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Beautide early favourite for Vic features

Despite his last start defeat, harness racing star Beautide is the early favourite for Victoria’s two Grand Circuit events with TAB Fixed Odds. Nominations for the Victoria and A G Hunter Cups were released, with the reigning Inter Dominion champion heading the market. Second behind Christen Me in last month’s Miracle Mile, Beautide is favoured to beat the Kiwi beginning with the Victoria Cup on January 31 and again the following week. The James Rattray-trained gelding is $4 for the state’s premier mobile event and $5 in Australia’s most prestigious handicap. Rattray has yet to commit to a Hunter Cup start. Christen Me is on the third line of betting at $7 in both Cups despite being the defending Hunter Cup champion. Last season’s Victoria Cup hero, For A Reason, is $14 in his title defence, with boom local, Guaranteed, the best of the locals at $6. Guaranteed is also the second elect for the Hunter Cup at $6, equal with New Zealand Cup winner, Adore Me. PAUL COURTS VICTORIA CUP $4 Beautide $6 Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $9 Adore Me $10 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Keayang Cullen $18 Im Corzin Terror $21 Restrepo $26 David Hercules $31 or better others   HUNTER CUP $5 Beautide $6 Adore Me, Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $11 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Im Corzin Terror $21 Arden Rooney, Keayang Cullen, Restrepo, The Gold Ace $26 David Hercules $31 or better others

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Lang continues love affair with Tasmania

Top Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang has always had success when driving in Tasmania and he showed why he is considered one of harness racing’s best with a superb display behind Rusty Red Comet in Hobart today. The Eric Jacobson-trained gelding was backed in to start the $2.10 favourite and it was Lang’s patience that ensured the four-year-old emerged triumphant. Vander Jenkins ($10 into $8) showed good early speed to find the front, while Smokin Mustard $14) faced the breeze and the well-tried Frankie Falzoni ($9) trailed the leader from the pole. Lang settled Rusty Red Comet in the rear half of the field in the one-out line and he waited until entering the back straight the last time to make his move three and four-wide. The well-backed second favourite Major Callum was sent around the field to face the breeze with over a lap remaining and he looked the winner turning for home. But when Lang called on Rusty Red Comet to deliver the goods, the son of Riverboat King found that bit extra Lang is often able to extricate from his charges to emerge triumphant. Rusty Red Comet hit the line three metres clear of Major Callum, with Frankie Falzoni a metre away third. PETER STAPLES

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Broodmare gem's two-state double

Broodmare gem Monaloo completed a rare harness racing feat last night. Boasting a perfect strike rate as a matron, Monaloo produced a pair of winners in the space of a couple of hours. Even more impressive is the fact the dam’s progeny were successful in two states. Promising pacer Freds A Safari kicked started proceedings when triumphant at Globe Derby for trainer-driver Darren Billinger. Rating 1:59.6 for the 1800 metres, the four-year-old continued his unbeaten run from three outings this season. By Safari, the feature race winner extended his record to 10 wins and eight placings from 25 starts. Lord Monaloo then matched his half-brother’s feat when victorious at Shepparton for astute horsewoman Kylie Sugars. Driven by Sugars’ brother, Greg, Lord Monaloo enjoyed a three-wide trail during the latter stages before scoring in 1:56.8 over 2190 metres. Racing in consistent fashion this term, the son of It Is I has notched three wins and three placings from six starts for an overall tally of 22 wins and 24 placings from 59 starts. Monaloo next foals is an unraced two-year-old daughter by It Is I. PAUL COURTS

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Superstars among record nominations

