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Interest is mounting ahead of Alexandra Park’s inaugural hot dog eating competition set to take place on Friday 20 April as part of its American Night. The person to beat will be renowned New Zealand competitive eater Nela Zisser who can devour 36 Crème Eggs in quick succession, 45 cheese burgers in under an hour, and a 10,000 calorie English breakfast in one sitting. “Nela Zisser has confirmed she is attending and partaking in our hot dog eating competition. At 25, she is already internationally known and is certainly the one to beat. It’s going to be quite a spectacle,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park. The hot dog eating competition is offering some great cash prizes for both the professional and amateur leagues. Mr Reichardt says it is a fitting event for American Night as similar competitions are hugely popular in the US with the current champion putting away 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes! To reserve a spot in Alexandra Park’s 10-minute hotdog races, people need to purchase a fully refundable $20 entry fee via its website which includes all the event information: https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/hot-dog-eating-contest/ American Night will also be attended by leading Donald Trump impersonator, Alex Sparrow who has been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 Donald Trump impersonators. As well as hot dogs and ‘Donald Trump’, the evening promises to be star-spangled night of delicious American-style food, exciting harness racing action, and classic cars. American Night hospitality packages for the all-you-can-eat US-inspired buffet range from $60 to $125 per person. Promoted as a night in the Hamptons at Top of the Park and a stroll through New Orleans in the Tasman Room, the best of the US will be served up in both venues. This year the Tasman Room will also undergo an amazing streetscape transformation into a New Orleans-inspired Bourbon Street, complete with a selection of food stalls and a funky Jazz band. To secure tickets phone (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz, or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/?date=20-04-2018 General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on the night. Other internationally-themed cuisine race nights at Alexandra Park include Mexican Night on 4 May and French Night on 25 May. Nela Zisser’s YouTube page can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO9-JxPuNA4UhhlGVwY_VdQ www.alexandrapark.co.nz

Interest is mounting ahead of Alexandra Park’s inaugural hot dog eating competition set to take place on Friday 20 April as part of its American Night. The person to beat will be renowned New Zealand competitive eater Nela Zisser who can devour 36 Crème Eggs in quick succession, 45 cheese burgers in under an hour, and a 10,000 calorie English breakfast in one sitting. “Nela Zisser has confirmed she is attending and partaking in our hot dog eating competition. At 25, she is already internationally known and is certainly the one to beat. It’s going to be quite a spectacle,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park. The hot dog eating competition is offering some great cash prizes for both the professional and amateur leagues. Mr Reichardt says it is a fitting event for American Night as similar competitions are hugely popular in the US with the current champion putting away 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes! To reserve a spot in Alexandra Park’s 10-minute hotdog races, people need to purchase a fully refundable $20 entry fee via its website which includes all the event information: https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/hot-dog-eating-contest/ American Night will also be attended by leading Donald Trump impersonator, Alex Sparrow who has been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 Donald Trump impersonators. As well as hot dogs and ‘Donald Trump’, the evening promises to be star-spangled night of delicious American-style food, exciting harness racing action, and classic cars. American Night hospitality packages for the all-you-can-eat US-inspired buffet range from $60 to $125 per person. Promoted as a night in the Hamptons at Top of the Park and a stroll through New Orleans in the Tasman Room, the best of the US will be served up in both venues. This year the Tasman Room will also undergo an amazing streetscape transformation into a New Orleans-inspired Bourbon Street, complete with a selection of food stalls and a funky Jazz band. To secure tickets phone (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz, or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/?date=20-04-2018 General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on the night. Other internationally-themed cuisine race nights at Alexandra Park include Mexican Night on 4 May and French Night on 25 May. Nela Zisser’s YouTube page can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO9-JxPuNA4UhhlGVwY_VdQ   Cameron Brewer www.alexandrapark.co.nz

If you’ve always wanted to get involved in harness racing ownership then here is your opportunity! Even if you’ve owned horses before, or always thought about it and felt it was out of reach, we can help you find the right fit for you. There are currently horses available around New Zealand, ranging from yearlings to older horses on lease terms, and in most cases options can be adjusted to suit you. Some trainers have even opted to apply an affordable set monthly fee so you know what the cost will be each month. One syndicate is currently being formed for female members, who will have the opportunity to race two horses with Seven Sharp co-host and Radio Hauraki announcer, Jeremy Wells. Trainers with horses available for new owners are also encouraged to make contact to register your details, so we can offer potential owners all available options. If you are interested in finding out more information with no obligation please email Jess Smith at Harness Racing New Zealand – jess@hrnz.co.nz Current owners are also encouraged to ensure their contact details are recorded with HRNZ to ensure they receive regular email and text communications from racing clubs. Information can be sent to admin@hrnz.co.nz    HRNZ Marketing

