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By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Pukekohe trainer Ray Green was dealt a mixed hand at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night. While promising colt American Dealer won the Dawson Harford Mobile Pace (2200m), two of his runners went amiss. American Dealer’s stablemate and race rival Man Of Action looked to have the race sewn up when he kicked clear by a length at the top of the straight, however, he lost all chance when breaking with 200m to go. Later on the card Group One performer Copy That over-raced during the McMurty Farms Handicap Pace (2700m) and was eventually pulled up by driver Maurice McKendry. Trainer Barry Purdon took out the quinella in the race with back marker On The Cards and promising pacer Major Jellis. Green was philosophical about the night and said both Copy That and Man Of Action took no ill-effects from their runs. “Man Of Action should have won, he was well clear, but he just lost concentration halfway up the straight and had a gallop,” he said. “Copy That started hitting the wheels and foot rests with his back feet when he (Maurice McKendry, driver) tried to get him back in behind. “He flipped out and he was off. He did the big bolt and Maurice did the right thing and pulled him up. “There is nothing wrong with the horse, he is 100 percent and pulled up beautifully.” Green was pleased with American Dealer’s winning efforts, with the son of American Ideal now boasting a record of two wins from just three starts. His only unplaced run came in the Gr.1 Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) in March where he finished fourth behind Krug. “It was very good considering it was his first run for quite a while,” Green said. “I was pretty happy with him, he is a little tradesman. “I thought he was probably our best chance of winning the race. “It is our first run in a while and the trials were good, but a trial is a trial, and a race is a race. “You really don’t know where you are at until you put them out there. He went quite well.”

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Alexandra Park again tonight with a nine race program starting at 6:11pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good night of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Alexandra Park Alexandra Park Wednesday 1st July 2020   Race 1 Franco Nandor he ran some tidy races last campaign and has been good at workouts, Include……Captain Nemo another of the strong Ray Green stable. He was ok last start and can win with the right trip, needed…..Doubtless Bay good draw and running on ok last start. Not the worst in this field and over the odds……Marathon Man beaten by a good horse fresh up from a terrible draw. Best draw here and can go one better in this field. Selections:  Franco Nandor (6),   Captain Nemo (5),   Doubtless Bay (2),    Marathon Man (1)   Race 2 Milner good finish last start and well placed in this field. Top selection……Silk going great guns now winning his last two. Will head forward and can win again…..Sheffield Sparky unlucky not to win last campaign and has a good draw. Needed…..Accelere he might get a cosy run from the draw and is a player if he can clear traffic. Selections:  Milner (10),   Silk (4),   Sheffield Sparky (3),    Accelere (9)   Race 3 Asteria Lavra Has been losing her chance at the start in her previous two runs. Can trot and only needs manners to go close here…..Rastusburn up from Canterbury and a trotter with a bit of ability. Trainer does well with ex South Island horses and has winning claims…..Hill of Peace another horse with ability who would be a major threat if he brought his a-game, can win…..Miss Slippers ok second last start and no surprise to see her put in a good effort again here. Selections:  Asteria Lavra (10),   Hill of Peace (5),   Rastusburn (11),    Miss Slippers (3)   Race 4 Hot And Treacherous he looked to have a bit left in the tank when winning fresh up. Good draw and winning claims again…..American Dealer big run to win fresh up at his last campaign. Has to right in the fight in this race……Larry Lincoln tricky draw but good winner first up. Can place here…….Kerri Maquire good run for second here last start. Draw ok if she can get some room in the run home. Selections:  Hot And Treacherous  (3),   American Dealer (6),   Larry Lincoln (7),    Kerri Maquire (10)   Race 5 Credit Master of a decent handicap and fresh up. Top pick on ability and can win….Tricky Ric nice effort to win last start and should be thereabouts again with a head start on his favoured rivals……Xebec blew it with a midrace gallop last start but easy winner prior.Needed here……Sertorius has good form on the track and should go close to a place again with manners. Selections:  Credit Master (9),   Tricky Ric (4),   Xebec (3),    Sertorius (7)   Race 6 Cee Whatadelight has good form on the board and nice draw. Should run top three….Weren’t Watching good finish last start for third and form in the south prior was good. Tough draw but needed here…..Kuyomi fresh up third was tidy and this field is in her range. Can win at good odds….Spirited Belle gate speed from out wide last start and stuck on ok in the straight. Can place. Selections:  Cee Whatadelight (4),   Kuyom (8),   Weren’t Watching (7),    Spirited Belle (9)   Race 7 Copy That serious talent coming in fresh. Should win this if he can step away with them at the start….Major Jellis steps up in grade but gets a good headstart on the favoured runners, Can place……Yorkshire stand start manners a concern