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Messini's half-brother wins trial

A week after his older sibling’s national record performance, Mesmeric has taken a step towards his harness racing debut. From former handy mare and now top producer Mersmerizing, Mesmeric is a half-brother to boom New Zealander, Messini. Although bred in Victoria by the Caldow family, Messini was purchased by clients of champion Kiwi horseman, Mark Purdon. Last week Messini captured the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day, in a record 1:55.8 for the 2600 metres. Also bred by the Caldows, Mesmeric won his trial over 1690 metres, with record-breaking reinsman John Caldow in the cart. The three-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear is trained by Caldow’s wife, Maree. “He is still a while off racing, but he goes alright,” Caldow said. “I trialled him as a two-year-old, but he was too big, so I gelded him. “Because of his size we’ve taken our time with him. “He’ll have to improve a fair bit to be as good as his half-brother, but the raw ability is there.” With Mersmerizing recently producing a colt by Bettors Delight, the Caldows are planning to send the mare back to Art Major, with the foal to be a sister or brother to Messini. “We’ve also got a colt from her by Courage Under Fire,” Caldow said. “He just turned two and looks quite good. “She’s got a Bettors Delight foal on her now and the plan is to take her back to Art Major.” PAUL COURTS

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Fairfield to celebrate 50 Years

Fairfield Harness Racing Club will celebrate its 50th Anniversary meeting with a twilight program on Sunday. Throughout the years numerous changes have occurred at the venue, with non bigger than lights being installed during the 1970s. Not long after several key races were introduced, including The Carousel, Golden Easter Egg and the J D Watts Memorial, which stills remain the club’s feature event after nearly four decades. A small of group of dedicated volunteers have kept Fairfield afloat, such as Colin Watts, who has been at Fairfield for 50 years, and President Simon Boulous, who has been there since the 1980s. These days Michelle Buckley and Toni Radburn help ‘carry the load’, while the friends of Fairfield pitch in such as Allan Brennan, Glen Pearce, Jeff Towers and Steven Collins. And, of course, club Secretary Ross Scherf who controls the operation. Seven races will be conducted on Sunday, with the first event scheduled for 5:15pm. HRNSW Media

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Phillips and Bellas ready for WA debut

Two of Victoria’s harness racing stars will make their Western Australian debut at Gloucester Park tonight. Top flight mare Bellas Delight will contest the Norms Daughter Classic, with talented reinsman Zac Phillips to partner the multiple feature race winner. A member of the Kari Males stable, Bellas Delight has received the visitors’ draw, which will see her begin from the inside of the second row. Successful at her last two starts, the daughter of Bettors Delight has settled into well according to Phillips, who is looking forward to the campaign across the Nullarbor. “I’m really looking forward to competing in Perth,” Phillips said. “It’s an awkward draw, especially over the short trip, but she’s in top form and will do her best again. “She’s settled in well over there and her work during the week has been solid. “It is a strong field, but with a bit of luck she will be right in the finish.” A popular driver in his home state, Phillips, unlike most of his counterparts, entered the world of harness racing with no solid ties to the industry. Widely regarded as a family-based sport, harness racing typically breeds generation after generation of participants, who usually ‘get the breaks’ thanks to their successful relatives. So to forge a successful career in the ‘game’ with no ready-made background is always going to be difficult. Although his father Lucky, has “knocked around” with astute horseman Robbie O’Connell “since they were kids”, life in a stable wasn’t a ‘given’ for Phillips. After spending the majority of his teenage years in Queensland, Phillips returned to Melbourne where he soon discovered his passion and talent for driving. “I was born in Melbourne, but spent a lot of years growing up in Queensland,” Phillips said. “Up there I didn’t have anything to do with horses, but once we moved back to Victoria and I started to go to Robbie’s with Dad, I just caught the bug. “As soon as I got my trials licence and starting getting out on the track, I knew there nothing else for me. “Robbie was insistent I had plenty of trial drives before I went anywhere near the races. His advice proved spot on as it gave me plenty of ground work during those early days.” Despite his unorthodox beginning, Phillips has wasted no time proving he belonged among the top concession drivers in the state. Although he finished unceremoniously last upon debut, Phillips quickly found his way into the winners’ circle, scoring with the O’Connell-trained Driving Withtess at Bendigo on July 14, 2012. Since his initial victory, Phillips has cut a regular path to the number one stall to cement his place among the leading concession drivers. During his first year in the sulky, Phillips registered a half century, followed by 44 wins last term. Citing a Group One triumph as his ultimate high, Phillips would like to train a small team a few years down the track. “Like everyone, I’d like to win a Group One,” Phillips declared. “Other than that, I’ve got no real goals. I just love getting out there and driving as much as possible. “Maybe a long way down the track I might look at training, but for now, I just love driving and hopefully I can keep repaying the owners and trainers for their faith by driving winners.” PAUL COURTS

