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Well known harness racing trainer Wayne Honan is pressing ahead with plans to try his former star pacer Flightpath again and at this stage everything is on track. It is over 75 months since the son of Artsplace set foot on a racetrack but the eleven year old has had a lot of solid groundwork in his preparation for a return to racing. "It has been in the back of my mind to try him again for quite a while but with him being at stud I have never taken it any further." However when it looked like I had sold the farm earlier this year and he wasn't going to stand this year, I thought then it would be a good time to see if still had what it takes to be competitive." Wayne said. Flightpath was a star two year old, taking out the $314,000 Australasian Breeders Crown Final at Ballarat and after a run of issues over the next two years following that great win, he was retired to stud the winner of twelve lifetime for stakes totaling $290,694.  Flightpath was well received in his initial two years at stud and although the mares weren't top class they were nice middle of the road mares. He left 23 winners from his first crop including such good types as Alphitania 1:57.3 ($71,645) Tulhurst Sarsha 1:55.8 ($58,545) and Flytomo 1:58.3 ($ 53,783)  and seemed off to a good start. The talented Quagmire 1:56.1 ($53,165) quickly followed in year two but then a decision to move the stallion away from Golden Gait Stud did the horse more damage than good with the quality of the mares dropping while the number of mares served dropped bigtime as well. Still there are plenty of Flightpath progeny doing a good job with the latest being Lucy Lamb who is unbeaten in four todate and goes around in the $30,600 Eugowra Cup later today. Wayne has being varying Flightpath's training as he gets closer to a resumption with a view to keeping his mind on the job. " I have started swimming him again which he loves and I have been driving him around the farm in his work as well. " In the next couple of weeks I will head down to Sydney and look for a trial for him." " If he handles that okay I will start looking for a suitable race to kick off this campaign," Wayne said. It should be an interesting few weeks as we watch to see if the talented Flightpath still has what it takes to be competitive on the track. Harnesslink Media

On course on Sunday afternoon at the Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, the one slightly disappointing run from a Kiwi perspective was undoubtedly that of Follow The Stars. After working early and then getting a lovely run on the back of Menin Gate for the remainder of the race, most expected him to boom home along the passing lane and claim a victory over his arch nemesis Menin Gate. Especially given that My Kiwi Gate had dished it up to Menin Gate for most of the last lap and looked to have Menin Gate in trouble on the corner However Follow The Stars showed nothing initially when moved into the passing lane but half way down he seemed to get a second wind and charged home late for second to Menin Gate who showed all his usual toughness in the straight when looking in trouble on the bend. Post race it has now emerged that Follow The Stars had suffered a tendon tear during the Breeders Crown Final which obviously affected his performance. "Its a 10 per cent tear which means he will be off the scene for a few months" Mark Purdon said There has been a bit of interest in Follow The Stars as a stud prospect in Australia and negotiations are ongoing. Harnesslink Media

Sunday's $84,000 Aldebaran Park Australasian Breeders Crown final for two year old colt and gelding trotters at Tabcorp Park Melton  looked a two horse war on paper and that's how it turned out but it wasn't the two horses everybody thought would fight out the finish. Conon Bridge from the Paul Nairn barn was a warm favourite after drawing barrier one and his main danger was expected to be Sundons Courage from the Chris Angove barn who was drawn on Conon Bridge's back at one on the second line. One driver who thought he might be able to upset those predictions was Todd MacFarlane, the trainer driver of Cyclone Chief who had drawn in close at barrier four. Speaking to Harnesslink pre race, Todd thought that Sundons Courage lack of early speed presented an opportunity for him to get across and trail Conon Bridge. And that is exactly how it turned out. After a false start at the first attempt, Conon Bridge burned off the gate at the second attempt leaving a big gap for Cyclone Chief to slot into with Sundons Courage settling three back on the inner. Conon Bridge's driver Bob Butt was in no great hurry in front and with no mid race pressure he had a pretty soft run in front. Passing the 800 metres Bob upped the tempo with a quarter down the back in 29,8 which had most of the field battling before the turn. Cyclone Chief had dropped off a length or two but was still close enough on the corner to be a threat. Half way up the straight Conon Bridge looked home but late in the piece Cyclone Chief surged up on the inner and injected real excitement into the finish. At which point Conon Bridge ducked sideways and inconveniced Cyclone Chief. No sooner had Conon Bridge being declared the winner, than the siren went with Todd alleging the interference had cost him the win. Sitting in on the enquiry, the point the stewards returned to several times was the fact that Todd, even though he had been checked, had not stopped driving Cyclone Chief over the final stages. After a short adjournment, the stewards came back with a finding that while Cyclone Chief had been checked, Todd hadn't stopped driving the horse over the final stages and the close proximity to the finish line led them to dismiss the objection. They did however fine Bob Butt $250 for failing to correct Conon Bridge immediately when he ducked in. Bob Butt was relieved but confident the right decision had been made. " Conon Bridge did shift down the track but I didn't believe he had done enough to lose the race." " I think the fact Todd never stopped driving his horse helped my case," Bob said. Todd Macfarlane was dumbfounded by the decision. " I am in no doubt that if I hadn't been checked I would have won the race."' " Bob's horse has gone super and I have no complaints with anything he said in the room. " The stewards on the other hand seem to have pre-determined the outcome before the hearing had even been held." "Their performance has left a real sour taste in my mouth" Todd said. In the wash up Bob Butt should be congratulated for adding a Group 1 winning drive to his resume and kudos to Todd MacFarlane for taking the decision so professionally in the room. Harnesslink Media  

