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Seaswift Joy could have easily been in North America instead of racing at Alexandra Park tonight and her rivals are probably going to wish she was. The open class mare has a huge rating points advantage over her five rivals and brings a strong last-start third in the Jewels to tonight’s main pace.  But trainer James Stormont says the four-year-old could easily have been gone by now. “She was in the late stages of a deal to be sold to North America but it fell through,” says Stormont.  “I think she will do a good job in the mares races here next season but she will soon be going back to Malcolm (Shinn) and he will train her for next season.”  Seaswift Joy is both tough and fast and while she has the outside barrier tonight it doesn’t look a particularly quick front line so it wouldn’t surprise to see her press forward at the start, maybe following a key rival like Max Phactor across to get handy.  But even if she gets back in the field, unless she is last on a slow pace, she is clearly the one to beat over the 1700m.  “She missed a very small bit of work when she was close to being sold but the way she worked on Wednesday she is ready,” said Stormont.  She could help Stormont to a good night because while he only has three drives the two others also look winning chances.  Stormont took over training Sunny Pegasus from Richard Brosnan when he moved to Australia and won fresh up with him. He goes up in grade tonight but it is not an intimidating jump and he looks at least as each way hope. And Stormont says How Great Thou Art (race four) shouldn’t be too disadvantaged by having a worse drawn that last Friday.  “He is still very green so I think the chance to settle him in the field won’t do him any harm and he has a good turn of speed.” MIchael Guerin

James Stormont trained and driven trotters have won at the last two Alexandra Park meetings, but the Pukekohe horseman fears his wins may dry up if he keeps losing his race-team to Australia. The Stormont trained and driven Shady Sadie notched up her third win of the season and first at Alexandra Park in last night’s feature trot – the $14,999 Primor Produce Handicap for the R62 to R98 squaregaiters. “It’s good to be back winning again, but of my 10 horses in work I’ve only got three racehorses. The others have either been sold to Australia and now that this mare has won I think I might lose her to Australia too. “The new handicapping system makes it tough. It seems horses reach their mark and then owners are left with nowhere to go but sell and race them in Australia,” Stormont said. Seven nights earlier Stormont trained and drove I’m Just Awesome to win an Up To R56 Trot by two-and-three quarter length victory at the same venue. That triumph came an hour after he steered the Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins trained Solid Gold to win a 2-year-old pace. “I’m having a nice wee run of form of late and you never get sick of that winning feeling, but in racing it’s those lean times that hurt the most. “I own I’m Just Awesome and I’m now left with the decision with ‘where to now?’. I know the owners of Shady Sadie and Loud An Proud have the Australia option in the back of their minds,” Stormont said. “I’ve got a few young ones coming through but one them recently got injured. I’ve just got to enjoy every win while I can. Who knows what the future holds,” he added. Shady Sadie was fractious at the start and tried to crash through the starting wire the first time, but when wheeled around a second time, Stormont timed the start perfectly to lead (from gate three) after 100m. Stormont then dictated all the pace in front to win the 2200m stand in 2:49.3 (mile rate 2:0.8). They came home in 58.6 and 29.6.  The 4-year-old Majestic Son - Dutch Annie mare had three quarters of a length and one and a quarter lengths to spare over Djokovic (Dr Luk Chin) and KD Hall (Jack MacKinnon). Shady Sadie was the $25.20 eighth favourite (of 12), unlike last Friday when she was the favourite and finished 78 lengths last. "She stepped away nicely this time and that was the difference. She had a couple of months off in January and has come back a lot stronger this campaign. "In fact it was her strength that got her home tonight. She bowled along quite easily in front tonight. If she doesn't go to Australia I'll race her throughout the winter," Stormont said. Even though Shady Sadie has now qualified sixth ($21,967) for the $100,000 McMillan feeds 4yo Ruby Trot Final at Ashburton on June 3 she won't be heading south. "It's financially not worth it. We would be racing for place money, at best, against some nice ones like Marcoola, Lemond, and Dark Horse. "The ideal plan would be to win a couple more with her over the winter - and she can do that because she's coming to it nicely now," Stormont said.  Up until last night’s assignment Shady Sadie had raced seven times at Alexandra Park for no wins and no placings. “She’s a nice trotter and will get better. I just wish she had more stablemates to knock around with back home,” Stormont said. Shady Sadie is owned by Allister Scott, Peter Fausett, Aaron Hill, and Peter O'Connor. The brown mare was bred by Tony and Anne Parker. The brown mare has now won has now won four of her 21 starts and placed in four other races ($28,924) since making her winning debut at Cambridge Raceway on Janurary 1 last year. Shady Sadie has also provided Stormont with half of his training wins (6) in 2016-2017. He’s also saluted the judge 14 times in the sulky. Meanwhile, a return to mobile racing worked the oracle for the Brent Mangos trained and Kyle Marshall driven Maxim in the feature pace – the $14,999 Powell Transport Mobile for the R81 to R109 ranked pacers. The 6-year-old Bettor's Delight - Splendid Dreams gelding started from the outside of the front line (8) but Marshall still managed to work him into the one-one after 150m metres. That move was the winning of the race. Maxim was too strong in the lane stopping the clock in 2:03.1. His mile rate for the 1700m mobile was 1:56.5. he came home in 57.2 and 27.5. Maxim has now won nine of his 29 starts - seven from behind the mobile arm and three at Alexandra Park. He has amassed just under $440,000 in career stakes. The bay gelding is owned by Katrina Purdon, Trevor Casey, John Lohman, Terry Henderson, The Clear View Racing Number Four Syndicate, and The Anzac Racing Syndicate. He was bred by Charles Roberts. Duane Ranger  