but ok last start. One for longer odds in this…….On The Cards good beginner who will suit the staying distance of this race. Can win. Selections:  Copy That (6),   On The Cards (7),   Major Jellis (2),    Yorkshire (3)   Race 8 Edamfast ok here two starts ago and draw suits. Not the worst at good odds…..Rainbow Wiri beat a similar field here last start but draw not great. Getting good odds again……Happy Place should get a good run through from the draw and will probably start favourite in this. Needed…..Lynton Creek top effort for third last start and always a place chance in these amateur driver races. Selections:  Edamfast (4),   Rainbow Wiri (7),   Happy Place (10),    Lynton Creek (11)   Race 9 Tears Of Joy upset winner here last start beating Daisy Hill. Might be the quinella again here…….Daisy Hill the class horse here and will start favourite. Winning claims with manners…..Kristofferson good effort for third last start and similar field. Could be hard to beat if he found the front…..Bro Fawkes S probably not a winner here but he steps well and is a place chance fresh… Selections:  Tears Of Joy  (8),   Daisy Hill (9),   Kristofferson (2),    Bro Fawkes S (1)   Harnesslink Media

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    The Gr.1 New Zealand Cup (3200m) is the pinnacle for many trainers in New Zealand and South Auckland horseman Ray Green believes he has the horse that could be a major contender in the time-honoured race this year. His exciting colt Copy That has had a standout three-year-old term winning six of his 10 starts and placing in the remaining four. The season was highlighted by victories in the Gr.2 Three-Year-Old Classic (2200m) and Gr.2 Flying Stakes (1980m), while he also finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Sires’ Stakes Final (1980m) and Gr.1 Northern Derby (2700m). “You couldn’t fault what he did (this season), he stamped himself as one of the best,” Green said. “The last start (Flying Stakes) was the most impressive for me.” Green labelled Copy That has one of the best horses he has trained and he is excited about what lies ahead for the son of American Ideal. “He’s as good a horse as we have ever had, we are pretty fired up about him,” Green said. “We will put a nomination in for the New Zealand Cup and we will see where we are at at the time.” The classy colt has some big targets in front of him and he will kick-off his campaign in the McMurty Farms Handicap Pace (2700m) at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night. Green has been pleased with the way his charge has been progressing in his work, however, he cited his 45m handicap as a major concern in his first-up assignment. “He is really thriving,” Green said. “His work has been good and he has trialled well. I think it will probably take him a couple of runs to get back to where he was the last time he raced. “I think he is classy enough to still win it in spite of the 45m handicap, but I wouldn’t want to label him as a sure thing. “He will be vulnerable because of his lack of race fitness, but he is a classy individual.” TAB bookmakers have installed Copy That as a $2.90 second favourite behind On The Cards at $2.30. Copy That won’t be the only stable representative having his first-up run on Wednesday night, with Green also lining up half a dozen fresh hopefuls. American Dealer, Larry Lincoln, and Man Of Action have all pleased Green in their recent trials and he believes they will all put in a good showing in the Dawson Harford Mobile Pace (2200m). “Larry Lincoln is having his second lifetime start,” Green said. “He had a few little issues early on, but he seems fine now and is trialling well. “Man Of Action trialled particularly well, and so did American Dealer, so I am confident all three of them will go a good race.” Green will also line-up a trio of runners in the PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace (2200m) and he believes debutant Apieceoflou is one to watch for the future. “Franco Nandor and Captain Nemo are probably better prospects at this stage,” Green said. “Apieceoflou is still on the way up and the experience won’t hurt him. He looks like a nice horse for the future.”

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk     It’s taken a while but Logan Darby says his breakthrough victory with Rainbow Wiri was worth the wait. It was his first win in 15 drives in what was the first amateur drivers race at Alexandra Park since July 2015.   “It was my first drive under the lights at Alexandra Park,” he said, “I was quite surprised at how well he went.” In the last at the Park on Thursday night Rainbow Wiri, trained by his father Ray Darby, was 9/10 in the betting and had to do it tough,  racing three wide and then parked before proving too strong. “I half expected him to stop… I thought Edamfast was going to swamp him.” But the six year old just kept trucking to the line to give Rainbow Wiri his third win from 54 starts. Ray Darby hasn’t had the horse long, it was only transferred to him in March. “Dad is 80 in January,” said Logan, “he still trains the horse and me and my brother (Jeff) work him, Dad just tells us what to do. But if we are not around he’ll still jump in the cart.” After the early morning duties at the stables in Patumahoe Logan Darby’s day job  is all about ice cream. He works as a purchasing and supply manager for Emerald Foods, the makers of NZ Natural and Killinchy Gold. “I’ve been there for 20 years.” And he won’t have to wait long to get another go – another amateur drivers race is scheduled for July 1.