Leading harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is always fairly reserved in his judgements when asked to rate his horses so when he labels one of his charges a "champion" it pays to take notice. That horse was Our Waikiki Beach who showed tremendous courage today in the $288,000 Woodlands Stud two year old colts and geldings Breeders Crown final at Tabcorp Park Melton.   Wide early from the outside of the gate, Mark Purdon continued to press forward in search of the lead.   But Born To Rocknroll with Luke McCarthy in the bike had already found the front and wasn't in the mood to hand up.   The two star juveniles went toe to toe for three hundred metres before Luke took a trail with Born To Rocknroll.   Shadow Sax found the chair soon after and then Zee Dana worked around and gave him one by one cover.   Off the back Mark Purdon upped the tempo again and as they straightened for home he put a break on his pursuers.   Mark gave him a couple to keep his mind on the job as he cruised home for an emphatic win.   After the early duel, Born To Rocknroll showed real gameness to stick on for second in front of Shadow Sax.   Our Waikiki Beach paced the 2240 metres in a real smart 2:42, a mile arte of 1:56.4 with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.7.   It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's twelfth consecutive win from twelve starts and took his stake earnings to $510,427   Mark Purdon was all smiles post-race.   "He was really tested today but he came through it in great style..   "I thought he might be a bit vulnerable late after all the work he had done early but when I asked him he really lifted.   "I think he deserves to be called a champion after the season he has had and that run today, Mark said     Harnesslink Media

The IRT $174,000 Breeders Crown final for three year old colts and geldings looked a two horse war on paper. In one corner was Menin Gate for Australia who has been in devastating form all season. In the other corner was Follow The Stars for New Zealand who had being going great all season as well but couldn't get the better of his arch foe when they have met. Mark Purdon worked Follow The Stars around the field early from barrier four before finding the lead after 600 metres. He was quickly joined in front by Menin Gate and Chris Alford who went to the front without any of the expected battle. My Kiwi Mate who was over racing badly back in the field worked to the chair with just over a lap to go and from there the speed was true. These three pulled clear at the 400 metres mark and turning for home a winner was hard to pick. My Kiwi Mate looked to have headed Menin Gate but like the true champion he is, he lifted and surged clear. Follow The Stars seemed to be full of running turning in but once in the passing lane he took an age to wind up. By the time he did Menin Gate had flown for a well- deserved victory. Follow The Stars was slightly disappointing in second while My Kiwi Mate was huge in running third. Menin Gate paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.6, a mile rate of 1:55.4 with closing sectionals of 55.9 and 27.3 It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's 13th win from just 19 starts and took his stake earnings to $501,335 Chris Alford was fulsome in his praise of Menin Gate post- race. "We did plenty of work early but then so did Mark Purdon on Follow The Stars so I thought he would let me go when I went for the front." "Once in front he was really strong in the run and I was confident he would be hard to beat off the back. "My Kiwi Mate may have levelled with us as we straightened. But once I asked him he responded like the champion he is." "He is just a brute of a horse and I honestly think he will be better after a good break," Chris said. Harnesslink Media

