Day At The Track

This Sunday Bilibili (9m Niky) faces 15 rivals in the harness racing monte classic Gr. I Grand Prix de Cornulier (purse 650,000€, 2850 meters) at Paris-Vincennes as he seeks to defend his 2019 victory. Traders. Fadu du Chene, Feeling Cash and the young mare Fleche Bourbon are in the field. Bilibili tuned up with a January 5th 1.13kr timed score in the Gr. II Prix du Calvados, a race he also won in 2018 and 2019. He won the Cornulier in 2019 clocked in 1.11.2kr, his best since a 1.10.5kr win in the 2017 Gr. I Prix I’Ile de France over the shorter 2175 meter distance. Jean Pierre Barjon bred and owns Bilibili that will have Alexandre Abrivard in the irons. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

The win by Heisenberg in yesterdays re-run of the Central Otago Cup has led to a very generous donation by the horse’s connections, owners Ross and Angela Gordon, trainer Robert Dunn and the horse’s regular driver John Dunn. The race was originally run at Omakau but had to be abandoned when champion driver Ricky May suffered a major medical incident and was flown to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition. The Group Three feature race was re-run yesterday at the Young Quinn Raceway at Wyndham and was won by Heisenberg in a very quick time. Robert Dunn explained that after the race Ross Gordon rang him and said he and Angela wanted to express their appreciation for the care Ricky May received on the 2nd January at Omakau. “Ross, Angela, Johnny and I decided to donate four and a half thousand dollars of the Cup winnings to charity.  $1,500 to the helicopter trust fund for picking up Ricky, $1,500 to St John who were great on the day and $1,500 to Team Teals Ellie Barron (who performed mouth the mouth on May). Ross wanted to do that and I said to him that Johnny and I would come on board as well.” Driver John Dunn was trailing May in the race at Omakau and saw the incident unfold. He managed to pull his horse back and warn trailing drivers. John Dunn wasn’t on hand yesterday when Heisenberg won. The horse was driven by stand-in driver Tim Williams who took the talented pacer to the front and held out a game Nandolo by half a neck. “Yep he’s much better in front with the pace on. He will learn to use the speed he’s got in other ways but he’s one of those horses that likes getting into his own rhythm. He used to be a devil of a horse to run in and out and it made it difficult for Johnny to drive. He’s far better when he concentrates so that’s why we’ve got the hood on him. He runs a lot straighter with that on but the only thing is it sets you up for horses that swoop off your back,” said Robert Dunn. The winning time of 2-52.4 for the 2400 metre mobile was a new track, Southland and New Zealand record. “He’s racing more genuinely this year. We possibly gelded him later than we should have. He was always a horse with potential, but he was green.” Yesterday’s win was the horse’s sixth. Dunn said Heisenberg is likely to join his Auckland base at some point later in the season and this time should be better the Auckland way round. “He struggles a bit in Auckland. He tended to get in a little too much on the turns. But it was just because of his racing manners early on. I’m sure when we bring him up for the Taylor Mile and the New Zealand Messenger he’ll be much better.” The Art Major gelding was bought at the 2017 Auckland Sales by Gorton and Dunn – then named Viva La Vida. “Ross changes all of his horses names. He’s generally got a reason. We both loved the horse on type, he looked racy and we thought he might make a young horse. Ross has a good eye for horses which he’s developed. He actually comes from a horse family. His mother and father Don and Carol were one of the very first preparers at the yearling sales. They prepared yearlings for I reckon a half a century. On his mother’s side is champion horseman Felix Newfield and also Kevin Chapman.” Ross and Angela own Telfer Electrical and have three branches in Christchurch and outlets in Nelson, Cromwell, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill. “They bought the company just over twenty years ago when it was small and they’ve turned it into a very successful business.” The Gordons have been very good clients for Robert Dunn over many years. They’ve owned and raced The Fed Express (5 New Zealand wins – bred by Ross’s parents Don and Carol), Code Black (2 New Zealand wins and 17 Australian wins), Robbie Burns (10 New Zealand wins and 1-49 USA) and Henry Hubert (7 wins). “I’ve had their horses for years and we’re still waiting to get our first Group One winner. The one we thought was going to be the bees knees was a horse called Say My Name (6 wins from just 18 starts). He’s was exceptionally talented but had ongoing bone issues.” The Gordons also own up and coming Above N Beyond. “He’ll be aimed at the Derbies. We think he could be a real player in the three and four year old races. He’s a horse with a lot of upside.” And as the Yearling Sales approach Gordon and Dunn will be having a close look at the full brother to Heisenberg who’s in the ring early on 17th February at the Auckland Sales. “He’ll be on our list.” Bred by Chris and Tina Barlow of Highfield Bloodstock and named Crusader, you’d have to say this may be one horse if Ross and Robert buy him that may not get a name change considering they’re all Cantabrians   Bruce Stewart

Thursday’s Wyndham Harness meeting set the stage for a landmark moment for Standardbred with Seamark the first winning graduate bought off the revolutionary site. Leading throughout, while being constantly niggled at by his opposition, Seamark was a gutsy winner of the Kindergarten Stakes Saturday 14th March Mobile Pace over 2400m in the hands of Samantha Ottley. Purchased by Graham Hand for $2,700 in August, the five-year-old Christian Cullen gelding was offered on as an unraced horse, for sale to dissolve a partnership having qualified as a two-year-old. Thursday’s race was just his second start, having finished runner up earlier in January, taking his earnings to $6,800 with more in store judging by his obvious talent. Trainer Regan Todd was thrilled for Seamark’s connections who are new to the industry “He’s the first horse to race for Graham Hand and Glenn Morrison and they are loving the experience, “I’m amazed at how easy the process is with the online sales and it’s a great facility to have for the industry and a great way to get new people into the game. “Graham and Glenn have also bought two yearlings recently that are currently being broken in and are progressing well while Seamark will have a quiet 10 days or so to get over the run before we see how he’s come through it and come up with his next target."                                                                                                --Race Images photo Entries for the next Standardbred auction are due online by 7pm Wednesday 22 January. The auction will launch at 5pm on Thursday January 23 and will run through until 7pm Wednesday 29 January.  The standard listing fee is just $125 + GST with 5% commission on a successful sale, contact Cam Bray if you would like to discuss selling on the site: or call 021737199

