Outbreak of COVID 19 (CoronaVirus) worldwide following its initial detection in Wuhan, China (December 2019). WHO declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020; worldwide deaths pass 1 million mark end of September
Donald Trump was acquitted of both impeachment charges on 5 February 2020
Bush Fires raged throughout Australian states especially NSW and Victoria causing death and destruction (peaking December 2019 –January 2020
Two Ammonium nitrate explosions in Beirut kill over 220 people, injure thousands and severely damage the port early August 2020
7 November 2020 Joe Biden elected 46th President of the United States, defeating incumbent President Donald Trump
Credit: Peter Craig
Level 4 COVID 19 lockdown in place throughout NZ commencing 26 March 2020.Level 1 reached from 11.59pm Monday 8 June 2020.
All racing in NZ ceased indefinitely as at 24 March 2020 (last meeting held at Addington on 20 March. Racing recommenced at Addington on Thusday without crowd attedance. Spectators permitted from meeting of Friday 12 June 2020.
Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party elected for second term in government - mid October 2020
Credit: Peter Craig
NZ MET turns 120
According to the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club's certificate of incorporation, Friday 16 October 2020 represents its one hundred and twentieth anniversary.
The original NZMTC was an amalgamation of the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club (raced at Frog Park immediately south of Lancaster Park) and the Canterbury Trotting Club (raced at A&P Showgrounds, Addington) with inaugural meetings taking place at Addington Raceway on Monday 6 and Friday 10 November 1899 (five furlongs track upgraded to six furlongs around 1910).
Brief timeline of significant events at Addington:
NZMTC, Addington Raceway has been a premier Australasian club since its formation 120 years ago.
Its signature race the New Zealand Trotting Cup has been run annually since November 1904.
Credit: Peter Craig
by David McCarthy
Harness racing lost one of its best reporters and analysts with the passing of long time Press trotting editor Jeff Scott.
Jeff had suffered from the effects of a brain tumour diagnosed after he collapsed on a golf holiday in Queensland in mid-2019. Treatment proved unsuccessful.
He died as he had lived. Brave, stoic, cheerful to the end in the face of great adversity. It was also a reflection of his career in racing journalism where he was a true professional in an era of rapid change.
From farming stock in Southland, Jeff was a harness fan from an early age and while still at school had some work published in what was then the Trotting Calendar. Much of his time was spent developing his love affair with trotting. The premature deaths of both parents were an early battle with adversity handled in his usual quiet competent fashion,
In 1977 he joined the Southland Times as a cadet under Norman Pierce and later Don Wright and was soon being noticed for his work. In 1982 he was hired by The Press as assistant to longtime editor Geoff Yule whom he succeeded with Yule’s firm support in 1987. He was then already editor of the highly popular Trotting Annual which he continued for four years.
Even though the journalism world was changing in the wake of new technology Jeff remained true to the essential harness tradition of his earlier years. His analysis of trials and races; the sectional times and the field quality led him to be an expert selector primarily because he was not easily swept away by fads and fallacies. It was always form where Jeff was concerned and, especially as there were no replays of workouts and trials in those times, he had a large following.
Jeff also had a wide knowledge of harness racing in all its forms and in all countries and continued to be well informed about the local and national scene. He probably had no equal in his time in this respect and it was the source of many news stories
In later years, with the virtual demolition of the racing department of the Press through computerisation and technology and with the demand for more drama and controversy in content he was less at ease believing readers wanted substance rather than style.
A wrist problem associated with RSI was typical of Jeff’s work ethic. While some others took weeks and months off work to recover he carried on without complaint. He finally resigned in 2005 having achieved all those early goals from his cadet days. It would be fair to say some industry trends dismayed him but he never let it affect his basic love of the standardbred sport.
Jeff enjoyed his leisure time especially through golf where he was a leading member of a Press-based group with their own “PGA” series of “majors” and "minors” with whom he made 13 trips to Australia. In all he won 49 tournaments. In marked contrast to his racing activities Jeff could be somewhat inconsistent on the golf course - largely because of the wrist problems- but almost unbeatable on a good day. Fair to say his golf form would not have appealed to him as a harness selector.
Jeff was no extrovert and underrated by some because of it, but his dry sense of humour helped him through times good and bad and was soon appreciated by his associates. He also had a canny ability to quickly sum up character and personality in others
Jeff continued to work in the industry through form comments and selections for Australian publications and latterly web site management for Mark Jones and Cran Dalgety. His enthusiasm never let up and he was watching races on both sides of the Tasman until very recently with the usual solid analysis being offered after each one.
