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Free-legged pacer Take A Bet capped off a successful stay in Southland when she won the $12,000 Ryal Bush Transport Limited Nuggets Final at Ascot Park today. The Mach Three filly has won $21,200 in the space of five weeks for Canterbury harness racing trainer Geoff Dunn whilst down here, and she’s become the first horse to win both a Ladyship and Nugget final. Punters had some anxious moments though after Take A Bet which was the favourite, galloped in the score up. Starter Ben Ward declared a false start but Take A Bet galloped round to the start point before Williams was able to pull her up. “It’s uncharacteristic for her. I think Brett (caretaker trainer Brett Gray) must have let the hopples out on her during the week (laugh). She just needs to learn how to be a racehorse,” said Williams who decided to stand in Gate Two for the re-start. When the field left for the second time the mare paced away perfectly and was taken straight to the lead where she stayed, withstanding a late charge up the passing lane by American Mac. She won by three quarters of a length. “She’s getting better each time. The trips down here have been the making of her. She’s starting to develop a bit of speed now. Brett and the team have done a good job in looking after her and making sure she’s been ready to go.”  Take a Bet is raced by William’s parents Brent and Suzanne along with Gary and Keri Woodham who were all on-course today. Brent Williams, Gary Woodham, Suzanne Williams and Keri Woodham - Photo Bruce Stewart She’s out of the six win Bettor’s Delight mare Kabet which started favourite in the 2013 Southland Oaks Finals - then driven by Tim. As a broodmare Kabet has also left Above N Beyond which ran fifth in the Two Year Emerald in the recently held Harness Jewels at Addington. Kabet’s third dam is the 1994-1995 Broodmare of the Year Sakuntala which left Brad Adios the 1977-1978 Three Year Old Pacer of the Year in Australia and Tuapeka Star who was the winner of twenty two races and the dam of New Zealand Cup winner Iraklis. Meanwhile Robbie Royale capped off a consistent season by winning The Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot. The five year gelding trained by Brett Gray has won four races this season from twenty three starts and has banked $27,745. for his connections.    Bruce Stewart

The drive on a last-start Miracle Mile winner doesn’t get given away very often so Tim Williams knows he is a lucky man.  But he might still need every ounce of that luck to turn his golden opportunity into something more tangible in the $100,000 Breckon Farms Easter Cup at Addington  on Friday night.  Williams, the third-string driver for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, will be given the reins behind Spankem even though after his Miracle Mile victory five weeks ago you could make the case he isn’t just the best horse in their stable but as good as any in Australasia.  But a thankful Williams wasn’t surprised his bosses opted to stay with their more regular drives.  “Natalie drove Thefixer to win the New Zealand Cup and Mark has driven Turn It Up all along, including his Auckland Cup win,” says Williams.  “When Turn It Up didn’t go to Aussie it meant Mark could get back on Spankem but I can understand him sticking with Turn It Up now they all back together.  “But I’m in a pretty privileged position to get on a horse like him straight after he wins a Miracle Mile.” Not that it by any means guarantees victory as the race is now shaping as the strongest of the season in New Zealand, even superior to the New Zealand Cup.  While Tiger Tara started in the New Zealand Cup along with Dream About Me, this Friday’s race has that NZ Cup winner, the Auckland Cup and Miracle Mile heroes as well as Easter Cup defending champion A G’s White Socks, the in-form Henry Hubert and former Jewels winners Eamon Maguire and Jack’s Legend, the latter having also finished second to Lazarus in a NZ Cup 18 months ago.  Williams admits nobody at the All Stars knows what to expect. “I think everybody likes to think they might know what will happen in a race but when it is a 3200m standing start handicap it is impossible to tell.  “So I am looking forward to seeing what happens like everybody else.”  Turn It Up will likely start favourite even though he hasn’t raced for three months because he gets a 10m start over Spankem and Thefixer (20m) but those advantages can disappear with the slightest bobble or scrap of bad luck.  While the Easter Cup isn’t easy to predict the $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm NZ Derby got a whole lot clearer after the pre-draw favourite Ultimate Sniper drew barrier four after emergencies.  While he cost punters plenty when galloping last start in the Flying Stakes he has worked well since and with stablemate Jesse Duke on the second line Ultimate Sniper will start well into the red.  So too will Enhance Your Calm in the $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby but the $100,000 NZ Trotting Champs looks a good puzzle, with newcomer King’s Landing (three) and veteran Speeding Spur (four) getting the better of Marcoola (six) in the draws.  TAB markets for the group ones should be open today. Michael Guerin

