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The finish line to the Race to Royalty has arrived. Eight Group 1 races are been contested today at Tabcorp Park Melton for the annual TAB Breeders Crown Finals Day with huge prizemoney on offer and a big harness racing crowd is in attendance. Race 1 - Haras Des Trotteurs Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Fillies Final By Cody Winnell WILMAS MATE (Pegasus Spur-Mybrotherwasastar) is the first Group 1 Breeders Crown champion of the day at Tabcorp Park Melton. Punters backed the Paul Nairn-trained three-year-old filly into $1.55 fixed with and she didn’t disappoint, taking out the Haras Des Trotteurs sponsored three-year-old trotting fillies final in memorable fashion. Moving to the chair from back in the field in the running line when the bell chimed, reinsman David Butt aboard Wilmas Mate put the pressure to leader High Gait down the back with a 27.8secs third split the result. High Gait rallied fiercely with Chris Alford in the gig.  That filly initially worked to the lead after Aldebaran Ay M found the pegs early and handed up. High Gait posted a 45.5secs lead time and opening splits of 29.9 and 30.4. Down the back it became a race in two as the class fillies gapped their rivals. Shades of Bonecrusher/Our Waverley Star ensued. Or we could compare it to Terror To Love/Christen Me at Cranbourne. High Gait lifted and fought right to the wire but Wilmas Mate always just had her measure, scoring by 1m with a 29.6secs last quarter for a swift 1:57.3 mile rate for the 2240-metre journey. “She got a bit pully down the back, probably not wanting to go so quick but Chris was making a bit of noise wanting to go,” Butt said. “It’s great to win a race like this. She’s a great filly.” That’s 13 wins from 25 starts now for Wilmas Mate, whose earnings skyrocket to almost quarter of a million dollars on the back of today’s win. Sky Majesty (Jodi Quinlan) ran a super race for third. She's had a great season and her run today was full of merit, while Aldebaran Eve was fourth.  Courchevel and Princess Phoenix galloped early and left their chances at the gate. Video replay  Race 2 - Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies Final By Cody Winnell KYVALLEY Kyrie (Angus Hall-Aldebaran Maori) has upstaged her rivals in the Aldebaran Park two-year-old trotting fillies Breeders Crown Final at huge odds. Driven to the lead early by Anthony Butt from barrier six, Kyvalley Kyrie defied all comers at $41 at to score by 3.2m in a mile rate of 2:01.7. “I’ve always had a lot of faith in this filly,” Butt said post race. “It was a great training performance by Brent (Lilley) as she performed pretty average last start. “If I handed up I was handing someone the race, so I was keen to hold the lead today.” Kyvalley Kyrie opened her final mile with a 31.2 quarter before middle splits of 29.7 and 29.8. She got up the straight in 31.1 and had 3.2m to spare over Our Regal Love (Chris Alford), who had her chance in second, with Iona Spider finishing with a venomous burst to be 3.8m off the winner in third after missing the start for Jodi Quinlan and Shane Hall. That was a huge run. Derrie Aire also produced a big effort for fourth for Amy Tubbs, while Sval Queen finished fifth. Nieta galloped, a horror start to the day for Anton Golino/Greg Sugars, with two favourites missing away to start the day. On to the third. Race 3 - Aldebaran Park 2YO Trotting Colts/Geldings Final By Cody Winnell CUSTODIAN (Muscle Mass-Maia) is Kiwi trainer Mark Purdon’s first Crown star of the day. The gelded son of Muscle Mass was backed off the map in markets across the country, into $1.9 on the tote and $2.1 fixed with, displacing Illawong Byron as favourite. The winning move was made just prior the mile when Purdon took Custodian around the field and attacked early leader Illawong Byron, who started from pole. Illawong Byron, who has been an absolute model of consistency all season, made a rare mistake and jumped off stride, gifting Custodian the front. To Illawong Byron’s credit he got back down and trotting and by the end of the race had made up good ground to finish a creditable fifth. Eyrish Mist finished second beaten 3.6m for Brent Lilley and Anthony Butt, who are having a good day themselves, while Claudys Prince was gallant in third for Mick Blackmore and Gavin Lang, just holding off Kheiron, who also ran another bottler for Peter Lane and Chris Alford. “He trotted beautifully today,” Purdon said of Custodian, who rated 2:00.7 in winning. “He behaved himself really well. “Jodi’s unfortunately galloped and the race looked to be between the two horses on paper.” Results Video replay Race 4 - IRT Breeders Crown 3YO pacing Colts/Geldings final By Michael Howard THEY threw everything at him including Iceenothink but Mark Purdon’s super Somebeachsomewhere three-year-old, Our Waikiki Beach, held on to win the Group 1 and reaffirm his status. The track’s class record was smashed as they rattled from start to finish, with Our Waikiki Beach recording its 23rd win from 24 starts by claiming the IRT Breeders Crown final for three-year-old colts and geldings. “He’s a champion,” Purdon said. “He can’t do any more than he’s done, he just keep delivering.” It was anything but easy for the $1.04 favourite, who found the lead from the gates but a procession of challenges took the breeze, with fellow Kiwi Franco Cristiano pouring on the pressure with Dexter Dunn holding the reins. A blistering 27.9 first quarter followed a 45.1 lead time and Purdon was concerned.   “He had to burn hard early to hold the top. Even from a lap out they were really humming,” Purdon said. “With a lap to go, I’m not sure what speed we were going, but we were going better than 30 seconds for a quarter. I knew we were going real hard and we couldn’t maintain that for the whole lap.” A 28.8 second quarter was followed by a 28.9 third and come the final straight the early challenges had faded but Iceenothink burst wide, Match In Heaven poured down the sprint lane and Rock In America loomed. In a 28.0 final quarter Our Waikiki Beach held off all challenges for a 1m win, with Match In Heaven second for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and driver Blake Fitzpatrick. The 1:54.0 mile rate was only 0.8 outside Keayang Cullen’s track record and 0.4 under the class record. “It wasn’t an easy race but full credit to the horse, he really dug deep,” Purdon said. Results Video replay Race 5 - Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO fillies By Michael Howard IT didn’t all go to script but Emma Stewart’s stable etched its name on a 2016 Breeders Crown trophy when Rocknroll Magic rattled home to win the three-year-old fillies final. The expected playbook – favourite Heavens Trend leads, stablemate Rocknroll Magic sits on her back and they work the rest out in the straight – was torn up when Mark Purdon’s My Mackenzie flew the gates. That placed Gavin Lang leader’s back on Heavens Trend and Chris Alford and Rocknroll Magic buried away three-back on the pegs, and a huge crowd held their breath awaiting the final straight. “Preferably we would have been behind the leader, but when My Mackenzie came out so quick Gavin wasn’t able to get off the fence and do a retake because it was just going a bit too hard,” Alford said. “I was sort of