HRNZ Media Bites, April 30

J Scott Latest News



Its Rowe Cup week and the build up to the 2013 Trust Ashburton Harness Jewels is gathering momentum. Lots of interesting bits to talk about in harness racing


  • Alexandra Park this Friday: the current Premier, Classic racing at Alexandra Park may really be about the ushering in of a new guard of top class performers in New Zealandharness racing. Whether it’s the new breed of super trotter or the continued emergence of the dynamic Christen Me, the landscape is changing with a view to the new season, that lies in wait just a few months away. Again, this Friday night hese rising stars will seek fame and riches. Four Group One races highlight a night not to be missed. The culmination of a very good autumn carnival encompasses the Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby, Magness Benrow Stakes 2YO Fillies’ Championship, Dawson Harford & Partners NZ Messenger and 2013 Canam Rowe Cup – all at Group One level. 11 races in total at Alexandra Park this week. Race 1 paces away At 5.45pm.
  • Excel Stride not coming: Following a mediocre performance in the Miracle Mile on Sunday at Menangle, Excel Stride, one of Australia’s pacers best is not heading to Auckland to tackle Christen Me and Co. in the Dawson Harford & Partners NZ Messenger. Of last week’s Taylor Mile field, just Easy On The Eye is the fresh runner returning to the fray. His return comes on the back after two disappointing recent showings in NSW where he clearly wasn’t at his best.
  • Royal Aspirations heads home Monarchy trifecta in Sires Stakes: As well as producing a devastating 27.2 second-to-last 400 metres in the Sires Stakes Trotting Championship last week at Alexandra Park, Royal Aspirations helped make it a ‘Monarchy’ trifecta with two other sons Prime Power & Sheemon filling in the minor placings. This success follows on from Monarchy being the most in demand trotting stallion this past breeding season with 80 services.
  • Franco Nelson off to the beach but not for holiday: Robert Dunn is the new trainer of gun three-year-old Franco Nelson. His Spreydon Lodge mentor Steven McRae offered these thoughts following the departure of his stable star. “He’s a valuable horse and you have to do what’s best for him. Being trained on the beach now will give him his best chance.” McRae stated that while there were no serious, debilitating issues with Franco Nelson, the beach will help take the jar out of his rapid legs and that straight–line training will be an aid too. While Robert Dunn will train the horse, with his son John operating the Woodend Beachoperation Craig Thornley will continue to drive the Christian Cullen speed machine. 
  • Sam Ottley starring amongst the juniors: Young Lincoln-based junior driver Sam Ottley has sweeping all before her in competition with her peers. The promising reinswoman who works for Colin and Julie De Filippi holds such a domination over junior drivers races in the South Island that’s she’s even holding sway over resident top gun Matthew Williamson in the points race. Ottley will almost certainly be the top qualifier and therefore captain of the South Island team when the upcoming NZ Junior Drivers Champs rolls around On July 4. Ottley has won seven of the 14 junior drivers’ races she’s contested since the start of February and with qualifying cutting off set at June 9 her 16-point lead over Brad Williamson looks pretty secure at this point. 

    To date this season Ottley has racked up a personal best 31 wins. The support she’s receiving from Canterbury trainers and her burgeoning record suggests there are plenty more in store before the season is out. The most wins in a single season by a woman driver to date is 51 set by Nicky Chilcott in 2002

  • Milestone Watch: Young trainer Gavin Smith’s next training win will be his 100th. The Amberley trainer has made a very promising start to his training career and this will no be the first of many milestones for him. Time to start watching David Butcher’s driving total too. He’s just 43 wins shy of 2000 NZ wins. The 2013 NZ World Drivers Championship rep is on a current schedule to make 2000 around Christmas time. There is also an elite group of trainers not too far off 1000 wins. Cran Dalgety 854, Robert Dunn 852 and Geoff Small 853 are all approaching striking distance of 1000. Then there’s Steven Reid who is wading his way through the 900s, currently sitting on 920 wins. 
  • Harness Jewels approaching fast: We’re little over a month away from the 2013 Trust Ashburton harness Jewels. The biggest ever with 12 races combining for a weekend’s worth of top-class action at Ashburton Raceway. Fixed Odds betting on the ‘Jewels’ kicks off next week and more information can be found at Qualifying cut off for the Harness is at the conclusion of the Oamaru meeting on May 19.



 Andrew Morris, Communications & Marketing Manager, HRNZ