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2015 world champion driver Dexter Dunn has this morning confirmed he will drive at Saturday’s $500,000 UBET Blacks A Fake meeting at Albion Park. Dunn, who has driven more than 2000 winners in his decorated career, will guide either My Field Marshal or Let It Ride in the Group 1 UBET Blacks A Fake for trainer Tim Butt. He has also been invited to take part in the $20,000 Driver’s Invitation Race. Dunn won the 2015 World Driving Championship in record-breaking fashion. He scored an unprecedented 200 points across 20 heats, more than 50 points ahead of his nearest rival. Dunn is no stranger to the Albion Park circuit, with his most recent visit coming in 2017 when he guided My Field Marshal to finish second behind Hectorjayjay in the G2 Sunshine Sprint.  His recent successes at 'The Creek' include a 2016 Queensland Oaks with Nek Time.    Racing Queensland

Christen Me N, Nike Franco N, Kept Under Wraps A, Anythingforlove A, Sky Major N, Lazarus N, among many other champions who raced in Australia and or New Zealand before making their way to North America. Aside from their gifts of gait speed and racing racing ability they also brought with them an incredible power,  they united two harness racing industries in two hemispheres. I am have been fortunate to see some of these now North American harness racing champions and sit along the rail to watch them race. I am always captivated by their racing ability. I have even had the chance to meet a few of them up and I am always a little star-struck when I do. I find it inspiring how people have been brought together because of these horses. I wonder if in adjusting to a new climate, new people and new routines if these champions realize how they have positively impacted the global harness racing industry? Personally, I have made new friends and made existing friendships stronger because of these champions. Here are my stories on some of the former  “Down Under” champions, racing in North America and the amazing friendships I made because of them. He was known as the “the Prince” when he faced Terror To Love, at tracks across his native New Zealand. Chances are you do not who I am talking about, unless you are involved in New Zealand racing or are like me and follow it. But, in the barn and with those that knew him best, he was “CC”. When the news broke that Christen Me N would be coming to race in the United States, I have to admit I was both thrilled and disappointed.  I have a soft spot for Christen Me N because he was the first New Zealand bred horse I took an interest in after I met his former driver Dexter Dunn in Ireland in 2016. I was thrilled because this meant I would have the opportunity to watch him race, but I also knew that he would be greatly missed by many in New Zealand. Then, I remembered that him coming to the North America meant friendships would be created and that was a good thing. He would be showcasing the very best of New Zealand racing talent, in the place some argue is the pinnacle of harness racing- the United States of America. Upon arrival in the United States, Christen Me N was placed in the care of Jim King Jr. and Joann Looney -King. I looked forward to the day that I would get to meet the famous “C.C”. One day in early summer of 2017, I got my opportunity because he was entered to race at what was at that time Mohawk Racetrack .That afternoon, I stopped by the farm where the King’s were stabling to see him in addition to some other horses they had racing in Ontario. As I arrived, Christen Me N was coming in from the paddock. He was so regal, standing there in the warmth of the sunshine while I admired him. I was at a loss for words and he looked like he knew what I was feeling. I got a little closer and he bowed his head, allowing me to stroke his face, and give him a kiss. Meeting him is an experience I will remember and cherish. That night he raced at what is now Woodbine- Mohawk Park, and of course I cheered. However, I was cheering him on for his fans in the southern hemisphere too. He unfortunately did not win that night, but just to be able watch him race live was a thrill for me.  When I posted the pictures from our visit and of him racing the following day; my social media buzzed. I received comments about how he was doing and how his race went and a few friend requests from people in New Zealand. The photos were also shared by people in New Zealand. Knowing that the small gesture of posting a few pictures meant a great deal to so many people warmed my heart. Next is my story of the horse who inspired this story- Nike Franco N. Nike Franco N is also is the care of Joann and Jim King Jr. I first met her on that same visit that I met ¨C.C” and she also raced on that same night. When she began racing in North America, a person by the name of Amanda Grieve was always tagged in many posts on Twitter (tweets) about Nike Franco N. So, after I met Nike Franco and posted the pictures of us, I decided to send her a message and find out she loved this mare. It turned that when Nike Franco N raced in Australia, Amanda was the caretaker for top mare and trained her for a period of time too.  Now Amanda and I talk every couple of weeks.Our friendship is all thanks to Nike Franco N. If it was not Nike Franco N being sold to American interests there is a very good chance that Amanda and I never would have met.  Earlier this season, when Nike Franco N raced in Canada in the Roses Are Red elimination and final, I video chatted with Amanda from the rail at Woodbine- Mohawk Park and I turned the camera so she could see the race, even though she lives on the other side of the world we were both cheering on Nike Franco N who she affectionately calls “Darling”.  It was truly a special opportunity for me and one I will cherish forever. In a recent conversation with Amanda,  she said something that tugged at my heartstrings and I felt was fitting for the sentiment of this very story. She said, “You get very attached to them. Especially working with them every day. And travelling with them too. Yes, I do miss her. But, I am still watching her race now.”  