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There were plenty of surprises related to Robyns Playboy’s win at Wyndham today. With a winning margin of an impressive nine and a half lengths, and a time of 2-53.0 - a new track and Southland record for both three year olds and all-comers, Robyn’s Playboy was the standout performer of the day. “We were hoping for cover and to drive him for just one run. He hadn’t had a workout and had a fair spell,” said Gore trainer Ross Wilson after the win. Driver Craig Ferguson sat the Shadow Play gelding parked for the first 800 metres before he took the lead. With 400 metres to run he had his eight other rivals struggling. On straightening Ferguson pulled the ear plugs and Robyns Playboy instantly extended his lead, going down to the finish line nine and a half lengths ahead of I’m Trouble. “He’s just got a great cruising speed and doesn’t stop. He’s got a real big motor in him we know that. It was very pleasing.” The time 2-53.0 bettered Return To Senders 2014 Three Year Old and All-comers track record of 2-55.1, broke the long standing 2007 Three Year Old Southland record held by Rider On The Storm (2-54.5) and equalled Nex Time’s Southland’s All-comers record of 2-53.0. The time was only 0.5 of a second outside of the National Three Year Old record of 2-52.5 held by The Dorchester. This season Wilson has seen Robyns Playboy become the real deal and live up to the high opinion he had of the horse when he started his career last season. “Initially he could run but didn’t know what to do. You’d pull him out and he’d just muck around beside the other horse. He’s cottoned on now. When you pull him out he’s got to get going. He’s been working with Bridey (Bridesdale Robyn) the last couple of weeks and she went well at Addington. There’s not much between them. He’s the all-round horse. He’s got gate speed and he can stay.” So now the main worry for Wilson is where to place the quality three year old. “I don’t know what to do with him now because if you start again you’re racing horses that are near cup class.” One race for three year olds that Wilson is considering is at Gore on 27th December. It’s worth fifteen thousand dollar and is sponsored by Cadrona Distillery. The Gore Club hopes to make this race an annual feature. “I won’t go north with him, I’ll just muck around with him down here. We’ve had a few inquiries for him but he’s not for sale. He gets you out of bed in the mornings.” So impressed with Robyn’s Playboy is he, that Wilson plans to send his dam Robyn Maree back to Shadow Play.   Bruce Stewart

Long hours of work, long hours of planning and organisation and long hours out on the training and racing tracks paid off big time for Mark and Natalie this week-but after a short celebration and relaxation it will soon be all systems go for the next big assignments -the Auckland Cup carnival and Inter Dominions. That is the key to their success-moving forward to the next target. Natalie had an unforgettable meeting training and driving the winners of three of the Group Ones at the meeting, the only ones in which they had a runner. “Well its been wonderful. You plan for that but its got to happen. We are lucky we have the horses and the staff to be able to do these things “ Natalie’s biggest moment was the NZ Cup with her special favourite Thefixer and while she keeps working he will have some R and R “We’ve sent him to the water walker for a couple of weeks. He had that foot problem through the spring and we don’t want to risk any aggravation of that so he can have an easy time” Natalie said. “It was a marvellous Cup run really. He got a nice trip but he hadn’t had the seasoning of most of the others but he was just as determined as I was !’ It is doubtful if any Cup winner, and especially in modern times, has won a NZ Cup at his 16th start. Even the great Lazarus had 21 starts before his first Cup. In fact, in a number of respects, Thefixer is a “throwback” to the old time Cup winners often sparingly raced because of lack of opportunity. Once Natalie took the drive on Cruz Bromac it was ominous news for his rivals “He has high speed and I will be looking to lead” Natalie said pre-race. She made no secret to any likely challenger like Todd McCarthy that she was going to stay there and when Tiger Tara faded at the 300m she went for broke and it was the winning of the race. “A lot of our horses were to be standing up to be counted this week and they nearly all did it” The balance Natalie has in her thinking that eases the pressure in big races is typified by the fact she left the course late in the afternoon to go shopping for groceries ! Returning to win the Free for All. Mark came to the fore again on Friday with three wins of the four. TURN IT UP and KINGS LANDING were probably the most interesting in the longer term and both produced positive results. Kings Landing and Winterfell were often compared as younger horses. Originally Kings Landing was rated tops but gradually Winterfell overhauled him and went clear in the comparison stakes. Not so much now. “The gap is narrowing” Mark said. “He’s really pleased me this week. He is stepping up each time and you love to see that in a trotter especially. So there is not a lot between them now” Turn it Up is a talent of almost frightening potential and the Free for All confirmed that. “You couldn’t fault him on that after so few starts. The nomination for the Inter Dominion was really only a wild card but he has shown he can compete at the best level and we will be bearing that in mind “ Mark and Natalie will be following their traditional plan of taking it easy in the next week and and finalising plans for the “A” team. It is never easy but this year it looks an overwhelming task.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Harness racing driver Natalie Rasmussen capped off an amazing week by reining Cruz Bromac to an easy front running victory in yesterdays $184,000 Woodlands New Zealand Pacing Free For All at Addington Raceway.  After an unlucky run in Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup, Cruz Bromac relished the shorter 1980m distance of yesterday's race and the son of Falcon Seelster blasted to the lead shortly after the mobile barrier arms folded. From there the race turned into a procession. With main rival and TAB favourite Tiger Tara caught three wide early and then parked, Cruz Bromac never really eased the pace and won easing down in a super quick 2-18.5 for the 1980m mobile. That equated to a mile rate of 1-52.5 with the last 800m cut out in 55.6 and the closing 400m run in 27.0 seconds. Stable mate of the winner Turn It Up ran on from three deep on the fence to grab second off the trailing Jack's Legend who battled on well for third. Tiger Tara wilted to last after finding his early efforts out wide too big a hurdle to overcome. Natalie Rasmussen really burned early on Cruz Bromac and thought he might be found wanting at the finish, "I really maxed him out to get across and sometimes they are found wanting when you do that, but he really tried hard down the straight.He was getting tired but he really gave it his all. "Since he joined us he has really impressed us, each run he has been really solid and good. "Mark and I will sit down next week and work out where we go, but I would say more than likely Inter Dominions first and then go from there," she said. The win by Cruz Bromac gave Natalie her third Group one success for the week after also winning the NZ Cup with Thefixer and the Sires Stakes Final with Ultimate Sniper on Tuesday.   Harnesslink Media

