Day At The Track
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Affordable Aramis

Promising juvenile pacer Aramis might be one of the great bargains in harness racing history. Because whether he becomes a top horse or not it is hard to argue with his price: he was free. The Brian Hughes-trained gelding made it back to back wins at Alexandra Park last night, leading throughout to down fellow classy youngster King Of Swing with a 55.9 second last 800m. Hughes will now discuss with Aramis’s connections the idea of giving him a two-week spell so he can be set for the two northern Sires’ Stakes heats in October. “Two weeks doesn’t sound like much but he hasn’t been up to long and on what he has shown he deserves a shot at the Sires’ Stakes,” says Hughes. Aramis is owned by a group managed by Paul Charlton, who was the one who secured him at a mixed bloodstock sale. “The story goes the mare (Ca Cest Lamore) went through the sales with a foal at foot and was bought by Rod Croon but he didn’t want the foal,” explains Hughes. “So he gave it to Paul, who brought the other owners in and obviously they are pretty chuffed about it now.” Ironically Ca Cest Lamore, from the Interchange family, hasn’t produced a foal since but is in foal to Bettors Delight. While the winner ended the unbeaten run of King Of Swing, that wouldn’t have felt like a disaster to his connections Lincoln Farms considering Aramis is by their sire Sir Lincoln. On a quiet night at The Park, speed freak three-year-old Star Galleria was again too good for his intermediate grade rivals with much-improved Princess Makendon headed home a mares trifecta in the main trot. Michael Guerin    

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Championship Change

The McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driver Championship as we know it is changing. The event that highlights our top young drivers is set to take place over two race nights rather than the customary one night. The annual event is run towards the end of each season and sees the top six qualifying junior drivers from both the North and South Island’s come together to compete in heats in a bid to take out the title as New Zealand’s Junior Driver Champion. This season the Championship kicks off at Forbury Park on Thursday 13th July for the first two heats and then continues onto Addington Raceway on Friday 14th July for the final two heats. The change has come after a call for the Championship to become more about horsemanship skills than it is about luck. The additional meeting means an extra shot for the drivers to gain points, it also gives the Championship more depth and creates new opportunities for the future top drivers of our industry. “It’s a great idea, it gives everybody a chance to get to know each other better and meet a wider range of owners and trainers from different areas,” said leading junior driver Rory McIlwrick. “I’m honoured to be able to take part in the series I can’t wait to meet new people and have a good time both on and off the track.” Rory McIlwrick heads the South Island team after qualifying with the most points and is joined by Matt Anderson, Kimberly Butt, Sheree Tomlinson, Katie Cox and John Morrison. Dylan Ferguson qualified top of the North Island with Ben Butcher, Jack MacKinnon, Tony Cameron, Mark Johnson and Robert Argue gaining the rest of the highly sought after spots. McIlwrick, who only starting working with horses when he was a teenager, is struggling to come to terms with the fact he is the leading junior driver in the country. While the New Zealand Junior Driver Championship title is a goal he would love to achieve, he is also focused on taking out the Leading Junior Driver Award at the annual Awards on August 3rd. “It’s like dreaming you’re going to kick the winning goal or score the winning try but you’re on the bench. You dream of it happening but it’s usually just a dream. I hope the dream can come true and I can hold on and take out the premiership,” McIlwrick said. In an industry that can often be difficult to break into without the backing of family, McIlwrick is proving that anything is possible if you are determined. “You have to work hard and find good teachers who will tell you what you are doing wrong. Ask questions and don’t be afraid of mistakes, they just mean you are one step closer to making the right move,” McIlwrick added. Full coverage of the four heats will be on shown on Trackside as well as coverage on the Harness Racing New Zealand website and social media pages. Stacy Markham

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Alexandra Park fixed odds movers 23-06-2017

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 5:25pm   Race 1 - Best backed on the win 'book' is the debut runner Park Avenue $20 - $8.00 over Aramis $1.95 who leads multi betting over King Of Swing $3.00.   Race 2 - Playful Pride $3.40 easily leads multi betting in what is a quiet win 'book' early.   Race 3 - R Gee Bee is the big mover here $20 - $8.00 with the much improved Richard Le Fort $6.00 leading multi betting over Ultimate Angel $5.20.   Race 4 - Arethusa Spur $4.20 leads multi betting over Majestic Ali $6.00 with that runner leading win betting over Opawa Speed $39 - $28.    Race 5 - Upmost Delight $3.80 - $3.40 is huge in multi betting and also the only runner wanted in win betting.   Race 6 - Yagunnakissmeornot $4.00 is huge in multi betting with Lovely Bundy $4.20 best backed in win betting over the former runner.   Race 7 - The good thing for then night according to the early money is Star Galleria $1.40.   Race 8 - Jamieson Shard $5.00 is easily the best backed runner over Franco Hamiltion $10.00   Race 9 - The two favourites Bet Out Of El $1.70 & Bettors Pocket $2.60 totally dominate multi betting.   Race 10 - Inner Light $2.10 the debut runner is easily the best backed in multi betting with best backed runner on the win 'book' Moving Money $5.00.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Hon David Bennett, Minister of Racing

