Day At The Track
Tough Monarch (right) and McLovin,Harness racing

Farms & families

Monarchy trifecta in FFA The Group 1 $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All was a triumph for Monarchy as the harness racing sire of the winner Tough Monarch, McLovin second and Didjabringthebeers third – rather a notable siring feat. On the same day Monarchy sired both trotting winners at Menangle in Princess Kenny and Gold Sovereign, both out of Sundon mares. Monarchy has elevated himself to second on this year’s NZ trotting sire list.   Sisters win at Redcliffe It was no mean feat for the half-sisters Miss Mia and Ima Beach Babe to win on the same day at Redcliffe earlier this week. Miss Mia, a four-year-old, is a daughter of Modern Art, while, Ima Beach Babe is a three-year-old from the first crop of Sunshine Beach. Lets Rocknroll, the dam of Miss Mia and Ima Beach Babe, was out of a top racemare in Impish Princess, who took a record of 1:56.6 in America and earned $276,518. Besides Lets Rocknroll, she was also the dam of the Qbred Triad winner How Will I Know 1:55.9 ($195,159), Mister Natural (1:54.9) and Rocknroll Annie (1:59.9). Another of Lets Rocknroll’s offspring, Corey William, scored in 1:56.7 at Albion Park in December.   Alta Christiano stock firing The Christian Cullen horse Alta Christiano, who stood originally at Alabar and is now at the new Killarney Stud in NSW, is leaving smart three-year-olds from his second crop. Alta Christiano Alta Engen, who is unbeaten in three starts in Western Australia, is a gelding by Alta Christiano from the Million To One mare, Its Karma. Shesskylah, a winner at Bendigo in 1:55, the Vicbred Homegrown Cladssic heat winner Techys Angel (1:58), Woodlands Wonder (1:59.3), Christiano Rose (1:59.4) and Little Bitof Fun (1:59.9) have been other winners from Alta Christiano’s second crop. Alta Christiano, a Group winner in NZ and Australia, established himself as an early speed sire last season when one of his two-yaer-olds, Will The Wizard, hoisted a mark of 1:54.6 at Albion Park.   Blue blooded filly Soho Nolita, who won the 2018 Australian Pacing Gold Final and has won four of her five outings this season, is a four-year-old mare who can claim some worthwhile blood. By Mach Three (son of Matt’s Scooter), she is out of the Art Major mare Pixel Perfect, whose dam, Amarillen, ranked as a sister to the Oaks winner Tenirama and a half-sister to the top Tasmanian juvenile Cody Maverick, their dam, Nellirama, being out of the dual Oaks winner Nellie Robins. Pixel Perfect, the dam of Soho Nolita, has left six winners from six foals of racing age, three of whom – Soho Tribeca, Carlas Pixel and Soho Nolita – have won at Group 1 level.   Ninth winner from broodmare When the Majestic Son four-year-old Regal Appointment won at the Ashburton Trotting Club’s Cup Week meeting, he credited his dam Niamey with her ninth individual winner. The gelding was having only his second start. Others from Niamey to win have been the Group and cup winners Springbank Sam Tr 1:55.2 ($545,702), Sun Of Anarchy Tr 1:58.2 ($277,733), Pocaro Tr 1:57.5 ($232,773) and Daenerys Targaryen Tr 1:58.2 ($143,723) and others in Ugly Betty, Sam Galleon, Arnold, Lord Nelson and now Regal Appointment. Niamey, who is now in her 21st year, has since produced a three-year-old filly by Love You, a two-year-old filly by the same sire and a yearling colt by Sebastian K. A sister to the outstanding racemare Africa, Niamey was a Chiola Hanover mare from Game Flyer, by Game Pride from Flying Bay.   Lazarus in demand Former pacing sensation Lazarus has met with widespread interest from broodmare owners on both sides of the Tasman in his first ‘down under’ season. The $4 million winning son of Bettor’s Delight has more than 220 bookings to date. Lazarus is standing at Yirribee Pacing Stud in Wagga (NSW)     by Peter Wharton Article sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock

Marcoola,Harness racing

Tomlinson has unusual concern

Sheree Tomlinson has an unusual concern leading into today’s $300,000 Dominion with defending champion Marcoola at Addington. She is worried about her favourite horse and her mother. Tomlinson is the new driver of Marcoola, who was jaw-dropping winning this race coming from near last last season and just as spectacular in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last start. Marcoola faces excitement machine Oscar Bonavena as well as the rock-hard fit Australian pair of Tough Monarch and McLovin in New Zealand’s greatest trotting race. But while Tomlinson is excited about steering the brilliant stallion today, she is worried about his stablemate Amaretto Sun, who gave her her greatest moment in harness racing when he won this race at massive odds two years ago. Marcoola starts from barrier one and Amaretto Sun right next to him and Tomlinson says while she loves her old mate she doesn’t want Amaretto Sun, to be driven her mother Amanda, to get in front of her and in her way. “To be honest I’d rather the draws were reversed and Mum was starting from barrier one and me from barrier two,” laughs Tomlinson. “Because he (Amaretto Sun) can get away really fast and I don’t want him crossing us and me getting stuck behind him. “I am not a big fan of barrier one in 3200m standing starts anyway because the horses out wide can get a jump on you but he (Marcoola) is actually very good from behind the tapes early. “So I am hoping if we do great crossed we can get away from the inside early.” Two years ago when Amaretto Sun won Tomlinson had the luxury of driving him for luck but with Marcoola the second favourite and at his most dynamic when he gets a head of steam up, she will launch him at some stage. Exactly when that will be could depend on when Oscar Bonavena makes his move from the back. The latter has been dazzling all season and the last start wins of the pair at Ashburton, both in national records, were comparable. “It is a different situation from two years ago, more pressure this time, but I think the Australians being in the field will help because they should force the pace, which will help us.” Oscar Bonavena might be world class and jogs national record times and sizzling splits and he might simply be too good for his rivals today, even after giving away a start from the unruly. “I am happy to have him back there because I think it should ensure he goes away and then we settle for maybe even the first half of the race,” says his trainer-driver Mark Purdon. As good as Oscar Bonavena is, and he might be the real deal, is Marcoola races up to last year’s form it could be the race of the carnival, especially with the Aussies added to the mix following their group one quinella on Tuesday. While Purdon looks likely to sit and swoop in today’s big trot punters can expect his speedsters to light up early in the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. Cruz Bromac returns to defend the title he won last season when he blasted to the lead and set his own terms and he looks to have the gate speed to cross to the front again but the key to the race will be whether he would hand the pacemaking role to Spankem. Both are dynamic front runners over sprint trips and if Spankem wrests the lead off Cruz Bromac he becomes the one to beat, although that would still give the latter the passing lane late. If Cruz Bromac leads and Spankem sits parked outside him or further back then Tuesday’s Cup winner could claim the dream double.   Michael Guerin

