Day At The Track
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Iremonger rapt with his season

Morrinsville trainer come lawyer, Dave Iremonger, heads into Friday’s last meeting of the season at Alexandra Park having already achieved his personal goals in 2016-2017. "I’d rate my season a 10 out of 10. My goal at the start of the season was to get to 10 wins and Opawa Speed did that for me last week. To win five of those races at Alexandra Park has exceeded my expectations. I’m delighted with what we have achieved," Iremonger said. Iremonger, who is a property lawyer, used to travel from his Morrinsville base throughout Waikato and Bay Of Plenty seeing to his clients. These days he admits the job is more mobile. "I have 10 racehorses in work and some young ones coming through. I do them all myself when Scott (son) can’t help out. It’s a busy lifestyle but I can do a lot of my work from home these days and only see my clients when I have to," the former policeman said. The 50-year-old’s 10 wins in 2016-2017 have come via Opawa Speed (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on July 21; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 30; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 23; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 2; Speedy Earl (Trent Lethaby) at Hawera on April 17; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Stratford on March 5; Desert Storm (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on January 15; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on December 28; Desert Storm (Kyle Marshall) at Manawatu Raceway on December 15; and Soul man (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on September 16. His previous best, of six wins, was recorded last season. Iremonger has trained 22 winners since 2008 and 13 more between 1992 and 2000. His career stake currently earnings sit at $253,778. He said he would like to finish the season on a high at Alexandra Park again this week with Opawa Speed and Rob Argue looking to repeat their dose of seven days ago in race five; and then Genociate and Dylan Ferguson in the last of the nine races. "They are both good chances if they can get a sit and one crack at them. That’s exactly what Opawa Speed did last week. Robert drove him perfectly. "He got the sit and ran away from them to win by more than six lengths. He was an eight-win horse dropping back in class and no way deserved to be paying $21 in that field. I thought he would go close," Iremonger said. "He’s back in this week only because he feels well and has come through his last race very well. I knew when he had a sit last week he would be very hard to beat. He’s not out of it again this week off the front," Iremonger said. Iremonger has come of age as a trainer this season. He was once the man renowned for winning with other people’s discards, and selling the odd standardbred to Tahiti. But Iremonger wasn’t born into harness racing. "My family always had horses and I rode the pony club circuit when I was a kid. Growing up I wanted to be a jockey but I’m six foot tall and 90 odd kg so that was never gonna happen was it?" "My parents were friendly with Pat Parker from Tirau who had standardbreds and that’s where my harness racing connection started. "Pat bred and raced a pacer named Smokey Grattan and I took to following him," he said. Iremonger bought his first standardbred at a Terry Yule mixed aged sale at Claudelands in the late eighties and it all snow-balled from there. "I love the game but with my other job I think I will always have about 10 in work. Otherwise the workload just becomes a bit heavy," Iremonger said. Duane Ranger  

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In search of a Crown

New Zealand faltering challenge for the Breeders Crown roared back into life yesterday. Because three wins in as many races for the Kiwi-trained pacers at Menangle have boosted chances of a serious New Zealand team at the rich Crown finals day at Melton in Victoria next month. For much of the last decade New Zealand horses --- both pacers and trotters --- have dominated Breeders Crown day, with the added bonus of Kiwi horses who travelled to the meeting extending their season by a month because of the late finish to the Australian harness racing season. That has often promoted the crazy situation of horses turning four in New Zealand on August 1, yet reverting to racing as three-year-olds when they cross the Tasman for the Crown a few weeks later. But while the Breeders Crown, with its two-year-old pacing finals worth money than A$300,000, has been enormously lucrative for New Zealand horses, this year’s representation was looking shaky. Already the biggest names from the two and three-year-old pacing ranks have pulled out, their trainers instead preferring to spell horses like Vincent, Ultimate Machete and Spankem after long seasons rather than press to until last August, meaning they would probably not race again until after Christmas. So the all-conquering Purdon-Rasmussen stable won’t have their absolute superstars at the Breeders Crown and Mark Purdon even expressed doubts over whether he would have any reps at the meeting unless they could win their heats in impressive fashion yesterday. That box was ticked on three separate occasions as first juvenile Sicario, then group-one winning filly Partyon and Queensland Derby winner The More The Better also easily won their heats at Menangle.  None of them were asked for their best by catch driver Luke McCarthy but Partyon still paced her last 400m in a sizzling 25.9 to confirm she will be returning to Melton to defend the title she won as a two-year-old last season. The More The Better won even easier and in a similar final sectional with a 26.1 last 400m while Sicario’s win was mere trackwork so the All Stars will have three major players for the Crown semi finals on August 19, followed by the finals on August 27. But they will be readied for the series without the Purdon-Rasmussen polish, with Purdon leaving yesterday for a holiday before representing New Zealand at the World Drivers Champs, with Rasmussen also holidaying before supporting her partner at the series.  “We are lucky we have good staff but it still makes it tricky getting them ready for the Crown with both of us being in Canada,” admitted Purdon. Top horseman Cran Dalgety is also taking three reps to the Breeders Crown, even after two of them, Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite, were beaten in their non-tote heats at Addington last Friday. Bettor Joy was clearly outpointed by Angel Of Harlem, who trainer Barry Ward is likely to send to Anthony Butt to train and drive for the Crown. But with those defeats for Dalgety’s big name pacers and Purdon-Rasmussen not sending their top guns, the New Zealand team for the Crown is in the usually unthinkable position of not having any dominant favourites for the pacing series. Northern pacers King Of Swing and Big Mach are also likely starters but Alexandra Park heat winner Utmost Delight is out of the series and heading to the paddock. New Zealand’s trotting team for the Crown is also lighter than usual but does boost the shining light of three-year-old star Enghien, who will be red hot to win his division as well as the Victoria Trotting Derby in two weeks on the way through. Michael Guerin

