Day At The Track
Chris Alford, David Aiken and Lennytheshark

Lenny you're a superstar

A nose cost Lennytheshark victory in last year’s Miracle Mile when Australia’s most popular harness racing pacer was beaten by Have Faith In Me. So that probably made revenge all the more sweeter at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle tonight when Lennytheshark prevailed by that barest possible margin, beating Mark Purdon’s trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach in the $750,000 Group One Ainsworth Miracle Mile . . . the 50th running of the elite invitation-only race. It was an emotional reinsman Chris Alford who returned after ‘Lenny’ broke the magical 1:50 mark, rating 1:49.2 in a fabulous finish that capped off a great night of harness racing before a massive crowd at the south-western Sydney circuit. Alford has run several placings in Miracle Miles with some great horses like Golden Reign and Tailamade Lombo but will be talking about Lennytheshark’s greatness for the rest of his days after a victory that defied the critics. Trainer David Aiken was just as overcome by this horse’s incredible victory. “He’s had his problems this horse and my name may be in the racebook as the trainer but I can tell you this is very much a team effort,” said Aiken. “I’m originally a Sydney boy and I’ve been going to the Miracle Mile since I was eight or nine years old and I never really dreamed I would have a horse good enough to win it. “This horse is just a dream. He’s has leg issues and he had a foot injury in Perth but we’ve continued to swim him and get him right and tonight he showed what he can do. He’s a freak.” Turning for home the crowd was on its feet as four great horses fought it out tooth and nail and despite Purdon’s trio  giving it everything, Lennytheshark refused to yield as he added the Miracle Mile to his Inter Dominion and a string of other great victories. Lennytheshark is by Four Starzzz Shark from the Albert Albert mare Botswana. He is now the richest pacer ever in Australasia with over $2.56 million in the bank. Amanda Zammit  

Dead Cat Bounce takes a lifetime mark.JPG

There's life in this Dead Cat

He is the ultimate professional harness racing reinsman and prolific Victorian winner Chris Alford showed just why when he won the Group One $54,000 Australian Pacing Gold Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park @Club Menangle tonight. Alford quickly found the front with the Nicole Molander-trained Dead Cat Bounce and defied all efforts to run him down in the straight, scoring a 2.6m win over Glenferrie Burn and Uncas, rating an impressive 1:54.1 for the flying mile. As the field swung for home there looked to be challenges coming from near and far but Alford and Dead Cat Bounce held them all at bay to give Victoria another Group One for the night. Just 45 minutes earlier Alford scored one of the biggest wins of his stellar career, taking out the Miracle Mile with Lennytheshark, but rather than rest on his laurels he was back in the bike and drove another fabulous race to add to one of his best nights at Menangle. Not a bad effort when you consider Alford has driven thousands of winners in a stellar career that win earmark him as one of the greats of this sport. The unusually-named Dead Cat Bounce has now won three in succession and gave the former NSW trainer Molander her first Group One trotting success since she lost ace trotter Keystone Del from her stable. Dead Cat Bounce is by the Swedish stallion Revenue from the Straphanger mare Wee Annie. It was her 13th lifetime victory.        

Vincent takes the New South Wales Derby

Vincent leaves his rivals breathless

THREE out of three ain't bad . . . Group Ones that is. Only this time the Mark Purdon stable also bagged the Trifecta as well as Vincent, the next superstar of harness racing in this country captured tonight's $200,000 Wards Accounting Group NSW Derby at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle. Vincent beat Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor to give the powerful All Stars stable the first three over the line as they completely monopolised this blue riband event. Vincent (Mark Purdon) found the front fairly easily in a 58.3s lead time over the 2400m only to be pressured by Ultimate Machete (Natalie Rasmussen) and handing up the lead. Turning for home Ultimate Machete found plenty fort Natalie and had the audacity to kick clear despite his hard run but when Mark Purdon found some clear running with Vincent he simply sprouted wings and rated possibly the fastest final quarter ever run at Tabcorp Park Menangle, 25.5s, to score a fairly comfortable win in a 1:54.6 mile rate. Officials later lamented that the mighty Vincent was a mere one-tenth of a second outside of the world record over the 2400m but there will be bigger things and Group One wins in store for Vincent in coming years as he continues to beat the best of them. "This is a very very good horse," was Purdon's simple comment as he returned with Vincent. "He is really something special." Vincent is by Art Major from the Safely Kept mare Kept For Pleasure. He has had 11 starts for 9 wins to date. Anyone who witnessed that Derby win would be happy to agree. Amanda Zammit  