I can sympathize with how she feels, I would feel the same it was a horse I cared about. But, that is the great thing about social media. Nike Franco N may be across the Pacific [ocean], but the two of them are still connected through people in North America. Amanda is able to stay updated on Nike Franco N’s racing career and receive pictures is because of the friendships that Nike Franco N racing in North America has prompted. The horses that have crossed the Equator that I have also made friendships that I had before their move much stronger. Sired by Bettors Delight and foaled in 2011, Kept Under Wraps A was voted the two-year-old of the year for the state of Victoria. My friend Marcus Kirkwood owned a part of him, before Kept Under Wraps A was sold to North American interests.  I became friends with Marcus through Twitter, and when I went to Australia in February of 2017, we met in person. So, now that Kept Under Wraps A in racing in the United States, I periodically check the entries and results pages on the United States Trotting Association website to see how he is doing and then I send Marcus a message with an update. Anythingforlove A (spelled Anything For Love when racing in Australia) was bred by my friend Paul Humphreys. We became friends through social media and I also met him when I went to Australia in 2017.  When the horse had his first couple of starts in the United States, Paul and I messaged back and forth. I remember watching the race on my laptop. It was neat to be able to say “I know who bred that horse”. Anythingforlove gave us one more thing to talk about.  The story of how I got to meet Sky Major N is unique. My dad was talking with the trainer of Sky Major N, Duane Marfisi, and he it came up in conversation where he happened to be stabled, turns out we were at the same training center. When my dad told me I was elated. My filly, a future champion, was stabled steps away from a former New Zealand champion. Trevor Casey owns Sky Major N. I talk with his partner Kate Marriott often. I truly consider her a friend. During my visits with Sky Major N I gave him treats and kisses and my mom would take pictures. When I returned home I always sent Kate the pictures as soon as I could and told all about our visit.  Similarly, Trevor Casey also owned a share of the world-renowned champion, Lazarus N. Now that Lazarus N is in the United States being trained by Jimmy Takter, I send Kate all of the news and pictures I see of Lazarus. It always makes my day to send her updates of both of these champions. Every time the name of an overseas champion is printed in a North American [racing] program or their name graces a headline an “N” or an “A” is placed after their name to symbolize to everyone reading the program or the article they mentions them,  this horse is from Australia or New Zealand. I think of it as a symbol of pride.That extra letter also symbolizes the countless hours of care, hard work and dedication that the team of people looked after them in Australia or New Zealand put in that made them into the champion that now races in North America. I will forever be grateful for the friendships I have gained because of these horses. They have added so much joy to my life. I also look forward to creating many more friendships through these horses in the future. To everyone who has ever loved, taken care of, trained, owned or driven one of these now North American champions, thank you. Thank you for making these champions who they are. Without you they would not have broken the records they did, had the jaw-dropping victories they did. In addition, thank you for sharing your your champions with us here in North America. You will always be a part of who they are, no matter where in the world they race. To everyone in North America who has a horse who previously raced in Australia and New Zealand, know that these horses are extra special. I encourage you to find out who the connections were when the horse raced in Australia and or New Zealand and connect with them, if you have not already. I hope through these dual hemisphere champions you will make friendships like I have. These champions that have etched their names into greatness in both hemispheres make the big world seem a little smaller by bringing people together who are passionate about the same sport, but are oceans apart that is the power of these dual hemisphere champions. Sydney Weaver is 18 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom's horses, jogs them on the track, owns both a Standardbred and a Thoroughbred racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals. She will be attending Carleton University this fall in their Communications and Media Studies Honors Program. Footnote: Since I began writing this piece, Christen Me N, “C.C.” is no longer in the care of the Jim King Jr. and Joann Looney-King, he is now with other caring connections.

When Lazarus stepped foot upon American soil at the start of June this year it officially began the next leg of the great pacer’s remarkable journey. It was also the beginning of a growing hype from the North American and international harness racing media. Since arriving at Jimmy Takter’s East Windsor Farm in New Jersey, the enquiries have been constant. The reputation and expectation that preceded his arrival would put pressure on any trainer. But his new trainer seems extremely calm about it all. With 45 starts, 35 wins, 9 placings (he was only once out of the top three) and $3.8 million (NZ)  in earnings, Lazarus has already won two editions of his home country’s most prestigious race, the New Zealand Cup, and a staggering 15 Group One races in Australasia. But his ultimate challenge still lies ahead of him. Lazarus has been purchased by Taylor Made Stallions, who up until last year have been thoroughbred stallion owners, and are based in Kentucky. One of four brothers who own Taylor Made Stallions, Duncan Taylor grew up in the Standardbred game and decided that branching back out into the harness racing world would be a sentimental move and also a lucrative opportunity for their company. His new trainer, US Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Takter, is a Swedish native that has tasted success at the very highest level in Europe and North America. Takter trained Elitlopp winner Moni Maker and also the world’s fastest pacer, Always B Miki, and he now has his sights set on translating Lazarus into an international star. “My main goal with Lazarus is the Breeders Crown in October,” says Takter. “He has been working very well here, last week he paced a mile at home in 1.56 and did it very handily.” “I intend to go a bit quicker with him this week but I am very pleased with him. You can tell he’s a legend.” The horse has recovered from his trip and has adapted well coming from winter to spring reported Takter. “He’s been tremendous so far. There is a lot of stress that is put on a horse coming to this hemisphere. Different food, different environment, but my farm is very quiet and relaxing.” “He arrived looking great but with a little winter coat. His body was a bit confused so it took a little bit for him to adapt.  