Day At The Track

It's already been a huge week for Women in Racing with the successful staging of the Inaugural Australian Female Jockey's Championship at the Sky Racing Centre on Wednesday night in Launceston and it's about to become even bigger. The Australian Female Drivers Championship will be conducted by the Launceston Pacing Club tonight with the Nation's best in action over the nine-event Series. The big guns of the sport, Kerryn Manning,  Kate Gath, Amanda Turnbull and Danielle Hill are on the way for the Championship as are the new breed of young drivers such as Queensland sisters Dannielle and Narissa McMullen and Western Australian representatives Deni Roberts and Jocelyn Young. Tasmania will rely on the experience and brilliance of Team Teal ambassador Natalee Emery (pictured) and her young compatriot Kristy Grant to stand firm against the mainland invasion. Natalee is a highly respected driver on the National scene while Kristy is giving away years of experience to the major players in the Series. Both drivers have a great chance to pick up valuable points in race two with Kristy handling the ribbons on the Wayne Campbell-trained Buster William while Nat will steer Koolaz Elvis. Buster William is in search of its fifth win of the season and the seventh of his career and has come up with a perfect draw in two. In early markets, Buster William is an equal favourite with the Rohan Hillier-trained last start winner Im Compliant, to be handled by Danielle Hill. Koolaz Elvis is a last-start Latrobe Cup winner over Buster William and Natalee will more than likely try to lead on the Todd Rattray prepared four-year-old. Kristy has another tremendous chance to be amongst the action in race four with the NWTLHA winner Dapper Dana. The Bettors Delight - Ok Deb gelding is awkwardly drawn in five on the second line, but has won 11 races in a 35 start career and is more than capable of making it 12. Natalee's hopes of claiming the title received a boost when the Lynniemach marble fell her way. The Paul Ashwood prepared four-year-old is in the top three in the market in race six over a mile. The Mach Three-Boldandbeautiful mare is in quest of her third win of the season and the 10th of her career. Kent Rattray's El Jay's Monza will provide Natalee with another top hope in race eight, the four-year-old gelding has been placed at her last three runs and has drawn the coveted pole position over 2200-metres. The eyes of the nation will be focused on Launceston with live coverage, hosted by Duncan Dornauf, commencing at 17.00 via the live stream service at Shane Yates

Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley signaled his class with a stunning all-the-way harness racing victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday). Aided by a brilliant front-running drive from Kate Gath, the richly talented Skyvalley gelding defied race favourite Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in the 2240 mobile start feature. Having his third local start, Tornado Valley went one better than his effort last week when a runner-up behind Red Hot Tooth in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne. Showing good gate speed to lead from his handy draw, Tornado Valley controlled the tempo of the event while Sparkling Success was forced to work hard without cover. The lead time was covered in 45.2 seconds. Tornado Valley traveled strongly throughout; the first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.9 and 30.7 seconds. The first move in the race came via Vincennes who eased three-deep passing the 1000m mark. Entering the back straight, Gath allowed Tornado Valley to stride boldly while Sparkling Success chased gamely on his outside. The third quarter was covered in 28.7 seconds. At the top of the straight, Tornado Valley and Sparkling Success were set for an epic stretch battle but Tornado Valley failed to yield while Sparkling Success tried valiantly. Tornado Valley held Sparkling Success by 1.9m while Sky Petite was further 11.3m away in third after sitting one out/one back throughout. The final split was covered in a very slick 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate was 1:57.2 – well outside of the track and race record of 1:56 held by Keystone Del when successful in 2016. Tornado Valley is raced by Queensland based owner Norm Jenkin (of Flashing Red fame). It is the second time Andy Gath has prepared the winner of the Grand Prix after scoring with inaugural winner, former star trotting mare La Coocaracha back in 2001. An obvious long term target will be the recently re-introduced Inter Dominion series which will be staged in Victoria later this year. Tornado Valley joins Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) as winners of an Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters event this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month. And the race to be crowned the 2017/18 APG Trotting Master is very much alive. The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 20 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events held at Alexandra Park. 7 9:30pm SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS AUSTRALIAN TROTTING GRAND PRIX (GROUP 1) 2240M $100,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr4 4 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 12.20   GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): Jenkscraft Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Fr6 7 John Meade Chris Svanosio 1.9m $ 1.50 fav  PRU 3WE OLM 2 3 SKY PETITE      Fr5 6 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 13.2m $ 23.80   PRS GS 4 4 SAVANNAH JAY JAY      Fr3 3 Stan Cameron Neil McCallum 14.3m $ 60.20   PRS GS 3 5 REGAL PEPPERELL      Fr1 1 Michael Barby Anne-Maree Conroy 15.0m $ 36.10   PRS BB ODM 5 PH RR HUE USL 6 VINCENNES      Sr2 9 Anton Golino Jason Lee 16.6m $ 18.80   8 3WL 7 MAORI TIME      Sr1 8 Brent Lilley Gavin Lang 19.9m $ 12.60   PRS 12 3WLT 8 MY TRIBECA ITA      Fr2 2 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 21.7m $ 9.30   6 9 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Sr3 10 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 22.6m $ 10.30   10 3WLT Scratchings   THE BOSS MAN 5 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:43:2 Mile Rate: 1:57:2 Lead Time: 45.2 First Quarter: 30.9 Second Quarter: 30.7 Third Quarter: 28.7 Fourth Quarter: 27.7 Margins: 1.9m x 11.3m   Chris Barsby

