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By Jonny Turner, Harness News Desk   Sioux Princess has emerged from lockdown with a Forrest Gump style attitude and she showed it off with a stylish win at Addington on Thursday. Like the character from the hit 1994 movie, the Mark Jones trained trotter simply wants to run. And fast. Sioux Princess came in to Thursday’s rating 40-51 event after running her rivals ragged to score at last week’s Addington trials. The 5yr-old then put in an almost identical performance to win when racing resumed at Addington on Thursday. Jones said he puts Sioux Princess’s new attitude down to her recharging during lockdown. “She has had quite a bit of hard racing, so I just think the freshen up has probably done her good.” Before her trial and race wins, strong front-running performances were never a strong point for Sioux Princess. “It is funny because in a race down south one day she got to the front and then stopped to a walk,” Jones said. There was no walking for Sioux Princess in Thursday’s 2600m event. Once driver Samantha Ottley took the mare to the front with just under two laps to go her rivals never got a look in. Sioux Princess should be a regular at Addington through the winter. Jones plans to race the mare week to week now that harness racing is back up and running. The trainer’s stable star, Stylish Memphis, is set to rejoin his Burnham barn in the coming weeks. The New South Wales Oaks winning 3yr-old is currently jogging with owner, Wayne Higgs. Stylish Memphis was to campaign in Queensland during the winter, but her trip was cancelled after changes were made to the races she was to contest. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Jonny Turner, Harness News Desk    Inter-island trainer Robert Dunn is ready to continue his quest for a maiden national trainer’s premiership victory when he lines up a team packed full of winning chances at Addington on Friday night. Dunn went in to harness racing’s Covid-19 hiatus with a 10-win lead over Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who have yet to be sighted publicly since the end of lockdown. Dunn’s team have not only hit the trials track, they have emerged fresh and ready to help the trainer add to his 79 wins for the season. Dunn thinks Franco Niven in race 7 has the biggest chance of helping him extend his premiership lead. “Franco Niven would be the bet of the day from our team, he is a class horse.” “He is going to keep getting better.” Franco Niven trialled well when second to Nimah Franco last week. The pacer’s progress suggests he will continue to fire up well past Friday. “We had to geld him when he was younger because he was a bit of a ratbag,” Dunn said. “He lost that real colt look he has and it has taken him a long time to start to get strong again.” “But, I think this season coming he is going to have a really good year.” Dunn also starts Kensington Bill, who trialled quietly behind at Addington before his resumption, in race 7. Carlos Bromac was a pacer on the rise before lockdown and is ready to continue his upward progression in race 12 on Friday night. The horse made an excellent start to his career in Southland, before he was spelled after being tested against some of the country’s best 3yr-olds. Carlos Bromac thrived on his summer break and now returns after the benefit of another spell during lockdown. The pacer’s excellent trial win at Addington last week was proof of that. “He wasn’t quite up to the derby horses, so we tipped him out and when he came back he really thrived,” Dunn said.  “I thought his trial win the other day was really good.” “He is a horse that is going to win races pretty quickly.” Wyatt Waller is almost certain to have gone further than any of his rivals heading in to race 3. The 3yr-old was sold and exported to Australia after running second to Italian Lad in track record breaking time at Oamaru, last September. Wyatt Waller suffered an injury after crossing the Tasman and the Dunn stable arranged the horse to be returned to New Zealand. “The buyers were good clients of ours, so we arranged to give their money back and bring the horse back,” Dunn said.  “So, we are hoping he can do a good job because he owes us a little bit.” “He is a nice horse and another good chance.” The Player went two excellent races before lockdown and looks poised build on that in race 11, despite having to take on a classy line up including star 3yr-old, Cracker Hill. The 4yr-old was given a quiet trial, tucked away on the markers before running in to sixth behind race rival Matua Tana, last week. “His two runs before lockdown for second and third were great and we were rapt with his trial the other day – just running home the last 50m,” Dunn said. Styx Kiwi in race 5, Rocknroll King in race 9 and Anamajor and Soundslikeart in race 10 Each look strong eachway chances. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Chevron Action and El Dorado have made the most of harness racing’s enforced hiatus and are ready to show that at Addington on Thursday. The handbrake that has put harness racing on hold across the country is set to be released when the first of nine races gets underway at noon. While the break has been a major headache for stables across the country and disastrous for the TAB, it has brought some small silver linings. The Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon trained pairing of Chevron Action and El Dorado provide two examples. Chevron Action looked to be have risen to the peak of her powers when second in the New Zealand Trotting Oaks before lockdown. But, the break has proven she has even more to offer. Because the 3yr-old trotter will return an even better prospect on Thursday. “She has definitely improved from the little break she has had,” Purdon said. “Her trip to Auckland