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There was class personified when some of the biggest names in Australasian harness racing flew into Melbourne from Queensland winter campaigns this week. Heading the list was the next superstar for the powerful New Zealand All Stars stables, three-year-old gelding Self Assured (Bettors Delight-Star of Venus (Christian Cullen), who is unbeaten in six race starts. Two of his Kiwi stablemates in Princess Tiffany (Art Major-Dancing Diamonds (Bettors Delight) and Jesse Duke (Bettors Delight-Daisy Dundee (In The Pocket) also made the trip. Boom Victorian colt Lochinvar Art (Modern Art-Ponder In Paris (Ponder), possibly the best Australian juvenile going around at the moment, was also on the plane south. The quartet were all air freighted from Brisbane. Check out the composure of Lochinvar Art and Jesse Duke arriving at Melbourne airport here: David Moran, partner of trainer Laura Crossland, said Lochinvar Art had enjoyed a few days off in a grass paddock before making the trip home. "We left him with some friends of ours in Kylie Rasmussen and Darren Weeks and he looks a picture. The short lay-off has done him wonders," Moran said. Lochinvar Art was sensational in two runs at Albion Park, finishing runner-up both times to Self Assured in the $31,600 South East Derby G3 (July 13) and then the $100,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby. "He needed the run on the first night, but he showed he was cherry ripe with an amazing performance to hang in there in the Derby which was run in race record time," Moran said. "Both Laura and I believe that effort wasn't far off being his best-ever run in his 25 career starts," he said. "And after all that, he pulled up unbelievably. He reminds me a bit of the old-school horses - he's so tough, he's got a big heart and just gives it his all." Lochinvar Art at the beach with Alex Alchin Self Assured recorded a mile rate of 1.54-2 for the 2680m Derby with closing quarters of 26.7 and 27.1. To put it into perspective, the time was only 0.5sec slower than that of Colt Thirty One who took out the Group 1 Blacks A Fake - a Grand Circuit event - at the same meeting. Lochinvar Art, Our Princess Tiffany and Jesse Duke will now campaign in the coming Breeders Crown Series, kicking off at Ballarat on August 9. Semis will be run at Bendigo eight days later with the $200,000 final at Melton on August 24. Self Assured, owned by Jean Feiss, is not Breeders Crown eligible so is heading home to New Zealand, to prepare for his next campaign - the All Stars website confirming a nomination for the Alexandra Park Inter Dominion is likely. "He will fly out to Auckland soon and spend time on agistment. We aim to have him back up and going in November," Purdon said Purdon and his partner Rasmussen are currently taking a short holiday on the famous Gold Coast, before also heading "back to work". "We always try and pencil in a break after a major carnival, otherwise it's so difficult to get away. We cut our numbers back to 40 after the Jewels and our next focus is on the new season." The recent victory was Purdon's 182nd Group One as a winning driver and his 100th as a trainer. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Mark's winning drive behind Show Gait, trained by Reagan Todd for Natalie's mother, Cheryl, in the 3yo filly trot at the Breeder's Crown was quickly outshone by the stunning performance from Princess Tiffany in posting her 9th win from 9 starts after being parked and severely tested by rival Kualoa who led most of the way in the 2yo Pacing Final. Tiffany looked to be battling after a scorching second to last quarter in 27 but living up to Mark's rating as the best juvenile filly he and Natalie have trained, rallied with true grit and class to win the $A290,000 stake in 2.40.2 giving All Stars its 11th Breeder's Crown win though it was the 13th for Mark as a driver. It was her third Group 1 win for Braeden and Caroline Whitelock and Phil and Margaret Creighton. Her mile rate of 1.55.3 was faster than that of the 3 year old colts race, giving some idea of the great performance Tiffany put up. She thus emulates the feat of Partyon who won the Jewels-BC double two years ago. She won her first 10 races in a row-something Princess Tiffany has right in her sights after a well deserved spell.  Unhappily it didn't work out quite so well for ANOTHER MASTERPIECE in the 3yo final. He was checked out of the race at the start and while mounting a huge effort after a classic drive from Mark he just found his early exertions a little too much in a last 800m in 54.5 settling for a valiant third. Earlier in the night Stress Factor, a former All Star, won the 3yo trot for the Brent Lilley stable.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stable  

