Complete package Aardies Express (NZ) Powers to Hannon Victory

Aardies Express (NZ) (Always B Miki) showed she is made for elite level racing with her victory in the $39,000 Group Three Placemakers Hannon Memorial (2600m) at Oamaru on Sunday.

The Standardbred graduate powered through testing conditions to beat her more seasoned open class rivals in the traditional Group One New Zealand Cup lead up event in just her 13th race start.

Canadian owner Mike Tanev purchased Aardie’s Express for $30,500 when she was offered as a yearling online in 2020 and placed the pacer with Stonewall Stud.

She has since gone onto racetrack stardom for trainers Steve and Amanda Telfer and  showed all of the qualities required for elite racing in her impressive Hannon Memorial win.

The four-year-old showed her staying power when working around the field on a strong pace, before she used her brilliant high speed to dash along the inner.

The mare has Amanda Telfer convinced she is the complete package.

“She can really do anything, she is tough, she has got speed, she is the complete package really,” Telfer said.

Though Aardies Express defeated many New Zealand Cup contenders in a time-honoured New Zealand Cup lead up race, she is not a definite New Zealand Cup starter.

The Telfer stable are preferring to keep their options open with their classy mare.

“She is nominated for the New Zealand Cup but it is not a certainty she will go there,” Telfer said.

“We will take every race as it comes and she will tell us what we are going to do.”

“There is also the Junior Free-For-All, so you don’t have to go to the Cup.”

Horses purchased through NZB Standardbred auctions filled the first four placings in the Hannon Memorial.

After working hard in testing conditions, Republican Party (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) fought on strongly to run second.

The Cran and Chrissie Dalgety trained pacer looks right on track for his New Zealand Cup tilt.

NZB Standardbred graduate Anything Goes (NZ) (American Ideal) continued his fine spring form with his third placing for trainers Mark and Nathan Purdon.

Got You Covered (NZ) (Art Major) ran on strongly in a meritorious fourth placing.

Entries for the next Standardbred auction are due online by 10pm (NZT) on Wednesday 20th September. – Photo: Harness Racing NZ

$300,000 for Carlas Pixel

She was billed as “one of Australia’s top broodmares” but no-one was expecting Carlas Pixel to take off at auction the way she did.

Last night the multiple Group 1 winner, who’s in foal to boom stallion Captaintreacherous, sold for a record $300,000 on gavelhouse standardbred after a spirited bidding battle from both sides of the Tasman.

“After it reached reserve I thought it would quieten down,” says NZB Standardbred Manager Cam Bray, “but it went past $175 and then $200,000, never in a million years did we think we’d get $300,000.”

Neither did vendor, Australian-based Shannon Nixon, who’s made the decision to sell his Victorian property and move away from the breeding side of the industry.

“He was pretty emotional, and rightly so – it was a great result all round.”

The buyer was JC International, John Curtin’s bloodstock business, on behalf of clients.

“It seems Carla will stay in Australia with the new owners,” says Bray.

“The trend of the last few years is that the top end is healthy and if you have quality stock there will be buyers prepared to pay big money.”

“But in saying that she exceeded expectations, no question.”

A huge factor too is that Carlas Pixel’s previous foal by Captaintreacherous fetched $270,000.

The $300,000 is a massive new standardbred record for gavelhouse, easily eclipsing the $63,000 paid for Millwood Nike’s dam Albuquerque last year.

Also last night another well-bred and sought after broodmare went for good money, with Moet’s Girl , a full sister to six-time Group One winner Elle Mac, selling for $55,500. She is in foal to Captain Crunch. – By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk 

Carlas Pixel hot property from the outset

Early online action has seen Carlas Pixel shoot into six-figure territory in what is a rare opportunity to secure one of Australia’s top broodmares on Standardbred.

From one of the best families in the Stud Book, she is offered for sale due to a change in direction for Nixon Bloodstock.