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Live barrier draw on Sunday

Harness racing fans worldwide can watch the Miracle Mile barrier draw as it unfolds on Sunday. With the remainder of the invitations to the Grand Circuit event expected to be extended on Saturday night, the draw will be conducted during the popular luncheon at Tabcorp Park Menangle the following afternoon. Officials have announced the draw will be streamed via the Trots TV section of harnessmediacentre.com.au as of 12:15. As it stands, three positions are still up for grabs with the winner of Saturday night’s Cordina Sprint guaranteed a position in the elite field. Defending champion Beautide was the first invited and will be joined in the November 29 showdown by Avonnova, For A Reason, Terror To Love and Christen Me. PAUL COURTS

Well-bred pacer Dont Call Me Cheap will make her long-awaited debut at tonight’s harness racing program at Kilmore. A member of the Julie Mifsud stable, Dont Call Me Cheap is by Blissfull Hall from good producer Botswana. As such, the mare is a half-sister to Group One winner Lennytheshark and a sister to Led Suitcase and Blissfull Boy. A former classy youngster, Led Suitcase also boasts success at Group One level. The clan is littered with top shelf winners, including Newbold Penny, Tandias Courage, Classic Garry, Nolarama, Burling Game, Mother Courage, Provocative and Penny Veejay. While the above mentioned were star youngsters, Dont Call Me Cheap will complete her first trip to the races as a four-year-old, with Mifsud stating expectations are being kept under wraps. “We’re not going to get carried away with her,” Mifsud said. “She’s a nice type, but she’s got a lot to learn about racing. “The ability and speed are there, but the maturity isn’t. On top of that, she’s off the second row and it’s the first time she’ll be under lights. “It’s just a case of see how she handles it all.” Although Dont Call Me Cheap is making a late start to her career, Mifsud explained the delayed debut was “just circumstances.” “There has never been anything major wrong with her,” Mifsud declared. “It’s just been a few little setback and life away from the horses getting in the way. “Her owners have been very patient and hopefully she can make up for some lost time as we go along.” PAUL COURTS

As the debate surrounding Terror To Love’s invite into harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – continues, the topic has revived memories of another invitation which caused its share of conjecture. Despite being unplaced at his last three starts, and his poor form on the opposite side of the Tasman, New Zealand idol, Terror To Love, was one of the first pacers offered a berth in the Miracle Mile. Since the stallion’s invite to the Grand Circuit event was made public, social media has been alive with comments relating to the decision, with the vast majority questioning Terror To Love’s legitimate claim to a position in the elite field. Many believe Franco Nelson is a more worthy recipient given his recent form, which includes beating Terror To Love home during their past three clashes. Franco Nelson finished second behind Adore Me in the New Zealand Cup, with the winner promptly invited to the Miracle Mile. Terror To Love was fourth. Franco Nelson backed up three days later to be third behind Christen Me and Adore Me in the New Zealand Free-For-All, with the winner again invited to the November 29 showdown at Menangle. Terror To Love also finished fourth on that occasion! Should Terror To Love emerge triumphant in the Group One, Miracle Mile selectors will ultimately be proven right, just as they were with Chokin in 1994. While giving the reigning champion the opportunity to defend his title is hardly questionable, Chokin’s form leading into the Miracle Mile was well below expectations. A first-up third for the season, Chokin then won his next two starts before a pair of lack lustre performances had trainer Barry Purdon bewildered. Sixth at Ashburton, the son of Vance Hanover was then pulled up distressed during the New Zealand Cup when favoured to complete consecutive wins in the time-honoured handicap. Purdon was left scratching his head as his other two runners, Christopher Vance and Montana Vance, also finished tailed off. This also put his Miracle Mile defence at risk, however, another unique chapter in the Chokin/Miracle Mile story unfolded when Purdon was given an ultimatum by New South Wales Harness Racing Club Directors. In order to gain a Miracle Mile invitation, Chokin had to trial to the satisfaction of club President Keith Adams, and that meant breaking 2:00 for a mile, with a smart last 800 metres. It was the first time such a demand had been issued….a few years earlier Chokin was involved in another Miracle Mile first when he was invited to contest the feature as a three-year-old. Chokin broke two minutes, with a last half in 57 seconds to seal his invite and join Bee Bee Cee, Master Musician, Golden Reign, Young Mister Charles and Weona Warrior in the 1609-metre dash. History shows Chokin raced his way into the record books by accounting for Bee Bee Cee and Golden Reign when driven by Tony Herlihy. The millionaire covered the mile in 1:56.2 – just six-tenths of a second outside Westburn Grant’s race record set in 1990. Chokin’s win saw him become the third dual Miracle Mile winner and the second to successfully defend his title since the events inauguration in 1967. Westburn Grant was victorious in 1989 and ’90, while Village Kid won in 1986 and ’87. Village Kid had his sequence broken by Master Mood during the second of the 1986 Miracle Miles. PAUL COURTS

