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A cloud hangs over one of only three previous Jewels winners heading to Cambridge for Saturday's $1.275 million meeting. Because after stopping to a walk at the Pukekohe workouts on Saturday, Partyon will need to pass a vet test on Wednesday to be allowed to start in the four-year-old Diamond. Only Partyon, Enghien and Dizzy Miss Lizzy go into Saturday as past Jewels winners, Partyon's story the most remarkable as she won the two-year-old Diamond two seasons ago at only her second start. While that was a dream result, this week's preparation has turned into a nightmare. She suffered atrial fibrillation at the Pukekohe workouts on Saturday and while many horses recover from that problem and go on to race at, or close to, their peaks at their next start, it is hardly ideal for Partyon. She had only just returned to usual trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to prepare for the Jewels after an Australian campaign and not only suffered the fibrillation but of course missed the fitness benefits of a proper hit out on Saturday. Purdon is confident she can still make the $150,000 mile but admits the preparation is less than perfect. "The good news is her heart had returned to its normal rhythm by last night (Saturday) and that is one of the most important things," explained the champion trainer. "But we will get her checked out again on Wednesday and make a final decision then. But I think she will still be starting." Partyon already faces a huge task from her second draw in one of the glamour races of the day but that is indicative of what the All Stars are up against on Jewels day. They have 20 horses entered for the meeting and only Winterfell (barrier one) has drawn inside barrier four. "I can't remember us getting a series of draws like this and I can see it being a real issue as it looks a day where not a lot of drivers are going to be handing up," said Purdon. Three final acceptors withdrew yesterday, with Kendra pulling out of the two-year-old Diamond and both Puma Road and Girls On Film withdrawn from the three-year-old Ruby. Michael Guerin

First season sires just don’t have $100,000 yearlings sold at sales ‘down under’ do they? Recent history says that’s the case but at the 2018 Australasian yearling sales at Karaka, one stallion defied history. His name is Sweet Lou! Sweet Lou was a rock star on the race track. He is still the equal fastest 2yo in harness history pacing 1.49. 0 flat in the Breeders crown at Woodbine where defeated A Rock N Roll Dance by 7 ½ lengths! Sweet Lou made over a $1,000,000 at three and went on the become one of the greatest North American Free For Aller’s in recent history. Sweet Lou banked close to $3.5 million in stakes and was still breaking records in his final race track season. Sweet Lou’s maternal family has made over $7,000,000 in stakes, it is clearly one of harness racing’s most influential and modern families. Sweet Lou average over $78,000 at last year’s Lexington sales, he is leaving outstanding progeny on type! Woodlands Stud is proudly consigning over 20 weanlings by Sweet Lou on Friday June 1st at Karaka at the annual All Age and Weanling sale. At least year’s weanling sales the progeny of Sweet Lou where highly sought by a raft of New Zealand’s leading trainers. Sweet Lou’s progeny is very intelligent, easy to handle and many have broken in exceptionally well. Down under breeders flocked to Sweet Lou last season, as he served his biggest book. Don’t miss your opportunity to buy a Sweet Lou weanling that has been bred and raised at New Zealand’s leading standardbred nursery. Only recently Woodlands bred, raised and sold progeny ran the trifecta in the PGG Wrightson sales series race for 2yo colts and geldings. Information regarding the weanling sale is available on our website. Go to www.woodlandsstud.co.nz for all the details. You can also contact our New Zealand agent Stacey Markham on 021595492 or contact our Australian agent Mark Hughes 0n 0451650707. From Woodlands Stud    

