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By Jonny Turner    In a far bigger surprise than his strong front-running win in the Group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes at Ascot Park on Thursday, trainer Mark Jones revealed the New Zealand Cup is the next target for Burnham Boy. The pacer showed off his staying power to win Jones the second of Southland’s flagship three-year-old features, just minutes after Stylish Memphis took out the Southland Oaks Final. After Burnham Boy ran to a victory in a 2700m mobile, it’s natural for Jones to look for another staying test for the pacer. Few would have predicted the trainer would have revealed he has had his eye on the New Zealand Cup. Especially considering Burnham Boy is not nominated for the 3200m feature. But the Jones was quick to point out that it made sense to target New Zealand’s greatest race. “He hates 1980m races and that is all that is around for him,” Jones said. “I would start him in the cup if he made the field – we would pay the late entry fee.” “It is probably more for the owners than anything else, but he is a good stayer and he would run a good two miles [3200m].” Burnham Boy is not the only horse Jones is attempting to make a last-ditch effort with to qualify for a New Zealand Cup Week feature. The trainer will start Majestic Lavros in the South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura on Monday in the hope he will qualify for the Dominion. Burnham Boy banked enough to cover a late entry payment for the New Zealand Cup thanks to a well-judged front running drive from Samantha Ottley. Jones had a plan to lead and play to his pacer’s staying strengths ahead of the Southern Supremacy Stakes Final. And he even told media of that plan in a pre-race interview. “I told the press before the race what the plan was, so Sam only had to read it and drive to instructions,” Jones quipped. When pressed for a more serious assessment of the drive, Jones heaped praise on both Ottley and Ricky May, who also gave Stylish Memphis a perfect run in the trail. “Both horses were driven perfectly and that is why they are out there and I am sitting in the stands.” Jones’ red-letter day, winning both the Southland Oaks and Southern Supremacy Stakes continued the brilliant start he has made to the new season. Earlier this month he produced La Rosa to win the Harness Million for two-year-old fillies at Addington. “It is a great result, especially when you set the horses for these races.” “We have come down here plenty of times before and got beat, but today we were lucky enough to get the job done.” Jones is not the only trainer eyeing a late run into the New Zealand Cup following Diamonds Day. Owner Neville Cleaver is keen to press on to the 3200m event after Franco Santino equalled the aged male pacers’ 2200m track record at Ascot Park. Franco Santino took out Diamonds Day’s fast class event for older horses when producing a gritty effort to win in a 2.39.6 time. The Nathan Williamson trained and driven pacer will need a good bump up from his 21st place ranking on the latest order of entry for the New Zealand Cup is he is to start in the race.

By Jonny Turner    Driver Ricky May got the biggest thrill of his comeback to race driving when Stylish Memphis took out the Group 3 Southland Oaks Final at Ascot Park yesterday. Stylish Memphis burst out of the trail to power to victory in the 2700m feature and set up a big day for trainer Mark Jones, who went on to take out the group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes with Burnham Boy. Stylish Memphis’ victory completed her epic reunion with May, who drove the filly the night before his well-publicised collapse during the Central Otago Cup in January. Then, the pacer ran the second of two group 1 placings behind Amazing Dream in the Sires Stakes Championship Final. Though Thursday’s event was not a group 1, to return to the sulky and drive the now four-year-old to win an Oaks was a huge thrill for May. “That is a huge thrill, it was great to win that race with her.” “I won the Banks Peninsula Cup with One Apollo and now to win this is a pretty big thrill.” “It is great to be back to where I was.” “I feel like I have been driving alright since I came back, but I haven’t been driving that many good horses.” “But the nice ones I have been driving have been going really good.” May showed his class with one of his typically patient drives. When taken on early by eventual third-placegetters, Watch Me Now and Kirstin Barclay, he made the crucial decision to hand the lead away in what most would consider a bold move when driving a $1.80 favourite. Stylish Memphis then showed how potent she is when getting such a soft trip after May angled her off the inner before the home turn. “She proved when she went to Australia how good she was.” “She is looking a million dollars and she is probably only going to get better with a wee bit more racing.” “Mark has done a great job with her.” Stylish Memphis smashed the 2700m mobile all-comers track record at Ascot Park in her victory. Her 3.16.3 time took a massive 0.8sec off the previous mark, set in the same race in 2018 by Bonnie Joan. Need You Now took second behind Stylish Memphis, fighting on bravely after having to sit parked. Earlier on Diamonds Day, Dashing Major took out the group 3 Diamond Creek Farms after also enjoying a perfect run in the trail. The half-brother to former star mare Venus Serena nosed out hometown favourite Ragazzo Mach in the most thrilling of finishes to win the $30,000 feature in just his third start for trainer Robert Dunn. And the John Dunn driven three-year-old had to be sensationally quick to do it, coming off the back of the favourite Ragazzo Mach on the $30,000 feature’s sizzling 26.8sec last 400m. “It was a good effort to get there when they were running the last quarter [400m] that quick,” John Dunn said. Dashing Major will now he clash with star three-year-olds Krug, It’s All About Faith and American Dealer in the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup Day.