A Piccadilly Princess

Princess the Queen of Menangle

There are few sights more stirring than two great harness racing horses going head-to-head in a battle royale. And that was the case in the Group One $200,000 Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park at Club Menangle tonight when champion pair A Piccadilly Princess (Natalie Rasmussen) and Frith (Luke McCarthy) fought out a thrilling finish to this elite mares’ sprint. At the end A Piccadilly Princess stuck out her nose right on the line to beat the gallant Frith by a nose, with the winner rating 1:50.4 for the mile. Racegoers knew they were in for something special when the pair cleared out from their rivals on the home turn and settled down for a soul-stirring run to the line. Blake Fitzpatrick brought Bettorthenspecial with a strong finish to grab third but all honours were with the first two horses as A Piccadilly Princess’ earnings soared above the half-million dollar mark with her win. “She’s such a terrific little horse, there’s not much of her but she tries her heart out,” said leading reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen who took the reins for the Mark Purdon stables she co-runs with the ace New Zealand mentor. “My horse always gives you everything she’s got but I have to give a lot of credit to Frith as well, she never stopped trying – and they’re two great horses, that’s for sure.” A Piccadilly Princess is by Bettor's Delight from the Holmes Hanover mare Hyde Park Royal. A Piccadilly Princess’ win gave the stable the first two Group Ones of the night after their earlier win in the NSW Oaks with Partyon. . . . and the Purdon express rolled on – with some of their best prospects still to come. Amanda Zammit

Not that he needed any incentive, but the sight of his 90-year-old father Roy striding through the gates of Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight signalled the start of a big night for champion harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon. A little over an hour later Purdon landed the first Group One of the evening, the HQ Insurance NSW Oaks, with a masterful drive to score with his latest 'female' stable star in Partyon. Caught behind the leader, Takara Truffle for most of the race, it was always going to be a case of simply being given a chance to get a crack at her rivals in the straight for Partyon ($2.50) to be the one to beat. Still Purdon remained patient and turning for home extricated his filly from the pocket behind the leader coming wide on the track as the $2.40 favourite Petacular (Michael Stanley) made a dash for home. "I was a bit anxious turning for home, I'll admit," said Purdon afterwards. "But once she [Partyon] got a crack at them she was just too good on the night. "She's done a great job for us since joining the stable, this filly and she's now remained unbeaten." Partyon rated 1:56.2 for her last mile to defeat Petacular and outsider Eliza Dushku (Amanda Turnbull) who zoomed home along the pegs to just hold out Shezallapples for third. Partyon is by Bettor's Delight from the Beach Towel mare Beach Parade. Partyon has now won $397,000 from her nine lifetime starts. Purdon was quickly off the podium to chase more Group One glory in later races. Amanda Zammit

Zhukov Leis is the latest in a string of harness racing pacers bred by Trevor and Marjorie Leis to make an impact on the racetrack. The Todd Rattray-trained and driven gelding made an impressive debut at Luxbet Park Hobart last night leading all the way to score impressively after being heavily backed in to start the $2. Zhukov Leis is by Somebeachsomewhere from the Leis' top-producing broodmare Kazakova Leis that also produced the half-brother Jaruzelski Leis (by Bettors Delight) that has so far won 20 with a best mile rate of 1.53.7. The three-year-old gelding stepped well from a wide gate (6) and after a stoush with Memory of Love, Rattray's gelding eventually found the lead and he settled well under a strong hold. Zhukov Leis was given no peace for the last 1200 metres with the second favourite Falcon Harry sitting at his wheel and waiting to pounce heading down the back stretch. But when Rattray called on Zhukov Leis for an effort he dug deep and shrugged off the challenge and forged clear to defeat Falcon Harry by about four metres with Striker Jim over 20 metres astern. "We have always believed this horse could run a bit and he showed us that at two but he developed a bad cough and we had to pull up and tip him out," Rattray said. "I've taken my time with this horse and I think the patience we've shown will pay off. "He takes a bit of work because he's a good doer and he got away from me a bit this time in which is why he will derive a lot of benefit from this run. "I have no doubt he has a bright future and he could have a good race in him this season." Peter Staples

