Day At The Track

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. This week’s show features Southland trainer/driver Kirstin Barclay following her four win training haul with training partner Tank Ellis on Saturday – including the remarkable win by U May Cullect. We are live at Phar Lap Raceway, chatting to Timaru HRC President Elizabeth Shand about the upcoming Mother’s Day meeting. Junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson chats to us following her first pacing winning drive at Timaru with Sweet Mary and Canterbury owner Wendy Nordqvist explains why she loves harness racing ownership. All that plus our usual update with Bookie Richard Wilson.   HRNZ Marketing

Once again, New Zealand’s leading standardbred nursery presents an outstanding draft for this years New Zealand Standardbred All Age bloodstock sale to be held at Karaka on Monday May 6th.   All our resident sire’s progeny will be available to buy at this year’s sale.   The draft comprising 55 weanlings, represents another big investment by Woodlands Stud in this sale, which is a great avenue for buyer’s to ‘pin hook’ a well bred and educated weanling!   Woodlands stud’s draft is represented by the standardbred worlds leading sires. Sweet Lou highlights our draft with over 24 weanlings by ‘Great White Blaze’! American Ideal, the dominant dual hemisphere stallion has 14 his progeny available for sale.   Millionaire performer Highview Tommy has 5 quality lots catalogued, and the stallion king Bettor’s Delight has four of his babies available on the day.   Lot 157 - Highview Tommy x Tigers Lady   For the square gaiter fraternity, Woodlands has five of Pegasus Spur’s sons and daughters for genuine sale and we also offer 2 weanlings by top USA sire Crazed.   With a Woodlands Stud weanling, you know you can buy with confidence.   The weanlings are prepared by the Woodlands Stud team, led by stud master Tony Grayling and weanling/yearling manager Kelly Blackmore.   The preparation is fastidious and when the babies hit Karaka for the sales, they are ready for buyers to take home.   Woodlands stud’s previous drafts have realised millionaires, winners on both sides of the Tasman and pin hookers have resold at yearling sales and made a profit!   Lot 132 - Bettor's Delight x Pocketfullofposies   Remember, all weanlings purchased are eligible for the New Zealand Standardbred harness millions racing series.   Lot 178 - Sweet Lou x Arden Banner   For any inquires regarding our yearling draft, the following Woodlands staff can help you   Stud master – Tony Grayling – 021 618830 In New Zealand – Stacey White – 021 595492 In Australia – Mark Hughes – 0451650707   You can also view the draft at www.woodlandstud.co.nz   Stacey White Woodlands Stud

A dream week with barrier draws has gifted Spankem an unlikely shot at harness racing’s Horse of the Year title. Because he might now start favourite in Friday’s $100,000 Messenger at Alexandra Park and victory there would embellish his claims for a title which looks more open than usual. Spankem bolted away with last Friday’s Taylor Mile after being able to lead favoured stablemate Turn It Up and has the best draw (three) of the favourites again this Friday. While the Messenger is 2700m compared with last week’s Mile, Spankem still looks the likely leader and then controls his own destiny, whereas stablemates Chase Auckland (barrier four) and Turn It Up (five) will need some luck to get to the marker pegs and in front of Spankem. Last week’s declaration from trainer Mark Purdon that Spankem would lead the Taylor Mile and not hand up to Turn It Up saw the market flipped on its head and Purdon’s pre-race comments this week will again have a crucial impact. But there is more than just the first place prize up for grabs on Friday as Spankem is making a late, unlikely bid for the Horse of the Year title. Thefixer would have been the early favourite for that after he won the New Zealand Cup, always the most important race for voters, but while he has won a Ballarat Cup and Miracle Mile prelude since he has been beaten plenty of times. Turn It Up has the Auckland and Easter Cups next to his name so a win this Friday and in the Jewels in June 1 would put him in the HOTY box seat. But if he wins on Friday then Spankem’s credentials get a further boost. He has already won the Miracle Mile in 1:47.7, the prelude a week earlier, the Kaikoura Cup, two Inter Dominion heats and last Friday’s Taylor Mile. Add the Messenger this week and his claims become hard to deny. Just 30 minutes earlier the Trotter of the Year title looks certain to be decided in the $150,000 Rowe Cup which hosts the horses who have won all the previous group one trots held in New Zealand this season. Speeding Spur, who has drawn the second line on Friday, is the only trotter to have won two group ones this term and is joined by Marcoola (Dominion), Massive Metro (National Trot) and Sundees Son, who won last Friday’s Anzac Cup. Another group one victory for any of that quartet could seal them the trotter’s title, with Sundees Son the only one with a further group one opportunity this season in the four-year-old Jewels at Addington on June 1. Earlier in the night Sweet On Me will be red-hot to bounce back from her first defeat last Friday in the Sires’ Stakes Championship while the battle between Enhance Your Calm and Lotamuscle highlights the $100,000 Trotting Derby.   Michael Guerin

The first two Australian representatives for the 2019 IRT Harness Jewels have today been confirmed.   Lulu Le Mans (2YO Diamond) and Major Occasion (4YO Diamond) have been invited to wear the Australian Jewels colours and compete in this year’s edition of the IRT Harness Jewels, to be held at Addington Raceway in Christchurch on Saturday 1 June.   A Kiwi bred daughter of Bettors Delight and Elusive Chick, Lulu Le Mans came to compete in New Zealand with two wins to her name and also group placings in the Group Two Sapling Stakes and Group Two Pink Bonnet.   Lulu Le Mans is trained by Aaron Goadsby and Mark Jones and is currently in New Zealand racing in the two-year-old fillies’ features.   She will compete again this week at Alexandra Park in the Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes Two-Year-Old Fillies Championship.   Major Occasion will fly the flag for Australia in the Four-Year-Old Diamond, and brings with her an impressive array of achievements in her homeland.   