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Maryanne Laffan. AHRR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances.  The charge under AHRR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Ms Laffan related to a post-race blood sample collected from the horse ‘Westvillageemily’ after winning Race 4, the ‘Great Northern Super Crisp 3YO Pace’, on 25 July 2017 at the Kilmore harness racing meeting. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the blood sample revealed the sample to contain a prohibited substance, namely alkalinising agents as evidenced by a total carbon dioxide (TCO2) concentration in excess of 36.0 millimoles per litre in plasma. This analysis was confirmed by referee analysis of the blood sample at the Racing Science Centre in Brisbane. Ms Laffan pleaded not guilty to the charge before submissions were heard from HRV Stewards and Mr Andrew Peace, acting on behalf of Ms Laffan.  The charge against Ms Laffan was subsequently found proven by the HRV RAD Board In determining penalty the HRV RAD Board considered the following: The serious nature of this particular rule breach, which was evidenced by a very high TCO2 concentration of greater than 39 millimoles per litre in plasma; Ms Laffan’s not-guilty plea; Ms Laffan’s disciplinary record, which included a previous TCO2 matter; Previous penalties for similar offences and the need for consistency; Specific and general deterrence; Ms Laffan’s personal circumstances put forward by her representative. In considering all of these matters, the HRV RAD Board disqualified Ms Laffan for a period of 12 months, deemed to commence immediately. The HRV RAD Board also ordered, under AHRR 195, that ‘Westvillageemily’ be disqualified from Race 4 at Kilmore on 25 July 2017 and the placings amended accordingly.  HRV RAD Board Panel: John Doherty (Deputy Chair), John Kearney, Kerry Willcock Harness Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board 

Remember that old hit song "I Did It My Way”. Consider the driving performance of Glamorganvale-based 21-year-old Nathan Dawson. He has been on the upward trajectory for the past three seasons. After a fairly ordinary first two years, Dawson took stock of the situation. Relying only on his own ability, Dawson let his driving do the talking, and talk it did. His lifetime stats from 3852 starts have produced 396 wins, 394 seconds and 410 thirds for a staggering $1,779,952. There have been no superstars hitched to the Dawson sulky to date, just a sprinkling of "handy” metro and country horses. The rest have been very much "bread and butter” conveyances. Dawson has three great factors, which underpin his success. He can jump up on a horse for the first time and form a working relationship in a few laps of a race day warm-up. Secondly, he does his form accurately and drives to his horses ability. Thirdly, he has a level head. Dawson has been busy "doing it his way” this week. This includes a very successful trip to Inverell NSW last Sunday, with four drives for four wins, and a week's total of 10. This supports his current season statistics of 538 drives for 82 wins, 70 seconds and 63 thirds. Memorial meeting ANOTHER early reminder: This time for Labour Day, Monday, May 7. Centrepiece will be the inaugural running of "The Trevor Perrin Memorial”. Details are to be finalised but it will be a big day as we celebrate the input and sponsorship gathering skills of the late Trevor Perrin over many years of service with the Marburg Pacing Association. Marburg excitement builds WE have just 14 days to the heats of the "Whiteoak Capital”-Goldstrike Series. The major event will be raced in a format similar to the Rocklea "Pot Of Gold”, an event which put the 530metre Rocklea Showground on the national stage. Heats will be drawn on class with all runners starting from the front line. Come the final, qualifiers will take their correct marks with 10 metre increments to a back mark of 50m, which will make for a very exciting race. Things are positive at the Marburg venue with track surface maintenance completed. In coming weeks, the Skills Alliance Group will be busy with the mowing etc, and the new video tower. The tower will provide the overhead shot down the home straight and will be erected by former trainer/driver,Glenn Wilkins. There is nothing so pleasing as a country venue with fresh mown grass, green trees, good food and happy patrons. Marburg intends to supply all four as a backdrop to a great day's harness racing, shared outside, thanks to our first Sky Channel/TAB meeting. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta in four 1-2-4-6: Fire And Ice (G Whitaker)-Karloo Mac-Kyms Boy (M Elkins)-Gloveman Gilly (N Dawson). R2: Box trifecta 1-5-8: The Harlem Hammer (N Dawson)-Mach Sam (P Diebert)-Only One Promise (S Doherty). R3: E/w 4: Remember Them (N Dawson). R4: Box trifecta 2-4-9: The Pacman, Georgia Grace (N Dawson)-Outlaw Fella (G Dixon). R5: Quinella 1-8: Casino Tommy (P Diebert) and Firebby (D McMullen). R6: Quinella 2-7: Heavens Hint (D McMullen) and GetIn The Groove (L Weidemann). R7: Quinella 5-6: Maretti (D McMullen and Cotton Cold Candy (P McMullen). R8: Box trifecta 7-8-9: Royal Counsel D Graham)-Frankie Rocks (G Dixon)-Constantly Sideways (G Whitaker). R9: Box trifecta in four 3-4-6-8: Majestic Major-Village Witch (N McMullen)-Beaver (T Dawson)-Better Than Special (S Doherty). R10: box trifecta in four 4-5-6-8: Kip Keino (A Richardson)-Maybeto Themax (C Petroff)-Foursharesmorebeers (T Dixon)-Releven Dream (P McMullen). Honour board The leader board went from wide spread wealth to monopoly in the space of seven days. Darrell Graham returned to the trainer's throne with eight winners for the week. He even went to Inverell and bagged a double. Nathan Dawson hit double figures in the bike. Most pleasing efforts were Tim Gillespie's race to race double of Getinanhangon plus Majordoit at Redcliffe on Thursday, Calvert Hotshot for Ray Cross and Matt Elkins at headquarters on Sunday, and Blue Eyed Creation driven by Justin Elkins at Redcliffe for dad Greg