Jeff was and remained devoted to his wife Nicola and sons Chris and Cam, merely an extension of his honourable character in the best of Southland traditions.
Jeffrey John Scott was 59. It is not in this case just a cliche to say he will be sadly missed.
Credit: David McCarthy
Aged 87, well-known racing identity Ivan Schwamm has passed away, only months after training his last winner.
It was just October last year when his four-year-old trotter Majestic Sunset and driver Jimmy Curtin combined to win at Timaru.
“I got him for nothing off Bruce Negus. Bruce bred him, and trained him, but didn’t really like him.
According to an interview he gave at the time , the victory at the Phar Lap raceway was clearly a thrill : “It was so great at the races today, the number of people that called out to me, owners, trainers, drivers – many of them I’ve known for years and years. It’s a fellowship and I love it.”
It’s an industry he was part of for nearly 70 years, after first gaining his license while living in Palmerston North in 1954-55.
Trotter Perekop was one of his early success stories, while Rocky Star was a stand-out. Against a field of 25 starters, he took out the 1966 Hawera Cup and was a 10-race winner.
It appeared Schwamm also had an entrepreneurial streak. He started out milking cows and shearing, and in the 1960s negotiated the sale of numerous horses to North America.
“I would hire an aeroplane to take a consignment of 21 horses at a time and I was in the business for 10 years”.
He was associated with some great horses. He trained and drove the great mare Tussle to success early in her career after regular trainer and owner Cliff Irvine was away overseas. Tussle ended up winning 38 races including the 1987 Interdominion final at Addington.
He also drove Ruling Lobell to victory in the Group 2 Welcome Stakes in 1976. Starting a $2.90 favourite he won by five lengths for trainer Des Grice.
1976 was his best year for driving with 11 wins while as a trainer, he had 122 winners from more than 1700 starters from the 1950s through to the 2020s. The veteran trainer-driver had a stable at Leeston on the outskirts of Christchurch but did most of his work with the horses on the roadside.
Known for his bold driving tactics, in 2010 the then 77 year old drove his own horse Doc’s Delight to a win at Rangiora. It was his first for two seasons.
At the time the horse was trained by Lew Driver. He followed that up with Saltwater Gold’s success at Orari in 2015.
He will be remembered as one of harness racing’s most enduring characters
Credit: NZ Harness News, 8 April 2020, David Di Somma
Lochie Marshall – A club man through and through
Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry.
Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia.
He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.
“He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.”
“As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.”
As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves. He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.
He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners.
He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes.
Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables.
Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”
Credit: NZ Harness News, 24 Mar 2020
By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk
Awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to harness racing in 2012, respected breeder, owner and administrator Jim Wakefield has died in Christchurch, aged 87 .
The NZ Trotting Owners Association representative on the Harness Racing New Zealand executive from 1998 to 2010, he went onto become Chairman from 1999 to 2003.
According to friend and former HRNZ chair Ken Spicer: “He will remembered as one of Harness Racing’s best leaders and administrators.”
A key figure in developing the Racing Act 2003, he was also Harness Racing New Zealand’s first appointment to the New Zealand Racing Board (2003-06), and chaired the organising committee for the World Trotting Conference in Christchurch in 2007.
Former HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell remembers someone who was “very professional in everything he did .. he treated everyone with respect”.
“My abiding memory is that he was very strong on industry integrity and maintaining high standards.”
As an owner, breeder and prolific yearling sales purchaser he and wife Dr Susan Wakefield have been associated with star horses such as Bettor’s Strike, Sparks a Flyin (21 wins), Texican, Scorching, London Express and London Legend (25 wins).
Bettor’s Strike was second in Monkey King’s 2009 New Zealand Cup with the Wakefields having a long and successful association with both driver and trainer that day, Dexter Dunn and Cran Dalgety.
Outside of harness racing, Jim Wakefield was a fellow (Hon Retired) of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants having been a member since 1956. He joined the Christchurch office of what became KPMG in 1952. He spent 27 years as a partner in the firm with three of these being Christchurch managing partner.
“He was a very astute business man, hard but very fair,” says Spicer
Highly thought of in the business and harness racing worlds, Wakefield was also a chairman and director of numerous private and public companies, as well as a philanthropist and avid art collector.
Spicer : “A very modest and understated man, as a friend he was a great mentor and was always available to give advice ... he was a wonderful man.”
A celebration of Jim's life will be held at the Westpark Chapel, 467 Wairakei Road, Burnside on Friday, December 4, at 2pm.
Credit: Dave Di Somma
27 November 2020 , Obituary
Well known and highly successful breeder Heather Williams’ life will be celebrated at a special service next week, following her death after a short illness.
