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YOU hope to leave a night like Breeders Crown having seen some potential superstars and that was certainly the case on Saturday night at Melton. The series was built to showcase the emerging young stars of the sport and, despite being COVID compromised like so many of our feature events this year, the Crown still delivered in spades. Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin had 20 runners across the 10-race card, won four of the finals and produced the two brightest stars in juvenile winners Ladies In Red and Major Moth. You could argue their four-year-old Hurricane Harley, who downed Lochinvar Art in track record-equalling time, and their unbeaten three-year-old trotter Cover Of Darkness rounded-out the top four performances of the night. But it was the filly Ladies In Red, a Mach Three half-sister to Our Little General, who left everyone in awe after doing all the work and stretching her unbeaten record to seven wins in the $300,000 2YO fillies’ final. Ladies In Red’s clash with star stablemate Tough Tilly, who looked a certain leader, was billed as THE showdown of the night and it delivered in spades. As hard as Tough Tilly tried in front, Ladies In Red had all the answers and overpowered her late to win by 2.4m in a brilliant 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2240m. “She’s some sort of filly,” driver David Moran said. “When I got outside the leader I wanted to eye-ball her and I was able to do it on my terms. It took some work to get past the leader, but my filly was still strong on the line. I think she’d have found more again if something had come at her.” Ladies In Red’s lethal combination of speed and strength have stamped her as one of the best juvenile fillies we’ve seen in Australia for many years. She capped a big night for Bill and Anne Anderson’s Lauriston Bloodstock, who also raced Hurricane Harley. As powerful as Ladies In Red was, stablemate Major Moth turned heads more for his sheer brilliance in arrogantly winning the $300,000 2YO colts and geldings finals for Stewart and Tonkin with Damian Wilson aboard. Major Moth had the run behind the leader, main danger and stablemate Act Now, but it was the ease with which he roared past the leader in a 26.5sec last quarter (Major Moth ran his in 26.2sec) which astounded onlookers. It marked a career high for Wilson, who has been in-and-out of the game and only had the drive on Major Moth through the 20 years of support and loyalty owner-breeder Len Parker has shown him. “All thanks to Len. We’ve had some good moments together with some nice horses, but this tops them all,” he said. Wilson’s previous biggest win was the 2009 Kilmore Cup on Ohoka Nevada. Cover Of Darkness led throughout to take his unbeaten record to six wins for Stewart/Tonkin and driver Jodi Quinlan in the $80,000 Group 1 3YO trotting colts and geldings finals. Despite his relative inexperience and scaring Quinlan pre-race by bucking and kicking in the warm-up, Cover Of Darkness led from gate two and never really looked in danger on his way to a two metres win in a 1min57sec mile rate for 2240m. “He’s sort of come from nowhere a bit to win this and when you considered he’s nowhere near as seasoned as most of these horses, he should just keep getting better as well,” Quinlan said. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ NSW trainer Paul Fitzpatrick added some interstate flavour to the Crown when his talented former Kiwi colt Zeuss Bromac led throughout to win the $200,000 3YO colts and geldings final. The son of Bettors Delight had to burn to hold the lead early then overraced throughout the middle stages for driver Kerryn Manning, but still ripped home in 54.7 and 27.2sec to win by five metres over Jilliby Nitro. Zeuss Bromac was Manning’s third Crown final win, following three-year-old trotter Djerriwarrh (2000) and three-year-old pacer Emmas Only (2004). “He got a bit keen after the early burn and I tried to bring him back to me without cutting off his wind. It was really only at the bell he settled better so he did a good job. He battled on really well,” Manning said. COVID meant Fitzpatrick couldn’t campaign the horse in the Victoria, so his good friends Noel and Ruth Shinn were caretaker trainers for the stint. It was a similar story, but more official with Watts Up Majestic’s win in the $100,000 2YO trotting colts and geldings finals. Rickie Alchin of Tough Monarch fame wouldn’t been in Victoria were it not for COVID, but sent the youngster to Chris Svanosio to train and drive for the Crown series. Svanosio drove Watts Up Majestic superbly and pounced late for a runaway win. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ IT wouldn’t be a Breeders Crown trotting series without the powerhouse Yabby Dams team snaring a big one. This time it was lightly-raced Quaker Jet filly Im Ready Jet who went back-to-back, adding the three-year-old fillies’ title to the two-year-old crown she won last year. It came thanks to an inspired Jason Lee drive, seizing the gaps and opportunities while others galloped and weaving through from an inside back row draw to take the lead.  ________________________________________________________________________________________________ NOT even all the experience and genius of Chris Alford would lift gifted but wayward three-year-old filly Sweet Louise to a fairytale win in her $200,000 Crown final. She’s just one of three horses trained by hobbyist Phil Chircop and raced by John Dorrington, who has owned horses for decades without winning a Group race. Sweet Louise worked to lead from the pole but raced greenly and switched on-and-off at times, eventually being out-dashed along the sprint lane by Greg Sugars aboard The Panthiest, who won by 1.7m in a 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2240m. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE night finished on a high for the Caldow family with wins in the last two races courtesy of Sangreal and No Win No Feed. Sangreal, raced, trained and bred by the Caldows, caused a huge upset when pick-up driver Daryl Douglas weaved through the field late in an incident-packed race to win by a neck as a $50.60 outsider. The race was over at the start for star Kiwi raider Mexicana when she galloped away from the pole and lost all hope. John Caldow then made the most of a pick-up drive on NSW raider No Win No Feed for Craig Cross when he blasted to the front and gave nothing else a chance in the $60,000 Group 2 Crown 4YO Mares’ final. Glamour former Kiwi mare Our Princess Tiffany moved around to sit parked, but never really looked a hope and just battled into third spot.   by Adam Hamilton

