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Harness racing, or trotting and pacing as it is also known, has all but disappeared off the map in Hawke's Bay. But there's a glimmer of hope in the local ownership links with rising 3-year-old pacing star King of Swing, which has had nine starts for six wins, three second placings and stakes of $206,000 in just six months of racing, including the rich Australian Breeders Crown final ending the King's 2-year-old season at Melton in Victoria. Owned by Property Brokers Napier real estate agents Rod and Sue Fleming in partnership with breeders Lincoln Farms Bloodstock, run by longtime friends John and Lynne Street, and fourth shareholder Neville McAllister, of Wellington, and trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe, King of Swing is now one of the favourites for the Gr 1 $170,000 NZ Sires Stakes final on New Zealand Cup Day in its first South Island start at Addington, Christchurch, on Tuesday. "We've never been to cup week," said Mr Fleming. "It's one of those things that's always been on the bucket list." On the reins will be David Butcher, driver in seven of the starts and five of the wins, and King of Swing has the ace draw for the 1950 metres race, with all six wins having come from draws of 1-4 on the front line behind the mobile. Rod Fleming, a New Zealand indoor bowls representative, says he and his wife can barely believe their good fortune in getting a successful horse they saw at the races for the first time at start No 7 when it won the Australian Breeders Crown final on August 27, claiming stakes of $A142,500. "We've known John and Lynne (Street) for many years, and we were at the races one day and he said let's go into a couple of partnerships," he said. One was King of Swing, named not after any cricketer or jazzman but after Mick Jagger, and the other Vasari, which won eight races as a 2- and 3-year-old in New Zealand before being sent to Australia. "I wanted a racing 2-year-old and John suggested this bloody good horse," said Mr Fleming. "He said it's one of the best in the barn, and he's got a fair number." More pertinently was that the trainer reckoned it would make a good late 2-year-old and ultimately with the formline substantiating the promise the choice was made to capitalise on the extra month of 2-year-old racing in Australia, where it qualified for the Breeders Crown final by winning a heat at Bendigo. After winning the final over 2240m, it returned to New Zealand and where many might have decided on a spell, the King's connections went straight back into eyes on a Breeders Crown-Sires Stakes transtasman double rarely otherwise contemplated. King of Swing won a heat at Cambridge on October 5 and was just beaten in the Northern Sires Stakes final on October 27 at Alexandra Park, scene of its first four starts from which it emerged with two wins and then two second placings. "This is going to take us a lot of places," he said. Mr Fleming would love to see harness racing revived in Hawke's Bay, although he said that living in the Bay and having the horse trained 380km away and racing at a distance makes the trips away for the action a big event, as they intend it will be on Tuesday for their first trip to Addington and the racing-dominated show week in Christchurch. Harness racing in Hawke's Bay has had an off-and-on history, but dates back to what is recorded as the first trotting "on the east coast" in a paddock at Stortford Lodge in 1891. The Hawke's Bay Trotting Club had its own course in Hastings up to 1899, there were also trotting meetings at Waipukurau in 1908-09, and meetings at the Hastings Racecourse in 1920-21 included the first Hawke's Bay Trotting Cup. The most recent era started with equalisator betting races at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in 1978, graduating to on-course-only totalisator betting at the club's annual two-day meeting from 1980 to 1988, leading to a move to Hastings Racecourse, full totalisator betting and the club's merger with galloping clubs to create Hawke's Bay Racing Inc. The last of the annual trots meetings in Hawke's Bay was in 1997, and the last time trots were seen "on the east coast" was when four races were incorporated with gallops at Hastings in October 1998. Lone fulltime Hawke's Bay trainer Wyn Nation has long since ceased his operation just south of Waipukurau, the now-late Colin Briskie eased out of training in Dannevirke. Lone remaining trainer, former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby representative Ricky Allen, who had mixed training horses on the beach at Waimarama with managing the Taradale RSA, and who had major success with trotters Rua Kenana and Levrik in 1988-89, moved to the South Island where he continues training at Katiki Beach, near the Moeraki Boulders on the North Otago coast. His most successful recent season was 2014-2015, with seven wins - four to Starlight Starbright and three to Zachary Smith. His one win as a trainer to date this season was with trotter Dusky Eyre at Addington in August. He's also been deputising for Sir Richard Tayler as president of the Waikouaiti Trotting Club since Sir Richard took ill earlier this year. By: Doug Laing Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green has trained the quinella in the first heat of the NRM Sires Stakes Series at Cambridge Raceway last night. Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing led all the way in the hands of Philip Butcher to narrowly beat the Green trained stablemate Recco Lover by a short margin. The winner paced the 1700m journey in a 1-56.0 mile rate with a closing 800m in 56.0 and the final 400m in 27.1 seconds.  King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) and Recco Lover (Bettor's Delight - Castellina Lover) have both qualified for the $170,000 Group One Final at Addington on November 14. The Robert Dunn trained Alta Maestro, who was the TAB favourite in last nights race sat parked and faded to finish last. Tim Vince trained a double at last nights meeting when both Drover's Eyre and Romanite won their respective races.  Romanite won the amateur drivers race and paced a quick 1-57.4 mile rate when winning over 1700m in the hands of Sheree Wigg. The Art Official gelding zipped over his last 800m in 55.7 seconds to beat the Vince trained stablemate Curlimore. Drover's Eyre led all the way when winning the highest rated race of the night for junior driver Jack McKinnon. The Falcon Seelster eight year old was having his 87th start, but showed there was still some pep left in his legs with a 56.4 closing 800m off the back of a 2-01.3 mile rate for the standing start 2200m. King Of Swing winning last night Harnesslink Media

