Auckland Reactor

Crack mares go up for auction

Cornsilk and Pelicanrama, two of the best mares ever raced in this country, head up a strong contingent of broodmares to be offered at the Soho Standardbreds Reduction Sale, to be conducted by Graeme Board & Company at Tamarin Park, Toolern Vale on Sunday, July 26.   A dual Vicbred winner and Breeders Crown champion, Cornsilk ($555,046) is the dam of four sub 2:00 winners including the recent Victoria Gold Chalice winner and NSW Oaks runner-up Delight Me.   Pelicanrama, a former Australian 2YO of the Year and winner of a massive $730,271, has to date left five winners, two of which have earned more than $100,000 in Soho Tokyo and Soho Highroller.   Other classic-winning or placed mares listed in the catalogue are Generally Outspoken (WA Gold Bracelet), the WA Sales Classic winners Jupiters Darling and  Soho Cannes, the NZ Sales Graduette winner Luva Rum Ball, Lombo Portrait, Lombo Silhouette, Soho Monroe, Soho Nike, Schonbrunn, Country Change and Pinevale Spirit.   The dams of the $100,000 Club winners Greyhawk and Three Pints, Soho Monroe (two Breeders Crown heats) and others in Soho Daytona, Soho Wonder, Soho Shanghai, Triple Trent, Valens and Ricimer will also be offered.   There’s sisters or half-sisters to a host of top flight performers including Manifold Bay, Surprise Package, Lombo Skyrider, Uncle Wingnut, After The Reckoning, Fake Spirit, Secret Desire, Silver Lined Pocket, Mustang Fighter and Adayspay.   The mares have been served by highly credentialed stallions such as Bettor’s Delight, Art Major, Mach Three, Sportswriter, Rock N Roll Heaven, Shadow Play, Roll With Joe, Betterthancheddar, Auckland Reactor, Caribbean Blaster, Alta Christiano and Blissfull Hall.   For a copy of the catalogue send an email to graemeboard56@gmail.com or phone Peter Dow 0412 195 986.   Catalogues are also available from Tamarin Park (Sue Markwell 0413 923 333).   Pedigrees are available on the website www.graemeboard.com     Click on the Soho Standardbreds Reduction Sale link.   Peter Wharton

Claudys Princess - Drawn perfectly at four in Vicbred Super Series Final

Bacardi Lindy mares draws perfectly

The barrier draws for the 2015 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Finals nights at the harness racing meetings on Friday and Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton were conducted this morning at the Legends Café. Twelve Group 1 races will be held across two big nights of harness racing with the trotting finals on Friday followed by the pacers on Saturday. Claudys Princess was the big winner in the four-year-old trotting mares’ final, the Mick Blackmore-trained two-time Vicbred Super Series champion at two and three pulling gate four, while her biggest rival, Illawong Helios from the Ross Sugars camp, snared gate eight and will need a pinch of luck. “It does help,” Blackmore said of the draw. “But you still need a few other things to go your way. “Illawong Helios just needs a bit of luck though and she’ll be right in it.”  Blackmore said Claudys Princess was a picture of health for her tilt at the rare Vicbred Super Series clean sweep after suffering a virus two runs back at Melton when third in the Bacardi Lindy Trot. “Her blood was down a bit after that run at Melton but since then she’s done really good and worked a treat,” he said. Illawong Helios has won 11 of her last 12 starts for Ross and Greg Sugars but the inside-back-row draw Friday night means she’ll be giving her arch rival a start. “It’s not the best but it could have been worse,” a matter-of-fact Ross Sugars said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult. We’ll probably end up four back on the fence, maybe three back, while Claudys will be in front. “She’s probably a three- or four-length better horse anyway, so given we’ll be giving her a start it’s going to be very tough. “But win, lose or draw she’s had a fantastic season … we’re very proud of our mare and we’ve had a lot of luck with the barrier draws. We just needed it one more time and unfortunately it didn’t fall our way.” View all of Friday night’s fields for Tabcorp Park Melton Cody Winnell

vale.jpg

Vale Charlie Mercieca

Harness Racing New South Wales extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Charlie Mercieca after his sudden passing on Thursday June 25. Aged 70, Charlie Mercieca was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed success in and around Sydney. Some of the horses Charlie trained included Identity, Nathan Image, Sheerama and more recently Little Gozzo and Perfect Shot. His last runner was on Friday June 12 when Jodan finished third at Newcastle. Charlie will be missed by his entire family. Charlie's funeral will be on Friday July 3rd at 1pm Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes. The burial will take place at Pine Grove Cemetery at 2:30pm.  Greg Hayes

Jack Trainor drove a treble at the Bathurst meeting.