happy, because we were rolling along pretty strong.” After a 59.9 first half and a 28.4 third quarter, My Mackenzie still had plenty left in the tank, with Heavens Trend urging off his back before the sprint lane but unable to open up in the straight. That left the sprint lane for Rocknroll Magic, but still My Mackenzie pressed on and it was only in the dying moments that Chris Alford found the front and recorded a memorable victory. A 27.5 final quarter would see the Owners Enclosure erupte as Rocknroll Magic’s huge loyal following in raptures. “At the top of the straight she was sort of flat out, flat out. She is only little but she just keeps giving,” Alford said. “Fifty metres out she wasn’t going to get there and then she just stuck her head out and hit the line. “She went from fifth to first in about the space of that last 50m, she’s done a great job.” Rockstar Angel ran third for trainer David Aiken and driver Michael Bellman. The first two home are both by Rock N Roll Heaven. Results Video replay   Race 6 - Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 2YO colts and geldings final By Michael Howard A RAPT Chris Alford and the horse that typifies his determination, Our Little General, produced a brilliant Breeders Crown win. The Mach Three colt just kept on chugging while all the favourites battled around him, with Tingira Beach having a torrid time for Shane and Lauren Tritton’s and Mark Purdon’s Pacing Major looming but then fading. “He’s a great little horse,” Alford said. “He’s only small, but he is all heart. He drives like a little car: He goes forward and drops the bit, goes forward and drops the bit. He still had a great kick at the top of the straight and he well deserved that win.” Tritton was unable to hold the front with Tingira Beach on the polemarker and $1.60 favourite, with Big Gun Johnny sweeping to the front. This pricked Alford’s interest. “I thought Big Gun Johnny had crossed and I thought that’s a great opportunity for me to get the front again like last week,” Alford said. Tingira Beach then galloped twice in the running, falling back along the pegs and out of contention. “I’m not too sure what happened with Lauren, whether she was going where these was no room or Matty hadn’t quite crossed, we’ll just have to leave that up to the stewards,” Alford said. “Once she was out of the race it changed the complexion a bit and then I thought I would get the front, but Colin McDowell’s horse (Sunset Zeus) just took charge and I just had to sit their patiently and wait for his horse to slow down a little bit so we could make a move.” Alford took the front and was soon joined by Purdon’s well-backed Art Major colt, Pacing Major. “I was really worried when Pacing Major got outside him so early, I thought if he puts the gas on down the back I’d nearly have to let him go,” Alford said. “Little General, he just kept chugging away and Mark’s horse was sort of gone off the back, so I was pretty confident as we straightened and then when I let him go he really kicked.” Our Little General hit the line first, 4.9m clear of Astride who had a big run for the McCarthy camp after being unsettled by a galloping Tingira Beach, with Wrappers Delight third for trainer Geoff Webster and driver Gavin Lang. Results Video replay   Race 7 - Alabar Breeders Crown Series two-year-old fillies final By Michael Howard HE came, he saw and, despite one hell of a run from Petacular, he conquered. Mark Purdon’s stable claimed a third Breeders Crown for the day, winning the two-year-old fillies with his talented Bettor's Delight filly, Partyon, who retained her unbeaten record with a blistering Group 1 win. Partyon stopped the clock at 1:54.4, some 1.8 seconds quicker than the track’s previous distance record for this class, having survived a battle with Michael Stanley’s brave Burrumbeet filly Petacular. “She’s done a great job. She is a beautiful filly and you just can’t fault her record,” Purdon said. “She’s been great from the time she stepped out to cap it off today.” The Kiwi reinsman and trainer steered Partyon to the front from barrier seven. “(Partyon’s) got good gate speed, although in saying that we didn’t cross them by much and we were going early,” he said. Petacular joined her mid-race, with Gavin Lang tucking well-rated Miss Graceland on leader’s back. “I was a little bit worried, because (Partyon) was really getting plenty of pressure, and I was worried how Gavin was going on my back,” Purdon said. “She just stuck to her task all the way up the straight.” Petacular fought on superbly but, having sat in the breeze for much of the running, didn’t have the fuel tickets to win after a 27.5 third quarter, with Partyon winning by 3.1m from Petacular and My Casino Belle finishing off well to claim third. Results Video replay   Race 8 - Breckon Farms Breeders Crown four-year-old entires and geldings By Michael Howard Ideal For Real (American Ideal) reaffirmed his status as a racehorse to be reckoned with, dominating the four-year-old entires and geldings Group 2 final. Emma Stewart notched up her third win to match Mark Purdon’s mighty haul, claiming the Breckon Farms Breeders Crown Championship by 6m when Ideal For Real produced an all-the-way win. “It is a pretty serious little horse this one,” Lang said. Ideal For Real flew the gate from barrier five, with his main rival, Tee Cee Bee Macray, tucked away at the rear of the field from his wide second row draw. “He’s showed a little bit of gate speed today, which he hasn’t had to use much in the past,” Lang said. “He come off the arm pretty good and got a good position, eventually found the front and got it done pretty easy.” Ideal For Real separated from the pack before they reached the straight and the margin only swelled until a late surge when the win was well in hand. Greg Sugars warmed Tee Cee Bee Macray up at the turn and the star swooper stormed home down the straight, but Ideal For Real’s advantage was too great and he hung on to win by 6m, with $195-shot Egodan only a half-neck further back in third for Vince Vallelonga. Results Video replay   Race 9 - Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown for three-year-old colts and geldings By Michael Howard THEY did it on Vicbred night and served up another dose on Breeders Crown night – the Cranbourne crew’s Cruisin Around stood alone when the moment mattered most. The three-year-old Bacardi Lindy trotter stood up to test one, survive the onslaught out of the gate, and driver Greg Sugars kept enough petrol tickets in the bank to steer Michael Hughes’ gelding to a memorable 5.6m win. “There was a lot of pressure on me to get out of the gate and stay in one piece and thankfully he rose to the occasion for me,” Sugars said. Cruisin Around’s rival, Sundons Courage, was ever present for trainer Chris and owner Brad Angove, but despite Chris Alford’s best efforts in the breeze he couldn’t claw back the gap and Cruisin Around held on to win by 5.6m. Sugars gave much of the credit to trainer Michael Hughes. “I’ve driven a few horses for Mick (Hughes). He does do a very good job,” Sugars said. “An important way to measure a trainer’s ability, they might not always have the best horses going around, but if they can run consistently week-in week-out to their ability, that’s all you can ask for from a trainer. “That’s Michael Hughes to a T. Everytime you step out on one of his horses you know it’s going to run a good race.” Temporale ran third for trainer-driver Tony Herlihy, with Maori Law reaffirming his talent for trainer Bill Morgan, placing fourth.  