New Zealand Racing Board gets fresh eyes

Minister for Racing David Bennett has appointed Bill Birnie to the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB). “It’s a pleasure to welcome Bill Birnie to the NZRB. Mr Birnie brings a lot of corporate governance experience and will add value to the NZRB,” Mr Bennett says. The purpose of the NZRB is to oversee the racing industry and the TAB, which has a $2.7 billion turnover a year, and returns over $150 million to New Zealand racing and sports each year. The seven-member board is made up of four independent members, including the Chair, who are appointed by the Government, and three code representatives nominated by the Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound racing codes. Mr Birnie, an investment banker by trade and former solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, has also held positions on several boards, including NZ Screen Commission, the Hilary Commission, High Performance Sport NZ, Sport New Zealand, NZ Film Commission, NZ Warriors Ltd and Play It Strange, amongst many others. Mr Birnie’s three year tenure begins on 23 June 2017. “I would like to thank outgoing board member Barry Brown for his contributions to the NZRB and industry over the past three years. Mr Brown is passionate about the industry and we thank him for his commitment to racing,” Mr Bennett says. Hon David Bennett Minister of Racing

The  21st of June marks the shortest day, meaning Alexandra Park’s mid-winter Christmas parties are set to kick off. The first one is this week, with the evenings to be held over four consecutive Friday race nights on 23 and 30 June and 7 and 14 July.  Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager Joel Reichardt says the parties have been selling well with packages starting from just $65 per person. They will be hosted in the Top of the Park, Tasman, and Rutherford rooms. “Our mid-winter Christmas packages are exceptional value. As well as our delicious all-you-can-eat carveries and buffets, the racing under lights is always a spectacle. We’ve got some prime inside viewing spots overlooking the track and there’s always plenty of atmosphere.”  Mr Reichardt says the function rooms will be beautifully themed and there’ll be live entertainment afterwards for any groups of friends, colleagues, or families looking for a fun night out this winter. He says availability remains, with people now able to book their tickets through Alexandra Park’s new website. For further information or to purchase mid-winter Christmas tickets visit www.alexandrapark.co.nz or telephone race-night reservations on (09) 631-1165 or email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz Mid-year also marks tickets to the popular Christmas at the Races hospitality evenings in November and December going on sale, with packages starting from just $68 per person. Mr Reichardt says this year’s marketing campaign aims at those who have been tasked with organising their work Christmas party, with the message: ‘Everything you need, sorted with one booking’! Alexandra Park’s internationally-themed cuisine race nights continue with Italian Night on 11 August, Thai Night on 22 September, and Tropical Nights on 13 and 27 October. General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on Friday night. www.alexandrapark.co.nz For further information contact: Joel Reichardt: (021) 786-034

A 2:18 winning mile rate at the Cambridge Workouts is nothing to raise the roof over, but the owners of The Crown Jewels are just rapt they just have something to smile about. The Nicky Chilcott trained and driven 5-year-old brown gelding hasn't raced since July 8 last year. It’s been a long, arduous road for the son of Pegasus Spur and Landora's Image. His career looked as might as if it had come to an abrupt halt after he ran 22-length 10th in his last tote assignment at Cambridge Raceway. The verdict: stifle disease. “He had been suffering from bad stifles and only one-to-one special care from Nicky has ensured his recovery. It didn’t look good there for a while there, but at least now he’s back on the track again. “Nicky lined him up just so to see if he could negotiate the corners okay and he appears to have come through it well. Even though he was nominated for tomorrow’s meeting at Alexandra Park (Friday), that was never going to happen,” said co-owner, Barry Lichter. “We would rather line him up in a 2200m than 2700m , so he will have his first race back in over a year in the next few weeks,” he added. The Crown Jewels and Chilcott won his first workout back at Cambridge Raceway last Saturday by half a length and six lengths, trotting the up to R50, 2200m event in 3:08.7. “We are not getting too carried away but we would expect him to beat those maiden horses. It’s encouraging all right, but he still has a bit of a mountain to climb yet,” said Auckland-based Lichter, who co-owns the gelding with Donna Chisholm (Auckland), Neslisa Turan (Cambridge), David Lichter (New York), Garry Ferris (Auckland), Gary Birkett (Auckland), and Philip Taylor (Auckland). Lichter and the Chisholms (Donna, Alan, and Graham) did the breeding. The Crown Jewels has so far won two of his 24 starts and placed in seven others for $21,217 in stakes. Lichter said the gelding had undergone arthroscopic surgery, which is a surgical procedure on the stifle joint. An endoscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision. “He’s always had a bit of ability and it’s just so good to see him back on the track again after a year off. In some ways that is success in itself because it didn’t look good there for a while. “Nicky’s intensive around-the-clock care has got him back to where he is now. All the praise has to go to her. I can’t stress that enough. She is a brilliant horsewoman,” Lichter said. Lichter said the arthroscopic surgery discovered the stifle problem. “You couldn’t see the problem but the ligament was definitely damaged. Then he had to go through a very strict procedure. He was boxed in a very small box for three months and then he graduated to a small yard “He has done a lot of treadmill work and has been trained on the beach at Raglan. It’s all about keeping the pressure off his joints. At this stage and then hopefully he can build up to becoming a race horse again,” Lichter said. “It’s just good to have a the old horse almost back again, but you can’t get too excited after what he’s been through,” he added. Duane Ranger