Margaret Lloyd doesn’t own any racehorses any more but that didn’t stop her from getting in her car and travelling the 25km to Alexandra Park last Friday night to watch two horses bred by her late husband Bruce Lloyd toyed with the idea of staying at home but couldn’t resist heading down the motorway to see siblings, I'm Just Awesome and More Shades Of Gold race. “What a night! I’m sure Bruce was looking down from heaven with a huge smile on his face. To win a race is a bonus but to breed the quinella, well that’s something special. “I was almost doing handstands. I saw Michael (Guerin) on track. He was delighted for me as well. He paid $20,000 for a yearling colt out of the mare at this year’s Yearling sales at Karaka. That horse’s name is Kratos and he will be trained by the Dickies (John & Josh) at Clevedon,” Lloyd said. The dam that she was referring to was her late husband’s ‘eftpos’ broodmare, Hanover The Gold (Evander's Gold - Chiola's Choice). Her 3-year-old Pegasus Spur filly named I'm Just Awesome beat her 2-year-old Majestic Son brother called More Shades Of Gold by two-and-three-quarter lengths in the third race at Alexandra Park last Friday night. I'm Just Awesome and trainer James Stormont won the $10,000 Dunstan Horse Feeds Up To R56 Trot in 2:49.4. She paced a 2:03.9 mile rate for the 2200m mobile and came home in 59.5 and 30 even. She was the $5 third favourite. Her stablemate and driver Todd Mitchell were the favourite. “It doesn’t get any better than this. Yahoo I got the quinella ($6.40). I don’t have any shares in horses any more now that Bruce has died, but I still love to follow the horses that he bred. James even let me go into the winner’s room after the race and collect the trophies for him. I was so happy for him and Bruce,” Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd passed away in the North Shore Hospital on May 9 last year – just 20 days short of his 80th birthday. Hanover The Gold won five races and has left nine foals and is currently in foal again to Majestic Son. “Bruce always said that she was his ATM machine. He loved her. She raced 56 times and also placed on 23 occasions. She has been very good to us both on and off the track,” Lloyd said. Lloyd, who works in the hospitality and catering trade, also oversees examinations. These can range from business exams to University and school exams like NCEA. But like her late husband she has a huge passion for harness racing. She said the ‘More Shades Of Gold’ connection went back to the 1988 Chiola Hanover - Game Mist mare Chiola's Choice - the grand dam of More Shades of Gold. "Bruce bought Chiola's Choice off her breeder - National Bloodstock with his late Uncle, George Abbott. George saw the fun that Bruce was having and wanted to get involved. "That mare left just two foals - a (1997) Evander's Gold filly named Hanover The Gold and a (1999) Simon Roydon colt called I'm A Nauti Boy. I loved them both, especially I'm A Nauti Boy. He won seven races and was a real character. He used to love my cuddles," Lloyd said. Lloyd said she still lived on the family farm at Kumeu – a five acre block formerly owned by Tommy Knowles. “We love it here. We have a great set-up with stables. In fact we had 12 minis (horses) staying with us recently. Megan is into the miniatures. We both love horses so much. “Bruce’s memory lives on through them,” she said. For the record: When Lloyd didn’t get the name - “It’s All About Me’ approved by HRNZ, she opted for ‘I’m Just Awesome. That bay filly has now won one of her five starts and placed in two others for owner/trainer/driver, Stormont. Stacey Markham