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Father-son battle Premiership

Even Zac Butcher admits winning the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership could be a bridge too far for him on Friday. Butcher, who has recorded 36 wins at Alexandra Park this season, is two shy of his father David (38). Maurice McKendry (MNZM) is third with 32 wins. "I think I've run out of time. I've only got four drives this week, compared to Dad who has six or seven. "I think I'll come up short, which is okay. My goal at the start of the season was to record more winners than last year's champion, Tony Herlihy (MNZM), and I’ve done that. "I don't mind losing to Dad. He's still the best driver in our family, and probably will be for the next 25 years," Butcher said. The 25-year-old Clevedon driver, rated the Ray Green trained two-year-old, Linc's Tiger as a good winning chance in the first race. Meanwhile Ardmore reinsman, Robert Argue, is going to have to win behind all three of his drives at 'The Park' on Friday if he is going to equal Jack MacKinnon, at the top of the Alexandra Park Junior Drivers' Premiership. Argue, who has recorded six wins at northern headquarters this season, will get behind the Gary Noakes trained Izinthezone (race 3); the Stephen Argue trained My Cash (race 4); and the Dave Iremonger trained Opawa Speed (race 5). MacKinnon, who has won nine races at 'The Park' this season, will drive the Ivan Court trained Arden Lustre (race 4); the Stephen Argue trained Speedy Lavros (race 5); the Robert Dunn trained Lambros (race 6); and Yagunnakissmeornot (race 7). Last year's Junior Driving Premiership came down to a 0.159 of a point on the UDR strike rate, but MacKinnon just held out Andre Poutama and Kyle Marshall. Zac Butcher's boss, Barry Purdon, has the Training Premiership all parceled up. The ‘Hall-of-Famer’ goes into Friday's meeting with 18 wins at Alexandra Park in 2016-2017 - five more than John and Josh Dickie. Last season's senior driving and training titles saw Herlihy (MNZM) claimed his eighth consecutive Alexandra Park driving premiership and his ‘Strike Won’ Ardmore-based stables’, nabbed their fourth straight training title. Herlihy (46) had nine wins to spare over Zac Butcher (37). Josh Dickie (31) was third. Training-wise Herlihy (40) had five wins to spare over Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (35). Barry Purdon (29) was third. With just one meeting left in the North Island in the 2016-2017 season, the Alexandra Park Premierships read (tote races only): DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR D J Butcher 221 38 34 30 .3027 Z E Butcher 205 36 26 29 .2932 M W McKendry 225 32 20 26 .2301 A G Herlihy 216 25 25 32 .2294 B M Mangos 148 23 14 13 .2372 JUNIOR DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR J A MacKinnon 82 9 7 6 .1816 S A Grayling 44 8 6 3 .2803 R G Argue 64 6 6 5 .1719 D P Ferguson 53 5 8 9 .2348 T A Cameron 36 4 4 6 .2284 TRAINERS Trainer Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR B P Purdon 186 29 26 22 .2730 J W Dickie & J I Dickie 131 25 15 11 .2824 A G Herlihy MNZM 177 23 19 29 .2442 M Purdon & N C Rasmussen 76 23 15 9 .4518 R W Green 151 22 25 20 .2818     Duane Ranger

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Four Starzzz Shiraz to change stables

Four Starzzz Shiraz has joined the Christchurch stable of Brad Mowbray after being claimed at Rangiora on Sunday. Four Starzzz Shiraz, who finished third to Alexy and Bevan’s Cullen, was claimed for $5000 and the rising seven-year-old will continue his racing career in the ownership of Mowbray and Christine Maynard. The winner of eight races, Four Starzzz Shiraz has been entered for the Addington meeting on Friday night. It was the third time Four Starzzz Shiraz has been claimed. He was claimed for $10,000 out of the stable of Graeme Anderson, after winning at Forbury Park in June last year, and won at his next start when trained by Brian Norman for Shane Forgie. The Four Starzzz Shark gelding was subsequently claimed for $7500 by Gerald Cayford, and transferred to Billy Heads and then Amber Hoffman. Mowbray has enjoyed his best season as a trainer with 20 wins. The three-year-old filly Delishka has won four; Ultimate Desire four and Tiger Thompson three. Delishka was spelled after finishing sixth in the Harness Jewels, and she is due back in work next week. Her West Melton co-breeder Ernie Knight, who raced her with Mowbray, his father-in-law, died last week. Delishka is the first foal to race out of Balishka, who won seven races for Knight and Mowbray. Knight bred Mister Zion (Red River Hanover – Cross Lady), who won at Group One level as a pacer (2010 South Australian Cup) and trotter (2013 Australian Trotting Championship Final). He had won two races as a pacer in New Zealand as Zion when trained by Jim Curtin. Ultimate Desire is back with her Blenheim part-owner Brent Weaver. “She is out spelling and I will bring her up for the Country Cups and then send her to Queensland,’’ said Weaver. Ultimate Desire (seven wins) was prepared initially by Weaver for two wins at Forbury Park and Ashburton. Mowbray said Tiger Thompson, winner of the listed $40,000 Sires’ Stakes Harness 5000 for three-year-olds at Addington in February, will remain in the spelling paddock until the end of August. Tayler Strong

