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By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Emma Frost was beaten by the barest of margins in the Gr.3 Waikato Trotting Breeders’ Stakes (2700m) at Cambridge Raceway earlier this month, but she wasn’t to be outdone at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett-trained mare got her revenge when taking out the Auckland equivalent, the Gr.3 Sims Pacific Metals Northern Trotting Stakes (2700m). The daughter of Monkey Bones sat midfield for the majority of the race and looked flat when turning for home, however, she was able to call on her reserves and secure a 1-3/4 length victory. Her trainers were pleased with the win, particularly the way she finished off the race. “I thought she was flat a long way out, but Andrew (Drake, driver) said once he pulled the hood she just really rallied,” Wallis said. “Josh (Dickie) had them running up front (with The Big Bird) and she was pretty flat, but I think everything was flat and she just rallied the best. “She deserved it after her runner-up effort at Cambridge (Waikato Breeders).” Wallis said she was pleased with the five-year-old mare ahead of her Group Three assignment. “She went fresh into the one at Cambridge, so we thought we would keep her fresh for this one, and it paid off,” she said. Stablemate Rain Mist And Muscle ran home boldly to secure a quinella for the barn, and Wallis highlighted her 20m as the deciding factor. “They have gone pretty quick off the front and she was off 20m,” she said. “Her overall time will be better than Emma Frost’s, but she was just chasing the whole way and it didn’t pan out. “She has still gone super. She has gone every bit as good as Emma.” While pleased with the result, Wallis said she is unsure of Rain Mist and Muscle’s future. “Emma Frost will just keep racing in the grades around here,” she said. “It gets tough for Rain Mist and Muscle now because where she is rated she is up in the top echelon up here and she is probably not quite good enough to race against Bolt For Brilliance. I am not sure what we do with her.” Meanwhile, former World Driving Champion Mark Jones made a rare appearance in the sulky when reining home Plutonium Lady in the Listed Charles Roberts (NISBA) Stakes (2200m). Later on the card, Copy That continued his winning ways at northern headquarters, taking out the Gr.3 Lincoln Farms ‘The Founders Cup’ FFA (2200m) by 1-3/4 lengths over Christianshavtime, with a further 1-3/4 lengths back to Spirit Of St Louis in third.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Michael House has carved out a solid record at Manawatu Raceway over the last few years, and that continued on Tuesday at the track he has dubbed “The Alamo of Central Districts harness racing”. The Prebbleton trainer opened his account with Gazza Galleon who ran away to a comfortable six length victory in the Trevor Harris Memorial Handicap Trot (2500m). The five-year-old trotter finished runner-up last week at Palmerston North and House said he expected another good showing on Tuesday. “He has just gone through the motions and got the business done,” House said. “He is quite a talented wee horse but he has got some issues.” Two races later stablemate Chase The Hat Trick secured a three-quarter length win in the Rubbish & Junk 0800 JUNKIT Mobile Pace (2000m). Driver Peter Ferguson secured an early trail behind Doctor Love who he tracked throughout before he began to tire at the 400m mark. Stablemate Santanna Mach led the field into the home straight after sitting parked, while Ferguson was able to extricate his charge from the trail and run down Santanna Mach to win, with The Kapiti Express running home late to capture second. House was pleased with the result, but believes Santanna Mach would have been the victor had their runs been reversed. “Chase The Hat Trick was good,” House said. “Santana Mach would have beaten him if he had a better run. He was driven pretty hard and aggressive and he only went down because of the run, and Chase The Hat Trick had a better run. “Chase The Hat Trick is bound for Christchurch tonight and we will assess his future in the next few days.” House said it is a massive undertaking to travel his team to Palmerston North from his Prebbleton base, but the level of racing in the region suits many of his horses. “We have quite a process that we go through with transporting them,” he said. “It is not easy what these horses go through and I don’t make any long range plans for them. They have to injure a lot. “It is part of the business plan - if I have got a lot of average horses, they have got to race somewhere. “If you target it you have got to get a result.” House cited programming issues as the catalyst for his major support for regional racing with the likes of Manawatu and Southland, and he believes Central Districts racing is integral to harness racing in New Zealand. “You can’t reproduce that racing at Addington,” he said. “I can nominate for a place like Invercargill or Manawatu and I know the rating 42 horse is going to race horses in the same grade and not used to fill a field at Addington racing rating 50 horses. “The reliability is why I support it so much. Without Manawatu racing, the Central Districts would die. “The Manawatu is The Alamo of harness racing in the Central Districts.” Meanwhile, House was busy at New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred’s yearling sale in Christchurch trying to source his next stable star. “Neil Rich bought a trotter which I will end up training. She is a lovely filly out of the Roydon Lodge draft. Lot 141, a Muscle Mass filly out of Roydon’s Jewel. “I missed on a few today (Tuesday) and didn’t come home with anything. It’s just one of those days. “We will be a bit more aggressive tomorrow, so hopefully I can get a couple of nice colts to race and try and get a better quality horse than what we have got.