News Briefs : February 7

Merlin gets slot for Race by Grins

Merlin has been confirmed for the $1m Race by Grins at Cambridge. The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained multiple Group 1 winner will take the SENZ slot in the 2024 edition of the big race. Merlin is the first pacer to be confirmed in the field while Queen Elida (TAB NZ), Just Believe (Taylor Street Racing Syndicate) and Callmethebreeze (Yabby Dam Racing) have already been confirmed for the TAB Trot. The Night of Champions will be held on April 12.

Pembrook Playboy retired

Top southern pacer Pembrook Playboy has been retired, after a racing career that saw him rack up 11 wins and over $200,000 in stakes. The Bettor's Delight seven-year-old has been plagued with injuries in recent years, with his last raceday appearance being a fifth behind Beach Ball in the Summer Cup at Addington last December. As a four-year-old Pembrook Playboy had his best season by far, with seven wins from 18 starts, including victories in the 2021 Invercargill Cup and the Northern Southland Cup.

Tickets on sale for Southland harness awards 

Tickets are on sale now for the 2024 Southland Harness Awards. The awards will take place in the Royal Ascot Stand at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Saturday 2 March with tickets just $20 each and available in single lots or a table of ten. The ticket price includes a supper while a cash bar will operate on the night with EFTPOS available. The evening is all about celebrating success. Tickets will be limited and there will be no door sales on the night so be in quick and book at [email protected]. The Awards will feature a slick new format this year and will feature a range of categories: including Horse Of The Year, Contribution to Harness Racing, Fastest Mile Of The Year and Trainer and Driver of the year.  

Coast to Coast Addington vs Cambridge 

Bragging rights will be on the line at this week's Coast to Coast endurance race, starting Friday. Both Addington Raceway, represented by Brian Thompson, John Denton and Andrew Ross, and Cambridge Raceway (Dave Branch, Michael Douglas and Vicky Riley) will compete in the two day teams event, running, biking and kayaking from Kumara to New Brighton. It's Addington's second year competing in the epic race, while Cambridge is on debut. Both teams are raising funds for the Horse Ambulance Trust.

Five go back to back

It was a case of following the form at Hawera. There were 10 races on both Friday and Sunday, with five horses managing to win on both days. Smoke On The Water won the Stratford - Hawera Cup double, while the other dual winners were Lamarli, Lightning McQueen, Johnny Who and Caulfield. In Lamarli's case the five-year-old had not won before last Friday, from 16 previous starts, only to go back to back for the father-son training-driving combo of Michael and Wilson House.

Bach takes on the champ

Bach has picked a tough race to make his Australian debut in! The winner of eight from 29 starts for Robert and Jenna Dunn, Bach is now with Kyle Marshall and will line up in Saturday night's Cranbourne Gold Cup. Included in the field is Hunter Cup winner Leap To Fame as well as Cya Art and Max Delight. Leap To Fame has predictably opened a very short favourite at $1.20 as he chases career win number 33.

Ranger with nine point lead

The Hygain Revell Douglas Memorial (junior driver) Series heads to Methven this Sunday for the fourth heat of the series. Monika Ranger leads on 42 points after winning the first two heats before Zev Meredith won with Call Security at Hawera on Sunday. He has 31 points. The series will have seven heats, culminating with the final two at Cromwell on February 23 and 25.

Club News : Wairio

The Wairio Trotting Club have a fantastic day of racing and entertainment planned when their annual Cup Day takes place at Central Southland Raceway in Winton on Sunday (11 February). The Otautau Four Square Supermarket Wairio Cup run over a distance of 2400m for a stake of $25,000 is the feature race on a quality race programme which also includes heats of the Alabar Southern Supremacy Series and the Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southern Oaks and the $15,000 Diamond Creek Carat for 2-year-olds. There will also be a $250 Prezzy Card up for Grabs in the Heads/Tails game for all ages while for the adults there are a couple of lucky draws for a $25 betting voucher and an opportunity to win a ride on the E H Ball ITM Mobile Barrier. In addition, there is plenty of free activity for the children with a lolly scramble, sack races, running races, a scavenger hunt and some giveaway packs. The first race is timed for 12.55pm and the club welcomes inquiries about placing tents and gazebos on course. Admission is free!
Lindsay Beer
Promotions Officer
Southern Harness Racing
021 351 499


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