Major Occasion is trained by Chris Frisby and has recorded four wins from just ten starts alone this season, including the Group Two Sebelia Stakes over one mile in 1.50.4. She was also a game second in the Ladyship behind Dream About Me in March.   She also competed at the highest level as a three-year-old, finishing second in the Queeland Oaks to Sociable.   Interest from Australian connections this year has been extremely high, hot off the back of the strong showing from Australian horses in the Harness Jewels in 2018.   Although Shez All Rock became the first Australian Jewels winner last year at Cambridge, she was under the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. So we are yet to have an Australian trained Jewels victor.   More Australian invites will be announced in the near future.   To hear an interview with Aaron Goadsby (co-trainer of Lulu Le Mans) and Peter Ward (owner of Major Occasion) please follow this link:      Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Champion trainer Barry Purdon may be farewelling one stable star as he rates another potentially the best filly he has ever trained. Purdon pulled off a master plan capturing the A$150,000 Lazarus Victoria Oaks at Melton on Saturday night with Belle Of Montana, thanks in no small way to an ice cool drive from Zac Butcher. Butcher was calm from the ace draw at the start before pulling out to lead soon after, then handed up in the $1.30 favourite at the 1200m mark before beating leader Kualoa for speed up the Melton passing lane. The confidence to hand up on a hot favourite mid-race in Australia can get you abused for weeks and even stain careers if it goes wrong and is one of the great differences in driving styles between the two countries. But Butcher knew what he had in front of him and while she has an all-round game, Belle Of Montana sharpest weapon is her sprint. She adds to the Oaks at just her ninth start to the group on Sires’ Stakes Championship she won at Alexandra Park on New Years Eve and Saturday’s win came down to some meticulous planning from Purdon. He did his research to find out where other stars fillies like Princess Tiffany were going and then set Belle Of Montana for an early Nevele R Fillies heat at Alexandra Park so she would be qualified for that final next month, opening a window for her to contest the Victoria Oaks. With group one victories on both sides of the Tasman she is now one of the most valuable female pacers in Australasia but she faces a more even challenging month ahead. She will clash with NSW Oaks winner Princess Tiffany three times in four weeks as the pair contest the Nevele R Final on May 10, the NZ Oaks a week later and the Jewels on June 1 and if either can win two of those three that would go a long way to securing them the Filly of the Year title. “She is a very, very good filly and could be as good as any female pacer I have had in time,” says Purdon. But as he takes aims at more group ones with Belle Of Montana, Purdon may be saying goodbye to his stable star Jack’s Legend, who is under offer to a United States buyer. “He has been vetted and it sounds like the deal could be done,” said Purdon. “He has done a great job here and will be a very good horse for over there if he is sold.” Jack’s Legend may have only won 10 of his 41 starts but among them was a Harness Jewels three-year-old and he raced the absolute best his entire career, splitting Lazarus and Tiger Tara was second in the New Zealand Cup 18 months ago. To view the video of the race click here.   Michael Guerin

It was one of those stellar days that don’t come along very often. Harness racing trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis geared up four winners today at Ascot Park for Southland’s Diamonds Day - the premier race day of the season. The ‘quaddie’ of wins was spearheaded by the stable’s glamour pacer, the unbeaten U May Cullect which stole the show. The partnership which is only in its first season, has recorded two wins in a day twice before, but this was a milestone on another level. Today Barclay wasn’t sure if she’d let U May Cullect press forward from the outside of the front line, stating that the horse would make up its own mind and she would just be the passenger. The horse was keen and Barclay let him roll forward from the outside of the gate. From that point Barclay was in for the ride, and the five year old cruised down to the line for another emphatic win, beating My Georgie Boy by six and a half-lengths running the 2200 metre mobile in an impressive 2-41.9. It’s likely this will be the gelding’s last start for the season as the connections have some bigger plans for him next season. “Kirstin and Tank are making a plan and they’re talking about not racing him again because we’re hoping to get to the Cup. If we turn him out now he can come back for the likes of the Hannon and he’ll be off the front,” said owner Tom Kilkelly. U May Cullect is eligible for a Super Nuggets Final in a weeks’ time but he’s unlikely to front. “I’ve got a nice paddock for him locked up. Kirstin will look after him. I find you don’t want to treat them with kid gloves because that’s when things can go wrong. I don’t want him wrapped up in cotton wool.” Kilkelly has raced some nice horses over the years including Guns N Roses and Shard Ark but he says U May Cullect is another level. He says he’s starting to feel the pressure that goes with owning a good horse which is unbeaten. “Today I did get nervous. I don’t normally, but today in the last few minutes before the race I did because everyone was talking him up and he’s got a lot to live up to now.” He said the horse continues to get better. “They worked him on Wednesday and Kirstin said he worked better than before he went to Christchurch. Tank said his resting heart rate after the run was down to 40. The best I had a horse down to when I was training was 60 to 65 –they don’t come back to 40. So that just shows you the size of the heart. He’s special.” On his return to the birdcage U May Cullect received applause from the Southern Harness fans who generally reserve it for the very best. Kilkelly says although his name is in the race book as the owner he would like to think the province will also share in the success U May Cullect is having. “We could have taken him further north but he’s a Southland horse. He’s not mine he’s ours. I said to Mick Guerin (Northern Journalist and Trackside Presenter) three things. He’s not for sale, he’s staying on the beach with Kirstin and Tank and Kirstin drives him. I said to him there’s a tar sealed road between Invercargill and Christchurch now.” U May Cullect - Bruce Stewart Photo The prefect day was capped for Kilkelly when Chuckles won the last race. It was a very good aggressive drive by Barclay. From barrier five she speared the Grinfromeartoear gelding to the top. She handed the lead to Flaming Jim with 1600 metres to run. Flaming Jim was then attacked by hotshot Justasec which eventually made the lead with a lap to run. Chuckles That battle certainly played into Chuckles hands as the trailing horse. With 800 metres to run Barclay pulled Chuckles out from three back on the inside but her progress was halted as he locked wheels with Flaming Jim. However she got going again and at the 400 metres Barclay was dishing it up to Justasec. On straightening Chuckles proved too tough for Justasec, winning by three and a half lengths. Another easy winner for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis - Chuckles The Sun shining bright on Chuckles completing a great day for owner Tom Kilkelly Earlier in the day the Barclay/Ellis stable scored an upset win in the Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot when Wee Man Trouble beat higher assessed horses. With 400 metres to run driver Blair Orange could see that some of the back markers had a bit of ground to make up on the leader De Vito so he popped out of the trailing position and pinched a five length break on the bulk of the field. Wee Man Trouble It proved to be the winning of the race. Wee Man Trouble held on to beat a late charging War Admiral by a length. The win elevates Wee Man Trouble to seventh on the leader board for the $125,000 Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby. Wee Man Trouble The stable’s other winner was Paddyproudfoot. Driver Kirstin Barclay once again used her horse’s gate speed and from barrier six the Washington VC gelding was taken straight to the top. With a lap to run she handed up to the second favourite Pitch Perfect. Paddyproudfoot On straightening for the run home Pitch Perfect got away by two lengths but Paddyproudfoot came resolutely down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter. Paddyproudfoot Meanwhile other winners on the day included Full Noise which wore down a brave Neverneverland in the Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Trot. The win puts the Majestic Son gelding in the top twelve in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Ruby. Full Noise Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr brought the majority of his team south but walked away with only one win. It came in race two with Change Is Good which was driven by Nathan Williamson. Change Is Good Nathan Williamson got the perfect sit behind pacemaker Bridesdale Robyn in the Foveaux Communication Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. At the top of the straight he got the passing lane run to win by a length and a quarter. Vintage Cheddar scored a well-deserved win in the Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace. Driver Brad Williamson tucked the four year old in behind leader Santanna’s Rocket which took him to the passing lane. Vintage Cheddar which is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and trained by Alister Black made full use of the lane to beat Smokin By by a length and three quarters. Vintage Cheddar By Bruce Stewart

Virgil's win in the Group Two Diamond Creek Farm Two-Year-Old Classic at Ascot Park on Saturday made it a lucrative weekend for his Melbourne co-owner Jean Feiss, who races the All-Stars trained harness racing gelding with her husband Bill. The previous night, Feiss was at Alexandra Park watching her juvenile filly Amazing Dream triumph in the group one Woodlands Stud Caduceus Classic “I was already booked for Auckland so when word came Virgil would be nominated for today, I was able to add Invercargill,” said Feiss who flew to Auckland on Friday, then Invercargill via Christchurch on Saturday morning. She was booked to follow the reverse route on Saturday when returning to Auckland after the Diamond Day fixture, before heading home on Sunday. Driven by Tim Williams, favourite Virgil bided his time early and wasn't asked for much until second favourite William Wallace moved forward across the top. The two set down to a decent battle in the straight but the All-Stars rep prevailed by half a neck in 2:41.0, less than half a second outside the race record.   The Sweet Lou two year old Virgil after his second win.  Jean Feiss (left) with Ged Mooar from Nevele R, John Stiven (SBSR), Mark Smith (SBSR) and Tracey White (Woodlands Stud) It was the fifth running of the feature and the third win for Williams, following Lazarus in 2015 and A Bettor Act last year. Virgil is by Sweet Lou from the Bettor Delight mare Pacing Delight, a half brother to Amazing Art, Pacing Major, All U Need Is Faith and other winners. He was catalogued for last year's Australasian Classic Sale but withdrawn. Not before Feiss had inspected him at Woodlands Stud though, so when he was later offered at the Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale before last year's Jewels, Feiss was ready. “I liked him when I saw him at the stud before the first sale,” said Feiss who admits she is often asked what she is looking for. “Really, everyone looks for the same things but all interpret them a bit differently. He looked lovely again on sale day.” Feiss paid $150,000 for the gelding and hasn't been disappointed. Virgil has only once missed a top-three finish in seven starts and Saturday's win took his stake earnings past $60,000. “He was broken in straight after the sale and has been kept going. Mark (Purdon) said he's always 'wanted to be there' and does what he's asked. He might not be among the very best but has always been pretty good even against the really good ones.” Addington hosts a $175,000 Sale Series race for two-year-olds next Friday and in normal circumstances, Virgil might have been there. Feiss pointed out though that he wasn't eligible and that was one of the reasons the Invercargill race had been included in his programme. “He'll be kept in for the Jewels, then we'll hope for more improvement as a three-year-old.” Virgil is second on the list of qualifiers for the Two-year-old Emerald and Amazing Dream, second on the list for the Diamond. 'Southern Bred Southern Reared' Amazing Dream was offered at last year's Premier Sale by Vin and Daphne Devery and knocked down to Feiss for $77,500. Her weekend winnings were $57.000. By Mac Henry  

