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The Dunedin based Ambie’s Army Syndicate honoured the late Jonny Keen soon after he lost his battle with cancer through the win of Aveross Spitfire at Oamaru yesterday. Driver Jonny Cox wore a black armband in memory of syndicate member Keen, who died earlier this month after a short and sudden illness. Aveross Spitfire defied his previous winless streak of 59 starts and powered away for an emphatic maiden win in race 5. Manager Aaron Johnston was sure Keen, who was a member of the syndicate alongside his fiancé Kirstin Burt, was willing the pacer on from above. “It was very special, I think he was getting driven home by Jonny [Keen],” Johnston said. The Ambies Army syndicate is largely made up of members of the Forbury Park harness racing fraternity but it is has members stretched across the South Island. With owners allowed on course under the country’s level 2 COVID19 restrictions, many of the group were on course to enjoy yesterday’s emotional victory. Johnston credited trainer Amber Hoffman for helping Aveross Spitfire break his winless streak. “The syndicate has stuck by Amber, he is actually not a bad horse, even though it has taken him 60 starts to win one.” “He has been a bit erratic, but he has settled down now.” “Amber has done a magnificent job and she has been patient.” Cox took charge of race 5, shooting Aveross Spitfire around to the lead in the middle stages before the pacer powered away for his stylish win. “It was a beautiful drive from Jonny,” Johnston said. The Ambies Army syndicate also enjoyed a second placing in To Ri Caitlin, who went down by just a neck to outsider Betstar Blue Jeans. Hoffman also went on to produce the quinella in race 12 with Dodgethebullet and Trinity Star. Cox enjoyed a brilliant day in the sulky yesterday, producing a winning treble. The Canterbury reinsman drove Mickey Fitz to a tough victory in race 3. After sitting parked the Jamie Campbell trained pacer fought off all challengers to continue his excellent form on grass track. Cox also took out the Waikouaiti Cup after handing She’s Tough a perfect run in the trail. The Brad Mowbray trained mare came with a late run to down runner-up American Lightning by a head at the finish. The win gave She’s Tough back to back cup race wins following her last start victory in the Hororata Cup. The Waikouaiti Trotters’ Cup was taken out by The Player, trained by Robert Dunn and driven by John Dunn. View the full Waikouaiti results here!   by Jonny Turner

There may not be as much between Graeme Anderson and Mike Love’s pairing of American Lightning and Tres Chic as punters are anticipating ahead of Sunday’s Waikouaiti Cup. The Westwood Beach duo will make their grass track debuts at Oamaru in what is set to be a stern staying test over 3000m. American Lightning is likely to start ahead of his stablemate in betting, but it would not surprise Anderson if the result went the other way. Though what gives American Lightning a major advantage over Tres Chic going into the race is his standing start experience and his professional demeanour. “He is probably the genuine horse, but Tres Chic has got ability,” Anderson said. “American Lightning will go out there and step away be relaxed where as she is probably going to be fizzing walking around at the start for the first time, being a Mach Three.” “He will just handle it like any other thing.” American Lightning cruised to a comfortable victory on the Oamaru all-weather track in his last start and should strip fitter for that run when he starts from the 10m back mark in Sunday’s feature. “He has worked up well and I am happy with him,” Anderson said. “The grass and the 3000m should be right up his alley, he is quite a strong horse.” The 2600m of the New Zealand Derby should hold no fears for Amercian Lightning if he is successful in Sunday’s 3000m event. Though whether he makes use of his nomination for the group 1 feature later this season will not be decided for several weeks. “He probably lacks a bit of high top-end speed to be with the top three-year-olds,” Anderson said. “But he doesn’t lack any courage.” “We will just see, we will get through Sunday.” Anderson’s confidence in Tres Chic’s ability to go a strong race if she is able to negotiate her first standing start comes from her recent improvement. Minor gear changes have helped the mare show her true ability in her two wins in her last two starts. “We pulled her overcheck up and pulled her hopples up, she had been making a few mistakes and still going huge races.” “But she is probably bullet proof now.” How Tres Chic handles the build up before the Waikouaiti Cup tapes are released is her biggest challenge. “Her work has been fantastic and she is looking great.” “The worry is the standing start and having to walk around like going 300 times around the golf course before they line up.” “It might get to her, but I have put her on the unruly to try to help that situation. “She is really well and she is a strong mare.” Just like American Lightning, Anderson sees no reason why Tres Chic will not handle grass track racing. “Going down the beach it is a good way to get them used to grass track racing.” “They are both the same and I wouldn’t be going if I thought it was a worry.” Gilligans Island and Last Of The Mohicans looks the biggest threat to the Anderson-Love pairing. Gilligans Island will be out to add the Waikouaiti Cup to his Amberley, Akaroa and Motukarara Christmas Cup victories when he starts from the 10m mark. Last Of The Mohicans faces his biggest test Sunday’s feature after remaining unbeaten in three starts. View the full Oamaru fields click here!   By Jonny Turner