Clint Ford's greatest moment in the sulky might also be his last on raceday. Because the Canterbury part-timer suggested he might give up driving after Marcoola's magical win in yesterday's $300,000 Dominion at Addington. The magnificent squaregaiter came from third last with a sustained burst of brilliance to smash our best trotters, clearing out before the top of the straight and winning effortlessly. Marcoola is officially trained by Ford's father Ken, giving him one of the most unlikely doubles in trotting history after he won the Dominion last season with 90-1 chance Amaretto Sun. But it is Clint who does most of the training and all of the driving of the former age group star, even against his better judgment sometimes. Ford rarely drives other horses and has been his own harshest critic at times during Marcoola's career. So after his beautifully-timed surge to victory yesterday he suggested he might give up the driving game. "That might be it for me, I am only a part-timer and I might not drive anymore," he said. Yesterday's win in our biggest trotting race was only the 29th of Ford's driving career and having climbed the mountain it wouldn't surprise to see him keep his word and hand the reins on Marcoola to niece and high-class reinswoman Sheree Tomlinson. But for now the Ford and Tomlinson family can enjoy having back-to-back winners in their version of the New Zealand Cup because to trotting people the Dominion is the ultimate goal. They won't be chasing the other great trotting prize, the Inter Dominion in Melbourne next month, though as Marcoola was not nominated for the series. That would suggest he is likely to come north to contest the rich trots at Alexandra Park and Cambridge and finally live up to his enormous potential. When Marcoola emerged as a 3-year-old and then challenged Monbet as a 4-year-old he looked a superstar in the making but the next 18 months of his career had more lows than highs. But a long spell last season has seen him return bigger and stronger and yesterday's run suggests at his best he is the premier trotter in Australasia. While Marcoola's dominance was so complete there was no point making any excuses for the others, there was plenty to admire about the booming late run from Aussie raider Kyvalley Blur for second while Lemond was vastly improved on his first-day performance to hold third. But favourite Speeding Spur might have been feeling his first-day win in the Free-For-All as he performed slightly below his best in fourth place. Michael Guerin

The Dominion is all about the Ford factory. However, it’s horsepower of a different variety – equine! For the second straight year, West Melton trainer Ken Ford has walked away with the biggest trotting cheque in the southern hemisphere after his brilliant performer Marcoola delivered a stunning performance to win the Gr.1 $300,000 Used To Me @ Haras de Trotteurs Dominion at Addington today (Friday). Twelve months ago, the Ford family was left shell-shocked after Amaretto Sun and young Sheree Tomlinson (Ford's grand-daughter) pulled off a longshot shocker to win the south island feature and again today, they were left a little gob smacked by the sheer arrogance and blinding acceleration of their star trotter as he raced away with the 3200m standing start feature. Handled by Ford's son Clint, it was utter domination from Marcoola. Unlike last year, the performance today didn’t completely shock anyone because most are acutely aware of the rich talent the Sundon six-year-old entire possesses. In lead-up to the event, his form has been true and consistent but the barrier allowed punters to gain a juicy price about the speedy performer. Race favourite Speeding Spur was backing-up following his Gr.1 FFA victory on Tuesday and was attempting to claim the Rowe Cup/Dominion double in the same year while join the other 17 trotters to claim the Cup week double. With Alderbeck, Temporale and Hey Yo all beginning quickly and vying for the early supremacy, Speeding Spur stepped safely and landed in a handy spot just behind the leaders. Classy mare Harriet Of Mot galloped away badly and lost considerable ground. Within the first lap, changes swept over the field with the highly fancied Great Things Happen finding the lead while Lemond was left parked without cover and Speeding Spur sitting right on his back. The tempo was dawdling with Great Things Happen and driver Gavin Smith walking the big field through the opening lap. The lead time was covered in 2:08.1. Speeding Spur made a move around the 1200m point and parked outside Great Things Happen while Ronald J soon followed and raced outside the leader. The first half was covered in 29.2 and 31.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Great Things Happen led Ronald J while Speeding Spur sat poised ready to strike. Passing the 1000m point, driver Clint Ford made his move with Marcoola and allowed him to stride forward three wide and his run was unimpeded. And he came with a rush as he built massive momentum. The third quarter was covered in 29.7 seconds. With his blinding acceleration, Marcoola surged to the lead and soon opened up the field and raced away to lead by a clear margin entering the home straight. Ford kept his charge focused as Australian trotter Kyvalley Blur started to charge down the outside but the margin was too great. Marcoola scored convincingly and registered a margin of 4 lengths from Kyvalley Blur with a further 2.75 lengths back to Lemond in third while Speeding Spur finished fourth. The winning time was 4:08 – a mile rate of 2:04.6 with a final split of 28.7 seconds. Yet again, it was time for celebration for the Ford family. “He felt really good and there was some cat and mouse tactics from Anthony (Butt – Kyvalley Blur) and Tony (Herlihy – Temporale) and I just went for it. He trotted great and showed great speed but I kept thinking they were coming and I kept checking but he did it well.” Driver Clint Ford said. Marcoola is raced in partnership by Clint and his father Ken. The last time a trainer prepared back to back winners in the Dominion was Tim Butt back in 2003/04 after Take A Moment and Lyell Creek proved triumphant. Interestingly, Marcoola is closely related to Lyell Creek and takes his record to 14 wins from 31 starts while his earnings now exceed $410,000. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $150,000 Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15. Chris Barsby

