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Latest News on Harriet Of Mot and Saratoga

(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.


(January 20)
 
Saratoga has a 10m handicap and a handy field to contend with when he goes around again at Albion Park tomorrow night.
 
We all know he's usually a pretty quick beginner, so hopefully he'll be able to put himself in a handy spot early. The longer distance (2647 metres) should be right up his alley, too.
 
Saratoga's in the last race on the programme, timed to start at 11:40pm our time; being later, I'm assuming it'll be televised on one of the TAB's two channels as well.
 
Adam will have to watch from the sidelines after copping a brief suspension, and Darrel Graham will do the steering for us on this occasion.
 
It was hoped to be able to trial Saratoga on Tuesday between races, but they never programmed one for trotters that day due to lack of nominations so our big boy was given a decent hitout at home instead.
 
"He seems well," Adam reports.
 
"His bloods are good and he's been working strong, so fingers crossed."
 
Thanks to those of you who've replied to yesterday's email regarding the AGM, your prompt response was much appreciated.
 
I'll be personally acknowledging each message with a reply later today or over the weekend - then once everyone's preferences have been recorded, Noel and I will sit down and make a decision regarding a date and time for the AGM and announce it.
 
If you haven't had the chance to send your thoughts through yet, please do so at your earliest convenience because this information helps in planning something which we're trying to get to suit as many people as possible.


(January 13)
 
Saratoga's race at Albion Park next Tuesday never 'got off the ground' due to lack of nominations, so he'll step out at the same venue the following Saturday (January 21) instead.
 
It'll be a 2647m standing start - and a discretionary, which lends Adam Sanderson to think our boy might only get a 10 metre handicap or may even be off the front if the Handicapper looks kindly on Saratoga's recent formline of '06'.
 
Adam's still scratching his head about the horse's latest effort, as there were no signs leading into it (or since for that matter) that Saratoga wasn't or isn't his usual happy self.
 
"There's nothing wrong with him," Adam said this morning.
 
"He had a few days off after that last run and he's actually freshened up real good."

So well in fact, Adam's still sporting a bruise and a sore leg after Saratoga lashed out at him during training a couple of days ago.
 
"Yeah I had one in the cart and Saratoga was trotting alongside me on the lead, like he normally does.
 
"He can be a bit fractious sometimes anyway, but he kicked out sideways and caught me a beauty the bugger.
 
"He's never done that before, so I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing; maybe I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
 
"I growled at him and he didn't do it again."
 
Saratoga might head off to Albion Park next Tuesday regardless, as Adam's considering giving him a quiet trial to top him off for his race four days later.
 
"I'll work him again tomorrow, and then decide whether he needs another hitout before the 21st."
 
It's the hot season in Queensland right now, but Adam and his staff adjust their timetables accordingly because he says working under the heat of the sun "is not fun for anybody - the horses, or us".
 
"We usually start around 5:30am, but during Summer we get going just after 4:00am and do the team then.
 
"It works out well really, because it's just light enough and the temperature's only around the 20 degree mark.
 
"On some nights here it can still be about 38 degrees at 7 o'clock."
 
Adam admits that we're heading into next Saturday's race a bit 'blind' and don't quite know what to expect, because Saratoga is training as well as he was prior to his last start and the lack of vigour shown over the latter parts was totally unexpected.
 
It's one of those occasions where we wish horses could talk, because if there's something troubling our big boy he's certainly not showing any signs of it.
 
Nevertheless, Adam knows that this next appearance now has a bit of 'D Day' feel to it. Furthermore, he cares about Saratoga and would be the first to suggest we re-evaluate his future if he ever got the slightest inkling that our horse didn't want to be out there and competing anymore.
 
There was a hint of that at his last appearance, so if he goes bad again next Saturday we'll be forced to look at selling him (to the USA) or retiring him altogether - all of which will be discussed at the AGM six days later.
 
"He's been a great horse for the syndicate over the years, and with all the problems he's had it just shows you how big his heart must be."


(January 12)
 
The 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate is going to hold its inaugural Annual General Meeting at Addington Raceway on the afternoon of Friday, January 27 (a fortnight tomorrow).
 
There's a racemeeting on at Addington later that evening, with the first race scheduled to start at 5:30pm; we've specifically chosen the venue because of its central location, and with our AGM kicking off at 4:00pm it's anticipated that the agenda will be well and truly covered by the time the first race gets underway.
 
Harriet Of Mot won't be lining up that night, but at least it'll be a good opportunity for you to come along to the AGM if you're able to and then stay on for the racing action later.
 
Addington Raceway are very kindly letting us use one end of the Christian Cullen Lounge (first floor of the main grandstand), at no cost. The bar and food areas won't quite be staffed at that stage of the afternoon, but at least it should be a quiet and private place for us to hold the AGM before the public start rolling in.
 
The Rules of the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate state that we should ideally hold AGMs every year, so from a goHarness point of view Noel and I humbly apologise that this hasn't been the case to date and we'll be endeavouring to rectify the situation in future.
 
Hopefully you'll all feel that you've been kept well informed of all syndicate-related matters at every step of the journey to date though, thanks to the email newsletters I send out via MailChimp.
 
The Manager of the Syndicate (Noel) will be in attendance at the upcoming AGM of course, and the Minutes of the Meeting will be recorded with a view to putting them up in the Members Section of the website at a later date. Craig and Aimee Edmonds will also be invited along.
 
All Members and their spouses are welcome to come to the AGM. We don't envisage there being anything to vote about, but the topics of discussion will include such things as... the Syndicate's financial position; Saratoga's immediate future, and the ongoing auditing saga.
 
The AGM is also a chance for Members to air their views or concerns about any other matter relating to 'Trotting For Fun', and have it tabled and/or discussed in an open forum.
 
Please let me know if you intend to attend, because it's always helpful to get an indication of numbers. For those of you who can't, if there's anything you'd like brought up at the AGM then you're welcome to email either Noel (noel@goharness.co.nz) or me (john@goharness.co.nz) beforehand and we'll be sure to print it off and take it with us to the Meeting.
 
To our horses now, and Harriet Of Mot has begun jogging again in preparation to resume.
 
Hattie enjoyed a bit of 'R & R' in a lush paddock both before and after she travelled back to Christchurch, and co-trainer Aimee says the mare seemed happy to be in familiar surroundings again when she returned to their stables a few days ago.
 
"Yeah she had a good look around and let out a big loud neigh to announce her arrival," Aimee said with a smile.

"She's put on weight and is looking great."

Hattie should be ready for a run at the trials or workouts somewhere early next month, with her first two immediate targets being the Group 3 Summer FFA at Addington on February 17 followed by a defence of the Group 3 Southern Lights (which she won last year) at Ascot Park in March.
 
Across the Tasman, Adam Sanderson says Saratoga is likely to step out again at Albion Park next Tuesday (January 17).
 
If our trotter puts in another uncharacteristic performance like he did last start, Adam and your Management Committee all agree that it'll be time to re-evaluate his future - and this will become one of the points of discussion at the AGM.


(January 2)
 
Happy New Year everyone.

My apologies that Saratoga raced a week ago and you're only getting an update about it today, but I've actually been without internet so that threw a bit of a spanner in the works.
 
As you would've all seen from his run, our trotter put in a non-Saratoga-like performance when he dropped out after leading.
 
Adam Sanderson thought our best chance of beating the favourite (Senitas Success) was to get in front of him early, and Saratoga achieved this easily by blazing out of the gate and crossing to the pegs.