He’s done nothing different and seen nothing new in her work, but the way Sans Le Sou has approached her racing over the past 10 days has Ricky Alfeld wondering if she’s a little like fine wine, and getting better with age. After 11 months away from the winners’ circle the daughter of Mach Three broke through at Ashburton last week and she backed up at Rangiora on Sunday and made it two wins in the space of seven days with a come-from-last effort for Katie Cox in the Junior Drivers’ event. Alfeld wasn’t surprised by the form turn-around, he’s always fancied the six-year-old mare as capable enough but what is probably perplexing him a little is where it’s all come form. “She’s shown nothing out of the normal at home, she’s just been her usual self,” he said. “And we have certainly done nothing different with her either.” She was, for quite some time, the perennial placegetter. The horse who was always making a driving run through the middle of the pack late to finish just outside the top three, or just inside it. Alfeld wasn’t worried about that. Good bread and butter horses like her are hard to find. “It’s just the way we had to drive her,” he said. “She’s got a 200 metre sprint that she can hold so you always have to drive her for a little luck.” Colin DeFilippi did the driving at Ashburton and expect him to be back in the sulky when she next lines up too, as Alfeld wants to do everything he can to help his good mate achieve a major milestone. “Col is only a couple of wins away from 2,000 driving wins so he can drive her any time he wants. “I can’t believe that a guy like him is struggling to get drives, he’s lucky at the moment if he’s getting one a meeting.” Alfeld intends on continuing to race the mare through the winter months. She is the only horse he currently has in work, although there are some well-bred family members waiting in the wings. Sans Le Sou is the second foal of the handy mare Arma Xcellent who Alfeld trained to win two races. Since Sans Le Sou there have been three Bettor’s Delight foals, all fillies, a Mach Three full-sister to Sans Le Sou and she is in foal to Art Major. “There’s a couple there to do a bit with at some point.” Alfeld races Sans Le Sou with his wife Janine and son Brandy and she herself will have strong credentials when her time comes to head to the broodmare paddock. She’s now won six times in her 63 start career and placed on 21 occasions for more than $53,000 in stakes. Three of those six wins and $21,000 of those earnings have come this season alone. Matt Markham

It’s taken a bit of time to get to this point, but Andrew Stuart is pretty excited about what the future might hold for Sportscaster. The three-year-old son of Mister Big made it two wins from three starts at Addington on Friday night, after an extended period on the sideline that curtailed most of his three-year-old year. “He got a really bad quarter crack,” Stuart said, “Which was a shame because he could have picked up a few wins along the way, and a few free ones too with the old handicapping system. “But we just gave him as long as he needed to get over it, and it looks like it it’s going to be worth the wait.” Confidently driven on Friday night by the red hot Blair Orange, Sportscaster held off all the challenges to win by a head. It was a good return to form after he blotted his copybook with a wild gallop at Ashburton fresh up. “I hoped that wouldn’t knock his confidence and it appears like it hasn’t which is great.” The intention going forward is strike while the iron is hot with the gelding, and that means you’ll see plenty more of him over the winter months. “He’s good and healthy and fit so it makes sense to press right on with him. “I’ve got a lot of time for him and think he will do a really good job.” Sportscaster was bred by the late Lynair O’Connell and is the third foal from the Bettor’s Delight mare, Maddison Lee who has also left the talented Jeanie Pops who raced from the Nigel McGrath stable. Stuart purchased the horse as a yearling and is joined in the ownership by good mates, Brent Wall, Jason Everest and Tony Smart. Stuart was another who joined the growing chorus of horseman, particularly from Canterbury, who are starting to see the positive nature of the new handicapping system, despite the fact Sportcaster is one of those who was given a raw deal. “He should have had a free win, but that doesn’t really matter - he would have got to where he is anyway. “I can honestly say though, particularly at this time of the year when the racing is a little light, that it’s doing a good job for the horse numbers.” Sportscaster was one of four winning drives for Orange on Friday night who continued a grand run of form. He won the first non-tote, Breeders Crown heat with the promising Angel Of Harlem for Barry Ward in what was a pick up drive, with Matty Williamson having transport difficulties due to the weather. Then on the normal card he won with the promising Idle Moose for Roger Austin and then also won the last of the night with Reaza Grunter for Ken and Tony Barron. That takes him to 191 wins for the season, and will leave him short of the magical 200 mark by the time the end of the season rolls around, most likely, but his tally, as it sits, is the ninth highest season tally for a driver in a season ever. Matt Markham