Defending champions For A Reason and Christen Me are among the record nominations for Victorian harness racing’s two Grand Circuit events. Scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on January 31, the Victoria Cup has attracted 58 nominations, headed by New South Wales competitor For A Reason. A member of the powerful Belinda McCarthy stable, For A Reason captured last season’s edition when driven by the trainer’s reinsman-husband, Luke. Miracle Mile placegetter, Guaranteed, heads the locals prospects, with the list including reigning Inter Dominion title holder Beautide, last week’s Ballarat Cup winner, Im Corzin Terror, and recent Cranbourne Cup winner, Terror To Love. Christen Me will also contest the mobile event before backing-up for his A G Hunter Cup defence a week later. A member of the Cran Dalgerty stable, Christen Me fifth pacer to successfully defend his crown in Australia’s premier handicap. Springfield Globe was the ground breaker in 1961 and ’62, followed by Monara in ’73 and ’74, Pure Steel in ’77 and ’78 and Blossom Lady in ’94 and ’95. Pure Steel was also triumphant in 1980 to be the only triple champion. Minuteman is the only other dual winner, having captured the time-honoured event in 1964 and ’66. Thanks to his Kilmore Cup victory last October, Guaranteed is exempt from ballot, with the remainder of the 70 nominations via for a place in the elite field. PAUL COURTS TAB.COM.AU VICTORIA CUP NOMINATIONS Falco Peregrinus Macha Artoc Bit Of A Legend Lets Elope Our Jimmy Johnstone Comply Or Die Flaming Flutter Hilltop Hustler It Is Billy Our Major Mark Philadelphia Man Steam Washed Bellas Delight Blazin N Cullen Fearless Leader Franco Nelson Keayang Steamer Lennytheshark Mark Dennis Monifieth Pub Blitz Savesomtimetodream Uncle Wingnut Adore Me Chilli Palmer Cold Major Come On Frank Guaranteed Laterron Magical Telf Restrepo Wartime Sweetheart Chancellor Cullen Maximan Chariot King Gumdrops Mach Alert Mach Beauty Bettors Fire For A Reason Abettorpunt Easy On The Eye Im Corzin Terror Motu Crusader The Gold Ace Avonnova Seel N Print Keayang Cullen Beautide Bitobliss Christen Me Suave Stuey Lombo Forever Gold David Hercules Terror To Love Arden Rooney Franco Ledger DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP HUNTER CUP NOMINATIONS Bushrod Falco Peregrinus Macha Macho Comacho Rule Like A King Star Chamber Yayas Hot Spot Artoc Bio Marinus Bit Of A Legend Classy Western Lets Elope Our Jimmy Johnstone Washmepockets Comply Or Die Dynamite Dude Flaming Flutter Hilltop Hustler It Is Billy Marty Monkhouser Our Major Mark Philadelphia Man Steam Washed Bellas Delight Blazin N Cullen Fearless Leader Franco Nelson Keayang Steamer Lennytheshark Mark Dennis Monifieth Pub Blitz Savesomtimetodream Uncle Wingnut Adore Me Chilli Palmer Guaranteed Kotare Roland Laterron Magical Telf Restrepo Wartime Sweetheart Chancellor Cullen Maximan Blucolla Tigerpie Chariot King Gumdrops Mach Alert Mach Beauty Smudge Bromac Bettors Fire For A Reason Abettorpunt Easy On The Eye Im Corzin Terror Motu Crusader The Gold Ace Avonnova Jaccka Clive Saucy Legend Seel N Print Keayang Cullen Beautide Bitobliss Christen Me Suave Stuey Lombo Forever Gold David Hercules Terror To Love Arden Rooney Franco Ledger Tiger Tara

Despite promising harness racing mare My Bella Starr’s triumphant return to racing at Cranbourne last night, connections will “play it cool for now”. Sent for a spell following her Vicbred Super Series success last July, My Bella Starr outclassed her rivals over 2080 metres. Pleased with the pacer’s performance, trainer Adam Kelly stated My Bella Starr will be eased through the grades as she works towards her title defence. Should the daughter of Art Major exceed early expectations, Kelly will alter his plans to include the Ladyship Mile at Menangle in March. “She has come back well, but we are play it cool for now,” Kelly said. “You can’t get excited on one run back from a spell. “She’s comeback in great shape and shouldn’t have any trouble getting through the grades. “Whether she measures up to the top mares only time will tell, but realistically that was only her first run as a four-year-old and she’s got a long way to go yet. “At this stage the Sires’ later in the season will be her main aim.” As for her latest triumph, My Bella Starr trailed the leader, Discrimination, before finishing along the sprint lane to account for Machin Out and Whata Avenue. Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, My Bella Starr rated 1:58.8, with the final 800 meters covered in 57 seconds. PAUL COURTS