Classie Brigade,Harness racing

A chance for redemption in FFA

By Jonny Turner The burning desire to make up for what could have been in the New Zealand Cup should set up a sensational early battle in today’s Junior Free-For-All at Addington. Few came off the track after Cruz Bromac’s win in Tuesday’s feature with a more agonising hard luck story than the camp that races third placegetter Classie Brigade. Driver John Dunn was seen desperately trying to find clear racing room for the 7yr-old trained by his father Robert. Unfortunately, a gap only came after the horse’s winning hope evaporated before the driver’s eyes. “There was a gap there nicely for him, but with Spankem not quite kicking like he usually does it closed on him,” Robert Dunn said. “Johnny said he though the run was going to be nicely there for him and it closed as quick as it opened.” John Dunn has already told the media this week that he has no plans to be behind any horse when the gate leaves for today’s 1980m sprint. Trying to hold the lead from his ace barrier 1 draw is a plan wholeheartedly endorsed by his father. “You can’t waste a good draw like barrier one and he has got great gate speed,” the trainer said. “So he will be going forward and we will have to see what happens after that.” Not being able to fully let down with his run on Tuesday suggests Classie Brigade should go in to today’s $200,000 feature without any hangover effect from the New Zealand Cup. Dunn confirmed his stable have been thrilled with the way he has come through the race. “He has pulled up super, we are really thrilled with him this week.” Chase Auckland, who starts beside Classie Brigade in barrier 2, could lay claim to the New Zealand Cup’s second biggest hard luck story. The pacer had clear air for all of the run home, but had make his finish wider than any horse in the race. Both San Carlo and Mach Shard lost ground around the home turn, hindering Chase Auckland’s momentum and forcing him around them. “Just the way the race ended up being run, we just didn’t get the brakes that we needed,” driver Tim Williams said. “And when San Carlo got around to being parked that took away the option of going around there.” The All Stars 5yr-old faces a massive turn around from the circumstances that put him back in the field in the New Zealand Cup, when moving from the unruly to barrier 2 today. Chase Auckland will not only avoid having to give his rivals a head start, Williams will be able to make use of his blazing gate speed. “It is an ideal draw for him with his gate speed and it is going to be a big help coming off the unruly to be on level terms,” the driver said. “He seems to have pulled up well and he is probably fortunate the way the race was run on Tuesday that he didn’t have a real gut-buster.” It will not just be the horse drawn beside him that could test Classie Brigade’s early speed and possibly cross him to lead. New Zealand Cup runner-up Spankem gets the chance to show off the early zip that saw him lead and go on to win the Miracle Mile from barrier 7. The cup winner Cruz Bromac, who led and won last year’s New Zealand Free-For-All, adds to the speed of the front line after drawing inside his stablemate in barrier 6. Our Uncle Sam and AG’s White Socks could provide some early pressure if they were asked from barrier 3 and 5, respectively. Nandolo (8) and Thefixer (9) look set to drift off the pace early from their wide draws. The Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert is also likely to bail out of the early burn despite drawing barrier 4. “He has probably raced better over longer trips and I am just a bit weary that he doesn’t have that really high gate speed some of the others have,” Dunn said. The 4yr-old thrilled his trainer with his effort for sixth on Tuesday when finishing just under two lengths from Cruz Bromac after the horse’s interrupted preparation for the race. “If he hadn’t galloped around the first turn he would have been on Classie Brigade’s back and he might have been a chance.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Oscar Bonavena,Harness racing

Oscar Bonavena a real fighter

By Jonny Turner Australasian harness racing fans can thank Oamaru reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, her love of horses and determined attitude, if an open class trotting star is born when Oscar Bonavena contests today’s Dominion at Addington.  On paper it may look as if the All Stars trotter is set to complete just another perfectly plotted path to big race glory for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. However, a look further back shows the exciting trotter has had to overcome odds exponentially higher than what he will pay to win the 3200m feature just to be in the race. Oscar Bonavena needed a miracle just to be a racehorse and Purvis was the driving force behind making it happen. The Majestic Son trotter was born weak and unable to stand on what vets deemed were legs too crooked for a potential racehorse. Purvis the horse, who was delivered early unexpectedly and started feeding him by bottle, barely showing any signs of life before she quickly began nursing him back to health.  Vets advice to Purvis’s father, John, who bred the horse, was that the foal’s chances of being a successful racehorse were slim because of his crooked legs and his missing out on vital colostrum enriched milk from his dam immediately after being born. Purvis told her father she was not having any of that talk and continued to hand feed the foal. "The vet said because his legs were not that straight and because he had not been fed colostrum straight away he didn’t have much chance of making a racehorse,” she said.  "But I told Dad he wouldn't be worrying about any of that and I kept looking after him.” After helping keep the foal alive, Purvis handed over duties to Nevele R Stud staff, who continued to help Oscar Bonavena get on his feet. “After a couple of days we were able to get the mare and foal to Nevele R and they kept feeding him.” “Eventually he was strong enough to stand on his own and then drink off his mother.” “As he got older his legs got stronger and he was perfectly healthy.” Purvis’ early work with the trotter meant he was almost certain to end up in her care. Her father sent her the trotter and Oscar Bonavena was to be a “project horse” for the horsewoman and her partner, reinsman Matthew Williamson. Oscar Bonavena soon showed the only project he was concerned about was running fast. He went on to win his first start as a 2yr-old before pushing All Stars trotter Enhance Your Calm, who was seen as an unbeatable force at the time, in his Sires Stakes win. That performance led to Oscar Bonavena being sold by John Purvis in a big money deal that saw him transfer from Phil Williamson’s barn to the All Stars stable.  Mark Purdon trialed the horse for his new owners – his father, the former champion trainer, Roy Purdon, and former New Zealand trainer Chris Ryder, who runs a successful stable in New Jersey. The master trainer-driver said Oscar Bonavena gave him the feel of a good horse as soon as he sat behind him. “He just gave me a great feel,” Purdon said.  “Phil is great with the trotters and he had a very high opinion of him, so that gave me a bit more confidence that he was going to be a good buy.” Months later Purdon’s new owners faced similar vets advice about Oscar Bonavena to what  the Purvis family had received earlier – that his legs were not up for racing. More specifically, the horse was diagnosed with a cyst on his knee, a rare condition that ruled out racing.  Purdon admitted there was a time when he Oscar Bonavena’s racing prospects were very bleak. “It was a lot of money to pay for a horse and there was a time when it looked like we could have done our money.” “But everything is back on track now, he is good and sound and we look like we have a very exciting horse on our hands.” Some high level veterinary research coupled with Purdon’s genius horsemanship combined to help Oscar Bonavena’ recover from the potentially career ending injury.   The troubled knee has held up so well since, it has allowed him to catapult to the top of the New Zealand trotting ranks in his seven starts since May.  And apart from one standing start mishap, that did not stop him winning, everything has gone perfectly.   “He had a great preparation and I think when we nominated him he was about 45th in the ranking for the Dominion and now he is right up the ladder and come in to favorite,” Purdon said.  “So, he has had a great prep and I couldn’t be happier with him.” Ryder will fly to be at Addington on Friday, while Roy Purdon is expected to watch on from Auckland. Purvis and her father will also be on hand to watch Oscar Bonavena’s first attempt at open class group 1 racing. The thrill they will get if he is able to win will be just as big as if the trotter was still officially theirs.  “We will be there and it will be very exciting - I still get a huge thrill from seeing him race,” Purvis said.  “Every time I am at the races and he is in I go down and see him, I can’t wait.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Glamour mare Belle Of Montana makes a welcome resumption at Alexandra Park on Friday. Last season’s Filly of the Year has had two workouts in preparation for the race and trainer Barry Purdon says both he and driver Zachary Butcher have been satisfied with proceedings. “Really happy,” he told HRNZ. “I think she may be a little bit vulnerable this week from a wide draw against some good ones, but she is there to win.” After enjoying a good, and well-earned, winter spell, it took some extra work to get the daughter of Bettor’s Delight back in to race trim. “She’s been pretty big in condition and isn’t quite there yet but is looking a picture.” Belle Of Montana strikes a strong field over the mobile mile which includes the likes of Star Galleria, The Devils Own and her own stablemates, Havtime and On The Cards, who are both also resuming from spells. Purdon believes On The Cards is the fittest of his trio and despite drawing the outside alley, probably presents as the best of his hopes in the race. “He’s won both his trials and has gone good in doing so. “He’s pretty forward for this week and it’s just the draw that will hurt his chances.” Belle Of Montana is being set for next month’s Group 1 Queen of Hearts, where she will likely go head to head with her nemesis from last season, Princess Tiffany. “After that, we’ll probably look across to Australia for the Ladyship Mile if she’s going good enough at the time.” Purdon has gotten off to a rampant start this season, training 19 winners and 18 place-getters from just 60 starters and he is six clear of the next best northerner on the trainers’ premiership. Accordingly, he has a very strong team in tonight and could easily go home with another three or four winners. Asked for an indication on perhaps his strongest chance on the night, he looked towards maiden pacer Bettor Listen, who is having just his second start after an encouraging second on debut. “He’s a nice horse and shouldn’t be a maiden for much longer; I expect him to go a good race.” “Little Miss Perfect is fresh-up and might just need the run in what is quite a good field. “We have Some Do in the same race and she’s a really nice filly, just not ideally drawn.” Purdon is in Christchurch this week, firstly for Mach Shard’s New Zealand Cup tilt on Tuesday and now Wainui Creek’s $40,000 Mares Classic tilt today. Mach Shard isn’t backing up after a disappointing run, where we dropped away from a perfect striking position on the point of the turn. “We haven’t had the bloods back yet but he’s feeling a little bit down on himself. “I think he’s just jarred up. “It’s just one of those things you can’t do much about.” The Racing Integrity Unit’s head harness steward, Nick Ydgren, said he was yet to be advised of any other horses having felt the effects of the track from Tuesday’s racing. “We haven’t heard anything, good or bad, about the state of the track.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

