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Latest News on Harriet Of Mot

(May 1)
 
Harriet Of Mot is now back home in Christchurch and has headed off to the spelling paddock.

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds dropped our trotter off at the Ladbrooks property of Graham Bunz yesterday afternoon, which is where she and Craig spell all their horses. The 'Staxofun' Syndicate's horse Franco Saxon is currently there as well.

Aimee says Hattie has come through her trip to Auckland in terrific order, showing no ill-effects from a hard race on Friday night and the journey home since.

Things just didn't pan out for Hattie and driver John Dunn in the Rowe Cup, because unfortunately when they made their move just before the winning post with a lap to go they got left out three-wide without any cover.

This was the fastest part of the race in what was a slow overall time (4:08.2), and as a consequence you could see Hattie actually start to feel the pinch nearing the final bend - but to her credit our game wee girl never threw in the towel and kept trying all the way to the finish.

Less than seven lengths from the winner who got a soft lead and then trailed wasn't a bad performance by any means.

"We were really proud of her," Aimee said.

"Johnny was beating himself up a bit about the drive, thinking he should've got around them before Enghien went; things are always easier in hindsight though, aren't they.

"But no, she got away well and did everything right during the race and pulled up great afterwards."
 
So, we might not have brought home any of the Group 1 trophies that were up for grabs during our Auckland raid, but we did take away something almost as important - the confidence to go back again, because Hattie completed nearly five and a half kilometres at race speed and never once looked like putting a foot wrong!

It certainly went a long way towards putting the demons of past Alexandra Park starts to bed, once and for all.

"Yeah, it means that the big Christmas carnival they have up there is now something we can look at later this year," Aimee said.

"Cup Week is the main aim to start with though, so we'll just see how she comes through that first.

"She'll have about six to eight weeks out, then we'll start jogging her up again sometime late June or early July."

Another thing that Hattie will take into future campaigns is a gear change - the half hopples, which Aimee says is likely to be "permanent" from now on.
 
"For some horses, wearing half hopples can be a bit restricting to their gait; but with Hattie, she stretches out more so it's a good thing."


(April 27)
 
If you want to know how much tonight's Rowe Cup means to Craig and Aimee Edmonds, the latter's movements this week should give you a fairly good indication.

Aimee left Auckland last Sunday, about an hour after her father Craig arrived from Christchurch to 'take over the reins' and continue overseeing Hattie's build-up towards the final race of her 2017/18 season.
 
But the younger, feminine, and heavily pregnant half of our dynamic training duo lasted less than 48 hours - and was back at Hattie's side again by Tuesday afternoon.

Aimee initially said that she'd probably fly back on the day of the race (today), just so that she could be oncourse to watch Hattie contest the Group 1, so the fact that she's been up there for most of the week is a telltale sign that her and Craig are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to see Hattie go out with a bang.
 
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is commitment... to Hattie, to their own goals and dreams, and to us!
 
Aimee gave a glowing report about our girl when we spoke on ANZAC Day. She'd just watched from the sidelines as John Dunn gave Hattie her final serious hitout prior to tonight's $150,000 thriller, and knew that the hours between then and now would be all about just keeping her ticking over and happy.

"Johnny said she felt really good," Aimee said, "and her heart rate was great afterwards too."

Harriet Of Mot has received her all-important pre-race sessions of acupuncture, hasn't missed a feed that's been put in front of her, and Aimee says she's improved since last Friday night's meritorious third.
 
"As long as she does everything right, we think she could be right there."

Go Hattie!


(April 21)
 
Harriet Of Mot put her Group 1 'hoodoo' to bed with a sterling effort to run third in last night's Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park.

Hattie's formline in five Group 1s prior to this latest one read 9th, 11th, 7th, 7th and 11th... and she turned it around at Alexandra Park, of all places - ironically the very racecourse where she'd failed to get around in one piece in the last five of her six starts there.

It really was a super effort too, because with 800 metres to go she was giving the eventual winner (trail) and runner-up (parked) a decent headstart, but closed the gap to two and three-quarter lengths during this final sectional which was run in a quick 57.6.
 
It would've been an immense feeling of vindication for trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds, and Hattie's $8000 paycheque for running third has more than paid for her trip regardless of what happens in next Friday night's Rowe Cup.
 
"Dad and I were really happy with her run," Aimee said this morning.

"She's pulled up well, ate all of her tea up last night and licked the bowl clean again this morning.

"She'll improve with that outing too, seeing how it was her first in a fortnight."

The main addition to Hattie's gear for last night's assault was the addition of half-hopples, and it's fair to say that they worked because she didn't even look like putting a foot wrong for the entire trip.

"Yeah, Johnny (Dunn) said she felt solid throughout and he was pretty happy too," Aimee continued.

Knowing what Hattie's like and how she's let us down in the past, Aimee won't allow herself to ooze too much confidence heading into the last race of our trotter's season next Friday. It'll be totally different after all - a 3200m stand compared to last night's 2200m mobile.

"She did seem pretty comfortably walking around before the start though, she's always better when there's other horses around her.
 
"And she had to come quite wide around that last bend too, but did it well; I thought she went super."
 
Tomorrow will see a 'changing of the guard' with regards to our trainers, because Craig's flying up to Auckland mid-morning and Aimee will be boarding a plane heading in the opposite direction an hour later.

It's highly likely she'll fly back up for Hattie's season finale next Friday though, because she said she'd "hate it" if our girl happened to win a race like the Rowe Cup and she wasn't oncourse.
 
No-one's saying she will of course, but if she does things right and avoids bad luck - everyone knows she can.
 
If any horse deserves to put a Group 1 title next to her name, it's Harriet Of Mot.

In less than a week, we'll find out what the Racing Gods think about that.


(April 17)
 
Harriet Of Mot has arrived safe 'n sound in the north!

Our girl left Christchurch in the early hours of Saturday morning, accompanied by co-trainer Aimee Edmonds. There was a slight delay prior to crossing Cook Strait, so this gave Hattie a chance to get off the float in Blenheim and stretch the legs while she picked at the grass.

By 1:30pm the next day she'd arrived at her destination, Ray Green's Lincoln Farms stable, in terrific condition.

"She's settled in well and is very bright in the eye," Aimee reported yesterday, adding that Hattie had eaten every feed put in front of her and drunk a whole bucket of molasses water on the trip up.

"Johnny (Dunn) worked her this morning and was really happy with the way she felt."

Aimee says Hattie's not missing out on anything at her temporary home away from home either, including the occasional course of acupuncture which is all part of her pre-race routine.

"Clare McGowan is one of the people who does acupuncture up here and is really good at it... she's already been to see Hattie since we arrived, and is coming back on Wednesday to check her again," Aimee said.
 
Our trainers tested a couple of gear changes with Hattie prior to heading north, things like a gaiting strap and a pole (which she'll wear on her right-hand side) and the half-hopples.
 
Aimee reiterated that none of these are a guarantee she'll put in a faultless display, but her and Craig are heading into Friday with more renewed confidence compared with previous visits to 'The Park'. And the half-hopples could even be a permanent piece of gear from now on, even after she returns home.

Hattie has a tricky second-row draw to deal with this week, but we all know she's talented enough to get a big slice of the $100,000 Group 1 pie if she does things right and avoids bad luck.

Looking at those who've drawn the front line, there'll be speed on from the get-go and it probably won't let up, so this is really going to assist us over the shorter distance of 2200 metres.
 
When Hattie has campaigned at Alexandra Park in the past, one of our northern Members (Pedro Petersen) has very kindly handled everything on the syndicate's behalf and co-ordinated everybody who's there on the night.

Unfortunately Pedro can't be there this week, so if any of you who live in or around Auckland are intending on going along then this is the sort of information you'll need to know...

Racebooks, entry to the course, and parking are all free - and the Club invites all oncourse Syndicate Members to venture to the Owners Enclosure on Level 1 prior to Hattie's race for a complimentary beverage.

Go Hattie!


(April 11)
 
Everyone knows that Harriet Of Mot should've walked away from the NZ Trotting Championship at Addington last Friday night with a whole lot more than a $2000 'also ran' stake.
 
Trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds know it; John Dunn knows it, we know it!

"She had it won," a frustrated Craig said afterwards.

"Johnny (Dunn) said she was just cruising - he hadn't even asked her at that stage.

"It's a real bugger, but that's racing I suppose."
 
John was actually kicking himself afterwards, because he's always felt that Hattie is better coming wide with her runs rather than ducking down to the passing lane.

Craig says it's because when she's steered to the left, her back end shifts slightly right as a result and she becomes wobbly and unbalanced; whereas the opposite applies when she's hooked to the right to mount a challenge.
 
John couldn't have driven our girl any more perfectly though - getting around the field at a great time, and then securing a one-one sit for the last 1000 metres - Hattie just didn't finish the job like she should've.

John said he wanted to wait longer when they swung for home, intending to follow Temporale on his outside and head to the centre of the track, but with such a gift opportunity presented to him when the trailer galloped and dropped away, he had to take it.
 
"She deserves a big one," Craig lamented.

With all of the Open Class trotting events in the south being done and dusted for this season, last Friday's Group 1 trophy slipping from our grasp has left us with the conundrum of what to do next.

Hattie's in great nick, the top of the trotting tree is looking very thin compared to what it's normally like, and there's two big races in Auckland coming up on the last two Fridays of April.

So the decision's been made - our girl is heading north!

Craig first dropped the hint (that he and Aimee still had another northern raid in the back of their minds) when he spoke at our recent AGM. She has won up there after all, and despite less-than-favourable results from five subsequent outings around Alexandra Park, Craig assures us that it's purely circumstantial because she always broke in different places and at different stages of her races.

Besides, Hattie is a lot more mature now... take away last week's gallop and the fibrillation issue from February 16, every other start she's had since the 'memorable' Dominion last November suggests that she's arguably in some of the best form of her life!
 
The idea of heading north has been discussed by Noel and the Syndicate Management Committee over the last couple of days, and everyone's all for the idea.
 
Our trotter was given a stern test the 'Auckland way around' when worked on David Butt's track at Woodend yesterday, and all of 'Team Hattie' was there so that they could assess her from every angle... vet Sam Taylor and Aimee watching from the sidelines, John in the cart, and Craig driving the galloping pacemaker just ahead of her.
 
"We put a gaiting strap and a pole on her inside and tried her in half-hopples as well," Aimee said.

"And she was really good in her gait.

"Obviously things will be different under race conditions, and there's never any guarantees either - but it's one of those scenarios where if we don't go, we won't know."
 
Hattie leaves in the early hours of Friday morning, and Aimee's travelling with her. She'll be stabled at Ray Green's place as she has in the past; Craig will fly up to take over from Aimee at some stage, and John's also going to be up there as well because he's got a big team in from his and his father Robert's combined barns.
 
First up for our girl is the $100,000 Group 1 Anzac Cup (2200m mobile) on April 20, followed by the $150,000 Group 1 Rowe Cup (3200m stand) a week later on April 27.
 
By the way, the AGM Minutes have now been uploaded to the Members Section of 'Trotting For Fun' on our website. Let me know if you can't remember the User Name and Password to access this section.


(April 5)
 
Heading into tomorrow night's NZ Trotting Championship, Harriet Of Mot is about as ready as our trainers can get her.

Craig and Aimee Edmonds have understandably had their eyes on this Group 1 target for quite some time, with practically every start since the beginning of 2018 being looked upon as "a stepping stone" towards it.

The event has attracted a quality field of trotters, as you'd expected when $100,000 is up for grabs, and the marble we'll start from is nine - the outside of the front line.

It could've been better, it could've been worse, but it is what it is - you just play the cards you've been dealt and plan your attack from there.

Being out wide actually gives driver John Dunn some options, because had Hattie drawn in close to the fence she'd almost be compelled to use petrol at the start to hold her position.

Our man Johnny has 'been there and done that' thousands of times before as well, so as usual we'll just leave the driving decisions up to him and we'll do the cheering from the sidelines.

It's a 2600m event this time too, and with pre-race favourite Speeding Spur drawing handily in three this is likely to see him push forward and he'll probably roll along in the lead as well. Both of these factors will suit our girl Hattie.

"She's really good," Aimee said yesterday.

"I was very pleased with how she worked this morning - she felt super and was strong all the way to the finish.

"She just settled beautifully in behind, and then when it came time to sprint she grabbed the bit and wanted to do it.
 
"Plus, her heart rate was good afterwards too - so yeah, she's still in a really good head space for it."
 
Personally, I'm pretty excited about Hattie's race tomorrow. Regardless of where she finishes though, it's an honour just having a horse who's good enough to compete at the top level and it's something we should all savour.

For those of you who are also intending to be oncourse for the occasion, we'll see you in and around Spectator's Bar on the night.

Go Hattie!


(March 26)


 
What a super effort it was by Harriet Of Mot at Addington last Friday night!

To get so close to a horse of Speeding Spur's class was truly a meritorious performance - especially when she was giving him such a headstart with 800 metres to run, and ran him to a head after he'd gotten away with easy sectionals prior.
 
Hattie's personal times for the last 800m and 400m splits were something like 56 and a bit and 26 'n change; sizzling considering the state of the rain-affected surface.
 
"Yeah she's gone great," co-trainer Aimee Edmonds agreed.

Speeding Spur got away with a 33-second quarter at one stage, which was a real steal considering the class of horses in the race, so I was glad to see John Dunn seize the initiative and put our girl in the race.
 
