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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

Punting 101: Never rely solely on a horse’s figure form for an accurate reflection of its winning chances. Messini’s last 12 starts going into today’s Greggs Electrical Ouyen Pacing Cup read: 887d46439006.  But the classy two-time Vicbred Super Series champion (at three and four) captured the harness racing silverware in the 2423-metre, Group 3, $30,000 race. Trained by Brent Lilley, Anthony Butt guided the six-year-old Art Major-Mesmerizing entire to the narrowest of wins after a stirring duel with Chris Alford’s Im Corzin Terror up the straight. Messini notched a new track record, a 1:56.0 mile rate ensuing after runners jostled aggressively for position around the tight 769m circuit. Early it was Egodan and Whenmechief who battled for the top with Egodan winning out. When Stormfortheboys came looking for a slice of the action mid-race Whenmechief kicked up to make him work, then Egodan also held him out. With a kilometre to go Alford made his move aboard Im Corzin Terror, circling the field to rush to the front. The bell had not long stopped ringing when Whenmechief put up the white flag and Lets Elope, who had looped to the breeze mid-race, was also in reverse. The fresh horse on the scene was Messini, Butt timing his run to perfection. Im Corzin Terror though is a tough horse to get past and he didn’t give up without one heck of a fight. But Messini’s head-down racing style saw him get the nod in the finish. Today’s second placing saw Im Corzin Terror (11 points) go to the top in the 2016-17 Own the Moment Trots Country Cups Championship. A $25,000 bonus awaits the Country Cups champion at season’s end, and Im Corzin Terror is in the box seat with Hectorjayjay (10 points and second) and Major Secret (nine points and third) not currently in action. Messini’s win took him to four points from five starts in the series. Shakahari for Rebecca Bartley finished third today, ahead of Egodan, whose effort was gutsy, and the same can be said for Stormfortheboys in fifth. Whenmechief was beaten 42.9m and Lets Elope 68.1m in last place. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Now we have a contest. Kiwi raider Lady Chatto has the barrier draw advantage to really test unbeaten Aussie filly Mysweetchilliphilly in Saturday night’s Group 1 Gold Tiara final at Bathurst. Lady Chatto looked good winning her Tiara heat at Bathurst last Wednesday, but Shane and Lauren Tritton’s Mysweetchilliphilly looked even better in considerably quicker time. “If she’d drawn inside us, then we were in trouble, but now we’ve got our chance,” said Lady Chatto’s driver Anthony Butt. “I was impressed with Lady Chatto in her heat, She pinged out of the gate, raced like a real pro and did it easily. “Obviously Mysweetchilliphilly ran quicker time and looked very good doing it, but the draw gives us our chance.” If Lady Chatto shows the early speed she did in her heat, she should work across to lead from gate six. In contrast, the unbeaten Mysweetchillyphilly, is drawn the back row (gate 10). “We’ve got a huge opinion of our filly,” co-trainer Shane Tritton said. “The draw makes it a race now. We are following out behind some speed, so we should get amongst it early.” Amazingly, Butt said this would only be the second time he has driven at Bathurst Gold Crown final night. “The other time was obviously on the old track 10 or 15 years ago when I drove in both the Crown and Tiara finals, but didn’t have any joy,” he said. Team Tritton is the dominant force at Bathurst as they also have unbeaten colt Divine State in the Crown final. He’s been so impressive winning his three starts, not even an outside draw (gate eight) will prevent he from dominating the betting. “Drawing out there doesn’t bother us. We are very happy with the draw,” Shane Tritton said Adam Hamilton

STAR Kiwi trotter Speeding Spur will have to overcome a tricky draw when he returns to Melton to chase another Group 1 win on Saturday night.  In contrast, another classy Kiwi trotter Sunny Ruby looks the main threat on the strength of her recent fantastic form and a favourable barrier (gate four) in the $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m).  Speeding Spur has drawn barrier seven, but will come into six if emergency Its Not Dark Yet doesn’t gain a start.  Speeding Spur and Sunny Ruby ran second and respectively when they last met in the Group 1 Great Southern Star behind Glenferrie Typhoon on Hunter Cup night.  Glenferrie Typhoon has since succumbed to injury and been spelled.  Sunny Ruby, now in the care of Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt, has gone on to post three wins, two of them at Group 1 level.  Although Andy and Kate Gath don’t have Glenferrir Typhoon in the feature, they have two runners in former Kiwi mares Clover Mac (gate one) and K D Muscles (12).  The other Kiwi flavour in the race comes with Daryl Boko and Prince Fearless.  Daryl Boko, who has been switched from Tim Butt to Sonya Smith for an extended Aussie campaign, has gate two.  The enigmatic Prince Fearless was transferred from the All Stars’ barn to Nicole Molander after winning a support race on Hunter Cup night and has gate six this week.  Molander also has a strong hand in another of the features, the $50,000 Group 1 Breed For Speed Gold final (1720m) with High Gait from barrier three.  The main threats look to be Red Hot Tooth (gate three), Sky Petite (eight) and Heavenly Sister (10).  Also of note is the enormous growing influence of Yabby Dams owner Pat Driscoll and his private trainer Anton Golino.  They have a staggering seven of the 11 runners in the $60,000 Need For Speed Princess final for three-year-old trotting fillies.  Golino has repeatedly said Dance Craze, to be driven by Gavin Lang, is the pick of his fillies when she does everything right. Adam Hamilton

