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The unofficial queen of Port Pirie Kate Gath returns home on Sunday to take part in the annual Elders Insurance Mid North Drivers Invitation. The entire six-race Port Pirie program are invitation races featuring a host of top drivers from across Australia. Wayne and Danielle Hill along with Jayden Brewin will represent South Australia competing against Victorians Michael Bellman, Anthony Butt and Kate Gath. Western Australia has Nathan Turvey and Shannon Suvaljko, Queensland’s rep is Pete McMullen and Chris Geary from New South Wales completes the invitation field. Gath tied with Ryan Hryhorec in the 2013 Elders Insurance Invitation and won outright in 2016.  Anthony Butt is a previous winner having scored in 2015. The 2018 version looks tight with no standout having scored the best of the drives, but Gath does look to have a good chance of taking out the series. She will partner the Heather Stevens-trained Bettorhavtime in heat one over 1609m which from gate two should get a good run and looks an each-way hope and an excellent chance of running into the placings. Gath drives Timansi for Greg Sims in heat three over 2050m and a place would appear the best hope. The Dale Afford-trained Cheersbigears is her drive in heat four over 2050 metres and again the gelding looks a place chance at best in a tough heat. Top Port Pirie trainer Lyndon Hall has Two Kays in heat five over 2050 metres. The three-year-old filly has failed to flatter in seven starts and is resuming from a break.  Two Kays did show improvement in a recent Port Pirie trial and might surprise. Gath will partner the Les Harding-trained The Shooting Star in the sixth and final event. The Shooting Star will come from gate five in a field of six where the Claire Goble-trained Clarenden Valour looks her strongest rival. Clarenden Valour will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, currently Western Australia’s leading reinsman. Suvaljko has a number of handy drives in the Elders Insurance series and must be considered as a possible victor. His other drives are Goodtime Scout (heat one), Hez Declan (heat three), Quadentate (heat four) and Little Growl (heat five). See how form expert Ben Harding has analyzed the Elders Insurance Mid North heats at trotsguide.com.au with comments, selections and speed maps for all six races. Graham Fischer

THE record-breaking Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal may not even start favourite in a ho-hum Menangle free-for-all on Saturday night. That’s because he is locking horns with NSW’s buzz pacer of the moment, Majordan, and the new kid on the block has a better draw and looks the leader. Majordan, who has gate 10 compared to My Field Marshal’s barrier 11, could not have been more impressive winning his past three starts for new trainer Kevin Pizzuto. The five-year-old followed 1min48.9sec and 1min49.4sec mile wins at Menangle with a demolition job in last Saturday night’s Newcastle Mile. Majordan won by 20m in a scorching 1min51.4sec mile, which took 0.8sec off Avonnova’s race and track record from two years earlier. “And think about the fact he ran that time on a cold night compared to the Newcastle Mile usually being run in summer as a lead-up to the Miracle Mile,” driver Luke McCarthy said. “I can assure you he had plenty left. He could’ve gone quicker, much quicker if I’d asked him.” With McCarthy committed to his own horse Mach Doro (gate nine) this week and his brother, Andy, still away in Europe, Pizzuto has opted for Mat Rue to drive Majordan on Saturday night. Rue, 28, is best known for driving the then Belinda and Luke McCarthy-trained Baby Bling to win the 2013 Miracle Mile. Anthony Butt takes the reins on My Field Marshal, who is sure to be fitter and sharper for a workmanlike first-up Menangle win against a moderate bunch last Saturday night in a relatively cosy 1min52.4sec mile. My Field Marshal has the class and form at the top level, but Majordan has stirred huge excitement and Pizzuto has declared him serious Miracle Mile material. Throw in a handy support crew with the in-form Mach Doro and Match In Heaven and this should be a fascinating pointer to the $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle on June 24. Adam Hamitlon