Heather and Lex Williams, who married in 1970, bred nearly 80 horses and will forever be associated with their millionaire trotting mare One Over Kenny.
Heather was once quoted: "We love racing and follow our horses whenever they are racing but equally we love breeding. Horses here become like part of the family, well loved and cared for."
In another interview Lex talked about her gift with animals. “She’s a good stock lady. She was a good trainer of dogs and became very very good at handling the foals. In the last few years we never had to break them because they were so quiet. She said there’s got to be an easier way than tying them up and having flank ropes on them so she read the Horse Whispers books. You have to start on them (the foals) when they’re very young. It became a trust thing between her and the foals. We got a lot of accolades from the trainers who said our horses were so easy to break in.”
Lex and Heather initially farmed at Lawrence in Otago before moving north to Waimate where they spent nearly 40 years running an award-winning sheep and beef farm. They also ran a movie theatre in Waimate and leased the opera house in Oamaru for 10 years before building a three-cinema complex there.
It was Heather’s urgings that ultimately helped snare One Over Kenny at auction.
Lex takes up the story : “(Trainer)Phil Williamson sorted One Over Kenny out – $20,000 was our budget. We got to twenty and the auctioneer said he’d take a half ($500) but he took a $1,000 from the next bidder. When the sales staff went to get the buyer’s signature he said oh no it was only twenty and a half.”
The auctioneer then decided to bring the yearling back into the ring three lots later.
"Heather said ‘why you don’t put in another bid.’ The other guy went to twenty and half and I went to twenty one. He said bugger you and pulled out and they knocked her down to me.”
One Over Kenny went to win 32 races and over a million dollars, including seventeen Group or listed races!
One Over Kenny and In the Pocket pacing mare Fleet’s Pocket have been the mainstays of their breeding operation, with most of their horses having “One” or “Flying” in their names.
One Over Da Moon (Majestic Son - One Over Kenny) was another stand-out with 22 wins.
Finalists for Breeder of the Year at this year’s Harness Racing New Zealand awards, they bred both Cracker Hill (7 wins – 16 starts - $133,230) and Ultimate Stride (9 wins – 16 starts, $180,268) who were the joint winners of last season’s 3-year-old trotting colt or gelding of the year.
They also bred and have a share in Group and listed 8-win trotter One Apollo. Both the sire One Over Da Moon and dam Anna Castleton were also bred by the Williams. They were also the breeders of the first stakes winner of Muscle Hill in New Zealand, One Muscle Hill.
Among their horses have been Flying Heathers One, Heather Castleton and Flying Mrs Williams.
Brad Reid, New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Association Executive Manager : “I was lucky enough to visit their farm a few years ago and their attention to detail was evident, and no doubt Heather was instrumental in a lot of that. I’m sure Lex won’t mind me saying that Heather was a hard task master, but she had a heart of gold and loved her horses.
“Lex and Heather have an unbelievable knack for whatever they touch turning to gold and have achieved remarkable success as owners and breeders of horses in both gaits.
Heather Williams was 69.
A service to celebrate Heather's life will be held in Campbell and Sons Chapel, 95 Gordon Road, Mosgiel, at 2.00pm, on Monday, November 30, followed by private cremation. Messages to 807 Brighton Road, Ocean View, Dunedin 9035.
After nearly 50 years’ involvement in the harness racing industry in this country Sam Ballantyne has died in Christchurch, aged 74.
A studmaster, trainer and driver Ballantyne was born in Scotland where he bred horses, just as his father had done.
He also raced horses regularly throughout the UK at venues such as Prestatyn in Wales and it was during this time he crossed paths with now prominent Auckland trainer Ray Green (of Copy That fame).
They would become mates.
“The UK scene then was like a league of nations. I’d bump into Sam twice a week and I’d drive horses he bred and then sold on, he was right up there with the best.”
“He was associated with a lot of Derby winners – he was a top breeder and he sold a lot.”
In the 1970s he made the decision to go to New Zealand. According to Green he was “looking for some adventure in his life.”
After settling in Christchurch he married into one of the country’s most prominent harness racing families. His wife Judy was the daughter of Freeman and Peggy Holmes, of Noodlum fame. He also set up his stud operation, Eastwood Lodge.
“He was a top stockman," says retired bloodstock agent Bruce Barlass, who worked at the Lodge for five years (1978-83).
“His care for the horses, especially broodmares and foals was paramount”
Among the other people he employed were now top American-based trainer Mark Harder, Grant Payne and the late Dennis Smolenski.
“In the biggest years 250 mares would be served there, to the two stallions Plat Du Jour and Nardins Byrd,” said Barlass. Other stallions there over the years included Australian champion pacer Preux Chevalier.
