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DEBUT wins don’t come any better than Utopia. The buzz Victorian baby trotter lived-up to the hype when came from off the pace to win by a staggering 82.5 metres at Shepparton yesterday (Thursday). It came little more than a week after he won a Melton trial by half the straight and co-trainer Clayton Tonkin declared him “a bit special.” In contrast to the trial where Utopia ran straight to the lead and kept going further in front, he sat third and was given plenty of time to balance up by driver Jodi Quinlan. Another debutante, Rogue Gentleman, who had some support in betting to beat Utopia, led by a big space in the middle stages, but it was clear 600m from home that Utopia had him covered. Quinlan eased Utopia off Rogue Gentleman’s back at the 500m and he rushed to the front, increasing the margin all the way home without being extended. For a two-year-old trotter having his first start, Utopia’s 2min2.6sec mile rate for the 2240m mobile was pretty slick. By comparison, the three-year-old trotters in the next race, won by the Breckon Farms-bred Kyvalley Senator, went 2min3.5sec. Utopia is superbly-bred by US trotting sire Trixton out of former talented Victorian trotting mare Gluteus Maximus, a winner of 14 races and over $100,000. This is only Gluteus Maximus’ third foal, the others have been winners Derrie Aire (seven wins, $68,730) and Kyvalley Shaunie (three wins, $28,723). Utopia shows all the qualities to become just the second trotter to win a Group 1 race for the Stewart/Tonkin team, following the immensely exciting Alpha Male. He won at Group 1 level in late 2018 and is close to a comeback. “We’ve hardly had any trotters, but a few of our owners were keen to get involved and it’s been a tremendous start,” Clayton Tonkin said. “Alpha Male could seriously be anything if we can keep him sound. He’s an absolute giant, but with so much talent it’s not funny. “And we’ve also got a good opinion of Cover Of Darkness.” Cover Of Darkness, a three-year-old, is going for this third run from as many starts in the seventh race at Ballarat tonight (Friday). Quinlan has the drive on him as well. Here’s the replay of Utopia’s debut win at Shepparton yesterday: Watch the replay here.   Adam Hamilton

BUZZ Victorian pacer Ride High has been installed opening Victoria Cup favourite as he prepares for a second-up run at Melton on Saturday night. Such was the breathtaking nature of his first-up win, Ride High is a clear $3 favourite for the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) at Melton on October 10. Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile runner-up Lochinvar Art is $5 second elect ahead of Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing at $7. More immediately, Ride High is $1.15 favourite to make it 12 wins from just 13 starts when he starts from gate five in the Melton City Council Sprint (1720m) at Melton Saturday. First-up he led and scorched home the fastest official last half ever clocked at Melton – 52.7sec – to win by 28.9m at Melton two weeks ago. It was his first run since having a breathing-related throat operation last December. “He’s come on really well since the first-up win and should only keep getting better with the racing,” co-trainer Clayton Tonkin said. Kima Frenning, who now works for Tonkin and Emma Stewart and has assumed most of the stable driving, takes the reins again on Ride High. After his first-up win, which was the first time she’d driven Ride High in a race, Frenning beamed: “That was just ridiculous. How easy he did that, how good he is. Still untapped, that was pretty cool.” Co-trainer Emma Stewart declared Ride High was the best horse in Australia. The Victoria Cup will really take shape in coming weeks with Alta Orlando set to resume at Menangle on Saturday week and King Of Swing only about 2-3 weeks away. Lochinvar Art is also back in work and trainer-driver David Moran said: “He didn’t have long out and he’s so athletic, he’ll come to hand pretty quickly.”   Adam Hamilton

ANTHONY Butt wants his young star Perfect Stride to be part of the revamped Queensland Winter Carnival. Whether that happens depends on the Queensland Government opening the borders to allow easy access for NSW residents. Butt’s still got a bit of time up his sleeve with Perfect Stride’s target being the $50,660 Group 2 South-East Derby (2138m) at Albion Park on July 18. “That’s the aim, but it’s out of our control. He’s back and he’ll be ready, so here’s hoping we can get up there,” Butt said. Perfect Stride has finished second in the NSW Derby and third in the Victoria Derby this season. He hasn’t raced since running second in the Bathurst Gold Chalice final on March 28. The Bettors Delight colt sharpened-up for his return with a slick 1min53.1sec mile win in a Menangle trial last Wednesday, beating star mare Bettor Enforce and open-class performers Ignatius and Wrangler. “He’s come back really well and looks to have found a good race first-up,” Butt said. Perfect Stride has gate four in a heat of the TAB Long May Play series. “The final is the week after. It’d be good to get a couple of runs under his belt before we get to Queensland if it’s a goer.” Butt said Queensland plans had been shelved for Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan, who will be saved for a Breeders Crown assault later in the year. “She’ll be back in about a month or so and Line Up is maybe 4-6 weeks away from a trial,” he added. Longer term, Butt is planning to take a huge team to Victoria around Breeders Crown time. “We might be there a month or two,” Butt said. “We’ll most of the good horses down there so we don’t we have to bounce up and back between Sydney. I’d say we’ll have 12 or more go to Melbourne.” They will include Perfect Stride, Line Up, Wolf Stride, Excel Stride and Dr Susan. “I’ve just got another nice batch of Emilio’s (Rosati) horses arrive across from NZ as well and most of them are likely to go to Melbourne,” Butt said.   Adam Hamilton

