he started so good last week it was phenomenal, really,” Wilson said. “It would be good if he was able to get to the front.” “Though if Pembrook Playboy came knocking we wouldn’t be scared to hand up to him.” “We don’t give Craig too many driving instructions, so it will be up to him.” Northern Southland Cup runner-up Vintage Cheddar was strong behind Pembrook Playboy last weekend and again looks one of his biggest threats. The Alister Black trained pacer gets a 10m advantage over the favourite from his 30m handicap after starting on level marks with him in their last clash. U May Cullect will be in the same situation when he starts from the 30m mark. The popular pacer was caught back in the field on fast closing sectionals last week and faded when launching a wide run. The Wilson stable also start Hans Ideal in race 5 and Robyns Shadow in race 10 on Saturday. Robyns Shadow was buried on the pegs and held up on the home turn at Ascot Park last weekend before running on nicely behind Duke Of Dundee. Starting from barrier 8 looks a negative for the pacer, but the Wilson camp does not think that ends his winning chances. “He got home really good last weekend, we were really happy with him,” Wilson said. “Because we are driving him with a sit I don’t mind that draw.” “His work was really good this week.” Hans Ideal looks decent eachway hope in race 5. The mare drops back in grade after running a solid seventh in a hotly contested graduation final won by Lifes A Beach at Ascot Park last week. Well-travelled mare Plutonium Lady looks the horse to beat in Saturday’s Southern Belle Speed Series Final. The Mark Jones trained mare will trek almost the length of the country to compete in the mile feature after winning back-to-back group races in her last two starts at Alexandra Park. Though she has not been asked to show gate speed on many occasions recently, Jones thinks she has all the necessary assets to take advantage of barrier 5 for driver Sam Ottley. “If you look at her last start she almost crossed them from out wide.” “She is pretty quick off the gate if you want her to be and she is pretty adaptable.” “So, Sam will have plenty of options.” Yankee Party, who starts from barrier 7 looks the biggest threat to Plutonium Lady.   by Jonny Turner

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Winton today with a ten race program starting at 12:03pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Winton  selections 20th March 2021 Best Bet: R1 Dont Ask Best Value:  R5 Carrera Belle   Race 1 Dont Ask Love Is Everywhere Clover Jewel It's Summertime   Race 2 Leer De La Renta Sista Sammy Ab's Tenants   Race 3 Emdeegee Svelt King Of The North Maudarchy    Race 4 Jaccka Wally Captain Pins With Grace White Lightning   Race 5 Carrera Belle R K Finn Changearound Omaggio   Race 6 Yankee Shard Ivana Legacy New York Man Rocknroll King   Race 7 Plutonium Lady Yankee Party Pearl Harbour Pay Me Speedy   Race 8 Pembrook Playboy Vintage Cheddar Memphis Tennessee U May Cullect   Race 9 Chinese Whisper Get Lucky Tweedledee Top Pocket Chance   Race 10 Leithen Burn Bettor Talk Art Fireforefiddle The Kingsman   Harnesslink Media

Trainer Alister Black starts a seriously classy team at Winton on Thursday. Black will not lack any horsepower when he takes four horses to the races including his stable star Vintage Cheddar. The classy pacer’s form had dropped off for a couple of starts but he bounced back with a second behind race-rival U May Cullect in his last start in the Riverton Cup. Though it was a strong effort, Vintage Cheddar did not quite front with the kind of form that saw him win two junior free-for-all events during New Zealand Cup week. “I was happy enough with his run in the Riverton Cup off 40m,” Black said.  “U May Cullect had a nice trip behind us but he had his chance to beat him.” “And to be fair he wasn’t good enough.” Tactics are set to play a massive part in Thursday’s race with just six runners going around. If there are few midrace moves as per usual in races with small fields, it will be against Vintage Cheddar. “They have got to go hard for him and he doesn’t have great gate speed anyway,” Black said. “To be fair he probably falls out of the gate and that could be the undoing of him.” “If they go hard he will be there, if they don’t he should still get some money.” U May Cullect (4) is best drawn of the three big players in Thursday’s free-for-all mile (1609m), starting inside Vintage Cheddar (5) and Pembrook Playboy (6). Both U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy have shown plenty of gate speed in the past and which horse settles in front of the other is set to play a vital part in the race finish. Black also starts the smart pairing of Idealism and Keep On Dreaming in race 7, Thursday’s graduation final. Keep On Dreaming opened favourite for the 2400m event having produced two smart wins in just two starts. Though Idealism rates behind Idealism in the race market, Black has the pair much more evenly matched. The trainer admitted he can not split the pair going into Thursday’s race. “I honestly don’t know, this race will tell me more.” “I do have a lot of time for both of them.” “I couldn’t say that one is better than the other.” “One might have a bit more ringcraft on the other, Idealism still has a bit to learn.” “So has Keep On Dreaming but he has got everything there at his disposal.” It is easy to see why Black rates Idealism up with Keep On Dreaming given the crushing win he produced at Winton in his last start. Idealism ran into third in that race and Black also starts him in race 4 at Winton. The three-year-old wound into his work nicely after being held up for much of the run home. From barrier 1 on the second row, Ohoka Agent may not see clear air when he needs it again on Thursday. But if he does he should prove very hard to beat. “The draw is going to be very tricky,” Black said.  “His last run was actually better than what it looked because he got squeezed twice coming around the last bend.” “He is probably not one of those horses that can really hustle and bustle and push and shove yet.” “But to his credit, he kept pacing.” “I would think that so long as he is not too far back he won’t be a mile away.” Matthew Williamson takes the reins behind Ohoka Agent and Keep On Dreaming on Thursday. Nathan Williamson drives Idealism and Brent Barclay will drive Vintage Cheddar.  View the full fields click here!   by Jonny Turner