In the last two weeks I would say he has really blossomed and he is starting to look really good now.” For Takter the weight of expectation from the international racing community is nothing new, and he thrives on the challenge. “It’s not intimidating for me. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I took on Moni Maker years ago and that was the best decision I ever made,” laughed Takter. “I like the idea of taking on great horses. That’s what we work for right?” “A lot of people are asking about the horse at the moment, hopefully we are able to live up to the expectation.” Since joining the team Lazarus has made a unique impression on Takter. Who fondly refers to the horse’s characteristics during his work. “He’s got personality, he’s very cool. We train him on the straight track with a team of eight horses and he is very vocal,” he said. “He screams the whole way. He’s a funny horse.” The biggest challenge in adapting to the racing style in North America Takter feels is gate speed. “I know his racing style at home is varied and over different distances, but up here you have to have gate speed. That will be the biggest thing he will need to have to make it here but it feels like he has it. I don’t think it will be a problem.” Takter knows you can’t compare Champions from different hemispheres against each other. “I have been asked if Lazarus compares to Miki (Always B Miki) and I don’t think you can really put them up against each other. They are such unique horses.” “And that is not to put Lazarus down of course. It’s just hard to compare at this stage.” “Lazarus is more laid back and more humble. And Miki was more stallion-like. But I was so proud to be associated with that horse and the world record.” The next task will be to find a suitable catch driver for the Down Under wonder. “We don’t know who will drive him yet,” admitted Takter. “Yannick Gingras does a lot of driving for me and I think the horse would fit Yannick’s style.” “I’m not one hundred percent sure but the owners are great people and basically leave it up to me to make the best decision for the horse which I appreciate.” So what would Takter deem as a success in North America for Lazarus? “Pocono Downs is not a track where you can go under 1.46. But if he does win the Breeders Crown this horse will go down as one of the greatest of all time, not only in the Southern Hemisphere but in the Northern Hemisphere as well.” But to even get to the Crown the horse will need to trial and show he’s ready for it. Lazarus will attempt to qualify at the Meadowlands in four weeks’ time, coinciding with the close of the Meadowland racing season and their Hambletonian Day meet. “I hope we can accomplish success at the highest level,” said Takter. “I am very happy to have this horse.” “We all know how difficult it is for horses to travel and keep at their peak form.”   by Jess Smith, for Harness Racing New Zealand

When news broke of the sale of harness racing's New Zealand Champion Pacer Lazarus to North American interests in May of this year, one of the biggest questions from his army of fans was who will take on the responsibility of training the great horse. After all, Lazarus had amassed an impeccable record already for New Zealand trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. With 45 starts, 35 wins, 9 placings (he was only once out of the top three) and $3.8million in earnings, Lazarus had already won two editions of the country’s most prestigious race, the New Zealand Cup, and a staggering 15 Group One races in Australasia. He had won everything from standing start two mile staying tests in his New Zealand Cups, in which he set the record for the fastest ever time paced over the distance, to a scintillating mile mobile victory when he won the Chariots of Fire in 1.49, in New South Wales. And whilst the New Zealand bred horses currently dominate the North American open class ranks with three of the top seven earners Kiwi exports – Shartin (the richest overall pacer in the US this year to date), Bit Of A Legend and Sell A Bit – the road to glory for New Zealand standardbreds abroad has not always been easy. Adapting from the varied style of racing in New Zealand where race distances can be anything from one to two miles, stand or mobile starts or on grass or all weather tracks, our horses can sometimes find the transition to racing hard and fast miles at every start a steep learning curve. There have of course been great New Zealand pacers who have flown the flag boldly in previous eras – the great Cardigan Bay of course was the first Standardbred to earn one million dollars and he hit that mark in the United States. So famous and adored by the public he featured on The Ed Sullivan Show following his record setting achievement. In more recent years Bit Of A Legend has also gathered a legion of fans in North America. After leaving New Zealand at age six with 20 wins to his name, Bit Of A Legend has gone on to win feature races in the US and Canada collecting a further 24 wins and taking his earnings $2.2million in the past three years. For Lazarus, the man tasked with guiding him through the next chapter of his journey is New Jersey based trainer, Jimmy Takter. And if he can produce success with Lazarus it will complete one of the most unique and historic training trifectas in harness racing history. He’s trained the world’s richest trotter, the world’s fastest pacer and now has his sights set on converting a down under champion into the world’s next star. But time is not a luxury he has.   