Day At The Track
Mark Purdon,Harness racing

Purdon makes impact at Nutrien sale

Mark Purdon’s rushed trip across from Christchurch to the inaugural Nutrien Yearling Sales in Melbourne reaped immediate rewards. Purdon threw his support behind son, Nathan, when he worked with leviathan owner Danny Zavitsanos to snare one of the top lots of the opening session on Saturday night a Bettors Delight colt out of former star filly Miss Hazel for $90,000. "He’s going to Nathan (Purdon) to train,” Zavitsanos said. “Mark (Purdon) is across. He and Nathan liked him and it’s great to be able to support Nathan now he’s set-up across here.” Purdon and Zavitsanos have a long and successful association. It was the All Stars stable that trained the Zavitsanos-owned Cruz Bromac when he won the 2019 New Zealand Cup.   In other Nathan Purdon stable news, young former Kiwi horseman Stuart McDonald shifted across from Perth last week to start as stable foreman. “I had about 10 years all-up in WA, broken-up with that six months in NSW, and the past three-and-a-half years with the Halls, but it was time for a new challenge,” McDonald said. “I’m hoping to do some driving as well as the foreman role. There’s about 15 horses in the stable at the moment.” The Purdon-bound colt is from the same family as former superstar juvenile Renaissance Man, while the dam Miss Hazel won 15 races, over $310,000 in stakemoney and boasts five winners from seven foals to race. He was one of three buys for Zavitsanos from the 100 lots on opening night. “Joanna (Zavitasnos’ wife) gave me a budget of $50,000 and I’ve spent almost $200,000 on night one, so I might be in strife,” Zavitsanos laughed. He paid $80,000 for a Captaintreacherous colt out of former star filly Lovelist, making it a half-brother to last season’s exciting youngster Treachery. It’s the same family as Miracle Mile contestant Out To Play and a long list of other star performers. “He was a lovely colt and Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) have had such great success with the family. He’ll go to them to train,” Zavitsanos said. “I also bought the half-sister to Shez All Rock (NZ Jewels winner) because she went so cheap. I wasn’t going to buy her, but I had to that for that price.” She’s a Rocknroll Heaven filly out of Just Irish Loch and went for $21,000. NSW owner Wayne Loader was very active at the top end and landed a Bettors Delight colt out of former superstar racemare Make Mine Cullen for $95,000. She’s headed to Bernie Hewitt’s stable. The top lot of the opening session was Lauriston Bloodstock’s Captaintreacherous colt out of former Australian Gold winning filly Musical Delight, making him a half-sister to this season’s NSW Oaks heat winner Beach Music. He went to Queenslander Shannon Price, who won a spirited battle against the likes of Loader, Dominic Martello and others. “It’s the second most I’ve ever paid for one. I went a bit higher than I planned,” Price said. “I was the under-bidder for Lazarus so I’m still haunted a bit by that. I wanted this guy.” Price revealed Lazarus sold for $75,000 and she was so keen on him she went to Kennards and offered $85,000 just 30 minutes later, but they knocked it back. “Yeah, I kicked myself every time he won a big race,” she said.   by Adam Hamilton

Another early start to the day for Kate Hargreaves with her trotters Well Defined and Downunder Barkers, Harness racing

Future well-defined for emerging trainer

Horse training is a notoriously demanding pursuit, but few could claim to be busier than current leading Victorian harness racing trainer Kate Hargreaves. Still in her 20s, Hargreaves is riding an impressive rise to success – so much so that she now finds herself training 40 horses while also, somehow, managing to continue in her full time “day job” as a primary school teacher. Bendigo-based Hargreaves currently leads the State Trainer’s premiership in Victoria, ahead of several big names who have dominated in the sport for decades – Emma Stewart, Anthony Butt/Sonya Smith and Andy Gath. In any given week, Hargreaves and her training partner Alex Ashwood travel hundreds of kilometres to opposite ends of the State, placing their teams in suitable company in centres as far flung as Mildura and Cranbourne. “I don’t really have any spare time and I don’t get a lot of sleep!” Hargreaves joked. “I’m up and at the stables by six in the morning, do that for a couple of hours then head to school – then I’m back at the stables after work and the doing administrative work.  It’s busy but I kind of like the balance between my work and being with the horses,” she said. “We have a terrific team of three full-time staff, and they are a key part of helping us to do what we are doing.” Hargreaves said she initially had hoped to be a race driver, but found opportunities were too few and far between, and the training partnership with Ashwood was formed around 2016 when they raced a trotter named Aldebaran Pete. Hargreaves trained nine winners in season 2017-18, then 24 in 2018-19 and an impressive 119 in an extended 2020 season.  So far this season, just over three months in, she has trained 40 winners. “Things have really stepped up in the past year or two, and probably this year in particular, it is getting hard.  So if we keep going the way we are, the plan is eventually that I will move to full time training, or perhaps initially at least cut back to part time teaching,” she said. A record-breaking fifth country trotters cup was in the bag for Kate Hargreaves at Mildura on Friday night (Photograph: Charli Masotti) While many trainers are driven by the competitive aspect of the sport, for Hargreaves, it’s all about the animals. “I was born into it – my dad Jeff trained and drove horses for years while my older brother Brett and I were growing up, and I was horse-mad from the moment I was born,” she said. “I helped dad, I drove in pony trots and I helped (Great Western trainer) Peter Manning in the school holidays.  Peter was just fantastic.  He would put you on anything to give you a go and help you learn. “Kerryn Manning and Grant Campbell have also been very influential on what I’ve learned, and Kerryn is still one of those people I very much look up to. Dad and Mum (Joan) never really pushed us into the sport – I just loved it, but they’ve supported both Brett and I every step of the way, our whole family has. “I love the animal more than the game.  I love being around them getting to know them and different personalities.  They’re such intelligent creatures and to do all the work with them, then see them race gives me such a sense of pride,” she said. “I see them as living beings with feelings and intelligence, rather than as a business.” While the Hargreaves work ethic is one key element in her success, the deeds of her trotter Well Defined are also playing a major role. Well Defined has so far won an unprecedented five trotters’ cups this season, most recently a heart-stopping last-bound victory in the Mildura Trotters Cup on Friday night.  He leads the Country Trotters Championship by a huge margin.  He also became only the third horse to win the race from a handicap of 40 metres or more (Satin Pride 1968 and Just Money 1971 won off 60 yards). “He’s got a very big heart and knows where the line is, but to win off the 40-metre handicap at Mildura – I was just so proud of him,” Hargreaves said. “I think he’s found his niche in country cups – he loves the stand and he loves the distance.  He’s one of my favorites, along with another trotter Don’t Care.  Both of them are part-owned by my brother Brett and his fiancé Brooke, so those wins are even more special.” Well Defined has now been sent to the spelling paddock, and Hargreaves said he would be aimed for a return for the next round of Trotters Cups from September.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Mildura Pacing Cup