There was particular 'leader bias' on the night, with most of the placings throughout the card being filled by those who were in the first half-dozen turning for home.

Publically, that's it for the time being - Hattie won't be seen at a trial or on a racetrack anywhere between now and the $100,000 Trotting Championship at Addington on Friday-week (April 6).
 
Aimee confirmed today that our talented trotter had come through last Friday's outing in grand order, and said her and Craig will just keep her ticking over at home as they aim towards having her as cherry ripe as possible for the upcoming Group 1 thriller.


(March 21)
 
Hattie will complete her public preparation for the $100,000 Group 1 NZ Trotting Championship on April 6 when she lines up at Addington this Friday night.

But despite the fact that she's only got seven rivals to get past or hold out if she wants to win this week, it's actually a very tricky task on paper because the race is 'chock a block' full of talent.

"Dad and I have been really pleased with her work this week," co-trainer Aimee Edmonds reported this afternoon.

"She's heading into it a bit on the fresh side, but she's fit enough.

"She had acupuncture yesterday and her blood's good too - plus she's a happy horse at the moment.

"As long as she does everything right, she should acquit herself well."

There aren't any races programmed for a horse of Hattie's class (R118) at the Easter Saturday meeting at Addington next weekend, so after Friday she'll be kept up to the mark at home by our trainers as they set their sights on the Group 1 thriller six nights later.

For those of who you who are intending to be there this week, we'll look forward to seeing you in and around Spectator's Bar.



(March 12)
 
Harriet Of Mot did all she could and went down fighting when second in the Group 3 Southern Lights Trot at Ascot Park on Saturday.

And in the end, the 10 metre advantage in handicaps which good mare Destiny Jones had over Hattie at the start was enough to give our girl the runner-up's prize instead of a winning one.

Destiny Jones had also had a lead-up race six days earlier, whereas Hattie hadn't lined up for three weeks and this could've also been a component. Still, co-trainer Aimee Edmonds was "proud and rapt" with Hattie's performance and so should we all be.
 
"I was really happy with her run," Aimee said this morning.

"Her manners were good, and she would've had to trot a track record to win."

Hattie actually recorded the fastest time in the race, her personal clocking of 3:26.7 being half a second quicker than the winner's, and had she managed to win she probably would've given the national mare's record of 3:24.7 a fright.

This is held by the great trotter Pride Of Petite (35 wins, $811,000) and was set at the much quicker Alexandra Park some 21 years ago - so it just proves what sort of 'company' Hattie's in when she's running these sort of times.

This was all thanks to the torrid tempo set initially by Smokey Mac (eventually fourth) and then Splash Cola (5th), whose drivers looked hell-bent on making the backmarkers work.

Hattie was pretty much chasing the whole way as a result, hence the reason why driver John Dunn cleverly ducked down to the fence to save some ground prior to the home turn.
 
"When they're chasing like that you've got to mentally refresh them somewhere (during the race), and that's what Johnny was doing," Aimee said.

"And she's still taken a lot of ground off Destiny Jones in the home straight, closing the margin to one and a half lengths.

"Obviously I kept a very close eye on her after the race, but she pulled up well and her recovery rate was excellent."

Aimee and the three horses from her and Craig's stable travelled back to Christchurch yesterday, leaving at about 7:00am and feeling grass under their hooves again by 4:30pm.
 
It's been a big return trip for the trio, so our trainers are giving them a couple of quiet days in one of David and Catherine Butt's lush green paddocks out at Woodend and they'll return to the stable tomorrow.

Hattie's next main target is the $100,000 Group 1 NZ Trotting Championship at Addington on April 6; Craig and Aimee will start mapping the path leading up to it now, and this may or may not include another raceday appearance.

In case you're wondering, I'm still working on the Minutes of the AGM but these should be completed sometime this week and then I'll let you know when they're up on the website in the Members Section.


(March 7)
 
Harriet Of Mot is in good shape as she aims towards reclaiming a Group title in Invercargill this weekend.

She's off a 40 metre handicap in the $25,000 Group 3 Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights, a 2700m event which she won two years ago but then never got a chance to defend this time last year.

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds says Hattie had her final preparation hitout this morning, and her heart rate was great afterwards.
 
"Yeah she seems really good," Aimee said.

"She had acupuncture on Monday, and we also got her blood tested earlier this week as well - but that's all just part of her normal pre-race routine.
 
"It's quite a strong field, and being off forty metres isn't going to be easy either, but as long as she behaves herself at the start then we're expecting her to go well."

Talking of Hattie's heart, our trainers haven't seen a single sign of her fibrillating again like she did at Addington last start. So we'd all like to think that February 16 was just a one-off occurrence, but all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that it doesn't happen again.

"As part of her tests earlier this week, we also got her electrolytes checked - because if she'd fibrillated again since, then there would be signs of it.

"But no there wasn't," Aimee said reassuringly.

Aimee is taking Hattie and two more horses from her and Craig's stable down herself later this week, with the others being Jaw D Nancy and fellow goHarness representative Franco Saxon.

"We'll get away in the early hours of Friday morning and should be there by about midday," she said.

"We're staying at Nathan Williamson's, who's got a beaut new place, so they'll all have a nice paddock to relax in overnight."


(February 19)


 
Ahh, the racing game - it can really bring you back to earth with a thud when you least expect it.

Harriet Of Mot's below-par performance at Addington last Friday night was due to a heart fibrillation.

Everything about this latest race of Hattie's was unfolding perfectly... she was away safely from her wide draw and settled with a couple behind her, then followed Benchmark forward when he made his move with a lap to travel.

But it was as she passed the 800m mark that driver John Dunn knew we were in trouble.

"She was flat getting past Dex to the parked position," he said, knowing that normally Hattie would've breezed up and around them and be jogging outside the leader turning for home.

"Even before the home turn she was 'all done', and just galloped as a result."

Craig, Aimee and John were all quick to suspect that Hattie had fibrillated as their immediate post-race discussions got underway; within minutes and once the oncourse vet had examined her, it was confirmed.

Basically what happens during such an occurrence is that the heart gets out of rhythm and fills with blood as a result (i.e. it doesn't pump the blood out and around the body, and therefor doesn't carry much-needed oxygen to the muscles as they're working hard).

Trust me, fibrillations can result in far more dire consequences that I don't even want to mention, so we can be thankful that Hattie came through her ordeal totally unscathed.

"It was just one of those 'one-off' things," Craig said this afternoon.

"Twenty minutes later, she'd recovered fully and her heart was back to its normal rhythm - and even the vet said it was a great sign when this happens by itself, naturally, without needing any sort of treatment.

"That would've been why she galloped - she went from 'travelling' to feeling extremely fatigued in the space of a few hundred metres, and Johnny said it was like her legs turned to jelly.

"There's all sorts of theories why fibrillation occurs, one of which is that it can actually happen when a horse is too well.

"It's nothing to worry about though - we've heard of horses (in both codes) which have fibrillated but then stepped out and won their next start, the following week."
 
The important thing is that Hattie hasn't shown any ill-effects from the fibrillation episode over the ensuing 48 hours.

"No, she's as good as gold.

"She ate up her tea that night when we got home, and was then tucking into her breakfast the next day; she's really bright," Craig enthused.

The next target on Hattie's plate is the $25,000 Group 3 Southern Lights at Invercargill on March 10, the race she won two seasons ago off a 30m handicap when it was run over two miles.

It has been reverted back to a 2700m event from this season onwards, and she'll probably cop the maximum back mark handicap of 40 metres. Craig says he and Aimee will weigh up all the variables before locking the trip in place.

"In the meantime there's not much for her locally, so we might line her up at the trials just to give her a run somewhere before heading south."

Here's a date to mark on your calendar: Thursday, March 1.

This is when we're going to be holding the next AGM of the Trotting For Fun Syndicate, and we've made arrangements with Addington Raceway to have it in the Blossom Lady Lounge on the third floor of the main grandstand.

Start time: 7:00pm. See you there.


(February 15)
 
Harriet Of Mot is in great nick heading into the Group 3 Teltrac Communications Ltd Summer Free-For-All title which goes up for grabs at Addington tomorrow night.

Hattie shoots for the third hat-trick of her career and 14th victory overall, but no event is ever a 'given' and they're devilishly hard to win from the outside of the mobile arm over 1950 metres.

Especially when you've got eight other horses and drivers out there trying to take home the trophy themselves.
 
What we can carry into tomorrow though is the fact that Hattie's arguably in the best form of her life; she won from exactly the same marble over this distance a couple of starts ago, and her trainers have had their eyes on this minor mid-season target for some time.

"She's worked really well this week," said co-trainer Craig Edmonds when I caught up with him in the Yearling Sales arena yesterday.

"We got her blood tested at the start of the week too, and it's spot on.

"As long as she does everything right, she should be hard to beat."

This isn't Craig suggesting that Hattie's going to do anything wrong - because as we witnessed last start, she built bridges with the sort of 'blocks' which might've made her stumble in the past; proof that as a racehorse, she's really starting to grow up.

No, this is just Craig being his typically philosophical (and reserved) self and never taking anything for granted. Trouble needs to be avoided and victories still have to be earned, no matter what horse you are.

We should never forget how lucky we are just to have a horse who's good enough to gun for Group Race glory, because there's plenty of people out there who wish they were in our shoes I can assure you.
 
For those of you who are intending to be ringside for the occasion, I'll look forward to seeing you in and around Spectator's Bar.


(February 5)
 
Harriet Of Mot's win at Addington last Friday night had a real sense of the "wow" factor about it.

I was simply in awe of our girl as she sailed on past the opposition over the last hundred or so metres, but for a whole lot of reasons:

It was her first standing start since November at Geraldine (five appearances ago), but she never put a foot wrong despite having only one horse alongside her on the 30m back mark; concentration levels - check!

Secondly, she had a justifiable reason to gallop just inside the 1000m point when Arya pushed off the fence and caused Dominion Handicap winner Amaretto Sun to baulk and trot roughly for a stride or two directly in front of us - but Hattie just switched her head to the inside of Amaretto Sun, didn't bat an eyelid and never even looked like going off stride; maturity levels - check!
 
And lastly, the "wow" bit... the way she came from well off the leaders on the home turn, ate into the ground so quickly, and then coasted to the line to win easily - without driver John Dunn even moving a muscle!

Hattie has always been a seriously gifted racehorse, but now she's all grown up as well.

In the past we've seen Hattie win from the front, we've seen her win from sitting parked, but the way she scored on Friday night is her most lethal weapon of all and even our trainers agree.

"Yes she's got a wicked sprint on her," Aimee said this morning.

"It's definitely her greatest asset, and we're very lucky having a horse like her."
 
Aimee confirms that Harriet Of Mot came through her latest victory tremendously well, and also offered a very interesting theory for Hattie's psychological development.
 
"She was really bright on Saturday; we went down to the beach for a wade in the water and she loved it.
 
"I think the fact that we have to walk through the forest to get to the beach has really helped her, mentally.

"Because she has to take her time, so it shows her that everything doesn't need to be done in a hurry."
 
Aimee and Craig will just keep Hattie ticking over at home (and along the beach) between now and her next target on Friday the 16th, which is the $30,000 Group 3 Teltrac Communications Summer Free-For-All over 1950m mobile.
 
Following that, also on the radar is the Group 3 Southern Lights at Invercargill sometime in early March - the same event which Hattie won two years ago, but didn't get the chance to defend this time last season.


(February 1)
 
Harriet Of Mot has had a good week in the lead-up to her next appearance at Addington tomorrow night.

I spoke to co-trainer Craig Edmonds yesterday, who mentioned that he and Aimee were tossing up whether to actually start Hattie tomorrow but they decided to lock it in.

"It's just something to keep her ticking over," he said, referring to the next target being the $30,000 Group 3 at Addington on February 16.

"We thought about lining her up at Rangiora next Tuesday, but there's no maximum back mark in that race so she could've ended up with a forty or fifty metre handicap.

"And that's a pretty tough ask, especially on the grass. So we'll go this Friday instead, because at least she's only off thirty."
 
Different to Hattie's most recent race which was a mobile over 1950m, tomorrow night it's a 2600m event - and being off the back mark, she's going to settle a wee way off the leaders initially.

How our race unfolds after that is completely up to John Dunn, but Hattie couldn't be in better hands.

"She's real good," Craig continued.

"She worked great this morning.. trotted nice, felt good, and is really well within herself.

"Since her win last week she's eaten up everything and is jumping out of her skin."

Yours truly will be on deck tomorrow night, so for those of you who are also going I'll look forward to seeing you there.


(January 26)
 
Barring incidents and accidents, 'Team Harriet Of Mot' are anticipating another good performance from our girl at Addington tonight.

Under the preferential draw system Hattie will have to start outside all seven of her rivals, but she's beaten better fields than this before so she's more than capable of doing so again.

We just have to avoid any of that unpredictable stuff called bad luck, and she should be right in the thick of things once more - all the lead-up signs suggest that, anyway.

"Yeah she's all good," co-trainer Craig Edmonds said earlier today.

"We had her blood done on Monday and it's real good - probably the best it's been in a long time.

"She's been really happy down the beach lately, too."

 
Due to how the tides were last weekend, Hattie actually had a hitout on her trainers' track out at Woodend for a change.

"Aimee gave her a bowl around on Saturday and said she did it really well," Craig continued.

"Like, by comparison, she almost struggled around it leading up to the Dominion; that's just how well she is at the moment.
 
