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Another preview for harness racings big day on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton and this time it is the four year old trotters that hold centre stage. Once again the 4 year old trotters are all thrown in together (unlike the pacers) but this time it is a mare that everyone has to beat.  Breeders Crown 4 Year Old Trotters Final The way the draws have worked out for this race have lead us to the conclusion that Spidergirl looks one of the bets of the day. She has been in outstanding form all season, having won five group races and only missing a placing on one occasion in eleven starts. Spidergirl has gate speed to burn and is as tough as she is quick and Chris Alford is on board so she ticks all the boxes. The main challenger of course is Blitzthemcalder who has Gavin Lang in the bike after Chris Alford stuck with Spidergirl a few starts back. Blitzthemcalder hasn't quite kicked on from his stellar three year old season but he has mixed it with the very best at times this season and at his very best he could win this race but he just doesn't seem in the zone at the moment.  It is not that he is going poorly, it is just that he appears a touch off his best and that won't be good enough against Spidergirl. The way the draw has worked out means that the stablemate of Blitzthemcalder in  Glenferrie Typhoon looms as a genuine threat. Glenferrie Typhoon showed gate speed to lead at her last start before sprinting her last 400 meters in 27.8 to nail Blitzthemcalder.  She has drawn one on the second row behind Spidergirl so Glenferrie Typhoon should get the run of the race.  After those three it all becomes a bit messy either due to the draws or the inconsistent performances of the horses involved. Paris Pepperell was unlucky last weekend after getting trapped back on the inner and then flying home late and she is drawn to get a soft run handy to the pace so has to be a first four chance. Our Dreamlover galloped in the straight last week but his run three starts ago was super so he is not a forlorn chance to run in the first four. Vics Cheval and Glenferrie Dreamer are both badly handicapped by the draw but could run first four if the breaks go their way and Quite A Moment is in the same boat. SELECTIONS Spidergirl in one for us.  She is in the zone, has the draw and the driver and that should be game over. The dangers are the stablemates Blitzthemcalder and Glenferrie Typhoon who are both going near enough but not as good as Spidergirl. After that it is a bit of a lottery but Paris Pepperell and Our Dreamlover appeal most to us while those wanting to really chance their arm should include Vics Cheval Glenferrie Dreamer and Quite A Moment Harnesslink Media 

Harness racings big day on Sunday at Melton has drawn great fields throughout most of the divisions and the 3 year old trotters are no exception. 3 Year Old Trotters Breeders Crown Final Unlike the two year old trotters where the fillies and colts are separated, at three they are all thrown in together which is a real shame. The other disappointing thing in this years three year old final is the absence of the top Kiwi three year old trotters such as King Denny and Majestic Time but I suppose you can't be everywhere in a long season. In our view in this years final there are really only four winning chances and we deal with those one by one. First up is Our Twentyten who has drawn nicely at barrier four. A serious contender in the classics in New Zealand before his sale to Australia to clients of Brent Lilley, Our Twentyten has quickly established himself as one of the best three year old trotters  in his adopted land. His previous trainer Mark Purdon takes the drive on Sunday which in our view is another tick for Our Twentyten. Our Twentyten does have real gate speed and we expect Mark Purdon to try to grab the lead early and dictate the tempo of the race. The big danger is undoubtedly Claudys Princess who has drawn awkwardly at two on the second line. She has finished either first or second in all of her 13 starts at three and a lot of those starts have been at Group or Listed level. The danger is Claudys Princess is not in complete control of her own destiny from the second line but with the master Gavin Lang in the bike she can overcome the draw. Her last win over Asdenro was an arrogant performance which shows she is right at the top of her game at the moment.  The enigma of the race is without doubt the Kiwi  One Over Da Moon who has drawn barrier five and who has been in the Chris Lang barn for a couple of months now. When he is good he is very good and when he is bad he is awful about sums up One Over Da Moon. Can throw the toys out at times such as the Redwood Classic where he just self destructed and he did the same thing in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand as well but there is no doubting the ability is there. One Over Da Moon was eased out of the gate the last time he raced at  Maryborough before finding the front and that was due to the fact he can over race if you chase him out of the gate which makes his job at  Group One level that much harder. The last of the quartet we fancy is Asdenro who has drawn barrier three. Asdenro has finished in the first three in 11 of 13 starts at three but has been unable to win since he starting racing in the Group and Listed races. He is competitive but just half a length off the top trotters in this division. Asdenro is a free going type who likes to lead but that tends to make him a sitting duck for the likes of Our Twentyten and Claudys Princess who have such high speed. If he burns the gate in trying to hold out Our Twentyten then in our view he can't win the final as the favoured pair have that small class edge. His best chance of winning this race is if the two favourites go to war and he runs over the top of them late in the piece.  