Steve Telfer has purposely taken his time with rising three-year-old, Dance Time, and that strategy worked the oracle second-up at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The black son of Rock N Roll Heaven justified his favouritism in the first of the nine races carded by the Auckland Trotting Club. He was having just his second start after finishing second behind Gooddealehemily on debut on the same track a fortnight earlier. David Butcher has driven the two-year-old both times. "We gelded him and held him back until late in the season. His mother was a Group One winner and she was a big nice filly who took time to get going. He’s from the type of family that needs time and that’s why we held back on him. “He’s got a lot of ability and I thought he would go close to winning that race, but he’s still very green and has a heap to learn. He’s had some wayward traits all right, but has got better and better with time,” Telfer said. “Ability-wise he’s one of the better two-year-olds we have got,” he added. The Telfer and Garlick trained gelding was too strong pacing the $12,000 Franklin Park Yearling Parade (July 29) Mobile, for two-year-olds, pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:08.1 (mile rate 2:01.2) and came home in 57.1 and 27.4 He got up by a head and paid $2.50. Dance Time is fourth of five foals out of the 2002 Sands A Flyin mare, Time To Fly. She won eight races ($105,153) for trainer Robert Dunn - including the $200,000 Group One 2008 New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Stakes. “I’ll give him another three or four starts this preparation, and then bring him back later in the season, when he’s a more mature three-year-old. It’s all about ridding him of that green-ness now,” said Telfer who works a team of about 30 with Garlick at Ardmore. They have now won 37 races this season - four less than their best year recorded in 2015-2016, but the $469,509 they have earned this season, is a personal best by $63,575. Ray Green was the most successful trainer on Friday night, landing three winners via Alta Intrigue (Zac Butcher) in the feature pace, the $14,999 Italian Night (August 11) R75 to R93 Pace; Spring Campaign (David Butcher) in the $14,000 Hydroflow R55 to R65 Mobile; and King Of Swing (David Butcher) in the Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Pace. Green's 34 winners ($422,755) this season is also a personal best - by three. Alta Intrigue was the most impressive winner on Friday night notching up his fourth win in 26 starts ($98,631) with a slashing 1:57.6 mile rate. The only other horse to go a sub two-minute mile rate was the Steven Reid trained, and Zac Butcher driven Utmost Delight (1:59.7) in the fourth event. Alta Intrigue and Zac Butcher led all the way in the 1700m mobile holding out favourite, Max Phactor (Philip Butcher) by half a head. The three-year-old Mach Three colt stopped the clock in 2:04.3, and came home in 57 even and 28.1. Lola Jones and Todd Macfarlane were a head back in third. Duane Ranger  

Rangiora harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:25am Race 1  Fiery Comet is the only runner wanted at $1.22 Race 2 Boomer is best backed in win betting with Out Of Aces best backed in multis Race 3 Celebrity Easton is best backed on the win book. with Bevan's Cullen the leader in multis. Race 4 Spondulicks is best backed in both win and multi betting. There has been some early money for Donegal Lucy Anne in from $31.00 into $14.00 Race 5 She's A Tricky Bridge is best backed in both win and multi betting. Race 6 Run Boy Run has easily taken all the money here in both win and multi betting Race 7 James Dean and Alpha Rock are joint leaders in both win and multi betting. Race 8 Favorite Cuddly Jess is best backed in both win and multi betting with some early money for Speedy $5.50 Race 9 Easily best backed at the meeeting is Martin John in from $4.50 to $2.80 ...Opawa Mach has taken the biggest bet so far today with $1500 on at $10.50   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)  

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

He might not have won the Alexandra Park or Cambridge Raceway junior driving premierships this season, but Dylan Ferguson already looks to have claimed the title of the top ‘North Island Junior Driver’ in 2016-2017. The 20-year-old Cambridge reinsman, who notched up his 50th career win this season, and last week drove his first Forbury Park winner at his first attempt, has won a personal best 22 races this season ($177,417). He is fourth on the national junior driving premiership behind three South islanders. The top three are Rory McIlwrick (38 wins), Matt Anderson (25), and Sheree Tomlinson (23). The next highest North island juniors are Tony Cameron and Jack MacKinnon with 16 wins apiece. But with just two meetings remaining at Alexandra Park this season, Ferguson needs four wins to equal pace-setter, Jack MacKinnon. “I’ve beaten my previous personal best number of wins in my debut year (13 in 2013-2014), and at the start of the season it was my goal to win the North island premiership. I’m rapt I’ve almost achieved that. “I really enjoyed winning at Forbury Park last week. I’m just glad we never raced on the Thursday. The weather was atrocious,” Ferguson said. Ferguson drove the Kirk Larsen trained $4.10 loose favourite, Arthur Lowe, in the fifth race last Saturday, which was also a New Zealand Junior Driver's heat. He finished eighth with 24 points, but in 2014 he was runner-up behind Michelle Neilson. “I’d been to Forbury Park before to watch races but that was my first drive. It was a different shape to what I’ve been used to but the surface was beautiful. “The staff at Forbury need to be applauded for the way the presented the track for the Series. I really enjoyed driving there despite my second drive breaking (Noble Gamble 12th),” Ferguson said. Ferguson, who is the son of former New Zealand Driving champion (2006-2007), Peter, has recorded his 22 wins this season at seven tracks. They have been at Manawatu 9, Alexandra Park 5, Cambridge 4, and Wairarapa, Hawera, Kapiti, and Forbury Park one win each. Ferguson has recorded 56 career wins ($491,989) in New Zealand since he took out his driver’s licence in 2013 – all on nine different tracks. He has also driven winners at Addington and Wanganui in seasons gone by. “It’s been a memorable season. Getting my 50th winner was satisfying. I got most of my opportunities at Manawatu and I’m delighted to have won nine races there this season. “I want to thank all the owners and trainers who have supported me this season. I just want to keep on winning for them all. I’m very grateful and never get sick of that winning feeling,” Ferguson said. The Waikato driver notched up his 50th win behind his boss’s (Nicky Chilcott) 4-year-old Mach Three pacer, Razor Brogden, at the Hawera Harness Racing Club's on April 15. Ferguson nailed his first career win at Cambridge on November 17, 2013 behind the Ken Webber trained Carlos. Then the following year he drove the Pat and Mike O'Brien trained outsider, Beckingsale to win the $25,000 North Island Country Cups Final. Ferguson was 17 at the time. "That's been my biggest win so far. I'm rapt with the way this season has been going. I just want to keep driving winners, and if I do happen to drive for any new trainers or owners I want them to know that I have given my very best for them," the White Star employee stressed. Ferguson had a brief stint in Australia before returning to New Zealand in 2015. Alexandra Park Junior Drivers Premiership 2016-2017 (as of Thursday July 20 - tote races only): Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR Jack MacKinnon 79 9 7 6 0.188 Sean Grayling 44 8 6 3 0.2803 Dylan Ferguson 47 5 7 8 0.2358 Rob Argue 61 5 6 5 0.1639 Tony Cameron 35 4 3 6 0.2190. Cambridge Raceway Leading Junior Driver (final points): 1) Jack MacKinnon 23; 2) Dylan Ferguson 22; 3 ) Robert Argue 18; 4) Tony Cameron 15; 5) Mark Johnson 14. Duane Ranger