The mare that was named after the character ‘Fizz’ on Coronation Street can notch up her eighth career win at Cambridge Raceway tonight. Fizzi Lizzi goes into the $7,000 Furnware Industries Bodyfurn Handicap for the R60 and faster pacers with a nice workout win at 'The Raceway' on Saturday. "She's a reliable little mare who steps well and doesn't have a problem sitting parked. Back-marker Bettor Spirits (35m) will be the toughest to beat and even though she's beaten some of those old claimers before, it's never a given from 25 metres behind,"Hamilton-based MacKenzie said. He said he was delighted with where the McArdle mare was at, but half expected her to win her Workout last Saturday. "She's had a few niggles in recent seasons and all four of my wins this season have come via her. "I gave her a couple of weeks off and she has come back nice and strong. I would have been a bit surprised had she not won on Saturday," Mackenzie said. James Stormont will drive her on Thursday but Kyle Marshall did a good job of steering her to a one-and-a-half length victory over Sypda in Saturday's 2200m mobile for the R51 and faster pacers. Fizzi Lizzi currently has a R88 rating brought largely on by her three consecutive wins at Cambridge Raceway in November and December. On Saturday she stopped the clock (off the front) in 2:47.1 (mile rate 2:02.2) and came home in 58.8 and 29 even. "The small field (eight) should help her, but in saying that the speeds they go up front these days turns a 25m handicap into 40m. "I know she can step okay and she loves the track and distance and is race-fit, so yes I think she can go close," the Waikato horseman said. Three of Fizzi Lizzi’s four wins this season have been over Thursday’s 2700m distance, and five of her of seven wins have come at Cambridge, including three over the distance. Her standing start record is also impressive: 6-3-2. "She's the only one I've got in work. I'm also breaking in a Bettor's Delight youngster," said Mackenzie who works Fizzi Lizzi on the Tuhikaramea galloping track. The mare copped her name thanks to Myross Bush breeder Debbie Smith, who loves watching Jennie McAlpine - the actress who plays ‘Fizz’ on Coronation Street. Smith and her husband Mark have owned and operated Shard Farm Standardbreds since March 2004. They have put thousands of hours into their breeding empire, but Smith (Debbie) admits she was in and out of the Fizzi Lizzi breed within a month. “We bought the mare, Averil’s Atom (by Soky’s Atom) privately off Sylvia Purdue after the Sales. That wasn’t long after Sylvia’s husband John passed away. Mark O’Connor bought her and then bred from her after we had her for about a month. “The only horse we bred from the mare was Fizzi Lizzi but we then sold her as a weanling to Rod,” Smith said. Fizzi Lizzi is owned by MacKenzie, Jaymz Mackenzie-Hooper, Catherine Smith, and Nancey Taylor.   Duane Ranger