The intrigue ahead of the three-year-old IRT Breeders Crown Grand Final was akin to the goings on in Canberra this week, but there can only be one winner in any power struggle. And tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton rising superstar Ride High produced a lethal mix of ridiculous speed, ironclad strength and versatility to blow away his rivals in the race touted by many in the lead-up as “the best Crown contest in years”. “He’s done it with ease,” beamed winning reinsman Mark Pitt (pictured winning tonight on Hurricane Harley) aboard the Emma Stewart-trained colt affectionately known by stable name ‘Chainsaw’ and a son of megastar Alabar stallion Art Major. “He’s only lightly raced and every time he goes out there he just keeps getting better and better.” If a good drive is “a peach” then Pitt produced punnets – making a lighting move seven furlongs out to arrest control from Queenslander Grant Dixon aboard polemarker Colt Thirty One. Once Dixon relented, and Poster Boy and Ignatius – two of the race’s big guns – lagged back and didn’t pour on the mustard, Pitt was riding high. “I was a little bit surprised there weren’t a lot of challenges but the tempo was very genuine and I suppose it made it hard for the backmarkers,” Pitt said. Ride High notched a mile rate of 1:55.2. Colt Thirty One held on for second, with Poster Boy third. Earlier, another Art Major young star Our Princess Tiffany made it nine wins from nine career starts for New Zealand champion trainer Mark Purdon. Our Princess Tiffany twinkled under the Melton lights, parking outside boom filly Kualoa and finding gears at the finish when the others had simply nothing in reserve to take the Always B Miki at Alabar two-year-old fillies’ final. “She was very courageous and full credit to her. She took quite a bit out of herself over-racing, which surprised me a bit. Down the back I just let her roll so we got down the back pretty good. We were off the bit at the quarter, but it just survival of the fittest,” Purdon said. Our Princess Tiffany went 1:55.3, with Kualoa a brave second and Enchanted Stride third. Wrappers Delight continued marching towards an Inter Dominion 2018 campaign, blowing away a strong line-up in the Hygain four-year-old Crown final. Driven by Kima Frenning – the former Swedish monte rider who now boasts a huge Australian fan base – Wrappers Delight dominated to score by almost 10m. “I just have got absolutely no words,” Frenning said. “I’m just shaking my head. I’m so grateful that I get to drive him and Aiks (trainer David Aiken) has done an amazing job with this horse to get him where he is today. It’s been such a cool ride to be on.” To kick off the night – in glorious winter sunshine – Kiwi Stress Factor remained unbeaten on Australian soil with victory in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown for in-form trainer Brent Lilley and champion driver Chris Alford. Stress Factor dictated in front to beat Anywhere Hugo and Kyvalley Finn in 2:00.4. Alford went back-to-back in the second race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies’ Final, courtesy of Sleepee – trained and owned by wife Alison. “Colin was kind enough to give us the opportunity to lease (Sleepee) and mum jumped in and took a share with me. It’s a little surreal, I never thought I’d own one, I always wanted to own one, and I said to Chris on Thursday I’m starting to get a bit nervous. He said I could have told you that on Monday.” Our Show Gait captured the three-year-old trotting fillies’ final for NZ trainer Regan Todd and Purdon, rating 2:01.2 to defeat Moonshine Linda. The two-year-old pacing final lived up to the hype, with Emma Stewart training the quinella as Hurricane Harley finished like a whirlwind to defeat Centenario to deliver driver Pitt the crown. “… He really dug deep and deserved to win,” Stewart said of the performance. Speak No Evil extended her winning streak to six in the Woodlands three-year-old fillies’ final – another win for Stewart/Alford – holding off Angel Of Arts in second and My Harmony Blue in third. “She’s had an amazing season really, winning this and winning Vicbred and an unlucky second in the Oaks as well,” Alford told Trots Vision. “You can’t ask much more.” Kyvalley Clichy secured Alford his fourth crown for the evening but in controversial circumstances, having to withstand a protest from runner-up Kate Gath aboard Dream Mastar after the winner broke stride in the run to the post. “I’m extremely happy. This is a race I’ve been very fortunate in over the last 18 years. I’m just very lucky and hope the luck continues,” said winning owner Jim Connelly. Dean Braun-trained Carlas Pixel showed she had classes on her rivals in the Nevele R Stud Breeders Crown four-year-old mares’ final, thoroughly dominating. Driven by Pitt – who won three crowns tonight – Carlas Pixel had to work to find the front early but had plenty left at the finish to score by almost 7m over runner-up Cherry Stride in 1:54.2. “She’s a fantastic mare. Every time we have taken her out she’s just got better and better,” Braun told Trots Vision. “She’s just got an amazing constitution, she never really gets sick. She’s just one of those horses; she’s a pleasure to train and the owners are really, really good people. She’s a star. She’s got a motor as big as herself.” Cody Winnell