Trainor on fire at Bathurst

Rising talent Jack Trainor and accomplished local Nathan Hurst took the honours when the NSW Rising Stars series came to last Wednesday’s meeting harness racing meeting at Group One Feeds Paceway Bathurst. Trainor, the eventual winner of the series, demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the best young drivers in the nation by completing a clean-sweep of the three Bathurst heats, while Hurst drove a double and supplied a further winner to complete a training treble. Trainor’s clean-sweep came via The Merchant Banker NZ, Keilor Kimberly and Missed By Red, for trainers Neal Wardle, David Hewitt and Steve Turnbull. The Merchant Banker NZ ($2.00 favourite) was taken straight to the front in the C2-backed sprint, heat three of the week-long series, and withstood sustained pressure from a number of mid-race challengers, before digging in at the finish to hold off Flight Express (Chris Geary), which used the sprint lane, and Tulhurst Candy (Kristy Sheehy). All quarters were sub-thirty seconds, so the overall mile rate of 1:55.9 came as no surprise.  In a post-race interview, Trainor commented that drivers invitation races, and particularly those for junior drivers, are usually run very quickly because most horses are put into the race at some stage. This was demonstrated perfectly in the following race, a 2260 metres C1 heat, when a near-suicidal 45.8 lead time, backed up by a first half of 60.2 seconds, set up the race for the run-on horses. Keilor Kimberly ($17.80) came with a wet sail to win easily, from Black Poles (Daniel Morgan) and Blissfull Dixie (Chris Geary), in a smart 1:57.4 for the testing trip. Chris Geary, who must have been feeling some frustration after being placed in all four heats of the series to that point, gained some consolation by taking out a support event, leading throughout a 2260 metres C2-C3 class with Regal Point ($6.80), one of three Bernie Hewitt-trained horses to line up. A smart 57.6 last half gave his rivals no chance of running him down. Missed By Red ($2.60 favourite) completed Trainor’s perfect performance, by running out a decisive winner in heat five, a C0 sprint. With the lead unavailable, because of a 27.9 opening quarter, the Somebeachsomewhere filly was given a lovely position mid-field, and strolled home in 28.9 for an easy win. Monterey Jack (Ellen Bartley) held on for second, with Golden Montana (Nathan Carroll) getting up for third. The three winning drives were achieved in contrasting style, but they all demonstrated a maturity beyond Trainor’s twenty-one years. Not surprising, perhaps, given his excellent grounding in the sport in his New Zealand homeland, where he worked for leading trainer Cran Dalgety, before heading to a new home in New South Wales and good opportunities driving for a number of leading stables.  He’s a very impressive young man. Nathan Hurst didn’t have the opportunity to compete in any junior drivers series when he started out, but he does have something in common with Jack Trainor, a good “apprenticeship” in New Zealand, when he took himself across the ditch to work for Barry Purdon, before returning to Bathurst to set up a professional stable. Tulhurst Sarsha ($3.80 favourite) got Hurst’s night off to the perfect start by coming out from behind leader Gentleman Red and grabbing that horse right on the line, with Boyzinblue taking the minor prize, in a C0-C1 sprint. The overall mile rate was 1:58.6, but the last quarter in 28.0 was pretty sharp. Saloon Passage had set tongues wagging with a 1:54 trial win at the track  nine days earlier, so it was no surprise to see him installed as $1.30 favourite for the C4+  fast-class  fifth, despite being first-up for several months, and over the longer 2260 metres distance. Hurst pinged him straight to the lead, where he gradually quickened the tempo, home in 28.7 and 27.8, for a creditable 1:57.3 rate, with runner-up My Dusky Sound NZ responsible for an enormous effort after a tough run outside the lead. Last-start winner Uncle Lile made late ground for third. Hurst was very pleased by the win, and also a little relieved, given it was over the longer trip and first-up. Present plans are to head back to Menangle, in search of the M0 win that has so far eluded this very talented and enigmatic pacer. When he does get that well-deserved success, he will pass $100,000 in stakes earnings. Blazing Brax ($4.40, Angela Hedges) completed an excellent night for the Hurst stable by taking out a 2C0-2C1 sprint, leading throughout and holding on, by a half-neck margin, from favourite Miss Irish Rose and Shot To Stardom. She held on to the win in the stewards room afterwards, surviving a protest from the runner-up after drifting out in the run home.  It was the third win this term for the Julius Caesar gelding, a $10,000 purchase at last year’s Gold Crown sale. Williewa Ace ($56.20, Jason Turnbull/Wayne Jeffree) gave the on-course bookmaker some relief by taking out the 1730 metres C0 final event. It was the maiden win for the lightly-raced four-year-old, but the latest in a successful partnership for the Lagoon reinsman and Portland trainer.  Placings went to Pia Pizaz and Paulie Walnuts. Bathurst will race on Fridays over the next couple of months, with this week’s meeting an afternoon fixture, followed by a “Christmas in July” celebration in the club in the evening. Terry Neil