Lewy Risk has won both of his workouts since New Zealand Cup week but his trainer Lew Driver still thinks he will be a run short on Friday night at Alexandra Park. “He won his first trial back in December (2:02.2 mile rate) and then he cut his foot open. He kicked out at a water-bath at Kumeu and had to have a bit of his hoof cut out. “It’s grown back and I can assure you we only have troughs and no baths at the property now. He just gets a bit full of himself when he’s going well. He has a tendency to lash out a bit,” Driver said. Then last Saturday at Pukekohe Raceway the Elsu gelding won a seven-horse R60 to R83 workout over the 2050m mobile (right-handed) in 2:37.8. He got there by a nose from Rocknroll Lincoln and paced a 2:03.8 mile rate and came home in 57 even and 27.2. "I was pleased with that run. He's completely over his foot injury now, but I would have liked to have got one or two more trials into him before Friday's race. "I've been waiting and waiting for a mobile start for him and this is his first opportunity this week. I'd say three or four weeks down the line he will be at his prime," Driver said. "In saying that he could win on Friday. He never stops surprising me. He's a real enigma though, and just gets too full of himself sometimes" he added. Lewy Risk has drawn six (of eight) in Friday's $14,999 IRT Mobile for the R72 to R90 pacers. He is rated R83. The 7-year-old bay will be driven by James Stormont who got him home in Saturday's Workout. The last time he raced Lewy Risk finished second last in a $18,00 Free-For-All on Show Day and three days prior to that run he also ran second last in Lazarus's New Zealand Cup. “You just never know with him. He’s as bright as a button, which at times can be a worry. Whatever he does on Friday he will improve a heap on the run. We will just hang around with him in Auckland and look for mobiles. “I can’t go anywhere because I have a nice team of unraced 2-year-olds and yearlings coming through the ranks,” Kumeu-based Driver said. Now that Lewy Risk is seven, Driver has his fingers crossed that he could emulate the feat of his former pacing star, Gaelic Skipper. “He ran second in the Inter-Dominion grand final and also won the Cambridge Flying Mile when he was nine so I’m hoping this fella can also get better with age. “It’s just a matter of keeping your fingers crossed with him and hoping he gets around all right. He flaps a knee, cross-fires, and wears spreaders, but I know he can pace and run good times when he’s right. “You just never know with him though. I just want him to get around safely and improve on what he’s done of late,” Driver said. Lewy Risk has raced 60 times for eight wins, 13 placings and has banked $111,282. His most memorable performance to date was when finishing second in the Group Three Rangiora Classic in 2015. He is owned by Driver and was bred by Alabar Stud. Matt Markham

It's not often a trainer can get a tad annoyed when his horse goes too fast, but that's how Franklin trainer Ray Green felt about Linc's Tiger's easy win at in a five-horse trial at Pukekohe on Tuesday. The promising 2-year-old son of Sir Lincoln bolted in by five-and-a-half lengths, pacing the 2050m mobile (left handed) in 2:34.7. That was a whopping 7.5 seconds under the qualifying time. The brown colt's winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he came home in 57.7 and 28.4. "We have always been pleased with the way he's been developing. He's just a little fella but to be fair Nate (Delany) had him going a lot faster than what we wanted this early in his prep. The driver got a little bit carried away, but that’s to be expected, he’s young and only had a couple of race-day drives. "That was just the second time the colt has been off the property. We still have to get a bit of work into him before he is ready for race-night. We like him a lot but you have to remember it's all very well winning a qualifier because it's a different story come race-night," Green said. He said Linc's Tiger would have another trial this weekend and then perhaps he would line up in a 2-year-old race at Alexandra Park late this month or next month. Linc's Tiger is the only foal out of the unraced Real Desire mare, Tigerzureal, who qualified 2.9 seconds under the qualifying time at Alexandra Park in June 2011 Tigerzureal was the 10th of 12 foals left by the 15-win ($491,957) Butler B G mare, Tigerish. That multiple Group One-winning mare was a better than average 2-year-old herself, winning five out of eight races and placing in the other three. Linc’s Tiger was bred by Lindsay and Pam Turner of Top Notch Lodge in Pukekohe. Lincoln Farms paid $50,000 for the brown colt at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “He’s a very speedy little fella. He pulled up well and has come through the race without a problem. He did it all quite comfortably, which is promising,” Green said. The only other qualifier yesterday was the James Stormont trained and driven That Girl Of Mine, who beat the qualifying mark by 0.7 of a second in her two-horse 1609m mobile trot. The 2-year-old Great Success bay filly trotted the mile in 2:10.4 and came her last 800m and 400m in 62.9 and 32.1. She won by 17-and-a-half lengths. She is owned by B L Hill, Mrs M Hill, C G Walker, and Mrs N M Walker; and was bred by Frank Weaver at Takanini. She did not go through the Yearling Sales. That Girl Of Mine is the second of four foals out of the un-raced Sundon - Pride Of Petite mare, - Petite Sunshine. That mare did however qualify 0.3 seconds under time at the Auckland Trotting Club's Trials on October 13, 2009. That Girl Of Mine's grand-dam - Pride Of Petite, was also a multiple Group One winning mare, who raced 142 times and won on 35 occasions, placed 40 times and netted $811,816. She raced between March 1991 and March 1999. Duane Ranger