EMOTIONS ran high for Kate Gath at Melton last night. And the winners flowed freely as she drove four of the eight winners. Less than two days earlier, Gath’s grandfather, well-known Port Pirie racecaller and hobby trainer John Tee, passed away. That’s why she raised her whip and looked to the sky as Kiwi import Arden Voyager brilliantly won the opening race at Melton. “It was a special night to land a bag of winners, it meant so much,” Gath said. “Pop loved his racing and we had this strong connection through the horses. He put on too high a pedestal at times, he loved the success I had. “He’s at peace now and reunited with the life of his life, our nanna, who we lost 15 months ago. They were married over 60 years.” Gath teamed with husband, Andy, to win with Arden Voyager, who has been a handful at times, but made it three wins on end and paced a slippery 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2240m. The family connection ran even deeper for Gath’s second win of the night aboard Plan Ce, who used the sprint lane to win from behind the leader for her father, trainer Peter Thompson. Major stable owner Norm Jenkin then provided Gath with her third and fourth wins of night, courtesy of exciting four-year-old pacer Eureka and star trotter McLovin. Eureka made it six wins from nine runs since joining the stable and smashed the clock with a 1min52.9sec mile rate for 1720m, capped by a 52.2sec last half and 26.8sec closing quarter. McLovin atoned for a surprise defeat last week to make it three wins from his four runs since campaign as he strolled home by 12.7m in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2240m. It was McLovin’s 14th win since joining Team Gath 18 months ago. One race Gath didn’t win was the fourth when she led on favourite and recent Kiwi import, Zigzagzoo, but was beaten by a phenomenal effort from Anton Golino’s emerging gelding Imsettogo. The four-year-old mare galloped in the score-up, gave the field a least a 40-50m start, caught them up and circled them in the last 500m to win running away by 17.1m.  It was one of the more extraordinary wins at Melton for a long time. __________________________________________________________________________________________ ONLY time will tell is Chicago Bull can still be a genuine Grand Circuit force, but the signs are good. Gary Hall Sr’s rising eight-year-old showed his trademark dash to post his fifth win from nine runs in this comeback campaign. He’s finished three times and third in the only other run. The rising eight-year-old enjoyed being able to camp off the pace, albeit only a moderate tempo, instead of sitting parked and had his rivals covered out three-wide rounding the final bend. Driver Gary Hall Jr strategically waited before pressing the button, knowing he had his main danger, Ocean Ridge, pocketed in the one-one trail. Chicago Bull held-off Ocean Ridge, who charged late when clear, to win by 2.1m in a 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2130m. Hall Sr will soon a better line on Chicago Bull with some of WA’s best pacers, including the likes of Shockwave, Mighty Conqueror and Vampiro, all back in work. It’s going to be an exciting build-up towards the rescheduled Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in November/December. __________________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a shame the much-improved Leonidas is just about to leave for the US. The four-year-old showed he could’ve been a potential Victoria Cup player with yet another powerhouse win at Bendigo in slick time last Friday night. It Leonidas’ fifth win with another three seconds from just eight starts since bring sold to US owner Steve Finkelstein and switched from NSW trainer Blake Fitzpatrick to David Aiken in Victoria. Leonidas’ 1min54.8sec mile rate after coming from a back row draw and sitting parked was 1min54.8sec for 2150m, just 1.3sec outside Centenario’s track record. Aiken’s son, Josh, took the reins last Friday as he has in every run since Leonidas joined the stable. The Aikens snared a double when the exciting Auckland Reactor gelding Reactor Now made it nine wins from just 12 runs and seven on end. The rising five-year-old came from a mile back in a hotly-run 1650m scamper and stopped the clock in a 1min52.2sec mile rate. It was just 0.5sec outside Leonidas’ recent track record. __________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER megastar Kiwi juvenile Follow The Stars snared one of the biggest wins of his siring career at Gloucester Park last Friday night. His exciting daughter, Black Jack Ruby, continued her rise with a dawdle and sprint home to win the Group 1 Westbred 2YO Fillies Classic (2130m). Chris Voak used the pole to lead on the Shane Quadrio-trained filly and slowed them to a walk through a 64.6sec middle half and ripping home in a 26.6sec last quarter. Black Jack Ruby, out of former NZ-based McArdle mare What A Card, made it seven wins and a second from her eight starts. Team Bond continued its stellar year by winning with the Group 1 Westbred final for colts and geldings with Mach Three two-year-old Give Us A Wave. Stable driver Ryan Warwick held the lead from the pole and never looked in danger, dashing home in 56.1 and 28sec to score by 5.8m in a 1min57.1sec mile rate for 2130m. __________________________________________________________________________________________ EXCITING juvenile Manila Playboy let himself down in his first feature race, but wasn’t about to do the same the second time round. In contrast, the Pet Rock gelding highlighted his potential by doing all the work and digging deep to win the $100,750 Group 1 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sale final (1780m) last night. It took his record to three wins from just four starts, the only defeat coming at his second run when he galloped and lost all chance as favourite in the Qbred Breeders Classic final at Albion Park in May. It gave owner/breeder/trainer Shane Fraser his first Group 1 success as Manila Playboy dug deep after sitting parked for the last 1100m in a 1min57.3sec. In the other feature, the Redcliffe Gold Cup, former classy Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler was denied victory in the last stride. Northview Hustler, second from a spell, came off a 10m handicap and unleashed around the field to storm to the front on the final bend. But it was another Kiwi-bred, the four-year-old Sole Ambition, who snatched victory for young driver Lachie Manzelmann and trainer Donny Smith by a half-head. __________________________________________________________________________________________ MUCH-TRAVELLED pacer Zennart is building nicely in the latest chapter of his career with Craig Cross in NSW. After the success switch of King Of Swing to Sydney, many of the same owners agreed with Gary Hall Sr to do the same with Zennart, who had been enigmatic at Gloucester Park. Zennart’s six runs for Craig Cross has netted two wins and second, but his win last night certainly pointed to lots more. The rising nine-year-old worked to the front for driver Luke McCarthy and just kept running for a very slick 1min53.6sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip, capped by closing splits of 54.6 and 27.4sec. He’s still sparingly raced with just 37 starts for 14 wins. Cross has three wins on the night, including the feature, the Group 3 Frith Stakes, with Black Silhouette, the $81 outsider of his five runners. Black Silhouette, a five-year-old Shadow Play mare, came off the back of leader, stablemate and favourite Speak No Evil to salute in a 1min50.5sec mile.   Adam Hamilton