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

Transplanted Kiwi trainer Tim Butt is hoping for a near two-minute commercial for his new Sydney training base to be beamed Australasia-wide on Saturday night — called the Miracle Mile. Butt stunned the local harness racing industry last year when he left his native Canterbury for the outskirts of Sydney, where he now has 12 horses in work including Miracle Mile blowout hope My Field Marshal. He and wife Andrea have no regrets about the move as Menangle provides localised racing without great travelling, a chance to tap into Australian riches and hopes of building a new ownership base. "And I'd always wanted to live in Australia, and I thought you only live once so why not," says Butt.   While his team is ticking over nicely, more horses — and more good horses — are always welcome and a Miracle Mile win would be an advert for the stable like no other. "It would obviously be the dream result. We are going all right but you can't buy that level of exposure. "And I think we have a chance, the way the race is shaping up." My Field Marshal has been set for the mile and ignored the sapping distance races like the Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup, with his history of two wind operations suggesting sprinting is more his go. He won the Len Smith Mile, usually a mini Miracle Mile, at Menangle last year by sitting off a hot speed, something which looks likely again on Saturday night. "I think they will go hard and we could be trailing, three deep or in the one-one behind a horse like Soho Tribeca," says Butt. "And that would give us a chance. He may not be as good as Lazarus but he may not have to be with him drawn eight. "I also have Ants (brother Anthony) driving and that is always a plus in a group one race so we will get our chance." While many rival trainers are buoyed by Lazarus's defeat last week and barrier on Saturday, Butt is not so confident the champ is ripe for the beating. "I have had those top horses before with a bug and they get beat because they are a fraction off their peak form but then they can bounce back very quickly. "Mark is a great trainer and if he gets him back to his best this week and they go really hard early then I still think he can win. His last 100m last Saturday we very good, very brave." My Field Marshal has been one of the few roughies heavily backed this week, being as long as $23 with some bookies after the draw but only $10 with the NZ TAB fixed odds now. Michael Guerin

Next stop is the Victoria Derby heats for Australia’s buzz three-year-old Lumineer. The colt made it two wins from as many starts this campaign and stretched his unbeaten record to seven runs with another dominant display in last Friday night’s $20,000 VHRSC 3YO Classic (2240m) at Melton. He was surprisingly eased to the rear at the start from gate four, but driver Jason Lee made a lightning midrace move around them to take the front and won as he liked by 10.4m in a cosy 1min57.4sec mile rate. Lumineer ripped home in 55sec and 27.1sec under his own steam. “He can get fired up, so we didn’t want to use him off the gate this early in his campaign. Jason said he relaxed well coming back off the gate and then got the lead easily when he made his move,” trainer Ange McDowall said. “We know he’s got the gate speed when want to use it, but you don’t want to everu time with a horse who can get a bit keen.” McDowall said the run definitely sharpened-up Lumineer again. “He still had a good blow afterwards, so I’m glad he got a good hitout and we’ve had the two lead-in runs to the (Derby) heats.” The Derby heats are at Ballarat on Saturday week with the final at Melton on January 27. Although unbeaten Kiwi Chase Auckland won’t be there, McDowall still knows the enormity of the task ahead. “There are so many nice three-year-olds around. Poster Boy came back with a good win, I like the Queensland horse Colt Thirty One a lot and then there are the Kiwis as well,” she said. Poster Boy, regarded as Emma Stewart’s top Derby hope, opened his season with a soft Bendigo win last Saturday night. It proved little after he found the lead cheaply and only dashed-up the last 400m in 27.8sec to win by 9.6m.   _____________________________________________________________________________   It's been a golden few weeks for Brent Lilley. And it’s been a couple his veterans leading the charge in Kyvalley Blur across in NZ and now Messini back home. Messini landed yet another major win, this time as an outsider, when he outstayed a handy field in last Saturday night’s $60,000 Group 2 Bendigo Cup (2650m) in a 1min57.7sec mile rate. It was a fascinating race which sparked plenty of post-race stewards’ questions when favourites Ideal For Real and Moonrock duelled for the front for 400m. The effort took its toll on both with Moonrock finishing fourth and Ideal For Real, first-up for 16 months, wilting very badly to finishing last. Stewards queried Gavin Lang and Anthony Butt’s tactics on Ideal For Real and Moonrock respectively.   _____________________________________________________________________________   Popular Victorian driver Chris Svanosio confidently and correctly predicted his first Group 1 win at Bendigo. Svanosio spoke glowingly about Sparkling Success’ chances in a pre-race on-track interview and the John Meade trotter delivered with a dominant win in a scorching track record 1min53.9sec in the Group 1 Maori Mile. “He’s always shown so much potential and he’s really matured now,” Svanosio said. “That was some sort of win.” Reigning Great Southern Star champ Glenferrie Typhoon led in slick times, but looked under pressure when he broke and Sparkling Success powered clear. Sparkling Success won by 6.9m over Sonya Smith’s talented former Kiwi trotter Hey Yo with Vincennes in third spot.   _____________________________________________________________________________   It will be interesting to see whether NSW trainer Darren Elder heads to the Victoria Derby heats with Bright Energy. The emerging son of Western Terror impressively won the Group 3 Simpson Memorial at Menangle last Saturday night, which is a tradtional lead-up race for NSW-based raiders ahead of the Victoria Derby. It was a hotly contested 1min52sec mile with Shane Tritton’s Divine State bowling along front, before tiring late for fourth. Mark Jones’ Kiwi pacer Life Lavros was backed into favourite, but worked hard and dropped-out to finish last. The hardluck story was Amanda Turnbull’s lighly-raced War Dan – a brother to Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster – who ran into plenty of traffic issues in sixth spot.   _____________________________________________________________________________   Tim Butt’s Menangle stable continues to build momentum. Veteran former Scandinavian trotter Daryl Boko returned to his best form for the the most dominant of wins at Menangle last Saturday night. Despite sitting parked for driver Chris Geary, the eight-year-old powered clear to win by 10.5m in a 1min55.2sec mile.   _____________________________________________________________________________   So who is the stable star of the powerhouse KerryAnn Turner/Robbie Morris barn? Aztec Bromac grabbed the tag with a hugely successful Queensland spring campaign, but Charlaval has clearly gone to the next level in recent weeks. Fresh from upstaging Bling It On at Bathurst on Boxing Night, Charlaval dominantly won the Menangle free-for-all in a slick 1min51.3sec mile last Saturday night. Classy Kiwi pacer No Doctor Needed, back for another stint with Paul Fitzpatrick, caught the eye with a terrific second placing.   Adam Hamilton

