Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 101
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

By Jonny Turner    The waiting is over at Addington on Friday night for punters who jotted down Sweet Mary’s name in their black-books following her impressive effort at the New Zealand Cup Carnival. Trainer Brad Mowbray has had the 5yr-old one ice since she scorched down the Addington track to run an eye-catching third to Wainui Creek in the Sires Stakes Southern Mares Classic. Sweet Mary was buried deep on the inner with no racing room, then was relegated to a clear last after the field turned for home, before she produced a booming finish to just be nosed out of second by Change Is Good. Mowbray was naturally delighted with the effort, but was also left wondering what might have been if his mare had been able to get in the clear sooner. “If she was a spot or two closer, she would have given Wainui Creek a shake,” the trainer said.  “And if she had come out a bit cleaner, that would have helped, because she just wanted to run down the track a bit.” “We would have loved to get first or second, but we were really happy with the way she went.” It will be one day short of a month since Sweet Mary produced her fast finishing effort when she again clashes with Change Is Good in a 1980m mares feature on Friday night. The gap between races has not been a case of Mowbray needing to freshen his pacer following her cup carnival tilt. The trainer has been waiting patiently for a suitable race for Sweet Mary and he thinks he has found the perfect fit. “We just look for the right races for her and this race suits her right down to the ground.” Mowbray has kept Sweet Mary’s fitness levels up by giving her a trial at Rangiora last week. Driver Matthew Williamson did not ask the mare for a serious effort, just letting her sprint home from last in the straight. “I gave her a quiet trial last week, just to keep her ticking over, so she should be where she needs to be for this race,” Mowbray said. Change Is Good followed up her second to Wainui Creek by winning the Timaru Cup when leading all of the way for trainer Mitchell Kerr and driver Matt Anderson. The 5yr-old has had Sweet Mary’s measure in their last two meetings after the pair finished first and second at Ashburton Flying Stakes day. Sweet Mary (7) has a slight draw advantage, starting one spot inside Change Is Good (8) on Friday night. Cheezel (2) looks the best of the runners drawn handily under the preferential barrier draw. The Regan Todd trained pacer reeled of a stunning 25.8sec last 400m when running second to Franco Niven at Addington last weekend. Kendra (6) looks the main threat to Sweet Mary and Change Is Good. The Greg and Nina Hope trained 4yr-old looked set to let down with a good finished when she was wiped out by the galloping Jazzy Star of the Pacers’ Green Mile at Methven last weekend. Jazzy Star will attempt to get back to the kind of brilliant form he was in before his mishap in Friday night’s feature 1980m pace for entires and geldings. The Brent White trained 5yr-old clashes with Green Mile fourth placegetter, Smokin By, and Mongolian Cavalry, who won the trial Sweet Mary competed in at Rangiora. Memphis Tennessee also starts in the race after producing a brilliant 25.9sec last 400m to run third behind Franco Niven and Cheezel at Addington last weekend. Trainer-driver Terry Chmiel said he expected further improvement from the 4yr-old after his good fresh up effort. “He is still on the way up and he should improve a bit more with this race.” “If things go to plan we will look at the Ashburton Cup and then maybe going down to Omakau for the cup down there.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The chance to capture the race that has got away awaits champion reinsman Tony Herlihy when he drives Sicario in Saturday night’s Interdominion Pacing Championship final. New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman winning the race on a $101 outsider in his 15th attempt is just one of the fairy tale endings this year’s Alexandra Park Championship can bring. Herlihy is approaching the opportunity with the calmness that has seen him known as “The Ice Man” for the past four decades, as well as with his signature sharp wit. “Its a great race to be a part of, you get a good view when you’re out there – its harder when you’re in the crowd, you can’t get a look in,” Herlihy quipped. Herlihy has got the best of views of the three horses that have denied him victory in Australasian pacing’s greatest test of stamina. The reinsman was runner up with Christopher Vance in 1991, Sly Flyin in 2006 and a promoted second with Chokin in 1995. “We have gone some great races, but we just haven’t been able to win it.” “There have been a couple there that have gone really good.” “Sly Flying went great behind Elsu and Christopher Vance went great behind Mark Hanover – he just nutted him out of it.” Sicario’s $101 odds suggest he is not the horse to help Herlihy win his elusive pacing final However, the Brent Lilley trained pacer in to Saturday night’s 2700m mobile feature with one claim that the five other horses paying $101 do not. The Victorian pacer reeled off the fastest last 800m of the entire Interdominon series when reeling off a 52.8sec sectional when running fourth behind Cruz Bromac on night three. The strong performance, when coming from well back in the field, gives Herlihy hope he could land another pacing final placing. “He is a first five chance, we just need that little bit of luck in the running with him.” “He was ordinary the first night, but he has improved since then.” “He went super the second night, I was pretty sure he would have run in the money the second night.” “But, I just couldn’t get him out in the straight to get a clear crack at them.” Sicario may need all of the skill that has won Herlihy 3,514 races in New Zealand to find him a perfect spot in the running. The gate speed the horse showed on night one, the only time Herlihy has asked him to leave quickly, does not suggest he could be first to the markers after Saturday night’s start. “He would have been able to put a neck or half a length on them if I really hunted him on the first night.” “But I didn’t worry about that, because they weren’t going to let me cross.” My Kiwi Mate looks to have first option on the lead from barrier 1, with fast beginner Chase Auckland likely to be able to keep pace with him from barrier 1 on the second row. Sicario has On The Cards, who beat him out of the gate on night one, drawn outside him in barrier 4. Herlihy has had contrasting fortune in Interdominion Trotting Finals and will be out to extend his record as its all-time leading driver with Temporale on Saturday night. The reinsman goes in to the 2700m mobile feature with wins to his name behind Diamond Field (1994), Pride Of Petite (1997), Buster Hanover (1998) and Delft (2006). All Temporale needs is some Ice Man magic to work him in to the race from his second row draw and he will be right amongst the finish. “Hopefully he can get a good run, there are four or five there that are going really good, so hopefully we can have a bit of luck with him,” Herlihy said.   