He may not have been able to beat him in the national drivers premiership, but Blair Orange is in a position to take control of another title that Dexter Dunn has had a stranglehold on. Heading into the last meeting of the season at Addington tonight, Orange has a slim, one-win, margin in the Addington drivers’ premiership with 58 winners for the term at Harness HQ. With 57, Dunn is breathing down the neck of his good mate but he is also in the unfamiliar territory of being the one who is doing the chasing as opposed to the being the one who is getting chased. He does have the huge advantage however of two non-tote drives that should see him put himself in front. He jumps on the Cran Dalgety trained pair of Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite, both of whom should taste success in their respective Breeders Crown heats, putting Dunn back in the hotseat and setting up an intriguing battle over the night. Dunn also has strong winning hopes with Especial in the South of the Waitaki Series early in the night while Kamwood Kid and Mikey Maguire are also good winning options. Orange’s book tonight is full of each way chances with no superstar standouts. His best could be the Roger Austin trained pair of Idle Moose and Idle Monkey. Both are talented trotters with the all-round game to be victorious and provided they bring their manners they will be right in the fight. Theboyslightup and Reaza Grunter are also good chances for Orange. The remainder of the Addington premiership races are all over with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen prominent figures among the prize winners. With 53 wins they are well clear on the overall trainers’ premiership - 25 wins clear of Greg and Nina Hope, while they also lead the Universal Trainer Rating with an impressive .4381 % from 174 starters. Paul Court is next on that list with a strike-rate of .3118 % from his 67 starters. Rasmussen has the strike rate drivers prize all to herself with an incredible .6580% from her 51 winners. With no junior drivers race tonight, Kim Butt will finish a one-point victor in the Junior Drivers Prize and Spanish Armada has the popular Filly or Mare of the Year award. Meanwhile, Addington officials will make a decision on tonight’s meeting around 1pm today. Inclement weather is tearing it’s way down the country with a deluge of rain and the threat of some heavy snowfalls. Contingency plans were put in place yesterday that could see the meeting shift to tomorrow if need be. Those decision are expected to be made after lunchtime to allow enough time to see how the storm is going to play out.   Matt Markham - Addington Selections Race 1: Sharknado, Lloydin Magic, All Nuts N Bolts, As Kiwi As Race 2: Jerry Garcia, Spurred By Success, Sunshadz, Spurofthemoment Race 3: Vera’s Delight, Especial, Jody Direen, Melina Lowe Race 4: Gunpower, Rocknroll Nevin, Sportscaster, Takitimu Express Race 5: Beyond The Horizon, Jean Sebastien, Idle Moose, Diana Harbour Race 6: Boults On Fire, Hypervelocity, Bite The Bullet, Compliant Race 7: Ronald J, Idle Monkey, He’s Like The Wind, All Settled Down Race 8: Christmas Toyboy, Kamwood Kid, My Nikayla, Theboyslightup Race 9: Mikey Maguire, Spirit Of Delight, One Direction, Reaza Grunter Best Bet: Christmas Toyboy (Race 8) Value: Vera’s Delight (Race 3) Matt Markham

Addington harness racing fixed odds movers as at 1:10pm Race 1 - Lloydin Magic $16.00 - $12.00 leads win betting with All Nuts N Bolts $3.70 leading multi betting over As Kiwi As $5.80.   Race 2 - Jerry Garcia $3.20 is a clear leader in multi betting.   Race 3 - Especial $1.65 is the best backed runner at the meeting in multi betting & easily leads win betting in this race.   Race 4 - Sportscaster $4.50 is best backed in win & multi betting over Gunpowder $7.20.   Race 5 - Bacardi N Coke $12.00 leads win & multi betting over Beyond The Horizon $15.00.   Race 6 - Boults On Fire $2.40 easily leads multi betting over Don Pierre $6.20. Compliant $10.00 - $8.00 is best backed in win betting over Bite The Bullet.   Race 7 - Ronald J $1.45 is the only runner wanted here which is no surprise as he opened up as the shortest priced runner on the card.   Race 8 - My Nikayla $5.80 leads win betting over Theboyslightup $4.80 with the $2.80 favourite Christmas Toyboy easily leading multi betting.     Race 9 - Mikey Maguire $2.90 is best backed in multi betting over Reaza Grunta $4.50 & Spirit Of Delight $4.80. Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 1:05pm Race 1 - Marcy Runkle $9.50 is best backed on the win 'book' with Linc's Tiger $2.50 leading multi betting over Dance Time $3.00.   Race 2 - My Generation $3.20 leads win & multi betting over Gotta Moment $3.70.   Race 3 - Lovely Bundy $1.75 is the only runner wanted in multi betting.   Race 4 - Kaitlyn $2.70 leads multi betting over Pakipaki $4.50 who leads win betting over Cmeerock $19.00 - $13.00.    Race 5 - Johnny White $5.50 easily leads win & multi betting.   Race 6 - Three Kisses $2.90 leads multi betting over Pleasurable $5.80 - $4.50 with that runner a clear leader in early win betting.   Race 7 - Gershwin $3.90 is the only runner wanted in win & multi betting.   Race 8 - Robbie Burns $2.70 leads multi betting over Alta Intrigue $5.50 & Max Phactor $2.90.   Race 9 - Arethusa Spur $3.90 - $3.10 is best backed in win betting with the largest bet $1,000 at $3.90. Angus Burga $3.30 leads multi betting over Bro Fawkes S $9.00. Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

