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As reported by Stuff, one of harness racing's brightest young prospects is one of seven people charged after a long-running inquiry into alleged race-fixing and drugs in the industry.  Police confirmed they have charged seven people in relation to Operation Inca, which culminated in raids on 10 harness racing stables in Canterbury, ManawatÅ« and Invercargill on Tuesday. More raids are understood to be happening on Wednesday.  A 26-year-old man was due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday on charges of deception by match-fixing, possessing Class B drugs for supply and supplying Class B drugs, police said. Stuff understands the 26-year-old is trainer and driver Matt Anderson, who is widely regarded as one of harness racing's brightest young prospects. Four men aged 34, 40, 41 and 44 were due to appear in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday next week on match-fixing charges. Stuff understands the men are Nigel McGrath, John Dunn, Blair Orange and Andrew Stuart. A 41-year-old woman would appear in court the same day on two counts of supplying Class B drugs.  A 47-year-old man, who Stuff understands is Brent Wall, has been charged with deception by match-fixing and is due to appear in Palmerston North District Court, also on Tuesday, police said.   Read the full story here   Martin van Beynen and Mat Kermeen  

Whether the current harness racing race fixing blow ends up a bleeding nose or a gaping wound will almost certainly depend on the contents of texts and phone calls now in police hands. Some of the industry's biggest names spent at least part of today in police custody, and while unconfirmed, some have already been charged with race fixing or similar offences. Names at the centre of the investigation named Operation Inca include last season's premiership-winning driver Blair Orange, the man he dethroned for that title Dexter Dunn, and Dunn's brother John, himself a leading driver. The Herald understands at least one other successful Canterbury trainer was extensively questioned by police, while they also visited the stables of champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, with Purdon reportedly not part of the investigation. While police today suggested race fixing and potentially drugs are at the centre of their investigations the Herald was told that illegal performance-enhancing substances used on horses are not the focal point of Operation Inca. The investigation was sparked by information passed to police by the Racing Integrity Unit as early as April last year and police have tapped phones and checked text messages as part of the investigation. What they found or are still to find in those texts or calls will be crucial to building a case against any of those under investigation because race fixing is incredibly hard to prove. And often even harder to actually achieve. While there have and always will be those who are suspicious of racing being "fixed", the reality is it has never been cleaner because of technology. Most trainers and drivers/jockeys don't bet because it is too easy to trace, with bookies openly supplying betting records to authorities. So any of the people under investigation placing a bet on a race they were involved with would set off alarm bells regardless of the result. Which is why the spouses of several of those under investigation were also questioned today, to see whether they had placed bets on their partner's behalf. That is almost certain to be a dead end. What is more likely to end up at the centre of the investigation and any future charges will be betting activities of third parties who bet on information supplied by horsepeople and may have rewarded them for that information. That in itself is an offence but a relatively minor one. The real problem for harness racing would be if any of the parties involved colluded to rig a race, supplied that information to a third party and benefited from that information and any money subsequently won. That would have huge ramifications, an iceberg to racing's Titanic. Text messages, phone calls or face-to-face conversations between punters looking for a tip, even just an opinion, from horsepeople have been going on for as long as there have been phones or racetracks. So if the text messages, recordings and apparently emails, the latter a seemingly very strange way to fix a race, confirm that any drivers knew each other's plans and passed that information on, then harness racing has a problem like cricket's famous match fixing scandals. The other option is a punter ringing multiple horsepeople, putting that information together and betting accordingly for their own purposes. Christchurch-based owner Graham Beirne also had property raided today but was overseas and denies any wrongdoing. Whether any punter, in New Zealand or overseas, would have the money and more importantly the power to fix a race