Leading harness racing trainer Amanda Grieve is hoping for a pair of early Christmas presents at Hobart on Sunday. Grieve has made the trip across Bass Strait for two of the Apple Isle’s premier events – Tasmania Cup and The George Johnson. Talented pacer Im Corzin Terror will contest the Cup, with handy mare Tandias Bromac in the latter feature. “It would be nice if Christmas could come early,” Grieve said. “They are suitable targets and both runners will prove hard to beat. “With a bit of luck we Santa will smile upon us a few days in advance.” Despite his second row draw, Im Corzin Terror is the one to beat in the former Grand Circuit race. Fresh from his success in last weekend’s dismal Ballarat Cup, the son of Western Terror will thrive on the drop in class according to Grieve. “It is down on class on what he has been racing against,” Grieve said. “He’s good enough to overcome the draw and I expect him to be hard to beat. “He also likes the longer trip, so the 2579 metres will really suit him. “He’s come through Ballarat just fine as you would expect on the run he had.” Tandias Bromac will also begin from the second row, with Grieve stating the five-year-old’s run at Ballarat should be overlooked. On that occasion, the daughter of Art Major was unplaced in open company. “She just never got into it at Ballarat, so you may as well forget she went around,” Grieve said. “Before that she did well in Sydney despite the fact she didn’t travel as well as I would have liked. “She has settled in better in Tasmania and will be ready for this. “It’s also a drop in class for her and she will be right in the finish.” While a busy schedule has been mapped out for Im Corzin Terror, Tandias Bromac will enjoy a Christmas holiday. “Im Corzin Terror will race pretty much every week in January,” Grieve said. “He has his Bendigo Cup defence, the Shepparton, Victoria and Hunter Cups. “If we bypass any, it will be Shepparton. “At this stage, I will give Tandias Bromac a wee break and get her ready for the Ladyship Mile in Sydney in March on Inter Dominion day.” PAUL COURTS

Effective from 1 January 2015, Harness Racing New South Wales will commence a state wide Sulky Recovery Scheme (SRS) which will cover both sulkies and wheels in races only. This follows a considerable period of consultation with stakeholder groups, in particular the former UHRA secretary Wally Mann. To assist with this process, every sulky used in races in NSW is required to be assessed by HRNSW and tagged with a unique ID number. The inspections and tagging will commence immediately and it shall be the responsibility of the sulky owner to ensure that they present their sulky to a HRNSW representative to be inspected and tagged. A compulsory fee of $5 per starter will be charged to the trainer, and this will cover the sulky and wheel from the time they enter the parade ring until they exit the track. For information of the SRS please visit http://www.harnessmediacentre.com.au/industry-integrity/hrnsw-sulky-recovery-scheme- or www.harnessmediacentre.com.au HRNSW Media

While he doesn’t prepare as many horses as he once did, veteran trainer Ange Pace can boast to having harness racing’s best pacer in his stable! A multiple feature race winning horseman, Pace’s property has become the Victorian base for reigning Inter Dominion champion, Beautide. Ready to campaign the star in the state during the next couple of months, trainer James Rattray “has set up shop” at the Melton establishment, with Pace enjoying he company. “Dad (Barrie) stayed here when he was in Victoria last, so I rang Ange and asked if I could train from there when in Victoria,” Rattray said. “Ange has a pretty good set up and it is central to the main tracks, especially Melton, which is less than 10 minutes down the road.” Pace’s place is no stranger to quality horseflesh, with the astute mentor preparing handy types such as Gozo Heritage, Artlimond and Demiliner. Gozo Heritage captured the 1999 Breeders’ Crown with Pace’s son, Ray, in the sulky. “I’ve had a few good horses over the years and enjoyed my time in harness racing,” Pace said. “I don’t train as many as I used to, but I still enjoy having one or two around as a hobby.” A horse lover for as long as he can remember, Pace believes he has a unique understand of equines – he knows what it is like to be one. Before anyone draws the wrong conclusion, Pace’s understanding of horses stems from the fact he has first-hand knowledge of the hard work involved in lugging a cart around… giving him a mutual understanding for his equine counterparts. As a child in his native land of Malta – the island of Gozo to be exact – Pace’s first job was to act as the ‘horse’ for the business he and his older brother, John, conducted. The two young entrepreneurs, aged 14 and 11, travelled between villages selling bric-a-brac to help support their large family. With John steering the company vehicle, Ange was forced to pull the cart loaded with various items. “I was the horse, or donkey, as I was called then,” Ange recalled. “John and I would travel around selling glasses, buttons, pots, anything we could. “I can certainly relate to horses because of that. It was a tough life, I started working at 12, but we did whatever we had to do to look after each other.” Pace’s first foray into harness racing came via his father, who raced horses through the streets of their village on Sundays. “It was a great atmosphere and a time to relax,” Pace said. “People would race horses and donkeys, some with carts, some without, even bareback. “It’s still done today in a lesser extent at festivals and so on.” At the tender age of 12, Pace started working as a stonecutter, a profession he mastered for five years until migrating to Australia by himself via a 35-day boat trip in 1953. It didn’t take long for Pace to become attracted to the Australian way of life, or harness racing. In fact, with legendary trainer Alf Simons close by, it was only a matter of time before Pace was a regular at his stable. “I was at Alf’s place as often as I could be to help out, but I never got paid,” Pace said. “I just liked being there and I worked for Alf for about seven years.” Eventually obtaining his trainer’s licence, Pace’s first winner was Irish Lace, a mare which raced her way to metropolitan class at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds. “Jimmy Harning, who is one of the all-time best horse breakers, told me ‘you break her in and I’ll teach you,” Pace said. “She was an unraced four-year-old and won 16 races for us. I have been training ever since and have enjoyed every minute of it.” PAUL COURTS