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 Invercargill today with a ten race program starting at 2:48pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day 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 Ascot Park. Invercargill selections 29th October 2020 Race 1 Shindig has been working well and trainer has a good record with Southern first starters. Top selection.…… Mahia galloped last start after showing speed mid-race. One for longer odds in this field.… Oneloveonelife gets a draw to follow speed and workout form is good. Can upset with a soft run in trnasit……..      Port Au Prince ok fourth last start in a stronger field and has ability. Place chances best here Selections:  Shindig (5),   Oneloveonelife (1),   Port Au Prince (9),    Mahia (2)   Race 2 Tac Mac tidy second last start and draw is ideal. Good winning claims but will be at short odds ……. Insarchatwist has ability and the draw and has run some good races on the track. Can win with a good run in transit …… Suzie Rocks workout and trial form is good and she will get a cosy run on the fence. Winning claims here…… Maya Angelou keeps getting some bad draws but good second last start. Could surprise in what is an even field Selections:  Tac Mac (3),   Insarchatwist (1),   Suzie Rocks (9),   Maya Angelou (11)   Race 3 Call Me Keith has been running good races against better fields and should be near the lead early. Hard to beat here at good odds….. Iwanadancewitsumbody unlucky last start and drawn well. One of the leading chances in the race  ….. Tulsa Jaccka draw not great but she has the speed to be a major player here. Winning claims with a cart into the race…. Swift Robyn tricky draw but has run some good races in similar fields. Place chances best and paying great money Selections:   Call Me Keith (6),   Iwanadancewitsumbody (1),   Tulsa Jaccka (11),   Swift Robyn (8)   Race 4 King Cassidy a break cost him dearly last start but better than that. One for longer odds who can win with manners….. Bev K's One good win last start and can repeat with a similar effort. Manners the only concern….. Cody Banner disappointing last start but driver change and front row draw. One for longer odds…. Spotlight The Valley good form against similar fields. Will be hard to beat with luck in the running Selections:   King Cassidy (12),   Bev K's One (9),   Spotlight The Valley (3),   Cody Banner (5)   Race 5 Ragazzo Mach easy win last start when not tested. Draw not great but has the speed to win this and  over the odds at $3.00…… Dashing Major was a bit disappointing last start but drawn and field not as strong. Should run top three… Arden's Ace getting better with racing and draw the only concern. Top three player in this field….. Yorokobi steps up in class but form in lower grade is good. Place chances best. Selections:  Ragazzo Mach (4),   Dashing Major (1),   Arden's Ace (6),   Yorokobi (5)   Race 6 Jay Tee Tyron down from Canterbury and conditions suit. Will be hard to beat in this field.….. Franco Santino tricky draw and has been disappointing. Can win if he brings his a-game but place chances best…… I'm Trouble has been racing strong fields and gets the best draw. Has the speed to place if close enough turning for home .… Mighty Flying Art out of form but at his best would be right in this. Include at longer odds Selections:  Jay Tee Tyron (6),   Franco Santino (8),   I'm Trouble (1),   Mighty Flying Art (2)   Race 7 Stylish Memphis in good form and a staying test suits. Can win and top selection ……. Watch Me Now big run to win two starts ago and she has gate speed. Can run top three.… Need You Now racing well and will probably go forward early. Can run top three with luck in the running…... Plutonium Lady drawn to get a good run in transit and over the odds but place chances best in this field Selections:  Stylish Memphis (5),   Need You Now (7),  Watch Me Now (6),  Plutonium Lady  (2)   Race 8 Nemera Franco underrated mare with blistering speed when saved for one run. Good winning chance……. Swell Time form is good but disappointing last start . Can upset here with a good run in transit..… Bridesdale Robyn has been racing well in similar fields and top three finish looks on the cards from the nice draw. Include….. Might Be Me ran some good races last campaign but some here look too strong. Can place Selections:  Nemera Franco (2),   Bridesdale Robyn (3),   Swell Time (4)    Might Be Me (5)   Race 9 Pembrook Playboy good win last start but a difficult draw here. One of the leading players in the race if he can clear traffic……. Tyron's Bit Of Lemon tricky draw to contend with and mixes his form but last start second was good. Can upset if they go hard all the way..… Spirit Of St Louis gets a good headstart on the badly draw favourite and will go forward early. Can win….. Burnham Boy has the class to be a major player in this field but place looks best here Selections:  Spirit Of St Louis (3),   Pembrook Playboy (9),   Tyron's Bit Of Lemon (7)    Burnham Boy (4)   Race 10 Ferritts Sister good second last start and she will head forward early. One of the leading chances…. Sentry huge run to win last start and should be hard to beat in this race with a swift beginning... .