YEAR: 2021


Trevor Beaton is being remembered as a passionate supporter of harness racing who will be sorely missed.

He’s died in Christchurch aged 70 after a battle with cancer.

“For over 40 years he was involved in standardbreds,” says good friend Graeme Iggo, “what quickly comes to mind are his high ethical standards, his passion, his generosity, his sense of humour and his loyalty.”

He was a former president of the Canterbury branch of the NZ Standardbred Breeders Association, vice president of the national body of the NZSBA, president of the Hororata Trotting Club and for two years was a HRNZ Board member. He also worked part time for HRNZ educating and training cadets.

“He was such a positive and jovial guy who was totally immersed in the industry,” says former HRNZ Board member Allan Brown.

Education was a big part of Beaton’s life and he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to education. He retired in 2011 after being the principal at Cobham Intermediate in Christchurch for 15 years.

As a horse breeder he produced over 80 foals and was a highly respected preparer of yearlings for the sales, having won Best Presented Yearling on several occasions.

“The first mare he bought and bred from was Samantha Scott in 1972 which he paid $2500 for,” says Iggo, “he often laughed about the fact that the horse was worth four times his only other asset at the time – his $600 car.”

Current HRNZ Board member Ken Spicer recalls a trip to the Kaikoura races just last November when Beaton’s health was not good.

“Four of us stayed on course and his horse Admirable won, it was his first win there and a good ending to the yearly pilgrimage,” said Spicer.

“Trevor was a very good mate and we will all miss him dearly”

“He had made many friends in harness racing throughout the country,” said Iggo, “and he will be a significant loss, not only to these friends but to the industry itself.”

Funeral details to be advised.

Credit: 5 March 2021 , Obituary HRNZ


YEAR: 2021


Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate goodbye and the greatest moment of Kirstin Barclay’s harness racing career by winning the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes at Addington on Friday night.

HRNZ Photo

Watch Me dug deep along the Addington passing lane to reel in star mare Amazing Dream to seal maiden Group One wins for both Barclay and her training partner Tank Ellis in the 2600m feature.

In her more than 23 years in harness racing Barclay had only dreamed of winning a Group One race.
But thanks to the incredible talent of her lightly raced mare it was a dream no more.

“I never thought I’d get the chance to drive a Group One winner, it is just so special.”
“Especially doing it with her in her last start for us.”
Barclay will now say goodbye to Watch Me Now with the mare being sold in a big-money deal to North American interests by agent John Curtin.
“The owners are definitely delighted to get her,” Curtin said.

“We didn’t think she could beat Amazing Dream from the 8-hole, but she was just incredible.”
Barclay went into her last race with Watch Me Now wanting to give it everything they had.
And she did that by blasting off the gate in a move that was clearly the winning of the race.
“Tank and I spoke during the week and every time I looked at the field I thought our one chance was if we could cross out of the gate and get handy,” Barclay said.

“Otherwise we were either going to have to sit parked or pull back and try and get around them.”
“You can’t do that when they are running those times.”
“That was the plan and luckily it worked out.”
After crossing to the lead shortly after the start, Amazing Dream and Mark Purdon came back around Watch Me Now and Barclay to hand them a perfect trip in the trail.
Though it looked like the leader had enjoyed steady sectionals in the middle stages, the pace can’t have been too slow.
Watch Me Now broke the national mares’ record for 2600m The Orange Agent set in the same race in 2017 with her 3-07.2 time.

Watch Me Now and Kirstin Barclay

Barclay praised Ellis for his careful planning that had Watch Me Now ready to peak for her Group One tilt.
“He has been really patient and he is really good at mapping out a path for them.”
“And he really did that to perfection.”
“And we have really got to thank Benny Hill, who has looked after her for the last two weeks.”
“You couldn’t have a horse in a better place, no stone goes unturned.”

Watch Me Now delivered the ultimate going away present for her Southland owners Steve and Claire Sloan, who race the outstanding mare with son Brad and his wife Jess, and daughter Halie Gibb and her husband, Alan.
The daughter of Mach Three mare, Mach N Elle, will head to North America on the next available flight pending the outcome of a vet inspection.

It will not be the last Barclay has seen of her favourite mare, she vowed to visit Watch Me Now once COVID allows her to get there.

Credit : Harnesslink, 13 February 2021, Jonny Turner

Credit: Harnesslink


YEAR: 2021


Self Assured gave punters the smoothest of rides when confirming his status as New Zealand’s best pacer when speeding to victory in the Easter Cup at Addington on Saturday night.

In a repeat of this season’s New Zealand Cup finish the five-year-old filled the quinella with Spankem to set up a Hayden Cullen trained trifecta in the Group 1 3200m feature.

The comfortable watch for Self Assured’s backers came after he found the lead for driver Mark Purdon in the middle stages and then outsprinted his rivals with fast closing sectionals.