Trainer Steven Reid heads to Alexandra Park tonight expecting to win two races but hoping for three. And while that level of confidence is rare for almost any trainer on a strong Friday night, Reid has winter’s magic formula on his side. Every winter good two and three-year-old horses coming out of the classics and Jewels drop back into the grades and more often than not savage their inferior opponents. Reid has a double helping of that tonight, with Utmost Delight (race five) and Star Galleria (race seven) having been players in the group ones this season so they pick themselves even from wide draws in their respective legs of Pick6. Star Galleria struggled through autumn after looking like an equine jet in the spring but last start he led and smashed similar opposition to what he meets tonight. “He felt back to his best last time and I think he should win again because he has the option of using his speed early or later,” says Reid. Utmost Delight’s group one form is more recent, finishing third in Spanish Armada’s NZ Oaks before galloping at the Jewels. “On form she has to be the one to beat,” admits Reid. “I did take it easy on her after the Jewels and while I was happy with her at the workouts last Saturday she did come to the end of it in the last 100m. “But that outing has really brought her on and she will be ready for this.” Utmost Delight has a clear performance edge on her rivals but the up to Rating68 race is very strong for that grade, with plenty of winter winners to come out of it. While Reid is bursting with confidence with his three-year-olds, he is more hopeful with juvenile Rain Man in race one. “He has shown good ability and the half blinds go on him but he might just be coming to the end of his campaign.” While that race only contains six starters it is one of the highlight of the night, with both Aramis and King Of Swing looking potential Derby horses for next season if they build on their recent form. As the harness racing season starts to wind down domestically -- with Dexter Dunn’s record quest the main winter focus --- there is still some serious NZ talent racing in Australia. The best is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who faces a second line draw in the A$150,000 Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Sunday afternoon. The meeting also hosts his juvenile stablemate Sicario and the big boys Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay in the Len Smith Mile   Michael Guerin

Tony Cameron knows all about the ebbs and flows of harness racing, and that’s why he’s happy to keep riding the crest of his current wave at Alexandra Park tonight. The 29-year-old Ardmore horseman has had three wins in June to go along with the five he had in April. Expect that good vein of form to continue again tonight when Cameron climbs into the sulky five times. “I’ve started to get a few more drives this year and I feel like I’m driving okay. I feel in good form. I just want to keep on riding the crest of the wave while I can because everyone knows in racing there are highs and lows. “But my wins this year have pushed me past my career best and I’m rapt with that,” said the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) employee. Cameron has saluted the judge 14times ($87,696) this season - four more than his previous best season of 10 ($76,627) in 2015-2016. Just two of his wins have been at Alexandra Park. All up Cameron has now reined home 36 winners and 60 place-getters ($266,350) since taking out his junior licence in 2012. His UDR strike-rate this season is a stunning 0.3003. He sits third on the North Island Junior Driving Premiership with 14 wins - five behind pace-setter, Dylan Ferguson. And to add further spice to his good form of late, Cameron was just named in the North island Junior Driving team alongside Ferguson, Jack MacKinnon, Ben Butcher, Robert Argue and Mark Johnson to compete in the New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship at Forbury Park and Addington next month. The South Island team is Sheree Tomlinson, Katie Cox, Kimberley Butt, John Morrison, Matt Anderson and Rory McIlwrick. “All I want to do is keep racking up winners and then premierships and Championships will take care of themselves. “It is encouraging though that more people are recognising my driving. I have been learning from the best for a while now and I am grateful for all the support Tony (Herlihy) and all the other trainers and owners have given me,” Cameron said. Cameron has five “nice” drives tonight – three of which are behind his boss’s pacers. His hatrick of victories this month have come behind the Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained Princess Mackendon at Alexandra Park on June 9; the Herlihy trained Shadow Pass at Cambridge Raceway on June 8; and the Herlihy trained Bettors Pocket, also at 'The Park', on June 2. Cameron will drive two of those horses again tonight. He's what he had to say about his quintet. Race 3: The Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Ultimate Angel (9) – "She’s had three runs back this time in and I have driven in all three. She has got a nice feel about her and the draw suits her more than being wide out. Hopefully we can get a run through and get some of it. She’s an honest little filly. Each-way chance here.” Race 4: The Michelle Wallis & Bernie Hackett trained Makarewa Jake (16) – "He has drawn the back-mark of 20 metres and this will be my first drive behind him. I think he’s an honest old fella who does things right. Place chance.” Race 6: The Michelle Wallis & Bernie Hackett trained Princess Mackendon (16) – "She’s a nice mare who won well for me last start. I’ve driven her to win a couple of times now, so hopefully it can carry on this week. There are a couple of smart ones in the field but she is capable of figuring thereabouts.” Race 9: The Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Bettors Pocket (6) - "He would probably be my best drive of the night. He is working well and if he can step away from his 10m handicap then I think he could be hard to beat. I’ve driven him to win and place in his last couple of starts and I can see no reason why that good form couldn’t continue in this race. I thought he was a bit of a sprinter at first but he can definitely stay as well. Each-way. Race 10: The Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Gotta Moment (7) - "The 3-year-old -old gelding who is having his first start back (since November 2016). He was favourite when he ran second and he went some nice races in his first campaign. He's just going to get experience and when he does her will win a few. The draw could have been better but he's still worth an each-way bet." Duane Ranger