… Onesmartfella could get a good run through early but will need to clear the fence at some stage. Can place ….. Black Ops has been fair in his last couple but can fill a top three placing with a swift beginning.. Selections:  Sentry (5),   Ferritts Sister (4),   Onesmartfella  (9)    Black Ops (2)   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    Finding a position in the first 100m of Thursday’s Group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes at Ascot Park is set to be crucial for home town hero Pembrook Playboy. The star Southland pacer’s quest to win his province’s flagship event for three-year-old colts and geldings got a little tricky when he drew barrier 1 on the second row of the mobile. With no other horses on the second line, it may appear a simple case of trainer-driver having to Nathan Williamson angle Pembrook Playboy off the inside to avoid him getting stuck on the markers. But Williamson is taking nothing for granted with group 3 honours and a $30,000 stake on the line. “If the John Morrison on Racing Minister is easing back from [barrier] 2, it might be difficult for me to come off the fence and come out,” the trainer-driver said. “It could be a little bit tricky, he could get pushed to the fence by those better horses and even if I was on his back I could still get eased down.” “It is just going to be a little bit tricky over that first couple of hundred metres to get off the fence, because obviously I wouldn’t want to be five back on the inside.” While the start maybe out of Williamson’s control, Pembrook Playboy’s condition has not been. The trainer has the pacer exactly where he wants him after his two brilliant recent wins at Winton and Ascot Park. “I gave him a quiet trial on Saturday and I was really happy with him,” Williamson said. “He was second to Franco Santino, but he finished nicely and it was just a good blowout for him.” “He finished strong.” “He has come through that run well and his work has been good.” Williamson starts brilliant debut winner Ragazzo Mach in the group 3 Diamond Creek Farm Stakes on Thursday. The three-year-old bolted in by six lengths in the smart time of 2.41.4 for 2200m in his first start at Ascot Park, earlier this month. Williamson has kept Ragazzo Mach’s fitness levels up with a Winton workout, which he won, beating Southland Oaks hopes Watch Me Now and Pearl Harbour. “He trialled really nice, it was only a quiet trial but he won it nicely.” “He is a nice wee three-year-old, he is well and he has trained on nicely.” “I am expecting a good run, it will be interesting because some of those small fields become quite tactical and sit-sprint affairs.” “But he has got a lot of speed and he showed last time he has got a lot of toughness, as well.” Williamson will drive Pearl Harbour for trainers John and Katrina Price in Thursday’s group 3 Southland Oaks Final. The reinsman is hoping the pacer drops the bit and relaxes during the 2700m feature, so she can slingshot her rivals from the back. “She has got a lot of speed, she is as fast as any horse I have ever sat behind over 100m.” “She can really, really go.” “But, it will just be how well she switches off and relaxes and runs out a really strong 2700m.” “The draw makes it a little bit tricky in terms of where she may end up.” “But there are some nice horses in there and they might go really hard and it could set it up for a horse like her that has sat back and done nothing.” Williamson also drives four horses on the Diamonds Day undercard. They include Tac Mac (race 2), Tulsa Jaccka (race 3), Franco Santino (race 6) and Onesmartfella (race 10).

By Jonny Turner     Tough staying tests have Stylish Memphis fit and ready for her next Oaks challenge in yet another corner of the world at Ascot Park on Thursday. The Mark Jones trained pacer will attempt to match her New South Wales Oaks victory and go one better than her runner-up effort in the Victoria Oaks when the group 3 Southland Oaks Final takes place on Southland’s biggest day of harness racing. Stylish Memphis’ staying qualities can not be questioned leading into the 2700m feature, if the incredible times she ran in those Australian efforts are anything to go by. And her fitness levels can not be doubted either after she helped set up a New Zealand record for Classie Brigade when clashing with open class horses, before dueling with fellow star filly Amazing Dream in her latest run. “She has shown over the 2600m when she led up in a New Zealand record and with her runs in the Oaks in Aussie that the 2700m definitely won’t be a concern,” Jones said. “She has had a couple of good hard runs the last couple of weeks, they have brought her on and they were definitely what she needed,” Jones said. “Last week against Amazing Dream we thought it might be a walk around and sprint home, but they went a 1.56 mile rate, so it was good to get a good run in to her.” Jones has been able to time his run in to the Southland Oaks much more easily than his last-ditch effort to qualify her for the race in July. That means the classy pacer will strip at her absolute peak on Thursday. “We had a foot problem about a month ago, but everything has gone good since then and she should have no excuses come Thursday.” Plutonium Lady brings staying recommendations of her own to the Southland Oaks and gives Jones a strong hand in the race. She has only raced over 2700m once, but made an excellent fist of it by running second and getting within three-quarters of a length of Amazing Dream in the Northern Oaks. Jones admitted he was disappointed Plutonium Lady when she was well beaten by both Amazing Dream and Stylish Memphis in her last start at Addington. But he hopes she can bounce back to her best on Thursday. “She should have stuck with them a bit better, she probably was a bit disappointing last time.” “Those two are class fillies, but she is better than that.” “So, we are hoping for an improved run.” “She has got a good draw [barrier 2] and has good gatespeed to get across get the right run.” Jones hope the group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes turns in to a genuine staying test to bring the best out in Burnham Boy. He comes in to the 2700m event race hardened after racing older horses for much of his spring campaign. “He has been racing good and the races do him good, he gets fitter,” Jones said. “He is the kind of horse that he stays better than he sprints.” “So, from the draw [barrier 4], if he could lead and run them it would be ideal.” “If Spirit Of St Louis was on our back he might beat us for speed, but if he can run a really good time he can keep going.” “He showed that last time at Addington when they went hard, the others ran past him and he come back.” “He is a good stayer, so he is best out in front, rolling along.” Samantha Ottley will drive both Burnham Boy and Plutonium Lady on Thursday. Ricky May will take the reins behind Stylish Memphis.

