News Briefs : June 5

50 for Grant

Trevor Grant had his 50th training success when the Robbie Close-driven George Eliot won at Addington on Thursday night. Her victory in the Airpark Canterbury Mobile Trot was her third in 35 starts. Grant's half century has come from 900 starts with his first win being with Catch The Wind at Blenheim in 1990. Grant's best horses over the years have been Adio Routine (15 wins), Young Stranger (9 wins), Rachmaninov (7 wins) and Starwood In Aspen (6 wins). Grant trains a small team from his Eyrewell Forest base in North Canterbury.

King's Birthday honours to McCutcheon

Long-standing stipendiary steward and former harness racing trainer-driver Noel McCutcheon's services to racing have been recognised in the latest King's Birthday honours. He's been made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit. A former jockey, who had won more than 200 wins, McCutcheon then joined NZ Thoroughbred Racing as a steward. He was Chief Stipendiary Steward from 1990 to 2006. He retired in 2023 after decades of services including the Judicial Control Authority and the Racing Integrity Board. In harness racing he had 21 wins as a trainer and 23 as a driver. Based at Otaki, his first winner was Glen Idol at Hawera in 1970. Other good winners included Noble Day and Barrier Conquest.

Orange goes to front

After winning five races at Invercargill on Monday, Blair Orange has re-taken the lead from John Dunn in the drivers' premiership. The six-time champion had victories with Del's Creation, Summit Ultra, Mataura BB, Deny Everything and Midnight Babe to be on 84 for 2023, two ahead of Dunn. It promises to be a see-sawing battle over the second half of the year. In the trainers' premiership Team Dunn is a clear-cut leader, on 88 wins, with Steve and Amanda Telfer next on 66.

Key starting stand test for Larry

Whether champion Aussie pacer Leap To Fame chases the New Zealand Cup will become a lot clearer after Saturday night’s Albion Park meeting. As trainer-driver Grant Dixon has planned for months, the five-year-old will try standing-start racing for the first time in the $32,000 Flashing Red Discretionary Handicap. Leap To Fame is the lone back marker off 20m in the 13-horse field over 2647m. Dixon has given the champ two standing-start trials, the latest on May 24 when Leap To Fame stepped slowly but safely and went on to easily win the trial. “He stepped away OK, not great, but OK,” Dixon said. “It was only his second try from the stand and his first for a year, so he should be better for it.” "Larry" won at Albion Park over the weekend, for his 12th consecutive win in a time of 1:51.5.

Carana has 10th win across the Tasman

Seven-year-old former Kiwi pacer Carana had an easy win in the Retravision Handicap at Gloucester Park in Perth over the weekend. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained pacer has now had 19 starts in Western Australia for 10 wins. Included in the field were other well-known former Kiwis Montana D J and Frankie Major. Bred by Renwick Farms, Carana had two wins from nine starts for Ashburton trainer John Hay before heading across the Tasman in January last year.

Under 40s excellence awards

Entries are now open for the first ever Industry Excellence Awards to acknowledge the talents and achievements of Kiwis aged up to 40 in each of three racing codes. There will be nine categories with each winner receiving $10,000. The finalists will be announced on July 4, with the ceremony in Auckland on July 28.

To find out more click here

Bob's back

Race days sponsored by some of the country's leading stables are back. Addington's meeting this Sunday will be known as the Bob Butt Racing Stables Race Day. At last year's corresponding meeting races were all given distinctive names including the Heavyweight Hero/Callie's Delight Group 1 Winners pace after two of Butt's star performers. One of the winners that day was Bet N Win. He was driven by co-trainer David White that day but Butt has become his regular driver since, winning with him four times. The horse is now being prepared for the $150,000 Haras De Trotteurs Great Square at Albion Park in Queensland on July 8.

The Rock for sale

Four-race winner D J Rock is the among 16 horses up for sale in's latest auction, which closes from 7 pm tonight. Bred by Stonewall Stud and trained by the Telfers, the four-year-old gelding has had 18 starts, the latest at Alexandra Park last month with his vendors saying he "needs a change of scenery". At last look D J Rock has met his reserve, and was at $3600.

To see the auction click here



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