IF you are given the opportunity to disburse $53 million in varying amounts to Queensland racing clubs for capital investment in long-term infrastructure, you must be very confident of your abilities in this area, or you seek advice. The decision-makers at Racing Queensland, mindful of the need to "get it right", have played the "advice card" and engaged the services of Deloitte Brisbane in a consultative and advisory capacity. The following impressive statement is taken from the Deloitte Brisbane website. It indicates a reassuring level of self confidence in the company's ability to meet RQ's requirements. "With a well-connected and professional team of more than 480 people and over 50 partners, we are leading providers of assurance, advisory, taxation and consulting services. Ours is a high performance culture that thrives on the strength and success of its people. It's a culture that sets us apart from the rest. Represented by the Deloitte Seven Signals, we take pride in the 'way we do business,' and it shows." Feedback from a teleconference last Monday between members of the Marburg Pacing Association executive and the Deloitte team appears to support a belief that the "wizards" want all the facts, before formulating any opinions or offering any advice. Mattgregor worth watching INTEREST is at Menangle tonight when the up and coming Mattgregor, from the McMullen-Turpin team, goes around against older horses in the $100,000 Bohemia Crystal Free For All. Among the field are last year's Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me, Tiger Tara, Major Crocker and Tac Tate. With eight wins from 14 outings and a loose assessment of C5-M0, Mattgregor has shown exceptional ability from the start of his career. Connections feel that he will acquit himself well in top company. After tonight, the gelded son of Rob Roy Mattgregor will head home to Patrick Estate for a break before being set for the Winter Carnival at Albion Park. Lodge for sale AFTER a career in harness racing covering 64 of his 79 years, Bernie Wilson has put Runnymede Lodge on the market. Wilson, who in his younger days in Sydney put the polish on NSW Oaks winner and later good producing broodmare Negro Dancer, cites the depressed state of harness racing in Queensland at the present time. The veteran further believes that there is little light evident at the end of the current tunnel. Runnymede Lodge is on 50 acres with an irrigation licence on Warrill Creek and has accommodation for a minimum of 40 horses plus a huge list of harness and associated horse equipment. Ring Bernie on 5464 3349 for a yarn about better days. Some earn big dollars I KNOW times are tough, but not for all of us. Having spent considerable time in the belief that Thursday at Redcliffe, with its current prize money set at just short of $3000, was a meeting set aside for the moderate horse and the hobbyist trainer, I was amazed to see an Albion Park Saturday night field go round this Thursday in a lowly R4 and better event. The winner, Forever Texas, stopped the clock at 1-57.4. The seven runners have career earnings of $942,697 at an average of $134,671. Only one runner had earnings less than $100,000. It is debacles such as this which lead to the exodus of the battlers. When will enough be enough for the top 10%? Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-3-5: Forty Seven Flash (M.Elkins)- Monarkmac (T. Dixon)- Always Prompt (G. Dixon). R2: Quinella 1-8: Supaliner and Itsallaboutlu (S. Graham). R3: Quinella 1-8: Stawbs Ideal Act and Days End (Madi Dux). R4: Quinella 1-8: The Duke Downunder (S. Doherty) and Sams Cam (S. Graham). R5: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Fours Enuf Tas (L.Weidemann)-Sports Chaton (G. Dixon)-Real Social (N. Dawson). R6: Box trifecta 1-7-8: Alleluia (G. Dixon)-The Space Invader (Madi Dux)-Polished Rocks (M. Neilson). R7: Quinella 1-2: Ivegotalife and Joys A Babe (T. Dixon). R8: E/w 5: Im Jack Black (G. Whitaker). R9: E/w 5: Shezabonnygem (G. Dixon). Honour board A new face on the trainer's side of the leader board this week with Purga-based Steve Bunz taking the honours with three winners. They included a Sunday outing to Tamworth, NSW. King of the drivers was Nathan Dawson who landed four for the term, three of which were for Steve Bunz. The most pleasing was five drivers on two winners apiece. Albion Park, February 17: Real Social (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Sicilian Slumber (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin). Albion Park, February 18: Zac Mac (Danielle McMullen for Darren Hooper); Reservation Road (Narissa McMullen); Sweet As Candy (Matt Elkins for Vic Frost). Tamworth, February 19: Change the Nation (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Emargee (Ricky Gordon). Albion Park, February 21: Rock With Sam (Barty Cockburn for Mick Butler); Abitgoingonhere (Barty Cockburn for Mick Butler); Real Social (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz). Redcliffe, February 22: Projectile (Matt Elkins for Kerry Smith); Ima Sea Storm (Nathan Dawson for Graham White); Royal Taz (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Trentleigh (Hayden Barnes for D.R. Pollock). Redcliffe, February 23: Our Champion (Gary Whitaker for Mal Charlton); Soi Cowboy (Gary Whitaker for Ken Belford). TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Harness Racing New South Wales advises that Our Dream About Me, which is engaged in the Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile (Group 1) at Tabcorp Menangle Park tonight is scratched from the race. Trainer Mr M Purdon informed HRNSW Stewards that after training Our Dream About Me this morning, at the Menangle Park Training Centre, he was not completely satisfied with the mare and at 7.38am requested it be scratched from the race. The first emergency for the Ladyship Mile, Tact Hayleys Delight, is taking the run and will start from barrier nine. MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY OFFICER (02) 9722 6600 GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600       