"She'll obviously improve with the run, because she hasn't had one for three and a half weeks - but even at about ninety percent, as long as she does everything she should be right in it."
 
From a goHarness perspective, 2018 has started with a real hiss and a roar.

The four times that our familiar blue colours have been donned on raceday this month have resulted in a third by Hattie (on January 2) and a hat-trick of victories by Franco Saxon (on the 7th, 19th and 21st) - all four occasions boasting exactly the same combination of trainers and driver who we'll be cheering for at around 9:14pm this evening.

I can't be oncourse tonight, but those of you who are going will be in Noel and Wendy's capable hands and you'll find them in and around Spectator's Bar.
 
Go Hattie!


(January 5)

 
Harriet Of Mot is back home at Woodend Beach after venturing south to Omakau earlier this week.

She got third and more than paid for her trip in what was a funny ol' race, because things just never really panned out for her as it unfolded.

The first and most important obstacle was to get Hattie through the first couple of hundred metres without leaving her feet, because the two other times when she's drawn the second row in a mobile (at the Harness Jewels in 2016 and at Addington as recently as last September) she's galloped.
 
With that box ticked, John Dunn was following his brother Dexter on Belles Son the whole way and when the sprint went on at the 800m point a hole opened opened up right in the middle of the field and separated the eight horses into two groups.
 
Having waited for something to give him and Hattie a drag forward, it soon became apparent that those just ahead of them were struggling so John launched our girl around the home bend.

Unfortunately by that stage the leading pair had put enough of a gap between them and us, and Hattie was left to trot home boldly into a minor placing. She's still gone great though.

Plus, quite a few of our southern-based Syndicate Members got great delight out of seeing Hattie in the flesh; it was another trip away so it was good for her psychological development, and she's now put four great efforts together on the bounce and has a formline of 1213 since the Dominion.
 
So, although not a win on this occasion - definitely a 'win win' situation all round.

Co-trainer Craig Edmonds reports that Hattie had a bit of a blow after the race and then hardly touched her tea that night, leaving him to think she "wasn't a hundred percent" on the day.
 
And there could've been numerous different reasons why, too - such as being in a foreign place, the heat etc - so the fact that she perhaps wasn't quite herself only earns her more kudos for still putting up a brave effort.
 
Hattie's returned to Christchurch and so has her appetite, with Craig confirming that she's taken no ill-effects from the trip and is happily back in familiar surroundings again.

She's being given a brief freshen-up, and then will be aimed at a couple of trotting events which are tentatively programmed at Addington later this month and in early February.


(December 30)
 
Harriet Of Mot is in fine fettle as she prepares to head south to Omakau for the Central Otago meeting on January 2.

Co-trainer Craig Edmonds reports that Hattie worked "great" this morning. They've also had her blood tested during the week, and that's looking good too.
 
Hattie's travelling south with Majestic on New Year's Day, leaving first thing in the morning, so she'll have every opportunity to shake off the trip with a good night's sleep in a lovely paddock at the other end.

Craig is tagging along with her in the transporter too, so she'll be in good hands the whole way.
 
With the racemeeting being an Inter-Islander Summer Festival one, there'll be a cover charge to get through the gate.

I've got my hands on an email from the Club which gets owners oncourse for free though, so if you intend to be there to cheer Hattie on then just hit reply to this newsletter and I'll forward it onto you.
 
All you need to do is print it off and take a copy with you, and keep the $10 in your pocket.


(December 22)

The Central Otago Trotting Club's Meeting at Omakau on Tuesday, January 2 has been locked in as Harriet Of Mot's next appearance.

There's a $14,000 Free-For-All mobile trot on the programme down there for her, so that's where she'll head.

Co-trainer Craig Edmonds rang today to say that Hattie's had a quiet couple of days after her record-breaking victory at Addington six days ago, but is back into strong work again now and doing great.

He and Aimee will just keep our girl ticking over along the beach in the meantime, and expect her to be in fine fettle for her next assignment.
 
Following that, Craig says she'll probably be given "an easy week" because there's not much for her until about mid-February.
 
Noel, Wendy and I would like to wish all our goHarness Syndicate Members a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 
Eat lots, drink little (haha), and please keep your speed down on the roads if you're travelling anywhere.

We'll see you all again real soon!


(December 18)
 
The fastest trotter, male or female, in a 2600m mobile event... ever!
 
This is an honour now bestowed on Harriet Of Mot after her breathtaking victory at Addington on Saturday night.

Got quite a ring to it, hasn't it?

National Records can stay in place for days or decades, and the only thing certain about them is that they eventually get lowered. So for now, let's bask in the glory of yet another terrific performance from our girl.
 
In all honesty, she's unlucky not to have won three straight since her unbelieveable run in the Dominion Handicap; instead, she's won two and was nutted on the post in the other.
 
On Saturday Hattie wasn't rushed by John Dunn early, and he kept her at the back when sensing that the tempo was a corker up front.

Passing the 800m peg it was time to move, and when John launched Hattie three-wide they got pushed another cart width wider. Amazingly, the second-to-last quarter in the race was covered in 27.7 while Hattie was out there and buzzing forward - so her own split over the penultimate stanza would've been close to sub-27 seconds.
 
She kept up her strong run right to the line, and held out Alderbeck more comfortably than it looked to stop the clock at 3:12 flat (a 1:58.8 mile rate!).

"Johnny said she was edging clear of that other horse again near the finish," co-trainer Aimee Edmonds reported yesterday.

"And she actually should improve with that run too - she'd done pretty well since Methven and was a bit round in the belly."
 
Hattie has come through her record-breaking win in great order. We're just unsure where she'll line up next, but there's plenty of options around Canterbury and further south so as soon as it's been decided I'll let you know.


(December 15)
 
Harriet Of Mot is in good shape heading into the $14,400 Mobile Free-For-All at Addington this Saturday night.

Hattie's got a wide marble to contend with in the 2600m event, which is her 'penalty' (under the preferential barrier draw system) for being one of the tightest-assessed horses in the race.
 
In a way this is negated by it being not a big field; meaning that wherever John Dunn manages to slot her in, she's not going to have as many horses to get around.

"She's got to be tough to beat the way she's been racing," co-trainer Craig Edmonds said yesterday.

"Yep, she's all good. We did a bloodtest earlier in the week and it's come back fine, plus she worked well this morning too.

"It's all up to her now, really."
 
Saturday's meeting at Addington is being run under the 'Christmas at the Races' theme, but when I checked with the Club earlier this week they confirmed that there's not going to be a charge to get oncourse.

For those of you who are heading along, we'll see you there.
 
It's going to be a busy weekend for goHarness, because all three of our current syndicates have horses engaged.

Just a matter of hours after Hattie goes round at Addington, both the 'Buy, Race & Sell' Syndicate (Angustia, race one) and 'Staxofun' Syndicate (Franco Saxon, race three) will be in action at Rangiora.


(December 5)
 
What a super run it was by Harriet Of Mot at Methven on Sunday!

On an afternoon when there was a distinct bias towards horses who were in or near the lead, John Dunn was left with no option but to push forward from their wide draw and I applaud him for putting our girl in the race.

Hattie was four and then three-wide before scooting to the front down the back straight, and unfortunately the exertion was just enough to make her a 'sitting duck' for the swoopers and that's exactly what transpired.
 
After shrugging off the attention of Great Things Happen halfway down the home straight, Hattie looked to have the race in safe keeping but just couldn't withstand the barnstorming finish of Everybody Knows in the last few metres.

Considering they ran home in 57.7 and 28.7 on the grass, it was still a huge run from our girl. The overall time of 1:58.4 for the mile established a new track record for trotters, and Hattie's personal clocking of 1:58.5 was also inside the previous best - so she's 'unofficially' the fastest trotting mare to ever race over this distance at Methven.

Speaking to co-trainer Craig Edmonds last night, he confirmed that Hattie had come through the race in grand order.

"You wouldn't even know she'd had a run to be honest," he said enthusiastically.

"She's eaten up everything since, and was feeling pretty good about things when she had a nice relaxing walk in the surf this morning."
 
Hattie's next target is likely to be a race at Addington on Saturday, December 16.


(November 28)
 
Gosh it was great to see Harriet Of Mot return to her best form and put win number 10 on the board last weekend!
 
Watching on television as the field assembled for her event, I don't think I've seen Hattie look better all season and she certainly franked that with a truly meritorious performance.
 
And it wasn't without some anxious moments either... first a false start, then a galloper which crossed right under Hattie's nose from one side of her to the other; we needed that like a hole in the head.

As the commentator Mark McNamara quite-rightly stated though, our girl didn't bat an eyelid at the interference and was as solid as a rock as she settled into her rhythm.

John Dunn had Hattie positioned beautifully in the one-one once the field was sorted, then she showed no aversion to sitting parked after that and forged to the front strongly nearing the final bend - with one lone chaser in pursuit.
 
And hey, Hattie might've only won it by a head over Monty Python in the end but the margin flattered how each horse was actually travelling and you've only got to look at the mannerisms of the drivers for the proof; Johnny was sitting as quite as a church mouse, whereas Matty Williamson was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at his charge.

"Johnny was only kidding to her at the finish and said he had the other one covered easily," Craig confirmed, adding that Hattie being more 'sensible' at the start is a reflection of her wellbeing overall.

"As I said leading up to this race, she seemed a lot happier than she was heading into the Dominion.

"So it's an indication that she's more or less over all the little niggles that have been troubling her, she's getting free of them."

I thanked and commended Craig, Aimee and the rest of their team for the dedication to the cause, because a huge amount of 'overtime' has gone into getting Hattie back to her best.

He agreed that it was pretty satisfying, because "we know how good she can go when she's right".

"Hopefully she'll come out and do something similar next Sunday."

And that's where she's heading next: the $17,500 Trotters' Green Mile at Methven, an event which Dominion Handicap winner Amaretto Sun and Show Day shock failure Great Things Happen are also nominated for.

I know whose camp I'd rather be in, and wild horses couldn't keep me from being oncourse to cheer for Hattie this weekend.


(November 24)
 
Co-trainer Craig Edmonds is "very happy" with Harriet Of Mot heading into tomorrow's race at Orari.

Craig rang this afternoon to report that Hattie's had a good week of training and improved since her luckless outing in the Dominion seven days ago, and even feels better through the reins compared to what she was like leading into the big Group 1.

"It's a different sort of grass track surface at Orari, but as long as she handles it and doesn't do anything wrong I think she'll be hard to beat tomorrow," he said.
 
I can't be oncourse this time, but Noel and Wendy will be ringside and they look forward to seeing those of you who are also going.


(November 20)
 
Oh what might've been, what could've been, and what almost was...
 
I think most Trotting For Fun Syndicate Members will still be feeling a bit like 'stunned mullets' after the running of the Dominion Handicap at Addington on Show Day.

And that's because it was a real rollercoaster ride for all of us, containing every emotion possible in the space of four and a bit minutes.

First came the despair of Hattie's early gallop, but then instant relief that she didn't go down on her nose right then and there; the slowly regathered hope as she gradually made up the lost ground to at least be a part of the event, and then what seemed to be a cruel tease as she still looked to be full of running swinging for home.
 
Surely she couldn't still win a Group 1 two-miler after losing 50 metres at the start, could she? Yep, she could've - that's how much ability Hattie possesses in her petite little frame.

Despite the fact that she bookended the biggest race of her career with a break, you can't help but acknowledge the enormity of Hattie's run; trust me, apart from the warm fuzzies surrounding the winner's connections and the shock failure of the hot favourite, the biggest talking point of the 2017 Dominion Handicap is Harriet Of Mot's performance.
 
We need to thank Craig and Aimee for everything they did too, because against all odds they managed to get our horse all-but spot on for the big occasion.
 
Speaking to Craig this evening, he still hasn't watched the replay and says he's unlikely to; he already knows that Hattie pretty much threw the race away.

"Earlier more than anything - it's that gallop at the start which cost her," he lamented.
 
"Her mother was the same too, she used to get away but then gallop early for no reason as well.
 
"It tends to be a concentration thing. Hattie was on her own down on the inside at the time, and some lengths off the horse in front of her, so perhaps it might've been different if there was some others close by."

Remembering my post-race conversation with John Dunn on Friday, he just shook his head and uttered a couple of expletives - which in itself was a fair indication of the opportunity that went begging.
 
John said Hattie just came to the end of her run before rolling into a gallop, but no-one could begrudge her getting tired under the circumstances.
 
"Just the lack of race fitness counted against her, she wasn't quite a hundred percent," Craig continued.

"She seems to have come through it okay though. She had a walk in the water along the beach on Saturday and then a jog on Sunday, and she's pretty full of herself."

Our trainers have nominated Hattie for this Saturday's meeting on the grass at Orari, where she'll be off a 20m handicap over 2850 metres.
 
This is with the Green Mile at Methven the following weekend in mind. Craig says he'll give her a decent hitout on Tuesday and Thursday and as long she does as expected they'll confirm the start on Saturday.


(November 13)
 
Harriet Of Mot has now been 'locked in' to tackle the Dominion Handicap later this week.
 
Co-trainer Craig Edmonds rang me with the great news earlier this afternoon; the last box which needed to be ticked was a private hitout around Rangiora Racecourse today, and it's a test she passed with flying colours.
 
"Johnny (Dunn) was really happy with how Hattie felt and how she trotted," Craig said, adding that our trotter worked over 2400 metres alongside a galloping pacemaker and was travelling "great" at the finish.
 
