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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

Blair Orange knows all about beating the seemingly unbeatable. He is doing it right now, day by day, as he continues on his surprising path to the national driver’s premiership, downing perennial champion Dexter Dunn. Barring injury, a huge suspension or a freakish Dunn performance between now and  August 1, Orange will beat the man who has won the last 10 premierships. But at Addington tonight he has to do something even tougher. He has to try and beat the All Stars in a Derby. Like the premiership, Orange thinks he can do just that with Sheriff and like the premiership he knows it won’t be easy. Sheriff has a second line draw and four All Stars runners, headlined by Anthem and Sicario, to contend with in the $200,000 New Zealand Derby. Nobody knows more than Orange how hard it is to beat the legendary stable in the Derby, after all it was working for the All Stars that he made his name. “I think we can win, because they are beatable. Everybody is beatable,” says Orange.   “But I also know how good Mark and Nat are at what they do, how ready the horses will be.  “And they have numbers of their side. We might be good enough to beat three of theirs but you have to beat all four.  “But I think Sheriff is as good as their ones, especially with Chase Auckland out.”  On paper it appears Sheriff has slightly the better draw of the three favourites as he follows out a fast beginner in Pat’s Delight but Orange says that means little.  “You look at these races and think who you are following out matters but it very rarely does,” he says.  “If I try and punch through behind it at the start then I am probably three wide on a hot pace for the first 800m and I think they will go very hard.  “So I don’t see that happening but what it does mean is I might be able to settle in front of Sicario and Anthem and that could help.”  The reality of the Derby is all three favourites are likely to settle in the second half of the field, not a bad thing with a likely hot tempo, then move together and the one who ends up in the one-one with 1000m to go becomes the one to beat.  “That sort of luck will play a huge role but this is a horse who can win a Derby so we have our chance.”  While so many Derbys in the modern era are won by horses on the marker pegs saving valuable ground tonight’s 2600m mobile could be an exception, with Sicario and Anthem such good stayers, but the race looms as one of the more competitive classics in years.  It it matched by the Trotting Derby where the northern stable of John and Josh Dickie have a strong two-horse punch in Girls On Film and Paramount King, with backing both not the worst play.  The Dickies have another group one shot with Speeding Spur, who is the horse to beat in the $100,000 Trotting Champs on form and with the best draw.   Michael Guerin

Logic said Somejoy would easily win her heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today (Saturday) and she did just that. From barrier nine driver Blair Orange realised he was on a hiding to nothing if he pressed forward so he eased the mare out of the gate and settled at the rear. At the 600, Dexter Dunn who was second last driving Especial, decided to press forward and Orange got right on her back. Just  before the turn Somejoy was running into the race four wide. Orange just had to  run the reins over her rump and she responded to win easily by two lengths from a game Especial. The mile was cut out in 1-53.2. It was a new track record for four year old and older mares. The previous record of 1-53.3 was set by Rocker Band in 2015. Somejoy winning in 1-53.2                        - Photo Bruce Stewart. Trained by Clark Barron at Rakauhauka , the Somebeachsomewhere mare was fitted for her assignment today with two trials at Winton on the 14th March and three days ago at Wyndham, winning both impressively.  "She does take plenty of work. We're lucky to have the Southern Belle series and after the final we'll have to reassess things I suppose. I haven't thought as far as the Jewels but it's a possibility," said Barron. It was the mare's eighth win from just eighteen starts and six of those have come this season.   "She's a lot stronger this year but we've been lucky enough to race the same pool of horses down here which makes her look good."  The winning time was 0.1 of a second outside of Kiwi On Show's Southland record of 1-52.2. The wins also means she surpasses her dam Jumpforjoys record of seven career wins.   "Like her mum her gait is immaculate." So the next race on the radar for Somejoy is the Southern Belle Speed Series Final on this track over the 1609  metre distance on 14th April. It's a race Barron hasn't yet won but this year could be different. "I've always been all for it. We've been luck enough to to keep a lot of mares and fillies and you always try to target those sort of races."   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing  

Dean Hunter has only been living in Canterbury for the last month having relocated to the garden city from Blenheim and today's win by Destiny Jones in the Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights was his first from his new barn at Russley. In today's trotting feature The Pres mare beat a nice field of squaregaiters, improving on her last start second to quality trotter Bordeax at Addington last week. Hunter has trained Destiny Jones for most of her career but good friend Kevin Townley has also had a stint at training her. “Kevin and I are very good friends and I’ve learnt most of my stuff from him.”  Hunter says Destiny Jones career hasn't been without drama.  “We’ve had our problems with her so it’s nice to have her back. She's had a wee nose bleed because she’s been popping blood vessels in her nose. It looks worse than it is. It isn’t happening further down but we’ve had to scratch her a few times. Hopefully we're on top of it now.” The hot pace set primarily by Splash Cola suited Destiny Jones and driver Blair Orange. With a lap to run they got a drag into the race when Sundons Wish improved. Just before straightening Orange hooked the six year old mare out and she came three wide to make her claim. She trotted nicely to the line beating a late run from Harriet Of Mot. The winning margin was one and a half lengths with another head back to Jen Jaccka. Destiny Jones trotting out to win the Southern Light - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time of 3-27.2 was just outside Dark Horse's track record of 3-26.7 but the time is a new race record as this was the first time the Southern Lights has been run over 2700 metres.  Hunter has held a trainers licence since 1988. He's trained twenty nine winners - twenty three of those being trotters. Other good trotters he's had in his stable have been Mo Hahn (by Earl) which won five races and Avon Develd (Gee Whiz II) which also won five. He also trains Dolly Jones a half-sister to Destiny Jones by Monkey Bones which ran third at Westport yesterday.    Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