It is never easy to get Brian Hughes to look too far ahead with a horse. But Hot And Treacherous has been so impressive every time he steps out on the track the man they call Bunty admits he has to start thinking about some bigger targets. One of the north’s most hyped maidens made a winning debut at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, beating his recent workouts adversary and another horse with a maiden win just around the corner in Marathon Man. There was nothing special about their time on a cold and wet winter night and Hot And Treacherous had actually been reeling off faster sectionals in his recent Pukekohe workout wins. But there is a stamp on class about the two-year-old son of Captaintreacherous that is hard to miss, his win aptly coming on the day it was announced another of his sire’s sons, Captain Crunch is coming here to join Nevele R and Alabar. So impressive has Hot And Treacherous been the usually reserved Hughes, who trains the gelding with his son Gareth, admits he might have to steer him toward the rescheduled Sires’ Stakes and Sales Series races to be run in September and October. “That might be the aim if he keeps going well,” said Hughes as he awaited his last young prospect to return after the debut win. Gareth might have been doing the leading back but laughs and points to Dad when asked who does the majority of day to day work on this one, always a good indication of where a horse stands in the pecking order of the stable’s maidens. Hughes paid $60,000 for Hot And Treacherous at the Karaka sales last year, buying him off Breckon Farms as the second foal from lightly-raced mare Hothooves. While he has looked a natural in all his workouts the delay and then rescheduling of the key juvenile races from this season to being early next season probably aids Hot And Treacherous and like many in that situation he could have a busy spring and early summer. It is rare a maiden race provides the star turn at Alexandra Park but he was the horse who had everybody buzzing but closer to the top of the rankings system it was the Dickie team who continued their sensational form since lock down. They won two races again with Callie’s Delight and Tricky Ric taking out the night’s feature pace and trot respectively. Callie’s Delight beat On The Cards was manners and speed, working to the lead early and controlling the race and then licking home her last 800m in 55.3 seconds which meant that On The Card, sitting last in his comeback race was left an impossible mission to catch her. “She is racing so well and these wins are great for her future broodmare career,” said co-trainer John Dickie. Tricky Ric got his manners right while stablemate Kay Cee didn’t, with the latter galloping late in the race when challenging the eventual winner. Team Dickie still quinellaed the race, with Tricky Ric leading home Sertorius while Kay Cee was disqualified, a rare combination of result for any stable with three horses in a race. The win won’t be Tricky Ric’s last as it was penalty free because of driver Craig Smith’s junior exempt claim and while the former Jewels runner-up won’t rush through to open class he should well and truly be there by the end of this year if not sooner.   Michael Guerin

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Auckland again today with a nine race program starting at 5:59pm, and today we highlight our selections we think can give you a run for your money on a night of racing. The content and data on this page is provided for informational purposes only.   Auckland Harness 18th June 2020 Race 1 Yorkshire has his first start in the North since moving from Canterbury and is a strong chance off the front.... On The Cards proven form in top grade and the small field will help negate the tricky handicap. Top Selection.....Callie’s Delight match fit and has a good chance if she can find the front at some stage... Selections:  On The Cards (4),   Yorkshire (1),   Callie’s Delight (2),    Red Reactor (3)   Race 2 Silk Likely to go forward at the start and has strong claims with an in-form junior driver in the bike...Adieu Flirt goes well on the track and shorter distance will suit good chance here...Vespa Good win last start can repeat with luck in the running. Sunset Red first up winner in the North but this is harder. Place chances Selections:  Silk (5),   Adieu Flirt (8),   Vespa (7),   Sunset Red (2)   Race 3 Asteria Lavra Out of contention early last start but can redeem herself here. Top pick...Bright And Shiney Good at trials and from an in form stable. Can win with manners...Hill Of Peace another with tidy trial and workout form. Tote will tell the story...Just Ricky  Early leader who could stick on for a place if there are too many mistake makers. Selections:  Asteria Lavra (7),   Bright And Shiney (5),   Hill Of Peace (3),   Just Ricky (1)   Race 4 Doubtless Bay good draw to contend with and ok last start. Can win...Romanee Top performance fresh and will be in the fight again here....Hot And Treacherous Has been winning at trials and workouts but strongest test to date here. Should be close to favourite for this....Marathon Man Stable has them ready to run fresh. Watch the tote on this one from the wide draw. Selections:  Doubtless Bay (1),   Romanee (3),   Hot And Treacherous (2),    Marathon Man (8)   Race 5 Daisy Hill Manners a concern but should be right in the fight if she trots all the way....Kristofferson Another who can be tardy early. A big chance if he can lead early and tidy win last start....Magnafique always a place chance in these 2200m stands. Stable going well....Leesa Castleton big run last start and a repeat would take her close. First run the Auckland way around. Selections:  Kristofferson (2),   Magnafique (10),   Daisy Hill (13),    Leesa Castleton (6)   Race 6 Johnny Mac nice draw and a good chance to run top three in this field....Nurburgring looks