For us it's now just a case of sitting back and waiting four sleeps, but for Craig and Aimee and their support crew there'll be no rest between now and Friday... Hattie will undergo another session of acupuncture, have a final bowl-around on Wednesday, and her trainers will continue to tinker with a couple of things - all with the aim of having her as cherry ripe as possible on the day.
 
Craig admits that a lack of lead-up racing to the Dominion isn't the ideal situation, but quickly points out that Hattie's fit and healthy and the rest is up to her now.
 
"If she does everything right and gets no bad luck, she's capable of being right in the finish."
 
This now brings us to the matter of organising tickets for Show Day - and more importantly, distributing them amongst those of you who'd like to be oncourse for the occasion.
 
I'm not sure how many passes our syndicate will be allocated, but I'll let Addington Raceway officials get through tomorrow's Cup Day first and then address this issue with them on Wednesday.
 
Can you please email me back if you intend to go, and would like to be considered for a ticket. Once I compile a list of names over the next 48 hours, I'll compare that to how many passes we've been allocated and then do a draw if necessary.
 
As was the case this time last year, I'll be the only person authorized to pick up our bunch of passes - and then if you're getting one off me, I'll ask you to meet me near the entrance to the course prior to the first race so that I can hand it over.


(November 9)
 
After watching Harriet Of Mot run fifth in her trial at Addington yesterday afternoon, I'll stop short of trumpeting "she's back" - but I definitely saw signs that our girl is heading in the right direction.
 
Hattie was once again a bit fractious prior to the start of her 2600m Heat, twisting sideways and rearing up as the field organised themselves in readiness to get underway.
 
And for a moment I was worried she might not step cleanly because of that - so important when the whole point of yesterday was to get an indication of where Hattie's 'at' leading into Cup Week; breaking and not being part of the trial would've been less than ideal.
 
But Hattie slotted straight into her rhythm from the moment she took her first step, even as others made tardy beginnings around her, and driver John Dunn had an interesting observation afterwards.

"It's like she's 'playing on it' a bit," he said, referring to Hattie's uncooperative nature behind the tapes.

"So I just growled and gave her a whack and she trotted away fine," John added, indicating that being strict on Hattie in this respect might be the way to curb those tendencies.
 
John steered Hattie into a spot four-deep the fence and stayed there the whole way, and in my opinion there were a lot of positives about that as well; we've hardly seen her cramped away on the inside in any of her races, but she never looked like putting a foot wrong the entire time she was down there.
 
Coming around the final bend yesterday, Hattie was still some distance from the action unfolding up ahead of her and then John just let her drift into the centre of the track as the winning post got ever closer.
 
She officially ran fifth in what was a blanket finish, probably about two lengths off the winner, and I was delighted to see her doing it under her own steam while John never moved a muscle.
 
"She felt really good - more like her old self," he said.

"They've gone 3:23, but it felt like she was going 3:33," he added, signifying how easily Hattie travelled throughout.
 
So, where does this leave us heading into Show Day?

We're definitely a chance of lining up in the Dominion, but please be aware that there's still a couple of boxes which need ticking before Craig and Aimee make the final decision early next week.
 
Hattie was scheduled to have more hock injections (IRAP treatment) once she got home yesterday; she's booked in for another acupuncture session over the weekend, and Craig is also toying with the idea of giving her a private hitout around Rangiora racetrack on Monday.
 
He and Aimee have worked night and day trying to get on top of the various little issues troubling Hattie, and will continue to do so - all in a bid to have her as right as she needs to be to contest a race like the Dominion.

'Team Hattie' doesn't stop their either, because the likes of vet Sam Taylor and acupuncturist Sophie Wigley are as committed as our trainers are to the cause and we're indebted to everyone for their work behind the scenes.
 
Of course, it's too early to claim we're out of the woods just yet - but if nothing else, yesterday's trial performance suggested that our team of professionals are slowly but surely winning the battle.
 
The necessary improvement in Hattie is literally only days old, too, because Craig says that when he worked her last Saturday he wasn't convinced she'd even be lining up at yesterday's trials.
 
"But then I worked her again on Monday and she was a lot better - she trotted great," he said.
 
"Sophie did tell us that the benefits of the acupuncture might take a couple of days to 'kick in' though, and it seems like it is.

"Hattie's going to come right eventually," Craig reiterated.
 
Keep an eye on HRNZ's website over the next 48 hours, because I'm hoping the replays of yesterday's Cup Trials will be loaded into the Trials Results section sometime soon.


(November 2)
 
Harriet Of Mot won't be making another raceday appearance prior to Cup Week.

Craig and Aimee Edmonds have been involved in a real 'race against time' trying to get Hattie right for the Dominion Handicap on Show Day, which has been her main target all along.

They've chosen next Wednesday's Cup Trials at Addington as Hattie's final public hitout leading into Christchurch's glamour week, and despite the fact that she hasn't raced since October 6 they're more than confident Hattie won't be lacking anything in the fitness department come the big day.
 
Craig is the first to admit that Hattie's build-up to Cup Week has been "a far cry" from the programme they'd originally pencilled in for her; and a little bit unexpected too, to be fair, especially seeing how she kicked off her season with a couple of workout wins and looked to be squarely in the zone.
 
However, in recent syndicate emails we've outlined that Hattie has had some "issues" lately - none of them are serious on their own, but when two or three littly niggly things all occur at the same time it's made it that much harder for our trainers to sort everything as the Dominion's countdown clock keeps ticking away unforgivingly in the background.
 
To help explain the situation, we've got a Vet Report from Craig and Aimee's vet Dr Sam Taylor which was received last night, and it says...

During the last month, Harriet Of Mot has been examined after galloping a number of times while racing.

There is no lameness present when trotted in hand, however when worked the drivers are reporting she becomes unbalanced in her gait. I have driven the horse twice now, and she does become unsteady at high speed.
 
Radiographs of the front limbs were taken to assist in shoeing balance. Radiographs were also taken of the knees and revealed some early arthritic changes; these were treated.

Around this time the horse also suffered a significant tie-up episode. This has also been treated, however the muscles in her hind limb became very tight and cramped, preventing racing at Ashburton last weekend.
 
This tie-up has since improved, and a number of muscular treatments including acupuncture have been carried out.
 
Harriet has been a difficult horse to treat, as most issues only appear at speed. She also appears to be very sensitive, in that she doesn't trot well unless she is 100 percent happy and sound.

At this time I think we are on top of the current issues, and we hope she can return to racing next week.


If nothing else, such a Vet Report proves just how much time and effort is being put in behind the scenes; all of it in an effort to get Hattie to once again show us how good we know she is!

"She'll come right sooner or later - we just hope that it's sooner rather than later," Craig said philosophically.
 
"We're just going to have to take one step at a time with her, it's all we can do."
 
And for that reason, Craig and Aimee haven't even looked past next week's Cup Trials yet. In other words - whether she'll line up on Cup Day, Show Day, both or neither is still to be resolved.
 
"We'll wait and see how she goes at the Cup Trials before deciding that," he said this afternoon.


(October 20)
 
Harriet Of Mot has been withdrawn from the Flying Mile at Ashburton on Monday.

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds rang with the news a few minutes ago, saying that Hattie will not get a chance to win the Group 3 event which is coincidentally sponsored by Noel's stallion The Pres.
 
Aimee reassures us there's no reason to worry though - her and Craig are just not entirely happy with where Hattie's 'at' at the moment.
 
"She worked great this morning but then she was a little bit scratchy in the warm-down," Aimee said.
 
"She's not far away, but she's just not a hundred percent right now - and she's too good a horse to line up in a race like that just for the sake of it."
 
As was the case when she first went back into work a couple of months ago, Hattie's main aim for the season is still the Dominion Handicap on Show Day; lining her up on Monday when she's not quite right could've undone those plans, and our trainers aren't prepared to take that risk.
 
From here the schedule leading into Cup Week is going to be a bit different to this time last season, but it'll soon all fall into place. One thing's for sure though, Hattie won't be going to Kaikoura.
 
"We'll take her back to the trials next," Aimee says.

"After that, it'll either be a race somewhere (if there's a suitable one) and then Show Day - or we'll go Cup Day/Show Day.

"Although, starting her in a mobile three days out from the Dominion might not be ideal. So we'll just have to see.
 
"Hattie's fit, she's really well within herself, and she looks great - so it's going to be okay just keeping her ticking over at home in the meantime."


(October 17)
 
Harriet Of Mot is not heading off to the Rangiora Workouts tomorrow after all.

Craig and Aimee Edmonds are still working on a couple of little issues with our girl; these are nothing major, but a standing start midweek trial just doesn't fit perfectly into the equation as we build towards her next start - a mobile mile at Ashburton on Monday.

Craig says Hattie is "sound, and really well within herself", so they'll just keep ticking her over at home in the meantime.


(October 10)


If you were disappointed about Harriet Of Mot once again failing to get around in one piece at Addington last Friday night, you're not alone.
 
Most in the Syndicate would've gasped and rolled their eyes when Hattie rolled into a gallop after 150 metres, and again when she broke on the home turn - as would've all the punters who backed her into second favouritism for the Group 3 event.
 
But if you're a bit angst about things, multiply that by a thousand and you might start to get close to what trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds are feeling about the whole situation because it's way worse for them... the rest of us are passing judgement on the three and a bit minutes that Hattie's on show for every now and then, whereas our father and daughter duo are riding the Hattie rollercoaster 24/7.
 
"It is really frustrating because she's training so good at home," Craig said last night.
 
"But it's just something we've got to work through.
 
"Hattie's won nearly a third of the starts she's had so far, so she hasn't done too bad; people have just got to remember that she can't go out there and win every time though.

"We all know she's got the ability - she just needs to behave herself on racenight," Craig said, adding that the problems are "definitely not" in her head.
 
Such is the 'expectation' surrounding Hattie whenever she lines up these days, Craig says the occasions when she manages to win or run in the money are more a case of relief rather than enjoyment for him and his daughter. It shouldn't be this way.
 
The best way to think of Hattie is like one of your children... sure, we get a bit grumpy with them when they're naughty from time to time - but you don't love them any less for it.
 
This is the sort of attitude we'd all do well to take on board. After all, when it comes to horses - form is temporary, class is permanent.
 
Ironically, I thought we were 'out of the woods' on Friday night when Hattie stepped away as clean as a whistle, but in hindsight the signs were there that she wasn't a hundred percent happy because she reared up a couple of times before the start and continued to prance around in a fractious manner prior to the tapes being released.
 
John Dunn's post-race report confirmed it, too...
 
"She was like a cat on a hot tin roof," Craig said.
 
"They'd rolled the track (in anticipation of the rain), and Johnny said it was as hard as a road. He suspected in the prelim that she wasn't entirely happy on it.
 
"And yet, he felt she was still jogging around the final bend before she broke again; he was on Gav's back (Great Things Happen) and was going to be right in it - second or third at worst."
 
Not for a second are we offering the condition of the track as an excuse for Hattie's latest misdemeanours, but it probably contributed to the situation.
 
The fact is, ever since Craig and Aimee moved their operation out to Woodend Beach, Hattie has done 95 percent of her training on the soft and spongy sand - interspaced with a couple of workouts around Rangiora Raceway. It's understandable therefor that, come raceday, she'd notice the difference underfoot.
 
In layman's terms that should be an easy fix though, right? Just take her to a racetrack more often in between starts? Unfortunately it's not that simple.
 
"The more work you do on a track, the harder it is on her joints. If we'd have been training her more that way, she probably would've started doing things wrong in work a lot sooner," Craig offered.
 
Knowing there must be a reason why Hattie galloped twice on Friday night, our trainers asked their vet Sam Taylor to give her a thorough examination as soon as possible. This happened over the weekend, and involved x-rays of her feet and legs plus other various tests.
 
"We found a couple of niggles," Craig said.
 
"They're nothing major though, and we're now treating her for them.
 
"I'm also going to put pads on all her shoes to help take the jarring away, plus I'll alter the angle of her front shoes so that it gets her up on her heels a bit more."
 
Remedial work complete, Hattie is likely to have a trial outing next week. And it could even be in a mobile if possible, as there's not a lot for her between now and the Ashburton Flying Mile on the Monday of Labour Weekend (October 23).


(October 5)
 
Tomorrow night's Group 3 Yaldhurst Hotel Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington is a $30,000 event with a million dollar question attached... will Harriet Of Mot step away?

Hattie has been a bit 'one each way' so far this season - or 'one over two' to be more precise - as her three outings in 2017/18 have gone gallop/trot/gallop.
 
So this afternoon I asked co-trainer Aimee Edmonds what her thoughts were heading into our next event, and she's not expecting Hattie to put her feet in the wrong place.

"As long as she doesn't have to stand there too long before they let them go, there shouldn't be a problem," Aimee said.

"She's on the front line with horses either side of her, so this is going to help her concentrate a bit more.

"Plus she'll have the pacifiers back on again tomorrow, which will also help; we've been working her in them at home lately."
 
Hattie's been training well in the lead-up, with Aimee confirming that she's right where they want her to be.
 
"She's really good, and is trotting a lot happier again - plus her heart rate has been good too.
 
"Johnny (Dunn) was in the cart yesterday when we fast-worked her and he was pretty happy with her, saying she was up on the job and doing it easily.
 