Born in Sweden, Takter is the son of a Swedish harness racing trainer and originally started his career as a driver. His father sent Jimmy to the USA when he was a teenager to learn more about the harness racing trade, and as soon as he set foot in the States Jimmy knew he had found his future home. “I feel like I fit in here,” Takter explained. “When I arrived I just fell in love with the place.” So after returning home briefly to marry his childhood sweetheart Christina, he returned to the United States with his young family in 1982 to pursue his North American dream. What followed would be such a successful and versatile career that it would lead to Takter being named a six time Trainer of the Year, and was then inducted into the US Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. He is ranked the second most successful trainer in history in the United States based on prizemoney, second only to Ron Burke, with a whopping $122 million in stakes to his name. Takter developed many top trotters in the 90’s including Hambletonian and Breeders Crown winner Malabar Man. He then hit international headlines when he trained and drove trotting champion mare Moni Maker to win the Elitlopp in his homeland in 1998. She went on to finish second in that great race in 1999 and won the Prix d’Amerique in France in ‘99 also. The grand mare was twice named US Horse of the Year and was three time Trotter of the Year. At the time of her retirement in the year 2000 she was the richest Standardbred racehorse, and richest mare of any breed, with $5.5million in earnings. It would have been easy for Takter to stick with what he knew best, after all he grew up around trotters and was picking up success in the biggest trotting races on the world stage, however Takter’s next move would see him lift his training game to a whole new level. Noted for his dedicated attention to detail and his drive to keep learning and improving, Takter turned his attention to also purchasing and training pacers. A foreign concept to him as in his homeland of Sweden they only race trotters. He adapted to training them with emphatic fashion, with success with Mr Feelgood in the 2006 Little Brown Jug when winning his two heats in an all age, combined time record. Then in 2010 and 2011 he produced the outstanding pacing filly See You At Peelers to win her first 22 starts in a row, capturing the imagination of harness racing fans worldwide. But it would be in 2015 that Jimmy Takter would start to showcase his greatest pacing training achievement when the then four-year-old Always B Miki would enter his stable doors. Always B Miki arrived with four screws in his left hind pastern after a dramatic accident saw the stallion kick the wall of his stall just minutes before his Breeders Crown final. The horse was late scratched after being found to be lame in the warm up. Takter had the horse recover and resume training with him, only to injure the opposite hind leg. It was back to the drawing board and would be a further five months until Always B Miki would resume. It was worth the wait. Remarkably after facing all of the adversity in previous months, the horse went on to win all four of his starts that season, all in 1.49.4 or better. Takter proclaimed that the horse would make a big impact on the sport the following year, if he was able to keep him healthy and sound. And he was correct. On October 9 2016 Always B Miki changed harness racing history when he and regular driver, David Miller, paced the fastest ever mile in 1.46.0. The duo led throughout at the Red Mile in Lexington in the Allerage Farms Open Pace, and as Miller reeled off the opening sectionals the atmosphere on course became electric. There had been much hype about the horse being able to break the barrier set previously by Somebeachsomewhere, He’s Watching, Warrawee Needy and Holborn Hanover of 1.46.4 in race conditions – and to all present they had a sense that this could be the day. When Miki and Miller hit the three-quarter mile in 1.19.4 race announcer Sam McKee lifted to another level, and so did the horse. As the post loomed fans watched the clock and held their breath as the final time was announced. “Always B Miki – in 1.46!” McKee screams.  The crowd erupted into a standing ovation. The performance has set the new benchmark for greatness in the sport, and the occasion almost proved too much for Takter. “I was so nervous before the race and I never get nervous like that, but I was,” he revealed. “He was scared of shadows and he didn’t warm up well.” In his career Takter has trained four Horse of the Year title recipients, Always B Miki was his first pacer to win this. With Always B Miki retired a new challenge would soon arise. Following the purchase of Lazarus by Taylor Made Stallions of Kentucky, Takter was approached to take on the role of trainer for the five-year-old stallion. And even though he would be a long way from New Zealand, Lazarus will feel right at home in his new stable in East Windsor, New Jersey. The Takter property is one of the most immaculate you will ever see. The driveway is adorned by the American Flag and features a pond with its own seven foot Statue of Liberty. Set up in a similar style to the Purdon and Rasmussen training complex, the 40 hectare farm offers a stunning barn facility with walker, equine treadmill, a 1200m straight line training track, two mile jog track, a 1000m training track and is based beside a 75 hectare Horse Park.  Takter likes to utilize this and take his team through the park to mix up the workload and keep their minds fresh and active. Whilst Takter is at the top of his game, with one of the most enviable training complexes and training records in the world, it will all be over for him soon. In a shock announcement late last year, Takter indicated that in 2019 he will step down from training duties, and hand over the reins to his daughter Nancy and his trusted stable foreman, Per Engblom. They will train from Takter’s farm and he will still live on site and be available to offer assistance and advice, but is determined to step back and take some time for himself and his family. Takter has been open about the pressure he puts on himself to be at the top of his game. He can be extremely critical on himself and strives for perfection. “A sign of a good trainer is one that stays on top for many years,” he said. “I want to be on top, but I can’t all the time. It’s been 35 years of doing this and it’s hard. I get depression very easily and I get down on myself.” “You work yourself to death here,” admitted Takter. “I just feel like if I can’t be one hundred percent into it I don’t want to do it. But it is hard to back off.” “At this stage of my career Lazarus is actually a big plus. It is horses like this that make me remember why I wanted to be in harness racing. A horse like this is very special for me to be participating with.” It’s a brutally honest and admirable