The $50,500 Mountain View Stud Breeders Crown final for four year old colts and geldings at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton today looked like a two horse race on paper but like any race it never quite works out as you think it will. Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker led as expected from barrier 4 and immediately tried to box in Messini who started from barrier 1 but Chris Alford on Messsini was having none of it and worked his way out into the running line. My General Lee and David Morris worked forward in front of Messini and grabbed the lead soon after leaving Messini parked and Hectorjayjay in the trail. From that point it was just a matter of weather Messini or Hectorjayjay would prevail. Approaching the turn, Messini looked to under a fair bit of pressure with Chris Alford becoming very active in the bike. As soon as Hectorjayjay found the passing lane, he quickly put the issue to bed, scooting away for a narrow but convincing win. My General Lee showed real gameness in fighting on for second while Messini was slightly disappointing in third Hectorjayjay paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.5, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 55.1 and 27.2 it was the 22nd win for the son of Dream Away at his 45th start and he took his earnings with today’s win to $228,359. Simone was rapt to have finally taken a Group 1 with Hectorjayjay. "I lead really easily but I tried to box Messini in soon after the start but Chris was having none of it" "Off the back I could see that Messini was battling a bit so I was hoping this was his chance. "He didn't want to go into the passing lane initially but once balanced he was fine." "This horse deserved a Group 1 and now he has got it," Simone said.  Harnesslink Media

Harness racing is always in need of pin up starts and in the outstanding filly Our Dream About Me they have one of the highest class. A warm favourite in the $288,000 Betterthacheddar@Alabar Breeders Crown final for two year old fillies at Tabcorp Park Melton, Dream about Me still had some hurdles to overcome to justify that favouritism. Drawn out in the carpark on the second line, Our Dream About Me pushed through her way through early and got onto the three wide- line for driver Mark Purdon. Finding the chair outside the talented Hot Shot Woman and Robbie Morris after 700 metres, Mark Purdon was content to sit parked and applied no pressure to the leader. Going past the 800 metres, Robbie Morris pressed the go button on Hot Shot Woman and she burned down the back straight in 27.9. Momentarilary Our Dream About Me looked in a spot of trouble but when Mark asked her for the big effort, she lifted like the star she is and went to the line an easy winner. Hot Shot Woman went super but just found one better on the day while Zibibbo after trailing the whole way ran third. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Get In The Groove who after being three wide for the last round finished on gamely for fourth. Our Dream About Me paced the 2240 metres in 2:43.6, a mile rate of 1:57.5 with closing sectionals of 55 and 27. It was the eighth win from eight starts for the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and took her stake earnings to $403,877 Mark's smile is getting wider and wider as the day goes on here at Tabcorp Park. "That was a great run today after all the work she did." "I thought Hot Shot Woman was the filly to be wary of so I was keen to get handy to her as I could early. "She really found when I asked her and won like the great filly she is. "She has that X factor that separated the good horses from the great ones," Mark said. Harnesslink Media

Conon Bridge defeated Cyclone Chief by a metre to claim Group 1 glory in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Trotters Final at Melton’s Super Sunday program. The Paul Nairn-trained son of Raffaello Ambrosio/Diedre’s Girl survived a protest from the second horse, with the winner veering inwards in the home straight. However, stewards couldn’t be satisfied that the interference cost Cyclone Chief the race and the first horse over the line held his position, much to the relief of the favourite punters. Bob Butt drove the winner and Todd MacFarlane was aboard the second horse. Conon Bridge started $1.40 and led throughout from the pole, his winning mile rate 2:03.9. Cruisin Around ran a mighty race for trainer Michael Hughes and driver Greg Sugars to finish third, while Sundons Courage was fourth from three back along the pegs, running on well after a slow early pace up front. Reina Danzante goes all the way in fillies' final Reina Danzante won her second Group 1 for trainer Nicole Molander and driver Chris Alford with an all-the-way triumph in today’s IMV Technologies Breeders Cown Final for 3YO trotting fillies. The daughter of Armbro Invasion out of champion mare La Coocaracha led from barrier four to score by a neck in a mile rate of 2:00.9, Glenferrie Burn running on for second and My Arya finishing third. “Nicole and Dean (Molander) have done a super job,” Alford said. “Two Group 1s has been great and she should only get better too.” Once in front Reina Danzante posted a 31.4secs first quarter before a 29.4 second split. Reina Danzante got home in 58.7secs. Reina Danzante won the Vicbred Super Series earlier this season. by Cody Winnell