The speed bowl that is Ashburton Raceway is just the place for Greg and Nina Hope’s Sapling Stakes duo of Mossdale Ben and Celtic Spirit. The pair bring winning form and start from key draws in the country’s first two-year-old group race of the season. Mossdale Ben (3) downed several of his rivals when zooming home along the passing lane to win his last start at Addington. The victory came after a shoeing change helped the pacer’s gait. “We did a shoeing change on him and it really helped him,” Greg Hope said. “He paced a bit rough in his first couple of goes and he lost his confidence a wee bit.” “So we changed his shoeing and it has stopped him from cross-firing, it worked a treat so we have to give the credit to the blacksmith.” Mossdale Ben took most of the Addington to wind up to top speed, suggesting he still has plenty to learn about racing. “Definitely, but you would expect that from any two-year-old, really,” Hope said. “He just goofs around, he is by Rocknroll Heaven, but he has thrown to the mother’s side.” “He is a typical Bettor’s Delight.” “I trained the mother, she is a full sister to Mossdale Conner and this guy has Mossdale Conner’s speed.” Celtic Spirit (1) showed the same kind of turn of foot his stablemate did at Addington when he charged away from his opposition to win his debut. The two-year-old then faded late after sitting parked in his next start in Mossdale Ben’s win. The Hope stable think the pacer will strip fitter on Saturday. “He should be a better horse on Saturday,” Hope said. “We backed off him after he won his first race trying to look after him.” “And we actually think he might have gotten away on us.” “He probably just blew out the last 50m and he is probably better coming off a trail.” Like Mossdale Ben and most of their inexperienced Sapling Stakes rivals, Celtic Spirit still has plenty to learn about racing. “He is a horse that has only had one trial and two races,” Hope said. “He just went straight off the place and had a two-year-old trial and then went straight to the races.” “He is a horse that needs more ringcraft but he has got a good turn of foot and if he gets a nice trip he is a realistic show.” Ben Hope drives Celtic Spirit on Saturday with Ricky May reuniting with Mossdale Ben. The Ross Houghton trained Executive Banner looks the main threat to the Hope pair. The two-year-old was runner-up to Mossdale Ben after leading in his last start. Third placed Tide And Time, who was held up for much of the run home at Addington, also looks strong Sapling Stakes contender.   By Jonny Turner

Tim Williams starts a massive weekend in the sulky at Addington on Thursday night. Key drives behind Bettor Twist in the Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes on Friday night and Wanna Play With Me in the Hambletonian Classic on Saturday await the reinsman following his seven steers at Addington. Williams drives a full sister to one of his all-time favourite horses, Dream About Me, in race on Thursday night. After impressing in her recent trials, Dream On Me looks hard to beat from barrier 1. “She is still on the way up, she is probably not the finished product,” Williams said. “But she has shown signs that she has some sort of the family ability.” “I’m sure she will be improved off her last trial.” “The small field and the good draw, she has a few positives there.” Reverting back to mobile race should help Pace N Pride bounce back to his best for Williams after his shock gallop in his last visit to Addington. From barrier 1 in race 6, Williams is expecting the three-year-old get every opportunity to bounce back to form. “It was a bit uncharacteristic last week, he had gone far enough before he jumped out of it.” “Obviously back to the mobile and the small field will definitely help him, there should be no excuses.” I Dream Of Jeannie clashes with the smart Midnight Dash in race 7 with Williams in the sulky. Though Midnight Dash should prove very hard to beat, the Sam Smolenski trained mare looks a genuine eachway chance. “Obviously Midnight Dash will be hard to beat, he is the class horse of the field.” “But she steps and puts herself in the race usually and she is capable of running in three in that field.” Williams hasn’t driven the talented Hurricane Hill ahead of his start in race 3. The trotter is still learning his trade, but clearly has the ability to beat the field he meets. “I spoke to Robbie Close and he seems to think he is a good pickup drive, so we will see if he is a good judge.” Williams also drives Smooth Debate in race 1, Saint Waitaki in race 4 and Cheapcheap in race 5 at Addington. The reinsman will be out to land another feature race win with Bettor Twist at Alexandra Park on Friday night. After copping yet another wide draw, the Hayden Cullen trained filly is again set to have to do it the hard way from barrier 7. “The draws haven’t been really kind to her up there, but it is what it is,” Williams said. “But she trialled super before she went back up there.” “Hopefully that will go hard early and that will probably help us.” Wanna Play With Me starts from barrier 6 in the Hambletonian Classic, which Williams is much more comfortable with. “I wasn’t disappointed with her draw, the less we have used her early in her last four or five starts and she has raced better for it.” “On paper the ones with the good draws over the mile might have their hand forced to used their draws.” “Hopefully she can settle somewhere midfield in the running line and if they go hard I’m sure she will appreciate a good tempo.” Italian Lad in race 7 at Ashburton looks another key drive for Williams this weekend.   By Jonny Turner