Junior driver Ben Hope saw first hand how rough the weather can get in the deep south when he drove at Ascot Park for the first time today. The day was probably at it's best when he reined Kingslayer to win the Watts Backflow Junior Drivers Mobile Pace. Trained by his parents Greg and Nina Hope, the Christian Cullen gelding at only it's third start is still green and showed a few wayward tendencies in his preliminary.  "In the warm up he was keen and galloping and wasn't really on the job. When we got up on the gate he was very keen to go and had that wee gallop but to his credit he came back down quite quickly," said Hope. Three lengths off the gate at dispatch, Hope didn't panic and settled the favourite in last place with Ellie Barron taking second favourite Black Ops to the front.  "With a lap to go he was really pulling hard. I felt he probably would have choked down if I'd stayed there much longer." So Hope sent Kingslayer forward three wide with a lap to run.   "I saw Ellie batting her one (horse) up a bit so I thought I might be able to go round quickly enough to get in front of her which I did. It took a bit of work to get there and lucky enough the horse kept going for me."  Hope didn't get to the lead until the 500 metre mark and with 400 metres to run pulled the ear plugs and started to tap the gelding up to keep him rolling. Under a hard drive Kingslayer held on to beat a late charging Shelby Bromac by three quarters of a length with a nose back to a game Black Ops, and Machs Mareta another nose back in fourth.   Kingslayer (6) and Ben Hope beating Shelby Bromac (8) -Photo Bruce Stewart. "He's got the ability but he's a green horse and likes to run around. He has two prickers on and a jaw breaker to help his steering. He's got a big motor and we came down to try and win a junior drivers race with him and get points for the junior drivers championship. I'm currently in the top six. That was the goal and he duly delivered. It's my tenth win of the season."  Kingslayer is out of the Bettor's Delight mare Millwood Manhattan and was bred by Katie Carville. Millwood Manhattan won three races for Auckland trainer Tony Herlihy including her first start as a two year old. Kingslayer is her first foal. He's closely related to big winners; Ohoka Arizona (8 New Zealand wins), Ohoka Samson (3 NZ wins and 12 Australian) and Ohoka Colorado (3 NZ wins and 20 Australian wins).   "I'd say he should be able to win four or five at least. He just needs a bit more racing. He'll probably go out for a break now."   Although it was cold for his first drive on Kingslayer, the weather turned later in the afternoon and was at it's worst when Hope drove Rockntommy Rulz in Race Six. The first start two year old settled last early and lost his way in the doom and gloom finishing twenty two lengths from the winner - the aptly named Fun In The Dark.  Fun In The Dark is trained and was driven by Matt Purvis. Purvis's sister Charlotte won earlier in the day on the Phil Williamson trained Madison Jane. It was the Monarchy mare's third win in four starts. She's now won five races in total and was up against a field made up primarily of one win horses.  Meanwhile it was a super day for Ascot Park trainers Mark and Debbie Shirley. They brought two horses to the races; Cullens Avenue and Mighty Conqueror and they both won. Mark shares in the ownership of both with good friend Malcolm Dewe. Mighty Conqueror's half-brother Young Conqueror ran second to his younger sibling.  Shane Walkinshaw drove both.  Mark is the President of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