Rod Mackenzie has Fizzi Lizzi absolutely fizzing at present. The 67-year-old Tuhikaramea cattle dealer has now trained the McArdle mare to consecutive feature race victories at Cambridge Raceway in the last fortnight. That happened when Fizzi Lizzi and James Stormont triumphed at Cambridge Raceway last night (Thursday) in the.$7,500 O'Connor Warren Insurance Brokers Handicap for the R56 and faster pacers. Fizzi Lizzi, who started from a 10m handicap with her R76 rating, was the $5.60 third favourite in the six-horse field. But the 6-year-old has no right to be winning one race let alone the six she has already racked up from 28 life-time starts. “She has had breathing problems for much of her career and since I put the Cornell Collar on her she has come right, especially her last four starts. “She could have had an operation to see if it could be fixed, but I went for the collar option instead. Stunin Cullen had the same problems and he wore one throughout his career and won more than $1 million,” MacKenzie said. Fizzi Lizzi has now won three of her four starts this season, but it was a bold Stormont drive that got the mare home this time round. The Pukekohe reinsman sat fourth along the markers early before going to and sit parked at the bell. Then at the 400m Stormont said let’s go and that’s when Fizzi Lizzi said goodbye. That move was the winning of the race. She had four lengths up her sleeve at the winning post, pacing the 2700m stand in 3:26.5 – 1.6 seconds quicker than when she won two weeks earlier. Her winning mile rate this week was 2:03 even and she came home in 57 flat and 27.6. “The win means she will now have to take on the better quality horses at Alexandra Park but that’s fine, she’s won three races there and is a new horse this season. “The way she won last start I thought she would be tough to roll again. She’s got the speed to do a good job. As you can see she can run a slick quarter,” MacKenzie said. He then paid a tribute to his life-long friend Graeme Rogerson. “I’ve known Graeme since I was about two. We were both bought up at Te Rapa and then we shifted to Tuhikaramea about the same time 35 years ago. “We are neighbours now and he let’s me have run of his place and his track. He has state-of-the-art facilities there. I don’t think you would find a better training facility in New Zealand,” MacKenzie said. “I just want to thank Graeme for the continued use of his track and property,” he added. MacKenzie only ever has two horses in work, the other being the two-win pacer, Saucy Rebel. He said the best horse he had trained since taking out his licence in 1982 was Fizzi Lizzi’s older half-sister, Averill’s Quest (by Badlands Hanover). “She won nine races and more than $100,000. This one isn’t bad but she’s got a wee way to go to catch up on her half-sister,” MacKenzie said. He has now trained 68 winners from 494 starters in his career. He’s also placed 117 times and last night’s victory took his career stake earnings past the $506,000 mark. Meanwhile, the individual highlight of the meeting came from Clevedon reinsman Scott Phelan who drove more than a third of the card to victory. His first win came via the Arna Donnelly trained Sexy Rexy in race one, and then two races later he and the Steve Telfer/Chris Garlick trained Sir Richie won and went a slick 2:41.5 to score. Phelan’s third win came behind the Tim Vince trained Drover’s Eyre in the fifth event. “It was a good night at the office. I had six drives and also finished third in the last race (Olivia’s Secret). They all won quite well. I was especially pleased with the way Arna’s trotter won from his unruly mark. “He’s lightly race and felt like he might have a bit of a future,” said Phelan who will have a big month driving No Doctor Needed at the Auckland Cup Carnival. Phelan has now driven 14 winners this season ($128,404) and all-up has reined home 411 career winners ($4.2m) since first jumping in the bike back in 2000. Duane Ranger

Pukekohe harness racing trainer James Stormont is looking forward to this Friday night at Alexandra Park when he will have his star trotter Mum's Pride back at the races. One of the finds of last season in the trotting ranks, Mum's Pride has had a couple of workouts this time in to fit him for Friday night. " The first workout was against maidens so you can't read too much into it but his second workout was against some nice trotters and he won it easily so I am happy where he is at fitness wise heading into his first race." " He is probably only 80-85% going into the race but he will be very competitive still," James said. The last run of Mums Pride last season was in the Harness Jewels at Ashburton and James takes some of the blame for him only finishing sixth. " I just didn't have him 100% on the day and it was his first trip away from home so it all got to him a bit." " He is still a very inexperienced horse having only raced fourteen times so there is plenty of improvement in him yet" James said. This season James plans to take a leaf out of Colin De Filippi's book with Stent and look after his young trotter as he makes his way in the top grade. " I was having a talk to Frank, (Weaver) the owner the other day and we agreed that if look after him this season then we will reap the rewards further down the track. " Colin did it with Stent and Kevin Townley did the same with Sheemon so it is a proven way to go," James said. This season to date has been a bit quiet for James but he can see things turning around in the next few weeks. " With Mums Pride back on the track this week and a couple more from the team not that far away, things should be a lot busier in the next few weeks." "Having said that, there is always room in the barn for a couple more," James said. Mums Pride looked an exciting trotter in the making last season and he will be a welcome addition to the open class ranks in the north this season. Harnesslink Media