Forbury harness racing fixed odds movers as at 4:45pm Race 1 - Taieri Miss $5.00 is best backed in win betting over Girlz N Boyz $5.20 with that runner leading multi betting over Scarlett Lane $5.80.   Race 2 - Macador is the big mover here $4.20 - $3.20 but Lorretta Franco $3.00 leads multi betting.   Race 3 - The debut runner Mistacullect $1.55 is the good thing on the night judging by multi betting.   Race 4 - Son Of Brahma $3.20 easily leads win & multi betting.   Race 5 - Lord Roydon $4.20 leads win & multi betting over Tehoro Dazzle $8.00.    Race 6 - Franco Nixon $7.00 is best backed over Franco Huntington $3.00.   Race 7 - Franco Saxon $2.00 easily leads multi betting.   Race 8 - Bevan's Cullen $1.85 - $1.60 is the best backed runner in win betting on the night with the largest bets $2,500 at $1.80 & $2,857 at $1.70.   Race 9 - MIghty Empire $2.70 leads multi bets over Takitmu Express $6.50.   Race 10 - The only runner wanted here is the $1.85 - $1.65 favourite Innocent Artist with the largest bets $2,352 at 41.85 & $2,666 at $1.75.   Race 11 - Jakira $2.20 easily leads multi betting.   Race 12 - Splash Cola $2.40 & Jayceekay $4.50 - $4.00 are equal leaders in multi betting.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

With Auckland expecting 34,000 visitors for the upcoming All Blacks vs The British & Irish Lions Test matches,  Alexandra Park is reporting solid bookings from fans as an official pop-up campervan site during the two Tests at Eden Park on 24 June and 8 July. Alexandra Park, Sales & Marketing Manager, Joel Reichardt says they are delighted to work with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to help the region cope with the influx of visiting British and Irish Lions fans and ensure they have a great visit to Auckland. He says there’s no excuse for any illegal freedom camping in Auckland, describing Alexandra’ Park’s available sites as affordable. Fans are paying $100 per self-contained campervan per night for two people, with an extra $15 for each additional guest. What’s more Alexandra Park’s central location has good public transport links and is a short distance from Eden Park and Auckland’s CBD where the New Zealand’s largest Fanzone is located at Queens Wharf. “Alexandra Park is steeped in harness racing history, but we also have plenty of connections to rugby. The most current being the fact that the victorious Auckland Blues’ training HQ is based here.” Alexandra Park will have a range of facilities available to campers at the non-powered sites, including toilets and showers, and on-site licenced premises with meals. Mr Reichardt expects their newly upgraded onsite sports bar, the Alex Bar & Eatery, will be a hive of activity before, during, and after the Test matches. “Another thing for fans to consider is that we’ve got live harness racing on the two Friday evenings before both matches. Our iconic ‘Friday Nights At The Trots’ are always a great night out,” he says. Given the long-scheduled harness racing programme, Alexandra Park will be limited to providing 100 sites for campervans on both Friday nights but on the Saturday match nights all 200 sites will be available. For further information on the campervan sites, or bookings, contact Danielle Upton (booking co-ordinator) or (09) 631-1165 or danielle.upton@alexandrapark.nz or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/rugby-tour-campervan-parking www.alexandrapark.co.nz For further information contact: Joel Reichardt: (021) 786-034