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Stratford trainer Jason Cossey is proud to be the third generation in his family to train in his green and red silks, and he is hoping they can return to the winner’s enclosure at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday. The Taranaki dairy farmer will take Dramatist and Zip Code south on Tuesday and he is hopeful they can go one better at the Palmerston North track after both mares finished runner-up in their respective races last week. Cossey was pleased with Dramatist’s last start performance and he said she benefited from a light freshen-up after a series of unplaced runs. “She was quite impressive, we were really rapt with her,” he said. “She has been training really well and we were hoping for a better run. “She has just come off the unruly and we have started having workouts back at Hawera in the last month or so, and I think that has helped her a lot. “After Kapiti (last month) we gave her a bit of time off and that has helped her out.” The daughter of Big Jim has drawn gate two in the Outback Trading Company Mobile Pace (2000m) and Cossey said driver Brendan Towers may have his hands full with the boisterous mare. “I am a bit worried because she is a bit of a puller,” Cossey said. “If she gets out in front she might over-race a bit. We are hoping to get some early cover.” Later on the card Zip Code has drawn one on the second line in the Hughes Joinery Mobile Pace (2000m). “She is another one who enjoyed her freshen-up and she is loving the workouts at Hawera,” Cossey said. “I am just hoping she gets a bit of luck and can get out and have a decent run at them.” Cossey is pleased the Palmerston North meeting has received strong support from trainers from around the country, and he is hoping more meetings can be programmed for the region in the racing calendar. “It’s awesome, but it would be good if we can get some more grass tracks back up and going. We are really missing them around here,” he said. The Cosseys are one of the longest established racing families in the region, and he is proud to continue that legacy and become the third generation in his family to train. “My Dad (Spencer Cossey) got his license when he was 17, back in the 1960’s,” Cossey said. “I have been interested in racing right from the start. My set of colours were Dad’s, and they were his father’s as well. They have been in the Cossey name for a long time.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It was a night for the locals at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday, led by local horseman David Butcher who reined home a winning treble. He opened his account in his own silks when Claudia Schiffer took out the Wisteria Lane Nail Boutique Clinic Mobile Pace (2200m). The daughter of Sportswriter was sent forward early and assumed the lead from the breaking Little Suzie, who driver Benjamin Butcher was able to settle relatively quickly. Claudia Schiffer had a comfortable lead throughout and ran away to an easy three-quarter length victory over Four Kisses. “She was good,” Butcher said. “She just got a better draw (5) this week and that made all the difference. She got an easy lead and was too good.” Butcher then hopped in the cart behind Fira in the Black Dog Furniture Bruntwood Road Mobile Trot (2200m) for local trainer Arna Donnelly. The Thanksgiving mare was given the perfect trip throughout in the one-one and was able to wear down leader Safrakova in the home straight to record her sixth career victory. “She got a really good trip and ended up in the one-one and she got there by a neck,” Butcher said. He then donned the colours of local breaker Brent Donnelly in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Fibre Grow Mobile Pace (2700m) when piloting The Banker. Butcher gave the Arna Donnelly-trained gelding a similar trip, with the son of Auckland Reactor able to secure a nose victory over stablemate Young Conqueror. “The Banker also got an easy trip in the one-one and got there by a nose,” he said. Butcher was not the only member of his family to walk away with a win on Thursday, with son Benjamin reining home Cya Art to win the Racebook Donations Supporting Team Teal Mobile Pace (2200m) for trainers Steven and Amanda Telfer. Butcher was able to secure an early one-one position with the three-year-old son of Art Major before pressing forward for the lead at the bell. The race favourite held on to a one length victory over Wet Flipflops, with Alta Cassino a further 3-1/4 lengths back in third. “We got a good cosy trip early on and the pace wasn’t that quick,” Butcher said. “He lacks a bit of speed, so I thought I would put him in it. He had to do a little bit of work to get there, but he got the job done.”   Full Cambridge results click here!