Australasian harness racing has lost one of its all-time greats with the passing of Westburn Grant. His trainer-driver and adoring caretaker in retirement Vic Frost said Westburn Grant died yesterday, just a couple of months short of his 35th birthday. Frost and his wife, Gail Geeson, said they were grieving the loss of their “best mate.” Westburn Grant, affectionately known as “Spot”, won 38 of his 67 starts and over $2 million, including the 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion and two Miracle Miles in 1989 and ‘90. “He’d had a tumor on his neck and went downhill in the last week. It’s a really sad time … he’s been with me all his life. I raced his Mum (Westburn Vue) and he’s been with since he was born,” Frost said. “He’s had a fantastic life, he was almost 35. He’s had the run of the place at home here with Gail (Frost’s wife) and I. He’d help himself to the hay shed and wander from one horse to another to stand next to them, many of those horses his descendants. Gail pampered him like nothing else. “What a super racehorse he was, too. He had blistering speed and could do it early or late, as well as having a fair bit of stamina. “John Hunt (former WA racecaller) made a video of the glory days between he and Franco Ice, called The Summer of  Frost and Ice. Gail and I will be getting that over the next few days to watch it back a few times.” Frost thought so much of Westburn Grant as a three-year-old, he dared to do the unthinkable and went to Christchurch for the triple crown of NZ feature three-year-old races, including the NZ Derby. “They rang us and said they’d put on a $100,000 bonus for any horse who could win the three races. From memory, they said only one horse had done it before,” Frost recalled. “The trick was the 2000m race in the middle with 2600m races either side, but ‘Spot’ went there and won them all. I think they scrapped the bonus straight after that. “It was a great trip. We stayed at Barney Breen’s place (who owned Westburn Grant) and trained him at Derek Jones’ place.” Frost will always treasured the two Miracle Mile wins in 1989 and 1990, but spoke most glowingly of his 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion win. “That was a real challenge, a real triumph,” he said. “He’d always had bad feet, but they were a huge issue during that series. “I had to find a long stretch beach to train him and I did, at least a couple of hours from Melbourne at a place called Venus Bay. “We were away from the world and nobody could contact me. I got him as well as I could and he did the rest in the final.” The most treasured win of Westburn Grant’s career for Frost came in when he landed his second Group 1 WA Pacing Cup victory in January, 1992. It came just two weeks after Vic and his then wife, Margaret, lost their son Gary in a tragic accident at home. “We were in Perth with the horse when Gary died. We went back home, left the horse with Colin Brown in Perth, and went back a week or so later and ‘Spot’ did it for us. That win meant so much,” Frost said. THE WESTBURN GRANT FILE 34-year-old by Land Grant out of Westburn Vue Trainer-driver: Vic Frost Record: 67 starts; 38 wins; 18 placings Stakemoney: $2,074,316 Major wins: 1992 Melbourne Inter Dominion 1989 & ’90 Miracle Miles 1991 Australian Pacing Championship 1991 & ’92 WA Pacing Cups 1990 & ’92 SA Cups Awards: 1991 & ’92 Australian Horse of the Year 1990, ’91 & ’92 Australian Grand Circuit Champion 1989 Australian 3YO of the Year 1989 NZ 3YO of the Yea   VIDEO TRIBUTE TO WESTBURN GRANT:     by Adam Hamilton