Mach Dan salutes in 'great' Cup duel

A brilliant “handlebars down” battle to the line set up a thrilling Mach Dan victory in tonight’s Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup, with Emma Stewart’s young warrior eclipsing another valiant four-year-old to score. Leader Silent Major set the pace and was up for the fight, but Greg Sugars and Mach Dan had the answers from the breeze and drew a head clear on the line to claim the $60,000 classic. “Coming into the bell I thought we will make it a good staying test now over the last lap and we were handlebars down off the back and it was a great duel between both horses up the straight,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “Both of them tried their hearts out. Really good contest.” Major Meister initially led but the advance of Stewart runners prompted an early Aaron Dunn response and the trainer-driver guided Silent Major to the front. Mach Dan and Sugars would soon lob to his outside and the great battle to the line ensued. Watch the race replay click here! “I have a lot of respect for the leader, he was obviously a very good winner of his heat,” Sugars said. “We had a pretty soft heat run and I was hopeful that was enough to turn things in our favour at the end of the day. “He’s such a lovely racehorse Mach Dan. He’s very versatile and can probably adapt to any situation. “He’s just got better and better. Emma and Clayton (Tonkin) have done a super job with him. He’s such a wonderful racehorse, that’s testament to them and the job they do.” Sugars also paid credit to owner Danny Zavitsanos, who purchased Mach Dan off breeders Nixon Bloodstock with his wife Joanne and Warren Viney, and the gelding by Mach Three out of Bettor Give It has rewarded them with 14 wins from 24 starts and now more than $300,000 in winnings. “Danny’s obviously a huge asset to our industry,” Sugars said. "He’s put a lot of horses on the race track. That’s what the sport needs – guys like that. He’s a terrific owner to deal with win, lose or draw. He will get a real kick out of this, that’s for sure.”   HRV - Michael Howard

Well Defined, Harness racing

Trotter's defining season continues

Another chapter was etched in the extraordinary season of Well Defined, who fittingly closed out the first half of the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship season with a cup triumph, a stunning fifth in 2021. Trainer Kate Hargreaves and reinswoman Ellen Tormey have partnered for all of the six-year-old Majestic Son trotter’s 11 starts this year, nine of which have been country cups that have produced five wins and four placings. “He stuck his head out in the end,” Tormey told Trots Vision post-race. “He always makes me look good.” The run of success has given Well Defined a stranglehold on the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship, boosting him to 35 points, 18 clear of second-placed Stress Factor. Tormey said the cups had been some time in the making, with Well Defined putting the writing on the wall in 2020 and then pouncing when the opportunity presented. “During regional racing (last year) we put him in a few stands and he just went away so well,” she said. “He was racing against free-for-all class horses and not getting beaten very far. “We knew that when the country cups came around they would really suit him. Unfortunately they didn’t go ahead last year because of COVID. This year we knew he was going to do a really good job in the country cups.” And so he has, tonight overcoming the 40m back mark to win the eventful 2600m standing start. All runners got away fine but Downunder Barkers, backed into favourite late, galloped soon after the start and while he’d recover, another mistake with about 1000m to go would put paid to his hopes. Jerichos Trumpet led and when Show Me The Moolah galloped from leader’s back John Justice was able to improve Hatchback from the breeze to the pegs and give his fancied trotter a breather. Hatchback then made a play for the lead in the final lap and when Jerichos Trumpet broke gait Justice gained a jump on the competition, prompting an immediate response from Tormey to move three-wide and set off after the runaway leader. Her decisive move prompted a head-to-head battle to the line, with Well Defined nosing out his rival to win another coveted cup.   HRV - Michael Howard

Tune in for two exciting sales days live from Melbourne's Oaklands Junction, which will host Nutrien Equine's inaugural standardbred sale on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for online catalogue. And watch below for a live stream of the sale:       HRV

Just over a decade ago, Australian Peter Chambers made the bold move of purchasing a 2YO trotting filly from France for a six figure sum and his instincts have proven right on the money, with the mare, subsequently named Glenferrie Unixa, having now produced multiple group one winner Une Belle Allure and good harness racing performer Beau Garcon. Glenferrie Farms’ Chambers was, looking to replace brilliant trotting filly Kahdon, who had gone amiss, and had heard of a promising 2YO filly in France through Canterbury horseman Craig Thornley, who knew the trainer’s daughter, Laura Hue, then working in Prebbleton, New Zealand. Thornley, was employed nearby at Spreydon Lodge, where Chambers was a client and understood he had wanted to purchase a trotter with maternal lines from what he considered the best trotters in the world, France. Chambers sent Thornley to France for a week and he was on hand when Unixa was sent to the Normandy port city of Caen to qualify as a 2YO, which entailed trotting flawlessly over 2000m in under 1'22.0 km/h. As Thornley recalled recently: “I went to Caen and watched her trial. There were nearly 200 horses there, all 2YOs and she was the fastest filly on the day and after that I had a few drives of her. She was a really lovely filly.” Indeed Unixa was not only was she the fastest filly on the day, she was actually the fourth fastest overall, trotting home in 1’19”5, which is a respectable time on the sand track at Caen. Thornley says Chambers secured the filly from the trainer, Marion Hue for a six figure sum which as those who have purchased from France know is what you have to pay for a lovely French filly who had qualified well. "He got a really good deal with her, they really looked after him. He actually ended up racing another couple of horses with Mr Hue in France, but he didn't bring those ones back," recalls Thornley. Hue has won some big races in France including the country’s top race for 2YO fillies, the Prix Une De Mai. Unixa is a daughter of Onyx du Goutier (by Franco-American Buvetier d’Aunou) out of Life Sign, by another successful Franco-American-sire in Corot (Workaholic). Both Workaholic and Buvetier d’Aunou’s sire Royal Prestige, are by Speedy Crown, who has proven an absolutely superb nick with the French breed. Life Sign was also a half-sister to the very good performers in O’Donnell (T1.53.4MR, 11 wins, 426.150 euros) and Mister President (T1.56MR, 9 wins, 361,840 euros), a monte specialist. Renamed Glenferrie Unixa, the filly was trained in New Zealand Thornley’s partner Joanne Burrows, and quickly placed three times although she had developed some issues. "She must have injured herself on the way out, must have hurt her stifles or something, because she was not the same horse when she landed here,” says Thornley. “She couldn't stretch out fully, and could not trot as fast as she did when I drove her in France. She only raced a handful of times and she went to stud.” Chambers bred a filly by Angus Hall but after Glenferrie Unixa missed in two subsequent breedings, the mare was put on the market. “I really wished I’d bought her myself, I always thought she’d be a super broodmare, with those French bloodlines, which of course was why Mr Chambers bought her originally,” says Thornley. French enthusiast and Yabby Dam Farms proprietor Pat Driscoll snapped her up, while he also secured the Angus Hall filly (soon to be named Une Belle Allure) as a yearling not long after. Une Belle Allure went on to win four Group Ones, proving Chambers instincts to have been correct all along and both mares are in Yabby Dam Farms broodmare band and have progeny in the  Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale on the weekend. Lot 177 (Pictured) is a colt by Father Patrick out of Une Belle Allure while Lot 178 is a filly by Trixton out Glenferrie Unixa, and should be two of the most sought after trotting yearlings in the sale.   Lot 178 is a filly by Trixton out Glenferrie Unixa Lot 177 is a colt by Father Patrick out of Une Belle Allure View the Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale website.   Yabby Dam Farms