He looked to be coasting at the head of the pack too, but when the challengers came calling around the last bend our boy didn't have anything to offer.
 
"He just stopped," Adam said.
 
"I can't explain it either... he was really travelling in the lead but all of a sudden there was nothing there.
 
"I even took his heart rate afterwards and it was a lot lower than it normally is after a race," he added, signifying that lack of fitness or elevated stress levels can be ruled out as well.
 
Adam says all we can do is call it a 'bad day at the office' and turn the page, because Saratoga's mannerisms and signs since don't point to anything being wrong with him either.
 
He had a few extra days off after the run and will line up again soon, but Adam and I concur that another below-par performance will force us to think seriously about his future.
 
"That's what's so confusing about his latest run... usually he's keen and wants to be out there doing it, but this time he wasn't."
 
In other syndicate news, Harriet Of Mot has returned from the North Island in tip-top order.
 
She's currently enjoying a few days of rest before Craig and Aimee start putting the polish on her and aim towards a race at the end of the month.


(December 23)
 
Harriet Of Mot is coming home.
 
Much to everyone's dismay, she once again galloped unhindered at Alexandra Park last night so it was pretty easy afterwards to arrive at the conclusion "enough is enough".
 
Hattie will board a transporter on Tuesday, then once she arrives back at Craig and Aimee's stables a couple of days later they'll set down to the task of getting her formline heading in the right direction again.
 
It's not that she can't perform right-handed because she's won in Auckland before - but like the rest of us, Aimee has run out of patience.
 
"It's crap - she's just being a tart about the whole thing now," Aimee said this morning, the disappointment clearly evident in her voice.
 
"Once again there was just no excuse for it. Where she broke... she'd gotten around that part of the track plenty of times without an issue.
 
"Johnny (Dunn) said he could feel that she was about to gallop, but just couldn't do anything about it to stop her.
 
"So that's it, she won't be coming back here again."
 
No more future Auckland campaigns or Rowe Cups for our girl.
 
It might seem strange to pull the plug when we're only days away from an $80,000 Group 1 which was the main target all along, but Aimee says there's just no point - Hattie's not getting another chance to let us down again.
 
"She's training great, she's healthy and her weight is perfect, so we'll give her a couple of days to settle in back at home and then look at a race towards the end of January for her."


(December 20)
 
Aimee Edmonds left Alexandra Park earlier this afternoon with a smile on her face.
 
She'd just given Harriet Of Mot three separate little hitouts alongside a galloping pacemaker, all of them interspaced with recovery time in between.
 
None of them were very taxing of course, understandable when her next race is only a couple of days away, but the clear emphasis each time was on the final quarter - and, more importantly, that infamous last bend.
 
"Firstly she just had a quiet mile with the Murphy Blind on," Aimee said.
 
"Then I worked her over 2400 metres, and she ran her last quarter in twenty-eight and change; but she still got in a bit around the final bend.
 
"So then I put what they call a 'Curly' on her, which is just a pricker which wraps around the rein, and after a couple of quiet laps I asked her to sprint from the quarter - which she completed in a tick under thirty seconds.
 
"And I tell you what - she couldn't have trotted straighter if she tried!"
 
Our delighted co-trainer certainly covered all bases during the hitouts too, because she guided Hattie into the passing lane (inside the galloping pacemaker) on one of those occasions and let her stretch out to its outside on the other two.
 
"Hattie was nice and relaxed every time she went out on the track and came back in, too.
 
"So, once again it's up to her on Thursday now; there'll be no excuses."
 
Aimee reiterates that this week's race is all about erasing the demons of the past and getting Hattie around Alexandra Park in one piece.
 
Of course, if she brings her 'A' game against weaker opposition than what she's been up again lately, then she's got to be a big chance of running in the money - if not winning.
 
But unfortunately it's still only an 'if' at this stage, so go easy if you're thinking of opening the wallet or purse.
 
"She is a female after all," Aimee said with a smile, dearly wanting to believe that Hattie might've turned the corner (pun intended).
 
John Dunn will be in attendance as it turns out, so with tongue in cheek Aimee had to phone her partner Tim and tell him that he's 'not required' on this occasion.
 
Go Hattie - we know you can do it girl.


(December 19)
 
"Annoyed - and that's putting it mildly."
 
This is the way Adam Sanderson summed up Saratoga's effort in the Darrell Alexander Memorial Championship Final at Albion Park on Saturday night.
 
"There's just no reason for it either really.
 
"The only thing I can put it down to is he was in such a foul mood on the night; I don't know whether it was the heat during the day or what, because it had been a pretty hot one, but it was like he just couldn't be bothered.
 
"And of all the races to behave like that in as well. It's so frustrating, because he'd been building really nicely leading into it."
 
Saratoga missed a step at the start and it cost him a few lengths, but Adam wasn't concerned when he settled a little worse than midfield. Our big boy soon rolled out of his gait though, and broke again later too.
 
"The funny thing is, even after he broke the first time I still think he could've been right in it.
 
"Both the favourites met trouble, so the race was there for the taking; the horse that won it was one place ahead of us in the running line early on, so it should've been it and us fighting out the finish really.
 
"Weirdly, he still ran home strongly at the end. I couldn't believe he was only beaten by just over fifty metres, because he must've lost at least a hundred metres during both of his breaks combined.
 
"Even if he'd stayed down trotting after the first gallop he still should've been in the finish, that's what annoys me. He felt good enough, but then just broke again for no reason."
 
Adam says Saratoga has been "a box of fluffies" in the days since his race, not pulling up sore nor showing any ill-effects from the outing.
 
"We're just going to have to put it down to him having a bad night.
 
"I'll line him up again next Tuesday (December 27). It's a 2138m mobile, so if we draw the front line I think I might put the handlebars down and let them try and catch us."


(December 19)
 
Well, so much for the number 7 being lucky for Harriet Of Mot and Saratoga last Friday and Saturday.
 
In the end a couple of gallops put paid to our chances for dual Group 2 glory, and the salt in the wound was the fact that both trotters finished 13th - ironically the unluckiest number of all.
 
I haven't had the chance to catch up with Adam about Saratoga yet, but I did speak to Aimee earlier this afternoon. She's rather deflated, as all of us here at goHarness Headquarters are, but nevertheless she's staying committed to the cause of getting Hattie around Alexandra Park without breaking.
 
You would've all received today's HRNZ text already, and realise that she's lining up again on Thursday this week. The race wasn't part of Hattie's original programme, but Aimee wants our girl to prove a point and the extra appearance has become vital in the overall scheme of things.
 
"It's crunch time now," Aimee said.
 
"If she can't trot the journey over her next two starts then there's probably not much point us coming back here for the Rowe Cup next year.
 
"It just doesn't make any sense. It's not like she's doing at the start of her races or even halfway through them - on Friday it happened near the 600m mark.
 
"And Johnny (Dunn) says she was just cruising at the time, that's what makes it so frustrating!"

Hattie is in tip-top condition from head to toe, so unfortunately Aimee is fast running out of ideas about what might be causing her to leave her feet.
 
"We've had her teeth checked, and she's not sore anywhere either - I just don't know.
 
"I'm actually starting to think it might be psychological."
 
Not one to give in, Aimee is working overtime and taking Hattie to Alexandra Park tomorrow for a couple of private hitouts. She'll have a whole range of different gear in the bag, and will try various combinations in the hope that something will 'click'.
 