High-priced New Zealand import Gran Chico has settled down well since arriving in Perth a fortnight ago and he looks set for a successful Australian harness racing debut when he contests the Catalano Truck and Equipment Sales Service Finance Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Now in the care of astute Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, Gran Chico will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, who is happy that the Bettors Delight gelding will be the sole runner off the back line. “From barrier ten there’s no horse on his outside and he’ll have time to relax before being put into the race,” Suvaljko said. “He’s a nice horse who should prove hard to beat. “I’ve watched the replays of all his races in New Zealand. He is a big horse who loves to just come into the race and he should get a good run from barrier ten. “Mike told me that the plan was, with the horse having been here for only a couple of weeks, was not to throw him in the deep end straight away (by racing in the group 2 feature for four-year-olds on Friday night). And after this week’s race, the plan is to go into the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic in two weeks and then the Golden Nugget two weeks after that.” Gran Chico, who has been purchased by Jim and Wilma Giumelli, last appeared when he gave a splendid performance to finish a close fourth behind top-flight pacers Chase Auckland, Ashley Locaz and Smokin By in the Group 3 Methven Cup on October 13.  This was a 3000m stand on a rain-affected grass track and Gran Chico galloped briefly at the start before settling down in fourth place. A 5/1 chance, he dashed to the front after about 500m before surrendering the lead after a lap to the 6/4 favourite Ashley Locaz. He finished gamely along the inside. At his previous outing, nine nights earlier, Gran Chico settled in sixth position and raced in the breeze before taking the lead 1000m from home for an easy first-up victory at a 1.57.1 rate in a 1980m mobile event at Addington. That was his first appearance since June 1 when he gave a superb performance on a wet track to finish third behind Mark Purdon’s Jesse Duke in the $150,000 Group 1 Emerald at Addington. He started from the outside barrier (No. 8) on the front line and settled down in 12th and last position before starting a three-wide run from last about 1100m from home. He raced three wide for much of the final circuit and finished with great determination. Gran Chico’s chief rival on Friday night is likely to be the polemarker Dominate The Dojo, who has finished creditable thirds to Bettor Reward and Mighty Santana at his first two starts since resuming from a spell. The Kevin Keys-trained Dominate The Dojo will again be handled by Chris Lewis, who said: “He’s a consistent little horse who is always going to be about the play. He’s got gate speed and we will push forward and see what happens.” Dylan Egerton-Green will drive the Karen Thompson-trained Our Perkins, who is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line. “He is racing really well and will run a bit of a race if I can find the top,” Egerton-Green said. With Suvaljko committed to drive Gran Chico, Byford trainer Courtney Burch had to find a new driver for Sergeant Oats, an impressive winner from Ocean Ridge last Friday night. Burch has engaged Gary Hall Jnr to handle Sergeant Oats, who is sure to be prominent from the No. 4 barrier.   Ken Casellas

This wasn’t how November was supposed to go for Sundees Son. The reigning Trotter of the Year was the one-time favourite for both Group 1 trots of Cup week in Christchurch and the Inter Dominion, which starts at Alexandra Park a fortnight from tomorrow. Now he is heading to the spelling paddock with his tail between his legs. The freakishly-talented five-year-old galloped and lost all chance for the third race in a row in the NZ Trot Free-For-All at Addington on Tuesday and was always unlikely to start in tomorrow’s $300,000 Dominion after that. But trainers Robert and John Dunn have surrendered to Sundees Son's niggling issues and also pulled him out of the Inter Dominion and sent him for a two-month spell. “We just can’t get him right,” said John Dunn. “We keep patching him up and while his issue (fetlock joint) isn’t serious at all he has lost his confidence. “He is only a young horse and we have to do the right thing by him so hopefully he can come back for the big races in the autumn.” While Sundees Son is out of the Dominion, hot favourite Oscar Bonavena still faces a huge task starting from the unruly in a capacity field, with his three main rivals in Marcoola (barrier one), Tough Monarch (six) and McLovin (10) all drawn the front line. The Dunns will have two reps in the $200,000 NZ Pacing Free-For-All and luckless NZ Cup placegetter Classie Brigade drawn the ace. “I am not sure he would have won the Cup had we got clearer earlier but he would have got a lot closer,” Dunn says of Tuesday’s third. Dunn says he has the gate speed to try and lead tomorrow’s 1980m Goup 1 and if he was able to hold the front early he would want to stay there, as he did in the Kaikoura Cup 10 days ago. “But it may not be that easy. Cruz Bromac gets off the gate really fast, but I will be trying to hold him.” Cruz Bromac (six) has drawn inside Spankem (seven) and the tactics of that pair, who led and won the NZ Free-For-All and Miracle Mile respectively last season, will play a huge role in tomorrow’s outcome. Aussie raider Our Uncle Sam backs up after missing away in the NZ Cup on Tuesday but Victorian San Carlo will miss the free-for-all and head to Auckland for the Inter Dominion. The fields for the NZ Free-For-All at Addington tomorrow: Race 11, 5.48pm, $200,000, mobile 1980m — Classie Brigade (1), Chase Auckland (2), Our Uncle Sam (3), Henry Hubert (4), A G’s White Socks (5), Cruz Bromac (6), Spankem (7), Nandolo (8), Thefixer (9).   Michael Guerin

