2019 HARNESS JEWELS WRAP – A Family Affair

2019 HARNESS JEWELS WRAP – A Family Affair
TICKLE ME PINK - Breckon Farms bred, winner of The Good Home Pegasus 3YO Ruby

For the first time in the 12-year history of the Jewels, the weather didn't play its part, as the scene was set for the 13th edition the weather looked very ominous.

After 70mm of rain overnight, there was flooding by the 1000m point, that encroached onto the track, but fortunately this dissipated during the day, aided by a pump being in action for some time.

The weather mainly played its part during the days racing, other than a hail storm passing through, that added to the cold temperatures being experienced.

John Denton and his track staff did an amazing job in preparing the track for the days racing and with the track having been resurfaced only days before, it was placed in good sted to be able to handle the adverse weather conditions thrown at it.

The track certainly played its part, but several horses didn’t, with amazingly three false starts on the day.

In the first of the day, the 4YO Diamond, after the first of the false starts, it was the favourite and class mare Elle Mac (Bettor’s Delight / Goodlookinggirl) who was to reign supreme, winning in her last start for owner Jean Feiss. It was Elle Mac’s sixth Group 1 victory and she did it in fine fashion, being caught 4-wide early before going forward to sit parked just after the bell, then showing her superiority in the home straight to win in an overall time of 2:25.6 (Mile Rate 1:58.3) and home in 60.6 and 29.6, which reflected the early weather and track conditions, to win by 2 lengths. Elle Mac is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and was driven by Natalie.

It was confirmed soon after the race, that Elle Mac had been sold back to her breeders Breckon Farms. She was originally sold at the Yearling Sales for $51,000 and has now had 12 wins and 10 placings, for $607,678 in stakes.

Race 2 on the programme was the 2YO Ruby for the trotters and saw the second false start of the day, but with take-two not that much better the starter let them go. With several other breakers in the running, it was down to just four winning chances and the maiden Bolt For Brilliance (Muscle Hill / Toomuch To Do) ran home strongly down the outside in the home straight to get up for a very good win. The Breckon Farms – The Savvy Six Syndicate filly Tailored Elegance, did well to battle on for 5th placing after making an uncharacteristic mistake with about 1400m to go.

Bolt For Brilliance was at the longest odds of all winners on the day, paying $31.30 to win on the tote and trotted the 1980m distance in 2:30.2 (MR 2:02.0), with the closing sectionals in 60.7 and 28.6, to win by a head. This was the first win from just four starts for the gelding, who now has $66,964 in stake earnings. He is trained and was driven by Tony Herlihy.

The next race was the 2YO Diamond for the fillies and as expected was taken out in good style by the favourite Sweet On Me (Sweet Lou / Adore Me). She went out from her wide draw, but was 4-wide early before making the breeze. She remained parked throughout outside the leader Tiffany Rose and battled the back-straight wind well to hit the lead at the top of the home straight and go on for a very brave win.

Sweet On Me ran the 1980m journey in a time of 2:24.7 (MR 1:57.5) and home in 57.4 and 27.6, to win by 1¼ lengths. She now has 6 wins and 1 second, from just 7 starts, for stakes of $246,960, including two Group 1 wins and is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and was driven by Mark.

Race 4 was the 2YO Emerald and was taken out by leading 2-year-old colt and favourite for the race One Change (Bettor’s Delight / Changedown). He began well from barrier No.6, but couldn’t make the early lead, so was eased to sit parked before going forward to lead with about 1300m to run. He copped a bit of pressure from stablemate Dina Bolt down the back, but kicked at the top of the home straight to go on and win well, with commentator Mark McNamara saying, “You can trim the nose hairs, you're not going to need them today One Change" in reference to him winning his previous four starts by a nose on each occasion.

One Change’s time was 2:26.3 (MR 1:58.8), running home in 58.7 and 28.2, to win by 2¼ lengths. He is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and was driven by Natalie. Remarkably, this win gave the All Stars Stable their ninth win in the 2YO Emerald and also gave part-owner Trevor Casey his ninth win as an owner at the Harness Jewels – amazing records on both counts. Stablemate Flying Even Bettor finished well for 2nd placing and notably is owned and raced by the Breckon Racing Syndicate, together with Glenys & Phil Kennard, Jim & Ann Gibbs and Garry & Kerry Woodham.

One Change was bred at Breckon Farms by Rob Carr and Don Kirkbride and was sold at the Yearling Sales for $30,000 and now has 5-wins-from-5-starts, for stake earnings of $287,707, including two Group 1 wins.

Next up was the 3YO Ruby, taken out by star filly Tickle Me Pink (Muscle Hill / Luby Ann), raced by the Breckon Farms – The Perfect Ten Syndicate. She made the best beginning to be vying for the early lead, but was unable to get there, being held out by the Australian visitor All Cashed Up, until he broke heading into the first corner when about to settle in front. This left Tickle Me Pink in the lead and she remained there for the remainder of the race and held all at bay to go on for a very good win. But it did not come before the siren had sounded and she had to survive a potential protest, to take out her first Group 1 race.

Tickle Me Pink trotted the 1980m in 2:29.7 (MR 2:01.6), with the closing sectionals in 60.3 and 28.8, to win by a head. She has now had 8 wins and 1 third from only 11 starts, being 4-from-4 this season, for total stake earnings of $142,187. She is trained and was driven by Tony Herlihy.