Leading Australian harness racing driver Chris Alford has struck first blood in the Breeders Crown finals tonight, leading all the way with ex-Kiwi trotter Stress Factor in the Gr1 3yo C&G Trot final.   Trained by Brent Lilley at Bolinda, Stress Factor (Majestic Son - Fear Factor) was quickly off the gate to find the front and was never in doubt easing down at the line to win comfortably from Anywhere Hugo who trailed and fought on well for second. Kyvalley Finn ran home well up the fence for third.   The finals night has some great racing ahead including arguably the race of the year with the 3yo superstars Poster Boy and Ignatius doing battle in Race 7 the 3yo Colts and Gelding pacing final.   For all the Breeders Crown finals results with drivers comments click here.   For race results and videos of all races click here.    

Lamborghini or Harley? It’s a question for punters, but champion trainer Emma Stewart needn’t pick — both are in her stables near Ballarat. Stewart dominates tonight’s Woodlands Stud two-year-old pacing $290,000 colts and geldings Breeders Crown final, which presents as a crowning glory in a history-making season for a trainer who appears destined to eclipse Queensland legend Bill Dixon’s all-time Australian record of 299 wins in a season. Her stable boasts clear favourites in Centenario, named after the $2 million Lamborghini, and Hurricane Harley, as well as Hardhitter, Fourbigmen, Brevity and first emergency Nostra Ideal. “They haven’t surprised us, really, because they’re all wellbred stock, they’ve all had a good grounding and we’ve liked them ever since they’ve come along,” Stewart said. “They’ve been easy to do anything with the whole way through — we’ve been lucky with the crop this year.” Punters believe Centenario — from gate four — is the horse to beat, with TAB posting him at $1.75 fav, because he drew inside Hurricane Harley ($2.20 from gate five). Last time the Stewart stars met, Centenario won the Vicbred Super Series final as an $8.30 shot from barrier two, while Hurricane Harley misbehaved from gate one and came in 10th at $1.20. Both have sensational strike rates — Centenario has eight wins including two Group 1s from 10 starts for more than $257,000, and Harley six from eight for more than $101,000. “They’re hard to split,” Stewart said. “Centenario has done nothing wrong — he’s a genuine racehorse — but if Hurricane Harley was on his back then I’d be a little bit worried because he’s very fast.” If the Stewart juggernaut was to be upstaged, the odds suggest it may be another leviathan in famous colours. Champion New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon saddles up Im Anothermasterpiece, who ran an audacious second to Centenario in their semi-final at Bendigo last Saturday night and is the $6.50 third favourite. And while Stewart said “the market is probably right”, she admits to having a soft spot for $61 outsider Fourbigmen. “He can do a bit wrong at the races at the moment, but if he puts his best foot forward and there’s speed on early he’ll definitely be running home strong,” she said. “He is a great type, has a good attitude and is beautiful to look at.” For those who value trackwork, Stewart said “Fourbigmen can match Centenario here (at home) and Harley doesn’t work as good. “If you drove them here you’d pick Centenario every time because he’s a real good track worker whereas Hurricane just does what he has to. “Fourbigmen works as good at home, but at the races he’s a little bit naughty.” Stewart’s stable has 21 horses in action tonight.   Cody Winnell