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Cambridge horseman Rodney Frampton is vying to record his first training win when Monkee Around lines-up in the Racebook Donations Supporting Team Teal Mobile Pace (2200m) at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday. It will be the Art Major mare’s debut run for the stable and Frampton is hopeful of a bold showing after a couple of pleasing workout results, including a win at her hometrack on Saturday. “She has had a couple of workouts and she went quite nice in her workout on Saturday,” Frampton said. “She is happy with the pace on and rolling along a little bit, that suits her best. She has got a good attitude and is a tough wee mare.” The Alabar Stud bred and raced four-year-old will be driven by junior reinsman Luke Whittaker from barrier six, and the wide draw is the only concerning factor for her trainer. “I think she will go a nice enough race, although she has drawn quite an awkward alley,” Frampton said. “It will depend on what sort of run she gets. If she gets a nice run and is reasonably handy, she won’t be too far away.” Frampton is in his first season of training, although his career in the industry stretches back nearly 40 years. “I worked for John Langdon in the early to mid-eighties for about five years and I ended up being foreman there,” he said. “I drove a couple of winners and then I went to Australia for a couple of years. “I came back and worked at a dairy company for a while and then I had a horse with Andrew and Lyn Neal. I had another one with David Marshall and I helped him out a little bit. “I then started to work for Mike Berger and then Arna Donnelly, and now I am enjoying training myself.” Frampton recaptured his love for the sport when taking out his amateur driver’s license nearly a decade ago. “When I was helping out Andrew and Lyn, they had a horse there called Greg Brydon. We thought he would suit the amateur races, so I decided to get my license to drive him,” he said. Frampton is training a team of eight at Cambridge Raceway and he said he has received a fair amount of support from local trainers, particularly former employer Mike Berger. “Mike Berger helps me out quite a bit,” he said. “I am a breaker for him and I jog up a few for him. I have also got a couple of breakers for Alabar and they own Monkee Around.” Frampton is happy working his small team and he said he derives a lot of satisfaction from earning a living from something he loves. “I am quite happy training a few and breaking in a few, and making a living doing it,” he said. “I have worked in other careers, so it’s quite good being able to work with horses. I enjoy it.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Horowhenua trainer Murray Gibbs is looking forward to being reunited with his race team at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday. Both Manhattan Sunshine and I Won’t Back Down have been in the care of Cambridge trainer Mike Berger over the last few weeks as Gibbs has recovered from a training accident last month. “They have been up with Mike Berger for a couple of weeks. I had a training accident about three weeks ago and I broke a couple of fingers in my right hand,” Gibbs said. The pair arrived at Berger’s in good form, with both placing at Otaki’s January 4 meeting. While both horses were being aimed at Manawatu Raceway’s Tuesday meeting for their resuming run, Berger was pleased with the way Manhattan Sunshine was working and advised Gibbs to race her at Cambridge Raceway last week. “We were going to wait for Palmy, but she was working that well Mike rang me and said he thought we should give her a run at Cambridge. “It was her first run for a month and she went very well (running third).” The daughter of Sunshine Beach will line-up in The Cobb Mobile Pace (2200m) at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday where she has drawn barrier two and will be driven by junior reinsman Luke Whittaker. “She is going very well and from the draw I expect a good run,” Gibbs said. “She is a 22-start maiden, but she works like a two-to-three-win horse. She is one of those horses who is just going to take time.” Gibbs will also contest the Paul Claridge Electrical Mobile Pace (2000m) with three-year-old filly I Won’t Back Down. The daughter of A Rocknroll Dance is having just her second raceday start and Gibbs believes she has a promising future after placing on debut at Otaki last month. “She is one that I am quite excited about because she is a three-year-old filly and that was her first start,” he said. “My main owner, John Peters, bred her and he has bred another couple of young ones that I have got in training. “She is the first one that he has bred that I have raced for him out of his mare (Always Rushing). We were very pleased with her first-up run.” Gibbs trains five horses at his Levin property and he said he is looking forward to reuniting with his race team on Tuesday. “I have got a 15-acre property and a 700m all-weather training track,” Gibbs said. “Palmerston North is a 40-minute drive away and I go over there once a week and have a workout with Stephen