Star Of Venus eyes title   When the Betterthancheddar five-year-old Caviar Star outfinished his rivals in the $300,000 Fremantle Cup, he credited his dam Star Of Venus with her third Group winner this season and she is a firm favourite for the NZ Broodmare of the Year award.   Caviar Star, one of the first crop by Betterthancheddar, had shown good placed form during the Summer Carnival at Gloucester Park.   Star Of Venus also ranks as the dam of emerging champion Self Assured, winner of the $245,000 Auckland Cup, and Star Of Memphis, winner of The Gammalite at Melton.   Others from Star Of Venus to win have been Vega Star and Star Of Dionysis, both Group winners in Australia.   Star Of Venus, who died 15 months ago, has since produced a three-year-old colt, a two year-old filly and a yearling colt, all by Bettor’s Delight, the grandsire of the Fremantle Cup victor. Star Of Venus was a Christian Cullen mare from Starlitnight, by Tuapeka Knight from Star Of Bethlehem. This family traces back to the foundation mare Mona R, the ancestress of Lazarus, Stars And Stripes, Light And Sound, Star Galleria and so on.     Chase Auckland’s family tree   Chase Auckland, the brilliant winner of the Group 2 Cambridge Flying Mile and who won the NZ Free-for-all and New Brighton and Methven Cups earlier in the season, has a pedigree of more than usual interest in that he represents a combination of the blood of two of New Zealand’s outstanding winning families – that of Flora and Mary Wood.   Chase Auckland winning the Cambridge Mile   A five-year-old gelding, Chase Auckland is one of the first crop of a top colt pacer and cups winner in Auckland Reactor, a Mach Three horse now at Alabar Bloodstock’s Victorian branch.   Auckland Reactor is building up a good siring score with the Victoria Chalice winner Soho Burning Love and the Group winners Gold Reactor and Shining Oro from his first crops.Auckland Reactor is one of several members of the Flora family to enjoy success at the stud – others being Leyoro (a leading sire in Western Australia), Renaissance Man, and in an earlier era, Admiral Wood.   Chase Auckland’s dam, Delicata (2:01), was a Falcon Seelster mare from the noted producer Dreaming Spires (dam of 6 winners), by Dream Away from Danse du Feu, by New York Motoring from the Tay Bridge mare Border Coral.   This branch of the Mary Wood family produced a NZ Sires Stakes champion in Hug The Wind (1:49) and the top West Australian juvenile Sprinter (1:48.6). The Mary Wood family is today as extensively represented in Australia as it is in NZ.       Well related three-year-old   Dr Susan, who won the Group 2 $50,000 Garrard’s Raith Memorial at Menangle, showed ability as a two-year-old last season when she was placed in a heat of the Young Guns series.   Dr Susan winning the Garrard’s Raith Memorial at Menangle   She has opened her three-year-old season on a winning note and will be well in line for the remaining major juvenile classics. She is a filly by the Cam’s Card Shark horse, Bettor’s Delight, from the Southland Oaks winner Safedra (1:56.3), the dam of an earlier winner in Buzinga (1:56.8).   Safedra in action   Safedra ranks as a half-sister to a grand pacer and Inter Dominion heat winner in Bettor’s Fire 1:50.2 ($966,417) and My Alpha Rock (1:49.5), being by Mach Three from the Sands A Flyin mare Sparks A Flyin 1:52 ($510,133), winner of 21 races including the NSW Oaks and Breeders Crown.     Broodmare double   The American-bred Victorian-owned Western Terror mare Kabbalah Karen B left winners in two different countries last weekend.   Kasbah Kid, a five-year-old Art Major gelding, grabbed a last-stride win at Melton in a career-best 1:54.3 on Friday, while Our Little General (by Mach Three), a Derby winner and dual Breeders Crown champion, won in 1:53.4 at Yonkers, New York the following night.   Kabbalah Karen B has a striking Bettor’s Delight yearling filly as Lot 153 at the Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne sale on February 2. The youngster is part of the eight-strong Lauriston Bloodstock consignment which includes an Art Major half-brother to last Sunday’s impressive Hamilton Pacing Cup winner Hurricane Harley.     Half-brother to Derby winner   Tanabi Falcon, a most impressive winner at the Melton midweek meeting, is a half-brother to the Victoria Derby winner and Country Cups king Tanabi Bromac.   A seven-year-old gelding by Falcon Seelster, Tanabi Falcon is out of the unraced Tanabi, a Village Jasper mare from Sinba, by Torado Hanover from the Lordship mare Black Debate, who established a great winning line for Helen and the late Graham Head.   Black Debate was the dam of the Tasmanian Oaks winner Indigenous, the Moonee Valley winner Mabo (1:57.5) and the exported Satan’s Dispute 1:55.6 ($234,192) and the grand dam of the Queen Of The Pacific winner Life Inthefastlane.   Tanabi Falcon was bred by the late Bob McArdle.     Blue blooded mare   Goodtime Grace, who won the Vicbred Platinum Country Series Final at Melton, is a four- year-old mare who can claim some worthwhile blood. By Mach Three, by Matt’s Scooter from All Included, by Abercrombie, she is out of the Art Major mare Art De Triomphe (1:58.8), whose dam, the American-bred Smyrna Duruisseau, left the NZ and Australian 2YO of the Year Follow The Stars (1:53.8 ($707,237), now at Allwood Stud in Western Australia and Stefsbest 1:54.7 ($143,511), runner-up in the APG Final.   Goodtime Grace                                                        --Stuart McCormick photo   Smyrna Duruissea, a 1:56 winner, was a half-sister to seven winners including Texas Shootout, a Little Brown Jug heat winner and second in the final to Mr Feelgood.     Leeton Breeders Plate heat winners   Rocknroll Runa, a gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven, and Im Lady Madeleine, a filly by A Rocknroll Dance, took out their respective heats of the time-honoured MIA Breeders Plate for two-year-olds at Leeton. The Group 3 $30,6000 final will be held on January 24.   Rocknroll Runa winning heat one of the Breeders Plate     Rocknroll Runa is the first foal out of the smart racemare Shes A Runa (1:55.5), a Jereme’s Jet mare who won 19 races including the NSW Oaks and Bathurst Gold Bracelet and $291,126 in stakes. He belongs to the immediate family of the Bathurst Sales Classic winner Lamorak 1:52.6 ($165,715) and the Rowleyalla Sprint winner Albert’s Charm 1:57.2 ($100,665).   Im Lady Madeleine is the third foal and third winner from Confetti (2:02.6), a race-winning mare by Jenna’s Beach Boy from Chenille, by What’s Next from the good Armbro Hurricane mare Dicio, the dam of 10 winners including the Victoria Sires Stakes 2YO champion Fragrance.     A star from Lagoon Lady   A star three-year-old in Victoria so far this season is Soextra, who was bred and is raced by Richard and Pauline Matthews and trained by Chris Lang.   A gelding by Bettor’s Delight, he is out of a champion racemare in Lagoon Lady (1:57.3) and the fourth of her produce to race, the best of whom is the thrice Melton winner Beach Surge (1:51.8).   Soextra is undefeated in two starts at Kilmore and Bendigo (in 1:53.1) and looks a three year-old with the potential one would expect of his breeding.     La Lola shows promise   A bright future is being predicted for the Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old mare La Lola, who is unbeaten in three appearances in Victoria to date.   She has a good deal in her favour on the score of blood. Apart from being by Rock N Roll Heaven, she is out of a capable racemare in Predict (1:56.6), by Grinfromeartoear from Erase, by Classic Garry from Wipe Clean, by Windshield Wiper from Once More, winner of the NSW Ladyship Mile and one of the best mares in the country in the 1980’s.   This family has been bred from successfully over five generations by Ballarat enthusiast Pat Prendergast. Other smart performers further back in her pedigree have been Mode Of Action (Tatlow Memorial and Vis. Sires Classic), Collect Again and Predict (9 wins from 14 starts).     Convert Denario impresses   The six-year-old Convert Denario is proving a splendid advertisement for the In The Pocket horse Changeover, a grand pacer himself and who stood for a time at stud in Christchurch. He is now based at Burwood Stud near Brisbane.   Covert Denario   Convert Denario won consecutive races at Gloucester Park recently and is an emergency for this week’s WA Pacing Cup. All told, he has won 13 races and $134,242 in stakes.   Ergo Denario, the dam of Convert Denario, is a half-sister to the Melton winner Last Flight In 1:53.8 ($134,866), being by Bettor’s Delight from Orse M Denario, by Washington VC from Royaler, an American bred mare by Tyler B.       Nelson winner’s Aussie relations   Glenledi Chief, a double winner at the Nelson Summer Festival meeting, has close breeding links with Australia.   A three-year-old by the Western Hanover horse Well Said, the gelding is out of the classic winner Forever Now, who was bred from originally in Victoria and is now owned in New Zealand by Grant Enterprises.   Glenledi Chief winning at Nelson Forever Now, who won seven races including the Bathurst Gold Tiara, has produced six winners – all in 2:00 – from eight foals of racing age. Besides Glenledi Chief, she is also the dam of John Paul Jones (1:54.4), the Melton and Gloucester Park winner Anna Faye (1:57.9) and Now And Forever (1:58.2).   By Presidential Ball, Forever Now is a half-sister to the exported Anescape (1:50.6) and Pulsation (1:53.2), being out of Anna Matao, by Holmes Hanover from Annabel Scot, by Bo Scot’s Blue Chip from the celebrated matron Black Watch.   Clint Westwood, the winner of the Gore Cup and numerous races at Harold Park, and the WA Oaks runner-up Bettor Boa, are members of the same family of Glenledi Chief.   by Peter Wharton