revelation from one of the greatest trainers in the sport. Highlighting once again the level of pressure that being the best presents. “I haven’t decided if I will totally stay out of the industry. But I need to take some time for myself and then make a decision. I would love to come down to New Zealand and maybe have a drive as it’s on my bucket list.” Latest reports from Takter have been positive about Lazarus and how he has settled into life at the Takter Stable. He has adapted to his new surroundings effortlessly, and has been complimented on his wonderful temperament and attitude towards his work. “He’s a cool horse. I’m very happy with him, you can see he is a legend,” said Takter. There has been talk about a potential start at the Red Mile in Kentucky in September, and also the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs in October. But nothing will be set in stone until Takter is one hundred percent happy with Lazarus and his progress. “My main goal is the Breeders Crown at Pocono for him. If I accomplish that it will be the icing on the cake,” stated Takter. So whilst many focus on the great horse himself, and rightly so, there is also a human element to this intriguing endeavor.  Lazarus could allow Takter a fairytale swansong to his career; the Hall of Fame trainer, who ventured away from his homeland to chase the American dream, retiring at the top of his game and potentially signing off by producing one of the most unique training triple crowns.  The world’s richest trotter, the world’s fastest pacer and transforming a national hero from a different hemisphere into an international icon.  by Jess Smith, for Harness Racing New Zealand    

The 2018 McMillan Equine Feeds NZ Junior Driver Champion has been found. Congratulations to Alicia Harrison who finished the Championship on 49 points after continuing her winning streak by taking out Heat 3 on Queen Of Glory, and securing the  Championship with a mid placing in the last and final heat. Second placing was taken out by Benjamin Butcher and third place went to Mark Hurrell.  The championship was hard fought throughout all four heats but after Alicia got off to an early lead, she was always the one to beat. “It’s been a real privilege, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity,” said Harrison. The Inter-Island competition was won by Team North, team captain Benjamin Butcher is pleased to have the trophy back in the North. “It’s good to have it coming home” said Butcher. We would like to thank all the trainers and owners who supported this series and also to our sponsor Mcmillan Equine Feeds. Please see the full final standings below:   Final Points      Alicia Harrison                   49 Benjamin Butcher             46 Mark Hurrell                      39 Matt Anderson                  34 Luke Whittaker                  29 Dylan Ferguson                 27 Jack MacKinnon                26 Tony Cameron                   26 Ben Hope                            25 Kimberley Butt                  18 John Morrison                   17 Sheree Tomlinson             12                                                   North Island                     203 South Island                     145     Courtney Clarke Marketing and Communications Executive | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

The Victorian campaign of New Zealand juvenile trotting star Enhance Your Calm is off. The early fixed odds favourite for both the Redwood and the Breeders Crown juvenile male trot will miss both races after co-trainer Mark Purdon wasn’t happy with him this week. “I think he needs a break and has a few niggly things that mean he is better off in the paddock,” says Purdon.  “They are nothing major and I thought he was actually having a few growing pains heading into the Jewels but then he turned the corner and was fine. “But he isn’t right enough now for a tough campaign like that so we will give him a spell.” Enhance Your Calm bolted away with the Harness Jewels Juvenile Trot at Cambridge last month and has looked a special talent since the Purdon-Rasmussen stable purchased him off former trainer Gavin Smith. He is one of two big name juvenile trotters to join the stable this season, with the other being Oscar Bonevena but both will miss the Australian riches next month as the latter has already for a spell. That will open up the markets for both the Redwood and the Breeders Crown boys trot on August 25. Purdon and Rasmussen will have two three-year-old pacers in glamour filly Shez All Rock and the well-related Think About Me trying to qualify for the ABC in their small non-tote heats at Addington on Friday night.   Michael Guerin  

Luk Chin, 75, will feel like a winner even before he arrives at Alexandra Park with his trio of trotters tonight. The Waikato medical specialist who spends his Friday nights driving racehorses for fun is thrilled to have his trotting darling Tereskova racing in her own race tonight. Alexandra Park officials have named the fourth on the card tonight the "Tereskova 100+ Starts At AP And Still Going Strong Trot", which as well as being a mouthful is one hell of an accomplishment. Tereskova has actually started 116 times at northern headquarters during her 134 start career, winning nine races and earning just over $1000 per start. Chin is stoked to see her honoured for her long service and exciting racing style. "I was chuffed when they said they were going to name a race after her," he says. "She is still trotting times as good as she ever has and loves being a racehorse so I don't see a reason to retire her yet. "Maybe next season she will go to stud and while it is a good field this week our tactics won't change. She is a one-pacer so we will try to lead and go as fast as we can." Those tactics will be employed without any encouragement from a whip though, with Chin having given up carrying the persuader with Tereskova long ago. "She knows what to do and gets out there and runs and I would only carry a whip with my horses about 10 per cent of the time. Mainly when they are learning and they try to pull up. But once they know what to do, I drive them all without a whip." Although Woodstone, Credit Master and Sundees Son among others might be too sharp for Tereskova at the end of her race, Chin has two other winning chances tonight, not bad for a man who breeds, owns and trains all his own horses as a hobby before heading off to work as an anaesthetist at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton. Safrakova is good enough to get money in race six "as long as she behaves herself" while the unique stable's best chance is Savitskaya in the last race. She should have won a maiden by now but got a bee in her bonnet a few starts ago and started galloping early but her manners appear to be coming right. "If she trots all the way I think she will win," says Chin. So how much longer will the 75-year-old want to keep getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning to work his team of mainly female trotters when it probably costs him more money than it makes him? "I love it. I've never won a group one before so being the first 80-year-old to drive a group one winner sounds like a good goal," he says with a laugh.   Michael Guerin