Her name poses a question – Whats Emma Got – and the answer is simple….plenty of ability. One of the most promising pacers to come from South Australia in recent years, Whats Emma Got has cut a seemingly permanent path to the winners’ circle. Successful at her two starts this season, Whats Emma Got has extended her winning streak to nine for trainer Glenda Fuller. Excited by the filly’s prospects, Fuller has set her sights on several key targets, including the South Australia Oaks. “The Oaks is a race which should be perfect for her,” Fuller said. “She has got very high speed, but she is also versatile. “She can lead, take a sit of do a bit of work.” Having already beaten the ‘boys’ during her last three outings, Fuller is considering a Derby start on January 10 with the daughter of Grinfromeartoear. As a guide on a Derby campaign, Fuller will start Whats Emma Got in the St Leger a week before the classic. “I will put her in the St Leger before the Derby and see how she goes,” Fuller said. “If she races up to expectations, then I will start her in the Derby the following week. “After that she has the Oaks, then I will give her a short let up.” With the three-year-old eligible for the Vicbred Super and Southern Cross series, Fuller will make a decision on the futurities later in the season. The Vicbred Final is scheduled for July 5, with the Southern Cross a month later. “I don’t want to plan too far ahead with her,” Fuller said. “At some stage I do want to take her to Victoria to pick up her bonus, but other than that, I haven’t decided on the Vicbred series.” Bred and owned by Fuller’s daughter, Sharon Newman, Whats Emma Got has attracted some offers, but Fuller made her position clear. “I know never to say never, but no way…she is not for sale,” Fuller declared. “She is the horse we have been looking for. “I had an offer on her unraced half sister by Art Major, but we didn’t sell her. “She’s just turned two and is still a while away from racing.” PAUL COURTS

Racing Queensland has warned participants of plans to inspect sulkies to make sure they meet Harness Racing Australia specifications. This comes after last Saturday night’s fiasco when stewards gave trainers no notice of pending inspections, which ultimately led to six of the 10 runners being scratched from the Group One Ballarat Cup. Queensland stipes have stated they will inspect “every sulky at race meetings in the coming weeks”. Each sulky inspected, once approved, will be photographed and allocated a compliance approval number, with a tag bearing this number to be affixed to the sulky. As was the case in Ballarat, any sulkies found to be wider than the 120 to 130-centimetre specifications will be banned. Stewards will also be looking for sulkies which may fail to meet the required safety standards, such as cracks/fractures in shafts or wheels or extended axles. PAUL COURTS

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at www.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Stallion Review – YANKEE CRUISER – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Yankee Cruiser 1:49.3s ($1,457,346). AU: You're only as good as your last win - We have all heard the adage "you are only as good as your last win." Well, it would appear at least one well-known trainer has come to realise this to be true. NZ: 1000 wins and hardly a murmur - One thing that we struggle with in the harness racing game in New Zealand is how we treat our superstars of the sport. In any other sport they shower there stars with awards and public recognition when they achieve something special. Drop your foot and pay the fine - Last week Harnesslink featured its most controversial article ever. Thousands of views and hundreds of comments, both pro and con, on the David Miller interview about dropping his foot in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs. Insider Access archive available - Following requests from our readers in relation to previous editions of Insider Access, we are providing a link for those looking to catch up on some news they missed. Simply click here and delve through the archives as Insider Access and Harnesslink continue to lead the way in providing the latest news from around the world. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

Champion reinsman Chris Alford has been selected to represent Australia at the 2015 World Drivers’ Championships in New South Wales. Alford won last season's Victorian Drivers’ Premiership with 291 wins, despite missing about six weeks with a broken collarbone. Nationally, Alford registered 298 victories to be crowned Australia's premier driver. “It’s a big thrill to be able to compete against the best drivers in the world,” Alford declared. “Last season was a very good season. I drove some really good horses and I don’t think it could have gone much better really.” Alford, 46, has driven more than 5300 winners in an illustrious career spanning 20 years. This will be his second time Alford has represented Australia, after 'donning' the Green and Gold in 1997. - HRV Media