If Lazarus is to cap one of the great summers in New Zealand harness racing history, he is going to have to do it the hard way. That is the reality of tonight's A$750,000 Miracle Mile, the centrepiece of a stunning night at Menangle where Kiwi horses are favoured to win five group ones inside 140 minutes. The meeting is the strongest held at Menangle since it opened in 2008 but good as the support card is, the Miracle Mile is the race people will remember, especially if Lazarus wins. After his New Zealand Cup demolition job, a similar display in the Victoria Cup and bullying wins in the NZ Free-For-All, Chariots of Fire and Ashburton Flying Stakes, if Lazarus wins tonight his body of work sits alongside the golden summers of Christian Cullen, Christopher Vance and Chokin. But first he has to win and to do that he may need to add a new string to his bow. Lazarus is at his most crushing when able to lead and run consistently searing sectionals which deter challengers before rolling into a quick last 800m. But there is next to no chance of him leading tonight and trainer-driver Mark Purdon admits that if a fast tempo allows him to drive the champ sit-sprint something special could unfold. "I have never really had the chance to drive him cold before and I think he might love it," said Purdon. "I am pretty sure Hectorjayjay will lead and if he tries to go slow then I might have to come sit parked. "But if the pressure is on and we follow the right horse into the race, then he might come out and really sprint." With Lazarus likely to settle midfield at best in a race where swooping victories are rare, those who take the short odds tonight could be in for some uncomfortable times. But he is still the best horse in the race and Purdon believes having a week off from racing has helped bring both him and stablemate Our Waikiki Beach on. "They sprinted up together well on Thursday morning and I am sure they will both be better than in the Chariots two week ago." Purdon has already had one win going into tonight's meeting, where he trains all five New Zealand favourites. Auckland Cup winner Our Dream About Me, who has struggled with corns, passed a NSW stewards-ordered vet check yesterday and is almost certain to start in the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile. "She had a small corns issue and we have been working hard to get her to the race. "She hasn't missed any real work but it is going to be tough for her without a lead-up race and while she is a great mare, Piccadilly Princess has to be at least as good a chance now." Purdon favours Vincent from the ace draw over stablemates Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor in tonight's NSW Derby, while Partyon's inside second line draw in the NSW Oaks may not be as bad as it looks. She follows out a fast beginner in Takara Truffle and may be able to get a tactical advantage over arch-rival Petacular. The night's other Group One pace looks the trickiest for the Kiwis, with Have Faith In Me and Chase The Dream both coming off hard summers into an even free-for-all tonight. - NZ Herald Read more by Michael Guerin  Email Michael Guerin

If Lazarus is to cap one of the great summers in New Zealand harness racing history he is going to have to do it the hard way. That is the reality of tonight’s A$750,000 Miracle Mile, the centrepiece of a stunning night at Menangle where Kiwi horses have favoured to win five group ones inside 140 minutes. The meeting is the strongest held at Menangle since it opened in 2008 but as good as the support card it, the Miracle Mile is the race people will remember, especially if Lazarus wins. After his New Zealand Cup demolition job, a similar display in the Victoria Cup and bullying wins in the NZ Free-For-All, Chariots of Fire and Ashburton Flying Stakes, if Lazarus wins tonight his body of work sits alongside the golden summers of Christian Cullen, Christopher Vance and Chokin.   But first he has to win and to that he might need to add a new string to his bow.  Lazarus is at his most crushing when able to lead and run consistently searing sectionals which deter challengers before rolling into a quick last 800m.  But there is next to no chance of him leading tonight and trainer-driver Mark Purdon admits if a fast tempo allows him to drive the champ sit-sprint something special could unfold. “I have never really had the chance to drive him cold before and I think he might love it,” said Purdon.  “I am pretty sure Hectorjayjay will lead and if he tries to go slow then I might have to come sit parked.  “But if the pressure is on and we follow the right horse into the race then he might come out and really sprint.”With Lazarus likely to settle midfield at best in a race where swooping victories are rare, those who take the short odds tonight could be in for some uncomfortable times.  But he is still the best horse in the race and Purdon believes having a week off from racing has helped bring both him and stablemate Our Waikiki Beach on.  “They sprinted up together well on Thursday morning and I am sure they will both be better than in the Chariots two week ago.”Purdon has already has one win going into tonight’s meeting, where he trains all five New Zealand favourites.  Auckland Cup winner Our Dream About Me, who has struggled with corns, passed a NSW stewards-ordered vet check yesterday and is almost certain to start in the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile.  “She had a small corns issue and we have been working hard to get her to the race.  “She hasn’t missed any real work but it is going to be a tough for her without a lead-up races and while she is a great mare, Piccadilly Princess has to be at least as good a chance now.”  Purdon favours Vincent from the ace draw over stablemates Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor in tonight’s NSW Derby while Partyon’s inside second line draw in the NSW Oaks may not be as bad as it looks.  She follows out a fast beginner in Takara Truffle and may be able to get a tactical advantage over arch rival Petacular.  The night’s other group one pace looks the trickiest for the New Zealanders, with Have Faith In Me and Chase The Dream both coming off hard summers into a even free-for-all tonight. Michael Guerin