Southland vendors John and Katrina Price smashed NZB Standardbred’s record for its highest-priced yearling before breaking it again just minutes later as they dominated the final day of the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch on Wednesday. The couple’s incredible run started when trainer Cran Dalgety simply refused to be outbid on a full brother to star Australian pacer Chicago Bull, eventually landing the standout colt for $310,000. After just over 50 more lots went through the Christchurch sale ring the Prices cashed in again when leviathan owners Emilio and Mary Rosati won a bidding duel to secure their Bettor’s Delight colt from Hartofdixie for a $320,000 price tag. After dozens of inspections in the weeks prior to the sale and interest in the colts getting to fever pitch in the three days leading up to it, the pair were being talked about as potential sale-toppers. The Prices went into Wednesday’s sale’s confident that their colts would be sought after. But John Price admitted he had not dared to dream the pair would sell for a combined price tag of more than $600,000. “Definitely not, we had high hopes for the colts, they are lovely colts and we had a lot of interest in them.” “But we definitely didn’t think we would get over $300,000 each for them.” The Prices’ Bettor’s Delight colt from Hartofdixie does not follow the path her vendors typically take to the National Yearling Sales. Unlike most of their stock, the new NZB Standardbred record holder was not bred by the couple. The Prices jumped at the chance to buy the colt as a weanling and that judgment call paid off several times over on Wednesday. “In the middle of winter last year we bought Hartofdixie the mare and a couple of weeks later we had the chance to buy this colt.” “We thought why not, we had bought the mare and we thought we could buy him with the intention of putting through the sales.” “So, we are happy with the result.” The Prices’ record-breaking afternoon started when their smart former racemare Chicago Blues delivered another standout yearling sales result with her Bettor’s Delight colt. “She leaves outstanding types.” “Chicago Bull was just a wee fellow, but Perfect Stride and this yearling are magnificent types of horses.” Unlike many of their successes in the ring the couple will retain a share in the colt named Chicago Bear in Cran Dalgety’s ownership group. After digging deep to secure the colt, Dalgety was elated. In the Canterbury trainer’s opinion Chicago Bear was the top pick among the hundreds of yearlings he had inspected this year. “In my opinion he was by far advanced on all of the ones I had seen this year.” “His attitude was magic, he had an enormously good upbringing – on the nutritional side – and his [pedigree] page sold him too.” “He was 11/10.” Champion sire Bettor’s Delight made it a trifecta at the top-end of Wednesday’s selling when producing the third top lot, a $250,000 colt from Start Dreaming. The yearling was knocked down to the All Stars Stable from Studholme Bloodstocks’s draft. Bettor’s Delight’s brilliant sales results only furthered his claim of being New Zealand’s greatest ever standardbred sire. The sire’s stock sold at a stunning average of $115,000 across two days of the pacing section of the Christchurch sale. Bettor’s Delight yearling underpinned a $43,030 average across the Christchurch pacing sale. 247 catalogued lots sold at a 71% clearance rate.   By Jonny Turner

The family of the late Father Dan Cummings agreed there could not have been a more fitting tribute to the doyen of Southern Standardbred Breeding than when the yearling named after him sold for $240,000 in Christchurch on Tuesday. The incredible legacy Cummings left in the New Zealand harness racing industry was on full show when bidders duelled to land Tuapeka Dan, the most sought after yearling on day one of the pacing section of NZ Standardbred’s Christchurch sale. Some may argue the colt’s stunning physique and blueblood pedigree meant his fate as Tuesday’s sale-topper was sealed before selling began. Others may suggest when Tuapeka Dan was offered on what would have been Cummings’ 76th birthday his late co-breeder helped the colt’s sale along with a little divine intervention. What is certain is that the timing of the colt’s sale added to what was an emotional journey back to the National Yearling sales for Cummings’ brother Peter and sister, Julie Davie. “It is very, very special to do this for him,” Davie said. Before his death in March of last year, Cummings knew he and his brother and sister had quality horses on their hands in the three yearlings their Tuapeka Lodge offered at Tuesday’s sale. And when Tuapeka Dan topped yesterday’s selling it proved his highly respected judgment was spot on once again. “He saw these horses as our babies, he knew they were special, so it is so good that they are,” Davie said. Davie had faith that Tuapeka Dan would be able to carry the massive responsibility of doing her late brother’s name justice. She kept the idea of naming the colt after him as a way of honouring the man his family knew as ‘Danny’ to herself until his battle with cancer was over. “We did think he was a special horse and Danny did himself,” Davie said. “I nursed him in his last three weeks of his life and I didn’t tell him I was going to call this colt Tuapeka Dan.” “But it felt right.” Tuapeka Dan’s time in the sales ring was lengthy and filled with all of the drama a top-priced colt deserved. Bidding quickly moved past $100,000 but stalled near $190,000. Leviathan owner Emilio Rosati simply would not be denied the chance of securing Tuapeka Dan and he succeeded when the colt was knocked down to agent Peter Larkin for $240,000. The stunning result was a fitting tribute to the late Father Dan Cummings. And one Davie is certain he would be proud of. “I was pretty shocked really, it had taken a long time to get it all together to get here.” “We are very proud and Danny would be very pleased.” “He will be raising his eyebrows and saying ‘that’s good’ or he would say ‘what do you think about that’.” Tuapkea Lodge also sold a Bettor’s Delight colt from Break Dance for $52,000 to Phil and Glenys Kennard. Tuapeka Dan was one of two yearlings to sell for more than $200,000 and both went to Australian buyers. The career of freshman stallion Vincent got an incredible boost when his colt from Suzys Delight sold for a $215,000 . Offered by Canterbury breeder Helen Conaghan in conjunction with Nevele R Stud, the colt was purchased by Vincent’s former owner, Jean Feiss. Yesterday’s sale produced a steady average $44,360, which compared strongly with the $43,487 average of the entire 2020 pacing section in Christchurch. Quality lots were clearly sought after, but struggles at the lower end of the market contributed to a low clearance rate of 62%.   By Jonny Turner