TRAINER-driver James Rattray is optimistic about drawing the second row with his star pacer Ignatius in Saturday night’s Group 1 Breeders Crown Final at Melton, Victoria. Ignatius will start from barrier 10 and it will be the fourth time in his 18-start career that he will begin from the back line. “I don’t think it’s the worst draw,” said Rattray. “It makes the race interesting because some of the others have drawn a bit tricky as well.” Ignatius holds the favouritism to win the $195,000 epic battle despite facing the second defeat of his career in the semi-final last weekend. The three-year-old is currently ranked as the $3 TAB Fixed Odds favourite to win over the likes of Poster Boy ($4.20), Ride High ($4.50) and Colt Thirty One ($5). “Colt Thirty One has drawn well and looks like one of the main dangers with the draw,” said Rattray. “Poster Boy and Ride High are the other main dangers and they have drawn the second row too. “It makes for an interesting race and my tactics will just depend on how the race is run. “Ignatius is pretty versatile.” Ignatius was defeated by Poster Boy in last Saturday’s qualifier at Bendigo. After being forced to do the work outside the leader, Ignatius was only beaten a head in track recording-breaking time. The mile rate for the 2150m event was of 1:54.2. “He took no ill effects from that run . . . he has been bright and sharp ever since,” said Rattray. “His work has been good as well. “He hasn’t had a race like that for a long time so it was a bit of a wake up for him. “It was a huge run from him considering he sat parked and they broke the track record and he kept fighting to the line. “He has such a high cruising speed, I knew we were running along but it didn’t feel like it was in track record time. “He is so versatile and can do all the work and he’s come from behind to win before, like when he won the Breeders Challenge as a two-year-old, so we have options.” Ignatius won 13 races in a row before his recent second-placed effort. The son of Roll With Joe has won 16 races and has pocketed $283,134 in prizemoney.   Amanda Rando

CAN Australian Pacing Gold purchase Centenario join an elite group of two-year-olds? In a season where the leading contenders for Victorian Horse of the Year are evenly-matched, Centenario has a primed opportunity to claim the coveted title at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night. Boasting eight wins and two seconds from 10 starts, Centenario is the favourite to add the Breeders’ Crown Final to his impressive tally. As it stands the Emma Stewart-trained colt is already a dual Group One winner thanks to his performances in the Australian Pacing Gold and Vicbred Super Series Finals. Glory during his pending Group One appearance would go a long way to clinch the mantle for the son of American Ideal. Should Centenario be crowned Victorian Horse of the Year he will become just the fourth two-year-old on the honour roll, which began in 1973. Garry’s Advice was the ground breaker in 1981 thanks to his 20 wins from 21 starts, followed by Lombo La Fe Fe in 2002 and Lombo Pocket Watch in ’06. Successful in his Crown heat and semi, Centenario has drawn barrier four in the $290,000 decider, but slots into three with the removal of the emergency. To be driven by Chris Alford, Centenario’s biggest threat comes from his stablemate, Hurricane Harley, which has drawn gate five with Mark Pitt in the cart. Also an Australian Pacing Gold purchase, Hurricane Harley has won six of his eight starts, with his two deafest coming in the APG and Vicbred Finals. “They are both in tremendous shape and will be hard to beat,” Stewart said. “Centenario has the wood on Hurricane Harley so far, but it won’t take much for that to change. “I pretty much cannot split them and it will come down to the runs they have.”   APG Media