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has amended its racing calendar to make Sunday, April 2, a racing-free day, enabling the industry to focus on the Australasian Premier Trotting Sale and Australian Pacing Gold Autumn Yearling Sale on that day. The Kilmore meeting set down for that date has been moved to Tuesday, April 4, and will remain a daytime fixture. "HRV has made this change in the interests of those important sales," HRV Interim General Manager Operations Shane Gloury said. "We want to give everyone the opportunity to attend and consider a purchase at the APTS and APG sales and having a racing-free day allows for this to happen." Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards advise that all horses engaged in the $750,000 AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY MIRACLE MILE (Group 1), including the emergency runners, underwent veterinary examinations this morning. Stabled in the HRNSW Retention Facility, all horses were observed in their work by Regulatory Veterinarian, Dr Don Colantonio. All horses were passed by the Veterinarian. Other Integrity updates; INTEGRITY UPDATE – HAVE FAITH IN ME Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards advise that Have Faith In Me, which is engaged in Race 6 - The Bohemia Crystal Free For All (Group 1) at Tabcorp Menangle Park on Saturday night, was examined this morning at the Menangle Park Training Facility and passed by the HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian, Dr Don Colantonio. Stewards have ascertained that although veterinary examinations in New Zealand had identified that Have Faith In Me from an early age as having a kidney condition, thought to be similar in nature to kidney stones, extensive investigation in December last year has identified that the horse has congenital malformation of the kidneys.  Specialist veterinary opinion is that the condition is not considered to have effect on the horse’s performance. During investigations Stewards became aware that in December last year Have Faith In Me was diagnosed with lameness in both hocks and knees and received veterinary treatment.  In early February, Trainer Mr Purdon confirmed that Have Faith In Me received further veterinary treatment which involved therapeutic injections. INTEGRITY UPDATE – OUR DREAM ABOUT ME Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards advise that Our Dream About Me, which is engaged in Race 4 – Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile (Group 1) at Tabcorp Menangle Park on Saturday night, was examined this morning at the Menangle Park Training Facility and passed by the HRNSW Regulatory Veterinarian, Dr Don Colantonio.  As a precaution Dr Colantonio will further examine the mare again tomorrow morning. Investigations have revealed that following the mare’s official trial at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, a deep seated corn was identified following which protective shoeing was undertaken and the condition was treated by the Purdon stable.  Mr Purdon has stated that after his arrival in Sydney on Wednesday, Our Dream About Me had been reshod with bar plates and he considers the mare’s condition to have continued to improve.   MICHAEL PRENTICE | INTEGRITY OFFICER (02) 9722 6600 GRAHAM LOCH | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (02) 9722 6600            AMANDA RANDO   MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER       HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   PO Box 1034 Bankstown NSW 1885   T: 02 9722 6600 E: arando@hrnsw.com.au T: @Amanda_Rando   W: www.harnessmediacentre.com.au | T: twitter.com/hrnsw_harness | F: facebook.com/hrnsw              

It won't be long before Hannah Van dongen has to make a decision between becoming an apprentice jockey or grinding out a career in the harness racing industry. Van dongen has been riding trackwork in her home town of Longford for various trainers for a year but when her father Craig Van dongen decided to reacquaint himself with harness racing as a trainer his daughter was keen to help out. At Carrick last Saturday the father and daughter teamed up to produce their first win with Regal Idea and to make it a real family affair the horse is owned by Hannah's mother Carol Williscroft. Hannah Van dongen had Regal Idea settled in the one-out line and travelling sweetly to the bell and when she eased out three-wide to get a cart home the gelding was always likely to win. Van dongen had to get busy on her charge over the final 200 metres but he knuckled down to his task and grabbed race leader Thirlstane King close to home to score a narrow but impressive win. "It was great to get my first winner on a horse trained by Dad and owned by Mum," Hannah Van dongen said. Having spent many years honing her riding craft at pony club and equestrian events she decided to try her hand at trackwork riding and she took to it like a duck to water. She rides work for Longf0rd-based trainer Ken Hanson and she is used by other local trainers when available. "I have always enjoyed equestrian horses as a kid and a few years ago, Dad decided to get back involved in the industry. From there the opportunity arose to work for Barrie and Todd Rattray where I gained a lot of harness racing experience." She is kept very busy these days with trackwork at Longford starting at 5.30am and once her duties there are finished she heads out to harness trainer Chester Bullock's training complex at Riverside for the rest of the day. Peter Staples

