Hilltop Hustler

Ararat is where it's at on Saturday night

Michael Stanley’s Hilltop Hustler looks well-placed in Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup. The Redan five-year-old gelding will come out of barrier nine in the 2570-metre race, which carries stake money of $25,505. Hilltop Hustler won at Horsham two starts back in the $8505 O’Keefe before a game third off a 20- metre handicap in the Boort Pacing Cup on March 15. “At Boort he pinned the ears back and had a real crack,” said Stanley, who trains and drives Hilltop Hustler. “He’s a tough little bugger. He leaves everything out on the track … He should be hard to beat.” Hilltop Hustler is a winner of 12 races from 52 starts for stake earnings of $107,626. He has placed on a further 13 occasions. At about this time last year he won the Warragul Pacing Cup defeating Lovable Larrikin by 1.3 metres and Savesomtimetodream by seven off equal marks. The latter, trained by Paul Rowse at Ross Creek, has to spot Hilltop Hustler 10 metres from the stand start conditions at Ararat. “It’s not going to be easy from the second row but he’s working as good as ever,” Stanley said of his runner. “It’s an even sort of field.” Stanley withdrew Hilltop Hustler from a recent Melton meeting because the pacer had a virus. But a round of antibiotics has cleared up the charge’s ailment and he’s expected to be fit and firing for the Ararat feature. Twelve horses have accepted for the Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup, which will be run at 10pm. Club secretary Lloyd Grice said former AFL player turned RSN radio host Mick McGuane would be on-course master of ceremonies at Ararat, filing roving reports over the microphone and helping run the punters’ club. “It’ll be great having Mick there,” Grice said. Patrons can purchase punters’ club tickets for $10 and they essentially can’t lose, because everyone who purchases a $10 ticket will receive a $10 TAB voucher. “You’ve got your money back before there’s even been a race won,” Grice said. The club has organised plenty of children’s activities but the club is hoping to attract a mix of patrons including families, punters and people just keen for a great social outing. “There’ll be plenty for the families but there will be plenty for everyone,” Grice said. “We’re hoping to get a great crowd for the Easter Saturday meeting. “We’ll even have the Easter Bunny there handing out some goodies for the kids.” A $1000 TAB voucher will be won on the night via Harness Racing Victoria’s TAB Trots Selfies competition with patrons simply having to post a “selfie” on to facebook.com/trotselfies with the most creative entry taking the coin. The 10-race card gets under way at 6.25pm with the last at 11pm. The Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup will also be held at 8.30pm with in-form Death Defying sure to prove hard to beat with Nathan Jack in the sulky for trainer Kari Males. The Ararat Cup meeting is a leg of the TAB Trots Country Cups Carnival.  CODY WINNELL COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MANAGER  

Chica Bella after winning the LPC Belmont feature

Well laid plan executed to perfection

There is nothing better for a trainer or driver in harness racing to have a well laid out plan realised, especially if it is a feature race. That's how it panned out for trainer Paul Hill and driver Ricky Duggan who teamed up to win the $10,000 Launceston Pacing Club's Belmont event with smart two-year-old filly Chica Bella. "On paper we thought she could lead from the pole, get away with some soft sectionals midrace and then sprint home," Duggan said. "That's exactly how it panned out and the filly did exactly what we thought she was capable of doing," he said. In a small field of six Chica Bella had no trouble in retaining the lead from the inside spot after a short stoush with Twentythreered that ended up facing the breeze with the well-backed first starter Guesstamate trailing the leader with Scorchin Safari in the one-out-one-back position. When Twentythreered dropped off turning for home Duggan called on Chica Bella to sprint and she delivered the goods to score by 1.3 metres from Guesstamate that ran home along the rails with Scorchin Safari over three metres away third. Chica Bella is owned by the trainer's wife Julie Hill who bred the filly and races her with her brother-in-law Robert Hill and step-son Scott Hill. The trainer says the daughter of Cardmaster Hanover showed ability from day one. "She has been a nice, easy going filly from the outset and has never missed a beat since she's been in work," Hill said. "Other than stepping out of her gear for a few strides when off the second line on debut she has been faultless." "We targeted the Launceston Belmont and now that she has learned how to win she will be competitive when we step her out in a heat of the Sweepstakes in Hobart next month," Hill said. Peter Staples