It is harness racing semi-final time for the kiwi Breeders Crown runners at Bendigo on Saturday night in Australia. The first heat of the night is the Woodlands Stud semi-final for the 2yo colts and geldings and New Zealand is represented by both King Of Swing and Master Moonlite. King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover - Twist And Twirl) is trained by Ray Green at Pukekohe and is having his first Australian start. David Butcher will do the driving from a tidy barrier position of three and he could possibly lead from there and be hard to beat. Master Moonlite (Art Major - Miss Moonlite) who won fresh up in Australia on the 9th August, has not fared so well with the barrier draw, coming in at five on the second row. Anthony Butt will drive him on Saturday night with Dexter Dunn likely to get back on for the final if he qualifies. In the second heat, impressive filly Our Angel Of Harlem has drawn perfectly to lead at barrier two.  Trained by Barry Ward at West Melton, Our Angel Of Harlem was late arriving in Australia, due to a delay at Christchurch airport with fog last week, but is now settled in ready to rumble according to trainer Barry Ward. Our Angel Of Harlem (Mach Three - Paradise City) won her final hit out at the Ashburton workouts last week leading all the way for driver Jimmy Curtin in a slick 2:58.9 for the mobile 2400m. She won easily under a hold and paced the last 800m of that workout in a quick 56.9 seconds. Angel Of Harlem or Our Angel Of Harlem as she is named in Australia, will be driven in the semi-final by Anthony Butt who will also do the steering in the final if she qualifies on Saturday night.  Starting in the same heat is Our Bettor Joy from the Cran Dalgety stable. She has drawn barrier 10 and will be starting from three on the second row, which is not ideal, but she does have the services of master driver Gavin Lang to guide her around the Bendigo track. Up against the two New Zealand fillies is the impressive Art Major filly Nostra Villa, who has won all seven of her starts this season. Trained by Emma Stuart, Nostra Villa has drawn badly at one on the second line giving a clear advantage to the kiwi fillies in that heat. Partyon from the All Stars Stable starts in the first semi-final for the 3yo fillies and has drawn perfectly in barrier three. She looks a good thing to lead and then be hard to beat for driver Luke McCarthy. Another All Stars runner in More The Better starts in race five the first semi-final for the 3yo colts and geldings. More The Better (Bettor's Delight - Lucky Pocket) has drawn poorly at barrier 7 with his main danger The Little General faring much better after drawing the pole position of one from the mobile over 2150m. Also in that heat is ex- All Stars Stable runner Stars Align who has won five out of six starts in Australia for owners’ G J Kennard, P I Kennard, P J Creighton, M C Creighton, G R Douglas and K J Riseley. He has drawn badly at six on the second line and will need luck in the running to feature in the finish. Big Mach (Mach Three - Outback Girl) for Logan Hollis starts in the second 3yo semi-final and has drawn barrier 8 and will start from one on the second line needing luck. He is up against the Merv Butterworth owned Motu Meteor who is building an impressive record in Australia for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. Sicario (Somebeachsomewhere - Bettorthanyou) for the All Stars Stable in the second 2yo semi-final is the last kiwi breeders contender for the night and he has drawn well at barrier four for driver Luke McCarthy.    Harnesslink Media      