The Owners representative took a quick visit to All Stars Stable on Wednesday to see how Chase Auckland was progressing towards his return to harness racing and the news is very positive.  “We are looking at taking him to a trial in 3 or 4 weeks and then aim at a possible race at Cambridge followed by a suitable race in Auckland perhaps on Christmas Eve,” Mark Purdon said. He says "I do not think he would be ready for such a tough and demanding race like the Auckland Cup at this stage instead Id rather race him as much as possible against his own age group". This could involve such races as the $50,000 Futurity Stakes at Cambridge on January 24, and in Australia, the $50,000 Hondo Grattan Stakes on February 2, the $50,000 Paleface Adios Sprint on February 9 with the main one being the $200,000 Chariots of Fire on February 16 – all at Tabcorp Park in NSW. It would then be back to New Zealand for such possible races as the $50,000 Superstars Champs at Addington on March 29, the $100,000 Taylor Mile on April 26, the $100,000 NZ Messenger (both at Auckland) and $150,000 Harness Jewels at Addington. At the time of taking his New Zealand record in The 3YR Sires Stakes Final in 2017, Chase Auckland recorded the fastest ever time for not only three-year-olds but for all-comers rating a 1:52.2 mile rate over the 1950 metres. He also holds a second record at Auckland over 2700 metres in The Great Northern Derby rating 3:16.8 for the distance. This son of Auckland Reactor has had just the nine starts for eight wins and a second to date with $392,329 in the bank. His return to racing will be eagerly watched and waited for by his large numbers of Owners and Fans across the Country. The photos taken and shown here are spectacular to say the least. Chase Auckland - Group 1 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final 2017 Chase Auckland - Woodlands Great Northern Derby 2018 Harnesslink Media

Invercargill Jeweller Kevin Schuck can thank a handful of slow gallopers for his switch to Standardbreds and hence his love of the straight out trotter. Schuck was born in Dunedin and has a mix of European blood running through his veins. His grandfather was born in Austria and he also has German and Dutch ancestry. Maybe this explains his love of trotters. His father Bill, was in the New Zealand Police force for over twenty years and the family moved to Invercargill when Kevin was about eight months old. He attended St Patricks Primary School before heading to Marist Primary and then on to Marist College. At the age of thirteen his father got him an after school job with local jeweller Russell Coats and Kevin has been in that industry ever since, even though he initially didn’t have an interest in jewellery. “Dad had a real interest in antiques, trying to make the odd dollar here and there, wheeling and dealing. I really wanted to have something to do with wildlife like being a wild life ranger. But after a few years working for Russ I thought ‘I can do this.’ Coats and Schuck eventually became partners in the jewellery business and also in a host of other ventures over the years. “We’ve had a go at a few things. Coatsy and I had a go at farming possums – that failed dismally. I’ve had goats and reared calves.” As an twenty year old Kevin Schuck bought fifteen acres at Longbush just outside of Invercargill and that lead to his involvement with horses. “I had some money put aside to put in some drainage tiles. I didn’t know the front end from the back end of a horse. Russ said ‘would you like to make a bit of money’ so we put $600 ($300 each) for a place on a galloper. It was the first bet I ever had. It paid $2.40. For the next week and a half I didn’t leave the Northern TAB thinking this was an easy lark. I was just betting on their names and form. After a week and a half I‘d earned $600 to $700 but after that, it all went pear shaped and has been ever since. ”   Kevin also worked in The Gold Room on the West Coast for seven months in the late 1980s and one horse he vividly remembers at the time was Besta Kara which won three races for Bill Cummings and a further six for Doody and Kevin Townley. The Gold Room was owned by Rhett Robinson who owned a mine in the area and turned gold nuggets into jewellery. “After I left he got into breeding in a big way.” Robinson and his daugther Fiona bred Village Green under the Aird-righ Bloodstock Limited banner. She was by Tuapeka Knight out of Totara Road and won three races. They also bred from Village Green with her best foal being Indy Village which was by In The Pocket and won seven races when trained by Robbie Holmes. The first horse Kevin owned was a galloper called Mr Jay Jay (Palatable – Miss Jumbo Jet) which was trained by Longbush trainer Kelly Thompson. Mr Jay Jay had three starts for an 8th, 6th and 15th before breaking a leg at the trials. One of his next ventures in the galloping game was through his brother Stephen who had a bit to do with local trainer Cecil Beckett (trainer of Wellington Cup winner Ed). “I ended up buying Ravensdale off Cecil. Dad and I went halves in her and we bred a couple of Codeenes. We also bred a colt called Fast Forward which Cecil wanted to buy but Dad and I hung onto it. I ended up swapping a car for Dad’s share. I gave him a Mitsubishi Tredia Turbo for his half. He drove the car for about 15 kilometres before the turbo blew up. He was very sour about that and probably still is.”    Ravensdale was by Grey Gull out of Game Girl.  Fast Forward won once, at Gore in October 1994. Trained by Lenny Casey who shared in his ownership he was sold to Macau for $25,000. “To be fair galloping was not my go. In general if you want to get to the top in galloping you have to go to the top sires which cost more. That’s why I got into trotting.” Thus Schuck switched gaits. His first Standardbred winner was pacer Barbed Wire; a Majestic Chance gelding out of Lively Air which ended up winning four races from Murray Brown’s stable. The horse’s first win was at a Southland OTB trial in December 1991 when driven by junior driver Richard Stevens. Kevin’s interest in trotters started to develop. “Because there’s less of them you’ve got a better chance of getting a winner. The game has changed now, they’re going that quick. Going back twenty years you just needed something that could just trot all the way and if it stayed down you’d generally get a cheque. That’s changed and they’ve got to have speed now. That’s the French and American influence coming through.”    The first trotter he raced was Dean’s Pride which was bred by John Lischner who initially trained the Game Pride gelding. His only win in twenty five starts was for Murray Brown at Forbury in January 1991 driven by Henry Skinner. “I remember Wattie Muir walking past and saying to Russ and I ‘there we are boys you’ve had your win.’ Schuck said he and Coats didn’t understand what he meant. However he now says “I saw what he meant. It was his only win. It’s not that easy this game.” Schuck also raced Sundon trotter Don Pauli which won two races for Brian Norman after stints with Kevin Townley and Alan Paisley. Don Pauli also raced in America trotting a mile in 1-55.2 and winning another eight races there. Schuck also raced Don Pauli’s full brother Son Of Elgin and half-brother Leonard. Leonard, a Chiola Hanover gelding and the second foal of Elgin Princess, was initially trained by Townley but won his four races for Paisley who shared in the ownership with Schuck and JF Smith. He was exported to Australia and won another four races there. Elgin Princess the winner of six races was out of Elgin Lady which won five. This family goes back to Desmond’s Pride mare Bettagain whose best two foals were Cee Ar (11 wins) and Tronso (10 wins). Tronso is the second dam of Elgin Princess. Cee Ar, trained by Roderick DeFilippi, raced in the mid to late 1970s when there were a host of very good trotters including Easton Light, Waipounamu, Screws Loose, Bachelor Tom, Frontier, Edis Nova, Dupreez, Robyn Evander, Castleton’s Pride, Petite Evander and Nigel Craig. Cee Ar’s best wins were in the 1974 Rowe Cup and the 1975 New Zealand Trotting FFA. Schuck bred from Elgin Princess from 2004. The mare left Muscle Yankee colt Leave It Alone which won once from twelve starts, Lady Eileen (Armbro Invasion) which was unraced and Mr Mayfly (Earl) which won six races here and a further eight in Australia. He’s still racing in South Australia. Mr Mayfly was Elgin Princess’s last foal but Kevin continues to breed from Lady Eileen. Her first foal was the talented De Vito which has won five races and has had stints with Southern trainers Billy Heads and Nathan Williamson. He was then trained in the north by Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett but has since returned to Southland where Robert Wilson will train him. “There’s always been something niggling at him. He’s a head tosser.” Lady Eileen has since left foals by Continentalman, The Pres, Angus Hall, Dream Vacation and Bacardi Lindy. The Bacardi Lindy colt named Napoleon Bonaparte was bred by D.R.Beckingsale. Schuck also ended up breeding from another branch of the family, Elgin Princess’s first foal Sylvia Star. “Kevin (Townley) offered me a couple of mares to breed from and I ended up taking Sylvia Star. I wanted to go to Chiola Hanover and Kevin had a service to him which he wasn’t keen on using. I leased Sylvia Star off him for one season and bred Cochy Bondhu. I went back to Kevin a few years later and ended up buying Elgin Princess. I must have had too much money back then when I was young.” Sylvia’s Star has left a host of winners including Constar (7), Mitchell (5), The Promise (6), Lenny B (4 New Zealand and 20 USA wins) War Spirit (2 New Zealand and 4 Australia including the Group One Breeders Crowns for three year old colts and geldings). During the early years he also bought into trotting royalty with the purchase of Sundon’s Sister – a half-sister by Gee Whiz II to Sundon. “When we got her home we found out she had a condition called Bog Spavin (soft swelling on the medial surface of the hock joint). Dick Prendergast trained her. She ended up winning one race but she cost a shit load of money. I thought I’d put her in foal to Call Me Now. Kevin Townley leased that foal off me but it died in a thunderstorm, snapping its neck.”              Schuck shared in the ownership of Sundon’s Sister with Russell Coats and two other jewellers Bas O’Connell and Ian Shackley. Her win was at Invercargill in October 1996. She was exported to Australia in August 1999 but never raced over there. She did leave Likeaplayboy (Dream Vacation) which won 24 of its 104 starts and banked $96,669.00 for his owners. Two of Sundon’s Sisters’ daughters have bred on. Springhasprung has left a couple of handy types in Miss Cully (Great Success) which has won four races and Aussie Beach Blonde (Bacardi Lindy) which has won six. Another daughter Sister Ra has left I’m Princess Sophie which has won 14 races and ran second in the 2017 Group Two South Australian Trotters Cup at Globe Derby. So in total Schuck is breeding from four: Lady Eileen, Streaming Sunbeam, Overcast and Cochy Bondhu. Cochy Bondhu (Chiola Hanover – Sylvia Star) won four races and has left Overcast (9 wins), Coppertone Lad (1 win) and Over The Love (3 wins from just 8 starts). Schuck says Over The Love, which is by Love You, has shown plenty of potential for Canterbury trainer Ken Barron. “Another one which I can’t take the credit for is Over The Love. Frank Marrion and I did a one for one swap. I bred Coppertone Lad and he bred Over The Love. Frank didn’t do the paperwork and left Cochy Bondhu in my name so I’m getting all the credit for it (Over The Love) which I shouldn’t be.” As an owner his most successful trotter to date has been Overcast, a Sundon mare which finished racing this season winning nine races for him and trainer Alan Paisley. She was served by Majestic Son but didn’t hold so she’ll be served by Love You this season. Other foals out of Cochy Bondhu are a colt by Dream Vacation called Cochy Malc which Ken Barron bought as a weanling and a Father Patrick colt named Father On Down. He’s also breeding from Streaming Sunbeam which he brought in 2011. “After I sold Sundon’s Sister I got a bit more money and thought bugger this I want to get back into that breed. I bought Streaming Sunbeam which was by Armbro Invasion out of A Touch Of Sun. Streaming Sunbeam was a very average horse but had very strong genetics.”   She was trained over a 20 start career by Alan Paisley and Billy Heads and her best two runs were for Paisley - a second and a third. Bred by Dennis Bennett and Linda Joyce, A Touch Of Sun won five races and is out of elite broodmare Sungait Song the dam of champion trotter and sire Sundon (27 wins), Arnsong (9 wins), Roydon Arnie (9 wins), Sungait Reb (15 wins) and Sunning (8 wins). Streaming Sunbeam’s foals to date are; Spotlight The Valley (Skyvalley), Danangus Fella (Angus Hall colt) and Steaming Live (Muscle Mass filly).  