Premier harness racing trainer Shayne Cramp had a “slow time at the office” at Mildura last night. Last week Cramp captured six of the seven races at the provincial circuit to register his fifth sextet – a national record. This time around, Cramp only won five of the eight races to register his 16th quintet. Cramp’s haul extends his national record for the most provincial quintets as a trainer, with all coming at Mildura. Western Australian trainer Gary Hall, who Cramp previously worked for, holds the national record for the most metropolitan quintets, a feat he has achieved 14 times. As a driver, Cramp has nine quintets, with Gary Hall junior boasting a record 16. Cramp is also the only trainer to complete a clean sweep of a meeting, which he achieved last July when he dominated the eight-race card at Mildura. Cramp’s latest milestone kick-started with Our Work Of Art, which he also drove to glory over Sportzpak and Atalanta Jewel. Cramp then partnered Your a Jet before handing over the reins to Reece Moore, who scored with Hand Of The King. Cramp was back in the sulky to win behind Kimcandash and Spokeswoman. Winner of the last two Victorian training premierships, Cramp is leading the way this season with 32 victories, with his team earning a cheque at every 1.4 starts. PAUL COURTS

The harness racing community is saddened by the passing of one of sport’s true gentleman - James “Jimmy” Robinson. Robinson had been involved in the industry for decades and had recently assisted the John Tapp stable. “Jim was always around if I needed a hand, even at short notice,” Tapp said. “He was a delight to be around and will be sadly missed.” Robinson’s biggest success came when he trained and drove Toughkenamon in the 1981 Australia Day Cup at Harold Park, defeating horses such as Frosty Imp and Friendly Footman. In more recent times, Robinson enjoyed success in the 2009 Newcastle Oaks with True Soncerre. Robinson’s will take place tomorrow at Pinegrove Memorial Park, Eastern Creek, New South Wales at 10am. Harnesslink extends its sympathy to Robinson’s family and friends.