Legendary Riverina harness racing caller Allan Hull has called time on his 50-year career, but says he's fortunate to have spent every working minute doing something he loves. Hull, who turns 70 this year, officiated this week for the final time at his hometown Wagga Wagga trotting track, but says race-calling never really felt like work at all. "It really didn't. It was my passion and every race is a different story," Hull said. "When I was young, I always wanted to be a sports commentator. I would listen to Alan McGilvray on the ABC (a cricketer who became the doyen of Australian cricket commentators)," he said. "There were no radios back then and I had a crystal set. I worked out that if I attached the alligator clip on the end of the wire to a tin roof at home, the reception would be much better. I would listen to the cricket being broadcast from England until about 2 or 3am. "I did also tune in to the races and my favorite pin-up jockey was Geoff 'the golden boy' Lane. I had a scrapbook of race story clippings because the Weekly Times use to do a two-page spread each week," he said. His passion for sport resulted in Hull starting to call trots trials at Wagga when he was just 17 or 18. "I was a bit keen to get involved and the guy who was running them was a family friend in Max Croker," he said. "I jokingly told Max that I'd do a better job than the bloke they had...and that was indeed true because at the time they had no-one doing it! I got to call the trials using a portable PA and microphone with about 20 to 30 people attending. "Then not long after I was asked if I'd do the Henty Show trots. Back then show trots were huge--all the trainers just loved them. I called four events and that was my first paid gig when I was 19 years old." Hull instantly loved the art and challenge of race calling - and his career took off from there. "I got a lucky break when Tex Condron, who was calling trots at Wagga, Junee and Leeton, was wanting to shift his focus more into training his own horses," he said. "So I took over from Tex and started calling at Wagga Wagga on November 20, 1970. I was the on-course commentator and also got paid for doing it on radio because it was relayed on 2WG. I recall later doing the Leeton Breeders' Plate on New Year's Day, 1971. That was big!" But race calling was never a full-time gig because there weren't enough meetings, Hull said. "After I'd finished my Intermediate certificate at Wagga High School in 1965, my father told me to go and get a trade--I left school on the Friday and started a fitter and machinist apprenticeship on the Monday," he said. "I was there for seven years, working my way up to foreman in the machine shop and one of my brothers also worked there as a boilermaker." Hull also started calling Aussie rules football in the 1970s for a local radio station, and did this for 25 years. "I ended up a sales rep because the manager heard me calling the trots and football on radio and offered me a job. So for most of my life I sold advertising for radio and television." Hull also began calling the gallops, doing his first few meetings at outlying areas such Hay, Griffith and Berrigan. Ted Ryder, regarded as a sporting icon in the town, was the caller at Wagga and Albury meetings, but Hull eventually took over from Ryder, calling his first Wagga Gold Cup in 1979. Allan Hull (centre) was presented with a plaque by Wagga CEO Graeme White (left) and club president Terry McMillan (Wagga HRC) He went on to call the Murrumbidgee Turf Club's feature event for 40 consecutive years, appropriately being dubbed along the way as "the golden voice of the Riverina". Hull said preparing for meetings depended on how many visiting horses were competing and working on their form. "If it's a Wagga trots meeting and I'm familiar with most of them, it may take one and a half hours. But if it's the Wagga Gold Cup gallops carnival over two days, 100 out of the 180 horses might be visitors so I'll take three to four hours doing the form for each day," he said. "I remember colors and names on a race to race basis. You get to know how a particular jockey sits on and if they are left or right-handed and that helps. "I think calling races is really a God-given gift. It's not something that's a natural thing, and it's one of those things that's difficult to do unless you have the knack. Hull is well-known for his two quirky terms of "the gates craaaaaash back" and "they hit the l-iiiiiiiiiiine...". "I guess my love for theatre also comes out a bit, because I've been involved in a few musicals over the years!" he said. "I always thought of three things: to be accurate, articulate and entertaining. "But if you have ever stood next to the barrier stalls, the gates do crash back. And as far as the other 'and they hit the l-iiiiiiiiine'...well, I'm buying time of a second or two to work out who has won! I only say that if it's a tight photo finish. "But I'll always have a go at calling the winner in a photo -- you just have to, I think. If I don't get it right, that's not a blue in my book. But if I call the wrong horse or the wrong colors, well that's different. If a panel beater makes a mistake, they can hide it with a spray can. We have to wear it!" Hull said he admired Matt Hill and now retired caller Greg Miles. "Those guys were terrific when calling races with big stables like Godolpin having multiple runners with the same colors, except for perhaps slightly different colored caps. That's when our business can get really difficult," he said. Hull said among his race-calling highlights were calling four InterDominion finals on radio. "They were at Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and New Zealand and InterDominions were huge events. It was for 2WG and I also provided them with snippets and other regional radio stations also picked it up, so they were definitely memorable," he said. Hull will call his last meeting at Albury trots on January 31, although he added that he will probably "help out" at a few non-TAB meetings over the next six months as he winds down. Hull and his wife Gayle have two children in Stephanie, a teacher; and Quentin, a longtime ABC sports broadcaster, who both live in Brisbane, and four grandchildren. "The time has flown, I've importantly enjoyed good health, and I wouldn't have had it any other way--it's been awesome," he said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

FOR everything top WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond have achieved, they are yet to win their biggest home town race. But they certainly have numbers on their side with seven of the 12 runners in tonight’s $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup (2936m) at Gloucester Park. Team Bond had six of the 12 runners last year when El Jacko was their first home with a second to Rocknroll Lincoln. Their runners tomorrow night are: Our Jimmy Johnstone (gate 1, $21 into $7.50), Our Alfie Romeo (three, $81), El Jacko (four, $81), Mighty Conqueror (five, $5.50 to $3.80), Ana Malak (seven, $15 to $41), Vampiro (nine, $9 to $11) and Galactic Star (10, $7.50 to $3.70). Stable driver Ryan Warwick has opted to stick with the proven Galactic Star, from inside the back row. Their “fresh” runners, who didn’t contest last week’s Fremantle Cup won by Caviar Star, are the talented Mighty Conqueror and exciting former Kiwi mare Our Alfie Romeo. Mighty Conqueror missed the Fremantle Cup due to deep-seated hoof bruising and a final decision on his spot in the WA Cup won’t be made until race morning. “He seems really well, but the RWWA vets will have a look at home and it’ll be their call tomorrow morning. That’s fairest for everyone,” Greg Bond said. “It’s great to have such a strong hand in the race, we’ve got nice horses racing really well. “Galactic Star was stiff last week. He was coming into really strongly along the inside when he clipped the wheel and galloped. It didn’t surprise me Ryan stuck with him. “I think the mare will run a big race, too. It’s obviously a step-up, but I know on her work at home she’s up with our best horses.” Bond is eyeing-off a Sydney raid with Our Alfie Romeo for the Ladyship Mile. “I’m sure she’s up to it. I looked at Melbourne, but it’s too soon. She can have a quiet week after this then wind-up again for Sydney, everything going well,” he said. “If she goes to Sydney, we’ll take at least another one along with her. Whether it’s Galactic Star, Vampiro or maybe even both of them for the lead-up sprints to the Miracle Mile.”   Adam Hamilton