Elkins. Ipswich factor: 40/59. Albion Park, March 2: Somewhereoverarainbow (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price); Maybetothemax (Chris Petroff for Ron Sallis); The Harlem Hammer (Nathan Dawson for Doug Lee); Only One Promise (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price); Momkseaton (Chris Petroff for Jay Edmunds); With Authority (Nathan Dawson for John McMullen); Rory Mach (Jacob Wallace for Darrell Graham). Albion Park, March 3: Constantly Sideways (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Royal Counsel (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Feel The Courage (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Needle (Gary Whitaker for Brad Connelly); Georgia Grace (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey). Albion Park, March 4: My Ajaye (Hayden Barnes for Josh Moore); Cotton Cold Candy (Chris Petroff for Jason Carkeet); Black Belt (Adam Richardson for David Rodger Jnr); My Lady Linda (Adam Richardson for Lee Storie); Moonlight Butcher (Dan Russell); Calvert Hotshot (Matt Elkins for Ray Cross); Time Traveller (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Norahs Fling (Adam Richardson for Denis Smith). Inverell, March 4: Invite Only (Nathan Dawson for Darrell Graham); Courageous Leo (Nathan Dawson for Darrell Graham); Our Major Day (Nathan Dawson for Richard March); Clintal Do (Nathan Dawson for Richard March). Albion Park, March 6: Lyka Version (Nathan Dawson for Doug Lee); Maybetothemax (Chris Petroff for Ron Sallis); Supaliner (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); A Good Chance (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith). Redcliffe, March 7: Pale Bear Boo (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Couldn't Be Told (Nathan Dawson for Daren Garrard); Western Jewels (Nathan Dawson for Shawn Grimsey; Colada Rose Gary Whitaker for Max Olive); The Frame (Darrell Graham); Bronski Mckenzie (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen). Redcliffe, March 8: Private Jujon (Pete McMullen for Ross Jackson); Getinanhangon (Tim Gillespie); Majordoit (Tim Gillespie); Cryptic Chance (Chris Petroff forGreg Elkins); Blue Eyed Creation (Justin Elkins for Greg Elkins); Mister Hart (Stacey Weidemann for Darrell Graham). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Owner Rob Watson has unveiled an ambitious international schedule for his harness racing superstar Soho Tribeca, who will remain with Victorian trainer Michael Stanley. Mr Watson said New Zealand and Queensland Grand Circuit racing would follow a crack at the March 17 Kilmore Cup. Click here for the full story   Listen to Trots Media's Audio channels via   Video: All Clear Every week delivers All Clear, supported by Alabar, where you can get the first word from Tabcorp Park's winning drivers. Click here for this week's video  Audio: HQ HRV GM of Racing Glen Canty, HRA Chair Michael Taranto and Courtney Thompson joined Cody and Michael for this week's HQ. Listen in to the new weekly podcast    Delightful overs Good Form's Blake Redden looks across the big Vic race day to pick apart what the bookies might miss. Click here to get the good oil   The Guerin Effect is thrilled to have Michael Guerin delivering weekly NZ trots previews for Oz punters. Read Michael Guerin's review   Equality on the agenda International Women’s Day offered a chance to stop and savour the trots significant female participation. Click here for the full story   Into the blackbook Trots Media's Cody Winnell dug into Vic's trial videos and placed nine more trial horses in to the blackbook. Click here to get the inside running    

This is no pipedream.  Victorian dairy farmers John and Mary Meade are poised to snap-up an invitation to tackle the world’s best trotters in New York later this year with stable star Sparkling Success.  Harness Racing Australia’s CEO Andrew Kelly delivered the invitation for the $1.3 million Yonkers International Trot on behalf of the New York track this week.  Most thought it would be a bridge too far for the Meade’s, but no so.  “We want to go. And we are going at this stage,” Mary Meade said. “As John said, we’ll never get another chance like this.  “And we have family in the US. Our son and his family live in Virginia and are so excited about us having our horse racing over there.”  Sparkling Success, winner of the Great Southern Star three starts back, has one more target this campaign before sights are set on the US trip.  That’s tomorrow (Saturday) night’s $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m) at Melton.  Sparkling Success will need to show better manners than when he broke early as a hot favourite, but recovered remarkably well for a huge third in last week’s Knight Pistol Trot at Cranbourne.  “It was his first run at Cranbourne and people told us that corner he broke on is a bit notorious,” Mary said. “We thought his run was fantastic after the break and he seems very well this week.”  Sparkling Success is a $1.70 favourite on the Aussie TAB despite drawing outside the front (gate seven). “After this he’s out for a break and then comes back to prepare for the US trip,” Mary said.  Anthony Butt, who boasts plenty of US experience through the likes of Lyell Creek and Under Cover Lover, has spoken in-depth with the Meades about the trip.  “Anthony has been great. He thinks we need at least a couple of lead-up runs here and we must get to the US at least a month before the race to acclimatise, so that’s the plan,” Mary said.  “We aren’t allowed to race there before the big race, but we can afterwards if we choose.  “So we’ll get across early to settle in and maybe trial him.”   Adam Hamilton