Harness Racing New South Wales have concluded its inquiry into reports received from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that cobalt above the threshold was detected in post race urine samples taken from the following horses trained by Rodney Pike: Pike was issued with the following charges in writing pursuant to Rule 190 (1),(2) & (4); Charge 1: That he presented SNAP TO IT in race 2, the TAB.com.au Pace (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 22 February 2014 when a post race sample taken following its win, upon analysis has been found to contain a prohibited substance. Charge 2: That he presented SNAP TO IT in race 4, the TAB Rewards Charlestown Bowling Club Pace (2609 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 6 March 2014 when a post race sample taken following its win, upon analysis has been found to contain a prohibited substance. Charge 3: That he presented IM A PLAYER in race 3, the TAB APP Pace (1609 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 7 March 2014 when a post race sample taken following its win, upon analysis has been found to contain a prohibited substance. Charge 4: That he presented SNAP TO IT in race 2, the Newcastle Transport Specialists Pace (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 14 March 2014 when a post race sample taken following its win, upon analysis has been found to contain a prohibited substance. Charge 5: That he presented MASTER FIREHAWKE in race 2, the Armed Services Personnel Get Free Entry Tonight Pace (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 25 April 2014 when a post race sample taken following its win, upon analysis has been found to contain a prohibited substance. The “B” samples and associated control samples were confirmed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia. Pike pleaded guilty to the five charges issued and made written submissions regarding the matter of penalty via his legal representation Mr Wrench. In respect of charges 1, 2 & 4, Mr Pike was disqualified for a period of 8 years to commence from 30 April 2014, the date upon which he was stood down. In respect of charges 3 & 5, Mr Pike was disqualified for a period of 7 years to commence from 30 April 2014. Stewards ordered that these disqualifications be served concurrently. In considering penalty Stewards were mindful of the following; Pike’s previous offence for a Rule 190 breach, that Cobalt is deemed a Class 1 substance under the HRNSW Penalty Guidelines, the levels recorded being 360ug/L, 530ug/L, 1200ug/L, 1440ug/L & 2360ug/L Pike’s licence history and other personal subjective facts Pike also pleaded guilty to a charge pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 259(1)(g) in that, on Wednesday 27 August 2014, he as a person recorded on the Harness Racing New South Wales Unpaid Forfeits List and subject to the same restrictions and penalties as a disqualified person, did enter harness racing stables at Cessnock Showground, premises used for the purpose of the harness racing industry. In relation to the charge under Rule 259(1)(g), Stewards made no order with regards to penalty. Acting under the provisions of Rule 195, the abovementioned horses were disqualified from their respective races. HRNSW Media

A year ago owner Zac Cornell was less than two metres away from winning the Cordina Sprint when his talented harness racing performer Mach Beauty was defeated by dual Miracle Mile winner Smoken Up. Come Saturday night, Cornell and his partners Adrian Bau and Brian Dohnt will be hoping another of their horses, Suave Stuey Lombo, can go one better this year’s edition of the Group One at Menangle. Victory will also ensure Suave Stuey Lombo earns a berth in the Miracle Mile the following week. “Mach Beauty went so close last year and we were all so proud of him, but it would be great to win the Cordina Sprint this year with Suave Stuey Lombo,” Cornell said. “There has been a lot of talk about the Miracle Mile the following week, but as far as I am concerned the horse has to perform this week first. “If he can get the job done this week then he will deserve his spot in the Miracle Mile the following week.” Suave Stuey Lombo was unplaced behind Avonnova in the Newcastle Mile a fortnight ago but Cornell is looking forward to seeing the son of Bettors Delight back at his favourite track - Tabcorp Park Menangle. “Yeah after the Newcastle Mile we thought Suave Stuey Lombo might be better suited on the bigger track at Menangle, we were a little bit disappointed after the race, not with the horse or his performance because he couldn’t have done anymore, it was more the result,” Cornell declared. “Shane (Tritton, trainer) is happy with how he has recovered since the run. He has drawn a little bit wide this week in the Cordina, but everyone knows his racing pattern now and Lauren (Panella, driver) will be pressing forward in an attempt to lead.” Cornell is looking forward to Mach Beauty’s return, with the Victoria and Hunter Cups high on the agenda. “That’s the plan with Mach Beauty, but he was carrying a lot of weight when he returned to Shane’s, so he may not be ready,” Cornell explained. “If he isn’t then he will be aimed at the Inter Dominion again.” GREG HAYES

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 atwww.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: AU: Incident at Melton - Harness Racing Victoria stewards have concluded their case into a post-race incident at Melton recently. NZ: Trackside Coverage - One of the real bugbears in watching harness racing in New Zealand is the coverage provided by Trackside. Most of the coverage is world class from pre-race interviews through to having knowledgeable commentators fronting each race meeting. NZ: The "Met Multiplier" - A lot of industry participants are only to keen to criticize the major clubs and their management over how they program and run their meetings but praise is a lot harder to find. Heinz Wewering & Dave Palone; two class acts - When harness driver Dave Palone scored his 16,754th career victory on Friday and surpassed Germany’s Heinz Wewering as the winningest driver in the history of the sport, it also brought to light two great people in our sport. It all comes down to the Breeders Crown! - Whomever coined the phrase, “It all comes down to the Breeders Crown” never said it any better. The year-end major stakes weekend takes place this Friday and Saturday at the Meadowlands and once again many “yearend awards” in North America will be decided by the outcome of these races. Stallion Review – ART OFFICIAL - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Art Official,1:47m ($2,085,185). 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).