The decision has been a difficult and emotional one for Shannon Nixon “It’s been a big decision as she’s part of the family, she likes to be around people and is great company.

“However, we were in the breeding business for the lifestyle and having sold the property, our life’s moving in a different direction and keeping the mares away doesn’t appeal.”

A 1.49.5 multiple Group One winner, Carlas Pixel is by Courage Under Fire and won the Ladyship Mile and Ladyship Cup while also placing a further four times at the top level including the Gr.1 Victorian Cup behind modern day champions Tiger Tara and Chicago Bull.

She was sound enough to start on 60 occasions with her domination earning her the Australian Aged Pacing Mare of the Year title.

Adding even further appeal, she is a half-sister to star racehorse and now sire Soho Tribeca and at stud she’s already produced an outstanding colt who topped the recent Nutrien Melbourne Sale, setting an Australian Standardbred sale record for a yearling sold at auction of $270,000.

She is in foal to one of the hottest sires on the planet in Captaintreacherous, making the resulting foal a full to the sale topper.

Bidding on Carlas Pixel and the 15 other Lots in the auction will end from 7pm (NZT) on Wednesday 21 June. If you have any questions about the bidding process, get in touch with the team via or call +64 9 296 4436

A sale not to be missed!

Entries for the next Standardbred sale are due online by 12pm tomorrow, Thursday 15 June.

The sale promises to get plenty of exposure with a unique entry in the dual Group One winner Carlas Pixel who is in foal to Captaintreacherous.

Offered by Shannon Nixon, the foal she is carrying is a full-sibling to the recent record breaking colt who fetched $270,000.

The auction will go live at 5pm on Thursday and run through until 7pm (NZT) on Wednesday 21 June. Entry into the sale costs $225 + GST for a standard listing and it is $325 + GST for a featured listing enabling your horse to be included in the email newsletter and circulated via social media platforms.

Contact Cam Bray to discuss your options:
021 737 199     |

Adjusted dates for next Standardbred auction Standardbred entries will be extended for an extra day this week following a successful date adjustment last year to accommodate runners brought north for Manawatu Harness Racing Club’s Country Cups and Festival Cup meetings on 29 and 31 March.

Listings will be accepted up until 10pm on Thursday 23rd March, the catalogue will launch at 5pm on Friday 24th March and the auction will close from 7pm on Friday 31 March.

In the corresponding sale last year Michael House successfully sold six horses he brought north for the two-day carnival with the sale-topper Immer Besser (pictured) fetching $20,000.

Entries can be set up by following the prompts on the website or if you have any questions or need help, contact the team via or call 09 296 4436

Entries for first sale of 2023 due

Off the back of another successful year of selling on Standardbred, the first auction of 2023 is shaping up to be another quality offering judging by early entries.

Demand for racing stock was high throughout November and December with Son of Patrick (pictured) fetching $35,000 to join Michael House’s stable, two-year-old Party Line selling for $15,000 and the unraced Paramount Chief selling for $15,500.

Listings are due online by 10pm Wednesday 11 January, the catalogue will launch at 5pm on Thursday 12 January and the auction will close from 7pm on Wednesday 18 January.

Entry into the sale costs $225 + GST for a standard listing or for a featured listing it costs $325 + GST to be included in the email newsletter and circulated via social media platforms.

For assistance listing contact the team on +64 9 296 4436 or contact Cam Bray to discuss your options:

Ph +64 21 737 199   |

Hambo success for Mystic Max graduate Mystic Max showed why he shouldn’t be discounted in the three-year-old trotting ranks with his victory in the Group 3 Hambletonian Classic (1700m) at Ashburton Raceway on Monday.

The Village Mystic colt was unperturbed by the initial false start and from his ace draw he found himself three back on the markers after beaten for early speed by fancied runners Hot To Trot and Paramount Empress.

Owner-trainer Michael Purdon was pleased to see his charge given a soft trip by Blair Orange, who presented Mystic Max into a gap at an opportune time down the straight where he was able to run over the top of his foes to record a half-length victory.