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Winton today with an eleven race program starting at 2.54pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Riverton selections 4th March 2021   Best Bet:  R2 Manhattan Best Value:  R5 Insist The Win   Race 1 Sportscam Battle Axe Noosa Beach Marie Long   Race 2 Manhattan So Art I Sassy's VC Sista Sammy   Race 3 Fireforefiddle Buck  I'm Watching You Alexy   Race 4 Jaccka Wally Ohoka Agent Total Eclipse Bertie Jones   Race 5 Insist The Win Afterburner Gold Chain Top Pocket Chance   Race 6 Dark Horse  Rydgemont Son Andy Hall Humble Ladd   Race 7 Keep On Dreaming Captain Pins Debutante Party Idealism Race 8 Katherine Benio Ben Whata Razzle Dazzle Four Starzzz Shiraz   Race 9 Pearl Harbour Might Be Me A Taste Of Honey Jody Direen   Race 10 U May Cullect Pembrook Playboy Vintage Cheddar Robyns Playboy   Race 11 Sundons Flyer BJ Lindenny Sunnivue Phileah Majestic Action   Race 12 The Kingsman Shillelagh Robyns Shadow Tartan Roxy   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    Lauren Pearson showed she had lost none of her skill in the sulky when winning her first race in more than fifteen years with Fanny Hill at Winton on Sunday. Having a partner who is one of Southland’s best drivers in Brent Barclay has meant Pearson has not had any more than seven drives in each season since she won with Lady Of The House at Wyndham in February of 2006. Clearly Pearson’s focus has been on training in that time going by the excellent strike rate her stable has produced. Barclay suggested his former New Zealand Junior Driver Championship winning partner return to the track over summer and she showed she had not lost her winning touch with Fanny Hill despite only having had a handful of drives over the last decade and a half. “I didn’t realise it was 15 years, I have had a few seconds and placings, but I haven’t had many drives in the last 15 years,” Pearson said. “When you have got Brent – he is out there all the time.” “We have just had a couple of trotters in lately and Brent has had other drives.” “I have been driving them at the workouts and driving them in work, so he said you might as well get on and have a blat around for a bit.” “I am really only filling in, but I quite enjoy it while I am out there.” Pearson landed Fanny Hill the best possible spot in race 8, behind the free-wheeling leader Whatwillbeewillbee. The five-year-old dashed along the inner to score in her first start from her driver’s stable at upset odds. Though Fanny Hill had competed well in her recent workouts, winning in the slick time of 3.02.8 for 2400m was not something Pearson expected. “She had been going good at the workouts but we thought she might have needed another run. “But obviously her class took her through.” Owner John Duff sent Fanny Hill to Pearson in the hope the mare could bounce back to her best form. After taking over her training from Phil Williamson, Pearson’s initial hope was to have her racing “half as good as Phil had her going”. That plan did not look like it would come to fruition in the early stages of Fanny Hill’s shift south. “She is a horse that if you get her out of her routine she is a bit funny,” Pearson said. “She showed nothing at home for a while.” “It wasn’t until we took her to a workout that she improved.” “And she has just got better and better.” Sunday’s win was the fifth of Fanny Hill’s career and Pearson’s 42nd career victory in the sulky. Pearson has no plans to drive more often after producing her pinpoint winning drive on Sunday. Barclay is quite safe in his position as her stable’s number one driver. “He is always number one,” Pearson said.  