Doody, or one of the trainers over there. It works in really well. “I have got five horses - two racehorses, a couple of two-year-olds, and a yearling. I just try to do four or five, and it’s just a small, boutique operation. “I got the cast off four days ago, so I am on the mend. Mike is bringing the horses down to Palmy and I will bring them home from there.” Gibbs was delighted to see the strong support from trainers for Tuesday’s meeting, showing the need for harness racing to continue in the central districts. “I am rapt to see the nominations and the fact they are holding six races,” he said. “It’s not that long ago we were worried that they were not going to have any racing down here. It’s great to see them being supported and the interest is there.” Gibbs has enjoyed three decades as a trainer and he said it was all started when he hopped in the cart for the first time as a teenager. “Noel Lochhead was a great mate of my father’s,” he said. “In my early teens, Dad would go and visit him in Masterton and then one day Noel gave me a drive behind an old trotter he had. “I just got the bug, and once you get the bug you are hooked.” Gibbs subsequently took out his trainer’s license in 1991 and has recorded 36 victories in that time. While he said he hasn’t trained a topliner, he has enjoyed working with a few “hand-me-downs” from city trainers. “Over the years I have had a good association with Tony Herlihy,” Gibbs said. “He has given me a few that haven’t quite made the grade up in Auckland. Myeyesadoreya, Cerberus, and Mr Billiards, just to name a few. “They appreciate the smaller stable and the racing down here.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    She’s Tough proved too tough in the Garrards Horse & Hound Hororata Cup (3000m) on Sunday. The Brad Mowbray-trained mare began well from her front mark and quickly took the lead for driver Matthew Williamson before he handed up to stablemate Nirvana Beach. The pair remained untouched up front and She’s Tough was able to scoot up the passing lane and secure a 1-/1-4 length win over the fast-finishing Kiss The Girls, with Yossi a further three lengths back in third. Mowbray was pleased with the win and was full of praise for Williamson’s steering efforts. “I am very happy, Matty drove her a treat,” Mowbray said. “We were happy with her going into it, we just thought she needed a bit of luck in the running to be thereabouts, and that happened. She sat in the trail the whole way, so I am more than happy with the run. “Matty was really pleased with the way she did it. He said she did it well within herself.” It was a polar opposite result to her last start where the daughter of He’s Watching finished last in her 2400m assignment at Methven late last month. “She just did too much work last start, she seems to be better just following,” Mowbray said. Mowbray has been pleased with the way his charge has pulled up after her winning effort and he is now looking to head south with her at the end of the month. “She seems to have pulled up well, so we will head to Waikouaiti in a fortnight and keep heading on the good train hopefully.” Earlier on the card, Ricky May reined home the Mark Jones-trained Braeview Kelly to win the Nevele R Fillies Series (Heat 2) Mobile Pace (1609m) by a head over Bettor Talk Out, while in the meeting’s feature trot, the Rakaia See Cleaning Handicap Trot (2400m), the Dennis O’Connell-trained Aveross Majesty stormed home late to beat Sun Swinger by a half head. For full Methven results click here!

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It was a night of upsets at Addington Raceway on Friday night, with a couple of southerners downing their more fancied northern rivals. Nathan Williamson’s small but select team featured prominently, but it was the victory of Watch Me Now in the Group 1 The Leefield Station NZ Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) that proved the highlight for the southern raiders. The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis-trained mare was set alight from her wide draw to take an early lead for Barclay, crossing heavy favourite Amazing Dream. Her more fancied rival was then sent forward by driver Mark Purdon to give Watch Me Now the perfect trip in the trail. Watch Me Now took advantage of the passing lane down the home straight and under the urgings of Barclay she was able to wear down Amazing Dream and record a head victory, with a further 9-1/2 lengths back to Enchantee in third. Barclay was thrilled with the win, particularly being her first at elite level. “That’s the highlight of my career,” she said. “This is my first Group One, it is a dream come true really.” Barclay was quick to pass praise onto her training partner for the result. “Tank has just prepped her so well for this race, it was the aim the whole way along,” she said. “I was really rapt with her two weeks ago when she ran third here sitting parked, and we knew the distance would suit her. “We were giving it our all tonight, we weren’t going to sit back and die wondering.” Watch Me Now has finished her New Zealand career on a high and will now head to North America