SELECTIONS This is a very close call but we think the draw gives Our Twentyten the edge over Claudys Princess but there is not much in it. One Over Da Moon needs to bring his "A' game to be a chance and we think the other two are going just a touch better than him at the moment although his class will always make him a threat. Asdenro needs a few things to happen for him to win but the determination is certainly there. Throw in Bad Habbott, Four Lillies and Lightning Calder for first fours Harnesslink Media

This is another of our previews for harness racings big day this Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton. Before we start we would like to wish Harvey Kaplan all the best with his two outstanding three year olds. It is a notable achievement to have two huge chances on a day as big as this.  3 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the semi finals at Ballarat last Saturday night, this division had a ready made favourite in Nike Franco but after an early gallop she only ran fourth in her semi final and gave her opposition renewed confidence that she was beatable. Now with Nike Franco having drawn at four on the second line in the final, the result is not as clear cut as it seemed just a week ago. Nike Franco has been the standout filly all season but she has missed the money in both the New South Wales and the Victorian Oaks and is beatable. So who put their hand up in the semi finals at Ballarat. Just Cala was allowed to drift back from barrier four in the first semi final and ended up last at the 800 meters mark before getting a drag up from Rocknroll Arden and finishing over the top of them for a brilliant win. In the same heat Spicy Stride had a shot at the lead, failed and then badly over raced for most of the race yet still got off the canvas to run second. Ocean Diva was sent forward early from barrier seven when the pace was hot and stuck on well for third after racing parked for most of the race. In the second semi final Nike Franco got her front legs clipped early and galloped and then looped the field to lead mid race before not surprisingly battling the last 150 meters to finish a close up fourth. The winner of the semi final Quick Draft went huge after settling back from her second row draw. Sent forward three wide from from the back at the 700 meters, Quick Draft kept giving in the straight to score a great win. The last 800 meters off the front was run in 55.6 and 400 meters in 27.1 which makes the run of Quick Draft look even better. Barynya followed Quick Draft everywhere she went but couldn't pick her up in the straight and Our Santa Catalina finished nicely for third after working early in the race. SELECTIONS We are not as bullish about Nike Franco as we were before the semi finals with two or three others looming as major challengers. Still at the end of the day class is permanent so Nike Franco is top pick but from four second line it will not be easy. Just Cala and Quick Draft only have to bring their semi final form with them to be serious winning chances. Barynya will need luck from barrier eight but has upset them before and Ocean Diva is in the same boat from outside of the second row. Spicy Stride and Our Santa Catarina for first four takers.   3 Year Old Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final This looked a two horse war before the semi finals and in our view nothing much has changed now heading into the final. In the first semi final, the late scratching of Messini robbed the race of a lot of interest. Major Crocker ambled to the front from barrier four over Will Mach My Word who ended up in the trail from barrier one. Alleluia worked forward and found the death after 500 meters and that was more or less the finishing order. Major Crocker flew the last half in 55.5 and quarter in 26.9 to give those off the pace little hope of being in the first four.  Alleluia grabbed second with the trailer Will Mach My Words ending up in third. The unlucky runner was Lettucerockthem who looked to have plenty to offer with little room. The second semi final was full of quality and was billed as a match race between Sky Major and Bling It On and that is how it panned out. Saloon Passage from barrier one got crossed early by Hectorjayjay who immediately handed up to Sky Major. Half a lap later Zac Butcher on Sky Major handed up rather easily to Bling It On who immediately threw the anchor out. The race turned into a sprint home from the 400 meters with Sky Major getting out 150 meters from home and claiming Bling It On in the shadows of the post with the last 400 meters in 26.4. Hectorjayjay held third and Jilliby Jagger did well for fourth after being three wide for a lap. Saloon Passage after being beaten out of the gate overaced but still finished the race off well to run fifth. SELECTIONS The draw says Bling It On should win but we think Sky Major is still the one to beat even from the outside of the second line. Its a big call but Sky Major is right in the zone at the moment and won the Harness Jewels in New Zealand two months ago from five on the second line. Clearly Bling It On will be favourite and tough to roll from barrier three However there are several horses who are lining up to spoil the party and this is how we see them. The next three horses from the semi finals that impressed us in no particular order were Lettucerockthem, Major Crocker and Saloon Passage who unlike last week are all drawn  to be in the running line this week.  For first four players the next two cabs off the rank for us are Jilliby Jagger and Alleluia. Harnesslink Media  