Well winter is definitely here and we are down to just the three meetings this week for the harness racing ringaround. It was a great week last week for the ringaround with several winners selected again with a number of placings as well. Brad Williamson had the best dividend last week when Playboy's Brother won at Forbury on Thursday night and paid a healthy $16.90 and $3.30 on the tote. This week we again have a Forbury meeting on Thursday with Alexandra Park Friday and this time Marlborough hold their meeting at Addington on Sunday.   Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in, so check back often   Forbury on Thursday Night Brad Williamson - Brad is going for Lorretta Franco as his best drive this week in Race 2 Rory Mcllwrick - Rory is opting for Gunslinger Bromac as his best drive at Forbury also in Race 2 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week would be Lausanne Lass in Race 3 John Morrison - John is picking Magnetic Watch as his best drive this week in Race 7 Geoff Knight - Geoff is picking Jerry Fitz as his best chance this week in Race 8 Andrew Suddaby - Is opting for Senorita Margarita as his best drive this week in Race 11   Alexandra Park on Friday night Todd MacFarlane - Todd thinks Stunning Shadow would be a rough chance this week in Race 3 Maurice McKendry - Maurice is going with Yagunnakissmeornot as his best drive in Race 6 Andre Poutama - Andre is opting for Alta Intrigue as his best drive this week in Race 7 John Curtin - John thinks Bet Out of Ell should win at Alexandra Park in Race 9 Tony Herlihy - says that Gotta Moment would be his best chance at Alexandra Park in Race 10   Marlborough at Addington on Sunday Racechat - Lance thinks Loveyoutodoit can go close at her first start in Race 1 Terry Chmiel - Terry is opting for Crafty Cullen as his best chance this week in Race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard says that Junkyard Mase would be his best chance this week in Race 3 Mark Jones - Mark thinks his best chance is Bettor under Fire this week also in Race 3 Gavin Smith - Gavin is going for Algrenco Albyone as his best drive this week in Race 4 Harnesslink reporter - likes the chances of  Bite The Bullet fresh up in Race 7 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Hayley Nicole as his best drive this week in Race 8 Ricky May - Ricky is not driving this week but thinks Usain Colt might be a good chance in Race 9 Bob Butt - Bob thinks Hall Of Fame would be his best chance this week in Race 12  Jimmy Curtin - says his best drive this week is Sails at Addington also in Race 12 Stephen Richardson(TAB) - agrees and thinks Sails is a good winning chance in Race 12   Harnesslink Media

Wyndham trainers Gordon and Colin Lee have the chance to wind up a successful season on a winning note at Forbury Park on Thursday night. “This is our last meeting for the season. I am off to the rugby tests (All Blacks versus Lions) in Auckland (Saturday) and Wellington (July 1),’’ said Gordon Lee, reinsman for the team. The Lee brothers have won 15 races this season, five up on their previous best in 2014-15. They have been training in partnership for 19 years. They have Lynette The Vet (race 5), Art Exhibit (race 10), Magnate Mara (race 11) and Moment of Sun (race 12) engaged on Thursday. Gordon is leaning toward Magnate Mara as the best chance for the stable. “He won good at his last start and should handle the next grade,’’ said Lee. Magnate Mara cleared maiden ranks at Invercargill on June 10; Lynette The Vet won at Gore on May 6; Moment of Sun won at Invercargill in January  and Art Exhibit has won twice at Invercargill this year. “She has got to get the right run,’’ said Lee of Art Exhibit, who has drawn one on the second row. Lynette The Vet followed up her win with a second to Playboy’s Brother at Forbury Park. Playboy’s Brother won against Forbury Park two starts later. Lynette The Vet, a daughter of Raffaelle Ambrosia  - Accelerando Del was sent to the Lees this season by Little River breeder Neil Manson after a win from the Motukarara stable of Murray Edmonds. Accelerando Del won two races for Manson, the first when trained by Edmonds and the other at Forbury Park in 2008 from the Lee stable. Seaswift Joy won six races for the Lee stable during the season. Her wins included a heat of the Nevele R series for 3-year-old fillies at Methven and a mile in 1.54.2 at Wyndham. She has since returned to her West Melton part-owner Malcolm Shinn. Magnate Mara could find the 3yr-old filly Jakira a formidable opponent. She won fresh up at Forbury Park on June 1 and was again impressive winning at the Nelson meeting. Tayler Strong