Ray Green is not stupid --- which means Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing will try for an all the way win at Cambridge tonight. The exciting three-year-old has drawn the ace in the first heat of what looks a very even Sires’ Stakes series, with the northern crop having way more depth than recent season. Already King Of Swing has won at group one level, as has race rival Mach Shard while Alta Maestro paced a couple of national records last season and returned with a win against older horses at Alexandra Park last Friday. There is little between the trio or their other three rivals tonight but early season Sires’ Stakes heats tend to be dominated by leaders and trailer as the sprint distance and reluctance for fresh horses to be given hard runs can often mean those up front get handed the race. Alta Maestro showed blistering gate speed last season but trainer Robert Dunn was keen to see him driven less aggressively when he won last Friday and if he opts for similar tactics tonight then King Of Swing should lead, always crucial in a Cambridge sprint. And Green says that will be the plan, especially after King Of Swing led to win the $300,000 Breeders Crown at Melton in late August.  “We would be stupid not to use the ace draw around Cambridge so that will be the plan,” says Green.  “He only had a week off after the Breeders and won well at the workouts last Saturday so I think he is ready for a 1:55 mile rate this week.” While Alta Maestro is an obvious danger, Green thinks his stable second stringer Recco Lover could trail and have an upset hope. “He has very good speed and isn’t much inferior, if at all, to King Of Swing. So if he trails he has a good hope.”  Mach Shard returns after a great start to last season but having little luck later and trainer Barry Purdon knows he faces a huge task from barrier five.  “We have seen enough of these Sires’ Stakes heats at Cambridge to know how hard they can be to win if there is no pressure so I am hoping they have a go at each other early,” says Purdon.  The heat is strangely not a leg of tonight’s $100,000 Pick6, one that lacks any real anchors but also has a few legs with only two or three major chances so it worth attacking.  The problem child for Pick6 punters is Agincourt, who should win the last leg on raw ability but whose manners have let punters down twice in as many starts. He should be anchored on one ticket but well covered on another. Michael Guerin

Ray Green has broken his Australian major race drought with the most unlikely of horses. The South Auckland trainer claimed the richest win of his career when King Of Swing led throughout in the hands of David Butcher in the A$285,000 ($310,000) Breeders Crown two-year-old pacing final. The rangy pacer capped a remarkable rise from obscurity, winning his group one just three months after he debuted and without having contested any of the feature juvenile races at home. That didn't deter Green, the trainer for Lincoln Farms, from giving him his shot at Australia's best and his improvement curve has peaked at the right time, with Butcher's perfect drive a massive help. Green is no stranger to campaigning horses in Australia, having won decent races with Badlands Bute and training Sir Lincoln to a luckless second in the Victoria Derby. "But on the whole we haven't had a lot of luck over here so to finally get a really big one is very satisfying," said the jovial 71-year-old. "He has always looked a good horse but we waited until he told us he was good enough to bring over here." The win eclipses the Auckland Cup that Sir Lincoln won as the richest race taken out by a Lincoln Farms pacer and King Of Swing has Derby horse written all over him. King Of Swing His win was the highlight of a mixed day for the Kiwi challengers, with Canterbury filly Renezmae the other to taste group one glory. She led throughout in the two-year-old fillies trot for 23-year-old trainer Jack Harrington, who must surely be one of the youngest New Zealand horsemen to prepare a group one winner. Harrington has quickly built up a 25 horses stable after getting into racing with no family background. "I got into it because my Dad liked a bet so to be here, winning a Breeders Crown, is pretty amazing," says Harrington. "I was welling up when I was being interviewed after the race, I was worried I was gonna start crying," he laughed. Renezmae Punters who backed the All Stars' three runners probably felt like crying too as they had a rare off day. While Partyon was a brave third in her final, More The Better and Sicario both finished unplaced. More The Better was the shock of the day, galloping when in front after 600m as a red hot favourite. And the Kiwi juvenile pacing fillies were a mixed bag, with Bettor Joy below her best when unplaced after leading, leaving fellow Canterbury filly Angel Of Harlem to chase home stunning winner Nostra Villa. By Michael Guerin  