It was a good week last week for the harness racing ringaround with six winners selected along with a number of placings as well. Matthew Williamson had the best dividend last week when Christian Who won at Ashburton on Sunday and paid $4.00 to win on the tote. More winter racing this week for the ringaround with only the three meetings spread over two days. Note: Inclement weather is tearing it’s way down the country with a deluge of rain and the threat of some heavy snowfalls. Addington officials will make a decision on tonight’s meeting around 1pm today. Contingency plans were put in place yesterday that could see the meeting shift to tomorrow if need be. Those decision are expected to be made after lunchtime to allow enough time to see how the storm is going to play out.   Addington on Friday night Mark Jones - Mark thinks Rocknroll Nevin would be his chance at Addington in Race 4 Ricky May - Ricky is opting for Boults On Fire as his best drive this week in Race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard says that Like A Prayer would be a place chance also in Race 6 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Theboyslightup as his best drive this week in Race 8 Terry Chmiel - Terry says his best chance is Crafty Cullen tonight at Addington also in Race 8   Auckland on Friday night Todd Macfarlane -  Todd says Gooddealehemily would be his chance tonight in Race 1 Kyle Marshall - Kyle is going for My Generation as his best chance tonight in Race 2 John Curtin - John thinks Utmost Delight can win again at Alexandra Park in Race 4 Jay Abernethy - Jay thinks his best chance is Kate Jackson tonight in Race 5 Tony Herlihy - says that Majestic Ali would be his best chance this week in Race 7 Stephen Richardson(TAB) - thinks Robbie Burns is a good winning chance in Race 8   Rangiora on Sunday Racechat - Lance thinks Fiery Comet is a good winning chance at Rangiora in Race 1 Gavin Smith - Gavin says his best chance this week is Admiral at Rangiora in Race 4 John Morrison - John is going for Eden Franco as his best drive this week in Race 5 Harnesslink reporter - thinks Run Boy Run would be a great winning chance in Race 6   Harnesslink Media    

Trainer Ross Paynter knows Gershwin should win at Alexandra Park tonight if he behaves himself. But as far as letting punters know what to watch for any guide from the erratic four-year-old, the Cambridge horseman is in the dark. “It is one of those things you just can’t predict,” says Paynter. “There is nothing physically wrong with him and at home he is a lovely horse to anything with. “But on race night he gets a little nervous and too keyed up and then he can gallop. “He is getting better and while he is still not full proof right-handed I am sure he would win this week if he trots all the way.” Gershwin suggested as much with a booming second on the track last start, when he pushed the boundaries of being disqualified with a long gallop early before rushing home last for second. Neither his overall time or his closing sectionals were particularly special that night but he meets similar opposition tonight so anything like a repeat level of performance would see him win providing he trots throughout, with those manners being especially crucial over 2200m. He is one of three reps tonight for Paynter, who has 18 horses in work since taking over many of the team he previously trained in partnership with Sean McCaffrey before the latter moved to Victoria several months ago. “Training solo is going well and I am happy with the numbers and the results we have had. “We have some nice horses to go with next season, especially Lemond and my filly Aoraki, who I sent to the Hopes to train last campaign but she is back with me now.” Paynter also has Primus Inter Pares and Oto Invasion in a winnable race three tonight but warns punters both are getting over a recent setback. “I had a bug hit some of the team and these two might still be getting over it. They are definitely getting better but I am not certain they are back to their best yet.” Paynter says veteran Oto Invasion was actually retired but has come back into work because of the new ratings system, which could enable him to return to a competitive assessment and still race for good prize money as trotting stakes at the lower end continue to increase. With Paynter’s slight concerns over his race three pair, rival Lovely Bundy will only to be on her best behaviour to be one of the bets of the night as she drops in grade and her seventh last week was better than it reads after an early gallop and no luck late. If backing trotters with reliability issues isn’t your idea of a good time then race four looks one of the better betting options tonight, with Kaitlyn, Pakipaki and Utmost Delight all smart three-year-old fillies taking on the older horses, with the early tempo likely to decide the result. And tonight’s main pace sees late season bloomer Max Phactor ideally suited by the 1700m mobile considering two starts ago he paced 1:53.2 mile finishing fourth in the Jewels won by Heaven Rocks. Michael Guerin