and convince the people at the centre of this investigation is questionable. Such scams are incredibly hard to pull off, as the mastermind needs drivers capable of controlling the main variables of the race without outside interference. The money gambled on New Zealand harness races is relatively small compared with overseas thoroughbred action and any unusual transactions are easily spotted and the driving tactics around them noted. The electronic trail is so pronounced, the telecommunications so easy to track, anybody engaging in prolonged race-fixing would be certain to get caught. This investigation could last a long time but regardless of how it pans out, to the punting public, perception is often reality, and harness racing's reputation has taken a huge blow. The irony is this: Orange and Dexter Dunn travelled to almost every race meeting they attended last season together. I spoke to them before, after and sometimes even during those meetings. They are, hand on heart, two of the worst tipsters I have ever met among the leading horsepeople and if your betting strategy was punting on what they thought was going to happen, you would go broke. But now the racing industry will wait to find out what was said, texted and written.   Michael Guerin

As reported by Stuff a wealthy Christchurch punter whose home was raided in a high-level police investigation into corruption in harness racing says police will come up empty-handed.  Harness racing identities have been interviewed by police following morning raids on 10 stables throughout the country, following a long-running inquiry into alleged race-fixing, corruption and drugs in the sport.  Police executed search warrants on stables in Canterbury, Invercargill and ManawatÅ«. Figures interviewed included Natalie Rasmussen, John Dunn, Blair Orange, Nigel McGrath and Andrew Stuart.  Christchurch car industry king pin, racehorse owner and major punter Graham Beirne, speaking to Stuff from Bali where he is on holiday, said he had heard about the raids on Canterbury trainers and knew police wanted to interview him. "I'm a suspect put it that way. The police have been to our place this morning but I'm not there. All I have to say is one word: nonsense. Read the full Stuff story here   Martin van Beynen and Mat Kermeen Stuff Website

Shadow Play colt Stick Man delivered on his $1.60 favourites tag when he won the Hanley Formula Mobile Pace at Gore today. Stick Man was bought as a foal by Reg Storer and trainer Paul Court. Storer shares in the ownership with Georgia Bay Limited. He’s out of the Pacific Rocket mare Aziza who is also the dam of quality racehorse Tiger Thompson. “When we bought him we didn’t know too much about Tiger Thompson so it’s worked out to be a good buy really,” Court said. Stick Man qualified in November as a two year old at Ashburton. “I probably could have raced him but I thought we should look after him. We gave him a bit of time out and he’s come back really good.” In today’s race driver Blair Orange positioned the colt nicely on the outside and moved forward to challenge leader Beaudiene Overtake with a lap to run. He was taken to the lead with 600 metres to run and held on to beat The Croupier by three quarters of a length. “I told Blair not to be unlucky because he was good enough to win and he proved that today. The track was a bit testing. He did it pretty easily and Blair said he knocked off when he got to the front. That’s a sign of a nice horse - they know when to go and when to button off. I think we’re not finished with him yet.” Prior to today’s debut he’d been to the trials twice for a first up second followed by a win at Rangiora on the 25th July. Heading back to the birdcage                          - Photo Bruce Stewart  “When my horses go back to the trials for the first time (new season) it’s a building process. Every trial he’s got better. In the last trial we pepped it up a wee bit and ran home. I expect him to improve quite a bit on that run. He’s still quite big and round so we’ve got a bit to work with.” This was also Stick Man’s first real trip away. “I’m going back tonight so it’s going to be a big long trip for him but he’s handling his first trip away really well.” And Court is upbeat about the progress he thinks the horse can make. “I think he’s a very good stayer but he does have speed. The further and the harder they go it’ll be right up his alley.” And he says he’s got a host of three year olds, all maidens, ready to appear at the races. They include Mongolian Cavalry (Mach Three), Mongolian Spear (A Rocknroll Dance) and Mongolian Machete (Art Major). All three were at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. Meanwhile junior driver Chelsea Faithful got her season off to the perfect start when in her first drive for the all conquering Phil Williamson stable, she drove Pyramid Magic to easily win the Brendon Franks Farrier Handicap Trot. Pyramid Magic and Chelsea Faithful winning easily       -photo Bruce stewart It was the eight year old's twelfth win from eighty eight starts. He's owned by Southlanders Steve Hardiman and Neville Hazlett and won his first race on this course in August 2014.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness

Here is a racing statistic you will probably find hard to believe. Champion reinsman and New Zealand's most successful horseperson, Tony Herlihy, has averaged less than four drives a week this season. Not four drives per meeting he has attended, which in itself would be hard to comprehend, but fewer than four drives per week on average for his season which will end at Alexandra Park tonight. That Herlihy, who would be on anybody's list of the top five drivers to even sit in a sulky in New Zealand and is still driving as well now as ever, drives so rarely these day can be put down to a few factors. He mainly drives the horses he trains because although he is openly available for outside drives, many of those are taken by other stables having regular drivers and with northern fields so small, catch drives are nowhere as common as they used to be. Herlihy also almost never ventures to the CD circuit and often misses the lesser Cambridge meetings to allow his stable's second driver Tony Cameron valuable experience. So while Herlihy may be more selective about where and when he drives, by far the biggest factor in his mere 201 drives in New Zealand this season is the racenight accident he was involved in on May 11, which left him with broken ribs and he hasn't been back in a racing sulky since. "It was an awkward fall so I decided to give myself time to get over it and the last two weeks in particular it has improved a lot," said Herlihy. "So I am looking forward to getting back out there and then we will be all set for next season." With his reduced number of drives, Herlihy's UDR (strike rate) is as good as it has been for nearly 20 years and he still sits alongside Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange and the Butchers (David and Zac) as the drivers most likely to sway New Zealand punters toward their horses. But The Iceman isn't expecting a stunning comeback tonight, with just three drives and all of them drawn the second line. "Forever Pearl might be the best each way chance of them," he says. With tonight's Alexandra Park comeback under his belt, Herlihy will soon jet off on more serious assignments, with his juvenile trotting filly Tickle Me Pink pleasing in her preparations for an Australian campaign that starts in the Redwood Classic in Victoria on Sunday week. The clash between the greatly improved Scoob Operator and Zadaka in race eight at Alexandra Park tonight looks the highlight while race six is the best form race. Further south, Orange will be in bonus territory at Addington. Having set a record of 231 driving wins for the season anything he adds tonight or at Oamaru on Sunday will just make his record just that much harder to break in the future. Michael Guerin

The equation is getting pretty simple for Blair Orange. With his first national driver’s premiership already secured Orange needs nine wins in eight meetings to break Dexter Dunn’s New Zealand record 229 victories in a season.  A win a meeting and Orange shares the record, one better than that and the record is his. “I suppose it sounds simple but obviously fields are getting smaller and it is just a matter of getting on the right horses,” says Orange.  “It is in the back of my mind of course because I have got this close but what will be will be. “I’ll just take it one meeting at a time and if I can have a meeting where I win two or three that will take some pressure off.” That could even come at Forbury Park tonight, where while Orange only has six drives because two of the races are for junior drivers in the NZ champs, he has several winning hopes. “A lot of these horse are the same ones racing each other every week and I have a few who can definitely win,” says Orange. He rates Jamies Bad Boy in race seven his best hope with a good draw and some consistent recent form. “And the way Dusky Eyre (race three) won last week he has to be a good chance too.” Madaboy (race one) and Armstrong (race five) are also rated winning hopes while Evangeline Franco at least has some winning form going into the last race. A victory or two tonight could take Orange a fair way toward the record this weekend as he races at Addington tomorrow and Ashburton on Sunday. But he has stopped short of calling in any favours in the record chase. His former boss Mark Purdon has Shez All Rock all but guaranteed a win in a non-tote Breeders Crown heat tomorrow night and Orange could have easily picked up the phone and asked to take the champion filly for a spin as payback for years of service to the All Stars. “But I wouldn’t do that. If I am going to get the record I wouldn’t want to do it that way,” he says.  “I’d like to keep going the way I have been going and obviously getting on the best horses I can but not like that.   “And I am pretty sure Mark will be keen to drive her anyway,” he laughs.   Michael Guerin