By Jonny Turner Longtime owners and an emerging trainer combined to score their biggest wins when Oamaru trotter Rydgemont Son rocked New Zealand Cup day punters on Tuesday. Cup day bettors were left wondering why they unusually let a Williamson trained trotter go out at massive odds of 50 to one odds after the 5yr-old powered home from off the speed to win. Rydgemont Son’s effort in middle grade company notched a career best win as a trainer Brad Williamson. Williamson was not among those who under rated the well related trotter going in to Tuesday’s race. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised, I was quite confident he would go a good race, but I wasn’t expecting anything because we all know how hard it is on cup day,”the trainer-driver said. “But, I was confident the horse was good enough if everything went to plan.” “It was a big thrill.” Rydgemont Son showed how much progression he has made in his past three starts with his faultless display in front of a large Addington crowd. The 5yr-old began his campaign with a big win at Forbury Park before making mistakes in subsequent outings. The horse then got his act together in his two starts prior to putting together a perfect performance on Tuesday. “We are still not out of the woods from him yet,” Williamson said. “He still gets himself a bit excited sometimes and that is why he gallops.” “He will win more races, but he has just had a few issues that have kept him from being in good form a bit longer.” Rydgemont Son is by Majestic Son from former 10-win race mare Domination. That makes him a half brother to multiple race winners The Dominator and Rydgemont Milly. The Dominator also raced on NZ Cup day, galloping out of another event early. Rydgemont Son is raced by Ray and Joan Scott, of St. Andrews. Ray Scott told Williamson Rydgemont Son’s win was his biggest thrill in harness racing. “They have been in the game a long time, they raced the mother Domination,” Williamson said. “Ray said that was the biggest thrill he’d had - getting a winner on cup day.” Williamson scored another career highlight at Addington, earlier this year, when Cracker Hill notched a Group 1 second placing at the Harness Jewels. The 3yr-old is back in work and progressing towards a return on the Otago-Southland summer racing circuit. Williamson hopes to bank some Harness Jewels qualifying money before targeting early 3yr-old trotting events with Cracker Hill. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Trainer-driver Jim Curtin will seek more New Zealand Cup week success with his small team at Ashburton on Thursday. The Templeton horseman closed out New Zealand Cup day when producing his lightly raced pacer Tango Tara to win its last race. Curtin looks a big chance of scoring a race to race double by winning the next event of the New Zealand Cup Carnival - the first event at Ashburton. He starts Zigzagzoo in a 2400m maiden trot, following the horse’s good first up run behind impressive Kaikoura winner, Madam Sass. “He did go really good up there, I was really pleased with him,” Curtin said. “I was a bit worried about how he would trot the bends, but he was pretty good.” Zigzagzoo’s Kaikoura effort came in his first start since he raced New Zealand’s best 2yr-old trotters, last season. The Majestic Son squaregaiter went sound races finishing in behind the placegetters in races won by Ultimate Stride and Muscle Mountain. His first up effort showed Zigzagzoo had returned stronger from his winter break. “I think he has come back a bit stronger - he is quite a big horse and I think he could be even better when he gets a bit older,” Curtin said. Zigzagzoo could head towards this season’s 3yr-old trotting features if his form warrants it. The trotter can help his cause in today’s race if he can hold out fellow 3yr-old, Vacation Hill. The Kevin Townley trained squaregaiter also comes in to Thursday’s race after a last start second placing. Bookmakers think Zigzagzoo can, rating him the early $3 favourite, ahead of Vacation Hill at $4.60. Curtin also starts Kayla Maguire in race 9 at the Ashburton meeting. She finished down the track in her first start for the second at Methven, recently. The 4yr-old may need another start to show her best after doing too well during her winter spell. “She is going to need a couple of runs because she has been carrying a bit of extra weight.” “She is in a bit of an awkward place in the handicaps at the moment, racing horses that have won a few races.” Race 9 features an exciting clash between emerging 3&4yr-olds. 3yr-olds Cloud Nine, A Delightful Act and Pink Flamingo Run each go in to the 2400m mobile event as last start winners. 4yr-olds Nirvana Beach and Portalerge come in to race 9 after running good second placing in their last starts. Nirvana Beach and A Delightful Act opened equal $3 favourites with bookmakers. Tango Tara’s neck win over the favourite Taxman has earned him some quiet time. Curtin will bypass Friday’s Show Day meeting at Addington and target the quieter surrounds of Geraldine, later this month. “I never intended to back him up on Show Day because he has had quite a few runs in a short time with going to the trials.” “We might look at the Geraldine meeting with him.” Tango Tara helped keep his family’s name in the spotlight after his close relation, Tiger Tara, missed his first New Zealand Cup carnival in six years. Tango Tara is by A Rocknroll Dance from a half sister to the dam of Tiger Tara, who is by his sire, Bettor’s Delight. Tango Tara shows some traits of Bettor’s Delight stock as a fair track worker, who steps his game up significantly on race day. Niggling injuries, which Curtin described as wear and tear problems, meant the 4yr-old was spelled in January after making a brilliant start to his career. Tango Tara is over those problems and Curtin is hopeful the horse can continue to fulfil his potential. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The race career of last season’s top juvenile pacing filly, Sweet On Me, has come to a premature end. Her connections made the decision to retire her last week after being told by vets she would not race as a three-year-old this season. “We had the option to put her out for six months and bring her back for next season,” said Paul Kenny, who raced her with wife Mary and father-in-law, Charles Roberts. “But by that time, she’s a four-year-old and when we really looked at it, we felt like she’d done enough. “She had a glittering career as a two-year-old so we thought we’d just leave it at that and have her as a broodmare.” It’s a fair assessment – the blueblood first born daughter of champion mare Adore Me won nearly a quarter of a million dollars in a career spanning just seven starts. She won two Group 1 races, including the 2YO Diamond at Addington’s Harness Jewels back in June, from the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and also won the 2YO Pacing Filly of the Year title. The diagnosis came while she was back in work with Purdon and Rasmussen after undergoing winter surgery. “When she was heading back south last season, Mark suggested we stop in and get scintigraphy done in Matamata,” said Kenny. “There was a chip in one knee and some minor cartilage issues in both knees. “They said we could keep racing her so we did that. “Then, on the way home after the Jewels she stopped off and had an operation and subsequently went through a faultless post-operative recovery.” It was all systems go for her three-year-old season and, after a period of swimming work, she returned to Canterbury for a new preparation. “But she just wasn’t comfortable at speed so we had some x-rays taken and it showed further problems. “We are too fond of the horse, all our horses, to risk her as we have plenty of others to go on with. “We’re not greedy and are very grateful for the success we have. “She gave us some great thrills last season.” Sweet On Me will not be bred now, but rather early next season. “You’re not going to get an early foal and we are breeding from 30 others, so we’ll start her nice and early next season.” Adore Me’s next foal, a full sister named Darling Me, is showing great promise for Purdon and Rasmussen. “On type and temperament, she’s a lovely filly but you never really know how good they are until they get to the track.” In a further blow for Roberts and the Kennys, they’ve also had to retire an unraced, but qualified, three-year-old full sister to recently-retired champion mare Dream About Me. “She had a problem with a suspensory as a two-year-old last season and now, unfortunately, she’s gone in the other suspensory. “She hadn’t raced, but she’d done enough at the trials stage to know she had some ability.” Dream About Me has returned a positive scan to Captaintreacherous, which would be her first foal. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Bookmaker Richard Wilson updates us on some of the big bets placed on Cup Day and where the money was going. Tuesday – Addington Cup day A bumper day for Fixed Odds turnover with a Singles-only hold of a tick over $2m.  Last year, including Mulits, the hold was $1.7m and the two years before that we held $1.6m each.  Total turnover, including the tote, was up 1.9%. Race 1 – A massive move in the first of the day with Robbie Royale opening @ $12 & closing @ $5.50.  Just a tick under $25,000 on him in win singles.  Sundons Flyer $26-$16 and Overzealous $9.50-$9 were also well liked.  The biggest bets in the race were $1,200 Robbie Royale @ $8.50, $2,000 Matua Tana @ $4.80 & $2,200 Robbie Royale @ $2.90 Top3. Race 2 – Another big move with Dream Of Glory $8-$9-$5, almost $21,000 on him in the win book.  Punters also warmed up to the favourite Sugar Loaf close to start time.  $3,000 bets on Dream Of Glory @ both $7 & $5;  $3,000 Sugar Loaf @ $3, $1,000 @ $2.90 & $2,000 @ $2.80. Race 3 – Another move & punters on the ball here with Bonnie Highlander $4.40 into $3 and a tick over $40,000 on her.  Theodosia also well backed late @ $6-$5.  Big bets on Bonnie Highlander were $2,500 @ $4.40, $2,000 @ $3.80, $6,000 @ $3.40, four $1,000 bets and a $2,000 bet @ $3.10;  also $1,000 on Theodosia @ $5.50. Race 4 – Junior FFA.  A two horse war here with a swing over the weekend for Triple Eight $2.90-$2.10-$2.20 making him the favourite for a time, then a swing back for Ultimate Sniper $2-$2.40-$2.05.  $1,100 Triple Eight @ $2.80, $4,000 @ $2.40, $2,000 @ $2.10 & $1,000 @ $2.20;  $1,000 Ultimate Sniper @ $2.30.  600 more bets on  Ultimate Sniper made him the best backed in the end. Race 5 – Nemera Franco & Better Fly well backed here with third favourite Wild Excuse a welcome winner.  The largest bets on Better Fly were $1,000 & $4,000 bets @ $4, $1,600 @ $3.90 & $1,000 @ $3.70.  $800 & three $600 bets on Nemera Franco @ $2.30 and plenty of $400-$500 bets on her @ $2.40 & $2.30. Race 6 – Trotting FFA.  Winterfell was another very well backed runner here.  Almost $45,000 invested on him in the win book @ $5-$3.40.  $4,300 @ $5, $9,000 @ $1.95 Top3, $2,000 @ $4.40, $2,000 @ $3.90, $1,500 @ $3.70, $2,000 & $1,500 @ $3.40;  Tough Monarch: punters warmed up late with three $1,000 bets, $1,400 & $2,000 all @ $3. Race 7 – Sires Stks Final.  Just over half of the win book was on One Change @ $2.10-$1.95 & he justified the support, just.  A near miss here with $1,000 EW Copy That @ $31 & $5 getting very close.  Other big bets $2,000, $3,500 & $1,000 bets on One Change @ $2.10;  $2,000 Flying Even Better Top3 @ $2.90. Race 8 - A two horse battle again here with Heisenberg $3.30-$2.50 the best backed & punters rallying behind Amazing Dream @ $1.65-$1.90 late.  Big bets on Heisenberg were $7,000 @ 2.90; $3,000 & $5,000, three $1,200 bets, $1,500 & $2,000 all @ $2.50.  Bets on Amazing Dream were $1,000 @ $1.85, three $1,000 bets and $4,200 all @ $1.90. Race 9 – Punters initially specked quite a few here, mainly Gliding Away $26-$16 before settling on Belmont Major in a big way.  He was $2.40-$2.90-$2.15 and held almost $60,000 of the $100,000 win book.  Big bets were $300 Gliding Away @ $26 & $400 @ $21;  $1,000 Mach Da Vinci @ $12; $1,000 Howard Hughes @ $7.50; $4,300 Belmont Major @ $2.90, $3,000 & $5,000 @ $2.40, and three $1,000 bets @ $2.15. Race 10 – NZ Cup.  Spirited betting in the NZ Cup again this year.  The least backed horse was Hail Christian and there was $1,793 in more than 500 bets on him.  Stablemates, Spankem $2.20-$2.40 & Thefixer $3.20-$2.80, held 61% of the win book between them with Spankem being the best backed.  The biggest bets in the Cup were $4,000, $3,250 & $2,000 on Spankem @ $2.40;  $3,300 @ $2.90,  $2,500, $2,300 & $2,200 on Thefixer @ $2.80, and $1,000 San Carlo @ $11.  The winner, Cruz Bromac was fairly good for us in both the Final Field and Futures Books.  He opened @ $12 on March 7th in the Pre-nom book & hit a high of $16 around 10 June 10.  After nominations, he opened @ $11 and hit a peak of $21 for a few days around October 10.  This week in the Final Field book he was $9 out to $13 & was the 6th best backed runner with a smidge over $11,000 on him.  A couple of $200 bets @ $12 were the best. Race 11 – Our worst results here were Never Mind $10-$8.50 and Girls Let Loose $26-$12, both being about $50,000 liabilities.  Best backed was the favourite B D Kasothon with $3,500 @ $2.40 the biggest bet.  Other big bets were $1,000 & $1,500 bets on Lone Star Lad @ $4.80 as well as $1,000 @ $4.50;  $900 Never Mind @ $9 & $700 @ $8.50. Race 12 - The biggest bet of the day came in the last with $25,000 on Taxman @ $1.45 coming up short.  Tango Tara wasn't a great result for us though with over 1,000 individual bets on him.  $1,000 @ $6.50 was the biggest & there were also $5,000 & $4,000 Top3 bets @ $1.85 on Tango Tara.  $2,000 @ $2.20 & $1,000 @ $2.10 on Dan Fernando to run TOP3 meant punters finished on a great note.  Multi of the Week:  $20, 2-leg Multi @ Addington Lovey Dovey Moment @ $7.50 Ascalabus @ $31 Returned $4,650. Best Cash-out of the Week:  $10  Multi Sugar Loaf @ $3 Bonnie Highlander @ $3.10 Ultimate Sniper @ $2.40 Tough Monarch @ $2.40 One Change @ $2.10 Spankem @ $2.20 Would have returned $2,474, BUT was cashed out for $757 before Spankem ran 2nd in the cup. Worst Cash-out of the Week:  $20 - 4 Leg Multi Lovey Dovey Moment @ $2.90  TOP3 Sugar Loaf @ $3 Amazing Dream @ $1.90 Line Up @ $4.50  TOP3 Would have returned $1,487 BUT was cashed out for $575 before Line Up claimed 3rd in the Sires Stks Final.