Tonights win by Best Western in the $125,000 Great Northern Oaks was not only a surprise to the punters but a surprise to the owner Dr A Grierson who was not on track for the win, but instead was out fishing at the time of his fillies victory. Trained by Jeremy Young at Pukekohe and superbly driven by Saliesh Abernethy, Best Western (Bettor's Delight - First Western) was unwanted in the betting market paying $38.00 to win, but the nuggety filly dug deepest in the run to the judge and got home to win by a neck, clipping more than half a second of the New Zealand 2700m record in the process. The winning time of 3-16.4 beat the old record of 3-17.1 set by Bonnie Joan in the 2017 Southland Oaks final and equated to a 1-57.0 mile rate. Bettor's Delight sired the first four runners home in the race with all four fillies going under the previous New Zealand record for the 2700m Mobile. Best Western winning the 2019 Pascoes The Jewelers Northern Oaks Earlier in the night the Barry Purdon trained Jack's Legend won the Gr3 The Founders in a 1-52.8 mile rate beating stablemate Mach Shard by half a neck. Smooth Deal won the sixth heat of the Breckon Farm Young Guns series for colts and geldings in 1-56.3 for driver Tim Williams and the All Stars Stables. All Stars also won the Derby Prelude with Jesse Duke who convincingly lowered the colours of the previously unbeaten stablemate and favourite Ultimate Sniper.   Harnesslink Media

A sensational mile victory by Bubbled Up in the Nevele R Fillies Series Heat 2 at Methven last weekend highlighted the success of another of the Breckon Farms harness racing syndicates.  Raced by The Perfect Ten Syndicate, Bubbled Up smashed the clock in a race record 1-55.9 on the grass surface at Mt Harding Raceway on Sunday and in doing so went very close to the 1-55 track record set by top pacer A.G's White Socks in the Green Mile in 2017. Driven by Tim Williams the effort of Bubbled Up was even more remarkable when you consider the filly had to do all the work herself, leading from the outset and also after being pressured hard by the two Robert Dunn trained runners during the race. At the finish the American Ideal filly still had half a length to spare from the speedy Greg and Nina Hope trained Kendra who flashed home late, with third going to another Hope trained runner Mossdale Art. Sundays win was special for Tim Williams as it gave him the milestone of his 400th winner from 3338 lifetime drives. The Perfect Ten Syndicate is the fifth such syndicate established by Ken Breckon of Breckon Farms, following in the footsteps of the already highly successful The Good Sports Syndicate, Super Seven Syndicate, The Top Ten Syndicate and Six of the Best Syndicate. Heat 3 of the Nevele R Fillies Series is at Ashburton on 23rd February with the $140,000 final at Addington on the 10th May. Bubbled Up winning at Methven on Sunday Breckon Farms have 26 yearlings entered for sale at this years inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka, Auckland on the 18th of February 2019. Three of those yearling fillies are by American Ideal the sire of Bubbled Up. Lot 6 - Needamargarita is a filly by American Ideal from Fellamongstabeauty by Bettor's Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Goodlookinggirl. Lot 6 - Needamargarita Lot 6 - Needamargarita Lot 12 - Allamericanlover is a filly by American Ideal from Goodlookinbabe by Mach Three from from the Christian Cullen mare Goodlookinggirl. Lot 12 - Allamericanlover Lot 12 - Allamericanlover Lot 96, Simply Shaz, an American Ideal filly from Simply Stunning. This filly is a first foal from black type race winning Art Major mare. Lot 96, Simply Shaz American Ideal has produced ten millionaires in North America in total. Four have been fillies including his richest progeny American Jewel 1:48.2s ($1,834,823) and also the champion current North American three-year-old filly of the year Yourmycandygirl 1:48.2 ($1,497,000). American Ideal has produced the winners of over $87 million to date in North America. In New Zealand he is the sire of progeny that has earned $7.5 million to date and in Australia he has progeny earnings of over $10 million to date.  Therefore, American Ideal now belongs to the $100 million club an outstanding achievement. He best performing mare in New Zealand is The Orange Agent ($516,974) and in Australia, American Ideal has produced two millionaires to date. They are Bling It On 1:50.8 ($1,656,656) and Soho Tribeca 1:53.8 ($1,103,374)  Harnesslink Media

Star Ruler finally got his maiden win at Gore today (Saturday) and co-trainer Geoff Knight was happy about that. The most consistent non-win horse running round in the south, held on to beat Futura Easton by three quarters of a length for Knight, his wife and co-trainer Jude, and the Corner Shop Syndicate. It was a winning ‘double’ as the syndicate is headed by race sponsor Brian Pitcher; the Gore representative for AON Insurance. “We’ve made him the patron of the syndicate because he’s only ever missed one of his horses’ races,” said Geoff. Today was the Washington VC gelding's twenty third start and before today’s win he’d recorded six seconds and five thirds. “He’s a great syndicate horse because he’s run a lot of places and today in a $10,000 maiden he’s got the job done. I’m rapt for the horse because he’s finally won a race.” Hanging on to beat Futura Easton - Photo Bruce Stewart  Star Ruler was driven by Canterbury driver Tim Williams. “Really grateful to Tim because he’s stuck with him all the way through. He liked him because he always tries.” Co-trainer Geoff Knight watching the mobile dispatch with Star Ruler second on the outside and heading to the front - Photo Bruce Stewart. Over the years the Knights have been great advocates of syndicate racing and the Corner Shop Syndicate is one of their oldest groups. “Central Courage Syndicate is the oldest and the Corner Shop Syndicate is the second oldest. They’ve probably been with us for fourteen years. It was called the Corner Shop Syndicate because in Oturehua near Poolburn there’s a new pub that started up. It used to be the old Poolburn Pub and the boys used to say 'let’s go down to the corner shop for a beer on Friday night.” The syndicate have raced a number of horses including Lionels Meddle which won four races for the group and Valhalla which won two races and was placed numerous times. “We’ll look for a junior driver’s race next. He loves the grass so maybe we’ll go to Oamaru while he’s in the zone because the one win horses get preference up there.” Wayne Huddleston, Geoff Knight, Jude Knight, Tim Williams and Brian Pitcher - Photo Bruce Stewart  After years of racing a big team the Knights are looking to scale down their Roxburgh operation to concentrate on race horses rather than young stock. “We’ve got the RD 1 and RD 2 mail runs now so we’ve scaled down and we're only going to work ten to twelve horses. A lot of the younger horses will go south to Nathan Williamson and Craig Ferguson for their early education and some of them may even stay there. We’re just at a time in our lives where we want to spend time with our grandkids and do a few more trips. Working racehorses is quite easy but young ones are a big commitment. Unless you give them a 100% the horses (young ones) need to be somewhere else.” They have five grandchildren – four in New Zealand and one overseas. “We’re heading to Perth in March for my sixtieth birthday. We’re all going to catch up with my brother over there and my sister’s coming over too.” Geoff has always been a forward thinker when it comes to the harness industry and he says the wider harness family needs to help boost the diminishing horse population. “We’re at the crossroads really. Most of the owners that are still in the industry are still breeding but I reckon if every trainer bred one horse it would make a huge difference.” Today’s stake was $10,000 for non-win horses after Southern Harness announced last week that all maiden races were going to carry that stake level. “It’s unbelievable. Southern Harness should be really commended because they’re putting the industry money back into the industry. There’s a few clubs that aren’t.” As a footnote one of the Corner Dairy Syndicate members was course photographer Wayne Huddleston. For this race he had to get Kirsty Adams to take the winning photo. Meanwhile Lady Zara capped off a consistent formline when she came down the middle of the track to win the Hokonui Honda Trot for Winton trainer/driver Alister Kyle. The Pegasus Spur four year old had recorded two thirds prior to today’s race and the win was her first in eight starts. Ellie Barron did the right thing for the Teal Pants Campaign when she won the Gore Town and Country Club Trot on Nottingham K Two. Nottingham K Two on the inside winning for Ellie Barron - Photo Bruce Stewart  Barron is the local Ambassador for the Teal Pants Campaign. The win means Harness Racing New Zealand ($200), Woodlands Stud ($100), Gore HRC ($100) and Southern Harness ($100) donate money to the Australian New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group for help with research into ovarian cancer. Later in the day other Teal drivers Sarah O’Reilly (Bigandme), Kim Butt (Sheeza Sport) and Sheree Tomlinson (Hurricane Banner), added to the fundraiser. A great day for the cause. Another Teal win - Bigandme winning for Sarah O'Reilly - Photo Bruce Stewart    Bruce Stewart

Hot favourite Funatthebeach pulled his army of supporters through in the Group Three $32,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup today. “He felt really good and was travelling well. He’s a lovely horse to drive. He wants to win and you strive to drive these sort of horses,” said driver Tim Williams after the race. In today’s feature pace Williams was happy to stay at the rear of the eight horse field, as Queen Bee Bardon made all the pace. It was Shezacullengirl that carted him into the race with 1300 metres to run, before he improved three wide, coming down the straight to take up the parked spot. “He seems to race kindly that way so I thought we’d just take luck out of it.” In turning in, Funatthebeach mastered Queen Bee Bardon and he ran down to the finish line to beat Royal Bengal by three quarters of a length. The winning time was 4-01.6. “Coming down the straight he dropped the bit but he ran 4-01 off a handicap so maybe he was coming to the end of it.” It was the gelding’s fourth Cup win in five starts. This season he’s won the Geraldine Cup in late November, the Ashburton Cup in December, the Central Otago Cup in early January and now the Invercargill Cup. “He came through his race at Omakau really well because he’s such a great