Blacks A Fake 1.jpg

Big shoes to fill

Spudvegas is the 13th foal from broodmare Colada Hanover to race, but when he won on debut at Goulburn yesterday, he did something most of his siblings have been unable to do.  Of his 12, only two have won at their first race start. Left Stranded scored at Gloucester Park in 2006, while the first horse in the family to achieve the feat was the quadruple Inter Dominion winner Blacks A Fake. Blackie, as he was affectnionately-known, debuted at the Gold Coast on August 6, 2003. Spudvegas is owned by Wayne and Ann Lamb and was bred by popular breeder Eric Basham.  Basham enjoyed the victory and watched the races on the television from his home in Young. “My wife Rosemary and I watch all of the horses race that we breed,” Basham said. “Rosemary even gets the trials off the internet so we can watch them too, they are still our babies. “There are only two more foals after Spudvegas, the next filly is named Goinsenial and she was purchased by the Rattray family, while I have leased out the last filly out of Colada Hanover.” Colada Hanover died within 24 hours of giving birth to Colada Hanover, and while Basham could not have saved the mare, he still questions himself. “She had the foal just before sundown and she was fine, my son got up to check on her at 1am the next morning and she was ok, but when I went to check on her at dawn, she was dead,” Basham explained. “The vets told me there was nothing I could have done and she most likely suffered an internal bleed after giving birth, but it was still very traumatic at the time.” Since then Basham has had some issues of his own including a broken back. “In August last year I had two young horses in a yard and I was trying to put a headstall on one of them, and while I was doing that, the other horses bit the one I was working with on the bum and I was thrown to the ground, the sound my back made was like that of a whip being cracked,” Basham said. “I managed to get up, but it has been a long recovery. There was a lot of pain, and while it has now healed, I find it difficult to stand or sit in the one position for long periods of time.” Basham confirmed he decided to lease the final foal from Colada Hanover to a vet from Young after she provided him and Rosemary with a lot of help. “The filly was a poddy foal and she was a bit backward, I had her running with the colts as a weanling and Jantien Saltet my vet said to me I’m going to take that filly and feed her up,” Basham said. “She did that and it has made a great difference to the filly, so I offered to lease her to Jantien for all of her help. It was the least I could do.” By Art Major, Spudvegas is trained by leading horsewoman Belinda McCarthy. HRNSW Media

Peter Gadsby

Double Event provides great memories for Gadsby

Peter Gadsby and Brian Lockwood were great mates, they raced Double Identity and enjoyed some great highs with the Miracle Mile winner. While the pair remained good friends, they pursued other harness racing interests several years ago. However, early last year they decided to go into partnership with trainer Harry Martin again with an unraced son of Blissfull Hall. Gadsby named him Double Event and he won three races in his first season of racing. Tragedy struck on November 24 last year when Brian Lockwood passed away suddenly, but Double Event still races on in the colours that Double Identity made famous, yellow with dark blue hooped sleeves. The five year old resumes from a short break on Thursday night at Penrith in the first heat of the Carousel and Gadsby is hoping he can win again in memory of his good friend. "I've experienced some great thrills in harness racing with my horses but some of the times my wife Wendy and I spent with Brian and his wife Shirley were unforgettable," Gadsby said. "We had just started racing horses together again and reliving the good old days with Double (Identity) when he passed away unexpectedly, it was terrible." Double Event has won three races already this year and has continued to improve with an impressive last start victory over My General Lee. "Harry has always had an opinion of him, but he has just thrived on racing at Menangle and his last start win was very good because he rated 1:52.7 in winning." "I'm hoping that Double Event wins a good race in memory of Brian, and the Carousel definitely fits into that category, first though he has to qualify for the final by winning on Thursday night." Gadsby won the Carousel in 2005 with Smooth Crusa. "He was a nice horse and after winning the Carousel in May of 2005 he was raced in the Tasmanian Inter Dominion less than twelve months later." "The Carousel is a race that is won by nice horses that's for sure." Monifieth (2013), Gold King (2002), Sailors Corner (1999), Warwick Lad (1998) and Highview Ana (1996) are all former winners of the Gr. 2 event. Greg Hayes

Gallant harness racing gelding Motu Crusader is on target to win consecutive Easter Cups following his impressive heat win at Launceston last Sunday night. Motu Crusader over came off a 40-metre handicap to score in style, suggesting he has lost none of the power he showed to win last year’s Easter Cup. With Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang in the sulky, the eight-year-old stepped well and made up ground gradually before unleashing a powerful sprint to emerge triumphant over Riverboat Jasper and rising talent Ardlussa Express. Trainer Zeke Slater was thrilled with Motu Crusader’s effort. “If I had have been asked two weeks ago whether the horse was going as well as last year I would have said no, but in the past week he has come on really well and tonight he showed me he’s back to where he needs to be to win another Easter Cup,” Slater said. Motu Crusader dead-heated for second in his heat last year before going on to win the Final convincingly. The remaining Easter Cup heat was won by Victorian-owned gelding Rule Like A King, which is being prepared for the feature by Beauty Point trainer-driver Rohan Hillier. Driven by Hillier, Rule Like A King rolled to the front soon after the start, and when challenged along the home straight, he had no trouble fending off his rivals. The son of Mach Three scored comfortably from another Victorian, Outrageous El, with Tasmanian Cup winner Star Chamber third. PETER STAPLES