Hanover Shoe Farms welcomed its first foal of 2020 on Thursday January 16th at 2:30 am. The sturdy bay colt is a son of Muscle Hill and the first foal of the Conway Hall mare Abbie Hall 3,1:56.3 ($41,358). Abbie Hall is out of Armbro Archer thus making her a half sister to iron horse Arch Madness 1:50.2 $4,288,981. Hanover is expecting approximately 340 foals this season. New arrivals are listed daily on the farm website by Gunjan Patel, for Hanover Shoe Farms  

Belle Of Montana may have given punters a blood nose last start but the good news is the glamour mare escaped unharmed. So it is all system go for phase two of her season which should begin with a win at Alexandra Park tonight. The brilliant mare had a rollercoaster December, winning the Group One Queen of Hearts at Alexandra Park but exploding into a wild gallop as a $1.20 favourite in a free-for-all on New Years Eve. That was caused by a hopple shortener coming loose at full speed going into the first bend as Belle Of Montana was contesting the lead. She recovered but galloped again later. Punters didn’t. But while money won or lost on the tote comes and goes the most important thing is the exceptional mare is fine, which is never a given when a horse gallops at that speed. “She was good as gold after the race, didn’t harm herself at all,” says trainer Barry Purdon. Knowing the reason for the incident is at least a positive, because it shouldn’t affect how punters assess her in tonight’s 2200m mobile. Belle Of Montana is using the race to prepare for the A$100,000 Ladyship Cup at Melton on February 1 before she returns home to get ready for the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile in Sydney on March 7. She meets not only some of her talented mare stablemates tonight but Interdom contenders Star Galleria and Solid Gold, the latter now trained by Tony Herlihy after being purchased by a North American owner. Solid Gold has been good enough, especially over sprint trips at Alexandra Park, to suggest he can at least test Belle Of Montana and Herlihy is not concerned by his lack of a recent workout. He took the speedster across the road to Stonewall Stud on Monday, the facility where Steve Telfer trains which has one of the best training tracks in the country. “He worked well there so he should go well this week, but Belle Of Montana will obviously be hard to beat,” says Herlihy. That chances of Solid Gold’s lowering Belle Of Montana’s colours may come down to where they settle in relation to one another and how hard Solid Gold has to work if Herlihy chooses to push the button early. But for sheer class and aided by the small field Belle Of Montana deserves to be about a $1.80 chance. Purdon’s assault on the Victorian riches starts tomorrow night where he has Bad To The Bone in an incredibly strong heat of the Victoria Derby at Ballarat. He has a second line draw against the two favourite's for next week’s Derby final in Smooth Deal and local star Be Happy Mach. “It is a shame they are all in the same heat, I thought they would be spread around more,” said Purdon. Having to finish top four to make the Final, Bad To The Bone will at least be added by the huge diet of high class racing New Zealand’s three-year-old pacers have digested by this stage of the season whereas many of the Australian stars are only resuming. With Be Happy Mach also drawing the second line and fresh up since winning the Breeders Crown in August, if he can beat the Kiwis tomorrow night he is something else and would be a ready-made Derby favourite. But there has already been some big bets on Smooth Deal since the market opened on Tuesday and driver Mark Purdon is likely to try and stay in front of the other favourite's to make them work hard. Michael Guerin

Tom Pollack calls Endeavor one of his favorite horses and it is not difficult to understand why. The 7-year-old male harness racing pacer possesses a tough-guy attitude and never-give-in style. "I call him The Big Boy," said Pollack, who owns Endeavor with trainer Jeff Cullipher. "He's kind of a hard-hitting blue-collar lunch-pail-type horse. He's the big, strong, grinding type. He's had very few clunkers, he just gives his all every time." Endeavor has won 19 of 49 races and $419,905 in purses for Pollack and Cullipher since they purchased the son of American Ideal-Jett Diamond privately in May 2018. He rose through the conditioned ranks to compete on the Grand Circuit, winning last year's Potomac Pace to go with a second in the Harrah's Hoosier Park Pacing Derby and third in the Dan Patch Stakes. On Saturday, Endeavor races in the preferred at The Meadowlands. He won his seasonal debut on Jan. 4 at the Big M after finishing an outside-trip second in his 2019 finale. "He's been sharp, and you hate to shut him down," Pollack said. "We're giving him until he tells us (to stop) and then he'll have a month or two off before we get into the stakes season." Last year, Endeavor raced in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, now called the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, but is unlikely to head to Yonkers Raceway for this season's event. "We probably did him a disservice putting him in the Levy," Pollack said. "He's a bigger horse and runs in some in the turns. It's not that he can't get around Yonkers, he won a leg of the Levy, but that's not really the best place for him." Endeavor caught Pollack's eye two years ago when he won a preferred handicap at The Meadowlands. Four months later when the horse became available, he made the purchase. Endeavor was sent to Harrah's Hoosier Park and worked himself up the class ladder. After a seventh-place finish in his debut for his new connections, he won six of his next seven. That included a five-race win streak in which he won each start in 1:49.2 or faster. "Jeff did a great job with him," Pollack said. "(Endeavor) took a liking to Hoosier Park and our program. He went on a heck of a run. That's when we knew we were really on to something. Since then, he's been a top-class horse. Capping the year off winning the Potomac Pace was really cool. "We thought we were buying a nice conditioned racehorse. He just got super sharp and confident and was able to maintain that. It's been great. You love to have horses like him. He gives it his all every time out. There's no cheating in him, that's for sure." For his career, Endeavor has won 32 of 110 races and $673,937. Pollack said he expects Endeavor to have a limited Grand Circuit schedule similar to 2019, minus the series at Yonkers. "He's in the class," Pollack said. "He's probably still a little 1A-ish, but we're looking forward to this year. A lot of the free-for-allers retired so we're going to give him shots, especially on the five-eighths and the mile-track races. "We'll see how he does this year. We know that as age creeps in it gets tougher. But based on how he's racing now and how he raced at the end of last year he's still got tread on the tires for sure." Another of the Pollack-Cullipher duo's stakes-winners will be in action Friday at The Meadowlands. Wisdom Tree, a 5-year-old female pacer who was a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion, is in a conditioned race for fillies and mares. She has won 18 of 49 races and $618,181 in her career. "We're probably getting ready to shut her down for a little bit," Cullipher said. "We won't be at every (stakes) dance, but we're going to try to hit our share." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