eater and drinker so the runs don’t take too much out of him.” And more Cup starts are on the programme for the Somebeachsomewhere four year old, owned by Trevor Casey and Paul Hailes. “We’re looking at the Amberley Cup (6th February) and on the  February 15th there’s a Free For All race at Addington for him.” Williams says Funatthebeach has improved since his three year old season at which time he was slightly down the pecking order amongst a highly talented group of three year olds in the Purdon Rasmussen stable. “He’s improved a lot. After the Jewels last season they chose to geld him and it’s been a good thing. It’s helped him mature I think.” Sponsors and winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart It was the second time Mark Purdon has won the Invercargill feature. He trained Highview Tommy to win in 2011 with his training partner at that time, Grant Payne. Funatthebeach’s breeders Braeside Lodge, are offering a half -brother by Art Major at next month’s Auckland Yearling Sales. Meanwhile War Admiral, driven inch perfectly by Samantha Ottley, easily won the Brendon Franks Farrier Handicap Trot; the main trot of the day. The style of War Admiral winning for Sam Ottley   -   Photo Bruce Stewart At his last start at Wyndham he blotted his formline, breaking on the final bend when challenging. Ottley has now driven the four year old gelding three times for two wins and a second. Today’s win was his sixth from just seventeen starts and it places him third on the leader board for the end of season Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.   Bruce Stewart

Quality mare Pres The Belle returned to winning form when she put away a handy field of trotters in the Brendan Franks Farrier Handicap Trot at Wyndham yesterday. After a good beginning driver Tim Williams settled the five year old back early as Grace O’Malley set the early pace. With just under a lap to run Williams moved the mare forward and with 1100 to run Pres The Belle was in front. War Admiral looked likely on the turn to challenge. However when he broke it was up to Jeddy R Ya Ready to run the mare down but Pres The Belle was too good winning by three quarters of a length. Her time of 3-02.3 was just outside Jess Jaccka’s track record for mares (3-01.9) and the open track record of 3-01.6 held by Pyramid Magic. “I’ve been pretty happy with her for the last couple of weeks. She needed the run at Gore. The way the weather and track was at Cromwell we made the call to pull the pin which I think was a good move. She’s as good as what she’s ever been,” said trainer Darryn Simpson. Pres The Belle and Tim Williams beating Jeddy R Ya Ready           - Photo Bruce Stewart  It was a welcome change of luck for Simpson and the mare’s owners after Pres The Belle performed under par at Addington in November during Cup Week. “She got crook a week out from Cup Day. We did what we could and we thought we had her right but I think it knocked her and in the end we just battling to get her there.” Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart Simpson admits that he may have to travel a bit to place Pres The Belle now she’s getting up in the grades but her return to form is timely as there’s some good trotting races coming up in the next few months in the south. “You’ve got to do the best for the owners. There are some races for her at Addington and some nice races down here.” Pres The Belle is likely to start in a R50-R130 trot at the Invercargill Cup Meeting at Ascot Park on Saturday 26th January. Yesterday’s win was her seventh for owners Stewart Campbell, Des Minehan, Stewart Heal and Dexter Nind.    Bruce Stewart  

You don’t often see Tim Williams completely lost for words but after Cheerful’s ignominious display when she resumed at Addington last week was a time when it was pretty close. Cheerful is known for having ability but one thing she has never done according to Tim is to gallop. In a race or at home. But last week as an odds on favourite she did just that and more than once. It was “all over red rover” in no time so punters are entitled to be a little wary at Addington tomorrow when she sets out to put the record straight. “She never breaks” was Tim’s stunned reaction last week and he still feels the same way about her reliability. “I had a talk to Mark about it. He thought she might just have been a touch fresh and to just put it behind us rather than take any drastic measures. You often find too that a horse so well gaited like that often gets a bigger shock than you do when it goes wrong on raceday and finds it that much harder to recover” So nothing has been changed for this week. And nobody is thinking that it might happen again even though punters may have their suspicions. Cheerful, who is raced by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who are expecting news on the progress of Princess Tiffany which they co-own, certainly wouldn’t mind a lift in the luck department, especially after Kayla Marie also met trouble last week. She is also out to atone on Friday. Encouraging in a way is that One Over Da Stars who is the likely favourite is far more unpredictable than Cheerful and has been disqualified in its last two after outstanding performances. There are some other useful trotters in the field but Cheerful doing things right should put a smile