All is ready for the running of several of the Diamonds Day feature events that could not take place at the traditional time of year due to Covid restrictions earlier in the year at tomorrow’s Invercargill Harness Racing Club meeting at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill. Racing commences at 2.48pm and with the lengthy southern twilight the last is set to run at 7.41pm allowing plenty of time for people who are working on the day to get along and catch plenty of action with all the feature events scheduled from after 5.00pm. Three Group 3 races - the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes Final, the Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks Final and the Diamond Creek Farm Classic are on the programme along with the Southern Belle Series Final supported by the Southern Standardbred Breeders Assn, Macca Lodge and Vet South Equine. Admission to the course on the day will be free. Lindsay Beer Southern Harness Racing 03 217 4288 021 351 499

Pembrook Playboy showed all the qualities of a horse going places when he beat a tidy field at the Northern Southland Trotting Club Meeting at Ascot Park today. What made the win memorable was that he had to sit parked, but still had the class to win. “I was following two horses that I didn’t want to be following so I had to commit to the outside. The horse did the rest. He went great,” Williamson said. His trainer has always known the Bettor’s Delight entire has speed but today he showed great staying qualities. “He’s developing into a very good all round horse. That’s what he needed today, a nice hard run. He’s a pretty good horse.” After sitting parked outside leader Memphis Tennessee for the last 1650 metres Pembrook Playboy was brave in winning by half a length from Memphis Tennessee. The winning time was 3-21.5 with the last 800 metres cut out in 55.3. “He felt good but they were going a bit. He hadn’t raced for a while so he was busy enough out there.” Pembrook Playboy was bought by owner Chris Alcock at the 2018 National Yearling Sales. He’s out of the three win Christian Cullen mare Dudinka’s Star whose wins included the Great Northern Oaks and the Group One Ladyship Stakes. The four year old holds a nomination for the New Zealand Cup. “It’s not a goal. We’ll continue to pay up. If the field falls away and he gets a start it won’t be a bad idea as part of his growing up process. He’s probably twelve months – even two years away. He’s only four and hasn’t got the ring craft.” Meanwhile Her Majesty overcame a second line draw to lead and hang on to win the Walker Murdoch Mobile Pace. The four year old mare driven by co-trainer Kirstin Barclay got a nice run through on the back of favourite Miss Auckland and made the lead inside the first 400 metres. Her Majesty which is a sister to Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Lady Madonna was starting to get the stitch at the end of the 2200 metres but held on to beat Maya Angelou. Willangus Lad showed plenty of tenacity when after being headed by Insist The Win, he came again to win his second race in as many starts. The Angus Hall five year old trained by Northern Southland Committee man Robert Wilson took over the lead after early leader Madrik broke. The winning margin was half a length. Jabali came from three back on the inside to nab pacemaker Hazer by a neck in Race Five. It was the ten year old’s sixth win in ninety two starts for trainer Ross Hope. Jabali has now won over $66,000. Promising Sentry won the Regent Car Court/Caduceus Club Of Southland Nuggets Final for trainer Craig Laurenson. The Chelsea Faithful trained Toby O’Gara capped off a memorable day when he outfinished his rival to win the GJ Gardner Homes Mobile Pace.   by Bruce Stewart

Chinese Whisper lit up Ascot Park today, coming from a long way back to win his sixth race and in doing so breaking a track and Southland record. The excitement machine was the highlight of a days racing that saw for the first time, full public attendance at Ascot Park since Covid. “I didn’t have to pull the plugs and he sprinted up pretty good. It was pretty impressive,” trainer driver Nathan Williamson said after the win. From the back mark of thirty metres the Sundon gelding got well off the pace early. With 400 metres to run he was still eight lengths off the pace and he had to go five wide out of the last bend. Chinese Whisper came down the outside of the track and got up a beat a brave Sundons Flyer by half a length. The winning time of 3-26.2 was a new track and Southland record for entires and geldings. The previous record of 3-26.3 was held by Monty Python. The open record of 3-24.0 is held by Pres The Belle. Williamson has been very patient with Chinese Whisper who’s had only ten starts over three seasons of racing. “He’s quite temperamental and touchy. With management he’s slowing getting there. Every time he goes out there he’s learning something different. He dropped the bit completely today. I put him on the bit with a lap to go and he travelled up nice.” The plan now is to race him at Tuapeka in a fortnight. The five year old is owned by Williamson’s wife Katie and farrier Brendon Franks, and is currently ranked 30th in November’s Majestic Son Dominion Handicap. “I might base myself in Christchurch before Cup Week, take him to the Cup trial, line him up on Cup Day and see how he goes in that sort of company. Dark Horse is my Dominion horse though.”   by Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    New Zealand Cup contender Robyns Playboy’s standing start manners will be key to his chances of winning the ‘Battle Of The Playboys’ at Ascot Park on Saturday. The Hannon Memorial runner-up will clash with Pembrook Playboy as the pair take another step towards the second Tuesday in November in the Northern Southland Trotting Club’s 2700m feature handicap pace. Robyns Playboy must give his main rival a 10m headstart, with Pembrook Playboy starting in front of him on the 20m mark. The way the 5yr-old has been beginning in his recent starts has driver Craig Ferguson hopeful Robyns Playboy can negate his 30m mark early in Saturday’s race. “He has been beginning super his last couple, if he can get away pretty quick and tack on the back of them he is probably going to have to make a midrace move at some stage,” the reinsman said. “But as long as he begins good he shouldn’t be too far off them.” Robyns Playboy appears to have a race fitness edge, with tomorrow’s event being the fifth run of his campaign. Pembrook Playboy has just had one start back from a spell, missing a clash with Robyns Playboy when scratched from the Hannon Memorial. While his rival was sidelined, Robyns Playboy gave his New Zealand Cup hopes a massive boost with an excellent second placing behind Classie Brigade. “I was real happy with him up there,” Ferguson said. “It was just sort of a walk and a sprint home, but he stuck to the task pretty well.” “Hopefully that has brought him on a wee bit – that first run against those good ones.” Pembrook Playboy was withdrawn after being slightly off his game in his training leading up to the group 3 feature. Trainer-driver Nathan Williamson has been happy with his 4yr-old since then and thinks Pembrook Playboy is fit enough to be highly competitive on Saturday. “I am really happy with where he is at,” Williamson said. “He is forward, he is every bit as forward as he was when he won at Winton and he has probably had the benefit of that run.” The two ‘Playboys’ take on six other runners, including fellow New Zealand Cup aspirant, Vintage Cheddar, who starts from the 40m back mark. How R K Finn handles the tight turns of the Ascot Park track will be key to his chances from barrier 7 in Saturday’s graduation final. The 4yr-old switches to the smaller circuit after impressively winning his first and only start from Ferguson’s stable at Winton last month. “I really like him, he seems to be quite a nice horse and he seems to have come on well since his first up win,” Ferguson said. “With the preferential barrier draw he is drawn wide and it is his first time around the tight track, that is going to be his only concern, I would say.” Ferguson also starts Sherwood Maggie from his stable in race 6. Robyns Playboy is one of four horses Ferguson drives for trainers Ross and Chris Wilson at tomorrow’s meeting. Ferguson also pairs with Annie Fitz (race 2), Von Art (race 3) and Robyns Shadow (race 5).

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 Invercargill today with a ten race program starting at 2:20pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day 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 Ascot Park. Ascot Park Saturday 10th October 2020 Race 1 Prince Envy has a decent motor and trials and workouts quite good Will start favourite and hard to beat…… Sacred Mountain getting fitter with racing and top driver booked. Can win if close enough on the turn ..… Emdeegee forget last start as he galloped and lost his chance . Can atone with no mistakes…….. Zealous Spur needs to bring his a-game but good enough to place in this field if he does things right early. Selections:  Prince Envy (12),   Emdeegee (5),   Sacred Mountain (2),    Zealous Spur (9)   Race 2 Mighty George has been unlucky in quite a few of his races. Over the odds here and hard to beat……. Opawa Mach getting fitter with racing and good driver booked. Chances increase with any rain…… Kagee VC no luck last start but has gate speed and should land close to the lead. Could surprise at nice money…… Annie Fitz always a place chance in races like this and can run top three with a good run in transit Selections:  Mighty George (12),   Opawa Mach (6),   Kagee VC (2),   Annie Fitz (5)   Race 3 Alexis Rocket tricky draw but has a decent motor. Looks a good winning chance in this field if he can get a cart into the race….. Old Luke a bit one paced but field not strong. Can place at big odds if the pace is on all the way….. Von Art nearing peak fitness and has been racing well in strong fields. Top three player in this race…. Miss Auckland tidy draw and looks the leader in the race. Must be included. Selections:   Alexis Rocket (8),   Old Luke (11),   Von Art (4),   Miss Auckland (3)   Race 4 The Peaky Blinder got a deserved win last start and could double up here. Include….. Kiwitrix tricky draw and manners a concern but can win if close enough on the turn….. Insist The Win running ok races but manners not great. Not the worst and has winning claims with no mistakes …. Madrik manners have been terrible. Has the ability and can win if he can get around with no mistakes. Selections:   Insist The Win (5),   The Peaky Blinder (11),   Kiwitrix (7),   Madrik (13)   Race 5 Franco Huntington has competed in better fields than this. Winning claims at good odds here…… Call Me Keith racing well against strong fields and coming in fresh. Might go back from the draw but can win if he goes forward early… Ohoka Bandit tricky draw but has been unlucky. One for longer odds if he can clear traffic..… Black Ops likely leader from the draw. Hard to beat if no attackers midrace Selections:  Franco Huntington (11),   Black Ops (4),   Call Me Keith (7),   Ohoka Bandit (9)   Race 6 Ragazzo Mach workout form and reputation suggests he will just win them in a row. Top selection here.