Every harness racing trainer will tell you that you never know where your next good horse is coming from. Some horses live up to their breeding while others rise way above what their pedigree suggests they should be capable of. One who fits squarely into the latter category is the very smart Monarchy gelding Mum's Pride.  Now the winner of five races from just eight lifetime starts, Mums Pride has impressed his trainer/driver James Stormont from day one. " I have liked him right from the start."  "I was going to race him as two year old but he banged his knee in the box and I had to give him three months off." "It was a blessing in disguise actually as it let him fill out and mature," James told Harnesslink this week. It has not all been plain sailing recently after two stylish wins at Alexandra Park in December. " He got a bout of colic and then right behind that he got a cold so it has been a bit of a rush getting him ready for tonight." I did want to race him last week as a lead in to this week so we are behind the eight ball a wee bit race fitness wise." "Having said that he really impressed me with his trial last week and even though he is up against Prime Power and company for the first time, I am still expecting a big run,"James said. While Mum's Pride was a bit of a rogue early on and still likes his own way a bit, James thinks it is a positive not a negative. " All good horses have a bit of character and attitude and he is no exception." "Its a good sign in my book," James said. Mum's Pride is not exactly a "blue blood" being from a handy Evanders Gold mare in Teachers Pride who won five of her seventy two starts. The dam of Teachers Pride was the Saville Row mare Charm School who won two from eighty three starts while the third dam was the unraced Pocomoonshine mare Poco's Pride. At this stage you would have to wonder where Mum's Pride gets all that ability from and you probably need to go back to his fourth dam Ketstone Wayward for the answer. A daughter of Hickory Pride, she was imported into New Zealand in the late 1970s by Derek Heckler of Final Decision fame. The next two dams are by Rodney and Volomite, two of the greatest trotting sires of their time in North America. There are plenty of winners close up in the pedigree in North America with the odd $100,000 winner thrown in. Mum's Pride is a trotter headed to the best grades in a hurry and reaffirms the old adage that a horse doesn't know who his parents are. Harnesslink Media

Champions overcome logic. And that’s exactly what Venus Serena did when overcoming her second-line draw  to win the $150,000 3YO Diamond at Cambridge today in a sensational time of 1:52.1. “She is the best filly I’ve ever driven and I don’t think I’ll drive another one as good as long as I live,” said driver John Dunn. Venus Serena moved into the race three-wide with cover on the back of Charleston Belle (James Stormont) before landing the parked position and locking horns with hot favourite Ideal Belle. The pair then engaged in a titanic battle but it was Venus Serena who pulled out more in the home stretch to win narrowly over Ideal Belle. Raksdeal finished third, while Lancewood Lizzie rounded out the First4. “She never saw the fence the whole race but she just kept giving,” said Dunn. The win is yet another feather in the cap for West Melton trainer Geoff Dunn, who did a phenomenal job to freshen the Mach Three filly after she performed below par in the NZ Oaks. Venus Serena, who has now won back-to-back Harness Jewels, is owned by her breeders Bob and Jenny Sandford while Dunn also has a share. By Mitchell Robertson

Top harness racing trainer Robert Dunn pulled off one of the biggest training feats of his illustrious career when Quinellering the Group One NZ Messenger with Elios and Franco Nelson at Alexandra Park tonight. Dunn’s two sons also produced the quinella in the $100,000 event with John Dunn and Elios diving along the passing lane to nab Franco Nelson in the shadows of the post, denying his brother Dexter three consecutive wins in the prestigious pacing event. Norvic Nightowl (James Stormont) was 4-1/2 lengths back in third with a neck back to Mossdale Connor (Ricky May) in fourth. “He was a good three-year-old but he has continued to get better as he has got older which is very pleasing,” said John Dunn. Elios led early before handing up to his stablemate Franco Nelson, who showed a dazzling turn of foot to leave his free-rolling stablemate flat footed at the 1100 metres. “In hindsight it probably worked out perfectly,” advised Dunn. “Last week he had to burn hard the whole way and got on the nickel a bit, but this time he was able to sneak a breather when in the trail down the back straight. “A lot of the credit must go to Matt Bowden, our travelling foreman. He has done a fantastic job with these two horses up here. He also did a great job with them in Australia.” Both pacers will now target the Harness Jewels, however afterwards they may be heading in different directions. “Elios will probably head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, while Franco Nelson, who is very good from a stand, will spell before being set for the NZ Cup,” advised Dunn. Elios’s win tonight was a reward for his risk-taking owners who purchased him for big money as a three-year-old despite the fact that he failed the veterinary examination. By Mitchell Robertson  