She’s just foaled to Sundon. Ross Jones with Streaming Sunbeam and her day old Sundon foal - Photo Supplied Of the four broodmares he’s breeding from he’s most excited about progeny out of Overcast. “Because there’s a chance we could breed something pretty smart. There wouldn’t be too many mares that have Sundon, Gee Whiz II and Chiola Hanover in their pedigree. Without a standout there’s some still nice racehorses in there and I think the first five or six generations are all race winners.” With a host of stallions to choose from Schuck says it’s becoming more difficult to match his mares. “Every year I have everything worked out on paper, then I listen to people and read books and then my breeding theory just goes out the back door. We are spoilt here for what we can get now. There are just so many new stallions coming through and you’ve got to weigh up the cost. You also have the same problem as all breeders have – are these stallions going to be in vogue in two years’ time? Even if you’re not breeding for the sale you still want to try and breed a commercial race horse that if it shows potential you can sell and even as a weanling there’ll be interest from trainers to buy it.” Schuck has decided to send all his mares to Love You this coming season – at this stage. “The best value for money, in my mind is Love You. If you look at the rest of the world there’s no doubt that Muscle Hill is up on a pedestal at the moment. If I had the money though Muscle Hill would perhaps be worth a punt.” Some consideration was given to what he reckons are two underrated stallions in Majestic Son and Bacardi Lindy. “The thing with my breed is that most of the progeny get better with time. With Love You you can’t beat the statistics. For eight grand you’re getting what was the best in the world. I know it’s not there now but he’s still right up there.” Although Kevin has been to the national sales as a buyer he’d love to return as a seller but is just biding his time, aware that it’s an exact science. “If we can get a Love You out of Overcast we’d consider it. They’ve got to be 100 percent correct or you’re wasting your time. Until we get something that’s 100 percent we’ll just have to keep chipping away.” As a breeder he says the Rowe Cup is the race he’d most like to win but it’s just as big a thrill seeing a horse win a maiden race. “When I was getting started the Rowe Cup at the time was the prestige race to win as a trotter but there’s so many others now.” Schuck is one of the few in the south breeding just straight trotters. He’s become a student of pedigree but remains very much hands off when it comes to horses. “I’d rather walk a cow around. Mike Brown (who was a well know Southland vet) once said ‘if you’re not confident with a horse don’t go near them because you’ll get hurt.’ No one has ever taught me and at 55 I have no desire to start learning now either. Better to stick to my jewellery.”   Bruce Stewart

Aussie warhorse Tiger Tara could find himself facing the same problem at Addington today that he did three days ago. But if he doesn’t, then he should win the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. The big black stallion wowed fans and even rival trainers with his huge second in the New Zealand Cup after sitting parked before just going down to Thefixer, who used the passing lane to grab him. Tiger Tara has what looks to be the worst possible draw at barrier nine, the outside of the front line, in today’s 1980m mobile pace but has real gate speed and should be across most of his rivals early should driver Todd McCarthy want. But that still leaves him with the same problem as he faced on Tuesday — the likelihood he could be left parked outside a Purdon-Rasmussen horse. The most likely is Cruz Bromac, who will relish the return to the mobile and blasted to the lead to win the Len Smith Mile at Menangle over the winter. If driver Natalie Rasmussen chooses to use that speed he could lead again and then the whole question of the race may be whether she lets Tiger Tara assume the pacemaking role or not. If he leads then it is hard to imagine him beaten unless the passing lane horse, a Cruz Bromac or Jack’s Legend, got him for raw speed. But his $2.70 fixed odds quote does look appealing because if he was drawn better he would be closer to $2 and that may not be the huge factor it looks at first glance.   Michael Guerin

New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer is staying home — not just from the Inter Dominions in Australia but from Addington on Friday too. Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were expected to decide on Wednesday between the Inter Dominion series which begins in Victoria on December 1 and starting Tuesday’s NZ Cup winner in the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Friday. In the end, they decided on neither. “He was a tired horse, as you might expect, after the Cup and the best thing for him now is an easy time,” said Purdon. “So we will let him miss the free-for-all and while we thought about the Inters I don’t think he needs to be part of that series just yet. “So he will stay here, get ready for the Auckland Cup (December 31) and if we decided to go to Aussie later it will be more likely to target a one off race, like a Hunter Cup.” A similar northern programme also beckons stablemate Dream About Me, who finished third in the Cup and will miss both Friday and the Inter Dominion to be aimed at the Queen of Hearts at Alexandra Park on December 14 and then the Auckland Cup, which she won two years ago. “If she wins the Queen of Hearts it has the bonus of qualifying her for the Ladyship Mile in Sydney later in the summer,” explains Purdon. “I watched the Cup video again and saw just how hard she tried on Tuesday. She went great but I don’t want to back her up.” The All Stars, who won a remarkable eight races from nine they contested on Tuesday, are still likely to have Inter Dominion runners headed by Cruz Bromac with others like Spankem and All U Need Is Faith also possible chances. But while impressive intermediate grade pacer Turn It Up has been thrown into the big time in the $200,000 Free-For-All on Friday he is a very unlikely Inter Dominion contender. Cup runner-up Tiger Tara has again been savaged by the draw for the free-for-all, drawing the outside of the gate at barrier nine while the big winner was Jack’s Legend with barrier one. Tuesday’s group one trot hero Speeding Spur has secured his second perfect draw of the week in the $300,000 Dominion, New Zealand’s richest trot in which he will start from barrier four. That is made even more fortuitous by the fact most of the other pre-draw favourites, Marcoola, Great Things Happen, Kyvalley Blur and Temporale, have drawn the second line, suggesting they will all be giving Speeding Spur a start. Michael Guerin