Gee du Jour (Plat du Jour – Geena) won the 1991 Rowe Cup while Folie Bergere,a Plat du Jour – Del Parole filly, trained by Ballantyne, finished third to the colts in the first ever Sires Stakes final in 1984.
After starting out in the mid 1970s, Ballanytne trained the last of his 73 winners (Amenophis) at Addington on January 2011.
As a driver he had 35 wins with Graikos arguably his best horse (8 wins – 17 starts).
Among his stand out performances was a second to Lord Module in the Group 1 Pan Am Mile in 1979.
“He was very professional,” says Green , “and his horses were always immaculate.”
“He would fit in with anyone, he was likeable and agreeable.”
Sam Ballantyne’s funeral will be held at Westpark Chapel, Burnside on Saturday, Dec 5 at 2pm.
It is testament to the sort of man Father Dan Cummings was that after decades of enormous success in harness racing that is rarely the first thing which comes to mind when you think of him.
Father Dan went to see his big boss upstairs on Saturday afternoon, taking his last breath after a battle with cancer that eventually moved to his lungs.
There was little shock in his death, it had been coming for 15 months, since he was diagnosed with the illness and decided to not go down the treatment path.
“He wanted to enjoy what time he had left and he did,” said his brother Peter after “Danny” passed away aged 75.
“He made the most of his last year but when he got back from the sales he started to get worse and struggled with his breathing at the end.” That Father Dan made the most of his final year is hardly surprising because that was how he lived his life.
He entered the priesthood straight out of school and upon being ordained spent much of his working life in the Dunedin diocese (the church’s region).
A priest can affect a lot of lives in that time, especially one as popular as Father Dan and he was also at the centre of one of New Zealand’s great tragedies, being the parish priest at Port Chalmers when David Gray shot and killed 13 people in the Aramoana massacre in 1990.
“That was a pretty intense time for Danny, being the parish priest during something that bad,” says Peter.
But away from a life of service, Father Dan was Danny to his family.
Danny loved animals, a love he got from his mother Joan who set up Tuapeka Lodge in 1965.
While that extended to harness racing it was originally focussed on rodeo, where Danny held the New Zealand record for bulldogging, which is when a rodeo rider jumps from a horse on to a steer or calf and wrestles it to the ground.
This would suggest Danny was a bit of a hard bugger.
“He loved the rodeo and was very good at it,” says Peter.
But after Mum passed in 1977 Danny (the third of eight children), Peter and sister Julie (Davie) took over the stud with enormous success.
“Danny was the breeding and horse expert, I was the farmer and Julie managed it and sometimes prepared the yearlings,” explains Peter.
Tuapeka Lodge generally kept their yearlings to 10, selling almost all the colts and keeping the fillies.
Dan would train some, including one of their flagship horses in Maureen’s Dream, but it was mainly the colts who made Tuapeka Lodge the respected nursery that went on to prepare 10 yearling sales toppers.
Many of them traced back to unraced mare turned superstar broodmare Sakuntala.
The family bought her in 1974 and she left 13 winners from 18 foals, including Tuapeka Star who numbered the 1979 Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley among her 22 Australian victories and she went on to leave the great Iraklis.
“He was one of our favourites,” remembers Peter of the stallion who won the NZ Cup and Miracle Mile and over $1million.
He was one of two NZ Cup winners from the Tuapeka breed, the other being Monkey King, even though he wasn’t bred on the farm he was from a mare who was.
Sakuntala’s progeny or their progeny have resulted in over 30 horses to win more than $100,000.
But good horses alone do not legends make and Father Dan was a harness racing legend.
He was ahead of his time with his website and yearling pics and as a man who commanded respect without trying.
Come sales time he would be sitting on his lawn chair outside the stables of the Tuapeka Lodge draft, a parish priest to an entire industry.
“He could be hard when he needed to be. He was very demanding,” laughed Peter.
“He liked things done the right way but we never had a cross word and neither did Julie with him.
“But he loved the horses and really enjoyed his involvement with Southern Bred Southern Reared in recent years.”
Tuapeka Lodge will continue, with younger family members keen to help Peter and Julie.
“I think we have a lovely bunch of horses to take to the sales next year,” smiles Peter.
And they will have somebody looking over them from above. A legend.
Credit: NZ Harness News, 30 Mar 2020, Michael Guerin
Gavin Smith has made the tough call to pull the plug on the career of Great Things Happen, his first and only Group 1 winner to date.
