News Briefs - April 26

Grass track turnovers strong

With winter fast approaching grass track racing is now on hold till spring. The final grass track meeting was at Geraldine last Friday. Since Methven on September 11 last year there have been 39 race days on the grass in this country with latest figures reinforcing their popularity. Average turnover was $944,631.59 per meeting which is well up on the all weather ($796,969.09) with the average Gross Betting Revenue (GBR) at $183,772.28, compared to $128,672.03 for the all-weather. Favourites won 30.1 per cent of the time on the grass (compared to 38.7 on the all weather), with the highest turnover on a grass track meeting being $1,838,853 at the Motukarara meeting on December 29.

Ben Hope hits 200

How appropriate that Ben Hope brought up his 200th driving success with the best horse he's ever been associated with. Muscle Mountain was a dominant winner of the Group 2 Lyell Creek Stakes on Friday night, with Hope registering his 200th win from 1586 starts. His first win was also appropriate, with Benhope Rulz, trained by his parents Greg and Nina, in 2017. His parents recently marked their 800th win together. Muscle Mountain's win was his 27th in 41 starts, and takes the superstar trotter's earnings past the $600,000 mark.

Defending champion in form

Last year's Elitloppet winner Etonnant is showing ominous form ahead of this year's event. He won the Group 1 Prix de l'Atlantique at Enghien on Saturday, after finishing second twice in a row the previous years. The next step should now be the Prix des Ducs de Normandie (Gr. 2) in May at Caen, before heading to Sweden. The Elitloppet, trotting's most prized race, will be held in little over a month, at the end of May in Stockholm.

Upset in feature pace at Yonkers

Paying $31.70 and $5.20, Hellabalou was an upset winner of the MGM Borgata Pace Final at Yonkers over the weekend. Trained by Ron Burke and driven by Joe Bongiorno, the Sweet Lou five-year-old won in 1:50.6, with former Australian superstar Lochinvar Art finishing fifth. Amazing Dream, a multiple Group 1 winner in this country, won the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, in a 1:53.2 mile, in what was her fourth win in five starts. Another former Kiwi American Dealer was another winner on the night.

Former Kiwi on winning streak

Formerly trained by Brad Mowbray in Christchurch, Kingmaker has now made it five wins from eight starts across the Tasman. In what was his biggest win over the weekend he won a Free For All at Menangle in 1:51.6 as part of a winning treble for Team McCarthy. Another Kiwi Cantfindabettorman was also in winning form in 1:54.6 mile rate. And how's this a rough result in the Mildura Pacing Cup Final with the two outsiders of the field Sahara Tiger winning and paying $113.50 with Western Sonador second (paying $10.60 a place). The first four with favourite Can't Top This and Curly paid $170,062.70!

Club News : Invercargill

Gail Paisley of Woodlands was the big winner of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club’s major promotion at their annual Diamonds Day race meeting at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Sunday. Each time a lady placed a bet of $5 on the day they received a coupon to place in the lucky draw for a stunning diamond ring, independently valued at $5700, courtesy of Coats & Schuck Jewellers and the Invercargill Harness Racing Club. Paisley’s name was drawn from the more than 3500 entries received.

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