MORE HARNESS RACING FOR WYNDHAM THIS WEEKEND After their opening meeting of the season last Sunday harness racing action returns to Young Quinn Raceway in Wyndham on Sunday 17 November. Highlights include the opening heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series supported by the Southern Standardbred Breeders Assn plus the Hunter Family Pace. Ten races are programmed with the first at 12.12pm and the last at 5.24pm. Admission to the course is free. Lindsay Beer Promotions Officer Southern Harness Racing 021 351 499   Alexandra Park News – Friday 1 November Alexandra Park Christmas at the Races  |  November & December Plan the perfect Christmas Party to celebrate the end of the year with Alexandra Park Christmas at the Races. Enjoy a delicious Christmas buffet surrounded by colleagues, friends and family. We’ve got premier harness racing action featuring the IRT Inter Dominion Championship and live entertainment after the last race. Don’t delay as this is our busiest time of year, head to alexandrapark.co.nz to get your tickets! IRT Inter Dominion Championship Series  |  November & December Witness the ultimate test of equine speed and strength at this years’ IRT Inter Dominion Championship Series at Alexandra Park throughout November and December. Start with the Welcome Cocktail Party being held at the Rydges Rooftop Terrace on Thursday 28th November. Then get absolutely engulfed in harness racing action with the IRT ID19 heats (29th November, 3rd December, 6th December). Don’t miss the Barrier Draw Brunch at The Alex Bar & Eatery on Sunday 8th December to get you amped up for the GRAND FINAL on Saturday 14th December where you’ll see the best of the best go head to head to take out the championship! Keen to find out more information? Go to www.id19.co.nz   Motukarara Trotting Association Inc - AGM Notice of: Annual General Meeting of Motukarara Trotting Association Inc to be held Motukarara Raceway - 43 Duck Pond Road, Motukarara, Christchurch 7672 20th November 2019 - 7.30pm. Caroline Bennett Secretary Motukarara Trotting Association (03) 3255-835   Cheviot Harness Racing Club – Stallion Tenders The Cheviot Harness Racing Club has two stallion tenders on offer. DOWNBYTHESEASIDE – a son of Somebeachsomewhere Equal fastest 2yo in Standardbred history, paced 1.49 - Breeders Crown Final 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $6,000+GST. PEGASUS SPUR – sire of Speeding Spur Sire of Speeding Spur – now competing at the highest level in the USA Sire of Paramount Gee Gee 2019/20 Service Fee RRP – $3,000+GST. Please send all tenders to kirsten_mcnabb@yahoo.co.nz