By Jonny Turner          Double Rocket will be out to double up at Alexandra Park tonight. The Arna Donnelly trained 4yr-old will be out to repeat the highly deserved win he produced on Auckland Cup night at Alexandra Park when he takes on a competitive line up.   Though the pacer’s rating has seen him move up in grade following his victory, tonight’s race should not prove too much harder than the premier night event he won last month. “It is probably not a great step up from last time, they are similar horses,” driver Scott Phelan said. “He will still need a little bit of luck from the draw, but if he gets it he will be alright.” “He did deserve that last win, that was for sure.” “He had had a few things that didn’t go quite right going in to it.” Double Rocket has high gate speed and could cross to the front from the outside of the front line. But, that is not likely to be an option Phelan takes to overcome barrier 8. “It is an option, but it is probably not going to be one we are going to take.” Each of Double Rocket’s seven rivals in their highly competitive race look to have legitimate winning claims. Revolver ($4) and Mr Kiwi ($4.50) were rated the toughest to beat by bookmakers when their market opened for tonight’s race. Double Rocket opened the $3 for the 2200m event. Phelan admits he needs everything to go in Wainui Creek’s favour ahead of tonight’s feature pace. The Barry Purdon trained 4yr-old will clash with her star stablemate, Belle Of Montana, in a small field packed full of talent. Things went horribly wrong for Belle Of Montana on Auckland Cup night when she galloped early, before being wiped out before the home turn. Wainui Creek was able to capitalise on that when she filled the quinella behind another stablemate, Havtime. Phelan admitted Wainui Creek may need similar fortune to beat Belle Of Montana again. “She is an exception mare Belle Of Montana, but things can go wrong as they did last time.” “Wainui Creek could run second to her if Belle Of Montana does everything right.” Phelan will get the chance to put Wainui Creek on the speed from barrier 1 tonight. “She has got good gate speed, so we have a few options.” “She is a pretty relaxed horse, so you can burn out of the gate pretty hard and she will come back to you pretty quick.” Belle Of Montana has more than just her stablemates Havtime and Wainui Creek to beat tonight. She clashes with hardy Interdominion campaigners Solid Gold and Star Galleria. Bookmakers made Belle Of Montana the $1.90 favourite, ahead of Star Galleria ($3.20) and Solid Gold ($3.60) when opening tonight’s race market. Phelan also drives Be My Rock for Purdon in tonight’s rating 55-59 mobile. The 3yr-old steps up in grade after winning more than a month ago at Alexandra Park. The pacer’s staying prowess will be his biggest asset when taking on stronger horses from barrier 2. “He seems to be a better stayer than a speed horse.” “He has got the right draw, so we might have to turn it in to a staying run.” Phelan also combines with Smoken Shazza tonight for trainer Kyle Marshal “Kyle thinks she is quite a decent horse.” “She has been favourite a couple of times and gone good races. “If she gets a bit of lucky early, there is no reason she can’t be in it.” Phelan also drives Ain’t No Princess for trainer Matthew Pemberton. “She has got all the ability in the world, but her manners are not quite there yet.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Junior driver Ben Hope will be out to do his family proud in their home region of Marlborough today. Hope will drive first starter Awapuni for his parents, Greg and Nina, in the Four Generations Of Hopes Trot. The 2400m maiden event is dedicated to Hope family’s contribution to harness racing in Blenheim. And it is one the fourth generation of the family to contribute to the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s history would love to win. “My Dad’s side are all from Blenheim, my granddad and my great granddad have all been involved with the club,” Ben Hope said.  “It would be great to win it.” “The horse goes pretty good, she is only a maiden trotter, so she has to trot.” “But, if she did she would be more than capable of taking it out.” Awapuni is by Andover Hall from strong producing mare Lough Neagh, who is from the family of champion trotter Lyell Creek. The 3yr-old looked like she had enough ability to live up to her breeding when winning a Methven workout by three lengths, earlier this month. Greg, Nina and Ben Hope will step out another trotter with a strong pedigree when Baxter starts in today’s feature handicap trot. The half-brother to star trotter Monbet comes in to the 2400m event after producing two wins and a second from three starts on the West Coast Christmas circuit.  Baxter steps up in grade to face his toughest test when taking on open class performers Amaretto Sun and Heavyweight Hero today. “We will get a bit of a line of him to see where he sits with the better trotters,” Hope said. “He has done a great job and he is always in the money.” “Heavyweight Hero, Medusa and Amaretto Sun all go nice.” Baxter will start from a 10m handicap, getting a head start on Amaretto Sun (45m) and Heavyweight Hero (35m).  The feeling in the Hope stable is that Baxter could eventually progress to join his main rivals in open class. “He is the sort of horse that could get to open class, through the back door,” Hope said.  “I like the horse because he definitely wants to be a part of it and he tries.” “He is not going to be a genuine open class horse, I don’t think.” “But he could be one of those horses that gets there through the back door, like a horse like Everybody Knows.” The Hope team have Homebush Lad in today’s feature handicap pace. The 6yr-old bounced back to his best form ahead of the 2400m event with a strong win at Motukarara late last month. “That win wasn’t a fluke, his starts before that were good, he is a pretty nice wee horse,” Hope said.  “There are a couple of smart ones in there, like Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod and a couple of others.” “But if he can step away he is as good of a chance as any, I think.” Homebush Lad will start from barrier one on the front line, alongside his main rivals Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod.  The Hope stable eight horses at today’s Marlborough meeting and each of their team looks to have genuine winning claims.  “There wouldn’t be one that is without a show.” Greg and Nina Hope will start A G’s White Socks in tomorrow night’s Ballarat Cup. The two time Interdominion heat winner will clash with fellow New Zealand pacer Self Assured.  Victorian reinsman Greg Sugars will drive A G’s White Socks in the group 1 feature.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