A massive TAB Breeders Crown weekend kicks off at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow night and, with a bit of luck, Tim O’Brien may hammer home a winner or two and continue a promising start to his training career. The Armstrong horseman will gear up two talented trotters - Big Jack Hammer in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For Al) and Hammers Law in the Yabby Dam Racing Breeders Crown Graduate Trot – on the opening night of a huge weekend of the trots. It will be the first time O’Brien has attended the Breeders Crown as a trainer, having gained his licence this year, but he is no stranger to breaking ducks at Melton. “My first official winner (as trainer) was with Big Jack Hammer in town, so that was all right,” O’Brien said. “Both these horses are nice country cup horses, that’s what I’m sort of looking at with them, (but) Breeders Crown is a little bit different, it gets a bit harder there. In these races 90 per cent of the time it comes down to luck.” The 39-year-old may officially be a novice trainer, but – through dad Mick, brother Danny, partner Brooke Hansen and cousin Leroy – he has been in the industry “all my life”. “I have worked horses in dad’s name and then Danny and then Brooke for the last 15 years,” he said. “Then this year Brooke said it’s about time you got your licence.” The 39-year-old, who trains four horses near Ararat, said he expected Big Jack Hammer and Hammers Law to run well on Friday night for prominent owner Domenic Martello. He hoped Big Jack Hammer – a The Pres gelding out of Running Pinevale – was about to return to form after a couple of underwhelming runs. “This is my first prep with him – he is a lovely horse. On ability he is as good as anything we have had here trotting wise,” he said. “His first two runs back were really good, then he did a heap of work in his third run and put in a shocker at Maryborough. “He looked a little bit tight walking off to the washer so we got his stifle (joints worked on) and since then he’s been really good.” He said the plan was for Big Jack Hammer to tackle the bigger races as a six-year-old over summer. “I am fairly confident I have got him right now. Just fingers crossed that everything goes right with him.” The Breeders Crown weekend will continue on Saturday with a huge card featuring eight Group 1 races, including the two-year-old and three-year-old Breeders Crown finals.   Shaun Campbell

IT is the Jewel in the Crown, literally. This epic showdown between the best modern era crop of three-year-olds Australia has seen is the standout highlight of Breeders Crown Super Saturday. And it’s come at a crucial time with the new wave – including NZ’s Chase Auckland when he returns - offering the solution to our desperately think open-class stocks across Australia and NZ. But, for now, we await this awesome contest between the likes of former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius, glamour Emma Stewart pair Poster Boy and Ride High, gun Queenslander Colt Thirty One and the support cast. Emma Stewart has qualified half the field – six of the 12 finalists -  but such is the depth she doesn’t even have the favourite. Ignatius, despite suffering just his second defeat in 18 starts when edged-out by Poster Boy in their semi-final, has been backed from $3.50 into $3 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 10) in the final. “I was proud of him last week. He did the work, they broke the track record and Poster Boy just got him,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “The run should bring him just that little bit more as well.” Poster Boy, already a winner of the NSW Derby and Vicbred finals this term, is her most favoured runner. He’s been $4.50 into $4.20 from gate nine. “He just shouldn’t have been able to do that,” said driver Chris Alford, shaking his head after Poster Boy came three-wide without cover in a 55sec last half to edge-out Ignatius. Stewart’s other runners are the untapped Ride High (gate 12, $4.50), who beat stablemate Konan (gate eight, $5) in the other semi. She also has outsiders Maraetai (gate seven, $16), Major Times (gate five, $26) and Tam Major (gate two, $35). Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One had little luck when fifth in his semi behind Ride High, but drew to be a big factor from the pole in the final. “I think he’s in the top five of an amazingly strong crop,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “We needed a good draw and got it. “You’ve got to use these draws. Plan A is to get out as quick as can and hold the lead if possible. “I know the pressure will be on, but I’d rather be in front than anywhere else.”   Adam Hamilton