RINGOSTAR TREB WINS ELITLOPPET FINAL; BOLD EAGLE MAKES BREAK IN FIRST HEAT

Westward Beach harness racing trainer Graeme Anderson doesn't start too many two year olds and Motu Top Mach was the first he's taken to the races since Eamon Maguire won his first start at Forbury in July 2016. "He's a natural strong wee two year old. I had his half-sister Motu Moonbeam which was a good mare for me. She's won about $450,000 in America. That was the reason I bought him. He was only seven thousand dollars so that helped," said Anderson. From two on the second line driver Dexter Dunn pushed the gelding through and was in front inside the first four hundred metres. From there it was easy with Motu Top Mach winning by four and three quarter lengths without the removable deafeners being released.  Victory salute                    - Photo Bruce Stewart.  "He's been in front in his previous start. He's got a bit of gate speed and got through from the second line today. Dexter said he wasn't concentrating last week so I put the half blinds on him today and it was a lot better. There's still improvement in him." Motu Top Mach was broken in by Mark Fuller in Christchurch. "He did a wonderful job. He came home to me bullet proof and gaited up. I get the easy part really."   He's owned by Gerard Cayford, Ray Chalklin, Stuart Gillan, Tony Gow, Steve Pulley, Anderson and the Hunter Boys Syndicate. Chalklin, Gow, Anderson and Pulley along with Stuart Gillan's wife Pauline share in the ownership of Eamon Maguire which is one of the favourites for the $150,000 Group One Four Year Old Emerald at Cambridge next Saturday.  "This is the first horse the Hunter Boys have had with me. There's fifteen in the syndicate including Andrew Hunter and David Hunter who trains the Taieri Rugby Prems (Seniors)." Anderson has had a good run with the stock of Mach Three. Other winners from the stable by that stallion have been Belkmyster, Onedin Mach and Mako Banner. Motu Top Mach is the sixth foal out of the Live Or Die mare Top Tart. Her best winner is Motu Moonbeam which won four of her five wins for Anderson before heading to America. All of her six foals have qualified and won races.   The win was great for Tony O'Neil who's part of the Hunter Boys Syndicate. He's also in the Shearasheep Syndicate which owns Unloaded which also won earlier in the day. And he's a member of the What Ever Syndicate which own Schweinsteiger which won at Gore last Saturday.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Australia’s long Harness Jewels drought looks certain to end at Cambridge next Saturday. Because the barrier draws for the $1,275,000 mega day with nine group ones have played into the hands of the Australian visitors, none more so than superstar filly Shez All Rock. She has drawn handy on the front line and looks set to find the front in the $150,000 three-year-old Diamond and will start long odds-on, especially with Elle Mac drawn the second line. While she is being trained for her two-race New Zealand campaign by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Shez All Rock is very much counted as an Australian, having been invited before her NZ Oaks win and she will wear the green Australian Jewels colours in her mobile mile. If she is successful she will become the first Australian horse to win a Jewels since the meeting became such a huge part of the New Zealand harness racing calendar 11 years ago. While Shez All Rock will be clearly the best backed of the six Australian reps next Saturday, the chances of Shane Tritton-trained stablemates Platinum Revolution (race one) and Petes Big Jim (race six) improved after they both drew the ace.  And even four-year-old mare Carla’s Pixel may not be too badly disadvantaged by drawing one on the second line behind a potential leader in Seaswift Joy. Australian trotters Dance Craze (four-year-old trot) and Wobelee (three-year-old trot) face trickier draws but the latter in particular still looks a winning hope as gate speed has never been his forte. With barrier draws so crucial for mile racing at Cambridge the final fields will see plenty of movement at the top of the markets as some long-time favourites fared poorly. Elle Mac is one of the most obvious while Princess Tiffany will have to overcome the outside of the front line is she is to remain unbeaten in the two-year-old Diamond. The four-year-old pacing divisions have both been thrown wide open with the two favourites in the male pace, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire, having their gate speed weapons taken away by second line draws. And the same applies to Bonnie Joan, Partyon and Utmost Delight in the mare’s races. Remarkably the four Purdon-Rasmussen trained juvenile male pacers, who held the top four spots in that market, drew alongside each other in the outside four spots on the front line. NZ Derby quinellamates Sheriff and Pat’s Delight gained crucial advantage over Sicario with inside front line draws in the three-year-old male pace while Habibi Inta has the ace draw inside Enghien (barrier three) in the four-year-old trot. One of the questions of the day will be how hot three-year-old trot favourite Winterfell handles his barrier one draw after being occasionally rocky in his gate last start. Michael Guerin