the early leader and should be thereabouts with minimal attackers...Texas Tiger  has been performing well in classy fields. Should start favourite and can win...Double Up tricky draw to contend with but has ability. Chance at nice odds if he can get handy in the running. Selections:  Texas Tiger (6),   Nurburgring (2),   Johnny Mac (1),    Double Up (7)   Race 7 She Reigns big run after breaking last start. Normally a good beginner and nice each way chance here....Tricky Ric good pipe-opener last start and will be improved. Might be too good for them if he can find the lead....Kay Cee easy win last start but tough handicap. Can still finish amongst the placings....Sertorious looked the winner until late last start. Manners a query but good enough to overcome the 30m handicap. Selections:  She Reigns (6),   Tricky Ric (3),   Kay Cee (7),    Sertorious(8)   Race 8 Major Jellis beaten favourite last start but had excuses. Should be improved and will start a hot favourite...Mister Slick good gate speed and will probably trail the favourite. Can run a place here....The Blue Beat winner last start but draw not so great. A chance to run into the placings if she can clear traffic....Milner Racing well but first look at the course. Chance to run in the money with a cosy run in transit. Selections:  Major Jellis (4),   Mister Slick (3),   Milner (2),    The Blue Beat (9)   Race 9 Edamfast he races well on the track and could get home at value in the last. Each way claims....The Batmobile will probably start favourite here and is overdue a win. Good chance...Romanite out of form but has beaten similar fields in the past. No surprise to see him figure in the placings....Rainbow Wiri tidy after a break last start. Well drawn and has place claims here. Selections:  Edamfast (9),   Romanite (8),   The Batmobile (5),   Rainbow Wiri (3)   Harnesslink Media

Trainer Adrienne Matthews is in for a record night at Alexandra Park this evening. And why that doesn’t mean she will train a winner the fact she has seven starters at the second Auckland meeting of harness racing’s comeback is a huge feat in its self. “I have had seven starters at a Manawatu meeting once but never at Alexandra Park,” says the Glenbrook horsewoman. “That is a lot of starters at a meeting up here for us so I am looking forward to it. But to be honest I am just enjoying being back at the races after the lockdown.” It is still some effort from a smaller stable to have seven starters at an Alexandra Park meeting, including winning chances like The Blue Beat (race eight). “We were kind of lucky that we have our own track at home so could be up and running quickly after lockdown and some of them are racing really well.” Matthews is a popular member of the northern harness racing community, having cut her teeth in harness racing with the likes of Ray Norton and Geoff Small. “I actually got into racing a bit later than a lot of people do because I played rep netball and that was my main focus out of school. “I played for the North Shore and West Auckland at the level just below what was then the Coca Cola Cup but started to get more involved with the horses around 21,” said the now 38-year-old. She starts tonight with two chances in race two, the in-form Letherhairdown and Fortune Smile, who is fresh up. “Letherhairdown is racing well but this is a nice enough field so she might be a better place chance while Fortune Smile was all but retired. “She had soreness issues in her hind legs and we were going to break her in for a saddle horse but then an abscess burst out and she was sound enough to put back into work. “She lacks a bit of speed but tries hard.” Maiden trotter Cepheus (race three) has the ability to win races but Matthews says a second-start scare has dented his confidence. “He ran fourth on debut but in his second start the horse next to him came across at the start and pushed him into another horse and and since then he has been worried every start that the other horses are coming to get him at the start. “He is getting slowly better but it might take a few more starts yet to get his confidence back.” Johnson Step (race four) was attacked in front at Cambridge last week but still faded more than he should have late and steps into a stronger maiden field tonight. “I think he might be back on the inside and this looks like a tough race for him to win.” Matthews is hoping the stable’s trotting star The Hulk can make a better beginning in race seven tonight to help him navigate the final bend smoothly. “Getting in and trotting roughly on that last bend has been his weakness and to overcome that it is better if he is on the markers near the lead so hopefully he can be there. “But he is still better left-handed.” The other problem for The Hulk is the depth of the field, with plenty of potential future open class trotters in what will be the highlight of the night, headlined by brilliant last start winner Kay Cee. The Blue Beat meets some handy opposition in race eight but Matthews says the lockdown was a blessing for the four-year-old mare. “She is a very big mare and has been a bit awkward growing into herself but that break during lockdown really aided her and she paces a lot smoother now she has strengthened up,” says Matthews. “So I think she will be a better mare this campaign but she isn’t a sit sprint horse so I am hoping Jay (Abernethy, driver) can get her off the inside and sit in the running line this week.” The last on the card tonight for the amateur drivers gives Matthews the chance to repay loyal stable supporter Bruce Hadley with another drive on Edamfast. “Bruce has been great to us, always willing to help out when we short staffed on the weekends,” she explains. “I think he can win a race on this horse but he is a funny horse to drive in that you have to make him do it and last week he got a bit lazy. “Because of that I don’t think one on the second line suits him on Thursday, especially following out a horse who might not have enough gate speed to lead.”   Michael Guerin