Results Video replay Race 10 - Nevele R Stud Breeders Crown Championship four-year-old mares By Michael Howard Chris Alford drove Lovelist (Always A Virgin) to victory to cap a brilliant night’s racing with a win in the last, which has seen him draw level in the SBG Accountants Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership. Lang and Alford, who tied for the award last year, are level at 47 wins apiece with the winner to be decided at Wednesday night’s Breeders Crown silver series races. “At the start of the day I thought my best two drives were (trotters) High Gait and Our Regal Love, and they both ran great but weren’t quite good enough on the day, and then you get a bit depressed,” Alford said. “But it’s been a great day, three wins and a couple of seconds and a couple of fourths. These horses are unreal, they are just like driving machines, they never let you down.” In Delight Me, Lang was driving the $1.60 favourite in the Group 2 championship for four-year-old mares, but Delight Me was always going to have to do plenty from her back row draw and she tailed the field for much of the running. Conversely, Lovelist enjoyed cover to sit mid-race early, and then improved on Keayang Mercedes’ back mid-race before rolling all the way to the front well before the bell, and by the time that rang Delight Me had moved from the back to take the breeze. Alford stole a march at the last bend and Delight Me couldn’t go with the leader, with only second-placegetter Cyclone Kate making ground as Lovelist recorded a 4.7m win. “We had a little bit of luck earlier. She got in nicely in midfield, when the speed backed off I took the opportunity to get around and once she found the front she just slipped into another gear,” Alford said. “With Delight Me outside you never know how confident you can be but she felt really good going around the last bend and when I asked her she kicked away really well.” Results Video replay

Harness racing from Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday the 26th of August 2016, the beginning of Breeder's Crown Weekend. Race 1 - DNR Logistics Pace PICOBELLO (Christian Cullen-Lynne Falcon) has won the DNR Logistics Pace to kick-start night one of the Breeders Crown weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton. The five-year-old mare paid $30.30 on the Victorian tote, no doubt blowing the majority of punters out of the early quaddie. Trained and driven by Glenn Douglas at Strathfieldsaye, Picobello turned her 3.4m fourth to Blurred Lines in the heat for this race around despite starting from outside the front row. Our Red Sky Knight finished second after finding the back of leader All Eyes And Ears early in a nice piece of driving by Allan McDonough (from gate three), jumping into the trail ahead of Destiny Warrior (barrier eight), who couldn’t muster quickly enough. Blurred Lines finished third after looking the winner at the top of the straight for Brad Chisholm, finishing on gamely, while All Eyes And Ears boxed on for fourth and Any Wonder ran fifth. Video replay Race 2 - Breeders Crown Graduate Pace KOTARE York (Mach Three-Kotare Yoyo) has pocketed his sixth win at start No.36 by taking out the Breeders Crown Graduate Pace. Trainer Geoff Webster is in great form and the four-year-old stallion appreciated comfortable early splits in the 2240-metre race (lead time 46.9secs, first and second quarters of 30.5 and 29.9), reinsman Emmett Brosnan only having to up the ante late with a 56.4secs last quarter to hold off fast-finishing Game We Play (who was last in the run before commencing a three-wide move from the 800m) – his run was super – and Iceobar in third. The winner rated 1:57.6. That’s two wins from Kotare York’s last three starts now. Video replay Race 3 - Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Championship 4YO Entires/Geldings Trotters ILLAWONG ARMSTRONG (Majestic Son-Lunar Landing) has taken out this year’s Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Championship for four-year-old trotting entires and geldings. Driven by trainer Jodi Quinlan, the gifted gelding was pushed out from the pole draw after long-time rival Eljaykay Phoenix (Josh Aiken) tested his mettle. Anthony Butt put Kyvalley Boomerang into the trail from barrier five, and Nathan Jack took second-favourite Fabrication around the field to the breeze. But it was all Illawong Armstrong in the 2240-metre race, always travelling well to notch his fourth win from nine starts this season with splits of 30, 30.9, 28.6 and 29.3 for a mile rate of 1:59.3. Illawong Armstrong’s stake earnings are now pushing $160,000. Will this be the only Illawong to win over Breeders Crown finals time? Jodi and Dr Martin Hartnett will team up again Sunday with the two-year-old Redwood Classic champ Illawong Byron, and he looks mighty hard to beat. “I didn’t have any confidence tonight,” Quinlan said tonight of Illawong Armstrong. “But his ability takes him a long way. “We’ve had our issues with him. That’s why he’s had eight starts in eight months.” Quinlan said if she had her way Illawong Armstrong would go the paddock for a spell. “But if Martin has his way probably not,” she said. We’ll see who wins that battle. Video replay Race 4 - Haras Des Trotteurs Breeders Crown Graduate Trot  STUNNING JASPER (Village Jasper-Stunning Impact) was a fast-finishing winner of the Haras Des Trotteurs Graduate Trot tonight. Driven by evergreen Brian Gath Stunning Jasper ($31.90) overhauled race favourite Zhenya by a half-neck in 2:00.7. Sammy Charles led with Its Not Dark Yet in the chair. At the bell Stunning Jasper was three back on the pegs in the 2240-metre race. Its Not Dark Yet was battling approaching the home turn and dropped behind Sammy Charles (Chris Alford) who kicked in front, with Zhenya looming up strongly. Zhenya took the lead at the 150m but Stunning Jasper wouldn’t be denied, charging late to grab the win. “It took him a long time to wear them down but he always travelled like he’d make it,” Gath said. “If they raced over 2400m he would have won more. The 2100m is a bit short for him.” Gath said it was a pleasure to drive the winner for good mate Joe Vassallo. “Good fella, Joe, and Sam, they’re great people.” Video repay Race 5 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers Free for All (Group 2)  ALL EYES ON US (Art Major-All Eyes On Me) won tonight’s Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pacers Free for All in extraordinary fashion tonight. The C11-M0 assessed five-year-old equalled the track record for the 2240-metre trip at Melton (joining Keayang Cullen at a mark of 1:53.2), lifting off the canvas after being headed by C25-M8 long odds-on favourite Hectorjayjay to score a half-neck win for trainer John McCarthy and reinsman Luke McCarthy. “We’ve always had a good opinion of him,” Luke McCarthy said. “He ran second in the APG as a two-year-old and missed his three-year-old season when he had a bone chip taken out of his ankle. “We purposely kept him out of the M0s so he’d draw well in this race. He’s got a big heart and we think he’ll take the next step. He’ll make a real good horse.” Undoubtedly he will if he keeps producing runs like tonight. Jilliby Jagger led early with Burning Cash in the breeze, All Eyes On Us leader’s back. Hectorjayjay ($1.25 favourite) settled back in the field in the running line but punters would not have been panicking with a swift lead time of 43secs flat recorded. The leader paced a 60.3secs first half before they scorched down the back in 26.9secs. Hectorjayjay eased to the outside to make his run and looked to have the race shot to bits for Gavin Lang before McCarthy and All Eyes On Us hit top gear, rallied back and took the win (final quarter 27.3, last half 54.2). The winner paid $27.20 and the first four paid almost twelve grand.  