It was a remarkable comeback story for the filly, who had almost died last year when in Australia for the Breeders Crown, only to come back nine months later and win four major races in the space of just six weeks. She would be a red hot favourite for the fillies division of the Breeders Crown this August if she was to go, but Tony Herlihy thinks as she has done so much in a short space of time, he is keen to think longer term and stay at home and for her to go for a spell, so this is what is to happen.

For Race 6 the track was upgraded from slushy to easy and this was the 3YO Diamond, which was billed as the clash of the day between the two leading fillies Princess Tiffany and Belle of Montana and a true contest between these two it was, with the latter coming out on top – just. Belle Of Montana (Bettor’s Delight / Lady Cullen) made a good beginning from her ace draw, but Princess Tiffany was caught out 4-wide early before getting into the 3-wide line, then pressed on to take the lead approaching the 1000m Mark. Princess Tiffany held the lead, under some pressure down the back, all the time with Belle Of Montana on her back trailing and headed for home first, but Belle Of Montana came off her back halfway up the home straight, to take the passing lane and just get up to win under a great drive.

Belle Of Montana’s winning time was 2:25.1 (MR 1:57.9), home in 58 and 27.4, to win by a nose. She is trained by Barry Purdon and was driven by Zachary Butcher and now has 9 wins and 2 placings from 12 starts, for stakes of $415,484 and is the winner of four Group 1 races to date.

Race 7 was the 4YO Emerald and saw the shortest-priced favourite on the day, Turn It Up (Courage Under Fire / O Narutac Bella) take the honours. He didn’t disappoint punters, going straight to the front and leading them a merry chase, albeit with some pressure being applied during the race, going on for a good win, in the fastest time of the day.

Turn It Up’s overall time of 2:22.6 (Mile Rate 1:55.8), running home in 58.1 and 27.5, to win by a ½ length. He is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and was driven by Mark. He now has 11 wins and 4 seconds from his 15 starts, for $437,390 in stake earnings, including three Group 1 wins.

Next was the 4YO Ruby, which was to see the third false start of the day and was taken out by another favourite in Sundees Son (Majestic Son / Stardon). He made a good beginning, then took no chances by working to the lead early and then pouring on the pressure from about the 500m point, to run away and win as he liked, as the in the zone horse he is at the moment.

Sundees Son’s winning time was 2:25.3 (MR 1:58.0), setting a new NZ Record over the relatively new 1980m distance and running home in 57.5 and 28.7, to win by 2¾ lengths. He is trained by Robert Dunn and was driven by John Dunn and now has 12 wins and 6 placings, for stakes of $306,072 and is the winner of three Group 1 races, all in his last three starts.

The last race on the card was the 3YO Emerald, taken out as expected by another favourite in Jesse Duke (Bettor’s Delight / Daisy Dundee). He was restrained off the gate to settle 3-wide with cover, before tracking forward to sit parked with about 1400m to run. Rounding the last turn, he moved up to be on equal terms with the leader and surged to the lead towards the top of the home straight and staved off a brave challenge by Gran Chico, to go on and win.

Jesse Duke ran the 1980m journey in a time of 2:24.8 (MR 1:57.6) and home in 57.5 and 28.2, to win by ¾ length. He now has 8 wins and 9 placings, for stakes of $437,628, including three Group 1 wins and is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and was driven by Mark. The win book-ended the programme for owner Jean Feiss, giving her a Jewels double on the day.

While there were no wins for the Australian visitors, seven horses wearing the Harness Jewels Colours were winners and several Horse of the Year categories were decided on the day. The 4YO Pacing Mare (Elle Mac), 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding (One Change), 3YO Trotting Filly (Tickle Me Pink), 4YO Pacing Entire of Gelding (Turn It Up), 4YO Trotting Entire or Gelding (Sundees Son) and maybe even the Trotter of the Year (also Sundees Son), all look like going to winners on the day.

There was mainly close racing all day, with the largest winning margin of 2¼ lengths in the pacing ranks, achieved by the 2-year-old colt One Change and 2¾ lengths for the trotters, with Sundees Son’s win in the 4YO Ruby.


Tony Herlihy achieved a first for him, with a double on Jewels Day, training and driving both and taking his driving tally to a remarkable 3,499 wins.

In some ways, it was truly a family affair, with Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen having 5 wins, Tony Herlihy (Mark's brother-in-law) 2 wins and Barry Purdon (Mark's brother) 1 win, totalling 8-of-the-9-winners on the day.

The presentation by TAB Trackside TV, was once again excellent and despite the inclement weather, the betting turnover looks set to be the second-highest on record.

Jewels Day 2019 produced great result for Breckon Farms too, with three farm-bred winners in Elle Mac (bred by Breckon Farms), One Change (bred by Rob Carr and Don Kirkbride) and Tickle Me Pink (bred by Breckon Farms), two farm-bred placegetters in Princess Tiffany (bred by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock) and Dina Brown (bred by MW Feek, TJ Candy and GJ Nolan) and one farm part-owned (together with Glenys & Phil Kennard, Jim & Ann Gibbs and Garry & Kerry Woodham) placegetter in Flying Even Bettor.

CONGRATULATIONS to all runners on the big day, but especially to the nine winners who obtained Group 1 glory.

Rob Carr