This Miracle Mile and the support card that goes with it shapes as one of the best we have seen.  Our Aussie correspondent ADAM HAMILTON casts his expert eye over the major races at Menangle On Saturday night. RACE 7 - MIRACLE MILE  Think LENNYTHESHARK (6) is the value. Primed after three runs from a break, huge second in this race last year and drawn best of the big trio. HECTORJAYJAY (10) should still blast across and lead, but how much petrol will have to spend from yet another bad draw? The draw is tricky LAZARUS (8) and don’t think we’ve seen his NZ Cup form in Aussie yet this trip. Still a huge chance of course. BLING IT ON (3) didn’t enjoy sitting parked last week. Vic and Hunter Cup runs fantastic. Drawn well, respect. SMOLDA (1) could place from the pole. SALTY ROBYN (5) and OUR WAIKIKI BEACH (4) also place hopes.  SUGGESTED BET: Something win LENNYTHESHARK (6) if $6 or better and HECTORJAYJAY (10) is $5 or better.    RACE 5 - NSW DERBY  On what we’ve seen from him Aussie, VINCENT (1) just needs to stay out of trouble to win. His Vic and NSW Derby heat wins were simply breathtaking. What gate speed will he show? Can he get straight away from the marker pegs if crossed early? ULTIMATE MACHETE (7) is the query. Unstoppable in NZ this season, but raced flat even though he did a power of work last week. Wouldn’t surprise to see a return to his best and a huge threat if we that. MOTU METEOR (5) keeps improving. So much speed. Dexter aboard. Respect. OUR LITTLE GENERAL (2) never looked happy last week. Better for the experience, Vic Derby win good and drawn well. Rough show.  SUGGESTED BET: VINCENT (1) to win if $2 or better     RACE 3 - NSW OAKS  The draw has opened this right up. Happy to be on MISS GRACELAND (5) each-way. Well held by PETACULAR (14) last week, but gets the chance to push forward and get a big head start on key rivals this time. Should be fitter as well. PARTYON (11) will need some early luck from inside back row. Class act, unbeaten, but this by far her biggest test. PETACULAR (14) has come back a brute this season. Controlled the heat and dashed home too quick, but very different from this draw. Expect an aggressive drive. Major player. TAKARA TRUFFLE (1) is on the up, good behind PARTYON in the heat and draws well. DONT THINK TWICE (10) was big after finding trouble in heat. Awful draw. Place.  SUGGESTED BET: MISS GRACELAND (5) each-way at $6 or better     RACE 4 - LADYSHIP MILE  Such a tricky race made harder by big queries over the champion mare OUR DREAM ABOUT ME (9). Hasn’t raced since that awesome Auckland Cup win on New Year’s Eve and hasn’t paced well in two recent Menangle trials, most notably Tuesday when she bobbled much of the trip. Can’t take the short odds on that. The old champ FRITH (2) gets her chance from great draw. Likely leader, fitter for strong first-up showing. A PICCADILLY PRINCESS (10) was monstrous last week and might have to be again from extreme draw, but gee she’s going well.  ROCKER BAND (3) blasted out to lead and upstage A PICCADILLY PRINCESS at Melton last time. Drawn well again and kept fresh. Definite claims. AMERETTO (4) resumed with a ripping run last week. Fitter, handy draw, keep safe. CYCLONE KATE (5) is back in form. Led and won without looking ultra-impressive last time. Tricky draw with so much speed inside. Rough show.  SUGGESTED BET: Something on FRITH (2) if $5 or better and ROCKER BAND (3) is $8 or better.     RACE 6 - BOHEMIA CRYSTAL FFA  Not sure where to look here. Ripper race, but so many chances. TIGER TARA (2) ran well at first start for Kevin Pizzuto stable here last week and 2400m should suit better than a mile last week. Should be improved and drawn well. Roughie with a big chance is AZTEC BROMAC (12). Actually made-up ground and didn’t have much racing room in 26sec flat last quarter behind Lennytheshark last week. Obviously needs luck from draw. HAVE FAITH IN ME (14) is obviously well down on his Miracle Mile-winning form of last year, but racing as though 2400m will suit and down in grade. TACT TATE (11) is drawn to have a cosy run and had no racing room late last week. Respect. LETS CHASE THE DREAM (7) needs luck from draw, but must be kept safe. MACH DORO (13) caught the eye last week as well. Not hopeless.  SUGGESTED BET: TIGER TARA (2) if $5 or better and something small each-way AZTEC BROMAC (12).     SUMMARY  BEST BET: R5 N1 Vincent (if $2 or better)  BEST VALUE: R3 n5 Miss Graceland (each-way if $6 or better)  BEST ROUGHIE: R6 n12 Aztec Bromac