TRAINER Ryan Bell is looking for positives out of the news his emerging superstar Shockwave was banned from racing for three month after a bleed in last Friday night’s Group 1 Fremantle Cup. The three-month ban for bleeding from both nostrils ends his WA Pacing Cup dreams and beyond that, derails plans for a Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile raid early next year. Bell suspected something wasn’t right when Shockwave seemingly ran below his best despite finishing third to local megastar Chicago Bull in last Friday night’s feature. “I thought he went unders at the time and he came back with a high heart rate, but was back to normal pretty quickly. I was scratching my head how he’d got way on me in five days since his run,” Bell said. “Then 30 minutes later it (the blood) started coming out, but it’s not all doom and gloom as I got him straight to my vet. He said he’d had a bleed, but there was mucous as well so he treated him and we’ll scope him again in 7-10 days. “You can’t believe it after the build-up we had and races we had planned, but I could not be more proud of the horse to run third. It’s proof the good ones run through brick walls for us. “He’s still a relatively young horse and we’ve got time on our side.” Shockwave’s setback leaves Chicago Bull an absolute standout for the $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup on Friday week (December 4). _________________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA Cup winner Lochinvar Art is likely to stay home rather than head to Queensland.Trainer-driver David Moran said he would cement plans this week after the superstar pacer’s mighty effort when second to the brilliant Hurricane Harley in track record-equalling time in the Group 2 Breeders Crown free-for-all at Melton on Saturday night. Lochinvar Art was clocked to run his last mile in 1min50.3sec as he moved three-wide around the field sat parked and still kept coming to got down by just a neck to the leader, Hurricane Harley. The 1min51.4sec mile rate for 2240m equalled the record Lochinvar Art posted winning the Victoria Cup last month. Amanda Turnbull rated Hurricane Harley superbly, running home his splits of the last mile in 28.2, 27.4, 27.4 and 27.9sec. “I couldn’t asked any more of him,” Moran said. “He did all the work and just kept coming. You have in the back of your mind not wanting to give him gut-busters every time, but you’ve got no choice when you draw outside the back. “I’ll give him an easy week and use the time to decide what’s next. “While Queensland is an option, I’m leaning towards staying home for races leading towards the Hunter Cup.”  Hurricane Harley will also be set for the Hunter Cup, via the Vicbred series. “He’s an unreal horse. He just doesn’t feel like he’s going as fast as he is,” Turnbull said. That’s two wins from their past three meetings now for Hurricane Harley over Lochinvar Art, albeit the former has drawn much better and led for both those wins. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ EVEN if Lochinvar Art stays home, next month’s Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park is shaping as a beauty. On the home state front, Colt Thirty One made it five wins on end when he sat parked and scored comfortably in a 1min54.7sec mile rate form 1660m. Colt Thirty One now boasts 46 wins and 20 placings from his 76 starts and is edging close to $1 million in earnings. The other major “local” player is former top All Stars’ pacer Turn It Up, who hasn’t been seen since brilliantly winning just his second start for trainer Vicki Rasmussen at Albion Park on October 24. Miracle Mile and Hunter Cup winner King Of Swing continued his build-up towards the Blacks A Fake with a dominant Menangle 2300m win on Saturday night. He worked across from a wide draw to eventually take the lead from gifted stablemate Balraj and pulled right away in the run home to win as he liked by 7.9m in a slick 1min53.5sec mile rate for 2300m. Balraj, first-up since having a bout of the “thumps” in the Victoria Cup last month, raced flat in patched, but did keep rallying late to run second. Balraj and Bling It On are other Cross/McCarthy pacers being considered for tilts at the Blacks A Fake. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ NO wonder Anthony Butt has such a huge opinion of the emerging Wolf Stride. He scored his most important win, albeit not biggest, so far when he worked to the front and blazed a 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2240m to win the Group 2 Breeders Crown free-for-all at Melton last Friday night. Butt has been raving about Wolf Stride’s potential since he won the Group 1 NSW Regional Metropolitan Championship final at Menangle earlier this year. He toyed with a Victoria Cup tilt, but Butt opted to go through the grades a look a little further ahead to the Hunter Cup and Carnival of Miracles in the new year. Once Butt found the front he just kept rolling through splits of the last mile in 28.6, 29.2, 27.8 and 27.5sec. “He’s a lovely horse who was slow to mature, but it’s all starting to come together now. We’ll head towards the Hunter Cup,” Butt said. The other highlights of the Friday night Crown meeting at Melton were trotters. Yabby Dams’ Always Ready used a slightly better draw to lead main danger Mattjestuoso and that proved the difference in the Group 2 Crown 4YO Trotting final.  As hard as Mattjestuso tried outside the leader throughout, Always Ready powered home in a remarkable splits for a trotter of 55.8 and 27.5sec to win by 3.8m in a 2min0.5sec mile rate for 2240m. Always Ready, by Ready Cash out of former handy mare Class Of Her Own, boasts 13 wins and five placings from just 20 starts. Yabby Dams was denied the big double when their pin-up mare Dance Craze was nabbed on the line by the rejuvenated Gus An Maori in the Group 2 Crown trotting free-for-all. Dance Craze worked around midrace to take the lead and looked the winner on the home bend before Gus An Maori emerged from the packed and stormed home to snatch victory for former Swedish driver Sofia Arvidsson. It continued the big season with trotters for trainer Matty Craven off the back of the major wins with Pink Galahs.   by Adam Hamilton

Two of the All Stars’ best horses, New Zealand Cup champion Self Assured and Amazing Dream aren’t going anywhere. Hugely successful Victorian-based owner Jean Feiss has confirmed Self Assured and Amazing Dream will be trained by Hayden Cullen in the wake of news Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are taking a break from the sport. And she’s completely supportive of Purdon and Rasmussen “doing what’s right for them.” “From my point of view, nothing is going to change. Self Assured is going to Auckland and then I believe Mark’s bringing him across to Sydney for the Miracle Mile,” Feiss said. “It’s been reported like it’s the end of the world, but Hayden (Cullen) is a great horseman in his own right and there’s no reason he can’t carry on and train these horses to the best of their ability and I’m sure Mark and Nat will be around for a while to help him. “I think, at least for a fair while, it’ll be business as usual. I don’t think it’s bad as everyone else seems to think. “My horses will stay with Hayden, I don’t see anything changing. “Mark and Nat have certainly earnt a break, even a fairly long one. Being a trainer myself I know the hard yards you’ve got to put in and the worry and the disappointment. It’s time they started thinking about themselves. “It’s been a tough year anyway, this virus has driven us all a bit crazy. They need a break and good luck to them.” To the disappointment of Victorians, Feiss confirmed Self Assured would not tackle the Hunter Cup. “No, he’s not going to Victoria, nor is Amazing Dream,” she said. “Both of them will be set for Sydney with Amazing Dream going for the Ladyship.”   Adam Hamilton

Exciting young Kiwi Mexicana is a hot favourite to cap a remarkable Aussie raid by winning next Saturday night’s Breeders Crown final for two-year-old trotting fillies. Already with the Group 1 Redwood in the bag, Mexicana was wayward winning her Crown heat, but snared he coveted pole draw for the final. She’s a $1.65 Aussie TAB favourite to make it three-from-three in Australia for young Kiwi trainer Josh Dickie and driver Greg Sugars. Kate and Andy Gath’s filly Aldebaran Ursula, who has chased home Mexicana at her past two runs, is drawn to follow her throughout from inside the back row (gate eight). She’s $5.50 equal second favourite with another Kiwi raider, Brent Lilley’s Queen Elida (gate two). Another former Kiwi, Anthony Butt’s Have No Fear, heads the betting in the 2YO colts and geldings Crown final from the pole. He was beaten in his heat, but looks the leader from the pole and will be as hard to beat as any in a more open race. Lilley’s Aldebaran Zeus (gate four, $3.40) and Jodi Quinlan’s headstrong but talented Illawong Barmah (gate 12, $4.80) look the other major players. And NSW visitor Watts Up Majestic has had good support ($6 into $4.60) from gate three. In the other Crown trotting finals, Matty Craven’s Queen Of Crime is $3 favourite from the pole in the 3YO fillies with Im Ready Jet drawn behind (gate eight, $3.50) and looking the main danger. One of very few trotters Emma and Clayton Tonkin train, Cover Of Darkness, is $2.25 favourite to stretch his unbeaten record to six starts from gate two in a strong 3YO colts and geldings final. It’s likely he’ll ease with so many other key players like NSW raiders Gimondi (gate six, $4.50), Elite Stride (10, $6.50) as well as the tough and talented local Powderkeg (gate three, $4.50). ______________________________________________________________________________________ The Kiwi connections flows into the 3YO colts and geldings Crown pacing final with former Kiwi Zeuss Bromac favourite from the pole. He’s kept getting better over time for trainer Blake Fitzpatrick and a superb Kerryn Manning drive helped him win the strongest semi last night. Manning takes the reins again in the final on the $2.60 favourite, who’s good draw is made even better with his major dangers all off the back. They are headed by Mach Dan (gate nine, $4), Pacifico Dream (13, $6.50) and Loorim Lake (12, $9). The 3YO fillies final looks one of the weakest of the series with Techys Angel and Sweet Marie winning the semis. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Tough Tilly has the draw to end the unbeaten streak of her glamour stablemate Ladies In Red in the Breeders Crown 2YO fillies’ pacing final. In fact, Tough Tilly was so impressive leading throughout in her semi-final for driver Kate Gath she is favourite to use gate two to lead and win again. Ladies In Red has sparkled winning all five starts, including a powerhouse semi final win, but has to overcome the back row (gate 10). Tough Tilly heads the market at $1.70 from Ladies In Red, to be driven by David Moran, at $2.30. One of the big guns of the 2YO colts and geldings series Beyond Delight failed to make the final after suffering cardiac arrhythmia and leading and dropping out in his semi. But his trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton still dominate the final with semi winners Major Moth and Act Now drawn gates one and two. Mick Stanley’s NSW Breeders Challenge winner Bar Room Banta could be the blowout from inside the back row (gate eight).   Adam Hamilton

