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Gentleman Sir enhanced his chances of a 2017 Jewels crown with a courageous win at Alexandra Park last Friday night. But his Kumeu 65-year-old trainer, Lew Driver, like most of us watching, thought the 4-year-old had blown his chances soon after the start of the $14,999 Garrards Horse & Hound R60 to R97 Trot. "I thought, ‘oh no I've booked his tickets and he’s going no good’. What am I doing am I taking him south? But those thoughts went in and out of my head very quickly. When David (Butcher) got him down after a few bobbles I thought ‘yes he can get around them and win this’. "I think the horse just suffered from a 'momentary lapse of reason'. That's the third time he has broken in his career, but David said he's really coming to it nicely. He said he was peaking at just the right time and he hadn’t seen him trot so fluent, once his mistake was behind him," Driver said. "If Saturday's Jewels Final was a stand I'd have my reservations, but after Friday's run, and now that he's drawn three in a mobile mile, he can give that even field a real shake," he added. Gentleman Sir opened up as a $13 favourite to win this Saturday's Group One $150,000 McMillan Feeds 4-year-old Ruby Trot. The Love You-Tip Your Hat Loui (by Continentalman) gelding is now the $14-sixth favourite behind Dark Horse ($2.50), Wilma's Mate ($4), Marcoola ($4.50), and Temporale and Lemond who are both at $7.20. Driver believed one of six or seven horses could win the race, with the trip to suit. "I can see why Dark Horse is favourite because he has got a lot of speed, but you can't discount Lemond, Temporale or Paul Nairn’s one either (Wilma’s Mate). “Actually they have all qualified for the final and any one of them, with the run, can win it. That includes us. My fella has got a bit of ability and we have yet to see the best of him. “His win on Friday impressed me. He's the best horse, and certainly the best drawn horse I've had in a Jewels Final," said Driver. "David might have said he’s trotting in career-best form, but he has still got a wee way to go to be the best trotter I have trained. Triffid (eight wins) finished fourth in a Rowe Cup and was an open class trotter. "Sadly he died of a heart attack when he was leading by six lengths at the Cambridge Trials (October 2001). He was special.” Gentleman Sir was startled by the starting tapes and added another 15 metres to his 10m handicap on Friday. Butcher settled him at the back of the field and they were second last (three-back on the outer) at the bell. Then just prior to the home turn Butcher followed eventual runner-up Yagunnakissmeornot and Jack MacKinnon out of the one-one. Then in the lane they wound down Yagunnakissmeornot in the last 25 metres to win by half a length. The Love You gelding trotted the 2700m stand in 3:29.2 (mile rate 2:04.5) and came home in 59.4 and 28.9. It was the bay's fourth win in 10 starts. He's also placed four times since winning on debut at Cambridge Raceway on January 13. Gentleman Sir was the $2.60 favourite. Driver said his horse had come through Friday's race in good fashion. "He's pulled up real well and his legs are nice and cool and he's eaten up everything. He will fly out early on Tuesday morning and Mark Smolenski will house both of us. "I'm grateful for that and Mark said he was delighted to have the horse back at his property again after he spent his early prep there. “Mark qualified him in early November and then he came up here. After the Jewels he will be spelled at Rosie Trevaris' agistment farm in Burnham," Driver said. Six horses will board that 4am Tuesday flight - one of which will be fellow Alexandra Park winner from Friday - Gotta Go Dali Queen. The Dali - Gotta Go Harmony filly was the only stater from The Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins stable and she obliged as a $9.40 fourth favourite in the seventh event. Maurice McKendry sat patiently with the 3-year-old in the trail and then in the passing lane the bay out-sprinted favourite Alta Intrigue (Zac Butcher) by three-quarters-of-a length in 2:01.5 for the 1700m mobile. Gotta Go Dali Queen has drawn two in Saturday's 3-year-old Diamond Pace and with a last half of 55 seconds even on Friday she must rate at least a place chance against Spanish Armada and company. Zac Butcher might have finished second in that$14,999 R76 to R97 trot, but he did provide the individual highlight of the night. The gifted 25-year-old drove four winners one the 10-race card. They were: The Ray Green trained $3 favourite - King Of Swing (race 2); the Peter and Vaughan Blanchard trained $4.40 second favourite - Lovely Bundy (race 3); the Steven Reid trained $4.50 second favourite - Pleasurable (race 5); and the Barry Purdon trained $9.10 third favourite - Maheer Magic (race 9). Meanwhile, Waikato reinswoman, Megan Teaz, notched up her first driving success of the season when sitting parked and winning behind One Bid Buys in the first event – the $8,000 Reharvest Mobile for the Up to R47 maiden trotters.. It was 364 days since her last win when In Full Flight won for Teaz and her husband Jason at Alexandra Park on May 27 last year. The Ohaupo reinswoman, and Mum, has now driven 18 winners from 363 starters since getting her driver’s licence in 2008. The Teaz husband and wife training duo have now conditioned 21 winners from 220 starters since 2011.   Duane Ranger

