Day At The Track

Ballarat played host to the second round heats over 1710 metres of the Inter Dominion on Tuesday December 4, where favourites prevailed in most races. PACERS: HEAT ONE David Aiken’s much improved 5Y0 Bettors Delight-Charlotte Church gelding Wrappers Delight (Kima Frenning), a short priced $1.80 chance, made full advantage of his pole line draw to lead throughout in a rate of 1-53.6 (last half 53.9 – quarter 26.1) to account for a game Tiger Tara which after starting from the extreme draw moved outside him off a three wide trail on the back of San Carlo at the bell by 1.2 metres, with first night heat winner Spankem (one/two at bell) closing late for a fast finishing third 1.1 metres back in third place after following Our Uncle Sam home three wide in the last lap. Maximan was fourth .3 metres away after trailing the winner and using the sprint lane, while San Carlo was a shade disappointing when fifth 4.9 metres off the winner when following Tiger Tara in the final circuit. HEAT TWO: Kiwi Im Pats Delight ($1.40), a 4Y0 Bettors Delight-Righteous Franco entire trained in Christchurch by Cran Dalgety and driven by Gavin Lang, led throughout from gate two in registering a soft 3.7 metre margin in advance of Cant Refuse (three back the markers) which flashed home when extricated from a pocket in the straight, Im The Boss (gate five) was strong when third a half head away after racing exposed, a half head in advance of Bad Billy which trailed the winner. In a last half of 55.5 – quarter 26.7, Im Pats Delight returned a slashing mile rate of 1-52.2. Franco Nelson (one/one – three wide last lap) was fifth 5.5 metres back just in advance of Joes Star Of Mia which followed him all of the way. HEAT THREE: First round heat winner Cruz Bromac ($1.60) continued his outstanding form with an easy 2.8 metre victory in 1-53.5 (half 55.9 – quarter 26.3). Driven by co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen for the All Stars Team,  Cruz Bromac wasn’t pushed at the start from gate four on the second line settling at the tail of the field as Audi Hare (gate two) and Mach Doro (gate five) engaged in a two horse war for the front running with Audi Hare winning out. When Galactic Star (another first round winner) went forward from the extreme draw at the start to park in the open racing for the bell, Cruz Bromac was set alight to race uncovered for the last lap. Sustaining the run, Cruz Bromac was too strong in the straight, scoring by 2.8 metres from Audi Hare which battled on courageously, with Galactic Star closing late after being extricated into the clear halfway up the running third a head away. Mach Doro (three back the markers was fourth and Mattgregor fifth after trailing the winner from outside the front line.  A 7Y0 Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender gelding, Cruz Bromac registered his 19th success from 36 outings. TROTTERS – HEAT ONE: Dominion Handicap runner-up Kyvalley Blur ($6.90) returned to form after a dismal eighth to Tornado Valley on the first night to blouse his rivals by 1.7 metres in an exciting finish where five horses crossed the wire with 4.8 metres between them. Trained by Brent Lilley and driven by Chris Alford, Kyvalley Blur starting from the extreme draw settled well back in the field as Sky Petite (gate two) was able to cross Fabrication on her inside, with Illawong Armstrong (gate 3) outside the pair to eventually take control as Enrolled (gate 4) moved forward to occupy the spot outside the leader racing for the bell. Fabrication galloped shortly after the start putting himself out of business. Big Jack Hammer (one/one from gate five) eased three wide approaching the final bend to issue a challenge, while Monty Python from mid-field was four wide on straightening. Weaving in-between runners in the last lap to be four back approaching the home turn, Kyvalley Blur was extricated five wide in the straight and finished full of running to defeat Big Jack Hammer by 1.7 metres, with Sky Petite using the sprint lane to be a half neck back in third place 1.2 metres ahead of Enrolled and Kingdom Come (three back the markers). Hot favourite Maori Law was never a chance after getting buried four back the markers from inside the second line, breaking in the straight when cramped for room. A ever-reliable all American bred 11Y0 gelding by Chocolatier from Duo Val Car raced by Jim Connelly, Kyvalley Blur chalked up his 29th victory from 119 outings, returning a mile rate of 1-55.6 (last half 57.5 – quarter 28.9). HEAT TWO: There were divided opinions as to which of the two favourites would lead, with Speeding Spur ($2.10 gate five) and Tornado Valley ($2.20 from outside the front row) both brilliant beginners, but it was Tornado Valley which exploded away to cross Save Our Pennys (gate two) which led out momentarily from his ideal draw. This left Speeding Spur in the open with Rompers Monarchy (one/one), Red Hot Tooth (three back the markers) and Alderbeck three back in the moving line. Racing down the back straight on the final occasion the leading three chances drew away from their rivals, with Tornado Valley gaining a slight margin on turning. Not done with, Speeding Spur rallied in the straight, with Save Our Pennys using the sprint lane to issue a challenge, however Tornado Valley held a margin to the wire for Andy and Kate Gath to score by 2.1 metres over Save Our Pennys, with Speeding Spur a head away in third place. Tough Monarch (three wide last lap from last) was fourth six metres off Speeding Spur in fourth place. In a last half mile of 56.4 – quarter 27, Tornado Valley returned a mile rate of 1-56.1. The all important third and final round of heats over the longer trip of 2555 metres will be held at Cranbourne on Saturday.   Harness Racing Australia

When Shadow Sax was withdrawn from the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion pacing series, leaving champion reinsman Chris Alford with just one horse for all of ID18, in hindsight, Kyvalley Blur’s chances probably improved. The Puppet’s a genius, and the trotter everyone probably thought was pushing uphill following a lacklustre Round 1 performance quickly silenced his knockers. Kyvalley Blur launched from a seemingly impossible position mid-race to take out the second-round trotting heat at Ballarat over the sprint trip of 1710m in 1:55.6 by 1.7m over Big Jack Hammer, with Sky Petite third. And there’s improvement to come, says Alford: “If he stays like tonight he’ll go better again on Saturday from what Lills (trainer Brent Lilley) said. He’ll need a draw in the final, but if he gets it he will be right there.” Tornado Valley prevailed in the other trotting heat, rating 1:56.1 and scorching home in a 27-second final quarter for Kate and Andy Gath. With gate speed to burn – and another gear when required late in the piece – Tornado Valley seemingly has it all. Save Our Pennys was excellent again for Gavin Lang, finishing second, while Speeding Spur boxed on for third after parking throughout. In the pacing section Wrappers Delight delivered the hammer blow to his rivals for driver Kima Frenning and trainer David Aiken, going all the way from the pole in 1:53.6 to defeat Tiger Tara and Spankem. “This series is really going to suit him and he’s proved that tonight again. I think he’ll just keep on improving. David (Aiken) is doing such a good job with him,” Frenning said. The third horse, Spankem, was enormous, breaking the clock from back in the field for the All-Stars stable. Cran Dalgety produced Im Pats Delight for a comfortable win with Gavin Lang in the bike, scoring by 3.7m over Cant Refuse – whose owners in the stands were absolutely thrilled with the performance of Matthew Craven’s star – while Im The Boss was a gritty third. And Cruz Bromac has launched in the betting charts with his stablemate Spankem, both into $4, after he effortlessly won his second-round heat with Nat Rasmussen in the gig. For full results and videos click here Trots Media - Cody Winnell More TAB ID18 Round 2 coverage Kate's loving Tornado Valley Nat's delicious dilemma  Blake Redden breaks down the trot heats