Tonight saw the first two heats of the 2018 McMillan Equine Feeds Junior Driver Championship held at Forbury Park. Alicia Harrison was successful in the first heat with Olde Oak Emma, Jack MacKinnon ran second on Omar Sharif and Benjamin Butcher finished third on Beaudiene Gambler.  The second heat was taken out by Mark Hurrell with Possente Cavallo and Benjamin Butcher and Alicia Harrison were second and third. Tomorrow we head to Addington Raceway for the final two heats. Alicia goes into tomorrow night leading the Championship “I am absolutely wrapt to be in this position, tonight couldn’t have gone any better ” said Alicia. The InterIsland Competition is currently being led by the North Island team. Please see below the standings as of tonight.    Points after Heat 2 Alicia Harrison 27 Mark Hurrell 25 Benjamin Butcher 22 Jack MacKinnon 19 Matt Anderson 16 Ben Hope 13 Luke Whittaker 13 Kimberley Butt 13 Dylan Ferguson 11 John Morrison 9 Tony Cameron 6 Sheree Tomlinson 6     North Island 98 South Island 82   Courtney Clarke Marketing and Communications Executive | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Four harness racing meetings are programmed in again this week and with a few of our regular trainers and drivers away on holiday the ringaround list may end up being smaller than usual  for the next few weeks. The Forbury Park Trotting Club start proceedings tonight hosting two heats of the Junior Drivers Championship. Addington and Alexandra Park host meetings tomorrow night, then the weekend harness racing heads to Ashburton on Sunday. Last week the biggest winning dividend in the ringaround selections went to one of our our Harnesslink reporters who thought Jack Pack would win at Rangiora on Sunday. Jack Pack did win and paid $3.60 and $1.70 on the tote.  The TAB are running $50,000 terminating pick six Jackpots every Thursday and Friday for the month of July.   Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often   Forbury on Thursday night Matthew Williamson - Matthew thinks that Bush Man might be his best drive this week in Race 2 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance might be Grey Power at Forbury in Race 3 Geoff Knight - Geoff says Armstrong would be his best chance this week at Forbury in Race 5 Brent Barclay - Brent thinks that Loma Jaccka would be his best drive this week in Race 8   Alexandra Park on Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Todd says his best chance this week would be Cyclone Banner at Alexandra Park in Race 1 Scott Phelan - Scott is going for In The Shadows as his best drive this week at Alexandra Park in Race 3 Tony Herlihy - Tony thinks his best chance would be Forever Pearl this week at Auckland in Race 5 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks that M'Lord Mackendon can go close to winning Race 6 Jay Abernethy - Jay is going for The Hulk as his best chance at Alexandra Park also in Race 6 Andre Poutama - Andre says his best drive this week would be Beg For Chevron at Auckland in Race 10   Addington on Friday night John Morrison - John is going for Ruthless Kayla as his best drive this week at Addington in Race 4 Brad Williamson - Brad thinks his best drive this week could be The Dominator also in Race 4 Ricky May - Ricky is going for Kingslayer as his best drive at Ashburton in Race 5 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Miss Pinocchio as his best drive this week at Addington in Race 9   Ashburton on Sunday John Curtin - John thinks Majestic Moment would be a good winning chance at Ashburton in Race 3 Harnesslink Reporter - says Fynn Frost would be a good chance at Ashburton in Race 4 Racechat - Lance thinks that Trailer Park Girl is a good winning chance at Ashburton in Race 8     Harnesslink Media

The equation is getting pretty simple for Blair Orange. With his first national driver’s premiership already secured Orange needs nine wins in eight meetings to break Dexter Dunn’s New Zealand record 229 victories in a season.  A win a meeting and Orange shares the record, one better than that and the record is his. “I suppose it sounds simple but obviously fields are getting smaller and it is just a matter of getting on the right horses,” says Orange.  “It is in the back of my mind of course because I have got this close but what will be will be. “I’ll just take it one meeting at a time and if I can have a meeting where I win two or three that will take some pressure off.” That could even come at Forbury Park tonight, where while Orange only has six drives because two of the races are for junior drivers in the NZ champs, he has several winning hopes. “A lot of these horse are the same ones racing each other every week and I have a few who can definitely win,” says Orange. He rates Jamies Bad Boy in race seven his best hope with a good draw and some consistent recent form. “And the way Dusky Eyre (race three) won last week he has to be a good chance too.” Madaboy (race one) and Armstrong (race five) are also rated winning hopes while Evangeline Franco at least has some winning form going into the last race. A victory or two tonight could take Orange a fair way toward the record this weekend as he races at Addington tomorrow and Ashburton on Sunday. But he has stopped short of calling in any favours in the record chase. His former boss Mark Purdon has Shez All Rock all but guaranteed a win in a non-tote Breeders Crown heat tomorrow night and Orange could have easily picked up the phone and asked to take the champion filly for a spin as payback for years of service to the All Stars. “But I wouldn’t do that. If I am going to get the record I wouldn’t want to do it that way,” he says.  “I’d like to keep going the way I have been going and obviously getting on the best horses I can but not like that.   “And I am pretty sure Mark will be keen to drive her anyway,” he laughs.   Michael Guerin