In this series sponsored by Southern Bred Southern Reared, Bruce Stewart looks back on some of the great harness racing stock that’s come out of the Southern region. Whilst last year he profiled horses from the south that have become millionaires, this series is about other pacers and trotters that that were bred, reared and raced for part of career in Southland, and made an impact in the Harness Racing industry. Young Quinn Age: 1969 Bay Gelding Sire: Young Charles Dam: Loyal Trick (Hal Tyrax) Owners: Des and Bud Baynes (New Zealand) and Bud, Des, Martha and Diane Baynes (America). Trainers: Bud Baynes, Clem Scott and Charlie Hunter. Southland bred pacer Young Quinn was successful in a period when the sport of trotting was particularly strong. He raced with great success in New Zealand, Australia and America and his name will long be remembered in all three countries. Young Quinn was foaled in 1969 and was by Young Charles out of Loyal Trick who was by Hal Tryax (USA). He was named after Brian “Snow” Quinn, a champion New Zealand shearer and for the majority of his career he was trained and driven by Charlie Hunter. His first win was in the 1972 EF Mercer Stakes at Addington where he beat Willie Win. His other wins at two included the Forbury Juvenile Stakes, Timaru Nursery Stakes, Kindergarten Stakes, New Zealand Juvenile Stakes and The New Zealand Sapling Stakes. At the end of his two year old season he was the country’s leading two year old, having won eight of his ten starts. At that point he was becoming very familiar to a man that was to take over his training. “My first impressions of him was racing against him as a two year old. I had a pretty nice filly that year called Hillcrest. Young Quinn came to Auckland and beat us up badly a couple of times. He impressed me a lot,” said Charlie Hunter. At that point little did Hunter know that the promising youngster was going to join his stable until the phone rang one day. “I got a phone call and this voice said ‘My name is Bud Baynes and I own Young Quinn. Will you train him for me?” And with that Young Quinn began a lifetime involvement with his new trainer. “He came up for the May meeting because the Derby was in June – that’s why Bud was sending him up. But under the old handicap system he was in the open paces against a couple of good Jack Smolenski horses so it was a difficult task for him.” Young Quinn’s three year old season only yielded two wins from twelve starts and he ran fifth in the 1972 Derby won by Willie Win. “He had a bit of a problem with a knee at the time and wasn’t at his best. Bud left him with me for the next season.” At four (1974) he was finding his feet winning six of his nineteen starts. However his best season was to be in 1975 when he was named New Zealand Pacer and Horse of the Year. In that season he won 19 races and was placed twice in twenty two starts. His wins included the Stars Travel Miracle Mile, Auckland Cup, Wellington Cup, three heats of the Interdominion Championship and the Grand Final. “As a five year old he just grew another leg. He was tremendous. The miss was in Auckland and I blame myself. He was a horse that took quite a bit of work. I’d backed off, thinking I couldn’t keep working him hard and racing him hard. After that I resumed the regime and he just went on from there. He was one of those athletic type horses that enjoyed work and raced well off it.” In the 1975 Miracle Mile at Harold Park, Young Quinn won from Barrier Six, the outside draw on a very tight track, beating the two Australian champions Paleface Adios and Hondo Grattan. 1975 Harold Park Young Quinn Miracle Mile “It was very special winning the Miracle Mile in Sydney. That was my first drive on him after getting my hands out of plaster following the Interdominions. It was a huge crowd that night and he was regarded by the scribes as not being a chance because he’d drawn the outside, he hadn’t raced at Harold Park and I hadn’t driven there. He just went magnificent and won easy.” In the Inter Dominion Final in Auckland he started as short-priced favourite and was driven by John Langdon, following the injury to Hunter. He went on to beat Hi Foyle and Speedy Guest. “There was a little bit of pressure because he’d won his three heats so there was this expectation from everybody including us that he could win the final. It put a fair bit of pressure on John but he handled it well and drove him well.” Inter Dominion Final Langdon also won the Trotter’s section of the Inter Dominion, driving the Hunter-trained Castleton’s Pride. Later that season Young Quinn had his last start in New Zealand before heading to America in May 1975. In summary his 19 wins in New Zealand that season set a new record with the previous best being held by another Southland pacer, Robalan (12 in the 1973-1974 season).  The 19 wins by Young Quinn also included a winning streak of 10. Before leaving for America he held numerous New Zealand records. Mile (1.57.0) 2200 metre stand (2-47.2) 2200 metre mobile (2-48.8) 2600 metre stand (3-18.1) 2700 metre stand (3-27.4) 3200 metre stand (4-06.7) In America he started his racing career in June 1975. “The first few starts he wasn’t that good. We didn’t have enough time to prep him to meet the best horses and to be fair he wasn’t that good on the wee half mile tracks like Yonkers.” The highlight of that initial season was winning the $50,000 Western Free For All in 1-56 and becoming the world’s fastest race gelding and fastest Standardbred produced in Australasia. He then faced a vintage crop of pacers in the $100,000 American Pacing Classic and starting from barrier 8 he pipped American superstar Rambling Willie in 2-12 and 4/5 for the nine furlong race. “We got to Chicago and beat all the best horses they had to offer in the Governor’s Cup at Horsesmen’s Park. He then went onto Hollywood Park and won a leg of the US Pacing Championship. He then went to Canada and won their feature Free For All Pace the Provincial Pace which Cardigan Bay also won. He finished that year winning the American Pacing Classis against all the best pacers on offer.” During Young Quinn’s racing days in America, Hunter and good friend Brian Meale were operating Central Standardbreds and were exporting lots of horses to America and getting then ready for sale. “It was good having Young Quinn there because he was a bit of an advert for New Zealand horses. Bud wanted me to stay with him and I was quite happy to. My wife and two daughters spent all of 1976 and 1977 over there with the team we were preparing and selling, and with Quinn.” In 1977 Young Quinn went winless. While in 1978 he won three races, and in 1979 he won twice. “We qualified him for a race in February 1977 and he came out of the qualifier with a ruptured ligament in his hind leg. He virtually lost most of that season which was so sad but that was the reality of it. I came home and we sent him across to Jim Doherty and he won three races at the Meadowlands at the beginning of 1978 then the leg gave him trouble again and later that year we brought him home.” By the end of his American career he’d raced 63 times winning 22 races and $479,260. “I think winning a leg of the International Pacing Series in Chicago and proving he could beat the best was a meaningful win.” Young Quinn returned to New Zealand in 1980 for a few starts prior to being retired in May 1980. It was later revealed by cardiograph tests that Young Quinn’s heart weighed 13 lb, only 1 lb less than that of the great racehorse Phar Lap. For part-owner Des Baynes Young Quinn was a once in a lifetime horse providing him with lots of highlights. “Winning three heats and the final of the Interdominions and going to Sydney for the Miracle Mile. Also winning in New Zealand, Australia and America in the same season. He was just one of those once in a lifetime horses and makes a lot of the other horses you have look fairly ordinary. It probably ruined it for me a bit (laughter),” Baynes said. And he said owning him made you realise how tough it can be for the top horses. “When you’ve got a good horse you realise how tough it is for them and how good they have to be. When those good horses get an edge they’re just about unbeatable.” And he said the best thing he and his father ever did was to send Young Quinn to Charlie Hunter. “Charlie was not only a good trainer but a very honest fellow and he did the best for us and the horse. We had full confidence in Charlie all the time. He looked after the horse and that looked after us really.” Young Quinn raced in an era when there were a host of very good horses competing in all three countries. “He was a lovely horse to handle. He ate well and rested well. The things that you really wanted in a horse. That carried on right through when he went to the States. He didn’t mind being confined to stalls and stables. He looked after himself pretty well.” He also set numerous records including one world record. “He won at the Meadowlands when it was a new track. He won one of the opening features. At the time he went 1-55 which doesn’t seem so great now but it was a world record for a gelding and a track record.” In all, Young Quinn started 133 times recording 59 wins and 36 placings for NZ$752,587 in stakes money. “He had high speed. In New Zealand he could tail a field in the back straight and loop them as he did in the likes of the Wellington Cup and races in Auckland. He could be in front by the time you got out of the back straight and then just carry on to the post. It was the same in the States. He didn’t have to be cuddled up. He could rough it if he had to.” Young Quinn was a truly remarkable durable racehorse indicative of many great horses from the very south of New Zealand.   Bruce Stewart