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green grabbed a training double last night when both Linc's Tiger and Rocknroll Lincoln won their respective races easily in  wet conditions at Cambridge Raceway.  Linc's Tiger gave his sire Sir Lincoln another boost, trailing for most of the race before bolting away in the straight to win by 4 lengths and running a quick 57.7 for his last half in the slushy conditions. Rocknroll Lincoln was even more impressive winning in a very quick mile rate of 1:57.5 for the 2200m mobile. His winning time of 2:40.7 was superb considering he led and was attacked twice in the running before winning untouched for driver David Butcher. Cambridge trainer Nicky Chilcott, also trained a double for the night when Shay Scott and Harry H won the two trotting races on the card. Shay Scott showed his liking for the track when winning his second in three weeks at Cambridge Raceway. Although his winning margin of 4 lengths was not as impressive as when he won by 27 lengths three weeks ago, he still won with plenty in hand suggesting there are more wins in store for the eight year old Sundon gelding. Harry H (Muscles Yankee - Sound Of Chiola), a recent addition to Chilcott’s barn won the the higher rated R51-84 handicap stand later in the night. The half-brother to former eighteen win trotter Martina H trailed for most of the race and got the upper hand close to the line to win by a length from the fast-finishing favorite Lovely Bundy. Trainer Arna Donnelly trained her second winner of the season when 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding Bet Out Of Ell won the feature event last night. His time of 2:43.7 was only just outside of Awesome Armbro’s national stand start record for 2200m.  Bet Out Of Ell (Bettor's Delight - Elle Mary Rose) started from a handicap of 20m and the race was held in wet conditions making the run of the winner even better. Donnelly was confident of a good showing, thinking the drop in class last night would suit the horse and he duly obliged.       Harnesslink Media

It is harness racing semi-final time for the kiwi Breeders Crown runners at Bendigo on Saturday night in Australia. The first heat of the night is the Woodlands Stud semi-final for the 2yo colts and geldings and New Zealand is represented by both King Of Swing and Master Moonlite. King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) is trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe and is having his first Australian start. David Butcher will do the driving from a tidy barrier position of three and he could possibly lead from there and be hard to beat. Master Moonlite (Art Major - Miss Moonlite) who won fresh up in Australia on the 9th August, has not fared so well with the barrier draw, coming in at five on the second row. Anthony Butt will drive him on Saturday night with Dexter Dunn likely to get back on for the final if he qualifies. In the second heat, impressive filly Our Angel Of Harlem has drawn perfectly to lead at barrier two.  Trained by Barry Ward at West Melton, Our Angel Of Harlem was late arriving in Australia, due to a delay at Christchurch airport with fog last week, but is now settled in ready to rumble according to trainer Barry Ward. Our Angel Of Harlem (Mach Three - Paradise City) won her final hit out at the Ashburton workouts last week leading all the way for driver Jimmy Curtin in a slick 2:58.9 for the mobile 2400m. She won easily under a hold and paced the last 800m of that workout in a quick 56.9 seconds. Angel Of Harlem or Our Angel Of Harlem as she is named in Australia, will be driven in the semi-final by Anthony Butt who will also do the steering in the final if she qualifies on Saturday night.  Starting in the same heat is Our Bettor Joy from the Cran Dalgety stable. She has drawn barrier 10 and will be starting from three on the second row, which is not ideal, but she does have the services of master driver Gavin Lang to guide her around the Bendigo track. Up against the two New Zealand fillies is the impressive Art Major filly Nostra Villa, who has won all seven of her starts this season. Trained by Emma Stuart, Nostra Villa has drawn badly at one on the second line giving a clear advantage to the kiwi fillies in that heat. Partyon from the All Stars Stable starts in the first semi-final for the 3yo fillies and has drawn perfectly in barrier three. She looks a good thing to lead and then be hard to beat for driver Luke McCarthy. Another All Stars runner in More The Better starts in race five the first semi-final for the 3yo colts and geldings. More The Better (Bettor's Delight - Lucky Pocket) has drawn poorly at barrier 7 with his main danger The Little General faring much better after drawing the pole position of one from the mobile over 2150m. Also in that heat is ex- All Stars Stable runner Stars Align who has won five out of six starts in Australia for owners’ G J Kennard, P I Kennard, P J Creighton, M C Creighton, G R Douglas and K J Riseley. He has drawn badly at six on the second line and will need luck in the running to feature in the finish. Big Mach (Mach Three - Outback Girl) for Logan Hollis starts in the second 3yo semi-final and has drawn barrier 8 and will start from one on the second line needing luck. He is up against the Merv Butterworth owned Motu Meteor who is building an impressive record in Australia for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. Sicario (Somebeachsomewhere - Bettorthanyou) for the All Stars Stable in the second 2yo semi-final is the last kiwi breeders contender for the night and he has drawn well at barrier four for driver Luke McCarthy.    Harnesslink Media      