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North America every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound. Wolf Stride’s Wagga triumph Wolf Stride achieved yet another moment of glory in a brilliant season when he downed a star-studded field in the $100,000 Riverina Championship Final at Wagga. His superlative success in the Group 1 after being required to overcome a difficult barrier draw and a torrid passage, boosted his seasonal earnings to $349,430, behind only King Of Swing and Lochinvar Lad. Earlier in the year the Rock N Roll Heaven five-year-old gelding annexed the Allied Express NSW Sprint (in 1:49.1), the Bendigo and Terang Cups and the City of Melton Plate and finished third in the Miracle Mile and Ballarat Cup. The winner of $508,950 lifetime, Wolf Stride is out of the Breeders Crown champion Lilac Stride 1:54.4 ($276,140), an Art Major mare who is also the dam of the Group 3 winner Cherry Stride 1:51.2 (129,830). Lilac Stride was out of the Harold Park winner Labretta Franco (1:58.5), by Falcon Seelster from Looks The Part, by Nero’s B B from Living Doll, by Live Or Die. Labretta Franco, the dam of five sub 2:00 winners, was a sister to the NZ Group 2 winner Lewinsky Franco 1:51.4 ($172,980) and the exported Franco Looker (1:53.2) and a half-sister to the NZ Group 3 winner Let Loose and the WA Caduceus Club 3YO Classic winner Franco Look Alike. Wolf Stride was bred and is raced by Sydney enthusiasts Emilio and Mary Rosati.   WA Easter Cup winner   Leap Of Faith, who took out the $50,000 WA Easter Cup, main race of the Gloucester Park Good Friday meeting, is a McArdle mare from the same family as that which produced a top WA pacer in Our Max Phactor. Leap Of Faith – winning WA Easter Cup at Gloucester Park      – Daryl Hallows Photo   Leap Of Faith, who won her first five starts in WA as a four-year-old last season and has now won seven races, has a wealth of breeding on her dam’s side, being out of the Live Or Die mare Faith Philly, a member of the prolific Dusky Morn tribe. Faith Philly, who was only lightly raced, was a half-sister to the WA The Kersley winner Our Max Phactor 1:49.6 ($438,339), the Bathurst Gold Tiara and NSW Pink Bonnet winner My Sweetchilliphilly 1:52.1 ($122,440) and the Gloucester Park winner The Oyster Bar 1:57.1 ($142,184). Their dam, Tact Philly, was a half-sister to the glamour filly Classical 1:57.7, the winner of five and $291,590 in stakes, being out of Class Act (2:02.7), a Smooth Fella mare who was also the dam of The Lead 1:52 ($158,145) and the recent Newcastle winner Cant Explain It (1:56.3) and grand-dam of Mongolian Cavalry (1:53.2), Strawb’s Ideal Act (1:54.5) and Selling The Dream (1:55). This has been one of New Zealand’s most successful families over a long period. From the Class Act branch of it and to which Leap Of Faith belongs, others in the Australian Pacing Gold winner Park Life 1:53.2 ($188,571), the Bendigo Cup victor My Kiwi Mate 1:52.2 ($360,632), My Kiwi Lady 1:51.6 and A Bettor Act 1:55.7 (NZ Diamond Creek Farm Classic) are also members.   By Union Guy Ruby Wingate is proving herself a three-year-old of some worth in Victoria and over the Easter period she numbered the $50,000 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic among her successes. Ruby Wingate – winning Vicbred Home Grown Classic at Melton    – Stuart McCormick Photo She is a filly by the deceased Western Hanover horse Union Guy from Albert’s Belle, an Albert Albert mare who produced earlier winners in Union Belle (1:55.6), Impressive Guy (1:54.3) and Wingate Guy, all fully related to Ruby Wingate. Albert’s Belle, who was unraced, was out of the American bred Sachet Hanover, an Albatross mare who left five winners including the Moonee Valley winner Youcansaythatagain. Ruby Wingate was bred by Allan Stephens, of Allendale, near Ballarat.   Inter City Pace winner from good racemare Im Quick As Fire, a Bettor’s Delight six-year-old and a winner of the time-honoured Inter City Pace at Maitland, is out of Queen Of Fire, a capable racemare with a record of 1:57.1 who is proving a successful broodmare. Queen Of Fire is also the dam of Bettor Under Fire (1:59.8), a winner of six races in NZ and NSW. Queen Of Fire was a Courage Under Fire mare from Penultimate, by What’s Next from Dream Chaser, by Classic Garry from Dreamwood, by Lumber Dream from Madame Han, who established a great winning line for Victorian breeders Helen and the late Graham Head. Queen Of Fire was a half-sister to the top Tasmanian juvenile Majestic Emperor 1:58.1 ($186,378), to Major Mac (1:59.2) and to the Village Jasper mare Twisted Jasper (2:00.2), dam of Machtwister 1:54.4 (winner of 30 races and $135,893). Their dam, Penultimate, was unraced, but she left seven winners. She was a half-sister to Detroit Dan 1:56.8 ($118,639), Mister Motown (1:59.2, who won 17) and Star Chaser 2:01.1 (7 wins), who, in turn, was the dam of the ‘Cups King’ Safari 1:55.7 ($535,445), the Vicbred 2YO champion Our Maid Marianne 1:57.9 ($110,338), Astronaut 1:53.4 ($264,177) and Major Frank 1:52.8 ($119,028). Other members of this family, which was founded in America by the John Nelson mare Agnes, were the Derby winner Garnet River (1:50), Dont Hold Back (VIcbred 3YO Final), Zeuss Bromac, Gemfire, Vancouver Mac and others. Im Quick As Fire was bred by Melbourne breeders Merv and Meg Butterworth.         Crack colt by A Rocknroll Dance A two-year-old to take high ranking in Victoria this year is Solesseo Matuca, a product of the Rocknroll Hanover horse A Rocknroll Dance, who stands at Alabar Bloodstock’s Echuca property. Solesseo Matuca – winning Shakamaker Classic at Melton         – Stuart McCormick Photo   He has won four races and been twice placed from six starts for $30,300. He won the Shakamaker Classic at Melton in the smart time of 1:55.5 and appears every bit as good as the Victorians rate himn. Solesseo Matuca, who was bred by the late Ken Griffey, is out of a useful racemare in  Princess Dilinger (1:58.2), the best of whose several progeny have been the Youthful Stakes and VHRC 3YO Cup winner Youaremy Sunshine 1:53.8 ($139,500) and Top The Ace 1:55.2 ($107,171). Princess Dilinger ranks as a half-sister to the Melton winner Chirpy Chuckles (1:54.8), being by D M Dilinger from Kylie’s Reason, by Muckalee Strike from Jazz Band, by Jazzy Spark from Smooth Light, a daughter of the Victoria Oaks winner Tail Light. Princess Dilinger was 15 when she left Solesseo Matuca.   Scooterwillrev wins Tasmanian Easter Cup Most important race of the Tasmanian autumn calendar, the $75,000 Easter Cup at Launceston, was won by the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Scooterwillrev, who downed Ryler Major in a photo finish. Scooterwillrev, who was bought for $42,000 as a yearling, has now won 27 races and $235,885 in stakes. He was a brilliant juvenile winning his first six starts including the Crystal Stakes and a Breeders Crown heat, won the Tasmanian Derby as a three-year-old and the Danbury Park Cup at five. By a champion sire in Somebeachsomewhere, he is out of a top broodmare in Karamea Toastime, dam of Australia’s first sub 1:50 mare Jadah Rose 1:49.6 ($465,424), who became the dam of the top Victorian stayer Guaranteed 1:50.4 ($856,316), now standing stud in Victoria, the cups winner Jadahson 1:53.9 ($277,390) and the grand-dam of last year’s outstanding three-year-old Pacifico Dream 1:51 ($251,430). Others from Karamea Toastime were the Melton and Menangle winner Timeseel 1:52.7 ($169,530), the top Tasmanian juvenile Karalta Shine 1:52.6 ($168,973) and Elegant Outlook, dam of this year’s King Island Cup winner Karalta Cruise. Karamea Toastime, who was unraced, was an Armbro Aussie mare from Toast To Missy, an American bred mare by the Bret Hanover who left five winners in Australia including the good Harold Park winner Clickety Clix.   First foal for Maori Time Maori Time, the fastest trotting mare ever bred in Australasia with a record of 1:51.5, foaled a colt by the Prix d’Amerique winner Readly Express at Menhammar Stuteri, one of Sweden’s largest and most successful breeding and training farms, last week. The foal was jointly bred by Fred and Elizabeth Crews, Duncan McPherson, of Aldebaran Park and Menhammar Stuteri. Maori Time won 24 races including four Group 1’s and $421,700 in stakes in her stellar racetrack career. She will be served by Readly Express again this season.   Unconditional is well bred Unconditional, who won at Gloucester Park on Good Friday beating a top rated filly in Black Jack Baby, has now won now four races and looks to be well in line for the forthcoming classics. She ranks as a three-year-old sister by Bettor’s Delight to the brilliant racemare Delightful Offer 1:51.4 ($336,928), now racing successfully in North America. Unconditional – winning at Gloucester Park      – Daryl Hallows Photo Their dam, Dream Offer, was a Dream Away mare from New Offer (1:58.3), by Surmo Hanover from Maria Abbe, has proved a most successful broodmare. She is also the dam of the top Australian pacer Cant Refuse 1:54.5 ($288,733), Our Bettor Dream 1:57.3 ($224,334), Bettor Offer 1:53 ($207,614) and Ultimate Offer (1:54.1), all metropolitan winners. Dream Offer won only once but she was a half-sister to Bella Who (2:00.3), who won three, and to the Frugal Gourmet mare Tightas, dam of the exported Lislight (1:50.8) and Aces N Eights (1:57.4, winner of 11 NZ races).   Up-and-coming trotter One of the most promising trotters racing in Victoria is Justamollyarcher, bred in NZ and trained by Andy Gath. An eight-year-old, Justamollyarcher has raced only twice in Australia for impressive wins in the heat and final of the Colin Redwood Memorial VSTA Trotters Handicap at Melton. Justamollyarcher – winning VSTA Trotters Handicap Final at Melton       – Stuart McCormick Photo   Justamollyarcher has a background of trotting blood second to none. His sire, Angus Hall, has left the great trotting sire Majestic Son, and other top trotters in My Arya, Endsino, Missaandei, Une Belle Allure and Kyvalley Clichy. His dam, Justa Kiwi Girl, a useful trotter herself, is by Gee Whiz II, the leading sire of trotters in NZ for many years. Justamollyarcher ranks as a half-brother to Justakiwiboy (4 wins) and Millwood Munchin (3 wins), the dam of Milly An Eyre, a double winner in Victoria this year.     by Peter Wharton