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Winton today with a nine race program starting at 12:08pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Winton selections 21st February 2021 Best Bet:  R9 Buck Best Value:  R8 Fanny Hill   Race 1 Sheza Gift Domination's Call Tease My Tartan Svelt   Race 2 Endless Dreams De La Renta Delightful Chevron Sista Sammy   Race 3 Wonthavtime Captain Pins Sportscam Tommy Waterhouse   Race 4 Afterburner Insist The Win Horse Of Course Miss Bamboocha   Race 5 R K Finn Sentry Alexsjoy Leithen Burn   Race 6 Pay Me Speedy A Taste Of Honey Miss Auckland Silk   Race 7 Memphis Tennessee Chuckles Macandrew Aviator Four Starzzz Shiraz   Race 8 Fanny Hill Tweedledee Andy Hall Aveross Majesty   Race 9 Buck Alexy Fireforefiddle Vintage Rose   Harnesslink Media

Westwood Beach trainer Graeme Anderson has always had an opinion of Tres Chic and he’s just had to wait to prove his point. The Mach Three mare qualified as a three year old but didn’t race at that age because she kicked a fence and injured the lower part of a leg. As a four year old she raced just twice. “The time out hasn’t done her any harm,” said Anderson who trains the mare with Mike Love. Neither Anderson or Love were on-course today with Anderson recuperating from a recent operation. “I had a few bone chips removed from the knee about six weeks ago. It was a bit of a struggle at the start but I’m going right. It’s a long way to come south and Mikes having a few days off.” Anderson hasn’t worked a horses since his operation and was unable to celebrate because of his medications. “I’ll have to go and have a cup of tea. Mikes been driving her. We’ve changed a few things on her. She’s been going really well but she’s had a few breaks in her races so we had to get to the bottom of that.” Today’s win was the five year olds third, and second on this track. She’s only had eleven career starts and was driven today by junior driver Ellie Barron. “I talked to Ellie this morning and said to her that Tres Chic is a big strong mare. And when they eased the pace she got a lovely trail behind Pay Me Speedy. It was a very good drive and I was very happy with that. It was a very good field today and the horse had to be on her game.” Tres Chic was bred by Lochiel Accountant Stu Gillian who races her in partnership with Anderson. “I played cricket against him but he’s a lot older than me. You can put that in the story (laughter). He used to referee me in rugby. We had a horse called Match Point who did a good job. He’s also had a share in Titan Banner, Eamon Maguire and Spirit Of St Louis.” Anderson says Spirit Of St Louis is now in the Joshua Dickie stable in Auckland and is due to go to the workouts. “There’s nothing down here for him. We’re targeting the New Zealand Messenger and the Noel Taylor Mile.”   by Bruce Stewart