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals being run tomorrow at Tabcorp Park Melton, we are trying to finish the previews we started. This preview is of  the two year old pacing fillies final 1) Tascott Lady (Modern Art)   Starts 11  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $11,330 Nice filly but this does look a bit rich. Even from the draw we find it hard to make a case for her here. Not for us 2) Zibibbo (Shadow Play)   Starts 12  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $14,878 Has improved late in the season and very competitive here Very quick off the gate in her semi final last week and got home well when clear for smart second to Dream About Me. Should lead early and be able to choose who to hand up to. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 3) Soho Madeleine (Bettors Delight)   Starts 11 -- Wins 3  -  Seconds 5  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $51,398 Talented filly who has only missed a first three placing once in eleven starts.  Very consistent  but just half a metre off a couple here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 4) Whirily School (Courage Under Fire) (Emerg 1)  Starts 13  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $69,270 Disappointing  in her semi final last Saturday at Ballarat but bounced back to win a weak consolation on Friday night. To many negatives for us at this point. Not for us. 5) Three Squared (Mach Three)   Starts 11  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $59,165 Looked very smart earlier in the season but no where near that level at the moment. Finished a long way from them in her semi final after working early. Not for us. 6) Hot Shot Woman (Rocknroll Hanover)   Starts 13  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 8  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $125,683 Great record all season and although she doesn't win out of turn, she is always in the fight. Smart second to Heavens Trend in $125,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Final in a touch over 1:53 means she is a serious player here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 7) Celebrity Guest (Mach Three)   Starts 10  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Third 1  -  Stakes $18,664 Nice filly but at a level below what she meets here. Hard to make a case for her as a major player from the poor draw. Not for us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              SEC0ND LINE 8) Jilliby Jitterbug (Rock N Roll Heaven)   Starts 7  -  Wins 4  -  Second 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $176,695 Super impressive in her first campaign with three wins and a second but doesn't appear to have come back as good in her second campaign. Should have stuck on a lot better than she did in her heat so the jury is out on her this week.  Draw doesn't help as well so only a trifecta and first four player for us at best. 9) Get In The Groove (Mach Three)   Starts 6  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $49,497 Has only missed a place once in her short career when she was carved up by Heavens Trend at Albion Park. Nice win in her first start in over a month last week in the semi final and should be a lot sharper this week. Must include for trifecta and first four takers 10) Dancingwithsierra (Modern Art)   Starts 7  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $36,,330 Started the season with three dominant wins but hasn't really improved as much as some here in the interim. Handy enough on her day but draw and strength of field make her an outside trifecta and first four player for us. 11) Magical Delight (Bettors Delight)   Starts 10  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $38,998. Has been thereabouts in some big races this season but not in the same form at the moment. Had a lovely run last last week on Get In The Groove's back but lost ground on her in the last 400 metres. Throw in the poor draw and we find it hard to make a case for her. Not for us. 12) Dream About Me (Bettors Delight)   Starts 7  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $229,632 Champion filly who has silenced her critics several times already in a short career. Her Harness Jewels win from the outside of the gate was outstanding and when Mark Purdon labels her a "special" filly it pays to take notice. Anything less than a win would be a surprise. 13) Heavens Trend (Rock N Roll Heaven)   Starts 9  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $134,033 Looked a superstar in the making when winning five of her first six but had a hiccup at Albion Park where she raced erratically late in the piece and repeated that again last week in her semi final at Ballarat. Emma Stewart has changed some gear this week because she thought she raced a bit fierce last Saturday. Hard at this stage of the season though to fix problems with an erratic two year old in one week. On class she is the major threat to the favourite and a must include for all trifecta and first four takers. SELECTIONS Dream About Me is a clear first pick for us  Heavens Trend is still the second best filly here and if driven differently may be the major player everybody thought she was before her semi final. After that it is hard to split Zibibbo, Soho Madeleine, Hot Shot Woman and Get In The Groove. Harnesslink Media