We are all aware of the term Gentleman Jim. While few may know its original, the moniker has no more deserving place than serving as a prefix for harness racing’s legend Jim Hurley. A true Gentleman Jim in every sense, Hurley was a star, which has sadly been lost to the industry with his passing at the age of 90. In a career spanning more than five decades, Hurley won more than 1000 races, including being associated with 1964 Inter Dominion winner, Minuteman. Trained and driven by Eric Hurley, Minuteman was part-owned by Jim, his brother and their sister, Phyllis. Just last January, Hurley trained Heza Presidente to compete in the South Australia Cup…a race Minuteman captured in 1966. Harnesslink and the entire Australian harness racing community extends its sympathy to Hurley’s family and friends. PAUL COURTS

Life has been tough for astute harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco in recent times, but he has every reason to smile at the moment. Battling depression, Dimarco returned to the industry last year and has enjoyed a sensational rate of success. Leading the charge is boom youngster Shadow Runner, which is unbeaten from four starts, including the Bathurst Gold Crown. Driven by Michael Formosa, Shadow Runner worked hard from his second row draw before scoring by a short half-head from Karloo Damajor. In a ‘blanket finish’, Sams The Master was a half-head away third. “It got tight at the finish, but he got there, which is the main thing,” Dimarco said. “I’m rapt, couldn’t be happier. “That’s my first Group One win and to share it with my daughter Marissa, who owns Shadow Runner is amazing.” Covering the last half in 57.2 seconds, Shadow Runner rated a brilliant 1:55.7 for the 1730-metre trip, smashing the race record set by Jaccka Taurus in 1999 by 2.4 seconds. To be given a brief let-up, the gelded son of Shadow Play will then be set for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. “He is already bucking around in the paddock and ready to go again,” Dimarco said. “You wouldn’t even know he’d raced on the weekend. “I will give him an easy week, then get ready for the Breeders’ Challenge.” PAUL COURTS

Star Tasmanian harness racing participant Gareth Rattray reached a great milestone in Launceston last night where he notched his 1000th win. Rattray ended the program with a double to expand to take his season total to 59 wins. It was Holme On The Bayou which provided Rattray with the magical milestone. Reaching such a mark at the age of 29 is quite a remarkable feat and it is clear Rattray is already is one of the greatest Tasmanian reinsmen. Last December, Queenslander Peter McMullen became the youngest Australian driver to record 1000 wins when successful behind Ezi Days at Albion Park. McMullen was 23 years, four months, and 18 days old. Popular reinswoman Amanda Turnbull set the previous mark when she partnered Forever Texas to glory at Peak Hill last June. Turnbull was 24 years and 4 months, which bettered Morgan Woodley 24 years and eight months. Others to reach 1000 wins at a young age include Luke McCarthy (25 years, one month and two days), Kerryn Manning (25 years, eight months and seven days), Gary Hall junior (26 years, seven months and 17 days) and Greg Sugars (26 years, eight months and seven days). As for Rattray, he is just the fifth Tasmanian to achieve the feat – the others being is father Barrie Rattray (1567 wins), Neville Webberley (1369), Ricky Duggan (1332) and the late Darrel Alexander (1315). Rattray is on target to win his 10th consecutive drivers’ premiership given he is 25 clear of his nearest rival Ricky Duggan. Rattray, twin to Inter Dominion winning horseman James, began driving in 2001, and after winning his first driver’s premiership in 2005/06, has dominated the state’s driving ranks. If he wins this season’s drivers’ title he will be only three premierships behind the great Jack Stamford. Gareth’s father Barrie won 11, while Neville Webberley and Bert Lewis each won seven. Along the way Rattray has represented Tasmania on numerous occasions, winning the Australasian Young Driver’s Championship twice. He also represented Australia at the World Driving Championships in Europe in 2009. Rattray is no stranger to winning feature races with the following just a few of his major successes:  •Tasmania Cup 2012 (Motu Crusader) and 2013 (Motu Crusader). •Tasmanian Derby 2015 (Mister Lennox). •Hobart Pacing Cup 2005 (The Grouse), 2009 (Yakuza), 2013 (Benediction) and 2014 (Spot Nine). •Evicus Stakes (2YO fillies) 2008 (Karalta Crown) and 2010 (Benediction). •Dandy Patch (2YO colts and geldings) 2008 (Cody Maverick). •Globe Derby (3YO) Stakes 2011 (Beautide). •Raider Stakes (4YO) 2010 (Babyitsu). •Granny Smith (4YO Mares) 2007 (Death and Taxes). •2YO Sweepstakes 2010  (Benediction), 2011 (Cloudy Delight) and 2012 (Pachacuti). PETER STAPLES