to continue racing after her recent sale. “It’s a little bittersweet because she is moving on now, but it was the dream result,” Barclay said. “She is off to America. As soon as COVID is over I will be off over to see her.” Earlier in the night, fellow Southlander Nathan Williamson took out one of the other meeting’s features, the Group 3 Coca-Cola Summer Cup (1980m) with Pembrook Playboy. In a similar result, the son of Bettor’s Delight utilised the passing lane and was able to get the better of hot favourite Self Assured to win by a short-margin. “To beat that horse is no mean feat, so I was absolutely thrilled,” Williamson said. “Those small fields can be tricky races, but it worked out well where I ended up and he was pretty brave.” Pembrook Playboy took two southern Group Three victories into Friday night, but Williamson was still wary of his high-class opposition. “It was a bit of a step up in grade with Self Assured and some others there. We were coming up here to their backyard, so it was never going to be easy,” he said. “To come away with a win, we will definitely take it, and hopefully he can continue to improve because he is going to need to a bit to be right up with the topliners. But we are pleased with what he is doing so far.” More stakes assignments now beckon the four-year-old, who is set to spend plenty of time on the road in the next few months. “He will go home and have a few easy days and then he will go to the Northern Southland Cup and then perhaps come up for the Easter meeting, and then onto Auckland after that for the four-year-old races. He has got a bit of a busy time ahead of him,” Williamson said. Williamson was also pleased with a couple of runner-up results by Ragazzo Mach in the Lot 209 ‘Out Of A ½-Sister to Ragazzo Mach’ Mobile Pace (1980m) and Dark Horse in the Gr.3 Fahey Fence Hire Summer Trotting FFA (1980m). “I was thrilled with Ragazzo Mach, it was his first trip away and he raced super. To go the way he did after being wide for a lot of the journey, I was thrilled with that,” Williamson said. “The other mare (Dark Horse) went good too, she was just beaten by a class horse (Muscle Mountain). I was happy with her, she tried really hard.” While Williamson finished unplaced in the night’s feature race with Yankee Party, he was thrilled for fellow Southlanders Barclay and Ellis. “I am thrilled for Kirstin and Tank to get the win, it was great to see Southland have a great night.” For full Addington results click here

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Brian and Gareth Hughes left Alexandra Park on Friday night happy men after they took out a third of the card with a couple of exciting three-year-olds. The Honey Queen kicked off the night in style for the South Auckland conditioners when making light work of her opposition in the Hydroflow Mobile Pace (1609m), running away to a comfortable seven length victory. Driver Joshua Dickie launched the filly off the gate to take an early lead, where he was able to dictate the terms of the race which allowed his charge to sprint away to an effortless win. It was the second win on-end for the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven after she recorded her maiden victory at the Auckland track a week prior. Her connections were pleased with the win and they are now eyeing some loftier targets with their filly in the next month, including the Gr.2 Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes (2200m) and Gr.1 Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks (2700m). “It was a really nice win tonight,” Gareth Hughes said. “Coming back from late December racing those good three-year-old fillies, it is a decent drop back. “You have still got to go out and do it and she has done that twice now in her last two starts, she has been pretty impressive. “She got chucked in the deep end in her first couple of starts back this time in. She went straight into a Sires’ Stakes heat and then the Group One fillies classic and then the Sires’ Stakes Final. She went nice races in all of them without getting a lot of luck.” Later on the card Hot And Treacherous created an upset when downing short-priced favourite Krug to win the NZB Standardbred Karaka Yearling Sales 14 Feb Mobile Pace (1609m). The Captaintreacherous gelding drew handy in barrier one and driver Maurice McKendry was able to utilise his gate speed and hold his position to take an early lead. He was kept up to the mark by Matt Damon on his outside, but he was able to show his mental fortitude when holding out his challenger and a fast-finishing Krug to win by a half-head. Hot And Treacherous had won two of his last three starts at Cambridge Raceway and Hughes said he appreciated his ace draw on Friday. “He has been racing in pretty good form of late and to go back to the Park and pick one up is pretty nice with what is coming up for him,” Hughes said. “In a fortnight there is the Derby Prelude and then the following week there is the Derby. “Going into these races coming up you just hope you are going to get a bit of luck and hopefully he can be thereabouts.” For full Alexandra Park results click here!