The Miracle Mile was a pointer, Mark’s preview of the race a major hint. Yet still punters clung to Turn It Up's chances of outsprinting the 1.47.7 miler Spankem driven by one of the best raters in the business in Natalie Rasmussen in the Taylor Mile at Auckland. Until lunchtime Friday one was at $1.55 to win and one was at $3.10. And the $1.55 odds were not about the Miracle Mile winner. They were about a horse who had won a 3200m race at Addington last start. Reality struck closer to post time no doubt driven by Australian punters who couldn’t believe their eyes. It was an absorbing contest but Spankem was always to have an advantage if he held up in front which he did with gusto. Natalie stole a quarter in 32 in the middle stages and Mark was not inclined to force the issue after having done the donkey work in the open early. “He was just so good. He seemed to really come to it on his trip to Australia and he has gone on with it. And that draw advantage was a big one” Natalie said. The win lifted Spankem over the $1M mark in earnings joining an elite list of All Stars greats. Mark was not disappointed with Turn It Up for a moment and the way he rallied late in a better than 27 last 400, that was hardly surprising. He lost few friends for the Messenger next week. The horse has yet to be further back than 2nd in 12 starts and had not been asked to run a 1.53.4 mile before. The time erased the race record of Scuse Me, 20 years ago who won for Mark with Frank Cooney in the cart. Chase Auckland went a storming race for his 4th from a bad draw and is also a factor next week. This was a race which lived up to its billing, a throwback to the good old days of head to head clashes of superstars as opposed to the “star of this month” evident in some other promotions of the night. It was a tribute to All Stars that it was a straightout contest punters could profit from but also enjoy and know they got their money's worth Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Four year old trotter Sundees Son put on a powerful display to win tonight's Gr1 $102,000 H R Frisken & Sons Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park. Trained in Canterbury by Robert Dunn and driven by John Dunn, Sundees Son looked a forlorn chance in the feature trot after he settled last in the 13 horse field while another classy Canterbury trotter Marcoola ran smart sectionals at the head of the field. Still a clear last at the 900m Sundees Son showed dazzling speed to loop the field to the death seat at the 600m before putting a gap in them at the turn and running home to win easily under his own steam. Lemond went his usual honest race for second with Majestic man running home well for third. Sundees Son (Majestic Son - Stardon) trotted the mobile in 2-41.6 only 0.3 outside the New Zealand record of 2-41.3 held by Marcoola. The last 800m was trotted in 57.6 with a closing 400m in 28.4 seconds. The mile rate was a slick 1-58.2 for the 2200m. John Dunn put his improvement this season down to the hard racing the gelding had as a two and three year old.  "He got harded up as a 2yo with a lot of racing and then at three he backed up with more racing. It really mentally and physically toughened him up," he said. "It was a good effort for a four year old to take on the open class trotters and beat them. "A lot of credit has to go to Craig Edmonds. He has done a great job around home mucking around with his shoeing and mentally getting this horse ready as well, so credit to him," he said. Sundees Son is currently at the top in the 4yo Harness Jewels Ruby Leaderboard with Majestic Man sitting in second place.   Harnesslink Media

Tony Herlihy was in the only spot he did not want to be shortly after the start of the $55,000 Gr2 Haras des Trotteurs 3YO Sires Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park tonight. His harness racing trotting filly Tickle Me Pink was fresh up, and was parked out in a race full of match fit colts and geldings including the two trotters Enhance Your Calm and Lotamuscle who provided the quinella in the New Zealand Derby only a few weeks ago. But in the end it did not matter as Tickle Me Pink (Muscle Hill - Luby Ann) was too good shooting clear on the turn and holding on gamely by a head to beat a closing Paul Nairn trained Lotamuscle, his stablemate Gil Favour and an unlucky Enhance Your Calm who ruined his chances with an early gallop. "She has come back in great order from Breckon Farms after being sick in Australia last winter and all credit to them and their vets and the work they did with her in the interim of getting her back to my place," Tony said after the race. "Parked was the only place I did not really want to be," he said. "But she relaxed beautifully out there and we dictated the pace a bit out there as well. "She was geting a bit tired at the line but she has gone a terrific race for a horse who hasn't raced for about 9 months," he said. Breckon Farms "The Perfect Ten" syndicate own Tickle Me Pink who trotted the mobile 2200m mobile in 2-46.3 with a last 800m in 58.1 and last 400m in 28.6 seconds.   Herlihy also won during the night with smart trotter Forget The Price Tag. The Majestic Son gelding did a similar job to Tickle Me Pink sitting parked for the last lap and proving too strong for a handy field of trotters. He currently sits in 4th place on the harness Jewels Leaderboard.   Harnesslink Media