By Jonny Turner    Having almost beaten cancer, selling the top lot at NZB Standardbred’s trotting sale in Christchurch on Monday was a moment to savour for Southland breeder Dave Kennedy Kennedy’s Father Patrick colt from Sundon mare Rae Galleon topped the trotting section of the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch when knocked down to leading trainer Robert Dunn for $120,000. Kennedy is no stranger to yearling sales success having produced the equal top-selling pacing lot at Christchurch two years ago The Otautau breeder is set to cherish selling his Father Patrick colt more than his 2019 sale-topper or any other yearling he has offered in his 29 years as a National Yearling Sales vendor. Kennedy’s battle with B cell lymphoma – a form of blood cancer – has taught him to savour every moment he can. “You have just got to take what comes – it has never worried me I have just gone with it.” “But I was very weak for a while there, I couldn’t pull the skin off a sausage.” “I couldn’t walk from here to that (nearby) box over there.” “But we are good now, we are on the road to recovery.” “You don’t know what is around the corner, you have to enjoy every moment.” Kennedy hopes his Father Patrick colt has started what could turn out to be a brilliant week. He will offer five pacing yearlings at the National Yearling Sales on Wednesday and Thursday. Kennedy will then see his oncologist on Thursday to assess the next stage of his cancer battle. “I will see the oncologist on Thursday, I have still got a couple of tumours in there and I am going to be having radiation [therapy] to zap them.” Robert Dunn beat out rival bidders to secure the Father Patrick-Rae Galleon colt for his Diamond Racing Stables. Kennedy said he was rapt to see his yearling going to the trainer of the country’s best trotter, Sundees Son. The Southland breeder went into Monday’s sale hopeful of a good result, but far from expecting his Father Patrick colt would take top billing at the Christchurch trotting sale. “I am absolutely delighted, it is totally unexpected,” Kennedy said. “I knew he was a nice horse but I didn’t expect him to do anything like that.” Kennedy not only has preparer Katrina Price to thank for his standout result. Lot 140, named Cochise, is the only foal he has bred from Rae Galleon after he was offered the chance to breed from her by long-serving harness racing administrator and fellow breeder Gary Allen. “Gary offered me the chance to breed from her, so I put her in foal to Father Patrick and here we are,” Kenned said. “It is unbelievable, really.” Southern vendors dominated the top end of Christchurch’s trotting sale with Dunedin breeder Lex Williams’ $110,000 Majestic Son colt from champion mare One Over Kenny the second-top lot. Williams admitted it was an emotional return to the National Yearling Sales following the death of his late wife Heather in November of last year. The husband and wife had produced outstanding results together over several decades as National Yearling Sales vendors. Williams’ Majestic Son colt was knocked down to the McLean family of Victoria. 31 of 48 catalogued yearlings sold at Monday’s trotting sale at an average of $35,867. That result represented an increase from last year’s $34,642 average. The sale’s aggregate fell from last year, largely because of a 10% drop in clearance rate to 69%. The biggest movement in figures came from the trotting sale’s median jumping sharply from 2020’s $24,000 to this year’s $31,250.

By Jonny Turner    Lauren Pearson showed she had lost none of her skill in the sulky when winning her first race in more than fifteen years with Fanny Hill at Winton on Sunday. Having a partner who is one of Southland’s best drivers in Brent Barclay has meant Pearson has not had any more than seven drives in each season since she won with Lady Of The House at Wyndham in February of 2006. Clearly Pearson’s focus has been on training in that time going by the excellent strike rate her stable has produced. Barclay suggested his former New Zealand Junior Driver Championship winning partner return to the track over summer and she showed she had not lost her winning touch with Fanny Hill despite only having had a handful of drives over the last decade and a half. “I didn’t realise it was 15 years, I have had a few seconds and placings, but I haven’t had many drives in the last 15 years,” Pearson said. “When you have got Brent – he is out there all the time.” “We have just had a couple of trotters in lately and Brent has had other drives.” “I have been driving them at the workouts and driving them in work, so he said you might as well get on and have a blat around for a bit.” “I am really only filling in, but I quite enjoy it while I am out there.” Pearson landed Fanny Hill the best possible spot in race 8, behind the free-wheeling leader Whatwillbeewillbee. The five-year-old dashed along the inner to score in her first start from her driver’s stable at upset odds. Though Fanny Hill had competed well in her recent workouts, winning in the slick time of 3.02.8 for 2400m was not something Pearson expected. “She had been going good at the workouts but we thought she might have needed another run. “But obviously her class took her through.” Owner John Duff sent Fanny Hill to Pearson in the hope the mare could bounce back to her best form. After taking over her training from Phil Williamson, Pearson’s initial hope was to have her racing “half as good as Phil had her going”. That plan did not look like it would come to fruition in the early stages of Fanny Hill’s shift south. “She is a horse that if you get her out of her routine she is a bit funny,” Pearson said. “She showed nothing at home for a while.” “It wasn’t until we took her to a workout that she improved.” “And she has just got better and better.” Sunday’s win was the fifth of Fanny Hill’s career and Pearson’s 42nd career victory in the sulky. Pearson has no plans to drive more often after producing her pinpoint winning drive on Sunday. Barclay is quite safe in his position as her stable’s number one driver. “He is always number one,” Pearson said.  