Once in a while a modest race win for a diehard owner, trainer or driver with a lifetime of passion for harness racing reveals a back story of just how that individual was captivated by our sport and remains so to this day. The success of four-year-old trotter Captain McCraw at Melton on Wednesday afternoon provided one such insight. Cranbourne based hobby trainer Terry Franklin first took out a trainer's licence more than 20 years ago and Wednesday’s success with Captain McCraw was just the third of his career and his first since 1998. But Franklin remains as infatuated with harness racing as he was in the days of the Melbourne Showgrounds following the likes of Bill Davies and Gordon Rothaker.  “I loved getting along to the Showgrounds and by chance I answered an advertisement in the Sporting Globe to join Kevin Hill at Beveridge helping out on weekends,” Franklin explained. “There was no money involved, it was just a great opportunity to learn. I travelled from North Balwyn to Beveridge most weekends for years and Kevin and I are still good mates.” Now 66 years old and happily retired with wife Roz, Franklin makes the daily trip from the family home in Murrumbeena to the Cranbourne Training Centre to work Captain McCraw alongside his fellow trainers at the centre. One of those trainers who has been instrumental in Captain McCraw’s maiden win is Scott Ewen.  Ewen has piloted the gelding in all his 22 career starts to date but is campaigning his own team at the Mildura Cup Carnival and so relinquished the winning drive at Melton to Glenn Conroy. “Scotty Ewen has done as much to educate this horse as anyone. I couldn’t overstate how big a help he has been and it’s just a pity he wasn’t in the sulky today. He spoke to Glenn at Melton on Saturday night and went over today’s race and how he thought the horse might best be driven. To his credit, Glenn drove the perfect race.” Purchased by Franklin on one bid of just $4000 at the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale, Captain McCraw is by the consistent percentage sire Bacardi Lindy from Miriama, who in turn is an unraced daughter of Sundon and the handy racemare Susan. With the first edition of the Nutrien Equine Standardbred Yearling Sale coming up this weekend it’s not unreasonable to think that a cashed-up Franklin might be tempted to contemplate another purchase. “I think I’ll probably head out at this stage,” Franklin said with some trepidation. “I won’t be spending a lot if I do but I’ll have a look and if something takes my eye who knows.”   David Scott

MENANGLE Park trainer Jarrod Alchin will make the trip to Newcastle tonight with just one horse . . . but he’s confident that it will be all worthwhile. The astute trainer will have to wait patiently until Race 7 when My Ultimate Byron, a two-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere will be making his debut, taking on horses that are much older. But none of that fazes Alchin, who believes that the gelding could be the makings of a very smart pacer. “Going on his trials to date at Tabcorp Park Menangle, I think he will be very hard to beat, despite not having race fitness under his belt,” said Alchin. “In just one week, from his first trial on March 24 to a stronger hit out on March 31, he shaved three and a half seconds off his time for the mile trip and won by a widening 30-metre margin. “He is definitely above average in ability and if all goes well tonight, I have some optimistic plans for him. “Coming through from his early preparations I told Cameron (Hart) that I really liked this bloke and asked that he drive him even in the educational trials.  “After Cam got a feel of him, I did not have to ask again as he shared my high opinion of the gelding. “Scott Whitton of Tumby Park paid $36,000 for My Ultimate Byron at last year’s Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Sydney so hopefully the horse can start repaying him tonight.” In pre-post markets, My Ultimate Byron was quoted at $1.25, despite him meeting much more experienced horses, such is the reputation the youngster has already forged. It has been a busy week for Cameron Hart, which kicked off at Riverina Paceway Wagga last Sunday when he took out the Group 1 Mares Championship with Techys Angel. The 22-year-old spent the night in Junee with his parents before heading back to Sydney on Monday to drive at Bankstown, where he landed a winning double. His first success was aboard another Alchin trained two-year-old in My Ultimate Cobber and he followed that later in the afternoon when he partnered So Jack to victory for David Waite. Hart’s stocks continued to rise at Tabcorp park Menangle on Tuesday when he went one better again by landing a winning treble, scoring with Alluring Tyron, Hammertime Harley and Island Fire Dance.   HRNSW MEDIA | MICHAEL DUMESNY