Harness racing driver Ryan Warwick, the leading reinsman in Western Australia this season, is planning to get Our Jimmy Johnstone away to a flying start in a bid to win the $50,000 Governor’s Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Our Jimmy Johnstone, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line in the group 2 event and his chief rival Im Full of Excuses is more favourably drawn at barrier four. “At this stage, I’ll probably adopt similar tactics as I used when Our Jimmy Johnstone won the RWWA Cup (2536m) last Friday night,” Warwick said. Our Jimmy Johnstone began brilliantly from the No. 8 barrier last week and sped to the front after 80m. Im Full of Excuses was restrained back to last from the outside barrier (No. 9) before he finished solidly from ninth at the bell to be fourth, three lengths behind Our Jimmy Johnstone. “I’ll probably come out as hard as we can,” Warwick said. “My initial thought was if we come out, we’ve got to come out full bore to be able to cross Im Full of Excuses. He’s the horse to beat. If we cross (to the front) we should win. You can’t afford to give him (Im Full of Excuses) a head start. He gave us a head start last week and we beat him. “The thing in our favour is that this week’s race is over 2130m and if we come out and don’t get to the front it’s not the end of the world. If it was a race over 2536m and to burn early would cost you a bit of petrol. Our Jimmy Johnstone has won from the breeze.” There is little doubt that Chris Lewis will make a bold bid to send the Ross Olivieri-trained Im Full of Excuses to an early lead. Drawn inside of Im Full of Excuses are Ohoka Kentucky, Shardons Rocket and Red Salute, all of whom possess good gate speed and have won races after setting the pace. A victory by Im Full of Excuses would give Olivieri, owner Merv Butterworth and Lewis their second success in a Governor’s Cup. The Butterworth-owned and Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud started from the No. 1 barrier when Stuart McDonald drove him to an all-the-way win over Dredlock Rockstar and Cyamach in last year’s Governor’s Cup. Lewis was successful behind the Tony Svilicich-trained Has The Answers in 2010. The Peter Anderson-trained Bronze Seeker is in top form and should be running home strongly in the final stages. He will be handled by Michael Grantham, with stablemate Lisharry, awkwardly drawn at barrier five, to be driven by Gary Hall jun. Bronze Seeker maintained his excellent form when he started out wide at barrier seven and was eighth at the bell before charging home late, out five wide, to be second to Our Jimmy Johnstone last Friday night. Ryan Bell will drive Our Jimmy Johnstone’s stablemate Condrieu (barrier seven) and Dylan Egerton-Green will be the new driver for the Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend (No. 8). Each pacer faces a tough task from an unfavourable barrier. Ken Casellas