PART-OWNER Rob Gartrell has strongly hinted at a Menangle stint for exciting WA pacer Ocean Ridge. Speaking on Perth’s TAB Radio this morning (Thursday), Gartrell said it was an attractive option to send the Kiwi-bred Ocean Ridge to race at Menangle in future. “It’s something we’ve talked about, to give him the chance to see what sort of time he could run there. We also think the style of racing there would suit him.” More immediately, Ocean Ridge (gate two) will try and beat Chicago Bull (five) for the third time in six starts when they clash in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. It’s certainly not a two-horse race with in-form veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone in gate three and Motu Premier resuming from the pole. The Aussie TAB has Chicago Bull, who was just nosed-out by Ocean Ridge, the $1.85 favourite to atone. Ocean Ridge is $3.50, Motu Premier $4.40 and Our Jimmy Johnstone $4.60. Gartrell also revealed a couple of the other open-class stars he races, Vampiro and Galactic Star, were also progressing well after spells. “They’re coming up well together,” he said. “Vampiro really took the next step last campaign and that’s despite his owner drawing some bad barriers for him.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler looks the one to beat in Saturday night’s Redcliffe Gold Cup. The Alistair Barnes-trained pacer returned with a terrific second to Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One, last Saturday night at Albion Park. He will need some luck and to step well from inside the runners off a 10m handicap., but looks the class factor. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ BUDDING star The Black Prince gets his chance to snag a Menangle free-for-all with Cash N Flow staying at home this week. The Roy Roots Jr-trained pacer won two in a row at Newcastle during NSW’s strictest regional racing then did all the work when a fighting second to Cash N Flow in a 1min50.2sec Menangle Mile last Saturday week. He packs early speed, should be suited by the stretch to 2300m and is a $1.85 Aussie TAB favourite. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE time is gone where training trotters in Victoria means you can escape the dominance of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. They won their first Group 1 trotting race with the monstrous and very talented Alpha Male in late, 2018. He’s very close to a comeback from injury. And, according to Clayton Tonkin, he’s ready to pick-up where he left off. More recently, they’ve unveiled the nicely-bred Majestic Son three-year-old colt Cover Of Darkness to win both runs, the most recent by a big pace at Terang on June 18. But the best could be yet to come and soon. Those allowed trackside for the Melton trials last Tuesday had a glimpse of why the stable thinks so much of two-year-old trotter Utopia. The colt, by Trixton out of former talented racemare Gluteus Maximus, won his first trial by 52.5m and trotted faultlessly throughout for driver Jodi Quinlan. Utopia trotted a 2min3.5sec mile rate for 2240m, but it was the ease with which he buzzed home in 28.5sec which most impressed. Gluteus Maximus won 14 races and $104,855 and Utopia is only her third foal, the best of the others being Derrie Aire (seven wins and $68,730). _________________________________________________________________________________________________ AS Lauren Tritton gets ready to launch her North American driving career, her little sister Grace landed her first win at Menangle this week Grace Panella teamed with trainer Darren Binskin and veteran trotter Scenic Sky for an upset win in the second race on Monday. “Everyone at Team Tritton is super proud of Lauren’s sister Grace at her first win today in the sulky,” Team Tritton tweeted after the victory. Meanwhile, Team Tritton stretched it’s awesome US start to six wins from just eight starters when old-timer Yayas Hot Spot won easily at Yonkers on Wednesday morning (NZ time).   by Adam Hamilton

AN old marvel of Aussie harness took Team Tritton’s phenomenally successful North American launch to a new level. After two wins from their first two US runners last weekend, Shane and Lauren Tritton snagged another three wins from their next four runners. My Ruebe Star backed-up from her US debut win to repeat the dose, again at The Meadowlands on Saturday morning (NZ time). Their three-race winning streak ended with Ohoka Johnny finished third at The Meadowlands yesterday morning (Sunday), but Team Tritton bounced straight back for wins with former NZ Cup contestant Letspendanitetogetha and Flaming Flutter. “That one (Flaming Flutter) was a bit emotional for us. He’s been such a great horse, but he’s so special to us. Lauren said we weren’t allowed to leave home without him,” Shane said. “We thought he’d settled in really well and were disappointed when he drew the outside for his first run, but it didn’t stop him. “To be four-wide into the first bend, the three-wide and never see the marker pegs, but still put them away and go a 1min49.1sec mile – it just shows his class. “He might be an 11-year-old over here, but he’s going to love the racing and win a lot more races. It’s hard to say he’ll make it back to the top at his age, but he’ll give some good horses a big fright with the right run on the strength of what he did today. People were saying, ‘wow, that’s a serious horse’ after he won.” Flaming Flutter raced 122 times Down Under for 25 wins, 43 placings and $814,235 in stakemoney, mainly for Geoff Webster before joining Team Tritton late last year. He was a top flight juvenile, but it best known for finishing second to Beautide in the 2015 Sydney Inter Dominion final and third to Lennytheshark in the Perth Inter Dominion final nine months later. Team Tritton’s first unplaced runner came in the 15th race at The Meadowlands yesterday when Im A Director copped a check and a flat tyre. In total, they’ve had seven runners for five wins and a third. “It’s certainly been a dream start and it’s a bit surprising because we’re still very much working out how to train the horses here compared to back home,” Shane said. “People are certainly taking notice. We’ve had a few calls from owners which could lead to us getting some more nice horses in the barn.” Team Tritton will race mainly at The Meadowlands and Yonkers, which re-opens today (Monday) after a COVID shutdown. “It’ll be great to have Yonkers back open because they race for such amazing money. They the standard races will be $US44,000 once we get fully past COVID. As it is, they say they’ll be racing for $US33,000,” Shane said.   Adam Hamilton

DAVID Moran is looking forward to catching-up on lost opportunities with Australia’s most exciting pacer Lochinvar Art. The Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile runner-up is back in work after a short spell. And Moran initially has his sights sets on the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10, especially with news of a stakemoney hike to $300,000 for the race once regarded as the Cox Plate of harness. Moran is also “looking very seriously” at a Perth raid in November now RWWA and Gloucester Park are bringing forward WA’s two biggest open-class features, the $300,000 Fremantle Cup to November 20 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup to December 4. “This year has been a bit of a shambles with COVID, but it’s good to see some of the big races being confirmed for late in the year,” Moran said. “I really had no option but to turn him out for a while with no good races for him. He’s enjoyed the break and won’t take that long to bring back up again.” HRV announced the Victoria Cup boost along with increased stakemoney and a welcomed format change for Victoria’s top trotting race, the Great Southern Star. “We are pleased to announce prizemoney increases to two of our major events for the Great Southern Star to be returning to its exciting original format,” HRV’s Stephen Bell said. The Great Southern Star will headline an all-trotting card at Melton on the Friday night before the Hunter Cup as part of an enhanced 2021 Summer of Glory. Most importantly, it will go back to a heat and final event with the two $50,000 heats being run the same night as the $300,000 final. The announcements follow HRV moving the Breeders Crown to November and the Vicbred series to December, culminating in a stellar night of finals on New Year’s Eve at Melton.   by Adam Hamilton