Incredibly, pulling off the second of two trifectas, completed by Amazing Dream’s third placing, may not have been Cullen’s biggest feat on Saturday.

Because having Self Assured primed to win his Group One staying test with just one 1980m race in the last eight weeks rates right up with them.

“It was probably the perfect race for him the way it panned out,” Cullen said.

“They didn’t go that hard which was probably ideal for him with the way he came into it.”

“When he made the front he was always going to be very hard to catch.”

The only problem Cullen is facing with the Jean Feiss owned Self Assured is what to do beyond next week.
Both the five-year-old and Amazing Dream are scheduled to return to Addington for the Group 2 Superstars Championship.

But beyond that the horse harness racing fans want to see the most may not be going anywhere.
“He will come back to Addington next week for the Superstars but after that there is not really a lot for him,” Cullen said.

“There is the Rangiora Classic later on but not much else, so I am not sure what we will do with him after that.”

“At this stage, Jean is keen to keep him in New Zealand, though that could change.”

“If there are not any more races programmed then the Maurice Holmes Vase (August-September) would just about be the next race we would be targeting.”

Spankem is in a similar position, but Amazing Dream has a clearly defined path with the Taylor Mile, New Zealand Messenger Championship and Harness Jewels on her schedule.

Credit : Harnesslink, 4 April 2021, Jonny Turner

Credit: Jonny Turner


YEAR: 2021


Newly-crowned Group One-winning trainer Craig Edmonds says he doesn’t like trotters any more than pacers.
“I just like fast horses,” he laughs.

But that comment gets harder to believe when Five Wise Men gave Edmonds and his daughter Aimee their first Group One winner in the $100,000 Livamol NZ Trotting Derby at Addington on Friday and you realise of their 51 career wins together 43 have been with trotters.

“I suppose we just tend to get more trotters but I think we have done pretty well with the pacers we have had too,” says Edmonds.

“But we have been involved with these owners for a long time and they have had such a great breed of trotters so the better horses we get are trotters.

“And I do like the shoeing and mucking around with that part of it all so maybe that helps with the trotters.” Edmonds is being overly modest about his success with the squaregaiters as he does plenty of trotting work for son-in-law John Dunn, who is married to his other daughter Jenna.

“We all work in well together and Aimee not only helps out with the horses but it great with the accounts and the owners,” says Edmonds.

“So it is a real team effort even though Aimee and I don’t have that many horses in our own name.” They have a very good one now though in Five Wise Men, who has left little doubt he is the best of this three-year-old crop, which he had to be on Friday night.

He was left out of the early burn by Dunn but got the breeze easily by the bell before giving punters a scare when chucking in a rough stride at the 850m when he started to race fiercely. But even learning on the job he was too good, holding out a luckless Time Up The Hill, a brave Son Of Patrick and Leaf Stride, who was another pushed back at a crucial stage.

As good as he has been, Five Wise Men will have to learn a new skill and quickly before he comes to Auckland for the Sires Stakes Final and Northern Trotting Derby as he has never even been worked right-handed.

“He does all his work on the beach so I haven’t tried him right-handed at all,” explains Edmonds.

“But I will start that next week and I am confident he will be fine because he is good gaited. He hangs out a bit this way so I think he will hang in up there so we might need to tinker with his gear a bit.”

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2021


The day junior driver Ben Hope has been dreaming of since he was a child arrived on Friday when Muscle Mountain chased down his star rival Sundees Son to win the Group One New Zealand Trotting Championship.


Hope showed the poise of a driver well beyond his 21 years when expertly guiding the rising star of New Zealand trotting to victory in the 2600m Addington feature.

And in doing so, Hope joined a select group of New Zealand drivers to have tasted top-level success as a junior driver.

While his career has spanned just four seasons and is certainly in it’s early stages, Hope’s dreams of Group One glory can be tracked much further back.
“I have dreamed about this since even before primary school.”

“I can remember walking around with my whip and going to school pretending I was driving.”

“There has never been anything else I would rather do, it has always been harness racing.”

“To win races is really cool, but to get a Group One is phenomenal.”

Hope’s first Group One win was made sweeter by Muscle Mountain chasing down the star of New Zealand trotting in Sundees Son.

After an epic home-straight battle, Hope and his four-year-old drew clear of the Dominion winners and John Dunn to score.

Hope admitted the feeling when he crossed the line was like no other.

“It was unbelievable, firstly to beat a horse of Sundees Son’s calibre was phenomenal enough.”
“But to win a Group One with Muscle Mountain was unbelievable.”

Hope had Muscle Mountain in front early when the four-year-old showed a surprising amount of gate speed.
After being crossed early, Tony Herlihy and Bolt For Brilliance took the front before handing it to Dunn and Sundees Son.