The 25th annual North Island Harness Racing Awards, which will be held at Alexandra Park on Saturday September 2, has attracted three sponsors. The prize-giving ceremony will be known as the Always B Miki North Island Harness Racing Awards. Alabar and Nevele R Studs are also sponsors. The function is again being organised by Raelene Balle, Janene Cole, Karen Blanchard, and Suzanne Herlihy. "We are so looking forward to the 25th anniversary awards. We are very grateful to our sponsors who remain so loyal sponsoring us year on year, and big thanks also goes to Always B Miki, who has come on board," Pukekohe-based Balle said. Always B Miki, who is the fastest horse of all-time (1:46), was also the 2016 USA Horse-of-the-Year. He is the only horse to have ever won four races in 1:47 or faster. His semen can be obtained at Nevele R Stud. Balle said pre-dinner drinks would start at in the Tasman Room at 5.30pm before crossing over to Lyell Creek Lounge for the awards. Tickets are $130 a head but Balle said junior drivers and cadets were fully subsidised. "The price includes a three-course, drinks, and a live band named 'Split Second'. Formal dress (tie and jacket) is required. Tickets can ordered by phoning Suzanne on 027 407 1057," said Balle. Last year’s award ceremony was highlighted by Luk Chin, and the late John Butcher and his wife Colleen. Twenty two awards were up for grabs at that annual function sponsored by A Rocknroll Hanover, but it was the Waikato trio which won the two most prestigious prizes on offer. Chin won the ‘Racing Achievement Award’ while the Butcher husband and wife duo were presented with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing Award’. Speeding Spur and Have Faith In Me won the respective Trotter and Pacer-of-the-Year titles. "We have had some amazing highlights over the years. Two years ago we raised nearly $10,000 for little Ashlee Small, who was born with Down Syndrome and at the time was being treated for leukemia. "That was such a deserving cause and it was so lovely our harness racing community rallied together to support one of our own families. "Then there was the year Tony Herlihy (MNZM) drove 3,000 driving winners. He had no idea we planned such a celebration for him. "Other standouts include Brent Mangos and James Stormont both getting to 1,000 wins, and Maurice McKendry's 3000 winners. Both him and Tony have now each been bestowed with a Queen Services medal (MNZM)," Balle said. She said honouring other greats in years gone-by like John and Colleen Butcher, the late John Devlin, Peter Wolfenden, Alec McDonald, and Alby Gain "It’s so lovely we can recognise such amazing achievements over the years. We have had some very memorable times in years gone by, but I'll never forget Ashlee Small's benefit in 2015. "I was blown away by the generosity and felt very privileged to be able to assist them in that way, and making the phone call to Ian and Tracey the day after the awards to deliver the good news - they were overwhelmed with the generosity and so grateful,” Balle said. “It’s just so rewarding to be part of the ‘Fab 4’ and organise awards for such deserving people in our industry,” she stressed. Tickets and the names of nominees will be released in mid-August. Duane Ranger

In addition to our regular support via our ‘charity of the month’ programme, Addington is also supporting two additional charity fundraising events during July. On Friday, 21 July the harness racing meeting is named the ‘Jonty’s Journey Appreciation Race Night’ and on Thursday, 27 July we are hosting the Maddie Collins Fundraising evening. Addington is proud to be involved with these two great causes and know that the Christchurch and Canterbury community will be getting right behind them as well. Friday, 21 July – Jonty’s Journey Appreciation Race Night Jonty Smolenski has a rare genetic syndrome, Trichothiodystrophy, and throughout his life he and his family have received help from some amazing charities. On Friday, 21 July you can join Jonty’s family as they raise funds and say a big thank you to these charities; Maia Health Foundation, Smile Dial, Riding for the Disabled, CCS Disability Action, Van Ash Deaf Education Centre and the BLENNZ (Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ). The evening includes full buffet dinner, drink on arrival, free race books and free car parking. Over $5,000 of spot prizes will be given away on the night, including accommodation at Terrace Downs Resort and in Hanmer Springs. Tickets are $75 per person, $750 per table of 10 and $1400 per table of 10 including race sponsorship. To book tickets online visit www.addington.co.nz/racing/jontys-journey-appreciation-race-night/ or contact Jo Starr, Fundraising Administrator, Maia Health Foundation. Phone 378 6134 or email info@maiahealth.org.nz or. For more information on Jonty and his journey visit https://www.facebook.com/OurJontysJourney/. Thursday, 27 July – Maddie Collins Fundraising Evening This very special little girl needs all the help she can get. Maddie only has a 2% chance of matching anyone in New Zealand for a kidney transplant so the best option for her is to have the transplant in America. The estimated cost for this is $350k. There is urgency around her having the transplant as soon as possible as her health is deteriorating and the quality of life she is living with having to be hooked up to the dialysis machine every day is not the way a child should have to live. Join our fun debate and listen to kiwi personalities Andrew Mehrtens, Blair Strang, Shane Cortese and Tim Shadbolt debate "Should Tim Shadbolt be PM of New Zealand?" all kept 'under control' by MC Gary McCormick! The evening includes drink on arrival, 3 course plated dinner, an auction and a light hearted debate with our panel. Tickets are $85 per person or $850 per table of 10. To book tickets visit www.addington.co.nz/events-centre/events/maddie-collins-funraiser-27july2017/. For more information on Maddie and her story visit www.maddiecollins.co.nz/. 