A huge decision sits on the shoulders of the Inter Dominion harness racing queen and three wins in Natalie Rasmussen is unclear of one of the biggest decisions she may have to make this year: Spankem or Cruz Bromac. The All Stars pair are $4 co-favourites after two nights of TAB Inter Dominion, repeating their eye-catching first-up efforts at Tabcorp Park with a pair of impressive performances on a brilliant night’s racing at Ballarat. Having just saluted in the last of the night’s ID18 heats with Cruz Bromac Rasmussen told Sky Racing’s Jason Bonnington choosing her drive on December 15’s Inter Dominion finals night at Tabcorp Park Melton was a “out of the hat” decision. “They’re both beautiful horses,” Rasmussen said. “They both have strength and they are both tough.” Cruz Bromac was ultra-impressive in overcoming his back row draw to round up leader Audi Hare and hold off fast finishing Galactic Star to salute in 1:53.5. “That was a lovely run for him,” Rasmussen said. “He hit the line good. Last week was a good confidence builder and tonight ever better. I just went to the line nice and kind with him.” Excitement is clearly building and its shared by another renowned driver, Gavin Lang, whose Kiwi is also flying. Having caught the drive of New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety’s Im Pats Delight, Lang couldn’t help but dream that the trophy missing on his shelf – a Pacing Inter Dominion – might be within arm’s length after tonight’s heat win. “I would love to win it, but it’s only run once a year and a very very hard race to win, so hopefully this might be my time,” Lang said. Racing continues with Saturday night’s third round of TAB Inter Dominion heats. Get track side and lap it up via www.id18.com.au For full results and videos click here   Trots Media - Michael Howard

Every point matters in the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion trotting championship and form analyst Blake Redden has broken it down horse-by-horse after two heats of ID18. In addition to detailing the official points score, which can be viewed by clicking here, Redden has given each runner a race-by-race rating. 32 Points – Tornado Valley  (17.5/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Copped pressure through the third quarter and was still trucking on the line Night 2: 8.5/10 – Flexed his muscle after the start and dictated thereafter. 27 Points – Speeding Spur  (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – He got a pretty soft time through the middle stages but he staved off a pretty serious challenge from Maori Law and was well clear late. Night 2: 8/10 – Didn’t find the pegs but brave as ever from the breeze. It’s hard to knock his form as the key danger to the favourite right now. 26 Points – Save Our Pennys (17/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Came into this second-up from a break and loomed the winner on the bend, magical effort. Night 2: 8/10 – Had to be driven hard after the start but held the leader's back and produced a most similar run as Night 1 over what probably isn’t his best trip. 22 Points – Big Jack Hammer (14.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have to work in transit but he hit the line nicely. Night 2: 8/10 – Ran the gate and landed a lovely spot in the one by one. Looked the winner half way up the straight but his first genuine crack at this level from off the pegs and he stood up. 21 Points – Kyvalley Blur (13/20) Night 1: 4/10 – He was off the bit a long way out and despite trying to rally late he just didn’t come on as expected. Night 2: 9/10 – Phenomenal is just about the only way to describe his performance. Chris Alford take a bow, sliced through the field and came with his customary turn of speed. 20 Points – Tough Monarch (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – You will find varying opinions on how good this guy’s run was, I wasn’t as taken as some others but he did work to the breeze and apply the pressure to the leader.  Night 2: 7/10 – Came wide on the track and was still finding the line at the end. A nice run to keep him ticking over. 18 Points – Rompers Monarchy (11.5/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Had the right run in transit and made OK ground late. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Off the pegs this time and did run the gate. Not many made ground and while she got a touch tired late, the run was still sound. 18 Points – Sky Petite (15/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Superb effort from this girl to make ground wide on the track. She didn’t get heaps of points but it sets her up for a nice series. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Used her gate speed to full effect before landing behind the speed, just halted for momentum early in the straight and she didn’t shirk the task late. 16 Points – Kingdom Come (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have much luck off a soft run and hit the line well. Night 2: 7/10 – Was handled beautifully by Kate Gath and he was just struggling to get a full crack at the sprint lane for a stride or two so he has put in another super run. 16 Points – Monty Python (14/20)  Night 1: 7/10 – Sat parked and lifted when beaten so a pretty nice effort all things considered. Night 2: 7/10 – He was forced to start the three-wide train and he loomed dangerously halfway up the lane. Another very nice effort. 15 Points – Red Hot Tooth (13/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was forced to come wide in the track and not many horses made ground out wide all night so there’s merit to her run. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Was afforded a pegline run and given the slick last quarter she did as much as possible, she just keeps hanging in there. 14 Points – Maori Law (12.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Worked early, went back and then launched with an almighty run at the 800m. He did get tired late but the run was sensational given he will have improvement. Night 2: 4/10 – A horror story from start to finish. Total forgive. 14 points - Wilmas Mate (11/20)  Night 1: 5/10 – She got further back than expected on the pegs but just a middling effort Night 2: 6/10 – Played for luck in between horses and she was poking through late, trending in the right direction at least. 13 Points – Enrolled (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – This fella didn’t have much luck late and could have finished a touch closer. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Worked the breeze and not the worst place to be over the sprint but still went massive to finish where he did. 10 Points – Father Christmas (10.5/20)  Night 1: 4.5/10 – Didn’t have the clearest of passages at a crucial stage and finished off quite OK. Night 2: 6/10 – Unsuited by the distance but he didn’t lose the back of Tough Monarch in the lane so there are signs he is starting to turn it around. 9 Points – Fabrication (11/20) Night 1: 5/10 – Had a soft run and probably just held his ground more than made any late. Night 2: 6/10 – Hard to know what to make of this run. Galloped early but was flashing to the line albeit well beaten. Definitely some merit to the run but he needs points to qualify. 9 Points – Our Twentyten (6/20)  Night 1: 4/10 – Had every possible and was just fair on face value. Night 2: 2/10 – Further back on the pegs than last time but just fair again. 8 Points – Alderbeck (7.5/20)  Night 1: 3.5/10 – Was forced to lead the three-wide train so while you can be somewhat forgiving, he was never in the race. Night 2: 4/10 – Didn’t have heaps of clear air late and was holding his ground. 7 Points – Illawong Armstrong (9/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – Another that had no luck in the lane, it’s best to forgive his run completely. Night 2: 3/10 – Had every chance after finding the front and probably just not at his best. 7 Points – King Denny (11/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Another forced to come wide on the track and while he wasn’t rewarded via points, he ran quite well. Night 2: 5/10 – It was always going to be hard for him from the draw and the sprint trip didn’t suit so he gets a pass mark. 7 Points – Kowhai Monarch (8.5/20) Night 1: 2.5/10 – Did some work in the middle stages but looked very tired late. Night 2: 6/10 – Many horses went about as well as each other in a blanket finish but driven more quietly he was hitting the line pretty strongly. 5 Points – Kheiron (6/20) Night 1: 3/10 – He was wide on the track but remained at the tail throughout. Night 2: 3/10 – Similar to his first run in this series, hard to see him getting involved from here. Scratched – Cruisin Around (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – Just not at his best. For full results and videos click here Trots Media - Blake Redden