TEAM Tritton formally start an exciting new chapter of their career in the US on Saturday morning (NZ time). Husband and wife, Shane and Lauren Tritton, moved to the US a couple of months back and have their first two starters at the famed Meadowlands track in New Jersey. Kiwi-bred pair My Ruebe Star and Gods Spirit fly the stable flag. There will be some familiar faces against them with Dexter Dunn and Aussie Andy McCarthy driving at the meeting. “We’ve got 18 in work, 12 we brought across from Australia and six we’ve picked-up over here,” Tritton said. “It’s great to be having our first runners, but we are taking is nice and steadily over here and think we’ll get better with time. “There are so many different viruses over here, you can’t go anywhere near as hard at the horses in training as we did back home, especially in their first few months here. “We’ve had quite a few qualify and they all get in quite well here under the stakemoney handicapping system.” Tritton expects solid showings from Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star. “Gods Spirit is probably the best up-and-comer we have here. He qualified well with a second to the star here, Wiggle It Jiggleit,” Tritton said. “Of the horses we’ve got, Gods Spirit is the up-and-comer, but the proven Group 1 horses from back home, headed by Flaming Flutter and Yayas Hot Spot, are working well and should do a good job when they start racing soon. “We’re also looking forward to racing Letsspendanitetogetha. He’s come up really well.” Lauren Tritton has been driving at the qualifiers and won two of them last weekend, but will watch from the sidelines for now. “Lauren’s all set to drive when the time is right, but wants to let the horses have a few runs and watch some of the racing before getting amongst it herself. It might be a few weeks I think,” Shane said. Jordan Stratton, a long-time stable driver for Shane’s father, Peter, will drive Gods Spirit and My Ruebe Star this week. “We’re training from the farm Dad trained at, about a hour north of New York City, and Jordan’s had a long association with Dad. He’s especially good as knowing how to drive these former Down Under horses without gassing them too much in their early runs,” Shane said. Team Tritton will race mainly at the Meadowlands and Yonkers, when it re-opens for racing post-COVID on June 22. “It’s been a bit of a blessing the suspension of racing because of COVID for us. It’s given us extra time to get settled-in and find our way. Now we’re keen to get into it,” Shane said.   Adam Hamilton

ONE of Australia’s most exciting pacers Poster Boy has been retired to stud. But owner-breeders, Bill and Anne Anderson, will consider a racetrack return next year. “It’s been a really hard week weighing it all up, but he’s got nothing left to prove to us and COVID-19 left us without any really big races to set him for through the middle and latter part of this year,” Anne Anderson said. “It’s cruel because this was to be his year. He got so ill with pneumonia last year and then just when we had him back and flying, along came COVID-19, but we have to move on and now’s the right time to give him his chance at stud.” Poster Boy adds to the blossoming roster of Northern Rivers Equine in Kyabram, which will also stand recently-retired glamour North American pacer Lather Up, Yankee Rockstar and established star American Ideal as well as another exciting freshman Soho Tribeca. “We had huge interest in him as a stallion, from two of the biggest studs, but we’ve decided to keep 100 percent ownership of him ourselves to keep the option of a racetrack return open,” Bill Anderson said. “We went with Kath McIntosh and Northern Rivers Equine because we’ve had a long relationship with her, she’s a vet and we think she’s a rising star in the breeding game.” Trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, Poster Boy ran sixth on debut at Menangle as an early two-year-old, then never finished outside the top three in his next 29 starts, winning 22 of them. The regally-bred entire won five Group 1 races and also ran a slashing third to Spankem in Australasia’s premier speed test, last year’s Miracle Mile. “We bought his mum (Aston Villa) as a yearling in Lexington, Kentucky and we were there when Poster Boy was born,” Anne said. “Of all the top horses we have bred, he’s the best, he’s our favourite. He’s the prodigal son.” The Andersons do differ on one thing, which of Poster Boy’s wins was their favourite. “Bill says the Chariots Of Fire, but my favourite was the NSW Derby,” Anne said. The Andersons praised Stewart and Tonkin for an outstanding job training Poster Boy. “He’s Emma’s favourite. One of her all-time favourites,” Bill said. “He’s the first horse she checks every morning. She thought he wasn’t himself one day and that turned into the pneumonia. We’ve got so much to thank them for.”   Adam Hamilton