Jack MacKinnon looks set to claim the 2016-2017 Alexandra Park Driving title despite being four wins behind the North Island's leading junior - Dylan Ferguson on the national premiership. MacKinnon (KD Hall), Ben Butcher (Red Magic) and Robert Argue (Primus Inter Pares) all had good wins at Cambridge raceway last Friday night. Ironically MacKinnon still trails Dylan Ferguson by seven points on the Cambridge Junior Driving Premiership as well. “I’m 21 now and really want to win as many races as I can before the end of the season. There are some good junior drivers out there and I want to win every premiership that’s going,” Pukekohe-based MacKinnon said. North Island Premiership tables read (top five as at June 20): JUNIORS: Leading North Island Junior Driver (national premiership): 1)     Dylan Ferguson 19 wins from 208 drives; 2) Jack MacKinnon 15 wins from 112 drives; 3) Tony Cameron 14 wins from 64 drives; 4) Ben Butcher 13 wins from 178 drives; 5) Robert Argue 11 wins from 118 drives. Alexandra Park Junior Drivers Premiership: 1)     Jack MacKinnon 9 wins from 68 starts; 2) Sean Grayling (NSW) 8 wins from 68 starts; 3) Robert Argue 5 wins from 54 starts; 4) Dylan Ferguson 3 wins from 42 starts; 5) Tony Cameron 2 wins from 24 starts.  Cambridge Raceway Junior Driver: 1)     Dylan Ferguson 22 points; 2) Jack MacKinnon 15 points; 3=) Robert Argue 13 points; 3= Tony Cameron 13 points; 5) Mark Johnson 12 points.   Meanwhile, Tony Herlihy (MNZM) has won the Alexandra Park training and driving titles for several years now, there will be new champions crowned at ‘The Park’ in 2016-2017.   DRIVING PREMIERSHIPS: Leading North Island Driver (national premiership): 1)     David Butcher 68 wins from 443 drives; 2) John Dunn 65 wins from 525 drives; 3) Zac Butcher 45 wins from 290 drives; 4) Maurice McKendry (MNZM) 42 wins from 318 drives; 5) Sailesh Abernethy 33 wins from 302 drives. Alexandra Park Drivers Premiership: 1)     David Butcher 19 wins from 192 starts; 2) Maurice McKendry (MNZM) 28 wins from 199 starts; 3) Zac Butcher 26 wins from 172 starts; 4) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 20 wins from 1972 starts; 5) Brent Mangos 20 wins from 132 starts. Cambridge Raceway Leading Driver (of trotters) points: 1)     David Butcher 39 points; 2) Todd Mitchell 29 points; 3) Josh Dickie 24 points; 4) Maurice McKendry 24 points; 5) Sailesh Abernethy 23 points.   TRAINERS PREMIERSHIPS: Leading North Island Trainer (national premiership): 1)     Robert Dunn 81 wins from 611 starts; 2) Barry Purdon 37 wins from 245 drives; 3) John & Josh Dickie 35 wins from 165 starts; 4) Steve Telfer & Chris Garlick 35 wins from 246 starts; 5) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 33 wins from 226 starts. Alexandra Park Trainers (as of Tuesday June 20): 1)     Barry Purdon 25 wins from 173 starts; 2) Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen 23 wins from 76 starts; 3) John & Josh Dickie 23 wins from 115 starts; 4) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 21 wins from 157 starts); 5) Ray Green 15 wins from 122 starts. Cambridge Raceway Leading Trainer: 1)     Steve Telfer & Chris Garlick 107 points; 2) Todd Mitchell 96 points; 3) Barry Purdon 86 points; 4) Tim Vince 73 points; 5) Mike Berger 96 points. Cambridge Raceway Trainer (of trotters) points: 1)     Geoff Martin 25 points; 2) James Stormont 24 points; 3) Nicky Chilcott 23 points; 4) Stephen Argue 22 points; 5) Todd Mitchell 21 points.   AMATEUR DRIVERS (North Islanders on the national premiership): 1)     Sheryl Wigg 10 wins from 22 drives; 2) Gerry Cronin 2 wins from 12 starters; 3) Danny Blakemore 2 wins from 14 starts; 4) David Branch 1 win from five starts; 5) Stephen Butcher 1 win from eight starts. Duane Ranger