on your face. The other southern stable runner on show this weekend is FUNATTHEBEACH in the Ashburton Cup on Sunday, Whatever you judge his chances on don’t make it his last race at Addington. The stable was quietly confident of a big run based on his work but the result looks dismal as he finished last. Looks can be deceiving. Tim makes a strong case for the defense. “The thing was they ran home in 55. Going into that half he was a few lengths off them and then he had to improve wide to try and get into the race in the straight. Then they closed in 26 for the 400m so it was no surprise that he felt the pinch in the last 100. His work had been very good leading into that race it just didn’t work out for him” However Tim did have one reservation about Sunday’s race. The weather. “He is down to have a good hitout tomorrow (Friday) but it is looking doubtful at the moment. The track at home is slushy with the rain and the challenge will be getting on it for fast work” As it was the stable had to hopple Thefixer at home midweek because the surface was not much better at Rangiora for the trials from which he was withdrawn. Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Border rivalry will be to the fore when the What The Hill Drivers Challenge takes place at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Friday (23 November). The challenge repeats last year’s successful format where a team of six from North of the Waitaki took on a team from South of the Waitaki. The North of the Waitaki team took the team honours on that occasion spearheaded by a former Southlander now domiciled in Canterbury, Gavin Smith, who took the Individual honours. However both teams were tied on points going into the final heat so it was a close run thing. As the defending champion Smith returns as part of the north team this year joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange, Samantha Ottley, Tim Williams and Jim Curtin. Attempting to wrest the silverware back onto this side of the Waitaki is the South of the Waitaki team led by the Williamson brothers – Nathan, Matthew and Brad along with Brent Barclay, Craig Ferguson and Allan Beck. The invited drivers compete in four heats with points allocated to the first five home on each occasion with 10 points for a win, 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth and 1 for fifth. Each driver receives the points they accumulate towards finding an individual champion while their points also go into their teams score to find the champion team. The event is a twilight meeting with the first race timed to start at 3.38pm. It is a perfect night to come out and enjoy some top class racing. Admission to the course will be free. One punter will take home a meal voucher from Level One Restaurant & Bar in Invercargill when a draw of all losing on course tote tickets is made after Race 6 while also after race 6 all children on course receive a free bag of lollies.   HRNZ Marketing

Patience brings its own rewards and that was certainly the case for the connections of Spankem when he triumphed with a masterly Tim Williams drive to give All Stars a win on the 50th anniversary of the Purdon family’s first runner in the Kaikoura Cup. Phil and Glenys Kennard, Ken and Karen Breckon, Jim and Ann Gibbs and Gary and Kerre Woodham learned patience early with the well-bred Spankem. He posted four smart placed performances as a two year old before a winning turn but then he got his due reward winning the Sires Stakes Final after a great placed run from outside the second row in the PGG Wrightson Sales Pace. Then he had to settle for third in a tight finish behind stablemates Ashley Locaz and The Devil’s Own in the Harness Jewels. The same thing happened to him as a three year old in the rich Sales Pace running third to Chase Auckland and All U Need is Faith and after a win in a heat of the Victoria Derby but a fourth in the final Mark and Natalie specified a lengthy spell to regain his fire and fitness after a busy younger campaign. He seems to have come back better than ever and after his bold run at Ashburton it seemed only a matter of time before he took out a feature race. That was up to Tim who seized the lead off Natalie and Eamon Maguire and dictated the terms. The time for the race was the slowest since Natalie drove Arden Rooney to victory four years ago and over three seconds slower than Lazarus posted with his easy win last year. But Tim sprinted them home in 55.6 and 26.4 and that gave nothing else, including Eamon Maguire, a chance of overhauling him on the flat- cambered Kaikoura track. It was the Kennard’s third win in the race in five years, Fly Like an Eagle having won in 2013 but a first for his partners. Jim Gibbs, busy celebrating a birthday could not be there but he is sure to be on hand for Spankem’s next run in the Junior Free for All on New Zealand Cup day. All Stars have now won four of the last six Kaikoura Cups and All Stars have won nine in all. Eamon Maguire fought on and Cruz Bromac lost no New Zealand Cup caste on his sectionals after appearing to have not all favours at the start.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com