The raiders have stepped to the fore in the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion pacing championship as Blake Redden deep dives runner-by-runner in who's stepped up and who's on the verge of stepping out after two nights of pacing heats. In addition to detailing the official points score, which can be viewed by clicking here, Redden has given each runner a race-by-race rating. 32 Points – Cruz Bromac (16.5/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Didn’t do anything unexpected when leading and breezing away as a short-priced favourite. Night 2: 8.5/10 – A simply spectacular drive which meant he could just control this race. 29 Points – Im Pats Delight (17.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Had to work hard to shoot for the front but came back underneath Gavin Lang and was trying all the way to the line. Night 2: 9/10 – Did it very easily and it’s quite clear he is building into this series perfectly. 27 Points – Galactic Star (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Sprung a surprise at the start and changed the complexion of the race. He was entitled to win in the end but still a super win when it’s all told. Night 2: 8/10 – After the early speed the heat came out of this race so for him to take the ground he did in the straight was the perfect indicator that he’s right on track after night 1. 27 Points – Spankem (18/20) Night 1: 9/10 – It’s easy to look at the drive of Nat Rasmussen and underrate just how strong this bloke was through the line. Proved he is a serious contender. Night 2: 9/10 – Ran the hands off the clock in an unsuitable race, into equal favouritism for the series and it’s not hard to understand why. 24 Points – Tiger Tara (16.5/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Got shuffled back but hit the line with great gusto late. Nice to see him back after a too-bad-to-be-true run in the NZ FFA. Night 2: 8.5/10 – Driven aggressively and was ironically able to get a relatively nice run from the breeze. Banked points and couldn’t be shaken off late. 24 Points – Wrappers Delight (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Ended up in an awkward spot and was one of the only horses to come wide on the track and make ground for the night. Night 2: 8/10 – Found the lead as expected, got a soft time and ripped home in a quarter. We didn’t learn anything new about him and he’s largely still an unknown commodity in this series. 21 Points – Audi Hare (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Had a quiet time along the pegs but probably just held his ground like most of the beaten brigade behind Audi Hare. Night 2: 7/10 – Had to work very hard early, got plenty of respite in the middle stages but was just controlled by a better horse late. 21 Points – Cant Refuse (15.5/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Didn’t have to go around a horse but he was finishing hard up the inside. Night 2: 8/10 – Another soft run and was able to burst through to snatch second late. He’s probably going to need luck right through this series but his turn of foot will give him knockout chances going forward. 21 Points – San Carlo (15.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Sat parked and just kept finding all the way to the line despite not winning. The Galactic Star formline looks fine for this series and he’s only going to improve. Night 2: 7/10 – Understandably was happy to hand the breeze over once Tiger Tara arrived so quickly, he didn’t make any ground in the lane but he didn’t need to, it’s his staying prowess that brings him into the final. 20 Points – Mach Doro (14/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Had every possible and while he didn’t lose anything late, he didn’t gain anything either. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Worked hard early and was finishing off as well as anything, the big question now looms, is he better over the sprint trip? 20 Points – Maximan (14/20) Night 1: 7/10 – A terrific plan from Team Tritton to punch the breeze in a race where no horse was likely to make much ground. Battled away willfully late. Night 2: 7/10 – Looked a stone-cold certainty to run a drum at the top of the straight and he didn’t throw in the towel but the class just got to him late. 18 Points – Cash N Flow (12.5/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Trailed home Cruz Bromac who controlled the race but he held everything else. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Got back and was never a factor over the sprint trip. 15 Points – Im The Boss (14/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was never really in the hunt and while well beaten, no great knock on his effort. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Got fired up from the breeze as is customary and while it was hard for the others to make ground, he still gets a big tick and some much needed points heading into the suitable staying heat. 15 Points – Our Uncle Sam (14/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Ended up getting shuffled back but his run was full of merit to get as close to the winner as he did. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Came three-wide solo and he was still fighting hard late for sixth. He’s not far off them, but may just lack the absolute class required. 14 Points – Franco Nelson (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Ended up being an awkward race for him and he didn’t find the front as expected so overall there was merit to his performance. Night 2: 7/10 – Was forced to pull three-wide after the tempo had slackened mid-race and he made a 100-metre dash at the leaders so it’s obvious he is on the improve and might be an each-way sleeper in the series. 14 Points – Mattgregor (11/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Was three-wide for a while and finished with the peloton. Pretty inconclusive. Night 2: 5.5/10 – He came out running and lobbed behind the leader but just couldn’t improve his position inside the final quarter. 14 Points – Motu Meteor (14/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Surprising to see him so close to the action but it was a masterstroke in terms of earning very valuable points for the series. He went right up to his best (if not exceeded it). Night 2: 6.5/10 – Raced the gate, got shuffled back and wasn’t losing ground late so another solid performance. 14 Points – Yayas Hot Spot (13/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Wasn’t asked to do much work but when he saw a gap he finished off nicely. Night 2: 6/10 – Looked in a bit of bother halfway home but the last 50 metres he did lift and he has raced well over staying trips in Victoria before so don’t drop off him yet. 12 Points – Village Witch (12.5/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Took a while to hit her top but she was finishing off as well as anything. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Hard to judge exactly where she is at given she was wide on the track. A total forgive run again. 11 Points – Bad Billy (11/20) Night 1: 4.5/10 – Was probably a bit better than it first looks on paper but was beaten a fair way. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Was guaranteed a nice run and held his ground well at the finish but showed under these conditions he isn’t quite up to the best in the series. 11 Points – Conviction (13/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – He was poking up along the pegs nicely and perhaps a little bit underrated for a race like the consolation based on that. Night 2: 6.5/10 – He was poking through late in an on speed dominated race. He is half flying but just needs to find the right conditions. 11 Points – Joes Star Of Mia (12.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was left in an awkward spot with over a lap to go and really hard to take much from the night out. Night 2: 6/10 – Had to chase the helmet of Franco Nelson but when he got wound up he was running through the line. 11 Points – My Alpha Rock (11/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Took his chances in front and did cop pressure but hard to see him leading all the way and winning a heat or final of this series now. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Another inconclusive run coming wide over the sprint trip. 10 Points – Ellmers Image (11.5/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Ended up in a place he probably didn’t want to be but the tank read empty halfway up the straight. Night 2: 6/10 – Dropped in three poles and visually was far better with that quiet run but still a little ways off the big guns. 10 Points – Mister Wickham (10.5/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Never looked likely but went about as good as Magical Marn given he was off the pegs. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Not much changed for him tonight, he was given an easy time out the back and did as much as expected late. 9 Points – Tee Cee Bee Macray (6.5/20) Night 1: 2/10 – Didn’t make much ground off a soft trip. Night 2: 4.5/10 – An improved effort but may have been suited by the 1710 metres. 8 Points – Magical Marn (9/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Didn’t do any work but he found the line as well as could be expected. Night 2: 3/10 – He wasn’t able to run on like night 1, he’ll need big points Saturday night or the consolation is calling. 7 Points – Freyberg (8/20) Night 1: 5/10 – Beaten a long way but wasn’t exactly losing ground late. Night 2: 3/10 – Settled at the rear and made no impression. 6 Points – Hickstead (10/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Just never involved in any meaningful way from the back of the field. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Was never in the hunt and while he was OK in the lane he didn’t pick up much ground. 5 Points – Ideal Success (8/20) Night 1: 4/10 – It didn’t look his race on paper and that’s exactly how it panned out. Night 2: 4/10 – Found himself further back than expected but he was going up and down late. 3 Points – John Of Arc Night 1: 2/10 – Beaten very early Night 2: 2/10 – Never sighted Scratched – Shadow Sax (7.5/10) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Got back and made terrific ground, he didn’t get the rewards point-wise but it was a terrific effort Scratched – Let It Ride (5/10) Night 1: 5/10 – Had a nice run and got out in enough time but just didn’t have his usual ping. Scratched – Italian Delight  (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – The market said he wouldn’t be a factor and that proved true. Scratched – Burnaholeinmypocket (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – Has every chance and was gone a fair way out. We know he is better than that. Scratched – Is It Billy (1/10) Night 1: 1/10 – He was beaten to quickly. For full results and videos click here   Trots Media - Blake Redden