By Jonny Turner    Salvo produced the middle leg of a treble of outstanding performances with her flying late finish to win at Addington on Friday night. The nine-race card started in the with a simply outstanding effort from Shut Up N Dance, who bolted in in race 1 by a massive ten and a half lengths for trainer Regan Todd and driver Matthew Williamson. Next up, Salvo produced a sizzling last 100m to clinch her maiden victory right on the line for trainer Jack Harrington and driver Tim Williams. Williams made it a double with Love You three-year-old trotting fillies when Wanna Play Me served up a record-breaking first-over crush to take out the listed Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Classique. Wanna Play Me stopped the clock in sizzling 2.24.7 to equal the fillies and mares national and track record for 1980m alongside both Dark Horse and Missalyssa. The three-year-old also smashed the mobile mark for three-year-old fillies she set in her win in the rescheduled Sires Stake 2YO Trotters Championship in October by 1.6sec. Salvo showed potential in three starts last time in and contested the Harness Million Two-Year-Old Trotting Final. It was in that feature event that the three-year-old last saw the mobile gate. And according to Jack Harrington it could be a while before she sees it again. “We found, especially in the rescheduled Harness Million final that the gate wound her up quite a fair bit.” “We are trying to steer away from the mobiles to let her learn her ringcraft a little bit.” “We are thinking her first mobile this time may very well be the Trotting Oaks, so long as everything goes to plan.” With the New Zealand Trotting Oaks a potential target for Salvo, Harrington clearly must have a decent wrap on the filly. The way she let down in the last 100m of Friday night’s race to catch Jakarta, who looked to have race 2 won, suggested she has a slice of class about her. “At this stage, it is probably too early to take on some of the better three-year-olds – but later on in another five or six races – to let her really get screwed down she could, ” Harrington said. “Hopefully she will get better and better and she can be thereabouts against those good one.” Salvo’s win comes almost two years to the day after Harrington purchased the filly at the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales in 2019. The trainer was initially drawn to the filly by her pedigree, being by Love You from the Pegasus Spur mare Sungait Sally. “The Love You factor was a massive plus.” “I remember her mother had a few issues but she had a really nice way of going.” “I just remembered her from watching her go and that was what drew me to Salvo.” “And when I saw her she had really big ears and you love trotter with big ears.” Harrington will be back at the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales in Christchurch next week trying to find another Salvo. The trainer, who welcomes new owners to join him in his purchases, is best known for his strong results with trotters. However, his stable has undergone a slight change in direction with most of his winners coming in the pacing gait recently. “You look at my record and I have had a lot of trotting starters and a lot of trotting winners.” “But if you look at this season Salvo is my fourth trotting starter and my first trotting winner and all of those starts have been hers.” “It has been a bit of a reversal of roles the last couple of years.” Harrington can head to the sales after a perfect one-from-one strike rate for the weekend after Salvo’s win.

By Jonny Turner    Her horse may not bring winning form to Saturday’s all-teal event at Rangiora but driver Sarah O’Reilly certainly does. After racking up wins at both Oamaru and Manawatu last week the junior driver will test herself against some of the South Island’s most talented reinswomen in the ‘Rangiora Supports Team Teal Pace’. With eighths, ninths and tenths in her last four starts, Eastwood Isabella does exactly have the kind of formline that suggests she is a leading chance. However, the James McDonald trained mare brings a good amount of ability and excellent standing start manners to 2000m event. And she looks a sneaky chance of helping O’Reilly beat out her fellow reinswomen and raise more money for the Team Teal campaign. “She is a good stepper from the standing start and I do think she will in the mix at the finish,” O’Reilly said. “If she can step away like she usually does she should be able to get a good run somewhere and go a nice race.” Team Teal’s leading contributor Samantha Ottley has been rated the biggest chance of racking up another win in the ‘Rangiora Supports Team Teal Pace’. Ottley drives the $2.80 early favourite Miss Impression who comes into race 7 after finishing second to Ifyousayso at Addington earlier this month. Eastwood Isabella opened at $11 win odds and a place price of $3.30. O’Reilly reunites with Mosaic Art ($4.50 & $1.65) in race 9 after the pair combined for an impressive win at Oamaru last week. Though the Michael Purdon trained filly may not have beaten a field of stars, she sat parked throughout to hand her rivals a beating. “I was quite happy with her, she didn’t beat much horse-wise, but she showed enough to say she could win another couple of races,” O’Reilly said. O’Reilly expects Mosaic Art to strip fitter and benefit from the addition of sliding blinds to her bridle. “She is still learning the game, she has got sliding blinds on on Saturday.” “So she should be a bit sharper and she should have improved from her run at Oamaru, too.” O’Reilly will also combine with Chloe Rose ($8.50 & $2.50) who opens her new campaign in race 10. After a fair trial at Ashburton early this month, the four-year-old ran an improved third in her latest public appearance at the Rangiora workouts. “She has taken a couple of trials to get fit,” O’Reilly said. “Hopefully she will be running on, if she trots all the way and she is running on we will be happy with that.” “She might take a run to get to full fitness, but she has been pleasing us with her work.” O’Reilly drives another of her employers Cran and Chrissie Dalgety’s runners in race 6. Shards In Manhattan ($5 & $2) has the ability to feature but will need her driver to find her some clear running from barrier 1 on the second row of the mobile. “The draw is going to be a bit tricky, the one we follow out isn’t the best but hopefully we can get off at some point,” O’Reilly said. “She should be able to sprint over the top of most of them.” “The horse on the outside, Arizonawildcat, has been going good and will be hard to beat." “But Shards In Manhatten should be able to win this race with the right run because it is a big drop back for her.” Shards Of Manhattan ($5 & $2) comes into her 2000m assignment after contesting Off N Gone’s Harness Million Final at Addington last week.