The New Zealand Oaks may have had an Australian flavour to it, however the New Zealand undertones to the success are prominent throughout. Australian breeder George Tennent was at Addington having travelled from Victoria to watch his pride and joy take on the best fillies in New Zealand on Friday night, and his recipe for success is one of many highs and lows. George bred Shez All Rock after eying up her mother at the New Zealand Yearling sales in 2011. “I bought the mare Irish Loch at the Yearling Sales where I had up to six people check her over and nobody could fault her," he said. “Murtel McCarthy told the people I had inspecting the filly she was looking for a huge amount which had me worried, but I managed to pick her up for $11,500. “And then the Earthquake happened, and I was thrown to the ground and had never experienced anything like it before!” “I’d been doing research on a filly that had been racing with Hamish Hunter and he had a horse called Timely Loch and I’d seen her race a bit. Next thing I see the sale book over there and here’s Irish Loch." Irish Loch is the Mach Three dam of Shez All Rock and was out of the lightly tried Falcon Seelster mare, Lady Loch. While the Mach Three/Falcon Seelster cross was lightly tried at the time, it would go on to produce the likes of Fly like An Eagle, Fiery Falcon and Venus Serena. Timely Loch (Christian Cullen) was easily the best of the Lady Loch foals who were seven fillies no less. Timely Loch would win three races for Hamish Hunter and one for Michael House before racing in New South Wales and retiring with 12 wins to her name. The irony and good fortune for her owners is she has just this season left her first foal, a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven no less but we come back to them shortly via the Shez All Rock purchase! There had been a slew of good horses come out the family and you don’t have to look much further then Shez All Rock’s fifth dam Heatherloch (Lumber Dream) who was an honest mare that won six races. She was sold by Roydon Lodge at a dispersal sale after failing to set the world alight as a broodmare, but that would soon change. She was sold with a Yankee Reb colt at foot whose deeds among her other progeny would credit her with New Zealand Broodmare of the Year in 1989. Yankee Loch (Yankee Reb colt sold at foot with mare) was the only trotting bred foal from the mare but he would win the Rowe Cup, Interdominion Trotting Final and New Zealand Trotter of the Year in the same season his mother was awarded Broodmare of the Year. Other good performers from the maternal family included Scottish Loch, Patches, Global Force and Black Loch who was injured after winning the Sapling Stakes and prematurely being retired from racing. While it was a solid family, it wasn’t a great one given the number of foals that were bred and the top sires many of them were by. However, patience was eventually rewarded for those that have persisted with the family. Tennent unfortunately never got the opportunity to try his acquisition as a racehorse after taking her home to Victoria. “I should have left her in New Zealand with Ernie Knight to be broken in but I made a big mistake before bringing her back to Australia," he said. "Usually I do a lot of research with the people I send my horses to be educated with. But someone told me to send it to such and such and it was the biggest mistake I ever made because they wrecked the filly before she could even get started and she never recovered. “I tried with various trainers to correct her issues and bad habits but a Mach Three filly who had that much speed was never to recover from being broken in poorly. She never even qualified. She has developed into a beautiful mare but you move on and we made the decision to breed from her. “I then had contact with a man in South Australia called Robert O’Court who does breeding analysis and sets up the bloodlines, and he reckoned Rock N Roll Heaven was the one. “She was prepared for the sales and she had only had a few people inspect her over the three days the sales were on. "Frustratingly she went for only 12,500. It was disappointing because other ones we had bred were averaging around $30k, and I guess she was quite small and I’m not sure if the white blaze on her face put people off. “She’s missed at stud and slipped at stud, but is safely in foal to Pet Rock this season,” he said. Pet Rock currently sits fourth on the USA 3 year old sires list and stood his first season at stud in New Zealand this year. “When we sell our yearlings, sometimes my wife will say kiss er goodbye because they can go to the wrong people. “But Mark Pitt whose a lovely fella and we get on well, he purchased the filly even though a lot of people were trying to turn him off buying her. But his family are part of a very famous harness family in New South Wales called the Dieberts, and they purchased Timely loch, and that’s where the connection come up. “They knew all about the family and originally Timely Loch was trained by Hamish Hunter down south where she broke down. Somehow or another Timely Loch ended up in Michael House’s care and he was able to get her to win in a very fast time at Ashburton over a mile (1:55.5) and sold her to the Dieberts. Shez All Rock must have shown some ability because they sent her to Rock N Roll Heaven,” he said. “They had a few problems breaking her in I believe but I got a call some months later asking me if there any more progeny out of the mare which in hindsight tells you she might have been a bit special." Shez All Rock was looking to join a very select list of fillies to complete the New Zealand, Victorian and new South Wales Oaks on Friday night. Dream About Me, Fight For Glory, Copper Beach and Pullover Brown have pulled off the Victorian/NZ Oaks double in recent years and Elect To Live and Under Cover Lover had done the NSW/NZ Oaks double. Only Bonnie Frost in 1970 had ever done the three-peat showing just how remarkable the accomplishment is. “Mark Pitt called me on Friday before the Oaks and told me that Mark was happy with how she was working. And it was such a thrill to travel over and watch her win the New Zealand Oaks from the birdcage. The hospitality we experienced was unbelievable and you people treated me like royalty it was just remarkable. “When she won the Victorian Oaks there was only one board member present and there wasn’t even an official presentation,” he said. The filly with a blaze Sweet Lou would be proud of was hard to miss as she made her way around Addington in the green Harness Jewels colours, and even harder to miss were the tears of joy in Tennent's eyes as he tried to take it all in. It is what we breed horses for and the emotion and buzz from seeing your stock win races like that is not a thrill you can get from a bottle. Tennent says the mare will be mated this season with Art Major as it is a cross he is keen to try before the stallion retires. “There is plenty of time to go back to Rock N Roll Heaven,” he joked. Whoever Irish loch is served by, you can bet George Tennent who is a seller of his stock will do better than the $12,000 he got for her first foal when he takes the next one to the sales! This article featured in the Breeders Update, click here to read the most recent issue: https://goo.gl/oG7S8N Click here to subscribe: https://goo.gl/qDyGev   Courtesy of Brad Reid NZ Standardbred Breeders Association  