Harness racing fans can take a step back in time at Easter Sunday's Warragul Cup meeting, by viewing a memorabilia display. An area of items relating to the Warragul Cup will be on display in the undercover area outside the Sponsors Room. And courtesy of the family of the late Gippsland trainer, John Collins, items on display will include race trophies won by the great local pacer of the 1960's, Macaree. Macaree's colours, and original all leather harness, will also be on show along with photographs and scrapbooks. The brilliant pacer, an idol of Melbourne Showgrounds crowds, was only 15 hands high and earned the nickname "The Little Bulldog." The tiny horse was full of courage, winning 56 races including the 1967 Lightning Mile at Harold Park, the Stawell Cup and numerous Melbourne events. He ran in the 1967 Miracle Mile, and also placed second twice in the Kilmore Cup from 48 yards and 60 yards behind. It is fifty years since Macaree won the 1965 Warragul Cup from a 48 yard handicap. It is also sixty years since the first Warragul Cup was held in 1955. John Collins also trained several other smart pacers, including Annastere, the filly who beat the boys to win the 1972 Victoria Derby. It is expected that Annastere's winning sash from the Derby will also be on display. A video screen will show old trotting races from Warragul throughout the day and various rare photos, including the photo finish print from the first Warragul Cup, will be on display. The Warragul club is always keen to hear from people who have items of interest relating to the club that can be copied to add to their collection. Sunday's meeting features the $25,000 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, and action kicks off just after Noon. Kyle Galley

The rich QBRED Breeders Classic Finals were staged at Albion Park last night (Friday) and provided great harness racing. The Gr.2 three-year-old finals were worth $50,000 each while the Listed four-year-old finals were worth $25,000 each. The night coincided with the culmination of the Racing Queensland Girls On Track race series. In the 3yo Fillies final, the Phil Mitchell prepared Cullens Jewel made full use of her front-line draw and led throughout to score a convincing victory defeating Mathilda Diventa and Feel The Faith. Race favourite Bettorthanspecial finished fourth. Cullen Jewel rated 1;58.5 for the 2138m journey while covering her final half in 57.5 seconds. Mark Dux took the winning drive on the American Ideal – Cullens Cameo filly. It was her biggest victory to date and her fourth overall. Smart pacer Admiral Bronski took honours in the 3yo Colts and Geldings final after a brilliant tactical drive from leading reinsman Shane Graham. After starting from a second-line draw, the Art Major – Bronski Gorgeous colt whipped around the field at the 1200m mark and took the lead away from race favourite A Good Chance before handing back over at the 800m marker. Admiral Bronski finished quickly via the sprintlane and held off the fast finishing burst of Jack Malone with Uncle John filling third. Race favourite A Good Chance finished fourth. Admiral Bronski rated 1;58.0 for the 2138m journey with the final half covered in 58.9 seconds. Trained by Mick Grant, Admiral Bronski is now the winner of 7 races from 23 starts. In the 4yo divisions, the favourites proved too classy for their rivals. Flashy chestnut Mafuta Vautin, trained and driven by Darrel Graham, led throughout in the Entires and Geldings final defeating Mister Higgins and The Duke Downunder. Bred and raced by Linda Graham, the Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding has now won 9 of his 13 career starts. Mafuta Vautin rated 1;57.9 for the 2138m journey while finishing off in 58 seconds. In the 4yo Mares final, Charming Allie worked her way to the front and defied running down in the home straight defeating Beef City Safari and Morethanmeetstheye. Bred and raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour, the Grant Dixon trained and driven mare claimed her 17th career victory from 27 starts. The Mr Feelgood – Charm Personified mare rated 1;59.0 for the 2138m journey while running her last half in 57.1 seconds. Congratulations to all winners and their respective connections. Racing Queensland

Harness Racing New South Wales has assigned security personnel on all runners engaged in tonight's Gr. 1 Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown. The harness racing event will be run on the new 1000 metre Bathurst track for the first time. The security personnel were in position at 7am this morning and will remain with the runners until they are presented on course tonight. HRNSW's objective in the use of this strategy is to provide a level playing field for all runners under its regulation and control. It is the first time that security has been assigned to monitor Gold Crown runners and follows on from the strong integrity measures undertaken during this year's Sydney Inter Dominion carnival. Greg Hayes | Media Coordinator | Harness Racing New South Wales |      

Glenferrie Bronte has emerged as a serious Victoria Oaks hopeful after a stunning harness racing win in the Harness Breeders (Vic) Trackbred 3YO Classic tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. Trainer/driver Amanda Turnbull set the speed aboard the Changeover / Equus Franco filly after landing the front early from gate three. With Keayang Torah (Glen Craven, $13.10) up eyeballing her in the run, Glenferrie Bronte ($3.10) had to notch quicker sectionals than she would have liked. She covered the first quarter of the last mile in 28.9secs before a 28.8secs second split made it a 57.7secs first half. Glenferrie Bronte kicked clear coming off the back straight with Keayang Torah spitting the dummy after pulling hard. Last season’s Breeders Crown and Vicbred Super Series champion Niki No No (Greg Sugars, $2.9fav) spotted Glenferrie Bronte the best part of 20 metres at the home bend and was covering ground out wide. Glenferrie Bronte’s third quarter was 29.1secs and she was in top flight on straightening for the run home. Niki No No and Du Vella (Geoff Webster, $8.2), both driven off the speed, were launching late claims – especially Niki No No – but it was to no avail, Turnbull and Glenferrie Bronte clocking a 29.7secs final quarter for a mile rate of 1:56.7 over the 2240m trip, the margin 1.4m between the winner and Niki No No at the post. The victory was Glenferrie Bronte's fourth in six starts. >> Video: Watch Glenferrie Bronte take out the Harness Breeders (Vic) Trackbred 3YO Classic. Du Vella was third ahead of Lovelist (John Caladow, $9.8) in fourth and Union Ally (Grant Campbell, $39.40) in fifth. Delight Me, who would have started a short-priced favourite tonight, was scratched earlier today. by Cody Winnell