"She'll work over a quiet mile with a full (closed) Murphy Blind on, then if she's still hanging in I'll put the pole back on her and try something else.
 
"I just want her to get her confidence back, and that's why she's lining up on Thursday night.
 
"She gets in quite well under the conditions too, being 'only' off thirty-five metres.
 
"The focus is still the big race on New Year's Eve though, so Thursday will be all about getting her around in one piece."
 
Aimee acknowledges that the Flying Mile at Cambridge on Christmas Eve was also another racing option, but while Hattie is in 'right-hand mode' it makes no sense take her out of the mindset because it wouldn't solve the problem.
 
Regular pilot John Dunn won't be travelling north on Thursday - or Saturday night either for that matter - so Aimee will once again be handing the racenight duties to Tim Williams.
 
I'll send out another email after I hear from Aimee about Hattie's experimental morning tomorrow.


(December 15)
 
There's no doubting that Harriet Of Mot's Group 2 event tomorrow night is going to be a lot harder than the race she threw away last Friday.
 
But co-trainer Aimee Edmonds has done everything she can to prepare Hattie for the first of her two big tests this side of 2017, and is positively philosophical.
 
"I'll be happy just to see her get round really," Aimee said.
 
Hattie has undergone some more gear adjustments in the last seven days, for the simple fact that in her heart of hearts Aimee knows they're so close to coming up with the right formula - and once everything clicks, we'll see the real Hattie on racenight again for sure!
 
Gone is the pole she's been wearing, replaced by a sharp rein pricker and bit pricker; she's got heavier shoes on in front as well, and completing the changes is the addition of a shadow roll across her nose.
 
Hattie's been working in her new racenight attire all week and has adapted well to it, with Aimee choosing the shadow roll to help her concentrate and keep her mind on the job.
 
"Not that I'm using it as an excuse, but when I watched the replay there seemed to be something on the track which she may've spotted around the home bend.
 
"It could've been a shadow, a bit of horse poo or a mark of some sort - and I just wondered if she caught it out of the corner of her eye.
 
"The shadows can be quite bad around Alexandra Park at times... I remember we had Kincaslough up here once, and she would've won had she not jumped a shadow and galloped one night.
 
"Plus we'll have Johnny back in the sulky this week, so maybe he'll have a suggestion if he thinks there's any further adjustments we need to make."
 
One thing's for certain, every horse is different and they always keep trainers on their toes as they fine tune what works and what doesn't. Hats off to Aimee, because she's obviously trying her best to get Hattie to show hers.
 
"Yeah she's good... she's bright, healthy and happy so I couldn't ask for more in that respect.
 
"It's up to her now."
 
Funny how Harriet Of Mot will wear saddlecloth 7 tomorrow - because across the Tasman the following evening, Saratoga's circumstances are riddled with the same number.
 
For starters it'll be December the seventeeth, and he's number seven in race seven which is timed to start at seventeen past 11 (our time).
 
"I'm really happy with him," Adam Sanderson said this afternoon.
 
"He's definitely improved with the two runs under his belt, and I'd say he's a hundred percent for this Series Final.
 
"At home he's been bowling along great all week, and his attitude's good too - he wants to be out there."
 
Adam says the horses to beat on Saturday are Releven Dream and Visualise, but adds that they've both also got tricks up their sleeves and could just as easily break and take no part.
 
Not that we're wishing bad things on the opposition, but we'll take any bit of good fortune that comes our way - especially when a stake of $40,000 and a Group 2 title is up for grabs.
 
"I would've preferred drawing a little closer in, but he'll step away like he usually does and put himself in a good spot and then we'll see what happens from there.
 
"He's a big chance of getting a decent slice of it."


(December 12)
 
Aimee Edmonds felt like a disappointed mum in the aftermath of Harriet Of Mot's race at Alexandra Park last Friday night.
 
She'd done her bit, arriving oncourse with a mare that looked pristine and ready to rumble; partner Tim Williams did his bit too, getting Hattie away safely and then positioning her beautifully in the one-one as they waited for their moment to pounce.
 
When it came though, the prodigal daughter let the rest of the team down - ducking in slightly as she came around the bend, rolling into a gallop, and throwing a win out the window.
 
Even if Hattie could talk, there wouldn't have been many words exchanged between her and mum Aimee while the latter was getting her cleaned up afterwards.
 
"Tim said she was travelling easy and would've won untouched by at least three lengths," Aimee lamented.
 
"I was actually a little bit annoyed with her, because there's just no excuses for that.
 
"She's not sore anywhere, and I even had the vet look over her as well but he couldn't find anything wrong either.
 
"She's a bit of thinker, but she's had enough experience and has been round Alexandra Park before so she should've just been able to keep her concentration and get through it.
 
"Time for a bit of 'tough love' I reckon."
 
I feel for Aimee, because leading up to last Friday's race she even took precautions to counteract the possibility of Hattie ducking in by adding a pole to her attire.
 
Hattie isn't asked to go racenight speed on the training track of course, but the frustrating thing is that once she got used to wearing the pole she never showed a tendency to do anything but run straight at home.
 
Aimee's not one to shirk a challenge though, and as a result our girl has undergone a couple of 'moderations' in preparation for her next appearance this Friday night...
 
"Tim said Hattie felt a bit 'floaty' around the last bend, so I've had her fitted with some heavier shoes on her front feet.
 
"And I'll put another pricker on, over top of the one she's already got; it just makes it a bit thicker and gives her less of an incentive to go near it."
 
Like any parent, Aimee quickly forgave Hattie for her misbehaviour but hasn't forgotten about it. Similarly, like the child in the equation, Hattie ironically hasn't put a foot wrong since.
 
"She's perfect; eating and drinking everything put in front of her," Aimee said this morning.
 
"She had Saturday off, jogged yesterday, and fast-worked really good today."
 
Hattie's opposition this week are decidedly tougher - Marcoola, Bordeaux, Sunny Ruby and Kyvalley Blur all being amongst the nominations for the $40,000 Group 2 Lyell Creek Stakes.
 
Aimee sees that as a positive though, because there will be "more going on around her" and it's also likely to result in a steady tempo over the 2200m trip.
 
"We all know she's good enough," our co-trainer said.


(December 9)
 
Saratoga added one more placing to his formline with another game effort for third at Albion Park yesterday afternoon.
 
I'm quite annoyed that we were left to tune into the radio to hear his race, and catch the replay later. The TAB's coverage of Australian harness racing is all over the place... one week they televise it, the next week they don't - crikey, give us some consistency please!
 
Anyway, all rants aside, our big boy did us proud and made certain that he'll be amongst the starters in next Saturday night's $40,000 Darrell Alexander Memorial Final at the same venue.
 
Adam rang me last night with his views on the run, saying that once again Saratoga broke a piece of his gear during those fidgety pre-start moments behind the tape.
 
"This time it was the boring pole," he said, the frustration clearly evident in his voice.
 
"He snapped it clean in half, so I just took it off him and he went round without one.
 
"But I was really happy with the way he felt during the run, and how he trotted.
 
"Getting the passing lane doesn't suit him as much as others either, because he tends to run out a bit up the straights; those other two (Releven Dream and Melpark Royal Son) just had a bit more momentum up by the time he got trucking.
 
"I'm just glad to have him back to somewhere near his best again - he's happy to be out there doing it, too."
 
Adam says Saratoga improved during the week after his outing last Friday, and added to the natural progression our trotter will take out of yesterday's race he's expecting him to be "pretty near perfect" when the big stake is up for grabs next weekend.
 