Alta Shelby looks to be getting back to the form he showed early in his three year old season when he comprehensively dealt to a field of R51 - R53s at Winton on Saturday. The Mach Three colt lead all the way and won easily by four and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in a smart 2-56.0.  "He's just starting to come back into form which is pretty pleasing. I thought he would go really close today. We changed a bit of gear on him. He's a bit of a head shaker so I put a chinguard on him and it's made all the difference. He's starting to live up to his potential and what he showed early on," said trainer Mitch Kerr who's considering a start in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in a fortnight. The Winton Business's Cup was won by the Ken and Tony Barron trained Royal Bengal. The four year was originally trained in Southland by Robin Swain before heading to Canterbury. Owned by Baynes Racing Limited which is Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, he carries the colours made famous by Kenny's father the late Colin Baynes. The same colours were worn when Kamahl driven by Colin Baynes won this race in 1983. The winning margin today was a length and a quarter with Star Commander running second. Royal Bengal adding the Winton Cup to the Gore Cup he also won - Photo Bruce Stewart. The race was marred by the second favourite Aloka breaking at the 450 metre mark. He was pulled out of the race by driver Blair Orange and found to have fractured his left hind cannon bone. Unfortunately for all his connections he had to be euthanaised. Winton Cup winners last 10years Year Winner Age Sire Driver Trainer Distance Time 2008 Biella Star 4g Mattuity DJ Dunn RD Holmes 2400m 3-01.0 2009 Bettor's Strike 4g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 2400m 2-58.8 2010 Lionels Meddle 4g Live Or Die JR Dunn RJ Dunn 3200m 4-04.6 2011 Van Washington Man 6g Washington VC RT May BA Waldron 3200m 4-06.5 2012 Texican 3g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 3200m 4-05.5 2013 Jimmy Johnstone 4g P-Forty Seven JC Hay JC Hay 3200m 4-04.9 2014 Belkmyster 4g Mach Three DJ Dunn G Anderson 3200 metres 4-06.0 2015 That's Hunting Pink 5m Christian Cullen Terry Chmiel Dean Taylor 3200 metres 4-02.5 2015 Costa Del Magnifico 4h Mach Three Nathan Williamson Brent Shirley 3200 metres 3-59.8 2016 Democrat Party 4m American Ideal Nathan Williamson Katrina and John Price 2400 metre stand 3-01.2 2017 Delightful Memphis 3f Bettors Delight Blair Orange Mark Jones  2400 metre stand 2-55.5 2018 Royal Bengal 4g Bettors Delight Dexter Dunn Ken and Tony Barron 2400 metre stand 2-57.1   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing

Mighty Conqueror continued on his winning way when he won his second start at Winton today with the win impressing his regular pilot Shane Walkinshaw.  "He's got a bit going for him. He can roll along all day and he's got a bit of speed as well," he said. In the Winton Mitre 10 Nuggets Final the three year old was taken to the top by Walkinshaw.   "I've never asked him to go off the gate so it was a new thing for me and him but he did get off it real easy."  From that point horse and driver dictated all the terms, and the American Ideal gelding which is owned by his co-trainer Mark Shirley and good friend Malcolm Dewe won impressively by a length and three quarters from a brave Betterthanbrie.  Mighty Conqueror and Shane Walkinshaw winning at Winton - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He was travelling good all the way and did it all under his own steam." The win impressed his driver who's reined a few good three year olds in his fourteen seasons of driving.  "He's definitely up there. He's got the ability but he just needs to get the ringcraft. He just goes out there and  mucks around a bit. He's one of those racehorses that will relax for you and when you ask him to run he'll run." Walkinshaw doesn't work in the harness racing industry anymore, now working for On Gas during the week and driving at the races at the weekend.  "I'm loving the change with the work during the week and the horses at the weekend. It's great to be back and driving a nice horse like that." The win certainly highlights the success of the Nuggets Series and the bearing it now has on the Southern Supremacy Stakes Leaderboard. Eight of the nine Nuggets Finals including the Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting have been won by three year olds; The Bus, Franco Santino, Nota Bene Denario, Ardtoo, Henry Hubert, Convair Hustler, Kilowatt Kid and now Mighty Conqueror. The $12,000 stake money offered in this races has certainly helped these horses up the leaderboard of the Supremacy, and two wins from only two starts in normal races doesn't guarantee you a start in the Group Two feature anymore. Nuggets appears to be the new pathway to the Supremacy. They have been like heats for the three year old colts and geldings.  Trainers Mark Shirley and his wife Debbie still have to decided whether Mighty Conqueror will line up in the Supremacy. 2017/2018 Nugget Final winners Meeting Horse Age/Sire Driver Trainer Track  Distance Time Northern Southland The Bus 3 c -Art Major Sam Ottley Mark Jones Ascot Park  2200m  2-43.4 Riverton  Franco Santino 3 g Christian Cullen Nathan Williamson Nathan Williamson Ascot Park  2200m  2-46.8 Invercargill Nota Bene Denario 3 c - Well Said Brent Barclay Terry and Glenise Chmiel Ascot Park  2200m  2-44.6 Winton Ardtoo 3 g - Auckland Reactor Craig Ferguson Russell Ferguson  Central Southland  2400m 2-59.1 Northern Southland Zealand Star 4 g - Washington VC Brent Barclay Brett Gray Ascot Park  2200m  2-43.6 Wyndham Henry Hubert 3 c - Bettor's Delight John Dunn Robert Dunn Young Quinn  2400m 2-58.8 Invercargill (Grass) Convair Hustler 3 g - Mach Three Dexter Dunn Brett Gray Ascot Park  2050m 2-37.6 Northern Southland Kilowatt Kid 3 g - American Ideal Blair Orange Alister Black Ascot Park  2200m  2-44.6 Winton Mighty Conqueror 3 g - American Ideal Shane Walkinshaw Mark and Debbie Shirley Central Southland  2400m 2-55.6   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing   Mighty Conqueror winning the final  