It wouldn’t be a Devonport meeting without the strong presence of the Ben Yole stable, and that is the case again on Friday night where he has 44 of the 67 runners across the meeting, including a strong contingent in the main race of the night, the $12,000 Neil Cameron Patrons Marathon. Headlining Yole’s chances in the 2645-metre event is Earl Jujon, who has drawn the pole in the seven-horse field. Earl Jujon, a gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven, caught the eye finishing fourth in the Group 2 Tasmania Cup four starts ago before appreciating a drop in class to score in a rating 66 to 74 heat of the Australian Female Drivers Championship by 14.6 metres in a slick 1m 57.3s. Yole then elected to run the eight-year-old gelding in one of the states premier races, the Easter Cup series, where he finished ninth in last weeks Group 2 Final. The pacer, who is yet to be placed in four standing start races, has the services on Friday night of Hall of Fame reinsman Gareth Rattray and looks very well placed dropping back to a rating 70 or better standing start event. Hez the One is also from the Yole stable and has drawn outside of the front row. The Jeremes Jet gelding can be hit and miss from the tapes, and we saw what he can do when he puts it together with a handy win in Burnie five starts ago. The pacer failed to beat a runner home in Launceston last start in a strong 67 to 79 event where he was well supported after a handy fourth in Launceston the start prior, where he finished off well when finding clear racing room late. The Yole stables other two runners include Perfect Mach who will be searching for his first win on the Devonport track at what will be his 17th start at the venue, while Proficient will be out to keep his good record on the track intact of four starts for three wins and one placing. Yole has prepared 63 winners so far this season which sees him 21 wins clear over Western Australia’s Greg and Skye Bond on the national trainer’s premiership. Friday’s card can be seen on Sky Racing 2 and TasracingTV from 18:04   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Experienced Victorian harness racing trainer Greg Norman, who does an outstanding job with his team is putting his magic to the test tomorrow night. The former South Australian, now based at Charlton in Central Victoria, trained 26 winners and 42 placings in last season's extended racing season, and this year he has eight wins and five placings so far, for a top three strike rate of 46 percent. But he admits there's likely to be a few nerves when his brilliant newcomer, a Kiwi youngster named Aladdin, steps out in one of the feature events of the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival-the $14,000 Tankard Dental Guineas. Aladdin (Sweet Lou-Pacing Delight (Bettors Delight) is raced by prominent Adelaide owners Adam, Ben and Terry Cormack. They finalised the purchase of the pacer just ahead of his New Year's Eve appearance in New Zealand's richest race for colts and geldings, the inaugural $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million final. Courtesy of a perfectly timed drive by Tim Williams, Aladdin sprinted up the inside to beat his stablemate Shan Noble in an exciting finish to the rich listed race. (At the time, both horses were prepared by champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who then changed the course of their careers by stepping away from the sport). "The boys bought him on the Wednesday and he won on the Saturday, so he's been a good buy already," Norman said. "He had a few runs since then before he came over here, but the pressure is on me now!" Aladdin arrived at Charlton with a record of four wins and seven placings from his 17 New Zealand starts for prize money of $155,789. Before being bought by the Cormacks, the pacer had been raced by prominent Melbourne owners Jean and Bill Feiss, who bought him for $140,000 from the Woodlands Stud draft at the 2019 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. "I've only had him a couple of weeks, but everything he's done so far does indicate that he's a nice little horse, intelligent, well-mannered and keen," Norman said. "He's only a little fellow, but he can obviously run a bit! On paper he looks good, but we still have to win here in Australia, and we still have to win at Mildura," he said. Aladdin comes with a big reputation and is blessed with plenty of early speed, which he may need from his extreme outside draw in barrier six in the Mildura Guineas. Norman said while he was quietly confident in his new charge's ability, there were still question marks over the Guineas. "It's a good money race, a field of handy horses and a tight little track," he said. "He's done all his racing on the big, spacious New Zealand tracks, so getting around Mildura will obviously be the key. "We have been working him on a half-mile track here at Charlton, though, and he seems to handle it alright." Norman, who moved from South Australia to Charlton in 2019, heads to Mildura with a handy team of five for cup night. Apieceoflou has qualified for the $10,000 Euston Club Pace Final, Cee Cee in America is a starter in the $25,000 Tenderprint Australia Cup Final and fast-class performer Zadaka narrowly missed qualifying for the Mildura Pacing Cup final, and will start in the $10,000 Wilkie Building Contractors Free For All. "It's always a fantastic night of racing and we had a good night on Tuesday, so we just hope it continues," he said. View the Mildura fields click here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