That left Hope with a key decision to make – when to angle off the pegs to avoid being caught three back on the markers.

The junior driver timed his move to perfection, waiting as long as he could until moving out near the 800m.
“I knew I was following two good horses but at the same time I knew I didn’t want to be too far off Sundees Son.”

“I made the decision to pull out and to the horse’s credit he stuck on well.”

Hope’s breakout win also made more special as it came for his parents, trainers Greg and Nina Hope.

The junior driver paid credit to them and owner Ian Dobson for having the faith in him to be partnered with such a brilliant trotter.

“Mum and Dad have obviously been my biggest supporters.”
“They have put me on horses that not many young people get to drive.”

“I am very thankful to them and I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am.”

“And I have to give a lot of thanks to Ian Dobson as well, I am pretty lucky to be able to drive a horse like this.”

Sundees Son was game in defeat, fighting hard to finish three-quarters of a length from Muscle Mountain.
Bolt For Brilliance held third after looking under plenty of pressure on the home turn.

The trio are unlikely to clash again this season.
Muscle Mountain’s next big goal is the Harness Jewels.
The Hope camp have said a Rowe Cup campaign is unlikely for their stable star.

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2021


Three year old filly Bettor Twist won her fifth Group One harness racing event tonight when taking out the $115,344 Gr1 Nevele R Fillies Series Final in the hands of driver Natalie Rasmussen.
Bettor Twist made light work of her second row draw, eventually working around to the lead with a lap to go and proving too strong in the run to the judge winning impressively in a 1-55.0 mile rate for the 1980m mobile event.
The Robert Dunn trained Off N Gone was a brave second 2 1/2 lengths away with a further 6 lengths back to Bettor Talk Art in third.
Credit : Harnesslink Media 14 May 2021

Credit: Harnesslink


YEAR: 2021


Akuta produced a Group One victory equally as powerful as his stablemate’s when running away from his fellow two-year-olds in the Garrard’s Sires Stakes Series Final.
Fresh off his brilliant win in last week’s Harness Million Final, the pacer produced an even more impressive victory when overcoming drawing on the outside of the second row.
“He was really good last week and he had to be really good again tonight,” Cullen said.
“Nat could have let him go at the 400m, but she held him up a bit and she said he pretty much jogged it.”
Cosmic Major chased hard behind Akuta to provide Cullen with a stable quinella in a repeat of the pair’s one-two finish in last week’s Harness Million.
Credit : NZ Harness News, 22 May 2021, Jonny Turner

Credit: NZ Harness News


YEAR: 2021


The queen had to earn her crown and Bettor Twist did it with style when taking out the Group One New Zealand Oaks at Addington on Friday night.
Doing midrace work and sitting parked in the second-fastest ever running on the 2600m classic were of little worry to the champion Hayden Cullen trained filly as she powered to the line to again confirm her star status.
The victory was aided by a pinpoint Natalie Rasmussen drive on a night she and Cullen dominated the Addington card with dual Group One victories.
Rasmussen’s fellow leading reinswoman Samantha Ottley set up an enthralling affair and made Bettor Twist work for her second Oaks crown with positive early tactics behind her archrival La Rosa.
Sent forward early, Ottley parked the favourite early and set a strong clip in front to give her charge her shot at taking down Bettor Twist.
And while La Rosa was brilliant in second her effort wasn’t enough to hold out her star rival who thrived in her second attempt over on Oaks distance.
“La Rosa really made a race of it and our filly had to be good tonight,” Cullen said.
“And she showed how good she is.”
“She has always gone well over the shorter distances but I thought 2600m would suit her right down to the ground.”
“She really stuck to her guns the whole way and we got the job done.”
Credit : NZ Harness News, 22 May 2021, Jonny Turner

Credit: NZ Harness News


YEAR: 2021


Covid stopped him being there but it couldn’t stop Ray Green from delivering the training performance of a lifetime as Copy That staved off his rivals to win the IRT New Zealand Cup at Addington on Tuesday.
Green watched on from his living room as the horse he selected to buy before he was even a year old powered to a front-running victory in New Zealand’s greatest race four years on.

With Green stuck in Auckland and owners, Meg and Merv Butterworth forced to watch on from Australia all New Zealand Cup responsibility was left to driver Blair Orange.

When Orange took Copy That to the lead his 76-year-old trainer knew from his lifelong involvement in harness racing that his horse was nearly unbeatable from that point.

But it didn’t mean he wasn’t in for one of the most stressful four minute periods of his life.
“He was never going to get beat once he strolled two easy halves (800m), I thought they were never going to beat him.”

“Self Assured is a very good horse but we have beaten him in the past in the same scenario and I think our horse is a lot stronger this year.”

“So, you see him in front and you think they can’t beat him, but then you think maybe they can.”
“It was stressful, you don’t realise how stressed out you were until it's over.”