Delight Me has all the makings of a top-line harness racing filly. A royally-bred three-year-old, Delight Me is by top sire Bettors Delight from quality mare Cornsilk. A top youngster, Cornsilk won 43 races, including the Two and Four-Year-Old Vicbred Super Series Finals and Breeders Crown. As for Delight Me, she has won three of her four starts for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, including Melton last Friday. Despite her second row draw, Delight Me is the one to beat in Saturday night’s Silver Chalice at the same venue. Stewart and Tonkin also have Lovelist engaged in the feature. Another well-bred youngster, Lovelist will begin from barrier five. “Delight Me is the better chance of our two,” Stewart said. “Her form is good and she keeps on improving. She won impressively last start.” “Lovelist is probably a run short for this grade.” HRV Media

Grand harness racing mare Broadways Best has been retired. Trainer Shannon McLean decided to end the multiple feature race winner’s career following her unplaced effort last weekend. Although Broadways Best had been racing in competitive fashion, McLean feels the timing is right for the nine-year-old to enter the next phase of her life – motherhood. As such, Broadways Best will visit the court of super sire Art Major. “She has been racing well without any luck either at the races or with draws,” McLean said. “As such, I felt it was time for her to enter the next stage of her career as a mum. “If you look at her individual times, she has been racing well, but she just can’t seem to get into the races for one reason or another. “She has nothing left to prove, and with a bit of luck, she can pass on her ability to her foals.” Showing average ability as a two-year-old, Broadways Best made people realise she was anything but average at three, winning seven of her 15 starts, with seven placings also to her credit. Her victories included the Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Final, while beating all but Captain Joy in the Victoria Derby. “Her Derby run when second behind Captain Joy remains one of her best efforts,” McLean said. Making an effortless transition to open company at four, Broadways Best captured the four-year-old Vicbred Final and Ladyship Mile as well as the Angelique, Golden Wattle and Ladyship Cups. Broadways Best’s 2011 Ladyship Mile victory will always remain special to McLean for sentimental reasons. “The Ladyhsip Mile will always be the greatest highlight with her,” McLean said. “They brought the race five weeks forward from the original date, which made it clash with my wedding day. “As such, I couldn’t be at Menangle, but the whole reception listened to the win on the load speaker. “Although a few drivers have won with her, Chris Alford seemed to have a real connection with her and got the best out of her on a regular basis.” Owned by McLean’s father, Ric, Broadways Best’s tally sits on 29 wins and 29 placings from 97 starts for earnings of $643,091. “I really have to thank my father for entrusting her with me, it has been one fantastic ride,” McLean declared. PAUL COURTS