“I was rapt with how he went,” Purdon said.

“The false start didn’t worry him, he has always been quite good like that.

“Blair couldn’t have handled him any better, everything worked out well for him from that barrier.

“Every time he has sit-sprinted he has always made ground on whoever is setting the pace. When he got the soft trip, I thought he would be thereabouts.”

While Mystic Max brought his manners on Monday, the same couldn’t be said for his previous outing where he broke at the start from the stand, extinguishing his chances in his 2600m event.

However, mobiles are another story according to his handler, who is excited about the big races and potential cheques that now lie ahead for his colt in the latter part of the year.

“I think the mobile definitely helps,” Purdon said.

“He definitely gives me a bit of confidence (from today’s result), but when you are racing the best of your age group you can’t expect to just to win, but today he showed he is going to be up there with them.”

Mystic Max is proving to be a bargain buy for Purdon, who purchased him off breeders Tardina Lodge for $9,501 on

Purdon spent a year working for Yabby Dam Farm trainer Anton Golino in Victoria and he said listening to the well-travelled horseman’s tales instigated his interest in European racing.

He began to follow racing in the region, particularly France, and when scouring a catalogue his eye was taken by the pedigree of Mystic Max, a colt by French stallion Village Mystic, who was available to New Zealand and Australian breeders through Haras des Trotteurs.

Purdon was familiar with the deeds of the Group One winning son of Love You and was pleasantly surprised to see one of his progeny offered in the sale.

“I have been following European racing mainly since working for Anton Golino in Melbourne,” Purdon said.

“He had travelled around America and Europe, and the way he used to talk about European racing really piqued my interest.

“I found him (Mystic Max) on He was bred by Tardina Lodge and I was quite familiar with the stallion, but I didn’t realise he was available here.

“When I saw him, I decided I would get him if I could because I knew the job his sire was doing in France. Thankfully I was able to purchase him.”

Mystic Max has now won four and placed in six of his 14 starts, with his victories including the Group 2 Sires’ Stakes 2YO Trotting Championship (1980m) and Hambletonian, while his placings include the Group 1 Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby (1609m) and Group 2 Sires’ Stakes 3YO Trotting Championship (2200m). – Joshua Smith, Harness Desk.

Currently online is a seven Lot standardbred auction with bidding set to close from 7pm on Wednesday 26 October.

Taranaki farmer looking on the Brightside in retirement

After more than half a century of milking cows, Edwin Sheather decided he needed to pick-up a hobby to keep him occupied outside of tending to his beef cattle on his 58-acre property.

The Taranaki farmer happened across one that could prove to be nearly as lucrative as slicing up his Taranaki farm – breeding thoroughbreds.

“I have given up milking cows after 50 years of doing that. I have only got 58 acres left as I am one of those mongrels that have cut their farm up and sold lifestyle blocks off,” Sheather quipped.

“You have got to keep doing something and I think I would die if I moved to town.”

The 75-year-old had developed an interest in racing and had success as an owner over the last decade through Go Racing – racing the likes of Group Three winner Passing Shot (NZ) (Swiss Ace), Group Two performer Charlestown (NZ) (Myboycharlie), and Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) runner-up and now sire What’s The Story (NZ) (Savabeel).

“My first horse was Charlestown and he won a few,” Sheather said. “I had 10 percent of Passing Shot and he was a pretty good horse, he won 11 races, and I had a five percent share in What’s The Story.”

While he had a growing interest in racing, as a farmer, Sheather said he was more drawn to the breeding side of the industry.

“It is a hobby and I have always been a bit more interested in the breeding than I have the racing. I guess being a farmer and having always bred cattle, I was naturally drawn to breeding,” he said.

In his retirement, Sheather became a student of thoroughbred pedigrees and took great interest in New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales at Karaka every January, and their fortnightly sales through their online subsidiary

He kept close tabs on but resisted the urge to bid until one day an unraced Tavistock mare in-foal to his former racehorse What’s The Story caught his eye.