Top pacing mare Dream About Me has claimed victory in a nail-biting finish to the (Gr 3) Hannon Memorial at Oamaru yesterday. The All Stars trained Dream About Me who had been winless for the previous year and a half, got up to win the time honored event by a head at the line from the leader A G's Whitesocks, who fought gamely when headed. Captain Dolmio rushed home late for third a further head away in a thrilling three way finish. The 6yo Bettor's Delight mare ran the 2600m from a stand in 3-14.7 with a final 800m in 56.1 and a closing 400m in 27.3 seconds. Tim Williams who drove Dream About Me thought the mare was coming back to her best before the race. "She has been working well and at her best she would be too good for this field," he said confidently. Those were prophetic words from Williams who had a good day in the sulky. He also won two other races on the program, both trotters and both for trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds. One of those was She Aint No Angel who finally got her act together after breaking at her previous few starts and also at the trials. The 5yo Love You mare trotted faultlessly and was way too good winning untouched by more than two lengths from a fast finishing Eden Creek. The other winner for Williams was Muscles Galore who also stepped up and beat a good field of trotters for the rating 60 and faster horses. Aided by a superb drive from Williams, Muscles Galore was buried back on the fence early but weaved through the traffic at the 600m before zooming up the inside in the straight to win easily. Hey Yo and Jack Harrington were second and Alderbeck caught the eye whistling home late from near last on the turn for driver Brad Williamson. TAB bookmakers reacted to the win of Dream About Me in the Hannon by dropping her price into $10 on the fixed odds futures market for the New Zealand Cup.   Harnesslink Media

Driver Tim Williams is certain Dream About Me will strip a fitter pacer at Addington tonight than she did a week ago — he just isn't sure whether stablemate Thefixer will be just as improved. And the answer to that question could decide the first group race of the harness season, the $30,000 Maurice Holmes Vase. Williams will partner Dream About Me, who hasn't won a race since the 2016 Auckland Cup but has rarely gone a bad one since either. Last season she was dogged by bad luck and chasing Lazarus and the now six-year-old mare produced the run of the race in the first open class contest of the season at Addington last Thursday. Tipped by champion trainer Mark Purdon to be in need of a run, Dream About Me looked just that as she sat parked for the last 800m and was only caught late by Thefixer. So if Dream About Me is fitter, which Williams is sure she is, then back to free-for-all conditions tonight she should win, right? "That would seem to make sense and she will definitely be better but the thing is we don't know how much fitter Thefixer will be too," admits Williams. "They both hadn't raced for a long time heading into last week and I think reverse the runs and reverse the result. "But we don't really know how good Thefixer is. A couple of years ago he came off Vincent's back and beat him in the New Zealand Cup that day so maybe he is a really good horse. So either of them could win without surprising me because these small field can provide very tactical racing." If Dream About Me can lead the race looks hers to lose because last season when she led it took Lazarus to beat her in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton. One thing looks certain, an All Stars victory. As good as the opposition are, it is hard to see any of them holding both the Purdon-Rasmussen stars at bay, with key rival John Dunn opting for Captain Dolmio as the best of his three chances and he was beaten after leading last week.   Michael Guerin

All Stars Stables have notched up their fourth Jewels of the day after Another Masterpiece has defeated his rivals in the harness racing Gr1 $150,000 2yo Emerald today at Cambridge Raceway. Another Masterpiece (Bettor's Delight-Elegant Art) was well driven by driver Tim Williams when he worked very hard early to take the lead from the Australian invite Petes Big Jim. Tim Williams kept the pace on and his main rival and TAB favourite Jesse Duke meanwhile had to work hard to find the parked out position after David Butcher kicked up through the middle with outsider Beaudiene Western. After a titanic battle in the straight Another Masterpiece came out on top winning narrowly by a neck from Petes Big Jim who fought on strongly for second with Jesse Duke only a nose away in third. Driver Tim Williams said after the race the horse was very honest and had great ring-craft. "He has been honest all season and today we were lucky enough to come up with a good barrier draw and the horse did the rest. "His ring-craft is great and once we found the fence he dropped the bit and relaxed beautifully. "I can not thank Mark and Natalie enough for what they have done for me. I am lucky I have been on this horse from day one and I am glad the horse is repaying the faith," he said. Another Masterpiece paced the mile in 1-53.4 with a closing 800m in 57.5 and 400m in 28.5 seconds. Harnesslink Media The owners interview Another Masterpiece   McMILLAN EQUINE 2YO EMERALD (MOBILE PACE) (Gr1), $150,000, 2YO COLTS & GELDINGS, 1609m    (Qualifying Time: 2-06.4)   For 2-year-old pacing colts & geldings. Video  Weather: Overcast     Track: Fast      Race History     Plc Bk Horse Barrier Hcap Stakes Fav Time Margin Driver Trainer 1 5 Another Masterpiece 5 fr 77,356.25 2/2 1-53.4   T M Williams M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 2 1 Petes Big Jim 1 fr 23,254.00 3/3 1-53.5 0.30 L R Tritton S P & Mrs L R Tritton 3 6 Jesse Duke 6 fr 15,377.00 1/1 1-53.5 0.40 Mark Purdon M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 4 2 Make Way 2 fr 6,563.50 10/11 1-53.6 0.80 A P T Poutama R W Green 5 8 War Dan Delight 8 fr 4,829.25 4/5 1-54.2 3.80 N C Rasmussen M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 6 3 Major Express 3 fr 3,770.00 11/10 1-54.3 4.20 B M Mangos B M Mangos 7 12 Supreme Dominator 12 fr 3,770.00 8/7 1-54.3 4.50 R T May B Purdon 8 11 Heisenberg 11 fr 3,770.00 9/9 1-54.5 5.20 J R Dunn R J Dunn 9 7 A Bettor Act 7 fr 3,770.00 5/4 1-54.6 5.70 B N Orange M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 10 4 Beaudiene Western 4 fr 3,770.00 7/8 1-57.4 19.80 D J Butcher R W Green 11 9 Trojan Banner 9 fr 3,770.00 6/6 1-57.4 19.90 Z E Butcher R W Green $150,000.00   Scratchings SCR 10 Extreme Stride 10                     Divs: $3.30. $1.40. $2.00. $1.20. Quinella $19.50. Trifecta $54.20. TAB Treble[races-4,5,6]:(13,1,5) $38.80. First4 $1227.80. Margins: neck, nose, neck Times: Mile Rate: 1-53.4 Last 800m: 57.5 Last 400m: 28.5 Placed Horses:       Another Masterpiece 2015 2 B c Bettor's Delight - Elegant Art   (by Christian Cullen)    Trainer: M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen, Rolleston    Owner: Mrs G J Kennard, P I Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, J A Gibbs MNZM, Mrs A Gibbs, G A Woodham, Mrs K J Woodham    Breeder: Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd    Petes Big Jim 2015 2 B g Big Jim(USA) - Foxi   (by Presidential Ball)    Trainer: S P & Mrs L R Tritton, New South Wales    Owner: P Kohlsdorf    Breeder: P T Salathiel    Jesse Duke 2015 2 B c Bettor's Delight - Daisy Dundee   (by In The Pocket)    Trainer: M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen, Rolleston    Owner: Mrs J L Feiss, W R Feiss    Breeder: Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd

Tim Williams now has a rich 2yo PGG Sales Open to match the 3yo one he posted with Have Faith In Me with a rather surprisingly easy win in the rich feature at Addington on Friday night. Surprisingly easy because he was so well rated. Tim pushed Another Masterpiece hard enough early to get to the front. He dictated the terms astutely and had enough in the tank that stablemate Jesse Duke in spite of being in the one one, could not match his closing speed and in fact the winner seemed to have plenty left in the tank at the finish. "It was not an absolute plan to go to the front but I wanted to use the draw and the thing with this horse is that he is sensible. If you ask him to go he goes but he doesn't get carried away. Doesn't take too much out of himself and eases back just when you want. That is a big help in races like this" While the race time was a rapid 2.18.6 -last year  The Devil's Own came from off the pace to win in 2.16.5-it was also three seconds faster than Lazarus in 2015-it was the style of the win which suggested Another Masterpiece might be a well named youngster. Tim added to a night to remember by winning the Driver's Challenge even though Nathan steered Semirarmide to a late run to run Tim down in the last. Semiramide is raced in partnership by Natalie's parents Cheryl and Vic Rasmussen, Cheryl's second win on the night.  Jesse Duke got the run of the race but was unable to run his stablemate down. "I was not disappointed with him. Everyone is rating him on that huge run at Auckland but those sort of performances can be misleading. As I said in the preview there is nothing much between these two so the result was not a surprise" Mark said "He was doing his best at the turn but it was just too much for him to make up" Mark underlined how  horses develop at different rates. "I would guess Another Masterpiece was about No 4 among them at home five months or so ago but he has kept stepping up!" Mark's son Nathan  who had his own big moment last night, drove Another Masterpiece in work and  recalled that he was a "quiet achiever" "You didn't get much of a feel that he was special but he always did the times he was set and seemed to do them with a bit up his sleeve"  While the KENNARD SYNDICATES are active at the Yearling Sales and would be expected to play a role in races like this, they have won four of the last six editions of the race.  And how about famed thoroughbred trainer, Jim Gibbs and his wife Anne ? This was their third win in the race since 2014. Quite incredible. The Kennard syndicate who race Another Masterpiece including familiar faces like Kennards, Breckons. Gibbs and  Woodhams.   -All Stars Photo The modern run of success in the race for All Stars started with Isaiah in 2013 followed by Alta Orlando who won for the Gibbs and Neil Pilcher the following year. By coincidence he won last night also. Lazarus and More The Bettor and The Devil's Own have been the other recent winners but Western Cullen had won for Mark and Grant Payne in 2011. Harnesslink Courtesy of All Stars Website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Canterbury driver Tim Williams hasn't had too much to do with the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic winner A Bettor Act. The colt is trained by Williams employers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and has run second in it's last three starts for a variety of drivers. Today was Williams first drive on the Bettor's Delight colt and it proved to be a winning one. "Natalie, Mark and Nathan (Purdon) have all driven him. This was my first go and it was a nice day to pick up the drive," he said.  