When it comes to siring your first winner, it rarely comes more impressively than Primz Luck. The talented two-year-old trotter easily accounted for a field of maiden trotters at Alexandra Park last night and looks set for the upcoming age group features. Driven by trainer James Stormont, Primz Luck, who is currently the only New Zealand qualifier by The Pres, settled in the one-one before pouncing quickly on his rivals in the home straight and racing away for a comprehensive 2 & ½ length win. The speedy youngster, who looks a natural two-year-old type, is now third on the Harness Jewels Leader Board, and looks set to carry on the family tradition and qualify for a Jewels Final. Primz Luck, who is out of Sundon mare Howz Lucky, is remarkably the younger half-brother of four trotters who have qualified for Jewels Finals including Madisonz Luck, who finished second to Kylie Ree in the 2YO Ruby in 2010. The Pres, who won four races in America from just nine starts, is a son of champion sire Andover Hall out of Hambletonian Oaks winner Southwind Allaire (Valley Victory). The Pres recorded a best time of 1-55.1 when winning at Pocono Downs in June of 2008 and currently has multiple two-year-old winners in the USA. He currently stands at Wai Eyre Farm for a fee of $3,250 plus GST. Stormont also enjoyed success at Alexandra Park last night with promising three-year-old Mum’s Pride, while Letz Elope claimed the feature Kumeu Stakes at Group Three level. By Mitchell Robertson

Trainer-driver James Stormont has been enjoying a good run of late and that could very well continue into the not so distant future. Last night, Stormont was successful in a heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series at Cambridge with smart filly Charleston Belle, who narrowly downed her close relation, Ideal Belle, a daughter of Charleston Belle’s granddam Blistering Belle. Tonight however, Stormont will bring a strong three horse team to Alexandra Park, all of which look to have realistic chances. Highlighting his team, is Mum’s Pride, who backed up her terrific qualifying performance with an eye-catching debut fourth. She will only need to trot to win the second event on the card. Stormont’s other two runners on the card are Our Dainty Lady, who looks a good place chance from her front mark, and Wynberg Sally, who Stormont believes is not too inferior to Charleston Belle. Wynberg Sally, who was actually relegated from third to four last start, was desperately unlucky on that occasion and finished powerfully after being dragged back by tiring horses at a vital stage of the race. She competes in the last race at Alexandra Park tonight where she meets a couple of smart types in Rockn Ruby and God Forbid; however she looks a very good each-way prospect. Stormont will also do the driving on Chattan and Art Exhibit, both of which are capable of picking up some money. Another Stormont trained runner that is worth following in upcoming weeks is talented two-year-old trotter Primz Luck, who backed up some super trials with a game third on debut at Alexandra Park on March 14. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness racing driver / trainer James Stormont couldn't have picked a better time to hit form. The Pukekohe horseman has long been a member of the 1000-win drivers' club but it is as a trainer that he is enjoying a resurgence, with a resulting boost in driving confidence. After struggling through the last couple of years with a lack of horsepower, Stormont's small stable has a good strike rate in recent months and that could continue with Charleston Belle and debutante Mum's Pride at Alexandra Park tonight. And the latter in particular has come along at the right time as Alexandra Park stakes reach record levels. From tonight, Friday night stakes for Auckland Trotting Club meetings rise 20 per cent as the club looks to put more money in the pockets of participants at all levels. That means Mum's Pride, a maiden trotter, races for $12,000 tonight and if he sticks to ATC meetings may never have to race for less again. "It is a great thing for the industry," says Stormont. "It means horses can pay their bills if they are competitive here and it might bring a few new owners into the game as well as bring back some of the ones we have lost." Ironically, coming a week after the Auckland Cup Carnival and with several heats of age group series tonight, the meeting is still short on numbers but that is more a matter of timing. Stormont also sees another bonus in the increased stakes - the boost ATC wins will give horses chasing a spot in the Harness Jewels, which is stakes based, on May 31. While Mum's Pride (R6, No 2) has a long way to go to get to the Jewels he looks smart, judging by a workouts win, with a 58 second last 800m. "He will go a fair way and the only thing I am really worried about is being drawn in close first time under lights," says Stormont. An inside draw is what Stormont wanted with Charleston Belle (R5, No 3) in her Fillies Series heat. A brave last-start fifth in the record run Northern Oaks, Charleston Belle looks even better suited to sprint racing and Stormont has only one plan tonight. "She has gate speed and if I get to the front I pity anybody who attacks her." Horses backing up from the best premier races are always worth following in the grades, so Aldo Rossi deserves favouritism in race nine even though he takes on tighter-assessed rivals. He was only fifth of six in the Woodlands Derby last Friday but got back in a sizzling 54.5-second last 800m and his earlier form suggests he will be hard to beat. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and The New Zealand Herald