Inspirational reinswoman Danielle Hill chalked up her 100th winner for the season at the harness racing meeting at Globe Derby Park on Friday night on the appropriately named Hez The One Then on Monday, she added another four on the eight-race program. Reaching 100 wins was remarkable milestone for the talented 30-year-old who has only one eye after an horrific fall at Globe Derby in May 2010. The fact that Dani, as she is affectionately known, is driving at all is a tribute to her courage and tenacity, but to drive her 100th winner in a season is testament to her talent. “Yes it was an extra special thrill,” Dani said. “I drove 122 winners in 2008/09 but to reach 100 this season means more because of everything that has happened. “But I have had a wonderful team behind me that helped me reach the milestone. “That goes back to the surgeons, rehab people and more recently the trainers who have been prepared to let me drive their horses.” Dani’s ability was well known as in 2009 at the Gold Coast she landed the Australasian Young Drivers Championship beating a group of drivers including present day stars such as Dexter Dunn, Nathan Williamson, and Amanda Turnbull. But her whole world changed on a Monday afternoon, May 17 in 2010 at Globe Derby Park when Puaxtacy crashed to the track which resulted in the loss of her right eye plus facial fractures to her cheek, jaw and nose. She also suffered bleeding to the brain. Her injuries eventually healed but despite a lot of hard work, surgeons couldn’t repair the break of the optic nerve to the brain. According to Dani, out of adversity came a treasure. During her recovery time, Dani and partner, champion reinsman David Harding, celebrated the arrival of a daughter Brooke. “Before the accident I had no plans of being a mum, now I can’t understand how I could’ve wanted anything else.” Brooke is now four and as Dani celebrates her milestone, ironically she is helping Harding recover from a dislocated hip and ankle fractures incurred in a fall on June 8 which will see him sidelined for many months. “I actually love training more than driving,” Danni said. “But financially I have to keep driving to supplement the training. “I get a real buzz from starting from scratch and trying to get a horse to race to its potential. “After the injuries, all I wanted to do was get back to training and was happy to adjust to only having the one eye when driving trackwork. “After a while, the next step was to driving with other horses around and fortunately my peripheral vision is extremely good. “Like every driver, I hear horses on my outside coming up, the only difference is I have to turn my head a bit more than previously. Once that was mastered it was into trials and then making the decision to drive in races. “I was a bit ring rusty early but quickly everything came together.” It certainly has with 94 winners in 2012/13 then 91 winners in 2013/14, and now 100 and still going with the season going to the end of August. Dani admits she is still inconvenienced by the loss an eye. “I still bump into things from time to time,” she said. “And I really do have a lot of trouble with escalators when they reach the top and turn into steps, but that’s life.” There can be no doubting the courage and tenacity of Danielle Hill, a true inspiration. Graham Fischer

With two months of the harness racing season remaining, the national driver’s premiership title is up for grabs with several contenders still in the mix. Leading the way is Victorian based reinsman Greg Sugars with 200 wins on the board and he holds a two win lead over Queensland based Shane Graham. Fellow Victorians Gavin Lang (189) and Nathan Jack (183) sit next and well within striking distance. Sugars landed his 200th winner on Saturday at Shepparton aboard the Leigh Miles prepared Be Good Juddy. Last season, Sugars finished third behind Chris Alford (298) and Amanda Turnbull (219) with 218 winners. Graham finished 12th with 164 winners. Double century seasons are nothing new for Sugars who has now surpassed the mark in five of the last six seasons. His highest tally of wins in a single season came in the 2012/13 term with 258 victories. Graham is yet to register a double century season. He has posted ten century seasons previously. Interestingly, star Kiwi reinsman Dexter Dunn registered his 200th winner on Friday night at Forbury Park when successful behind Give Me Strength. It is the fourth time he has reached that figure in a season with his best tally, 220 in the 2010-11 season. He has also 199 wins in two seasons. He won 206 in NZ last season. The final two months of the season in Australia offers plenty of feature racing, this weekend, the rich Vicbred Super Series Finals at TABCORP Park, Melton take place while the opening night of the winter carnival gets underway in Brisbane at Albion Park. Both Sugars and Graham will figure prominently. This is a race that looks set to go right down to the wire, so strap yourself in and follow the action closely in the months of July and August. Chris Barsby