Trainer Ray Green and driver David Butcher have different views over how clear cut tonight’s feature pace at Alexandra Park will be. Butcher says while he chose Vasari over last-start Winter Cup winner Northview Hustler, he isn’t sure he has made the right choice. Yet Green is adamant he has. “I think Vasari is clearly the better horse and definitely our better chance,” says Green, who is still on track for his best season ever. “He had his issues with Vasari but has always been a good horse, and now we have gelded him he is right back into it. “This might be his first standing start, but he has handled the ones I have given him at home well, and he is too good a pacer not to step safely. “Northview Hustler is a real little pro, typical of the Bettor's Delights, but I don’t think he is as good as Vasari.” Butcher, who will win the North Island Driver’s Premiership again, needs a bit more convincing. “The difference is I am sure Northview Hustler (who will be driven by Andre Poutama) will step up because he did for me last start in the Winter Cup. “Whereas Vasari I am not sure about, because I haven’t seen him do it. “So while I am driving Vasari I could have just as easily gone the other way.” The pair highlight a potentially good night for Green, whose high class juvenile King Of Swing takes on older horses in race six.“We think a lot of him and he is still very much a chance to go to the Breeders Crown in Victoria next month,” says Green. “He is very big and raw but he has a good motor, so we will see how he goes in his heat next week.” As sharp as King Of Swing has looked, Butcher warns punters tonight poses a tricky test for the juvenile. “He might be too good for them but against the older horses it is hard to make your own luck, so he is no good thing.” Green also has impressive workout winner Alta Shangri La in race one while Butcher takes his stable star Sunset Peak to the 1700m mobile trot to finish tonight’s eight race programme. “She is racing well but the way Yagunnakissmeornot won last week I can’t see us beating her,” says Butcher. Addington also race tonight, with two legs of the national junior driver’s champs, the remaining two legs to be held at tomorrow’s Forbury Park day meeting, which was transferred from last night because of the weather.   Michael Guerin

The last 16 months of Vasari’s career has hardly panned out as his connections could have liked. And it really hasn’t panned out the way Vasari would have liked it. But when the highly-talented three-year-old bolted to an effortless win at Alexandra Park on Friday night he finally looked like the horse he promised to be as a late juvenile. The long-striding son of Art Major may have been harshly judged for much of this season, with perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to him being his win in a Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington last year. That night he lead and beat juvenile of the year More The Better, just a month after thrashing his opponents in a SIres’ Stakes heat at Cambridge by six lengths in a 1:55 mile rate. After that level of performances anything but group one glory was going to seem like a waste of Vasari’s talent but luck deserted him in the best races as a juvenile and then an old problem kicked in this term. Trainer Ray Green told driver David Butcher that by the time colts get to midway through their three-year-old season they either adapt to being a boy around girls or they can’t handle it. “One night at Alexandra Park he didn’t try and when I came back in Ray summed it up nicely. He said ‘he has turned into a werewolf,” laughs Butcher. So Vasari was gelded and now his mind is back on racing he looks more like his old self. “He has always had the ability and the good thing about him is he relaxes so well. “He felt great out there tonight and that is a very handy ability to have, the ability to park out and relax then kick hard  “So who knows how far he can go now, after all, he is still only a three-year-old.” The win was Vasari’s fifth and he should have little problem adding more in coming weeks and then the question will be whether Lincoln Farms want to keep him here in New Zealand or send him to somewhere like Menangle, where he would look suited. But with the stake rises coming at Alexandra Park, maybe the days of handy mid-grade horses heading off shore will become less common, with a Vasari well capable of winning good money at home if the better-end races get off the ground. His win extended Butcher’s huge lead in the North Island drivers premiership on a night when his son Zac landed two and brother Phil reined Pakipaki to an impressive win in a good fillies and mares race. With Alta Intrigue second to Vasari it provided Ray Green with the quinella and took him to 28 wins for the season, still with a shot at his personal best of 31 set in 2012. Already Green has bettered last season, is almost level on stakes won that term and has a better strike rate so has done another huge job to sit fifth of the northern trainers on the premiership. Michael Guerin  