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A nose cost Lennytheshark victory in last year’s Miracle Mile when Australia’s most popular harness racing pacer was beaten by Have Faith In Me. So that probably made revenge all the more sweeter at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle tonight when Lennytheshark prevailed by that barest possible margin, beating Mark Purdon’s trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach in the $750,000 Group One Ainsworth Miracle Mile . . . the 50th running of the elite invitation-only race. It was an emotional reinsman Chris Alford who returned after ‘Lenny’ broke the magical 1:50 mark, rating 1:49.2 in a fabulous finish that capped off a great night of harness racing before a massive crowd at the south-western Sydney circuit. Alford has run several placings in Miracle Miles with some great horses like Golden Reign and Tailamade Lombo but will be talking about Lennytheshark’s greatness for the rest of his days after a victory that defied the critics. Trainer David Aiken was just as overcome by this horse’s incredible victory. “He’s had his problems this horse and my name may be in the racebook as the trainer but I can tell you this is very much a team effort,” said Aiken. “I’m originally a Sydney boy and I’ve been going to the Miracle Mile since I was eight or nine years old and I never really dreamed I would have a horse good enough to win it. “This horse is just a dream. He’s has leg issues and he had a foot injury in Perth but we’ve continued to swim him and get him right and tonight he showed what he can do. He’s a freak.” Turning for home the crowd was on its feet as four great horses fought it out tooth and nail and despite Purdon’s trio  giving it everything, Lennytheshark refused to yield as he added the Miracle Mile to his Inter Dominion and a string of other great victories. Lennytheshark is by Four Starzzz Shark from the Albert Albert mare Botswana. He is now the richest pacer ever in Australasia with over $2.56 million in the bank. Amanda Zammit  
He is the ultimate professional harness racing reinsman and prolific Victorian winner Chris Alford showed just why when he won the Group One $54,000 Australian Pacing Gold Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park @Club Menangle tonight. Alford quickly found the front with the Nicole Molander-trained Dead Cat Bounce and defied all efforts to run him down in the straight, scoring a 2.6m win over Glenferrie Burn and Uncas, rating an impressive 1:54.1 for the flying mile. As the field swung for home there looked to be challenges coming from near and far but Alford and Dead Cat Bounce held them all at bay to give Victoria another Group One for the night. Just 45 minutes earlier Alford scored one of the biggest wins of his stellar career, taking out the Miracle Mile with Lennytheshark, but rather than rest on his laurels he was back in the bike and drove another fabulous race to add to one of his best nights at Menangle. Not a bad effort when you consider Alford has driven thousands of winners in a stellar career that win earmark him as one of the greats of this sport. The unusually-named Dead Cat Bounce has now won three in succession and gave the former NSW trainer Molander her first Group One trotting success since she lost ace trotter Keystone Del from her stable. Dead Cat Bounce is by the Swedish stallion Revenue from the Straphanger mare Wee Annie. It was her 13th lifetime victory.        
THREE out of three ain't bad . . . Group Ones that is. Only this time the Mark Purdon stable also bagged the Trifecta as well as Vincent, the next superstar of harness racing in this country captured tonight's $200,000 Wards Accounting Group NSW Derby at Tabcorp Park @ Club Menangle. Vincent beat Ultimate Machete and Motu Meteor to give the powerful All Stars stable the first three over the line as they completely monopolised this blue riband event. Vincent (Mark Purdon) found the front fairly easily in a 58.3s lead time over the 2400m only to be pressured by Ultimate Machete (Natalie Rasmussen) and handing up the lead. Turning for home Ultimate Machete found plenty fort Natalie and had the audacity to kick clear despite his hard run but when Mark Purdon found some clear running with Vincent he simply sprouted wings and rated possibly the fastest final quarter ever run at Tabcorp Park Menangle, 25.5s, to score a fairly comfortable win in a 1:54.6 mile rate. Officials later lamented that the mighty Vincent was a mere one-tenth of a second outside of the world record over the 2400m but there will be bigger things and Group One wins in store for Vincent in coming years as he continues to beat the best of them. "This is a very very good horse," was Purdon's simple comment as he returned with Vincent. "He is really something special." Vincent is by Art Major from the Safely Kept mare Kept For Pleasure. He has had 11 starts for 9 wins to date. Anyone who witnessed that Derby win would be happy to agree. Amanda Zammit  
There are few sights more stirring than two great harness racing horses going head-to-head in a battle royale. And that was the case in the Group One $200,000 Macarthur Square Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park at Club Menangle tonight when champion pair A Piccadilly Princess (Natalie Rasmussen) and Frith (Luke McCarthy) fought out a thrilling finish to this elite mares’ sprint. At the end A Piccadilly Princess stuck out her nose right on the line to beat the gallant Frith by a nose, with the winner rating 1:50.4 for the mile. Racegoers knew they were in for something special when the pair cleared out from their rivals on the home turn and settled down for a soul-stirring run to the line. Blake Fitzpatrick brought Bettorthenspecial with a strong finish to grab third but all honours were with the first two horses as A Piccadilly Princess’ earnings soared above the half-million dollar mark with her win. “She’s such a terrific little horse, there’s not much of her but she tries her heart out,” said leading reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen who took the reins for the Mark Purdon stables she co-runs with the ace New Zealand mentor. “My horse always gives you everything she’s got but I have to give a lot of credit to Frith as well, she never stopped trying – and they’re two great horses, that’s for sure.” A Piccadilly Princess is by Bettor's Delight from the Holmes Hanover mare Hyde Park Royal. A Piccadilly Princess’ win gave the stable the first two Group Ones of the night after their earlier win in the NSW Oaks with Partyon. . . . and the Purdon express rolled on – with some of their best prospects still to come. Amanda Zammit
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