VICTORIA Cup winner Lochinvar Art picked-up where he left off at Melton last Saturday night. Having his first run for five weeks and “in need of the hitout” according to trainer-driver David Moran, Lochinvar Art still totally toyed with a handy field in the Preux Chevalier free-for-all. He came around the field early from the back to sit parked outside former NZ Cup winner Cruz Bromac, but had him beaten before the home turn. Moran really just nursed Lochinvar Art in the run home to win by 6.3m over the emerging Wolf Stride with Sicario third and Cruz Bromac fourth. The mile rate was 1min55sec, but Lochinvar Art blazed home in 54 flat and 26.7sec. “He did that easier than I thought he would because it’ll really bring him for next week,” Moran said. “It’s the best he’s ever felt winning first-up from a break.” Lochinvar Art backs-up next week, either in Friday night’s $60,000 Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate free-for-all at Melton or the $50,000 Group 2 4YO Crown final on Saturday night. Either target should be another walk in the park. Beyond that, Moran will make a final decision a possible Queensland trip, which is looking less and less likely by the day. “I’m leaning more and more towards staying home, going for the Vicbred 4YO series and then those Country Cups in January before the Hunter Cup,” Moran said. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ CHICAGO Bull and Shockwave will be on the quick back-up when they headline the field for Friday night’s $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park. They were due to clash at Gloucester Park last Friday night, but the meeting was postponed just minutes before their race was scheduled because of heavy rain. The race was moved to yesterday and they eventually clashed in the Pat Cranley Memorial where Chicago Bull made the most of a better draw again to stretch his sequence of wins over Shockwave to four races. But, Chicago Bull has drawn better and dictated all four of those races. Shockwave, who beat Chicago Bull when he led first-up, has run second to him at their four clashes since. There’s nothing between them and they look the standout players in the Fremantle Cup and the $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup on December 4. Team Bond’s Vampiro and, to a lesser extent, Mighty Conqueror look the other notable runners. It’ll be interesting to see if trainer Ross Olivieri throws exciting former Victorian Perfect Major into the big league after he sat parked and ran a ripper third to Chicago Bull yesterday at his first free-for-all attempt. Classy former Kiwi mare Wainui Creek is getting better with every run for Team Bond in WA. She beat most of WA’s best mares to win the Group 2 Norms Daughter in a 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2130m at Gloucester Park yesterday when she came out of a one-one trail to rundown stablemate Our Alfie Romeo. Wainui Creek’s past two wins have her nominal favourite for the state’s biggest mares’ race, the Group 1 WA Mares’ Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday week. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ A BLAZING opening half cost veteran star Bling It On his 50th win at his 100th start. The Victoria and Hunter Cup winner scorched a 53.5sec opening half to eventually find the lead, had to be vulnerable and actually fought on well for a close third to Fouroeight. Bling It On worked from the outside draw in a 26.5sec first quarter then had to run a 27 flat second split to wrest the lead from outsider Golden Year. They ran home in 28.9 and 28.5sec for a 1min50.9sec mile and Mat Rue’s Fouroright finished too strongly for Mafuta Vautin with Bling It On just 3.4m from the winner in third spot. Bling It On remains on target for a Queensland raid later this month with the Group 1 Blacks A Fake on December 12 the major target. McCarthy and trainer Craig Cross teamed later on the Menangle card for yet another win with star mare Bettor Enforce. The rising eight-year-old, fresh back from a terrific second in the Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific at Melton, worked to the front and posted her 12th win from 24 runs this season in a 1min52.1sec mile, capped by a 53.9sec last half. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ STAR Kiwi pacer One Change’s unbeaten Queensland romp came to an end last Saturday night. But the three-year-old certainly lost no admirers with a fantastic second to recent Kiwi import L L Cool J, who had a lovely run behind the leader while One Change did all the work.  L L Cool J, who won six of his 19 NZ runs, has looked good winning both starts for trainer-driver Nathan Dawson. They ran a slick 1min52sec mile rate for 1660m and One Change was only beaten 1.3m. It was his first defeat in six runs for Vicki Rasmussen. It’s unlikely to change plans for him to tackle fast-class in coming weeks as a test before a possible tilt at the Group 1 Blacks A Fake on December 12. Another ex-All Stars pacers Turn It Up is one of the early favourites for the Blacks A Fake. He was due to run at Albion Park last Saturday night, but the race was scrapped with a lack of acceptors. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ THE best of Dance Craze is something special. Trainer Anton Golino has nursed her through her challenges along the way, but she is still the best trotter in Australia at her best. And she showed it again, albeit thanks to a lovely run and superb Jason Lee drive, to win the Group 2 Lenin free-for-all in a blistering 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2240m at Melton on Saturday night. Dance Craze began well, but not quick enough to hold-out her main rival Red Hot Tooth, but it turned out sitting behind her was the perfect scenario. Red Hot Tooth overraced a tad in front, setting-up the slick time, and Dance Craze was simply too slick along the sprint lane at the finish to beat her by 1.5m. The sustained speed up front made it too hard for those back in the field like the classy Wobelee and McLovin, who finished seventh and eighth respectively.   Adam Hamilton

Australia's best pacer Lochinvar Art returns to action at Melton on Saturday night. It adds to an already stellar night, boasting eight Breeders Crown semi finals as well as a star-studded trotters’ free-for-all. Lochinvar Art resumes after a let-up following his breathtaking win in last month’s Group 1 Victoria Cup over King Of Swing in track record time at Melton. He dominates betting at $1.33 on the Aussie TAB for Saturday night’s Preux Chevalier free-for-all (2240m), but it’s never easy from outside the back row (gate 11) and trainer-driver David Moran warned he would be improved by the hitout. “I think everyone knows by now he’s a horse who thrives on racing, so he’s always going to improve when he’s back from a few weeks out,” he said. “He had a bit of a let-up after the Victoria Cup and he’s raring to go now. He’s as well as I can him without recent racing. “I think he should win because of how good he is, but he’ll also improve a lot from it going into the Breeders Crown free-for-all the week after.” Beyond the Breeders Crown, Moran is watching the Queensland border restrictions closely as far as the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park goes on December 12. “It’s an option I’m still considering, if they open the borders,” he said. “But there’s some nice races for him down here around the same time as well.” Lochinvar Art could stay home and target the delayed Vicbred 4YO series, which features a $130,000 Group 1 final on New Year’s Eve. Then comes races like the Bendigo Cup (January 9), Shepparton Cup (January 16), Ballarat Cup (January 23) and Hunter Cup (February 6). “I need to sit down and map out a plan, but I’d say the Shepparton, Ballarat and Hunter Cups would be definites,” he said. “After the Hunter Cup, we’ll need to head to NSW quickly because Kevin (Gordon, owner) is up that way and wants him to run in the Newcastle Mile as his ticket into the Miracle Mile.” Lochinvar Art headlines a super set of drives for Moran at Melton on Saturday night. He also drives exciting juveniles Ladies In Red and Jacks Hawk for trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. “Ladies In Red is really good, but she’ll have her work cut out from barrier six with Treachery in gate two this week,” Moran said. “I really like Jacks Hawk as well and his chance will depend on how well he can hold-up (from the pole) with so many quick beginners outside him.”   by Adam Hamilton