The Regan Todd trained mare Spirit Of Delight which is part-owned by new Southland Stags Rugby coach Dave Hewett won the $20,000 Southern Belle Speed Series Final at the Central Southland Raceway at Winton today. The four year old, driven by Samantha Ottley came with a late run to get up and beat Especial by a head with a further length and a quarter back to favourite Somejoy.  "The speed was on a little bit early which suited her. They kept going round and I was a wee bit concerned when I got back a bit. I know when she's on her game she's got a wicked sprint which she's shown in the past. She's a typical Bettor's Delight - only does what she has to but when you push the go button she's really got some wheels there," said Ottley after the win. Turning in Ottley had got back further than she would have liked and it took her a while to get Spirit of Delight up and going. But she came with a paralysing run down the outside of the track. "When I hooked her out I was mucking about trying to get my plugs (ear plugs) out. I got balanced up and asked her to go and she really lifted. To her credit there were a couple of nice mares ahead of her so it was no mean feat getting past them. She hit the line strongly and it's great getting these wins that's for sure." Spirit Of Delight (4) beating Especial (6) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time was 1-55.2. It was the second time Ottley has won this race. She won with Rocker Band back in 2016. The win was the mare's second this season and fourth career win. Her only other win this season was on this track at the end of last year when she won the Equine Stakes, driven by Brendon McLellan. Previous Southern Belle Speed Series Winners  Year Winner Driver Trainer Time Winning Sire 2008        Artishake RT May Jamie Gameson 1-56.2            Artiscape 2009 Mywayorthehighway JR Dunn Robert Dunn 1-57.4 In The Pocket 2010 Beaudiene Bad Babe DJ Dunn Murray Brown 1-57.2 Badlands Hanover 2011 Hannah DJ Dunn Jeremy Douglas 1-54.3 Badlands Hanover 2012 Pembrook's Delight MJ Williamson Geoff and Jude Knight 1-56.5 Bettor's Delight 2013 Better To Be Bad BG Barclay Steve Ashton 1-54.4 Badlands Hanover 2014 Helena Jet RT May Greg and Nina Hope 1-54.4 Jereme's Jet 2015 Sell A Bit Stephen NcNally Brent White 1-54.1 Julius Caesar 2016 Rocker Band Samantha Ottley Mark Jones 1-55.4 Rocknroll Hanover 2017 Break Dance Jonny Cox Amber Hoffman 1-53.3 Art Major 2018 Spirit Of Delight Samantha Ottley Regan Todd 1-55.2 Bettor's Delight   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Spirit Of Delight winning her final