Tonight at Forbury Park we see the running of the first two heats of the McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driver Championships. The 12 competitors (six from the North Island and six from the South Island) will battle it out over four heats - two at Forbury tonight and two at Addington tomorrow night.  The teams are selected through a qualifying period which ended on the 11th June 2018. North Island Benjamin Butcher (NI Captain) Alicia Harrison Luke Whittaker Dylan Ferguson Jack MacKinnon Tony Cameron South Island Matt Anderson (SI Captain) Sheree Tomlinson Ben Hope Kimberly Butt Mark Hurrell John Morrison You can see the drivers full profiles here: Profiles Good luck to all the drivers competing in the Championship and thank you to the Trainers who have supported this series and helped to get it off the ground.   HRNZ Marketing

Despite Southland having its best summer in years, the dry hot conditions didn’t produce the number of track records we might have expected. Whereas last season over thirty track records were broken, this season the numbers were down with only thirteen pacing and seven trotting records broken across the province, including Southern tracks in Central Otago. The leading track for breaking records was Ascot Park Invercargill, with two pacing records and four trotting records broken. The two pacing records were three year old Christian Cullen gelding Karmic Way which recorded 2-04.43 for the 1700 metre mobile which was also a Southland record, and two year old colt A Bettor Act which ran 2200 metres from the mobile in 2-40.6, a new Southland and New Zealand record. Luby Lou, the winner of the inaugural Southland Trotting Oaks ran a new Southland record at Ascot Park when she recorded 2-47.9 for her 2200 metre mobile win. War Admiral showed his potential when he won over the same distance in 2-48.0 which was also a track and Southland record.  Finally quality two year old trotter Full Noise which debuted over 2700 metres from the stand against older opposition, created a new two year old track, Southland and National record when he trotted the distance in 3-35.0. Central Southland Raceway proved to be the fastest track in the province though with Franco Santino recording the fastest mile time of the season in the province when he won in March in a time of 1-52.0. It was also a Southland record for three year old colts and geldings. Somejoy added to her record when she broke the four year old and older mare’s track record running the mile in 1-53.2. Two trotters to break records this season on the Winton track were Jen Jaccka 3-00.9 for the 2400 metre stand which was also a New Zealand record, and Sundons Wish which ran 3-02.5 over the same distance to break the Open Entires and Geldings record. Young Quinn Raceway in Wyndham had four records broken this season. The Robbie Holmes trained Kiwi On Show recorded a 1-52.2 mile time and broke the Mares and All-Comers record while War Dan Delight broke the long standing Kindergarten Stakes race record when he posted 1-53.3 for the 1609 metre mobile. His time was also a track and Southland record for his age. Kiwi On Show                - Photo Bruce Stewart.           The other track record holder was the ill-fated Steiger which recorded 2-57.2 to break the 2400 metre stand record of aged entires and geldings. Omakau was the home of two track records this season; Maidonthebeach posted 2-27.5 for the 2000 metre mobile, a new mare’s track record, while Hicori ran his 2600 metre standing start in 3-20.9. A new record for three year old colts and geldings. At Roxburgh two records were broken. War Machine ran 3-28.2 over 2700 metres from the stand and Deliska broke the 2700 metre stand record when she won the Roxburgh Cup in 3-25.0. The Gore all weather surface produced just one track record when Nemura Franco broke the three year old fillies’ record for the 2200 metre mobile, winning in 2-41.4. No records were broken this season at the Gore grass track meeting while at Ascot Park at its first grass meeting in years, seven new records were created. At Cromwell on the grass two pacing and one trotting records were broken. Leah Mac broke Idealistic Lass’s mare's record over 1800 metres from the mobile. The new record is 2-13.8. Idealistic Lass remained in the record books however when she recorded 3-22.7 over 2600 metres from the stand. On the trotting front the promising Kenny’s Dream broke Dark Horse's three year old fillies record for the 2600 metre stand recording 3-28.8.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Welcome to the Harness Half Hour brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world.     Jess Smith HRNZ Marketing

Don’t let Chase Auckland’s place near the top of the early New Zealand Cup markets fool you. Because while trainer Mark Purdon has confirmed the superstar three-year-old will be nominated for the great race he is anything but certain to start. Chase Auckland was unheard of this time last year but has emerged as our best three-year-old pacer, winning eight of his nine starts for nearly $400,000 in stakes. A mid-season injury saw him robbed of his shot at the New Zealand Derby and Jewels but after winning the Sires’ Stakes, Sales Series and Northern Derby he will be crowned three-year-old of the season at the national awards on September 29. The silver lining to his post-Northern Derby problems are that he was in the spelling paddock earlier than a fellow three-year-old star like Sheriff so will be back racing in plenty of time to get the miles in his legs needed for the 3200m Cup on November 13. But Purdon says while the Cup is the first aim it is still a tentative target. “He will be nominated and then we will let him tell us if he is ready for it,” he explains. “Because of the rating he will be on he will have to race the best horses at some stage early in the season and that will give us a guide as to whether he is ready for the Cup that early or whether we wait to later in the season to target an Auckland Cup. “So he will start on a Cup campaign but if we think he is not ready he could do what Ultimate Machete did this season, miss the Cup and wait for the Free-For-All.” That strategy worked last year