The most unlikely New Zealand Cup of champion trainer Mark Purdon’s career meant so much more because he didn’t drive the winner. Purdon provided the training quinella in the $750,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington yesterday but had to settle for second as a driver, as Cruz Bromac surged past his drive Spankem in the last 50m. But for Purdon the win means as much if not more than if he had clung on to win the race himself because of the man in the sulky behind Cruz Bromac. Blair Orange has won the last two national driver’s premierships but to any Canterbury harness racing driver, the New Zealand Cup is the holy grail and Purdon was thrilled to provide his former protege with the chance to get his hands on it. Orange was a long-time employee of Purdon’s famous All Stars barn and a close personal friend of Purdon, who has stuck by him in the toughest of times. He originally wasn’t in the frame to drive Cruz Bromac, who divides his time between Victoria and New Zealand. But through a series of events, including other horses being injured and other drivers being unavailable, Orange got his Cup with an inch-perfect display. “I am thrilled for Blair,” said Purdon. “He did a great job when he worked for us and has been very successful since he left. “So to be able to give him the drive on a Cup winner is immensley satisfying for us. He is a good guy and he deserves it.” Orange sure did after the drive he pulled off, firstly managing to negotiate the standing start safely with Cruz Bromac, who only rejoined the All Stars three weeks ago after spending the whole year in Victoria. They don’t have standing starts in Victoria any more so that first mini win was crucial.                                                                                                             -HRNZ photo Once safely away he has to wrest the lead off Classie Brigade and that could have left him vulnerable as Cruz Bromac is probably best known as a sprinter but the sedate Cup speed of 3:56.9 and the inches Orange saved around the marker pegs proved the difference. He grabbed Spankem, who had worked to the lead at the 1400m mark late and only by a neck, with Classie Brigade slightly luckless when forced to change ground in the home straight in third just ahead of Chase Auckland. Defending champion Thefixer was a battling fifth. There was great irony in Orange partnering Cruz Bromac to win as he had only driven him in public once before. That was when he failed to even qualify him in an early trial when Cruz Bromac was trained by Mark Jones before being sold to Australian interests and then coming back across this side of the Tasman to join the All Stars last year. He won the NZ Free-For-All then and could return to that race this Friday and now looms as a major contender for the Inter Dominions which begin at Alexandra Park in 16 days. Cruz Bromac’s win yesterday ticked him just over $1million in stakes and suggests the Australians could have a far greater role to play in the Inter Dominions than would have been expected even a few weeks ago. The horse who beat him in the Victoria Cup three starts ago in Bling It On is being set for the Auckland series while local stars like Self Assured have fallen by the wayside and while Cruz Bromac is officially trained here he will be very much claimed by the Australians as one of their's come the Inters. For Purdon it was his seventh New Zealand Cup training success as he continues to pen new pages in the record books with no end in sight. But that wasn’t why he was smiling last night. He was beaming because of what he had done for a friend.   Michael Guerin

In 26 visits to New Zealand Cup Day, Arden Rooney’s historic win stands alone as the one I treasure most, but gee yesterday came close. The whole package of Australia’s trailblazer Kerryn Manning becoming the first female to drive an NZ Cup winner in 2015 and doing it just a week after Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. But a 24-year-old dream came true for Geelong businessman Danny Zavitsanos when the Aussie owner won the NZ Cup with Cruz Bromac. “It was Golden Reign winning here all those years ago (1995 Christchurch Inter Dominion) that first got me following the trots, now I’m here winning an NZ Cup myself,” Zavitsanos said. And Zavitsanos is a passionate and hugely important player in the game, on both sides of the ditch. Sitting next to him on the flight from Melbourne to Christchurch late on Cup Eve, he was oozing passion and daring to dream. Fast-forward less than 24 hours and the dream was reality. “I thought he was unlucky not to win this race last year, but a year older and a year more mature and he’s back here winning it,” Zavitsanos said. History will say Cruz Bromac won the Cup as a Kiwi given he’s trained by the All Stars’, but every bit as much a win for Australia, with a dash of magic from Mark Purdon, Natalie Rasmussen and Blair Orange. “We sent him back to Mark and Natalie a few weeks back to try and win this race. They’re the best for a reason,” Zavitsanos said. “But credit goes to Amanda (Grieve) and Dean (Braun), who did such a good job getting him ready back home (Victoria).” Cruz Bromac looks set to back-up in the Group 1 NZ free-for-all on Friday then it’s up to Auckland for the Inter Dominion. And Zavitsanos has a scary warning for Auckland: “He’s never raced that direction, but they think he goes better because he doesn’t get on himself like he does this direction.” Cruz Bromac’s win capped a day of huge Aussie influence. It certainly didn’t surprise any Aussies to see Tough Monarch and McLovin run the quinella in the Group 1 NZ Trotting free-for-all. And Aussie-owned pair Copy That (Merv and Meg Butterworth) and Line Up (Emilio and Mary Rosati) ran second and third respectively to the All Stars’ One Change in the Group 1 3YO Sires’ final. Tough Monarch and McLovin will back-up in Friday’s Group 1 Dominion Trot, albeit stepping-up in grade again to face NZ’s two best trotters Oscar Bonavena and Marcoola. The Aussie raid then stretches to the Auckland Inter Dominion from November 29 where Tough Monarch and now maybe McLovin as well will be our trotting hopefuls. Our best Inter Dominion pacing hopes look to be Bling It On and Colt Thirty One and I’m not writing off San Carlo after he missed the start and never looked happy in the NZ Cup yesterday.   by Adam Hamilton