Classie Brigade can bounce back from his shock last start defeat at Alexandra Park tonight but he will have to do it without one of his best mates. Because regular reinsman Blair Orange will stay in the South Island to drive at Addington tonight to galvanise his lead in the national driver's premiership which, while still healthy, was cut back by a rampant Dexter Dunn last week. In Orange's absence, Nathan Purdon, who now works for his uncle Barry, will partner Classic Brigade, with Barry having looked after the open class pacer for much of the last month. Nathan was on Classie Brigade when he returned from a 15 month layoff to win two starts ago but Orange was reunited with him in the $40,000 Uncut Gem last start when he dropped out to run fourth behind race rival tonight in Billy Badger. "Initially I was very disappointed but when you analyse it they went 2:38 [for 2200m] on a winter night and he was only second up without any hard racing," says trainer Nigel McGrath. "So I think he just wasn't ready for that sort of time, especially in a race where he had to work. "Barry has been looking after him since and you couldn't ask for a better man for the job so I am sure he will be fitter." McGrath said Orange offered to come north to drive Classie Brigade even though it would have meant passing up several winning chances at Addington. "But I told him to stay down there and keep getting winners for the premiership. I'm sure Nathan will do a great job." The race may not come down to Purdon's skills as much as what unfolds in front of him. If Billy Badger can step well from his 15m handicap and work around to the lead, leaving Classic Brigade to do all his own work, then it becomes a huge challenge. But if natural front runners like Juice Brogden or Seaswift Joy get the lead and their drivers are keen to stay there then Classie Brigade could get the perfect drag on Billy Badger's back and be the horse to beat. Billy Badger's trainer Robert Dunn holds a key hand in tonight's main trot too with Woodstone and Sundees Son both in winning form and with the speed to threaten open class rival One Over Da Moon. The latter has been favourite for similar races recently but not well suited by handicaps. And while the best version of him would win back to the 1700m mobile tonight, Woodstone in particular looks to be racing at least as well if not better. Michael Guerin

The man who for so long dreaded talking about winning the national driver’s premiership has now opened up about going one step further. Because Canterbury horseman Blair Orange says he is now targeted good mate Dexter Dunn’s record number of wins in a season of 229. Orange is guaranteed winning his first premiership this term sitting 25 wins clear of Dunn, who will head to the United States for a long working holiday if and when his visa is finalised. So Orange finds himself on 208 wins for the year, needing 22 more to set a new mark and likely to drive at 20 more meetings before August 1. With Dunn possibly out of the picture soon and Orange getting the pick of the drives at most meetings, his target of just over one win per meeting not only looks realistic but almost likely. “For a long time I didn’t think about the premiership too much and just got on with driving and I definitely didn’t think about the record,” said Orange. “But now it looks like the premiership win might be mine I needed a new goal and the record is the logical one. “I am not going to change anything but if I keep going at the rate I have been I think I am about 50-50 to get to the 230. “But it is more in my mind now and I will be driving at all the meetings I can and obviously not taking a holiday until after the end of the season. “It is so rare you get a shot at something like this I might as well have a go but I won’t be traveling any more than I do because I travel enough now.” Orange says that travel can leave him flat on comedown Mondays but after a few days of normal stable work and a game of squash on Wednesday night he is refreshed and good to go for what is often four straight days driving from Thursday through to Sunday. This Friday he will come to Alexandra Park, mainly to partner hot favourite Classie Brigade in a $40,000 race even though the meeting at Forbury Park the same night would probably be more profitable premiership and record wise. While he rates himself even money to crack the 230 mark, Orange is far more certain to pass Dunn’s personal best earnings record for a season in New Zealand. Orange’s drives have earned $2,218,279 this season whereas Dunn’s best is $2,256,372, under $40,000 away. But Dunn would have a far better overall best season financially has he has consistently tasted group one success in many of Australia’s richest races in the