….. Insarchatwist good third last start but place chances best here…… Sherwood Maggie working well and could, surprise fresh but place hopes are best here..… Tac Mac going ok at workouts and top driver booked. Place chance behind the favourite Selections:  Ragazzo Mach (7),   Insarchatwist (6),   Sherwood Maggie (4),  Tac Mac (9)   Race 7 Pembrook Playboy crushing win last start and freshened since. Headed for higher honours and top selection here……. Robyns Playboy tricky handicap but heading for the New Zealand Cup so will need to be competitive here. Include ….. Memphis Tennessee running ok races but probably running for place money only here….. I'm Trouble getting better with racing and front row draw here. Place chances best at long odds Selections:  Pembrook Playboy (7),   Robyns Playboy (8),   Memphis Tennessee (3)    I'm Trouble (1)   Race 8 In Chevron We Trust racing ok and drawn the front. Top three player here at nice odds……. R K Finn easy win fresh but this is harder. Can win with luck..… Glenledi Captain has been solid in similar races and conditions suit. Place chances best here….. Don Coyote good win last start but up in grade here. Place chances best from the outside draw. Selections:  In Chevron We Trust (5),   Glenledi Captain (3),   R K Finn (7)    Don Coyote (8)   Race 9 Chinese Whisper good wins his last couple and 30m handicap might not stop him here. Needed……. She's Allthe Craze good draw and might get a cosy run on the fence. Place hopes at nice odds in this...… Tweedledee racing well in strong fields and should be thereabouts again here….. Sundons Flyer form is fair but well suited here. Can place at good money Selections:  Chinese Whisper (11),  Tweedledee (6),   She's Allthe Craze (1)    Sundons Flyer (9)   Race 10 Toby O'Gara terrible draw but is in good form. Top three player in this field……. Onesmartfella these conditions suit and working well. Can win and might start favourtie here..… Wolfenstein has performed well in similar fields in the past and drawn well. Good winning claims at good odds….. Allaboutdreams nice draw to play with and she should get a good run in transit. Include Selections:  Onesmartfella (3),   Wolfenstein (2),   Toby O'Gara (8)    Allaboutdreams (1)   Harnesslink Media

The first weekend meeting of the Southern Harness Racing season takes place this Saturday when the Northern Southland Trotting Club host the opening meeting of their season at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Saturday 10 October. The timing is great if you work weekends or have Saturday morning sport as the first race is at 2.20pm with the last of ten at 7.08pm. Admission at the gate is free but $40 will give you a spot at the Top Of The Park where the viewing is great and food and beverage is all part of the price of your ticket. Place the coupon from your race books in one of the barrels around the course to go in a draw to win a flight to Stewart Island courtesy of Stewart Island Flights – it could not be easier. The Caduceus Club Of Southland will be running an auction on course on the day with superb prizes such as a meal for ten at Food Affair In Gore, a ladies day out plus beauty package, stallion services to Majestic Son and Ultimate Machete, a load of sawdust, a kilo of whitebait, horse gear, horse feed, Cortaflex Horse Products, processed lambs, a pig, food hampers and much more. Tote operators will be on course to personally take your bets. Owners can head to the Alabar Owners Room on the first floor where they can enjoy hospitality throughout the day while an Owners Prize draw will take place with the club drawing a winner at each of their three race days this season (10 October, 13 January, 13 March) to culminate with the announcement of an overall winner who will win a mystery prize at the club’s Cup Day on Saturday 13 March. Prior to the meeting the club has drawn two winners of a $100 betting voucher to use on the day – the sponsors winner being Nevele R Stud and the members winner Jarrod Lindsay.   by Lindsay Beer

In his debut run, Jaccka Cooper provided a change of luck for owners Charlie and Alisa Smaill. The Smaills have had a string of placings recently with horses they own and yesterday’s win was welcomed by the couple who were on course to see the win. Jaccka Cooper is out of Art Major mare Comeon Jaccka which won a race for Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams. “She had a bit of speed but didn’t carry on with it,” Charlie said. Comeon Jaccka is out of Comeon Franco which the Smaills purchased at a Wayne Francis sale in the mid 2000s. Comeon Jaccka was by Holmes Hanover out of Cherubic. Jaccka Cooper has taken a bit of time to organise but appears to be getting the hang of the racing game. “He looked quite nice as a three year old and I sent him down to Brett’s but his head didn’t grow with his body. He got upset with grit so we brought him home and turned him out.” In yesterday’s maiden race Jaccka Copper lead and had to withstand constant pressure throughout the run but he had enough resolve to hang on to win by a neck from Sentry which came up the passing lane. The A Rocknroll Dance gelding has been to the fore at trials and workouts. “He’s had four preparation runs and he’s won the lot.” Smaill who’s held a trainers licence off and on over the years, still like to be hands on at his Riversdale property. “Usually I do about a month with them before they go to Brett’s. I have a lady who’s worked for me for years. We get them up and running and reasonably fit.” Smaill mainly breeds trotters these days and particularly likes Janine Jaccka’s three year old colt Jaccka John. “I quite like him. I also have a Father Patrick that’s a brother to Jasmine Jaccka. He’s a bit headstrong but I