Speedy harness racing filly Amazing Dream smashed a 2yo New Zealand record when winning the $95,000 Gr1 Woodlands Stud Caduceus 2yo Fillies Classic at Alexandra Park tonight. Amazing Dream paced 2-40.4 for the mobile 2200m beating the previous NZ record of 2-41.9 set by Spanish Armada in this race in 2016. Tonight Amazing Dream was sent forward off the gate and led early in tonight's race before handing up to Tiffany Rose and John Dunn for a trail home. Hot favourite Sweet On Me who was very short on the tote and was previously unbeaten, had to sit parked out for the last lap on the hot pace and Amazing Dream who had the better trip had too much speed up the passing lane, getting to the lead halfway up the straight and holding on to win by a neck. Sweet On Me never gave up and fought well for second and Tiffany Rose battled on for third. The winner paced her last 800m in 55.7 and her final 400m in 27.2 seconds For successful driver Natalie Rasmussen it was her fourth success in the race and also the sixth straight win in the race for the All Stars Stables. “Amazing Dream has been a little bit stiff with draws except the one time she led and won at Addington,” she said after the race. “She has always had the ability, but she is a round little girl and the hard racing has done her good. “I have been pretty confident with this one from early days and she does have quite a bit of get up and go with her.” she said. Amazing Dream (Bettor's Delight - Christian Dreamer) is owned by Jean Fiess who was on track to see her filly win tonight.   Harnesslink Media

Champion trainer Mark Purdon has given punters a huge push for Spankem to upset more favoured stablemate Turn It Up in the $100,000 Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park tonight. Because while Purdon won’t be drawn on who is the better pacer he believes Spankem will lead tonight’s sprint and some incredible stats suggest that makes him clearly the horse to beat. Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen dominate the Mile with Spankem, Turn It Up and Chase Auckland but it is the first two who head the market as they have barriers two and three respectively. After a stunning season, including winning the Auckland Cup on this track, Turn It Up could be the best pacer in the country and many punters would expect him to go forward tonight and get the lead off either Mach Shard (1) or more likely Spankem (2). But Purdon says that is unlikely to be the case even though a lead-trail scenario would almost guarantee the stable the quinella. “Natalie (Rasmussen, driving Spankem) will probably lead and I think she has to drive her own race and stay there,” says Purdon frankly. “So I wouldn’t think I’d get the front with Turn It Up. He can still win but with Spankem likely to be in front I think he might even be our best chance.” As good as Turn It Up is, if Spankem leads then his stats this season suggest he is clearly the horse to beat at the $3.1 offered by bookies could be great value. Spankem has had 13 starts this season and led in five of those. He won them all, including the Miracle Mile and it’s Prelude as well as the star-studded Kaikoura Cup. His only other win came when sitting parked outside an inferior rival and controlling the tempo, so a similar pattern to leading. But in the seven other starts this season where he hasn’t been able to lead he has been beaten, running unplaced in three of them. Stat fact: when Spankem leads he wins, when he doesn’t he usually doesn’t. Of course nothing is guaranteed in racing but considering he was fast enough off the gate to lead the Miracle Mile two starts ago, has the uber aggressive Rasmussen on and Purdon seemingly happy to concede the front, Spankem is the horse you want to be on tonight. A reversal in the market as money comes for Spankem could even gift punters the opportunity to cover late on Turn It Up, who is exceptional and could still win from the one-one but might struggle to justify favouritism sitting parked. Purdon is very confident Sweet On Me will remain unbeaten in the Caduceus Club Classic while he warns punters on two fronts with Enhance Your Calm in the Sires’ Stakes Trot. The hot favourite was beaten after leading in the NZ Trot Derby but went into the race looking too skinny so early in a campaign. “We had the vets go over him after that race and find he had a few little niggles which were treated and he must have put on 30 or 40kgs since then so clearly they were bothering him. “So I think he will be better this week but I would like to drive him differently from the second line. “Often in is his races he has led easily but he has been explosive at the trials when driven with a sit so he might get a chance to show that this week.”  For all the class of those races the contest of the night should be the Anzac Cup, which looks the trotting race of the season so far. There are a huge number of wining chances and while the best version of Marcoola could overcome his second line draw any one of (in order or preference) Massive Metro, Lemond, Ronald J, Speeding Spur, Sundees Son, Majestic Man or even Temporale could win without shocking. Punting at the Park Best: Spankem (R7, No.2): Turn It Up might even be the better horse but if the Miracle Mile winner is going to lead in a mile at Alexandra Park you simply have to be on him. Longshot: Ronald J (R6, No.2): Had a few issues last couple of starts but at massive money tonight he could he handy in a tricky tactical race. Place punt: Kratos (R5, No.2): Not as good as some here but highest assessed of the front line horse and if he finds the markers first has options.   Michael Guerin

Trotting’s magic man believes he can pull off his second 20-1 group one winner this month in tomorrow night’s Anzac Cup. And while coming from anybody else that might sound wishful thinking, when master trainer Paul Nairn says it it is worth punters paying attention to. Nairn is one of the most respected trainer in the industry so it was rare to see him produce a big-odds winner when Lotamuscle blew past red hot favourite Enhance Your Calm in the $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby at Addington on April 5. The pair clash again in the $60,000 Sires’ Stakes at Alexandra Park’s huge premier meeting tomorrow night and while both have second line draws it is tempting for punters that Lotamuscle is rated a $6.50 chance in early markets compared with Enhance Your Calm’s $1.35 quote. But while Nairn thinks Lotamuscle can win with the right sit-sprint trip it is later in the night he believes he has the blowout chance in the $100,000 Anzac Cup. Nairn has both Ronald J and Habibi Inta in the outstanding open class field and says a huge improvement from Ronald J wouldn’t surprise. At his best the big trotter has looked to have serious x-factor but has let punters down with a pair of sixth placings in his last two starts. Nairn says he has had excuses. “I was disappointed by his last start so we had him checked out and he had a few issues,” he explains. “He had a few minor soreness issues we worked on and also had a high white blood cell count, which suggests he had an infection. “That has been fixed too and he has better now. And his work at home has suggested he is even happy right-handed than he is down home.  "So with a good draw and some gate speed I think he can be handy or even lead and I can’t see any reason he can’t win, even allowing for how strong the field is.”  With the TAB bookies opening Ronald J at $21 that gives punters a real chance in one of the best trotting races of the season. Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up is set to start a odds-on favourite in the $100,000 Taylor Mile having opened at $1.60 even though he has drawn outside Miracle Mile winner Spankem. The latter opened $3.10 but was backed into $2.60 last night in the sprint which has already seen Triple Eight scratched. Unbeaten filly Sweet On Me is the $1.16 good thing for the night in the Caduceus Club Classic. Michael Guerin