Australia's harness racing spotlight moves to an historic Cranbourne Cup meeting tomorrow (Friday) night. After the $150,000 Cranbourne Cup for thoroughbreds was postponed because of crazy winds back in Spring, the club opted to reschedule it for a bumper dual-codes Cup meeting this week. So the galloping Cup will share the limelight with the $70,000 Group 1 Cranbourne Gold Cup of harness. It’s a truly exciting smorgasboard for fans of both codes. On the harness front, the Gold Cup has attracted a strong field headed by in-form recent country cup winners Flaming Flutter and My Kiwi Mate. They clash for the third time in as many meetings with Flaming Flutter overpowering My Kiwi Mate in the Terang Cup on February 11 then My Kiwi Marte turning the tables and relegating Flaming Flutter to second spot in the Bendigo Cup six days later. Flaming Flutter has the best of the draws in gate three and is a $2.40 favourite on the Aussie TAB, while My Kiwi Mate is $4.20 from gate 11. The other key player is noted frontrunner Maximan, who upstaged Have Faith In Me at Melton last month. He’s a $4 shot and big threat if he can lead from gate four. The other highlight of the harness card is the Group 1 Knight Pistol where Kiwi trotting mare Sunny Ruby is $2.30 favourite to win again despite drawing the outside (gate seven). Sunny Ruby, in the care of Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt, has thrived during her Aussie campaign which has netted three wins and a third from just four starts along with $98,400 in stakemoney. Another big watch runner at Cranbourne is David Aiken’s two-year-old first starter Higherthananeagle in the Sapling Stakes (race four). The colt is a brother to Fly Like An Eagle (19 wins, $699,419), Mach Doro (14 wins, $146,086) and Three Squared (two wins, $62,045), who looked exciting before having to be put down. Higherthananeagle blazed a 1min56.8sec mile rate, including a 56.2sec half, winning a Shepparton trial by a big space last Thursday. “He’s a real natural and exciting. He went a lot quicker than we planned in the trial, but it doesn’t seemed to have taken anything out of him,” Aiken said. “We’ve got Beltane in the race as well and we think he’ll develop nicely as the season goes on, but Higherthananeagle is the pick of them at the moment. We think he’ll be very hard to beat.” Adam Hamilton