The Autumn Harness Racing Carnival came to a close in Launceston on Saturday night with the Group 2 Ladbrokes Easter Cup, which saw Scooterwillrev lead home a locally trained trifecta. There has been plenty of harness racing in Launceston over the past three weeks, and it continues again this week with racing on Sunday night anda. program also being held in Devonport on Friday night. The Stars Scooterwillrev – was brilliant in the 2021 Easter Cup after stepping straight to the lead in the 2698-metre event. He was well rated in front by Gareth Rattray, who claimed his first Easter Cup. It was also the first win in the race for trainer Craig Hayes who did an outstanding job to get the pacer to peak second-up in the Group 2 race. Lightning Jash – Victorian trainer Kate Hargraves has a handy strike rate when she brings horses to the Apple Isle, and this Autumn Carnival mission was no different when she claimed the first feature two-year-old race in the state for the year, the Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes with Lightning Jash. Driver Alex Ashwood said the pacer would have a spell before tackling some features later in the season. Wave The Hat – claimed the time-honoured Allen Williams Memorial Final for the maiden pacers. The pacer enjoyed a solid early tempo before proving too good in a race that was a survival of the fittest late. Be Major Threat – showed brilliant standing start manners to settle in a forward position to take out the Kevin Gillies Memorial, ending up behind the leader, reinsman Ben Woodford drove a patient race working into clear racing room at the top of the home straight to go on a score a narrow win. Moonlite Bay – was undoubtedly one of the more impressive winners of the Launceston card when 1.1s outside Scooterwillrev’s 2200-metre track record. After working forward in a handy lead time, the pacer was then forced to hold the lead with the first three-quarters of the final mile all recorded under 30.0s and was still able to prove too strong late. Multiple Winners Hobart – Friday afternoon Ben Yole – training quartet; Yellow Taxi, Southern Gnp, Lives A Jungle and War Chest. Conor Crook – driving double; Beau Garcon and Southern Gnp. Launceston – Saturday evening Alex Ashwood – driving double; Lightning Jasha and Moonlite Bay. Tasracing Calculated Sectionals Hobart – Friday afternoon My Ultimate Romeo 56.84s, Ol Titch 57.19s, Live For Peace 57.22, Ifbutzandmaybes 57.30s and Black Ops 57.32s. Launceston – Saturday evening Easter Cup: Izaha 55.68s, Yorkshire 55.71s, Ryley Major 55.75s, Our Princess Tiffany 55.90s and Our Princess Tiffany 55.90s. Remaining races: Be Major Threat 55.99s, Gone And Forgotten 56.02s, Sea Double Ugrant 56.06s, Still Hungover 56.14s and The Red Moon Rising 56.38s. View all available Tasmanian Sectional Data by clicking here. Tasracing Official Price Hobart – Friday afternoon Hit’s: Ifbutzandmaybes $6.00 into $5.50, Southern Gnp $41 into $12 and War Chest $6.00 into $3.90. Defied The Drift: Beau Garcon $2.05 out to $2.30, Yellow Taxi $17 out to $21, Life A Jungle $10 out to $14 and Top Hanover $3.40 out to $4.60. Missed: Magic Owens $3.40 into $2.50, My Ultimate Major $3.30 into $2.40, Keep Playing $9.00 into $6.00, Mach Charm $9.00 into $5.50, Eye See Double $3.70 into $2.90, Heza Rummage $8.00 into $5.50, Black Ops $3.70 into $2.90 and Guys Bettor Bet $4.40 into $3.20. Launceston – Saturday evening Hit’s: Lightning Jash $1.26 into $1.20, Wave The Hat $10 into $9.50 and Jaffa Josh $1.40 into $1.14. Defied The Drift: Debt Till We Part $14 out to $16, Barooga Rock $2.40 out to $3.00, Micton Aroha $5.50 out to $6.50, Scooterwillrev $9.00 out to $17, Be Major Threat $10 out to $18, Moonlite Bay $5.00 out to $7.00 and Racketeers Boy $1.90 out to $2.25. Missed: Always A Stride $5.50 into $4.00, Origin Tara $11 into $8.00, Kennys Killer $3.30 into $2.90, Tommys Denial $2.90 into $2.50, Willie Go West $2.50 onto $2.00, The Red Moon Rising $2.25 into $1.70, Deadly Assassin $5.00 into $4.40, Stormont Star $7.50 into $6.00 and Some Dan $26 into $15. Trial File Devonport – Monday evening Four trials were held on Monday where Liam Older had his first night of driving at the trials and he walked away with a winner when the Ben Yole-trained Aha Reaction recorded the quickest mile rate of the night in 2m 1.9s for the 1930-metre trip. Racing outside the leader, the gelded son of Auckland Reactor proved too tough over the concluding stages for the leader, Maybe Jack, with a half-head separating the duo. Other winners included: Booker Bay (2m 9.3s), Family Feelgood (2m 9.0s) and Christian Jaz (2m 4.1s) Week Ahead Friday: Devonport host Friday night racing where the $12,000 Patrons Marathon is the feature race for horses with a national rating of 70 or better over the 2645-metre trip. Saturday: Carrick Park trials revert to the Saturday morning time slot, with the first trial scheduled for 9:00. There is plenty of Tasmanian interest at Menangle, with Ignatius contesting a Group 3 event, plus his stablemates Zhukov Leis and Jigamaroo going around. Jigamaroo will be driven by Charlie Castles, who will be having his first metropolitan drive outside of Tasmania. Sunday: Launceston race once again with a Tier One meeting in the twilight zone. Monday: Trials will be held in Hobart from 17:30.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

Diego and Mirragon are good things at Friday night’s meeting at Gloucester Park, according to members of the WA Trotting Media Guild. TABradio colleagues Matt Young and Hayden King have made Diego their best bet on a fantastic night of pacing, featuring the Group 1 WA Oaks. “Diego has a beautiful draw and should trail through nicely and be able to put them away whenever Junior wishes to do so,” Young said. “He looks the winner.” And Young agrees. “Diego is simply a class apart from rivals this Friday.” King said. “I think the backline draw will prove no object and he can win in any way he chooses. He has the high speed of a promising horse who will reach loftier heights than this.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and veteran trotting journalist Ken Casellas are equally buoyant about the winning prospects of Mirragon. “Victorian import Mirragon looked back to peak form when running on strongly in a Gloucester Park win last Friday night,” Manning said. “The four-year-old, who often competed in Melbourne feature events, proved his class with four Melton victories. He launched a WA career by winning last February 8 and is now chasing his fourth victory since joining Debra Lewis’ stable.” Casellas is on the same page as Manning. “Mirragon is the youngest runner in the sixth event at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the four-year-old has a decided edge in class over his seven rivals,“ Casellas said. “It’s therefore a simple and straight-forward task of nominating him as my best bet for the evening. Mirragon sped over the final 800m in 55.9sec. last Friday when he dashed home from fourth at the bell to snatch a last-stride victory over Plutonium.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is keen on Nota Bene Denario, a former Kiwi pacer who makes his Australian debut for the Gary Hall stable. “Nota Bene Denario hasn’t raced for over six months but would have derived benefit from his trial win at Byford on Sunday,” Havercroft said. “He won six times and was placed on another 22 occasions in a 49-start New Zealand career – that record suggests he should be more than competitive at his local debut.” Longshot guru Pat Harding has opted for Miss Limelight as his best bet on the 10-event card. “After a tough afternoon at GP last Friday, punters and tipsters could fare better this week,” Harding said. “My best bet comes up in race three with No. 2 Miss Limelight. She has run some good places and is due for a win. I think she will do well in this fillies and mares pace.” Radio Great Southern’s form analyst Warren Wishart has opted for Battlescard as his best for the night. “Have to forget Battlescard’s last start and go on his previous runs, most of which were wins,” Wishart said. “With the low draw he should find the pegs and be very hard to beat in front.” Media Guild president Wayne Currall is sticking with his best bet from last week in Boom Time, who didn’t win but finished a game third behind Mirragon. “Boom Time has run two slashing thirds at his past two starts after doing all the bullocking work in the breeze,” Currall said. “This is a race in which there looks to be plenty of pace, so if Chris Voak can give Boom Time an easier run I think he can salute at good odds.” VALUE BETS MATT: Manofthepeople wasn’t a bad run last start, steps well and looks a suitable race to earn. HAYDEN: Whoswhointhezoo has been in career-best form recently. He now steps up in class, but comes up with the pole draw. The times he has been running suggest that he is a big chance in anything he contests. ERNIE: Henwood Bay, the winner of 15 races, gets his chance to break a 17-start losing run when he begins from barrier two. The Errol Ashcroft-trained gelding finished second at Gloucester Park on March 26 after being held up. He came from three back on the pegs to run fourth last Friday night. KEN: For value, I suggest Savvy Bromac in race three. She caught the eye when she sprinted home fast from last to finish second to her smart stablemate Heavens Showgirl last Friday. RYAN: Whoswhointhezoo has shown a return to form in recent runs and gets the benefit of an inside draw here. Good each-way prospect from the pole. PAT: My value bet comes up in race six with No. 4 Mr Kiwi. He had a win five starts ago and I believe Gary Hall Jr can guide him to victory at a good price. WARREN: This is a rare city run for Budd Sidewinder, but he comes to town off a good last start win. Loves the stand and not a bad draw for him. Great each-way bet. WAYNE: I’m expecting the WA Oaks to be run at high-speed and some of these fillies will be “feeling the pinch” at the end of a gruelling 2536m trip. One filly who should relish the distance is Royal Essence. Her toughness has been on show at her past three starts where she’s done it hard outside the leader. If she can get an economical run in transit, she’ll be storming home at the business end for young Emily Suvaljko. It’s great to see Bill Crabb, the former long-time photographer at GP, and Robbie Dewar, the former Sunday Times trotting writer, being honoured with races named after them. Both gentlemen have been wonderful servants of harness racing in WA. To view all of the media guild tips click here. Good punting.   Wayne Currall