By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trotting fanatic Rob McIntosh will realise a lifelong dream if Majestic Man wins the Interdominion Trotting Final at Alexandra Park on Saturday night. McIntosh is one several Otago and Southland based members of the Griffins Syndicate, which race the 5yr-old from Phil Williamson’s barn. Few owners have shown the dedication to the Interdominion series McIntosh has over the past two years. Last year he was on hand to witness Griffins Syndicate trotter Monty Python run in all three heats of Melbourne Interdominion before he ran third in its final to Tornado Valley. McIntosh travelled back and forth from Oamaru to work around his work commitments as a truck driver.  He has not missed a step Majestic Man or Monty Python have made at Alexandra Park during this year’s series. McIntosh’s passion for trotting means it would be almost impossible for him not to be at the track on Saturday night to watch Majestic Man again. That passion is driven by his earliest involvement in the sport at a young age. And it is one that is linked to the 1965 series run in McIntosh’s home province at Forbury Park. “Where it really began was I used to go over to Harry Cox’s stable at Winton and work with the racehorses - he was mum’s uncle,” McIntosh said.  “I loved it.” “He had a big photo over the fireplace of a horse winning the Interdominion trotting final at Forbury Park called Poupette.” “Every time I went there I always looked at that photo and thought hopefully one day I could be involved in a race like that myself.” “Right to this day, forty odd years later, I can still envisage that photo.” McIntosh developed a passion for the trotting gait that could have led him close to Interdominion success in 1994. A friend told the trotting enthusiast of an opportunity to join the syndicate that raced former hardy Southland squaregaiter Diamond Field. But, McIntosh did not pursue it because he felt the Cox trained David Moss, as well as another former Southland trotter Night Allowance, would have the horse’s measure in big races. McIntosh said he shared a joke with Diamond Field’s winning driver Tony Herlihy about the near miss during this year’s series. McIntosh was given the opportunity to take a vacant spot in the Griffin’s Syndicate after being involved in a similar syndicate years on McIntosh has not looked back since then as the group have racked up dozens of trotting wins. “I have had a ball being in the syndicate.” “You get to meet a lot of great people and have a lot of fun.” “Syndicates are a great way for people to be involved without it costing a lot of money.” McIntosh is not the only Oamaru based member of the syndicate. The mother and daughter duo of Glenda and Kirsty Stevenson also race Majestic Man. Several owners are also based in Dunedin and further south. McIntosh said more than 20 of the Griffin’s Syndicate to be on hand to watch Majestic Man on Saturday night. There looks a big chance for the group to be celebrating a win, going on Majestic Man’s three excellent heat runs. Win, lose or otherwise McIntosh said will be proud of his horse and he was already planning his trip to next year’s Interdominion in Sydney. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The little foal that could has the opportunity to confirm his rise to being the giant of the Australasian pacing ranks in Saturday night’s Interdominion final. The toughness and determination final favourite Ultimate Sniper has shown during the championship is nothing new for the son of Bettor’s Delight and Reality Check. Four years ago, the pacer showed his Westport Breeders Graeme and Katrina Walsh the kind of willing attitude that has helped the 4yr-old pass tests of stamina in the series heats that few of his rivals could attempt to complete, let alone pass with flying colours. When the striking black foal’s days of cruising around his West Coast paddock without a care in the world were over, he showed the Walshes when he wants to win, he generally does. “He has obviously got that attitude and that will to win where he just doesn’t seem to get tired,” Graeme Walsh said. “When he was a foal he was just a very determined little fellow.” “He was always had a great nature – Ultimate Machete didn’t have the best of natures – but Sniper did.” “He always had that iron will, even when you are weaning and teaching him things, it would always take that much longer because he would decide he was the boss until he was beat.” Walsh pointed out Ultimate Sniper’s willing attitude is there for all who flick back through his race replays to see. “He has never been beaten when he has been in front or parked.” Excitement is building with the Walshes as Ultimate Sniper approaches the chance to stamp the biggest win yet on his dam’s already impressive resume. An Interdominion Pacing Final victory would surpass Ultimate Sniper’s derby winning deeds, as well as those of his brother, Ultimate Machete, and half-sister, Major Reality. And if the 4yr-old can accomplish the incredible feat, it will be a case of the horse fulfilling the faith his breeders had in him. “We follow him very closely, so we are very excited about it,” Walsh said. “He has come back like the horse we thought he could come back like, it just took that little bit longer at the start of the season.” “I always remember when he won the 3yr-old Sales Series race at New Years and Natalie got off him and said this is the best 3yr-old I have driven.” “So, then I thought he is going to go on with it, but there was a month or so there in October when I thought where has this horse gone.” “He just took a little bit longer to come up, but he is making up for lost time now.” While Ultimate Sniper has been wowing harness fans during the Interdominions, the rest of his family have been busy producing their next star. His dam, Reality Check, is back in foal to Bettor’s Delight after giving birth to another healthy filly foal by the sire, this spring. Ultimate Sniper’s three quarter brother was transported to Canterbury this week to be prepared for the upcoming national yearling sales. The Walshes have high hopes son of Bettor’s Delight and American Ideal mare Ideal Reality can continue his family’s winning tradition. “He is a bit bigger than Ultimate Sniper, but he is a strong and determined horse.” “He is probably the nicest colt we have produced.” The colt is lot 369 in the Christchurch section of next year’s sale.