Racing Queensland Stewards today concluded an inquiry into the analyst’s findings that high levels of Cobalt were detected in urine samples obtained from Ohoka Mach(NZ) – (1100 ug/L) following its win at the harness racing meeting at Redcliffe on 30 April 2014 and Mister Manhattan (NZ) – (630 ug/L) following its win at the harness racing meeting at Redcliffe on 6 September 2014. Trainer Trevor Lambourn gave evidence today relating to his feeding and husbandry practices leading up to the races in question. Stewards considered submissions from Mr Lambourn’s legal counsel Mr Michael O’Connor. Evidence was also taken from Professor Paul Mills (University of Queensland), Dr Robert Kenobi (James Cook University) and Dr Bruce Young from the Queensland Government Racing Science Centre. After consideration the following charges were issued in breach of Rule 190(1) which reads: “A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances.” Charge 1 – that Mr Lambourn presented Ohoka Mach (NZ) for racing at Redcliffe on 30 April 2014 when a sample taken from that horse was found, upon analysis, to contain the prohibited substance Cobalt.   Charge 2 – that Mr Lambourn presented Mister Manhattan (NZ) for racing at Redcliffe on 6 September 2014 when a sample taken from that horse was found, upon analysis, to contain the prohibited substance Cobalt. Mr Lambourn pleaded not guilty to both charges as issued. After consideration of further submissions Stewards were of the view that both charges could be sustained and found Mr Lambourn guilty. Submissions were tendered in relation to penalty and after consideration the following penalties were issued: Charge 1 – three (3) years disqualification Charge 2 – three (3) years disqualification   Stewards directed that both terms of disqualification be served concurrently. Acting under AHR 195 Ohoka Mach(NZ) was disqualified from its 1st placing at Redcliffe on 30 April 2014 and Mister Manharran(NZ) was disqualified from its 1st placing at Redcliffe on 6 September 2014 and all other placegetters were amended accordingly. Mr Lambourn was advised of his rights of appeal. Panel:  David Farquharson, Allan Reardon, Daniel Aurisch

The 2015 Queensland harness racing winter carnival officially starts this weekend at Albion Park. The metropolitan club will play host to three fabulous nights of racing on July 4, 11 and 18 with seven Group One events scheduled during those three nights of quality pacing. And prizemoney is at an all-time high. But leading local trainer/driver Grant Dixon fired a warning shot to interstate rivals last weekend when he prepared five winners on the 10 race program. He reined four himself while his wife Trista saluted on the other occasion. This is nothing new for the ‘Black & White army” with Bill (Grant’s father) preparing six winners at a meeting on two occasions while Grant himself has also prepared six winners previously. Bill achieved his winning six packs at Albion Park and the Gold Coast back in 2011 while Grant landed his six pack at the Gold Coast in 2013. The Dixon stable have been the leading stable in Australia since the 2007/08 season. Grant officially took over in the 2011/12 season and has continued to build on his father’s framework, only last season he produced his highest amount of winners with 260 for the season. The highest amount for the stable came in Bill’s final year of 2010/11 when the stable produced a whopping 299 winners for the term. So far this season, Dixon has prepared 227 winners, he is 27 clear of his nearest rival which is Newcastle based Shane Tritton. On Saturday night, the Dixon trained winners were Only The Brave, Alleluia, Modern Max, Majestic Major and Joys A Babe. Several of these winners are expected to feature during the carnival including open class star Majestic Major and exciting four-year-old Alleluia. Majestic Major made it three wins in succession after sitting parked to win the free-for-all in 1;52.7, the giant Art Major gelding will back-up this weekend in the Gr.1 $100,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint. Alleluia also scored in convincing fashion after racing outside highly regarded Newcastle performer Yayas Hot Spot before scoring stylishly in a time of 1;55.1 for the 2138m. Targets for Alleluia during the carnival include Gr.2 $50,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4 & 5yo Championship on July 11 and the Gr.2 $50,000 4yo Championship the following week. The Dixon stable will have big representation during the carnival and they’ve proven their ready to take on all-comers in July. Chris Barsby

The recognition of the importance of the trotting sector to the overall health of the breeding and racing history by successive Harness Racing Victoria administrations paid a handsome dividend last breeding season. Five years ago there were 550 trotting mares bred from in Australia compared to 734 bred from in New Zealand, however, there has been a dramatic turnaround created by an increase in racing opportunities and split gender age classics in Victoria. Figures compiled from last season reveal that the numbers of trotting mares bred from in New Zealand had dropped 20.8% from 2009 to 581, while in Australia the situation was a mirror image with an increase of 11.8% to 615. Remarkably the percentage of trotting mares bred from in Australia in 1999/2000 represented just 4.8% (454 of 9,413) of the total mares bred from, however, the comparative figure for 2013/14 was 10.1% (603 out of a total 5,975). The figure for 2014/15 is expected to be marginally higher again. Headlining the numbers were Majestic Son USA with 97 mares, Yankee Spider with 56, Bacardi Lindy USA (43), Angus Hall USA (36), Great Success USA (28), Imperial Count USA (27), Fling It USA (25), Ready Cash (FRA) (23), Muscle Hill USA (23), Andover Hall USA (22), Victoria Trotters Derby winner Danny Bouchea (21) and La Coocaracha’s son Louey Louey Louey (20). A fascinating survey of the comparative numbers of mares served by stallions based in Australia, New Zealand, North America is illuminating, especially when looking at the situation in 1999/2000. Australian based stallions served 356 mares in the 2014/15 season (383 in 1999/2000), New Zealand based stallions served 10 mares in 2014/15 (8 in 1999/2000), North American based stallions 216 mares in 2014/15 (26 in 1999/2000) and finally European based stallions 33 mares in 2014/15 (16 in 2014/15). I think they call that internationalization. The news just keeps getting too as there is an impending announcement of the importation of a 1:53 2/5s winning son of 2007 USA Harness Horse of the Year and Hambletonian winner Donato Hanover.  Furthermore, after decades of spurning the trotter Alabar Farms will be offering the frozen semen of not only Majestic Son but also the Danish Derby winner Peak who distinguished himself by also winning the Group One NZ Trotters FFA at Addington (NZ). Peak is by French stallion Ganymede, the sire of 45 Classic winners in Europe as well the Vicbred Super Sires 4YO champion Vincennes, who won the Wagon Apollo FFA at Tabcorp Park (Melton) at his last racetrack appearance. And to think that 55 years ago there was not a single North American trotting stallion in Australia and the numbers of trotting foals being bred was less than one hundred. Thank heavens for the visionary Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Famer Chris Howe who stood Bank Note, the first American trotting stallion imported direct to Australia post WW2 in 1961, and later Mt Everest. Chris was a tireless evangelist for the trotter, however, his efforts would have counted for little had it not been for administrators such as Graeme Cochran who insisted that the Victoria Sires Stake feature three age trotting classics and furthermore under his watch the Inter Dominion Trotters Championship came to Victoria for the first time and the Victoria Trotters Oaks was inaugurated. Next Friday night at Tabcorp Park there will be a ten race all trotting programme headlined by six Group One Vicbred Super Sires Finals, a stunning endorsement of the vision of administrators who supported the never say die efforts of countless trotting breeders and enthusiasts. John Peck