last five years. Even if he eclipses both Dunn’s wins tally and best ever NZ stakes season, Orange still has over $110,000 to earn to break the record for the richest domestic season by a New Zealand driver. That is, somewhat surprisingly, held by David Butcher, whose drives earned $2,328,344 in 2008-09, even more remarkably from only 94 wins. As for Dunn, the 10-time premiership winner, he going to win even in finishing second this season. “Around about Christmas Dex and I made a deal, the one who won the premiership and got to go to the World Driver’s Championships in Sweden next year has to pay half the other one’s airfares there. “So while it looks like I might go there to compete, I’ll have to pay half Dexter’s airfare for him to come along and enjoy himself.” Michael Guerin

Sometimes your dreams come at a cost. Trainer Nigel McGrath will discover the exact price at the Harness Jewels on Saturday. It has been 54 days days since McGrath won the race he has coveted his whole life, the New Zealand Derby at Addington with Sheriff. In one of the great modern day derbies, Sheriff nosed out Pat's Delight and Sicario in national record time, with the trio set to clash again in the last race on Jewels day. The Derby hurt, with the 3:5.4 time for the 2600m mobile akin to what the older horses do to themselves in a New Zealand Cup. His recovery has been slow, giving McGrath one of the biggest challenges of his career. "To be honest, straight after the Derby I would have been happy for his season to be over," says the Canterbury trainer. "It had already been a long season and it was an incredible Derby and he was tired. "So I eased right up on him and while I have kept him fit and happy, I haven't asked him for much since." That was in evidence when Sheriff raced below his best at Addington last start and maybe again when he was a solid but hardly sensational second at the Cambridge workouts last Saturday. "I was initially disappointed but Todd Mitchell drove him and rang me straight away to say it was a good run and I trust his opinion. "And he is a Bettor's Delight, we know they can be different horses on raceday. "So I think he will improve and come out on Saturday and be the good horse he is. But whether that is good enough to win, we will find out." While the front line for the mobile mile looks one of the fastest of the day, McGrath says he may add pull-down blinds to Sheriff's gear to get him keen enough to work to the lead and then give driver Blair Orange a turbo button to hit at the top of the straight. But with Pat's Delight drawn to be close by and Sicario having thrilled his connections with his work this week, anything below the Derby-winning version of Sheriff is going to have a huge fight on his hooves. McGrath actually takes one of the three previous Jewels winners racing to Saturday's meeting, with Dizzy Miss Lizzy brilliant at this meeting last season but missing in action since. She has had nine starts since her Jewels stunner, all this season for a fresh up win and a second in the Sires' Stakes Final, the other seven being unplaced and largely disappointing performances. "She has been terrible for much of the season," is McGrath's blunt assessment. "But she has had all sorts of problems. She has been in season a lot and I think she is over that and she has actually worked the best she has in a long time this week. "I think she might be back to something like her best." From barrier two in the three-year-old Diamond, Dizzy Miss Lizzy has the option to try and lead and could even hand up to hot favourite Shez All Rock, which would make her a value place hope. Michael Guerin

Champion harness driver Dexter Dunn is set to try to establish himself in North America again. And he hasn't ruled out a permanent move there should his winter campaign prove an enormous success. Dunn has won the last 10 national drivers' premierships but will relinquish his title to good friend Blair Orange this season, with the latter 28 clear on the standings after bringing up win 200 for the season at Manawatu on Tuesday. Orange's numbers this season have been so staggering he now has Dunn's national record 229 wins for a season in his sights and barring injury or suspension should probably set a new mark. But Dunn says the end of his premiership domination isn't why he is heading to New York in a few weeks. "I spent a few months up there driving a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience and always wanted to come back," says Dunn. "But the right opportunity never really presented itself until now." That finally did come when Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder, who is now based in North America, approached Dunn about driving in the US with his support. "Chris has been a long-time family friend and suggested the time was right and he would support me and try and help me get outside drives. "There has been a bit of visa paperwork to get through and I