Pukekohe harness racing trainer-driver James Stormont will resume his driving duties at Alexandra Park on Friday (August 30) – 49 days after almost losing his life in a race accident at the same venue. Stormont was cleared by doctors to resume duties last Friday. He has one drive – the Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins trained Kurahaupo Gambler in race four (7.36pm). Stormont drove the debutante when qualifying him 4.7 seconds under the required time on at Alexandra Park on May 7. He also drove him to a neck second behind Cilantro in a workout at ‘The Park’ last Saturday. “I’m pleased to be back driving again. I’ve had quite a bit going on in my life again and it’s going to be great to be back doing what I love,” Stormont said. Mitchell was driving the Jeremy Young trained American Angel when he was knocked unconscious on July 12. The 4-year-old hung out just prior to the home turn, clipped the sulky of another horse, and fell abruptly rolling over Stormont. As stated on national television, Stormont said it was fellow driver Todd Mitchell, who saved his life. “I owe my life to Todd and the fact that my skull cap took most of impact. I will always be grateful to him for what he did. The fact that I was knocked out also saved me. If I was aware of what was going on I might have been more rigid and fought it. Things may have been a lot different,” Stormont said. Mitchell managed to release himself from his own sulky and chase after Stormont and stop his uncontrollable horse ploughing into a concrete storm drain. "I could see him folded up over the sulky bar and I thought he was dead. The cart was upside down and he was like a rag doll,” Mitchell said soon after the accident. Race stewards later praised Mitchell’s actions. Stormont said doctors were surprised that he had suffered no dizzy spells or headaches. “I’m just so pleased my skull cap did its job. I’ve recovered well and in quick time,” he said. Stormont said accidents like this brought the human side out of the harness racing fraternity. “I’ve had so many well-wishers both on the phone and those that visited me in Auckland Hospital. It has been really quite humbling. I really appreciated what everyone did for me,” he said. The 49-year-old said he had been involved in accidents before but this latest one was the most serious. “I broke bones at Hawera one day and also broke an ankle at Alexandra Park. Even though I don’t remember a single thing this one was by far the most serious. “You only have one head,” Stormont said. Stormont has driven 1,106 winners from 10,414 career drives since 1982. He’s also placed 2,041 times and won more than $9.4 million in stakes. He cracked the century once when saluting the judge 107 times in 1990. He’s also trained 145 winners ($1.18m) since 1995. His best year was in the 2009-2010 season when he conditioned 18 winners. By Duane Ranger Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

This morning Alexandra Park played host to the TVNZ Breakfast presenters Rawdon Christie & Toni Street. The opportunity was presented to TVNZ as a follow up to a recent interview with James Stormont and Todd Mitchell. They were invited by Alexandra Park to experience harness racing first hand by going head to head on the track in a dual sulky race (TVNZ Breakfast Challenge). Toni and Rawdon had the support and assistance of professional drivers Zac Butcher and Todd Mitchell. TVNZ Breakfast is on TVONE from seven until nine week day mornings. The TVNZ Breakfast Challenge teams were:Rawdon Christie and Zac Butcher driving Waipipi Falcon and Toni Street and Todd Mitchell driving Belle Arising. What an exciting morning with a superb finish! This segment will be televised in a few weeks so stay tuned to hear more! Alexandra Park  

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