WILL ARDEN ROONEY'S WINNING STREAK CONTINUE? Since his Hunter Cup win during the TAB Summer of Glory carnival Kerryn Manning trained and driven Arden Rooney has become "the Cups King". The five-year-old gelding made it three straight cup wins following his Hunter Cup success with victories in the Terang and Geelong pacing cups. Tonight he will line up for five straight wins in the $20,505 2240-metre SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant Free-for-All at Tabcorp Park Melton. But he will have fierce opposition from several talented rivals, including speedy duo Chilli Palmer (drawn pole) and Franco Ledger (barrier nine). Tonight sees a 10-race card at Melton, kicking off at 6.30pm. And don't forget tomorrow night is Girls' Night Out at Cranbourne in support of the Women's Cancer Foundation.  First race of the night tomorrow is 6.20pm.   - FEATURE OF THE WEEK - SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant FFA 2240m mobile start @ Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday night 9.30pm 1: CHILLI PALMER Trainer: Amanda Grieve Driver: Alex Ashwood Form comment: One of the two fastest horses in the race, you'd have to say. He and Franco Ledger both have withering bursts of speed once they're in top flight. The problem here might be the barrier. He's a get-back-run-on horse, so he might find himself buried away on the pegs. The other side of that of course is if he gets that soft three-markers trip and they run along a bit up front, he'll be the fresh horse on the scene bursting home with any sort of luck late, either around the outside or through along the sprint lane. He's a last-start winner and he's top-class at his best, so don't leave him out.   2: SAVESOMTIMETODREAM Trainer: Paul Rowse Driver: Jodi Quinlan Form comment: The general view is that Jodi Quinlan will cross the polemarker with this talented seven-year-old before handing up to Arden Rooney. That would ensure Jodi and Savesomtimetodream would get first use of the sprint lane in the home straight. Can he win? He's coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Melton and Charlton in a FFA and the Charlton Cup. He's got to be more of a place chance, I'd suspect, but I'd never say never with this fella.   3: VILLAGEM Trainer: Glenn Douglas Driver: Glenn Douglas Form comment: Once upon a time he'd be one of the favourites here for sure and certain. Nowadays he's nine years old and his best racing is in the past. However, he's still competitive, as we saw three starts back when he defeated Wartime Sweetheart and Bit Of A Legend on Hunter Cup Night. His Geelong Cup was fair and his Charlton Cup second behind Barynya was also solid given he worked hard out three-wide late. Racing well but not for me against a few of these.    4: KOTARE ROLAND Trainer: Roly Wilson Driver: Neil McCallum Form comment: Not really a factor last weekend in the Echuca Pacing Cup. Wasn't beaten far though. His previous recent form is nowhere near strong enough for him to be entertained as any sort of realistic chance against some of these A-graders. Prefer in something easier at this stage.   5: ARDEN ROONEY Trainer: Kerryn Manning Driver: Kerryn Manning Form comment: Has really turned it on since his Hunter Cup win when 80-1! We'll never see those odds again with him. Made the trip to Swan Hill last start and won easily over Goodtime Marjie. Expect Kerryn Manning to send this fella forward at the start and attempt to find the lead. Once there I'd say he will be allowed to stroll, which seems to be his go. If Savesomtimetodream kicks up I'm tipping there'll be a bit of pressure about. That scenario would open the door for a Chilli Palmer or Franco Ledger late. But I'm tipping it'll be scenario A, with Rooney running to the front, setting the speed to suit himself and winning.      6: METRO MIKE Trainer: Emma Stewart Driver: Gavin Lang Form comment: Super-consistent customer who won back-to-back Melton races recently and was a touch unlucky not to win The Stampede as he paced roughly for a stride turning for home. He still attacked the line in that 1200-metre race and he'll be better suited to this trip. Both Arden Rooney and Franco Ledger prefer it longer, and while both have the class edge on their rivals, and Chilli Palmer always needs a pinch of luck given his racing style, it may open the door for Metro Mike to go close here at nice odds. I'm including him.   7: IT IS BILLY Trainer: Michael Barby Driver: Anne-Maree Conroy Form comment: Last-start winner at Melton when found the lead from gate five and rated 1:56.4 to comfortably defeat runner-up Fiery Achiever. Was first-up from a spell on that occasion so further improvement second-up would not surprise. He's a six-year-old with plenty of upside and despite the wide draw you need to show him respect.     8: LOVABLE LARRIKIN Trainer: Gaita Pullicino Driver: John Caldow Form comment: Has struck top form of late with two impressive wins, one at Bendigo and the other in The Stampede over 1200 metres at Melton. Draws inside-back-row here, following out noted sit-sprinter Chilli Palmer. So he'll get back no doubt and need to repeat his lightning late finishing burst of last start to get the chocolates. One for the trifectas.   9: FRANCO LEDGER Trainer: Geoff Webster Driver: Geoff Webster Form comment: Us Victorians are still disappointed we never got to see him contest the Inter Dominion Final. He would have gone close. Still managed to win the Group 1 Bohemia Crystal however on the big day in Sydney. In fact, it was not just a win ... he blitzed his opposition. He'll trail through nicely and will settle a bit closer to the speed than he did in the Hunter Cup when he stormed home late to run second to Arden Rooney. He's quicker than Arden Rooney, so if it comes down to who can sprint sharpest at the finish, he's the one you'd want to be on. He's a serious winning hope and I've got him running second.   10: FIERY ACHIEVER Trainer: Lance Justice Driver: Rodney Petroff Form comment: Handed up to It Is Billy last start and battled on well for second but was no match for the winner. He's drawn terribly here and against this lot a win would certainly surprise.   11: COLD MAJOR Trainer: David Aiken Driver: David Aiken Form comment: Rarely runs a poor race. Finished third behind Franco Ledger and Villagem in the Sokyola Sprint in January when worked in the run. He could play a role with a mid-race move but he's one for first-fours at best from the draw, I'd say. (Comments by Cody Winnell)     WIN A $50 TAB VOUCHER Here’s your chance to win a $50 TAB Voucher. To enter, tell us who you think will win the SEW Eurodrive Westburn Grant Free For All tonight (Friday night). All entrants that pick the winner will go into a random draw and whichever lucky entrant is drawn, wins the $50 TAB Voucher! Entries must be in by no later than 8:30pm tonight. One entry per person. Must be over 18 years of age to enter. Email competitions@hrv.org.auwith the subject WIN.  The winner will be notified via email.  