Kentuckiana Lodge's northern two-year-old team are ready to take advantage of the key draws they've been handed at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Chevrons Bypass and Mitsi Gaynor will again go head to head in fillies company in the third heat of the Young Guns Series. And Impressive debut winner Casino Prince will seek career win number two in the fourth colts and geldings heat of the two-year-old championship. Kentuckiana Lodge was unable to avoid the bug that has been causing havoc in stables across the upper North Island in the past fortnight. Blood tests after the two-year-olds competed in the first round of heats revealed the trio were not at best on race night. "As it has been well publicised there has been a bug going around Auckland and it resulted in only 53 horses racing at Alexandra Park last week," Cran Dalgety said. "Our three went to the first heats of the Young Guns looking fit and bright, but it wasn't until we took bloods after the race that we knew they were not quite at their best." "The good thing is they are back to where they should be and we can expect them to race up to how good we think they are this time." Mitsi Gaynor did not look below her best in her last outing when going bolting up the home straight with nowhere to go after being stuck three back on the fence. After copping barriers 9 and 5 in her first two starts, the Sweet Lou filly moves to barrier 4 on Friday night. And from there she should prove very hard to beat. "It certainly wasn't ideal last time, it did look like she had plenty to offer when she was looking for room," Cran said. "Her blood work showed she wasn't at her peak either, so we can turn the page completely on that run." "She is fit and healthy and bouncing around and we would like to think she would have plenty to show them from the four-hole this week." Chevrons Action ran a solid fourth in her first-round heat earlier this month. "She ran a pretty solid fourth, things were pretty rosy until the bend and you couldn't say she had all the luck in the straight," Cran said. "Her last 100m was very encouraging and with everything that has gone on she should be a better prospect this time." "She just keeps improving this filly, she will run well." Casino Prince was clearly not at his best in his last run at Alexandra Park. But he has been feeling like his old self in the lead up to Friday night's Young Guns heat for colts and geldings. And from barrier three the Bettor's Delight colt should take all sorts of catching. "He is bright and bubbly again which is great because he clearly wasn't himself last time." "He is a quality colt and from the good draw we would like to think we think he would be in it for a very long way."   by Jonny Turner   Kentuckiana Lodge also has runners at both Addington on Friday night and Rangiora on Sunday. Addington - Friday night Twilight Bromac - Race 1 Trixton Time - Race 2 Invaluable - Race 6   Rangiora - Saturday afternoon Shards In Manhatten - Race 6 Chloe Rose - Race 10

By Jonny Turner    Kentuckiana Lodge is taking the approach that there are no owners that can’t be accommodated and shares from 1 percent to 100 will be available in their yearlings from the 2021 NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales.   Excitement is building at the Canterbury stable as trainers Cran and Chrissie Dalgety prepare to land their next crop of race track stars, starting at Karaka on Sunday.  Fractional ownership and syndication will again play a vital part in the 2021 sales experience for the Kentuckiana Lodge couple.   Each year the high-energy nature of the auction ring brings plenty of hype, drama, big-money deals and even a little mystique. With all of that comes a myth Cran would love to dispel heading into the 2021 sales. And that is that yearling ownership is exclusive.  “People see the prices we pay for some of these horses and all of the hype that goes with them and they can be a little bit intimidated to ask about taking a small percentage.” “With all of the drama and the fanfare at the sales you can understand why.” “But the reality is a lot different to what people’s perceptions out there might be.” “We negotiate all kinds of shares in our yearlings.” “And people might be surprised to hear that it is actually some of the more expensive ones that are made up of smaller percentages.” Though syndication and fractional ownership are becoming increasingly popular in harness racing, the message has not filtered down to the yearling sales quite as well. “That is certainly what we have struck, there are owners out there that don’t think that it is possible to take a 2% or 3% share in a horse that might have cost $100,000.” “We work on the theory that it is no less exciting winning a group one race whether you own half of the horse or two hairs in its tail.” The beautiful part about fractional ownership for Cran is the pathway it creates for owners to get to the top level of racing. “Obviously we are at the sales to buy yearlings to target the best races in Australasia.” “Taking a smaller share in a yearling gives owners a reasonably affordable chance of racing in those big races.” “And we get a real kick out of that, it’s pretty special when an owner has their first runner in a group one race.” “And it is a hell of a party when they get their first winner.”  Cran and Chrissie will be making shares available in all of their yearling sales purchases as soon as the hammer falls. They encourage anyone interested in taking any kind of share in one of their yearlings to contact them to discuss how they can join the excitement of racing a horse with Kentuckiana Lodge. Cran: 027-436-0667 Chrissie: 027-278-9466 Email:

By Jonny Turner    Ben Hope will be out to continue keep up his winning form after driving Muscle Mountain to one of the most powerful trotting wins of the season at Addington on Friday night. Muscle Mountain turned heads with a victory that almost had to be seen to be believed, beating a classy field in the Group Three Summer Trotters Cup when first up without a trial or workout and having to sit parked for much of the race. Without having made a recent public appearance, the four-year-old could have been excused for being a little flat when he returned to his stall at Addington. But Muscle Mountain thrilled the Greg and Nina Hope stable with the way he pulled up after his mammoth effort. "He has come through it very good, half an hour after the race you wouldn't have thought he had been out there," Ben Hope said. "I have been lucky enough to win a group race with him as a two-year-old, but to win one with him in the open class trotting ranks is pretty cool." Hope looks a big chance of keeping his winning form up with Hittheroadjack in race 7 at Methven on Sunday. The four-year-old steps up in grade and his driver thinks he can handle it. "I give him a big chance, it is not the greatest draw (12), but in saying that he came from the same part of the track last time." "With it being a junior race they could go hard, so he should be a good chance." "He will need a few things to go his way but if it is run like most junior races usually are he is a good eachway chance." Seapris has also copped a slightly tricky draw in barrier 12 in race 3. Though she appeared to have her chance when second to Didjaseemyshadow in her last start at Addington, Hope said that may not be the case. "I would have been reasonably confident from a good draw." "But she is a good beginner and if she can get a good run through she has got to be a good chance." "She was a little bit unlucky last time." "It might not look that way on the replay but the one in front of us was tiring and it halted her momentum just slightly." "Being there was just a small margin in it, it probably really cost her." The Hope stable also start Homebush Lad in the Hororata Cup. The 10m marker comes into the 3000m feature after running on strongly behind race rival Gilligan's Island in the Amberley Cup last weekend. "Even though he hasn't won one on the track he hasn't gone too bad there." "He ran fifth in the Methven Cup over the same distance." "He is going to be a chance, he is going to need a few things to go his way but he is not the worst." Hope also drives Heaven On High, who looks a place chance when he lines up against his stablemate Cristiano Buccini in race 2. Rockntommy Rulz also looks a place chance for Hope in race 9.

By Jonny Turner    Kirstin Barclay capped a dream weekend when U May Cullect dug deep to win the Riverton Cup just hours after Watch Me Now landed the trainer-driver her first Group One victory. Racing first-up and off a massive 40m handicap was not enough to stop the U May Cullect from getting the better of runner-up Vintage Cheddar to win the Ascot Park feature on Saturday. Barclay’s first thoughts after completing her epic double were not about making plans to get back to Addington so that U May Cullect could follow up Watch Me Now’s feature race victory. All the trainer-driver is hoping for is to be greeted by a happy and sound horse when the weekend is over. “I am just hoping that when I bring him out of the paddock on Monday morning he is sound,” Barclay said. “He felt like he pulled up good and he went to the paddock bucking and kicking.” “I am hopeful that we are on the right track now.” Barclay gave the injury-plagued U May Cullect every possible hope in his first run since the Kaikoura Cup, finding him a sweet run on the back on Vintage Cheddar. Sling-shotting off his rival’s back on the home turn, the seven-year-old’s condition blew out after a track record speed was set up. But U May Cullect dug deep to win under Barclay’s urgings. “He hit the wall 50m out from the post, he was tired, which he was entitled to be in record time.” “But he dug in.” “I would have been happy to run second to Vintage Cheddar, he is a lovely horse, I would have been thrilled.” “But to win was such a bonus.” U May Cullect stopped the clock in 3.17.9, eclipsing the 3.19.8 Ascot Park track record for 2700m his Riverton Cup rival Robyns Playboy set earlier this season. Addington features are not on Barclay and training partner Tank Ellis’ agenda even if U May Cullect emerges in fine fettle from his Riverton Cup win. Taking on open class horses will not be considered until the pacer refines his standing start manners. “I just really want to stay down home at the moment and just get the standing starts nailed,” Barclay said. “Because to go up to Christchurch again, we can’t miss away, he has got to get the standing starts right.” Even after U May Cullect’s win, Barclay was still coming to terms with the fact that she was now a Group One winning trainer and driver after Watch Me Now’s win in the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes. “I actually still can’t believe it, it still doesn’t feel real.” “The dream at the start of the week was to finish on a high note with Watch Me Now.” “To achieve that dream for her owners and everything, it still doesn’t feel real.” Barclay’s maiden Group One win was made more emotional by the mare being sold to North American interest before Friday night’s race. When Watch Me Now left the track it was potentially the last time Barclay was going to see her in New Zealand. But the trainer-driver plans to make one last visit to see her this week. “I followed her out to the float and had a wee cuddle with her.” “I must say there were a few tears.” “I am going to go up to the sales, I think she is up there a wee bit longer so I am going to shoot out and see her again.” U May Cullect’s victory capped a big Riverton Cup day day for his owner Tom Kilkelly, who also won with the Chuckles from the Craig Ferguson stable. Results for Riverton Cup day click here