Trenton, NJ — Just three years shy of age 70, Jim King Jr. is coming off a 2019 harness racing season that could make him the subject of an AARP magazine cover story. The popular trainer conditioned two Dan Patch Award winners in pacing mare Shartin N and 2-year-old female pacer Lyons Sentinel, and Shartin N is one of the favorites for Horse of the Year, which will be announced Feb. 23 at the Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla. The King Stable, where Jim trains alongside wife Jo Ann Looney-King, won a career-record $4.27 million in purses last year, smashing its previous mark of $2.88 million set just one year earlier. He also had a career-best 168 victories and notched career triumph 1,000 in early December at Dover Downs. And in late December, King was named winner of the U.S. Harness Association’s Good Guy Award, which his wife had won previously in 2015. Again, this all happened at age 67. “It’s almost unbelievable,” King said. “These things don’t usually happen to old men; I’ll be 68 next month. Usually that’s on a downwind. And heck, outside of the age number, it doesn’t look to be like it’s going to be anything any different for a time to come.” The reason he’s sticking around is not just because of his recent good fortune. King will be in the barn as long as it’s feasible, no matter how few or many wins he collects. “This is what I always wanted to do to start with,” King said. “(Success) doesn’t want to make me do it any more or less. It doesn’t change anything about me, except I probably smile a lot more.” And this from a guy who is known for smiling a lot. He’s a good-natured, good-hearted soul who people enjoy being around, and he is proud to be known as a Good Guy. “That’s one of those awards that I don’t think the name suits the award,” King said. “It doesn’t sound like as much as it really is. It’s quite a thing to win that award for what it means. Of all the people that could possibly be chosen, I was, and my wife was in the past. I think that’s kind of special. “It’s a lot more than talking to reporters. The reporters get info from other people as well. It’s more than just I took the time. It’s that that other people in the business had good things to say about us. I think that plays into it. We always care about that sort of thing.” They also care about the sport itself, which is why King feels it’s important to serve as an ambassador. Then again, his general character make-up is being nice to those beyond the Standardbred business. He likes people in general. “Absolutely,” he said. “Sometimes my wife teases me about talking to total strangers about the business. She says, ‘They don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I say, ‘That’s OK, some day they will maybe.’ But anything that will catch a person’s ear and make them pay attention to it helps. I think it’s important to be a person that’s approachable, to be outgoing to people in and out of the business. It kind of lays out the way I like my lead my life. It’s not always about the gain. Sometimes it tends to be, but it’s not about the personal gain.” If the gain comes along, however, King won’t argue. With his dynamic duo of Dan Patch Award winners, opportunity knocked with a couple of heavy hooves. “Those are really nice horses, top quality, no doubt,” he said. “I don’t know if it took a genius to get the accomplishments done with them. Fortunately, I got to go along for the ride. They’re just really good horses. With a little luck, maybe we’ll do it again.” He had a known commodity with Shartin N, who had another outstanding season on the heels of her 2018 Dan Patch Award-winning campaign. Shartin N won 15 of 19 races last year at age 6 and earned $982,177 on her way to her second honor as the sport’s top older female pacer. She finished second to pacing stallion McWicked in the voting for 2018 Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year and is in the hunt for both awards again for 2019. “I was kind of disappointed she didn’t get it last year for whatever it’s worth, but she didn’t,” King said. “It’s hard for a mare to do; it’s got to be even harder for a foreign mare to do. Statistically I felt she had it last year, statistically I feel like she had it this year. I guess it’s not all about the numbers. I’ve never had anything like her before. There’s nothing like having something like her and owning part of a horse like her.” Then there was the newcomer, Lyons Sentinel, who surpassed expectations according to her trainer. She won nine of 14 races, was never off the board, and earned $801,809 to lead all 2-year-olds. “She didn’t just jump out as being the big dog, or being the best,” King said. “But each time I’d race her I would see traits that are very likeable. She liked to race, she’s not necessarily a run-off-and-leave-them type of girl, but she likes to win. Her will was just tremendous along with her ability.” And while that’s all in the recent past, it’s enough to keep King fired up for the immediate future as he is looking for another big year from the two of them and, hopefully, a few other horses who could make names for themselves. “They’re both a year older,” he said. “I’m hoping they both come back just somewhere close to where they were. At present time they both look real good. I’ve started them both back up and they’re very likeable. They kind of put themselves back together after a long year. “I don’t feel like I have any other horse the caliber of those two, but I’ve got a pretty nice bunch of horses as far as the stable goes. It’s exciting.” To hear King talk, last season’s excitement bordered on the sublime. “Things happened you just never felt could possibly happen,” he said. “It’s almost like the sky’s the limit. It’s amazing what you can do in this business. My wife and I lived in a tack room some years ago and then we go and win the Breeders Crown. I like to say I’ve walked every street.” Whether it’s another smooth street or a rocky road this year, King will continue to be a good guy and Jo Ann will remain a good gal. In fact, maybe the two of them should be the AARP cover story. They can safely be termed the “Good Couple” of harness racing. “I guess we are,” King said. “We’ve been together for 44 years now. It’s a real team at the stable. I’ve got quite a crew around here, and the support of my family (including Standardbred TV luminary Heather Vitale). It’s just kind of special. There is no such thing as Jim anymore. It’s Jim and Jo Ann. That’s the way it’s written, and it is definitely by choice.” A choice made by two good people. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent  

Greg and Skye Bond are the State’s pre-eminent trainers who will notch a remarkable achievement by having a record number of seven starters in the TABtouch WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. They appear to have a stranglehold on the $450,000 Group 1 feature event to be decided over the testing long journey of 2936m and they agree that classy seven-year-old Galactic Star is their major hope, with five-year-old Mighty Conqueror their second best winning prospect. The Bonds have won every major Group 1 event in the State, with the exception being the WA Pacing Cup in which they went close 12 months ago when El Jacko flew home along the pegs to finish a half-length second to the pacemaker Rocknroll Lincoln. Galactic Star, owned by Skye Bond and Rob Gartrell, is awkwardly drawn on the inside of the back line, leaving leading reinsman Ryan Warwick with the gnawing problem of whether to follow stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier, or to make a spirited effort to ease Galactic Star off the pegs and into the one-wide line as soon as possible. Galactic Star also started from the inside of the back line in the 2536m Fremantle Cup last Friday night and travelled strongly under lock and key in eighth position, four back on the pegs, before he hit a marker peg 250m from home and broke into a fierce gallop. He dropped back and finished last. “Ryan said Galactic Star was just ‘travelling’ and would have proved to be very hard to beat last week if he had not struck the peg,” said Gartrell, who also is a part-owner of stablemates Our Jimmy Johnstone, Vampiro and Ana Malak. “He’s a great horse and very dangerous. And the 2936m will be right up his alley.” This will be Galactic Star’s third attempt at winning the WA Pacing Cup. A 40/1 chance, he galloped out from barrier three in the 2018 Cup, raced at the rear and was blocked for a clear passage in the final circuit when 11th behind Soho Tribeca. Then, last year Galactic Star was a 4/1 chance from barrier seven when he raced three wide early before obtaining an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, and then wilting to finish 11th behind Rocknroll Lincoln. “To have four runners in the Cup is a great thrill,” said Gartrell. “Our Jimmy Johnstone likes to lead; he loves the long trip and will be very competitive,” he said. “You don’t often draw No. 1 at Gloucester Park, so when you do, you’ve certainly got to do your best work.” Our Jimmy Johnstone, an 11-year-old and veteran of 127 starts, will be handled by 21-year-old Bailey McDonough, the youngest driver in the race. If Our Jimmy Johnstone is successful, he will become the second oldest winner of the WA Pacing Cup behind Defiance, the 13-year-old gelding who was driven to victory by his trainer Bernie Cushing in the 1961 Cup. Our Jimmy Johnstone showed his ability as a pacemaker when McDonough drove him to an all-the-way victory in the 2536m Brennan Memorial last September. He started from  barrier four and raced in the one-out, one-back position when a sound fifth in last week’s Fremantle Cup which was won by Caviar Star who got up in the final couple of strides to beat the pacemaker Vampiro by a head. This will be Our Jimmy Johnstone’s fourth appearance in a WA Pacing Cup. As a six-year-old he was a 6/1 chance as the Bond stable’s only runner in the 2015 Cup when he started from the inside of the back line and raced one-out and two-back before finishing a sound fourth behind My Hard Copy. From barrier six and a 16/1 chance in 2017, he raced wide in the middle stages and finished last behind Chicago Bull. In last year’s Cup he was a 125/1 outsider from barrier nine and raced one-out and two-back when a solid fifth behind Rocknroll Lincoln. Vampiro, to be driven by Colin Brown, will again start from the outside barrier (No. 9) and Brown is likely to again use the six-year-old’s sparkling gate speed in a bid to set the pace. “Skye has always been a big wrap for Vampiro,” Gartrell said. “He’s probably been a bit immature and has taken a while to come through. He’s getting better and better and last week he showed what he can do. He has that speed (at the start) and he’s tough. It will be interesting to see where we go from barrier nine this week. I think he has the speed to cross (to the front).” Ana Malak was driven by Michael Grantham in last week’s Fremantle Cup when he started from barrier seven and was 11th at the bell before charging home along the pegs to be a close-up and eye-catching fourth behind Caviar Star. Nathan Turvey will drive Ana Malak from the No. 7 barrier this week, with Grantham being engaged to handle the Bond-trained Our Alfie Romeo, the only mare in the race. Ana Malak, whose 11 wins from 23 starts include the Four-Year-Old Classic and Golden Nugget in late 2018, is being sought by American buyers. “This could be his swansong,” said Gartrell. “We have received quite a good offer and a decision hasn’t been made. You’ve got to be commercial in this industry. But if he wins the Cup, he probably won’t be up for sale.” Our Alfie Romeo, a winner at 18 of her 36 starts, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 on the front line. But she faces a stern test against seasoned group 1 campaigners. The Pacing Cup has not been won by a mare over the past 48 years, with the most recent winner being the Les Marriott trained and driven Pyramus in 1972. Nineteen mares have won the big race in its 106-year history, with only four being successful over the past 73 years. Letty Lind, a mare trained and driven by Charlie Fraser, rated 2.46.3 when she beat another mare, Heather Bells by ten lengths in the inaugural Cup at the WACA Ground in 1913. Our Alfie Romeo warmed up for this week’s assignment in grand style when she began speedily from barrier three, set the pace, sprinted over the final quarters in  28.2sec. and 27.4sec. to win, unextended, by almost three lengths from Fake News at a 1.57.3 rate over 2130m last Friday night. Dylan Egerton-Green has been booked to drive the richly talented Mighty Conqueror, a five-year-old who has raced only 26 times for 15 wins. The New Zealand-bred gelding will start from barrier five and looks set to fight out the finish. He has recovered from a bruised hoof which forced him to miss last week’s Fremantle Cup. Warwick is a great admirer of Mighty Conqueror and after driving him to victory at Gloucester Park earlier this season he said: “His ability is scary. His weaponry is outstanding and every time I come off the track, I say to everyone that it is unreal what he can do. We haven’t had one like him for a while and he doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s pretty exciting.” Egerton-Green has a wonderful association with Mighty Conqueror. He has driven him just twice for a third to Ana Malak and Ideal Liner in the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic in November 2018 and for a nose second to Ana Malak in the $200,000 Golden Nugget the following month. Shockwave, the beaten 9/4 favourite when sixth in last week’s Fremantle Cup, has drawn poorly at barrier eight on the front line, but has an exceptional turn of speed and is capable of a bold showing for trainer Ryan Bell and ace reinsman Gary Hall jnr. Shockwave, winner of the Golden Nugget in mid-December, raced in eighth position in last week’s race before starting a three-wide move 900m from home. He moved to second at the 550m mark before wilting in the closing stages.   “When I watched the replay, his personal sections were off the charts,” said Bell. “Barrier eight this week is just a starting point. I’m pretty rapt with him and, with luck, he can play a big part this week.”   Ken Casellas