Let’s hope the likes of King Of Swing, Bling It On and maybe even Lochinvar Art can make this Queensland Summer Carnival something special. With locals Colt Thirty One and Turn It Up flying, bringing some of the best eastern states stars into December’s Albion Park equation would be awesome. Colt Thirty One blazed his way to another easy win at Albion Park last Saturday night. King Of Swing stepped-out for the first time since his second to Lochinvar Art in the Victoria Cup when he won well in a 1 min 49.6sec mile last Saturday night. Trainer Craig Cross has openly declared his wish to take King Of Swing, Bling It On and maybe others north for the Carnival, headlined by the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on December 12. Lochinvar Art resumes from a freshen-up in a free-for-all at Melton this Saturday night. He’s then got the $60,000 Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate free-for-all six days later at Melton. “After that I’ll have to start making decisions on whether Queensland is a real option or not,” his trainer-driver David Moran said. Colt Thirty One posted his 44th win from 75 starts when he sat parked and dashed home in 55.3sec at the end of a brisk 1min 54.7sec mile rate for 2138m last Saturday night. ___________________________________________________________________________________ This truly is a Breeders Crown dominated by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. The powerhouse barn is always a major player in the Breeders Crown, but this COVID-19 impacted series plays even stronger into their hands. Of the 14 qualifying heats for two and three-year-olds, run across two meetings at Ballarat and Bendigo, Stewart and Tonkin won nine of them, headed by six of the seven for two-year-olds. They head into the semi-finals next Saturday night with the favourite in pre-post markets all four two and three-year-old finals. In the two-year-old fillies, the unbeaten and brilliant Ladies In Red is $3 favourite for the final ahead of stablemate Treachery at $3.50. The colts and geldings is more open, but Stewart and Tonkin have five of the six favourites, headed by Beyond Delight ($3.80) and Major Moth ($5). Mick Stanley’s recent NSW Breeders Challenge final winner Bar Room Banta ($3.80) looks the only real threat. The three-year-old colts and geldings final has recent stable addition Loorim Lake a $3.50 favourite and stablemate Mach Dan $5 equal second elect. Stewart and Tonkin also have the two favourites in the three-year-old fillies final with Amelia Rose ($3) top of the market from Maajida at $3.50. The Stewart/Tonkin dominance extends being aged-group racing, as shown when they snared the trifecta in the fast-class race at Melton last Saturday night. A patient Chris Alford drive saw Tam Major finish over the top of a gallant Code Black with Major Times third in a 1min 54.7sec mile rate for 2240m. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Vampiro was a major player in last year’s Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups and has found winning form again just in time for this year’s majors at Gloucester Park. The speedy beginner used the pole to lead and Colin Brown rated him superbly to beat a string of stablemates in the 2536m free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Vampiro just did enough to stave-off Galactic Star with other stablemates Our Jimmy Johnstone third and Mighty Conqueror, winner of last year’s WA Pacing Cup, in fourth spot. As it stands, the form through Chicago Bull and Shockwave still looks by far the strongest in the countdown to the majors. Two emerging pacers who look possible contenders – To Fast To Serious and Perfect Major – both won brilliantly in restricted class races at Gloucester Park last Friday. The Ray Williams-trained To Fast To Serious made it 12 wins from just 18 starts when he thrashed a moderate field in a brisk 1min 56.1sec mile rate for 2130m. And former Victorian Perfect Major made it four wins from as many starts for new trainer Ross Olivieri in WA when he blazed to an 18.8m win in a 1min 55.9sec mile rate for 2130m. The Group 1 Fremantle Cup is first-up at Gloucester Park on November 20 with the WA Pacing Cup two weeks later. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Still on WA racing and it was terrific to see classy former Kiwi mare Wainui Creek show signs of her best form with a Gloucester Park win last Friday night. Driver Ryan Warwick blasted her off the gate from a wide draw to lead, dictated terms and won as he liked in a cosy 1min 57.9sec mile rate for 2130m. It was her first win in three WA starts for Team Bond and timely with the Group 1 Mares’ Classic coming up at Gloucester Park on November 27. Stablemate Our Alfie Romeo also returned to something like her best form when she led throughout to win the opening race in similar all-the-way style and with Warwick in the sulky as well. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Former star Kiwi youngster One Change remains unbeaten in his Queensland stint. The Bettors Delight colt is five wins from as many starts for trainer Vicki Rasmussen after an easy 1min 53.3sec mile rate over 1660m at Albion Park last Saturday night. The former All Stars pacer boasts 13 wins and six placings from his 19 career starts and now almost $550,000.   by Adam Hamilton

Most Aussies thought it was a daring raid, but Kiwi trainer Josh Dickie knew his filly. This looks one of the best crops of juvenile trotters Australia has seen, but Dickie trumped them all with Mexicana in yesterday’s $50,000 Group 1 Redwood Classic at Maryborough. While many of her key rivals galloped early from the stand or struck trouble, Mexicana trotted away superbly from inside the back row from driver Greg Sugars and worked around to take the lead after 600m. Talented local Illawong Barmah, who led then took a sit, came at Mexicana late, but the Kiwi was just being nursed by Sugars as she finished off in a 57.7sec last half to win by 1.4m. “I never pulled the ear plugs and got too serious on her,” Sugars told Trotvision. “She was actually pretty casual out in front. She felt really strong on the line, so I think there’s plenty more there. ‘I’m extremely thankful to Josh (Dickie) and his team and to Trevor (Casey) and the owners to trust me with this filly. She is a beautiful girl.” Mexicana gave Dickie by far his biggest win since taking over training the family team from his father John. And there’s a strong Aussie connection through Dickie’s partner, Sammy Kilgour, who has many friends back in Victoria. Mexicana now heads to the Breeders Crown where heats will be at Maryborough on November 12. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ There is just no stopping pin-up girl Pink Galahs. Matty Craven’s pint-sized darling dominantly won her third Group 1 race in less than a month when she stormed to victory in yesterday’s Victoria Trotters’ Derby. Things looked tricky with a lap to run when the gifted and speedy Elite Stride made a lightning move around the field to take the lead, which buried Pink Galahs three pegs. But some welcome luck came heading to the last bend when Gimondi galloped behind the leader and helped Pink Galahs get to the sprint lane quicker and that was the end of the race. Pink Galahs blasted through the opening to win running away by four metres over Elite Stride with a gallant Powderkeg third after sitting parked throughout in a solid 2min1.2sec mile rate for the long 2690m trip. A jubilant Craven celebrated with a big victory salute over the last 50m when it was clear he had the classic won. In the space of a month, Pink Galahs has upstaged the best trotters in Australia to win the Bill Collins Sprint then added the Victoria Oaks and Victoria Derby. “This is just unbelievable,” Craven said. “I thought it was amazing enough when she won the Bill Collins and now she’s gone on and done it again and again … she’s just the most amazing filly.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________ It was fitting Majestuoso returned to Maryborough to land the win that showed he was ready for the big league. Just over 12 months ago the Andy Gath-trained gelding showcased his abundant potential by unleashing a huge sprint to win the Victoria Trotters’ Derby at Maryborough. Yesterday it was the speed he showed at the start and his all-round display which showed why driver Kate Gath has been buzzing about his future prospects. Majestuoso, best known for balancing-up early and sprinting late, blasted off the gate from barrier six to lead and win the free-for-all. It completed changed a race where glamour mare Red Hot Tooth was backed into $1.60 favourite because most expected her to rip across the field early from gate seven and lead. But she had to sit parked and never looked likely to get past Majestuoso, who beat the talented Wobelee by 3.5m with Brandlo Prince third and Red Hot Tooth in fourth spot. “We weren’t surprised he showed that sort of gate speed, but with him it’s always been in the back of your mind to make sure he trots at the start,” Kate Gath told Trotsvision. “He was keen in the score-up so I gave it a shot and once he found the front he relaxed really well. “There’s no standout in the open-class trotting ranks now and he’s got the ability to match them, so that’s where we are headed.”   HRNZ