Harness Racing driver Kate Gath admits to not having too many favourites. “It’s hard to be one of my favourites,” the champion reinswoman said after Tornado Valley’s scintillating 1:56.1 win tonight at Ballarat in Round 2 of the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship. Tornado Valley showed gate speed at the start to muscle his way to the top and hot speed late as he ripped home in 27 seconds for the last 400m. “This fella is up there now,” she said, naming gun pacers About To Rock and Caribbean Blaster as her two favourites so far. “Only time will tell though if he can catch the other two.” TAB shortened Tornado Valley into $2 from $2.1 following tonight’s win. To watch the video replay click on this link                   5 8:02pm TAB INTER DOMINION TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP (2ND ROUND QUALIFYING HEAT 2) (GROUP 3) 1710M $20,000 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      Fr7 7 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 2.20   PRS GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 7 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): N R (Norm) Jenkin  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SAVE OUR PENNYS      Fr2 2 Gavin Lang Gavin Lang 2.10 $ 9.80   GS 3 USL SWAB 3 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Fr5 5 J W Dickie, J I Dickie Josh Dickie 2.60 $ 2.10 fav  PRS GS OLT 2 4 TOUGH MONARCH      Sr3 10 Rickie Alchin Rickie Alchin 8.60 $ 18.40   10 3WL 5 RED HOT TOOTH      Sr2 9 Kari Males Zac Phillips 9.20 $ 22.30   PRS 5 6 ROMPERS MONARCHY NZ      Fr6 6 J A Rando, M J Rando David Morris 10.10 $ 98.90   PRS PH 4 7 FATHER CHRISTMAS NZ      Fr3 3 Brent Lilley Greg Sugars 12.40 $ 58.50   PRU 8 8 ALDERBECK NZ      Fr4 4 Phil Williamson Anthony Butt 13.30 $ 84.30   6 9 KHEIRON      Sr1 8 Peter Lane Chris Lang 17.00 $ 114.00   PRS 9 10 OUR TWENTYTEN NZ      Fr1 1 Brent Lilley Rodney Petroff 23.20 $ 101.00   PRS 7 CMP Scratchings   CRUISIN AROUND 11 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 2:03:3 Mile Rate: 1:56:1 Lead Time: 6.7 First Quarter: 29 Second Quarter: 31.2 Third Quarter: 29.4 Fourth Quarter: 27 Margins: 2.1m x HD   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The man behind Kiwi trotting star Speeding Spur says he is as interested as everybody else to find out how the first mega clash of the series unfolds at Ballarat tonight.  Because trainer-driver Josh Dickie admits he doesn’t know whether he can beat leading Aussie hope Tornado Valley as the series moves into the second round of heats.  New Zealand-trained horses won three of the Inter Dominion heats on the opening night at Melton on Saturday, with Cruz Bromac and Spankem impressive in their pacing events and Speeding Spur dominant in his trotting one.  But while the Kiwi pacers will be favoured in two of the three pacing heats over the 1710m mobile at Ballarat tonight, the second trotting heat could be the clash of the night.   Speeding Spur and Tornado Valley were so impressive winning their first night heats it is hard to envisage one of the pair not winning the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday week and punters get a sneak preview of that tonight.  While some would like to see the pair, who completely dominate the market for the final, kept apart until then to create suspense, that wouldn’t be fair on their rivals.  So they clash in the second trotting heat at 10.02pm (NZ time) tonight, with Speeding Spur having a potentially big advantage drawing barrier five while Tornado Valley will start from the outside of the front line at seven.  Both have gate speed, Tornado Valley’s probably slightly higher after his steady diet of Australian racing, but co-trainer Dickie knows what he has to do to beat his key rival.  “Obviously I want to stay in front of him from the draw,” admits Dickie.  “I think I can because my horse has good gate speed and we couldn’t have been happier with how he won on Saturday.  “He has been working really well, felt great in the race and I think his below par effort in the Dominion (two starts ago) was just an off day. “He has always loved it over here and seems happy to be back so we are confident.”The Dickies, Josh and his father John, are getting to see plenty of Tornado Valley as he is trained by Andy Gath, with who Speeding Spur is always stabled when he races in Victoria.  “He (Tornado Valley) is a lovely horse and we are no good thing to beat him,” says Dickie.  “So I suppose we are a bit like everybody else, keen to see how they match up against each other.  “But we have the advantage at the start and we will be doing our best to use it.”  Every Inter Dominion needs a wow race to set up the rest of the carnival and the early battle of the trotting series favourites could be just that, even though it will be hardly definitive as a Grand Final guide, with that group one next week over 2760m and the final’s draw probably just as important.  After tonight’s sprint heats it looks likely all three New Zealanders in the pacing series would have won at least one heat with It’s Pats Delight, who finished a brave second to Spankem on Saturday, drawn to get maximum points in his heat at 11pm. His task has been aided further by one-time series favourite Shadow Sax, who was drawn in the same heat as I’m Pats Delight, being scratched from tonight and the remainder of the series after pulling up sore after Saturday.  Cruz Bromac is a hot favourite in his heat, the final one tonight, but his $1.45 fixed odds price seems awfully short considering his second line draw.  “It is never easy to win sprint races off the second line because you really need them to slow up in the middle stages to get into the race otherwise you have to come wide late,” said trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen.  So while he is vying for final favouritism, Cruz Bromac is too short to be betting big on tonight with luck such a factor.  Spankem races in the toughest heat of the night at 10.32pm (NZ time) and he would need to produce something special to win as he not only faces a second line draw but high class opponents in Wrappers Delight, San Carlo and Tiger Tara. Michael Guerin