He succumbed to temptation and under his nom de plume of Steady1, Sheather placed his first bid on a horse and came out on top, securing Lilahjay (NZ) for $3,000.

While she had already produced a Hong Kong winner in Will Power (NZ) (Power) at the time of the auction, Sheather’s purchase has turned out to be a masterstroke.

Not only has Will Power gone on to win a further seven races to date in the competitive Asian racing jurisdiction, but another of her progeny, Mr Brightside (NZ) (Bullbars), has put her well and truly on the map as a broodmare after winning the Gr.1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) in autumn before returning in superb fashion on Saturday when winning the Gr.2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) first-up for trainers Ben and JD Hayes.

“I have been following what has been happening on gavelhouse for quite a long time. I saw Lilahjay and I looked at the pedigree and I thought ‘that is a pretty good horse, I wonder how much she is going to cost?’,” Sheather said.

“I did recognise a couple of names back in the pedigree like Gurner’s Lane, being a Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) winner way back.

“I knew (her sire) Tavistock was a pretty good stallion, so I thought I would have a bid on this one. I saw she was in-foal to What’s the Story, which was quite funny.

“I rang up Haylie (Martin, General Manager) at gavelhouse and said I would like to bid on her and next thing it (website) told me that I was the winner.”

Sheather said he has gained immense enjoyment from watching the deeds of Mr Brightside across the Tasman.

“It has been super fun,” he said. “There is always something interesting with having a horse like Mr Brightside and also following Will Power in Hong Kong has been great.”

Initially planning on bringing Lilahjay back to his Taranaki property, Sheather began to think otherwise after the progress of Will Power in Hong Kong.

“I am a retired farmer and I thought I would get a horse to put in the front paddock, but then Will Power started doing well in Hong Kong and I realised I didn’t know much about horses and she could be a bit too valuable to be with an amateur,” Sheather said.

“I rang up Peter Westend (Norwegian Park principal) and said I am not too sure what to do now and he said she could stay there.”

Westend stood What’s The Story at the time and Sheather had great enjoyment telling him about his involvement with the horse.

“When I went to see Peter he was telling me about What’s The Story,” Sheather said. “I told him I had five percent and went to Randwick and watched him run in the Australian Guineas and I was at Ellerslie when he was beaten a lip in the Derby, and I was there when he broke down when we had great expectations to go back to Australia the next year to go to bigger races in Melbourne with (trainer) Stephen McKee.”

Lilahjay foaled a filly by the stallion, who turned two-years-old at the start of the month.

“She is in Peter’s paddock at Cambridge ticking over and growing,” Sheather said. “I don’t think she is going to be a two-year-old from my untrained eye, but we will just let her grow and develop.

“She has been broken-in and ridden, she may have a go in the autumn – I have got to find a trainer for her. She looks like she is very correct, and she is a nice-looking filly.”

In Sheather’s first foray into breeding, he sent Lilahjay to Darci Brahma, with the resulting foal currently being prepared by Landsdowne Park’s Dave Duley for next year’s New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales.

“I know another guy in racing and he said we will ring this pedigree analyst, a breeding man from Palmerston North,” Sheather said.

“His preference was Preferment and Darci Brahma. I chose to go with Darci because he is getting old. Being from a farming background, I said he is a proven sire, he has got nothing left to prove, whereas Preferment is young and will be around for a long time so I can always go that way later on.

“She is a lovely filly that is going to the sales and is being prepared by Dave Duley.

“I didn’t know anything about him other than he happened to be on the sales coverage one year when I was watching it.

“I looked at some of his videos from last year’s sales and thought he did a good job, so I thought I would ring him up and see if he wanted to do my one.

“He rang me yesterday and said they have done x-rays and they are all clear, so she is going ahead.”