With a jaw-dropping pace-setting run Smolda reinforced his standing in the top tier of Australasian harness racing pacers, becoming the first horse to win back-to-back PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cups. Smolda took the sting out of fellow heavyweights stablemate Lazarus and rival Lennytheshark in a breathtaking cup that has only heightened expectations around the forthcoming Summer Of Glory, featuring the Eynesbury Victoria Cup and Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. The reigning Ballarat and Hunter Cup champion and recent Inter Dominion and South Australian Cup winner reasserted his standing as the equal of any, with his victory in a 1:54.8 mile rate smashing the track record set last year. The gelding by Courage Under Fire found the front largely unchallenged from the gate and a gasp went through the considerable crowd as he piled on a 27.5 second quarter and then followed with 27.7 and 27.3 third and fourth quarters in driver Anthony Butt’s hands. “He’s got a high cruising speed and it doesn’t surprise me,” said Smolda's trainer Mark Purdon, who took the reins of second-placed Lazarus. “He runs along, you don’t really know the speed you’re going with him. That suits him the way Anthony drove him and tonight you couldn’t take it away from him with those sectionals.” Smolda took his winnings well past $2.2 million, while Lazarus lost few fans with a mighty run first-up in Australia, and Victoria's favourite Lennytheshark also entered rare air with his third placing, beaten only 5.6m, taking him past $2 million in career earnings. It was a race about the big three and all walked away with reason for optimism, including David Aiken, trainer of Lennytheshark. “We always knew he needed the run (being) first up from a couple of months. I just was really rapt, the quick last mile and he kept coming on the line,” Aiken said. “These are great horses. (Smolda) just keeps doing it. He sometimes seems a little patchy, but at the moment he is just in the zone, he’s going fantastic.” He said Alford’s decision to ease Lennytheshark from the gates, rather than hustle Smolda for the lead, was a simple one. “I think the only way we could have crossed Smolda was if we had have drawn a little bit wider than him, it’s very hard when you are alongside him to lead. Chris was always going to drive him that way. “When they are a little bit underdone to blast them out and bring them undone that way would have been no good for their prep. It was just the run he needed to have. “ Lazarus will also  benefit greatly from the run, according to Purdon, who reaffirmed that his gun four-year-old would be pointed towards the January 28 Victoria Cup and then the February 4 Edgell Sidewinders 4YO Bonanza. In the cup, Purdon took Lazarus to the rear of the field from gate seven and entered the throng three-wide the final time down the main straight, taking the breeze position outside Smolda and with Lennytheshark on his tail. “They were rolling all the way,” Purdon said. “(Lazarus) wasn’t travelling on the bridle, he was working probably from when I went with him. “The racing Smolda’s had under his belt stood to him, where as Lazarus is on his way back up again and probably the run he will benefit from it.” And with that, the trots imminent Summer Of Glory grand stage is becoming clearer. Lazarus looks certain to shape off against Aiken’s fleet-footed superstar Hectorjayjay in Saturday night’s $400,000 Victoria Cup. Lennytheshark will be geared towards the following week’s $500,000 Hunter Cup where he will resume his showdown with Smolda, but there is room for a few twists in the tail. Of Smolda, Purdon said he would “probably” skip the Victoria and be geared towards the Hunter, but he hasn’t been ruled out of doing the double. Smolda, Ballarat Cup 2017 Either way, Hectorjayjay will be ready come Saturday night. “If Hector draws good, he’s got that great gate speed and we saw in Perth if he can just get that one reasonable quarter he can run off a really good half,” Aiken said. “That run in the Shep Cup, that really tightened him up for next week. But Lazarus, if you have a look at his sectionals, he’s probably run a 1:51 mile, it was a heck of a race.” And there will be plenty more to come on Hunter Cup night, when Lennytheshark and Smolda face-off. “Two old hard heads,” Aiken said. “I think Smolda would have been a bit more wound up than Lenny (for Ballarat). He went into the Inter final and has gone to Adelaide and we’ve got a bit of confidence that we are probably going to get better than tonight. “I’m really happy, because Lenny’s had a few issues with his foot and he’s come through the run sound.  He’s come through the race really good fitness wise and that will really tune him up for the Hunter Cup.” And there could be a further spanner to throw into the works, no less than the horse who produced Australia’s fastest mile, Have Faith In Me. Purdon’s wildcard galloped in scoring up ahead of the night’s PETstock Family Values Loyalty Free For All, missing the start by 100m. His recovery to take the breeze was incredible, but he paid the price and faded in the straight to run fifth.  “He was very fractious, didn’t want to really take part and gave them quite a start,” Purdon said. “I wasn’t disappointed with his performance afterwards, but was disappointed with his antics early. “He paced good in running and didn’t put a rough one in, so I’m happy with him that way, I just think maybe he was a little bit fresh for tonight’s assignment.” The poor behaviour means Have Faith In Me will be out of the draw for at least his next two starts at trial or race, and Purdon said he’d likely be entered into Saturday’s The Cougar Bourbon Pure Steel before taking on the Hunter Cup. “I’m not going to worry too much about that, if he’s out of the draw he’s out of the draw,” Purdon said, implying Have Faith In Me may not be trialled to improve his draw for the Hunter Cup. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

New Zealand warrior Smolda created harness racing history by becoming the first to capture back-to-back Ballarat Pacing Cups on Saturday night. And in doing so he upstaged his younger stablemate superstar and short-priced favourite Lazarus ($1.40). in a stunning performance. Smolda ($4.50) led and gave nothing else a chance in running a track record mile rate of 1:54.8 -smashing the 1:55.3 he ran in winning the race last year. Lazarus completed a quinella for Mark Purdon, while Lennytheshark ($6.60) ran a brave third – 5.6m behind Smolda.  Smolda now has earnings of over $2.2 million. While Purdon, who drove Lazarus, was naturally delighted with the performance of his old warhorse and reigning Inter-Dominion champion, it was not the outcome he expected, although he still had plenty to smile about. Smolda also gave Victorian-based NZ reinsman Anthony Butt a third win in the Cup, following Stunin Cullen in 2011 and Mah Sish in 2013. Smolda Butt only picked up the drive after the barrier draw on the Monday night leading into the Cup and was appreciative of the opportunity to continue a long association between the Butt and Purdon families. Like Butt, Purdon now three Ballarat Cups to his name – the difference being as a trainer. He won with Highview Tommy in 2012 before Smolda’s two successes. With the Purdon and Butt combination New Zealanders have now also won five of the past seven editions of the race. Part-owner Phil Kennard said connections had always hoped to return to Ballarat for a title defence, but never imagined winning the Cup for a second time. In a night of history, the Courage Under Fire gelding joins Sinbad Bay as the only two-time winner of the Cup. Sinbad Bay achieved the feat in 1991 and 1996. HOW THEY FINISHED $4.50 SMOLDA (A Butt) $1,40 fav LAZARUS (M Purdon) $6.60 LENNYTHESHARK (C A Alford) Then followed: $34.20 YOUNG MODERN $117 ADAM CARTWRIGHT  $56.20 IT IS BILLY $150 SAVESOMTIMETODREAM  $17.80 MAJOR SECRET  By David Brehaut Reprinted with permission of The Courier

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