The Auckland Reactor two-year-old filly, Miss Ethel Sunshine could hardly have been more impressive in her harness racing debut performance. On Thursday night at Addington she was simply too good for a strong field in the first heat of the Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes for two-year-fillies. She is now qualified for the Group 1 final to be held at Auckland on 28 April. The result may have come a day or so late to have an effect on the New Zealand yearling sales but, none the less, it was a hugely significant win in the burgeoning siring career of Auckland Reactor. Working to the front early, the daughter of Auckland Reactor skipped clear turning for home and found the line strongly to win by four lengths. She paced the 1950m journey in a 1:59.4 mile rate with a 57.4 last 800m and 28.9 final quarter. Bred and raced by John and Gaylene Tate of Christchurch, Miss Ethel Sunshine is from the race winning McArdle mare Miss Sunshine, a half-sister to the good performers Alberto Contador (second in the NZ Jewels as a two-year-old and now a 1:50.8 winner in USA) and Albuquerque (8 NZ wins). This is the family of the former outstanding filly Oaxaca Lass. Trained by Mark Smolenski and driven to Dexter Dunn, the daughter of Auckland Reactor will now be aimed at next weekend’s Group 3 NZ Leonard Memorial at Addington. Auckland Reactor already has 18 qualifiers to date and has five individual two-year-olds racing throughout Australia over this weekend. This augurs well for the siring future for Auckland Reactor. Especially so when it is remembered that he himself didn’t commence his race career until September as a three-year-old. A race he won – along with his next sixteen in a row! Miss Ethel Sunshine

Harness racing stallion Auckland Reactor sired his first New Zealand winner when Miss Ethel Sunshine easily won her first start at Addington last night.  In the hands of top reinsman Dexter Dunn the impressive filly soon led and cut clear turning for home to beat a good field of 2yo fillies winning untouched by 4 lengths. Miss Ethel Sunshine (Auckland Reactor - Miss Sunshine) paced the mobile 1950m in 2:24.8, a mile rate of 1:59.4. Trainer Mark Smolenksi has always said she possesses a lot of speed and she showed that tonight by jogging her last 800m in 57.5 and the 400m in 28.9.     Auckland Reactor will definitely make his mark as a stallion as his progeny start to get serious on the race track. The trial winners are continuing thick and fast and he has already sired a race winner in Australia. Auckland Reactor stands at Alabar Stud   Harnesslink Media  

An issue with the water truck combined with a howling nor wester made the conditions quite trying at the Ashburton harness racing workouts on Tuesday.  For those back in the field visibilty was reduced to near zero at times when running down the home straight in the hot dusty wind.  The wind assist down the home straight was evident in the quick last 400m times during the day. Prince McArdle was the most impressive winner during the day. Trained by Mark Smolenski  he was soon in front and left them to it in the straight winning by an ever increasing 12 lengths. The good looking 3yo McArdle colt whipped over his final 400m in a blistering 24.9 seconds and did it very easily.  He is one to look out for when he has his first start although the odds might be pretty skinny based on that workout speed. Prince McArdle just into the straight                                  Photo by Harnesslink   Prince McArdle clear near the finish line                           Photo by Harnesslink Prince McArdle is out of the good mare Champagne Princess who won 12 races from 23 starts when trained by Jack Smolenski. Full results for the workouts here Harnesslink Media    