Northview Hustler is an unassuming little fella, who in work, seldom gives his trainer Ray Green the impression he could beat a maiden field let alone a quality Winter Cup line-up comprising of last year’s Auckland Cup runner-up. But that’s not to say that Green didn’t think his three-year-old could beat his older and more experienced rivals in the feature pace last Friday at Alexandra Park. “He’s an average worker but he’s a whole new racehorse when the day tote opens. He’s a tough little fella and I thought if he stepped away cleanly he would be right in it. “But to win like he did surprised me a bit. He’s an unspectacular sort of horse who always has the ability to do the unexpected. He seems to be able to rise above and beyond,” Green said. The R77 ranked Northview Hustler displayed a heap of character and guts to sit parked for the last 1300m and then win the $20,000 Smith & Partners Lawyers sponsored 2017 Winter Cup. All nine of the runners in Friday's feature pace for the R70 to R104 ranked pacers were four years or older - all except Northview Hustler. The three-year-old black Bettor's Delight - Northview Desire colt was only having his 11th start compared to some in the field who had raced seven and eight times more than that. David Butcher settled Northview Hustler fourth along the markers (in single file) not long after starting from their 10m handicap. That's where they remained until Butcher went and sat parked with him at the 1300m. Then for the remainder of the race the talented colt showed more heart than Mother Theresa to hold out 2016 Auckland Cup runner-up and the 102-ranked favourite, Hug The Wind (Zac Butcher), by half a neck. Second favourite Bettor's Pocket (Tony Cameron) was a neck back in third. Northview Hustler paced the 2700m stand in 3:22.5 (mile rate 2:00.6) and came home in 57.6 and 28.6. He was the $8 fourth favourite. “I’m proud of him. To be honest I thought Alta Intrigue and Vasari were my best winning chances on the night and they finished second and third in the last race. “That was his fourth win now and he’s done much better than we thought he might after less than a dozen starts. We will just race him over the winter and see what develops. “He will tell us where to next. He’s only ever raced at Alexandra Park. The Breeder’s Crown isn’t a reality but Australia could possibly be next season. I think he will make a nice four-year-old,” Pukekohe-based Green said. Northview Hustler was ranked in the top 10 for the 3YO Emerald Jewels Final but Green opted to race him at northern headquarters instead. He has now banked $54,249 for his owners - Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd, Shannon Flay (Mangere), Ian Gradwell (Henderson), Chis Western (Mairangi Bay), Ian Middleton (Greenlane, and the Four Legs Syndicate). He was bred by Murdoch Bloodstock Limited. Meanwhile Waiuku trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett won both Breeders Crown heats with Our Rosa (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Mass Destruction (Hackett). The latter won by a walk-over. Their recent Monte Saddle Trot winner, Majestic Ali, won the feature trot – the $14,999 Princess Manoja Stakes for the R47 to R60 trotters. It was Majestic Ali's fourth win in 28 starts and the five-year-old Majestic Ali mare provided Herlihy (MNZM) with his second win of the evening. The 'Iceman' got his hatrick in the ninth event when the three-year-old filly he trains - Moving Money - won easily in 2:47.4 (2200m mobile). Duane Ranger

Andre Poutama is just three victories away from achieving his goal of 30 wins in his first season as an open horseman. The 25-year-old Ray Green employee has seven nice drives at Alexandra Park on Friday night, and even though there are no stand-outs he believes he has a couple of nice winning prospects. The Franklin reinsman believed the Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El, in the seventh race, was his best winning chance of the night. “I think Arna is trying to qualify him for the Jewels Final. He’s got no Lazarus to contend with tonight,” Poutama said. Here’s what Poutama had to say about his book of drives: Race 2: The Eddy Clarke trained Whitecliff Chapel (7) – "She has been a bit disappointing after her spell and is slowly coming back to form. This field isn’t so strong and she did run home well two starts back. She can run in four.” Race 3: The Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S (9, 10m) – "He just needs the right run dropping back in this class. I think he found the 2700m a bit long last start and I think the 2200 will suit him. He’s a hope because he does everything right.” Race 4: The Ray Green trained Rocknroll Lincoln (6) - “He’s a 3-year-old colt who has suffered from poor draws lately. He was brave in front last time when he got attacked down the back. That took a wee bit out of him. If he can stay out of it early and then attack late I think he can be right in this. Each-way.” Race 5: The Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Rhythm N Blues (9) - "Another 3-year-old who was game last start after leading them and setting up a good time. He didn’t really get a breather that night. It depends what they do up front this time, but he loves racing and is not out of this.” Race 6: The Ray Green trained She's Ideal (4) - “Lightly raced mare who still has a lot to learn. She doesn't possess any real speed yet and she's not up there with the top 4-year-old mares going around but she does have a bit of talent and is drawn okay. She's the sort of pacer who is going to get better and better with racing. Race 7: The Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El (4) - “He sat parked and did all the work in the New Zealand Messenger last start and this is a big drop in class. there’s no Lazarus to contend with this time. He’s on the verge of a Jewels (17th & $2,690 short) start and I think Arna wants to take him to Ashburton. I think he is one of the better chances in the race and probably my best drive of the night.” Race 9: The Jason and Megan Teaz trained Mortician (1) - “Three-year-old trotting gelding that went real well at Manawatu last week when favourite. He ran second behind The Hulk that night and is a capable trotter on the verge of claiming his second career win. This field doesn’t seem as strong as what he’s been racing. He can win but it depends on what Mortician shows up.”   Duane Ranger