"We gave her a quiet bowl down the beach this morning, and she'll do the same again tomorrow."
 
There are a lot of talented square-gaiters amongst Hattie's opposition in the Group 3, and it's a sign of things to come because the fields will only continue to get stronger as the Dominion Handicap draws ever nearer.
 
"It's a pretty even bunch tomorrow, and there's no real standout - any one of five or six of them could win it," Aimee said.
 
"But as long as Hattie can settle in the right sort of position, she shouldn't be far away."


(September 26)
 
Harriet Of Mot remains on target to contest the Yaldhurst Hotel-sponsored Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington next Friday night (October 6).

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds briefly toyed with the idea of lining Hattie up at the trials or races this week, but opted to change those plans after our girl's latest hitout along Woodend Beach.

"I just wasn't a hundred percent happy with the way she trotted," Aimee said yesterday.
 
Aimee stresses it's nothing serious, and simply an indication that it's time for some more 'maintenance' on her hock by way of an injection.

As you'll recall, Hattie underwent IRAP Therapy earlier in her career - the process which involves extracting blood and then treating it so that the plasma's healing qualities are concentrated and multiplied by about a thousand.

Coincidentally, the 'Staxofun' Syndicate's horse Franco Saxon also started a course of this very effective treatment recently too.

The procedure produces about half a dozen vials of Hattie's own 'reinforced' blood for Craig and Aimee to use on the afflicted area when the need arises, so their vet Sam Taylor will pay a visit sometime today and give her another hock injection. The last time she had one was seven or eight weeks ago.
 
It takes approximately 48 hours for the plasma to 'kick in' and start doing what it's designed to, so Hattie will be back to full training again before the end of the week; Aimee says there's no need to take her anywhere between now and next Friday, as she'll be able to "do enough" with Hattie at home to have her ready for her next assignment.
 
Being a Group 3 event which boasts a $15,900 stake and lovely trophy for the winner - not to mention automatic entry into Show Day's $300,000 Group 1 Dominion Handicap - the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup is bound to attract some serious talent.
 
Strap yourselves in people, because the racing is about to get as great as it can from here on in and it'll be a huge thrill for the Syndicate just being part of it all.
 
Keep the faith, too... on her day, Hattie is one of the best around and I can assure you our trainers will continue to do everything they can to help her show it.
 
The rest is up to Hattie.


(September 18)
 
Harriet Of Mot has gone back home for a couple of days in the aftermath of the early gallop which put paid to her chances for Group 3 glory in the Ordeal Cup.

She was always headed back to Motukarara after the race, regardless of how she went, just to give her a temporary change of scenery. And seeing how Craig and Aimee commute daily between there and Woodend Beach anyway, it's not like she's going to be out of their sight for any length of time.
 
Our trainers are as disappointed as we are that Hattie ruined her own chances on Saturday, but unfortunately this sort of thing happens in racing occasionally and we just have to turn the page and move on.

"Dad and I have watched the replay a few times and it looks like she's ducked in just after the start," Aimee said this afternoon.

"So, a lack of concentration is all we can put it down to really.
 
"Yes she shouldn't be doing it, but you've virtually got no control over what goes on in a race.

"Look at Paul Nairn... he wouldn't have expected Habibti Ivy to break either but she did, plus she carried on a lot worse than what Hattie did.

"Don't forget, when this sort of thing happens - we don't get paid either."
 
What makes matters even more frustrating is that Hattie never puts a foot wrong in training, whether it's at Motukarara or down the beach.
 
Aimee and Craig are going to try a slight gear change though, but it'll be nothing major; they'll just put the pacifiers back on Hattie again, and expect this to remind her to concentrate over those all-important first couple of hundred metres of her races.

The pacifiers are mesh goggles which look like flies' eyes. Hattie used to wear them all the time early on in her career, but it's a piece of gear she's needed less and less as she's matured and she hasn't had them on for quite some time.
 
The positives to be taken away from Saturday include that in finishing eighth, Hattie trotted some of the fastest sectionals of the race. Plus the most important one: she's still as bright as a button 48 hours later.

"We've had the vet go over her," Aimee confirmed, "and she's not sore anywhere, stressed, or tied up."
 
Next on the programme for our girl is another 2600m standing start affair at Addington on Friday-week (Sep 29). But as it's a 'R65 & faster' event, and Hattie is currently a R96, Craig and Aimee will just see what sort of handicap she's given before making a final decision about lining up.
 
Regardless of whether she starts the 29th or not, Hattie will almost certainly contest the Group 3 $30,000 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at the same course a week later.


(September 12)
 
What a tremendous thrill it was to see Harriet Of Mot return to her best form last Friday night at Addington.
 
Hattie didn't just win either - she romped in, leaving a handy field of trotters behind as she sped home in 57.7 and 28.4 to score easily by three lengths.
 
Her opposition will only get tougher as the bigger races draw nearer of course, but it was great just to be given a reminder of the talent our girl possesses. And some!
 
Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds summed things up perfectly by pointing out something pertinent about Hattie's career to date...

"Virtually the only times she hasn't run in the money is when she's missed away," Aimee said.
 
"So when she's naughty she's naughty - but when she does everything right, she's pretty good."
 
As thrilling as the victory was, what's just as important is how Hattie pulled up afterwards and I'm delighted to report that the news is all good as far as that's concerned too.
 
"Yeah she's bright and happy and has come through the run really well," Aimee said last night, adding that our trotter will have improved having now had a 'proper' race under her belt.
 
So now it's full steam ahead towards the Ordeal Trotting Cup at Addington this Saturday, an $18,000 2600m mobile with Group 3 status attached.
 
For those of you who are intending to be there for the occasion, we'll look forward to seeing you in and around Spectator's on the day.

I'm not sure where the Club will slot Hattie's race on the programme, as the fields haven't been finalised as yet, but the first race is at 12 noon so at a guess it'll probably be within a couple of hours of that.

In closing, I'd just like to ask the Members who were oncourse at Addington last Friday night if you know anything about Hattie's sign?

This is a vital piece of the marketing of our goHarness brand, because I blu-tack it to the wall behind Hattie's stall every time she races - and then people walking past know it's us, and our horse. The signs aren't cheap to buy either, just quietly.
 
Strangely, when I went down to the stabling area on Friday to collect the sign after the last race, it had disappeared. The blu-tack was still stuck to the concrete wall, but Hattie's sign itself was nowhere to be seen; even Aimee said that it was still there when they bundled up Hattie and all her gear to go home.
 
I can't for the life of me think why anyone would steal it - or feel that they have the right to, for that matter. Peeved off would be putting it mildly, and a bit of a 'oh bugger' moment at the end of what was otherwise a terrific night.
 
If anyone can shed some light on the situation, I'd appreciate a call. No questions will be asked nor retribution sought, I just want to get the sign back.


(September 6)
 
Harriet Of Mot has done everything asked of her in the build-up to her second start of 2017/18 on Friday night.
 
"She came through the run well, has had a good week so far and worked nice again today," co-trainer Aimee Edmonds said earlier this afternoon.
 
Aimee admits to being a little annoyed and perplexed about Hattie's tardy getaway last Friday, especially since she'd been "perfect" from the standing start in both of her practise runs at Rangiora prior to resuming.
 
As reported by John Dunn afterwards though, there were a couple of other factors which contributed to Hattie breaking - plus the one we didn't mention: her also being a bit 'fresh' for her first run back.
 
Aimee isn't expecting a repeat this week, so the rest is now up to Hattie.
 
"She's off the front this time so hopefully that'll help her get away with them," Aimee said.
 
"And she didn't really have a run last week, so she'll still improve a bit more with the outing on Friday."
 
See you in and around Spectator's Bar on the night.


(September 2)
 
If you felt disgruntled about Harriet Of Mot breaking and taking no part at Addington last night, then cut her a bit of slack because the misdemeanour wasn't entirely her fault.
 
John Dunn's first words when he returned to the stabling area with Hattie were "what a prick of a start", and his ensuing report provided a little more insight into a couple of factors which weren't clearly evident to those of us watching on from the sidelines.
 
All the runners were literally moments away from being released when Donegal Bettorgretch suddenly burst through the 10 metre tape and had to be reversed back into her position again; John was forced to change his command from "go girl" to "whoa girl", and as a result Hattie pranced around impatiently on the spot and was bobbling when the field finally did get underway.
 
Not helping matters either was the fact that the two horses drawn directly to her inside got a bit close to Hattie as they found their feet.

"She didn't want to break - it just happened," John offered.

"And I could've let her chase them to catch up too, but what's the point?"
 
John did what any driver would have under the same circumstances... knowing Hattie had settled too far from them by the time she was back into her rhythm, he just let our girl have her own little hitout at the back of the field.
 
I did notice him ask Hattie for a bit more speed over her final couple of hundred metres too though, so the outing would've still meant something in the overall scheme of things.
 
"There's always next week," he said philosophically, "she does feel real good out there."
 
And next week it is, because co-trainer Aimee Edmonds confirmed that Hattie will be nominated for the same sort of event (2600m stand) at Addington on September 8 - another stepping stone towards the Ordeal Trotting Cup eight days later, which is a mobile.
 
Don't read too much into her tardy getaway either; Hattie stepped safely in both her workout and trial prior, so it's best just to call last night a combination of circumstances and turn the page.
 
And there was a positive to take home as well, because at least our talented square-gaiter didn't stay in a break for hundreds of metres like she has when she's broken in the past.
 
Hattie settled virtually straight away, proving that she continues to mature both physically and mentally as new chapters are written into her career.


(September 1)
 
A wet and cold scene awaits Harriet Of Mot for her resumption at Addington tonight.
 
Hattie has a 10 metre handicap and a small but talented field of trotters to contend with at her first start back, and although it's common knowledge how good she is at her peak, there's no way she can be yet.
 
Don't get me wrong, Hattie has looked stunning in the two 'off the place' appearances she's made at Rangiora in preparation for tonight - winning a workout by four lengths on August 9 and her trial by six lengths last week - but racedays are a different kettle of fish altogether.
 
The important thing is that she's "happy, healthy and seems really well", these being the words uttered by co-trainer Aimee Edmonds when we chatted yesterday afternoon.
 
Our trotter's first main target for 2017/18 is the Ordeal Cup on September 16; doing the math, that race is a fortnight away.
 
"Hattie's on the way up and is still going to need the run this week," Aimee reiterated.
 
"There's a long season ahead for her, and she's not at full fitness yet.
 
"As long as she does everything right and is running home strongly at the end, we'll be happy."
 
Personally I'm just rapt that the wait is finally over, and we're able to cheer Hattie on at the races again.
 
Dress warm if you're intending to be there tonight, and we'll catch up with you in and around Spectator's Bar.


(August 24)
 
Harriet Of Mot kept her pre-resumption preparation ticking over beautifully with a very nice win at the Rangiora Trials yesterday.

Away safely from her 20 metre handicap in the 2600m Heat, Hattie settled four-deep on the inside as the field remained pretty much in indian file for the first lap.

Coming round the home bend with a circuit still to run, driver John Dunn hooked our girl out of their spot and progressed onto the lead. From there she continued to trot ever so fluently at the head of the field, and John then decided to step things up a notch from about the 600m point onwards.

Hattie had put a break on her rivals by the time she'd turned for home, and coasted to the finishing line to win by six lengths - under a hold!

Her overall time for the trial was only a sedate 3:33.8, which when put into perspective is about 20 seconds slower than what she'll be need to go at the races proper, but it made my mouth water seeing how effortlessly she sped over her closing sectionals in 59.3 and 28.9.

John confirmed afterwards that Hattie did it as easily as it looked. He's a man of very few words at the best of times, so we can read a lot into his description of her run as "real good".

Trust me, there was a distinct glint in his eye as he uttered the words.

 
We really need to take our hats off to trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds, because Hattie is as special to them as she is to us and in my opinion they're manufacturing a faultless build-up to what will be our girl's much-awaited return.

Every time Hattie steps off the place she's doing things perfectly, gaining more and more confidence in her own ability (not that it's ever been in question), and adding all-important increments to her fitness levels.
 
There's nothing like actual races to bring a horse to its best of course, but I just know that our father-daughter training duo have locked in the Ordeal Trotting Cup as a definite target and Hattie will be pretty ready for it come September 16.
 
Aimee said they're going to wait and see how Hattie comes through yesterday's outing before deciding where and when they'll go next, although she indicated that our trotter would more than likely make her resumption before the Ordeal Cup.


(August 22)
 
Harriet Of Mot is stepping out again at the Rangiora Trials tomorrow.

She's in Heat 10 on the programme, a 2600m standing start event where she'll begin off a 20 metre handicap against eight others.

"She seems really good," co-trainer Aimee Edmonds said this afternoon, confirming that our girl has come through her first appearance a fortnight ago without a hitch.

"They've changed tomorrow from Workouts to an actual Trial Meeting now, but it'll just be another nice run for her on the way up.
 
"She's heading in the right direction towards where we want her."
 
Where our trainers 'want' Hattie centres around her first main target of the 2017/18 Season - the Ordeal Trotting Cup being staged at Addington on Saturday, September 16.

"Whether or not she'll end up having a start somewhere at the races before then just depends," Aimee continued.

"We'll see what sort of time they run tomorrow, how she performs, and how she comes through it before making any further decisions."


(August 15)
 
Harriet Of Mot's scheduled appearance at the Rangiora Workouts tomorrow is not happening.