With 12 days of the current season remaining, a question needs to be asked. Can Grant Dixon crack the 300 mark? As it stands, no trainer in Australian harness racing history has ever prepared more than 300 winners in a single season but that record is under immense pressure. Ironically, the current training record belongs to W.F Dixon, Grant’s father Bill, who prepared 299 winners during the 2010/11 season. But both Emma Stewart and Grant himself are rapidly closing in on that magical and somewhat mythical figure of 300, the Victorian based Stewart has trained 286 winners while Dixon has a tally of 284. Extraordinary numbers indeed. During the current term, harness fans and historians have witnessed champion reinsman Chris Alford break the record for most wins in a single season with his tally currently at 434 and still climbing. The previous mark belonged to Daryl Douglas at 388. Fair to say, the 2017/18 season has been a season of record breaking achievements. For Dixon, this current season will be his best as he will eclipse the mark he set last term when he prepared 286 winners. Since taking over from his father Bill at the commencement of the 2011/12 season, Grant has trained in excess over 200 winners every year since with figures of 265, 226, 260, 282, 246 and 286. During that time frame, Dixon has been the leading state trainer plus the leading trainer in the country! In fact, the Dixon name has sat atop of the National Premiership since the 2007/08 season. And during that reign, over 200 winners have been churned out each and every season. In the next 12 days, Dixon has 9 meetings in his home state while he will also compete at the Breeders Crown meeting at TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night. But he isn’t represented at tomorrow’s meeting at Albion Park while he has three runners engaged at Redcliffe on Wednesday night. And more are expected later this week. So, can he do it? Only time will tell but it’s quite remarkable given Queensland races only five times a week while the odd extra meeting is added here and there but most times the Dixon is not represented at those additional meetings. Many other states race seven days a week while at times, they stage 2 meetings per day. Bottom line, the Dixon numbers are very impressive. On nine occasions, he has prepared 5 or more winners at a meeting. And he’s achieved that feat on three occasions this season, twice at Albion Park (11/11/17 & 12/5/18) and once at Redcliffe (4/4/18). His best effort was 6 winners at a Gold Coast meeting back on June 14, 2013. The watch is on and time is ticking. Chris Barsby

The TAB Breeders Crown series – Australasia’s premier futurity – will conclude with an exciting crescendo this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. And while this year’s champs will be crowned, it is likely we’ll see the next handful of industry megastars step up and put their names in lights. The winner of the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings’ final is sure to become an idol of the future, such is the depth of talent involved this year. Ignatius is a $3 favourite right now at with his powerful antagonist Poster Boy marginally ahead of Ride High on the second line of betting at $4.2 versus $4.5. By virtue of the plum gate one barrier draw Brisbane star Colt Thirty One is $5 and Konan – drawn to follow the pride of the sunshine state in eight – is the same price. Trainer Emma Stewart continued her superb season at Bendigo on Saturday night by winning six of eight TAB Breeders Crown Semi-Finals. Stewart’s winners were Pistol Abbey and Speak No Evil in the 3YO fillies, Ride High and Poster Boy in the 3YO colts and geldings, and Centenario and Hurricane Harley in the 2YO colts and geldings. Meanwhile, how about Mark Purdon’s comment that Our Princess Tiffany was “as good as any two-year-old we’ve ever had”? The daughter of Art Major has won eight from eight and will be super short odds onSaturday night in the final. But there’s potential for an upset via Kualoa, who produced a stellar effort in the Semi-Final to finish 5.7m behind the perfect Purdon filly at the weekend. Read more here   Cody Winnell Trots Media