Armidale will showcase a nine-race harness racing program this Sunday with three features – the $10,000 Armidale Cup, the $10,000 Golden Horse Shoe for three-year-olds and the Bill Barraclough Memorial. The latter will have a Missile Gig as the trophy. Ultimate Art – a 2016 Inter-Dominion contender – is returning to Armidale from the Michael Formosa stables after a winning effort last year, as is Strathlachlan Andy from the Geoff Harding stables. Both have scored the visitors draw in the $10,000 Roberts and Morrow Chartered Accountants Armidale Cup. The Ducats Earthmoving Armidale Golden Horse Shoe Three-Year-old will once again see quality, with Queensland pacer Courageous Leo looking for five wins on the trot, while Hunter Valley pacer Rocknlachlan will look for back-to-back wins. Or we will we see the local pacer Shadow Dealer from the Wayne Gray stables at Moonbi take home the title in the $10,000 race? NATHAN Dawson starred at last week’s Inverell meeting when the Queensland reinsman drove four winners  – giving him a total of seven winning drives for the week. Dawson is about to travel to Armidale to contest the Paceway for the first time when he takes five drives. So can he emulate his Inverell success?  The first race at Armidale on Sunday is 12.55pm.   BATHURST Harness Racing Club are gearing up for their big Gold Crown Carnival. It is nice to see that Peter and Marie Neil have been announced as the Gold Crown Honourees for 2018. You have seen many of their horses racing around the North West, with the name of Shannon appearing in each of their racehorse’s names. THE Teal Appeal wraps up this Sunday, with the Armidale meeting being the last event we will see teal trousers worn by the reinswomen for another year. It has been a great fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, with $30,000 raised in NSW. Every winning reinswomen donated $200 donated from Harness Racing NSW to the cause. There will be plenty of teal at the Armidale meeting, with teal trousers to appear in 24 drives.  At Inverell, Sarah Rushbrook had her second win in teal trousers, while Sydney-based reinswoman Maddi Young gained her first win in teal at Inverell. Up until last Tuesday, there had been 74 wins by the ladies, including 10 on North West tracks – including one at Tamworth where the ladies finished 1,2,3. Harness racing at Narrabri on March 18.  By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has named Marie and Peter Neil as this year’s Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Neils join a long list of highly respected and influential harness racing figures on the honourees list, and they too have made a substantial impact on the industry. The couple run a successful breeding establishment and have forged a strong training partnership with Bathurst’s Peter Bullock. “Peter and Marie have had a long association with not only the Bathurst Gold Crown but harness racing in general.” Bathurst Harness Racing Club president Wayne Barker said.  “Both, Peter and Marie have successfully operated a breeding establishment at Goulburn, for a number of years with a band of 25 broodmares. “Adding to this, Peter and Marie also run a very successful training operation of 30 horses based near Bathurst, under the watch full eye of long time trainer Peter Bullock. “Peter and Marie would one day love to win a Gold Crown or a Gold Tiara and I am sure that win is not too far away, after being runner up on three previous occasions. “You can only keep breeding quality horses, which Peter and Marie do to give yourself a chance, so you would like to think a Crown or Tiara win is just around the corner.” Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said selecting Peter and Marie Neil for the honour was a quick and easy decision for the board. “Each year we have a list of the people put forward to consideration and you often see some of the same names coming up each year. Peter and Marie, I believe, were nominated for the first time though,” he said. “On the back of not just their contributions to harness racing here in Bathurst but in the broader community of harness racing they were an easy choice. “You only have to look at the quality of the broodmares they have … and the foals that are reared at Goulburn. They’re broken in by Peter Bullock and it’s an operation that has worked very well for them.” The Neils join the likes of Chris Alford, the McCarthy Family and Kevin Thompson, who were the three most recent honourees on a distinguished list. “It’s a very special list of people who have contributed a lot to harness racing,” Dwyer said. “They have both been continually involved with the industry for such a long time and their breeding operation has helped ensure our quality of racing stays high.  “Their work means we can continue to have strong numbers at race meetings.” Peter and Marie Neil will be welcomed into the list of Gold Crown Honourees at the Honouree Dinner on March 27 at the Bathurst RSL Club. By Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

There is so much at stake for harness racing star Victorian trotter Sparkling Success this weekend. The John Meade prepared six-year-old lines up in the third leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Obviously the rich prizemoney is a key focus but an outright lead in the Trotting Masters is another attraction, Sparkling Success shares the lead with New Zealand trotter Amaretto Sun following his longshot triumph in the opening leg of the series, the Dominion at Addington back in November. The Grand Prix was first staged back in 2001 and won by La Coocaracha, it features a great honour roll including former champion Sundons Gift who won the event four years in succession (2007-10). Other great names include Take A Moment, Sumthingaboutmaori, Vulcan, Stent and last year’s winner On Thunder Road. The five leg Trotting Masters takes in the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. And with Amaretto Sun remaining in Christchurch, Sparkling Success has the perfect opportunity to add to his Great Southern Star triumph. Regarded as the best trotter in Australia, Sparkling Success must overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line, in Saturday’s 2240m mobile start feature. Last week, in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne, he finished a gallant third behind Red Hot Tooth and Tornado Valley after making an early break. Despite the wide draw, punters will rally around their star performer. And with a possible trip to New York for the $1.3 million International Trot at the end of the year looming, victory will only enhance his burgeoning reputation. But rivals will come thick and fast. New Australasian record holder Maori Time looms as a legitimate threat despite her tricky draw, the inside of the second-line. Maori Time rated 1:51.5 when successful in the Gr.1 $50,000 Trotters Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on February 24. Prepared by master conditioner Brent Lilley, the former New Zealand horseman shoots for his second victory in the Grand Prix following his triumph two years ago with millionaire performer Keystone Del. Courageous performer Kyvalley Blur also represents the Lilley stable, the veteran gelding continues to race in excellent form highlighted by his victory three starts ago in the Dullard Cup. Kyvalley Blur has drawn the outside of the second-line, gate 10. Gun young trainer Anton Golino is represented by both My Tribeca and Vincennes, both unplaced behind Maori Time in Sydney last start. My Tribeca has drawn ideally in gate two while Vincennes draws directly behind his stable in gate nine. Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley showcased his immense talent last week when finishing gamely behind Red Hot Tooth at Cranbourne after proving costly in his Australian debut on February 23. Prepared by Andy and Kate Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has drawn nicely in gate four. In-form mare Regal Pepperell tackles her biggest challenge to date but boasts outstanding recent winning form. A winner at 5 of her past 6 starts, the Michael Barby trained mare has claimed both the Hamilton and Wedderburn Cups during her recent form burst. Regal Pepperel will start from the coveted inside gate. Another classy mare in Sky Petite will prove competitive despite drawing awkwardly in gate 6 for trainer Dean Pattison. Unplaced last week at Cranbourne behind Red Hot Tooth, the Skyvalley mare scored three starts ago in the Crystal Bucket at Echuca. Savannah Jay Jay aims for his biggest victory and draws handily in gate three for trainer Stan Cameron, but the Armbro Invasion gelding is winless this season in eight starts. The Boss Man (gate 5) is an early scratching. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The two remaining legs of the APG Trotting Masters will be staged at Alexandra Park in Auckland next month. Chris Barsby

Members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have labelled Chok Chai and Lady De La Renta as star bets on Friday night’s 10-event harness racing card at Gloucester Park. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and longshot king Pat Harding believe punters can get off to a good start with the Gary Hall-trained Chok Chai in the opening event. “Chok Chai looks set for a triumphant return to Friday night racing after winning in midweek company at each of his three starts since an injury-enforced spell,” Manning said. “He has set the pace in his comeback races and barrier one gives him the chance for another all-the-way victory. Possesses an impressive career tally of nine wins and two places from 12 starts.” Harding agrees with his colleague. “Punters should get off to a great start in the first with Chok Chai,” Harding said. “The horse had a very impressive win during the week and coming out of barrier one should give Gary Hall Jr a great start to the night.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley and last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe are in the Lady De La Renta camp. “Lady De La Renta is a standout in the third, going on her recent wins, and Rock Me Over appears to have too much class for the opposition in race seven,” Brindley said. Lowe is in agreement with Brindley. “Lady De La Renta has performed well against the State’s best three-year-old fillies, as evidenced by her last-start win,” Lowe said. “Will appreciate the class drop here and should win.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is keen on Rockin The Boys. “Rockin The Boys was gallant in defeat when collared by Hot Fraternity in the shadows of the post last week,” Havercroft said. “From a similar draw he should again be on the pace and will take beating if he can reproduce that effort.” But TABradio’s Matt Young disagrees with Havercroft and has made One For Sassy, in the same event, his best for the night. “My best bet is One For Sassy,” Young said. “He is a very good frontrunner and is racing super for Dean Miller. He gets the chance to lead throughout here.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas has opted for one of his favourite horses, Major Catastrophe, as his star bet. “Redoubtable stayer Major Catastrophe should appreciate a massive drop in class and win the second event on Friday night,” Casellas said. “The powerful nine-year-old was far from disgraced in finishing eighth in the Pinjarra Cup on Monday when he clashed with superstars Chicago Bull and My Hard Copy and is my best bet on an interesting program.” Guild president Wayne Currall is keen on Rock Me Over. “This Kat Warwick-trained colt drops in class in the $25,000 Milford Homes Roofline Series 3YO Colts and Geldings Sales Classic Final,” Currall said. “With Junior in the bike and from gate three he should prove too strong for his nine rivals.” VALUE BETS Ernie: Stuart McDonald's re-instatement as Ooshtaa's reinsman is a key driving engagement. McDonald drove him to win and run second at consecutive starts last month. Overlook an unplaced run last Monday, when he was set a tough task. Pat: Lady De La Renta should come up trumps for punters. She has some excellent form and with Chris Voak aboard should prove to be a good investment for punters. Bill: My value bets are One For Sassy and Alfs Odyssey. They both line up from barrier one in the final two races and can lead throughout.    Stuart: Mister Tom Dooley has been racing well and loves the stand. Being the only runner off the front gives him each-way claims. Ryan: Trustytrev has had five runs back and made late ground when fourth to Bettor Not Knowing last Saturday at Northam. I liked how he got home on that occasion and this field lacks brilliance. Matt: Gotta Go Yanky turned in a solid performance two starts ago. C D Brown jumps back aboard and looks a chance at big odds. Ken: Nothingbutadream caught the eye when he finished boldly from last at the bell to be third behind Hot Fraternity and Rockin The Boys last Friday night. Wayne: Soho Eastwood is drawn to get a soft trip in the last race. Forget he ever went around last week as he was held up and never got clear. Is an each-way chance. To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good Punting.  Wayne Currall