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Zachary Butcher was pleased to record his first win back in the sulky since racing’s COVID-19 enforced hiatus when reining home Whiskey Neat to win over 2200m at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. To top it off, Butcher also trains the three-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight, making the win even more special for the South Auckland horseman. Whiskey Neat finished third on debut at Cambridge Raceway on Sunday and Butcher said she took a lot of benefit from the run and that proved to be the case on Thursday. She was sent forward by Butcher to take an early lead, with the pair able to dictate terms throughout and run away to a 1-1/4 length victory over Romanee. “The run probably suited her more tonight, she was out and rolling, which she likes,” Butcher said. “She got a bit caught up the other day and got stuck in behind them, but hit the line well. It was a good learning experience for her and it has all worked out for tonight.” Butcher was impressed with the way she won on Thursday and he is looking forward to the future with her. “She’s a typical Bettor’s Delight. They put a length on them and they shut up shop and just do what they have to,” he said. “She had a bit left in the tank, which is a positive heading up into the next grade. “Hopefully we can get a few more wins with her.” Whiskey Neat will now likely head to Cambridge Raceway later this month and Butcher said it will be interesting to see how she handles the step-up in grade. “It’s pretty hard with our grading system now,” he said. “When they win a few you are up against five and six win horses. “From only having two starts it can be hard work. She is not the biggest horse, so we will just take our time with her. “We will give her three or four days off now and maybe head to Cambridge and see what we can do there. “She will tell us where she is at and we will just go along quietly.” Butcher had a good night at the office, placing in his three other drives on the six-race card. He was particularly impressed with Sertorius’ runner-up effort and he believes the son of Muscles Yankee could have an exciting winter instore. “I was really happy with Sertorius,” he said. “Over 2200m, and off 20m, he begun really quick. “He is a horse that you have had to watch early, but he began like a rocket tonight. He did a little bit of work midrace and hit the line strong. “He probably got done by a bit of speed, but looking at him you think a few more runs under his belt he could have a nice winter campaign.” Butcher was able to toast Whiskey Neat’s victory earlier than he would have liked to as a result of the small card, but he is hopeful normality will return in the coming months. “I would rather be going home later and have more races and more horses and owners here, but it is what it is,” he said. “We are coming out of a tough time and hopefully if everyone keeps putting in and doing a bit extra, we will be back there soon enough. “For a start I’ll be back home to have a few beers and celebrate the win.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Kay Cee’s win at Alexandra Park on Thursday night summed up his life. Because it didn’t start well but turned out perfectly. The five-year-old produced the performance of the night at Alexandra Park’s return to racing meeting, having to overcome a rare early gallop to loop the field late and win like a horse with a future. It wasn’t the first time Kay Cee has shown open class ability, trotting a super fast 2200m stand time when winning two starts ago just before Covid-19 closed racing down. But as good as he was winning back then his performance on Thursday night was at a different level because he beat some talented rivals, including stablemates Sertorius and Tricky Ric to give John and Josh Dickie the trifecta. “He actually got a check early which is why he broke cause that is very unlike him,” said John Dickie. “But it was a big win under those circumstances.” His fourth win from 14 starts mirrored the start to his career, which was anything but ideal. “He spent about 18 months on a farm down at Raglan as a young horse and he didn’t even start breaking into until he was three. “And he could be a real bugger. He had a real streak in him which some of that family can do. “But he can trot and he will follow any speed so I think he will end up in open class.” Later in the programme the Dickie’s completed a double in the night’s feature trot races when Daisy Hill bolted away with the R48-61 trot, continuing their great start to harness racing’s comeback. Kay Cee wasn’t the only winner on Thursday night who had to overcome a setback with Warloch coming from a wide draw and without an ideal preparation to win the feature pace. Like so many of the Pukekohe-trained horses Warloch has had less miles in his legs that trainer Michael House would want because their training track was close. “But I wanted to support the racing up there so I told the guys to line the horses up,” said House. “I realised they couldn’t be at their peak but they could also race into form.” Warloch was still good enough to record the eighth win of his career in the hands of Peter Ferguson as he edged his way toward $100,000 in stakes, making him one of the best performed stock of sire Well Said in this country.   Michael Guerin