It's not often a trainer can get a tad annoyed when his horse goes too fast, but that's how Franklin trainer Ray Green felt about Linc's Tiger's easy win at in a five-horse trial at Pukekohe on Tuesday. The promising 2-year-old son of Sir Lincoln bolted in by five-and-a-half lengths, pacing the 2050m mobile (left handed) in 2:34.7. That was a whopping 7.5 seconds under the qualifying time. The brown colt's winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he came home in 57.7 and 28.4. "We have always been pleased with the way he's been developing. He's just a little fella but to be fair Nate (Delany) had him going a lot faster than what we wanted this early in his prep. The driver got a little bit carried away, but that’s to be expected, he’s young and only had a couple of race-day drives. "That was just the second time the colt has been off the property. We still have to get a bit of work into him before he is ready for race-night. We like him a lot but you have to remember it's all very well winning a qualifier because it's a different story come race-night," Green said. He said Linc's Tiger would have another trial this weekend and then perhaps he would line up in a 2-year-old race at Alexandra Park late this month or next month. Linc's Tiger is the only foal out of the unraced Real Desire mare, Tigerzureal, who qualified 2.9 seconds under the qualifying time at Alexandra Park in June 2011 Tigerzureal was the 10th of 12 foals left by the 15-win ($491,957) Butler B G mare, Tigerish. That multiple Group One-winning mare was a better than average 2-year-old herself, winning five out of eight races and placing in the other three. Linc’s Tiger was bred by Lindsay and Pam Turner of Top Notch Lodge in Pukekohe. Lincoln Farms paid $50,000 for the brown colt at last year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “He’s a very speedy little fella. He pulled up well and has come through the race without a problem. He did it all quite comfortably, which is promising,” Green said. The only other qualifier yesterday was the James Stormont trained and driven That Girl Of Mine, who beat the qualifying mark by 0.7 of a second in her two-horse 1609m mobile trot. The 2-year-old Great Success bay filly trotted the mile in 2:10.4 and came her last 800m and 400m in 62.9 and 32.1. She won by 17-and-a-half lengths. She is owned by B L Hill, Mrs M Hill, C G Walker, and Mrs N M Walker; and was bred by Frank Weaver at Takanini. She did not go through the Yearling Sales. That Girl Of Mine is the second of four foals out of the un-raced Sundon - Pride Of Petite mare, - Petite Sunshine. That mare did however qualify 0.3 seconds under time at the Auckland Trotting Club's Trials on October 13, 2009. That Girl Of Mine's grand-dam - Pride Of Petite, was also a multiple Group One winning mare, who raced 142 times and won on 35 occasions, placed 40 times and netted $811,816. She raced between March 1991 and March 1999. Duane Ranger

Ray Green’s Pukekohe stable has four talented 2-year-olds lining up in $25,000 Young Guns heats at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday), but he believed Northview Hustler (R4) and Alta Intrigue (R8) were his best winning chances. Fresh from a stint in Singapore, the Pukekohe trainer reckons he has a couple of winning prospects at ‘The Park’ tonight, but thought Northview Hustler’s trials form and Alta Intrigue’s consistency gave them the edge over the others. Stable junior, Andrew Drake, who turned 21 yesterday (Thursday), rated Spring Campaign as his best drive of the night. “I would be all over Sea Of Gold if it wasn't for the draw. She is a lovely filly, but from seven I will be going back and then having to go forward again, and that just might be a bit tough for her. “Spring Campaign is a lovely horse drawn two and he might have enough gate speed to hold the front and that’s where he likes to be. He’s tough horse,” Drake said. Green currently sits on 198 training success. Here’s what the man from Lincoln Farms had to say about his seven chances: Race 2: Recco Lover (3) – "He’s a nice horse who is scratched due to a bruised heel." Race 2: Royal Gamble (4) David Butcher – "He’s a good little horse and I think he will just keep on improving. He reminds me a lot of Beaudiene Boaz, who was the same early on and then developed into a nice pacer. They have similar traits. He’s got better and better and I like him in this.” Race 4: Northview Hustler (4) – David Butcher - "This colt has been trialling real well and I like his chances a lot from the kind draw. He won real well on debut and won’t be far away this time either.” Race 5: Alta Shangri La (3) – David Butcher – "She is a nice filly who has the edge over her stablemate in this race simply because she has the better draw. We have kept a low profile with her. She is a half-sister to Alta Intrigue and can go close if things go right for her.” Race 5: Sea Of Gold (7) - Andrew Drake (j) - "This filly also has quite a bit of talent but she is drawn out a bit and will need a nice trip to get some of it. She won a trial and beat some nice fillies in doing so. If she does get luck in the running she won’t be far away either.” Race 6: Naya (1) – David Butcher - "She is a little bit green still, but has ability, She’s drawn to lead and if she does that it will suit her racing style down to the ground. She’s drawn to get some of it.” Race 8: Spring Campaign (2) Andrew Drake (j) – "He goes very well and has run two nice seconds at Cambridge and Alexandra Park behind some nice horses. He has a better draw this time around and won’t be far away. I think Andrew will give the colt every possible winning chance in this.” Race 8: Alta Intrigue (4) Zac Butcher - Another 3-year-old colt who was only just beaten last start and before that was runner-up in the Waikato Guineas behind the talented Mark Purdon runner (More The Batter). This appears to be a bit easier, and even though they are all nice horses, I rate this fella as one of our better winning prospects on Friday.” Duane Ranger