Leithen Burn is one of a handful of quality three year olds racing in the province this season. And judging by his win today at Winton it won’t be his last. Trained by Tony Stratford the Bettors Delight gelding was purchased for $18,000 at the 2018 Autumn Weanling Sale in Auckland when offered by Woodlands Stud. “He took a long time to get gaited up. He never paced when we broke him in but he just gets better and better,” Stratford said. Leithen Burn showed promise when he qualified at Winton in December and in both of his races this season prior to today’s win, he’s raced greenly. “Blair told me we needed to change a few things. He’s a Bettor’s Delight so he’s willing.” In today’s Goodman Plumbing Mobile Pace driver Blair Orange settled Leithen Burn fourth with White Lightning taking up the pacemaker’s role. With 1100 metres to run Orange hooked the three year old out from the running line and took him to the front. He was confident having a good look around inside the 400 metres. Orange just had to rein Leithen Burn up to win by a length and three quarters from Tommy Waterhouse with another three quarters of a length back to first starter Idealism. Early pacemaker White Lightning was thirteen and a quarter lengths back in fourth. “Those Bettors Delights – the harder they go the better they go.” The winning time was 2-56.8 or the 2400 metre mobile. Leithen Burn is owned by the same owners as Pulp Fiction and Lilac Flash with Stratford’s uncle, Alan Steel, heading up the group. Leithen Burn is out of the Mach Three mare Eyecatcher Three whose second dam Atomic Lass is the mother of champion pacer Auckland Reactor, the winner of twenty seven races and almost one and a half million dollars. Also at Winton today Bettors’ Delight filly Bettastar looked like Southland Oaks material when she cleared maiden ranks for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. Bred and raced by Tuapeka Lodge, Bettastar was taken to the lead and held out Endless Dreams by three quarters of a length. The winning time was 1-54.5. Bettastar is out of the three win Christian Cullen mare Petra’s Star who’s the dam of big Australian winner Galactic Star. Tuapeka Lodge is offering a Sweet Lou filly out of Petra’s Star at the yearling sale next week so the win by Bettastar was perfect timing. Southern Harness Chairman Tom Kilkelly shared in the ownership of two winners today with Kase winning his maiden in the hands of co-trainer Kirstin Barclay and Smokin Bandar doing everything right for Kerryn Tomlinson in winning the Enfield Generics Mobile Trot by five and quarter lengths. He ran the mile in 1-57.5. Smokin Bandar trained by Craig Ferguson wins in the Kilkelly colours   -- Bruce Stewart photo Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray scored a double when Peregrine won her maiden trot and Cassius Bromac won his second race for the MCC Syndicate. Flight Crew was just .3 of the second outside Melina Lowe’s New Zealand and Southland record when she won the New World Winton Mobile Pace. The Panspacificflight four year old owned by Katie Williamson and trained and driven by husband Nathan did battle with pacemaker Lynryd Skynryd inside the 400 metres and then had to fight off a late charge from Onesmartfella, to win by half a neck. The winning time was 2-53.9. Meanwhile trials were held at Winton on Friday and it was great to see the fresh faces of the two years olds. Kirk Larsen produced Scarlet Ribbon to win his qualifier over 1609 metres. The Captaintreacherous filly is out of the ten win Washington VC mare Askmenow. She ran second to Rozelski as a two year old in the 2012 Caduceus Club of Southland/Nevele R Fillies Classic at the Northern Southland meeting. Scarlett Ribbon beat another well bred filly in Joyfuldolly by a neck. The winning time was 2-01.8. Bertie Jones set tongues wagging when he won his qualifier in 3-00.8 running his last half in 56.0 seconds. The son of Prodigal Seelster had two and a half lengths to share over Stoneyroyd. Bertie Jones is a member of the Black Watch family and is trained at Wyndham by Gordon and Colin Lee. Quality three year old Ragazzo Mach won his workout beating another quality three year old American Lightning by a length. His winning time was 3-00.7 with the last 800 metres run in an impressive 55.2 and 400 metres in 27.1. He’s down to start next Friday at Addington in the $40,000 Listed Woodlands Stud Sires Stakes Harness ‘7,000’ over 1950 metres.   by Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    American Eyretime’s recent workout form suggests she could have her rivals gasping for air at Winton on Sunday. The Brett Gray trained mare has been breathing a little easier after undergoing a wind operation after her last start in the Southland Oaks Final. If her recent Winton workout wins are anything to go by the procedure has been a raging success. However, the true test will come when the four-year-old is tested on race day. “She had a wind operation and so far she has been pretty good,” Gray said. “I have been happy with her workouts and hopefully she can bring it to the races.” American Eyretime won both of her workouts around the same 2400m Winton circuit she races around on Sunday. In the first, the pacer reeled off a 56sec last 800m to win in 3-01.2. In the second American Eyretime beat one of her main rivals in Tartan Roxy in the steadier time of 3-04.5. The Gray stable lines up a nine-strong team packed full of winning chances at Sunday’s meeting. Peregrine is rated among the best of their hopes. “I think she could be my best chance, she has been going really well,” Gray said. “Drawing the second row isn’t ideal but with a bit of luck she should be right there.” Sassy VC starts the day off for the Gray barn in race 1, also on the back of a Winton workout win. “Her last start at Roxburgh was a little bit disappointing but she had an excuse there,” Gray said. “She went good at the workouts, so she should be a good chance if she gets a bit of luck.” Afterburner heads into race 7 following two eye-catching performances in his last two starts. The four-year-old wound up late for a good second to Springbank Mason at Winton two starts ago before making up ground stylishly after a slow beginning in his last start at Ascot Park. “He has been going great, he is pretty good behind the mobile, so he has got to be a good chance,” Gray said. Gray has three runners in race 6 in Bettors Highlight, Cassius Bromac and Stratofortress. And the trainer can not split them. “They are all about on about the same level, it will just be down to who gets the right run.” “I was very happy with Cassius Bromac last time when he ran fourth at Invercargill.” “Bettor’s Highlight is improving with every run, she had a year off, she is only a wee thing but she is coming to it.” “And Stratofortress is not the worst, either.” Honour Before Glory (race 2) and The Mighty Mondo (race 10) looks two of the Gray stable’s outside chances at Sunday’s meeting.