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Northern horseman Zachary Butcher is looking forward to backing up Whiskey Neat in the Go On “Lather Up” With Woodlands Stud Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. The three-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight made her debut over 2200m at Cambridge on Sunday and impressed her trainer-driver when running home well to finish third behind Doc Holiday. “She went pretty well, but got held up a wee bit,” Butcher said. “They only waddled around, which didn’t suit her and she got hunted up the passing lane after being held up. “It was her first-up run so hopefully she will get better with it. We have a better draw (3) on Friday, so hopefully she will go well.” Butcher has been pleased with the way she has pulled up after Sunday and he believes she has taken a lot of improvement out of the run. “I thought I had her looking spot on heading into Sunday, but I think she looks better coming out of it,” he said. TAB bookmakers share Butcher’s confidence, installing her as a $2.30 favourite for Thursday’s contest ahead of Kuyomi ($3.60) and Doubtless Bay ($4.80). Butcher is into his second season of training and he said he is enjoying working his small team of three horses. “It’s good fun, at least you can put all your attention into the couple that you are doing, so they get a little bit of extra TLC,” he said. “I am more leaning towards enjoying that side of things at the moment. Obviously I will always stick with driving, it is my main income earner, but the training side is definitely a different buzz. It’s great, I really enjoy it.” Butcher will also hop in the cart on Thursday night to drive Manchester On Fire and Parker, but he is particularly looking forward to seeing how the John and Joshua Dickie-trained Sertorius performs in the Speeding Spur At Woodlands Stud Handicap Trot (2200m) after he drove the 8-win trotter at two recent workouts. “He has been good and will be better for those two runs,” Butcher said. “Tricky Ric and a few others have drawn in front of him and they are trialling up pretty well too. “The mark (20m) is not going to help him a lot, but he has definitely got the ability and if he steps well and puts himself in a position, he will be thereabouts.”

Champion trainer Barry Purdon is happy to be heading back to the races but he admits he would like to be taking twice as many horses. Purdon returns to his home track at Alexandra Park on Thursday night for the first horse racing meeting in Auckland since lockdown began way back in late March. The meeting has attracted only the six races, possibly as the trainers of many of those who resumed at Cambridge last Sunday would be reluctant to back up just four days later after such a long break from racing. But that doesn’t affect Purdon as he was only aiming two horses at the meeting in Major Jellis and On The Cards, with the latter not getting a run in the night’s major pace. He as eliminated for being too highly assessed and while disappointed Purdon can see both sides of the argument. “I feel for his owner Dennis Thompson because he kept the horse going through the winter,” says Purdon. “So I would have liked to see him get a start and I have always believed if there is a race for your horse and he is good enough to start he should get a start. “But I also understand the other side of the argument because he would have been by far the tightest assessed horse in the race. “So even if he had to have a concession driver on I would have liked to see him start but in this case, I can see why he didn’t get in.” On The Cards would have added some comeback class to the meeting but he may have endangered the rating 58 to 77 mobile pace from getting off the ground as even with a preferential draw he would have been on the front line and probably crossed his rivals, led and won. It also would have meant an Inter Dominion finalist starting off the same mark as a horse like Dress Sense, who while unbeaten has only won two minor races at Cambridge and couldn’t be asked to race a horse like On The Cards off levels marks. As Purdon said, two sides to an argument and not as easy one to solve at this time of the year during Covid-19 comeback mode with a small already elite level horse pool. Even without On The Cards, Purdon can still win the $12,000 pacing race of the night as he has Major Jellis drawn the ace and he beat On The Cards at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday. “He is going well and he has shown some gate speed in the past so he will be a good chance,” said Purdon. The stable’s stars Mach Shard and Belle Of Montana have pleased Purdon early in their campaigns, with Belle Of Montana having her first hoppled run this time in on Tuesday morning. “They could both be back racing in late August and I think I could have quite good numbers to be back racing then.” While Thursday’s meeting will be a short and sharp return for the home of northern harness racing the feature trot has secured a nice field and will provide the highlight of the night. One horse who won’t be there is Kratos, last season’s Breeders Crown champion who had been scheduled for a return this week but now needs a bone chip operation and a spell.   Michael Guerin

Return to harness racing at Alexandra Park, commences on Thursday 4 June, without spectators.  ‚Äč The only people permitted to attend meetings will be those drivers competing at the meeting, trainers with runners engaged at the meeting, stable staff of those trainers as advised to the club, and essential race day personnel. Whilst we will still not have spectators on-course, we encourage you to watch from home on Trackside 62 or 63. Or for interviews with drivers and behind the scenes footage keep an eye on our social channels. via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! The Alex/TAB & Gaming Room will be open with a limit of 100 guests but there will be no access trackside.  Given this limited number, we expect there may be queues to get in.  However, if getting out of the house appeals, in addition to The Alex, both Grand Park - Chinese Restaurant and the new Lonestar Alexandra Park will be open for dining with the same limitations. At this stage the protocols are expected to remain in place until at least 22 June 2020.  