The workouts at Rangiora have been cancelled due to today's Chertsey Trial Meeting being postponed and put back 24 hours, meaning that the two fixtures would clash with each other if they both went ahead.

Craig and Aimee Edmonds could've headed further south with Hattie tomorrow themselves, but they've decided just to keep her ticking over at Woodend Beach in the meantime and will line her up at Rangiora again this time next week (August 23).

"She's absolutely fine and has come through last week's run in great order," Aimee said today.


(August 9)


Harriet Of Mot kicked off her 2017/18 Season in the best possible fashion with a resounding victory at the Rangiora Workouts earlier this afternoon.
 
She scored by four lengths, coming off a 40 metre handicap to clock 3:35.6 for the 2600m journey. The final sectionals were recorded in 61.7 and 29.2, but Hattie was still towards the rear of the six-horse field turning for home so she would've gone a lot quicker over her closing stanzas than what they reflect.
 
No disrespect to the opposition she faced today, but with such a slower overall time you'd sort of expect Hattie to win with the authority she did. The main thing is that we can put a big 'mission accomplished' tick next to her first 'off the place' appearance this campaign.
 
"Yeah I was really pleased with how she went today," Aimee said.

"She stepped away with them and did everything right, plus she was pretty relaxed and recovered quickly afterwards too.
 
"Johnny (Dunn) was really happy with her as well, and said she was just jogging at the finish.
 
"She still had the earplugs in as she crossed the line... mind you, I didn't even attached the cord so Johnny had no choice but not to pull them," Aimee added with a smile, confirming that Hattie will line up again at the Rangiora Workouts this time next week.


(August 8)
 
Harriet Of Mot is off to the Rangiora Workouts tomorrow!

She's in Heat 10 on the programme, a 2600m standing start event which is scheduled to kick off at 1:15pm and she'll start off a 40 metre handicap against half a dozen others.

Isn't it just great to know that Hattie's already reached the stage of being ready for her first public hitout of the new season.

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds cautions that our girl will need the run, and is just there for "a quiet look around".
 
"She seems really well," Aimee said this afternoon.

"She's pretty bright, and happy within herself."
 
Knowing that Hattie hasn't yet set foot on a racetrack this campaign, in preparation for tomorrow Craig and Aimee gave her a bowl around the fast-work track at David and Catherine Butt's nearby property in Woodend on Monday.

"Johnny (Dunn) drove her and said she felt really good," Aimee enthused.

"So as long as she comes through tomorrow's hitout okay, she'll go somewhere again next week for another run."


(July 20)
 
The wait is almost over - Harriet Of Mot is about three weeks away from heading off to the workouts.

Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds rang to deliver the 'music to our ears' news last night, saying that Hattie continues to progress through the various stages of her new campaign without a hiccup.

Hattie's surroundings have been new this time in as well, but Aimee says our girl has quickly adapted to 'life on the beach' at their Woodend satellite stable and is "loving every minute of it".

 
"She's happy and healthy and is looking really good actually," Aimee said.

"When we take her to the workouts sometime in August, it'll be the first time she's been near a racetrack since her last campaign."
 
The Dominion Handicap during Cup Week is the first target being aimed at in 2017/18, and the raceday appearances which Hattie will make during September and October are geared towards having her cherry ripe for the Group 1 two-miler in November.
 
I'm sure you'll all agree that it's going to be great to have her back again!


(June 14)
 
With more than a month's worth of jogging behind her, Harriet Of Mot's new campaign has progressed to the next stage.
 
Hattie is now doing slow strong work, and as an added bonus she's also enjoying a temporary change of scenery - she's moved out to Woodend Beach to be a part of the stable that John Dunn runs on behalf of his father, Robert.
 
Our trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds have been toying with the idea for a while, and last week it was decided that now is as good a time as any after Aimee copped a nasty injury.

Aimee was leading a horse back to its paddock when, as equines can do from time to time, it all of a sudden threw its head sideways and smacked her in the side of her face, fracturing her cheekbone in three places.
 
Aimee is as tough as they come and will loathe the fact that I'm even mentioning her accident, but she's under strict doctor's orders not to go near a horse for at least six weeks - and for obvious reasons, because another bump in the same area would delay the healing process and could even cause long-term damage.
 
I'm sure you'll all join with me in wishing Aimee a speedy recovery. She's not going to have much to do with Hattie for a couple of months, but our mare is not changing stables - Craig will just commute backwards and forwards between Woodend and Motukarara on a daily basis.
 
He and Aimee currently aren't working as many 'outside' horses as they normally do anyway, so it's given him the opportunity to help out at John's while overseeing Hattie's programme at the same time.
 
"She's really well," Craig said of our trotter yesterday.
 
"She's come through her month's jogging great, with no issues whatsoever. And all the straight-line training on the sand down the beach won't do her any harm either.
 
"I think it'll be really good for her."
 
Hattie's on target to be back at the workouts and trials sometime late July or early August, and will make her much-awaited resumption shortly afterwards.


(May 1)
 
Harriet Of Mot is back in work!
 
Craig and Aimee collected Hattie from the place where she was spelling yesterday, and this morning they hitched her up to the jog cart and did a few laps of their track.
 
"She looks really good," Aimee said.
 
"She's put on a good bit of weight and is very round in the bum - so she's got a good foundation for us to work with.

"She's bright, and seemed very happy to be out there on the track again today."
 
It'll take a couple of months before Hattie is back in racing trim, so at a rough guess Aimee anticipates her being ready to step out at the trials or workouts again sometime mid-Julyish.
 
"We'll look to target the first couple of bigger trots early in the new season, and try and improve her ranking leading up to the Dominion," Aimee added, confirming that the two-mile Group 1 is the main aim to begin with.
 
As for Hattie's tying up problem which brought her last campaign to a premature end, our trainers don't expect this to be an ongoing issue and are already seeing indications that it's a thing of the past.
 
"I think it was just a lot of little things combined," Aimee offered.

"We've now changed her diet, and got her on Vitamin E powder as well.
 
"She walked out of the washbay fine after her jog this morning, too. Having had a decent amount of time off, if a horse was going show any signs of tying up again then we would've seen that today.
 
"But we didn't, she was fine."
 
And while the syndicate's only remaining racehorse has just returned home, the reports from across the Tasman are that our 'ex' Saratoga has found himself a new one.
 
Adam Sanderson contacted me late last week to say Saratoga is now residing at Gumnuts Riding School in Canungra, a 140 acre horse farm nestled in the Biddaddaba Valley, Queensland.
 
Some of the many features that Gumnuts offer the local community are 'riding for the disabled' classes, and Saratoga has quickly become a favourite amongst those participating.
 
"He's in great nick," Adam said.
 
"I thought he might've been a bit strong and boisterous for that sort of thing, but apparently he's really gentle and has fitted in perfectly.
 
"The horses do little more than just get led around on the lead while someone sits in their saddle, so it won't be taxing on him whatsoever.
 
"I've heard that he loves the kids and they love him, so he's obviously enjoying all the attention."
 
Once again our heartfelt thanks go out to Adam and his partner Brittany for seeing this process through to the end, and ensuring that our big boy gets the long and happy retirement which he so richly deserves.


(March 24)
 
Harriet Of Mot is staying in the paddock, for now.
 
Craig and Aimee have decided to turn around an unusual couple of weeks and use the situation to our advantage... Hattie was always going to need (and go for) another brief spell before the end of the season, so she's going to have that now rather than later.
 
The latest bloodtest results show that Hattie's tying-up issue has definitely improved but she's not completely over it yet, hence the reason why their vet recommended adding another 10 days on top of the two-week spell she'd already had up until the middle of this month.
 
The longer the delays went on, the more opportunties she ran out of time to be ready for.
 
We're now only days away from the two Addington features she was originally being aimed at - the $25,000 Group 3 4&5YO Championship on March 31 and $80,000 Group 1 NZ Trotting Championship a week later - plus she's not going back to Alexandra Park again for obvious reasons so the Rowe Cup's off the agenda too.
 
So with very few other major opportunities remaining during 2016/17, it makes sense to leave her out spelling.
 
"We could've brought her back up for some racing in June but they're likely to be only $8000-$10,000 races where she'd be starting off a handicap," Craig pointed out.
 
"And then she'd still have to go out for a spell sometime anyway.
 
"This way, she can have April and May off, we'll jog her up during June and July, and then get her ready to race in August as we begin to build towards the Cup Meeting (and the Dominion Handicap)," he said.
 
Some of those open class trotting races early in the season tend to be pretty light on numbers too, because a lot of the top horses have raced longer and are therefor still on 'R&R' until about September.
 
"It's a shame in a way, judging by how well she went at Addington last start when she was an unlucky fifth - but at least we know she's up to those good ones," Craig added.
 
So the curtain has come down on Hattie's 5-year-old season, one that consisted of just eight starts and will be best remembered for her meritorious second to the freak Monbet in last October's Ashburton Flying Mile.
 
There were some indifferent performances too though, as we all know, because Hattie galloped in half of those appearances; but all this means is that we hardly got to witness the talent she possesses.
 
It's impossible to forget the dream start she made to her career, winning eight races in the space of 10 months between May 2016 and this time last year - not to mention bookending that period with a couple of hat-tricks.
 
And having leapt up the grades so quickly, we can certainly forgive her for having an 'off' season by her standards because plenty of horses can and do go through the same thing.
 
What's important is we've got a lovely mare who's sound and chock full of ability, and it won't be long until she's back and wowing us again.

(March 21)
 
The Minutes of the AGM held at Addington Raceway on February 15 are now up on the goHarness website, and can be found in the Members' Area of the Trotting For Fun Syndicate.
 
Let me know if you can't remember the User Name and Password to be able to access this area on our site.
 
Noel and I apologise that it's taken so long for the Minutes to be reproduced and made available, but once you see them I'm sure you'll appreciate how much work went into doing this because they're a verbatim (word for word) record of all that was said at the AGM.
 
We were under the impression that every person present had the right to have any and all of their questions recorded - not to mention the answers to these questions, and the discussions about them.
 
Hence, the final document is some 26 pages long so it's quite a bit of reading.
 
Moving forward from here, the important points that need noting are as follows...
 
* February 15's AGM was not completed on the night and has in fact been adjourned (to a date yet to be determined, but it's anticipated it'll be sometime late May or early June).
 
* It is at this second AGM when we'll have the Audited Sets of Accounts for the year-ending 2014 and year-ending 2015 periods available. Only the year-ending 2013 Accounts were audited prior to February 15's AGM, so once we've got the following two years' Accounts finished, we'll then schedule a date for the adjourned AGM. There's really not much point in holding another AGM until such time as we've got these back from the Auditor. We've been given an indication from them that these two Sets of Accounts are close to being completed though, hence our estimate of May/June for another AGM.
 
* As with the first AGM, these audited Sets of Accounts will be be published in the Members' Area on the website prior to the next AGM.
 
* Concerns raised by various Members at the first AGM (about the Accounts needing to be more transparent, and about how the Auditor treated certain transactions) have since been addressed by Noel in a meeting with HRNZ's Jenny Fleming, and together the two of them have sent all queries onto the Auditor for comment. Their response will be aired at the second AGM.
 
* Following the first AGM, Members were also asked to submit any other questions/concerns to Noel and/or HRNZ prior to the end of February. Only one person chose to, and his email was also discussed during Noel's meeting with HRNZ and passed onto the Auditor for comment.
 
* A couple of other subjects raised at the AGM - such as the Syndicate not necessarily having to continue with 125 shares if people forfeit, and the options for spouses of Members who pass away - have since been discussed and clarified with Mark Bennet at HRNZ. We'll just add a couple of clauses to the existing Syndicate Rules to cover these scenarios; I'll finalise the new wording for these amendments, make them available to everyone prior to the next AGM, and get them approved by vote on the night.


(February 28)
 
Harriet Of Mot won't get the chance to defend her Group 3 Southern Lights title in Invercargill this year.
 
Aimee rang yesterday with the news that the latest bloodtest results reveal Hattie's tie-up levels have gone up rather than down over the last few days, so now her and Craig have got no other option but to back off her full stop.
 
"She'll go out for two weeks," Aimee said.
 
"No grain, no work, no nothing - just a freshen-up to help her get over this completely and then we'll start again."
 
Aimee reassures us there's no reason to panic, and that this is just a temporary delay to our trotter's current campaign.
 
There are still no physical signs of Hattie having tying-up issues, which is a good thing. Searching for answers, our trainers even think that the reasons behind it could be 'psychological'.
 
"It's a bit like a person having a sore throat, and then later thinking they're still sick even though they've gotten over it; something's causing Hattie to keep her muscles tensed up," Aimee said.
 
"We just need to give her a short break from everything, because otherwise you run the risk of her doing some sort of damage to herself.
 
"This isn't going to be an ongoing issue," she said.


(February 23)
 
Harriet Of Mot's next raceday appearance can't be finalised just at the moment.

Aimee Edmonds says they got the results of the latest bloodtests back yesterday and Hattie's muscle count is still up, meaning there's a build-up of lactic acid in her system.
 
Our trainers changed Hattie's diet from the start of this week and are also treating her for the condition; it's nothing serious, but Aimee admits that it's got them and their vet Sam Taylor a wee bit baffled.
 
"We can't do much apart from just keep jogging her through it until she comes right," Aimee said today.
 
"At least she's no longer showing any 'physical' signs of being tied up - like she did when we had to scratch her on the morning of the race last Friday."
 