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Winton today with a ten race program starting at 12:12pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good night of racing. Winton selections 7th February 2021 Best Bet:  R1 Endless Dreams Best Value:  R7 Afterburner   Race 1 Endless Dreams Arizona Doll Tangier Tango Bettastar Selections:  Endless Dreams (5),   Arizona Doll (3),   Tangier Tango (2)   Bettastar (7)   Race 2 Wrecking Ball Paradise Valley Motor Mouth The Naenae Express Selections:  Wrecking Ball(8),   Paradise Valley(16),   Motor Mouth(6)   The Naenae Express(3)   Race 3 Dont Ask Peregrine Tease My Tartan Random Jude Selections:  Dont Ask (3),   Peregrine (10),   Tease My Tartan (7)   Random Jude (5)   Race 4 Miss Auckland Fireforefiddle Calico Hill Vintage Rose Selections:  Miss Auckland (1),   Fireforefiddle (5),  Calico Hill (9)   Vintage Rose (10)   Race 5 Svelt Robo Trouble Maudarchy Amabede Selections:  Svelt(6),   Robo Trouble(9),   Maudarchy (4)   Amabede(1)   Race 6 Robyns Shadow Cassius Bromac Bettors Highlight Stratofortress Selections:  Robyns Shadow (7),   Cassius Bromac (8),   Bettors Highlight (9)   Stratofortress (5)   Race 7 Afterburner Missie Castleton In Sequence Tolkien Selections:  Afterburner (10),   Missie Castleton (5),   In Sequence (6)   Tolkien (2)   Race 8 Pay Me Speedy Tres Chic Love On The Rocks Mighty Flying Art Selections:  Pay Me Speedy (6),   Tres Chic (4),  Love On The Rocks (8)   Mighty Flying Art (10)   Race 9 Stephs Boy Punt Away Flight Crew R K Finn Selections:  Stephs Boy (5),   Punt Away (1),   Flight Crew (2)   R K Finn (10)   Harnesslink Media

Although it’s early days, the race is on for the Southland Horse of the Year title and Pembrook Playboy continues to stake his claim for the prestigious award that will be announced at the end of the harness racing season. With the likes of Vintage Cheddar, Watch Me Now and rising star Ragazzo Mach also in the frame, the Group Three win in the Central Otago Trotting Cup run at Winton yesterday was an important step for Pembrook Playboy in order to be in the frame for the title. The pacing feature at the Winton track yesterday for the second time in as many years, was not held at Omakau. Unfortunately the Ricky May incident halted the feature last year and this year the Omakau meeting was abandoned because of heavy rain. Yesterday’s Cup wasn’t without a small dollop of drama either,  as Pembrook Playboy cast a shoe and had to be reshod before the start. “He handled that well. He was better out there than he is here (stables) because he can get worked up around other horses,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson. Once underway Pembrook Playboy showed he was in the zone early. “The plan wasn’t to go forward. He was quite keen off the gate.” The Robert Dunn trained pair Henry Hubert and Classie Brigade took up the early running with Henry Hubert taking the lead and Classie Brigade slotting into the trail. “We got squeezed up early and ended up three back. I always knew we were going to get a good run behind Classie Brigade.” Inside the last 400 metres the small field was compressed with runners starting to improve around the outside and Pembrook Playboy was shuffled back to last on the inside. “I thought Classie was just going to shoot through but he just went through the gap okay. I really wanted to follow him through and come off his back.” Williamson followed Classie Brigade through but had to wait for a tiring Henry Hubert before getting a clear run to the finish line. By that stage it looked as if Classie Brigade and Watch Me Now were going to fight out the finish with most of the crowd and the course commentator thinking Classie Brigade had the win. “I just got out so late. I wasn’t sure whether I got there but it was good – we got the money.” Pembrook Playboy was coming so fast the winning margin ended up being a half a head. The win was the four year old entire’s seventh in fourteen starts and the most important to date for Invercargill owner Chris Alcock. Williamson with owner Chris Alford (right) and his daughter Justine       --Bruce Stewart photo “You couldn’t get a better owner. We’ve had our setbacks like you do with horses and it’s never been a problem.” Williamson says the Invercargill Cup at the end of the month and the Summer Cup at Addington are the next targets for the Better’s Delight entire. Later in the programme exciting three year old Ragazzo Mach blitzed a field of R56 and R70 pacers, winning the Fairbairn Plumbing Mobile Pace by nine and three quarter lengths. Owned by Neville Cleaver the son of Mach Three ran the 2400 metre mobile on an easy track in 2-58.2. In his first season of racing for Nathan Williamson he’s won five of his six starts.   by Bruce Stewart

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