Only a protest denied Luke McCarthy a night of absolute perfection at Menangle’s stellar NSW Breeders Challenge meeting on Saturday. McCarthy drove in five races for five wins, but lost the third of them on protest when first past the post on Keep Rockin in the $125,000 Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge 3YO Fillies’ final, but relegated to second behind defending champion Pelosi. The ironic twist there was Pelosi’s trainer Anna Woodmansey asked McCarthy to drive her filly before the series, but he had already committed to partnering Keep Rockin. McCarthy’s romp started by winning the free-for-all on classy former Kiwi pacer and Miracle Mile placegetter Alta Orlando in a slick 1min49.8sec mile, then followed with three Group 1 wins in the other NSW Breeders Challenge pacing finals. First came the Danny Zavitsanos-owned and Tim Butt-trained Mach Dan, who began well, sat behind the leader and zipped home along the inside to win in a 1min51.7sec mile as a $16 outsider. Mach Dan had previously won an SA Derby and run fifth in the NSW Derby and sixth in a Victoria Derby for trainer Emma Stewart. McCarthy then teamed with Craig Cross and Victorian horseman Mick Stanley to win both 2YO Breeders Challenge finals with brilliant pair Bar Room Banta and Soho Almasi. “Sure it’s frustrating I couldn’t be up there and a part of it all, but we got the job done and it’s a huge thanks to Craig (Cross) and Luke (McCarthy),” Stanley said. “I told those close to me a few months back I thought my pair were good enough to win both finals and it’s great to see them come out and do it. They’re both outstanding.” Bar Room Banta blazed his way to the lead in a 25.9sec opening quarter, crossing his main danger Tasty Delight, and kept going in a slick 1min51.3sec mile. Soho Almasi was surprisingly crossed by Arma Renegade in the fillies’ final, but sat behind her and quickly put the race beyond doubt when she saw racing room along the inside in the home straight to post an Australasia record 1min51.8sec mile for a 2YO filly. “They head straight back home to me now because the Breeders Crown heats are just around the corner,” Stanley said. Woodmansey was thrilled when Pelosi got the protest verdict for interference in the home straight over Keep Rockin in the 3YO Fillies final. Pelosi successfully defended the Breeders Challenge crown she won last season. “I’m so proud of her, she’s a wonderful girl and did a great job tonight,” Woodmansey said. The star of the Breeders Challenge trotting finals was Darren Hancock’s Drop The Hammer, who won as he liked in the 4&5YO final in a 1min56.3sec mile.   By Adam Hamilton

SO far, so good for the Turn It Up experiment in Queensland. The former budding star of the sport showed serious glimpses of the sort of form that won him an Auckland Cup among other features when he blitzed his rivals at Albion Park last night. It was just his second run back from ongoing and serious feet issues which sidelined him after his Harness Jewels 4YO win back on June 1, last year. Now leased and trained by Vicki Rasmussen, Turn It Up grabbed the eye at his first run back when a late-closing third to Colt Thirty One two weeks back. Fitter and drawn the front row, driver Shane Graham drove with aggression and confidence by blasting across the field from gate seven to lead and that was effectively the end of the race. Turn It Up cruised home in a 1min53sec mile rate for 1660m, running home in 55.4 and 27.9sec. He’s been given a long, slow build-up by Rasmussen and looks to be shaping nicely for the Queensland Summer Carnival, headed by the rescheduled Group 1 Blacks A Fake on December 12. Turn It Up’s won 12 of his 17 starts with four second and a third for earnings of $446,724. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE rampaging Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable flexed its muscle big time at Melton’s stellar card last Friday night. As usual, they dominated the juveniles features by winning both Edgar Tatlow finals for fillies and colts and geldings. Mach Three filly Ladies In Red confirmed her ranking as the best of the crop by sitting parked and dominantly winning her final where Stewart trained the first six placegetters. Ladies In Red, driven by David Moran, zoomed clear and the top of the straight in a 55.3sec last half to win easily by 5.4m over the exciting Treachery with Beach Music third in a 1min55.2sec mile rate for 2240m. Stewart had to settle for just the win the colts and geldings final when the powerhouse leader Act Now continued his hot form this campaign and won by 3.8m for driver Jodi Quinlan in a 1min55.1sec mile rate. Anthony Butt’s former Kiwi Vanquish Stride dashed home late for second and is on the up at the right time. Stewart’s star juvenile of last season, Maajida, looks primed for the Breeders Crown and Vicbred judging by barnstorming to victory in the strong Argent 3YO Fillies’ classic. Kiwi interest was in Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan, but she drew poorly and was never a hope back in ninth spot, 32m from the winner. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ THE girls continue to dominate Australia’s open-class trotting races. Just two weeks after three-year-old filly Pink Galahs created history beating Australia’s best trotters in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint, one of the beaten brigade, Red Hot Tooth, bounced-back in the best possible way last Friday night. Red Hot Tooth, already a multiple Group 1 winner, pounced on the lead from gate five in the True Roman free-for-all (2240m) and produced arguably the best win of her career for driver Kerryn Manning. She cleared out to win by 19.5m in a 1min56.8sec mile rate, closing in 56.8 and 28.2sec. It was her 24th win from 80 starts and edged Red Hot Tooth close to $500,000 in earnings. Glamour mare Dance Craze got well back, was pushed deep and ran home fairly well for third. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ STILL on the stellar Melton card where Wolf Stride and Catch A Moment looks serious stars on the rise. Already a Group 1 winner, Wolf Stride looked awesome clearing out to win the opening race by 9.1m in a slick 1min52.1sec mile rate for 1720m. “He’ll make a Grand Circuit horse in time,” trainer-driver Anthony Butt said. Catch A Moment looks Amanda Turnbull’s next star judging by his breathtaking Melton win. The four-year-old led throughout, but it was the way he kept going further in front without being asked by driver James Herbertson to score by almost 35m in a 1min53sec mile rate for the longer 2240m trip. By comparison, Lochinvar Art went a track record 1min51.4sec for 2240m winning the Victoria Cup two weeks ago. “He could’ve gone much quicker,” Herbertson said. “I was trying to give him as easy a run as possible knowing he’s got the final of this race next week.” It was a big night for Turnbull, who also trained and drove Speak No Evil to a minor upset win in the Group 3 Angelique Club Pace (2240m) for mares’. NZ’s best mare Our Princess Tiffany was sent out a commanding $1.60 favourite, but couldn’t repeat her sparkling win in the Make Mine Cullen the previous week and disappointed in fourth spot. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ EVERGREEN Galactic Star upstaged his more glamour stablemates to win the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The younger Vampiro was sent out a $1.30 favourite, led as expected from the pole, dictated terms, but couldn’t hold-off Galactic Star’s finishing burst from the one-one trail. Maybe Team Bond’s stable driver Ryan Warwick gave punters the tip when he elected to drive Galactic Star of their six runners in the eight-horse field. Galactic Star powered home to win by 1.6m from Vampiro with Stroke Of Luck third. Reigning WA Pacing Cup winner Mighty Conqueror sat parked, never looked a winning hope and just battled on fairly for fourth. Being blunt, the race just reinforced Chicago Bull and Shockwave had a fair gap on their nearest rivals right now in the countdown to the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in late November/early December. The other star performer of the night was classy mare Balcatherine, who resumed from a spell to brilliantly win the mares’ race by 12.3m in a slick 1min55.1sec mile rate for 2130m. She led and dashed home in 55.3 and 27.7sec. The disappointment was former Kiwi mare Wainui Creek, who did some work and sat parked, but tired very badly to finish almost 30m from the winner in second-last spot. Balcatherine’s win quickly stamped her as the testing material for the upcoming Group 1 Mares’ Classic at Gloucester Park on November 27. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ KIMA Frenning’s focus on training just got more exciting. Frenning unveiled her recent Kiwi import Russley Rush for a sparkling Ballarat win last Thursday night. The four-year-old son of Art Major led and won as he liked by 10.6m in a 1min57sec mile rate for 1710m, zipping home in 27.5sec for driver Chris Alford. Russley Rush raced 15 times in NZ for Tony Herlihy for a win and six placings.   By Adam Hamilton