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Series star Ultimate Sniper’s premium barrier 5 draw is set to produce early fireworks in Saturday’s Interdominion Pacing Championship final at Alexandra Park. The already slim chances of the All Stars pacer’s rivals beating him following his three jaw-dropping heat wins took a hit after Ultimate Sniper drew a nearly perfect starting spot for Saturday night’s final. The stocks of My Kiwi Mate (1), Sicario (2), Ashley Locaz (3) and On The Cards rose after they drew inside Ultimate Sniper on Sunday. Though that could depend on how desperate each of their drivers are to find the front with the hope of securing a perfect run by handing the lead to the favourite. My Kiwi Mate and driver Craig Demmler look to have first option on the lead from the inside. The Victorian pacer began quickly in his first two heats of the series, before being restrained at the start of this third. It will be no easy task for My Kiwi Mate to hold out On The Cards, who has shown blistering early speed to lead two heats. The Barry Purdon trained pacer crossed each of rivals in the two times he drew the front row in the heat stages. Sicario has shown enough gate speed in his career to suggest he could add early pressure to the race. However, the horse was easily beaten out of gate by On The Cards in their first round heat. Ashley Locaz looks the least likely of the horses drawn inside Ultimate Sniper to get involved in the early rush. The 5yr-old put in two tardy beginnings with a scratchy score up in his first two heats, before being restrained in heat 3. On his best behaviour, the All Stars pacer could at least keep pace with the fast beginners drawn beside him. Drivers who cast their mind back twelve months could enter the start of the race cautiously after early rush for the lead did not end well for those involved in last year’s final. Mach Doro ran second last after rushing to find the back of the leader, Tiger Tara. Ultimate Sniper enjoyed a major win over his key rivals with his barrier 5 draw. The 4yr-old is set to do less work to take up a handy position, with the crucial head start he will get over his stablemates Cruz Bromac and Thefixer. The All Stars pairing look to have been handed a huge task to have to work around the field to get in to the race and then beat their stunning stablemate. Cruz Bromac and Thefixer are likely to start beside each other, in barriers 2 and 3 on the second row, if emergency Classie Brigade is scratched. The fallout from the Interdominion Trotting Championship final was similar to that of the pacing final. All Stars favourite drew perfectly Winterfell drew perfectly in barrier 2 to cement his favouritism. The most likely scenario that could slam the door that appears to be left open for the 5yr-old to lead sits with driver Brad Williamson. Williamson will face the choice of whether to let Majestic Man show off his fast gate speed and attempt to cross from barrier 4. With another fast beginner drawn inside him, in Victorian Big Jack Hammer (1), it is an option the reinsman may chose not to take up. Winterfell and Majestic Man were the clear winners among the leading contenders in Saturday night’s $150,000 final. Marcoola landed a horror draw on the outside of the front row in barrier 8. Parmount King and Massive Metro will have to start from barriers 4 and 5 on the second row, respectively. Temporale is slightly better off than them, drawing behind Big Jack Hammer in barrier 9 – number 1 on the second row of the mobile. Interdominion Pacing Championship field: 1. My Kiwi Mate, 2. Sicario, 3. Ashley Locaz, 4. On The Cards, 5. Ultimate Sniper, 6. Mach Shard, 7. A G's White Socks, 8. Triple Eight, 9. Chase Auckland, 10. San Carlo 11. Cruz Bromac, 12. Classie Brigade E1, 13. Thefixer. Interdominion Trotting Championship field: 1. Big Jack Hammer, 2. Winterfell, 3. Destiny Jones, 4. Majestic Man, 5. Monty Python E1, 6. Valloria, 7. Bonnie Highlander, 8. Marcoola, 9. Temporale, 10. Habibi Inta, 11. Tough Monarch, 12. Paramount King, 13. Massive Metro. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Veteran trainer Fred Fletcher had a spring in his step on Monday morning after Mikey Maguire’s win in the Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. The Mach Three pacer is a horse bloodstock agents and Australian buyers have tried time after time to get their hands on. But, Fletcher and his wife, Fay, have resisted big money offers so they can have the enjoyment of the racing the 6yr-old. They got exactly that when Mikey Maguire came with a late finish along the passing lane for an upset win at $33 odds in the grass track feature for driver Colin deFilippi. “At my age I need something to get up in the morning for and he is the type of horse that will always give you 100%,” Fletcher said. “We were offered huge money for him and I don’t care if he never makes what we could have sold him for.” “We are in it for racing  - at my age there is no need to worry about what you are going to do next.” deFilippi pushed Mikey Maguire forward after a slowly retreating mobile gate left and he found the a spot for the horse in the one-one. The pair stayed there, until the reinsman found a run on the inner in the home turn for to zoom home to beat Nandolo and Heisenberg. “They are a couple of tough old campaigners he beat,” Fletcher said. “He was bolting around the top corner, but he didn’t have much racing room.” “It always looked like he was going to get there when he got out.” “It was a great drive - we stick with Colin a bit.” “He is a good driver and a good horseman, he wouldn’t have won so many races if he wasn’t.” Mikey Maguire helped Fletcher complete a matching set of Methven Green Mile trophies on Sunday. He won the Trotters Green Mile in 2014 with Royal Aspirations. The squaregaiter’s stock are the next thing Fletcher has to get excited about. He has three in his barn and they all look like stepping out this season as 2yr-olds. “At the moment we are concentrating on his young ones – we have three of them and they will all make 2yr-olds.” “We qualified two of them about three weeks ago at Ashburton and we have another filly that is up with those two, if not better.” “So, we will have three 2yr-old trotters racing this season.” Fletcher is hopeful his 2yr-olds can be flag flyers for his former, who stands at Phoebe Stud at Broadfields. “Whether these 2yr-olds are good enough, we don’t know yet, but I am hoping Royal Aspirations will be a sensation sire as a trotter.” “He is getting a lot more mares this year – and this is a hard mare for a stallion – his third season.” “If he gets away to a good start with these trotters this season he will be one of the more favoured trotting sires next breeding season at a real cheap price.” This year’s Trotters’ Green Mile was won by Heavyweight Hero in his first start since shifting south to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. The 6yr-old held out last year’s winner, Amaretto Sun, by a length for driver David Butt. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Three Aussie mates are responsible for a popular Australian priest realising a 69 year dream when Triple Eight starts in the Interdominion Pacing Championship final on Saturday. An undeniable passion for harness racing has seen highly popular Roman Catholic minister Brian Glasheen, of Victoria, spend an incredible seven decades following Australasian harness racing’s greatest test of stamina. Sixty nine years after attending his first Interdominion in Melbourne, Glasheen’s loyalty to the sport, his friends and his faith will be rewarded when his first Interdominion runner – Triple Eight - takes to Alexandra Park on Saturday night. Unlike at his first series in 1950, Glasheen will not be torn away from watching the series final. The Melbourne Showgrounds were no place for him back when Captain Sandy won and his father ruled he could not go back to watch the final, after attending each night of heats, for he fear the young Glasheen would be crushed by the masses that flocked to watch race Glasheen getting to see Triple Eight this year was as likely as him some how being on hand to see Captain Sandy’s pacing win 69 years ago until three of his Bacchus Marsh parishioners intervened. Just last winter, Glasheen had no connection to the pacer and had not even heard of him until fellow Victorians Shannon Nixon, Joel Watson and Shane Cook coaxed the octogenarian in to coming out for dinner. There, the trio presented Glasheen with ownership papers for the horse that will see his love of the Interdominions come full circle on Saturday night. The motivation for Nixon, Watson and Cook’s generosity was simple. Nixon said they wanted to do something for the man who had done so much for them. “Father Glasheen has had a big part in all of our lives.” “He has baptised all our nine children between us.” Triple Eight ran third behind the All Stars duo of Cruz Bromac and Thefixer to qualify for Saturday night’s $500,000 feature. It set off joyous scenes across the Tasman as Nixon, Watson and Cook watched on TV. As thrilled as they are to have an Interdominion finalist with their first runner, Nixon said the real joy came from having Father Glasheen on the journey with them. “The biggest source of joy for us is seeing how much it means to Father Glasheen.” “He is absolutely over the moon – he is messaging us five times a day – and he is just having a great time being over in New Zealand watching the horse.” “We are just getting a huge kick out of how much it means to him.” Father Glasheen will be able to walk in to Alexandra Park with relative anonymity compared to tracks in Australia. Glasheen is popular and widely known figure in both harness racing and thoroughbred circles across the Tasman. “Everyone in harness racing in Victoria knows him, he is very widely known in racing circles in Australia,” Nixon said. “He has followed every Interdominion around from the heady days of the sport and the Interdominion is the biggest show in harness racing, so he has met a lot of people.” Nixon secured Watson, Cook and Glasheen shares in Triple Eight after negotiating the purchase of a slice of the horse’s ownership from his North Island owners Stonewall Stud and Scott Plant. Triple Eight’s $101 odds suggest he needs divine intervention to win Saturday night’s race. Though just having a runner is a huge thrill for Glasheen, he admits barrier 8 gives his horse a huge task. “It is fantastic – absolutely special – but the barrier draw is not so special,” he told media at Monday’s barrier draw. What horses drawn in better spots do not have on their side is Father Glasheen’s proven winning touch. Glasheen blessed Northerly, at the request of trainer Fred Kersley, ahead of the horse’s 2001 Australian Cup win and during the galloper’s 13-win streak. The Triple Eight camp will hope Glasheen’s touch will work again when he blesses their horse ahead of the Interdominion Final. The priest did not keep all of his prayers just for his own runner and extended them to rival camps at Monday’s barrier draw. Glasheen blessed the colours to be worn by drivers in both the Interdominon pacing and trotting finals at yesterday’s barrier draw.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Talented trotter Heavyweight Hero will do a U-turn to resume his stop-start career in the Trotter’s Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Switching directions has been the motivator for the 6yr-old’s part owner and former trainer, Todd McFarlane, sending the horse to Bob Butt’s Woodend Beach stable. Heavyweight Hero’s problem hooves have been the difference between the trotter showing flashes of brilliance, rather than consistently good form, during his off and on 20 start career. The Muscle Mass trotter’s move south to Butt’s stable has been a case of McFarlane coming up with a cunning plan to work around Heavyweight Hero’s troublesome toes. “Todd had brought him back up at home and had him going pretty good,” Butt said. “But, he has still had a lot of trouble with his feet and he was finding that he was trotting much better left handed than right handed because of it.” “So, he gave me a call out of the blue, to see if I he could send him to me and get some left handed racing in to him.” Heavyweight Hero arrived at Woodend Beach only a matter of days ahead of Sunday’s feature 1609m trot. In that short time, he has impressed his new trainer. “I really like him, he feels like a really nice trotter.” “I definitely think he will win races down here and do a good job.” “Todd said he could have a trial once he got down here, but I saw this race coming up and I thought it could suit him - with a lot of the good trotters