An oversight from top trainer Tim Butt has ended his Inter Dominion pacing assault. And cost him A$1000 in the process. Butt had his two pacers Let It Ride and Italian Delight withdrawn from their heats at Ballarat on Tuesday and therefore the remainder of the series after he took blood off them today for a routine blood test.  Harness Racing Victoria rules forbid horses having any form of injection used on them for a clear 24 hours before raceday so stewards had little option but to scratch the pair.  The irony is Butt, who until last year trained with great success in Canterbury, actually told the stewards he had broken the rule.  “They rang me to ask how the horses were and I told them I had just taken a blood to have it tested to make sure they were fine,” said Butt.  “Then the told me I can’t do that and it dawned on me, no injections the day before the races even if it is extracting rather than putting anything into the horses.  “It is totally my mistake. I guess in the back of my mind I knew the rule but I honestly didn’t think about it.  “So I will have to cop that and apologise to the owners.” Stewards accepted their was nothing sinister in Butt’s actions and fined him A$1000.  The pair join local star Shadow Sax in being withdrawn from the series yesterday and leave the Kiwi pacing trio of Cruz Bromac, Spankem and I’m Pats Delight as three of maybe only six serious winning chances left for the A$500,000 final on Saturday week. Michael Guerin

Champion reinsman Ricky Duggan was at his brilliant best at Carrick on Sunday steering home four winners on the seven-event twilight card. The first of Ricky’s quartet was enough to floor punters in the opener, charging home out in the centre of the track on the Adrian Duggan trained five-year-old mare Forever Ours ($17.90). “She’s a good little sit-sprinter, they went hard down the back which took care of most of them and she has a zippy 300 metre dash up her sleeve so when we were close enough on the home turn I was thinking we were going to be in the finish.” The Hall Of Fame reinsman provided punters with the smelling salts to lift them off the canvas in race two when he piloted the Rodney Ashwood prepared Sutter Hanover – Crystal Still three-year-old filly Still Hungover ($1.50) to the post five-metres clear of second favourite Our Wonder Woman. “Rod (Ashwood) had her primed for a first up tilt, he’s worked hard on her giving her four trials in the lead-up to Carrick so he deserved to reap the rewards” said Ricky. “It’s the first time I’ve driven her and she gave me a good feel, that’s her second win now from five starts and I’d say there are more wins ahead for connections.” Duggan made it three-straight to start the day with Ima Ginger Rogers ($4.80) saluting in race three over 2150-metres. “Ima Ginger Rogers did a great job to come off the 20 metre handicap and win like she did, it was a drop in class for her but she had to pull out something special to win,” said Ricky. “They dropped us off coming off the back but she rallied to the cause when she needed to and she hit the line strongly, it was her first win for season but I’d say she will pinch another one or two on that run.” Trainer Rod Ashwood completed a winning double in the last on the card with the consistent Miss Superbia ($10.20) leading all the way for victory. “She’s not a star but she is consistent, she hasn’t missed a place in eight starts this season and now she has put two together on the trot,” said Duggan. “We got away with an easy first three quarters of a lap and she had enough in hand to hold off the in-form Twenty Two Karat which finished powerfully.”   Shane Yates