On paper, Perfect Major stands out as a star bet in the opening event, the 2130m Simmonds Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Perfect Major, prepared by Ross Olivieri, is one of four stablemates in the field of seven, and Voak had the choice of driving Perfect Major, Stefsbest or Carrera Mach. Perfect Major will be having his first start since he led and finished third behind Cyclone Banner over 2130m on December 18. He had raced against superstar Chicago Bull and other star pacers at each of his four previous starts following wins at his first four appearances in WA. He finished third behind Chicago Bull and Shockwave in the Cranley Memorial, eighth behind Chicago Bull in the Fremantle Cup, won from Chicago Bull in the RWWA Cup and then finished fifth behind Vultan Tin and Chicago Bull in the WA Pacing Cup. Voak is now somewhat puzzled at Perfect Major’s seemingly disappointing form in three recent Byford trials in which he raced in the breeze and finished a close fourth behind Ace Bromac, third in a field of three behind Gran Chico, and a three-length second behind Alice Kay on Sunday morning after racing without cover. “It doesn’t look like that he is going any good,” said a perplexed Voak. “His trials have been ordinary. However, his work during his previous preparation wasn’t much good. But when he went to the races, he was a totally different horse. He ran fifth in the WA Pacing Cup, so he must have some chance, first-up.” Olivieri also was guarded in his prediction of how Perfect Major would perform on Friday night, saying: “He probably needs the run.” Perfect Major will start from the outside in the field of seven, and Voak will wait and see how the race unfolds before deciding on his tactics.        Stefsbet, a smart first-up winner over Gee Jay Kay at Pinjarra two starts ago, will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko from barrier five; Chris Playle will drive Carrera Mach from barrier four, and Olivieri’s other runner, Kiwi Bloke will start from the No. 1 barrier with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Making up the field will be recent winners Extradite, Thomson Bay and Rakasinc. View the Gloucester Park fields click here!   Ken Casellas

New Zealand-bred six-year-old Nota Bene Denario looks a good bet at his Australian debut when he starts from barrier No. 1 in the Allwood Stud Farm Pace, a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The son of American stallion Well Said, Nota Bene Denario excelled in standing-start events in New Zealand where four of his six wins from 49 starts were in stands, three over 2400m and one over 2700m. He gave a sample of his ability when he won a 2150m mobile trial at Byford on Sunday morning for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr. Driven by Gary Hall Jnr, Nota Bene Denario was not bustled at the start from the outside (No. 6) barrier and the gelding settled down in fourth position, five lengths behind the leader. He then enjoyed a perfect passage, one-out and one-back, before being switched three wide 650m from home and then taking the lead 100m later on his way to victory over Bettor My Dream, rating 1.59.9 after final quarters of 29.8sec. and 29.4sec. Nota Bene Denario meets moderate opposition and should be capable of winning, with his chief rival likely to be veteran pacer Budd Sidewinder, who ended a losing sequence of 36 when he raced without cover in the middle stages before scoring an easy win in the 2590m Wagin Cup on Thursday of last week. “Nota Bene Denario’s trial was good, and he should go close on Friday night,” said Hall Snr. The Hall camp also has bright winning prospects with Diego in the 2130m Westral Pace in which the New Zealand-bred five-year-old will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. Diego, a winner at nine of his 32 starts, drops appreciably in class after seconds behind Mighty Conqueror and Miracle Moose at his past two appearance. Diego impressed last Friday when he ran home powerfully from fifth at the bell to be second to Miracle Moose over 2130m, with the final 800m being run in 55.5sec. View the Gloucester Park fields click here!   Ken Casellas