Alexandra Park News – Friday 26 April Friday 26 April 2019 – American Night Howdy Partner! Saddle up for Alexandra Park’s American Night on Friday 26th April from 5.30pm. Enjoy some harness racing action, all-you-can-eat southern style cuisine and a chance to wet your whistle. Cowboy hats and boots encouraged! Can you stay at the top of the mechanical bull leaderboard and take out the top prize? It’s gunna be a hoot. Ya'll get your group together and join in the fun. What are you waiting for? Secure your table today! Go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz The night is supported by the Caduceus Club along with their loyal group of sponsors who support the running of the Woodlands Stud Caduceus Club Fillies Classic for 2 YO fillies as well as 6 other races on the card including the John Devlin Memorial Trot. Also run on the night we have the Downbytheseaside at Woodlands 2019 Taylor Mile for 4 YO pacers, the final of Haras des Trotteurs Sires Stakes for 3YO Trotters and the HR Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup for the highest rated trotters. With this being the first night of the Premier racing in the Autumn at Alexandra Park all these horses will be able to compete for Group 1 glory again the following week if they happen to met with bad luck in the run. Friday 3 May 2019 – 2019 Reharvest Rowe Cup Friday May 3rd Harness Racing at its best - 3 Group 1 races as well as the Magness Benrow Sires Stakes 2 YO Fillies Championship will be run during the evening at Alexandra Park. The other feature races through the night will be the Dawson Harford NZ Messenger Championship for 4 YO pacers, Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby for 3YO Trotters and the 2019 Reharvest Rowe Cup for the best trotters in the country racing for a stake of $150,000.00. Top of the Park will open on this night for all your dining requirements and should you like more information or would like to make a booking go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz Friday 24 May 2019 – French Night in Top of the Park  For bookings go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz or phone 09 631 1165 Annual Wish 4 Fish Charity Function in Tasman Room, Alexandra Park Raceway, Auckland – All fund raised at this event will go to Wish 4 Fish Charitable Trust. Tickets cost: $135.00pp includes buffet meal & beverage package. The night will include charity auctions, raffles and a punters club $10.00 per share. For more information and to order tickets please phone Bryce on 021616601 or e-mail bryce@wish4fish.co.nz Mid-Winter Christmas – Christmas Party 21 & 28 June & 5 & 12 July 2019: Indulge in the festivity of mid-winter Christmas with Alexandra Park. Embrace the winter chills and find some festive spirit whilst enjoying the best harness racing in New Zealand. Offering FOUR function rooms and packages over four mid-winter Friday nights, there is something to suit all groups and budgets. Dream of mulled wine, all-you-can-eat buffet and a lively social atmosphere. Explore the best Alexandra Park has to offer, but don’t forget to book quickly as these popular nights don’t last long. Go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz to book your tickets or ring 096131165.   Invercargill HRC - Saturday 27 April DIAMONDS DAY A HIGHLIGHT OF HARNESS RACING SEASON One of the premier events on the Southern Harness Racing calendar – Diamonds Day - takes place at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Saturday 27 April. The event is the culmination of several of the major harness race series in the south with feature events including the finals of the Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks and the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes, both races run over 2700m for a stake of $50,000. The Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace also over 2700m for a stake of $25,000 is another feature as is the Group 3 Diamond Creek Farm 2yo Classic raced for a stake of $50,000 over 2200m. High quality fields are expected for a day of superb harness racing. On course patrons also have the opportunity to win in several competitions on course. Included among these is the Level One Restaurant & Bar Lucky Losing Ticket draw after Race 6 where a lucky losing ticket will win a $50 meal voucher from the sponsor plus a pictorial quiz which will feature in the race book. The children are not left out as they will receive a free bag of lollies after Race 6. Eleven high quality harness races are programmed with the first scheduled for 11.40am. Admission to the course is free. Some hospitality options are still available on course. Other dates for the Invercargill Harness Racing Club before the season ends include Saturday 4 May, 25 May and 8 June as well as Queens Birthday Monday 3 June.   