The annual Central Victorian Young Harness Racing Drivers' Challenge will take place across five races next month from July 8-9. Horses will be randomly allocated to a driver from the following list of invitees - Josh Aiken, Aaron Bain (SA), Josh Duggan, Dylan Egerton-Green (WA), Dylan Ford (Tas), Haydon Gray, Jason Lee, Todd McCarthy (NSW), Zac Phillips and Amy Rees (Qld). The series kicks off with two races at Shepparton on July 8 and continues the following day with two races at Maryborough and one at Ballarat. Shepparton Harness Racing Club racing and operations manager Ian McDonald is looking forward to the series of races. "The quality of participants is the key. To have not only the five leading young drivers in Victoria but the five best from outside Victoria is fantastic," he said. "To have them all in the one forum is a real bonus." Horses which win races involved in the series will not incur a handicapping penalty. CODY WINNELL 

Talented harness racing mare El Jays Magic is likely to head interstate for a campaign that would include a series of races for MO mares at Melton following her impressive win in a free-for-all over 1609 metres at UBET Park Hobart on Sunday night. El Jays Magic sizzled around the Hobart circuit to clock a time of 1m.55.4 seconds to just miss equalling Richie Walton's track record (1.55.3) which was set in May 2008. It was the fastest mile run by a mare on the Hobart circuit since Queen Carey clocked 1.56.3 in a free-for-all on the opening day of the new complex at UBET Park in October 2005. El Jays Magic (JR Mint-Jays Belle) is owned by Lyndon and Gail Menegon who bred the mare at their Big Park Stud. "It was a tremendous effort to win let along run that time," Lyndon Menegon said. "She has always possessed great speed but to cross that field from the outside of the front row as easily as she did was quite brilliant." "Then to almost eclipse Richie Walton's track record also was testament to her ability," he said. The Dip tried to lead from the pole position and he was challenged by Dodgermemate that left El Jays Magic to race three-wide in her attempt to cross down to the pegs. The early battle for the lead didn't seem to affect the mare because she was quite strong at the business end of the race. El Jays Magic sizzled home her last half (800m) in 57.3 to score by over three metres from her stablemate Clamorous with The Tip a further two metres away third. "Grant has been talking about taking El Jays Magic, Clamorous to Melbourne and after this latest win by the mare he's sure to go," Menegon said. Hodges confirmed today that El Jay's Magic and five-year-old Clamorous and possibly two Victorian-bred youngsters will head to Melbourne next week. "I've had a look at the Victorian calendar and there are a few nice race options for El Jays Magic in the coming weeks and there are plenty of suitable races for Clamorous and they both deserve the chance to go over there and win an M0," Hodges said. "I'm looking at taking a couple of other younger horses as well to make it a more financially viable exercise because it costs about v$4000 to take the truck so if I can put more on the truck it is less taxing on the owners. "But I've got a float over there (Melbourne) so if it ends up only being the mare and Clamorous I'll put them on the transport service truck and pick them up over there and float them to where they will be stabled," he said. El Jays Magic is a five-year-old that only began racing in July 2013 and in just under two years she has raced 30 times for 13 wins and a dozen minor placings for about $77,000 in stakes while Clamorous has won 10 and been placed 15 times from 32 starts for $63,000 in prizemoney. Peter Staples