Mach's Back continued the stellar season Murray Little and trainer Paul Ellis are having when he impressively won at Winton today.  "We just rolled along and I just let him do what he wanted to do," was how driver Blair Orange described his winning drive on Mach's Back which won the Drymix Concrete Mobile Pace. Orange was driving the four year old for the first time with regular driver Dexter Dunn sticking with favourite Governor's Bay.  "He had to be tough today and he was. I wasn't too worried about being wide early. He's shown in some of his runs that he can do it at both ends." Mach's Back after being wide early, was taken to the top by Orange with Governor's Bay hard on his back.  "At the 400 I felt him (favourite Governor's Bay) lose my back so after that I wasn't too worried about him," Orange said.  The winning margin was a length and a quarter from a late stayers run from Franco Santino. The eye catching run came from Kilowatt Kid who charged home to run fourth just three lengths away from the winner. Mach's Back winning from Franco Santino (wide) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was Mach's Back's second this season and owner Murray Little's fifth. Other winners for Little have been Betterthanbrie (2) and Shezacullengirl (1). He also owns Mach Three two year old filly Havtime which qualified for Nathan Williamson and is now in Auckland with Barry Purdon.  It was Mach's Back's trainer Paul Ellis's eleventh win of the season making it his best season to date in the sixteen he's been training.  Meanwhile Winton trainer Lauren Pearson wasn't overly confident in winning the two year old race today with her Bettor's Delight filly Rise Above This.  When asked if she was confident she replie "Not really, when you're racing horses like Zinny Mach that ran 1-53 in the Kindergarten Stakes. You're never confident especially with two year olds. We were just hoping she'd go well."  Driven by her partner Brent Barclay, Rise Above This was sent forward early before handing up to favourite Zinny Mach.  "She didn't come out the gate like she has done before so that was just a pass. She seemed sensible out there and was asleep in the box beforehand so nothing phased her too much." Zinny Mach lead until the top of the straight before being collared firstly by Bottle Rock then Rise Above This which came up the inside passing lane. Rise Above This won by three quarters of a length from a late charging Robyns Playboy. Pearson says she's unsure as to where the talented filly will go next but there are some options.  "We'll see what happens. She's paid up for the Breeders Crown but we'll just have to see. It's a bit hard racing against the colts and geldings but I thinks there's a couple of fillies races here next month." Rise Above This was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who races the filly. He also races her half brother Duke Of Wellington - the winner of three races this season.  "I don't think he's ever been there when one of them have won. He reckons the horses go better when he's at home watching on TV."  There has been some buyer interest in Duke Of Wellington but Pearson says nothing serious is on the table at the moment.  "I think at this stage he'll try and sell him and keep the filly."  Duke Of Wellington is now being set for the $45,000 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in the fortnight on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  "He just had a canter the other day and a light hopple today and he felt real good so we'll line up next week and give him a run before the Supremacy."       Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Mach's Back winning  

Two of the most improved horses in Tony Herlihy’s stable can give him a feature-race double at Alexandra Park tonight but they will have to do it in very different ways. Because while The Almighty Johnson could try and lead throughout in the major trot, Italian Delight faces a 30m handicap in the $17,000 Franklin Country Cup for the pacers. Italian Delight has been one of the most consistent improvers in northern harness racing over the summer and is guaranteed a spot in the glamour four-year-old male division of the Jewels, sitting fourth on the ladder. Last season he looked a touch one-paced but this season he has matured as so many of the Bettors Delight stock do and has added extra strings to his bow, one of those being able to come from off the speed. That will certainly be the case at least early from the back mark in tonight’s 2700m standing start but so steep has his improvement curve been, coupled with the small and moderately talented field, that anything like his best performance would probably see him win again. While trainer-driver Herlihy might have to play the patient game early with Italian Delight, The Almighty Johnson has the gate speed to gain tactical advantage in the 1700m open trot. He has finished third in both the Lyell Creek and Flying Mile at group two level over the summer, showing gate speed on both occasions and is drawn best of the three favourites tonight. Aiding him further is the fact Ross Paynter, trainer of his arch rival Lemond, thinks his charge is still on his way back to peak form. “He has had two workouts since he last raced and while I was happy with him trotting 2:48 for 2200m mobile at Cambridge last Saturday, I think he will still improve with the run,” says Paynter.   The rival clearly good enough to beat The Almighty Johnson is Bordeuax, who at his best ranks in the top five trotters in the country.  If he trots squarely and handles Alexandra Park perfectly tonight he has a huge chance and the small field should suit him but while he has yet to suggest he is bulletproof during previous northern campaigns, trainer Philip Iggo is confident.  “He actually trots betters right handed and showed gate speed two starts ago so I think he will be hard to beat,” says Iggo. Another southern trotter with the talent to win but something to prove tonight is Renezmae in race five. Last season’s juvenile filly Breeders Crown winner returned with a stunning win against older horses in February but has raced below her best last start and faces the double trouble of some in-form opposition tonight as well as being first up at Alexandra Park, a track that has tripped so many southern trotters.   Michael Guerin