Sometimes the seemingly smallest change can make a very large difference. And plenty of northern trainers are hoping one of the changes brought in to cater for the new racing programme as we prepare to return to racing might pre-empt a more permanent change for good. Workouts and trials return around the country next week and in the Auckland region that will see a shift to Friday’s for the regular Pukekohe workouts and trials, starting next week. The change is possible because neither Alexandra Park nor Cambridge will be racing on Friday for the remainder of the season as they have been given other dates as HRNZ and RITA test the waters for what could possibly work heading forward. Racing will definitely return to Alexandra Park on Fridays next season. Yet for now all the trainers spoken to love the idea of Friday workouts, or any weekday instead of Saturday, to give their staff at a chance at a normal Saturday. At the moment trainers tend to race Friday night at Alexandra Park, many not getting to bed until well into the new day and then have to rise early the next morning to work horses before transporting others to the workouts. Not only does that make for a brutal and potentially unsafe workload on a lack of sleep but after leaves many staff with no chance of a Saturday off. “I have never been a fan of Saturday workouts,” says champion horseman Tony Herlihy. “For me they come too close after the races on Friday night and sometimes after we have raced both Thursday and Friday. “And it is hard for not only us but the staff. They want to be able to have some sort of weekend like other people and enjoy themselves a bit. “I was actually one of the people who really resisted Saturday workouts and I wouldn’t go to them for a while until they became the norm and I had no choice. “I think Friday is a good fit for now while we aren’t racing on Fridays and then I’d prefer to see them go back to a weekday.” Herlihy has two horses ready to qualify in coming weeks and says he will support the return to racing date in the north of May 31 at Cambridge with small numbers and more so as his race team builds. Josh Dickie, who trains with his father John, says they have good numbers in work and will also be at Cambridge although a couple of their team will need to wait for Auckland as the tentative Cambridge programmes of a R40 and faster 2200m trot will be too tough on better grade trotters. “We don’t wan’t to be starting horses fresh up off a big handicap, that is how you can get to the bottom of them,” explains Josh Dickie. “But we expect to have horses at Cambridge and at the workouts within two weeks. “We love the idea of Friday workouts for now and a weekday heading forward because Saturday is tough on everybody. “It is hard on the staff, telling them they have to work long hours on a Saturday and makes it harder for them to have anything like a normal life.” One of the busier trainers in the north is Steve Telfer who has plenty of horses in work and could have 10 to 12 ready for May 31. “I am not saying we will take that many to Cambridge and some of our might not get a start because it looks like the main pace there could be capped at R65 but we are hoping there is some flexibility around that as we have horses in the 70s and 80s (ratings) who we would like to take there. “But we have a lot of horses back in work now and will have good numbers at the first two meetings.” As for a shift away from Saturday morning workouts Telfer likes the idea of a change. “We often work quite a few of ours fast on a Saturday at home so to have the option to have a busy morning there and be finished rather than going to the workouts the day after the races would suit us better.”   Michael Guerin

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk  South Auckland horseman Tony Herlihy had a good night at the office at Alexandra Park on Friday night, recording a driving treble and training double. The night was headlined for Herlihy by regally-bred filly Platinum who was able to topple $1.30 favourite Sky Delight to take out the Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes 2YOF (H1) Mobile Pace (1700m). The daughter of multiple Group One winner De Lovely stalked her more fancied opponent the entire trip and was able to utilise the passing lane to win by 1-3/4 lengths. “She went really well, got a lovely trip and finished it off really well,” Herlihy said. “I thought she was a good chance of being right there, but I thought Barry’s (Purdon, trainer) one might have been a little bit smart for us. But she has improved a bit, so that was good.” Platinum finished fifth in the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Stakes (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight prior and Herlihy was pleased to see an improved performance from the promising juvenile. "She was a fraction disappointing there and perhaps didn’t quite back-up from the week before, being a big filly at this stage,” he said. “The two weeks in-between runs seemed to suit her tonight.” Herlihy is now looking forward to a busy couple of months with Platinum, which he hopes will culminate with a tilt at the Jewels at Cambridge Raceway in May. “She has got a bit of racing coming up heading towards the Jewels,” he said. “There’s a sales series race coming up as well, so there is a bit there for her.” While Barry Purdon tasted defeat at the hands of Herlihy in the race, earlier in the card the pair united to take out the Jacobsen Headstones Mobile Pace (2200m) with On The Cards. After being stuck three-wide early in the piece from their wide draw, Herlihy elected to press forward with his charge and take control of the race. The son of Bettor’s Delight didn’t relinquish his lead and was able to hold out a game Double Rocket to win by 1-1/4 lengths, with the Purdon-trained Wainui Creek a further head away in third. “I have driven him a couple of times before and he has always raced well. He is a good, honest horse,” Herlihy said. “He got to the front nicely and it worked out well.”  