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Mark Purdon’s rushed trip across from Christchurch to the inaugural Nutrien Yearling Sales in Melbourne reaped immediate rewards. Purdon threw his support behind son, Nathan, when he worked with leviathan owner Danny Zavitsanos to snare one of the top lots of the opening session on Saturday night a Bettors Delight colt out of former star filly Miss Hazel for $90,000. "He’s going to Nathan (Purdon) to train,” Zavitsanos said. “Mark (Purdon) is across. He and Nathan liked him and it’s great to be able to support Nathan now he’s set-up across here.” Purdon and Zavitsanos have a long and successful association. It was the All Stars stable that trained the Zavitsanos-owned Cruz Bromac when he won the 2019 New Zealand Cup.   In other Nathan Purdon stable news, young former Kiwi horseman Stuart McDonald shifted across from Perth last week to start as stable foreman. “I had about 10 years all-up in WA, broken-up with that six months in NSW, and the past three-and-a-half years with the Halls, but it was time for a new challenge,” McDonald said. “I’m hoping to do some driving as well as the foreman role. There’s about 15 horses in the stable at the moment.” The Purdon-bound colt is from the same family as former superstar juvenile Renaissance Man, while the dam Miss Hazel won 15 races, over $310,000 in stakemoney and boasts five winners from seven foals to race. He was one of three buys for Zavitsanos from the 100 lots on opening night. “Joanna (Zavitasnos’ wife) gave me a budget of $50,000 and I’ve spent almost $200,000 on night one, so I might be in strife,” Zavitsanos laughed. He paid $80,000 for a Captaintreacherous colt out of former star filly Lovelist, making it a half-brother to last season’s exciting youngster Treachery. It’s the same family as Miracle Mile contestant Out To Play and a long list of other star performers. “He was a lovely colt and Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) have had such great success with the family. He’ll go to them to train,” Zavitsanos said. “I also bought the half-sister to Shez All Rock (NZ Jewels winner) because she went so cheap. I wasn’t going to buy her, but I had to that for that price.” She’s a Rocknroll Heaven filly out of Just Irish Loch and went for $21,000. NSW owner Wayne Loader was very active at the top end and landed a Bettors Delight colt out of former superstar racemare Make Mine Cullen for $95,000. She’s headed to Bernie Hewitt’s stable. The top lot of the opening session was Lauriston Bloodstock’s Captaintreacherous colt out of former Australian Gold winning filly Musical Delight, making him a half-sister to this season’s NSW Oaks heat winner Beach Music. He went to Queenslander Shannon Price, who won a spirited battle against the likes of Loader, Dominic Martello and others. “It’s the second most I’ve ever paid for one. I went a bit higher than I planned,” Price said. “I was the under-bidder for Lazarus so I’m still haunted a bit by that. I wanted this guy.” Price revealed Lazarus sold for $75,000 and she was so keen on him she went to Kennards and offered $85,000 just 30 minutes later, but they knocked it back. “Yeah, I kicked myself every time he won a big race,” she said.   by Adam Hamilton
Horse training is a notoriously demanding pursuit, but few could claim to be busier than current leading Victorian harness racing trainer Kate Hargreaves. Still in her 20s, Hargreaves is riding an impressive rise to success – so much so that she now finds herself training 40 horses while also, somehow, managing to continue in her full time “day job” as a primary school teacher. Bendigo-based Hargreaves currently leads the State Trainer’s premiership in Victoria, ahead of several big names who have dominated in the sport for decades – Emma Stewart, Anthony Butt/Sonya Smith and Andy Gath. In any given week, Hargreaves and her training partner Alex Ashwood travel hundreds of kilometres to opposite ends of the State, placing their teams in suitable company in centres as far flung as Mildura and Cranbourne. “I don’t really have any spare time and I don’t get a lot of sleep!” Hargreaves joked. “I’m up and at the stables by six in the morning, do that for a couple of hours then head to school – then I’m back at the stables after work and the doing administrative work.  It’s busy but I kind of like the balance between my work and being with the horses,” she said. “We have a terrific team of three full-time staff, and they are a key part of helping us to do what we are doing.” Hargreaves said she initially had hoped to be a race driver, but found opportunities were too few and far between, and the training partnership with Ashwood was formed around 2016 when they raced a trotter named Aldebaran Pete. Hargreaves trained nine winners in season 2017-18, then 24 in 2018-19 and an impressive 119 in an extended 2020 season.  So far this season, just over three months in, she has trained 40 winners. “Things have really stepped up in the past year or two, and probably this year in particular, it is getting hard.  So if we keep going the way we are, the plan is eventually that I will move to full time training, or perhaps initially at least cut back to part time teaching,” she said. A record-breaking fifth country trotters cup was in the bag for Kate Hargreaves at Mildura on Friday night (Photograph: Charli Masotti) While many trainers are driven by the competitive aspect of the sport, for Hargreaves, it’s all about the animals. “I was born into it – my dad Jeff trained and drove horses for years while my older brother Brett and I were growing up, and I was horse-mad from the moment I was born,” she said. “I helped dad, I drove in pony trots and I helped (Great Western trainer) Peter Manning in the school holidays.  Peter was just fantastic.  He would put you on anything to give you a go and help you learn. “Kerryn Manning and Grant Campbell have also been very influential on what I’ve learned, and Kerryn is still one of those people I very much look up to. Dad and Mum (Joan) never really pushed us into the sport – I just loved it, but they’ve supported both Brett and I every step of the way, our whole family has. “I love the animal more than the game.  I love being around them getting to know them and different personalities.  They’re such intelligent creatures and to do all the work with them, then see them race gives me such a sense of pride,” she said. “I see them as living beings with feelings and intelligence, rather than as a business.” While the Hargreaves work ethic is one key element in her success, the deeds of her trotter Well Defined are also playing a major role. Well Defined has so far won an unprecedented five trotters’ cups this season, most recently a heart-stopping last-bound victory in the Mildura Trotters Cup on Friday night.  He leads the Country Trotters Championship by a huge margin.  He also became only the third horse to win the race from a handicap of 40 metres or more (Satin Pride 1968 and Just Money 1971 won off 60 yards). “He’s got a very big heart and knows where the line is, but to win off the 40-metre handicap at Mildura – I was just so proud of him,” Hargreaves said. “I think he’s found his niche in country cups – he loves the stand and he loves the distance.  He’s one of my favorites, along with another trotter Don’t Care.  Both of them are part-owned by my brother Brett and his fiancé Brooke, so those wins are even more special.” Well Defined has now been sent to the spelling paddock, and Hargreaves said he would be aimed for a return for the next round of Trotters Cups from September.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura
A brilliant “handlebars down” battle to the line set up a thrilling Mach Dan victory in tonight’s Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup, with Emma Stewart’s young warrior eclipsing another valiant four-year-old to score. Leader Silent Major set the pace and was up for the fight, but Greg Sugars and Mach Dan had the answers from the breeze and drew a head clear on the line to claim the $60,000 classic. “Coming into the bell I thought we will make it a good staying test now over the last lap and we were handlebars down off the back and it was a great duel between both horses up the straight,” Sugars told Trots Vision. “Both of them tried their hearts out. Really good contest.” Major Meister initially led but the advance of Stewart runners prompted an early Aaron Dunn response and the trainer-driver guided Silent Major to the front. Mach Dan and Sugars would soon lob to his outside and the great battle to the line ensued. Watch the race replay click here! “I have a lot of respect for the leader, he was obviously a very good winner of his heat,” Sugars said. “We had a pretty soft heat run and I was hopeful that was enough to turn things in our favour at the end of the day. “He’s such a lovely racehorse Mach Dan. He’s very versatile and can probably adapt to any situation. “He’s just got better and better. Emma and Clayton (Tonkin) have done a super job with him. He’s such a wonderful racehorse, that’s testament to them and the job they do.” Sugars also paid credit to owner Danny Zavitsanos, who purchased Mach Dan off breeders Nixon Bloodstock with his wife Joanne and Warren Viney, and the gelding by Mach Three out of Bettor Give It has rewarded them with 14 wins from 24 starts and now more than $300,000 in winnings. “Danny’s obviously a huge asset to our industry,” Sugars said. "He’s put a lot of horses on the race track. That’s what the sport needs – guys like that. He’s a terrific owner to deal with win, lose or draw. He will get a real kick out of this, that’s for sure.”   HRV - Michael Howard
Another chapter was etched in the extraordinary season of Well Defined, who fittingly closed out the first half of the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship season with a cup triumph, a stunning fifth in 2021. Trainer Kate Hargreaves and reinswoman Ellen Tormey have partnered for all of the six-year-old Majestic Son trotter’s 11 starts this year, nine of which have been country cups that have produced five wins and four placings. “He stuck his head out in the end,” Tormey told Trots Vision post-race. “He always makes me look good.” The run of success has given Well Defined a stranglehold on the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship, boosting him to 35 points, 18 clear of second-placed Stress Factor. Tormey said the cups had been some time in the making, with Well Defined putting the writing on the wall in 2020 and then pouncing when the opportunity presented. “During regional racing (last year) we put him in a few stands and he just went away so well,” she said. “He was racing against free-for-all class horses and not getting beaten very far. “We knew that when the country cups came around they would really suit him. Unfortunately they didn’t go ahead last year because of COVID. This year we knew he was going to do a really good job in the country cups.” And so he has, tonight overcoming the 40m back mark to win the eventful 2600m standing start. All runners got away fine but Downunder Barkers, backed into favourite late, galloped soon after the start and while he’d recover, another mistake with about 1000m to go would put paid to his hopes. Jerichos Trumpet led and when Show Me The Moolah galloped from leader’s back John Justice was able to improve Hatchback from the breeze to the pegs and give his fancied trotter a breather. Hatchback then made a play for the lead in the final lap and when Jerichos Trumpet broke gait Justice gained a jump on the competition, prompting an immediate response from Tormey to move three-wide and set off after the runaway leader. Her decisive move prompted a head-to-head battle to the line, with Well Defined nosing out his rival to win another coveted cup.   HRV - Michael Howard
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