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Morrinsville trainer come lawyer, Dave Iremonger, heads into Friday’s last meeting of the season at Alexandra Park having already achieved his personal goals in 2016-2017. "I’d rate my season a 10 out of 10. My goal at the start of the season was to get to 10 wins and Opawa Speed did that for me last week. To win five of those races at Alexandra Park has exceeded my expectations. I’m delighted with what we have achieved," Iremonger said. Iremonger, who is a property lawyer, used to travel from his Morrinsville base throughout Waikato and Bay Of Plenty seeing to his clients. These days he admits the job is more mobile. "I have 10 racehorses in work and some young ones coming through. I do them all myself when Scott (son) can’t help out. It’s a busy lifestyle but I can do a lot of my work from home these days and only see my clients when I have to," the former policeman said. The 50-year-old’s 10 wins in 2016-2017 have come via Opawa Speed (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on July 21; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 30; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 23; Richard Le Fort (Dylan Ferguson) at Alexandra Park on June 2; Speedy Earl (Trent Lethaby) at Hawera on April 17; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Stratford on March 5; Desert Storm (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on January 15; Opawa Speed (Todd Mitchell) at Cambridge Raceway on December 28; Desert Storm (Kyle Marshall) at Manawatu Raceway on December 15; and Soul man (Rob Argue) at Alexandra Park on September 16. His previous best, of six wins, was recorded last season. Iremonger has trained 22 winners since 2008 and 13 more between 1992 and 2000. His career stake currently earnings sit at $253,778. He said he would like to finish the season on a high at Alexandra Park again this week with Opawa Speed and Rob Argue looking to repeat their dose of seven days ago in race five; and then Genociate and Dylan Ferguson in the last of the nine races. "They are both good chances if they can get a sit and one crack at them. That’s exactly what Opawa Speed did last week. Robert drove him perfectly. "He got the sit and ran away from them to win by more than six lengths. He was an eight-win horse dropping back in class and no way deserved to be paying $21 in that field. I thought he would go close," Iremonger said. "He’s back in this week only because he feels well and has come through his last race very well. I knew when he had a sit last week he would be very hard to beat. He’s not out of it again this week off the front," Iremonger said. Iremonger has come of age as a trainer this season. He was once the man renowned for winning with other people’s discards, and selling the odd standardbred to Tahiti. But Iremonger wasn’t born into harness racing. "My family always had horses and I rode the pony club circuit when I was a kid. Growing up I wanted to be a jockey but I’m six foot tall and 90 odd kg so that was never gonna happen was it?" "My parents were friendly with Pat Parker from Tirau who had standardbreds and that’s where my harness racing connection started. "Pat bred and raced a pacer named Smokey Grattan and I took to following him," he said. Iremonger bought his first standardbred at a Terry Yule mixed aged sale at Claudelands in the late eighties and it all snow-balled from there. "I love the game but with my other job I think I will always have about 10 in work. Otherwise the workload just becomes a bit heavy," Iremonger said. Duane Ranger  
New Zealand faltering challenge for the Breeders Crown roared back into life yesterday. Because three wins in as many races for the Kiwi-trained pacers at Menangle have boosted chances of a serious New Zealand team at the rich Crown finals day at Melton in Victoria next month. For much of the last decade New Zealand horses --- both pacers and trotters --- have dominated Breeders Crown day, with the added bonus of Kiwi horses who travelled to the meeting extending their season by a month because of the late finish to the Australian harness racing season. That has often promoted the crazy situation of horses turning four in New Zealand on August 1, yet reverting to racing as three-year-olds when they cross the Tasman for the Crown a few weeks later. But while the Breeders Crown, with its two-year-old pacing finals worth money than A$300,000, has been enormously lucrative for New Zealand horses, this year’s representation was looking shaky. Already the biggest names from the two and three-year-old pacing ranks have pulled out, their trainers instead preferring to spell horses like Vincent, Ultimate Machete and Spankem after long seasons rather than press to until last August, meaning they would probably not race again until after Christmas. So the all-conquering Purdon-Rasmussen stable won’t have their absolute superstars at the Breeders Crown and Mark Purdon even expressed doubts over whether he would have any reps at the meeting unless they could win their heats in impressive fashion yesterday. That box was ticked on three separate occasions as first juvenile Sicario, then group-one winning filly Partyon and Queensland Derby winner The More The Better also easily won their heats at Menangle.  None of them were asked for their best by catch driver Luke McCarthy but Partyon still paced her last 400m in a sizzling 25.9 to confirm she will be returning to Melton to defend the title she won as a two-year-old last season. The More The Better won even easier and in a similar final sectional with a 26.1 last 400m while Sicario’s win was mere trackwork so the All Stars will have three major players for the Crown semi finals on August 19, followed by the finals on August 27. But they will be readied for the series without the Purdon-Rasmussen polish, with Purdon leaving yesterday for a holiday before representing New Zealand at the World Drivers Champs, with Rasmussen also holidaying before supporting her partner at the series.  “We are lucky we have good staff but it still makes it tricky getting them ready for the Crown with both of us being in Canada,” admitted Purdon. Top horseman Cran Dalgety is also taking three reps to the Breeders Crown, even after two of them, Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite, were beaten in their non-tote heats at Addington last Friday. Bettor Joy was clearly outpointed by Angel Of Harlem, who trainer Barry Ward is likely to send to Anthony Butt to train and drive for the Crown. But with those defeats for Dalgety’s big name pacers and Purdon-Rasmussen not sending their top guns, the New Zealand team for the Crown is in the usually unthinkable position of not having any dominant favourites for the pacing series. Northern pacers King Of Swing and Big Mach are also likely starters but Alexandra Park heat winner Utmost Delight is out of the series and heading to the paddock. New Zealand’s trotting team for the Crown is also lighter than usual but does boost the shining light of three-year-old star Enghien, who will be red hot to win his division as well as the Victoria Trotting Derby in two weeks on the way through. Michael Guerin
Even Zac Butcher admits winning the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership could be a bridge too far for him on Friday. Butcher, who has recorded 36 wins at Alexandra Park this season, is two shy of his father David (38). Maurice McKendry (MNZM) is third with 32 wins. "I think I've run out of time. I've only got four drives this week, compared to Dad who has six or seven. "I think I'll come up short, which is okay. My goal at the start of the season was to record more winners than last year's champion, Tony Herlihy (MNZM), and I’ve done that. "I don't mind losing to Dad. He's still the best driver in our family, and probably will be for the next 25 years," Butcher said. The 25-year-old Clevedon driver, rated the Ray Green trained two-year-old, Linc's Tiger as a good winning chance in the first race. Meanwhile Ardmore reinsman, Robert Argue, is going to have to win behind all three of his drives at 'The Park' on Friday if he is going to equal Jack MacKinnon, at the top of the Alexandra Park Junior Drivers' Premiership. Argue, who has recorded six wins at northern headquarters this season, will get behind the Gary Noakes trained Izinthezone (race 3); the Stephen Argue trained My Cash (race 4); and the Dave Iremonger trained Opawa Speed (race 5). MacKinnon, who has won nine races at 'The Park' this season, will drive the Ivan Court trained Arden Lustre (race 4); the Stephen Argue trained Speedy Lavros (race 5); the Robert Dunn trained Lambros (race 6); and Yagunnakissmeornot (race 7). Last year's Junior Driving Premiership came down to a 0.159 of a point on the UDR strike rate, but MacKinnon just held out Andre Poutama and Kyle Marshall. Zac Butcher's boss, Barry Purdon, has the Training Premiership all parceled up. The ‘Hall-of-Famer’ goes into Friday's meeting with 18 wins at Alexandra Park in 2016-2017 - five more than John and Josh Dickie. Last season's senior driving and training titles saw Herlihy (MNZM) claimed his eighth consecutive Alexandra Park driving premiership and his ‘Strike Won’ Ardmore-based stables’, nabbed their fourth straight training title. Herlihy (46) had nine wins to spare over Zac Butcher (37). Josh Dickie (31) was third. Training-wise Herlihy (40) had five wins to spare over Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (35). Barry Purdon (29) was third. With just one meeting left in the North Island in the 2016-2017 season, the Alexandra Park Premierships read (tote races only): DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR D J Butcher 221 38 34 30 .3027 Z E Butcher 205 36 26 29 .2932 M W McKendry 225 32 20 26 .2301 A G Herlihy 216 25 25 32 .2294 B M Mangos 148 23 14 13 .2372 JUNIOR DRIVERS Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR J A MacKinnon 82 9 7 6 .1816 S A Grayling 44 8 6 3 .2803 R G Argue 64 6 6 5 .1719 D P Ferguson 53 5 8 9 .2348 T A Cameron 36 4 4 6 .2284 TRAINERS Trainer Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR B P Purdon 186 29 26 22 .2730 J W Dickie & J I Dickie 131 25 15 11 .2824 A G Herlihy MNZM 177 23 19 29 .2442 M Purdon & N C Rasmussen 76 23 15 9 .4518 R W Green 151 22 25 20 .2818     Duane Ranger
Four Starzzz Shiraz has joined the Christchurch stable of Brad Mowbray after being claimed at Rangiora on Sunday. Four Starzzz Shiraz, who finished third to Alexy and Bevan’s Cullen, was claimed for $5000 and the rising seven-year-old will continue his racing career in the ownership of Mowbray and Christine Maynard. The winner of eight races, Four Starzzz Shiraz has been entered for the Addington meeting on Friday night. It was the third time Four Starzzz Shiraz has been claimed. He was claimed for $10,000 out of the stable of Graeme Anderson, after winning at Forbury Park in June last year, and won at his next start when trained by Brian Norman for Shane Forgie. The Four Starzzz Shark gelding was subsequently claimed for $7500 by Gerald Cayford, and transferred to Billy Heads and then Amber Hoffman. Mowbray has enjoyed his best season as a trainer with 20 wins. The three-year-old filly Delishka has won four; Ultimate Desire four and Tiger Thompson three. Delishka was spelled after finishing sixth in the Harness Jewels, and she is due back in work next week. Her West Melton co-breeder Ernie Knight, who raced her with Mowbray, his father-in-law, died last week. Delishka is the first foal to race out of Balishka, who won seven races for Knight and Mowbray. Knight bred Mister Zion (Red River Hanover – Cross Lady), who won at Group One level as a pacer (2010 South Australian Cup) and trotter (2013 Australian Trotting Championship Final). He had won two races as a pacer in New Zealand as Zion when trained by Jim Curtin. Ultimate Desire is back with her Blenheim part-owner Brent Weaver. “She is out spelling and I will bring her up for the Country Cups and then send her to Queensland,’’ said Weaver. Ultimate Desire (seven wins) was prepared initially by Weaver for two wins at Forbury Park and Ashburton. Mowbray said Tiger Thompson, winner of the listed $40,000 Sires’ Stakes Harness 5000 for three-year-olds at Addington in February, will remain in the spelling paddock until the end of August. Tayler Strong
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