News Briefs : April 12

Thornley gets first win as trainer, at odds

Canterbury's Sam Thornley had his breakthrough win as a trainer when Dragon Sunrise won at big odds ($71.70) in the first at Motukarara on Easter Monday. Thornley drove the Majestic Son five-year-old as well, after acquiring the horse off Robbie Holmes earlier this year. "It was a big thrill,", he said post race. Over the weekend he also turned 21, marking it with a win with Missalyssa at Addington. It was just Thornley's fifth start as a trainer. As one of the country's top junior drivers, he has had 63 wins in the sulky since his first in the 2020 season. 

Merlin heading to Aussie

Classy three-year-old Merlin is heading to Queensland to compete in the $350,00 Group 1, the Rising Sun. A winner of 11 from 14, the Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained pacer will be up against Australia's best including local star Leap To Fame. The Rising Sun will be held at the Creek on Saturday July 8, with a $100,000 bonus on offer if it is won by a three-year-old. Merlin is the highest earning harness racing horse in this country this year, having won $192,758 with three wins in five starts, including the Group 1 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby last month. .

Dex and Doug win again

Former Australian Dougs Babe A and 10-time Kiwi driving champion Dexter Dunn have gone two from two in the Blue Chip matchmaker Series at Yonkers in New York. In her second win, over the weekend, she just pipped none other than multiple Group 1 winner Amazing Dream. Her winning time was 1:53.4. The six-year-old is trained by another ex-pat Kiwi Nifty Norman. 

Million dollar milestone for Funatthebeach

Bred by Caroline and Braeden Whitelock, Funatthebeach has become the latest million dollar-earning pacer in the USA, after taking out the third leg of the Borgata Pacing Series. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding won by more than three lengths in 1:51.6. The Whitelocks, who are well known for producing All Blacks as well as champion horses, bred Funatthebeach out of their eight race winning mare Minnie Moose. Funatthebeach went to Australia in 2019 before heading to North America.

Green puts a ring on it

What a few days it's been for Kirstin Green. The Southland-based trainer-driver won her second Group 2 Kindergarten Stakes with Vessem at Wyndham last Thursday and then on Good Friday announced on Facebook that she is engaged to now fiance Sean Daly. And congrats to Robbie Close, who married Brooke last Thursday in North Canterbury. He then went on to win two Racing Rewards races at Addington on Saturday.

Clash of the legends

It's just days to the clash of the 3000 club at Methven. Maurice McKendry, Ricky May and Tony Herlihy, the only three drivers to have driven 3000 winners in this country, will drive in six races at the Mt Harding racecourse this Sunday. Remarkably the three have driven against each other 693 times over the years, though the last time all three were in the same race was in Auckland on December 14, 2019.

Owners night at Addington

Addington Raceway (NZMTC) is very excited to announce it will hold an Owners’ Night for all current (regardless of whether their horse is racing that night,) and potential owners on Friday 5th May. The event will be in Christian Cullen Lounge on Level 1 of the Metropolitan Stand, and will include plenty of activities, prize draws, a meal special, a welcome drink and much more. Race 1 is scheduled for approximately 5:00pm.

Club News : Winton

A full day of quality harness racing is scheduled for Central Southland Raceway in Winton this Thursday, 13 April. Twelve races are scheduled, with the first at 11.37am. There are several highlights on the programme, none more so than the Southern Standardbred Breeders Association / Vet South Equine Southern Belle Series Final over 1609m for a stake of $30,000 timed for 3.56pm. Other features include the $20,000 Winton Businesses Cup over 2400m at 4.23pm and heats of both the Macca Lodge / Nevele R Stud Southern Oaks and the Alabar NZ Ltd Southern Supremacy Stakes, each one the final heats before the respective finals on Diamonds Day at Invercargill on Sunday 23 April. Admission will be free.

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