Harness racing owner and breeder Ivan McNicholl will be hoping for better luck, when Jaw D Nancy the trotter he owns steps back out on to the track at Addington tonight. McNicholl lost his promising maiden trotter I W McNik last weekend when he died of a heart attack. Trainer Craig Edmonds found him in his paddock last Saturday, part owner Ivan told Harnesslink this week. “We had no inkling anything was amiss, and Craig said everything was good with the horse the day before. “It is sad but it’s just one of those things, Ivan said. “I am pleased it was not the human version of I W McNik,” he joked. The well bred I W McNik (Muscle Mass - Eilish Mac) had already racked up 4 placings from 14 race day starts and was a half brother to good trotters Ella Powell( 11 wins), Earl Of Mot (19 wins) and Harriet Hughes (5 Wins) Harriet Hughes who won five races, is better known as the dam of open class trotter Harriet Of Mot (13 wins) who is raced by the large Go Harness “Trotting For Fun” syndicate. Tonight Jaw D Nancy starts off the unruly over the mobile 1950m distance, but has rated 1-59.3 over the same trip when winning at Addington back in November last year. She is currently at $12.00 on the FF win market with the TAB.   Jaw D Nancy winning at Addington last November   Harnesslink Media

As a cloud hangs over the future of Blenheim's colleges, a cloud has lifted over the town's racecourse, for now.  The Ministry of Education confirmed on Thursday it had concluded talks regarding its three preferred sites for the proposed co-located colleges; Waterlea Racecourse, an Alabama Rd vineyard and a property on Battys Rd. Marlborough Racing Club president Eric Bowers said they got an email from the ministry on Monday, saying the ministry was no longer interested in the 31-hectare racecourse. The same day, the community learnt the decision to co-locate Marlborough Boys' College and Girls' College was under review, with alternative options of refurbishing the existing schools or building a co-educational school back on the table. Bowers said the email made no difference to him, as the racecourse was never for sale. Public consultation about future options for the colleges started as Marlborough Girls' College has several old and leaky classrooms.   "They said they accepted our decision and they would look at alternative sites. But that didn't change anything for us, because we told them some months ago we weren't selling," Bowers said. The ministry was looking for a greenfield site of about 15ha for the $63m colleges, to be built side-by-side by 2021, as announced three years ago. It approached the joint owners of Blenheim's only racecourse, Marlborough Racing Club and Marlborough Harness Racing Club, more than two years ago, hoping to purchase about half the site. The Waterlea Racecourse, in Blenheim, is nearly 100-years-old.   But the clubs refused, saying in November 2016 they needed the space for galloping and thoroughbred racing. There were 60 horses living there permanently, with stabling at Waterlea Racecourse for 150 horses.  Stables, offices, jockeys' rooms and a grandstand would all have to be rebuilt or moved, if the colleges were built on the site, estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars. Rebuilding stables, offices, jockeys' rooms and a grandstand would have cost tens of millions of dollars.   The ministry identified Alabama Rd as its preferred site a month later, and then confirmed in August 2017 it was discussing the racecourse with NZ Racing. The discussion was to ensure "we fully understand all factors regarding the Waterlea Racecourse's current position", and better understand the organisational structure and operation of the racing codes and clubs, she said. Bowers said the discussions with NZ Racing were pointless. The Marlborough Harness Racing Club jointly owns Waterlea Racecourse with the Marlborough Racing Club.   "We were under a confidentiality agreement at the time. But the reality is, NZ Racing doesn't own the racecourse." Marlborough families made many sacrifices over the years to keep the 98-year-old racecourse going, Bowers said. "We've had the racecourse nearly 100 years now, it's one of the oldest in New Zealand. Many people in Marlborough donated thousands and thousands of hours to develop that course there. Marlborough Boys College principal Wayne Hegarty, left, and Marlborough Girls' College board chairman Bernie Rowe are waiting to hear if the co-location project will go ahead.   "During the Depression years, the clubs went broke and they had to sell the course. But after World War II one family actually mortgaged their homes to buy it back, and the clubs paid them off over some years through hard work at the races. So it's an asset we felt shouldn't just be sold off to the Government." And if racing did "disappear in time", Bowers hoped the property would stay owned by the community, he said. "But that won't be in the near future. The racing industry is very strong here." A 24ha vineyard on Alabama Rd was the ministry's "preferred option" in December 2016.   He felt the ministry should refurbish the colleges at their current sites, he said. "It would be a heck of a lot cheaper than building two new ones. But they are the experts." Shannon said the decision was made to review the business case for co-location in late February, due to increasing costs and difficulties finding the right site. Marlborough College was co-educational until 1962, when it changed its name to Marlborough Boys' College.   "We then completed the strategic planning, development and implementation processes for the review," Shannon said. "Next we contacted both college principals in March to talk them through the next steps. They were then free to share that information with the school community," she said. Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty‚Äč said he waited until he had formal correspondence from the ministry before he informed students and parents. "They contacted us by phone and said there was going to be a review, so I asked them to put something on paper ... the first thing we saw on paper was the press release on Monday. "They said all options were open, but we wanted to be able to dig down to what that meant, and that's what we were waiting for." Shannon confirmed the ministry's negotiations with the owners of their top three sites had concluded. "We did enter talks with the owners of the Waterlea and Alabama Road sites but those discussions did not progress to a point where the ministry could be confident of a successful outcome," Shannon said. "We only pursue those that meet our criteria, present a preferred long-term addition to the school network and the best value for the Crown. Battys Road was included in our initial long-list but was not progressed to the next stage."  The owner of the Alabama Rd site, Montford Corporation director Haysley MacDonald, said the ministry never actually made an offer on his 24-ha site in east Blenheim. "We've never had negotiations as far as pricing goes. They've come and looked at it, they've done testing, but that's all that's happened," MacDonald said. MacDonald said he felt "totally messed around", but would still consider an offer if the ministry made one in the future. "Everything is negotiable. But they've never made that leap forward. There's no for sale sign on the gate, put it that way. And I've got a business to run, and that vineyard is an important part of it, growing grapes." Father-of-five MacDonald said he thought the co-location project should go ahead. "I went to Marlborough Boys' College myself, and it was a good school to go to, but the infrastructure was pretty tired and that was 20-odd years ago. "I'm all for a new school. I don't care where, but the current sites are already too small, and we do have a growing population to think of." By Jennifer Eder Reprinted with permission of The Marlborough Express