By Jonny Turner Cheers of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” rang out from the Addington birdcage after New Zealand’s leading horse people combined with Australian owned pacer Cruz Bromac to win the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Cruz Bromac was an all-Australian pacer just a month before the two-mile Group 1 feature before his preparation was handed over to champion Rolleston trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. The All Stars stable’s recipe for New Zealand Cup success was completed when they engaged New Zealand’s record-breaking reinsman, Blair Orange, who produced a perfectly-timed run to win the country’s greatest race in his first drive behind the horse. Though Cruz Bromac would go down in the New Zealand Cup history books as a New Zealand-trained pacer, his part-owner Danny Zavitsanos left no uncertainty among the big Addington crowd that the New Zealand Cup was headed to Melbourne with him. Cruz Bromac’s victory delivered redemption for his group of owners following his effort for fourth in the race last year. The 9yr-old, bred by the late breeding giant Bob McArdle, paced roughly at a vital stage of last year’s race denying himself any chance of victory. “Last year he was unlucky; I really thought the horse should have won or been right in the photo. But this year he is a year older, a year wiser, everything just came to plan.   “What can I say? I am lost for words.” Purdon and Rasmussen’s masterful training ability was on show when Cruz Bromac paced perfectly throughout yesterday’s race. That was far from the case when the horse galloped wildly in a vital lead up race, the Ashburton Flying Stakes. They set about ironing out the often tricky pacer’s wild tendencies. “He hadn’t been with us long before he raced at Ashburton, with the extra time we had with him after, we worked on getting him right,” Purdon said. “I think the key to it was that he was on the inside, because he tends to go roughly the wider he goes.” “It was a great drive from Blair.” Purdon cemented his place in harness racing history with a seventh New Zealand Cup training win, five of them in partnership with Rasmussen. Orange produced a patient drive behind Cruz Bromac to add a New Zealand Cup title to his glittering harness racing record. The record-breaking reinsman had not even sat in a sulky behind the horse until three days prior to yesterday’s race. A trip to the All Stars Rolleston stable for one of the horse’s final training runs was his only contact with Cruz Bromac prior to their win. “It is just incredible, it is what dreams are made of,” Orange said. Cruz Bromac wore down his stablemate, Spankem, to win after the favourite appeared to have every chance to win the race with Purdon in the sulky. “He had his chance, but the distance just isn’t ideal for him,” the trainer-driver said. The hard luck story of the New Zealand Cup came from the camp of third-placed Classie Brigade. Driver John Dunn was desperately searching for clear room for the pacer trained by his father, Robert, for much of the run home after they ran in to a pocket behind the leaders. Classie Brigade got out when Cruz Bromac had the race won to narrowly take fourth from another All Stars pacer in Chase Auckland. The defending champions, Thefixer with Rasmussen in the sulky, battled in to fifth.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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Monarchy trifecta in FFA The Group 1 $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All was a triumph for Monarchy as the harness racing sire of the winner Tough Monarch, McLovin second and Didjabringthebeers third – rather a notable siring feat. On the same day Monarchy sired both trotting winners at Menangle in Princess Kenny and Gold Sovereign, both out of Sundon mares. Monarchy has elevated himself to second on this year’s NZ trotting sire list.   Sisters win at Redcliffe It was no mean feat for the half-sisters Miss Mia and Ima Beach Babe to win on the same day at Redcliffe earlier this week. Miss Mia, a four-year-old, is a daughter of Modern Art, while, Ima Beach Babe is a three-year-old from the first crop of Sunshine Beach. Lets Rocknroll, the dam of Miss Mia and Ima Beach Babe, was out of a top racemare in Impish Princess, who took a record of 1:56.6 in America and earned $276,518. Besides Lets Rocknroll, she was also the dam of the Qbred Triad winner How Will I Know 1:55.9 ($195,159), Mister Natural (1:54.9) and Rocknroll Annie (1:59.9). Another of Lets Rocknroll’s offspring, Corey William, scored in 1:56.7 at Albion Park in December.   Alta Christiano stock firing The Christian Cullen horse Alta Christiano, who stood originally at Alabar and is now at the new Killarney Stud in NSW, is leaving smart three-year-olds from his second crop. Alta Christiano Alta Engen, who is unbeaten in three starts in Western Australia, is a gelding by Alta Christiano from the Million To One mare, Its Karma. Shesskylah, a winner at Bendigo in 1:55, the Vicbred Homegrown Cladssic heat winner Techys Angel (1:58), Woodlands Wonder (1:59.3), Christiano Rose (1:59.4) and Little Bitof Fun (1:59.9) have been other winners from Alta Christiano’s second crop. Alta Christiano, a Group winner in NZ and Australia, established himself as an early speed sire last season when one of his two-yaer-olds, Will The Wizard, hoisted a mark of 1:54.6 at Albion Park.   Blue blooded filly Soho Nolita, who won the 2018 Australian Pacing Gold Final and has won four of her five outings this season, is a four-year-old mare who can claim some worthwhile blood. By Mach Three (son of Matt’s Scooter), she is out of the Art Major mare Pixel Perfect, whose dam, Amarillen, ranked as a sister to the Oaks winner Tenirama and a half-sister to the top Tasmanian juvenile Cody Maverick, their dam, Nellirama, being out of the dual Oaks winner Nellie Robins. Pixel Perfect, the dam of Soho Nolita, has left six winners from six foals of racing age, three of whom – Soho Tribeca, Carlas Pixel and Soho Nolita – have won at Group 1 level.   Ninth winner from broodmare When the Majestic Son four-year-old Regal Appointment won at the Ashburton Trotting Club’s Cup Week meeting, he credited his dam Niamey with her ninth individual winner. The gelding was having only his second start. Others from Niamey to win have been the Group and cup winners Springbank Sam Tr 1:55.2 ($545,702), Sun Of Anarchy Tr 1:58.2 ($277,733), Pocaro Tr 1:57.5 ($232,773) and Daenerys Targaryen Tr 1:58.2 ($143,723) and others in Ugly Betty, Sam Galleon, Arnold, Lord Nelson and now Regal Appointment. Niamey, who is now in her 21st year, has since produced a three-year-old filly by Love You, a two-year-old filly by the same sire and a yearling colt by Sebastian K. A sister to the outstanding racemare Africa, Niamey was a Chiola Hanover mare from Game Flyer, by Game Pride from Flying Bay.   Lazarus in demand Former pacing sensation Lazarus has met with widespread interest from broodmare owners on both sides of the Tasman in his first ‘down under’ season. The $4 million winning son of Bettor’s Delight has more than 220 bookings to date. Lazarus is standing at Yirribee Pacing Stud in Wagga (NSW)     by Peter Wharton Article sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock
Sheree Tomlinson has an unusual concern leading into today’s $300,000 Dominion with defending champion Marcoola at Addington. She is worried about her favourite horse and her mother. Tomlinson is the new driver of Marcoola, who was jaw-dropping winning this race coming from near last last season and just as spectacular in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last start. Marcoola faces excitement machine Oscar Bonavena as well as the rock-hard fit Australian pair of Tough Monarch and McLovin in New Zealand’s greatest trotting race. But while Tomlinson is excited about steering the brilliant stallion today, she is worried about his stablemate Amaretto Sun, who gave her her greatest moment in harness racing when he won this race at massive odds two years ago. Marcoola starts from barrier one and Amaretto Sun right next to him and Tomlinson says while she loves her old mate she doesn’t want Amaretto Sun, to be driven her mother Amanda, to get in front of her and in her way. “To be honest I’d rather the draws were reversed and Mum was starting from barrier one and me from barrier two,” laughs Tomlinson. “Because he (Amaretto Sun) can get away really fast and I don’t want him crossing us and me getting stuck behind him. “I am not a big fan of barrier one in 3200m standing starts anyway because the horses out wide can get a jump on you but he (Marcoola) is actually very good from behind the tapes early. “So I am hoping if we do great crossed we can get away from the inside early.” Two years ago when Amaretto Sun won Tomlinson had the luxury of driving him for luck but with Marcoola the second favourite and at his most dynamic when he gets a head of steam up, she will launch him at some stage. Exactly when that will be could depend on when Oscar Bonavena makes his move from the back. The latter has been dazzling all season and the last start wins of the pair at Ashburton, both in national records, were comparable. “It is a different situation from two years ago, more pressure this time, but I think the Australians being in the field will help because they should force the pace, which will help us.” Oscar Bonavena might be world class and jogs national record times and sizzling splits and he might simply be too good for his rivals today, even after giving away a start from the unruly. “I am happy to have him back there because I think it should ensure he goes away and then we settle for maybe even the first half of the race,” says his trainer-driver Mark Purdon. As good as Oscar Bonavena is, and he might be the real deal, is Marcoola races up to last year’s form it could be the race of the carnival, especially with the Aussies added to the mix following their group one quinella on Tuesday. While Purdon looks likely to sit and swoop in today’s big trot punters can expect his speedsters to light up early in the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. Cruz Bromac returns to defend the title he won last season when he blasted to the lead and set his own terms and he looks to have the gate speed to cross to the front again but the key to the race will be whether he would hand the pacemaking role to Spankem. Both are dynamic front runners over sprint trips and if Spankem wrests the lead off Cruz Bromac he becomes the one to beat, although that would still give the latter the passing lane late. If Cruz Bromac leads and Spankem sits parked outside him or further back then Tuesday’s Cup winner could claim the dream double.   Michael Guerin