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals being staged at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow, we will preview the remaining finals we haven't yet covered. This preview is of the two year old colts/geldings final for pacers. 1) Shadow Sax (Shadow Play)   Starts 10  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $121,563 Very smart two year old who was huge from the second row in his semi final at Ballarat last Saturday. Really smart overall record and from the ace draw Gavin Lang has plenty of  options. Winning chance and a must include for trifecta and first four takers. 2) Nathans Courage (Courage Under Fire)   Starts 4  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $ 15820 Visitor from Perth who was just okay in his semi final last Saturday night. Worked very hard early last week from out wide but was was beaten 26 metres when finishing sixth Not for us. 3) Smithstars Lexus (Rock N Roll Heaven)  Starts 8  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $18,743 Got a lovely run last week and finished on well without looking like threating the first three. Should get a similar run to last week but with the increased depth in the field, he is an outside first four player for us. 4) Born To Rocknroll ( Rocknroll Hanover)   Starts 15  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $131,209 Tough semi final win after just holding the front early and looking in trouble on the turn.  Never super impressive but always thereabouts in the big races and has won seven this season. Winning chance with run to suit and a must have for trifecta and first four takers. 5) Christmas Jolt (Village Jolt)   Starts 16  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $73,685 The early season star who was dominant then but the pack seems to have caught up with him as we have moved towards the end of the season. Still going great races but finding a few too smart now. Not for us 6) Catcha Lefty (Village Jasper)   Starts 10  -  Wins 7  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $68,543 In his first start out of Queensland last week in the semi final, he showed enough to suggest he is not completely out of it here. Drawn worse this week and in a stronger field but does look a genuine type. Could boost up those trifecta and first four dividends.. 7) Waikiki Beach (Somebeachsomewhere)   Starts 11  -  Wins 11  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0                 Stakes $ 336,181 Outstanding youngster in the best stable in the juvenile game. Eleven from eleven says it all and even from out here at seven, this race looks his to lose. Has high speed and plenty of bottom to him so has plenty of options whatever happens. Clear first pick, should win.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SECOND LINE 8) Zee Dana (Tintin In America)   Starts 6  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $41,291 Exciting juvenile who produced  a huge effort in his semi final last week. Flew the gate from the outside to lead early and then trailed Waikiki Beach the rest of the way and was comfortably second so following Shadow Sax out on Sunday should see him get a soft run close to the pace. Must have for trifecta and first four takers. 9) Emiliana (Art Major)   Starts 8  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $13,828 Has got better the deeper into the season we have gone. Really nice run in his semi final, coming from four back on the outer to run a close up fourth in a heat where they ran home from in front in 55.8  First four chance if the breaks go his way. 10) I Will Rock You (Rock N Roll Heaven )   Starts 6  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $11,586 Never left the inner from barrier one in his semi final and just battled into fourth. New Zealand form okay but away from the smart ones. Not for us from the draw. 11) Soho Tribeca (American Ideal)   Starts 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 1  -  $11,460 Had a lovely run last week when second in his semi final but pushed Born To Rocknroll over the line with no passing lane. Pushed Born To Rocknroll close the start before that and appears the most likely horse to run a place at odds. Include in trifecta and first four selections. 12) Iconic Valor (Jeremes Jet)   Starts 8  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $17,008 Nice juvenile but the draw is a killer in this race. Hard to make a case for him in this field from the draw. Not for us.   SELECTIONS Waikiki Beach is one exceptional juvenile and even from the draw he is the clear first pick. Shadow Sax, Born To Rocknroll and Zee Dana are all capable of being big players here. Next in line after that would be Catcha Lefta and Soho Tribeca.                                                                                Harnesslink Media

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton almost upon us, Harnesslink has decided to do a preview of all the finals. This peview is of the IMV Technologies three year old trotting fillies final. 1) Vari Perfect (Armbro Variable)   Starts 9  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $2878 Nine start maiden who is on the improve but the depth of this field makes things difficult.Even from the draw it is hard to make a case for her. Not for us 2) Desert Flyer (Pegasus Spur)   Starts 24  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 5  -  Stakes $21,203 She has a tidy enough record overall but her performances in the Group races has been poor. Draw a help but still hard to see her as a player here. Not for us. 3) Justines Amore (Love You)   Starts 8  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $24,476 Her record says she should be a major player here but we are not convinced. Dominant in New South Wales earlier in season but her last couple in Victoria against many of those she meets here have been okay without being top draw. First four player for us at best. 4) Reina Danzante (Armbro Invasion)   Starts 7  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  thirds 0  -  Stakes $53,638 Has hardly put a foot wrong in her career todate and from the draw looks the one they all have to beat here. Bred to be something special and trainer -driver combo is outstanding. A clear first pick for us. 5) Zaire Diva (Red River Hanover)   Starts 22  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 4 $26,245 Hasn't won out of turn right through her career as her record shows. Good enough at different times to be placed or be thereabouts against a lot of those she faces here. Draw no help but outside trifecta and first four player here. 6) Yankee Sister (Yankee Boy)   Starts 17  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $13,573 Nice enough trotter but just a length or two off the smart ones here. Hard to make a case for here in this field from this draw. Not for us. 7) Alannah Hall (Angus Hall)   Starts 10  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 4  -  Stakes $20,998 Not the worst here by any means but draw makes it very hard. Given a good blowout in her one Australian start to date so will strip a lot fitter for this. Outside first four player at best from the draw.                                                                                                                                                                                           SECOND LINE 8)  My Arya (Angus Hall)   Starts 24  -  Wins 14  -  Seconds 14  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $234,149 Champion filly who has just seemed slightly off her game lately. Has only missed a place once in 14 starts in Australia so underestimate at your peril. Draw terrible but driver Anthony Butt is right in the zone at the moment. A winning chance and a must include for all trifecta and first four takers. 9) Fiery Mountain Girl (Sundon)   Starts 15  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  $63,416 Quality filly who ran a great third in the New Zealand Oaks after doing plenty of work, beating home My Arya Carried on the good work in New South Wales winning the Trotting Derby there and has to be a big player here with any kind of luck from the draw. Include in everything. 10) Naked Majesty (Majestic Son)  Starts 19  -  Wins 6  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $38,235 Nice filly who was unlucky to not make the field for the final. If she did make it back into the field, she is not a forlorn first four chance.  11)  Glenferrie Burn (Muscle Hill)   Starts 24   -  Wins 8  -  Seconds 8  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $61,875 Lovely filly who has built up a smart record to date. Always seems to be one or two better than her but a good chance to get amongst it here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 12) Endsino (Angus Hall)   Starts 18  -  wins 7  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $97,443 Another beautifully bred filly with a race record to match. Outstanding run for fourth in Victoria Trotting Derby but needed a draw to beat a couple here and ended up in the carpark on the second row. Still a chance from there but hard to see her winning. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 13) Aldebaran Deebee (Skyvalley)   Starts 12  -  Wins 4  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $ 21,220 Continues to step up but another filly who has been hamstrung by the draw. Seems to take each step up in her stride but hard to see her winning this from the carpark. Must include for trifecta and first four players. SELECTIONS From the draw Reina Danzante looks sure to lead and be very hard to run down with all her major competitors drawn poorly If My Arya sees any kind of daylight from her draw, she immediately becomes a big danger to the favourite while Fiery Mountain Girl, Aldebaran Deebee, Glenferrie Burn and Endsino are all capable of running in the first four. Harnesslink Media