BRILLIANT Aussie pacer Hectorjayjay has run his last race. Owner Matt McLellan went from excited optimism to heartbreak this week when trainer Jack Butler confirmed Hectorjayjay’s latest injury had ended his latest and last comeback bid just days out from returning at Albion Park. “There I was waiting for the Albion Park fields to come out for his return race this weekend when I got the news. It was devastating. I’m so sad for the horse and for Jack, who’s put some much time in nursing him back,” McLellan said. “We got so close. We had those three runs earlier this year and gave him a break and he was ready to go again. He looked so good winning that trial a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t to be.” Hectorjayjay raced 83 times for 44 wins, 22 placings and earned $1,161,610. He was cutdown in his prime after winning three Group 1 races. Kiwis probably best remember him for starting favourite and finishing a close second to Smolda in the 2016 Perth Inter Dominion final at Gloucester Park. Three of his biggest wins came at Albion Park with the 2016 Sunshine Sprint and then returning for then trainer David Aiken and driver Josh Aiken to win the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake in 2017. He went amiss after that Group 1 Blacks A Fake win on July 15, 2017 and despite stints with Aiken, Matty Craven, the late Gavin Lang and, most recently, Butler, he only raced another four times. His last run was a fifth at Albion Park on June 6. Hectorjayjay will remembered as one of the fastest pacers Australia has seen. “I have no regrets about the four years spent trying to get him back, I’d always have wondered ‘what if’ otherwise,” McLellan said. “Now it’s about finding him a good home and he’s such an active and competitive horse, something like dressage could be ideal for him. We’ll make sure he finds a great home.”   by Adam Hamilton

IT was the moment Gary Hall Sr felt would never happen. In fact, Chicago Bull topping $2 million in stakemoney came almost two years to the day since a freakish accident in New Zealand almost ended his career. He became the 21st Australasian pacer to top $2 million in earnings and that’s despite effectively missing what would’ve been the prime 18 months of his career. Who knows what might have been. Chicago Bull’s effortless win in Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint (1730m) at Gloucester Park took his earnings to $2,002,531. Watch the race replay click here! The rising eight-year-old has won a staggering 57 of his 86 starts with another 23 placings. Yes, Chicago Bull has only missed a place six times in his 86 starts, but it’s gets better. Four of his unplaced runs came in his seven NZ runs before joining Hall Sr’s stable. So in 79 starts for Hall Sr he’s only been unplaced twice … and both of those he ran fourth. “He’s amazing on so many levels,” Hall Sr said. “I never imagined he’d be here, doing this now, after what happened in Auckland. It’s really a miraculous comeback (from fractures in his spine). “We were devastated at the time. He was just going to the next level and had everything in front of him. “It was touch and go whether he’d ever make it back to the track. “Even when he did, we didn’t know what to expect. You couldn’t really think he’d get back to his best, but he really does seem as though he has. “People say he’s better than ever, but he’s not. They’re just forgetting how good he was when he got the injury.” Chicago Bull led easily from the pole with main danger Shockwave dropping in behind him and slick beginner Vampiro being snagged back from a wide draw (gate seven). The first 500m was a dawdle, then driver Gary Hall Jr put the foot down with a 27.7sec second spot. To Shockwave’s credit, driver Aiden de Campo came off the leader’s back to challenge for the last lap and they scorched a 26.6sec split from the 800-400m, while Chicago Bull still finished-off in 27.6sec to win 6.3m over a very gallant Shockwave. Vampiro grabbed the eye in third spot. Chicago Bull ran the last 1200m in a staggering 1min21.9sec. “He may back-up next week, we’ll wait and see how he comes through it. The Fremantle Cup is five weeks away, so I’d say he’ll have one, maybe two more runs before then,” Hall Sr said. Shockwave, who beat Chicago Bull narrowly first-up, has since run two fantastic seconds behind him. There looks to be very little between WA’S two best pacers and barrier draws are going to be crucial.   by Adam Hamilton