The big eight-year-old gelding by Love You has battled a myriad of issues arising from poor conformation and bad gait throughout his career, racing only 45 times over six seasons for his 16 wins and $234,000 in stakes for Smith and breeder Ted Edwards.
“His feet are actually the best they’ve ever been at the moment and physically there’s not a lot wrong with him,” said Smith.
“He worked 3.15 home in 27 the other day and normally you’d be pretty happy with that, but he’s just not the horse that he was.
“He’s only running at probably 85% and you can’t be at that when competing against the big boys.
“His main problem has been his gait and hitting his near side hind shin, but it’s just been one thing after another in recent years and I think things have built up and got the better of him mentally.
“He deserves better and as he won’t tolerate retirement very well, we’ll find a trekking home for him, and then there will always be a paddock here for him.”
Smith recalls seeing Great Things Happen when he was offered at the Premier Sale by Edwards and passed in.
“I could see he had bad conformation then and I thought he would hit himself, so he wasn’t one that I was going to buy.
“But Ted offered to do a deal on him and as he was well enough bred, so I agreed to take him.
“For a start he was big and weak and just hopeless and at one point I threw in a paddock and had pretty much finished with him.
“But I never got around to making the call to Ted to tell him he’d been sacked.
“There were sentimental reasons that went with him as my first child (daughter Hayley) had been born the morning of the sales or the day a horse called Great Things Happen came through the gate.
“And then each time I brought him back in, he got better and better as he got older and stronger.
“He would hit himself but he wouldn’t break, so you knew he had a big heart and a big motor.”
Great Things Happen made rapid progress when he did begin racing and at one point won five races in a row as a late four-year-old.
As he’d made open class after just 16 races, Smith then sent him to Greg Sugars in Victoria to “harden up” in lesser company and Great Things Happen won four of his seven races there, including a Warragul Cup.
Back home in the spring of 2017, Great Things Happen won the Ashburton Flying Mile in 1.55.4 over a top field and then he bolted away with the NZ Trotting FFA on Cup day in a 1.56.9 mile rate.
That was a national record for 1950m which still stands and it is faster than Tough Monarch’s 1980m record set at the last Cup meeting.
At this point, Great Things Happen seemed to have the world at his feet and he went into the Dominion as a hot favourite.
But he was an abject failure that day and it has been a real battle since for Smith.
Great Things Happen was going good again in the early part of last season and after skipping the FFA, he was again one of the favourites for the Dominion, but again he performed poorly due to a virus that had swept through Smith’s stable.
“He’s always been a lot of hard work, but the Dominion proved a bogey race for him being at the wrong time of the year.
“When things dry off he gets allergies from the dust.
“We got him back a year ago to win twice at Addington, but then he broke a splint bone, and this season has been a real struggle.
“We’ve been managing a succession of little issues for 2-3 years now and it’s got to a point where everybody concerned has said enough is enough.”
Credit: Harnesslink Media, 2 March 2020 : by Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress
Top harness racing mare Wainui Creek provided a boilover last night at Addington Raceway when she won the $100,000 PGG Wrightson Standardbred Breeders Stakes paying $18.00 on the tote.
The win gave North Island driver Scott Phelan an emotional Group One success.
It was a well driven race by North Island driver Phelan. He led early and then capitilised on a great run in the trail behind Bettor's Heart and driver John Dunn who was determined to park Princess Tiffany,the hot favourite for the race.
That made it for the Barry Purdon trained Wainui Creek and the Bettor's Delight mare finished best up the passing lane to get a deserved win by a head at the liine.
Wainui Creek paced the 2600m mobile in 3-12.9 a mile rate of 1-59.3 with the closing 800m in 57.2 seconds.
Credit: Harnesslink Media, 15 Feb 2020
It’s All About Faith took a crucial step forward when nabbing a game B D Joe in a thrilling finish to the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup Day.
The towering three-year-old continued trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s domination of the 1980m Group 1 feature by nailing his northern rival on the passing lane inside the last 50m.
Though he has been clearly established as a star of his age group since first hitting the track, It’s All About Faith has been a constant work in progress for his master trainers.
The colt’s tendency to over-race has seen him having owners Dennis and Mark Dunford having to settle with Group 1 second placings and another runner-up finish in the recent Harness Million final.
It’s All About Faith rewarded his camp for their fine tuning and patience courtesy of some quick thinking from Purdon after B D Joe blasted out of the gate to cross to the lead.
Rather than do the expected – zip around to the front with his $2.40 favourite – the champion reinsman took a gamble and slotted into the trail.
“I could have pushed the issue for another 100m, but I thought it could have been our undoing too,” Purdon said.
“At the Cup Trials I let him come to me, I am trying to teach him to take a trail.”