The New South Wales Harness Racing Club has welcomed the announcement by Harness Racing Victoria that they will hold the 2016 editions of the Victoria and Hunter Cups on the same weekends the features were held this year. This avoids the clash which was created in February this year when HRV announced they were moving their 2016 carnival forward a week to coincide with the opening week of the Miracle Mile Carnival. This decision is in the best interests of both states and the entire industry according to NSWHRC Chief Executive Officer Bruce Christison. "This will ensure that the best horses have the opportunity to contest all Grand Circuit events," Christison said. "Both states can now get on with organising their carnivals and just as importantly the connections of these elite horses can start to plan their campaigns." NSWHRC Chairman Ray Sharman said that the Club has offered a Miracle Mile invitation to the winner of the Victorian Cup to assist in resolving the clash. This offer was accepted by HRV who have amended their Summer of Glory calendar. "It is a relief to all concerned that a Group One clash has been avoided," Sharman said. The Sky Carnival of Miracles will commence on February 13 with the Miracle Mile qualifying races and culminates on Sunday February 28 with the SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile headlining Group One Day. The prizemoney for the Carnival exceeds $2.5million. For further information please contact NSWHRC CEO Bruce Christison on (02) 4645 2200.

Talented Victorian harness racing three year old Hez The One came home a strong winner of heat one of the Trotsguide.Com.Au Southern Cross for three-year-old colts and geldings over 2230m.   Trainer Rebecca East, from Heywood, said Hez The One had tended to over race but was starting to learn to race more tractably.   East paid credit to driver Danielle Hill who had the gelding pacing truly at the rear of the field in the heat before bringing him with a well time run to win.   It was Hill’s 100th win for the season.   A well backed $4.20 chance, Hez The One scored by two and a half metres from the pacemaker Officianado ($3.40) with The Dapper Don ($15.50) was 11 metres away third.   The three-year-old was bred and is part-owned at Portland in Victoria by Graham Cole who shares ownership with Graham McDonald from Port MacDonnell in South Australia.   “He has always been a bit head strong,” East said. “While he has been a very good horse for us, he has not always helped himself by being too keen in his races.   “That was a bit of an issue last time at Mildura but tonight he was a lot better for Danni.”   It proved to be an interesting heat with Officianado leading and the $2.10 favourite Hit Maka on his back.   Just after midway through the race driver Ryan Hryhorec had the option to come off the fence and take the one-one position but history would show it was an error as the master reinsman found himself in a pocket until 200 metres from home when the race was over for him as a winning chance.   Jayson Finniss, on Officianado, aware of Hryhorec’s predicament, dashed for home, but Hez The One was winding up out wide and finished best to score.   It was a good night for East with Hez The One qualifying for the Southern Cross semi-finals while at Melton in Victoria, East’s partner Kevin Brough had two-year-old filly Just Wantano qualify for the final of the Empires Stallions Vicbred final by finishing second to Whirily School.   With his victory Hez The One built his career record to 12 wins from just 20 starts with five placings.   East said the gelding would return home before contesting the $9505 Horsham Guineas (2200m) on Wednesday, July 8.   Graham Fischer

Harness racings big day at Menangle yesterday was full of firsts for a lot of drivers and trainers involved. Kerry Ann Turner claimed her first Group 1 when Lettucerockthem was way too good in the four year old colts and geldings division of the $100,000 Breeders Challenge Finals after a great drive in front by her partner Robbie Morris. Not long after that was the sight of Luda getting home in the $100,000 four year old mares final for her young trainer Daniel Neagoe and her equally young driver David Morris. It was the first Group 1 victory for both the trainer and driver and showed both have the talent to make it at the highest level. Mark Purdon stamped his mark on the days proceedings by winning three of the six Group 1 features on offer and continued the great run the stable is having in both Sydney and Brisbane during their winter campaign. As usual Greg Hayes got around to interview a lot of the drivers and trainers and owners and we include those videos here. Harnesslink Media  

Scottsdale harness racing trainer Wayne Campbell will make a decision on whether to enter his two-year-old gelding Ken Two Stars for next Sunday night's Dandy Patch sires stakes final tomorrow morning following the gelding's impressive win in the Single Again Pace over 1609 metres on Sunday night. Ken Two Stars (Courage Under Fire-Sharevonah) outgunned a small field of four at what was only his second start but it was his tremendous turn of foot that excited driver Grant Hodges to suggest he could measure up against the state's best. Campbell was delighted with the win and even though it was only a small field he was impressed with the way his two-year-old produced two sharp sprints in the run. "We bred this horse and I've always had an opinion of him and on what he did tonight I'm inclined to let him have a crack at the Dandy Patch next week," said owner-trainer-breeder Wayne Campbell. Driver Grant Hodges also was impressed with the speed Ken Two Stars showed during the race. "His first two runs were good and tonight he was well placed to get a win and he never let us down," Hodges said. "He's got a real good turn of foot and to be able to use that twice in the race suggests to me that he could measure up against some of the better ones," he said. Ken Two Stars settled last in the field of four but when the leader Striker Jim (Guy Allen) slowed the tempo Hodges sent his charge around the field to take control. The Barrie Rattray-trained first-starter Kvitova Leis settled third but was the first off the fence to face the breeze and she moved alongside the leader halfway down the back straight the last time. But just when Kvitova Leis looked likely to throw down the gauntlet to the leader Ken Two Stars slipped into another gear and rattled off a last quarter in 27.7 that gave nothing else a chance of overhauling him. Ken Two Stars hit the line 3.3 metres clear of Kvitova Leis with Striker Jim 6-1/2 metres away third while Beena Regal finished last and about 34 metres from the winner after galloping twice in the run. Peter Staples