Ashburton Trotting Club - Thursday 15 November A 12 race card, kicking off at 12.09pm.    Alexandra Park - Friday 16 November Christmas At The Races popular as ever Alexandra Park’s eight Christmas At The Races hospitality evenings set down for November and December are selling fast but there’s still time. “Our three November evenings are probably where we’ve got the best availability. However individuals, businesses and organisations need to book now to avoid disappointment,” says Roxanne Visser, Sales & Events Coordinator at Alexandra Park. The 2018 Christmas At The Races evenings will take place on Fridays 16, 23 and 30 November and 7, 14, and 21 December as well as Saturday 8 and 15 December. The incredibly popular nights are promoted as the perfect work Christmas party with a gourmet buffet, stunning décor, and great entertainment including a visit from Santa himself!. Holly packages remain available from $70 per person, as do the delightful Mistletoe packages at $115 with the option of track-view dining outside on the Epsom Balconies. Also, still available are the premium Pohutukawa packages in the Tasman Room from $140 which include a premium drinks package. However, Pohutukawa packages in Alexandra Park’s level five Top of the Park venue, priced from $165, are now limited but with some availability still on 16 November and 21 December. Ms Visser says regardless of the hospitality package, everyone gets to enjoy a sumptuous all-you-can-eat Christmas-style buffet. She says Alexandra Park’s exclusive President’s Suite can also be hired for private parties, with availability remaining on both 16 and 30 November as well as 21 December. Alexandra Park is renowned for delivering delicious dining packages and exciting harness racing under lights. Then after the last race, everyone gets together at The Alex Bar & Eatery to enjoy live entertainment. For further information on Christmas At The Races or to reserve your table please call (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or visit www.alexandrapark.co.nz. ATC 2019 Syndicate: Over the last two decades, the Auckland Trotting Club has formed 17 syndicates, each comprising either 40 or 50 shares and racing between 2 and 4 horses. To date, all 17 syndicates have proved, or are proving, very successful: At this year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale or the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale, the Auckland Trotting Club 2019 Syndicate’s yearlings were selected by the top trainers Robert Dunn, Brent Mangos and Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson: Name: Alta Redeemer Trainer: Robert Dunn Name: Christianshavtime Trainer: Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson Name: Bet West Trainer: Brent Mangos When you join an ATC Syndicate, not only do you get to enjoy the thrill of owning and racing harness racehorses, but you can also be very involved in Harness Racing generally, initially at Alexandra Park and the wider Auckland/Waikato area and then quite possibly venturing further afield in New Zealand and Australia, as some previous ATC Syndicates have. There are many advantages involved with being part of one of the Auckland Trotting Club Syndicates. These include; the comparatively low costs, the opportunity to share in the ownership of well bred horses trained by some of the best trainers in New Zealand, making new friendships with like-minded people, having total involvement in the Harness Racing industry and having the opportunity to participate in social events and possibly travel throughout the year. Every month, syndicate members receive a detailed newsletter documenting each horse’s progress, member news, and other information. Regular updates are placed on a phone-in message service, which can be accessed at anytime from anywhere in New Zealand free of charge. We have already had syndicate members from a wide geographical location around New Zealand, from Kaeo and Kaitaia in the North, to Dunedin and Invercargill in the South, as well as from the USA, Canada, England, Japan, Australia (Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia) and even Iceland. Each year of establishing a new Syndicate, the Auckland Trotting Club has implemented their hugely successful formula of buying three richly bred yearlings at the Yearling Sales, with these horses being selected by and trained by some of New Zealand’s leading trainers. For further information please contact or go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz/racing/syndicates: Andrew Jamieson – ATC Syndication Manager Mob: + 64 21 253 8765 Email:  ajamieson175@gmail.com If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via email on dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or give us a call on 09 631 1165   Wyndham HRC - Sunday 18 November  SUPERB DAY OF RACING AT WYNDHAM   The southern harness racing is on the picturesque surrounds of Young Quinn Raceway in Wyndham this Sunday (18 November) when a ten race card starting at 12noon will see feature events - the Kubala Seeds Stella Frost Stakes Ladyship Final, the Southern Standardbred Breeders Assn Southern Belle Speed Series Heat and the Hunter Family Handicap Pace fought out. Admission to the course is free.   Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club Inc Update Fantastic news Harness racing enthusiasts and participants. The Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club can confirm that our 2019 Racing License has been recently granted by the NZ Racing Board for Friday 1st February and Sunday 3rd February to be held on the MAIN OUTSIDE TRACK of the Otaki Maori Race Course, Otaki. This is North Island GRASS TRACK harness racing at its very best. A successful galloping race meeting was held last Thursday on the Otaki Maori Race course and the track came through with ‘flying colours’ , after extensive drainage work and grass reseeding of the surface. By February 2019 we expect the grass track to offer a near “perfect” racing surface for all HARNESS participants.   The Club anticipates that stakes will be on a par with our 2018 meeting, being $9,000 per race , with the Wellington Trotting Cup run on the Friday with a stake of $12,000 and the Otaki Cup run on the Sunday for $12,000.[ These stakes were the highest of any North Island Grass track harness meeting in 2018]. There will be 10 races programmed each day.   The usual Kapiti hospitality will be on offer for all industry participants and owners. We welcome you all with open arms on the Kapiti Coast at Otaki Racecourse in early February 2019. Chris Craddock Vice President Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club Inc. 027 410 2420         Southern Harness News  A TON OF FEED TO BE WON Thanks to McMillan Equine Feeds, there is a ton of feed to be won during the 2018/2019 Southern Harness Racing season. At every Sunday race meeting during the season the trainer of every race winner will win a free bag of McMillan Equine Feeds. At the conclusion of the Wyndham Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 18 November all trainers who have won a race on a Sunday up until that time will get one entry into a draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds. The competition then starts afresh with the trainer of each Sunday race winner for the remainder of the season getting one entry into a new draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds to be held after the Invercargill Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 3 March. That is one ton of McMillan Equine Feeds up for grabs! Southern Harness Racing thanks McMillan Equine Feeds for their generous support. QUALIFYING DATES: Sunday 21 October Tuapeka HRC – Forbury Park, Dunedin Sunday 28 October Invercargill HRC – Invercargill Sunday 4 November Riverton TC – Invercargill Sunday 11 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 18 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 16 December Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 6 January Wyndham HRC - Cromwell Sunday 3 February Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 17 February Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 3 March Invercargill HRC - Invercargill    HRNZ Marketing