Peter Chivers, a former Victorian country footballer, has always been an enthusiastic follower of harness racing and his determination to become actively involved in the sport is paying handsome dividends. He is now a proud part-owner of Caviar Star, winner of last week’s Fremantle Cup and a major player in the $400,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Almost 25 years ago, Chivers and several of his teammates at the Maryborough Football Club in the Bendigo League chipped in a few dollars to purchase an unraced two-year-old named Young Rhapsody. The young pacer, trained by John Dewhurst, had injury issues and he broke down at his debut and only start. Chivers, now a 53-year-old personal trainer, continued to play country football in Victoria until 19 years ago when he ventured to Perth when one of his mates Jeremy Humm was drafted by the West Coast Eagles. “The Eagles were affiliated with WAFL club East Perth and Jeremy was playing with them,” said Chivers. “He knew that I was keen for an assistant coaching role and said he would give me a leg up at East Perth. The rest is history. I came over and worked for seven years on the senior coaching staff at East Perth where I learnt a lot from Tony Micale, Mark Merenda and David Hynes. “I maintained my keen interest in harness racing and I followed Gary Hall senior and Gary Hall junior. I could see that they were pretty dominant and of the highest ilk. I didn’t know the Halls, but I approached Junior one day on Twitter about 18 months ago. “I had a chat with him, and he put me on to Senior, who told me that that he was hoping to buy Caviar Star from New Zealand. So, that day I viewed the form of Caviar Star and went from there. I’ve got about a 20 per cent interest in the horse. “To be able to own my own horse is a thrill, and it has turned out to be a fabulous ride. The success we’ve had with Caviar Star has been amazing. When I got a share of Caviar Star I met the other owners Karen Hall, Don MacGregor Nick Patriarca and his son Rob and they welcomed me in like they had known me for years. “We had our first race on a Saturday night at Gloucester Park (on July 14, 2018) when it was teeming with rain. Caviar Star started from the outside of the back line and sat three deep for the final 1000 metres and won at a 1.57.3 rate. I then thought that we’d got a horse with a bit of ability.” Caviar Star cost his new band of owners $60,000 (including costs to bring the gelding to Perth) and has been a wonderful success, with his 27 starts in Western Australia producing ten wins, nine seconds and one third for $324,723in prizemoney.    Hall snr, who chalked up a record nine wins in the Fremantle Cup when Stuart McDonald drove the five-year-old to a thrilling head victory over Vampiro last Friday night when the gelding rated 1.54.2 to smash the 2536m track record held by superstar Lazarus, is seeking his twelfth victory in a WA Pacing Cup. “From barrier six it is going to be hard,” Hall said. “Caviar Star is an honest little horse. He is no Chicago Bull or Im Themightyquinn, but he is versatile and tries his heart out.” Chivers agreed with Hall, saying: “It’s going to be hard, but you never know. The horse is in form and is timed to the minute by Senior. We’ve got to make our own luck and if you give yourself the best opportunities you never know your luck in a big race.” While Chivers is an absolute novice in the sport and to big races, champion reinsman Chris Lewis is at the other end of the scale and will be enjoying the experience of competing in a WA Pacing Cup for the 37th time. A winner of the big race five times (with Village Kid in 1986, 1988 and 1989, Hilarion Star in 1994 and Saab in 1999) Lewis will be in the sulky behind speedy New Zealand-bred five-year-old Bill Haley, who is prepared by his wife Debra. Bill Haley is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line and should be prominent throughout. He possesses a powerful finishing burst and is in top form. He started from the No. 1 barrier in the Fremantle Cup and was fifth, three back on the pegs at the bell, before running home fast, out wide, to be third behind Caviar Star and Vampiro. He thundered home from last at the bell to win from Caviar Star over 2130m the previous week.   Ken Casellas

Harness racing breeding boffins may well have been overheard saying “here we go again” after watching the Rangiora trials on Tuesday. Within the results page the name “Karmic Delight” a handy  1 1/4 length winner may have caught the eye, not for the way in which she won, but through the mere fact that she’s from the womb of a daughter of Waihemo Rainship.   A Soky’s Atom mare Waihemo Rainship started her racing career for Paul Kerr. After a handful of starts training duties were given to Jeff Whittaker and success followed soon thereafter with a 2nd place in the Northern Oaks and a 4th to Party Party in the Group 1 Fillies Series Final. The latter part of her racing career was spent in the care of Doug Gale where a consistent and winning form-line was carved out including a 4th in the Group 1 NZ Messenger behind Agua Caliente. For all her achievements on the track it’s as a broodmare that Waihemo Rainship and her daughters have really left their mark.         Notable performers out of Waihemo Rainship include the Waikato Guineas winner and Group 2 Elsu Classic runner-up West Coast Anvil, the Doug Gale trained Black Chevron who amassed eight wins while in New Zealand and has a sub 1.52 mile rate to his name in North America, Anvils Revival who has no less than 27 wins over Australasia and the United States based flyer Tempest Anvil. Karmic Delight Daughters of Waihemo Rainship continue to produce great results in the broodmare paddock as well with Bettor B Chevron (21 wins,$290,000) Anvils Delight (sub 1.55) and Speed Man ($190,000 earner in Australia) all out of In The Pocket mare Waihemo Anvil while Anvil On Fire (9 wins, $81,000 stakes) has produced the now Australian based Karmic Fire, a sub 1.54 mile winner at Menangle.         The Waihemo Rainship family will be represented once again at the 2020 New Zealand Standardbred Yearling Sale in the form of “Always B Bella” . Lot 76 is a filly to be offered by Breckon Farms. By the fastest standardbred of all time Always B Miki “Always B Bella” is out of Bella Anvil a Christian Cullen mare who raced sparingly out of the Nigel Mcgrath stable notching up a maiden win and two placings from just the six starts. The filly has some big hooves to fill but you get the impression she’ll be at short odds to continue the strong family history of success.  Ben McMillan