In juvenile Group One harness racing events it is very rare to find a large number of stallions represented.  In this day and age where ‘boom’ stallions are all the rage, it is interesting to look at the number of different stallions which will have runners in tomorrow night’s two feature events at Bathurst. In the Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown, with emergencies included, there are 13 stallions with progeny engaged.  This is in stark contrast to last year’s Gold Crown where only five stallions had sons compete in the $100,000 event.  Art Major is the only stallion with dual representation in the Crown. Also pleasing for HRNSW and its breeding initiatives is 10 runners are eligible for the Breeders’ Challenge series later in the year. “The Breeders’ Challenge for 2014/15 will begin in May with heats for the two and three-year-olds run across New South Wales and it is exciting to see so many breeders and owners supporting the series,” HRNSW Chief Executive Officer John Dumesny said. “With such a wide range of stallions represented on Saturday night it goes to show that there is a lot of support for the different sires available to both the hobby and professional breeders.” It is a similar story in the Slingsby Holdings Bathurst Gold Tiara, with the 14 finalists representing 12 different stallions.  If the two emergencies fail to gain a start then every runner in the race will be by a different sire.  Of the 14 fillies, 11 are eligible to compete in the Breeders’ Challenge. When the two races are combined, there are 20 stallions represented. The list of stallions include; Sportswriter, Always A Virgin, Village Jasper, Rock N Roll Heaven, Four Starzzz Shark, Village Jolt, Art Major, Mach Three, Jeremes Jet, Rock N Roll Hanover, American Ideal, Bettor Delight, Shadow Play, Kenneth J, Somebeachsomewhere, Gotta Go Cullect, Modern Art, Courage Under Fire, Tell All and Lis Mara. Of the current top 10 stallions on the NSW premiership, five have runners in the Gold Crown or Tiara, while it is no surprise that every stallion in the top 10 of the Leading Two-Year-Old Sire category has a qualifier. Five of the youngsters are also eligible for the rich Breeders’ Challenge Blue Series. HRNSW Media