Video replay Race 6 Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Championship 4YO Trotting Mares VAL GARDENA (Kadabra-Lets Be Happy) only won by 3.7m but the margin could have been more. She didn’t give her rivals any hope in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Championship for four-year-old trotting mares, rated a treat by the Candyman, Greg Sugars, to score in a mile rate of 2:00.9. The impressive mare from the Anton Golino stable at Cardigan fended off all comers in the run, her first half covered in 62.7secs before third and fourth splits of 29 and 28.6. Damien Burns trained/driven Itsgettingcalder produced another big run for second, she’s in great form, while Glenferrie Burn finished third for Blake Fitzpatrick. Glenferrie Burn is raced by Yabby Dam Farms, who also owned the winner. Video replay Race 7 - Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters FFA (Group 2)  SUPER ZECK (Modern Art-Me Dolli Kit) is this year’s Haras Des Trotteurs Breeders Crown Graduate Trot winner. Trained by Darren Cole at Terang and driven by John Caldow, Super Zeck made it 11 wins this season from 32 starts with a 2.8m win over Maori Time (Anthony Butt) and El Paco (Chris Svanosio) third. Super Zeck took off three-wide from the back at the 1100m mark, getting to the breeze outside leader Vics Cheval, who was chasing back to back wins. Maori Time, who had crept around the field also was left one out and one back, while early leader El Paco, who quickly handed up to Vics Cheval, was travelling sweetly behind the pacesetter. Following early splits of 31.8 and 30.6, Super Zeck put more pressure on the frontrunner down the back (28.5secs third quarter) before going to the front approaching the home turn. Maori Time kept chasing and was game in defeat, while El Paco is one for the black book. He got carted back at the 300m when the leader gave ground and was savaging the line at the finish. Wins soon. Video replay Race 8 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Cup STAR OF DIONYSIS (American Ideal-Star Of Venus) has captured the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Cup for husband/wife team Andy and Kate Gath. The five-year-old went around $1.50 first-up on August 4 from a 50-metre handicap and finished fourth, and then ran seventh as a $2.40 favourite on August 19. Tonight he paid $14.20. Punters who stayed aboard can celebrate with a vino. Fun fact: Dionysus is the god of wine, theatre and revelry in Greek mythology (note, I’m getting that straight from Google as Greek mythology is not my strongpoint). Star Of Dionysis lobbed the one-one for Kate Gath over the 1720m trip and finished too powerfully for his rivals, holding off Art I Special, who was held up at the top of the lane and flew late once in the clear, with Mach Doro third. The winner went 1:55.5. Star Of Dionysis has won 10 races from 46 starts now and that was his fifth win this season. That wraps us up from Melton, so see you Sunday!  Video replay Results Facebook photos

Trots owners will receive the royal treatment at TAB Breeders Crown Super Sunday this weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton. The VIP owners’ enclosure will see owners, trainers and drivers congregating in luxurious surrounds, talking trots, cheering on their charge and watching the Race to Royalty trackside. “Elevating the ownership experience is a key theme for Harness Racing Victoria (HRV),” said HRV Ownership Manager Tori Glenister. “Owners are obviously such an important part of the industry. Racing a horse is fun and exciting, so the owners’ VIP enclosure is another way for connections to ‘Own the Moment’ on race day. “The enclosure is located between the Legends Café and the Sports Bar so our owners are looked after with some of the best views in the house.” AFL star Josh Jenkins is HRV’s TAB Breeders Crown ambassador this year. A racehorse owner himself, Jenkins will be in the owners’ enclosure throughout the day socialising. “Since I became interested in the trots, attending Breeders Crown day has been a goal,” Jenkins said. “The trots has quickly developed into a passion of mine and to be on track Sunday will be great fun.” Owners with a horse racing on Sunday can pick up their owners’ pack, which includes their VIP enclosure ticket for them and a guest, at the race day office. Finger food, scrumptious Breeders Crown cupcakes, decadent chocolates and Champagne will be just some of offerings in the owners’ enclosure. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Classy trotter Illawong Byron is due for a spell, probably overdue, says harness racing trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. But the Parwan horsewoman also says she’s never trained a horse with his constitution and she is hopeful the Redwood Classic winner can produce another grand performance on Breeders Crown Day. has installed Illawong Byron $1.60 favourite to win the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown Final on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings from gate two after his impressive heat win at Maryborough last week. “He was definitely not right in the Vicbred Final (when finishing second) and he took a couple of weeks to get over that,” Quinlan said. MARKETS: ILLAWONG BYRON IS $1.6 FOR THE BREEDERS CROWN AT TAB.COM.AU “He bounced back with a really good run in the Redwood and then he was probably even better in the heat last week. I just hope he didn’t run his race a week early. He'll go for a good break after Sunday.” Quinlan makes the point Illawong Byron has had a long season, literally given he ran in the very first two-year-old trot of the 2015-16 season. “I’ve never had a horse with a constitution like his.” Raced and bred by Martin and Kaye Hartnett, Illawong Byron – by Muscle Mass out of Illawong Blush – has won seven races from 11 starts and looks a shoe-in for Victorian two-year-old male trotter of the year. Quinlan has repeatedly expressed her appreciation for the Hartnetts, who she says are very loyal and supportive. “They’ve been fantastic supporters of mine through good times and bad and they put a lot of money into the game, so they deserve every success they get,” Quinlan said. VIDEO: ILLAWONG BYRON WINS THE REDWOOD CLASSIC AT MARYBOROUGH Mark Purdon-trained Custodian ($2.90 with TAB) has drawn barrier nine and will trail Illawong Byron out. “With Custodian following me I’ll probably have to do a bit to hold the front,” Quinlan said. Quinlan also puts the polish on three-year-old trotting filly Sky Majesty in the Haras Des Trotteurs Breeders Crown Final (Race 1) on Sunday. Raced by passionate trots owners Michael Taranto, Rob Merola and Sam Godino Sky Majesty has drawn gate six and is a $61 outsider according to “She has had a fantastic year but she just can’t snag a decent barrier in a big race. From the draw Wilmas Mate looks unbeatable on paper, but they are three-year-old trotters so anything can happen.” Already a Breeders Crown winner in the sulky behind Ladyinred in 2005, Quinlan said the day held a special place in her heart. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win the Breeders Crown as a driver. If I could win one as a trainer that would definitely be special.” BOOK NOW: SECURE YOUR BREEDERS CROWN DINING PACKAGE BEFORE THEY SELL OUT Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 26 August 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 26 August 2016