Punters take note, Our Bettor Joy (Bettors Delight-Joyfulbelle) is a serious, serious filly.  That's the take of Anthony Butt, who piloted the Cran Dalgety-trained speedster to a Breeders Crown heat win in the two-year-old fillies' section on Tuesday night at Shepparton. Butt spoke glowingly in fact of both Dalgety juveniles that won B/C heats in recent days, with Art Major-Miss Moonlite colt Master Moonlite also successful at Kilmore last night. Meanwhile, Butt gave us an insight into veteran trotting superstar Keystone Del, who resumed with a win on Sunday at Maryborough ahead of this weekend's second-up assignment at Tabcorp Park Melton.   https://soundcloud.com/hrv-2/trots-media-trotline-anthony-butt-10817   Cody Winnell Trots Media

Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety didn’t have to wait long for his Victorian fortunes to change in an Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night. The Dalgety-trained second favourite Our Bettor Joy charged home along the sprint lane for driver Anthony Butt to defeat front-running favourite Molly Kelly (Chris Alford) in the $A10,000 heat. The two favourites had the most speed early, crossing to lead and trail, with the pace buttoning off in the middle stages. Our Bettor Joy, a daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight and Joyfulbelle, won going away at the line by 2.5 metres. The NZ Delightful Lady Classic winner rated a comfortable 2:02.3 for the full 2190m in her Australian debut, the lead time for the last 800m being cut out in 58.3s, with the final 400m off the front in a swift 27.5s. Dalgety’s three-year-old trotting filly Chevron Express flopped in the Victoria Trotting Derby on Sunday, but the Breeders Crown 3YO Final on August 26 remains her main target. NZ Harness News    

Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety is hoping for a change of luck with Australasian Breeders Crown two-year-old pacing hopefuls, Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite, in Victoria over the next two nights. Bettor Joy, a Group Two winner of the Delightful Lady Classic at Auckland in March, makes her Victoria debut from wide on the front row in a Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Heat, at Shepparton on Tuesday night. Master Moonlite, looking to emulate the Breeders Crown victories of his dam Miss Moonlite (2012 4YO mares champion) and grand-dam Dancingonmoonlight (2000 3YO fillies champion), starts from barrier four in a Breeders Crown 2YO colts and geldings heat at Kilmore on Wednesday night. Dalgety gave three-year-old trotting stablemate Chevron Express a chance for Group One glory in the Victoria Trotting Derby at Maryborough on Sunday, but the NZ Hambletonian and NZ Trotting Oaks winner was very disappointing. Chevron Express, given an economical trip three-back on the markers by Dalgety's brother-in-law Anthony Butt, had nothing to offer in the run home. She dropped away and finished 36.7 metres from winner Une Belle Allure, a daughter of Angus Hall trained by Anton Golino. "She was super before the race and Ants (Butt) said she felt so well until 299 metres to run. She made a right goose of me, but I don't think we have a health issue," Dalgety said on Monday. "In hindsight, it was probably more a case of being underdone for a 2690m race. "I don't usually worry about blood tests too much, but we'll take some bloods off her just in case."  The Breeders Crown 3YO Trot Final on August 26 remains her main target. Butt will also drive Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite.  Top NZ reinsman and the Dalgety stable's regular driver, Dexter Dunn, is currently preparing for this weekend’s World Driving Championships opening round in Canada. NZ Harness News http://www.theinformant.co.nz/