The Trotting For Fun Syndicate's focus now switches to Alexandra Park tonight, and Harriet Of Mot.
 
She's the favourite of course, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that barring incidents and accidents she's got to be a big chance of running in the money - a win would be the icing on the cake, and top off a pretty good couple of days for the syndicate.
 
Go Hattie!


(December 7)
 
Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds says Harriet Of Mot is right where she wants her to be as she prepares to kick off her latest Auckland campaign this Friday night.
 
The small field is in our girl's favour, but what it lacks in numbers is more than compensated by the talent amongst her rivals.

Aimee expects Hattie to go well and she could even win, but just keep in mind that the outing will improve her heading into the 'bigger fish to fry' targets on December 16 and 31.
 
The weight which Hattie lost during her trip north is now back on, an issue which Aimee addressed by adding yoghurt to her diet over the last week or so.

"Yeah she's got her appetite back and is now looking for the feed bin in her box every time," Aimee said with a smile.
 
"I gave her a good hitout this morning (Wednesday) and she worked great. Plus her heart rate was good afterwards too, so I'm pretty happy with where she's at."
 
With regular pilot John Dunn being in Perth for the Inter-Dominions, Hattie's reins will be getting handed to 'Driver Choice #2' - Aimee's partner Tim Williams. We're certainly not losing anything in the skill department there.
 
And in addition to the guy sitting behind her being different, Hattie will also be wearing a new piece of gear - a pole, fitted to her nearside.
 
"She just ducked in a couple of times around the home bend when we were up here last year, so I'm hoping the pole will fix those tendencies," Aimee continued.
 
"I've been working her in it, and I wouldn't exactly say she's thrilled about it but she's warming to the idea."
 
Tim's driven Hattie once before, winning on her at the Rangiora trials last October, so he's not exactly a stranger to her ability. And (tongue in cheek) I'm sure he'll take onboard the instructions from the lady in charge, too.
 
"He'll be looking after her," Aimee said, once again in reference to Hattie's upcoming Group race targets.
 
"Monnay pinged along at a good clip last week, so if it does the same again then Hattie wouldn't want to be too far off them.
 
"As long as she does everything right though, I'd expect her to be in the finish."
 
For those of you who are able to get along to Alexandra Park on Friday, the Auckland T.C. have informed us that you're entitled to a complimentary drink in the Owners' Enclosure prior to Hattie's race. Tickets to the stabling area and racebooks can be picked up from the Racenight Reception area on the ground floor of the main function centre.
 
As usual, our 'man on the scene' will be northern syndicate member Pedro Petersen. He and his partner Jan will be congregating in and around the Lyell Creek Lounge, so anyone who wants to be a part of Hattie's support crew on the night is welcome to call him on 027 449-6960 to arrange.
 
Don't forget we've got Saratoga going round at Albion Park tomorrow afternoon as well, in race five at 5:33pm our time.


(December 5)
 
Adam Sanderson was "more than happy" with Saratoga's fighting and close third at Albion Park last Friday night.
 
"Initially I was a tad disappointed that he didn't get second, but when I saw how fast they went and took into consideration it was his first race for four weeks, I was pretty satisfied," Adam said this evening.
 
"He did a bit of work early and it was 2647 metres as well, he just felt the pinch over the last wee bit; a 2:02.5 mile rate though - that's flying around here.
 
"Definitely a step in the right direction, put it that way."
 
Saratoga didn't do himself any favours by rearing just as the tapes were released, resulting in him going round with a broken overcheck.
 
"Yeah, it snapped on landing - that's how fiercely he throws his head forward when he does rear.
 
"He was playing up at the start; he never likes standing still for too long. Thankfully he came down evenly and stepped straight into a trot."
 
Saratoga was "bucking and kicking around his paddock" while he enjoyed a day off on Saturday, which is just the sort of evidence that Adam likes to see because it means our big boy came through the run well.
 
He had a wee jog yesterday and this morning, will do some pacework on the lead tomorrow, and stretch the legs again on Wednesday - that should see him pretty right for his last Heat of the Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship.
 
Strangely, the two scheduled racemeetings at Albion Park this Friday and Saturday have been brought forward a day, meaning Saratoga will race on Thursday instead.
 
"They're doing something to the track I think," Adam says.
 
"He got thirteen points last week, so he's pretty much guaranteed to make the Final - things would have to go drastically wrong for him not to.
 
"There'll be a bit of action on Thursday too, because a few of the more favoured runners didn't do as well as expected and are all chasing now.
 
"The Heats are only 2138 metres this week, and that makes it pretty hard for those off big handicaps. We get to start off the front throughout the Series.
 
"Saratoga will strip a little bit fitter this time, and once Thursday's run is under the belt that should see him perfect for the Final the following week."


(December 2)
 
Adam Sanderson says he'll be scratching his head if Saratoga doesn't put in a better effort at Albion Park this afternoon.
 
Saratoga's race is at a more respectable time today (5:20pm our time), and thankfully we're in race five because according to the TAB website their televised coverage of the Queensland racemeeting ceases from race six onwards.
 
"He seems really well actually," Adam said yesterday.
 
"He's eating good and working good, so I'm hoping he'll step quickly off his front mark and put himself in the picture.
 
"There's a couple of nice ones in it, but if he brings his 'A game' then he's up to most of them; the favourite (Our Overanova) has to give us forty metres."

"The longer trip should suit him more than most too, so I'll be happy if he's running on strongly at the end."
 
Saratoga's race today is one of two Heats for the Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship, where contestants earn points ranging from 16 for first right down to one for running 12th. There's another two rounds of Heats next Friday night (Dec 9), and then the top 14 point-scorers overall will get to to line up in the $40,000 Final on the following Saturday (Dec 17).
 
Adam's been trying a few different things lately as he attempts to get Saratoga to regain his best form again, so I take my hat off to him; it can't be easy training a horse with as many 'issues' as Saratoga is unfortunately plagued with.
 
One of those is his weight... Saratoga always looks a picture onscreen whenever I see him, and these days carries a lot more condition than when he first arrived at Adam's stables.
 
Ironically though, being big and strong might actually be working against our boy - so Adam's knocked his feed back by a quarter, and has reverted back to working him mainly on the lead between racnight appearances instead of in the cart.
 
"It's funny, because what seemed to be the right formula (of feed and work) six months ago has now changed.
 
"He's dropped a few kilos since he last raced, and is looking great."


(November 28)
 
Harriet Of Mot won't be lining up at Alexandra Park this Friday night after all.
 
Co-trainer Aimee Edmonds touched down in Auckland yesterday after a long flight back from Perth, and when I talked to her this morning she said she'd prefer to 'err on the side of caution' and not start Hattie this week.

"It was good to see her and she was pretty happy to see me too," Aimee said with a smile.
 
"I worked her this morning and she went good, but she's just a little bit lighter (in condition) than what I would've wanted her to be like, heading into a race - and you can probably put that down to her having a longer than normal road trip getting up here.
 
"Missing this Friday night isn't a big deal in the whole scheme of things though, not when her two main targets aren't until the 16th and 31st anyway."
 
So by all accounts, Hattie will have a race at Alexandra Park next Friday night (9th) instead and that should see her pretty right for the $40,000 Group 2 Lyell Creek Stakes (2200m mobile) a week later.
 
"If I'm happy enough with how she puts on weight this week, I might even take her to the Pukekohe track on Saturday for a quiet trial," Aimee said.
 