still have to go for a final interview at the US consulate in Auckland in a few weeks. But if and when the paperwork is finalised, hopefully I can get up there sooner rather than later. "Their [US] really good horses, the ones that will be racing in the better races later in the summer, are all starting to come out in the qualifiers at the moment so I'd love to be able to get some serious drives and the sooner I am there the more likely that is to happen." Dunn expects to be away from New Zealand from around mid-June until maybe just before the New Zealand Cup carnival in November, which would mean could drive at the rich Breeders Crown on October 27. But if the trip turned out to be an enormous success he could be tempted to stay. "I intend being back for the Cup carnival and driving like normal here over the summer. "But you never know what can happen. Anything is possible, including basing myself up there fulltime. "But I don't expect that to happen on this trip." After 10 remarkable years during which Dunn has emerged from obscurity to win 10 premierships and win 2180 races in New Zealand alone, the superstar of the sulky admits the time for a new challenge has come. "I still love the big carnivals, our summer racing and some of the special days we have, like Kaikoura for example. "But you do have the odd time when driving so much gets stale, especially when you have been travelling as much as I have for the last five years. "It usually only lasts a weekend and you are back fine the next week, but it does happen. "So this will be a good freshen up for me, a new challenge and a chance to learn some new things." Although Dunn has already seen his premiership run ended by Orange this season, any longer-term North American ambitions from him would put Orange in the perfect position to start his own premiership domination. The pair are so far in front of their rivals in numbers of drives and races won in the last couple of years it would be hard to envisage a new serious premiership contender emerging. So if Dunn tastes success during his upcoming US trip and decides to spend more winters there in the years to come, the national premiership would appear to be Orange's to own. Michael Guerin

Dexter Dunn is going to miss the New Zealand winter harness racing season and is leaving for the United States shortly to ply his trade against the leading American harness racing drivers. Dunn made the announcement on "The Box Seat" last night saying " I hope to be back in time for the New Zealand Cup carnival, but at this stage I have booked a one way ticket so we will see what happens". Dunn, who has been the leading driver in New Zealand the past few years, struck gold in 2015 as he was victorious in the World Driving Championship, leading him to world-wide recognition.  With Dunn to miss the last few months of the New Zealand harness season, Blair Orange will almost certainly win the drivers premiership this year. Orange brought up 200 wins for the season last night at the Manawatu meeting driving 5 winners on the night. His 200th win came in the last race when Mogul won his third race in succession for trainer Michael House.  Blair Orange bringing up his 200th winner at Manawatu last night.   At the moment Blair Orange is 28 wins clear of Dexter Dunn in the 2018 premiership and a whopping 121 wins clear of the third place John Dunn, so the premiership title is his for sure. The New Zealand record number of wins for a single season is 229 set by Dexter Dunn in last years premiership and that record will now be firmly in the sights of Blair Orange with two months still left in the NZ season. Harnesslink Media  

The Pres mare Pres The Belle is one of the most improved trotting mares south of the Waitaki. From thirteen starts this season she has won four races - the last three in a row. “She’s getting a bit of ring craft and is strengthening up. Getting her off the unruly was a big thing. It puts her in the race now. Being on the unruly did teach her to get away,” said Mosgiel trainer Darryn Simpson. Today’s at Gore, the country’s leading reinsman Blair Orange took the mare to the top with a lap to run. With 500 metres to go he pressed the go button and she put three lengths on her opposition. She came away in the straight to beat Miss Bamboocha by five and a quarter lengths. “She’s the real deal. Just a nice horse all round and steps up on race day.” Pres The Belle is raced on lease by Stewart Campbell, Des Minehan, Dexter Nind and Stewart Heal. Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart. “What she has done this year has been a bonus. She’s going to be better with time and I’d like to think she’s going to be better next season. There’s a race for her in Invercargill so that may be it for the season.”    Pres The Belle was bred by the Grice Brothers and is out of the eight win Sundon mare Daisy Belle which Stewart Campbell trained. It’s a family that has left primarily very good pacers like Palestine (18 wins), Barbara Del (9), Derby (11), Cock Robin (6) and Bahrein (5).   