Six-year-old Tuxedo Tour went within a whisker of causing a major upset last Friday night when he ran home with great determination to finish a head second to 5/1 on favourite Heez On Fire and he gets a chance to turn the tables on his brilliant rival when he meets him on better terms in the $35,000 Kennards Hire Christmas Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Tuxedo Tour, trained at Herne Hill by Kevin Keys, started from barrier three on the back line and settled down in ninth position before he surged forward to move to the breeze on the outside of the pacemaking Heez On Fire with 1200m to travel in a heat of the Gift last week. Heez On Fire, who was untroubled to lead from the prized No. 1 barrier, fought on grimly to stave off the late challenge from Tuxedo Tour, with the final two quarters being covered in 28.9sec. and 27.6sec. This week Tuxedo Tour will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, with Heez On Fire out at barrier five. Noted frontrunner Dashing Christian is likely to lead from the No. 1 barrier and there is a strong possibility that Tuxedo Tour will again have to work hard in the breeze. All Bettor (barrier two) and Ti Amo Franco (four) possess good natural gate speed and Chris Lewis will be anxious to slot Heez On Fire into a commanding position in the one-wide line. Heez On Fire is extremely versatile and is capable of unwinding a dazzling finishing burst, like he revealed when he thundered home from the rear to win from Medley Moose two starts ago. Despite his awkward draw, Heez On Fire is likely to start a short-priced favourite in his quest to extend his winning sequence to six and improve his record to 15 wins and four placings from only 27 starts. The WA-bred five-year-old was purchased as a four-month-old weanling by Cardup trainer Rod Oliver for $15,000 and has already amassed $178,005 in prizemoney for Oliver, his mother Doreen, brother Perry and friends Andrew Walker, Geoff Ramm, Darrell Dwyer and Kieren Eiffler. Tuxedo Tour has earned $122,876 from 11 wins and 18 placings from 41 starts after being purchased for $18,000 at the 2010 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale by Tom Marsden, who races the stallion in partnership with his son Rod and Martin, Colin and Stephen Campbell. The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in WA that has not been won by Lewis, who is in devastating form in the sulky. Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than he did in a qualifying heat last Friday night when he set the pace and was overhauled in the final stride and was beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Mosquito Buzzin. Hall won the Christmas Gift for the fifth time when Kim Prentice drove the polemarker and 6/4 on favourite Toretto to a comfortable all-the-way victory over Our Major Mark and Red Salute 12 months ago. This followed wins with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007) and Livingontheinterest (2012). Ti Amo Franco, trained in Collie by Dale Jackson, will have admirers from barrier four on the front line. He began brilliantly from the No. 5 barrier in a heat last week, but was unable to cross Dashing Christian. He then obtained a good sit, one-out and one-back, and moved to second on the home turn before wilting to fourth behind Mosquito Buzzin. He won in good style at two of his three previous starts. Matt White will resume as Mosquito Buzzin's driver this week after Aiden De Campo handled the six-year-old last week. De Campo will replace Chris Voak behind Mosquito Buzzin, with Voak on the sidelines serving a 19-day suspension after causing interference in a race last Friday night. Mosquito Buzzin has drawn ideally on the inside of the back line and should enjoy a perfect sit behind the likely pacemaker Dashing Christian. Woodley to drive This Time Dylan Outstanding young reinsman Morgan Woodley has been engaged to drive strong stayer This Time Dylan in the $22,500 Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the nine-year-old looks capable of fighting out the finish of the 2503m stand at his fourth appearance after a spell. Woodley, who will be driving This Time Dylan for the first time, replaces Justin Prentice, who was in the sulky last Friday night when the gelding was prominent throughout and sustained a solid three-wide run to finish third behind Lisharry and Some Kinda Tactics in a 1730m sprint, with the final 800m being covered in a sparkling 55.6sec. Prentice was committed to driving Dardys Delight, a five-year-old he trains at Boyanup. Dardys Delight, who will share the front line with the Ross Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud, rises considerably in class, but is in sound form, with his past six starts (all in stands) producing two wins, two seconds and two thirds. Before that he had contested only one stand in 348 starts. He is closely related to Winter Strike, who earned $416,693 from 33 wins and 50 placings from 143 starts. He was a winner of eight stands, six at Gloucester Park and two at Pinjarra. This Time Dylan, trained at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, will start off the 40m mark, but is capable of a bold showing. He has a losing sequence of 13, dating back to last May when he won a 2503m event off 30m at Gloucester Park. Four months earlier he finished a splendid third behind Hokonui Ben and Toretto