really made her and then having the two weeks out during the lockdown, she has really thrived on that.” The Dalgety-Purdon barn has readied Chevron Action for her resumption with two trials. The filly was soundly beaten when third behind race rival, Sioux Princess, in the first. Chevron Action then looked much sharper when beating her smart stablemate, Chloe Rose, to win a week later. “We were pretty happy with her last trial, she found the line pretty good,” Purdon said. That latest effort and her progress through lockdown should combine to make Chevron Action hard to beat in race 7 on Thursday Afternoon. “She should go close, really,” Purdon said. “She is generally pretty safe in her gait now, so she should be hard to beat.” Sioux Princess’s tearaway Addington trial win suggests she will be the hardest horse for Chevron Action to beat. El Dorado will step out in Dalgety and Purdon’s colours for the second time in race 6 on Thursday. Like his stablemate, the 3yr-old thrived during lockdown. “When we first got him he was quite green and he hadn’t quite hit his hopples, really.” Purdon said. “He was quite ill-gaited for a while, but he seems to have come out of it, just with time more than anything.” El Dorado has had one trial ahead of his resumption, finishing fifth behind race rival Ohoka Matty when not fully extended in the straight. The Dalgety-Purdon camp feel they have found the right race for El Dorado to make a stylish resumption on Thursday. “He seems well and he is in the right race to suit him.” Purdon said. “He should probably go pretty close.” Chevron Action and El Dorado will provide something of an entre for Dalgety and Purdon stable followers before the Kentuckiana Lodge trainers line up a big 12-strong team at the same track on Friday night. Like many horsepeople across the country, the pair simply can not wait to get back to the races. “We have been waiting a long time for it, it sort of feels like the start of the new season,” Purdon said.  “We will be looking forward to it and we have got a big day on Friday, as well.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Woodend Beach trainer Bob Butt has his team tuned up and ready to make a mark when harness racing returns next week. By then, the wait will finally be over for the trainer-driver and the patient owners of blueblood 5yr-old Mighty Flying Rocker. The son of Rocknroll Hanover and epic 100-win producing mare, Fleet’s Pocket, looked ready to strike when bolting in at the Addington trials on Wednesday. Mighty Flying Rocker’s eight length romp not only confirmed Butt’s decision to try the 5yr-old as a trotter after two unflattering starts as a pacers. It also put two pedal bone injuries firmly behind him. “I gave him two starts pacing, but he just didn’t have the speed,” Butt said. “He had a really high action and he was basically going up and down on the one spot.” “As a last resort I was going to start galloping him in his work, but when I took him out on the beach he trotted like a stag.” Mighty Flying Rocker had two workouts as a trotter, last year, before his pedal bone gave way. Butt had the horse ready to be tried again, but the break did not heal properly and had to be screwed. “Now that the bone is screwed up he is as good as gold,” Butt said. Mighty Flying Rocker had his rivals strung out all around Addington raceway during his eye-catching 2600m standing start win. “Hopefully he can do a decent job.” “He trotted 3.25.5 on Wednesday, so you would think he would be able to pick up a maiden win soon enough.” Butt produced another trotting winner on Wednesday in Carnegie Hall. The 4yr-old looked smart when winning one of her three starts earlier this season. “She is a nice horse, but she has definitely still got a bit to learn.” “In saying that, it wasn’t her fault when she galloped in her last start at Invercargill and she won real nice the start before that for Brent Barclay.” Butt was winning again at the Addington trials when Katchalight scored in rating 40-55 company over 1980m. The 4yr-old had three starts for the Woodend Beach trainer after transferring from John Howe’s stable and was unlucky in two of them. Katchalight joined Butt to be beach trained and she seems to be relishing her new regime. “She was good at the trials and she seems to be enjoying the beach.” “She will go to the first Addington meeting and she should be pretty competitive.” “She is at the right rating to be.” Mandoza, qualified impressively when bolting in by more than four lengths at Wednesday’s trials for Butt. The victory caught the eye of Perth buyers, which means the 3yr-old Washington VC pacer will not be seen at Addington when racing returns. A gallop at the winning post stopped Bitamuscle also impressively qualifying with Butt in the sulky. Despite the mistake, the 2yr-old won impressively for trainer Paul Nairn. The brother to New Zealand Trotting Derby winner, Lotamuscle, looks a horse to follow after he returns to the trials to attempt to qualify again. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner     A last start group 1 winner and rising trotting star is set to give Southland harness racing a big boost when it returns next week. Master trotting trainer Phil Williamson is eyeing the first post-lockdown meeting at Ascot Park for Ultimate Stride’s long awaited return to the track. The blueblood son of Love You and millionaire mare, One Over Kenny, will have been through two lockdowns when he steps out at Invercargill. The first came when the 3yr-old had to be boxed after suffering a peddle bone injury after bolting in at the Breeders Crown Finals at Melton in August of last year. The injury came as a surprise to Williamson, ­­after the horse initially came through his maiden group 1 victory in good style. “After he won at the Breeders Crown we got him back here and put him in the paddock,” the Oamaru trainer said. “Then, two weeks later, he was lame and the x-rays showed he had broken a peddle bone.” Ultimate Stride’s peddle bone has healed well and he has progressed well through his current campaign. “The peddle bone has healed well and there are no problems with it,” Williamson said. “Horses can injure them again, but at this stage there has been nothing to worry about.” Williamson plans to start Ultimate Stride at next week’s meeting if the horse trials up to the trainer’s satisfaction on his home track on Saturday. The 3yr-old currently has 65 rating points to his name, which means he will effectively have to race hardened all-comers in his return. That has Williamson slightly weary ahead of next week’s meeting. “He is a very nice horse and I have got a good opinion of him, but it won’t be easy for him.” “He will be first up for a long time and there are some nice trotters around.” “I know Nathan [Williamson] has his good trotter, Chinese Whisper, ready to go.” The draft rescheduling of the Harness Million and NZ Sires Stakes Championships give Williamson and his owners, Emilio and Mary Rosati, plenty to work towards with Ultimate Stride. A return trip to Victoria for the Love You trotter to the Breeders Crown and Victorian Trotters Derby is unlikely at this stage. The Rosatis are not keen on setting up a clash between Ultimate Stride and their leading Australian based 3yr-old, Elite Stride, Williamson said. The powerhouse owners do not just have their pair of smart 3yr-olds to look forward to. Williamson is set to trial another of their NZB Standardbred Yearling Sales purchases in Leaf Stride, soon. The 2yr-old colt, by Love You from Sun Mist, who was the second highest priced trotting yearling at last year’s Christchurch sale, is progressing well and could race at short notice. Williamson has just brought this year’s trotting sales topper, a Love You colt from Queen Kenny, back in to work. The yearling will be put through another preparation ahead of next season. The colt has impressed the trainer with what he has done so far, he said. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    If recent trials are anything to go by, the Hope stable is set to make a mark when winter racing resumes next week. Husband and wife trainers Greg and Nina Hope, who work their team with the aid of son and junior driver, Ben, had a field day at Wednesday’s trials at Addington racking up four wins and two quinellas. The effort came nearly a week after three of the Hope team scored at the first post-lockdown trial meeting. Talented, but frustrating trotter Matua Tana looked set for victory last week before rolling in to an all too familiar late gallop. The big, free striding square-gaiter was back to the kind of form that saw him sent out a New Zealand Cup day favourite when scoring in Wednesday’s fast 2600m class trot for driver Gerard O’Reilly. The turnaround was put down to a key gear change that is hoped will help the six-year-old deliver on his potential. “Last week led all of the way, but had a gallop again,” Ben Hope said. “Gerard suggested we put an undercheck on him, so we did.” “And when he came back in he said he was a different horse, so we were rapt.” Midnight Dash showed he was on target for the upcoming rescheduled three-year-old trotting features when running in to second, three quarters of a length behind his stablemate. “Midnight Dash went really good, he was held up by a tiring horse on the home bend and ran home really nice,” Hope said. It is possible both Matua Tana and Midnight Dash could race at next week’s first post-lockdown meeting at Addington, but no firm race returns have been set for either horse. The Hope stable also notched a quinella when unveiling two smart two-year-olds in yesterday’s 2600m qualifying trot. Just a half-head margin separated Tedesco and Summer Lovin, who were both bred by the Hope family. “Summer Lovin will probably press on a hopefully aim towards the good two-year-old races that are going to be run.” “Tedesco is a nice horse, but I feel like he is probably six months away.” “The plan was to qualify him and then then give him a couple of workouts before giving him a spell.” Franco Jorik is another of the Hope team’s two-year-old trotters is also on a path towards races like the NZ Sires Stakes Championship. Though the Muscle Mass trotter was well beaten by impressive winner, Mighty Flying Rocker, Hope was pleased with his horse’s effort. “Even though he was beaten by eight lengths I was pretty stoked with how he went considering he is just a wee two-year-old against older horses over 2600m.” “He is probably not going to be one of the favourites when the big races come around, but if he got the right trip he could definitely feature in them.” Makura was another of the Hope team that showed she was on track for a good return to racing on Wednesday when winning a non-winners’ trot over 2600m. The Andover Hall three-year-old failed to flatter in three starts earlier than this season, but is better than those performances suggest. “We took her to Westport at Christmas time and she didn’t handle the track, then she ran off the track in her next start and nearly touched the outside running rail,” Hope said. “She stepped really well in her trial and showed great manners to lead the whole way.” Mossdale Mac showed his promise when winning at Wednesday’s trials. The two-year-old is likely to need more practice at trials and workouts before heading to the races. Mossdale Mac’s  half-sister, Mossdale Art won at last week’s trials for the Hope stable. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The COVID-19 pandemic has set up an old school New Zealand Cup preparation for last year’s seventh placegetter, Nandolo. The 5yr-old showed he was ready to rumble when racing resumes at Addington next week with a comfortable trial win on the same track, last week. Trainer John Howe had Nandolo ready for a run at the South Island’s late season open class features before the COVID-19 pandemic put racing on hold. The current situation has led to Nandolo now working towards a New Zealand Cup preparation that adheres to the previously long held notion that a cup contender must be racing by the National Meeting (in August) to be fit enough to win in November. “We had him ready for the good races at the end of the season, like the Rangiora Classic, before everything stopped,” Howe said. “He had three weeks off and we thought we would carry on and just see what races they would have for horses like him.” “I spoke to the handicappers and he will get five points for every win.” “So, we will try to win a couple of races and that would have him rated 95 [points].” “He races those top horses anyway, so it should work out pretty good for him.” Nandolo emerged with one of the several hard luck stories in last year’s New Zealand Cup when badly held up on the home turn. Howe is hopeful the pacer will return a better prospect after a season of clashing with some of the country’s best horses. “He should be a little bit better this year.” “He is a big horse and he has been getting better every season.” Clearly, modern training techniques and the refinement of today’s standardbred mean Nandolo will not be as busy as the cup horses of the 1970s and 1980s, who raced through winter. One of the limited number of starts the pacer will have before the spring is set to come when racing resumes next week. “He is very well and he will be ready for the first meeting,” Howe said. “We had eight at the trials last week and most of the team are about 80-90% at the moment.” “We will have eight at the trials again this week to get them ready.” Howe, stable reinsman Jonny Cox and breeder-owners, Phil and Christine Smith, doubled up at last week’s Addington trials when winning both the fast class 2600m trot and pace. Aladdin Sane showed he was also on track to resume next week for the quartet when beating a talented field. The 4yr-old won first up in December after a year away from the track. That meant the Aladdin Sane found himself in the intermediate grades with just four starts behind him. The trotter is now refreshed, recharged and ready to measure up to his rating. “He is quite a nice horse and I think he can go on with it,” Howe said. “He and Phoebe Onyx should both do good jobs.” Phoebe Onyx ran second to Sioux Princess over 2600m in rating 46-55 company at last week’s Addington trials. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner   Rocknroll King will attempt to take his game to the mainland in today’s Waimate Cup. The Robert Dunn trained pacer headed west to show off his staying prowess to win the 3200m Inangahua-Grey Valley Cup in his last start at Reefton. The 4yr-old will step back in distance and head south in an attempt to make it back to back cup wins in today’s 2600m handicap. Driver Gavin Smith can not see why Rocknroll King can not go another great race. “He went really good on the coast, this race is a wee bit harder, but not a lot harder.” “He won with a wee bit in reserve over there [Reefton], so if he got a reasonable run he would be right in it again.” Rocknroll King starts on the 10m mark alongside fellow recent grass track winners One Direction and Shadow Minister. Both Vulcan Star and Gilligan’s Island will attempt to complete hat-tricks of wins from the front line. The favourite, Bettathanfast, will start from the 30m following his big performance to run second to Stars Tonight in his last start at Addington after sitting parked throughout. Bettathanfast was the $5.50 favourite, ahead of Rocknroll King ($6), when the Waimate Cup fixed odds market opened last night. Smith lines up two trial winning first starters from his stable at today’s meeting. Kiwi X Factor comes in to his 2000m standing start assignment after stretching out to win his by four lengths at the Rangiora trials. The 3yr-old has the motor to make an impact on race 4, but is yet to fully develop his racing game. “He is going to be a nice horse, but he can’t be hustled up too much yet, he needs to be looked after,” Smith said. “But he is going to be a lot better than a maiden.” “He is not one of mine that will just jump to the front, he will have to be handled a little bit quieter.” Kiwi X Factor has been rated the $5.50 third favourite by bookmakers behind equal favourites, Lizzie Richter and Uber Express ($4.80). Smith will start his 2yr-old, Helluva, against older horses over 1700m in race 5. The trainer-driver has high hopes for the pacer later this season. “He goes really good and if he keeps improving he could be up with the better 2yr-olds later.” “But, he is still a bit soft, mentally.” “That is why we have gone with an easy option first up.” “He can do a bit wrong, he is not hardened and he is not a racehorse yet, either.” Helluva has been rated a $7 chance by bookmakers. Mossman, who galloped in tight quarters and was pulled up in his last start at Addington, headed the market for race 5 at $4. Smith also starts Amulet from his stable in race 6. The trotter has the ability to win the race, but needs to show it today. “She has the ability, but has been very frustrating.” Smith also drives Atarah in race 3 and Don’t Look Back in race 11. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Winton trainer Des Baynes will step out a small team packed with winning chances on his home track at today’s Wairio mile day.   Baynes has produced brilliantly consistent results this season with a win and ten placings from just 21 starts. Naturally, Baynes would have liked to have converted more of his run of placings in to wins. “I joked with some of the boys that I might have to start training a Kidz Kartz pony so that I can get a win,” the trainer said.  “But, I am not too worried about it, so long as the horses all go good honest races I will be happy.” The trainer’s highly talented two pronged attack on race 8 with smart pacers Slate and See Ya Write looks best chances of upping his winning strike rate today.  Baynes has Slate just ahead of his stablemate as his leading chance in the race. “Slate is a 5yr-old and a little bit older and tougher, so I would lean towards him.” “See Ya Write is a nice little horse and he has been going some good races.” “I am just not sure where he might end up from his draw. See Ya Write starts from barrier 5, with Slate inside him in barrier 4. Slainte and See Ya Write are two of several smart types that will do battle in race 8. Pocket Watch steps up in class after dealing to inferior opposition in his last start at Forbury Park. The 3yr-old and Stringray Tara, who has produced consistent form in strong fields recently, will both give away a draw advantage to the Baynes pair when they start on the outside of the front line. Baynes had thrown his maiden mare, Might Be Me, in the deep end in one of today’s features. The runner-up in her last three starts will take on seasoned, race winning mares in a Southern Belle Speed Series heat. “This is the last heat of this series, so I was keen to get her in to get some points,” Baynes said.  “This is probably the weakest heat and without wanting to disrespect the opposition, she should be up to them.” Amore Lancôme looks the toughest horse for Might Be Me to beat. The 4yr-old was third in a stronger mares event behind Cheezel and Yankee Party, at Winton two starts ago. Baynes will also step out Dress Code for her debut in race 6. The 3yr-old comes in to her mile (1609m) assignment after finishing in the first two in her last five trials and workouts. “She is a nice filly – she is Slate’s half brother – she  has gone well at the workouts and trials,” Baynes said.  “It’s her first start, so you don’t know what might happen, but she should go a good race.” A patchy form line and a tricky draw make Saint Tropez in race 10 the roughie among the Baynes team.  The 3yr-old will start from barrier one on the second row of the mobile in a capacity field. “He didn’t go too bad in his last start at Wyndham,” Baynes said.  “From where he is drawn it will depend how many times the lead changes in front of him.” Today’s Winton meetings is the first in Southland to be run under new rules excluding spectators and owners in response to the covid19 pandemic.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Exciting 3yr-old Heroes Square will face his toughest test after drawing wide in tonight’s group 2 Flying Stakes at Addington. The Robert Dunn trained pacer has announced himself a serious New Zealand Derby contender with three highly impressive wins in his first three starts. Heroes Square will almost certainly have to call on all of his class if he is to keep his unbeaten record intact in tonight’S 1980m feature. Drawing the outside of the front line in barrier 9 means the 3yr-old and driver Tim Williams have a huge task in front of them. “It is going to be very tough for him from that draw,” Dunn said. “Tim will have to go back with him and try to get in to it.” Williams will fill in for Dunn’s son John, who was among a number of leading drivers stood down yesterday as a precautionary measure in response to the COVID19 pandemic. The group, which includes Mark Purdon and Zac Butcher, have been excluded from racing until Tuesday because they have returned from Australia recently. Heroes Square will be in good company on the outside of the mobile arm, with leading 3yr-old Copy That starting alongside him. The Ray Green trained pacer will start from barrier 8 for new driver Blair Orange. While there are some doubts over whether Heroes Square can give his main rivals a head start from his wide draw, there is no doubting the horse’s ability. And though the Art Major pacer has only burst on to the 3yr-old pacing scene recently, his trainer has know of his class for some time. “We have always thought a lot of him, but he had joint problem as a 2yr-old.” “We sent up to Matamata for a scintigraphy test and they found a wee problem in a fetlock.” “He is a very nice horse and I think he will measure up with the best 3yr-olds.” “Especially on his last win, it was very impressive.” Heroes Square beat Flying Stakes rivals Minstrel, Skippys Delight and Burnham Boy in his brilliant last start win in the Johnny Globe Classic at Addington last week. The pacer steps up to race more proven 3yr-olds when clashing with both Copy That and One Change, who has the massive advantage of drawing barrier 1. The Dunn stable also start Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon from barrier 2 with Gavin Smith in the sulky. The pacer should get every opportunity is his first test against the country’s top 3yr-olds from his handy draw. “It was a good win last time at Invercargill and he is working really well,” Dunn said. “He is a horse that loves getting out there and running those really strong sectionals.” Dunn and Williams will also combine with Henry Hubert in tonight’s Superstars Championship. The 5yr-old’s brilliant fresh up win in the Northern Southland Cup shows he has back at the top of his game following a short spell. However, Henry Hubert may not get the chance to show that tonight’s 1980m feature as he starts from barrier 1 on the second line. “He is really well and working really well, but it is a disastrous draw for him, really,” Dunn said. The conditions for the Superstars Championship also put leading contenders Another Masterpiece and Triple Eight in tricky starting spots in barriers 8 and 9, respectively. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Forget the Highlanders — Otago’s squaregaiting squad is the province’s team to follow after it produced brilliant results over the weekend. Forbury Park trotter Have No Fear was not scared to show off his class when producing a faultless and impressive debut at Addington on Friday night. The Darryn Simpson-trained 2yr-old’s win on debut came six races after Oamaru trotter Cracker Hill confirmed his place at the top of the country’s 3yr-old trotting ranks in the Sires Stakes Trotters Prelude for trainer-driver Brad Williamson. The run of trotting winners from blue and gold country continued at Wyndham Cup day on Saturday, when Williamson drove Humble Lad to win the feature trotting event in his father Phil’s colours. Katiki Beach trotter Count Eyre went on to win a minor event for trainer Ricki Allen to keep up Otago’s domination of South Island trotting races over the weekend. Darryn Simpson went into Friday night’s 2yr-old trot quietly confident of a good run from Have No Fear after the horse gave him a good feel in a recent Oamaru trial. "It was a big thrill," the trainer said. "He went real nice at Oamaru and after that we were thinking he might be pretty hard to beat," the trainer said. The Oamaru trial had just three starters, and came after Have No Fear competed against just one other rival in his previous hit-out. The Father Patrick trotter showed no signs of inexperience, producing a highly professional performance on Friday night. Given the race was the horse’s first serious test on a race track, Have No Fear should derive a lot of improvement from his win. “It was big effort, because it was his first start under lights and it was a big trip up there for him," Simpson said. Have No Fear, who was bought for $32,000 at the 2019 national yearling sale by Dunedin owner Garry Clarke, has put himself in contention for the Harness Jewels with his victory. The trotter has shown Simpson he has plenty of talent right from the get-go. "He is a pretty nice horse, he has always shown a bit right from when we got him." The Sires Stakes Championship at Addington will be his next big assignment. Cracker Hill backed up his win in last month’s Hambletonian Classic in the Sires Stakes Trotters Prelude on Friday night. The 3yr-old will now be set for an epic showdown and rematch from last season’s Harness Jewels with Bolt For Brilliance. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Glenys Chmiel will be out to continue her brilliant form in what will be her last hurrah in the sulky, as Harness Racing New Zealand’s Team Teal Campaign ends at Motukarara today. The reinswoman produced excellent results when competing against South Island’s best female drivers competed in four Team Teal races on the West Coast, last weekend. Chmiel’s two wins and one placing, which raised funds for ovarian cancer research, came after she got a little help from her friends. “I am only really out there because of the teal races,” the driver said.  “Sam Ottley got me the drive on Kensington Bill and Aimee Edmonds got me the drive on Sod’s Law.” “That was why I went over to the coast.” “Then, Sam got suspended so I ended up getting one of her drives at Motukarara. Chmiel’s West Coast efforts showed she still has all the skill she displayed at the height of her career, despite her taking limited opportunities in the sulky in recent seasons. Though she has enjoyed being back out on the track, her winning run will not see Chmiel make a full time return to driving in any capacity. “This will be my last hurrah for a wee while.” “My kids come first and they are quite involved with sport and that takes up most of my weekend.” Chmiel’s West Coast double behind Kensington Bill took her career tally to 48 wins. If she produces the kind of form she did last weekend, the reinswoman could notch a 50 win milestone with her three drives at today’s meeting. Chmiel will drive Been To Jenny’s (race 6) and Malinka (race 9) in today’s two Team Teal women’s races. Malinka copped second row draws in both of her starts last weekend’s West Coast meetings. The Trevor Walsh trained 4yr-old ran home well for second at Westport, before whacking away for an honest sixth at Reefton. Chmiel has a much better draw to work from with Malinka today, when she starts from barrier 5. “Trevor said to me that he didn’t think he had her ready for Reefton.” “But, she certainly has been going some good races.” “I think the run at Reefton will have tidied her up and she should be on form.” Chmiel may need to show off all of her skills to work Been To Jenny’s in to race 6 from the outside of the front line. Going on the Kyle Cameron trained 5yr-old’s sound second in her last start at Reefton, Been To Jenny’s will be competitive if she can find a nice run.  “The draw is the worry, we will just have to see what happens early in the race and then make a plan after that,” Chmiel said.  Chmiel will drive Bring Back Leah in an event outside today’s Team Teal races. The Mark Jones trained 3yr-old looks a strong chance in race 3, following her second and fourth placings on the West Coast, last weekend.  “She has got form, she raced honest on the coast and she is due for a break through.” “Hopefully Sunday is the day.