IT was a big night for All Stars’ exports at Melton last night. And it continued the hot strike rate for the stable sending some of its stars across to Australia, whether it be Brisbane or Melbourne lately, for greater opportunities. The likes of One Change, Amazing Dream and Ashley Locaz enjoyed Queensland stints and now Our Princess Tiffany and Im Anothermasterpiece have continued the theme in Melbourne. Our Princess Tiffany stormed to Victoria against Victoria’s best mares in the Group 3 Make Mine Cullen (1720m) in a 1min52.5sec mile rate. Driver Chris Alford was thrilled with the win and said trainer Dean Braun expected the mare to “only keep improving” through Victoria’s mares’ triple crown, which culminates with the Group 1 Queen of the Pacific. Im Anothermasterpiece, who won but left onlookers unconvinced on Victoria Cup night, went to another level winning in a scorching 1min51.8sec mile rate for 1720m for new trainers Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars last night. He was helped when his two main rivals – Boxofchocolates and Jilliby Sylvester – attacked each other early through a 26.9sec opening split, but Im Anothermasterpiece still sat parked and easily fought-off his rivals late to win. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ PINK Galahs has quickly become the darling of Victorian trotting.  She capped a remarkable week by emphatically winning the Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Oaks at Melton last night. It came just a seven days after she created history as a three-year-old filly by upstaging Australia’s best trotters to win the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint on Victoria Cup night. Trained and driven by Matt Craven, Pink Galahs boasts 10 wins and four placings from just 16 starts with the Breeders Crown and a string of other trotting features looming large. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ YOU can see why Kate Gath gets so excited about emerging trotting star Mattjestuso. The rising five-year-old is still a work in progress, but packs a lethal turn of speed and looks headed right to the top. It was on display for all to see when he blazed to victory at Melton last night, making ne most of a three-wide trail when it mattered to rip home his own last half in 56.8sec and win easiy. Gath also won on another rising star, Out To Play, who is owned and raced in the same interests at Ride High. It was a stunning drive to avoid being pocketed from an inside back row draw at a crucial stage and Out To Play did the rest in a 1min53.4sec mile rate for 1720m. The rising five-year-old son of Art Major boasts three wins and two thirds this campaign and only narrowly missed a Victoria Cup berth before winning what was effectively the consolation. He looks a Grand Circuit player in the making. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ THIS crop of Aussie juvenile fillies looks stronger every week. Just six days after Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trained the first five home in record-smashing time in the Group 2 Home Grown final at Melton, perhaps their top seed resumed from a break. Bathurst Gold Tiara winner Joanna had little more than trackwork to score at Ballarat last Friday night. Owned by Danny Zavitsanos and named after his wife, Joanna led from gate two for Amanda Turnbull and cruised a two-metre win in a 1min58.9sec mile rate for 2200m. It was her first run since blazing a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1730m to win the Bathurst Gold Tiara back on March 28. Joanna heads early markets for a phenomenally strong Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies division. And next Saturday night, Menangle hosts the NSW Breeders Challenge finals for 2YO fillies where Soho Almasi, Anntonia and Arma Renegade all look outstanding. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER topliner Hectorjayjay is progressing well towards Queensland’s Summer Carnival. He looked sharp swooping from last to win an Albion Park trial on October 9 and thrilled trainer Jack Butler. Hectorjayjay, second to Smolda in the 2016 Perth Inter Dominion final, has raced just four times since breaking down badly in July, 2017. He had one comeback run for a win in the care of the late Gavin Lang on June 30, 2018, then went amiss again. Butler nursed him back for three runs in May/June this year for a win, a third and a fifth. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ BROTHERS Paddy and Jason Lee narrowly missed snaring the big trotting double at Melton last night. Exciting Wishing Stone gelding trotted a slick 1min58.9sec mile rate for 1720m to give them an easy win in the Group 1 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown final for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Then the Paddy Lee-trained filly Keayang Xena looked home in the Group 1 fillies’ final before the Kerryn Manning-driven Sheza Pleasure overposwered her late to win. Just like the juvenile pacing crop, this looks a vintage Aussie crop of baby trotters. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ANOTHER week, another impressive Albion Park win for hometown hero Colt Thirty One. Trainer-driver Grant Dixon opted to skip last week’s Victoria Cup to focus at home on the upcoming Queensland Summer Carnival, headed by the rescheduled Group 1 Blacks A Fake. And Colt Thirty One is going to take some beating, regardless of what NSW or Victorian stars head north. Colt Thirty One won his 10th race this season and took his record to 42 wins from 73 starts when he sat parked and scored in a 1min54.4sec mile rate for 1660m last night. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ THE exciting Private Eye stretched his unbeaten record to four starts with a sparkling NSW Breeders Challenge 3YO colts and geldings semi-final win at Menangle last night. Driver Robbie Morris balanced the Hes Watching gelding early then pressured forward to take the lead from his main danger, Jerulas Grin, and never looked in danger. Private Eye ripped home in a 26.4sec last quarter a the end of a 1min50.3sec mile and seemed to have plenty left. In the second semi, the much-improved Our Money Rocks produced a monstrous run to sit parked and out-slug leader and hot favourite Crunch Time in a 1min50.2sec mile.   by Adam Hamilton

THE next round of Chicago Bull’s rivalry with Shockwave headlines another big weekend of Aussie racing. Chicago Bull has what looks a big advantage in the barrier draw for the $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint (1730m), landing the pole with Shockwave right next door in gate two. It’s almost a given Chicago Bull will have the speed to hold-out Shockwave from next door with the only potential wildcard at the start being the speed Vampiro, who has history of blasting out to lead from wide draw. He’s drawn seven. With just nine in the race – all drawn the front – it’s very likely Aiden de Campo will opt to drop straight in behind Chicago Bull and hope for luck. Shockwave beat Chicago Bull first-up from a spell, but “Bully” turned the tables last outing. Shockwave lost no fans with a huge second. It’s the next step towards what now shapes as “locals only” stoushes in the big double – the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups – in late November/early December at Gloucester Park. Chicago Bull and Shockwave are fighting it out for top seeding with others like Mighty Conqueror and Vampiro also commanding respect at their best. It’s very unlikely, given the all the restrictions of COVID-19, that any eastern states horses will tackle the two features this year. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ GLAMOUR Kiwi mare Our Princess Tiffany faces a big test at her first run for new trainer Dean Braun at Melton on Saturday night. The former champion filly will start from outside the back row over 1730m in the Group 3 Make Mine Cullen, while key Emma Stewart-trained rivals Amelia Rose (gate four), Kualoa (five) and Maajida (six) all have the front row. Our Princess Tiffany has eased from $4.20 to $4.40 on the Aussie TAB, while Amelia Rose has been the big firmer from $4 into $2.80. Kualoa is $4 to $4.40 and Maajida $6 to $7.50. On the same card, last week’s history-making filly Pink Galahs gets her chance for a second Group 1 victory in the space of a week. Last Saturday night she upstaged Australia’s best trotters in the Bill Collins Sprint. This time she’s back against the three-year-old fillies in the Victoria Trotters’ Oaks and a $1.50 chance from gate four. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ANOTHER week and another city for much-travelled Kiwi pacer Ashley Locaz. Travel issues dashed hopes of the classy pacer tackling last week’s Victoria Cup after some sparkling Queensland form. But now he’s in NSW with Craig Cross with a view to heading back to NZ out of Sydney. Ashley Locaz is $2.50 favourite in the free-for-all (race four) at Menangle on Saturday night. The meeting also features four semi-finals in the NSW Breeders Challenge series for three-year-old pacers.   Adam Hamilton

Classy Aussie trotter Tough Monarch is booked to defend his crown in the $95,000 Group 1 NZ Trotting free-for-all (1980m) on Cup Day at Addington. Trainer Rickie Alchin has his stable star is tentatively booked a flight from Sydney to Auckland on October 25 and he’ll head down to Christchurch from there. With all the challenges of COVID-19, Alchin will entrust the training team of Nathan Purdon and Chrissy Dalgety with Tough Monarch. “I’ll go if I possibly can, but it seems very, very unlikely that will work out,” Alchin said. “I’ve got him where I want him and going back (to Christchurch) has always been the plan. “I was thrilled with his run last weekend. We’ll give it a crack again and see how we go.” Tough Monarch was third-up from a break when he finished strongly for third to Pink Galahs and Dance Craze in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint at Melton last Saturday night. “He had to come deep when they were really sprinting hard up front and still kept coming. He ran his last half in 56.3sec. It was a terrific run,” Alchin said. If all falls into place, Alchin’s next task will be locking-in a driver for both the NZ Free-For-All and the Dominion. “We haven’t got that far yet,” he said. “We’re just hoping the flight goes as planned on the 25th and we work things out from there.”   Adam Hamilton