away up north.” Heavyweight Hero showed off his trotting talent at the Pukekohe trials before heading south. He impressed when beat rising star Tickle Me Pink in a 2500m trial. That form was franked when the runner-up went a big race when resuming at Alexandra Park off a huge 40m handicap. The trial and his work since arriving gives Butt hope Heavyweight Hero be highly competitive in a field largely made up of race hardened trotters. “His trial up north was pretty good and Todd has done a lot of work with him, so he should be pretty competitive on Sunday,” Butt said. “I took him to work on the grass on Monday and he was really good, so that shouldn’t be a problem, either.” Defending Trotters’ Green Mile champion, Amaretto Sun, is amongst Sunday’s line up. The Ken Ford trained squaregaiter goes in to this year’s edition in similar circumstances to last year. Amaretto Sun disappointed during last year’s New Zealand Cup Carnival, before bursting back in to life in the Methven feature. The Ford stable will be hoping he can do the same this year. Other race contenders will attempt to continue their strong New Zealand Cup week form on Sunday. They include Ruthless Kayla, Globe Trekker and Overzealous. A G’s White Socks being away for his brilliant Interdominion campaign means he will not be able to win his third consecutive Pacers’ Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope have four runners in the 1609m feature that could see them secure a hat-trick of training wins in the race. Their team is made up of Vinnie Rulz, Three Ideas, Homebush Lad and Kendra.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac set up an Australia versus New Zealand battle in next week’s Interdominion Pacing Championship with a faultless display to win the last heat of the series on Friday night. The All Stars pacer was rewarded both for his consistent form in the series and for his massively improved manners when holding out his stablemate Thefixer by three-quarters of a length. Cruz Bromac showed no signs of the wayward tendencies he displayed during and before the Interdominion series with his third faultless display of the series to win. The 8yr-old’s love of right-handed racing, where he can stride out more fluently than on a left handed track, has him ready to give his stablemate and series rock star Ultimate Sniper a stern test about in next week’s final. Part-owner Peter O’Shea said there was no doubt who Cruz Bromac will be resenting when the pacer takes to Alexandra Park for that battle. He and his fellow Australian owners could pull off a masterstroke that would win them an incredible New Zealand Cup and Interdominon double while flying the Australian flag with their move to place the horse with New Zealand champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen for the spring and summer. The final heat of the Interdominion pacing series bought mixed emotions for O’Shea, who races the horse with wife, Zilla, and Danny and Joanna Zavitsanos. The O’Sheas also race Bling It On, who dropped out to run a shock second last in the second of Friday night’s pacing heats. “I am excited about Cruz, but it has been disappointing with Bling It On.” “I thought he was really going to run a big race tonight and we were going to have a two pronged attack.” “He has had a shocking series, he choked down the first heat and he couldn’t get out in the first heat.” Driver Luke McCarthy put Bling It On’s chequered Interdominion campaign down to the horse being out of his comfort zone. “He just hasn’t been himself here, he is out of the routine he has been in at home.” “He has been collected three times a week at home and obviously his routine has been totally different over here.” McCarthy said Bling It On would not contest next week’s Interdominion Pacing Consolation. The All Stars quinella makers gapped the field, with Triple Eight holding the rest of the field home to take third and qualify for next week’s final. Triple Eight has already made one Australian owner’s dream come true by making the series final. Popular Octogenarian owner, Father Brian Glasheen, a final starter with his first runner an incredible 69 years afters after attending his first Interdominion series in 1950. Sicario was next home behind Triple Eight, ahead of dual heat winner, A G’s White Socks, who was sound in fifth.   The final field for the Interdominion Pacing Final in qualifying order. Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, A G's White Socks, Chase Auckland, Thefixer, Mach Shard, Ashley Locaz, Sicario, San Carlo, Triple Eight, On The Cards, My Kiwi Mate. Emergencies: Classie Brigade, Solid Gold. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Promising southern trotter Cuchulainn is back, but whether he is ready for battle will not be revealed until he steps out at Ascot Park on Saturday. The 5yr-old returns to racing for a summer campaign with a new trainer and new driver after being purchased out of Brent McIntyre’s Riversdale stable by big-spending Australian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth. Cuchulainn caught the Victorian couple’s attention when looking like a big, raw prospect when winning twice and finishing runner-up in six start campaign in autumn and winter.  The Butterworths placed the Skyvalley trotter with Brett Gray after purchasing him and the trainer likes what he sees from the horse, so far. “I like him – he above average - I think he is quite a nice horse,” Gray said. “We will use his as a bit of a lead in run, but he will win races.” On paper, Cuchulainn who will be driven by Brent Barclay, has had two workouts ahead of his return. The trotter galloped in the first of those before returning to the track minutes later for another try. Cuchulainn did everything right, beating novice pacers in his second attempt at Winton. “He galloped in the first heat, so we took him back out there for the next one,” Gray said.  “He felt pretty good the second time and did everything right, so I was pretty happy with him.” Cuchulainn clearly has the ability to match most of his rivals in race 8, but it remains to be seen whether he has the fitness to beat them. Gray is conscious that having just one quiet workout could leave the trotter vulnerable against his race hardened opposition. “I don’t think he will be too far away, but Sekkie Monkey might be a bit sharp for him first up.” “He has got a motor, so I expect him to go pretty well.” Sekkie Monkey, who shares the 20m backmark with Cuchulainn, has impressed in his two runs back from a spell for trainer-driver Nathan Williamson. The 5yr-old cruised to an easy victory first up at Wyndham, last month. The trotter then went a sound race, after doing plenty of mid-race work, to run second behind Whatwillbeewillbee at Ascot Park. Only One Way adds to an intriguing feature trot at Ascot Park. The Phil Williamson trained trotter broke a run of ordinary luck when winning on his home track last weekend. Cuchulainn is one of four horses the Gray stable have entered at Invercargill on Saturday. The trainer will be seeking more luck with Nota Bene Denario in race 7 than in his last visit to the track. The 5yr-old was snookered three back on the markers, before powering home when clear behind Whata Razzle Dazzle, last month. “He was very unlucky, you could say he was a certainty beaten, really,” Gray said. “But, you have to drive him with a sit, he is a lot better when he is cuddled up, so he can always be unlucky.” Nota Bene Denario strikes a similar field to his last start, that includes the winner, in Saturday’s 2700m special handicap. Bettor’s Highlight is another of Gray’s horses that prefers not to do early work The 5yr-old has the draw to get the kind of trip she likes from barrier 1 in race 3. “She is the kind of mare that needs the right run, so she should get that from that draw,” Gray said. “Hopefully Saturday could be her day.” Pick Six Telf, who looks a rough place hope, rounds out Gray’s day when lining up in race 10.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Trainer Paul Nairn is confident the scales have tipped the right way he as his balancing act of trying to peak Habibi Inta for the Interdominion trotting final continues in the third round of heats on Friday night. The master squaregaiting trainer clearly had Habibi Inta where he wanted him ahead of the 6yr-old’s brilliant seven and a half length demolition of his rivals in last month’s Dominion. That version of Habibi Inta has been noticeably absent during the first two heats of the Interdominions, where he has produced a sixth placing that had punters scratching on night one and a solid, but unspectacular second placing on night two. Nairn admitted the task of peaking Habibi Inta for his epic Dominion win and then managing his recovery for his Interdominion tilt has been a tricky balancing act. And the process of letting Habibi Inta recover from his Dominion bid and then travel to Auckland and prepare for the series had an effect when the horse produced his sixth on night one. “It is one of those ones where, sure when you first look at it you think he was a wee bit disappointing,” the trainer said.  “But when you analyse everything, with the run he got, it wasn’t too bad.” “Maybe he was just a shade below his best, but you can understand coming through cup week and a big preparation for that.” “Obviously I can’t have him 100% for every start, so all in all I was happy enough on the first night.” Peaking a horse for both the Interdominion and New Zealand Cup carnival is a tricky task many of New Zealand’s best trainers are facing. The balancing act of how extract the best out of their horses, while giving them down time appears to be a catch 22. “If you keep going and don’t back off and keep the work up to them and they go no good, you say you’ve been too hard on them,” Nairn said. “But, if you back off and freshen them up and they don’t go super, you say you’ve been to soft on them.” “So, all in all I have happy enough with that first night run, to be honest.” Two massive factors have changed since night one and they are set to let Habibi Inta’s fans see a version closer to his best on night three. Firstly, the horse has progressed well through his solid second behind Majestic Man on night two. And Nairn is expecting to see further improvement from the horse as he attempts to peak for the series final. “I was quite happy him on Tuesday night, obviously the winner was a bit too good for us, but my fella got to the line strongly.” “He got a soft run, but I think he has improved a bit from it.” The second and most crucial factor aiding Habibi Inta is his step back in to the same distance range in which he delivered his massive Dominion win. It is something both the trainer and his driver, Blair Orange, think will have big effect on his Interdominion momentum. “Blair - like myself - we both feel that the extra 1000m this Friday and next week will really suit.” Habibi Inta looks the horse that will most appreciate the step from 1700m on night two to 2700m on night three in heat one on Friday night. Massive Metro looks the trotter that will relish the distance increase the most in heat two on Friday. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained squaregaiter has produced credible placings over unsuitably short distances in the first two heats of the Interdominions. Those needing a reminder of Massive Metro’s staying prowess just need to cast their memories back to December of last year. In his most notable staying performance, Massive Metro beat series rivals Marcoola and Temporale at Alexandra Park in the group 1 National Trot. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Southland trainer Nathan Williamson will be out to continue his stable’s incredible form when he starts two runners at Forbury Park tonight. Williamson has made a brilliant start to the racing season, producing 10 wins and 11 placings from 31 starts from his barn. That strike rate is better than what the all-conquering All Stars stable have produced this term. Williamson was quick to deflect praise for his stunning stats and modestly puts the brilliant numbers down to the quality of his horses. “I am pretty happy with it – we have just got some nice horses,” he said. 4yr-old trotter Hawaiian Hula, who starts in race 8 at Forbury Park tonight, added one of Williamson’s 10 wins in her last start at Ascot Park. She steps out of maiden grade to race more competitive trotters, including recent Oamaru winner Da Moons Mission, in tonight’s 2700m contest for junior drivers. Williamson thinks this mare is capable of handling the move up in grade. “I think a wee bit of her, she is a pretty talented sort of mare.” “She has had a few niggles and she is hard to keep right, but I think she has got a bit of a