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner     Trainer-driver Nathan Williamson has both youth and experience among his three pronged attack on tomorrow’s Wyndham Cup. The Branxholme horseman will start experienced campaigners Franco Santino and Triroyale Brigade alongside up and comer Pembrook Playboy and in the 2400m handicap. The Wyndham Cup will be nothing new for experienced country cups campaigner Franco Santino, who starts from the back mark of 30m. That handicap and the horse’s experience make the 5yr-old Williamson’s leading chance. "I would probably lean towards Franco Santino. It’s a smaller field this week and don’t think the handicaps will be such a big problem," the trainer-driver said. Franco Santino was off just a 10m handicap when ninth in last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup behind Henry Hubert. Once the pacer got back on an electric closing 800m of 54.7sec he had no winning chance. "I was pleased with him at Northern Southland. It was just one of those races he couldn’t get into," Williamson said. "He usually begins pretty well, but he got squeezed up at the start. "He hit the line strongly and I timed his last 800m in 54.5sec and last 400m in 26.5sec, so he couldn’t have gone much faster." Pembrook Playboy comes into the race after producing a scintillating finish to beat older horses in his last start at Ascot Park. Although the pacer clearly has the talent to match most of his rivals in tomorrow’s feature, Williamson is wary about what kind of position the horse will get into. Pembrook Playboy will have just his second career standing start in the often tricky spot of barrier 1 on the 10m mark. "Starting there is another reason why I would favour Franco Santino. "He hasn’t had a lot of standing starts, so I am probably going to have to be a bit cautious with him early. "He has had one stand and he paced away, but he was on the second row. "I am confident he will pace away, but it’s just how much hustle and bustle there will be early to get him off the fence." Leading driver Blair Orange will steer Franco Santino, with Williamson sticking with Pembrook Playboy. Williamson’s knowledge of the pacer should help Pembrook Playboy begin as well as he can tomorrow. Sticking with the 3yr-old will also allow the trainer-driver to keep a close eye on the horse’s progress towards next month’s New Zealand Derby. "He is a lovely horse going forward and it wouldn’t surprise me if he come out and won. "He has got the derby as a bit of a target in three weeks, so if I stay on him I will be able to assess his progress. "I do think he is up to this race, but these country cup races can be the undoing of these young horses if they get too tough a run." Tim Williams will drive Williamson’s third stringer, Triroyale Brigade. The 5yr-old gelding steps back up a grade after convincingly beating a lesser line-up on Northern Southland Cup day. "I can’t see a reason why he can’t go a good race again. "He will step well and put himself in the race and if he is in the trail or three-deep he will be finding the line." Lawrence (10m), Parama and Robyns Playboy (20m) look three of the biggest threats to the Williamson trio as they step back in class from last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup. Lawrence battled into fourth after enjoying a perfect run behind Henry Hubert and Robyns Playboy ran sixth after getting off the speed. Parama steps up in class after winning his last start at Wyndham. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner   After teaching older horses a lesson, Burnham Boy has his sights on his own age group at Addington to solidify his New Zealand Derby prospects.  The Bettor’s Delight pacer is one of a line up of promising 3yr-olds that will attempt to boost their hopes of starting in next month’s group 1 classic in the Johnny Globe Stakes tonight.  Burnham Boy has little to prove against older middle grade horses after his good fresh up win in the Cheviot Cup. The victory came after Jones chose to give his 3yr-old opportunities in graded events to improve the pacer.  And judging by the Burnham Boy’s recent progress it has paid off. “We have tried to toughen him up a bit and see if he is good enough for the classic races,” Jones said.  Burnham Boy will revert back to racing his own age in tonight’s 1980m feature. Jones hopes the pacer can prove himself worthy of a New Zealand Derby start with a solid performance. “He won’t disgraces himself, but it is one of those cases where we will chuck him in the deep in and see if he can swim.” Heroes Square will attempt to continue the impressive start he has made to his career and shore up a derby start in tonight’s race. Leading contenders Cloud Nine, Steel The Show and Minstrel will do the same. Smooth Deal will not need to prove his derby credentials when he backs up a week after his sound fourth in Line Up’s New South Wales Derby in the Johnny Globe Stakes. Jones has a big hand in tonight’s Nevele R Fillies Series heat. Plutonium Lady will start from 2 in the 1980m event, with stablemate Lulu Le Mans outside her in barrier 8. Plutonium Lady will get no rest from chasing a smart All Stars filly after running on well to claim second in her last start in Amazing Dream’s Northern Oaks. This time, she takes on Stylish Memphis in what will be her first start for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Plutonium Lady’s premium draw and the way she has worked since returning from Auckland has Jones hopeful the filly can produce a strong performance.  “She has got good gate speed and she is probably good enough to push forward and make her own luck,” the trainer-driver said.  “She has come back good from Auckland and gets her chance to qualify for the final.” Lulu Le Mans is stuck out in barrier 8 under the conditions of tonight’s heat after winning a previous qualifier. Though she goes in to the race after producing a powerful victory at Ascot Park, that draw will have a big effect on her winning chances. “Three starts ago we didn’t know where she was at, then she won a conditioned heat,” Jones said.  “But her win last start was good, so she is definitely improving.” “Just from that draw she will find it extremely hard with Stylish Memphis and Plutonium Lady in there.” Jones officially prepared Stylish Memphis until recently, when his training partnership with Brendon Hill ended.   