Canterbury-trained two-year-old filly Our Renezmae finished third behind Australian star Wobelee ($1.40) in the $A50,000 Redwood Classic 2yo stand trot at Maryborough, Victoria, on Sunday. Young trainer Jack Harrington’s filly was no match for Wobelee, a son of Down Under Muscles, was has won eight from 10 starts for driver Chris Alford and clocked 2:49.3 over 2190m (stand) in the Group One classic. He started from one on the second line, but Alford stepped him out to lead as the one horse, Whizbang Dan, broke and veered sideways. Our Renezmae began well to trail, but was under pressure when the leader took off at the 800m, with Regal Assassin, who broke early, coming on strongly for second. The Cran Dalgety-trained filly Chevron Express failed in the Gr.1 $A70,000 Victoria Trotters 3YO Derby (2690m, mobile) behind Une Belle Allure. The Kiwi filly was driven by expat reinsman Anthony Butt, but drifted badly when three-back on the inner soon after turning for home. She was later examined by a vet. The Anton Golino-trained, Angus Hall-sired filly Une Belle Allure ($7.70) was too strong for favourites Dance Craze and President Roydon after taking over early from stablemate Dance Craze, as she won her seventh from 12 starts, including the NSW and Victoria Oaks. She sprinted home in 57.9s for her last 800m, clocking 3:25.9 overall. Earlier, Butt reined nine-year-old champion trotter Keystone Del ($6) to a fresh-up win, moving up from last at the 800m three-wide and powering home to win brilliantly for expat Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley over 2190m (mobile), clocking 2.42.1 and winning by 6.7 metres. By Dr Ronerail out of Kiwi-bred mare Flipside (by Aereus), he has now won 42 from 68 starts and $1.1m.   NZ Harness News http://www.theinformant.co.nz/

The days of Destreos racing at Albion Park are limited. Very limited. Destreos, aka King of the Creek, is the most winningest horse at the famed Breakfast Creek racetrack with 72 victories, is set to finish his wonderful career in Tasmania. Prepared by Ken Rattray and raced by his partner Sally Stingel, Destreos is set to leave the Sunshine State for the Apple Isle on Monday week (July 24th) following the sale of their Jimboomba property. Destreos starts at Albion Park tomorrow (Saturday) night, the final night of the 2017 Brisbane winter carnival before backing up again next Tuesday afternoon. The 13-year-old marvel has 95 career wins and could easily improve on that in the coming days. Cheer on Dex – an absolute star of Queensland harness racing! ***** Catcha Lefty, a winner of the Queensland Derby last season, resumes tomorrow night (Saturday). The four-year-old pacer starts in the Ranvet Pace and will run from the coveted inside gate where he will start a commanding favourite following an impressive trial earlier this week. Prepared by Cristina Monte and Charlie Cini, the Village Jasper gelding scored in the 1660m trial rating 1:53.9 – sectionals of 28.4, 30, 27.9 and 27.7 seconds. Catcha Lefty hasn’t raced since finishing at the rear of the field at TABCORP Park, Menangle on February 11. ***** Giant pacer Major Cam is looking to bounce back tomorrow (Saturday) night at Albion Park. The Art Major gelding missed a start in last week’s feature, the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint owing to an elevated temperature. Prepared by Kylie Rasmussen and Darren Weeks, Major Cam starts in the UBET – Multi Builder Pace over the 1660mand will be handled by Mat Neilson.  Major Cam has won 3 of his 4 starts this campaign while winning 12 from 22 overall. ***** Following the retirement news of classy mare Purple Royale recently, Team Elkins suffered another blow. Handy performers Flaming Hero and Royal Jacquard were involved in a track work incident and have sent for an immediate break. Flaming Hero has created a good impression since arriving in Queensland by winning 4 of his 8 starts at Albion Park, the Courage Under Fire gelding finished 6th behind Spare Me Days at his most recent start in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood Open on July 1. Royal Jacquard has also won 4 races at Albion Park. ***** Talented trotter Twice As Much is almost ready to start his Brisbane campaign. Now under the care of Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham, the Sam Bourbon five-year-old gelding scored in an Albion Park trial on Tuesday. Twice As Much was previously prepared by his co-owner, leading Victorian based mentor Anton Golino who shares ownership with leading French horseman Jean-Pierre Dubois. Leading driver Anthony Butt will be hoping to add another feature race tomorrow (Saturday) night at Albion Park before serving a suspension incurred from Melton’s feature meeting last weekend. Butt heads to Brisbane to partner in-form pacer My Field Marshal in the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship for trainer and Brother Tim. The brothers combined to win the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Albion Park with Take A Moment back in 2001. The suspension starts after the weekend. ***** Great to see so many of the best drivers in the country competing at Albion Park tomorrow (Saturday) night. Interstate drivers in action include Mark Purdon, Chris Alford, Luke McCarthy, Kerryn Manning, James Rattray, Anthony Butt and Greg Sugars among many others. Leading Perth based drivers Michael Grantham and Stuart McDonald are also competing at the card. Gary Hall Jnr. is also making the trip east – the Hall stable won the 2014 Blacks A Fake with champion pacer Im Themightyquinn. And the Purdon clan will also be in attendance. Making the trip with Mark is his sons Nathan and Michael while legendary horseman Roy will also be trackside to cheer on his pacer The More The Better, the clear favourite in the Queensland Derby. Nathan Purdon won the Blacks A Fake last year with Ohoka Punter.Qld Winter Carnival News Briefs Chris Barsby