But while one half of the syndicate's horses won't be going into combat this Friday night, the other half is expected to.

Saratoga has recovered from being slightly under the weather and is scheduled to line up at Albion Park the same evening.
 
"I can't fault him and he seems as good as gold again," Adam Sanderson says.
 
"I had originally nominated him for a race on Tuesday (tomorrow), but it never got off the ground due to insufficient entries so he'll go round on Friday instead.
 
"He's mainly just been on the lead since he last raced, but he's working good and looks great."


(November 23)
 
Harriet Of Mot is back in familiar surroundings at Ray Green's training establishment in Tuakau, south of Pukekohe.
 
Craig Edmonds dropped her off at the Majestic/Inter-Island Christchurch Depot in the early hours of last Sunday morning, and by the following evening she had the feel of North Island grass under her hooves.
 
"There were no flights so she went by road," Craig said this morning.
 
"I've only talked to the Majestic staff, but apparently she's travelled up good, eaten up everything, and was bucking and kicking on the lead the next day."

Robert Dunn is also bunking down at Ray Green's with a team that he's setting for the upcoming Auckland carnival, so he's keeping an eye on our girl in the meantime - just until this Sunday, when Aimee returns from Perth to be reunited with her favourite horse.
 
Aimee and Craig will reassess things early next week, but as long as Hattie continues to settle in well and train to expectations then she'll line up at Alexandra Park on December 2 as anticipated.


(November 15)
 
Brace yourself North Island Syndicate Members, Harriet Of Mot is on her way back to see you!
 
An Auckland campaign is next on the list for our girl after her brave seventh in the record-run Dominion Handicap at Addington last Friday.
 
We have every reason to be proud of Hattie for her latest performance, because after doing everything right in the Group 1 stunner it's fair to say that things just didn't pan out.
 
Three and then four-back on the outer, John Dunn asked Hattie to make a move as the mile peg flashed by; Amaretto Sun pushed out ahead of them and gave them a brief tow forward, but no sooner had the latter crossed to the parked position when its driver 'hunted up' to leave us camped out three-wide.
 
Why someone wouldn't take a one-one sit with more than 1000 metres to run in an energy-sapping two mile event is beyond me - especially when a mare of Hattie's class was the one that came calling, because there was no fear of her stopping and dragging anyone back.
 
Amaretto Sun was gone 500 metres later and started to drift, and when Hattie surged forward towards the leader Bordeaux around the home bend we looked set for an 'in the money' finish.
 
Having been left three-wide without cover since the winning post a lap earlier took its toll though, as you'd expect when the last mile was run in 1:57 flat, and Hattie kept fighting but couldn't fend off those who joined in with fresh legs.
 
"She's come through it really well," co-trainer Craig reported yesterday.
 
"It's just a shame that she had to work hard all the way around that Showgrounds bend; if she'd have gotten some cover I think she probably would've run in the first four.
 
"The two that she dragged up behind her (in the three-wide train) ran first and second, too."
 
The speed in the Dominion was so torrid that the first eight horses home all bettered the previous National Record for 3200m from a stand, which was 4:02.9 and set by Stylish Monarch when he downed the hotpot I Can Doosit in the very same race six years ago.
 
Hattie actually clocked 4:02.8 in finishing 11 lengths back, which by comparison was also 'unofficially' 2.1 seconds inside the NZ Record for a mare - set by Petite One on Cup Day last season.
 
So, as I said, plenty of reasons for us to be proud of our girl.
 
Apart from a couple of grass track meetings at Orari and Methven on November 26 and December 4 respectively, Craig says there's not much locally for Hattie until mid to late next month (at Addington) so she may as well head north.
 
She can race for $15,000 at Alexandra Park on the first two Friday nights during December, with her northern campaign culminating in the $40,000 Group 2 Lyell Creek Stakes (2200m mob) on the 16th and $80,000 Group 1 National Trot (2700m mob) on New Year's Eve.
 
The added attraction of course is that a certain horse by the name of Monbet won't be hunting down the latter two events; he's gone out for a spell after his stupendous Cup Week deeds.
 
Excuse the pun, but travel arrangements for getting a horse to Auckland are rather 'up in the air' at the moment in the wake of the terrible earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks which continue to batter the Kaikoura region, forcing the temporary closure of the main road north (State Highway 1).
 
Hence, 'the air' might be our only option of getting Hattie up there. Craig says she's ready to go anytime soon, so he'll keep an eye on developments and then make whatever arrangements are necessary to get to her the North Island in time for a start on December 2.
 
Like this time last year, Hattie will stay at Ray Green's establishment and then be reunited with her other co-trainer Aimee who'll stay by her side for the duration of her Auckland campaign.
 
Aimee is currently in Perth for the Inter-Dominions, having been asked at the last minute to accompany her sister Jenna's horse Franco Nelson on the trip. Aimee will be flying back to Auckland at about the same time that Hattie arrives up there, so the timing looks like it'll work out perfectly.


(November 10)
 
Saratoga put in an indifferent performance when he faded out to run last of nine at Albion Park on Saturday night.
 
I apologise that's it taken so long to send out a follow-up, but it's been a busy ol' time with Cup Week and the like.
 
Adam Sanderson had been waiting on some bloodtest results as well, because despite being caught three-wide when he made a move, by his usual standards Saratoga's run last weekend was too bad to be true and our trainer understandably wanted to take him to the local Vet Clinic and have him checked out.
 
"He just stopped too quick," Adam said.
 
"It's unfortunate that the other driver hunted up to camp us three-wide, but I still think he should've fought on a little bit better than he did."
 
The test results came back late yesterday afternoon, and they reveal he's harbouring a minor bug. Saratoga's been treated, and although nothing serious it does go some way towards explaining his effort.
 
Adam will keep our big boy ticking over and in racing trim while he finishes his course of antibiotics, and then he'll be lining up again sometime in about a fortnight.


(November 9)
 
Aimee Edmonds says Harriet Of Mot is "right where we want her to be" heading into Friday's Dominion Handicap.
 
Aimee rang me earlier today, soon after they'd given Hattie her final hitout for the $260,000 Group 1 thriller, and couldn't be happier with our girl as she prepares for the biggest test of her career.
 
"Yeah she seems fine," Aimee said.
 
"Her blood was good on Monday when we had it checked; she worked really well this morning, and her heart rate was good afterwards too.
 
"So, everything's pointing in the right direction."
 
Hattie was "a wee bit in season today", which although not ideal it's something which Aimee and Craig aren't worried about.
 
"She was like that before she went to Invercargill and won down there, so we won't be using it as an excuse.
 
"Hopefully she'll be over all of that by Friday anyway."
 
Aimee was on-course at Addington yesterday to enjoy Cup Day from a spectator's point of view, and like everyone she thought Monbet showed true champion qualities to get past Marcoola late in the piece.
 
He's the horse to beat in the Dominion, no doubt, but Aimee's been in the game long enough to know there's no such thing as a certainty.
 
"Every horse has got a chance," she says matter-of-factly, adding that all Hattie needs is a little bit of luck in the running - or, more precisely, no bad luck.
 
"A lot is going to depend on the draw too. Like, if Monbet jumps straight to the front then there's unlikely to be many wanting to take him on - ideally you don't really want to be sitting parked outside him either.
 
"I just hope that it's a fast-run race like most of them were yesterday, then Hattie might be able to use her 'sit-sprint'; Johnny (Dunn) has got a few options with a horse like her though.
 