The New Zealand Trotting Cup doesn’t cut in half. And Thefixer and Tiger Tara won’t receive the same prize money for the bravery at Addington yesterday. But while only the former will have his name etched on the most famous trophy in New Zealand racing, the latter shared the glory in a $800,000 thriller. Thefixer at just his 16th start held off the Australian iron horse in a pulsating finish, one that confirmed no matter how many stars are missing the New Zealand Trotting Cup is that rare equine contest that always produces a fairytale. But this fairytale has two heroes. Thefixer overcame soreness just six weeks ago which threatened to derail his Cup campaign and then recorded the second fastest time in the history of the great race, only his former stablemate Lazarus having gone faster two years ago. Lazarus was all muscle and flash, the bully who taunted his Cup rivals with an arrogant 10-length win. But this time trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had to earn their Cup, cajoling Thefixer back to his best because only his best would do. After a dreaded false start he got the second attempt right then led and trailed Dream About Me. From there it was his race to lose but lose it he almost did. Because while Thefixer was enjoying the perfect run for driver Rasmussen, Tiger Tara came three wide to sit parked and break the seemingly unbreakable Dream About Me in front. At the 200m mark he looked set to produce one of the gutsiest Cup wins in history only for Thefixer to rally, an equine Rocky Balboa defying the bigger, strong Apollo Creed. Every centremetre Rasmussen saved on the marker pegs made the difference but the runner up was so magnificent it almost felt like their were two Cup winners. The magnificence of Tiger Tara in defeat doesn’t detract from what the winner achieved though. This was, after all, just his 16th start and Thefixer hadn’t come through the glamour of age group races and has earned his stripes in the big time the old fashioned way. Being so untapped and new his options are numerous, with Purdon and Rasmussen to sit down today and decide whether he heads to the Inter Dominion in Victoria starting December 1, a decision which will impact on whether he starts in the NZ Free-For-All this Friday. “He is a very brave horse because he was out on his feet at the top of the straight but he just kept coming,” said Rasmussen, who joins Kerryn Manning as only the second female driver to win the Cup. One horse certain to be in both the Free-For-All and at the Inter Dominion is Tiger Tara, who greatness isn’t in his raw ability but in the organ beating under his rib cage. He quite simply covered lengths more than the other placegetters and produced a run that would have won more than 100 of the NZ Cups run since the first in 1904. “He was great. There really isn’t a lot more he could have done,” said driver Todd McCarthy. “I thought I had them once I got past Dream About Me but the other little horse just wouldn’t go away.” On a day where the Purdon-Rasmussen team won a scarcely believable eight out of the nine races they contested they may have unearthed their next champion in Ultimate Sniper in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes. He came from the second line to sit parked and record a searing time to remain unbeaten after four starts, suggesting if he can hold together he could even be the best horse in the all-conquering stable in 12 or 18 months. On any normal day his supersonic effort would have earned him skiting rights for the meeting. But not yesterday. Yesterday he has to share that with Cup winner. And the Cup runner-up. Michael Guerin

Mark Purdon has taken his place alongside two other greats of harness racing by training the winner of his sixth New Zealand Trotting Cup today with Thefixer. Today's win by Thefixer takes Purdon's number of training wins in the race to six which equals the six wins trainers James Bryce and Cecil Devine have also had in the country’s biggest harness race. Natalie Rasmussen drove a perfect race to win her first New Zealand Cup as a driver giving her the race she always wanted to win. "New Zealand is home now. To come here and win this race, it means everything. I could happily retire now," she joked. She paid tribute to Mark Purdon on trackside after the race. "Mark and I are just soulmates, we run our business together, we work together, we live together, we are best friends. I am really lucky to have him in our life. He's just a wonderful, wonderful horseman and I am just really proud of our whole team, right from the top all the way through." Thefixer trailed for the majority of the race and just when it looked like the Australian visitor Tiger Tara was in for a hard fought win, Thefixer poked up the passing lane for a narrow head victory. Thefixer ran the 3200m stand in 3-53.9 which was only 0.8 of a second outside the race record set by the mighty Lazarus in 2016. The last 800m was run in 55.6 seconds. Tiger Tara fought gamely for second after working hard during the running and race leader Dream About Me battled on to hold down third. Cruz Bromac was a touch unlucky getting clear air late and running home well into fourth. All Stars Stables had a day to remember winning 8 of the nine races they contested which surely must be some sort of record in itself.   Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing has a new superstar and his name is Ultimate Sniper.  On a perfect Canterbury day the showy looking Bettor's Delight colt won a grinding finish in the the 3yo $170,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway. Trained by the all conquering All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Ultimate Sniper had to sit parked on a hot pace but found extra reserves in the home straight to wear down his stablemate Jesse Duke who trailed and battled well to be only three-quarters of a length away at the line.  Heisenberg ran third after setting a hot pace in front and Mighty Flying Art ran home well for fourth. Ultimate Sniper ran the 1980m mobile in a lightning time of 2-19.0 for the 1980m mobile, a mile rate of 1-52.9 with the last 800m cut out in a super quick 54.6 and 400m in 28 seconds. Driver Natalie Rasmussen gave a lot of credit to the horses toughness in the run. “This guy is very similar to his big brother Ultimate Machete,” she said. “He just does not know when to give up and just fights right to the line. “Jesse Duke had the run to beat him today but my fella has a hell of a motor and was just too tough. The win was the fourth for the day for the All Stars Stable who also won with Having The Faith in Race 2, Winterfell in Race 3 and also with All U Need Is Faith in Race 4   Harnesslink Media    