Jess Smith talks to Chris Ryder about the purchase and future of harness racing filly Shez All Rock. Shez All Rock will race in New Zealand out of the All Stars Stable before ultimately heading over to the USA to race. The connections of Shez All Rock are hoping to race here in both the NZ Oaks and also possibly the Harness Jewels if she can earn her way in by winning enough money.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Jess Smith

An exciting weekend of harness racing coming up including the last grass track meeting of the season at Methven on Sunday. The five meetings this week are Manawatu tonight, Addington and Auckland race on Friday night. Weekend harness racing heads to Winton on Saturday and Methven race on Sunday.  Last week the biggest dividend in the ringaround selections went to Jim Curtin for the second week in a row when his best chance for the week Le Lievre's Gift won at Addington on Friday night and paid $6.40 and $2.20 on the tote. Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often.   Manawatu on Thursday Jay Abernethy - Jay thinks his best drive this week is Four Starzzz Legend at Manawatu in Race 7 Jim Curtin - Jimmy is going for Franco Empire as his best chance this week at Manawatu in Race 9   Addington on Friday night Mark Jones - Mark says his best chance this week is Michelle at Addington in Race 3 Blair Orange - Blair thinks his best drive this week would be Sportscaster at Addington in Race 4 Ricky May - Ricky says his best drive this week would be Kendra at Addington in Race 7 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is going for Tiger Thompson as his best drive this week in Race 8   Auckland on Friday night John Curtin - John thinks Ash can win fresh up in the North Island this week in Race 3 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks South Island import Double O Heaven can win Race 4 Tony Herlihy - Tony is opting for Gold Orchid as his best chance this week at Alexandra Park in Race 6   Winton on Saturday Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Triroyale Brigade at Winton in Race 7 Brad Williamson - Brad says his best chance this week would be The Doorman in Race 9 Shane Walkinshaw - Shane is going for Mighty Conqueror as his best drive this week also in Race 9 Geoff Knight - Geoff says that Fiery Ferret would be his best chance at Winton in Race 10   Methven on Sunday Bob Butt - Bob is going for With Ice as his best chance this week at Methven in Race 1 Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best drive could be Sweeney Todd at Methven in Race 3 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Kensington Kate can go close to winning at Methven in Race 5 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week would be Doc Seelster in Race 6 Racechat - Lance thinks that Clasina Maria is a good chance at Methven in Race 8 Gavin Smith - Gavin thinks Red Hot Rocket is a chance if he behaves at Methven in Race 9   Harnesslink Media  