"The weather's going to play a part as well, because the forecast isn't looking great.
 
"It's all up to her now."
 
With regards to lanyards for Show Day, Addington Raceway and the NZMTC have very kindly allocated 20 for our syndicate.
 
These will get you in the gate (normally $10) and give you access to Floors 1 (Christian Cullen Lounge) and 2 (Silks Level) of the main grandstand - but not Spectators.
 
Hence, my suggestion is that for those of you who intend going, we all congregate in and around the Christian Cullen Lounge.
 
If you haven't already made your own arrangements for the day (tickets etc) and would like a lanyard, please email me ASAP and I'll start taking names. Unfortunately the fairest way to do it is on a 'first in, first served' basis.
 
As was the case last year, I'll be picking these up myself from the Ticketing Office at Horncastle Arena on the day and re-distributing them amongst the Members they've been allocated to (by me).
 
I'll be there by 11:00am, an hour before the first race, and I'll meet the Members concerned outside the nearest entrance point to the racetrack and hand out the lanyards. Out of courtesy, please organise yourself to be at the meeting point between 11:00am and 11:15am so that I can hand you your lanyard and head on-course myself.
 
Please do not, and I repeat DO NOT, head into the Horncastle Ticketing Office and ask for lanyards yourself. They know who I am in there, and our package of 20 is under strict instructions to only be handed over to me and no-one else.
 
As for tickets to the stabling area, these are also being given to me to hand out once we're settled on-course (i.e. once again, please don't go and ask for them yourself).
 
Sorry to come across as 'regimental' about all of this, but Addington have strict policies as far as lanyards and tickets etc are concerned for their two biggest racedays of the season and we have to respect them.
 
All I have to say in closing is... go Hattie!!! Win, lose or draw - having a runner in the biggest trotting race on the calendar is a proud moment for goHarness regardless.


(November 4)
 
The first 200 metres of Saratoga's race at Albion Park tomorrow night is going to have a large bearing on where he finishes.
 
Saratoga's visits to his local racetrack have always been hindered by him hanging in a little bit around the corners and also running out a tad up the straights, but Adam Sanderson has been able to counteract the tendencies by "steering him through it".
 
Last week though, when our big boy resumed, he was a bit worse than usual and that's why he didn't eat into his handicap as quickly as he normally would.
 
"It left me scratching my head a bit," Adam said this afternoon.
 
"I don't know - maybe he just got a bit 'racey' and unbalanced due to it being his first run back.
 
"He doesn't do it at home either; he works perfectly around our track, and I can't fault him."
 
Adam's going to try an additional piece of gear on Saratoga tomorrow night, fitting him with a Murphy Blind on his nearside.
 
"He's worked good in it all week," our trainer continued.

"As I said, he's been doing everything perfectly around home. I've had him in the cart three times.

"I'll just have to see how he trots the first furlong tomorrow night, but if he's away well and trotting squarely then I'll probably put him in the race."
 
And if that's what transpires, Adam says Saratoga will take some catching.
 
"I'm really happy with him.
 
"He's trimmed up a bit since that first run too, because when I put him in the cart again for the first time on Tuesday I noticed that his saddle (which buckles up under his belly) had come up a hole.
 
"So that's always a good sign."


(November 1)
 
Harriet Of Mot may've ruined her chances with a late gallop in yesterday's South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura, but there were still a lot of positives to take home with us.
 
First and foremost, she got away. Of all the spots she could've drawn, being first into line and just metres away from the buzzing crowd was far from ideal. But she handled it like a pro, proving that she's matured a lot in this department, and began safely albeit a bit slowly.
 
And this was even after she reared up just seconds before the tapes were released.
 
Secondly, Hattie kept her feet heading around the first bend when a rival suddenly broke in front of her, and she and driver John Dunn had to squeeze around it in pretty tight quarters; another tick in my book.
 
Shortly afterwards, John edged her into the running line to avoid the potential of any further trouble - and to wait for cover to come around. Unbelievably though, nothing ever moved.
 
Faced with no other option but to mooch forward as the 800m peg came and went, Hattie edged closer to the pacemaking Bordeaux but then ducked in nearing the home bend and became unbalanced, rolling in a gallop soon afterwards.
 
It's worth noting that the bends at Kaikoura are quite flat and nowhere near as naturally cambered as other racecourses, and quite a few horses have trouble getting around them in one piece - especially at speed.
 
They weren't exactly going slow either, because Bordeaux's time was just three-tenths of a second outside the NZ Record.
 
"She was alright the first time around but we were going a lot quicker the second time," John said on his return.
 
"She still felt super out there today though."
 
So, as far as public appearances heading into the Dominion Handicap are concerned - that's it for Hattie now.

"We'll just do the rest of her preparation at home," Craig and Aimee said afterwards.
 
"Today was 'just one of those things'. She's had a good blow, so it's the run that she needed and will improve her (fitness-wise) a bit more."
 
Across the Tasman now, and Adam Sanderson says "nothing panned out" the way he'd hoped during Saratoga's resumption at Albion Park on Saturday night.
 
Appearing without our goHarness colours on - which Adam humbly apologised for, admitting that it'd "been so long since I'd needed to grab them out of the wardrobe" - Saratoga didn't trot as evenly as he can early on but then eventually warmed into his rhythm and settled three-deep.
 
And there he stayed, his position becoming a pocket as the horses in front of and beside Saratoga started to falter from the home turn and left our big boy with nowhere to go as the 'action' got further and further out of reach.
 
"It annoyed me actually," Adam said when I spoke to him last night.
 
"He wouldn't have run in the money, but he'd have got a lot closer to them."
 
Bad luck aside, Adam didn't want Saratoga to have too hard a run in his first racenight appearance for four and a half months - so in that respect it was 'mission accomplished', and might've been a blessing in disguise considering the winner's gone a tick over a 2:00 mile rate from a stand.
 
"He's come through it great, as you'd expect.
 
"Originally I wasn't going to back him up again this week, but because he hardly had a run I've nominated him for another race on Saturday night.
 
"I'll see how he is during the week before deciding if we go or not."


(October 27)
 
Saratoga is "not without a chance" of getting some money when he resumes at Albion Park this Saturday night (12:37am on Sunday morning, our time).
 
I spoke to Adam Sanderson last night, and he says our big boy is very well heading into the weekend.

"There's a couple of nice ones in the field but it's not as strong as I thought it might be," he said.
 
"We're drawn the inside (off 10 metres), so a lot depends on what the ones in front of him do but we'll probably end up on the fence."
 
Being Saratoga's first run back, he'll understandably improve with the outing. And for the same reason, Adam's not exactly keen on tearing off around them either; it'd be different if Saratoga had already had a couple of runs this campaign, but on this occasion he'll be endeavouring to give our trotter a nice economical trip.
 
"I just want him to enjoy being back at the races again, which I'm sure he will.
 
"If things go his way there's every chance he could run home and get some money though, so maybe 'eachway' is the way to go."


(October 26)
 
Feel like a day in the sun? One that's filled with panoramic views of the South Island's East Coast, breathing in the sea air and watching our trotter contest a $30,000 Group 3 event?
 
Well, we've got just the ticket... Harriet Of Mot is off to Kaikoura next Monday!
 
Aimee rang with the news this morning, saying that she and Craig have opted for a trip to South Bay Racecourse instead of an appearance at the Addington Cup Trials 48 hours later.
 