Victorian trainer Michael Stanley will have a two pronged attack in Saturday night's Gr. 3 CJ Garrard Two Year Old Classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  The $30,000 event is open to horses that were sold at the 2013 Garrards Horse & Hound Trialling Sale and Stanley is hoping to take home the major share of prize money on offer with Big Spending Telf and Morior Invictus. "Big Spending Telf has only had the one run and he's a pretty nice horse, he's a little bit immature in the head so I will drive him but I think he has what it takes to make a nice horse," Stanley said "He won his only start at Horsham, he showed speed on that occasion and the horse that sat outside him kept him honest throughout but he broke 29 seconds for his final quarter and did it well." Big Spending Telf had a short letup after his debut run but has been at the trials recently. "Yeah I gave him some time after the run but he has had a couple of trials and importantly over the 2200 metres too. He has won both trials, the last of them was as Melton and he ran his last half in 58.9." Morior Invictus won a semi final of the Vicbred series four runs ago and has been racing against some very strong opposition recently. "He is a very good horse and has been campaigning against some nice ones but he is probably just a touch below the top echelon." "I'm not sure he will be totally suited on Saturday night. He is an effective sit and sprinter but after drawing the outside barrier he probably has to go back at the start and then maybe make a midrace move to get into the action." Stanley will return to Victoria for Sunday's Breeders Crown Day and is hoping Soho Tokyo can run a great race from barrier three. "She went really well in her semi and from a better draw I think she can run a great race, it could be a very big weekend." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales

Queensland pacers Alleluia and Majestic Mach are both facing their Everest. Both are prepared by leading horseman Grant Dixon. On Sunday, his pair of stablestars Alleluia and Majestic Mach must overcome shocking second-line draws to win their respective Australasian Breeders Crown finals at TABCORP Park, Melton. Alleluia will contest the $213,000 Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series Final for three-year-old colts and geldings, the glamour division where he faces the likes of Bling It On and Our Sky Major among others. The Art Major gelding finished a gallant second in his semi-final last week at Ballarat behind in-form pacer Major Crocker after working throughout. Alleluia will start from gate twelve on Sunday afternoon while Bling It On has drawn ideally in gate three with Our Sky Major landing gate thirteen. Raced by Queensland Harness Racing Board Chairman Greg Mitchell after being purchased from the Mark Purdon stables mid-season, the talented pacer is yet to disappoint his new owner. “He’s been terrific since he headed our way and I was really pleased with his effort last week. Obviously the barrier draw is unkind but that’s racing, you win some and you lose some but it’s just great to be part of the series.” Mitchell said. Alleluia has quickly become the forgotten horse in the final since the barrier draw was conducted last Sunday afternoon but his form lines can’t be questioned. During the recent Brisbane winter carnival at Albion Park, Alleluia chased home Bling It On in the Queensland Derby, Gold Coast Derby plus the Futurity before gaining revenge in the heat of the Breeders Crown. “We’ve seen plenty of Bling It On in recent times and we know what we’re up against but we also know that we can beat him too which is comforting, however, Alleluia is yet to beat home Our Sky Major and they’ve met on a few occasions in New Zealand. “Looking back at our semi-final performance last weekend, I was really pleased with his effort and his sectionals were impressive and Grant said he had a good blow after the race meaning there should be more improvement this week. “The barrier draw was interesting on Sunday; with three horses remaining (Alleluia, Bling It On and Our Sky Major) and gates three, twelve and thirteen up for grabs, we ended up with twelve while connections of Our Sky Major chose the trophy with thirteen underneath it leaving Bling It On with gate three. Let’s hope we can have some luck on our side when we meet this Sunday.” Gambling giant TattsBet has Alleluia rated as a $14 chance. Like Alleluia, former glamour juvenile Majestic Mach has also drawn gate twelve. The Mach Three gelding qualified for the $100,000 Empire Stallions 4yo Entires and Geldings Final after running a brave third in the heat last Sunday at Melton behind Tasmanian ace Pachacuti and noted speedster Chilli Palmer after racing without cover. Raced by his breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour, Majestic Mach is still chasing his maiden interstate success. Majestic Mach is a $16 chance with TattsBet. Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland  