Sunday is shaping up as a definitive day for All Black halfback Andy Ellis. Ellis is part of a harness racing syndicate who race duel Group I winner Speeding Spur, a $1.30 favourite with the New Zealand TAB to win the Group I Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Melton on Sunday. The John and Josh Dickie trained Speeding Spur has not been helped by a tricky second row draw for the 2240m race, but his overwhelming favouritism suggests he should be good enough to overcome that. The Speeding Spur camp will be looking for redemption after the son of Pegasus Spur made an uncharacteristic break which ended his winning chances at the Harness Jewels at Ashburton in late May.  Ellis was on track to watch the disappointing result and will be looking for redemption of his own around three hours after Speeding Spur's race which starts at 3.09pm NZT. At 6.30pm the All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup will be announced. Fellow Speeding Spur owner Kieran Read is a certainty but Ellis' chances of playing in back-to-back World Cups appear to be dwindling. With Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara seemingly assured of their spots, Ellis also has to battle with a now fully fit Tawera Kerr-Barlow. And coach Steve Hansen has also hinted at only taking two halfbacks. If Ellis does miss out on what would be his final World Cup chance, he should hopefully be able to call himself a Breeders Crown winner. A Speeding Spur win looks a much better bet than an All Black call up on paper. Ellis and Read were invited into harness racing ownership by Woodlands Stud and have never looked back after first tasting success with Betters Delight pacer Victors Delight. Also in the Speeding Spur ownership is Crusaders forwards coach Dave Hewett and Commonwealth gold medallist Dick Tayler. A World Cup winner in 2011, Ellis makes no secret of his love of harness racing. New Zealand trained runners hold favouritism in seven of the eight Breeders Crown Group I events. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's 2-year-old trotting filly High Gait is a $1.20 favourite from the ace, as is stablemate Our Waikiki Beach who starts from the outside of the front row in the 2-year-old colts and geldings pacers final. Fellow All Stars pacers Our Dream About Me ($1.40) and Follow The Stars ($1.70) hold favouritism in the 2-year-old fillies and 3-year-old colts and geldings final. Our Dream About Me will have to come from barrier 12 but Follow The Stars has drawn four and inside main rival Menin Gate. The Bunty Hughes-trained The Orange Agent is at $1.50 to win the 3-year-old fillies pacing final from the second line and Paul Nairn's Conon Bridge is a $1.30 shot to win the 2-year-old trot for colts and geldings on the back of drawing the ace. The 3-year-old trotting final for fillies is the only race the Kiwis do not hold favouritism but Barry Purdon's Alannah Hall is a $14 chance from the outside of the front line. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -  Check site here