when Ultimate Machete wisely dodged stablemate Lazarus in the Cup and won the Free-For-All three days later but this year’s Cup is far more open without the enormous judder bar that was Lazarus in the way. The TAB has pleasingly opened their earliest ever New Zealand Cup market, with nominations not even taken until August 29 and the fact Ultimate Machete is the $5.50 opening favourite confirms how open this year’s classic looks. Purdon is happy with how Ultimate Machete’s issues which ruined the second half of this season for him have settled down and indicates the $800,000 Cup will suit him better than the four races of an Inter Dominion a month later. With him being set specifically for the race his $5.50 quote makes far more sense than the $6 for Chase Auckland, who is far from guaranteed to be there. Any punter eying the Cup market should be careful though as the bookies haven’t included Soho Tribeca, one of Australia’s best pacers, who has been set for the race and should be viewed as coming. And West Australian trainer Gary Hall confirmed to the Herald he will nominate Inter Dominion runner-up Chicago Bull and rates him a 70-30 chance of coming. If that pair make it to the race they will be among the favourites so until they are included in the market it is very much buyer beware. With so many high profile pacers exported or retired this year one of the few genuine Cup winners still in the hunt for Addington this season is Dream About Me, who is the most forward of the Purdon’s big guns. She pushed Lazarus to a half-neck in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton last season and as a former Auckland Cup winner would only need to hold together to be one of the NZ Cup’s major players. “She has had all sorts of problems with corns but they are good at the moment and she is not too far away from the trials,” said Purdon. “So if we can stay on top of those problems she is right up there with our best chances of winning the Cup this year. “But obviously we don’t have the same firepower as the last couple of years without Lazarus so the race looks a lot more open.” Meanwhile, the stable’s exceptional three-year-old filly Shez All Rock starts her Breeders Crown campaign in an easy non-tote heat at Addington on Friday and should headline a five-strong team for next month’s rich series in Victoria.   Michael Guerin

Southern Harness Racing, Southland Racing Club, Southland Greyhound Racing Club and Gallop South are proud to jointly host the Acting Prime Minister, the Rt Honourable Winston Peters, at An Industry meeting at the Top of the Park, Ascot Park Racecourse, Invercargill, on Wednesday 18 July at 5:30pm.   The Acting Prime Minister will speak on the state of racing in New Zealand, followed by a Q&A session with attendees.   This is a unique opportunity to discuss directly with the Minister of Racing the issues facing the local industry and is a chance not to be missed. The event is free to attend but RSVP is essential as there is limited space available.   To RSVP, please phone 032179117 or email southland.harness@xtra.co.nz by Monday 16 July.    Southland Harness Racing

Southwind Frank Tr 2, 1:52.4; 3, 1:52.2 ($1,950,887), the 2015 USA and Canadian 2YO Trotting Colt of the Year and a former world champion juvenile, will be available to Australian and New Zealand breeders this season. The frozen semen of the brilliant son of Muscle Hill will be distributed by Stallions Australasia at a fee of $6,600 including GST in Australia and $6,000 plus GST in NZ. Stallions Australasia principals Peter O'Rourke and David Shammall said they are delighted to form this association with Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, Pennsylvania. "Adam reports the frozen semen in Europe is proving very successful and they have the same good results from breeding some of their own mares with the frozen as well," O'Rourke said. Southwind Frank raced only as a two and three-year-old and from 26 starts only finished out of the top three twice. As a two-year-old he won 11 of his 12 starts and $786,419 in stakemoney and was the richest and fastest freshman trotter of his year. Southwind Frank established a new world record for two-year-old trotters on a mile track and a fresh stakes record of 1:52.4 winning the $264,000 International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile by open lengths. He also set a stakes record of 1:53.8 capturing the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final at The Meadowlands and capped his first campaign with a two lengths win in the $778,440 final of the Breeders Crown in 1:54.4 over a rain-soaked Woodbine oval. Among his other successes at 2 were the $349,850 Peter Haughton Memorial in 1:53.8 at The Meadowlands, the $373,000 William Wellwood Memorial in 1:55.8 at Mohawk, the $117,406 Champlain Stakes in 1:54.2 at Mohawk and a division of the Reynolds Stakes in 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs. Returning as a three-year-old Southwind Frank won a further six races including three of the gems on the US trotting calendar - the $500,000 Colonial Trot in 1:52.4, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jnr Memorial (in 1:52.8) and the $153,250 Stanley Dancer Memorial. He took his lifetime record of 1:52.2 at three years winning a leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at The Meadowlands before effortlessly winning the $100,000 final in 1:52.6. He also finished runner-up in the Hambletonian, the Breeders Crown and Kentucky Futurity. Champion trainer Ron Burke, who prepared the colt throughout his career, said: "I've trained a lot of horses, but none have had Frank's package of speed, power and smarts. I truly believe he is one of the all-time greats." A $100,000 yearling, Southwind Frank is a son of the great Muscle Hill (tr 3, 1:50.2), the leading sire of trotters in America for the last two years. Muscle Hill has sired the winners of $40 million in stakes and to this stage is credited with more than 110 in the 1:55 list. Southwind Frank is out of the Stakes winning Flawless Lindy (tr 3, 1:58.2), by Cantab Hall (tr 1:54) from Classicaly Designed (tr 3, 1:56.4), by Lindy Lane (tr 1:53) from a noted broodmare in Classic Casette, the dam of Giant Hit tr 3, 1:54.4 ($646,650) and the USA 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year and world champion Cayster tr 1:55 ($530,451).   Peter Wharton

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