Craig and Aimee will get more bloodtests done in a few days, and expect them to be improved. The closer we get to her scheduled trip south to Invercargill for the Group 3 event on March 11 though, the more in jeopardy it is of not happening at all.
 
"It'll depend on what sort of work we can get into her once she's right again, and whether or not we can have a trial or race somewhere first.
 
"Obviously we don't want to go all the way down there if she's not ready," Aimee said.


(February 17)
 
Hearing from your trainer on the morning of a race is not usually a good sign, and so it proved.
 
Aimee has just called to say that her and Craig have little option but to scratch Harriet Of Mot from tonight's assignment.
 
Giving Hattie her usual pre-race morning bowl around, Aimee says our girl was stiff and tied up afterwards - and "walking like a crab".
 
It's a sign of Hattie's muscles being contracted and has happened before so is nothing abnormal, but our trainers made the only move they could and pulled her out as a precaution.
 
"It's nothing serious," a disappointed Aimee said.
 
"We could line her up and she might be fine, but we're not prepared to take that risk."

As to what caused Hattie to be tied up is uncertain. Aimee says our mare was a little bit in season at the start of the week, and although no longer showing any symptoms of 'having her mind on other things' today she feels it could be related.
 
"She's been eating and drinking as normal over the last couple of days, so that's the main thing.
 
"We're getting her checked over anyway, and the vet's on his way."


(February 16)
 
Harriet Of Mot has continued to please trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds in the lead up to her first Group Race target of 2017 - tomorrow night's $25,000 Summer Trotting Free-For-All at Addington.
 
"She has definitely improved since last week's run," Aimee said this morning.
 
"She's still on the way up though too, and will take further improvement out of tomorrow."
 
Hattie's immediate programme includes heading south to defend the Group 3 Southern Lights trophy at Invercargill on March 11, and our trainers will see how she comes through this next race before deciding if she'll line up again before then.
 
Amazingly, the two-mile trotting event at Ascot Park on March 12 last year was the last time our girl saluted the judge.
 
John Dunn's drive on Hattie last Friday night made the headlines, with the Stipes' Report mentioning that he was questioned regarding his decision to steer her to the outside of Master Lavros approaching the line, rather than the inside.
 
The Report stated that the enquiry was "adjourned to give the matter further consideration" - but that's moreso because John had to duck away for a drive in the next event after giving his explanation; plus with Hattie finishing fifth, any outcome of an enquiry by Stewards wasn't going to effect the first four placings anyway.
 
Hence, there was no urgency to settle anything right there and then.
 
In my opinion it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup, because Hattie did so well to keep her composure when having to duck sideways in a hurry to avoid the galloping Hey Yo, yet still regathered herself to charge up behind the placegetters as she ran out of room.
 
After the Hey Yo incident, you can understand John not wanting to ask Hattie to change direction for a second time within 150 metres; after all, she'd broken in each of her three previous starts so it was important to get around in one piece.
 
And as Aimee pointed out, Master Lavros veered in sharply past the finish line so if Hattie had taken an inwards route it's likely she would've been squeezed up and broken as a result. We'd have needed that like a hole in the head.
 
John will find out about the Stewards' decision into his drive soon enough, but I'm hoping common sense will prevail. No-one from Hattie's camp sees it as an issue, and neither should we.
 
We held the Trotting For Fun Syndicate's inaugural AGM at Addington Raceway last night, so thanks to those of you who were able to attend.
 
There was a comprehensive Agenda, which generated many questions from the floor and a number of items raised during General Business. As a result, the Minutes of the Meeting will take considerable time to type up and put on the website, but you'll all be informed once this has been done.


(February 13)
 
Harriet Of Mot might not have a victory next to her name after last Friday night's resumption at Addington, but her performance was certainly a 'win' for a whole lot of other reasons.

The two things which I took away from her effort were a) how well she began - so swiftly in fact, she was first out and actually led early; and b) how solid she was when having to change course at the about 150m mark to avoid the galloping Hey Yo; she had every right to leave her feet too, but didn't.
 
Both are proof that Hattie continues to take massive steps in certain facets of her all-round game.
 
And despite the race being a sprint home off the back of a slow pace - conditions which make it far more difficult to get into the finish when you're not in or near the lead - Hattie would've put a '1' in the formline if she'd had anything but bad luck.
 
"It's not a case of 'if' she would've won - it's by how much," said a delighted but frustrated John Dunn as he returned to the stabling area.
 
Johnny drove our girl an absolute treat, resisting the temptation to come out and sit parked with a lap to travel; she didn't need that sort of run first-up. He also cleverly avoided potential disaster when steering Hattie around Hey Yo, then his elbows were still stuck to his torso as our girl crossed the line hard-held in behind them.
 
"I didn't even pull the plugs," Johnny continued, "and I think that's the way we should drive her (cold) for a while."
 
Co-trainers Craig and Aimee agree, so when Hattie's races pan out that way she's going to be driven with a sit to take advantage of her most lethal weapon - her speed.
 
"It means she might be unlucky on occasions but we reckon that's the best way to drive her at this stage," Aimee said today.
 
Hattie hasn't raised a single concern in the days since her resumption.
 
"She ate up good that night, had the next day off understandably, then a light jog on Sunday and a quiet run this morning," Aimee said.
 
"Dad and I were really pleased with how well she handled everything last Friday, she's obviously freshened up pretty nicely since her trip to Auckland.
 
"Her heartrate's good too, so she's right where we want her to be heading into this Friday night."
 
The field for this week's $25,000 Group 3 Summer Free-For-All won't be finalised until sometime tomorrow afternoon, but one thing's for sure - it won't be any 'picnic'.

A quick glance at the nominations suggests that most of Hattie's opposition from last week are lining up again, and the likes of Marcoola, Eyre I Come and Monty Python have thrown their hats into the ring as well.
 
Not that we'd forgotten, but Hattie reminded us how good she is last Friday; as long as bad luck doesn't get in the way, she's more than capable of winning races at this level.
 
And that's what's really exciting!


(February 13)
 
The Trotting For Fun Syndicate's inaugural AGM is being held this Wednesday night at Addington Raceway.
 
Starting at 7:00pm in the Blossom Lady Lounge (third floor of the main stand), the Agenda and topics of discussion will be as follows...
 
* Welcome
* Appointment of Secretary for the AGM
* Apologies
* Name-recording of the Members present
* Introduction of Management Committee
* Explanation why no AGMs held to date
* Saratoga
* Financial Reports (accounts history and current situation, including... the year-ending 2013 Accounts [now Audited]; the 2014 Accounts [awaiting Audit, but copies available]; the 2015 Accounts [awaiting Audit, but copies available]; the 2016 Accounts [unaudited, but copies available], and the syndicate's Cash Position as at January 31, 2017 [including projected cashflow, expenses etc]).
* The stakes frozen by HRNZ (since November 2015, including the reasons why and amount still owed to us)
* Members' monthly contributions
* General Business (including Members' Submissions)
 
All of the financial documents referred to above have been put up in the Members Section of Trotting For Fun on our website, for you to view at your leisure. Just let me know if you've forgotten the 'User Name' and 'Password' to be able to access this restricted area, and I'll send you an email with the details.
 
There'll also be a limited number of copies of these financial statements available at the AGM, but if you're attending perhaps it's best to print off your own copies of these documents if possible please.


(February 8)
 
Our wait is over - Harriet Of Mot is lining up again this Friday night!
 
Ever since she got back from Auckland, trainers Craig and Aimee set their sights on the Group 3 Summer Free-For-All at Addington on February 17. And this week's outing is the 'tightener' she needs for it.
 
"We may as well go there instead of the trials," Craig said today.
 
Ideally there'll be enough speed on in the race so that Hattie can just sit back and come with one run at them in the latter stages, but on the other hand you can never predict how a race is going to pan out.
 
Most importantly, like any event she ever starts in, Hattie's there to win - and Craig says that the way she's been working, a victory isn't outside the realms of possibility if things pan out.

"Everything's great with her," he contined.
 
"We had her checked over by the Vet a couple of weeks ago, and there's nothing wrong anywhere.
 
"Plus she's really well within herself too... she's pretty fit, eating good, training great and her heart rate is where we want it."

Aimee partnered Hattie in her hitout around the Motukarara circuit this morning, and both she and Dad were delighted with what a glance down at the stopwatch revealed afterwards.
 
"She ran her last half in 58 and final quarter in a tick over 27 - that's quite quick for around this track.
 
"And she fair jogged it too, did it on her ear.
 
"Aimee said she only asked her to stretch out over the final furlong, which she trotted in 13 seconds.
 
"Hattie needs a run somewhere before next Friday though, so it may as well be this week."
 
It'll be simply awesome to have our girl back at the races again, and I look forward to seeing all of you who can make it out to Addington this week.
 
Between this race and Hattie's next one, we've of course got the AGM at the Raceway on Wednesday (Feb 15).
 
Slight change of plans, venue-wise... we're now going to hold the AGM in the Blossom Lady Lounge on the top floor of the Main Stand. I'm not sure if the escalators will be in operation at that time of night (7:00pm), but if you don't want to trek up six flights of stairs then the lift can be your transport.
 
Thanks to those who've emailed to let me know you're coming along. If you haven't yet, and intend on going, I'd appreciate hearing from you.


(February 3)
 
Saratoga wrapped up his racing career with a sixth at Albion Park on Tuesday.
 
It was a rather anti-climatic end for a horse who's been racing for five years and won 12 during that time, but what it did vindicate is that it's time to hang up the reins.
 
We've had a bit of a 'sixth-place Monkey' on our backs so far this year too, darn it all - four of the five appearances by goHarness horses in 2017 have resulted with a '6' going into the formline.

Adam Sanderson did expect better from our big boy's last ever race, saying that his training at home had been good. He couldn't have driven Saratoga any better either, landing the one-one, but when it came time to sprint there was nothing there.
 
"He had every chance didn't he," Adam said.
 
"But as I've said earlier, it's like he's just going through the motions (at the races) now.
 
"I think the 'old' Saratoga would've at least run second from that sort of trip, so I think it was him trying to tell us 'I just can't do this anymore'."
 
Adam's partner Brittany has wasted no time in trying to find Saratoga a new home, advertising his availability to their known contacts and through social media.
 
"We've already had two or three girls ring up about him, and one of them's coming out on Saturday to throw a saddle over him," Adam said.
 
"I reckon he'll make a perfect dressage horse too, because he's lovely and big and has got such a high action."
 
I've been really impressed with Adam's attitude towards Saratoga right the way through. He's always put our horse's best interests first, and as a result we were rewarded with five more victories and a heap of fond memories.
 
It's not like he stopped caring about our boy the minute he came out of training either... once he and Brittany are happy that they've found the right person to take Saratoga, Adam will deregister him with Australian authorities so that he can't ever be raced again - and they'll even get the recipient to sign some sort of affadavit to ensure Saratoga will never be asked to do any showjumping.
 
Safe to say, Adam's going to miss him.
 
"Hopefully he should have a good ten to fifteen years of retirement ahead of him - he deserves it.
 
"It's been a real pleasure to have a horse like him in the stable; I'm just a young guy, and these sort of opportunities don't come along very often.
 
"I can't thank the syndicate enough."


(January 31)
 
In what is a cruel twist of fate, we won't even be able to see Saratoga's last ever race today and will just have to listen to it instead.
 
He's in race two at Albion Park which is scheduled to get underway at 4:23pm our time, and according to the TAB's website it's been listed as a 'no TV' event.

I've actually been in contact with the TAB's Head Office in Wellington this morning, to see if there's any chance they could fit his race into the schedule and televise it; probably a case of pushing poop uphill, but you don't get anywhere unless you ask eh.
 
Adam and his boss Darrel Graham recently put a new surface of sand on their training track at home. Our big boy has had "a bit of extra work" on the circuit heading into his final career start, and Adam says he's been enjoying it.
 
"Yeah he's well - so hopefully he can go out on a high note," Adam said last night.
 
"I don't mind the second-row draw, because he follows out one that gets away okay so we should have options if he can punch through behind them.
 
"The field isn't as strong as the ones he's been up against lately either."
 
Adam said he'll just have to see how the race unfolds, because small fields can be tricky to predict - but if the opportunity to put Saratoga in the race presents itself, he'll be taking it.
 
This doesn't mean Adam's going to drive him hard, but as there's no 'next week' to be mindful of he's determined not to be unlucky.
 
Following this afternoon's race, we could've put Saratoga on the market in the hope of selling him (America being the only real option) - but why put our boy through that? We'd get a token amount of money for him, but even more importantly, there'd be no guarantee that whoever bought him would look after him as well as Adam has.
 
No thanks. In the end, it was a 'no brainer' decision for your Manager to make.
 
"If he was mine I'd retire him," Adam said, his views mirroring those of all of us I'm sure.
 
"And it'll be no problem at all to find him somewhere to live out his retirement in peace.

"He deserves that."
 
With a large team in work and many years of training horses behind them, Adam and Darrel are understandably faced with this situation on a regular basis.
 
"There are heaps of places in Queensland that take horses once they've been retired," he says.
 
"There's a lady on the Gold Coast who re-homes them to her place and rides them, and we also know of a lot of young girls who are always looking for equestrian horses as well.
 
"My partner Brittany (Graham, Darrel's daughter) handles all that side of things, and loves it. She even gets photos of the horses sent back to her, long after they've been gone, and passes these onto their former owners to show them that they're being well cared for.
 