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Cornsilk and Pelicanrama, two of the best mares ever raced in this country, head up a strong contingent of broodmares to be offered at the Soho Standardbreds Reduction Sale, to be conducted by Graeme Board & Company at Tamarin Park, Toolern Vale on Sunday, July 26.   A dual Vicbred winner and Breeders Crown champion, Cornsilk ($555,046) is the dam of four sub 2:00 winners including the recent Victoria Gold Chalice winner and NSW Oaks runner-up Delight Me.   Pelicanrama, a former Australian 2YO of the Year and winner of a massive $730,271, has to date left five winners, two of which have earned more than $100,000 in Soho Tokyo and Soho Highroller.   Other classic-winning or placed mares listed in the catalogue are Generally Outspoken (WA Gold Bracelet), the WA Sales Classic winners Jupiters Darling and  Soho Cannes, the NZ Sales Graduette winner Luva Rum Ball, Lombo Portrait, Lombo Silhouette, Soho Monroe, Soho Nike, Schonbrunn, Country Change and Pinevale Spirit.   The dams of the $100,000 Club winners Greyhawk and Three Pints, Soho Monroe (two Breeders Crown heats) and others in Soho Daytona, Soho Wonder, Soho Shanghai, Triple Trent, Valens and Ricimer will also be offered.   There’s sisters or half-sisters to a host of top flight performers including Manifold Bay, Surprise Package, Lombo Skyrider, Uncle Wingnut, After The Reckoning, Fake Spirit, Secret Desire, Silver Lined Pocket, Mustang Fighter and Adayspay.   The mares have been served by highly credentialed stallions such as Bettor’s Delight, Art Major, Mach Three, Sportswriter, Rock N Roll Heaven, Shadow Play, Roll With Joe, Betterthancheddar, Auckland Reactor, Caribbean Blaster, Alta Christiano and Blissfull Hall.   For a copy of the catalogue send an email to graemeboard56@gmail.com or phone Peter Dow 0412 195 986.   Catalogues are also available from Tamarin Park (Sue Markwell 0413 923 333).   Pedigrees are available on the website www.graemeboard.com     Click on the Soho Standardbreds Reduction Sale link.   Peter Wharton
The barrier draws for the 2015 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Finals nights at the harness racing meetings on Friday and Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton were conducted this morning at the Legends Café. Twelve Group 1 races will be held across two big nights of harness racing with the trotting finals on Friday followed by the pacers on Saturday. Claudys Princess was the big winner in the four-year-old trotting mares’ final, the Mick Blackmore-trained two-time Vicbred Super Series champion at two and three pulling gate four, while her biggest rival, Illawong Helios from the Ross Sugars camp, snared gate eight and will need a pinch of luck. “It does help,” Blackmore said of the draw. “But you still need a few other things to go your way. “Illawong Helios just needs a bit of luck though and she’ll be right in it.”  Blackmore said Claudys Princess was a picture of health for her tilt at the rare Vicbred Super Series clean sweep after suffering a virus two runs back at Melton when third in the Bacardi Lindy Trot. “Her blood was down a bit after that run at Melton but since then she’s done really good and worked a treat,” he said. Illawong Helios has won 11 of her last 12 starts for Ross and Greg Sugars but the inside-back-row draw Friday night means she’ll be giving her arch rival a start. “It’s not the best but it could have been worse,” a matter-of-fact Ross Sugars said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult. We’ll probably end up four back on the fence, maybe three back, while Claudys will be in front. “She’s probably a three- or four-length better horse anyway, so given we’ll be giving her a start it’s going to be very tough. “But win, lose or draw she’s had a fantastic season … we’re very proud of our mare and we’ve had a lot of luck with the barrier draws. We just needed it one more time and unfortunately it didn’t fall our way.” View all of Friday night’s fields for Tabcorp Park Melton Cody Winnell
Harness Racing New South Wales extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Charlie Mercieca after his sudden passing on Thursday June 25. Aged 70, Charlie Mercieca was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed success in and around Sydney. Some of the horses Charlie trained included Identity, Nathan Image, Sheerama and more recently Little Gozzo and Perfect Shot. His last runner was on Friday June 12 when Jodan finished third at Newcastle. Charlie will be missed by his entire family. Charlie's funeral will be on Friday July 3rd at 1pm Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes. The burial will take place at Pine Grove Cemetery at 2:30pm.  Greg Hayes