LL Cool J completed a training double and driving treble for Herlihy when he won the “Ahh Gimme That Schweppes” Mobile Pace (2200m).  “He is a nice, honest big fella, and he got around good,” Herlihy said.  “The draw (8) made it a little bit awkward, but when I got around to the front without doing too much, it certainly made it a lot easier for him. He stuck to his guns really well.”  – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Last start Group One winner Wainui Creek will take her next step towards another elite-level target when she lines-up in the Jacobsen Headstones Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The four-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight was victorious in the Gr.1 NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) at Addington last month and trainer Barry Purdon has been pleased with her work since then. “It was a great win last start by Wainui Creek,” he said. “She got a great run, tried hard, and managed to get there. “She has just had the one trial since she came back. I think she probably should have gone a bit better (third), but her work was good on Wednesday morning, so that’s all you can go on.” All going well after Friday night, Wainui Creek will likely be set for a couple of Group One targets on her home track before the the Jewels in May. “Hopefully we will head towards the Taylor Mile (Gr.1, 1609m) and just make a decision after that whether the Messenger (Gr.1, 2700m) is on the cards,” Purdon said. “We are ticking over for the Jewels really.” Wainui Creek will be joined in her Friday assignment by stablemate On The Cards who also takes some great form into the race, with two Group placings in his last two starts. “On The Cards also worked well on Wednesday morning and I think they both come in pretty well off in that race,” Purdon said. “On The Cards has done well. He always gives his best, he is one of those horses. He should go well on Friday.” Purdon will also line-up Sunny Glenis and Jemma on Friday night, but he is particularly excited about Sky Delight, the half-sister to multiple Group One winner Sky Major, in the Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes 2YOF (H1) Mobile Pace (1700m). The two-year-old filly has finished runner-up in both of her starts to date, including the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago. “Sky Delight is a really nice filly and she is going to be competitive in the big races,” Purdon said. “She has worked well and we gave her a bit of a run on Saturday morning and she was really good. I am really looking forward to her lining up, she has got a nice draw (1). “She will probably head to the Sires’ Stakes and then the Sales Series for the fillies and then onto the Jewels. She will have plenty coming up, that’s for sure.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

We understand that the global COVID-19 situation is raising unprecedented concerns for some events and conferences.  Our Management team is awaiting the Government announcement expected for the 17th March before our policy will be finalised around COVID-19 event disruption along with our broader ability to host events. As a sports events venue and function centre with the capability to host events from 10 to 10,000 guests clarity around the size and scope of activities permitted is integral to our business response. The current operating environment is unlike anything experienced before in New Zealand. As such, we are working to implement an operational and commercial framework around these new, interim measures as well as remaining agile to a fast-moving and constantly changing situation. This fluidity is possibly the most significant challenge in formalising policy and procedures. We are optimistic about partnering with our clients to achieve the best outcomes for each of our businesses in these challenging times. In doing so for those concerned about holding their event, we would urge consideration to deferment as opposed to cancellation and will be keen to explore ways in making this a preferred option for our clients. Advice from Ministry of Health for public events and mass gatherings If you are an event organiser, you should focus on: 1. Reminding your staff and guests not to attend if they are feeling unwell 2. Reminding your staff and guests not to attend if they have been to any country except those listed in Category 2 (excluding airport transit) in the past 14 days 3. Briefing your event staff on how to practice good hygiene and making it easy for staff and attendees to practice good hygiene.  Alexandra Park are committed to this for the benefit of both our staff and guests.  For more information, please visit Ministry of Health

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