Sheather will welcome a full sibling to the yearling in the coming months, with Lilahjay having returned to Darci Brahma after missing to Rich Hill Stud stallion Vadamos last year.

“She went to Vadamos and didn’t hold. She has a few issues but Peter nurses her,” Sheather said.

“He had trouble the day she came back on again, I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding but she ended up at The Oaks Stud and got in-foal to Darci again.

“Next year she will have to have the year off so she can get back to square one again.”

While Sheather has been enjoying a great ride with his first broodmare, he doesn’t have any intentions of adding to his breeding numbers in the near future.

“It has all been fun – a bit of a hobby that has got out of hand,” he said.

“I will just stay with Lilah, she is enough for me at the moment. I will have the What’s The Story filly and hopefully she will produce me another Darci Brahma (this breeding season).”

In the meantime, Sheather is enjoying watching Mr Brightside race in Australia and he is hoping there is plenty more instore for the son of Bullbars this spring. – NZ Racing News

Versatile horseman House claims Newcomer to Training Award

Michael House’s decision to add a thoroughbred arm to his training operation has reaped rich rewards, earning the Newcomer to Training Award for the 2021-22 New Zealand racing season.

Among trainers who operate a stable in their own right and have held a thoroughbred licence for fewer than five seasons, the award honours the trainer who saddles the most winners during the New Zealand racing season. It was won by Peter Didham in 2020-21, and Jamie Richards and Andrew Carston in the two seasons preceding that.

House is no newcomer to training racehorses, having been credited with over 600 winners in a long and highly successful career in harness racing.

But he first took out his thoroughbred training licence towards the end of the 2019-20 season, and his two full seasons of training have netted nine winners – seven of them in 2021-22.

“This award is a lovely recognition for myself and for my team,” House said. “I have a great crew around me, and the success that we’ve had is something that we can all take a lot of satisfaction from.

“Our results last season were pleasing. We’ve really only got Industry-day horses at the moment, rather than Feature or Premier ones, so it’s been about trying to stay away from those better days and pick out the right races. It’s always satisfying when that plan comes off.”

House also paid tribute to, not only for its sponsorship of this award but also the boost it has provided to South Island racing.

“To me, and the Riccarton Park synthetic track are two of the biggest things to happen in South Island thoroughbred racing in recent years, and also two of the biggest things for our future,” the Prebbleton-based horseman said.

“I’ve already bought a number of horses off, and I’m also an outstanding underbidder! It’s been obvious in recent times that a significant proportion of our horse population in the South Island is made up of horses bought through It gives stables like ours an opportunity to access a much wider range of horses than we would have ever had before, and in price ranges that are affordable. It’s been a game-changer for us. Every Monday night sale on is an unmissable event for me, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Although he is a relatively new name among thoroughbred training ranks, House has a long-standing connection with the code.

“I’ve always been a thoroughbred man,” he said. “Back when I was 13, I started riding work in Reefton for Dennis Cutbush. Through the years that followed, I made a number of road trips all around the South Island, towing his float. This would be 40-odd years ago now, but I had a wonderful time with him.

“There was no such thing as professional sport in those days, so when the time came to choose a career, I decided that I was going to be a racing man. But I ended up turning my back on the thoroughbreds on that stage, because I knew I was too big to be a jockey.

“I went into the standardbreds instead. Peter Jones was the legendary junior driver on the scene at that time, and I thought I could follow in his footsteps and change the world.

“But it was very hard to establish yourself in those days. The reality in harness racing was that if you weren’t related to someone, it was a very, very difficult scene to break into at that time. It may well have been a similar story with thoroughbreds at that stage too.

“But I was determined that I wasn’t going to fail, and I started training some standardbreds and enjoyed a bit of early success.

“Around the same time as each other, both Cran Dalgety and I both went out and started advertising for horses, which I think might have shaken up the establishment a little bit. We both ended up building up big teams of horses and winning a lot of races.