At first glance Thefixer doesn’t look like a New Zealand Trotting Cup champion.  The horse who comes out on top in our greatest harness racing usually looks the part. Big, sleek, imposing or at least with an imposing record. The Cup is the race of heroes, equine Hercules like Christian Cullen, Terror To Love and Lazarus or at the very least age group stars who have stamped themselves with class from their early days. There is no shortage of those in today’s $800,000 Cup at Addington — Dream About Me, Jack’s Legend, Tiger Tara and even Locharburn are Derby or Jewels winners who were always going to get invited to the big dances later in life. Cruz Bromac, A G’s White Socks, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire and also serious group race winners with the speed or stamina of future Cup winners. Not Thefixer. He isn’t imposing, pacing with his head slightly down, his neck stretched. His bank balance is the fifth poorest in the Cup. The richest race he has ever won was only $40,000 and even that was a consolation Sales race for horses who had never won a group one. He is, largely, unspectacular. The winner of just nine races. But that might change today at Addington because there is more to Thefixer than first meets the eye. He has been the find of the harness racing season who was hiding in plain sight. While he has never been the big noise, dig deeper into his mere 15-start career and you find some prized scalps. In his third ever start he beat subsequent Auckland Cup winner Vincent. At his latest outing 11 days ago he beat another Auckland Cup winner in Dream About Me. In between he has unassumingly downed most of his key rivals today, many on numerous occasions. The only major rival he has yet to beat is Aussie hard man Tiger Tara. Today he gets the perfect chance to change that. Thefixer has the ace draw and the manners to use it. If he steps well he can work and then relax, handing up to the right rival, maybe even a stablemate. If that happens — and standing starts can be lotteries — then he is the horse to beat. The days of slow New Zealand Cup are gone and today’s 3200m will probably be paced between 3:53 and 3:57. Will that bother Thefixer, who has never raced over the ultimate distance? “He will love it. He is one horse I am certain will handle a hard run 3200m,” says champion co-trainer Mark Purdon. Purdon usually gets a Sunday morning feel for his Cup runners, when one of them puts their hoof up and says “hey boss, I’m flying.” Thefixer is this year’s Sunday morning special. “He has really come on since his last start win and is exactly where he needs to be. You could see that in Sunday’s work. “It is hard to choose between him and Dream About Me as our best chance because they are both really well. But we couldn’t be happier with Thefixer.” If Dream About Me can lead as her draw and manners suggest then Thefixer will need to be a proper horse to run her down but if he can hold his markers advantage he looks ever so slightly the better bet. The danger, and most important horse in the race, is Tiger Tara and whether he launches a mid-race lead attack that softens the leaders up. But even then, Thefixer tucked away on the marker looks a beneficiary. Both Tiger Tara and Dream About Me have the been-there, done-that record of serious horses so deserve respect and consideration. They fit the mould. The New Zealand Cup winner mould. And Cruz Bromac, Jack’s Legend and even the battling Star Galleria have that most beautiful of racing gifts, sheer speed, that suggests they could dazzle today. Thefixer doesn’t fit the Cup winner mould. And he almost certainly won’t dazzle us. He might just go out and win the New Zealand Cup.   Guerin's Cup picks • Thefixer • Dream About Me • Tiger Tara   Cup Day • What: New Zealand Trotting Cup day. • Where: Addington, Christchurch. • When: First race 12.05pm today. • Who: The elite harness horses in $800,000 NZ Cup, $170,000 Sires' Stakes Final and $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All. • Watch: Trackside TV has live coverage from 11am.   Michael Guerin

A glorious defeat in last season’s New Zealand Cup gives the Tiger Tara camp confidence they have more than just a Plan A at Addington this afternoon. The Aussie could have started favourite in the great race had he drawn to lead, a position from where he defeated Lazarus twice last season and won the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup in devastating fashion three starts ago. A rampant Tiger Tara might have been impossible to run down tomorrow but his second line draw, coupled with the quartet of favoured Purdon-Rasmussen rivals drawn well, suggest finding the lead could be tricky, potentially impossible. But neither trainer Kevin Pizzuto nor driver Todd McCarthy think that means Tiger Tara is staring at another brave defeat. “He ran third to Lazarus last year after sitting parked, galloping down the back straight and coming again,” says Pizzuto. “So we know he can sit parked and be hard to beat, which he might have to do. “He is better than last season too so he can win without leading.” McCarthy isn’t getting carried away with tactics, admitting his first job is to navigate the first 400m safely before considering his options. “It is hard to predict standing starts but if he gets away cleanly then I have options. “Sure, leading would be great but if that isn’t up for grabs then I think he has earned the respect to get the chair (parked out) and control the race the last lap.” Tiger Tara is set to be the biggest drifter in the Cup market after opening at $3.80 straight after the draw, with $5 or better a more likely tote price. Michael Guerin

American harness racing TV and media personality Heather Vitale has officially landed in Christchurch for Cup week. Heather has already had a good introduction to New Zealand harness racing and a first hand look at several stables since arriving in the garden city last week. "I went to All stars to cover their four horses and also have a video of A G's White Socks training on the beach when I went out to the Greg and Nina Hope stable," she told Harnesslink today. "In addition to NZ Trotting Cup Day, I'm taking in the action for the Thoroughbreds and Greyhounds during the week," "I will be doing Facebook lives from NZ Cup day tomorrow and I already have lots of FB lives on my page already about the cup since being in NZ. "Seriously, get some sleep tonight...tomorrow is going to be an incredibly spectacular Facebook live kinda day!!!! Make sure you keep updated with all the Facebook live videos from Heather tomorrow at the New Zealand Cup and you can view all the Facebook live videos already produced on her trip in New Zealand so far at: https://www.facebook.com/PacinHeather     http://www.heathervitale.com/home.html   Harnesslink Media

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