Champion driver Dexter Dunn has answered a call-up to drive last-start Group One winner My Field Marshal in next Saturday night’s Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park.  The drives on My Field Marshal and Australia’s best pacer Lennytheshark became available because of a date clash with the huge Vicbred Grand Final night meeting at Melton.  Anthony Butt and Chris Alford had strong commitments keeping them at Melton.  My Field Marshal’s trainer Tim Butt gave Dunn first refusal, but had a good back-up with Blair Orange already driving at the Albion Park meeting. He will be on Delightful Memphis in the Queensland Oaks.  “Both have driven him before, but Dexter more often. I gave him first option and it’s great he said yes,” Tim Butt said.  “Dexter will drive him this week and Ants (Anthony) will be back on for the Blacks A Fake the week after.”  In Lennytheshark’s case, it will be the first time since June 28, 2013 anyone other than Alford has driven him in a race.  That stems back to when former trainer John Justice drove Lennytheshark in a semi-final of the Vicbred 3YO series at Melton.  Alford has taken the reins in all 41 starts since, for a smorgasbord of feature races wins.  “I’ve got some thinking to do and some talks to have with Kevin (Riseley, owner),” Lennytheshark’s trainer David Aiken said. “There’s no rush. I’ll enter him without a driver and make the decision when we have to.”  Aiken often drives Lennytheshark in his trials and must be a chance to take the reins himself this week, but he declined to speculate.  “I’d rather talk with Kevin and weigh-up all our options,” he said.  Aiken also confirmed Hectorjayjay would be a definite Sunshine Sprint starter.  “Yes, both of mine are definitely running next week,” he said. “They’ve come through their Len Smith runs well.”  Hectorjayjay is the defending Sunshine Sprint champ after storming home from a seemingly impossible position to beat Christen Me and Ohoka Punter in a 1.51.8 mile rate for 1660m last year.  Aiken said Hectorjayjay’s fourth after leading in the Len Smith Mile last Saturday week showed he was probably best suited to be driven with a sit at the absolute top level.  “We had to find out. He got a fairly comfortable lead time and second split, but then Lenny really poured the pressure on down the back straight,” he said.  “It’s always hard when you draw well with a horse that has his gate speed, but that speed he has at the finish when driven with a sit is a pretty big weapon.” Adam Hamilton

The harness racing fans turned out in force to see what was hailed as a match-race. But feature-race specialists Tim Butt and Anthony Butt spoiled the party when five-year-old My Field Marshall scored a race-record win in today's $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of former champion mare Foreal, by Art Major scored an amazing win in the Group One feature, nailing another surprise packet Mach Doro near the line to score in 1:50.2, breaking Hectorjayjay's race record set last year. The plucky Lennytheshark raced outside the leader Hectorjayjay and held on manfully to take third place, but had no answer to the sprint of the first two placegetters in the straight. Part-owner of My Field Marshall Syd Brown said he had looked at the list of previous winners including the likes of Smoken Up (four times), Changeover, Beautide, Smolda and Hectorjayjay and said he dreamt of just having a horse good enough to compete against the Grand Circuit stars. The rest was left to the Butt brothers . . trainer Tim has been in Sydney for almost a month preparing the Christchurch pacer for his shot at glory while Anthony, who is now domiciled in Melbourne, he has become one of that state's leading reinsman with a string of winners. But Anthony admitted this might be his biggest win on the Menangle circuit and was certainly something special against some of the best horses in Australasia. Hectorjayjay (Josh Aiken) showed his normal extraordinary turn of foot to easily find the front in the 1609m sprint while Lennytheshark (Chris Alford) never shirked the task and gradually made his way around the field to sit outside of his stablemate for most of the race. Turning for home it became obvious 'Hector' couldn't shake off his stablemate, but that didn't matter as first Mach Doro and then My Field Marshall made their moves out wide. Butt had something in hand as he easily picked up his rivals to score in 1:50.2 after sectionals of 26.9s, 29.4s, 26.8 and home in 27.1 for a win that stunned most of those present - except the Butts, who knew they had a horse that was up to the task. . . . and one whose name will look quite at home in the record books beside some of the greats of the sport. Amanda Zammit  