At the start of the season Branxholme harness racing trainer Alister Black rated Kilowatt Kid as his best three year old. But  that was before Lawrence started to hit his straps and looked to have an advantage over his stablemate. However Kilowatt Kid has made a bit of a comeback in recent weeks and today's win in the Caduceus Club of Southland Super Nuggets Final has swayed Black's opinion again. “I don’t know what to put it down to really. I gave him a freshen and I've always thought he goes well fresh. Today he was like that and raced accordingly,” he said. The American Ideal gelding's form has been impeccable this season. He's won three of his eight starts and Black knew during the week that he was in tune for today's feature. “His work on Thursday was nothing short of superb. I woke him up a bit, saying come on son, it’s time to be a race horse.” Black, like all trainers, gets to know his horses and he's discovered how Kilowatt Kid best operates. "I’ve looked after him all the way through because I’ve really really liked him. Maybe I was being a wee bit soft on him.” Kilowatt Kid is owned by Ian and Lindsay Thomson both of whom have been great supporters of the young Branxholme trainer. “Without them I wouldn't be here. Ian and Lindsay have been so good to me. Words can’t describe it. What they’ve put into the game - I hope they get a good horse one day and I hope I’m around to see it and train it.” In today's final driver Blair Orange had Kilowatt Kid in the outside running line. With a lap to run stablemate Lawrence was putting pressure on the leader as well as on the favourite, The Bus. At the 600 Orange improved the gelding, taking him three wide and at the top of the straight he challenged the two leaders. In what was a  real staying test Kilowatt Kid got the better of The Bus just before the post, winning by half a neck.  Ian Thomson, Lindsay Thomson, Alister Black, Shirley Leakie (sister of the Ian and Lindsay), Blair Orange, Riley Black, Sheree Black and McKenzie Black    - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s got an awesome attitude and a lovely way of going. I thought we had a good chance today even though Trottech completely wrote us off. I wasn’t so sure that we could bet The Bus, but we did.” Kilowatt Kid won't be targeting the New Zealand Derby, with Black preferring to stay close to home and aim at the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day at the end of next month.   Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

Southland harness racing trainer Clark Barron scored a double at Ashburton today (Sunday) when Raksbet and Somejoy both won. Barron, who has a handful of nice three year old fillies in his stable, rates Raksbet as the pick of them and that judgement was vindicated today when she came from a second line draw to get up by a neck to win the The Nevele R Three Year Old Fillies Series Conditional Heat. Owned by her breeder Brendon Fahy, it was the filly's second win in five race day appearances.  "Brendon and I have spoken a few times about one day the penny will drop for her after missing a full season of racing. It's taken a long time to get her fitness up because she's a gross doing filly. She was aided by a perfect run today and she made the most of it," said Barron. The Bettor's Delight filly missed her entire two year old season because of injury. "She had an operation to get a bone chip off her hock. It was a paddock accident at Brendon's. She was out for four months." Barron says the Bettor's Delight filly's main target for the season is the Group Two $45,000 Nevele R/ Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final on Diamonds Day at the end of April.  She is now also eligible for the Nevele R Fillies Series Final. Her half-sister Raksdeal finished fourth in the Nevele R Series Fillies Final in 2014 and ran second behind Royal Counsel in the Southland Oaks Final so there's some unfinished business for Fahy and Barron.  The result also elevates Raksbet into the top twenty five for the end of season Harness Jewels.  Somejoy was also very impressive in winning the Studholme Bloodstock Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. From the inside of the second row driver Blair Orange settled the Somebeachsomewhere mare seventh on the outside. With just over 800 metres to run, he sent her forward and she quickly when to the lead. Orange waited until inside the last 200 metres to pull the ear plugs and Somejoy, despite running out into the middle of the track, won easily by two and a half lengths. "She was pretty dominant wasn't she? She just suits that grade to be fair. She's qualified for the Southern Belle so we'll head down those lines."  Somejoy is owned by the Miracle Lodge Syndicate which consists of Clark and Eric Parr. The win puts Somejoy in the top three for the end of season Four Year Old Diamonds. "Eric and Wendy (Parr) were both on-course today."  Winning races at Ashburton isn't new to Barron but this is the first time he's trained two on the course on one day. Prior to today's wins he was successful with Motu Mister Quest in 1998, Kyak in 1992 and Rakalooka in 1990. On the breeding front Rakalooka was by Clever Innocence out of Sentimental Belle. Sentimental Belle is the third dam of Raksbet. Raksplace, the dam of Raksbet, has been a great broodmare for Fahy. All of her foals of racing age have been winners. Raksdeal won five races and $121,096, Rakarolla won four races in New Zealand and another five in Australia while Raksmach won once here before heading to Australia where he's won another ten races.  Jumpforjoy, the dam of Somejoy, ran third to Carabella in the 2011 Group One Three Year Old Diamond at Ashburton on Harness Jewels Day. Somejoy was her first foal while her second, a filly by Art Major, was sold to Malcolm and Sarndra Little at the 2017 Sale of the Stars for $27,000. She has a Mach Three colt at foot.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

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