Tasmanian two-year-old pacer Scooterwillrev qualified for a berth in next Sunday's $280,000 Group 1 Breeders Crown final when he finished a game fifth in his harness racing semi-final at Bendigo on Saturday night. Scooterwillrev, prepared at Stowport by Craig Hayes, went into the semi-final undefeated from six starts in his home state but he had to contend with an outside back-row draw at his first start interstate. The gelding was driven by Greg Sugars and finished 10.8 metres from the winner Our Little General ($4.30) from the Emma Stewart stable with kiwi colt Pacing Major second as the $1.70 favourite. Scooterwillrev has drawn the inside of the second row in the final at Melton next Sunday and if the pole marker Scotlynn Beach doesn't gain a start as the emergency then the Tasmanian will follow out the likely favourite Tingara Beach (2). Miss Graceland was bred in Tasmania by Rick and Naomi Hinds and she secured her place in the 2TO Fillies final with a game second in her semi-final. Miss Graceland, trained by Emma Stewart and to be driven by Gavin Lang, has drawn gate four on the front line in the final. Three-year-old filly Nikkibadwagon that is owned by Tasmanians Robert Groenewegen, Bryan Dunn and Nic Bauld, clinched her berth in the 3YO Fillies final with a gallant second in her semi-final. Peter Staples

Unbeaten Partyon will improve into the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown Final after her Semi-Final win, said harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon last night at Bendigo. After finishing 1.4m ahead of runner-up My Casino Belle in the first Semi-Final for the two-year-old pacing fillies in 1:58.5, Partyon was installed $1.75 fixed odds favourite with for next Sunday’s Group 1 final at Tabcorp Park Melton. “She was quite casual actually. I think she will be better with the run under her belt and she was busy looking at everything with the new track and new surroundings,” Purdon said. “She’ll be spot on for the final.” VIDEO: MARK PURDON TALKS ABOUT PARTYON AFTER WINNING SEMI Partyon, by Bettor's Delight out of Beach Parade and unbeaten in four starts, began from barrier 11 last night at Lord’s Raceway but wasted little time getting into the race, Purdon pushing her forward to find the lead after 300 metres. Once in front there were very few moves made in the run and Partyon dictated terms before dashing up the straight with a 27.2 final quarter to hold off a valiant My Casino Belle for Brad Hewitt. But while Partyon, who won the 2YO Diamond at the New Zealand Harness Jewels meeting in June, is all the rage for the Final Victorians Petacular and Miss Graceland will be far from easy-beats next Sunday. Michael Stanley trained Petacular in particular has had a super season with eight wins – including victory in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final – from 10 starts for over $160,000 in stakes. MARKETS: TAB FIXED ODDS BREEDERS CROWN MARKETS Last night she was at the top of her game once again, taking out her Semi-Final by 4m over Emma Stewart trained Miss Graceland in 1:57.7. Driven by Chris Alford, Petacular overcame a barrier 11 draw, circling the field to assume control at the mile. VIDEO: PETACULAR GRABS ANOTHER WIN, THIS TIME IN SEMI-FINAL Miss Graceland, who started from barrier 13 last night, moved to second at the 500m before dropping on to Petacular’s back for a breather turning for home. Those two dashed right away from the rest of the field and the winner never looked in any serious danger, scoring by 4m with third-placed Miss Dangerfield coming in 23.9m behind the winner. Petacular, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Ideal Priority, drew poorly for the Final resulting in putting her up as a $5 third favourite, with Miss Graceland drawing well in gate four for the Final opening at $3.50. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

While all the hype had been held by horses’ trained north of the border and off-shore, it was a Smythes Creek battle-hardened Mach Three who landed the killer blow in Saturday night’s Breeders Crown harness racing semi-finals at Bendigo. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s Tingira Beach was outstanding for the Menangle Park pair in semi-final one, but the script was thrown out in the second two-year-old colts and geldings semi-final when Christchurch trainer Mark Purdon’s gun, Pacing Major, was held off by Our Little General. “He’s a proper little racehorse now,” driver Chris Alford said, having notched up the second of three consecutive winning drives. “With a bit of luck somewhere we will be in the money (in the final).” That defining moment will come in race six next Saturday, when the Emma Stewart trained Our Little General’s large ownership contingent will be in attendance, including Anne Anderson of part-owner/breeder Lauriston Bloodstock. “It was fantastic,” Ms Anderson said. “We never expected him to hold off that quality field and he did it well.” VIDEO: ANNE ANDERSON DELIGHTED AFTER HER COLT SUCCEEDS From barrier seven Our Little General was sent to the top, where he was joined by Pacing Major at the bell, who was given a reprieve from his three-wide move when Bettor Be Gold gave Purdon’s runner cover. Come the final bend Our Little General stole the march on the field and by the time Purdon put Pacing Major into the open the task had become considerable. His Art Major colt loomed up, but Our Little General kicked on with 100m to go and that was all she wrote. “His first start was a heat of the Australian Pacing Gold and he’s danced every dance since then and we are just so proud of him,” Anderson said. “We’ll be back. I haven’t missed a Breeders Crown since the first one at Bendigo, so I’m a huge Breeders Crown fan and to have one in is fantastic.” Come the final Our Little General will again have to come from barrier seven and Pacing Major barrier nine after their semi-final draws were replicated. Their main rival, Tinigira Beach, will launch from barrier two for the Trittons, potentially enabling Pacing Major an avenue through and making Our Little General’s position a little trickier. With the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series crown already in his keeping, Tingira Beach couldn’t have been more impressive in his semi-final win and, with barrier draw front of mind, he’s been installed as a $1.50 favourite to win on TAB fixed odds. In the semi-final, the Somebeachsomewhere/Western Tingira colt held the front from barrier one and with 27.4 and 27.1 third and fourth quarters built a 12.3m win from Sunset Zeus, who had been on leader’s back. The dominant performance was that of a horse on his way up, Tritton said. “When we came here (for Vicbred) he was really green and still learning. He’s a different horse now, he’s a lot more switched on,” Tritton said. “He’s been really sharp in his work and I think he’s a really nice horse and he’s got his chance to win a good race.” VIDEO: SHANE TRITTON ONE VERY PROUD TRAINER That would mean more delight for his owners and breeders, the Dacar Newcastle group. “They come to Breeders Crown every year whether they have a runner or not,” Tritton said. “If I could get them a Breeders Crown win it would just mean the world to them. I think he’s good enough. I’d hate to think there’s better ones out there my bloke, he just feels great, I love him." Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