“And today he settled and just drifted a length or a length and a half off the leader’s back.”
It’s All About Faith not only bagged a deserved group 1 victory, he gave Purdon confidence he could again have the measure of his key rivals B D Joe, Krug (fourth) and American Dealer (sixth) when stepping up to the 2600m and 2700m of this year’s derbies.
“Today I was just so pleased with him because he has worried me going over distance – whether he can do it.”
“But the way he was today I wouldn’t be worried at all.”
It’s All About Faith showed he still has a trick or two up his sleeve when putting his head on his side as he clinched his group 1 win.
The victory was the sixth consecutive win in the race for the All Stars stable following on from One Change, Ultimate Sniper, Chase Auckland, Ultimate Machete, Lazarus and Have Faith In Me.
B D Joe was brave in second for trainers Steve and Amanda Telfer and driver Benjamin Butcher.
The runner-up just succumbing to the winner in the last few strides of the race.
“We were thrilled,” Steve Telfer said.
“We were pleased he was able to take advantage of his good draw and he fought all of the way up the straight.”
B D Joe’s fighting effort came in just his sixth start, suggesting he has as much upside as any horse going forward from today’s group 1 feature.
The Telfer barn plan to look after the pacer as best they can to help him snare a group 1.
“That is what we are hoping – but they have still got to step up and do it,” Telfer said.
“He has been on a very steep curve so far and he has handled everything that we have thrown at him.”
“So long as we look after him and place him right he should continue to develop.”
B D Joe held second by over a tenacious Aladdin, who sat parked for the entirety of the Sires Stakes Final.
Credit : Johnny Turner, Harnesslink, 10 Nov 2020
Canterbury horseman Bob Butt continued his family’s legacy in the Gr.1 Livamol NZ Trotting Free-For-All Mobile Trot (1980m) at Addington Raceway on Tuesday when winning the feature trot with Heavyweight Hero.
Butt became the third generation of his family to win the race after his father David Butt drove Call Me Now to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, and again in 2008 with Stig. While Butt’s grandfather, Robin Butt, won the race in 1971 with Tony Bear.
Fittingly Butt, who also trains Heavyweight Hero, carried his grandfather’s green and white colours to victory on Friday, and he was duly rapt with the win.
“It is great,” he said. “If you can’t be happy with that I don’t know what is wrong with you.”
After an initial false start in which The Dominator broke from the ace barrier, he galloped once again on take two, which allowed Butt to find the perfect running position three back on the markers.
Heavyweight Hero did no work when trailing race favourite Majestic Man and Cracker Hill throughout and Butt was able to utilise the passing lane to slingshot the leaders and win by three-quarters of a length over Cracker Hill with a further three-quarters of a length back to Muscle Mountain in third.
“When The Dominator galloped early I thought I would try and get Nathan’s (Williamson, driver) back (on Majestic Man) but Cracker Hill was punting through and with those two in front of me, three back on the fence was the place to be because I wouldn’t have to go around one and it worked out well,” Butt said.
“I got a slingshot through (when Brad Williamson elected not to take the passing lane with Cracker Hill) and he is a great old horse and is so genuine.”
Heavyweight Hero shaved almost one second off the 1980m national record to go alongside his other national record over 2600m.
Heavyweight Hero headed into Tuesday off the back of four consecutive runner-up results and Butt was delighted to get that elusive Group One victory with his consistent trotter.
“He hasn’t gone a bad race so he deserves it,” Butt said.
“He seemed as good as ever ahead of today, he just needed a run. He is thereabouts always so we just needed a bit of luck and we got it.
Credit : Joshua Smith, HRNZ Harness News 10 Nov 2020
Credit: Joshua Smith
Amazing Dream may have been backed into $1.40 favouritism for the Gr.1 Nevele R Fillies Series Final Mobile Pace (1980m) at Addington on Tuesday, but she had to call on all of her class to nab her sixth Group One victory.
The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained mare was three-wide for the majority of the trip behind On A Roll, but was forced to improve four-wide at the 1000m mark when her opponent began to tire.
Pacemaker Need You Now continued to set a solid tempo up front, making Amazing Dream work to find the parked position 600m from home.
Need You Now turned for home with a two-length advantage, however, Amazing Dream showed her willpower to slowly eek into that lead and eventually overcome Need You Now to win by a neck in a new New Zealand record of 2:20.3.
Rasmussen was thrilled with the win and was full of praise for her charge.
“It was never going to be easy from the barrier draw (9) and just the way it panned out with that one that got caught three-wide (On A Roll) in front of me made it even harder when she had to go four-wide around her,” she said.