The filly has been in the care of Mark Purdon while campaigning in Australia for the past two months. Stylish Memphis will start for the first time since her tough win in last month’s New South Wales Oaks in tonight’s race.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Ladbrooks trainer Dean Taylor wound back the clock when Ariella scored at upset odds in group 3 company at Ascot Park on Saturday. The Art Major pacer dashed along the passing lane to win the Northern Southland Trotting Club’s 2yr-old fillies feature at a $19 win price for driver Robbie Close. Winning feature fillies races in nothing new for Taylor, who most recently produced Tidal Franco and Life Of Luxury for victories in the early 2000s. The trainer had a feeling leading in to Saturday’s event that he has a filly that match his good winners. “She is a really nice filly, she is up there with Tidal Franco and Life Of Luxury,” Taylor said. “She has just improved each time she has been to the races.” “But, gee it makes it makes a difference when you get a good draw.” Ariella drew barriers 7 and 8 in her first two starts at Addington behind Town Echo, before turning the tables on her rival on Saturday. Town Echo was third to Ariella, behind runner-up Shanika, after leading in to the straight. Taylor will now try to win more of the kind of races he has captured in the past with Ariella. “We will press on now, she appears to be a 2yr-old.” “She’s got the greatest set of owners you could ever have.” “They’ve had so many bad things happen to horses.” “Now they’ve finally got a good one.” “Andrew Fry owns her and he’s done a deal with a whole lot of his friends.” The masterful eye of Barry Purdon helped Taylor and Fry secure Ariella. Purdon and wife, Katrina, inspected the Art Major filly from E J Becks ahead of her being offered at a mixed bloodstock sale as a weanling. “Barry and Katrina went and had a look at her and said ‘she has beautiful legs and a good head on her’.” “Scott Phelan went to the sale and Andrew was bidding on the phone in Christchurch and they got her.” Ariella smashed the 2200m Ascot Park track record for 2yr-old fillies with her 2-41.5 winning time. Her new mark took a whopping 3sec off the previous record Northern Velocity set in the same race. Ariella’s victory continued Robbie Close’s brilliant run of form in the sulky this season. The reinsman is enjoying a brilliant term, having racked up 39 wins. With more than four months left in current term, Close is set to smash his previous best season’s tally of 42 victories. Saturday’s group 3 win came three weeks after the driver notched his first group race victory with Splash Cola in the group 3 Summer Trotting Free-For-All at Addington. Close said he is trying to make the most of his winning run. “I am just enjoying the fun at the moment.” “I am at a great place to work at with Regan [Todd].” “I am just hoping it lasts.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury trainer Robert Dunn has his Interdominion stars primed to run big races at today’s Northern Southland Cup meeting at Ascot Park. Dunn has the two favourites in today’s Group 3 feature with Classie Brigade starting alongside Henry Hubert, who will attempt to defend his 2019 Northern Southland Cup title. Pres The Belle will have to overcome the back mark of 30m in the Group 3 Southern Lights trot. Henry Hubert brings a sketchy formline in to his Northern Southland Cup defence. Dunn’s advice is to ignore his pacer’s recent form at Alexandra Park, where he did not handle racing right-handed. “You could basically put a line through his last four starts at Alexandra Park,” the trainer said.  “We gave him another go right handed and he just didn’t handle it.” “He just doesn’t have the balance to be a right handed horse, he might never have.” “Before then he was going really well.” “He went super in the New Zealand Cup and the Free-For-All and that was after having an interrupted prep.” “We didn’t think we would even get him to cup week.” Henry Hubert will start for the first time since his Auckland campaign in today’s 2700m handicap. “He had a spell when he came back from Auckland and we have been really pleased with him,” Dunn said. “He trialled up nicely and he is ready to defend his title.” Henry Hubert will start alongside fellow leading chances Vintage Cheddar and Nandolo on the 15m mark. Classie Brigade was nosed out by Henry Hubert in their Rangiora trial, last week. The New Zealand Cup third placegetter was in a similar position to Henry Hubert in Auckland, where he was unable to show his best. But, that was down to the pacer being away from their Woodend Beach stable, where he thrives. “He is a beach trained horse and he is very happy being back on the beach after being in Auckland,” Dunn said. “He has thrived since he got back.” “He never had any luck with draws in Auckland, but I thought he went a huge race in the Interdominion consolation.” “He trialled up well, so he should go a great race.” Classie Brigade will give Invercargill Cup winner Dadndave, who looks the best of the front markers in today’s feature, a 25m head start. Dunn hopes Pres The Belle can overcome her 30m back mark in today’s 2700m trotting feature. The mare has been in brilliant form over sprint distances since returning south following the Auckland Interdominions. “She is thriving,” Dunn said. “She is a high speed horse, so the shorter races and the mobiles have suited her lately.” “But, she can stay as well, she should go another good race.” Two of Pres The Belle’s main dangers, Heavyweight Hero and Dark Horse start 10m in front of her on the 20m mark. War Admiral and The Dominator are ahead of them on the 10m mark. One Apollo looks the best of the front markers.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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