Star reinsman Chris Lewis is happy with the progress being made by Rockin The Boys and predicted the harness racing four-year-old mare would be hard to beat in the $18,000 Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Rockin The Boys, bred, part-owned and trained by Lewis’ wife Debra, will be having her third start after a spell and is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line in the 2130m event. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven put in a strong performance last Friday night when she raced three wide early in an unsuccessful bid from barrier three to take an early lead in the 1730m event. She then worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front 350m from home and being overhauled in the final 15m to finish a half-length second to the fast-finishing Hot Fraternity, who rated 1.56.6. At her first-up appearance a fortnight earlier, Rockin The Boys set the pace from barrier two before wilting to finish sixth behind Gotta Go Gabbana over 2130m. Lewis has put up a strong case for Rockin The Boys this week, saying: “Her first run after a spell was average, but then she worked hard and breezed at her next outing and was a good second. She is a nice horse on the improve. It would be handy to get to the front.” Rockin The Boys, whose 34 starts have produced nine wins, seven seconds and three thirds, meets moderate opposition on Friday night, including six-year-old mare Nothingbutadream, who is trained by Sarah Dacey and will be having her 99th start. Nothingbutadream is awkwardly drawn at barrier six but she put the writing on the wall last Friday night when she was a distinct last at the bell in a field of ten before charging home with a spirited burst to finish third behind Hot Fraternity and Rockin The Boys. She will be driven by Corey Peterson. Jailbreak, Sheez Edgy and Raffaello have been racing in good style and cannot be overlooked. One of the best bets on the ten-event program should be the evergreen nine-year-old Major Catastrophe, who will be driven by Dean Miller from the outside (No. 9) on the front line in the 2536m Milford Homes Pace. Major Catastropohe, trained at Pinjarra by his breeder-owner David Young, is sure to appreciate a considerable drop in class after contesting the $50,000 Pinjarra Cup on Monday afternoon when he was far from disgraced in finishing a game eighth behind star pacers My Hard Copy, Chicago Bull and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Ken Casellas

Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Gary Hall Snr was in grave doubt that New Zealand-bred gelding Chok Chai would be able to race again a couple of years ago after the gelding was laid low by a hairline fracture of a sesamoid. But patience and plenty of rest eventually cured the problem and Chok Chai, now a five-year-old, is showing considerable promise and should get punters off to a flying start at Gloucester Park on Friday night by setting the pace and winning the opening event, the PPC Pace over 2130m. The gelding by Washington VC warmed up for this assignment by scoring an easy all-the-way victory over 2130m, rating 1.57.6 on Tuesday night. This took his record to nine wins and two seconds from only 12 starts. His only unplaced effort was when he met with severe interference and was distanced, finishing 246 metres behind the winner Te Rauparaha at Pinjarra in May of last year. “He’s had a lot of problems, mainly the fracture to his sesamoid, and I felt that he would be unable to overcome his injuries,” Hall said. “All’s well now and from barrier one on Friday night he should lead and win. He’s a strong horse and it will take a good horse to beat him.” Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr agreed, saying: “He felt good tonight (Tuesday). He’s a big horse who should get better and better, hopefully.” Chok Chai is likely to be challenged strongly by in-form pacers in the Ross Olivieri-trained pair of Military Master and Lord Willoughby and Skye Bond’s smart four-year-old Mighty Mr Sharkey. Chris Lewis, who will drive Military Master from barrier No. 7 in a field of eight, praised the six-year-old’s outstanding first-up performance when he led from barrier four and sped over the final 400m in a sizzling 26.9sec. to win by six lengths from Real Zeal over 2100m at a 1.57.6 rate at Bunbury last Saturday week. That was a wonderful effort at his first outing for six months and Lewis said: “He won really well. Obviously, it’s a worse draw this week, but he’s still in the mix of things from the wide draw. He’s going well enough to give a forward showing.”        That performance improved Military Master’s record to 11 wins, nine seconds and two thirds from 38 starts. Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Lord Willoughby from barrier three, declared that the four-year-old was flying and predicted the gelding would be prominent. This season Lord Willoughby has raced ten times for four wins, five seconds and one third. The Skye Bond-trained Mighty Mr Sharkey will start from the outside (No. 8) with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. The four-year-old has had 29 starts for ten wins and nine placings. He had a tough run in the breeze before winning in fine style over 2130m at Gloucester Park two starts ago. Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr was impressed with Rock Me Over’s fast-finishing third to Speed Man and Golden State at Gloucester Park last Friday night and he is confident the smart colt will break through for his first success as a three-year-old when he contests the $25,000 Milford Homes Roofline Series Sales Classic for harness racing  colts and geldings on Friday night. Rock Me Over by Rock N Roll Heaven, prepared at Byford by Katja Warwick, has finished third in four of his five starts this season and looks on target to prove hard to beat this week, particularly from his handy draw at No. 3 on the front line. Hall drove Speed Man for his win last Friday night and said: “I was impressed with the way Rock Me Over came home (from last at the bell in a field of seven). He’s got a few strings to his bow and he just needs to put them all together.” Hall drove Rock Me Over in all of his nine starts as a two-year-old for three wins, three seconds and a third. He was prominent in feature events, finishing a half-head second to Play The Boys in the Sales Classic, second to the brilliant Jack Mac in the Pearl Classic and third to Cott Beach and Miss Sangrial in the Champagne Classic. “I had big wraps on him, early on,” said Hall. “But he hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations at this stage. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn the corner at any stage. “He’s a funny horse; sat up, he’s quick, but once you make your run with him you’ve got to keep going because he’s a little bull and if you stop-start with him he’ll just pull up. We’ll have a crack for the front, but if he can’t get to the lead he should sit somewhere handy.” One of Rock Me Over’s most serious rivals is sure to be the Bryan Cousins-trained Kohli, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier. A fast-finishing winner over Ella Gant Player at Pinjarra five starts ago, Kohli’s recent form on South-West tracks has been quite sound. Chris Voak, who will drive Kohli, said: “Take Rock Me Over out, and I’d give Kohli a really solid chance of winning. When I drove him at Pinjarra a couple of starts ago we went only slowly, but he sprinted home very well.” Harry Haich, a last-start all-the-way winner at Northam for part-owner and trainer Vicki Lea, has claims. He is the solitary runner on the back line and Shannon Suvaljko will have plenty of options. Ooshta and Nuclear Poker are recent Pinjarra winners and will have admirers from unfavourable barriers. Chris Voak has declared the Annie Belton-trained Lady De La Renta a ‘good thing’ in the Total Home Frames Sales Classic for three-year-old fillies, a 2130m event in which she will start from the No. 5 barrier. “I tracked her this morning (Tuesday) and said to Annie that the only draws I didn’t want were one and ten. I said she would win from any other draw. I think that only bad luck will get her beaten. I think she is a standout on the card. “Ideally, I’d like to be in front. She’s got toughness and speed, and is the full package. The only plan I’ve got is to keep out of trouble. Her ability will get the rest done.” Lady De la Renta’s recent form is outstanding and she looks the winner from last-start winners Princess Major and Somersby. Ken Casellas

Better B Chevron has a remarkable record as a frontrunner. She boasts a perfect tally of her nine harness racing victories in Western Australia all being achieved when she has set the pace. And she has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the $50,000 Perth Plasterboard Centre Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night, leaving reinsman Ryan Warwick with the task of giving the New Zealand-bred four-year-old the job of leading all the way in the group 2 2536m classic for mares. Trained at Forrestdale by Skye Bond, who races Better B Chevron in partnership with Rob and Anne Gartrell, the daughter of Bettors Delight has won at 12 of her past 20 starts. A winner at three of her seven starts in New Zealand, Better B Chevron arrived in Australia 11 months ago and has raced 14 times in WA for nine wins and three placings. She was not suited at her most recent outing when she started from the outside of the back line and settled in eighth position before moving to seventh (three wide) at the bell in the Lewis final last Friday week. She paced roughly for a while 600m from home before recovering and fighting on gamely to finish fourth, just over a length behind the winner, the pacemaking Madame Meilland. An important query about Better B Chevron’s ability to win on Friday night is the fact that she has raced only once in an event longer than 2240m. That was in the 2536m WA Oaks last May when she raced wide early and then in the breeze before gaining an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, and battling on into a well-beaten fifth placing behind Maczaffair. Better B Chevron is an M1-class performer and is sure to be tested by the two quality mares in the field, Major Reality (an M7-class mare who will start from barrier six on the front line) and Sheer Rocknroll (an M5-class mare who will start from barrier No. 7).  Better B Chevron is a half-brother to 2011 Easter Cup winner Anvils Big Punt and the highly-promising three-year-old Speed Man, who notched his fourth win from eight starts when he finished powerfully to beat Golden State last Friday night. Warwick was successful with the Grant Williams-trained Asian Paradise in the 2005 Empress Stakes and he was in the sulky when Jungle Jewel, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, finished solidly to be second to The Parade in last season’s Empress Stakes. Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice is aiming to win Friday night’s classic for the third year in a row --- after Brayden Green drove Major Reality (7/1) from the No. 1 barrier to an all-the-way victory over Tricky Styx and Quite A Delight (also trained by Prentice) in 2016 and when Gary Hall Jnr brought 7/1 chance The Parade home with a strong burst from sixth at the bell to beat Jungle Jewel. Prentice drove Major Reality, the 5/1 on favourite from barrier 1 in last year’s Empress Stakes when the mare raced without cover and wilted to finish sixth. Prentice was suspended for 18 days for causing interference in an event for trotters at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon and he has engaged Hall to drive Major Reality, who will be making her first appearance for 91 days. Major Reality last raced when she was a fading eighth behind Ideal Alice in the $125,000 Mares Classic on December 8. Hall is looking forward to driving Major Reality and keeping his 100 per cent record with the mare. He has happy memories of winning the 2015 WA Oaks with Major Reality, who beat stablemate Quite A Delight by a half-head. His only other drive behind Major Reality was at Bunbury in June 2015 when she dead-heated for first with Baileys Gold. “She is a quality mare and should prove hard to beat,” said Hall, who won the Empress Stakes for the first time when Aussie Made Lombo was successful at her final start, beating Live High and Famous Alchemist in 2013. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who has won the Empress Stakes a record eight times with Candy Nacray (1988), Armbro Lucy (1992), Meggie Dear (2001), Classical Mover (2002), Shes Royalty (2007), Ima Spicey Lombo (2011) and Sensational Gabby (2014 and 2015) had the choice of four drives in this year’s classic. He has given punters a strong lead by choosing to drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Sheer Rocknroll ahead of stablemate Madame Meilland, Bettor Be Supreme and Sea Me Smile. “Sheer Rocknroll has got a bit of class,” said Lewis, who was impressed when Dean Miller drove the five-year-old first-up for nine weeks when she had a tough run, three wide and then in the breeze before finishing a close second to Dana Duke over 2130m last Friday week. “It’s always hard first-up,” Lewis said. Sheer Rocknroll warmed up for Friday night’s race with a stylish victory in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. She was untroubled to dash over the final quarters in 28.5sec. and 28.2sec., with reinsman Tommy Sheehy saying that it was a delight to handle such a quality pacer. “Acting on instructions I didn’t let her go until the final 400m and she certainly sprinted most impressively,” Sheehy said. Lewis drove Madame Meilland at her most recent outing when she set the pace from the No. 1 barrier and held on to win from Gotta Go Gabbana over 2130m last Friday week. Olivieri has engaged Shannon Suvaljko to handle the mare, who is favourably drawn at No. 2 on the front line on Friday night. Busselton trainer Barry Howlett has engaged Morgan Woodley to drive Bettor Be Supreme, who faces a stern test from the No. 8 barrier. Lewis was in the sulky when Bettor Be Supreme raced three wide early and then in the breeze before finishing a good third behind Chok Chai over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Chris Voak, who will drive Gotta Go Gabbana for Banjup trainer Annie Belton, said that he had no doubt that the lightly-raced four-year-old was capable of matching strides for the better-performed mares in the race. “However, from barrier five she is most likely to have to do things tough in the breeze again, he said. “She is improving all the time and you can certainly make a case for her.” Ken Casellas

The quality of drivers competing in this Sunday’s inaugural Australian Female Drivers Championship in Launceston would be a good fit for any world-class harness racing event. Having the talents of Kerryn Manning, Kate Gath and Amanda Turnbull at the same meeting should be enough to draw a big crowd but when added is a sprinkling of rising stars, the stage is set for a hot competition. The star of the show is Victorian Kerryn Manning who up until last week had driven over 3700 winners and placed over 4300 times for prizemoney of in excess of almost $26 million. No other female driver has accrued more Group 1 victories, which is why she is regarded as one of the best in the business. Manning is a superstar of harness racing and her presence in any line-up usually encourages strong betting turnover and coupled with her congenial personality makes her one of the most valuable commodities in the game. Kate Gath, also from Victoria, has driven over 1200 winners and is close to topping $10 million in stake earnings so she too will have her share of followers on Sunday night. New South Wales is well represented with Amanda Turnbull one of the most successful female drivers in the country having amassed 1600 wins and 2000 placings for over $10 million in stakes. Then there is teenager Ellen Rixon who is just starting her journey but has already notched 100 winners from only 900 drives and it won’t be long before she cracks the $1 million stake barrier. Rixon represented NSW in the Australian Drivers Championship against the male drivers in Tasmania last year and she more than held her own. South Australia’s Danielle Hill is another gun driver who has represented her state at national team events mixing it with the male drivers and more than holding her own and her record of over 1300 winners for over $4 million in stakes speaks for itself. South Australia also will be represented by Lisa Ryan who has driven almost 140 winners and placed over 400 times from only 1500 drives. Western Australia will be represented by Jocelyn Young and Deni Roberts and while they are less experienced than most of the aforementioned, they are talented drivers in their own right. Tasmania will be represented by Natalee Emery and Kristy Grant and both are talented drivers. Emery has amassed 358 wins for stakes of over $2.2 million of which much was accrued in Victoria where she drove under her maiden name of Westendorf. Grant is an up and coming talent who is the granddaughter of astute horseman Dick Eaves. Grant has notched almost 30 winners from limited opportunities but her acumen in the sulky has gone to a new level in recent times. The winner of the AFDC will be determined on a point score basis and held over four races. In a 12-horse field the winner will earn 19 points with 14 for second, 11 for third and nine for fourth reducing by one through to last place which earns one point. Peter Staples

New Zealand and Hunter Cup winner Arden Rooney has been retired.  Another setback with a tendon injury which has plagued him for two years was enough for owner Merv Butterworth to retire the great stayer.  “After two years of operations, intensive rehabilitation and TLC, we came to the realisation that once we got him 99 per cent, he may have injured his tendon again,” Butterworth said.  “The top horses like ‘Rooney’ over-exert themselves hence their injuries and short life on the track.  “He is now in retirement as a fully fit $1 million-plus stake-earner and winner of many Cups in NZ and Australia.  “He is at home where he will be loved and well cared for.”  Arden Rooney, who started his career with the All Stars’ in NZ before switching to Kerryn Manning, raced 50 times for 21 wins, 15 placings and earnings of $1,070,230.  He won the 2015 Hunter Cup and the NZ Cup on November 10 of the same year.  Arden Rooney hasn’t raced since a 10th in the NZ free-for-all just three days after his NZ Cup win   Adam Hamilton