“I also had some great success on the breeding side of things with Roydon Lodge, standing stallions such as the multiple premiership winner Sundon. In terms of Group One winners, he actually sired more than Sir Tristram and Zabeel combined! He never stood for the sort of service fee they did of course, it was more about just getting the bulk numbers. But it was very special to be involved with a champion sire like him.

“Throughout all of this, though, I always continued my involvement on the thoroughbred side of things. I’ve had ownership interests in a number of horses – one of the most memorable was the outstanding jumper Jackfrost, who we had a fantastic time racing along with a great syndicate of owners.

“There was also a mare that I bought in partnership with Sheldon Murtha, called Lady Chanele. She won a couple of races and then became a lovely broodmare that we bred from, particularly with her best daughter Ombre Rose.

“We won multiple stakes races with Ombre Rose and then bred from her as well, and one of the catalysts for me getting into training thoroughbreds was that I really wanted to train some of Ombre Rose’s progeny.

“I’ve now got her daughters by Zacinto and Zed, so I have one from a more speed-oriented sire and one with a bit more stamina. It’s very exciting to have them.

“I’m hopeful now that my future will be along those sorts of lines. But the other factor in moving me into the thoroughbred side of things came from my other business, which is a vet business. My partner in that business has done a lot of work for John Street over a long period of time. I happened to suggest to John that if he ever had thoroughbreds that he thought would be suited to racing in the South Island, he should give me a call. That’s what he did one day, and that’s what really got us underway.

“I’ve got 12 thoroughbreds now, and a number of great people around me – including Nicci Brown and a bloke called Chris Johnson. He’s been a great jockey over a long period of time, and he’s probably reached the stage of his career now where he benefits from the loyalty and the riding fees that I can offer him. In exchange for that, I really appreciate the experience that he brings. We make a good team.

“My thoroughbred stable is growing at a rate that I probably hadn’t really planned on, but at the same time, I’m open to that. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.”

Currently live on is a 61 Lot mixed bloodstock auction featuring youngstock, racing propositions, broodmares and stallion nominations and shares. Bidding is set to close from 7pm (NZT) Monday.

New price highlight for Standardbred

In a boon for the New Zealand standardbred industry, Albuquerque will remain in the country despite fierce competition for her from Australia in Wednesday’s Standardbred auction.

Herself a black-print winner over 2,400m by Bettor’s Delight, Albuquerque is a full sister to dual Group One winner Alberto Contador and black-print winner Duke of Albany. Already the dam of two to race, both with black-print when catalogued, a smart win in the Gr.3 Helen Pope 2yo Fillies Stakes by Millwood Nike at Ashburton on Sunday was a timely boost.

Hitting her $29,000 reserve on Wednesday morning, spirited bidding drove her final price up to $63,000 to Alabar NZ in conjunction with Victoria-based breeder Harvey Kaplan.

“She’ll come to Alabar NZ and we’ll sell yearlings from her at Karaka in partnership,” said Alabar NZ General Manager Graeme Henley.

“Her two-year-old filly, Millwood Nike was quite brilliant in winning at Ashburton on Sunday so that gave us the confidence in her as a broodmare. We’re looking forward to following the progress of Millwood Nike.

“With Millwood Nike being by Captaintreacherous, the fact that Albuquerque was in foal to his greatest son in Captain Crunch was also a positive.”

Newly promoted NZB Standardbred Manager and Standardbred representative Cam Bray was thrilled with the new high for the site as it approaches the end of its’ third year in operation.

“The site continues to be a valuable tool for breeders and owners to offer stock to a vast buying bench for very little outlay,” said Bray.

“The sale of Albuquerque is a good reminder that quality horses can fetch great prices on the site and we look forward to offering more mares of her calibre to market.”

Entries for the next Standardbred auction are due online by 10pm next Wednesday 15 June. The sale will go live at 5pm on Thursday 16 June and will run through until 7pm on Wednesday 22 June.