quite like him too.” Meanwhile Paul Andrews trained his first winner when Tad Lincoln won his maiden race at Ascot Park. The six year old Sir Lincoln gelding out of Lady Writer was bred by John Earl and Tom Kilkelly. Earl trained him initially, then Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis had him for a number of starts. He also had a short stint for Adrian Wohlers before Andrews took him on in June of this year. He’s had fifteen starts for Andrews and at times has looked as though he could win another race. Andrews has held a license since 1993 and prior to this win has taken horses to the races 147 times. From gate four driver Mark Hurrell pushed Tad Lincoln forward but was left parked for the first lap before Marika gave him cover. At the 300 Hurrell pulled the gelding out and he came down the middle of the track to win by two lengths from Man I’m Good. Tad Lincoln was at odds of 28 to 1.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    A trip to the deep south several months ago led to junior driver Max Hill winning his first race with Watch Me Now at Ascot Park on Wednesday. The son of Canterbury trainer Brendon Hill rated the Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained mare perfectly in front to help her beat a smart field in her first start since February. Hill has established himself as a junior driver and gone on to notch his first win after what was meant to be a routine trip to Southland. “I left school was fifteen and started working for Dad and I worked for Mark Jones for a while when they were training together.” “I took a couple of horses down south one time and I never went home.” “I love it down here working for Tank and Kirstin.” Watch Me Now led throughout with Hill deciding not to hand the lead to rival Maximus Prost in the early stages. When the attackers came at to put pressure on the pair before the home turn the four-year-old found plenty under Hill’s urgings. “When the other horses came at her she really got going.” “That is her really – she lifted when they came up to her.” Hill praised his employers for trusting him to drive such a smart mare, who took her record to four wins from six starts on Wednesday. “I am getting looked after really well down here.” “It’s really good of Tank and Kirstin to let me drive that horse, she is a really smart mare.” Hill credits Ricky May for giving him early guidance with the finer points of race driving. The junior driver had 11 drives before landing his first win with Watch Me Now. Since starting out Hill has had plenty of support and encouragement from the Southland driving ranks. “Ricky is like family to us, so I talk to him a lot.” “Kirstin helps a lot and I talk to Nathan [Williamson] and Brent [Barclay].” “Matty Williamson is another really good one that you can talk to about stuff.” “All of the drivers down here are really good.” Like any young reinsman, Hill is eager to rack up more wins. He has driven almost exclusively for the Barclay-Ellis stable during his short career and hopes to build on that. “It would be good to get some outside drives and get a few wins.” The Barclay and Ellis team enjoyed a good day out despite the cold and wet conditions at Ascot Park on Wednesday. The trainers produced the quinella in race 1 when Ride In A Concorde beat Her Majesty. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The road to the winner’s circle has been a long and challenging one for trainer Paul Andrews, but he finally made it when Tad Lincoln won on Wednesday. It was cold, wet and windy at Ascot Park, but that could not dampen Andrews’ mood after his six-year-old made light work of the testing conditions to run away from his rivals for driver Mark Hurrell. Andrews was first licenced in 1993, but health battles and other circumstances have lead to him lining horses up sporadically since then. At the time, the trainer was introduced to hands on work with harness horses through his brother-in-law Ben Ward, who has since become the starter at Southland meetings. “Ben was mucking around with some himself and I just had a bit of spare time and got involved,” Andrews said. “But then I got quite sick and I wasn’t able to do anything with them for a few years - for about five years or so I stepped out of it.” “I had heart attacks and skin complaints – I couldn’t be out in the sun – trying to get horses going doesn’t work so well.” When Tad Lincoln cleared out from his opposition by two lengths in race 3 Andrews ticked off his long held ambition a training a winner. “It is good to be able to tick it off.” Andrews has had previous success in the harness racing industry outside of training. The Tiwai Aluminium Smelter worker bred, prepared and sold Lord Kennington, who went on to win seven races and run second to Holmes DG in the Waikato Flying Mile in 2002. Andrews also bred and sold Kiwi Kennington, who won three races from Murray Faul’s Ascot Park stable. Andrews went outside his own breed to acquired Tad Lincoln, who he got from friend and fellow trainer Adrian Wohlers. “I got him off Adrian, he thought he still had a bit left in him, so I gave him a go.” “He has been going reasonably honest races.” Andrews added sliding blinds to Tad Lincoln’s gear ahead of yesterday’s race and got instant success when the pacer scored his second career win. “He has been going OK and when he has got a gap he sometimes wasn’t wanting to go there.” “Something wasn’t right and the sliding blinds seem to have woken him up.” Tad Lincoln scored his first career win almost 21 months before yesterday’s victory when winning for trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis in January of 2019. Mark Hurrell drove the first leg of a winning double and helped produce a stable quinella in race 2. Hurrell drove the Craig Laurenson trained Sage Trouble to beat out her stablemate Miss Bamboocha. Sage Trouble ran a good second when she and Jaguar Bay cleared out from the rest of the field in their last starts at Winton last week. “She has done a good job this mare, she is pretty competitive in this grade,” Laurenson said. “She can run around 2.52 [for 2200m] but when they better ones go 2.50 it is harder for her.” “But she is improving.