News briefs : October 11

Change of plan for Old Town Road

The second favourite for the IRT New Zealand Cup is set to take a different path to the great race. Old Town Road moved into $5 for the Cup with his come-from-last win when returning at Alexandra Park last Friday and initially trainer John Dickie thought he would take the wonderful pacer to Ashburton for the Flying Stakes. But Dickie has had a change of heart and Ashburton’s loss is likely to be Kaikoura’s gain.
“We were going to go to Ashburton but I think I will keep him up here for a week longer,” says Dickie.
“I will give him a workout run on Saturday week, probably with Zachary’s filly (Mantra Blue) because she isn’t going to Ashburton either.
“Then we will fly him down and he can go to Kaikoura ... then he’d likely go in the Cup trial the week after.”

Half century by Jones

Mark Jones made it 50 wins for the year when he produced a training double at Methven on Sunday. He had victories with The Coalman and Sailor Boy, both driven by Sam Ottley. The in-form Burnham stable is currently third on the trainers' premiership, three behind Mark and Nathan Purdon (53) and runaway leaders Robert and Jenna Dunn (92). Ottley has 49 winners in 2023 along with Tim Williams. They are fourth equal in the drivers' premiership behind Blair Orange (115), John Dunn (85) and recently crowned NZ Junior Drivers Championship winner Sarah O'Reilly on 59.

$33,000 raised for NZ Prostate Cancer Foundation

Harness Racing New Zealand's Blue September campaign raised $33,000 for the New Zealand Prostate Cancer Foundation. Money was raised every time one of the 12 ambassadors, all wearing their blue pants, won a race during the month. HRNZ and the clubs involved all contributed $100 per win, with extra money coming from individual sponsors, donations, and other fund raising. The drivers had 50 wins in September with the country's leading driver Blair Orange the most successful with 14. He also raised the most money with $3900.

Centurions nab trifecta at Methven

Here's one for the veterans. On Sunday the trifecta at Methven in the Pat and Pauline O'Reilly Memorial Handicap Trot was made up of Prince Teka, DD's Super Stuart and Take After Me. Together the three place-getters have had an incredible 599 starts. The dual gaited Take After Me was having start number 336, with Prince Teka 149, and DD's Super Stuart 114. Together they have had 37 wins.

Shartin's first foal sold

The mighty Shartin's first foal Caroline Kountry has fetched decent, but far from record-breaking money, at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sales. The bay filly by Captaintreacherous sold for $140,000, a long way off the top price, the $800,000 paid for filly Kadena (Gimpanzee - Mission Brief), who equalled the highest price paid for a filly at auction in North America. Shartin gave birth at the Anvil and Lace Farm in Kentucky on February 13. Bred by by Grant Crabbe at Prebbleton, just outside Christchurch, Shartin was the 2019 Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year and the fastest pacing mare in history (1:46.8), winning 46 of her 68 starts.

Well travelled trotter produces in New York

Aldebaran Zeus, the Australian trotter who won the Group 2 Waikato Flying Mile at Cambridge in April, is making his mark in North America. In New York the now Nifty Norman-trained square-gaiter was a fast finishing second at Yonkers over the weekend for driver Jason Bartlett. Stormy Kromer won the race in 1:54.6.

Photo op with NZ Cup

There will be two more chances for people to get up close to harness racing's greatest prize, and also win tickets to the biggest race day of them all. For the first time the IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup will be on show at meetings around the South Island as part of the build-up to the great race at Addington on Tuesday, November 14. The roadshow started at Methven last Sunday, and will continue at Ashburton (Flying Stakes day - October 23) and then Alabar Kaikoura Cup day on Monday, October 30. Anyone getting their photo taken with the Cup will then go into the draw to win double General Admission passes to Addington on Cup Day. There will be three passes at each venue.

Gavelhouse auction closes tonight

Last start winner Supertramp is one of six lots on gavelhouse this week, with bidding finishing from 7pm tonight. The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained two-year-old has had one win and a second in five career starts. At last look the Vincent filly had attracted a bid of $18,000. To see the auction click here

Harness racing turnovers and Gross Betting Margin in NZ for the past week :

Addington Thursday 05 October – Turnover $962k, GBM 22.5%
Invercargill Friday 6 October – Turnover $359k, GBM 22.8%
Auckland , Friday 6 October – Turnover $697k, GBM 8.5%
Methven , Sunday 8 October – Turnover $1,443k, GBM 20.8%


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