They were tossing up between both venues for Hattie's last public appearance prior to the Dominion Handicap, and in the end the decision became an easy one judging by how she's been in the aftermath of her terrific run at Ashburton two days ago.

"If Hattie had been showing the slightest signs of being fatigued from Monday then we wouldn't have gone to Kaikoura," Aimee said.

"But she's really bright and happy, and we're rapt with how she's come through the race."
 
With the Dominion Handicap being the first main aim of Hattie's season, her programme is totally focussed around being as 'cherry ripe' for the occasion as possible.
 
And that's why our trainers feel Hattie will benefit greatly from having another 'actual' race instead of what could've just turned out to be a quiet run at the trials. They discussed things with driver John Dunn as well of course, and he's fully in agreeance.
 
"I was so proud of her run on Monday, and so was Johnny - he said she felt great.
 
"She'll improve out of that run at Ashburton, and will tighten up even a little bit more after we go to Kaikoura.
 
"It's another decent trip on the float, as opposed to just a half-hour journey to Addington. We've checked the forecast as well, and it's not supposed to be too hot on the day so she can just tootle up there in the morning and it won't take anything out of her.
 
"Plus with no Monbet there, it's the chance to go somewhere and get a bit of money - a lot of the horses' owners and trainers are probably thinking the same.
 
"But it's not about that... we just want her to do everything right and get another run under her belt - if she happens to win some stakes as well, then that's just a bonus."
 
For those of you who'll be ringside for the second of Kaikoura's two-day meeting next Monday, I'll look forward to seeing you there.


(October 25)
 
Wow, what a run by Harriet Of Mot at Ashburton yesterday!
 
Showing obvious improvement from her outing at Methven eight days earlier, Hattie fought like a tiger up the home straight and it took the best trotter in Australasia the entire length of it to get past her.
 
Pre-race intentions went out the window somewhat when Habibti and One Over Da Moon were withdrawn, because this put our girl one all-important possie closer to the rail at the start - and there was less pressure coming from out wider early too.

Hattie never looked like putting a foot wrong in the run to the first bend, then driver John Dunn summed the situation up brilliantly when he landed parked because he knew the lead was there if he wanted it.
 
Given rein to take the front, Hattie kept ticking along at a furious clip - and no sooner had she relaxed when she got some attention from Marcoola, which saw the field speed down the back in 27.7 for the second-to-last quarter.
 
But despite all the petrol spent, Hattie fended off the challenge of Marcoola and for a while it looked lilke she had the rest of them covered too; there was no shame whatsoever in succumbing late to the big loping strides of a horse like Monbet though - after all, he's a champion.
 
And in all fairness, had the latter not got a bit lucky when the trailer galloped around the last turn - which allowed Monbet to slot into the one-one for a brief 'breather' behind Marcoola instead of being stuck three-wide - the result might well have been a lot closer, if not the other way around.

Our pilot was certainly of that opinion, anyway.
 
What I also liked about John's drive is that he didn't knock Hattie around near the finish either. Having trotted her last quarter in 28.6, Hattie was giving as much as her current fitness levels allowed and was strong all the way to the line.
 
Yep, hats off to Hattie because she's gone super. The Group 3 event was won in a race record time of 1:55.2, and they don't go much faster either... the national record for a male trotter is 1:54.5, held jointly by Stent and Cyclone U Bolt, whereas Sunny Ruby holds the female record at 1:54.7 - just half a second quicker than Hattie's individual time of 1:55.4 yesterday.
 
Craig and Aimee were so proud of Hattie's effort, as we all were no doubt, and they'll monitor her mannerisms over the next day or so before deciding on her final programme heading into the Dominion on Show Day.
 
Aimee inferred that yesterday's performance may well mean a trip to Kaikoura is no longer needed, and perhaps they can top off her build-up with a run at the Cup Trials. This is still all to be confirmed though.
 
One thing that finishing second did guarantee though, is Hattie's ranking for the big Group 1 on November 11. Prior to Ashburton she was 16th in the pecking order for the 15-horse field, but now she's safely up to ninth and in no danger of missing out on her chance of a re-match against the greats.
 
She did more work than anything else in the race yesterday, and only one of them was able to get past her - one that had cover everywhere he went.
 
Sure, Monbet had experienced an interrupted preparation leading into the race and will improve with it - but so will we, Craig and Aimee said that all along.
 
Bring it on, I say.


(October 21)
 
We don't need a rocket scientist to work out that Harriet Of Mot's next outing is going to be the toughest one of her career.
 
Monday's Group 3 The Pres Flying Mile has attracted a star-studded field - made up of last season's Horse of the Year (Monbet), the emerging star (Marcoola), last year's winner of the event who's mixing racing with a stud career (One Over Da Moon) and the always dangerous sit-sprint mare Sunny Ruby, not to mention 10 other trotters that anyone would be proud to own.
 
One of them is our girl Hattie, but despite the daunting task ahead she's not without a chance of finding her way into the finish.
 
"She seems really bright and has been eating well all week," co-trainer Aimee reported yesterday.
 
"She's definitely trimmed up a bit since Methven and will strip fitter, but in saying that she'll benefit again from Monday's outing.
 
"It was always going to take her a few runs to reach top fitness; there's a few horses in the same boat as us - still on the way up."
 
Hattie had last Monday off after her first-up fourth, and her usual programme continued this week with jogs on Tuesday, Wednesday and fast-work yesterday morning.
 
She'll have a quiet bowl-around to stretch the legs again tomorrow, and that should see her in fine fettle when Craig and Aimee load her onto the float on Monday and set a course for the fastest track in the country.
 
Not that anyone can ever predict how a race is going to unfold until it happens, Aimee says it's unlikely that Hattie will push forward during the early rush.
 
"There's a lot of speed inside her and outside her, so Johnny (Dunn) will probably just keep her steady heading into that first bend and then see where we end up," Aimee said, adding that every outing is about building and maintaining Hattie's confidence.
 
"Hopefully she'll land in a good spot, and if she's not too far away turning for home then there's no reason why she can't finish amongst them."
 
And as for the programme between now and Show Day's Dominion Handicap, that's still to be decided.
 
"We'll just wait and see how she performs on Monday, how she comes through the race, and go from there.
 
"It may well mean we need to go to Kaikoura, or maybe a run at the Cup Trials will do. She'll soon tell us."
 
The Ashburton Trotting Club have kindly been in touch to let us know about owners' privileges for Monday.

Upon arrival at the course, just head to the Secretary's Office and tell them you're a Member of Hattie's syndicate... you'll be given a racebook and an owner's ribbon, which entitles you to a 20 percent discount on beverages at the bars upstairs (all day).
 
For those of you who are going, we look forward to seeing you there.


(October 18)
 
Adam Sanderson was 'over the moon' about how Saratoga trialled at Albion Park earlier this afternoon.
 
Away swiftly from his 60m handicap against two maiden rivals, Saratoga was in front after 200 metres and this allowed Adam to set the tempo he wanted.
 
"He felt terrific," Adam said, ringing me from the track during the racemeeting there.
 
"We went the first quarter (of the last mile) in 30.8; I gave him a bit of a breather for the next one in a tick over 32, then we came home in 29.1 and 28.8.
 
"He won it by about eighty metres, and went to the line on the bit - I didn't even pull the plugs or anything.
 
"It was a 2:03 mile rate overall, and that's about as good as you'd want for a trial," he added.
 
Our big boy also pleased Adam with how he was after today's outing...
 