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Alta Shelby looks to be getting back to the form he showed early in his three year old season when he comprehensively dealt to a field of R51 - R53s at Winton on Saturday. The Mach Three colt lead all the way and won easily by four and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in a smart 2-56.0.  "He's just starting to come back into form which is pretty pleasing. I thought he would go really close today. We changed a bit of gear on him. He's a bit of a head shaker so I put a chinguard on him and it's made all the difference. He's starting to live up to his potential and what he showed early on," said trainer Mitch Kerr who's considering a start in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in a fortnight. The Winton Business's Cup was won by the Ken and Tony Barron trained Royal Bengal. The four year was originally trained in Southland by Robin Swain before heading to Canterbury. Owned by Baynes Racing Limited which is Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, he carries the colours made famous by Kenny's father the late Colin Baynes. The same colours were worn when Kamahl driven by Colin Baynes won this race in 1983. The winning margin today was a length and a quarter with Star Commander running second. Royal Bengal adding the Winton Cup to the Gore Cup he also won - Photo Bruce Stewart. The race was marred by the second favourite Aloka breaking at the 450 metre mark. He was pulled out of the race by driver Blair Orange and found to have fractured his left hind cannon bone. Unfortunately for all his connections he had to be euthanaised. Winton Cup winners last 10years Year Winner Age Sire Driver Trainer Distance Time 2008 Biella Star 4g Mattuity DJ Dunn RD Holmes 2400m 3-01.0 2009 Bettor's Strike 4g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 2400m 2-58.8 2010 Lionels Meddle 4g Live Or Die JR Dunn RJ Dunn 3200m 4-04.6 2011 Van Washington Man 6g Washington VC RT May BA Waldron 3200m 4-06.5 2012 Texican 3g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 3200m 4-05.5 2013 Jimmy Johnstone 4g P-Forty Seven JC Hay JC Hay 3200m 4-04.9 2014 Belkmyster 4g Mach Three DJ Dunn G Anderson 3200 metres 4-06.0 2015 That's Hunting Pink 5m Christian Cullen Terry Chmiel Dean Taylor 3200 metres 4-02.5 2015 Costa Del Magnifico 4h Mach Three Nathan Williamson Brent Shirley 3200 metres 3-59.8 2016 Democrat Party 4m American Ideal Nathan Williamson Katrina and John Price 2400 metre stand 3-01.2 2017 Delightful Memphis 3f Bettors Delight Blair Orange Mark Jones  2400 metre stand 2-55.5 2018 Royal Bengal 4g Bettors Delight Dexter Dunn Ken and Tony Barron 2400 metre stand 2-57.1   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing

Mach's Back continued the stellar season Murray Little and trainer Paul Ellis are having when he impressively won at Winton today.  "We just rolled along and I just let him do what he wanted to do," was how driver Blair Orange described his winning drive on Mach's Back which won the Drymix Concrete Mobile Pace. Orange was driving the four year old for the first time with regular driver Dexter Dunn sticking with favourite Governor's Bay.  "He had to be tough today and he was. I wasn't too worried about being wide early. He's shown in some of his runs that he can do it at both ends." Mach's Back after being wide early, was taken to the top by Orange with Governor's Bay hard on his back.  "At the 400 I felt him (favourite Governor's Bay) lose my back so after that I wasn't too worried about him," Orange said.  The winning margin was a length and a quarter from a late stayers run from Franco Santino. The eye catching run came from Kilowatt Kid who charged home to run fourth just three lengths away from the winner. Mach's Back winning from Franco Santino (wide) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was Mach's Back's second this season and owner Murray Little's fifth. Other winners for Little have been Betterthanbrie (2) and Shezacullengirl (1). He also owns Mach Three two year old filly Havtime which qualified for Nathan Williamson and is now in Auckland with Barry Purdon.  It was Mach's Back's trainer Paul Ellis's eleventh win of the season making it his best season to date in the sixteen he's been training.  Meanwhile Winton trainer Lauren Pearson wasn't overly confident in winning the two year old race today with her Bettor's Delight filly Rise Above This.  When asked if she was confident she replie "Not really, when you're racing horses like Zinny Mach that ran 1-53 in the Kindergarten Stakes. You're never confident especially with two year olds. We were just hoping she'd go well."  Driven by her partner Brent Barclay, Rise Above This was sent forward early before handing up to favourite Zinny Mach.  "She didn't come out the gate like she has done before so that was just a pass. She seemed sensible out there and was asleep in the box beforehand so nothing phased her too much." Zinny Mach lead until the top of the straight before being collared firstly by Bottle Rock then Rise Above This which came up the inside passing lane. Rise Above This won by three quarters of a length from a late charging Robyns Playboy. Pearson says she's unsure as to where the talented filly will go next but there are some options.  "We'll see what happens. She's paid up for the Breeders Crown but we'll just have to see. It's a bit hard racing against the colts and geldings but I thinks there's a couple of fillies races here next month." Rise Above This was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who races the filly. He also races her half brother Duke Of Wellington - the winner of three races this season.  "I don't think he's ever been there when one of them have won. He reckons the horses go better when he's at home watching on TV."  There has been some buyer interest in Duke Of Wellington but Pearson says nothing serious is on the table at the moment.  "I think at this stage he'll try and sell him and keep the filly."  Duke Of Wellington is now being set for the $45,000 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in the fortnight on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  "He just had a canter the other day and a light hopple today and he felt real good so we'll line up next week and give him a run before the Supremacy."       Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Mach's Back winning  

Harness racing driver Blair Orange now holds an almost impenetrable grip on the New Zealand drivers premiership after winning another five races at Manawatu yesterday.  Orange was 31 wins clear of his nearest rival Dexter Dunn before yesterdays Manawatu domination but has now raced to 172 wins for the season, 36 wins ahead of Dunn who won last years drivers premiership for a record 10th year in a row.  Yesterdays Manawaru meeting once again proved a lucrative one for trainer Michael House, who won six races, had three seconds and also had a third on the 10 race programme. House has moved into third place on the trainers premiership with 40 wins for the season and remarkably 30 of those wins have come courtesy of wins at Manawatu Raceway. Orange and House will look to dominate again on the second day of the Manawau two day meeting with most of the House winners nominated to back up again tomorrow night. Trainers Premiership table Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen 276 85 58 28 2,901,422 0.4585 Robert Dunn 425 60 55 58 849,499 0.2586 Michael House 194 40 23 23 301,015 0.3116 Steve Telfer 256 37 38 37 519,113 0.2752 Ken & Tony Barron 225 34 24 20 352,411 0.2400 Cran Dalgety 174 32 19 19 549,225 0.2810 Tony Herlihy 177 31 23 35 458,190 0.3132 Greg & Nina Hope 256 31 28 25 446,022 0.2144 Mark Jones 281 31 36 22 303,341 0.2076 Nigel McGrath 122 31 12 13 445,777 0.3443   Drivers Premiership table   Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Blair Orange 954 172 124 100 1,704,836 0.2874 Dexter Dunn 840 136 106 95 1,595,714 0.2697 John Dunn 474 70 66 55 849,939 0.2637 David Butcher 379 62 62 39 729,612 0.2888 Matthew Williamson 658 61 63 53 631,058 0.1727 Ricky May 464 51 34 56 758,382 0.1909 Samantha Ottley 433 45 41 40 483,645 0.1873 Gavin Smith 321 42 35 30 494,523 0.2226 Brad Williamson 332 37 34 29 342,451 0.1975 Natalie Rasmussen 71 35 11 5 1,229,245 0.6025   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing 3yo Sheriff has smashed the NZ mobile 2600m all comers record when winning the $200,000 (Gr1) New Zealand Derby at Addington Raceway tonight . The Nigel McGrath trained pacer ran the mobile 2600m in a blistering 3-05.4 which obliterated the old record held by the Purdon/Rasmussen trained Vincent by more than half a second.  McGrath had three nice chances in the race as he also trained race rivals Aloka and Star Commander, but he rated Sheriff the best of the horses he had in the race. "He has come up nice this year and every start this season he has found the line really well. "He ran a good third in the Northern Derby and I think he is ready tonight," he said before the race. Sheriff (Bettor's Delight - Jen Marie) had to work hard to loop the field on a hot pace and he finally found the the lead with 700m to go. The classy pacer then had to withstand all the challenges in the straight, but lasted to beat a fast finishing Pat's Delight by a nose at the line. Driver Blair Orange was ecstatic after the race and said, "It was a great win and Nigel had him peaking at the right time. "I had a good battle with Dexter up the straight but luckily the coin flipped my way." Sheriff rated 1-54.7 over the 2600m mobile and zipped over his last 800m in 56.4 with a closing 400m in 27.5 seconds.   Sheriff winning the NZ Derby   Harnesslink Media

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