Harness racing over the last week saw impressive runs by two of the Sir Lincoln early 2yos. John The Plumber (Sir Lincoln - Eves Apple) produced a big run from well back in the field on the turn to run second in a maiden race at Timaru on the 18th January. Trainer Bruce Negus said " I was quite pleased with his Timaru run as he got well back, but finished quickly in what was a strong maiden field. They ran a 2:00 mile rate on the wet track which makes the run even better "    "I will be starting him in the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton on the 4th February and he needed to race well against the maidens at Timaru to be starting in that field." Bruce thinks they could go around 1:55 for the mile in the Sapling Stakes, and said "there are some nice 2yos trialing at the moment and it should be a competitve race"  Two days after John The Plumber ran second at Timaru another Sir Lincoln 2yo colt Lincoln Sky (Sir Lincoln - Toast Of New York) also ran second at  Cambridge after showing good gate speed to lead early. He fought on well for second after trailing for the last 800m. A big improver in the Ray Green stable, Lincoln Sky could be a player in the classic races later in the season. Sir Lincoln now has seven qualifiers from his first crop with good feedback on his stock, with "well gaited" and "speedy" being the common quotes from trainers.   Harnesslink Media

If you backed last night’s (Friday) feature winner at Alexandra Park - Strike The Gold - to win the Auckland Cup at the same venue on December 31, then rip your ticket up now. The 5-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding opened up paying $201 to win the coveted Group One event when the ‘futures odds’ were made public on Friday. But trainer Franklin Ray Green said Strike The Gold and stablemate Killer Queen, who finished second in race four last night, will do their future racing in Sydney – but still under the Lincoln Farms ownership. “Even though I nominated Strike The Gold for the Auckland Cup it was a business decision in the end that will force us to withdrawhim from the big race. “I doubt if they will ever come back home because they are much better handicapped over there. I think Strike The Gold would be a C4 or C5 and Killer Queen a C2. It’s just not worth it racing against the good ones here any more. We would be lucky to get our expenses back,” Green said. Strike The Gold added another $8,024 to his bank account when winning the $13,000 Total Waterproofing Handicap for the R77 to R104 Pacers. In fact it was a brilliant front-running drive from David Butcher which ensured Strike The Gold’s one-and-a-quarter length victory over Better B Amazed (25m) and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). “That was a nice drive from David. He was on the only horse who started off the front and he set such a solid clip that back-markers couldn’t peg him back. “He’s a lovely horse who has rebounded very well from his problems,” Green said. There were only four starters in the 2700m standing start event. Strike The Gold was the only pacer off the front and stopped the clock in 3:21.1 (mile rate 1:59.9) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.5 and 29.5. It was Strike The Gold’s sixth career win in 31 starts. He’s also placed six times and won $84,920 in stakes. He paid $6 to win. “He’s not bad for a horse who has six to eight screws in his legs. He’s recovered well from those fractures and has developed into a nice pacer. “It will be sad to see them both go but it’s a business decision and we want to do the best by their owners,” said Green. The duo will race in the Paul Fitzpatrick colours largely at Tabcorp Menangle. Green said there were no specific races that the owners were targeting. “They just want to win races with them over there and we are sure the Fitzpatricks will do a good job with them both,” Said Green. Strike The Gold is owned by Lincoln Farms Ltd, D Cotterill, Mrs A Cotterill, and G Cotterill, while six-win pacer Killer Queen is owned by Lincoln Farms Ltd, D James, M J Brereton, K J Bell, S Beckett, I A Middleton, J R Dias, and B P Rabbitt. They were bred by D G Moore and Kelvin Home Holdings Limited respectively. Lincoln Farms paid $75,000 to Moore for Strike The Gold at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka, and $30,000 the following year the New Zealand Premier Sale in Christchurch. “It will be sad to see them go but we always have others to look forward too. Our two 3-year-olds Spring Campaign (third) and Alta Intrigue (seventh) returned from spells tonight and I’m really happy with where they are at. “They have some nice races ahead of them and I’m also excited about our 2-year-old crop, especially a Bettor's Delight - Castellina Lover (by McArdle) colt named Recco Lover,” Green said. Duane Ranger