With the Australasian Breeders Crown finals looming large on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton, we here at Harnesslink thought we would preview the finals. This preview is of the $84,000 two year old colts and geldings trotters final. 1) Conon Bridge (Raffaello Ambrosia)  Starts 8  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $63,072 Looked to be the horse to beat in this division before the draw came out and now it really looks like the final is his race to lose. Was off the unruly earlier this season but hasn't put a foot wrong off the gate since being back in the draw so it shouldn't be an issue here. Seems to have a clear margin on his opposition and barring the unexpected should win. 2) Charlie Runkle (Angus Hall)  Starts 6  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $37,158 Started the season with a hiss and a roar but last couple of runs have been just okay. However they have both been at Maryborough so maybe back to Tabcorp Park we might see the real Charlie Runkle. From the draw is a must include for trifecta and first four players. 3) Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 8  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $32,772 Has been thereabouts all season, running in the money in six of his eight lifetime starts. Has faced all of these here and been very competitive against them so from the handy draw  he is a must include for all trifecta and first four players. 4) Cyclone Chief ( The Pres)  Starts 9  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $20,497 Has continued to go from strength to strength since his huge run for fourth in the Harness Jewels. Super run for second to the very smart Isa Smiling at Cambridge last week over the distance of Sundays final and in quick time to boot. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 5) Greg The Great (Great Success)  Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $690 Has failed to impress in three starts to date. Hard to see him having any chance here. Not for us. 6) War Dan Destroyer (Majestic Son)  Starts 8  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $12,440 Started the season in great fashion but doesn't seem to have kicked on with it just lately. The draw of six only compounds his problems so hard to see him being a major player here. Outside first four hope at best. 7) Imahe Man (Aldebaran Yankee)  Strats 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $7478 Started very slowly but has really stepped up in his last three runs which makes the draw a big disappointment. Hard to see how he can be a major player from out there at barrier seven. Not for us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SECOND LINE    8) Sundons Courage (Sundon)  Starts 10  -  Wins 5  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $61,798 Has had a great season to date and drawn to have a chance of ending it on a high. The big question is can he hold Conon Bridge's back early as he can really leave the gate and Sundon's Courage is okay without being real quick. If he does hold the leaders back, he is the biggest danger to the favourite. Must include for all trifecta and first four takers. 9) Skyflyer (Skyvalley)  Starts 9  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 3  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $19,333 His performances have varied during the season but at his best he would be a player here. It will depend on which Skyflyer shows up but no doubting the ability. First four player for us. 10) Sun Valley Road ( Skyvalley)  Starts 4  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $593 Has yet to show anything that would suggest he is a chance here. Not for us. 11) Flash Angus (Angus Hall)  Starts 2  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $300  (Emerg 1) Another starter who at this stage of his career looks heavily outclassed. Not for us. 12) Hudson Bay (Angus Hall)  Starts 9  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $16,495 Quite a nice trotter in the making but the draw of four second line makes his job very hard. Is going to have to give a lot of nice trotters a start from there and it may just be too big an ask. Outside first four player at best from the draw. 13) Variance (Armbro Variable)  Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $415 Another starter who has done little to inspire confidence with his three lifetime runs todate. Not for us. SELECTIONS From the draw and with his gate speed, Conon Bridge looks very hard to beat. Distance will suit so he is a clear first pick Sundons Courage is a clear second pick on both form and his draw. After those two Charlie Runkle, Cruisin Around and Cyclone Chief appear the next best Throw in Skyflyer for first fours. Harnesslink

As this weekends Australasian Breeders Crown finals loom large, here at Harnesslink we thought we would do a runner by runner preview of each of the finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. First up is the $84,000 two year old trotting fillies final 1) High Gait  (Muscles Yankee)     Starts 8   -   Wins 7   -   Seconds 1   -   Thirds 0     Stakes  $100,631   High Gait has had an outstanding season winning seven from eight and being beaten a nose in her other start. Beat the boys on Redwood day and from this draw with her gait speed it is hard to see her beaten.  Great manners just add to the impression that she is nigh on unbeatable from barrier 1 2) The Cooler  (Majestic Son)   Starts 4   -   Wins 0   -   Seconds 0   -   Thirds 3   -   Stakemoney $8,200 The Cooler is yet to go a bad race in her brief four start career with three thirds and a fourth. Hard to see her troubling two or three here on class but does things right which is a big plus in two year old trots. Throw in for trifectas and first fours 3) Smile Smile Smile  (Angus Hall)   -   Starts 3  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $7493 Promising filly with a good draw but needed to draw inside High Gait to be a chance to beat her. Still on the up and looks a major player her. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 4) A Nip Will Do (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 14  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $7,178 Thereabouts in a lot of her starts this season but it is hard to see her playing a major part here. Several runners appear to have the wood on her in this race going on past performances. Not for us. 5) Jay Bee Flex (Federal Flex)  Starts 6  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $4363 Last run at Maryborough was her best run this season, finishing a close up third to Smile Smile Smile. However the depth of this field is far stronger and the draw doesn't help either. Not for us. 6) Liava (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 4  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1403 Has failed to really impress in her four starts todate. Hard to see on exposed form how she is a player here. Not for us 7) Parisian Chic (Love You)  Starts 6  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,658 A real winning chance if she had just drawn well instead of the outside of the front line. Really nice second two starts back to Missandei and has won three of her last four. Major player here but more a trifecta and first four chance due to the draw                                                                                                                         SECOND LINE 8) Missandei (Angus Hall)  Starts 7  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $76,530 The obvious danger to High Gait  having drawn on her back and seems to have improved even further since her Harness Jewels win. Only filly in this field to have beaten High Gait but her fortunes may depend on how much mid race pressure the favourite is put under. Can win this but does need a few things to go her way. Clear second pick. 9) Cobbler Creek (Great Success)  Starts 9  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $6438 Has won a race this season which is more than some here. Just appears to be be a length or two off the good ones in this race Not for us. 10) Sky Majesty (Skyvalley)  Starts 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $12,540 Has really come solid in her last four starts and has definitely improved lately. Needed a good front line draw to help her chances so from three second line she faces a real challenge. First four player at best for us from the draw. 11) Fear Not (Skyvalley)  Starts 12  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $2935  ( Emerg 1) The emergency for the race and on disclosed form would appear to be out of her depth. Not for us 12) Social Fireball (Courage Under Fire)  Starts 7  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,676 Pacing bred filly that has developed into a lovely trotter. Hard to fault her last five runs with her second in the $60,000 Vicbred Trot in smart time over the distance of 2240 metres a good pointer. Appeals to us as a trifecta and first four player even from the draw. 13) Mizurri (Skyvalley)   Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1,038 Very inexperienced filly and this looks a huge jump in class to us. Throw in the draw and it looks like mission impossible. Not for us. SELECTIONS High Gait from the draw looks very hard to beat. Should lead and should win Missandei is the clear second pick and if High Gait is eyeballed in front during the race, she is a chance to upset the favourite up the passing lane. For trifecta and first four takers, throw in The Cooler, Smile Smile Smile, Parisian Chic and Social Fireball. Harnesslink Media