“But just credit to her, she is just a real little winner. She was tired at the top of the straight but she just really wanted to win.”
It was almost déjà vu for her connections, with Amazing Dream overcoming a similar run to win on Cup Day last year.
“She has just got so many attributes,” Rasmussen said. “She is so quick and so strong. You have just got to love her, she just wants to win.”
Amazing Dream was purchased at the 2018 PGG Wrightson National Yearling Sale for $77,5000 by Victoria-based owner Jean Feiss who was unable to be on course at Addington on Tuesday as a result of COVID-19 enforced travel restrictions.
“Poor Jean will be tearing her hair out over in Melbourne,” Rasmussen quipped.
Rasmussen and Purdon are now turning their attention towards the Gr.1 NZ Pacing Free-For-All (1980m) at Addington on Friday with the daughter of Bettor’s Delight.
“She does seem to bounce back really well, but we will just wait until we get home and see how she pulls up,” Rasmussen said.
“If she is great then I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t run her on Friday.”
Credit : Joshua Smith, HRNZ Harness News 10 Nov 2020
Credit: Joshua Smith
Champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen took a chance with Self Assured and it paid off when the star pacer exploded away from his opposition to seal their fifth consecutive win in New Zealand Cup at Addington.
The All Stars stable duo went into the country’s biggest harness race knowing they had the most talented of horses, but one they rated just a 50-50 chance of stepping away safely when the starting tapes flew.
Those concerns evaporated in the first few strides when Self Assured effectively sealed his victory with a brilliant beginning.
The faultless display came after Purdon and Rasmussen took a calculated gamble by taking the five-year-old off the unruly starting position and then putting their masterful training skills to work.
“The Cup is about winning and I took him off the unruly because I didn’t think he could win it from there,” Purdon said.
“He was going to have to go around the field.”
“It was a risk, if he had drawn on the inside you would say I have done the wrong thing.”
“I was disappointed when he missed away in the Cup trial, but we did a lot of practice between then and today and he got it right.”
Purdon and Rasmussen not only cemented their place in New Zealand Cup history with Self Assured’s three and a half-length win for his Victorian owner Jean Feiss.
Spankem and Rasmussen held down second, ahead third placed Ashley Locaz and Tim Williams, to seal a race trifecta for the superstar trainers.
Yesterday may have appeared like just another day at the office for Purdon and Rasmussen as they collected three group 1 wins and the trifecta in New Zealand’s most sought after race.
But that is far from how Purdon sees it.
“Having horses like this is what you do it for.”
“And you have got to count yourself lucky.”
“Most trainers have only got one of these type of horses and we have just filled the first three placings in the New Zealand Cup.”
Self Assured’s victory was Purdon’s sixth win in the New Zealand Cup as a driver, equalling the late Cecil Devine.
The master horseman has now trained winner eight times, six of them in partnership with Rasmussen.
The thrill of winning the country’s biggest harness race is yet to fade as Purdon keeps etching his name into its history books.
“You do get the same thrill from each win in the Cup, especially when you do it for different connections each time.”
“It is lovely to do it for Jean, she has been such a great supporter of ours.”
“She is so passionate.”
“We have had horses in the past where I have suggested they have a better earning capacity in Australia after they’ve climbed the ladder here.”
“But she wouldn’t take them off us.”
The beginning that handed Self Assured a huge early advantage over his stablemate Spankem and the favourite Copy That was the biggest talking point following the running of this year’s New Zealand Cup.
As Self Assured was settling into his handy spot in the trail behind his stablemate Ashley Locaz, Copy That was drifting back through the field.
The North Island pacer was among several runners drawn on the inner that appeared to be disadvantaged when the starting tapes were released.
After his slow start from barrier 1, Copy That eventually settled last with a huge task in front of him to catch Self Assured and Spankem.
The effort the Ray Green trained pacer put in to try to get into the race told and Copy That faded into eight placing.
Green labelled the start of the New Zealand Cup a disgrace, after the race.
Credit : Johnny Turner, Harnesslink, 10 Nov 2020
Credit: Johnny Turner
Spankem’s dished up a powerful reminder of his status as the country’s leading short-course pacer when calling on his sensational speed to win the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington on Friday.
The first 100m of the 1980m group 1 feature proved as vital as its last furlong after driver Natalie Rasmussen made Spankem’s rivals pay when controlling the race in front.
Rasmussen used the All Stars’ pacer’s speed to cross to the lead early, which proved the key to her six-year-old getting a deserved victory after having to settle for second behind his stablemate Self Assured in Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup.
Though his early burn was important Rasmussen said it was what happened immediately after Spankem crossed to the lead that set up his front-running win.