Woodend based trainer and advanced amateur driver Miranda Hallett had 3x the number of reasons to celebrate last night after she was successful behind Tufflittlerooster. Not only did Hallett train and drive the 5yo Live Or Die gelding she also lease’s him. Drawn nicely in barrier 3, Miranda quickly had her charge in front where she was able to rate her drive to absolute perfection. While amateur racing is widely known to be run at fast speeds, Tufflittlerooster was able to get away with cheap sectionals thanks to the unusual lack of attackers. Striding down the back in 29.5, Tufflittlerooster always looked to have plenty in the bag winning by a nose over Red River Lochee (John McDermott) with ½ neck back to Cimarron (Wayne Low) in 3rd. The overall time of 3:16.6 and mile rate of 2:01.6 further kicked home how well the winner was rated by Hallett and the fight shown by the well named Tufflittlerooster should see these two visit the winners circle again. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sunny Ruby and Sam Smolenski continue their path towards the Cambridge Jewels with a handy win in last night’s feature trot. Kept away from the Rowe Cup, Smolenski has kept his star mare ticking along down south. Known for her incredible high speed, Sunny Ruby looks the main danger to superstar trotter Monbet at the Jewels and is likely to start 2nd favourite. A comfortable winner by 1 ¼ lengths last night in a handy field, the 4yo Sundon mare cut out her last 800m in 58.2 with the last 400 in a slick 27.8. While from her 40m back mark she trotted the overall 2600m trip in 3.18. Le Lievre’s Gift finished runner up for trainer/driver Jim Curtin, with a further 5 ¾ lengths to Arran Chief in 3rd place for another trainer/driver Andrew Faulks. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray Green caused one of the upsets of the night when his smart 2yo Art Major colt Vasari won heat 3 of the Garrards Sire Stakes Series no33. Driven aggressively by David Butcher from a wide barrier draw, Vasari found himself in front after 400m and Butcher was able to dictate as he does best. With Mark Purdon launching More The Better around the field to find the parked spot at the 1000m, these two talented colts went to war, cutting out the last quarter in 26.7. Butcher was at his absolute best, stealing a cheap 31.2 quarter between the 800 and 400 which ultimately set up his 26.7 quarter and the winning of the race, being able to hold More The Better out by a head. Mongolian Storm finished 3rd beaten 2 ¼ lengths with a further ¾ lengths back to the 4th placed Pacing Major. Paying $10.10 and $2.30 on the tote, Vasari got value punters off to a great start and with Golden Goddess causing the major upset of the night, punters who love to stay away from the short prized favourites would have been laughing to themselves. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Golden Goddess and Michelle Neilson provided the most unexpected upset when they won heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series by 3 lengths. While not a surprise to see an All Stars runner winning by such a large margin, it was the fact that the 3yo Art Major filly, owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth beat previously unbeaten and highly talented Dream About Me. Sent forward by Neilson, Golden Goddess was another allowed to dictate in front and with sectionals of 56 and 25.9, she was never in doubt. While beaten into 2nd and never looking likely, Dream About Me would have lost no admirers considering she was first up for 8 weeks and likely to improve off the back of a sharp 1950m event cut out in 2:22.4, with the last mile recorded in 1:57.4. The next up assignment for both fillies and Vic Oaks winner Piccadilly Princess is the Nevele R Fillies Series Final on the 14th May. These 3 smart fillies are set to clash 3 times over the following 5 weeks. There doesn’t appear to be much between the fillies with draws likely to dictate the result. Andrew Fitzgerald

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green is in two minds this afternoon on weather to start his team tonight at Alexandra Park after further blood tests came back today showing that several members of his team are still showing signs of the Herpes virus which has affected his race team for several weeks now. Zach Maguire was scratched earlier today after his latest blood report came back. Normally it wouldn't be such a big call to pull the whole team out but with Alta Intrigue and Vasari in the $100,000 Young Guns Final tonight it has made Ray's decision a lot harder. " I am really between a rock and a hardplace with what I do next." " I am not 100% happy with either of them but it is not every day that you get to start in a $100,000 race and be a big chance in it as well." " I am just waiting for the latest bloods to come back for both of the two year olds before I make a final decision, but it has really put a damper on the whole night for everybody involved here." " Nights like tonight are what everybody in the industry aims for from myself to the drivers and owners and to have two runners who if fully fit would have been live chances but for the virus is hard to accept at this late stage," Ray told Harnesslink this afternoon. Both of the two year olds have been treated extensively for several weeks leading into this week and the blood picture was one of continuing improvement and the feeling that they would be fine come this Friday night. Ray lined Vasari up last Friday night in the last heat of the Young Gun Series and gave Alta Intrigue a run at the workouts on Saturday. " I had to give them both a run with the final looming but neither came through it 100% blood wise." " They wouldn't have been able to race this week without that run last weekend but it hasn't helped their recovery from the Herpes Virus giving them that run so I just couldn't win either way." " If they do start tonight, I don't think either can be at  their best." " They will both go big races because they are that talented but you can't hope to win races like that when you are not 100% healthy," Ray said. Ray has been very bullish when talking to Harnesslink about how talented Alta Intrigue and Vasari are right from early in the season and to have this issue hanging over his team on the big day must be very hard to deal with, even for a trainer of Ray's experience. Harnesslink Media

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