“It was very emotional once he crossed the line.”

Orange delivered a front-running performance fitting of his status as New Zealand’s premier reinsman by expertly controlling the New Zealand Cup tempo.

After his brilliant effort to guide Copy That to his commanding win, the reinsman was typically humble, suggesting he was lucky to land the drive on such a brilliant horse.

“It is a very special moment, it is the pinnacle of our racing year and it is hard enough to get a drive in it let alone a leading chance,” Orange said.

Copy That’s victory offered redemption for his camp after the pacer was a victim of a controversial start to last year’s event which severely affected his winning chances.
The pacer’s win also completed an epic journey which started when Green and wife Debbie bought the horse home from a weanling sale for $7500, which has looked like a bargain price for some time.

Green admitted he and his wife have had their ups and downs with the pacer since, but it was all made worthwhile when Copy That wrote himself into the greatest chapter of New Zealand harness racing’s history.

“It wasn’t all beer and skittles, it took a while for him to materialise.”

“But I always knew he had a bit of speed, so you persevere and this is the end result.”

“I have had a lot of the drivers be very good with him in his progress, they’ve looked after him when he was doing things wrong and I appreciate all of them.”

The Greens sold Copy That to the Butterworths as a three-year-old, which allowed the Australian owners to live a second New Zealand Cup dream following their victory with Arden Rooney in 2015.

“Debbie never wanted to sell him, but you have got to be realistic, we are not rich people and when you are offered a lot of money you have to sell,” Green said.
“We have still got him to train, so it has been a win-win, the owners that bought him have been great.”
“They are very loyal owners.”

“I am just extremely grateful for this horse, there are a lot of people involved.”

“From the vets to the staff, to (Lincoln Farms owner) John street, there are so many people.”

Though robbed of the chance to see his career and life defining win in the flesh, there was one advantage from Green being able to watch the New Zealand Cup from home alongside his wife and his staff.

Celebrations started before Orange and his team on the ground got the hopples off Copy That.

“There is a party going on here, there is champagne sprayed everywhere,

“It is almost like one of those formula one podium jobs.”
Copy That scored in a 3.58.8 winning time by a two and a half lengths over defending champion Self Assured, with South Coast Arden third.

Credit: Johnny Turner


YEAR: 2021


A stunning display of speed and stamina from Franco Indie delivered the perfect result for Spreydon Lodge in the Group 1 Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup Day.

The Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen trained pacer shrugged off sitting parked throughout the first age-restricted Group One of the harness racing season as he and his stablemate Franco Mac left their rivals chasing their dust.

The victory not only continued an incredible day out for the Purdon-Cullen stable, it produced a perfect result for breeders Spreydon Lodge and its own stablemate, Nevele R Stud.

Franco Indie and Franco Mac have never been far from each other throughout their lives having been bred and raised at Spreydon Lodge, before both being sold as yearlings and going to at the All Stars stable.
Their journey to a one-two finish in a Group One feature on New Zealand Cup Day was something Spreydon Lodge and Nevele R Stud general manager Ged Moar almost couldn’t believe.

“It is a huge thrill, I can’t believe it, it doesn’t happen very often that they were both in the same yearling sale, we bred them and the mares and it is just a great thrill to get a Group One quinella on a very special day.”

Franco Indie’s journey towards Group One glory under the incredible guidance of the All Stars stable started with Mooar asking Mark Purdon to find him some stock of Nevele
Stud’s exciting stallion Always B Miki to race, with a view to giving the sire’s career a kickalong.
The result could not have been better for Nevele R Stud and Alabar, who stand Always B Miki and race Franco Indie together.

Franco Indie is the stallion’s first Group One winner in New Zealand and third in Australasia.

“We asked Mark and Natalie to go to the sales and buy a couple of colts by Always B Miki.”

“This fellow just happened to be in Spreydon Lodge’s draft.”

“That was great, so Nevele R retained a share in him, Alabar took a share in him and the rest is shared among a lot of people, including a lot of people from the Chase Auckland syndicate.”

“It is great to share this victory with a lot of people.”
Purdon carried the same Alabar silks to victory in his win in the Sires Stakes Final with Chase Auckland in 2017.

Franco’s Indie’s win continued an incredible domination of the Group One feature by Mark Purdon.

Purdon has trained the last eight winners of the race in Have Faith In Me, Lazarus, Ultimate Machete, Chase Auckland, Ultimate Sniper, One Change, It’s All About Faith and now Franco Indie.

This year’s win came in partnership with Hayden Cullen with the prior seven in partnership with Natalie Rasmussen.

Spreydon Lodge has a proud history of its own in the Sires Stakes Final.

Franco Indie joins fellow Francos, Franco Enforce (1996), Franco Heir (2000) and Franco Nelson as winners of the feature.

Credit: Johnny Turner

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