Former Goulburn harness racing trainer Graham Moon made the move to Tamworth in January this year and while it has taken him a little while to set up his property he is looking forward to this Sunday's Armidale Carnival Of Cups meeting. Moon will have three runners this weekend with Franco Seville set to start in the Roberts and Morrow Chartered Accountants Armidale Cup. "Franco Seville has drawn very well but I think it is going to be very hard to beat Strathlachlan Andy even though he has drawn barrier seven," Moon said. "Franco Seville has started three times since I made the move from Goulburn and he is yet to miss a place up here but this is biggest test." Moon purchased 100 acres just outside of Tamworth and has been busy making a number of changes to the property. "There was a big shed that I converted into some stables but I had to put in a track so I put in a 650 metre track which is what I had back in Goulburn." "I still have to build some day yards for the horses, there is always something to be done but I am happy with the progress Jenny and I have made since we have arrived and all of the Tamworth people have been so friendly and helpful." The Brazen Jasper and Bobbie Mcardle will also represent the Moon stable on Sunday. "I'm going to have a drive of The Brazen Jasper on Sunday, he hasn't had much luck of late and I've been giving a few drives to Sam Ison but I thought I would sit behind him this weekend and just get a feel for how well he is going." "Bobbie Mcardle is a nice mare from New Zealand, she has only had the one run for me since arriving in Australia, I think as she settles in there will be even more improvement." Moon described the move from Goulburn to Tamworth as a 'treechange'. "Jenny and I were running two businesses in Goulburn, there was a lot of work and our property was worth good money but training horses in Goulburn in the middle of winter is a very tough job so we thought it might be time to make the move and try something different." "Our Goulburn property is still on the market but there has been some strong interest lately and while we have been in Tamworth Sam Hewitt has been staying there as the caretaker." With five horses in work and another couple ready to come back into work, Moon is looking forward to the warmer winter. "It will still get cold in the winter, the mornings are already crisp but they won't be as cold as those Goulburn mornings, we definitely won't miss that." Eight races will be run at Armidale's Carnival Of Cups meeting this Sunday with the first event scheduled for 12:53pm. Greg Hayes | Media Coordinator | Harness Racing New South Wales |