by Jonny Turner The burning desire to make up for what could have been in the New Zealand Cup should set up a sensational early battle in today’s Junior Free-For-All at Addington. Few came off the track after Cruz Bromac’s win in Tuesday’s feature with a more agonising hard luck story than the camp that races third placegetter Classie Brigade. Driver John Dunn was seen desperately trying to find clear racing room for the 7yr-old trained by his father Robert. Unfortunately, a gap only came after the horse’s winning hope evaporated before the driver’s eyes. “There was a gap there nicely for him, but with Spankem not quite kicking like he usually does it closed on him,” Robert Dunn said. “Johnny said he though the run was going to be nicely there for him and it closed as quick as it opened.” John Dunn has already told the media this week that he has no plans to be behind any horse when the gate leaves for today’s 1980m sprint. Trying to hold the lead from his ace barrier 1 draw is a plan wholeheartedly endorsed by his father. “You can’t waste a good draw like barrier one and he has got great gate speed,” the trainer said. “So he will be going forward and we will have to see what happens after that.” Not being able to fully let down with his run on Tuesday suggests Classie Brigade should go in to today’s $200,000 feature without any hangover effect from the New Zealand Cup. Dunn confirmed his stable have been thrilled with the way he has come through the race. “He has pulled up super, we are really thrilled with him this week.” Chase Auckland, who starts beside Classie Brigade in barrier 2, could lay claim to the New Zealand Cup’s second biggest hard luck story. The pacer had clear air for all of the run home, but had make his finish wider than any horse in the race. Both San Carlo and Mach Shard lost ground around the home turn, hindering Chase Auckland’s momentum and forcing him around them. “Just the way the race ended up being run, we just didn’t get the brakes that we needed,” driver Tim Williams said. “And when San Carlo got around to being parked that took away the option of going around there.” The All Stars 5yr-old faces a massive turn around from the circumstances that put him back in the field in the New Zealand Cup, when moving from the unruly to barrier 2 today. Chase Auckland will not only avoid having to give his rivals a head start, Williams will be able to make use of his blazing gate speed. “It is an ideal draw for him with his gate speed and it is going to be a big help coming off the unruly to be on level terms,” the driver said. “He seems to have pulled up well and he is probably fortunate the way the race was run on Tuesday that he didn’t have a real gut-buster.” It will not just be the horse drawn beside him that could test Classie Brigade’s early speed and possibly cross him to lead. New Zealand Cup runner-up Spankem gets the chance to show off the early zip that saw him lead and go on to win the Miracle Mile from barrier 7. The cup winner Cruz Bromac, who led and won last year’s New Zealand Free-For-All, adds to the speed of the front line after drawing inside his stablemate in barrier 6. Our Uncle Sam and AG’s White Socks could provide some early pressure if they were asked from barrier 3 and 5, respectively. Nandolo (8) and Thefixer (9) look set to drift off the pace early from their wide draws. The Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert is also likely to bail out of the early burn despite drawing barrier 4. “He has probably raced better over longer trips and I am just a bit weary that he doesn’t have that really high gate speed some of the others have,” Dunn said. The 4yr-old thrilled his trainer with his effort for sixth on Tuesday when finishing just under two lengths from Cruz Bromac after the horse’s interrupted preparation for the race. “If he hadn’t galloped around the first turn he would have been on Classie Brigade’s back and he might have been a chance.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ
by Jonny Turner Australasian harness racing fans can thank Oamaru reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, her love of horses and determined attitude, if an open class trotting star is born when Oscar Bonavena contests today’s Dominion at Addington.  On paper it may look as if the All Stars trotter is set to complete just another perfectly plotted path to big race glory for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. However, a look further back shows the exciting trotter has had to overcome odds exponentially higher than what he will pay to win the 3200m feature just to be in the race. Oscar Bonavena needed a miracle just to be a racehorse and Purvis was the driving force behind making it happen. The Majestic Son trotter was born weak and unable to stand on what vets deemed were legs too crooked for a potential racehorse. Purvis the horse, who was delivered early unexpectedly and started feeding him by bottle, barely showing any signs of life before she quickly began nursing him back to health.  Vets advice to Purvis’s father, John, who bred the horse, was that the foal’s chances of being a successful racehorse were slim because of his crooked legs and his missing out on vital colostrum enriched milk from his dam immediately after being born. Purvis told her father she was not having any of that talk and continued to hand feed the foal. "The vet said because his legs were not that straight and because he had not been fed colostrum straight away he didn’t have much chance of making a racehorse,” she said.  "But I told Dad he wouldn't be worrying about any of that and I kept looking after him.” After helping keep the foal alive, Purvis handed over duties to Nevele R Stud staff, who continued to help Oscar Bonavena get on his feet. “After a couple of days we were able to get the mare and foal to Nevele R and they kept feeding him.” “Eventually he was strong enough to stand on his own and then drink off his mother.” “As he got older his legs got stronger and he was perfectly healthy.” Purvis’ early work with the trotter meant he was almost certain to end up in her care. Her father sent her the trotter and Oscar Bonavena was to be a “project horse” for the horsewoman and her partner, reinsman Matthew Williamson. Oscar Bonavena soon showed the only project he was concerned about was running fast. He went on to win his first start as a 2yr-old before pushing All Stars trotter Enhance Your Calm, who was seen as an unbeatable force at the time, in his Sires Stakes win. That performance led to Oscar Bonavena being sold by John Purvis in a big money deal that saw him transfer from Phil Williamson’s barn to the All Stars stable.  Mark Purdon trialed the horse for his new owners – his father, the former champion trainer, Roy Purdon, and former New Zealand trainer Chris Ryder, who runs a successful stable in New Jersey. The master trainer-driver said Oscar Bonavena gave him the feel of a good horse as soon as he sat behind him. “He just gave me a great feel,” Purdon said.  “Phil is great with the trotters and he had a very high opinion of him, so that gave me a bit more confidence that he was going to be a good buy.” Months later Purdon’s new owners faced similar vets advice about Oscar Bonavena to what  the Purvis family had received earlier – that his legs were not up for racing. More specifically, the horse was diagnosed with a cyst on his knee, a rare condition that ruled out racing.  Purdon admitted there was a time when he Oscar Bonavena’s racing prospects were very bleak. “It was a lot of money to pay for a horse and there was a time when it looked like we could have done our money.” “But everything is back on track now, he is good and sound and we look like we have a very exciting horse on our hands.” Some high level veterinary research coupled with Purdon’s genius horsemanship combined to help Oscar Bonavena’ recover from the potentially career ending injury.   The troubled knee has held up so well since, it has allowed him to catapult to the top of the New Zealand trotting ranks in his seven starts since May.  And apart from one standing start mishap, that did not stop him winning, everything has gone perfectly.   “He had a great preparation and I think when we nominated him he was about 45th in the ranking for the Dominion and now he is right up the ladder and come in to favorite,” Purdon said.  “So, he has had a great prep and I couldn’t be happier with him.” Ryder will fly to be at Addington on Friday, while Roy Purdon is expected to watch on from Auckland. Purvis and her father will also be on hand to watch Oscar Bonavena’s first attempt at open class group 1 racing. The thrill they will get if he is able to win will be just as big as if the trotter was still officially theirs.  “We will be there and it will be very exciting - I still get a huge thrill from seeing him race,” Purvis said.  “Every time I am at the races and he is in I go down and see him, I can’t wait.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ
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