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Junior driver Mark Hurrell’s chances in the squaregaiting events at Ascot Park on Wednesday look hot to trot. The Waikouaiti reinsman will drive last start runners-up Count Eyre and Sage Trouble, who bring excellent formlines to their assignments. There is hardly any better form in New Zealand’s lower trotting grades at the moment than running second to rising star Bitamuscle. If Count Eyre can repeat his last start effort of getting within two and a half lengths of the promising Paul Nairn trained colt he should be very hard to beat in race 6. “I thought if he could step and run along a wee bit, on his form he should be pretty hard to beat,” Hurrell said. “I haven’t driven him before, so stepping him is going to be the biggest thing.” “But I would say if I could step him away he will be a great chance.” Count Eyre will have a 10m advantage over his main rival, Rydgemont Milly when he starts from the front row in Wednesday’s 2200m event. Rydgemont Milly comes in to the race after overcoming a 10m handicap to beat a similar field at Ascot Park two weeks ago. Hurrell will drive Sage Trouble following her excellent second behind Jaguar Bay at Winton last week. The first two finished more than seven lengths in front of the third placed South Park, who starts alongside Sage Trouble in race 3. Hurrell is hopeful with a quicker getaway this week, Sage Trouble can go one better. “It was quite a good run last week, I thought.” “She didn’t have much luck early in the race and the first two streeted the rest.” “I would say if we could step and keep handy and stay in front of the main ones she would be tough to beat.” Sage Trouble starts from the 30m mark in race 3, with only two horses in front of her on the front line. Hurrell also drives Bettathanraza in race 4 following her last start fourth behind Wattlebank Lass at Ascot Park two weeks ago. “It wasn’t a bad effort last time, but she is pretty green and still has a bit to learn.” “She is a place chance in that race.” Tad Lincoln looks a outside hope for Hurrell in race 3 as does Sagwitch in race 8. If he is on his game, the latter has the ability feature in what is set to be a hotly contested 2200m event. Race 8 sees an exciting clash between up and comers Watch Me Now and Maximus Prost and established middle grade horses Burnham Boy and Nota Bene Denario. Maximus Prost and Nota Bene Denario both come in to the event after producing excellent last start wins on the track. Burnham Boy brings a last start fifth in a good field at Addington to the race after running third behind Robyns Playboy in track record time in his previous run. Watch Me Now will start for the first time on Wednesday since putting together back to back wins at Wyndham in February. The 4yr-old, who ran a 1.53.5 mile (1609m) in the first of those victories, has had three post-lockdown workouts to prepare for her return to racing. She won the first before running third behind Bridesdale Robyn in her next. Watch Me Now was second behind Pearl Harbour in her latest public appearance at the Winton workouts two weeks ago. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The thrill of winning his first race hit junior driver Tom Nally head on after the judge called in I’m Watching You at the head of the field at Ascot Park on Thursday. Nally had to endure a nervous wait after his Hamish Hunter trained drive charged late to put himself in a photo finish to race 7. The junior driver admitted when his charge was declared the winner by a nose margin over Matrika and Kirstin Barclay he felt nothing but pure excitement. “When I heard we had won it I was shaking, to be honest,” Nally said. “It was a huge thrill.” Nally built up his interest in harness racing educating young horses with his grandfather, breeder and owner, Vin Nally. “We used to break in horses and take them around to Hamish’s place.” “One day Hamish offered me a job and it has sort of gone from there.” Nally had a solid grounding driving at trials and workouts before starting his career at the start of the new season. “Hamish brought me along quietly, I had two years at the trials and workouts just building up.” Nally now has his sights on a career in harness racing, concentrating firstly on establishing himself as a reinsman. The junior driver admits he is hooked on working with horses and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. “I bloody love it.” Nally’s grounding has clearly paid off with his first win coming in just his fifth drive. He was cool and calm under pressure when I’m Watching You was full of running at the 400m and his first winning drive looked in jeopardy. Nally gave the four-year-old a cosy run three back on the markers before angling him off the inner in the final lap. When another runner started stopping quickly in front on him, Nally was left with a big handful of horse, but nowhere to go. Some expert ducking and diving a senior driver would be proud of got I’m Watching You in to the clear in the straight where the horse charged late to win. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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