future.” Williamson set a slow pace before letting Hawaiian Hula show off her speed when running to a five length victory in her second start. The trotter debuted at Forbury Park prior to that win, producing a solid, but unspectacular second placing behind Orlando Magic. Williamson said the mare will return to the track a better prospect tonight. “I just wasn’t that happy with her run at Forbury last time, even though she ran second. “But, she has really come on since then.” Tonight’s junior driver’s attempt could be a battle between trotters out to further reward their patient owners. Hawaiian Hula’s connections have had to wait until the middle stages of her 4yr-old term for their first win after the mare suffered setbacks at 2 and 3yrs-old. “I had her up and going as a 2yr-old and I was considering taking her to the Australasian Breeders Crown, but she kept growing and she lightened in her condition so I decided to turn her out,” Williamson said.  “She came back as a 3yr-old and trialled really nicely with Get Lucky and I was really happy with her.” “But she was a bit scratchy after that and she ended up getting bone chips taken out of her knees.” Stable junior driver Chelsea Faithful takes the reins behind Hawaiian Hula tonight as she attempts to continue make up for lost time with a second win. Westwood Beach trotter Da Moons Mission goes in to the race in a similar position. The owners of squaregaiter have also had to wait until the same stage of their 4yr-old’s season for him to step out and win. Da Moons Mission did it in style, with an impressive late closing win at Oamaru last weekend. Trainer Graeme Anderson told the Otago Daily Times after the winthat Da Moons Mission’s had the potential to owners reward his owners with more victories. Canterbury junior driver Mark Hurrell will be out to help him do that in tonight’s event. Hawaian Hula and Da Moons Mission look two of the biggest winning chances in race 8, but they do not have the race completely to themselves. Both Clyde and Lisa Marie P bring consistent form to the event. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    With sprinting trips behind her and her airways clear, the real Destiny Jones can stand up in the third round of Interdominion heats on Friday night. The Canterbury trotter gets conditions to suit after battling back to full health to produce two sound fifth placings in the first two heats of the Alexandra Park series. Destiny Jones was lucky to even be in both of those races after pollen in the spring air was responsible for the mare’s failures in both the trotting features at the New Zealand Cup Carnival. It was not until after her Dominion run that vets handed trainer Dean Hunter the explanation for why her his mare’s form dropped off so badly after her excellent runs for second in the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and the South Bay Trotters Cup.  “I wasn’t even sure if we were going to make it up to the Interdominions, the way she was after the Dominion,” Hunter said. “But, we managed to treat her and get a clear hear lungs and get a vet clearance the Wednesday before the first night.” “I was still unsure how she was going to go on the first night, but she hit the line good and came through the run super.” “On the second night we got a bad draw over 1700m and we didn’t have much show bar going back and crunching home and she did that.” Being able to put his horse’s illness behind him with two sound Interdominion runs is not the only reason Hunter can look forward to night three with some confidence. The step up to 2700m and drawing barrier 1 gives the trainer even more reason to smile. “It will be a big help to her stepping up in distance,” Hunter said.  “She has got the draw and hopefully she can capitalise on it.” “She should have enough speed to hold early and then we have got the choice of who we might hand up to.” Destiny Jones does not just go in to the second of Friday night’s trotting heats after thriving during the series.  Her recent illness is practically a distant memory since arriving at the Stonewall Stud stables of Steve Telfer. “She has actually thrived since she has been up here.” “She is really bright and Steve and I am really pleased with her.” If Destiny Jones can bounce back to the form she showed before she suffered allergy problems she would almost certainly run a top five placing again and qualify for the Interdominion trotting final.  She just needs a little bit more luck than she had at Ashburton when carted backwards before running home strongly behind Marcoola.  “I think if she wasn’t held up — she wouldn’t have beaten the winner — but she would have got a lot closer to him.” “And her run at Kaikoura was great too, she did a little bit more work than Habibi Inta and he was able to run past her.” “But, she went a very good race.” Destiny Jones faces no easy task to win on Friday night. She faces the white hot Majestic Man, All Stars trotter Winterfell and fellow staying specialist Massive Metro in her heat. It looks a tough ask for the mare to crack a top three placing, but the TAB’s promotion of paying out on the first four placings on fixed odds place bets in the Interdominion heats boosts punters chances of getting paid exponentially. Destiny Jones has been rated at $5 in the fixed odds place market for Friday night’s race.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Otago trotter Majestic Man made a stunning statement on night two of the Interdominions at Alexandra Park last night when thumping his rivals with incredible ease. Driver Brad Williamson sat motionless in the cart in the home straight the trotter trained by his father, Phil, dashed away from a high class field to win by four and a half lengths. The reinsman confirmed the win was as easy as it looked. “He never left second gear tonight, he just cruised it.” “He is just in the zone right now, he loves it here and Dad has done a great job with him.” The way the first 1700m trotting heat panned out meant Williamson’s journey to the races proved more stressful than the race. Williamson missed an earlier drive at Alexandra Park behind Fanny Hill after striking flight troubles. The reinsman was forced to rebook a flight from Dunedin and struck it lucky when securing the last available seat. Master trainer Phil Williamson had Majestic Man in prime condition for last night’s heat after the horse