He came, he saw, he conquered – and Sunday it’s going to take one heck of a run to prevent him doing it all over again in the harness racing Group 1 $185,000 Breeders Crown final. Mark Purdon’s super Somebeachsomewhere gelding Our Waikiki Beach run down talented front runner Iceenothink, from Larry Eastman’s camp, to win his IRT Breeders Crown semi-final at Bendigo. VIDEO: OWNER TREVOR CASEY DELIGHTED WITH HIS STAR'S WIN And the Victorian bred, New Zealand trained winner of 22 of his 23 starts looks to have a stranglehold on the competition after a favourable barrier draw placed him in gate two for Sunday's Tabcorp Park Melton final, outside only emergency Carter Bromac. Leading rivals, who also qualified in last night’s semi-finals at Bendigo, Spiritwriter (barrier 5), Kingofthestars (barrier 6) and Iceenothink (barrier 7) have drawn outside the Kiwi on the front row, while Rock Of America (barrier 8) will likely be on his tail. Highly rated Kiwi Franco Cristiano, who ran fifth in his heat, will start from the back row, as will semi-final winner Soho Tribecca. The latter had a shining moment at Bendigo, where he controlled the race after driver Chris Alford found the front from barrier six on the Jayne Davies trained American Ideal colt. “He’s been running in all the good races this year and just been falling short,” Alford said. “Tonight for him to win a semi of the Breeders Crown is terrific and onwards to the final now.” VIDEO: CHRIS ALFORD CHATS AFTER SOHO TRIBECCA TAKES HONOURS Soho Tribecca was brilliant out of the gates to cross Keep On Rocking from gate one, while $1.40 favourite Franco Cristiano had a much more modest start and was swamped from gate four, which left driver John Dunn three-wide until he crept to the breeze mid-race. Soho Tribecca by contrast was able to do his own thing and when they came knocking at the final bend it was only Geoff Webster’s Keep On Rocking, from the box seat, who threatened. “(Soho Tribecca) found the front pretty comfortably and the main thing was that he relaxed pretty well the first lap and got it pretty easy,” Alford said. “When the pressure come on and they wanted to get rolling along, if you fight him he doesn’t seem to finish off so I was happy to let him stride and thankfully he held on.” Soho Tribecca won by a neck in a 1:55.7 mile rate for owner-breeder Rob Watson. “He’s had a lot of horses over the years Rob and he does put a lot of money in and so he deserves every winner he gets,” Alford said. The mile rate was 0.5 quicker than semi-final two, which ran as expected with Iceenothink leading and Our Waikiki Beach taking his back from barrier eight. It was then a waiting game until the sprint lane opened for Purdon, who gave Our Waikiki Beach a gentle urging and he found the front to win by 2.9m in a 27.9 final quarter, delighting part-owner Trevor Casey. “We had to drive him that way and hope for luck,” Mr Casey said. “We got it and that was our main mission (tonight).” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Clayton Tonkin’s declaration that he doesn’t like comparing his two top-gun harness racing fillies Rocknroll Magic and Heavens Trend is completely understandable. They’re both lovable. The Emma Stewart and Tonkin prepared three-year-olds won their respective Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO semi-finals last night at Bendigo and then drew gates one (Heavens Trend) and eight (Rocknroll Magic) for the $185,000 final. “I don’t like comparing them too much. They’re lovely horses in their own right,” Tonkin said. The barrier draw result is intriguing. Heavens Trend clearly has the advantage from the pole and TAB has reacted by installing her $1.65 favourite for next Sunday’s final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Rocknroll Magic will trail her more fancied stablemate and is currently $3 to win the final. “She’s been unbelievable. It’s been a long, long season for her and for her to run the way she ran tonight is just unbelievable,” said Craig Cameron, who bred Rocknroll Magic (by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic) and now races the filly with a big ownership group. “She’s only a tiny little horse but she’s all champ.” VIDEO: EXCITED OWNERS OF ROCKNROLL MAGIC Heavens Trend went around $1.50 favourite last night in the First Semi-Final and after punching the breeze for the first 500m Gavin Lang took her to the front at the mile, Chris Alford happy to take cover on initial leader Dancingwithsierra. After coasting through a 61.3secs first half, Lang and Heavens Trend only really quickened considerably from the quarter pole, the filly covering the last split in 26.6secs for a 1:55.9 mile rate. At the wire Heavens Trend had 7.3m to spare over Mark Purdon’s My Mackenzie, who came from three-pegs, with Rockstar Angel in third for Michael Bellman after weaving a passage from well back on the inside. Dancingwithsierra dead-heated for fourth with Whirily School, the latter, also from the Stewart yard, fighting on gamely after sitting parked for the final mile. “I thought (she) did a good job, too,” Tonkin said of Whirily School. VIDEO: CLAYTON TONKIN TALKS ABOUT HIS FILLIES Queenslander Get In The Groove, who last year won a Breeders Crown Semi, qualified for the final by finishing sixth for driver Luke McCarthy. Rocknroll Magic came from behind in the run to win her Semi-Final, Lang extricating her off the pegs from barrier eight early before settling sixth in the running line. At the 500m Lang made his move, easing wide to get within striking distance of race leader Luisanabelle Midfrew and the breezing Nikkibadwagon. In the stretch once Lang shook up the $3.20 favourite, Rocknroll Magic rounded up the leaders and scored by 1.6m in a rate of 1:56.4. The last half-mile was trekked in 56.3. MARKETS: TAB BREEDERS CROWN FIXED ODDS Nikkibadwagon was brave in second after facing the breeze throughout, while Just Rockon Bye finished third after showing blistering gate speed to lead from five before handing up to Luisanabelle Midfrew, who ran fourth. Gina Grace appreciated the pole position draw and qualified in fifth, while Ilikemillie scraped into the final by closing late for sixth. Lang revealed late last night he would drive Heavens Trend in the Crown final. "Her heat run was very good and she was good again tonight so it all augers well for next week," he said. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Shane Tritton isn’t one to get intimidated. Even when it means taking on the might of the Purdon/Rasmussen barn, Tritton thinks he has the horse to beat them. Tritton’s young star Tingira Beach is commanding favourite to win his Breeders Crown 2YO semi-final tomorrow night and set-up a showdown with Purdon’s young gun Pacing Major in the final. “We’ve had some luck this week drawing barrier one in the weaker of the two semis, so he only needs to run up to his recent form to win,” Tritton said. “I think he’s actually improved since he was last down in Melbourne and winning the Vicbred final.” Tingara Beach looks the leader and winner from the pole and is a $1.25 favourite in Aussie TAB markets. Pacing Major is $1.60 favourite from a back row draw (gate nine) in the stronger semi-final where Astride (gate one), Our Little General (seven) and Bettor Be Gold (12) have the talent to make it a contest. Looking ahead to the final, Tritton thinks Tingira Beach deserves top billing with Pacing Major. “I know the markets have Pacing Major favourite, but knowing how good my horse is, he will need to be something special to beat us,” he said. “He just keeps improving, has been working really well with some top horses of mine at home and I can’t wait for the final.” In other stable news, Tritton said his glamour mare Arms Of An Angel was ready to return. “She’s coming up well and will trial in the next two weeks,” he said. “We’ve been sitting her up in her work so she’s learning all the time. “She is only an M2 so we can take her through the grades for now then look at feature race options, but obviously the Ladyship and Miracle Miles are the long term targets.” Tritton also hopes to chase feature races with his new star, the injury-plagued Lombo Kotakinabalu. “He’s done a tendon three times, but he’s back flying and is sound as I’ve ever had him,” he said. “I said two years ago he could be a Miracle Mile horse and I just hope we can keep him sound long enough to run in the big races. “He’s won his past two starts in super time and without Lauren having to pull the plugs.” Adam Hamilton

The money has come for Petacular to win tomorrow night’s Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ second harness racing semi-final at Bendigo. The Michael Stanley-trained daughter of Somebeachsomewhere is already seven-time winner from nine starts and has a win and a third to her name at Group 1 level. Petacular took out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final last month at Tabcorp Park Melton in 1:58.0 from the breeze. Despite a gate 11 draw tomorrow night at Bendigo, Petacular is into $1.55 to win her Breeders Crown semi with TAB reporting an $1800 win bet at $1.7 during the week. TAB also reported significant win bets had come for Shane Tritton-trained Tingira Beach to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown two-year-old colts and geldings’ first semi-final from the pole and Franco Christiano to take out the IRT Breeders Crown three-year-old colts and geldings’ first semi-final from barrier four. At longer odds support has come for Michael Doltoff-trained Rock Of America ($6 to $5.5) in the three-year-old boys’ first semi-final, and there has been a good early go for Barry Dunn-trained Nikkibadwagon ($4/$3.8/$3.5) to win the three-year-old fillies’ second semi-final from barrier six. TAB fixed odds markets are open for all tomorrow night’s semi-finals and all-in markets are available for next Sunday August 28’s TAB Breeders Crown pacing finals. Video: Good Form’s Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Semi-Final Preview Video: Good Form’s Breeders Crown 2YO Colts/Geldings Preview Video: Good Form’s Breeders Crown 3YO Fillies Preview Video: Good Form’s Breeders Crown 3YO Colts/Geldings Preview Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The harness racing starters for the 2016 TAB Breeders Crown two-year-old and three-year-old trotters finals are complete with line-ups to be finalised at tomorrow night’s barrier draws in Bendigo. The trotting heats were conducted at Maryborough on Wednesday with the pacing semi-finals to be held at Lord’s Raceway Bendigo from 5.33pm tomorrow night. Tomorrow night’s barrier draws will be covered live across Harness Racing Vitoria’s media channels @HRVnews on Twitter and TAB will be releasing fixed odds final markets on the Breeders Crown finals soon after completion of barrier draws tomorrow night. All-in markets are currently open and can be accessed here. Breeders Crown Trotting Starters 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings ALEPPO MURPHY BIG JACK HAMMER CONON BRIDGE NZ CRUISIN AROUND ENROLLED HUDSON BAY MAORI LAW SKYFLYER SUN VALLEY ROAD SUNDONS COURAGE TEMPORALE NZ WAR DAN DESTROYER KYVALLEY TINMAN (1st Em) 3YO Trotting Fillies ALDEBARAN AY M NZ ALDEBARAN EVE COURCHEVEL NZ FEAR NOT HIGH GAIT NZ ILLAWONG BLISS PRINCESS PHOENIX SKY MAJESTY SOCIAL FIREBALL THE COOLER WILMAS MATE NZ 2YO Trotting Colts and Geldings CLARKES HILL CLAUDYS PRINCE CUSTODIAN NZ EMPIRE BAY ENDSIN A PARTY EYRISH MIST NZ ILLAWONG BYRON JUST OSCAR KHEIRON MANO DE DIOS RED RUSTLER SHANG FANG SWORD 2YO Trotting Fillies BETTY HALL DERRIE AIRE GARSTON GIRL IONA SPIDER KYVALLEY KYRIE MIDNIGHTATPINEVALE NIETA OUR REGAL LOVE NZ SVAL QUEEN TEN SPANNERS UNE BELLE ALLURE VALSUE ILLAWONG SHIMMER (1st Em) Breeders Crown draws to be held amid owners' celebrations Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Having waited a long time to unwrap his trotting gift harness racing trainer Bill Morgan’s patience has been quickly rewarded, with his talented three-year-old putting his best foot forward. Maori Law’s unbeaten streak reached four at Maryborough yesterday when the Lawman / Sundonna gelding stepped out in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown heat and saw off a challenge from Tony Herlihy’s short-priced entrant, Temporale. It has the Seymour stable buoyant, having stepped carefully with their lightly-raced gelding, who is owned by Fred Crews. “Early doors he looked like he was going to hit his knee (when trotting) so we put him away as a two-year-old and he must have been out for eight to 10 months,” Morgan said. “Then we worked him up, had good speed, but just wasn’t good enough to trot early, wasn’t balanced enough, so we put him away for another three months and then we had another go at him again. He was handling the early speed and so we raced him.” There was still uncertainty, but Morgan was optimistic he had a good one. “I remember one night when we were getting him going we took him up to Shepparton just to have a run about,” Morgan said. “We were only educating him, he couldn’t balance early so we would work him two-mile and then build him into it. “One particular night, when Bernadette (Page) was driving a pacemaker, I said just come off his back and let him work home in the quarter and he ran 27.7. If I had have raced him then I think I might have brought him undone because he just wasn’t balanced enough early, so we put him away and waited for him.” His debut came at Maryborough on July 18, when in Gavin Lang’s hands he won by a head via the sprint lane. “His first start here he sat behind the leader, they went slow and then sprinted. He was entitled to lose, if they had have ran it true I think he would have won it easy at his first start.” Further victories followed at Cranbourne on