"I gave him a walk in between races and he was fair dragging me around on the lead," he enthused.
 
Adam is now setting his sights on a resumption with Saratoga on Saturday week (October 29), where he says our trotter is "likely to run into a couple of good ones".
 
He won't be taking Saratoga off the place again before then though, and will just top off his preparation at home.
 
"As good as today's trial was, there's still nothing like an actual race to bring their fitness on that little bit more.
 
"I reckon he'll be ready to go pretty close when he lines up at his second start."


(October 18)
 
Saratoga's final public hitout before resuming at Albion Park on October 29 is happening this afternoon, at the same course.

He's in Heat 1 on the programme, a three-horse trial over 2138 metres where he'll start off a 60m handicap at approximately 3:07pm NZ time.
 
Adam Sanderson is pretty much 'at the mercy' of whether other trainers enter their horses for trials in between races, and that's why an anticipated appearance last Friday never got off the ground - there was only one mobile trial for pacers held on the day.

Adam also withdrew Saratoga from a similar trial this time last week, due to the lack of numbers, but he can't wait any longer to give our big boy a run 'off the place' so they're going today regardless.

"It's a bit of a pain in the backside but we've got to go somewhere," he said this morning.
 
"I'll be giving him a decent hitout today too, because I want to make sure he's pretty spot on for his next racing campaign.
 
"There's no race for his class of trotter on Tuesday or Friday next week, so we've got no other option but a 2138m standing start event on the Saturday.
 
"That night (October 29) will be all about just getting him round in one piece and ensuring he's happy to be back at the races, and it should top him off nicely for wherever he lines up after that."
 
Saratoga continues to please his trainer in the lead-up to his racenight resumption.
 
"Every time I see him he's looking and feeling better, he's great.
 
"I've been putting him in the cart a bit at home lately, and it's starting to trim off a bit of the excess weight he's carrying.
 
"He's really well."
 
Adam will endeavour to ring me later this afternoon with a report on how Saratoga performs today, so as soon as I hear I'll let you all know too.


(October 17)
 
Harriet Of Mot has come through yesterday's resumption at Methven in terrific order.
 
Aimee rang this morning to say that she and Craig were delighted with how our girl had pulled up after the run; Hattie was understandably a bit tired when she got home late afternoon, but by the time they let her out into her big paddock today she was full of beans again.
 
"We were really happy with her run," Aimee says.
 
"She got away well and did everything right, and Johnny (Dunn) said she trotted beautifully and steered beautifully too - he was rapt with how she felt."
 
The super quick tempo of yesterday's race made it almost impossible for any of those off the bigger handicaps to get into the finish, and Hattie actually punched well above her weight under the circumstances... only one horse that started behind her, finished in front of her.
 
"The three mares that beat her home have all had a bit of racing lately too," Aimee offered, a point accentuated by the fact that Twelve Monkeys was making her 12th appearance since the end of May; Le Lievre's Gift was having start number three this campaign, and Arya had racked up four races this season prior to yesterday.
 
"Johnny said she was chasing the whole way, and when that happens they don't really get a chance to catch their breath.
 
"But she never gave it in either, and kept trying all the way to the line."
 
Our trainers were also more than happy with Hattie's recovery, which they monitored by measuring her heart rate straight after the event, then again 10 minutes later, and one last time once they'd arrived home.
 
She just needs racing to top off the last 10-15 percent of her fitness levels from here onwards. The first main target for the season is the Dominion Handicap on Show Day, and Hattie's likely to have a couple more starts before the big Group 1.
 
She's been nominated for the Group 3 Flying Mile at Ashburton a week today, a race which just happens to be sponsored by Noel's stallion The Pres, and Aimee says they'll then "let Hattie tell us" what she needs to be cherry ripe for Cup Week.
 
There are two races Harriet Of Mot could line up in on Labour Day at Ashburton, the other being a C2 & Faster Trot where she'd be faced with another 30m or 40m handicap, but you can only nominate for one and at this stage our trainers are leaning towards the mobile.
 
"The mile is probably a better race for her to get under her belt, this far out from the Dominion, because in the other one she's likely to be chasing them off a long mark the whole way again," Aimee said, adding that they don't expect a mobile appearance to in any way 'undo' the standing start mode she needs to be in for Friday the 11th.
 
Safely through next Monday's assignment, the options leading up to Show Day include either Kaikoura on October 31 or an outing at the Cup Trials two days later.
 
Now that Harriet Of Mot's new season is underway, I just feel it's time to put things into perspective somewhat.
 
There's just no escaping 'the big guns' in any of Hattie's targets from here on in, and what we've got to keep in mind is that quite a few of her opposition are just as good as her, if not a little bit better - i.e., horses like Monbet and Marcoola are champions.
 
So the 5-year-old version of Harriet Of Mot isn't going to be able to dominate like she did when she rocketed through the lower classes last season. Horses always take at least 12 months to adjust to the top grade anyway, especially when they've got there as quick as Hattie has.
 
For mine, the mental and physical toughness she's going to garner from the 2016/17 season will prove invaluable for her career from the age of six onwards.
 
We won't get into the winner's circle with as much regularity as we did in the past, but one day we might just tear off a big one (or two). And let's not forget, it's still a great honour to have a horse who's good enough to contest the elite trotting events.
 
Just ask any owner who's never had a runner in the likes of a Dominion Handicap, a Rowe Cup, or any of the Trotting Free-For-Alls... they'd give their right arm to be in our shoes.


(October 11)
 
Harriet Of Mot's resumption is confirmed - she's off to Methven this Sunday.

Aimee rang with the news this morning, saying that Hattie has come through last weekend's workout win in great fashion.
 
"Yeah she had a little jog on Sunday and then another bowl around yesterday and is all good," Aimee said.
 
Methven was chosen over Addington for a couple of reasons...
 
"It's a 'better' grass track compared to others like Motukarara because it's a good hard base underneath with grass on top," Aimee continued, meaning that if the weather happened to turn nasty it wouldn't be too much of a 'slog' for the horses competing on the day.

She'll only be up against her own gender on Sunday too, whereas at Addington it was shaping up to be a slightly tougher field and hence there would've been a lot more pace on in the race.
 
And as Aimee points out, baring in mind that Hattie is "still on the way up", it makes sense not to subject her to a potentially gut-busting outing at her first appearance for the season.

"It'd be different if she'd already had a couple of runs under her belt," Aimee said.
 
"Hattie seemed to like the surface on Saturday too. When she surged to the front inside the last half, Johnny didn't even ask her to - she did that all herself."
 
We're all delighted that the wait to see Hattie again is over, and I'm sure Members will turn out in force to cheer for her on Sunday. I'll look forward to seeing you there.
 
In other news, Saratoga was supposed to have a trial run at Albion Park this afternoon in between races, but Adam's pulled him out due to the lack of numbers entered.
 
Saratoga would've gone up against just two others, so Adam didn't see much benefit in that and decided to leave him at home instead. Our big boy is likely to step out on Friday in between races.


(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:
  • Harriet Of Mot:
    Trial or workout in August
    -
Harriet Of Mot's career to date:
Starts: 30
Wins: 8
Placings: 6
Stakes: $88,786
Click here to be linked with Harriet Of Mot's details on the HRNZ website

 

Saratoga's career:
Starts: 63 (32 in Aus)
Wins: 12 (5 in Aus)
Placings: 25 (12 in Aus)
Stakes: $101,706 ($37,124 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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