The trio of Queensland pacers who ventured south chasing the big riches on offer has achieved their first target. Qualifying for the big dance next week. The Grant Dixon trained duo of Colt Thirty One and Red Charmer have made their way into their respective three-year-old finals while rookie filly Betamerica also stamped her ticket for two-year-old fillies final after competing in semi-finals at Bendigo. Pitted against some of the best talent spread throughout Australasia, each performed with distinction and will rightfully take their place in next week’s finals. The finals will be staged at TABCORP Park, Melton next Saturday. Colt Thirty One, starting as the $3 favourite, finished a close-up 5th behind the Emma Stewart trained quartet of Ride High, Konan, Major Times and Tam Major in a time of 1:56.3 for the 2150m event. The time was significantly slower in comparison to the other semi-final won by Poster Boy (Emma Stewart) who ran down race favourite Ignatius in a time of 1:54.2. In the final, Colt Thirty One will start from the coveted inside draw. Last season, Colt Thirty One finished third in the final behind King Of Swing and Poster Boy. Red Charmer finished a tidy 4th after having little racing room over the concluding stages in the semi-final taken out by Pistol Abbey (Emma Stewart). The time was 1:56.7 – slower than Speak No Evil (Emma Stewart) who rated 1:55.2. Red Charmer has drawn gate six in the final. The Gr.1 3yo Finals carry prizemoney of $195,000. Betamerica, having her first start for new trainer Jess Tubbs, finished a handy 4th behind Miss Streisand in a time of 1:58.4. In the other semi-final, unbeaten New Zealand star Our Princess Tiffany rated 1:59.1 The American Ideal filly is still raced by Raboki Pty Ltd, Shannon Price and Scott Miller. Betamerica will start from gate 9 in the $290,000 Final. ** Emma Stewart trained 6 winners throughout the program last night (Saturday).   Racing Queensland  

Harness racing superstars Poster Boy and Ignatius put on a spectacle in the 3yo Breeders Crown 2nd semi final at Bendigo last night, with only half a neck separating the pair at the end of a record run 2150m.  At the finish Poster Boy after leading up the three wide line over the last lap narrowly edged out a game Ignatius who was forced to sit parked for the entire journey in a sizzling 1-54.2 mile rate. Both horses have drawn the second line in the final of the Breeders Crown series to be run this coming Saturday night, adding even more intrigue into an already fascinating end of series decider for the 3yo pacing colts and geldings.   See the barrier draws below for all divisions courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. 2YO Trotting Fillies 2YO Trotting Colts And Geldings 3YO Trotting Fillies 3YO Trotting Colts And Geldings 2YO Pacing Fillies 2YO Pacing Colts And Geldings 3YO Pacing Fillies 3YO Pacing Colts And Geldings

Tasmania’s champion three-year-old pacer Ignatius has arrived in Victoria in preparation for his bid for Breeders Crown glory. The James Rattray-trained and driven superstar will take his place in the $20,000 second Semi-Final of the Three-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division of the IRT Breeders Crown on Saturday night at Bendigo. “We floated him down from New South Wales on Monday night to the stables of Keith Cotchin here at Elmore, the trip took seven hours but he handled it well and has settled in perfectly and eating just as he does at home,” said James. “I gave him a good hit out on Wednesday morning and he worked well, I will give him a couple of jogs in the cart and a little light work between now and Saturday.” Ignatius is unbeaten this season and will carry a record of winning streak of 13 into the Semi-Final including 11 straight this season. “I’ve been very happy with his performances this season, he crushed his rivals at Penrith and smashed the track record there after doing all the work, then went back to Menangle and streeted them in the Semi-Final of the New South Wales Breeders and strolled home in the Final,” said James. “He won his heat of this series at Menangle and then followed up with a 10-metre MO victory going 1:53.3, so he’s ticking over nicely.” Ignatius has started at the prohibitive odds of $1.04 at his last four outings but has been quoted at $1.50 in pre-post markets for Saturday’s Semi-Final. “I’d expect Emma Stewart and Chris Alford’s Poster Boy to be the main danger Saturday night and Duplicated for Dean Braun has been going well, they have both won seven races this season,” said the dual Interdominion winning trainer and reinsman. “Ignatius has drawn five on the front line and will start from the four alley with the early scratching of  Mach Up, so he is ideally suited and he has the speed to lead so we will more than likely use that to advantage.” Ignatius will run in race seven at 20.00 while the Paul Ashwood-trained Max Delight will tackle race eight the Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division of the Breeders Crown at 20.30.   Shane Yates