Up-and-coming harness racing star Waylade is poised to complete a hat-trick in the space of 15 days by proving too slick in the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic at Gloucester Park tomorrow night. Champion trainer Gary Hall is highly optimistic, particularly after the inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding drew favourably at barrier two over 2536 metres. “He will definitely go better this week,” Hall said. “He’s getting better with every run and hasn’t reached his peak yet. “By Friday night I reckon he’ll be at his peak, and he should maintain peak form for the Golden Nugget a fortnight later.” Waylade has been most impressive in winning a Nugget prelude and the $40,000 Four-Year-Old Championship durign the past two weeks and he is firmly on target to complete a clean sweep of the rich age-restricted features by winning the McInerney Ford and the Nugget. “He has always shown a bit of ability, but until now he hasn’t revealed that sort of depth,” Hall said. “He’s got fitter and a bit more mature --- and he’s shown a lot more depth. “He’s certainly got the speed…his 27.7-second quarter down the back last week proved that.” Waylade has started from barrier four at his past two starts and has been untroubled to score after racing without cover in both events. From two this week, driver Gary Hall junior is likely to make a bold bid for the lead. Drawn on his inside is classy stablemate Soho Lennon, a winner at eight of his 24 starts. He is a versatile pacer which should be prominent throughout. Hall advised punters to disregard Soho Lennon’s 11th in the Four-Year-Old Championship last Friday night when the gelding started from barrier five and was restrained to the rear by Lauren Jones. Soho Lennon was at the tail of the field at the bell and was forced wide during the final circuit before a wheel of his sulky became locked with a wheel of stablemate Classic American’s sulky on the home turn. “Soho Lennon was off the track in the final lap and even though he wasn’t going to run anywhere before locking wheels, I’d recommend that you forget that he even raced,” Hall said. “I’d say he’ll be an improver.” Hall also has A Boy Named Rosie, Classic American and Vc Manoeuvre in the feature, with each a chance of playing a role in the finish. KEN CASELLAS

Victoria Police and the Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner have agreed to a milestone partnership to help stamp out crime and consolidate racing’s integrity…including harness racing. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies will allow the exchange of information between parties. The partnership underlines efforts to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s $2.8billion racing industry, which employs nearly 58,000 people across the three codes. “This agreement will be of benefit to both Victoria Police and the racing industry and help inform investigations by both parties,” Mr Perna said.  “The MOU not only helps both agencies gather relevant information, but leads to increasing public confidence in racing.” The agreement builds on the RIC’s agreement in 2013 with the Australian Crime Commission. Both agreements follow a recommendation made in the RIC’s 2012 Own Motion Inquiry into Race Fixing to identify the barriers to information sharing between police and racing bodies. Under the agreement, there will remain some constraints on types of information that police are able to share, including telecommunication interception information. The agreement also builds on other Victoria Police initiatives such as the creation of the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in February 2013 and the entering of an interim information sharing agreement with the RIC in June 2013. Mr Perna said the two MOU’s emphasise an increased focus on sports integrity which demonstrate Victoria’s commitment to protecting its sporting industry. “Together with an increased focus on sports integrity and the creation of recent legislation addressing corrupt conduct in sport (The Crimes Amendment (Integrity in Sports) Act 2013), Victoria is well placed to protect its sporting industry.” Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner

He’s only had one start, hasn’t run a placing, and yet A Bit Of Bling is already gaining a cult following in harness racing circles. The reason behind A Bit Of Bling’s instant celebrity status is his unique colouring. Registered as a skewbald, which is rare in itself, the entire is also a buckskin…in fact, A Bit Of Bling looks remarkably similar to the cartoon stallion, Spirit, from the Dreamworks movie! Purchased from New Zealand by Tourello Standardbreds’ Kerrie Hymers, A Bit Of Bling made his debut for trainer Michelle Wight earlier this week. After racing towards the tail of the field from his second row draw, the four-year-old finished seventh as Bobby Fabulous outstayed his rivals for a strong victory. Pleased with A Bit Of Bling’s performance, Wight is positive the pacer can make his way into the winners’ circle. “He has his share of ability and can win a race or two,” Wight said. “He was bought over as a yearling, but just wasn’t ready as a young horse. “He’s been slow to mature, but is coming to hand. With a bit more experience I’m sure he will get the hang of it.” A Bit Of Bling is bred to be a colourful character, with skewbald and piebalds tracing back through seven generations of his family. By Native Snow Warrior from Millie Mccool, A Bit Of Bling’s paternal family also includes Evicus and Icevus. Almost 80 years after the inaugural Inter Dominion in Perth, Evicus is remains the centre of a debate over which pacer is the first winner of the Championship. Although she never captured a heat, or the Final, Evicus was awarded the title as a result of a bewildering point system. Logan Derby on the other hand, made a clean sweep of the heats and Final, in which Evicus finished second from a 24-yard handicap. A cream coloured stallion, Icevus – a brother to Evicus - captured a heat of the 1940 Western Australia Inter Dominion, but fell in the Final won by Grand Mogul. Grand Mogul was among the beaten brigade in Icevus’ qualifier. Ironically, Logan Derby, which captured a heat during the second round before missing a placing in the Final, was named Inter Dominion champion on points! The clan also goes back to Deep Adios, sire of the Australia’s most famous performer with a prominent white marking – Paleface Adios. Only time will tell if A Bit Of Bling can reach the grand heights of several of his family members. PAUL COURTS

Menangle harness racing trainer Darren McCall was very confident Bettor Bet Black would win last weekend and believes the pacer deserves his chance in this Saturday night’s Cordina Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  McCall was pleased for the gelding’s owners, who also bred the son of Bettors Delight, and would love nothing more to capture a Group One for them. “I am really pleased for the Vagg family, they bred Bettor Bet Black and they breed plenty of horses each year,” McCall said. “They are great people and the industry would be a much better one if there were more people like the Vaggs in it. I think they have got seven yearlings again this season, it shows how much they have invested in the sport.” Bettor Bet Black has a reputation as being a ‘flyer’ off the gate, and after drawing barrier seven, McCall has no doubt he will lead in the early stages. “I’ve crossed Suave Stuey Lombo before with Bettor Bet Black in Melbourne, and we have drawn inside Suave Stuey Lombo this week, so I’m not too worried about being crossed early,” McCarll declared. “I handed over two runs back, but held the lead last start, but that was all to do with Bettor Bet Black’s fitness. “It has taken me longer than usual to get him fully fit, he came back this time carrying a lot more weight than normal and he has needed a few more runs to reach peak fitness.” McCall believes Bettor Bet Black has matured mentally this year. “He has always been a handful especially when he was at the racetrack, but he does seems a little more mature this preparation,” McCall said. “He loves routine and seems to handle everything if he is expecting it. “Win, lose or draw this Saturday night he has qualified for the Smoken Up Championship Final with his win last weekend, so he will be backing up again next week.” GREG HAYES