THE next couple of days are crucial for comeback star Hectorjayjay. Stewards stood-down the rising 10-year-old, noting he pulled-up with soreness, after lacklustre fifth at Albion Park last night. But trainer Jack Butler told managing owner Matt McClellan “it doesn’t look anything too serious.” After a sparkling win at just his second run from almost two years out, punters backed Hectorjayjay from $1.75 into $1.45 favourite and things looked good midrace when he landed the one-one trail. But Hectorjayjay’s trademark brilliance wasn’t there and he just battled away – albeit with the leader and winner Glenferrie Hood running home in 54.7 at the end of a 1min51.9sec mile rate. Glenferrie Hood is a fantastic story. The rising 11-year-old son of Christian Cullen, trained by Wayne Graham, posted his 46th win from 155 starts and has passed $530,000 in earnings. One of his biggest wins came way back on February 20, 2016 when Jodi Quinlan drove him to win the Terang Cup for trainer Ahmed Taiba. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ OUR Jimmy Johnstone is an old marvel. The former Kiwi pacer has enjoyed a fantastic second half of his career with Greg and Skye Bond in WA. Now a rising 11-year-old, Our Jimmy Johnstone led throughout to win another free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night, beating younger stablemate Ocean Ridge by 3.2m with another eight metres away for Bletchley Park in third spot. Our Jimmy Johnstone’s snared 31 wins and another 50 placings from his 139 starts and banked a thumping $764,311. Gloucester Park’s feature, the Westbred 4&5YO Mares’ pace was dominated by trainer Barry Howlett, who landed the quinella with Dancing With Mach beating My Prayer. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ QUEENSLAND’S most exciting pacer Speech Is Silver sparkled again at Albion Park last night. The former All Stars’ pacer enjoyed a lovely trip and won easily to make it five wins on end at Brisbane’s home of harness. Overall, Speech Is Silver has won 12 of his 16 starts with another three seconds and he looks headed for much bigger things. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ THE Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy show rolled-on again at Menangle last night (Saturday). Cross dominated the training ranks yet again with five wins on the eight race card and McCarthy drove for four of them. Luke’s younger brother, Todd, drove the other. Cross snared the quinella in the free-for-all despite his best horses staying at home. The emerging Pocket Of Terror (Todd McCarthy) just did enough to beat a very gallant former Kiwi, Zennart (Anthony Butt), by a half-head in a 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2300m. The romp started in the opening race for Cross when Kiwi-owned gelding Little Rascal returned to winning form for owner Ian Dobson. Cross’s other wins came with Zahven Banner (race four), No Win No Feed (race six) and Love My Sister (race eight). _______________________________________________________________________________________________ STILL on Menangle and there’s just something a bit special about lightly-raced NSW Riverina pacer Whereyabinboppin. The sparingly raced four-year-old sat parked and thrashed his rivals in a 1min50.6sec mile last night. It was his first run since doing a power of work early and scorching through the middle stages when beaten into fifth spot in the Group 1 NSW Riverina Regional final at Wagga on May 22. Connections had to switch Whereyabinboppin from trainer David Kennedy to Shane Sanderson’s barn owing to the ongoing COVID-19 racing zones in NSW. The son of A Rocknroll Dance has won nine of his 13 starts and oozes feature open-class racing potential. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ TEAM Gath continued their recent hot Melton form streak with a treble from the seven races run last Friday night. It was mixed bag for punters with two favourites, Ragnarr and Arden Voyager, winning. But they delivered a knock-out blow in the last race with $81 shot Chief Runningcloud upstaging hot favourite Sammy Showdown in a slick 1min56.8sec mile rate for the short 1720m trip. The headstrong and sometimes wayward former Kiwi pacer Arden Voyager is starting to put it all together for owner Norm Jenkin. The gelding blazed to the front from the outside draw and kept running for a flying 1min54.9sec mile rate over 2240m. Arden Voyager’s won four of his past five runs and now 10 of his 29 lifetime. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ BLAKE Fitzpatrick loves his trotters and snared the trifecta in the NSW 2YO Trotters’ Foundation final at Menangle last night. There’s no doubt KerryAnn Morris’ buzz youngster Aldebaran Ursula should have won, but she made an early mistake while leading and did a huge job to get trotting again and run fourth. Manners are so much with baby trotters and Fitzpatrick’s On Advice (by Swedish stallion Sebastian K) did everything right and won well over stablemates Fancy and Lucky Charm. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ THE exporting restrictions of COVID-19 have been something of a blessing for trainer David Aiken. Well, at least in the case of his recent stable addition Leonidas. The four-year-old was sold to US owner Steve Finkelstein after some fantastic Menangle runs around Miracle Mile time, but found his way to Aiken’s stable when unable to head to across the US. Leonidas’ six runs for Aiken have netted four wins and two excellent seconds to Australia’s most exciting pacer, Lochinvar Art. Leonidas bettered his CV again when he scorched around Bendigo in a track record 1min51.7sec for 1650m last night (Saturday). On the same card, Brent Lilley’s recent Kiwi import Robbie Royale made it three wins from four Aussie runs. The six-year-old stepped well off a 10m handicap, Chris Alford took him around to the lead and just kept rolling. Robbie Royale won as he liked by 7.7m and smashed the track record with a 1min59.8sec mile rate for the 2150m standing-start.   by Adam Hamilton

FORGOTTEN star Cruz Bromac is still a chance to defend his NZ Cup crown later this year. Exuberant owner Danny Zavitsanos said the rising nine-year-old was over his issues and would have been back racing now were it not for the impact of COVID-19. A fetlock injury earlier this year sidelined Cruz Bromac and potentially threatened his career. He hasn’t raced since a fifth in the Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve. “He had a good spell in Sydney and seems really well,” Zavitsanos said. “We could’ve had him back now, but there’s such uncertainty, especially with the Queensland Carnival, we just took it easy with him again. “He’s now down with Dean (Braun) and Amanda (Grieve) and they’ll bring him up with a view to the Victoria Cup, if it’s still run in (mid) October. “Sending him back for the NZ Cup is still a chance for sure. We’d love to do that. “Everything depends on how well he comes back to racing this time around.” In this stellar season, Cruz Bromac ran third in the Victoria Cup for Grieve and Braun, then moved across to the All Stars’ barn where he ran second in the Kaikoura Cup before his NZ Cup triumph. The gelding when ran a luckless third in the NZ free-for-all before a win and two placings in his three Auckland Inter Dominion heats then a slightly disappointing fourth in the final won by stablemate Ultimate Sniper. That fifth in the NZ Cup was only subsequent run. “It’s been a fantastic season and that NZ Cup win was so special, something we’ll treasure forever. Hopefully he comes back really well and we can have another go at this year,” Zavitsanos said. Cruz Bromac’s 11 runs this season have so far netted three wins, three seconds, two thirds and $509,348 in earnings so take his career bankroll to $1.08 million.   By Adam Hamilton 