An ultra-impressive My Field Marshall mowed down some of Victoria’s best harness racing front runners to land another blow for those from the south-east of the Tasman. Just when the locals thought it was safe to return to the Tabcorp Park Melton straight after The Orange Agent's earth-scorching three weeks concluded, Kiwi trainer Tim Butt’s My Field Marshall nosed out Maximan and Major Crocker to claim tonight’s TAB.com.au Golden Reign Free For All. “He’s a beautiful horse, very adaptable, so he’s lovely to drive, hopefully he’s got a big couple of years ahead,” driver Anthony Butt said after My Field Marshall won for a second time in as many weeks, coming on the back of his TAB 4YO & 5YO Championship win. Butt showed intent from the outset tonight, working forward from gate six and advancing to the breeze to sit outside leader Stormfortheboys amid a 43.4-second lead time. Cover came when Guaranteed and then Major Crocker claimed the chair, with the frontrunners finding little time to reclaim their breath amid a sequence of sub-30 quarters. Come the final turn Kate Gath guided Maximan from the box seat and set foot after Major Crocker who had grabbed a length, with My Field Marshall taking the last crack at them. Butt timed it a treat, with My Field Marshall nosing ahead of Maximan on the line, while Major Crocker and fast finishing Milly Perez were just 1.4m back in third and fourth. “It was a really good run tonight, probably a step up on the field from last week but he felt really good and he was sharp,” Butt said. “He came out (of the gates) good tonight. He’s not blazing, but he can get out pretty good when you want him to. “When I came out on the corner he really sprinted, so he’s really going great. Last week he sort of outstayed them but (tonight) he really showed his speed.” It’s timely form, with My Field Marshall’s campaign geared towards the June 25 $106,000 Group 1 at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He’s going to go to the Len Smith Mile, it’s just a matter of whether he stays here for a race in two weeks or the Golden Mile at Menangle in two weeks,” Butt said. “That will be up to Tim, but the way he’s going he’s fitted in really good down here, he seems to like the track so I will be pushing for him to stay here for the two weeks and then go to the Len Smith Mile later. Tim will decide that.” My Field Marshall The Fuel Fast Pace, an M1 to M2, also went the way of a visitor, with South Australian trainer Greg Norman taking the honours when his six-year-old grey Adam Cartwright produced a withering burst. Driver Greg Sugars said the trainer deserved all credit. “Anyone who knows anything about South Australian harness racing knows the history of the Norman family, one thing they are for sure is great horseman and Greg is no exception,” Sugars said. “He does a very good job. “(Adam Cartwright) just needed an ounce of luck. It was a reasonable lead time and then the breaks came my way when it was time to get off and the horse did the rest.” The night also featured the Own The Moment Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace heats, with Jason Lee grabbing a break at the turn to guide Keayang Ebonyrose to victory ahead of favourite Rocknroll Magic in the second heat and trainer-driver Rodney Petroff winning the first heat with Brocks Territory. They will return for the $30,000 final on June 3. Of the trotters, Conon Bridge won a competitive $14,000 Aldebaran Park Monte Championship by a length from Vics Cheval and debutant K D Muscles, and Fabrication was impressive again in winning the Haras Des Trotteurs Trot, to the delight of driver David Murphy. “As a two, three, four-year-old he was probably a rung below the better ones but I always felt like he would get up to them and he’s making the transition into open age racing really well,” Murphy said. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Tim Butt has his sights set on Australia's best pacers with My Field Marshall. Butt arrived in Sydney a few weeks back with those ambitious plans, but had to rethink after My Field Marshall's Newcastle Mile flop. But the five-year-old made a lie of that run when he stormed home to beat a hot field in the Group 2 4&5YO Championship at Melton last night (Saturday). "Newcastle left me wondering," Butt said. "He ran such a top race behind Lennytheshark in the Bulli Cup in that quick time and I thought he'd be even better at Newcastle. "As it turns out, I think he didn't back-up after the big run in fast time behind Lenny. "I nearly scratched him from the Bulli Cup because he'd had a virus back home and I wasn't totally happy with him on the day of the Bulli Cup. I ended-up running him and he ran a huge race. "I was so confident going to Newcastle after that because I thought he'd improve again. "Looking back, the big Bulli Cup run when he wasn't quite right must have flattened him." Butt said all the signs were great again heading to the Melton feature, but he wanted to see a big showing. He got that and more. In a frantically run 2240m race where the pace never slackened after a blazing lead time, My Field Marshall sat backed and then sustained a long, strong finishing burst around the field to win impressively. "Ants (driver Anthony Butt) told me we'd need the pace on all the way to get into the back and thankfully we got that," Tim Butt said. "Still he had to go super to win. He really just outstayed them in the end." My Field Marshall beat a super brave NSW raider Mattgregor by 1.9m with Harness Jewels-bound Mr Mojito in third spot in a very slick 1min54.9sec mile rate for 2240m. Mattgregor's run to do so much work at the front of the field, look beaten rounding the last bend, but lift again late was simply amazing. My Field Marshall now returns Sydney for a clash with Lennytheshark in the Golden Mile at Menangle in June 10. The comes the Group 1 Len Smith Mile also at Menangle on June 25.  "If he goes well in both of those we will head up to the big Queensland winter races with him as well," Butt said. Adam Hamilton