Rising talent Jack Trainor and accomplished local Nathan Hurst took the honours when the NSW Rising Stars series came to last Wednesday’s meeting harness racing meeting at Group One Feeds Paceway Bathurst. Trainor, the eventual winner of the series, demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the best young drivers in the nation by completing a clean-sweep of the three Bathurst heats, while Hurst drove a double and supplied a further winner to complete a training treble. Trainor’s clean-sweep came via The Merchant Banker NZ, Keilor Kimberly and Missed By Red, for trainers Neal Wardle, David Hewitt and Steve Turnbull. The Merchant Banker NZ ($2.00 favourite) was taken straight to the front in the C2-backed sprint, heat three of the week-long series, and withstood sustained pressure from a number of mid-race challengers, before digging in at the finish to hold off Flight Express (Chris Geary), which used the sprint lane, and Tulhurst Candy (Kristy Sheehy). All quarters were sub-thirty seconds, so the overall mile rate of 1:55.9 came as no surprise.  In a post-race interview, Trainor commented that drivers invitation races, and particularly those for junior drivers, are usually run very quickly because most horses are put into the race at some stage. This was demonstrated perfectly in the following race, a 2260 metres C1 heat, when a near-suicidal 45.8 lead time, backed up by a first half of 60.2 seconds, set up the race for the run-on horses. Keilor Kimberly ($17.80) came with a wet sail to win easily, from Black Poles (Daniel Morgan) and Blissfull Dixie (Chris Geary), in a smart 1:57.4 for the testing trip. Chris Geary, who must have been feeling some frustration after being placed in all four heats of the series to that point, gained some consolation by taking out a support event, leading throughout a 2260 metres C2-C3 class with Regal Point ($6.80), one of three Bernie Hewitt-trained horses to line up. A smart 57.6 last half gave his rivals no chance of running him down. Missed By Red ($2.60 favourite) completed Trainor’s perfect performance, by running out a decisive winner in heat five, a C0 sprint. With the lead unavailable, because of a 27.9 opening quarter, the Somebeachsomewhere filly was given a lovely position mid-field, and strolled home in 28.9 for an easy win. Monterey Jack (Ellen Bartley) held on for second, with Golden Montana (Nathan Carroll) getting up for third. The three winning drives were achieved in contrasting style, but they all demonstrated a maturity beyond Trainor’s twenty-one years. Not surprising, perhaps, given his excellent grounding in the sport in his New Zealand homeland, where he worked for leading trainer Cran Dalgety, before heading to a new home in New South Wales and good opportunities driving for a number of leading stables.  He’s a very impressive young man. Nathan Hurst didn’t have the opportunity to compete in any junior drivers series when he started out, but he does have something in common with Jack Trainor, a good “apprenticeship” in New Zealand, when he took himself across the ditch to work for Barry Purdon, before returning to Bathurst to set up a professional stable. Tulhurst Sarsha ($3.80 favourite) got Hurst’s night off to the perfect start by coming out from behind leader Gentleman Red and grabbing that horse right on the line, with Boyzinblue taking the minor prize, in a C0-C1 sprint. The overall mile rate was 1:58.6, but the last quarter in 28.0 was pretty sharp. Saloon Passage had set tongues wagging with a 1:54 trial win at the track  nine days earlier, so it was no surprise to see him installed as $1.30 favourite for the C4+  fast-class  fifth, despite being first-up for several months, and over the longer 2260 metres distance. Hurst pinged him straight to the lead, where he gradually quickened the tempo, home in 28.7 and 27.8, for a creditable 1:57.3 rate, with runner-up My Dusky Sound NZ responsible for an enormous effort after a tough run outside the lead. Last-start winner Uncle Lile made late ground for third. Hurst was very pleased by the win, and also a little relieved, given it was over the longer trip and first-up. Present plans are to head back to Menangle, in search of the M0 win that has so far eluded this very talented and enigmatic pacer. When he does get that well-deserved success, he will pass $100,000 in stakes earnings. Blazing Brax ($4.40, Angela Hedges) completed an excellent night for the Hurst stable by taking out a 2C0-2C1 sprint, leading throughout and holding on, by a half-neck margin, from favourite Miss Irish Rose and Shot To Stardom. She held on to the win in the stewards room afterwards, surviving a protest from the runner-up after drifting out in the run home.  It was the third win this term for the Julius Caesar gelding, a $10,000 purchase at last year’s Gold Crown sale. Williewa Ace ($56.20, Jason Turnbull/Wayne Jeffree) gave the on-course bookmaker some relief by taking out the 1730 metres C0 final event. It was the maiden win for the lightly-raced four-year-old, but the latest in a successful partnership for the Lagoon reinsman and Portland trainer.  Placings went to Pia Pizaz and Paulie Walnuts. Bathurst will race on Fridays over the next couple of months, with this week’s meeting an afternoon fixture, followed by a “Christmas in July” celebration in the club in the evening. Terry Neil
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