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    As Free As Air finally found some luck at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night and took advantage of it. The Ross Paynter-trained mare has had a bad run of things of late, highlighted by losing driver Andre Poutama in the Trotters Gold Cup at Cambridge last Saturday. Poutama was back in the bike on Thursday and the pair had no such trouble this time, taking a front-running role and holding on for a three-quarter length victory over The Last Gamble, with Our Gracie a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third. View the full results click here! Paynter was happy with the win and relieved some luck finally went his mare’s way. “It was a good run, she just doesn’t get a lot of luck at the start sometimes,” Paynter said. “She doesn’t help herself, but a couple of times horses get in her way too and cause a bit of bad luck. “She has had some real bad luck lately and last start was a disaster. “When she does behave and gets a free run at them off certain handicaps, she can be quite potent. “She hasn’t been racing that bad, but she is a bit patchy at times. It just depends what horses she is racing and what handicap she gets. When she won her last race she went back and struggled a little bit with the handicap, but she got back in a bit better tonight. “As soon as she gets back into where she is capable of doing it, she normally provides you with a pretty good run.” Looking ahead to the weekend, Paynter is looking forward to donning his vendors cap at New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbreds Yearling Sale at Karaka on Sunday. He will offer lot 22, the Father Patrick filly out of Sagan, a half-sister to Group One winner Lemond, Group Three winners Il Pirata and Anquetil, and Harness Jewels winner Merckx. “She is a really well bred and well put together filly,” Paynter said. “Ross McKay is preparing her for the sale under Leanach Lodge. “Father Patrick is a very good stallion and she is out of a Monarchy mare, so it gives you the same cross as the one of Barry Purdon’s, Son Of Patrick, that has been winning the races down here.” Paynter has sold a number of high performing trotters through the yearling sales over the years, and he is hoping that will continue on Sunday. “We sold Lemond, Contador, Anquetil, and Merckx. It’s a good family,” he said.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Stakes-winning three-year-old Aladdin will be carrying new colours at Alexandra Park on Friday night in the NZB Standardbred Karaka Yearling Sales 14 Feb Mobile Pace (1609m). The Sweet Lou gelding had previously raced in the blue and silver All Stars silks, but he has recently transferred to the Pukekohe barn of Peter and Vaughan Blanchard after his sale to the Cormack family, who race under their AB & T Cormack Racing Pty Ltd banner. Peter Blanchard had negotiated his sale just days before the Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 1 3YO C & G Mobile Pace (2200m), and he began his association with his new owners in perfect fashion, taking out the rich feature at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. “That was a great training performance by Mark (Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen) and a great drive by Tim Williams in that race,” Vaughan Blanchard said. “The owners, who bought him, live in Australia and they were lucky enough to own him for that race. The sale went through 10 days before New Year’s Eve. “That (win) was a bit of a surprise, but he had pretty good lead-up form. He got a good run that night and everything panned out well for him. “It will be a hard feat to keep him up to that standard, but the way he is working and trialling, he is pretty good at the moment.” Blanchard said he and his father have trained and sold a few to the Australian-based Cormack family over the years. “We have always had the odd one for them,” he said. “They owned Al Bundy and we won nine or 10 with him. “Another mare we sold to them, Rockon Bye, won 20 for them over there (in Australia). “Predominantly they have their horses in Australia and that is where Aladdin will end up, but they thought why not have a crack at some three-year-old races and then go over. “He will definitely head towards the Great Northern Derby and then we will assess how he shapes up and whether he travels to Addington for the New Zealand Derby, and the Jewels (at Cambridge Raceway).” While looking ahead to three-year-old feature races, Aladdin will have his first start for the Blanchard stable on Friday and his new trainers are expecting a solid first-up performance after his trial win at his new home track late last month. “After the New Year’s Eve run we gave him three weeks off and he hasn’t put a foot wrong since we have had him,” Blanchard said. “He has settled in really well. He is a very easy horse to have around the place. “It is a very strong field on Friday. He trialled two weeks ago and we wanted to race him last week at Cambridge, but that race didn’t get off the ground. “But it’s a mile on Friday and it’s a perfect run for him first up after having a wee break.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Local pacer Pull The Other Leg will be out to continue his impressive run of form at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday when he lines-up in the Helen Gray Memorial Mobile Pace (2200m). The Mike Berger-trained gelding has featured in the money in all nine of his starts, including three visits to the winner’s circle. The Sir Lincoln gelding recorded his third victory at Cambridge Raceway on Saturday and Berger was pleased with his performance. “It was a good run on Saturday,” he said. “It’s one of the first times he has come from behind, he is usually up front. He came home really well, he was four or five-wide coming around that last bend. “He has come through the run well, he has eaten up, and he seems pretty bright.” Pull The Other Leg will be driven by stable junior driver Luke Whittaker from barrier six. “I don’t really give driving instructions, but Plan A will probably be to drive him from behind again because he hasn’t had a lot of field experience yet,” Berger said. “But sometimes when the gate goes that can all change. If no one is looking at going out you have got to have a Plan B.” The four-year-old gelding is currently 15th in order of entry for the Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald, just over $3,000 shy of the 12th qualifying place, and Berger has aspirations of making the field with his charge. “We will play it by ear, but hopefully he can make the Jewels,” Berger said. “He is about 15th on the list at the moment. They are on your back doorstep and it’s nice to have one in it, so that is what we would like to happen, but whether or not it does we will have to wait and see.” Pull The Other Leg will be joined in Thursday’s race by stablemate Spirit Of Anzac, who was held up late when finishing sixth at Cambridge on Saturday. “I was really pleased with him. He doesn’t get many good draws, but he doesn’t have a lot of gate speed anyway, so he does come from behind,” Berger said. “If you end up four or five-wide from the 400m you just can’t do it with the speeds they are running, so we just drove him for luck and he was pushing the winner over the line really. He didn’t get much of a gap. He didn’t get a chance to pull the plugs.” Spirit Of Anzac has recaptured form of late and Berger has put that down to the work by equine muscle therapist Peter Neal. “He has been racing really well and has got back to his old form,” Berger said. “We have had Peter Neal, he is an equine massage guy, working on him and he has just turned a corner since he has been working on him. “He is in really good form at the moment, so he is a chance on Thursday.” Earlier on the card, Berger will line-up Six Times A Lady in the Dunstan Horse Feeds – 100% NZ Owned & Made Mobile Pace (2200m). “She has been a bit of an enigma because her trials have been really good, but we have been disappointed with her racing,” Berger said. “We tried a little bit different last week and took a lot of gear off her and she just knocked up the last little bit. It was a better run, she paced better and did things better. “Hopefully she gets out good enough to get a nice sit and be nice and handy, and she might get some of it.” Full fields for Cambridge click here!