"Obviously we'll be stipulating that he's not to do any showjumping (because of his troublesome knees), but someone will relish having a horse like him because he's a great ol' fella who's really easy to get along with."


(January 25)
 
Saratoga will be making his last appearance for the Trotting For Fun Syndicate at Albion Park next Tuesday, January 31.
 
We've talked at length with Adam Sanderson about our big boy over the last couple of weeks, and both parties agree wholeheartedly that it's time to pull the plug on his career.
 
Sitting on the sidelines at Albion Park last Saturday night, Adam watched as Saratoga reared at the start and ended up settling four-deep before running home "just okay" into sixth and about seven lengths from the winner.
 
Stand-in reinsman Darrel Graham felt that our trotter had gone alright, but Adam had a slightly different view.

"He's still working great at home, but on racenight it's like he's just going through the motions now," Adam said.
 
"I know he was back on the inside and they came the last half in 58.6, but normally he would've ripped home a lot better than that.
 
"Even him playing up at the start isn't really like him; he used to do that sort of thing on occasions, but lately it's been just about every time."
 
It was decided to give Saratoga one last 'hurrah' next week for a number of reasons... he's still in full training; the race is only a 2138m standing start (so it won't be too taxing on him), plus Adam will have finished his suspension by then so in a lot of ways it's quite fitting that he should be the person to slip on the goHarness colours and hop into Saratoga's sulky for one last time.
 
It'll be sad to see the curtain come down on the Saratoga era, because it brings to an end a career which promised a lot at the beginning but petered out towards the end - almost entirely due to the numerous issues our big trotter was faced with over the years.
 
What happens to him from February onwards is something we'll talk to Adam about after next week's race, then make a decision based on his thoughts.
 
The options are obviously selling, leasing, or sending him straight to the retirement paddock - rest assured though, Saratoga's welfare will be our top priority because he deserves to live the rest of his days being as happy as possible; we owe him that much.
 
In other news, we've rescheduled the AGM and it'll now be held at Addington Raceway on Wednesday, February 15.
 
Kicking off at 7:00pm in the Christian Cullen Lounge (first floor of the main stand), it's hoped that the new date and start time will make it a lot easier for those of you based in and around Canterbury to attend.
 
Please flick me an email if you're intending to come along.


(October 21)

Thanks again to those who attended our private little ‘Open Day’ at Motukarara Racecourse on October 6.
 
A beautiful afternoon it was, weather-wise, and we all got to have a bite to eat at the same time as watching the three fillies strut their stuff so it was well worth the trip out there.
 
Noel filmed the equine girls as each had their turn out on the track, and while not claiming to be a professional cameraman or one with a steady hand, we did get some footage. I’ve since spent time with our Website Developer and put together the best parts of the footage which were available, and these three short videos are now available to be viewed right here on the website (just go to the bottom of the page).
 
Having now had two preparations each, the fillies have been turned out. We’ve also followed up with Craig to get an update on each horse individually; it means this is going to be a long newsletter, but at least you’ll all be well informed. This is what he had to say…
 
HARRIET OF MOT: has always looked the more natural 2-year-old type. She has proven this by displaying more early ability than the other two, so we want to give her every opportunity. She’ll spell for four to five weeks. She’s just that little ‘up’ in the back end, so she should even out during the break. She has a lovely gait, plus she feels like and gives the impression that she will run early; when asked, she just grabs the bit and wants to run.
 
EILISH AIMEE: a lovely trotter, of good size. While she doesn’t need to grow up, she does need to fill out a bit. The intention at this stage is that Eilish will be out for eight to 12 weeks, but none of these spell durations are cast in stone. She may well be on track to be at the workouts and trials in the New Year, but in the end she will show us when she’s ready. Well-gaited, and does everything right.
 
TRICIA POWELL: a good-gaited individual with a great attitude. Very importantly, she shows a willingness to run and wants to be a racehorse. When you pull her out from behind another horse, she grabs the bit, wants to race and enjoys the work. She’ll be out for approximately eight to 12 weeks, which will give her time to grow. And again, the plan is to have her back ready for the workouts/trials in the New Year. She is as long in the body as the others, but just has that growing to do. She is not a small-boned individual, and it’s worth noting that as a youngster, her dam was also on the small side but soon grew to be 16.1 hands high and eventually won an Oaks and $100,000 in stakes.
 
Noel and I also think this is an appropriate time to mention a few other points…
 
Craig does not take many horses to the races, as he is more known as an educator of youngsters who then get on-sold to other stables. The horse and its welfare is always his number one priority at all times. Craig is a very skilled and competent trainer of trotters, and he says we should all be extremely happy that we have three youngsters who at this stage actually want to run, and are showing promise.
 
He reminds us that it’s hard enough to get one good prospect, let alone three; in similar circumstances, it would not have been unusual for him to tell an owner that they need to move one of the horses on. He then goes onto say that of course there are never any guarantees with horses, as many things can and do happen completely out of the blue. One of the first and most important things is to get their gait and manners right, and our fillies have all scored well in this regard.
 
So overall, I think we should all be very happy that we have three definite prospects who are doing everything right.
 
And just for interest’s sake, the feature 2-year-old trotting races this season are: Sires’ Stakes Prelude #1 (Feb 27 at Addington); Prelude #2 (Mch 20 at Cambridge); Prelude #3 (Mch 21 at Addington); NZ Trotting Stakes (Apr 19 at Addington); Group 2 Sires’ Stakes Final (May 10 at Addington); Sires’ Stakes Silver (May 11 at Timaru); Harness Jewels (June 1 at Cambridge).
 
Not that we’re pre-empting anything by mentioning the above, but it just shows that the ‘serious’ part of the season for 2-year-old trotters is still many months away (i.e. there’s plenty of time for our girls to prove they’re good enough to contest any of those events).
 
On another positive note, here’s the latest update on Saratoga as well…
 
He was the horse who was supposed to give us immediate joy while we waited for the fillies to grow older – and he did, it’s just that things very quickly took a turn for the worse when it was discovered he needed an operation.
 
Saratoga had his surgery back on May 7 and it’s now October, so it’s been a long, drawn out affair. Still, if we’d rushed things and not followed the advice of the experts, we might not have had a horse to carry on with.
 
The original plan has always been that Saratoga would be going back to Mark Purdon’s stable in November. Karolyn Norton reports that he’s done terrifically well at her place and looks ‘a million dollars’; last week we also had an in-depth discussion with Richard Turner (the Canterbury Equine surgeon who operated on him), and the most recent post-op examination confirms the same – every stage of Saratoga’s recovery process has been perfect.
 
So we are delighted to confirm that our big boy will be dropped off at Mark’s again straight after Cup Week.


(September 23)

Now that the three fillies in the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate (Harriet Of Mot, Tricia Powell and Eilish Aimee) have turned two years old, we thought it was about time we all went and had a look at how they bowl along.

So with this in mind, we've arranged with their trainer Craig Edmonds to have a private get-together of the syndicate members at Motukarara Racecourse on Sunday week (October 6).

We'd like to ask people to arrive on-course at noon, and then from 12.15pm onwards we'll be putting on a sausage sizzle plus a few (non-alcoholic) light refreshments to wash it down with.

At about 1.00pm the three fillies will trot down the home straight in front of us, and then afterwards we'll be able to see them up close in the stalls and ask Craig any questions that may spring to mind.

In planning this occasion, we were fully aware that the Methven Trots are on the same afternoon. But with everybody's schedules only getting busier from here on in, we had to seize this window of opportunity when it became available - besides, we envisage being all wrapped up by about 2.00pm anyway so people can still do both if they want to.

We would appreciate an indication of numbers too, so if you intend to be there on the day could you please send Noel and email.


(September 5)

It’s time for another update on Saratoga and our three 2-year-old fillies, and the news is all good!

The word from Saratoga’s carer Karolyn Norton is that he’s “looking fantastic” and “bursting with life”, so it’s obvious that he’s continuing to recover without a hitch from his operation at the beginning of May.

“He’s really filled out and grown a lot,” she added.

Despite his progress though, the vets still advise to ‘stick to the plan’ of giving him a full six months of rest. To that end, this means Saratoga should be back at Mark Purdon’s stable and ready to start jogging by early November.

No doubt he’ll be ‘chomping at the bit’ to get back into action by then.

We’ve also recently received some news on the three 2-year-old fillies from Aimee Edmonds, Craig’s daughter, who’s kept us informed while he’s been away on holiday.

They’re all going through the motions of another campaign at present, and are due to go out for a six-week spell again soon. This is the norm and part of the ‘learning curve’, as there’s hardly any specific races for 2-year-old trotters until after Christmas so no need to get too serious with them just yet.

Aimee says they’ve all done some road work and been bowling around the Motukarara track, and the trio are definitely progressing well.

She reports that Tricia Powell (Sundon-Ella Powell) is a “slow maturing type”; Eilish Aimee (Love You-Eilish Mac) is “huge” so has a lot of growing and filling out to do and hence is unlikely to race until the end of the season at the earliest; and that Harriet Of Mot (Monarchy-Harriet Hughes) is “quite exceptional” and gives the impression she’ll “make a lovely 2-year-old”.


(July 5, 2013)

Saratoga underwent his scheduled post-op examination earlier this week, and here's what the Canterbury Equine Clinic's surgeon Dr Richard Turner had to say...

"Post-surgically, his knees look good," Richard said.

"During his operation we took a lot of mushy bone out of the affected joints, and Saratoga's response (recovery) in these areas since then is what we would expect at this stage.

"I think his prognosis should be good," he added.

Saratoga will be given another injection on Monday, which is a mixture of lubricating agents and steroids that assist with the healing process in his knees.

Richard said our trotter was ready to be moved from his yard to a paddock, and advised giving Saratoga another three months of rest before looking at putting him back into work again.


(June 11, 2013)

Here's the latest update on Saratoga and our three yearling fillies.

As you'll know, Saratoga is being looked after by Karolyn Norton at West Melton. We spoke to her yesterday, and she couldn't be happier with the way our boy has been doing since his operation.

"He's looking really good, and is fair bursting to get back out into a paddock again," Karolyn said.

"He's a lovely big and strong horse, and has even grown since he's been here; he's really bulking up and filling out."

It should be noted that Saratoga's weight gain is a healthy sign and can be attributed to his natural development as a late 3-year-old, rather than anything to do with him being out of training at present.

Saratoga is due to have the third of his three post-op joint acid injections in the next day or so, which are also known as 'gold injections' and help lubricate his joints. The three weeks he needed to be boxed for have come and gone, and by the end of this month he'll have spent sufficient time in a yard as well, so should be able to start the final stage of his recovery by being released back into the paddock again.

On or around June 30 is when the Canterbury Equine Clinic are scheduled to carry out their post-op examination and x-ray Saratoga's knees, and hopefully then they'll give the 'green light' for Saratoga being allowed to stretch his legs a bit more.

"Even when they say he's ready, I'll still take a very conservative approach to this," Karolyn said.

"He'll go into a 20m x 20m paddock but only have half of it, and then gradually be stepped up from there.

"It's just a really important stage of the whole process, because otherwise you can undo all the good work that's been done up until this point."

Following the Clinic's recommended period of paddock rest, which will be somewhere between two and three months, Saratoga will then return to Mark Purdon's stable and begin his build-up towards another racing campaign.

So this is great news all-round. We'll send out another email once Saratoga's had his post-op examination and x-rays, and let you know what the surgeon had to say.

With regards to our three 'baby girls', we also spoke to Craig Edmonds about them yesterday as well.

Eilish Aimee, Tricia Powell and Harriet Of Mot have all been spelling for over a month now, and Craig is rapt with how their education has gone up until this point.

"They were all good in the cart and trotted around okay," Craig said.

"So they all behaved which was one of the main things, and had good attitudes."

The three fillies will be reunited with their trainer sometime around the end of July, and Craig says the next 'prep' is when things start to get a bit more serious.

"They'll have another six to eight weeks in, and be in the cart every day, and this is when we'll probably get an indication whether any of them might make 2-year-olds or not," he said.

"At this stage, the one looking most likely is the Monarchy filly (Harriet Of Mot); the Love You (Eilish Aimee) is quite a big filly, and the Sundon (Tricia Powell) wasn't to begin with but she's actually grown a lot.

"It's still early days though of course, and we'll know a lot more after they've all had their next wee campaign."

So there you have it everybody... a nice, positive update about our foursome in the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate.

Next starts for our horses:
  • Saratoga:
    Albion Park on Friday, May 27
    - Race 2 at 3:33pm NZ time
  • Harriet Of Mot:
    Cambridge on Saturday, June 4
    - Race 4 at 1:28pm
  • Eilish Aimee:
    Fast-working
    -
Harriet Of Mot's career to date:
Starts: 47
Wins: 13
Placings: 11
Stakes: $157,500
Click here to be linked with Harriet Of Mot's details on the HRNZ website

 

Saratoga's career:
Starts: 53 (22 in Aus)
Wins: 12 (5 in Aus)
Placings: 23 (10 in Aus)
Stakes: $100,016 ($35,434 in Aus)
Click here to be linked with Saratoga's details on the HRNZ website. Click here to be linked with Saratoga's details on the HRA site.

 

Eilish Aimee's career:
Starts: 19
Wins: 1
Placings: 4
Stakes: $10,282
Click here to be linked with Eilish Aimee's details on the HRNZ website

 

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