A new track and one of racing’s most famous faces are set to boost the Harness Jewels at Cambridge. The Waikato harness track has been torn up this week, stripped back to rock on Monday before 320 tonnes of new surface was applied. It was the first total overhaul of the track since 1996 with the new surface made up on crusher dust blended with equestrian sand. The project was overseen by HRNZ’s track expert John Denton and is especially important at Cambridge as it is one of the busiest racetracks in terms of training numbers in New Zealand harness racing. “We have about 130 horses being worked here every day, more in summer,” says Cambridge chief executive David Branch. “The crews were working late into the night on Monday and we are excited to see how the new surface plays out. “But it all happens very quickly. We are racing next Wednesday and the one after that so it doesn’t affect our racing calendar at all.” Cambridge are happy with early interest in bookings for the June 2 meeting and will try and engage the enormous local thoroughbred industry more. “The Jewels falls on a Saturday this year when there is no gallops meeting in the northern region and we would love to get gallops punters and even industry members along to enjoy the racing, especially as we have one of the best viewing tracks in Australasia,” said Branch. To even further their appeal to the sister code, Cambridge are bringing iconic former thoroughbred trainer and now media star Peter Moody over for the Jewels. “We all saw how awesome Peter was at the Karaka yearling sales on social media and how good he is on television,” says Branch. “So we are thrilled to have him coming to the Jewels. He will be a huge part of our social media coverage on the day and we will also make him the key interview subject at our pre-Jewels function on track here the night before the Jewels.” A successful Jewels meeting is crucially important for Cambridge as the future host clubs of the day are not confirmed.  Both Ashburton and Cambridge are under pressure to retain their rotating hosting rights and the executive of Harness Racing New Zealand will discuss whether Addington and Alexandra Park take over later this month, although it would seem fair no final decision was made on Cambridge’s future involvement until after it hosts  this season. Michael Guerin

Harness racing driver Blair Orange now holds an almost impenetrable grip on the New Zealand drivers premiership after winning another five races at Manawatu yesterday.  Orange was 31 wins clear of his nearest rival Dexter Dunn before yesterdays Manawatu domination but has now raced to 172 wins for the season, 36 wins ahead of Dunn who won last years drivers premiership for a record 10th year in a row.  Yesterdays Manawaru meeting once again proved a lucrative one for trainer Michael House, who won six races, had three seconds and also had a third on the 10 race programme. House has moved into third place on the trainers premiership with 40 wins for the season and remarkably 30 of those wins have come courtesy of wins at Manawatu Raceway. Orange and House will look to dominate again on the second day of the Manawau two day meeting with most of the House winners nominated to back up again tomorrow night. Trainers Premiership table Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen 276 85 58 28 2,901,422 0.4585 Robert Dunn 425 60 55 58 849,499 0.2586 Michael House 194 40 23 23 301,015 0.3116 Steve Telfer 256 37 38 37 519,113 0.2752 Ken & Tony Barron 225 34 24 20 352,411 0.2400 Cran Dalgety 174 32 19 19 549,225 0.2810 Tony Herlihy 177 31 23 35 458,190 0.3132 Greg & Nina Hope 256 31 28 25 446,022 0.2144 Mark Jones 281 31 36 22 303,341 0.2076 Nigel McGrath 122 31 12 13 445,777 0.3443   Drivers Premiership table   Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Blair Orange 954 172 124 100 1,704,836 0.2874 Dexter Dunn 840 136 106 95 1,595,714 0.2697 John Dunn 474 70 66 55 849,939 0.2637 David Butcher 379 62 62 39 729,612 0.2888 Matthew Williamson 658 61 63 53 631,058 0.1727 Ricky May 464 51 34 56 758,382 0.1909 Samantha Ottley 433 45 41 40 483,645 0.1873 Gavin Smith 321 42 35 30 494,523 0.2226 Brad Williamson 332 37 34 29 342,451 0.1975 Natalie Rasmussen 71 35 11 5 1,229,245 0.6025   Harnesslink Media

Manawatu harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:30am Race 1     Getarattleon clearly leads multibetting and is also the best backed on the win book moving in from an opening quote of $2.40 to $2.30 Race 2     A quiet market early with the Blair Orange driven Proud Bromac leading both win and multibetting.  Race 3     Beg For Chevron is best backed in this race coming in from a $6.50 opening quote to now be $6.00. Rocknpop narrowly leads multis from Mekong Princess Race 4     All the early money has been for Joey McGuire ($2.00 to $1.95) and he easily leads both win and multi betting in this race. Race 5     Best backed is the Michael House trained Dream Big but it is a quiet market with an even spread of betting. Race 6     Scelta Uno has taken some early support ($3.90 to $3.70)and she leads win betting with Sauchiehall leading multis. Race 7     Twitter Bromac is best backed ($2.70 to $2.50) and it looks like she will start favourite now from Rock N Joy Race 8     A decent move here on Magical Matty who opened at $20.00 and is now in to $12.00 on the win book. Nova Time easily leads multis. Race 9     A quiet market here with Nevre Of Steel narrowly leading win and multibetting over Mordecai Race 10    Black Chevron has taken some early money on the win book in this race and is in to $4.50 from an opening price of $4.80. The Big Boss leads multibetting from C A Penny Harnesslink Media Courtesy of (TAB)