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A week after his older sibling’s national record performance, Mesmeric has taken a step towards his harness racing debut. From former handy mare and now top producer Mersmerizing, Mesmeric is a half-brother to boom New Zealander, Messini. Although bred in Victoria by the Caldow family, Messini was purchased by clients of champion Kiwi horseman, Mark Purdon. Last week Messini captured the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day, in a record 1:55.8 for the 2600 metres. Also bred by the Caldows, Mesmeric won his trial over 1690 metres, with record-breaking reinsman John Caldow in the cart. The three-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear is trained by Caldow’s wife, Maree. “He is still a while off racing, but he goes alright,” Caldow said. “I trialled him as a two-year-old, but he was too big, so I gelded him. “Because of his size we’ve taken our time with him. “He’ll have to improve a fair bit to be as good as his half-brother, but the raw ability is there.” With Mersmerizing recently producing a colt by Bettors Delight, the Caldows are planning to send the mare back to Art Major, with the foal to be a sister or brother to Messini. “We’ve also got a colt from her by Courage Under Fire,” Caldow said. “He just turned two and looks quite good. “She’s got a Bettors Delight foal on her now and the plan is to take her back to Art Major.” PAUL COURTS
Fairfield Harness Racing Club will celebrate its 50th Anniversary meeting with a twilight program on Sunday. Throughout the years numerous changes have occurred at the venue, with non bigger than lights being installed during the 1970s. Not long after several key races were introduced, including The Carousel, Golden Easter Egg and the J D Watts Memorial, which stills remain the club’s feature event after nearly four decades. A small of group of dedicated volunteers have kept Fairfield afloat, such as Colin Watts, who has been at Fairfield for 50 years, and President Simon Boulous, who has been there since the 1980s. These days Michelle Buckley and Toni Radburn help ‘carry the load’, while the friends of Fairfield pitch in such as Allan Brennan, Glen Pearce, Jeff Towers and Steven Collins. And, of course, club Secretary Ross Scherf who controls the operation. Seven races will be conducted on Sunday, with the first event scheduled for 5:15pm. HRNSW Media
Two of Victoria’s harness racing stars will make their Western Australian debut at Gloucester Park tonight. Top flight mare Bellas Delight will contest the Norms Daughter Classic, with talented reinsman Zac Phillips to partner the multiple feature race winner. A member of the Kari Males stable, Bellas Delight has received the visitors’ draw, which will see her begin from the inside of the second row. Successful at her last two starts, the daughter of Bettors Delight has settled into well according to Phillips, who is looking forward to the campaign across the Nullarbor. “I’m really looking forward to competing in Perth,” Phillips said. “It’s an awkward draw, especially over the short trip, but she’s in top form and will do her best again. “She’s settled in well over there and her work during the week has been solid. “It is a strong field, but with a bit of luck she will be right in the finish.” A popular driver in his home state, Phillips, unlike most of his counterparts, entered the world of harness racing with no solid ties to the industry. Widely regarded as a family-based sport, harness racing typically breeds generation after generation of participants, who usually ‘get the breaks’ thanks to their successful relatives. So to forge a successful career in the ‘game’ with no ready-made background is always going to be difficult. Although his father Lucky, has “knocked around” with astute horseman Robbie O’Connell “since they were kids”, life in a stable wasn’t a ‘given’ for Phillips. After spending the majority of his teenage years in Queensland, Phillips returned to Melbourne where he soon discovered his passion and talent for driving. “I was born in Melbourne, but spent a lot of years growing up in Queensland,” Phillips said. “Up there I didn’t have anything to do with horses, but once we moved back to Victoria and I started to go to Robbie’s with Dad, I just caught the bug. “As soon as I got my trials licence and starting getting out on the track, I knew there nothing else for me. “Robbie was insistent I had plenty of trial drives before I went anywhere near the races. His advice proved spot on as it gave me plenty of ground work during those early days.” Despite his unorthodox beginning, Phillips has wasted no time proving he belonged among the top concession drivers in the state. Although he finished unceremoniously last upon debut, Phillips quickly found his way into the winners’ circle, scoring with the O’Connell-trained Driving Withtess at Bendigo on July 14, 2012. Since his initial victory, Phillips has cut a regular path to the number one stall to cement his place among the leading concession drivers. During his first year in the sulky, Phillips registered a half century, followed by 44 wins last term. Citing a Group One triumph as his ultimate high, Phillips would like to train a small team a few years down the track. “Like everyone, I’d like to win a Group One,” Phillips declared. “Other than that, I’ve got no real goals. I just love getting out there and driving as much as possible. “Maybe a long way down the track I might look at training, but for now, I just love driving and hopefully I can keep repaying the owners and trainers for their faith by driving winners.” PAUL COURTS
Harness racing fans worldwide can watch the Miracle Mile barrier draw as it unfolds on Sunday. With the remainder of the invitations to the Grand Circuit event expected to be extended on Saturday night, the draw will be conducted during the popular luncheon at Tabcorp Park Menangle the following afternoon. Officials have announced the draw will be streamed via the Trots TV section of harnessmediacentre.com.au as of 12:15. As it stands, three positions are still up for grabs with the winner of Saturday night’s Cordina Sprint guaranteed a position in the elite field. Defending champion Beautide was the first invited and will be joined in the November 29 showdown by Avonnova, For A Reason, Terror To Love and Christen Me. PAUL COURTS
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