When Geoff Knight set up the Central Courage syndicate ten years ago, he hoped for a bit of success for the locals who had joined but he never envisaged the syndicate being as successful as it has become. On Friday night at Addington Raceway, the current syndicate star Zenmach made it four wins from his last five starts with an impressive front running display. Driver Matthew Williamson was more than impressed with the son of Mach Three. " He has gone super again." "I had to lead from one but I probably went a bit slow in the middle stages." " They got a bit close halfway up the straight but he really found and was holding them comfortably at the finish," Matthew said. The Central Courage syndicate came to own Zenmack when they were on the lookout for a horse or two after selling their well performed mare Al Raza to North America. "Justin Le Lievre rang me and said he had one I might be interested in." " I watched the trial and workout tapes and really liked here." " Mark Smolenski had broken him in and educated him and he did a super job with him." " He is such a grouse little horse to train, he does everything you ask of him," Geoff said. Geoff has his program pretty well mapped out from here on in. " We will bring him back next week for the $23,500 Alabar Super Series Final but with horses such as Franco Cristiano involved it might be a bit rich for him at this stage." " After that we will set him for a start at Addington during Cup Week." " The syndicate have always wanted to have a horse start at Addington during Cup Week so that is were we we are going." "After that he can have a break and then we will get him back for his main aim for the season which is the Southern Supremacy down south," Geoff said. The syndicate purchased another horse around the same time as Zenmach by the name of Seduce Me and the daughter of Ohoka Arizona has run three seconds in her three lifetime starts todate and it won't be long until the Central Courage has another winner on their hands. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing trainers Geoff and Jude Knight have always been keen supporters of the syndication of horses to race. They have many syndicates in operation but the Central Courage syndicate is the jewel in the crown. Established ten years ago, the syndicate has thirty wins on the board todate and the way their latest acquisition Zenmach is going, there are a few more wins in store yet. Geoff Knight is thrilled with the run they have had. " They are a great bunch of people to train for and they have had a great ride todate. " Tonight actually we are having a tenth anniversary dinner to celebrate our success and hopefully there is plenty more still to come," Geoff said. The old saying about one door shutting and another one opening is never better exemplified by this syndicate. Hot on the heels of selling the well performed Al Raza to North America, the syndicate purchased Zenmach off Mark Smolenski and Lew Driver. Geoff was thrilled with the purchase. " Mark Smolenski has done such a great job educating him and teaching him the ropes." " He is a lovely horse to do anything with and a credit to Mark," Geoff said. A handy first up fourth at Addington was quickly followed by a very smart four length win over some handy two year olds at the same venue a week later. Zenmach franked that form with a last to first performance at Winton in early September and will look to carry on his winning ways at Invercargill this Sunday. Safely through that run, Zenmach will again head back to Addington. " There is a nice $11,000 C1 race for him on October 2nd and then a week later he has qualified for one of those $23,000 Alabar Super Series finals so he will start in that as well." " While he is a very nice three year old, I am not sure I want to take on the All Stars team at this stage of his career so we will just play it by ear in the meantime." " His main aim at this stage is the Southern Supremacy series and his program will be around that series," Geoff said. With the luck the Central Courage syndicate has had in the last ten years, Zenmach may just measure up to the big boys by the end of the season. Harnesslink Media

Mark Smolenski has been breaking horses in for more years than he cares to remember and much of his business is taken up with handling the All Stars youngsters fresh from the harness racing sales and learning what to do and how to do it right.   For a number of years he has followed a traditional patten handling anything up to 30 youngsters at a time going through a set routine for six weeks or more while the fast ones learned quickly and the slower ones took longer.   But in 2015 he thinks he has found a better way.   "Under my old methods the horses were handled once a day because of the numbers."   "That was ok but not so good for the horses who needed more attention in the learning process."   "So they took longer and when Mark and Natalie came around about this time of the year many of them were not as forward" Mark said   This year Mark decided to work just 12 youngsters at a time starting mainly with those from the Melbourne sale.   "It's been much better from our point of view."   "Staff demands are not as great and staffing is always a problem in any stable."   "But the main gains are just with the horses."   "You can mouth them in the morning and gait them in the afternoon so in effect they are coming to it twice as quickly"   "So far it is working out great."   "These are our first lot and they have done well."   They were more forward than last year's group when Mark and Nat came to try them out and the trials went well" Mark said   One of the bigger interests among the first batch of youngsters was of course All About Me, a brother to Adore Me which went for $180,000 at the Auckland sale when retained by Charlie Roberts who will race him on his own account.   Both Marks realise that he will need more time yet.   "He is a lump of a horse and can be a bit anxious at times."   "This is early days but he is probably not as forward as some of the others."   "But then Adore Me never raced until she was three and look how she turned out."   "Have Faith In Me was the same."   "This one is slightly different in type but time will help him" Mark said   The "by the dozen" routine certainly seems to be working well so far.   We look forward to showing you more of the All Stars youngsters as they make their way toward-well -"Stardom"   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

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