in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup. He won four times (all off 10m) over 2503m in September-October 2013 and he impressed when he started off 40m and finished second to Rocket Reign in the 3309m Marathon Handicap in August this year. Some Kinda Tactics will share the 40m handicap with This Time Dylan on Friday night and should also prove hard to beat. He is racing consistently, with his 12 starts this season producing three wins, four seconds and three thirds. Chief Thundercloud, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, will be one of the main fancies after having four starts in WA for a win in a 2503m stand and three second placings. He raced without cover for the final two laps when a sound second to the frontrunning Avalon Bromac in a 2536m mobile at Gloucester Park last Saturday night. Olivieri will also be represented by veteran pacers Pembrook Henry and To Transcend and Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg will be looking for a stout-hearted effort from 11-year-old mare Salliwood, who will start off 20m and will be handled by Mark Reed,. Salliwood has finished second in the past two Christmas Handicaps. She was driven by Shannon Suvaljko when she finished strongly into second place behind Uncle Kracker in 2012 and then was awarded the race after the winner was disqualified. In last year's race Salliwood set the pace and was defeated by a half-head by the fast-finishing J Walker. It all points to Sensational Gabby Brilliant mare Sensational Gabby looks set to complete her preparation for the $60,000 Village Kid Sprint on Friday week in fine style by proving too speedy for her 11 male rivals in the 2130m Merry Xmas Del Basso Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her prospects soared when she was dealt the No. 3 marble in the random barrier draw and Chris Lewis is likely to make a bold bid to dash her straight to the front. Drawn inside her are Soho Highroller and Go West U Terror, geldings with good gate speed, but susceptible to an early challenge from Sensational Gabby, who can begin with dazzling speed. In the event of Soho Highroller holding up and leading, Lewis would be anxious to gain a good sit in the one-wide line before asking Sensational Gabby to unleash her renowned sizzling finishing burst. She was seventh (on the pegs) at the bell before finishing fast to be third behind David Hercules and Soho Highroller over 1730m last Friday night. Soho Highroller certainly looks the pick of the four runners from the all-conquering Gary Hall sen. stable. He notched his third successive second placing last Friday night when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to beat all but David Hercules. The prospects of seven-year-old Lisharry completing a winning hat-trick diminished when he drew poorly at No. 5 on the front line. He set the pace for easy victories over 2503m and 1730m on the past two Friday nights. Unbeaten youngsters to clash The clash between highly-promising unbeaten three-year-olds Ima Connoisseur and Zennart in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace should be a highlight of the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In the blue corner will be Ima Connoisseur, a gelding trained by Greg and Skye Bond who has not tasted defeat in four starts, and in the blue and gold corner is Zennart, a colt trained by Gary Hall sen. who has been most impressive in winning at his only two starts in New Zealand. Ima Connoisseur won by ten and a half lengths at his debut, over 2200m at Alexandra Park in June this year, and then was untroubled to win at Pinjarra at his first three Australian starts, scoring twice over 1684m and once over 2185m. He sprinted the final 400m in 27.3sec. in both his sprint wins and was timed at 27.5sec. when he won over 2185m. Zennart led from barrier three and set the pace when he won easily on debut, scoring by four and a half lengths and rating 1.59.9 over 2200m at Alexandra park on July 25 this year. He sprinted the final 800m in 57.2sec., with the final 400m taking 27.8sec. At his next start Zennart started from the outside in a field of six and was restrained to last (eight lengths from the leader) before moving to fourth at the bell and coming from third (three wide) on the home turn to hit the front 30m from the post to win by a half-length at a 1.59.9 rate. He dashed over the final 400m in 27.9sec. Hall has not produced Zennart at public trials, but the Art Major colt is sure to be strongly supported, particularly when he drew inside of Ima Connoisseur. Zennart will start from barrier five on the front line, with Ima Connoisseur at No. 6. Zennart is a half-brother to Zenas Art, who raced 51 times for 14 wins (four in New Zealand, two in Victoria and eight in New South Wales) for stakes of $100,298. Zennart and Ima Connoisseur look set to fight out the finish and each should develop into a worthy contender for the WA Derby next year. Colin Brown, who will drive Ima Connoisseur in the first event on the program, also has excellent prospects in the second event, the third heat of the Free Entry Boxing Day the Coulson Pace for mares, in which he will drive Harriet Elisabeth for Byford trainer David Thompson. Harriet Elisabeth, a winner at nine of her 25 starts, is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event in which she will clash with in-form mares Rivers of Babylon and Washington Express. by Ken Casellas  