For 18-year-old Corey Peterson, a career working with horses was inevitable. WA’s equal leading concession driver for the 2017/18 season, Peterson had been working horses in a sulky since the age of 10 and always saw himself becoming a trainer later in life. He grew up at the Hazelmere property of his trainer-mother Sarah Dacey, next door to hall-of-famer Gary Hall Snr, and his love of the standardbred soon became firmly entrenched. “Whenever I was home I was always down the back with the horses and I’d also go next door, to Senior’s, to work horses on the weekend,” Peterson said. “I did that since I was 10. I played a little bit of footy, but horses just took over. "I didn’t enjoy school at all and ended up leaving in year 10, and most of that year I was doing a cert three in agriculture outside of school.” After leaving his Byford school, Peterson began working at Hall’s stable as a trackwork driver and stablehand full-time and also signed up to become a junior driver. However, becoming a race-day driver wasn’t always the plan. “I actually wanted to be a trainer,” Peterson said. “I’ve always enjoyed the training side of things and I mainly started driving just to pass the time, but I’ve learnt to love it now. "They’d be on par now, but I like the enjoyment and satisfaction you get when a horse goes good and you’re training it.” Peterson’s stocks as an up-and-coming driver received a boost when he landed his first Friday night winning double at WA harness headquarters, Gloucester Park, on November 2. After finding himself near-last and in a seemingly-impossible position approaching the home turn, Peterson was able to find a clear passage with the Mathew Scott-trained Always Arjay, pictured above, ($25.00) in the Book Your Next Conference At Gloucester Park Pace (2536m) and finished powerfully to score a surprise win, before producing a polished performance aboard the Josh Dunn-prepared Khun Ratha ($4.70) to also win the next race on the card, the NYE At Gloucester Park – Book Now Pace (2130m). Looking back at the milestone, Peterson admits he didn’t think either of the wins, let alone both, were possible leading into that night. “I thought I might’ve been a place chance on Khun Ratha, but I didn’t think they could win,” he said. “If you’re watching the replay of Always Arjay, at the 400m you’re thinking ‘he’s 200-to-one to win this’ and that’s what I thought. "I drove for luck and another horse pushed off the fence so I followed it and then I was able to push out. "At the top of the straight I thought ‘geez, he’s actually going better than some of these guys’. "I didn’t think I’d won it on the line though. "I turned around to Kyle and said ‘did I win that?’. "Then down the straight in Khun Ratha’s race I was thinking ‘I could get my first double here!’. "It was a great feeling.” After having worked for Hall Snr for more than six years, Peterson felt he was in need of a change of scenery and made the decision to leave the state’s premier stable earlier this year. He then joined forces with comeback-trainer Aiden Warwick, the private trainer for owner Rob Tomlinson at the time, but a lack of driving opportunities prompted him to make another move. He now works for the Mundijong-based Kristian Hawkins and believes his experiences working under different trainers and being exposed to different methods and techniques will provide him with a broader skill set for when he eventually makes the transition into training. “The trainers I’ve worked for have been very different, the way they do everything,” Peterson said. “Aiden has been to America and has brought some stuff back from there and it’s interesting how he’s done that. "He’s a great trainer and just watching how he does everything, you don’t realise how much you learn at the time but then when you’re playing around with your own horses, you realise how much each trainer has actually taught you. "It was tough leaving Aiden’s because I really enjoyed working there, but I wasn’t getting the drives and Kristian doesn’t mind sharing them around, which is good.” Peterson also credits his mother as the biggest influence in his career to date. The pair work closely and, despite Dacey only having two horses in work now, Peterson assists her each day and says they operate as a team. “Mum has probably helped me out the most and picks out all the little things with my driving,” he said. “She’ll have her opinion with our horses, too, and we always work it out. "We don’t really butt heads because I know Mum knows more than me and if the horse goes bad then she gets the blame! "But she also learnt off Senior, so she trains fairly similar to him and we’re both used to doing things the same way.” Peterson says he has gained more confidence from driving the country tracks of WA and hopes his recent city-winning double will help him receive more opportunities in the future. Now in his second year of race-day driving, the shy and softly-spoken Peterson has noticed an increase in his tactical aggression and says he is no longer worried about making a move in a race when the opportunity presents itself. “I think it’s the same with everyone. When you first start and have to push out you think ‘I don’t know if I can’. But when you get a bit more experienced you think ‘I can get out here’ and you just do it,” Peterson said. “My favourite track is probably Albany. "I’ve had a bit of luck on that track and I like the small bush tracks. "I find them fun and, at those places, you’re half-a-chance of getting a full book and more chance of driving a winner.” Asked where he’d like to see himself in five years’ time, Peterson plans to apply for his trainer’s licence in the near future and hopes to cement a place in WA’s trainer-driver ranks for years to come. “I’d like to have a team of horses of my own,” he said. “I’d like to be a bit of a freelance driver, if I can make it as a driver, and still have a couple of horses of my own. "I’ve got all the paperwork to get my trainer’s licence, I just need to get a couple of references. "I enjoy the challenge of training and working through horse’s problems. "If it all turns out good and you get it right on the day, you know that you’re the one who has done that.”   Michael Heaton

A change of tactics and patient hands delivered Geoff Webster his first Victorian country cup since 2014 with Motu Gatecrasher breaking through at Stawell on Sunday. Not since Flaming Flutter’s 2014 Cobram Pacing Cup win ahead of Smudge Bromac and Jaccka Clive had Webster enjoyed that winning feeling on the Trots Country Cups circuit, but that all changed in the Barham Insurance Advisers Stawell Pacing Cup. Webster guided Motu Gatecrasher to the breeze from gate three but was only too happy to hand up to Tough Call and then Mad Robber to give his six-year-old Changeover entire some respite over the 2600m Group 3. “He’s got a good natural high speed way of going,” Webster told Trots Vision. “I led last week at Melton and he just keeps getting run down every time. “I thought it was pointless trying to just keep pushing him out and leading so I thought I’d drive him with a sit.” It was only the six-year-old’s 30th start, having rehabilitated from a suspensory injury April 2017 until his return in September. “Lee Evison did a great job on the leg and it shows no sign of being a problem,” Webster said. Motu Gatecrasher had finished in the placings at his last four starts heading into Sunday and fifth such result looked on the cards as Mad Robber swept to the front at the 400m with Motu Gatecrasher advancing three-wide. It became a race in two, with Webster sweeping off the bend to take Mad Robber’s back and then the sprint lane, drawing level in a nose-to-nose final dash that would ultimately see Motu Gatecrasher salute by a short half-head in a 1:58.1 mile rate, some 1.8 seconds under Shadow Sax previous track record. “I think he’s well up to the free for all class eventually,” Webster said. “He’s just probably below the real top ones, but he has a good cruising speed, so even against the better ones he will always give you something.” The Reknown Silverware Stawell Trotters Cup was also something of a drought-breaker as Fratellino scored for trainer Shaun McNulty and reinswoman Michelle Phillips, breaking through at the seven-year-olds sixth country cup attempt. From the standing start Phillips placed Fratellino into the front and from there it was a dominant performance, bolting away for a 13.9m win from Savannah Jay Jay and Justtentrumps with Phillips greeting the finish line with a hearty salute. Like in the pacing cup, some 1.8 seconds was stripped off the track record, with the clock stopping at a 2:03.3 mile rate. The victory has seen Fratellino bolt to 10 points on the Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship, only two points shy of leader King Denny. CLICK HERE FOR THE STANDINGS As the season takes a spell for the TAB Inter Dominion and the Christmas-New Year period, the Trots Country Cups Championship has San Carlo and Im The Boss leading the pacing honours with 10 points apiece, while Rackemup Tigerpie’s late dash into third at Stawell improved his placing to outright third. CLICK HERE FOR THE STANDINGS The Trots Country Cups Carnival resumes on January 5 at Bendigo’s Lords Raceway. More details at www.trotscountry.com.au.   Michael Howard Trots Media