ONE of harness racing’s great success stories, Kima Frenning, has kick-started another exciting new chapter. Frenning, the Swede who came to Australia on a working holiday and never went home, is fresh back from injuries sustained in nasty fall at Melton in mid-March. And she’s also fresh into a new job with Victoria’s dominant stable, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. “It’s so good to be back into it, it seemed like I was out for so, so long, but they told me my injuries actually healed really quickly for what they were,” Frenning said. “I had severe concussion, which they described as a brain injury, and fives different broken bones in my right hand and wrist. “I’m still having therapy on the hand now.” Frenning returned to driving last Saturday night at Melton with second and third placings, but returned to Melton and winning form with a double for Stewart and Tonkin last Monday. “The move to Emma and Clayton has been in the pipeline for a while,” Frenning said. “It’s actually to work at their new farm, the one next door, which is the pre-training and water-walker set-up. “That really excites me, the chance to help nurse injured horses back to racing and pre-train them as well. “But that property isn’t up and running yet, so I’m at the racing stables and it’s great to be back into it. I’ll move to the other farm when it opens.” Frenning heads back to Melton’s main meeting Friday night with another three drives for Stewart and Tonkin. “I’d say the best of them are Like A Wildfire and Struve,” she said. “Like A Wildfire was really unlucky last week and would’ve gone close to beating Major Times with more luck, while Struve has his quirks, but he’s a nice horse when puts it all together.”   Adam Hamilton

NSW trainer Craig Cross is plotting a Queensland Winter Carnival raid, but the flying Cash N Flow won’t be part of it. Despite the Queensland Carnival being stripped right back because of COVID-19, Cross has picked out a batch from his in-form team to head north at different times. But who will drive them is the burning question. That’s because Queensland’s borders remain closed, meaning any people who enter the state are required to complete 14 days or quarantine. “Unless the borders open, I won’t be able to pop up and drive them,” stable driver Luke McCarthy said. “It’ll be a month before any of ours start racing there, but there’s talk it could be September before the Queensland government opens the borders. Hopefully it’s much sooner. “We’ll deal with the driver issue when we get closer to it, but we’ll send one of staff up soon to do the quarantine and be ready for when the horses start heading up in a few weeks.” Cash N Flow won his six successive Menangle mile free-for-all last Saturday night and that’s why he won’t be going anywhere. “He’s in the zone. He’s a miler, who loves the Menangle and prefers his races spaced a couple of weeks, more like a thoroughbred does,” McCarthy said. “He’ll be staying here. There’s usually a mile free-for-all for him every couple of weeks and for good money. He just keeps earning here.” Cash N Flow’s enjoyed a terrific season with 15 starts netting eight wins, four seconds and $159,550 in stakemoney. He’s now won 24 of his 58 career runs and pocketed $425,141. McCarthy quickly added Cross’s two other stable big guns, Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing and Alta Orlando, certainly wouldn’t be Queensland-bound either. “They had good breaks after the Miracle Mile and won’t be back racing until late July,” he said. “The plan is to have a few Menangle runs in August and September before heading to Melbourne is they still run the Victoria Cup in mid-October.”   by Adam Hamilton