had failed to back up from a short turn around in his previous attempt. Majestic Man struggled in Habibi Inta’s Dominion after going a slashing race for fourth in the New Zealand Free-For-All three days earlier. There were no such troubles when Majestic Man produced his brilliant performance last night just four days after his sensation run for third on night one of the Interdominions. “It was a wee bit different, that was two miles (3200m) and this was basically one.” “He went a huge race in the free-for-all, he was three wide down back, if he had had a better draw he could have won that race.” “We definitely had some concerns after the Dominion, it was just out of character for him to go that bad.” Habibi Inta chased in vain to finish four and a half lengths behind Majestic Man. Though the Paul Nairn trained trotter was comprehensively beaten, his Interdominion campaign took a major upward turn after his head-scratching performance on night one. Massive Metro produced a sound performance to run third, after trailling the quinella makers home. Winterfell ran fourth after getting trapped in the one-one before the home turn and not finding clear air until the race was effectively over. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Australian trotter Tough Monarch is ready to revive his Interdominion campaign on Tuesday after producing a shock defeat on night one of the championship. Trainer Ricki Alchin admitted he was left scratching his head after his Sydney squaregaiter dropped out to finish more than ten lengths behind Winterfell at Alexandra Park last Friday. Tough Monarch has since passed all veterinary and training tests with flying colours. That has left Alchin thinking his TLC has worked in reverse for with his 8yr-old. “We couldn’t find too much wrong with him apart from I might have been a bit easy on him.” “He had a really good blow and he blew up over the back on Friday.” “The plan was always to go in to the series a little bit underdone, but he might have got away from me a bit.” Alchin was on a hiding to nothing ahead of the Interdominions after Tough Monarch felt the effects of his two huge efforts during the New Zealand Cup Carnival. “He lightened off a bit down in Christchurch after those two runs.” “So, I tried to pick him up a bit and I might have been a bit soft on him, I think.” Alchin can not fault Tough Monarch following his below par performance. “He seems well, he is eating well and he is as bright as a button,” the trainer said. “I can’t find anything wrong with him at all, I will be expecting an improved performance on Tuesday.” There is one factor in the back of the trainer’s mind that could have provided another explanation as to why Tough Monarch was below his best last week. The Monarchy squaregaiter has spent his whole New Zealand campaign alongside fellow Australian McLovin, who has been withdrawn from the series after contracting a virus. Tough Monarch has shown no signs that he is suffering from the same symptoms as the Victorian. “They have been side by side those two horses,” Alchin said. “That is in the back of my mind, but my horse seems bright.” “There doesn’t seem to be anything going on, unless he goes bad on Tuesday night, that might say there is something going on.” Tough Monarch is drawn to get a perfect run in the trail behind the likely leader and favourite, Marcoola, from his barrier 1 on the second row draw. Though Marcoola was crossed from barrier 1 last week, it looks highly unlikely driver Sheree Tomlinson would allow the same to happen again on Tuesday. That should give Tough Monarch the opportunity for a confidence to boost his confidence by hitting the line strongly off a soft run in the trail. “That is what we are looking for – it is the perfect draw to get a soft run,” Alchin said. “We are coming off the back of a below par performance, we have got the perfect draw to let him run home.” Tough Monarch has been rated at $11 win odds and a $1.65 place price in fixed odds betting this week. Marcoola has been a $1.55 win price ahead of second favourite, Temporale. Temporale, who was fourth behind Winterfell, was able to cross the favourite in their meeting on Friday and is set to test him for the lead again.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Star Australian trotter McLovin has been scratched from this year’s Interdominions at Alexandra Park. Trainer Andy Gath was forced to withdraw the 7yr-old after he was found with swelling in his legs on Monday morning. Gath said a viral infection caused the inflammation and that the horse’s condition effectively took the decision to scratch out of his hands. “I couldn’t have been any happier with him until Sunday, when one of his legs blew up.” “But then this morning [Monday], all of his legs are up, which means he has got a viral infection.” “Really, he made the decision for me - the condition he is in - he can’t race.” McLovin had already suffered a setback leading in to the Interdominions, which saw him scratched from its first night of heats. Gath found the horse had a temperature and he did not eat up like the trainer would expect ahead of last Friday’s opening round. McLovin had recovered so well from that initial setback, Josh Dickie, who had been looking after the horse while Gath was back at his Victorian stables, had delivered a glowing report to the trainer. “Josh worked him on Saturday and you’d never see a bloke so surprised about how good a horse is,” Gath said. “He was talking about how good he worked and how strong he felt.” “So, he was completely on song and in the zone.” McLovin went to the spelling paddock on Monday after Gath was forced to scratch him from the Interdominions. That move rules the horse out of post-series races like the National Trot and Cambridge Flying Mile. “I have just taken him to an agistment place, he will have two weeks there and then he will fly back home,” Gath said. Naturally, Gath was disappointed to miss out on a chance to defend his 2018 Interdominion Trotting title he won with Tornado Valley. “I was gutted yesterday, to tell you the truth,” Gath said on Monday. “More for the horse – the horse was getting well and then he has gone backwards.” Gath will not make any further racing plans for McLovin until the horse has fully recovered and is back in Australia.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

1 to 16 of 101
1 2 3 4 5 Next »