IT was the win that had it all. Three-year-old filly Pink Galahs did the unthinkable beating Australia’s best open-aged trotting stars in the $50,000 Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint (1720m). And the post-race interview with trainer-driver Matty Craven was raw, emotional and about the greatest advertisement you’d ever get for harness racing. The love for the horse, pride Craven had in his filly and overall buzz of the win totally overcame the young horseman. “You wouldn’t think it would make me so emotional, but it has. She’s just something else this filly,” he said as tears flowed freely. “I’d love to see her heart when she leaves this earth, it’ll be huge. If all horses tried as hard as her, this game would be easy.” The pint-sized Pink Galahs, by colonial stallion Skyvalley, landed the one-one trail and squeezed into the open rounding the final bend before storming home to snatch a head win over the leader and hot favourite Dance Craze in a 1min54.3sec mile rate for 1720m. Just 0.6sec outside Keystone Del’s track record. Most trainers wouldn’t dream of running a three-year-old against Group 1 open-aged trotters and, yes, this is an elongated season, but it was still remarked for Pink Galahs at just her 16th start. She’s won 10 of them with four placings. Dance Craze had to bustle to lead from the pole, something she hasn’t done often, and was excellent in second. Tough Monarch looks on target for a return trip to NZ where he won at Group 1 level on Cup Day last year after a ripper third. Andy and Kate Gath’s stars Tornado Valley and McLovin both disappointed in ninth and eighth spots. Both will be fully vetted tomorrow (Monday), especially Tornado Valley, who pulled-up “quite distressed” in the words of Kate Gath to stewards. __________________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt didn’t hesitate to declare Elite Stride the fastest and best young trotters he’s driven. But, just as quickly, he added the three-year-old Muscle Hill colt has a long, long way to go to be spoken of in the ilk of champion trotters like Lyell Creek and Take A Moment. “He’s not the complete package, but his speed and potential is amazing. If he keeps developing he could be something special, but he’s got a few million and a stack of big open-class races to win before I’d compare with those others,” Butt said. Elite Stride unleashed a 26.7sec split down the back straight to blast to the front and then was nursed to a three-metre win over the promising Red White An Bloom in the $30,000 Group 2 Holmfield (1720m) in a 1min56.6sec mile rate. Bred and owned by Emilio and Mary Rosati, out of their former US trotting mare Real Babe, Elite Stride raced 10 times for nine wins, a second and earned $100,190. He’s got all the big three-year-old trotting races to come, including the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE was a lot to like about Mighty Conqueror’s racetrack return. The reigning WA Cup winner opened a campaign aimed at defending that crown with a terrific second to Convert Denario at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It was his first run since winning the WA Cup in January and came after being scratched from a race two weeks ago. While Convert Denario led and dictated, Mighty Conqueror was trapped deep early, eventually found the spot outside the leader and kept coming to be beaten just 2.5m in second spot. They went a solid 1min55.9sec mile rate for the 2130m and ripped home in 56 flat and 27.8sec. Mighty Conqueror will certainly improve off the run and he’ll need to when he meets WA’s benchmark horses at the moment in Chicago Bull and Shockwave in coming weeks. His new stablemate, former top class Kiwi mare Wainui Creek, also impressed despite being beaten at her first WA run for Team Bond. Wainui Creek sat outside classy local Millwood Molly and failed a whisker to run her down in what turned into just a sprint home in 56 flat and 27.3sec against the mares. Most Kiwi horses improve with their first experience around Gloucester Park and, as you’d expect, Wainui Creek looks like she’ll be as good as any mares in WA. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE signs were terrific with injury-plagued superstar Turn It Up’s comeback run at Albion Park last night (Saturday). Having his first run since winning the Harness Jewels 4YO final on June 1, last year, Turn It Up settled last from an outside back row draw and came right around the field in blistering closing splits to finish third to Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One. New trainer Vicki Rasmussen, who now leases the former Auckland Cup winner, would have been thrilled with Turn It Up’s own closing splits of 54.3 and 26.9sec.  It was the first time in his 16 start career he’s finished further back than second, having won 11 of them. Colt Thirty One controlled the race from outside the leader and won well by 4.4m from the leader, Secretagent Tycoon. Turn It Up was 10.3m from the winner. In other Queensland news, another injury-plagued star Hectorjayjay showed he was close to a racetrack return with a sharp Albion Park trial win last Friday. __________________________________________________________________________________________ YES it’s a different and elongated season, but Australia may never have seen a two-year-old crop quite like this. At Menangle last night, Victorian trainer Mick Stanley’s two star youngster Bar Room Banta and Soho Almasi brilliantly won their NSW Breeders Challenge semi-finals. Bar Room Banta smashed the Australasian two-year-old, posting a stunning 1min50.3sec mile, which took 1.1sec off Ignatius record. On loan to Craig Cross and driven by Luke McCarthy, Bar Room Banta still looked quite strong on the line, but runner-up Tasty Delight was mighty in second spot, just 1.1m from the winner. The other colts and geldings semi went to exciting local Watts Up Sunshine, who actually finished second to the exciting He Aint Fakin, but got the nod on protest in a 1min52.9sec mile. Soho Almasi stalked her main danger Arma Renegade in the second of the fillies’ semis and cruised past her in a 26sec last quarter at the end of 1min52.6sec mile to win by 6.6m. The first fillies’ semi was a stroll in the park for the brilliant Anntonia in a cosy 1min54sec mile. She looks the only possible threat to Soho Almasi in the final. Earlier in the night at Melton, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin flexed their muscle by snaring the first five home in the $50,000 Vicbred Home Grown final for 2YO fillies. The times were off the charts with winner Ladies In Red’s 1min51.9sec mile rate for 1720m taking a whopping 1.6sec off Nostra Beach’s 2YO fillies’ race record at Melton. As good as Ladies in Red was snatching a last-stride win over a very brave Tough Tilly, who sat parked, Tonkin insisted their were a vintage crop. That’s evidenced by just 2.6m separating their first five home in the record time. Tonkin and Stewart also grabbed first (Act Now) and third (Major Moth) in the Home Grown colts and geldings final in a 1min53.2sec mile rate. __________________________________________________________________________________________ YOU can also throw Idyllic in the conversation of our best two-year-olds. It might only have been a ho-hum Geelong race last Friday, but Idyllic equalled the all-aged track record as a two-year-old at just his sixth race start. And that’s after sitting parked, running a 58.3sec middle half and still running home in 57.3sec. The Clayton Tonkin-trained youngster rated 1min55.6sec for the 2100m, matching the record of his ex-stablemate Dee Denuto. At the same meeting, Tiger Tara’s baby brother Stingray Tara made it three wins (and a second) from his four Aussie runs for Geoff Webster. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was a close call, but classy former All Stars pacer Im Anothermasterpiece made a winning debut for new trainers Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars at Melton last night. Remarkably well graded given his Kiwi form in the top races, the entire led, dictated and just staved-off the promising Denis William along the sprint lane to win by a head. “He’s only been here about 10 days and we’re still learning about him. It feels like he might be stronger than he is fast, but at least he go the job done tonight,” Sugars said.   By Adam Hamilton

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