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Promising juvenile pacer Aramis might be one of the great bargains in harness racing history. Because whether he becomes a top horse or not it is hard to argue with his price: he was free. The Brian Hughes-trained gelding made it back to back wins at Alexandra Park last night, leading throughout to down fellow classy youngster King Of Swing with a 55.9 second last 800m. Hughes will now discuss with Aramis’s connections the idea of giving him a two-week spell so he can be set for the two northern Sires’ Stakes heats in October. “Two weeks doesn’t sound like much but he hasn’t been up to long and on what he has shown he deserves a shot at the Sires’ Stakes,” says Hughes. Aramis is owned by a group managed by Paul Charlton, who was the one who secured him at a mixed bloodstock sale. “The story goes the mare (Ca Cest Lamore) went through the sales with a foal at foot and was bought by Rod Croon but he didn’t want the foal,” explains Hughes. “So he gave it to Paul, who brought the other owners in and obviously they are pretty chuffed about it now.” Ironically Ca Cest Lamore, from the Interchange family, hasn’t produced a foal since but is in foal to Bettors Delight. While the winner ended the unbeaten run of King Of Swing, that wouldn’t have felt like a disaster to his connections Lincoln Farms considering Aramis is by their sire Sir Lincoln. On a quiet night at The Park, speed freak three-year-old Star Galleria was again too good for his intermediate grade rivals with much-improved Princess Makendon headed home a mares trifecta in the main trot. Michael Guerin    
The McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driver Championship as we know it is changing. The event that highlights our top young drivers is set to take place over two race nights rather than the customary one night. The annual event is run towards the end of each season and sees the top six qualifying junior drivers from both the North and South Island’s come together to compete in heats in a bid to take out the title as New Zealand’s Junior Driver Champion. This season the Championship kicks off at Forbury Park on Thursday 13th July for the first two heats and then continues onto Addington Raceway on Friday 14th July for the final two heats. The change has come after a call for the Championship to become more about horsemanship skills than it is about luck. The additional meeting means an extra shot for the drivers to gain points, it also gives the Championship more depth and creates new opportunities for the future top drivers of our industry. “It’s a great idea, it gives everybody a chance to get to know each other better and meet a wider range of owners and trainers from different areas,” said leading junior driver Rory McIlwrick. “I’m honoured to be able to take part in the series I can’t wait to meet new people and have a good time both on and off the track.” Rory McIlwrick heads the South Island team after qualifying with the most points and is joined by Matt Anderson, Kimberly Butt, Sheree Tomlinson, Katie Cox and John Morrison. Dylan Ferguson qualified top of the North Island with Ben Butcher, Jack MacKinnon, Tony Cameron, Mark Johnson and Robert Argue gaining the rest of the highly sought after spots. McIlwrick, who only starting working with horses when he was a teenager, is struggling to come to terms with the fact he is the leading junior driver in the country. While the New Zealand Junior Driver Championship title is a goal he would love to achieve, he is also focused on taking out the Leading Junior Driver Award at the annual Awards on August 3rd. “It’s like dreaming you’re going to kick the winning goal or score the winning try but you’re on the bench. You dream of it happening but it’s usually just a dream. I hope the dream can come true and I can hold on and take out the premiership,” McIlwrick said. In an industry that can often be difficult to break into without the backing of family, McIlwrick is proving that anything is possible if you are determined. “You have to work hard and find good teachers who will tell you what you are doing wrong. Ask questions and don’t be afraid of mistakes, they just mean you are one step closer to making the right move,” McIlwrick added. Full coverage of the four heats will be on shown on Trackside as well as coverage on the Harness Racing New Zealand website and social media pages. Stacy Markham
Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 5:25pm   Race 1 - Best backed on the win 'book' is the debut runner Park Avenue $20 - $8.00 over Aramis $1.95 who leads multi betting over King Of Swing $3.00.   Race 2 - Playful Pride $3.40 easily leads multi betting in what is a quiet win 'book' early.   Race 3 - R Gee Bee is the big mover here $20 - $8.00 with the much improved Richard Le Fort $6.00 leading multi betting over Ultimate Angel $5.20.   Race 4 - Arethusa Spur $4.20 leads multi betting over Majestic Ali $6.00 with that runner leading win betting over Opawa Speed $39 - $28.    Race 5 - Upmost Delight $3.80 - $3.40 is huge in multi betting and also the only runner wanted in win betting.   Race 6 - Yagunnakissmeornot $4.00 is huge in multi betting with Lovely Bundy $4.20 best backed in win betting over the former runner.   Race 7 - The good thing for then night according to the early money is Star Galleria $1.40.   Race 8 - Jamieson Shard $5.00 is easily the best backed runner over Franco Hamiltion $10.00   Race 9 - The two favourites Bet Out Of El $1.70 & Bettors Pocket $2.60 totally dominate multi betting.   Race 10 - Inner Light $2.10 the debut runner is easily the best backed in multi betting with best backed runner on the win 'book' Moving Money $5.00.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)
Minister for Racing David Bennett has appointed Bill Birnie to the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB). “It’s a pleasure to welcome Bill Birnie to the NZRB. Mr Birnie brings a lot of corporate governance experience and will add value to the NZRB,” Mr Bennett says. The purpose of the NZRB is to oversee the racing industry and the TAB, which has a $2.7 billion turnover a year, and returns over $150 million to New Zealand racing and sports each year. The seven-member board is made up of four independent members, including the Chair, who are appointed by the Government, and three code representatives nominated by the Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound racing codes. Mr Birnie, an investment banker by trade and former solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, has also held positions on several boards, including NZ Screen Commission, the Hilary Commission, High Performance Sport NZ, Sport New Zealand, NZ Film Commission, NZ Warriors Ltd and Play It Strange, amongst many others. Mr Birnie’s three year tenure begins on 23 June 2017. “I would like to thank outgoing board member Barry Brown for his contributions to the NZRB and industry over the past three years. Mr Brown is passionate about the industry and we thank him for his commitment to racing,” Mr Bennett says. Hon David Bennett Minister of Racing
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