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Despite his last start defeat, harness racing star Beautide is the early favourite for Victoria’s two Grand Circuit events with TAB Fixed Odds. Nominations for the Victoria and A G Hunter Cups were released, with the reigning Inter Dominion champion heading the market. Second behind Christen Me in last month’s Miracle Mile, Beautide is favoured to beat the Kiwi beginning with the Victoria Cup on January 31 and again the following week. The James Rattray-trained gelding is $4 for the state’s premier mobile event and $5 in Australia’s most prestigious handicap. Rattray has yet to commit to a Hunter Cup start. Christen Me is on the third line of betting at $7 in both Cups despite being the defending Hunter Cup champion. Last season’s Victoria Cup hero, For A Reason, is $14 in his title defence, with boom local, Guaranteed, the best of the locals at $6. Guaranteed is also the second elect for the Hunter Cup at $6, equal with New Zealand Cup winner, Adore Me. PAUL COURTS VICTORIA CUP $4 Beautide $6 Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $9 Adore Me $10 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Keayang Cullen $18 Im Corzin Terror $21 Restrepo $26 David Hercules $31 or better others   HUNTER CUP $5 Beautide $6 Adore Me, Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $11 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Im Corzin Terror $21 Arden Rooney, Keayang Cullen, Restrepo, The Gold Ace $26 David Hercules $31 or better others
Top Victorian reinsman Gavin Lang has always had success when driving in Tasmania and he showed why he is considered one of harness racing’s best with a superb display behind Rusty Red Comet in Hobart today. The Eric Jacobson-trained gelding was backed in to start the $2.10 favourite and it was Lang’s patience that ensured the four-year-old emerged triumphant. Vander Jenkins ($10 into $8) showed good early speed to find the front, while Smokin Mustard $14) faced the breeze and the well-tried Frankie Falzoni ($9) trailed the leader from the pole. Lang settled Rusty Red Comet in the rear half of the field in the one-out line and he waited until entering the back straight the last time to make his move three and four-wide. The well-backed second favourite Major Callum was sent around the field to face the breeze with over a lap remaining and he looked the winner turning for home. But when Lang called on Rusty Red Comet to deliver the goods, the son of Riverboat King found that bit extra Lang is often able to extricate from his charges to emerge triumphant. Rusty Red Comet hit the line three metres clear of Major Callum, with Frankie Falzoni a metre away third. PETER STAPLES
Broodmare gem Monaloo completed a rare harness racing feat last night. Boasting a perfect strike rate as a matron, Monaloo produced a pair of winners in the space of a couple of hours. Even more impressive is the fact the dam’s progeny were successful in two states. Promising pacer Freds A Safari kicked started proceedings when triumphant at Globe Derby for trainer-driver Darren Billinger. Rating 1:59.6 for the 1800 metres, the four-year-old continued his unbeaten run from three outings this season. By Safari, the feature race winner extended his record to 10 wins and eight placings from 25 starts. Lord Monaloo then matched his half-brother’s feat when victorious at Shepparton for astute horsewoman Kylie Sugars. Driven by Sugars’ brother, Greg, Lord Monaloo enjoyed a three-wide trail during the latter stages before scoring in 1:56.8 over 2190 metres. Racing in consistent fashion this term, the son of It Is I has notched three wins and three placings from six starts for an overall tally of 22 wins and 24 placings from 59 starts. Monaloo next foals is an unraced two-year-old daughter by It Is I. PAUL COURTS
Defending champions For A Reason and Christen Me are among the record nominations for Victorian harness racing’s two Grand Circuit events. Scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on January 31, the Victoria Cup has attracted 58 nominations, headed by New South Wales competitor For A Reason. A member of the powerful Belinda McCarthy stable, For A Reason captured last season’s edition when driven by the trainer’s reinsman-husband, Luke. Miracle Mile placegetter, Guaranteed, heads the locals prospects, with the list including reigning Inter Dominion title holder Beautide, last week’s Ballarat Cup winner, Im Corzin Terror, and recent Cranbourne Cup winner, Terror To Love. Christen Me will also contest the mobile event before backing-up for his A G Hunter Cup defence a week later. A member of the Cran Dalgerty stable, Christen Me fifth pacer to successfully defend his crown in Australia’s premier handicap. Springfield Globe was the ground breaker in 1961 and ’62, followed by Monara in ’73 and ’74, Pure Steel in ’77 and ’78 and Blossom Lady in ’94 and ’95. Pure Steel was also triumphant in 1980 to be the only triple champion. Minuteman is the only other dual winner, having captured the time-honoured event in 1964 and ’66. Thanks to his Kilmore Cup victory last October, Guaranteed is exempt from ballot, with the remainder of the 70 nominations via for a place in the elite field. PAUL COURTS TAB.COM.AU VICTORIA CUP NOMINATIONS Falco Peregrinus Macha Artoc Bit Of A Legend Lets Elope Our Jimmy Johnstone Comply Or Die Flaming Flutter Hilltop Hustler It Is Billy Our Major Mark Philadelphia Man Steam Washed Bellas Delight Blazin N Cullen Fearless Leader Franco Nelson Keayang Steamer Lennytheshark Mark Dennis Monifieth Pub Blitz Savesomtimetodream Uncle Wingnut Adore Me Chilli Palmer Cold Major Come On Frank Guaranteed Laterron Magical Telf Restrepo Wartime Sweetheart Chancellor Cullen Maximan Chariot King Gumdrops Mach Alert Mach Beauty Bettors Fire For A Reason Abettorpunt Easy On The Eye Im Corzin Terror Motu Crusader The Gold Ace Avonnova Seel N Print Keayang Cullen Beautide Bitobliss Christen Me Suave Stuey Lombo Forever Gold David Hercules Terror To Love Arden Rooney Franco Ledger DEL-RE NATIONAL FOOD GROUP HUNTER CUP NOMINATIONS Bushrod Falco Peregrinus Macha Macho Comacho Rule Like A King Star Chamber Yayas Hot Spot Artoc Bio Marinus Bit Of A Legend Classy Western Lets Elope Our Jimmy Johnstone Washmepockets Comply Or Die Dynamite Dude Flaming Flutter Hilltop Hustler It Is Billy Marty Monkhouser Our Major Mark Philadelphia Man Steam Washed Bellas Delight Blazin N Cullen Fearless Leader Franco Nelson Keayang Steamer Lennytheshark Mark Dennis Monifieth Pub Blitz Savesomtimetodream Uncle Wingnut Adore Me Chilli Palmer Guaranteed Kotare Roland Laterron Magical Telf Restrepo Wartime Sweetheart Chancellor Cullen Maximan Blucolla Tigerpie Chariot King Gumdrops Mach Alert Mach Beauty Smudge Bromac Bettors Fire For A Reason Abettorpunt Easy On The Eye Im Corzin Terror Motu Crusader The Gold Ace Avonnova Jaccka Clive Saucy Legend Seel N Print Keayang Cullen Beautide Bitobliss Christen Me Suave Stuey Lombo Forever Gold David Hercules Terror To Love Arden Rooney Franco Ledger Tiger Tara
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