It was a fitting result with leading horseman John McCarthy returning in style. The former multiple Albion Park Metropolitan Trainers Premiership winner returned back to his old stomping ground and claimed the Gr.3 $30,660 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint last night (Saturday), the opening night of the Queensland summer carnival. McCarthy guided giant New Zealand gelding Rakarolla ($9) to victory in the 1660m feature after racing three back against the pegs before sprinting past the Ian Gurney duo of Mach Alert ($3.30) and Our Hi Jinx ($7.50) in a scorching time of 1:51.9. Sectionals of 27.3, 28.4, 28.3 and 27.9 seconds. The winning time is well outside of the track record of 1:50.4 set by champion pacer Im Themightyquinn back in 2014. It is the second time McCarthy has prepared the winner of the feature named in honour of his former champion after Washakie scored back in 2011. Now based at Cobbitty near Menangle, the highly decorated horseman prepares a team of around 20. “It’s great to win a race that’s named after my best ever pacer, I got a good run against the inside and that’s the best place to be when the running that sort of time. He finished off really well and we’ll start in the Christmas and Queensland Cups,” McCarthy said. “Earlier this week, I sat and thought about taking my horses to Newcastle and then thought I should drive a little further north and take in the Brisbane features. So I headed up with a small team and it’s been a good start.” He added. Rakarolla is raced by his New Zealand based breeder, Brendan Fahy. In the other feature, race favourite Mr Kalypso ($1.75) accounted for the Grant Dixon duo of Aqua Miss ($14) and Red Charmer ($7.50) in the AQWA Constructions APHRC Members Cup. The Kylie Rasmussen trained and driven pacer rated a strong 1:57.1 after racing without cover for the bulk of the 2138m event. Mr Kalypso remains unbeaten in seven Queensland starts. The Art Major – Kalypso five-year-old entire looks destined for bigger and better things in the future. Next week, the features include the $20,660 Christmas Cup and the $20,660 Forever Gold Mares Open Pace. RQ Media

AFTER some hotly-contested heats on opening night, the Inter Dominion moves to Ballarat with sprint racing for night two on Tuesday. Some of the stars of night one face horror draws this time. Aussie correspondent ADAM HAMILTON looks through the Ballarat heats. PACERS (1710m, 7 off the front row) HEAT 4 Every chance for WRAPPERS DELIGHT (1) to bounce-back here after a luckless fifth on night one. Had to come deep and good considering. Looks the leader and hard to beat. SAN CARLO (6) is likely to push forward and sit parked. Big 2nd to Galactic Star after sitting parked night one. Major factor. MAXIMAN (8) is flying and gets inside back row, so probably leader’s back with a sprint lane. Can win. TIGER TARA (12) stormed home after being shuffled back opening night. Big run. Outside back row over 1700m daunting task, but he’s a star so consider. SPANKEM (9) was superbly driven and earned respect with strong win night one. Where he lands from back row is crucial. OUR UNCLE SAM (10) and MOTU METEOR (5) ran a blinders on night one and can give cheek at huge odds. MY ALPHA ROCK (11) has a place hope despite awful draw. SUGGESTED BET: Place bets on MOTU METEOR (5) and OUR UNCLE SAM (10) at big odds. HEAT 5 IM PATS DELIGHT (2) is the obvious after his fantastic second to Spankem on night one and good draw over sprint trip this time. Will either lead or be right on the pace. JOES STAR OF MIA (3) is the watch runner. Horror run night one. Begins well and has led through in sub-1min50sec at Menangle. Value. Hard to assess SHADOW SAX (7). Run better than it reads night one, but pulled-up lame. Will he even run? FRANCO NELSON (4) will improve and drawn well. CASH N FLOW (6) and IM THE BOSS (6) some claims. Which LET IT RIDE (12) will turn up? Awful in the home straight night one. Previous form outstanding. Shocking draw. Not for me. SUGGESTED BET: Something each-way JOES STAR OF MIA (3) at $10 or better. HEAT 6 Trick race for mine. CRUZ BROMAC (11) was superb night one, but it’s different leading to coming from a wide back row draw over 1700m at Ballarat. Odds far too short for mine. GALACTIC STAR (12) is the other class factor, but drawn even worse. Those guys are the class and it’s a thin race. MACH DORO (6) did enough night one, big chance of leading and must be considered. VILLAGE WITCH (5) is an NSW mare. Flying and caught the eye night one. AUDI HARE (2) is a fast beginner who could give cheek. MATTGREGOR (7) not hopeless. SUGGESTED BET: Something small the win MACH DORO (6), VILLAGE WITCH (5) and MATTGREGOR (7). TROTTERS (1710m, 7 across across the front) HEAT 3 Very weak heat. If MAORI LAW (8) gets any luck from inside back row, he’ll win after his huge 2nd to Speeding Spur on night one. The value is SKY PETITE (2), who caught the eye opening night when worked early, shuffled back and still ran on well. Big chance of leading over sprint trip here. BIG JACK HAMMER (5) got clear too late and worked home well opening night. Should be on the speed. Respect. KYVALLEY BLUR (12) is the class act, but ran awfully night one and has worst possible draw. Big ask. KINGDOM COME (9) had no luck night one. Back row no help, but place hope. MONTY PYTHON (11) was good opening night, but gate 11 over sprint makes it a place hope at best. ENROLLED (4) and FABRICATION (1) have place claims. SUGGESTED BET: Sky Petite each-way at $5 or better. HEAT 4 The two stars of the trotting series meet and the Kiwi, SPEEDING SPUR (5) has the better of the draws over TORNADO VALLEY (7). I’m still with TORNADO VALLEY (7) who I’m sure will back-up well and he could really muster some serious early speed from the outside. He’s absolutely flying. SPEEDING SPUR (5) had it very soft in front, zipped home and won as he like night one. Harder this time, but he’s all class and a huge chance. SAVE OUR PENNYS (2) ran a bottler when speared to the front, sat on TORNADO VALLEY and ran a close second on opening night. Drawn well again, respect. TOUGH MONARCH (10) was huge night one, but wide back row draw and sprint trip against. Place. RED HOT TOOTH (9) also has a place hope. SUGGESTED BET: Tornado Valley to win at $2.20 or better SUMMARY BEST BET: R5 n7 Tornado Valley ($2.20 or better) BEST VALUE: R4 n2 Sky Petite ($5 or better) THE ROUGHIE: R7 n2 Joes Star Of Mia ($10 or better)   Adam Hamilton