The harness racing writers couldn’t have scripted the barrier draw for the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown (3YO colts and geldings) Series final any better today at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite a random draw, the final two horses left in the barrel were Kiwi champ Our Sky Major and his main adversary Bling It On. Fresh in the minds of racegoers was that less than 24 hours before the draw Our Sky Major had edged out Bling It On in a thrilling Breeders Crown semi-final battle at Ballarat. The two remaining ping pong balls in the barrel were gates three and 13 – meaning one favourite would have a plum draw, while the other had to come from outside the second line. Bling It On’s owner, Harvey Kaplan, and his family were thrilled when their charge drew three, leaving the Our Sky Major camp lamenting an unlucky 13 draw. When Our Sky Major narrowly pipped Bling It On in the semi-final last night, the Barry Purdon trained Kiwi star had drawn the front line, while Bling It On – from the Belinda McCarthy yard – had to come from the second row. Bling It On whipped around to find the lead with a blistering mid-race move at Ballarat before Zac Butcher worked Our Sky Major into clear air late and grabbed the win right on the wire. Reversing the semi-final draw has made this headline clash, one of many not-to-be-missed events on Breeders Crown finals day at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday, even more tantalising than it already promised to be. Adding further intrigue is that the front line is choc full of speed in the three-year-old boys’ final, with Will Mach My Word (gate two), Bling It On (three), Major Crocker (four), Saloon Passage (five) and Hectorjayjay (six) all realistic shots at finding the early lead. TAB fixed odds reacted by slotting Bling It On in as race favourite at $2.10, with Our Sky Major a $2.50 second pick. Bling It On’s stable-mate Lettucerockthem is on the third line of betting at $5.50 despite a gate nine draw, while Vince Vallelonga trained Major Crocker, who won his semi-final, is $13. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria MARKET NOW OPEN AT THE TAB Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014

Harness racing drivers Zac Butcher and Luke McCarthy both produced brilliant drives in the second semi-final of the three-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown at Bray Raceway in Ballarat tonight. In the end Butcher took the win, just, aboard New Zealand star Our Sky Major, while McCarthy – whose dashing mid-race move aboard Bling It On from his back-row draw gave his horse a genuine winning chance – had to settle for second. If those two repeat their runs in the final at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday, it will be a classic Group 1 race. Hectorjayjay pinged off the arm to lead for Simone Walker early, which was a  surprise as the pre-race hype had been about Saloon Passage and Our Sky Major possibly getting involved in a two-horse speed duel. Hectorjayjay quickly handed up to Our Sky Major, which shuffled Saloon Passage three back along the pegs. McCarthy made a bold and dashing move aboard Bling It On at the 1200-metre mark and the star pacer had such a head of steam up that he was able to run to the lead. Our Sky Major was then behind the leader, Hectorjayjay was three-back the inside and Saloon Passage was in all sorts of traffic. But Butcher didn’t panic and was able to extricate the $1.50  Our Sky Major into clear running in the home straight, the son of Art Major driving hard late to pip Bling It On in a thriller, with Hectorjayjay rallying again for third. Jilliby Jagger ran on hard to finish fourth, while Saloon Passage was fifth and Mighty Gift sixth. The other three-year-old boys’ semi-final was taken out by Major Crocker and Greg Sugars for trainer Vince Vallelonga. Major Crocker was too strong for runner-up Alleluia, with Will Mach My Word third. That trio were 1-2-3 for the last lap. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Rising-star reinswoman Amanda Turnbull combined with New South Wales harness racing trainer Dennis Picker to win the first semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old fillies tonight at Ballarat with Just Cala. The daughter of Art Major defeated Spicy Stride by 7.1 metres in a mile rate of 1:57.0, while Ocean Diva ran third for Blake Fitzpatrick and Somedreamsomewhere ran fourth for Daryl Douglas. Just Cala had put the writing on the wall at her previous start when she came from an awkward position to rattle home and run second behind Rocknroll Arden. Just Cala The second semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old  fillies saw a major upset – with $1.20 favourite Nike Franco missing a place at Ballarat tonight. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly galloped early and lost ground, which meant she had to use up a bit more petrol than first planned to find the lead. Once there Nike Franco was able to get away with a 30.5-second first quarter and a 32.1-second second split, but after they sprinted up down the back straight driver Luke McCarthy was starting to wind her up as Quick Draft and Barynya were on the march. In the home straight Quick Draft finished the strongest for Chris Alford, delivering in-form trainer David Aiken the win, with Tasmanian filly Barynya second (beaten 1.6 metres) and David Moran trained-and-driven Our Santa Catalina battling on well for third after leading early. Nike Franco ran fourth. The mile rate was 1:57.2, with the last half 55.6 seconds. Quick Draft by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Tasmanian pacers have had mixed luck at the barriers for this weekend's semi-finals of the Australasian Breeders Crown series at Ballarat and Melton. On Saturday night at Ballarat, Resurgent Spirit (race 8) drew the outside of the front row (7) in the 3YO colts and geldings division while 2YO Boasson Hagen (race 4) will start from the same gate in his semi. Star three-year-old filly Barynya will have to cope with a second-row draw in barrier 11 in race 5. However it was a better result at Melton on Sunday for Tasmania's four-year-olds with Pachacuti to start from gate 1 in a 4YO colts and geldings heat (race 7) and the same draw will enhance Spitfire Rose's chances in the 4YO mares' division (race 6), while Tasmania's other candidate in that age division Delightful Christian will start from inside the second row in race five. The finals in all divisions will be run at Melton on Sunday week (August30th) Barynya is quoted at $4.60 to win her semi-final while Boasson Hagen and Resurgent Spirit are outsiders at $61 in their respective semi-finals. Markets have yet to be framed for Sunday's meeting at Melton. Peter Staples

According to the Cran Dalgety Racing Stables website, forgotten star Bit Of A Legend is booked to return to Melbourne on Wednesday to chase a unique piece of Australasian Breeders Crown history. Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety today unveiled details of a late decision for Bit Of A Legend to join 2YO filly stablemate Katy Perry in Melbourne. Plans were put in place after Bit Of A Legend came off 70m for a head second to Can’t Get Enough at the Motukarara workouts last Saturday. The winner ran 3:34.5 for the stand start 2600m, with the leaders running their last 800m in 58.6s and final 400m in 28.9s. “This is a long shot but I’m into taking risks every day,” Cran said. Bit Of A Legend created Breeders Crown history 12 months ago, becoming the first male pacing winner of both the 2 & 3YO Crown Finals. However, his 4YO season became derailed after suffering hoof problems in the Perth heat when he had a crack at the West Australian Gold Nugget in November. Although he won a race in Perth, Bit Of A Legend was unable to feature in the $A175,000 Gold Nugget and hasn’t raced since. He returned to the trials in preparation for the Auckland Taylor Mile and Messenger in the autumn but was freshened again when it was felt he wasn’t quite ready for it. Cran says Bit Of A Legend will accept for a Breeders Crown heat at Melton on Sunday. Now five to New Zealand time, he remains eligible for the 4YO Breeders Crown as the Australian season runs a month longer than in NZ. Although he’ll be short of match fitness, Bit Of A Legend usually comes up quickly. If he continues to improve over the next three weeks, his class should carry him to a competitive level in the Breeders Crown Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton, on August 30. For more information on Cran Dalgety click here Harnesslink Media    

It just wouldn’t be a Breeders Crown series without Cran Dalgety. The leading Christchurch trainer has won four Breeders Crown finals, with Bit Of A Legend (twice), Smiling Shard and Sparks A Flyin. This year he has Katy Perry flying the stable flag. Katy Perry's Australian debut saw her notch a comfortable Tatlow Stakes triumph at Melton on July 19, and Dalgety was ecstatic with the news his filly had drawn gate one for tomorrow night’s Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ repechage at Geelong. “That’s not a visitor’s draw -- what’s going on?” Dalgety quipped. “It surprised me a wee bit how Dex was able to get the great run through from the second row,” Dalgety said of Katy Perry’s Tatlow win, where the filly found the lead cheaply despite a back-row draw. “It was a good win -- I’m bullish about her chances,” he said of the Breeders Crown. Katy Perry was to run in a Breeders Crown heat last week but Dalgety elected to rest the daughter of Bettors Delight as she was “a wee bit down” after her flight over and her Australian debut. She has bounced back now and Dalgety believes the four Kiwis in the two-year-old fillies’ section – Katy Perry, Joanne’s A Delight, Linda Lovegrace and Cyclone Kate – are very evenly matched. “They’re all strong contenders ... the one who gets the best trip will be the lead chance," he said. Dalgety confirmed he was not bringing smart colt Art Union to the Breeders Crown. Dalgety enjoys coming to Australia, having won several big races here over the years, including this year’s AG Hunter Cup and the 2013 Chariots of Fire at Menangle with Christen Me, the 2009 Victoria Cup with Bettor’s Strike, the 2001 New South Wales Oaks with Sparks A Flyin and the 1996 Victoria Cup and Australian Pacing Championship with Desperate Comment. Related Links Fields for Geelong, Wednesday 06 August 2014 Form guide for Geelong, Wednesday 06 August 2014 Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