Steven Reid finds himself between a rock and a hard place on the best horse racing at Alexandra Park in Auckland tonight. But that doesn't mean punters still shouldn't back Star Galleria in the event of the night, race seven. Tonight, Alexandra Park hosts its only all-mile race meeting, which is ideal for horses such as Star Galleria, who is one of the favourites for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on Saturday week. Having beaten some of the elite horses in the country and finished fourth in the Auckland Cup, the best version of Star Galleria would be good enough to overcome barrier eight, even though the Alexandra Park mile start point is less than ideal. But Reid, like most of the trainers heading to the Jewels, would prefer an easy run rather than anything that will give his charge a headache eight days out from a $150,000 race. To make matters worse, with regular driver Tony Herlihy sidelined with broken ribs, Reid will do the driving himself, meaning he will have to make the crucial decisions. "Obviously, I want to win and still think he will but I am not really sure what to do from barrier eight," admits Reid. "If I go out hard and everybody inside him does, too, then he could have a really hard run, which is hardly ideal. "But if you go back to last and nobody moves then he might end up in a position he can't win from. "So I think I have to have a couple of plans. Maybe the first one is let him roll off the gate and see what happens inside him, looking to get handy. Or drop back to last and then just take off at the 800m and get handy because he should be good enough to win if he only has to sit three wide the last 800m." That could make for a nervous watch for punters who take the short odds but Reid is so happy with how his four-year-old trialled last weekend it may not matter. It just means $2 should be your line in the sand for punting. Reid has his other Jewels-bound four-year-old in the same race, with high class mare Utmost Delight drawn one on the second line. "She is very well too and worked brilliantly on Wednesday morning," he says. "So she can win but probably only if Opoutama holds the lead from the ace draw and I don't think that will probably happen." On a night where punters should be cautious about backing any Jewels runner who could get a hard run, Reid has some depth to his five starters. "I think Double O Heaven can win race five if she lobs the trail while punters should forgive Bubble Gum [race two] his last start, he will definitely improve as he all but choked down in that race. "And Puma Road is working well enough to go close in race three so they all have realistic chances." It is a former Jewels winner who looks the bet of the night, bad barrier and all, with One Over Da Moon (race eight) a standout on sheer class and his exceptional record in Alexandra Park sprint races. Michael Guerin

Champion harness driver Dexter Dunn is set to try to establish himself in North America again. And he hasn't ruled out a permanent move there should his winter campaign prove an enormous success. Dunn has won the last 10 national drivers' premierships but will relinquish his title to good friend Blair Orange this season, with the latter 28 clear on the standings after bringing up win 200 for the season at Manawatu on Tuesday. Orange's numbers this season have been so staggering he now has Dunn's national record 229 wins for a season in his sights and barring injury or suspension should probably set a new mark. But Dunn says the end of his premiership domination isn't why he is heading to New York in a few weeks. "I spent a few months up there driving a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience and always wanted to come back," says Dunn. "But the right opportunity never really presented itself until now." That finally did come when Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder, who is now based in North America, approached Dunn about driving in the US with his support. "Chris has been a long-time family friend and suggested the time was right and he would support me and try and help me get outside drives. "There has been a bit of visa paperwork to get through and I still have to go for a final interview at the US consulate in Auckland in a few weeks. But if and when the paperwork is finalised, hopefully I can get up there sooner rather than later. "Their [US] really good horses, the ones that will be racing in the better races later in the summer, are all starting to come out in the qualifiers at the moment so I'd love to be able to get some serious drives and the sooner I am there the more likely that is to happen." Dunn expects to be away from New Zealand from around mid-June until maybe just before the New Zealand Cup carnival in November, which would mean could drive at the rich Breeders Crown on October 27. But if the trip turned out to be an enormous success he could be tempted to stay. "I intend being back for the Cup carnival and driving like normal here over the summer. "But you never know what can happen. Anything is possible, including basing myself up there fulltime. "But I don't expect that to happen on this trip." After 10 remarkable years during which Dunn has emerged from obscurity to win 10 premierships and win 2180 races in New Zealand alone, the superstar of the sulky admits the time for a new challenge has come. "I still love the big carnivals, our summer racing and some of the special days we have, like Kaikoura for example. "But you do have the odd time when driving so much gets stale, especially when you have been travelling as much as I have for the last five years. "It usually only lasts a weekend and you are back fine the next week, but it does happen. "So this will be a good freshen up for me, a new challenge and a chance to learn some new things." Although Dunn has already seen his premiership run ended by Orange this season, any longer-term North American ambitions from him would put Orange in the perfect position to start his own premiership domination. The pair are so far in front of their rivals in numbers of drives and races won in the last couple of years it would be hard to envisage a new serious premiership contender emerging. So if Dunn tastes success during his upcoming US trip and decides to spend more winters there in the years to come, the national premiership would appear to be Orange's to own. Michael Guerin