Cambridge Raceway - Sunday 28 April Sunday 28th April – Launch of Cambridge Raceway’s newly renovated public bar! Along with ‘pop up’ mini golf, The Public Bar promises the best drink prices on course. Lounge opens at 11am on Sunday and is located on the ground level of the Grandstand. Thursday 16th May – Quiz night at the races New Zealand's best comedy pub quiz hosted by the hilarious Alan McElory is coming to Cambridge Raceway! So leave all your preconceptions of a boring tavern quiz at the door as this is not your average pub quiz. Throw in some live Harness Racing action throughout the evening and this is a night out not to be missed! More info here: https://www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/crack-up-quiz-night-at-the-races/ Thursday 6th June – Lads night at the races hosted by Jim from The Rock! It's our first Lads Night at Cambridge Raceway and we're setting the bar high. Along with an awesome night of horse racing, beers and bants, there will be celebrity dual sulky races - Featuring Jim & a couple of players from the Chiefs. Tickets are only $20 and include a Corona (or non-alcoholic drink) on arrival - Plus if you purchase your ticket before May the 6th you'll also receive a $20 bet to use on the night! More info here: https://www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/lads-night/   Rangiora HRC 26 May – Pink Ribbon High Tea The Rangiora Harness Racing Club will be hosting a Pink Ribbon High Tea at their May 26 meeting, to help raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. We're taking part in the Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign this year to help support Breast Cancer Foundation NZ's vital work. High Tea at the Rangiora Races -26th May 12:15 to 4:30 PM  Rangiora Racecourse, Westbelt Purchase your tickets before the 10th May and go in the draw to win a return trip to the High Tea at the Races in an Airpark limousine! Tickets $75.00, of which $20.00 goes towards the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. Phone: 021-738-007 Email: canterburycountryharness@gmail.com Get your friends together and glam yourselves up for a fabulous afternoons entertainment.  Tables of 6 and 10.  A glass of bubbles on arrival.  Prizes for best dressed and much more.................... The money raised will be used to fund research projects and medical grants to help improve survivorship, as well as support patients and their families during treatment and recovery. Donate today to help make zero deaths from breast cancer a reality. https://pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz/page/rangioraharnessracingclub   Addington Raceway News Hello Everyone, IRT HARNESS JEWELS  - Remember to book your perfect spot! We are delighted to host the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington. Please see below details of all the festivities. Welcome Pre Function Dinner – Thursday 30 May 6.00pm Silks & Satin Lounge, Level 2 Metropolitan Stand Hosted by Greg O’Connor and Michael Guerin, this special evening will celebrate the history of this wonderful event.  Included in the festivities will be the IRT Harness Jewels commentators Tony Lee, Mark McNamara and Aaron White who through their commentaries, will highlight this special race series.  As part of this night HRNZ will present the IRT Harness Jewels colours to the leading set of connections in each category. Evening includes; Three course plated dinner Cash bar facilities available $70 per person $650 for a table of 10 To book or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz IRT in association with TAB Harness Jewels Golf Day – Friday 31 May This is a Four Ball Best Ball Stableford event to be held at the Templeton Golf Club.  The day will start with a pre-game BBQ from 10.30am with teams teeing off from 11.30am.  There will be a prize giving post game. Individual $50 per player Sponsorship $250+GST per hold including a team of 4 To book or for more information please contact Greg O’Connor at greg.o’connor@tab.co.nz IRT Harness Jewels – Hospitality Packages – Saturday 1 June Ruby Lounge Located on level 3 of the Metropolitan Stand, enjoy panoramic views over the track in a lounge setting with casual seating.   Ideal for groups of friends wanting the best views, in a more relaxed atmosphere where you can mix and mingle with other racing enthusiasts. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Ruby Lounge · Complimentary drink on arrival · Stand-up grazing stations with an array of antipasto and seafood platters, fresh salads, carvery meats, fresh breads, hot vegetables, and a dessert selection · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $195 per person Silks & Satin Lounge Soak up the atmosphere and excitement in one of our largest lounges on course. Located on level 2 of the Metropolitan Stand with uninterrupted views of the winning post, this is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after positions for those wanting the complete hospitality experience. Allocated seating is at shared tables of 10 people. Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Silks & Satin Lounge · Three course buffet lunch, including cold meats, seafood and salads, hot dishes, carvery, and mouth-watering desserts · All beverages included – premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Live entertainment · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $295 per person Spectators Punters Lounge This is the perfect place for racing enthusiasts wanting a relaxed and casual place to mix and mingle. Enjoy the comfort of lounge facilities with access to the front of the Lindauer Lawn to watch all the trackside action. Spectators also offers a large screen, bar leaners and casual seating. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to Spectators Punters Lounge · Continuous spit roast grazing stations including fresh vegetables, seasonal salads, pork, Canterbury lamb and sweet treats · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $125 per person      For hospitality bookings or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz All details and booking forms are also on our website – addington.co.nz. We are looking forward to hosting an outstanding day of our sport on Saturday 1 June.  Have a great week. From the Addington Team   April Club of the Month – Timaru HRC Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce a new monthly feature, Club of the Month. Similar to the Stable Shout concept where we recognize trainers who are exceeding expectations in terms of owners experiences, the Harness Racing New Zealand owners subcommittee wish to also acknowledge clubs who have gone above and beyond to ensure all owners (winning or otherwise) are looked after and appreciated on race day. This month our winner is the Timaru Harness Racing Club, which was nominated by Nora Bishop. Nora has always been grateful for the Club’s efforts to look after her and her owners when she has raced a horse with them. “The Club has given me meal vouchers for owners to redeem at their wholesome little restaurant (The Grey Way Lounge) and always invite the owners up to the President’s room for drink in one of the most welcoming environments.” “They also do a great job with initiatives like the Mother’s Day lady driver race series, and incorporate great events for mothers and ladies in the industry on the day. So that encourages people to bring their families along on course and celebrate ladies in racing.” “The Timaru club also try really hard to have something for families at the track too which is always appreciated by owners with children. The kid’s lucky draw was always a hit with my kids!” We congratulate the Timaru Harness Racing Club for going the extra mile for owners and encourage other owners to nominate a club they have had a positive experience with by emailing Jess Smith – jess@hrnz.co.nz     HRNZ Marketing