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Michael Stanley’s Hilltop Hustler looks well-placed in Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup. The Redan five-year-old gelding will come out of barrier nine in the 2570-metre race, which carries stake money of $25,505. Hilltop Hustler won at Horsham two starts back in the $8505 O’Keefe before a game third off a 20- metre handicap in the Boort Pacing Cup on March 15. “At Boort he pinned the ears back and had a real crack,” said Stanley, who trains and drives Hilltop Hustler. “He’s a tough little bugger. He leaves everything out on the track … He should be hard to beat.” Hilltop Hustler is a winner of 12 races from 52 starts for stake earnings of $107,626. He has placed on a further 13 occasions. At about this time last year he won the Warragul Pacing Cup defeating Lovable Larrikin by 1.3 metres and Savesomtimetodream by seven off equal marks. The latter, trained by Paul Rowse at Ross Creek, has to spot Hilltop Hustler 10 metres from the stand start conditions at Ararat. “It’s not going to be easy from the second row but he’s working as good as ever,” Stanley said of his runner. “It’s an even sort of field.” Stanley withdrew Hilltop Hustler from a recent Melton meeting because the pacer had a virus. But a round of antibiotics has cleared up the charge’s ailment and he’s expected to be fit and firing for the Ararat feature. Twelve horses have accepted for the Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup, which will be run at 10pm. Club secretary Lloyd Grice said former AFL player turned RSN radio host Mick McGuane would be on-course master of ceremonies at Ararat, filing roving reports over the microphone and helping run the punters’ club. “It’ll be great having Mick there,” Grice said. Patrons can purchase punters’ club tickets for $10 and they essentially can’t lose, because everyone who purchases a $10 ticket will receive a $10 TAB voucher. “You’ve got your money back before there’s even been a race won,” Grice said. The club has organised plenty of children’s activities but the club is hoping to attract a mix of patrons including families, punters and people just keen for a great social outing. “There’ll be plenty for the families but there will be plenty for everyone,” Grice said. “We’re hoping to get a great crowd for the Easter Saturday meeting. “We’ll even have the Easter Bunny there handing out some goodies for the kids.” A $1000 TAB voucher will be won on the night via Harness Racing Victoria’s TAB Trots Selfies competition with patrons simply having to post a “selfie” on to facebook.com/trotselfies with the most creative entry taking the coin. The 10-race card gets under way at 6.25pm with the last at 11pm. The Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup will also be held at 8.30pm with in-form Death Defying sure to prove hard to beat with Nathan Jack in the sulky for trainer Kari Males. The Ararat Cup meeting is a leg of the TAB Trots Country Cups Carnival.  CODY WINNELL COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MANAGER  
There is nothing better for a trainer or driver in harness racing to have a well laid out plan realised, especially if it is a feature race. That's how it panned out for trainer Paul Hill and driver Ricky Duggan who teamed up to win the $10,000 Launceston Pacing Club's Belmont event with smart two-year-old filly Chica Bella. "On paper we thought she could lead from the pole, get away with some soft sectionals midrace and then sprint home," Duggan said. "That's exactly how it panned out and the filly did exactly what we thought she was capable of doing," he said. In a small field of six Chica Bella had no trouble in retaining the lead from the inside spot after a short stoush with Twentythreered that ended up facing the breeze with the well-backed first starter Guesstamate trailing the leader with Scorchin Safari in the one-out-one-back position. When Twentythreered dropped off turning for home Duggan called on Chica Bella to sprint and she delivered the goods to score by 1.3 metres from Guesstamate that ran home along the rails with Scorchin Safari over three metres away third. Chica Bella is owned by the trainer's wife Julie Hill who bred the filly and races her with her brother-in-law Robert Hill and step-son Scott Hill. The trainer says the daughter of Cardmaster Hanover showed ability from day one. "She has been a nice, easy going filly from the outset and has never missed a beat since she's been in work," Hill said. "Other than stepping out of her gear for a few strides when off the second line on debut she has been faultless." "We targeted the Launceston Belmont and now that she has learned how to win she will be competitive when we step her out in a heat of the Sweepstakes in Hobart next month," Hill said. Peter Staples
Spudvegas is the 13th foal from broodmare Colada Hanover to race, but when he won on debut at Goulburn yesterday, he did something most of his siblings have been unable to do.  Of his 12, only two have won at their first race start. Left Stranded scored at Gloucester Park in 2006, while the first horse in the family to achieve the feat was the quadruple Inter Dominion winner Blacks A Fake. Blackie, as he was affectnionately-known, debuted at the Gold Coast on August 6, 2003. Spudvegas is owned by Wayne and Ann Lamb and was bred by popular breeder Eric Basham.  Basham enjoyed the victory and watched the races on the television from his home in Young. “My wife Rosemary and I watch all of the horses race that we breed,” Basham said. “Rosemary even gets the trials off the internet so we can watch them too, they are still our babies. “There are only two more foals after Spudvegas, the next filly is named Goinsenial and she was purchased by the Rattray family, while I have leased out the last filly out of Colada Hanover.” Colada Hanover died within 24 hours of giving birth to Colada Hanover, and while Basham could not have saved the mare, he still questions himself. “She had the foal just before sundown and she was fine, my son got up to check on her at 1am the next morning and she was ok, but when I went to check on her at dawn, she was dead,” Basham explained. “The vets told me there was nothing I could have done and she most likely suffered an internal bleed after giving birth, but it was still very traumatic at the time.” Since then Basham has had some issues of his own including a broken back. “In August last year I had two young horses in a yard and I was trying to put a headstall on one of them, and while I was doing that, the other horses bit the one I was working with on the bum and I was thrown to the ground, the sound my back made was like that of a whip being cracked,” Basham said. “I managed to get up, but it has been a long recovery. There was a lot of pain, and while it has now healed, I find it difficult to stand or sit in the one position for long periods of time.” Basham confirmed he decided to lease the final foal from Colada Hanover to a vet from Young after she provided him and Rosemary with a lot of help. “The filly was a poddy foal and she was a bit backward, I had her running with the colts as a weanling and Jantien Saltet my vet said to me I’m going to take that filly and feed her up,” Basham said. “She did that and it has made a great difference to the filly, so I offered to lease her to Jantien for all of her help. It was the least I could do.” By Art Major, Spudvegas is trained by leading horsewoman Belinda McCarthy. HRNSW Media
Peter Gadsby and Brian Lockwood were great mates, they raced Double Identity and enjoyed some great highs with the Miracle Mile winner. While the pair remained good friends, they pursued other harness racing interests several years ago. However, early last year they decided to go into partnership with trainer Harry Martin again with an unraced son of Blissfull Hall. Gadsby named him Double Event and he won three races in his first season of racing. Tragedy struck on November 24 last year when Brian Lockwood passed away suddenly, but Double Event still races on in the colours that Double Identity made famous, yellow with dark blue hooped sleeves. The five year old resumes from a short break on Thursday night at Penrith in the first heat of the Carousel and Gadsby is hoping he can win again in memory of his good friend. "I've experienced some great thrills in harness racing with my horses but some of the times my wife Wendy and I spent with Brian and his wife Shirley were unforgettable," Gadsby said. "We had just started racing horses together again and reliving the good old days with Double (Identity) when he passed away unexpectedly, it was terrible." Double Event has won three races already this year and has continued to improve with an impressive last start victory over My General Lee. "Harry has always had an opinion of him, but he has just thrived on racing at Menangle and his last start win was very good because he rated 1:52.7 in winning." "I'm hoping that Double Event wins a good race in memory of Brian, and the Carousel definitely fits into that category, first though he has to qualify for the final by winning on Thursday night." Gadsby won the Carousel in 2005 with Smooth Crusa. "He was a nice horse and after winning the Carousel in May of 2005 he was raced in the Tasmanian Inter Dominion less than twelve months later." "The Carousel is a race that is won by nice horses that's for sure." Monifieth (2013), Gold King (2002), Sailors Corner (1999), Warwick Lad (1998) and Highview Ana (1996) are all former winners of the Gr. 2 event. Greg Hayes
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