Winter racing is almost upon us and there is another busy week of harness racing coming up with five meetings programmed, starting with the Manawatu harness racing meeting tonight. Auckland has a full 10 race card on Friday night. Then the weekend harness racing heads to both Invercargill and Addington on Saturday and Rangiora race on Sunday.  Last week the biggest winning dividend in the ringaround selections went to Blair Orange who thought Artstanding would go close to winning at Gore. Artstanding did win and paid $5.50 and $2.00 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 night Blair Orange - Blair thinks Sportscaster is going to be hard to beat at Manawatu in Race 3 Jim Curtin - Jim agrees and says his best drive this week is Sportscaster  at Manawatu in Race 3   Penrith (Australia) on Thursday night Mark Jones - Mark says his best chance this week would be The Bus at Penrith tonight in Race 4   Auckland on Friday night Tony Herlihy - Tony thinks Madam Secretary would be his best chance this week at Alexandra Park in Race 4 Ricky May - Ricky is going for Double O Heaven as his best drive this week at Alexandra Park in Race 5 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks that Jack Nicholson can go close to winning in Race 6 John Curtin - John thinks that Awhi Mai can go close to winning at Auckland this week in Race 10   Invercargill on Saturday Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Scarlett Lane at Invercargill in Race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - Shane is going for Cullens Avenue as his best drive this week at Invercargill in Race 5   Addington on Saturday night John Morrison - John says that Ruthless Kayla would be his best drive this week at Addington in Race 4 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks The Director should go close to winning at Addington in Race 8 Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard thinks his best drive this week is Miss You at Addington in Race 9   Rangiora on Sunday Racechat - Lance thinks that Ildivo is a good chance of winning at Rangiora in Race 1 Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best drive this week could be Brightest moment at Rangiora in Race 4 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is going for Tijuana Taxi as his best drive this week at Rangiora in Race 8     Harnesslink Media

The New Zealand Oaks may have had some Australian flavour too it, but the breeding story had a New Zealand recipe! Shez All Rock's dam was an $11,500 purchase moments before the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake at the PGG Wrightson Ltd Yearling Sales. George Tennent of Victoria (pictured left) discussed his tale of breeding the first filly since 1970 to win the New Zealand, Victorian & NSW Oaks. Read about here in our 50th edition of Breeders Update: https://goo.gl/oG7S8N   Courtesy of Brad Reid NZ Standardbred Breeders Association

Dexter Dunn is going to miss the New Zealand winter harness racing season and is leaving for the United States shortly to ply his trade against the leading American harness racing drivers. Dunn made the announcement on "The Box Seat" last night saying " I hope to be back in time for the New Zealand Cup carnival, but at this stage I have booked a one way ticket so we will see what happens". Dunn, who has been the leading driver in New Zealand the past few years, struck gold in 2015 as he was victorious in the World Driving Championship, leading him to world-wide recognition.  With Dunn to miss the last few months of the New Zealand harness season, Blair Orange will almost certainly win the drivers premiership this year. Orange brought up 200 wins for the season last night at the Manawatu meeting driving 5 winners on the night. His 200th win came in the last race when Mogul won his third race in succession for trainer Michael House.  Blair Orange bringing up his 200th winner at Manawatu last night.   At the moment Blair Orange is 28 wins clear of Dexter Dunn in the 2018 premiership and a whopping 121 wins clear of the third place John Dunn, so the premiership title is his for sure. The New Zealand record number of wins for a single season is 229 set by Dexter Dunn in last years premiership and that record will now be firmly in the sights of Blair Orange with two months still left in the NZ season. Harnesslink Media  