Sekkie Monkey upset a strong field of maiden trotters at Ascot Park today. The four year old daughter of Monkey Bones was the sixth favourite in a race that was expected to be dominated by well bred Jaccka Jeorge and Liberty Stride. “That was a good maiden field and I wasn’t sure how we would go. But she went well,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson. Both Liberty Stride and Jaccka Jeorge broke with Jaccka Jeorge losing all chance. Liberty Stride made ground late for fourth. All the honours went to Sekkie Monkey which led early before handing up to Cuchulainn. “She’s just a bit lazy in front so I was quite happy to hand up. She was pretty strong at the finish. I was pretty happy with her. She’s just getting used to the tighter circuits.” At the top of the straight Williamson pushed Sekkie Monkey up the passing lane and she trotted home nicely to beat Cuchulainn by three quarters of a length.   Sekkie Monkey on the inside gets the winning call - Photo Bruce Stewart. The four year old was initially prepared for racing at Waikouaiti Beach by Amber Hoffman. She was sent to Williamson in December. The Branxholme trainer qualified her at Gore in February. “We had to put a lot of miles into her just to get her trotting solid but she’s pretty solid now. I don’t think she’s made a break off the place.” Sekkie Monkey is out of the Sundon mare Sekkie and is owned by Kevin Strong. “I was on the lookout for a Sundon mare after I lost one. She was advertised by Michael House in foal to Monarchy. That horse was no good so I put her in foal to Monkey Bones and that’s turned up trumps,” Strong said. Sekkie is no longer alive but Strong does have a three year old by Superfast Stuart named Super Sekkie out of the mare. Sekkie is a half-sister to Avatar (7 NZ and 5 AUS wins) and What Ever You Like (7 NZ and 16 AUS wins). “I’ve had a few horses over the years but never a good one by myself. The best one I raced with Neville Cleaver was Hopes And Dreams.” Strong and Cleaver are currently breeding from Sunrise Delight but unfortunately her first two foals have died. Currently they have two fillies out of the mare by Repeat Love and Peak. Nathan Williamson, Sekkie Monkey, Kevin Strong, Invercargill President Barry McCulloch and Trevor Little - Photo Bruce Stewart. Strong’s horses are now managed by former Gore trainer Trevor Little. “I’m retired and I thought I was out of it. Kevin had thirty odd horses. We’ve just worked our way through them. We’ve leased a few and kept a few of the trotters. We’re still breeding from Sunrise Delight (Sundon – Little Miss Watch) and Easy Option (Great Success – Sunrise Girl). ” Little trained Fakes Dream to win for Strong and Cleaver at Invercargill in February 2005.   Bruce Stewart  

Sportswriter gelding Hampton had a bit to live up to. Until today, his Christian Cullen dam Baptism Of Fire had left six winners from eight foals of racing age including Highview Tommy (17 wins and $1,021,904) Highview Chartom, Highview Teejay and Highview Freddy; all five win horses. “Everything out of that mare has won races with the worst winning four. So he (Hampton) should be able to get another couple of wins at least. This horse will be better in twelve months,” said Kirstin Barclay who co-trains the gelding with Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis. Driver Blair Orange settled the Hampton at the back of the main bunch before getting on the back of Mark O’Ronga to move forward with a lap to run. At the 800 metres Orange had Hampton parked outside leader The Interceptor. At the top of the straight Hampton had hit the front and he went down to the finish two and a half lengths clear of the second horse Bettor Rock Again. Hampton was bought by Wayne McEwan principal of McEwan Bloodstock, at the 2017 Christchurch Sale for $20,000. “It’s taken a while for him to get his confidence. He’s got a lot of high speed. We knew he would do a good job once he got going.” Today was only the gelding’s fifth start. Barclay says his confidence was knocked after his first start. “It was driver error first start. He got knocked over at the start and I then let him loose around the field and it just blew him over. It was too much for him and it’s knocked his confidence. It’s taken him a wee while to come back.” Orange was wearing a black arm band in today’s race to acknowledge the passing of Rewa Burns yesterday. Rewa was the wife of long time Secretary of Southland Trotting Clubs Peter Burns. Kirsten Barclay said “She and Peter were such an integral part of Southland Harness racing. They were like the power couple back in the day. They lived in the cottage across from the stable. Sometimes I’d get home from the races really late at night but she’d always come out to say well done.” Rewa raced cup class pacer Haughty Romeo back in the late seventies and early eighties. He won nine races, eight for Maurice Skinner and one for her son Tim. Meanwhile the Barclay/Ellis stable’s star pacer U May Cullect looks set to reappear at Ascot Park on Saturday. The Gotta Go Cullect five year old is unbeaten in only three starts and will line up on Diamonds Day in what will be his last start of the season. “It’s just amazing how he handled the trip (to Addington). He hadn’t been further than Winton and he went up to Canterbury, ate up, raced under the lights for the first time, won, and came back to his paddock and ate up.” Barclay says it doesn’t take too much to keep the quality gelding ticking over and race fit. “Tank spends a lot of time walking him and we space his races. We do a lot of slow long work, endurance work with him, so he’s always fit without sprinting.”   Bruce Stewart