The long-awaited clash between the best NZ and Australian fillies in the Breeder's Crown gets off to a cracking start at Bendigo on Saturday evening. PRINCESS TIFFANY faces her toughest task yet in a scintillating career when she goes from gate four in her semi over 2140m While she should still be too good, her clash with two of the Emma Stewart stars both of whom are drawn inside her will be of considerable interest on both sides of the Tasman. KUALOA (gate 3) has only been beaten once when going down to TWO TIMES BETTOR in her BC heat, At her previous start she continued her near perfect record by winning the VicBred Final at a meeting where Stewart horses completely dominated, and beating Two Times Bettor in an impressive 1.56.6 mile rate. She has won 6 from 8  though she disappointed in the APG final when caught wide improving and finishing only 7th 22m from the winner, Soho Nolita in 1.53. Two Times Bettor has drawn awkwardly in the 2nd heat on Saturday. The other possible upset hope  to Princess Tiffany is SWIMSUIT EDITION another Stewart runner drawn the ace though she would have to improve on her two starts to date. She won her heat of the BC at odds-on but only with a neck to spare and a 1.59.5 mr. Her debut at Ballarat when a $1.60 fave was disappointing in that she did not pace well early which cost her her winning chance. Princess Tiffany has posted a 1.58.9 mile rate over 2200m in New Zealand Kualoa is by Art Major from an American Ideal mare and Swimsuit Edition by Somebeachsomewhere from a Badlands Hanover mare. Another Masterpiece also faces a major clash with a representative of the Stewart stable on CENTENARIO winner of 7 of his 9 starts including the Vicbred Final with a 1.55.9 mile rate. An American Ideal youngster from an Art Major mare, he also won the APG Gold Final of $A350,000 and has gate 3 on Saturday while Another Masterpiece has gate 9,outside of the second row but with only two runners in it and he may be able to track his strongest rival. Former All Stars runners THINK ABOUT ME and DUPLICATED are in the three year old heats with another, MACH UP, a withdrawal. Think About Me disappointed when 6th in his heat and Duplicated, with strong Queensland form recently is up against the unbeaten IGNATIUS  (11 starts) who has posted a 1.51.3 mile time at Menangle and Stewart star POSTER BOY  a sensational two year old last term who went on to win the NSW Derby this season  Courtesy of All Stars Website

There is no more exciting pacer in Australia than Ignatius. The former Tasmanian three-year-old heads to Victoria for his Breeders Crown assault with a 16 wins from just 17 starts. And he's won his past 13 starts on end. With the disturbing attrition rate in our open-class ranks, some say Ignatius may already be the best pacer in Australia. Even trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray (pictured) admits that attrition rate has turned his mind to "possibly" nominating Ignatius for the Melbourne Inter Dominion series in December. “I might nominate, but all I’m focused on at the moment is the Breeders Crown. As good as he’s looked this season, these runs in Victoria will be the next step for him when you consider how strong this crop of three-year-olds is. How can not have enormous respect for Emma Stewart’s horses like Poster Boy and Ride High and there’s plenty of others as well,” Rattray said. “I’ve been amazed how much he’s just kept improving with every start this season and I think he’s a really special horse, but this Breeders Crown will be a test, no doubt. “I’m certainly not making any plans beyond the Crown final.” Rattray is floating Ignatius from Sydney to Keith Cotchin’s stables, not far from Bendigo where the Crown semi-finals will be run on Saturday week. The Aussie TAB has Ignatius $2.30 prepost favourite for the Breeders Crown final from Ride High ($3.80), Poster Boy ($6), Colt Thirty One ($8) and Duplicated ($9). If Ignatius conquers the Crown, it becomes a juggling act if Rattray opts to chase the Inter Dominion, which starts on December 1 at Melton. How long a spell can he give Ignatius after the Crown to then have him primed for the Inter Dominion, but also being mindful of races like the Chariots Of Fire, Miracle Mile and NSW Breeders Challenge in the early to middle parts of next year?   By Adam Hamilton & Harness Racing New Zealand For The Trots  

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