Vincent, the horse that Mark Purdon felt was going to be harness racing’s next absolute superstar, has been purchased by the Alabar and Nevele R studs in partnership. The imposing son of champion international sire, Art Major has been retired from racing and will stand at stud this coming season. When Vincent cruised home in 54.4 to win the Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve, all the talk was that the world lay at his feet. Remarkably, it would be his last start. Injury curtailed his four-year-old campaign and now the lucrative stud deal sees him commence a new career as what will surely be a highly commercial stallion. Jean Feiss, who raced Vincent with her husband Bill, said: “Vincent has been such a dream horse for us we were prepared to do everything possible to get him back to the track. He’s already had his initial stem cell treatments.” “However, Alabar and Nevele R presented us with an offer to purchase him and we knew in our hearts that accepting it was the right thing for Vincent’s long term future. He deserves a great home and to be given the very best chance at stud. We’re sure he’ll get that.” “Hopefully breeders send their best mares to him as Bill and I are certainly looking forward to checking out his yearlings.” Undoubtedly, Vincent was the dream horse. He had it all. Co-trainer, Mark Purdon is full of admiration for the horse that was harness racing’s brightest rising star: “He was a great young horse, the best of his year as a three-year-old.” “He came back great as a four-year-old and I thought he would eventually take Lazarus’ place and go on to be the best horse in Australasia.” “He’s a beautiful horse. Both Jean and I loved him when we saw him as a yearling and that never changed. Everyone he came in contact with him loved him as he was such a kind horse, a real gentleman.” ”It’s a great shame he’s not coming back to racing but we’re looking forward to training a few by him.” Prior to his final victory in the Auckland Cup, Vincent had done what the pundits said he couldn’t and won the Gr2 Franklin Cup fresh up (0.1 of a second outside his own NZ record for a 2700m stand) and backed that up with a cake-walk, 54.6 last half win in the Gr2 Futurity Stks at Cambridge. Auckland Cup He’d won his last seven starts in a row. He flew to Australia to embark on a campaign that would surely seal his status as the next superstar of our sport. It wasn’t to be, as Injury befell him leading up to the Ballarat Cup and the Chariots Of Fire and Miracle Mile were sadly run without him. All told, Vincent recorded 16 wins from 19 starts with four Group 1 victories. The only time he was beaten on Australian soil (and the only time he was outside the first three in his career) was in the Victoria Derby when as a raging favourite he was taken out of the race by a damaged tyre. As an individual who just oozes quality, Vincent was a $130,000 yearling at the Australian APG Sydney Sale. He won first up at Invercargill and this proved to be his only start as a two-year-old as he suffered a minor leg injury. While this was a bitter pill to swallow with a young horse of rare talent, Mark Purdon felt in hindsight it was a blessing in disguise as it gave Vincent a chance to mature into his frame. As a three-year-old, Vincent was nothing short of awesome. He romped home on Auckland Cup day at Alexandra Park. Remarkably setting a new all-age NZ record for the 2700m stand. He then ventured to Australia where he won his heat of the Victoria Derby before misfortune struck in the final. On to Menangle, he won his heat of the NSW Derby and was superb in the final – sprinting home in 53.6, he recorded a 1:54.5 mile rate for the 2400m – 0.1 of a second outside the world record. Back to New Zealand, he scored a career defining victory in the NZ Derby at Addington – fighting back to beat Ultimate Machete after being headed in the straight. This was another all-age NZ record for Vincent of 3:06 (1:55.1mr) for the 2600m mobile - and 2.5 seconds inside the previous record for a three-year-old held by Lazarus. NZ Derby Vincent finished his three-year-old season off at Menangle with another incredible victory – this time in the NSW Breeders Challenge. He was three wide for the first half of the mile journey and then parked outside the leader but still won easily in 1:50.2 – making him the fastest ever Australasian three-year-old. Vincent possesses a pedigree that all other stallions would be envious of. He is sired by one of the world’s best stallions in Art Major and is out of Kept For Pleasure, a four time Group 1 winner, who like Vincent retired on a winning note at the highest level. At stud Kept For Pleasure has also produced the outstanding (My) Mackenzie who is fast closing in on $500,000 in earnings after winning major stakes races both in Australia and the US. Vincent’s second dam, Full Pleasure, also a Group 1 winner, has been one of the most remarkable broodmares in Australian history producing 10 foals for 10 winners and four, soon to be five, $200,000+ earners. Vincent’s pedigree lines him up beautifully with daughters of Bettor’s Delight and other Cam Fella line mares, daughters of Christian Cullen, Mach Three, Somebeachsomewhere and other Direct Scooter line mares, daughters of American Ideal and other Western Hanover/No Nukes line mares and also mares from the Albatross line. A dream horse with a dream resume for a stallion – type, pedigree and performance over all distances. Vincent will stand at Alabar’s Victorian farm with semen transported throughout Australia and New Zealand. Lifetime breeding rights will be available in both countries.  

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