Tonight at Ballarat in the second Australasian Breeders Crown semi final for three year old fillies, Australian harness racing fans got their first look at New Zealands best three year filly in The Orange Agent who has been in stunning form all season. Starting from barrier four after a scratching, The Orange Agent and regular pilot Maurice McKendry were caught four wide into the first corner but Maurice continued to press on and reached the front after 400 metres. From that point on it was just a matter of what she would win by as Maurice dropped the speed appreciably after the early burn. Passing the 800 metres Maurice upped the tempo and scooted the quarter down the back in 27.6 with Start Dreaming and Barry Purdon looming up outside The Orange Agent passing the 400 metres mark. Maurice gave her a bit more reign and she brushed home in a brilliant 26.9 to win comfortably from a very game Start Dreaming with Soho Tokyo holding on well for third after breezing the whole race. It was the daughter of American Ideal 15th win at just start 21 and took her earning to $371,512. The Orange Agent paced the 2200 metres in 2:42.4, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with electric closing sectionals of 54.5 and 26.9. Tonights race was a perfect lead in for The Orange Agent heading into nexts week Breeders Crown final and she will be terribly hard to beat regardless of where she draws. The two obvious dangers are Ameretto, who won the first semi final in impressive fashion and Start Dreaming who has been placed behind The Orange Agent several times this season already. Harnesslink Media

The clash of two of the best harness racing three year olds in Australia was one of the many highlights of tonights Australasian Breeders Crown semi final meeting at Ballarat. Follow The Stars with Mark Purdon in the bike drew barrier two, a spot inside the brilliant Menin Gate driven by regular pilot Chris Alford. However Mark Purdon was not keen to get into a duel this week with Menin Gate after the son of Art Major missed a run last week and was keen to take a trail this week with a view to the final next Sunday. And that is exactly how it panned out early with Follow The Stars leading early before taking a trail behind Menin Gate after 200 metres. Robbie Morris aboard Hes Lightfingered quickly moved around to sit on Menin Gate's wheel and that was the order up front for the rest of the race. Menin Gate really upped the ante from the 800 metres and the leading three cut away from the rest of the field passing the 400 metres. Follow The Stars looked to have plenty to offer in the trail as they turned for home but with no passing lane at Ballarat, he had no where to go as Hes Lightfingered kept him pocketed. It wasn't until the leading trio got inside the final 100 metres that Follow The Stars pushed his way out and flew late to only go under by half a neck to Menin Gate. Hes Lightfingered showed real courage to stick on well for a great third. Menin Gate, a son of Somebeachsomewhere paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.6, a mile rate of 1:56.8 with smart closing sectionals of 55.6 and 27.8. The three year old colts and geldings final looks to be one race next Sunday where the barrier draw will play a big part in the outcome with both Sluggem and Hes Lighfingered a chance to push Menin Gate and Follow The Stars with a draw to suit. Harnesslink Media  

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