It’s time for talented filly Freedom Is to shine. The regally bred harness racing three-year-old filly has landed the coveted inside gate in Saturday night’s Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park. And owner/trainer Phillip Thurston couldn’t be happier. “We needed a good draw and we got it; the filly is racing in excellent form and should acquit herself well but Nike Franco is obviously going to be very hard to beat.” Thurston said. Freedom Is heads into the Oaks feature brimming with confidence following her gritty performance when successful in the Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final at Albion Park in a career best time of 1;55.9. That victory proved to be her first on Queensland soil despite boasting several feature race placing’s. The Courage Under Fire – Alegria filly has always found herself as the bridesmaid and never the bride after placing’s in the Nursery Pace Finals as a two-year-old while placed again this season plus being placed in the Gold Coast Oaks. “This filly is consistent and she tries very hard but often we’ve found one a little better on the night but we get a perfect opportunity to make our own luck from this draw, I was thrilled with drawing the inside gate because she has very good gate speed. “Winning last week provides a perfect platform going into this race; this has been a target all season long and head into the race with confidence. It was great that she fought like she did last week because she was headed in the straight but kicked strongly and that’s important going into an Oaks feature. “This little filly tries very hard and she deserves a big race success so let’s just hope it’s our turn this weekend. She has trained on very well this week and continues to thrive here in the warmer sunshine plus Brad (Cowen – driver) is driving in very good form.” Future plans for Freedom Is remain unclear and a decision won’t be made until after the Queensland Oaks on whether she will chase the Australasian Breeders Crown series in Melbourne next month. Last season, Freedom Is qualified for the rich final and finished a career worst 8th behind Whereibylong. “I won’t make any firm plans until next week, the focus is clearly the Queensland Oaks and we’ll just get through that race first before locking down any plans. “We’ve got the option of starting her in a heat up here and we also have the Redcliffe Oaks as a target but the filly will decide which way we go. It’s been a long season already but it’s also been very rewarding.” And it could prove even more rewarding with a Queensland Oaks victory this weekend. by Chris Barsby Queensland Harness Racing

A change of plans will see smart freshman colt Art Union bypass a heat of the Australasian Breeders Crown where he would have had to clash with superstar juvenile Follow The Stars at Addington on Friday. The Art Major two-year-old will instead compete in race five, a c2-3 mobile pace, leaving Follow The Stars as the only contestant in his heat and therefore an automatic qualifier for the semi-final. “We’ve decided against the Breeders Crown so he will just make the most of his opportunities this month and try and get another couple of penalty free wins on the board,” said trainer Cran Dalgety. Dalgety will then spell Art Union at the end of the month before preparing the talented son of super broodmare Sparks A Flyin for the rich Sires Stakes Series. But, while Art Union is now sure to miss the ABC, It is all systems go for smart filly Katy Perry, who has recovered well from her Jewels day injury. “Her knee has healed up really well and she is set to go at Cambridge on Thursday,” said Dalgety. Dalgety went up to Auckland to drive the Bettor’s Delight filly at the workouts on Saturday and was pleased with how she performed. She has drawn one in her three horse non-tote ABC heat with Joanne’s A Delight and Cyclone Kate outside her. “I think she will benefit with the run but she is ready to fire,” he enthused. Dalgety also has Regulus in the North Island and he is set compete in the fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday, where he looks a very good chance from his handy barrier draw (2). “He too has trialled up really well but it is his first run for seven weeks, so whatever he does on Friday I think he will better for it,” said Dalgety. Regulus will campaign in the north over the next few weeks to make the most of the great stakes on offer at Alexandra Park. Meanwhile, in a cunning move, Tim and Anthony Butt will bring Field Marshal north for a walkover win in the 2yo colts and gelding ABC heat at Cambridge tomorrow night in order to escape at clash with Follow The Stars  at Addington. In other news from the Dalgety barn, talented four-win three-year-old A Boy Named Rosie has been sold by the Beintoowin Syndicate to clients of Gary Hall’s Perth stable. “It’s a shame to see him go but they’re paying nice money and that makes the decision easier to make,” said Dalgety. By Mitchell Robertson