Pegasus Spur is a sire that plies his trade with little fuss! A gun trotting sire, his impact runs very deep. Pegasus Spur is a sire of immense speed and stamina, as reflected in his journey as a sire. Did you know he is sire of Australasia’s fastest male and female trotters! His Elitloppet bound daughter Maori Time is a 1.51.5 is the fastest ‘down under’ female in history and multiple Group 1 winner Flying Isa is the fastest male of all time ‘down under’. At the age of 20, Pegasus Spur still commands high respect as a sire. His ace son Speeding Spur was a multiple Group 1 winner in recent months, amongst those victories was the time-honoured Rowe Cup. The 3200-metre feature is on all owners wish lists and Pegasus Spur’s son delivered in spades, he now has over $880,000 on his CV. Pegasus Spur is the sire of a plethora of $100,000 + earners, these include Paramount Gee Gee, Wilma’s Mate, Monty Python, Sarah Palin, Cool Coober, Rare Opportunity and Unico Pegasus. At this years Australasian Premier trotting sale, held in Melbourne, he averaged $AU 34,000. This was a fantastic result on a service fee of $2640! Breeders and sales purchasers understand that Pegasus Spur is still a relevant sire in these times of frozen semen. He is stallion that gets results on and off the race track! A terrific opportunity beckons to secure a Woodlands bred and raised Pegasus Spur weanling on Friday June 1st at Karaka. Our weanlings are meticulously raised by our stud master Tony Grayling and his staff. Horses purchased from the Woodlands weanling draft have included millionaire My Hard Copy and ace pacing mare Partyon. Information regarding the weanling sale is available on our website. Go to www.woodlandsstud.co.nz for all the details. You can also contact our New Zealand agent Stacey Markham on 021595492 of contact our Australian agent Mark Hughes 045165707. From Woodlands Stud        

Shane and Lauren Tritton will come to the 2018 as the trainers of two Jewels contenders, Platinum Revolution and Pete’s Big Jim. And Shane Tritton has made no secret about the fact he would love to be the first Australian trainer to win a Jewels race. The team made a huge statement at the trials yesterday at Menangle when Pete’s Big Jim made his debut for the stable. The two-year-old exploded away from his rivals to win over a mile in 1.53.5. His final quarter was a sizzling 26.1. The son of Big Jim bolted to the lead from the outside of the gate and was under a strong hold throughout for driver Lauren Tritton. It was a breathtaking indication of what could potentially unravel on Harness Jewels day at Cambridge on Saturday week.   Harness Racing New Zealand called Shane Tritton to get an update following the trial and get his reaction to the performance. To hear the interview with Shane Tritton regarding the progress of his runners please click here To view Pete’s Big Jim’s trial from Menangle on Tuesday 22 May please click on the Harness Racing New South Wales Trial link here   HRNZ Marketing