COMEBACK star Hectorjayjay will step-out again at Albion Park next Saturday night. The $1.16 million earner has thrilled trainer Jack Butler since winning easily at his second run back from almost two years out at Albion Park on May 12. “We just gave him a few easy days after the win and he’s raring to go again,” Butler said. “He’s come through those first two runs back so amazingly well. “We are starting to think about what to set him for. One race I’d love to go for is the Shirley Turnbull Memorial back in Bathurst (Butler’s home town) around Christmas time.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________ YOUNG trainer Justin Prentice’s star continues to rise. And his decision to team with Gary Hall Jr as stable driver continues to pay dividends. Prentice teamed with Hall Jr and the very exciting Kiwi-bred juvenile filly Always An Angel to win the $100,000 Group 1 2YO Fillies Diamond Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The daughter of Art Major – out of Christian Cullen mare Angel Of Destiny – ran third on debut and since won five on end. But she went to another level last Friday, sustaining a huge three-wide run the field on a very track and treating her rivals with contempt. The other talking point of the race was Greg and Skye Bond’s filly Unconditional, who looks to ooze talent, but still has lots to learn. She caused a false start when she straddled the outside fence at the first score-up, then was wayward outside the leader and eventually galloped under pressure at the top of the straight while still a chance of filling a minor placing. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ CHICAGO Bull earned “little freshen-up” after his Gloucester Park win last Friday night. It was his seventh run in as many weeks on the comeback trail, which have returned four wins and three placings. And this win was little more than trackwork when main danger Ocean Ridge, who is best suited driven with a sit, led early and handed over to Chicago Bull after 400m. Gary Hall Jr then dawdled through a 63.4sec middle half on a rain-sodden track before finishing off in 28.8 and 28sec flat to beat Ocean Ridge by 1.5m. “He’s really needed the hard racing to get the weight off,” Hall Jr said. “It was good to get an easier run compared to the work he’s had to do most runs this time back.” Hall Jr landed four wins on the night, including promising Kiwi-bred three-year-old Master Publisher. The son of A Rocknroll Dance made it three wins on end and six from his 11 starts for Gary Hall Sr when he worked to find the front, but scored easily in a 1min57.5sec mile rate for 2130m. On the same card, Merv Butterworth and Graeme Rogerson combined with former handy Kiwi filly Queen Shenandoah and trainer Ross Olivieri for a big upset in a strong mares’ race. Some driving magic from Chris Voak helped her to snatch an unlikely nose win over the leader and hot favourite Typhoon Tiff. Star former Kiwi mares Dracarys (third) and Balcatherine underlined the strength of the race in third and fourth spots. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ MULTIPLE Group 1 winner Big Jack Hammer has certainly made the most of Victoria’s COVID-19 zoned racing. David Aiken’s star trotter made it three wins on end – and three wins from just four runs during the zoned racing – when he unleashed huis trademark speed to score at Bendigo last Friday night. Big Jack Hammer, who didn’t handle Alexandra Park during last year’s Inter Dominion, now boasts 20 wins from his 81 runs with another 24 placings and is edging close to $400,000 in earnings. “He’s an absolute gem of horse. I’m so bloody luck to have him,” owner Dom Martello said. Victoria’s zones are eased and metropolitan racing returns from July 1 so it’ll be great to see Big Jack Hammer back against the likes of McLovin in the Melton free-for-alls. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ STAR trotter McLovin made it two wins from as many runs this campaign when he cruised to victory against a moderate bunch at Melton last night. The former Kiwi gelding worked forward from the outside draw (gate six) to find the front, dictated terms and really just ran home a quarter in 28.8sec to win as he liked in a cosy 1min59.1sec mile rate for 2240m. He is a class above the trotters he’s facing at Melton under the zoned racing for the rest of this month. Also at Melton, Major Times made the most of not having stablemate Poster Boy to contend with by winning the fast-class race. He’s been a fantastic pacer for Emma Stewart and connections, having now won 16 of his 39 starts with another 16 placings and almost $210,000. Kerryn Manning and husband, Grant Campbell, combined for a double on the night with recent stablemate addition Glenavril King and Merv Butterworth’s handy former Kiwi gelding Yankee Lincoln. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ANOTHER week and another Menangle win for the flying Cash N Flow. The former All Stars’ pacer made it six Menangle free-for-all wins on end, but it was closer than expected as a $1.12 favourite with stablemate Replaced Eye getting within a neck. It was a 1min50.2sec mile, but essentially just a sprint home in 54 flat and 26.3sec. Paul Court’s Hail Christian improved second-up for third, albeit 10.4m from the winner. Cash N Flow was the third leg of a treble for trainer Craig Cross and driver Luke McCarthy, who also scored with Speak No Evil in the opening race and Hows The Memory in a strong mares’ race. Hows The Memory blazed a 1min50.8sec mile to beat stablemate Love My Sister. Cross just missed the trifecta with Molly Kelly finishing fourth. The disappointment was classy former Kiwi mare Havtime, who did the work outside the leader, but weakened right out to last, beaten almost 40m. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ THE buzz keeps growing rapidly around former Kiwi pacer Speech Is Silver in Queensland. The Mach Three five-year-old started his career with the All Stars’ barn with three runs netting a win and two seconds. He’s now with Darren Weeks and Kylie Rasmussen and looks better every time he steps out. Speech Is Silver made it 10 wins from just 12 runs in Queensland when stormed home to win as he liked in a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1660m at Albion Park last Tuesday. He’s blessed with electric speed and looks every bit a feature race player in the making.   Adam Hamilton

CHAMPION driver Gary Hall Jr is amazed how hard is getting Chicago Bull fully fit. The comeback star is lining-up for the seventh successive week at Gloucester Park on Friday, but he’s still not primed. “He’s not big, but he’s nuggety and it’s so damn hard getting the weight off him,” Hall Jr said. “He’s getting fitter, but this hard racing every week is really what he needs.” Chicago Bull made it three wins (two seconds and a third) from his six runs back from a spell. Watch the race here. “He really dug deep last week and that was a great sign. He had to pull out plenty to win the way the race was run,” Hall Jr said. “He might be better than these horses, but when you’ve got the worse the draw and have to do the work around Gloucester Park, it’s just never easy.” And that’s probably what Chicago Bull will have to do again from gate eight over 2130m with key rivals Ocean Ridge (gate one), Iceenothink (two) and Vultan Tin (seven) drawn inside him. It’s one of the many highlights on a ripper Gloucester Park card. The feature is the $100,000 Group 1 2YO Fillies’ Diamond Classic (2130m) where Greg and Skye Bond’s Kiwi-bred Unconditional (gate six) rates up with the best hopes along with Minor Catastrophe (eight) and Always An Angel (12). Buzz Kiwi import Gran Chico returns from a spell for Mike Reed from the pole in race six. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ONLY time will tell whether Cash N Flow has gone to another level, but for now he should just keep racking-up the wins at Menangle. Driver Luke McCarthy always talks about the former Kiwi being “just a bit below the best ones,” meaning stablemates King Of Swing and Alta Orlando. But with them having breaks, Cash N Flow has made the Menangle mile free-for-alls his own. The Mach Three gelding is going for his sixth successive mile win at Menangle in the free-for-all on Saturday night. It’s much the same field he thrashed last week, but another former Kiwi, Hail Christian, will certainly strip fitter for his comeback run when a well-beaten eighth last week. Trainer Craig Cross has four of the 10 runners, but Cash N Flow, is the $1.18 favourite and should win again despite the outside draw (gate 11). Cross also holds a commanding hand in Menangle’s feature with four runners in the Group 3 Ladyship Pace (1609m). Hows The Memory (gate nine, $2.30 favourite) and Molly Kelly (11) look his best hopes, but he also has Love My Sister (two) and Callmequeenbee) engaged. KerrynAnn Morris has three runners and looks the main threat to Cross’s team with high-class former Kiwi mare Havtime (gate 10). _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ STAR trotter McLovin looks a class above his rivals again at  Melton Saturday night. The Group 1 winner resumed with a narrow, but strong win last week and faces a small but similar field this time. He should keep winning at least until Victoria’s exits zoned racing and proper metropolitan racing resumes from July 1.   by Adam Hamilton

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