Queensland horseman Ian Gurney is finally living his dream. The likeable harness racing fanatic is still pinching himself with the success of his own stable star Avonnova who lines up in Saturday night’s Gr.2 $60,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park. Claimed late last year for a mere $20,000 from Sydney, Gurney has transformed the talented free-legged pacer into a ruthless killer on the racetrack. In 17 starts for Gurney, Avonnova has won 11 times while he has managed to win 8 of his last 9 starts with only Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile hero Beautide standing in between his winning sequence. Avonnova ran a fighting second behind Beautide in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle back in April. Since returning from that Sydney trip, Avonnova has exploded to a higher level and rates as a legitimate threat against the likes of champion pacer Im Themightyquinn and the Shane Tritton speed freaks Mach Beauty and Suave Stuey Lombo. And Gurney is shaking his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe the run I’m having currently, I bought this horse with my good mate Paul (Montgomery) just to have some fun and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Im Themightyquinn, Beautide and the like. It’s just amazing and it’s so exciting.” Gurney said. Avonnova, who had stints with the likes of respected trainers Steve Turnbull and Kerryann Turner before being claimed has thrived on the warmer Queensland sunshine and the one on one attention afforded by Gurney which has paved the way for his rise to stardom. The Art Major seven-year-old gelding has quickly established himself as the biggest/strongest and fastest open class horse in the state and will test his mettle against a strong interstate invasion during the month of July at Albion Park leaving Gurney excited by the challenge. “I don’t do anything fancy with Nova but obviously he enjoys the warmer weather and the special attention he gets from my wife Ange and her daughters who really spoil him between races. There is no secret to my success; I think I just got lucky. “He’s been great and he came at the right time for me, he’s the reason you get up early in the morning and do what we do with the horses. I’ve got a lot of people to thank for all the help and support I’ve received along the way. “Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, it doesn’t really matter because I’m just thrilled to be in a great Queensland race. But I think he will run another great race, he flew last week and Bart (Cockburn – driver) didn’t even pull the earplugs and I’m sure we would’ve smashed the record if we let him go but we were mindful of this race this weekend.” Gurney and his family have poured millions into the racing industries over a long period of time through ownership and sponsorship. The Gurney Group of Companies operates their successful earthmoving business and enjoy relaxing by racing and punting on their racehorses. In the past year, Gurney has convinced his brothers and uncles to invest more into harness racing as opposed to thoroughbred racing and the results have been astonishing through the deeds of exciting rookie pacers Smooth Showgirl and Birdy Mach. “I got them all together and we bought quite a few yearlings from the sales last year and the early results are very pleasing; Smooth Showgirl is already a Group One winner while Birdy Mach is rated by Luke McCarthy as one of the most gifted horses he’s been involved in. “Naturally we’re all very excited and very much looking forward to next month when they head to Victoria to contest the rich Australasian Breeders Crown series. “I’m just hoping the party will start this month here with Nova and we can continue to party in Melbourne. Harness Racing is more than a passion of mine; I love the sport and enjoy the thrill of winning.” With so much to look forward to this year, it’s great to see Gurney turning his dreams into reality. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Two of the most impressive trialists seen at Alexandra Park during the winter months are set to make their much awaited debuts on Friday night. So if you don’t like backing first starters, I suggest you turn the page now. The first of them is Al Bundy, who is likely to start a warm favourite in the second event on the card, the maiden trot. Trained by Andrew Grant at Pukekohe, the four-year son of Great Success has been sublime in all three of his public appearances and while I generally don’t like to tip out maiden trotters. This fella, touch wood, hasn’t looked like putting a foot wrong in any of them. In his first public appearance he won a sedate workout by two lenghts, before coming back the next week and winning a workout by 15 lenghts. He then obliterated his opponents in his qualifying trial by some 22 lenghts and trotted four seconds under the required time. A half-brother to the well-performed Double Bundy, who has won 14 races and trotted a mile in 1-54.6 at Menangle, Al Bundy, looks to have inherited  all of his brother’s ability. Already dubbed an up and coming trotting star by one North Island scribe, Al Bundy looks set to make a winning debut on Friday. As does Crocket’s Cullen, the other star trialist set to debut on Friday. “He is a nice two-year-old who I think has the potential to develop into a top-liner,” said his trainer Brent Mangos. Crocket’s Cullen, who is full-brother to Band On The Run, was victorious in his first three public appearances back in February and early March.  