Thursday – Cambridge A bit of everything at Cambridge on Thursday night.  The best bet was $100 on The Hulk @ $101 & the second best was $8,818 on Monaro Mia @ $1.55.  Other handy bets were $500 Helena Ideal @ $9.80, $1,000 Spring Campaign @ $4.60 & $250 In The Shadows @ $14.  Thankfully, there were a few misses as well.  $8,888 on All American @ $1.80 was the largest.  $4,500 Lion Rock @ $2, $3,500 Summer Wealth @ $2.40 and $3,000 Pay Master @ $3.70 also missed. Friday – Addington NZ Oaks night saw a few number of big bets placed.  The best of them was $1,000 Over The Love @ $7.  Also pretty good were $6,000 Extreme Stride @ $1.65 and $5,000 Enhance Your Calm @ $1.65.  Plenty of punters happy with other winners in Ohanzee @ $2.20, Enghien @ $1.60-$1.50, and Mach Up in the last @ $1.50-$1.55.  The best backed runner on the night was Elle Mac in the Oaks.  There was close to $40,000 on her from $1.65 into $1.45, the largest bets being $10,000 @ $1.45, $8,000 @ $1.50 and $2,500 @ $1.65.  Also missing were $5,000 Pat's Delight @ $1.85 and $3,000 Another Masterpiece @ $2.20. Saturday – Gore A much quieter day at Gore on Saturday but interesting non-the-less.  Lazarus's little bro scored on debut & was a solid second fav @ $5.50 behind Motu Top Mach @2.60-$2.  Well backed favourites had a good run with Betstars Blue Jean $1.55-$1.60, Schweinsteiger $2.70-$2.60, Pres The Belle $2.70-$3, and Alfie Romeo @ $3 all winning.  Upset winner Maidonthebeach was a better result for us than the one that looked home in Especial, but @ $21 she carried plenty of support and cost us a bit.  Saving our bacon was Whata Razzle Dazzle $19-$21 in the last race where Ideal Breeze @ $3.90-$3.50 and Jakira $4.20-$4.80 carried a tonne of support. Sunday – Oamaru A tough day for us at Oamaru on Sunday.  The best bet was a big one on Dexter to win the Drivers Challenge, $10,000 @ $1.70 with Dexter getting home by 2 points.  The other decent plunge was on Bettor Be Gold.  $1,200 & $1,000 bets @ $3.50 were the largest of a heap on bets that say him close the $2.90 favourite.  Punters also cashed in on One Over Da Stars, The Dominator, Sam Galleon, Boomer Bailey, Buzinga and OK I'm Bad.  Providing us a little relief were $1,700 Neverneverland @ $4.50 and $2,200 Pembrooks Passion @ $1.90 (Top3). Tuesday – Manawatu Blair Orange & Michael House again dominated racing at Manawatu on Tuesday.  The best bets were two $2,000 bets on Apocalypse @ $2.60 and $1,800 on Need Luck @ $2.80.  Dipping out were $5,000 bets on Spirit Of Love @ $3.10 and Whataboyz @ $2.40. Multi of the Week: Addington Friday night:  Ohanzee @ $2.20 Enhance Your Calm @ $1.85 Jesse Duke @ $3.70 Enghien @ $1.60 Shez All Rock @ $3.80 Returned $9,156 HRNZ  

Neil Pilcher owned a champion but that is not what people will remember him for. Because tomorrow when hundreds of racing industry participants, family and friends gather at Addington Raceway to farewell "Pilch", his success as an owner will be part of the story. A small part. Pilcher died in Christchurch early on Saturday morning after years of battling a range of illnesses one might inflict in 80 well-lived years. That life consists of raising four children with his wife, Rose, a series of jobs ranging from a nurse at a psychiatric hospital and owning his own demolition company. But it was as the owner-operator of Inter-Island Horse Transport, carrying precious equine cargo from one end of the country to the other that Pilch built his reputation for not only been an astute businessman but a relentless worker. There were plenty of good and even great horses along the way, many in the last two decades with Tony Herlihy but more often than not Mark Purdon. His Purdon success stories were numerous and included Derby winners Waikiki Beach and Russley Rascal but it was Smolda who gave Pilch late in life the champion he deserved. He produced one of the great Harness Jewels wins of all time at three and then 18 months ago, when he looked past his best, won the Inter Dominion in Perth and Australian Aged Pacer of the Year. But it wasn't all glamour. "Pilch" would turn up at the All Stars, even when he struggled with his health in recent years, and tend to the training track and the morning teas. That was the sort of bloke he was, doing what needed to be done, with a smile and a cheeky chuckle which hid his great eye for equine talent. He will leave a unique hole in the New Zealand racing industry, especially in the lives of some of harness racing elite horsepeople as well as he brother Lee, who was Pilcher's partner in so many endeavours. Neil's last starter, Mach Up, won the final race at Addington on Friday night, hours before his death. That would have made him chuckle. Pilcher's life, which will be celebrated long into tomorrow night, proved you don't have to be soft to be gentle. He is survived by Rose and their four children Mark, Leanne, Jane and Brett. Michael Guerin

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