Impressive four-year-old Ana Malak has withstood a number of challenges from a star-studded field to hold on and win the Group 1 Yes Loans 4YO Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park. Ana Malak, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, was having just his second start in Western Australia last night and was able to hold the front from barrier one for reinsman Ryan Warwick. Jack Mac eventually made his move to sit outside the leader with 1200m to go, while the unbeaten Ideal Liner was three pairs back along the inside. Ideal Liner was eventually able to get away from the inside coming to the home turn to give chase to Ana Malak, but the Gary Hall Snr-trained pacer fell short by a head. Mighty Conqueror, another runner from the Bond stable finished third, while Ideal Liner’s stablemate Benhope Rulz was fourth. Warwick said Ana Malak was still learning his craft and would continue to improve with racing. “He was very credible,” he said. “He was off the bit and on the bit. “He was probably doing a bit wrong and he nearly cost himself on the line. “I’m sure there’s more motor then what you saw tonight but he probably doesn’t know how to use it properly.” Winning owner Rob Gartrell paid tribute to the Bond team, who recorded their first success in the $125,000 feature last night. “I haven’t been so nervous for a long time,” he said. “Ryan was really confident we could lead, I was hopeful. “Skye has done a magnificent job, she does a lot of the work with him. “That’s one of the great four-year-old fields.” Of the beaten brigade, reinsman Mark Reed said he was impressed with Golden State’s sharp form turnaround to finish fifth, while Chris Lewis said Jack Mac would take plenty of benefit from his sixth placing heading towards the Golden Nugget on December 14. Ana Malak was one of five winners on the night for the Bond stable and Ryan Warwick. Earlier in the night they teamed up to win the We Say Yes To Commercial Loans Pace (2130m) with Our Max Phactor. Following Ana Malak’s win, Mitch Maguire, Fizzing and Bright Diamond all recorded impressive wins. Fizzing and Bright Diamond were emergencies for the Group 1 feature on the night, but both put forward compelling cases to be included in the field for the Golden Nugget. Mitch Maguire was driven patiently in the standing start event of the evening, before he stormed over the top late to record a win that led to Gartrell describing him as the “fastest horse he had.” The Bond, Warwick and Gartrell combination will be hoping their successful Friday night can transition to Bunbury tonight with Vampiro in the Bunbury Cup, while they also have Galactic Star in Melbourne ahead of the opening night of Inter Dominion heats. Meanwhile, Maczaffair has stamped herself as one of two key contenders for next week’s Group 1 Mares Classic, taking out the $30,000 Howard Porter Memorial for the Mike Reed stable. Mark Reed said there was nothing between Maczaffair and last week’s Norms Daughter winner Eden Franco.   Tim Walker

Second row draws in 1710m races are never good news at any level but even those couldn’t dampen Natalie’s spirits on Sunday morning. “You are in a series. You just have to expect the draws are going to go against you at some stage. Two at the same time not ideal but you just have to roll with it and hope for some luck in the running” However she is counting the positives not the negatives. “I really can’t get over how well the two boys have come through the race. They ate everything up and are bouncing around like schoolboys. You couldn’t have better news than that in a high pressure series like this” Spankem was and is the surprise packet, at least to Australians and, going by his price, many Kiwis as well. Spankem came to Australia as a three year old in search of the Victorian Derby along with stablemate The Devil’s Own. He won his heat- at Ballarat incidentally- and was a good fourth in a highly competitive Derby Final. Colt Thirty One beat Poster Boy and The Devil’s Own with Spankem 4th in a 1.54.5 mile rate. This time he has travelled even better. “He’s got all you want for a horse over here on a tough campaign. He can work in a race and still sprint if you want him and he just seems to love being here. “ Natalie said echoing Poi’s thoughts from last week. “A horse like that is a big asset in a a series like this” That is taking nothing from Cruz Bromac who only did what he had to to win at cramped odds. Though perhaps primarily regarded as a speed horse Cruz can be devastating at any distance with a lead into the action and the distance of the later heats won’t bother him. After the 1710m heats on Tuesday there is a round of 2555m heats at Cranbourne next Saturday and the 2760m final at Melton the following week. While Tuesday’s draws are difficult they are not impossible by any means. Spankem follows out Ellmer’s Image who went average on the first night and may not be able to carry him into a prominent position early but he showed on Saturday how he is capable of making his own luck. Given bold front runner Alpha Rock has also drawn the second line it is another back rower, Tiger Tara who looks the one to beat on his first night run though even he is not set an easy task from outside the second row. Cruz Bromac, the fastest heat winner on the first night follows out the Tim Butt-trained Italian Delight, whose poor run on the first night attracted the attention of the stewards. Galactic Star the former Kiwi from Perth who won the second heat on Saturday is also drawn on the second line. Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/   Fields for Tuesday night click here!

Now that the 2018 harness racing season is drawing to a close, the debate over whether McWicked or Shartin N should receive Horse of the Year honors is boiling over. Both are incredible racehorses coming off of career seasons. Both are deserving. Only one will win the honor!   What is amazing is that in a year in which the 3-year-old trotting filly Atlanta (by Chapter Seven) achieved the rare feat of beating the colts in the Hambletonian, and the 2-year-old trotting filly and colt champions both went undefeated and appear to be budding superstars (both by Chapter Seven), that it is a foregone conclusion that Horse of the Year honors will go to Shartin N or McWicked.   Shartin N (by Tintin In America who is by McArdle) raced 24 times in 2018, winning an amazing 19 times against a stellar group of North America's best pacing mares. No horse or mare won more races in 2018! She won over US$1,098,000, an amazing feat for a natural 4-year-old until late October of the year! This is even more special given Shartin N only arrived in North America from New Zealand in December 2017. She raced from mid January thru late November, always at top form....a training achievement that should afford the Jim King Jr. and Joanne Looney King training duo accolades they richly deserve.    In two of the five losses,  Shartin N broke at the start, in another race she choked - each time fighting early driver restraint. So  Shartin N was only beaten twice in 2018 races in which she got away cleanly!   McWicked (by McArdle), a 7-year-old, raced 19 times in 2018, with 11 wins, for 2018 earnings of over US$1,662,000. He raced and won on all size tracks against the best free for all horses in North America. He dominated much like Shartin N dominated! He raced from mid May thru late November, a shorter season than Shartin N's but a full and tough campaign. Trainer Casie Coleman managed him exceptionally. Shartin N's best winning time was 1:48.2 at Lexington, McWicked's was 1:46.2 at Lexington.   So which horse deserves more the award that each deserves??   McWicked wins Allerage Farms Open Pace ($179,000) in 1.46,2 at Red Mile. Lazarus 2nd   Shartin N winning the Allerage Farms Pace in 1:48.2 It is so hard to say! Perhaps the slight edge goes to  Shartin N because, as a true 4-year-old mare racing against more seasoned and accomplished North American mares, she did what few have been able to do.    Perhaps also the level of competition that  McWicked faced was unusually light compared to typical North American FFA years. Lazarus N was only himself for a few starts and beat McWicked twice and the rest of the group had seen their best days or were just not truly top class....perhaps what Shartin N did was historic, while what  McWicked did was merely dominant....But FFA is more high profile than is the pacing mare division and historically voters favor the FFA Star, renowned trainers like Casie Coleman, and horses with prior records of stardom!        Close call!   Great subject for debate!   Two world champions!      WHICH WAY WOULD YOU GO??