By Jonny Turner    Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate goodbye and the greatest moment of Kirstin Barclay’s harness racing career by winning the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes at Addington on Friday night. Watch Me dug deep along the Addington passing lane to reel in star mare Amazing Dream to seal maiden Group One wins for both Barclay and her training partner Tank Ellis in the 2600m feature. In her more than 23 years in harness racing Barclay had only dreamed of winning a Group One race. But thanks to the incredible talent of her lightly raced mare it was a dream no more. “I never thought I’d get the chance to drive a Group One winner, it is just so special.” “Especially doing it with her in her last start for us.” Barclay will now say goodbye to Watch Me Now with the mare being sold in a big-money deal to North American interests by agent John Curtin. “The owners are definitely delighted to get her,” Curtin said. “We didn’t think she could beat Amazing Dream from the 8-hole, but she was just incredible.” Barclay went into her last race with Watch Me Now wanting to give it everything they had. And she did that by blasting off the gate in a move that was clearly the winning of the race. “Tank and I spoke during the week and every time I looked at the field I thought our one chance was if we could cross out of the gate and get handy,” Barclay said.  “Otherwise we were either going to have to sit parked or pull back and try and get around them.” “You can’t do that when they are running those times.” “That was the plan and luckily it worked out.” After crossing to the lead shortly after the start, Amazing Dream and Mark Purdon came back around Watch Me Now and Barclay to hand them a perfect trip in the trail. Though it looked like the leader had enjoyed steady sectionals in the middle stages, the pace can’t have been too slow. Watch Me Now broke the national mares’ record for 2600m The Orange Agent set in the same race in 2017 with her 3-07.2 time. Watch Me Now and Kirstin Barclay            --Race Images Photo Barclay praised Ellis for his careful planning that had Watch Me Now ready to peak for her Group One tilt. “He has been really patient and he is really good at mapping out a path for them.” “And he really did that to perfection.” “And we have really got to thank Benny Hill, who has looked after her for the last two weeks.” “You couldn’t have a horse in a better place, no stone goes unturned.” Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate going away present for her Southland owners Steve and Claire Sloan, who race the outstanding mare with son Brad and his wife Jess, and daughter Halie Gibb and her husband, Alan. The daughter of Mach Three mare, Mach N Elle, will head to North America on the next available flight pending the outcome of a vet inspection. It will not be the last Barclay has seen of her favourite mare, she vowed to visit Watch Me Now once COVID allows her to get there. 

By Jonny Turner    Robyns Playboy will be out to redeem himself with a flying beginning in Saturday’s Riverton Cup. The pacer dubbed ‘The Beast From The East’ gave his followers a shock in his last visit to Ascot Park when galloping away in the Invercargill Cup for driver Craig Ferguson. Trainers Ross and Chris Wilson have found what they think is the cause of the rare mistake and hope their five-year-old can make one of his customary fast beginnings when he returns on Saturday. “He normally has a real tight girth and we are putting it down to being a bit too tight last time,” Chris Wilson said. “Craig said he tried to buck and it might have been annoying him.” “Hopefully he will be back to normal on Saturday, so I think he will step away.” Though well out of his ground, Robyns Playboy still reeled off some smart sectionals behind Invercargill Cup winner Pembrook Playboy. “His sectional times were phenomenal, we timed his last half (800m) in 53.8sec and he still ran last,” Wilson said. “It was a bloody good last.” With a better beginning in Saturday’s feature, Robyns Playboy might be able to pinch a key advantage over his fellow 40m backmarkers U May Cullect and Vintage Cheddar. “The front markers are probably not going to be out and running, all of his main rivals are on 40m,” Wilson said. “If he can step and run like he can, he could be hard to catch,” Wilson said. U May Cullect heads into the Riverton Cup after looking more like his old self following his disappointing spring campaign. Co-trainer and driver Kirstin Barclay goes into the race pleased with the popular pacer following his smart recent workout win at Wyndham. “He only went 3.03 (for 2400m) at the workouts but he reeled off a 26sec quarter (400m) with the earplugs still in,” Barclay said. “He just feels like himself again, but with no real pressure.” “Race day pressure is always different.” Franco Santino has a 10m headstart on Robyns Playboy, Vintage Cheddar and U May Cullect from his 30m handicap in the Riverton Cup. The pacer has pleased trainer Nathan Williamson after switching back to his stable following his short stint with Graeme Anderson and Mike Love. “He has arrived home in good fettle,” Williamson said. “Fourth in the Invercargill Cup should be pretty good form for a race like this.” “He has got a few runs under his belt, so he could take a forward position mid-race if need be.” Ross and Chris Wilson line up three more horses on Riverton Cup Day in Hans Ideal, Von Art and Robyns Shadow. Hans Ideal will be out to cap consistent form and score a deserved maiden win in her 89th start in race 1. “She has been running really good races,” Chris Wilson said. “We will try to win one before her 100th start, but we will see how we go.” “She has definitely got a win in her.” Von Art returns to racing after a break of more than a month and the Wilsons think she is forward enough to run a strong race from her ace barrier draw in race 3. “It is a great draw, I don’t think she is forward enough to lead all of the way,” Wilson said. “But she is working well, I think she is fit enough, but I think don’t think she can be dominating form the front.” “We will look to give her a bit of cover.” Robyns Shadow faded into seventh when leading in a 2.56.6 time for 2400m time in his last start at Winton. Though he set up a fast pace, the Wilson camp was still hoping for more from the pacer. “Craig said he got going again once they got past him.” “He is just green, I think.” “We will go back to driving him with a sit, he has been running home really nice doing that.” Craig Ferguson takes the reins behind all of the Wilson runners at Ascot Park on Saturday. View the full fields click here!

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