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    The stars of tomorrow will be out in force at Alexandra Park on Friday night and Clevedon trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan are hoping they have one or two amongst their juvenile starters. Major Perry and Montana D J will be the first stable two-year-olds to step out on Friday when they contest the Breckon Farms Young Guns C & G Ht1 Mobile Pace (1700m). Major Perry is having his second start, after placing on debut, while Montana D J will be making his debut after two trial wins last month. “I was pretty happy with Major Perry’s debut,” Phelan said. “He did a little bit of work early getting around them. He travelled well but then he floated around out wide when he was out in the open. He will benefit a lot from it. “Montana D J has done everything we have asked of him and he has kept on improving, which is all you need to do as a two-year-old. “He is a nice horse and he will be a good chance. He will benefit from the outing, as most of the two-year-olds do. He has got a good draw (3), so he is halfway there.” Later on the card, Phelan will line-up three juvenile fillies in the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Filles Ht2 Mobile Pace (1700m). Debut winner Artisan will lead the stable charge from barrier four, while Chantilly and Gossip Girl will make their debuts from barriers six and seven respectively. “Artisan is a lovely filly and she has stepped up since her race. She will go another good race again,” Phelan said. “Chantilly trialled well last week. She is a bit green, so she will improve from the outing, but she has got plenty of ability. “Gossip Girl tries hard. She won’t go a bad race, but she is another one who will improve from the outing.” Phelan is also expecting solid performances from the stable’s older brigade. Bettor Listen, perhaps New Zealand’s best maiden, will be looking for his first win in the Dunstan Speedfeed Summer Series Mobile Pace (2200m). The son of Bettor’s Delight has placed in 11 of his 13 starts, and Phelan is hoping it will be lucky start number 14 on Friday. “He never goes a bad race and always picks up a cheque, we just want the cheque to be a bit bigger this time,” he said. Bettor Listen has drawn one on the second line, but that bodes no concerns for Phelan. “I don’t think it would matter where he drew, he always puts his hand up. He just needs to put his hand up a bit further,” he said. “Hopefully he does it on Friday.” Raven Banner is another stable runner in impeccable form and Phelan is hoping he can make it back-to-back victories in the IRT – Your Horse Our Passion Mobile Pace (2200m). “It is not a massive step up, it is almost a similar field to last time,” he said. “It’s a rough draw (13), but it’s a preferential barrier draw, so fair enough. “He’s worked on great, so a similar run into it and he will be a pretty good chance.” Looking to Saturday for Cambridge Raceway’s Gold Cup meeting, Phelan is looking forward to contesting the Bayleys Coromandel Cambridge Gold Cup Final Handicap Trot (2700m) with Son Of Patrick. The three-year-old gelding has won his last two starts, including a heat of the Gold Cup. “Cambridge have done it well with the heats and final,” Phelan said. “He will go a good race, he has worked well since his last run. It’s pretty much the same field as last time, barring Delson. He will be a good chance.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    The future is looking bright for Trinity Star after she picked up her second win from just four starts at Addington Raceway on Thursday night. The Waikouaiti pacer was sent forward from her wide draw by driver Blair Orange to take an early lead in the Spectators New $15 Daily Deals (Fillies & Mares) Mobile Pace (1980m). The pair were left untouched up front and the daughter of Mach Three was able to run away to a comfortable 1-1/4 length victory. Hoffman was pleased with her mare’s winning effort but said there is still plenty of improvement left in the four-year-old. “I was really happy with her, she is still a bit green, but she did it easily enough. She has still got a lot of improvement in her yet,” Hoffman said. “We were pretty confident with her heading into tonight, just as long as she did things right.” Hoffman was happy with how Trinity Star handled her first trip away to Addington and she is excited about the future with her charge. “It is her first decent trip away and the main thing was that she got around in one piece and did everything right,” she said. “We still haven’t seen the best of her because we haven’t really asked her to do too much. “We haven’t put a lot of pressure on her yet. It will be interesting to see how far she goes through the grades.” Raced by prominent owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, Hoffman said she will talk through potential targets with the couple. “I will just see how she is in the next couple of days and work out a programme for her with the owners,” she said. Hoffman now sits on 13 wins for the season and she said she is happy with the way her select race team is performing this term. “We have got about 25 in work at the moment,” she said. “There are a couple of nice ones there but they are not going to be ready for another 12 months. “We haven’t got an overly large race team, we have got a lot of babies coming through. But the race team is doing a nice enough job.