“He just dropped the bit, he is one that can get up on the chewy a bit,” the trainer-driver said.
“It was nice that he was able to drop the bit and relax and do his own thing and then starting picking up from the 1000m and start rolling.”
Though Rasmussen was clearly able to give Spankem a comfortable middle section of the New Zealand Free-For-All there was little respite for his rivals.
The six-year-old stopped the clock in 2-19.2 equating to a 1.53.1 milerate for 1980m
“He is fast, I think the 3200m just sees him out, but over the short trips he is pretty lethal.”
Self Assured clearly had Spankem’s measure over the 3200m of the New Zealand Cup, but there was no chance to compare the pair over 1980m under group 1 conditions after the former was scratched from yesterday’s race.
Rasmussen expects it to be a mighty clash when the pair meet in a similar race in the future.
“They are both so fast.”
“I do think Self Assured has everything, he is just so quick and he is so strong.”
“Spankem is quick and I would hate to see Self Assured try to sit outside him and beat him over a short trip.”
Spankem scored by three-lengths over Thefixer, who went the best race of his spring campaign when running into second from near the rear.
Ashley Locaz backed up his third in the New Zealand Cup with a strong third after sitting parked in Friday’s feature.
Credit : Johnny Turner, Harnesslink, 13 Nov 2020
Credit: Johnny Turner
Sundees Son shone brightly at Addington on Friday, leaving his rivals chasing his shadow when he won the fastest ever running of the Dominion with perfect poise.
The Robert Dunn trained trotter produced one of the most polished performances of his career to show New Zealand Cup week fans exactly how good he is when bolting away with the 3200m feature by nearly four lengths.
The scare Sundees Son put into his legion of backers and that camp that prepares when galloping in his last start at Kaikoura him looked a distant memory when the six-year-old trotted off the mark to take up a handy early position.
From there, driver John Dunn’s intentions looked clear – to keep his horse relaxed and out of trouble – and the reinsman was rewarded with New Zealand Trotting’s ultimate trophy.
“After Kaikoura Johnny and I had a talk and we decided we had to take bad luck out of the equation,” Robert Dun said.
“Pres The Belle was keen and had to come off the fence, but it wasn’t long until Johnny decided to get around to sit parked.”
“He is just such a beautifully relaxed horse outside the leader, he goes to sleep.”
Sundees Son’s Dominion win was made possible by a family effort led by the Dunn’s father and son combination.
John Dunn’s father-in-law Craig Edmonds also played a huge role in the horse’s record-breaking victory with his dedication.
“Craig does all the shoeing with him and he takes him down to the beach all the time,” Dunn said.
“We can show up at 5.30 in the morning and Craig is already gone with him, taking him down for a paddle in the water on his jog days.”
“He loves the horse and Johnny obviously has a wonderful combination with him, too.”
Sundees Son will now head to Auckland where he is set to take part in one of the biggest clashes in open class trotting in recent history.
Trotting purists are set to be treated to a clash of two trotters with raw ability like few others in the past decade when Sundees Son will almost certainly take on speed machine Bolt For Brilliance in the Lyell Creek Stakes and National Trot at Alexandra Park.
“He will go to Auckland next, he handles the Auckland way of going as good as he does going the Addington way,” Dunn said.
Sundees Son’s Dominion victory topped an outstanding past 12 months for Robert Dunn and his team.
The trainer notched both his 1500th career win in New Zealand and his first national premiership in the past year.
During that time, Sundees Son has provided a few headaches for the Dunn camp and his breeder-owners, Colin and Nancy Hair.
The squaregaiter went 12 months without trotting throughout an entire race and his tilt at last year’s Dominion had to be abandoned.
“He tells us when he is not right and though he made a break at Kaikoura, it was because he had to take a slight bit of evasive action,” Dunn said.
“And it doesn’t take much with him.”
“The key to him is his soundness and when he is sound he is such a pleasure to have around the place.”
Clearly, nothing was bothering Sundees Son on Friday as he trotted to victory in 4-00.5, taking 0.2sec off Monbet’s national 3200m record, set in his 2016 Dominion win.
Sundees Son’s performance meant runner-up Majestic Man had to settle for yet another big race placing.
Despite that trainer Phil Williamson was proud of his six-year-old
“He gave it all he could, the winner is just a great, great horse.”
“I am proud of him.”
“He would have to be the best one I have had that hasn’t won a group 1.”
Aussie raider Tough Monarch turned around two disappointing efforts in New Zealand when running into third, half a length behind Majestic Man.
Credit : Johnny Turner, Harnesslink, 13 Nov 2020
Credit: Johnny Turner