If Australian-based Southlander, Sonya Smith, can win either the ANZAC or Rowe Cups in the next fortnight then all of her racing dreams would be fulfilled. The Victoria horsewoman trains the Fred Fletcher and Sam Smolenski owned Sunny Ruby at Gavin Lang’s former property in Melton. In fact she has trained the 5-year-old Sundon - Bright Diedre mare since Smolenski took her to campaign in Australia in late January. On January 28 the Smolenski trained and Mark Purdon driven Sunny Ruby won the Group One Dullard Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. A week later she placed in the Group One Great Southern Star. Then on February 17 Sunny Ruby won her first Group One for new trainer Smith and driver Anthony Butt in the Alderbaran Park 2017 Maori Mile at Bendigo. "I couldn't believe my luck. Sam just left the horse with us because he thought there were more options for her over here. "She has been absolutely amazing and made my year. Wow, if she won in New Zealand that would be a dream come true. I don't think I would ever stop celebrating," Smith laughed. She also joked that Butt was her strapper and driver while Sunny Ruby was campaigning in New Zealand. "Ants is doing all the work with her when she arrives at Andrew and Lyn Neal's Cambridge property on Thursday morning. Another Australia, Darryl Boko is also staying there. "Our mare will have two races at Alexandra Park and then return to Australia because there are so many Group races for her here in the autumn," Smith said. "I'll see how she goes in the ANZAC Cup and then I might fly over and watch her in the Rowe Cup a week later," she added. Sunny Ruby will be looking to become the first Australian-trained trotter to win the Group One ANZAC Cup this Friday night. The last time an Australian trained trotter won the Rowe Cup was in 2002 when La Coocaracha and Kerryn Manning nailed the coveted 3200m Group One trot. Although he is yet to win an ANZAC Cup, Butt is no stranger to driving Rowe Cup champions. He’s achieved that feat five times with Lyell Creek (2000, 2001, and 2004) and Take A Moment in 2003. “I’d love to win the Rowe Cup, simply because of it’s great history even though Ants thinks the horse would probably perform better over the ANZAC Cup 2200m mobile. “I’m just happy to have a trotter in both races. I’m a Kiwi and I know what those races mean to trainers over there. She has given me so many happy times already. I can’t believe Sam left the horse with us. I’m just eternally grateful,” said Southlander Smith, who spent 10 years working for Tim and Anthony Butt before migrating to Victoria. Sunny Ruby has also won the Group Three Charlton Trotters Cup on February 27 and the Group One Knight Pistol Trot on March 3. In New Zealand Sunny Ruby won 15 of her 55 starts including the Group One Harness Jewels 3YO Ruby (2015), and last year she nailed the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes and the Group Three Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. All up she's won 19 of her 63 starts and placed in 14 others for $360,020 in stakes. "She's a wonderful mare to work with. I think she can perform well in New Zealand because she likes to travel and she has won on the track previously," Smith said. Sunny Ruby has raced three times at Alexandra Park for a win and a placing. That win came in the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes just prior to her heading to Australia (December 16). "She beat a similar field to what she meets this Friday, so I'm forever hopeful. Ants will give her every chance," Smith said. Sunny Ruby has drawn 15 of 15 in Friday's sixth running of the Group One $100,000 ANZAC Cup. No Australian-based square-gaiter has ever won the Free-For-All. Sunny Ruby was bred by Fred Fletcher.   Duane Ranger

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