The winning time was a sensational 2-40.6 which was a new track, race, Southland and New Zealand record. The previous Southland record of 2-43.7 was held by last year's Classic winner the ill-fated Aloka. The previous New Zealand record of 2-41.0 was recorded by Mitch Maguire in 2016. "It helped early when the ones inside of us put the foot down and by the time we got to the mile the damage had been done. We were probably lucky we were out of the early burn." Williams took A Bettor Act to the front with 1600 metres to run.  "Once we got to the front he was pretty happy just to roll along. He set a nice clip but I was surprised the overall time was that quick."  He held on easily to beat Memphis Tennessee by two and a half lengths. "He's been a progressive type and each time he's gone to the races there's been a bit of merit in his runs." And when asked about where the colt sits in regards to the Purdon/Rasmussen two year olds, Williams thinks he's right up there. "With a bit of luck he could have won some of his last few starts. There's not much between those good ones. It might come down to barrier draws and who gets the better trip. He's not a Sales Series horse and that's why he was here today." Today's juvenile feature carried Group Three status for the first time and it's stake level was equal to both the Supremacy and Oaks finals. "It's a credit to the club for sticking with this race and bumping the stake up. Because he's not in the Sales Series and is targeting the Harness Jewels this was a good option for him." Tim Williams talking to Jason Teaz, John Stiven (SBSR), Ged Mooar (Nevele R), Nigel Fahy (Alabar) Ann and Ivan Behrnes, (Alabar) and Stacey Markham (Woodlands) - Photo Bruce Stewart. This year's Classic had ten runners in it - the most it's had in i'ts four year history. Seven of the runners were from Southland and John Stiven from Southern Bred Southern Reared said it was great to see so many locals supporting the race. "I'd like to particularly thank Ross Wilson who lined up three runners. It's great to get his support and that's what it's all about," he said. A Bettor Act was bred and is owned by the A Few Good Men Syndicate. He's out of the Christian Cullen mare A Christian Act which was bred by Harness Racing New Zealand Board member Brian Wastney who was on-course today to appreciate the win with the rest of the HRNZ Board members.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Driven by Tim Williams, More The Better, the winner of twelve races and over $500,000 proved to be too strong in the Group Three Yardhurst Hotel Northern Southland Trotting Cup. Owned by co-trainer Mark Purdon, his father Roy Purdon MBE and David Levene OBE, the four year old entire was having his first start for the season. “His three year old season wasn’t as good as we'd hoped. He was a fanastic two year old. He seems to have come back just as good as he was at two. We’ve been happy with his trials and we were very confident today,” said stable manager for the Purdon/Rasmussen stable Michelle Neilson. Neilson says as a young horse he raced over the shorter sprint distances but his forte is staying races. “Our next aim is the Easter Cup at the end of the month at Addington. He’s a strong horse so it’s nice to slow him down a bit. They race a bit over short trips as young horses so the distance won’t be any worries for him now.” After beginning well from the twenty metre mark Williams settled More The Better in seventh place as the field settled into single file. With 1200 metres to run he decided to move around the field and for the last lap he sat parked beside leader My Wee Man. Inside the last 400 metres these two runners cut away from the field and were both in for the fight. But More The Better proved too good.  Williams had only to run the reins over his rump to win by three and a half lengths from a late charging Buster Brady. A brave My Wee Man was a nose back in third. “He’s got great manners and he won today with the plugs still in.” This is the second time Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have won the Northern Southland Cup. They won with Isaiah in 2015. His time of 3-20.1 is a race record. The winning time today was 3-22.6.  Sponsor Dave McHugh, his wife Glenda, and Michelle Neilson  - Photo Bruce Stewart.  More The Better is out of the In The Pocket mare Lucky Pocket which is a full sister to Christian Cullen. The win by More The Better caps off a very profitable two days for the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars stables. They starters thirteen runs at two race meeting (Auckland and Invercargill) winning eight races and stakes of $347,900. Driver Tim Williams scored three wins at the Northern Southland meeting and one in Auckland.  Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

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