July 30 and Maryborough on August 7, but yesterday presented his most stern test against Breeders Crown aspirants. “He’s got stronger, in saying that of course (he hadn’t raced) the likes of the Tony Herlihys then,” Morgan said. “Each time he’s racing better horses.” From gate two yesterday Lang guided Maori Law to the front and followed a 42.7 lead time with 31.6 and 31.9 first and second quarters. Temporale remained in the one-one through a 29.6 third quarter, drawing wide at the final bend and almost level with Maori Law, but the latter matched every stride and in a 28.0 final quarter won by 2.1m, with Hudson Bay third. “I didn’t know whether he could or he couldn’t (beat the likes of Temporale), but when he got the cheap splits I had a gut feeling, and I said to young Bernadette, that I don’t know if (Temporale) can beat him now.” Next stop is the Sunday, August 28, Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, where the Group 1 $60,000 prize will have Maori Law square off against fellow heat winner Sundons Courage, Vicbred champion Cruisin Around and Geoff Webster’s Big Jack Hammer among others. It’s a challenge Morgan is looking forward to, in a matter-of-fact kind of way. “Breeders Crown only comes around once a year, if it wasn’t around normally you would put him away, but he is paid up for it and after that we will put him away, give him a freshen up and in another preparation we should find him better again.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Race programme for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 28 August 2016

This time last year harness racing driver Ashlee Grives won a Semi-Final of the Breeders Crown with Ameretto. Wind the clock forward and the pair are aiming at Victorian riches again, this time in Saturday night's Group Three Breeders Crown Graduate Mares Free-For-All at Bendigo. Drawn wide in barrier seven for the $30,000 feature, Ameretto is the third elect with TAB Fixed Odds at $6. And despite hardly finishing out of the money throughout her career, the Million Dollar Cam mare produced one of the best runs to date to win at Tabcorp Park Menangle last start. She led throughout and rated 1:51.6. "I was a bit worried heading into that race because she had not raced in five weeks but she went super," Grives said. "She will racing in Victoria for a couple of weeks with the Breeders Crown Final at Melton at the end of month too." Part-owned by Grives' husband Ryan, Ameretto has won 17 of her 39 starts and Grives has been the only person to drive the four-year-old in all her races. This has aided Grives' record of steering 633 winners in her own career and it has also added to Grives 198 wins as a trainer, hence why they named their property 'Ameretto Park'. It is even their domain name for their website Ameretto is one of three New South Wales mares aimed at this weekend's feature, with the John McCarthy-trained Cyclone Kate the $2.20 favourite and the Shane Tritton-trained Miss Riviera Bella a $9 chance. Amanda Rando

Harness racing star Our Waikiki Beach has been handed a tricky start to his Breeders Crown defence. The exceptional three-year-old confirmed his place as favourite for the ABC series with a dominant win at Melton last Saturday but his path to final has been made more difficult by a bad draw in his semi final at Bendigo on Saturday night. Our Waikiki Beach, the winner of 21 of his 22 starts, will start from the inside of the second line in his 2150m semi final. While he follows out one of his key rivals in Iceenothink and the field is not strong, his early fate could now be in the hands of his rivals and may force trainer-driver Mark Purdon to pull back to near last as getting locked away on the markers would seem his biggest danger. That could mean a harder night at the office than Purdon would have liked and while only bad luck would stop him from qualifying for the final on Sunday week, the other New Zealand-trained three-year-old in the series, Franco Cristiano, looks to have an easier path. He has drawn barrier three in the other semi and in a series that lacks depth he will be expected to win for John Dunn. Purdon didn’t have a lot of luck with barrier draws for his other series favourites, with both Pacing Major (two-year-old boys) and Partyon (juvenile fillies) drawing the second line. Pacing Major won his Australian debut last Friday against older horses but faces a huge task on Saturday as his semi contains some serious opponents in Astride, The Little General and Bettor Be Gold. Partyon should remain unbeaten in her semi as she has drawn a weak field and has already shown the ability to work in her races. The New Zealand-trained winners in the draws apart from Franco Cristiano were My MacKenzie, barrier one in a weakish semi, and Luisanabelle Midfrew, who gets barrier two in the other three-year-old fillies semi. Meanwhile, several of New Zealand’s contenders for the trotting divisions of the Breeders Crown attempt to qualify at Maryborough on Wednesday. High Gait, Temporale and Our Regal Love will all be well favoured in their heats on the all-trotting programme.   Michael Guerin

John Dunn can’t wait for another crack at Our Waikiki Beach with his exciting pacer Franco Cristiano. That looks likely in the Breeders Crown final on Sunday week, but first Franco Cristiano has to book his spot through a semi-final at Bendigo on Saturday night. And he doesn’t have Our Waikiki Beach to contend with this time. It’s fair to say Dunn was buzzing despite Franco Cristiano having to be content with third spot to Our Waikiki Beach and Menin Gate at Melton last Saturday night. “I was thrilled with the run. He really needed the hitout, so to do the work he did and still finish so close (5.3m from the winner) was really pleasing,” Dunn said. “I’m not afraid of Our Waikiki Beach. I respect him, but I’m really looking forward to racing him again. “I do think we can beat him. I know how much improvement this is to come from our guy.” Dunn moved Franco Cristiano from Melton to Bruce Morgan’s Bendigo stables last Sunday so the gelding could do his trackwork around the circuit he will race on this weekend. “Just like I took him to the Melton trials and then gave him the run last week, I’m big on giving a horse who is still learning some experience around tracks which are new to him,” he said. Franco Cristiano will dominate betting from an ideal draw (gate four) in what looks the weaker of the two Crown semis at Bendigo on Saturday night. He will come into three if the emergency (Nickys Idol, gate one) doesn’t gain a start. The barrier has added plenty of interest to the other semi with Our Waikiki Beach drawn inside the back row (gate eight). Main danger and impressive heat winner Iceenothink has thee pole, while the other major hopes look to be Kingofthestars (gate nine) and I Will Rock You (13). Tactics will be fascinating with Iceenothink a probable leader and Our Waikiki Beach drawn to trail him through. Two of Mark Purdon’s other stars – Partyon (race two, gate 11) and Pacing Major (race six, gate nine) – also drew the back row. While his talented three-year-old filly My Mackenzie landed the pole in the opening race, but does have Heavens Trend (four), Dancingwithsierra (two) and Whirily School (three).   Adam Hamilton

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