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Junior reinsman Ben Hope is looking forward to heading to Addington Raceway on Thursday night to sit behind promising trotter Mr Love. The juvenile squaregaiter is having just his second raceday start in the Lamb & Hayward 2YO Mobile Trot (1980m) after being victorious on debut. The Greg and Nina Hope-trained colt faces a similar line-up on Thursday and his driver is confident of another good result. “He is a horse that we have always had a bit of time for,” he said. “I didn’t think he trotted as good as he can (on debut), but in saying that, baby trotters are not always 100 percent. “He is still only learning and you can’t expect them to be their best all the time. He still got the job done, so in the end I was still pretty happy. “He is still a baby trotter, so anything can happen really, but we expect him to go another good race on Thursday.” Hope will also drive debutant Heaven On High for his parents, Greg and Nina, in the IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion. Mobile Pace (1980m). “He is actually quite a nice maiden,” Hope said. “In a few of his trials he has been recovering from a bit of a bug, but his last trial was very good. “We are just going to be driving him for a sit and hopefully he hits the line well. “He is a horse that we have got a bit of time for and we expect him to win three or four over the next six months with a bit of luck.” Later on the card Hope expects Rockntommy Rulz to continue his consistent form line in the NZB Standardbred Pace (2600m). “He is a good standing start horse, touch wood,” Hope said. “He is usually one of the first away. I was happy with his last run at Addington, it was a good third. “If he steps away he is a good chance of being in the top three again.” Hope has also picked up an outside drive on the Don Burrows-trained Silverlinings in the Fahey Fence Hire Mobile Trot (1980m). “She is a trotter with ability, but she is still learning what it’s all about,” he said. “I am not happy with the draw (10), I would have preferred to have drawn the front row with her blazing gate speed, but we will just have to try and make it work. “If she trots the whole way she is definitely a first three chance.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    A hat-trick of wins is in the offing for Booraa at Methven on Sunday when she lines-up in the Lather Up Little Green Jug 3YO Mobile Pace (1609m). The Katie Cox-trained filly has won her last two starts at Waterlea Raceway on the grass and she will race on her favoured surface once again this weekend. Cox was delighted with her last two runs and she is hoping for a repeat performance on Sunday. “She is a nice filly, who tries really hard, and she has a bit of speed and toughness about her,” Cox said. “She raced really well up there (Marlborough). We had been targeting those races for a while and she was really well-placed in them. “To back up on the second day was a good effort.” Booraa has drawn gate seven and Cox, who will also be in the cart, said she will play it by ear on what she decides to do off the gate. “She has drawn a bit wider on the track with the preferential barrier draw,” Cox said. “She has got gate speed, but we will just have to see what happens at the start, there are plenty of others there with gate speed as well. “It will be just a matter of whether she can get a reasonable enough run. “Her work has been really good. Her condition is good, she has held that well.” Earlier on the card Cox will contest the Richmond Club Mobile Pace (2300m) with I Miss Mum, but she is less upbeat about the five-year-old mare’s chances after a series of unplaced runs. “She has gone the odd good race,” Cox said. “If she can get a decent trip and doesn’t have to do too much work she should go alright. “She can’t do too much extra. She was a wee bit disappointing up in Blenheim, she is better than that.” Cox is currently sitting on four wins for the current term, equalling last season’s tally, and just one shy of her previous best. “I am really happy with how things are going and I am appreciative of the owners who have supported me too, because you can’t do it without them,” she said.

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