He was then spelled before returning to the workouts on the 14th of June. “He was coming into strongly and then galloped in that workout, but it actually wasn’t his fault as he was hitting the wheels,” explained Mangos. Mangos then resolved that issue before taking him back to the trials the week later where he was once again very impressive, winning by three lenghts in a 2:02 mile rate. The strong son of Christian Cullen has drawn the pole in the eighth race on Friday and baring bad luck, and plenty of it, he should be winning. “I’ll just see how he feels behind the gate, but he doesn’t have to hold up to win,” said Mangos. “It’s a small field so even if he gets crossed from the gate I should be able to get him back out and around them,” he added. “Either way I expect him to be very hard to beat.” Crocket’s Cullen is Australasian Breeders Crown eligible but Mangos thinks the rich series comes just a few months to soon for the exciting colt. “We will know more after Friday but he is still pretty green and I think he lacks the ring-craft to go to Australia for a series like the Breeders Crown,” said Mangos. “He may compete in the heat at Cambridge next week but I don’t think we will take him over to Australia for the Final. He is going to be a much better horse next season,” he enthused. Meanwhile, reformed rogue trotting mares Sunchita and Idle Bones look set to battle out the feature trot with in form gelding Sunshield. All three of the trotters look set for open class. However, a few months ago I wouldn’t have given any of them a chance of making it to the elite level. Idle Bones was victorious in her debut at Ashburton before bad manners led to a sixteen race losing streak, while Sunchita had, up until a few weeks ago, thrown away more races than she had won. But a few weeks is a long time in harness racing and a few changes to Sunchita’s gear and shoeing and opportunities for Idle Bones to race from behind a mobile have led to both mares winning their past three starts. Sunshield has also won his past three starts, but on Friday only one of the three will retain their picket-line fence form line. Which one will it be you ask? My money is on Idle Bones. She, like Sunchita, was fantastic in her North Island debut and has the advantage  of the mobile, which will probably suit her more than it will Sunchita, who is generally a fast beginner from a stand. She has also come up with the ace alley and should be able to lead and roll along in front, like she did at Addington two starts back when winning by 15 lengths in a two-minute mile rate. If she can replicate that performance, she should win again. Idle Bones is one of two horses South Island trainer Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis has racing on Friday. The other is Ellmer Hanover, who drops back from racing in last week’s Winter Cup to a much more suitable C2-5 mobile pace. He wouldn’t be without a chance and is worth specking at odds in an interesting race with sees smart two-year-old Mighty Flying Major and Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel clash with country cup type pacers such as Ellmer Hanover, Who Dares Wins, and Chief Thundercloud, who caught my eye when flying home for fourth in the Winter Cup and is my top pick in the race. That race is the first leg of the Quaddie and I suggest that you go wide and take Zeta Bromac, Mighty Flying Major, Royal Counsel, and Ellmer Hanover as I am confident that you can get away with anchoring Crocket’s Cullen in the second leg. It may also pay to go wide in the third leg before thinning things down again in the last. By Mitchell Robertson

Smart freshman colt Art Union smashed the 2YO colts & geldings pacing mark for the 2600 metre mobile by more than three seconds when downing his older C2 rivals at Rangiora on Sunday. After enjoying a nice run in the trail behind capable pacer Boom Gate, the Art Major colt finished strongly along the sprint lane in the hands of regular driver Dexter Dunn to win by a neck in a very smart time of 3-15.9, which obliterated the previous record of 3-19.4 which was set by Nicky Hanover in 2004. His last half was recorded in a slick 55.6. Art Union, who is a son of the smart mare and good producer, Sparks A Flyin, was bred and is owned by long-time Kentuckiana Lodge clients, Jim and Susan Wakefield. He is the fifth foal from Sparks A Flyin and her fifth impressive winner. Her first four foals, all of which have earned in excess of at least $80,000, are Diomedes, Empyrean, Bettor’s Fire, and Safedra. He has now won four of his eight starts and placed on a further three occasions for stakes of $55,000. Trainer Cran Dalgety will now give Art Union a couple of easy days before setting him for a heat of the Australasian Breeders Crown at Addington in a fortnight (July 17). Art Union will hopefully be half of a two-pronged Cran Dalgety attack on the rich ABC Series. “Katy Perry’s recovered well from her fall on Jewels day. Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis have been looking after her for us and doing a great job with her in the salt water,” said Dalgety on his Kentuckiana Lodge website “I’m going up to drive her in work next Saturday. If I’m happy with her, she’ll line up in the Breeders Crown fillies heat at Cambridge on the following Thursday (July 10),” he added. Meanwhile, superstar reinsman Dexter Dunn was victorious in a further four races at Rangiora on Sunday, including the “London Legend” Rangiora Winter Cup aboard Fifth Edition. The much-improved gelding, who has now won three Winter Cups in a row, is likely to be kept going for a $12,000 free-for-all at Addington, before heading to the paddock for a breather. “A race like the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day could be a good race for him in the new season,” said Dalgety. By Mitchell Robertson  

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