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.MARK Purdon has plenty of thinking to do. Emerging star Self Assured is the best horse in Saturday night’s Group 1 Ballarat Cup, but he’s drawn the trickiest barrier – inside the back row (gate eight). He’s already drifted from $2.50 opening price to $2.60 with the Aussie TAB. Self Assured is one of two runners Purdon and Rasmussen have in their quest for a fifth successive Ballarat Cup win. Smolda won in 2016 &17, Heaven Rocks in 2018 and Thefixer last year. Purdon will drive Self Assured with Rasmussen aboard last-start brilliant Cambridge winner Chase Auckland (gate five, $5). Purdon’s big decision is whether to stay on the inside and risk being pocketed, or snag right back at the start and give away a huge head start to his rivals. The other Kiwi raider, dual Auckland Inter Dominion heat winner AG’s White Socks, is drawn to use his gate speed and possibly lead from gate four. He’s firmed from $5 to $4.60. Australia’s top trainer Emma Stewart has four of the 12 runners – Tam Major (gate one, $15), The Storm Inside (two, $6), Demon Delight (six, $18) and Phoenix Prince (nine, $13) – as well as the emergency, Somewhere Secret (gate three, $71). “It’s great to have such a strong hand in our hometown Cup and all of them are at the top of their game,” Stewart said. “Put a line through The Storm Inside’s Bendigo Cup run. He’s raring to go again, and Phoenix Prince is flying.” Tim Butt’s former Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal is a surprise Ballarat Cup runner after WA Cup plans were shelved because of ongoing plane issues. He’s a $21 shot from a horror outside back row draw (13).   BALLARAT CUP DRAW Front row Tam Major $15 The Storm Inside $6 Somewhere Secret (emerg, $71) AG’s White Socks $4.60 Chase Auckland $5 Demon Delight $18 Idealsomemagic $101 Back row Self Assured $2.60 Phoenix Prince $13 Code Bailey $11 Our Uncle Sam $21 Rackemup Tigerpie $151 My Field Marshal $21   By Adam Hamilton

POPULAR Sky Channel harness racing presenter Brittany Graham swapped "gigs" recently with great success at Albion Park. The accomplished on-track interviewer and studio anchor slipped into her harness racing silks to steer Big Bang Leonard for her trainer sister Stephanie - and a short time later was the toast of punters, at 4/1. And she did it with aplomb! After being near the tail of the field for most of the way, Big Bang Leonard (Art Major-Finest (D M Dillinger) stormed home four and five wide down the extreme outside to snatch victory with at "The Creek" on Thursday. The pair were eight lengths from the leader Chapter One (Grant Dixon) at the bell with the race being run at a fast clip. Sections of 27.3, 28.8, 28.8 and 28.5 tell the story. It was the fifth win in a row for the 9yo gelding who is racing in near career best form. He now has 19 wins and 40 placings from 139 starts for $147,000. Brittany is the owner of Big Bang Leonard but due to work commitments she's been able to handle him on only two of his most recent triumphs. Skilled reinsman Adam Sanderson has taken the reins on the other occasions. For the 17 race drives she's been able to fit in this season, 23-year-old Graham has managed four wins - and before giving up the driving game professionally, she had more than 250 winners to her name. _______________________________________________________________________________________ THERE'S a handy combination emerging around Sydney harness racing circles at the moment. Talented young reinswoman Ashley Hart is something of a quiet achiever but as a talented junior, she's putting the runs on the board for Menangle's Tim Butt stable. Young Ashley has taken the reins for Tim on four occasions for a 100 percent return. The latest of her four wins was Mac Almighty (Mach Three-Dollys Daughter (Beach Towel) at Bankstown, giving her bragging rights over her better-known brother, Cameron, who finished runner-up on Abitmorebliss. Mac Almighty has now had 44 starts for eight wins and 17 placings for $60k. Ashley Hart (Ashlea Brennan photograph) _______________________________________________________________________________________ MENANGLE based horseman Rickie Alchin made a successful trip home to Temora at the weekend. Alchin, one of the most energetic people in the industry, cut his teeth in the well-known harness racing town in the NSW Riverina. With a population of about 6000, it's 400kms south-west of the State capital. Alchin won at the annual cup meeting with 4yo Regulus (Christian Cullen-Sheez Not Perfect (Perfect Art), sent out a warm $1.22 fav. He later finished sixth in the $15,000 Pacers Cup with Little Change-the winner being Rusty Crackers, trained by Brooke McPherson, and driven by her boyfriend Thomas Gilligan. While back home, Alchin took his well-known "Pop" Russell Harpley out to Yirribee Pacing Stud to check on a few of his future stars. He says his "Pop" and Nanna Pam are his greatest supporters. Alchin reports his star trotter Tough Monarch has been freshened after a gruelling NZ Inter campaign and he's looking at the Great Southern Star event at Melton. And while Rickie is doing his best to put Temora on the map, it's still perhaps better known for the "Temora Tornado" - aka Paleface Adios. The flashy chestnut pacer with the unbelievable never-say-die attitude mesmerized trots fans from 1972 to 1981 with 108 wins. Rickie Alchin made the most of a recent trip home to Temora with Regulus _______________________________________________________________________________________ MORE and more heartfelt support continues to come from our industry for those hit by the shocking bushfires still devastating our country. Manuka Health New Zealand has donated a shipment of high grade manuka honey with aloe vera as well as boxes of wound dressings for horse owners. Many competitors, including Robert and KerryAnn Morris, of Sydney, are giving a portion of their winning earnings to appeals, while the Tassie Yole stable has gone past the $1100 figure in donations with five meetings to go. HRNSW and Club Menangle have so far pledged over $26k to bushfire relief. Donations to WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) of $15,400 and Red Cross, $11,200, will steadily increase during the month. For every odd-numbered horse that wins, $200 goes to WIRES, and for every even numbered horse, a similar amount goes to Red Cross. Matt and Jackie Peterson horse transport in Stanhope have been amazing, moving 325 horses free of charge from fire danger zones. They can now also pick up donations of hay in their travels. A big pat on the back to drivers Steph, Tim, Loz, Ebony and Peter. Team Yole in Tasmania is keeping the till ticking over for bushfire victims   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Smoky conditions greeted participants and spectators for the start of another year of trotting at Warragul today (Monday).   There were eight races which produced good contests and fast times, despite some small fields.   Gippsland born reinswoman Michelle Phillips returned home from her Bendigo base to drive another winner at the Pacing Bowl after her first success on the track at Warragul's December meeting.   Michelle drove the first starter Crocrock to an all the way victory in the fourth race for Bendigo trainer Chris Svanosio.   Michelle Phillips all smiles after her winning drive with Crocrock   Her victory was the third in a row on the day for female drivers - Shannon O'Sullivan drove Its The Emblem to win the second event for Cranbourne trainer Bill Kucks, while Kate Gath steered Goodtime Pe Rabbit to an all the way victory in the Trotters Handicap for Gruyere horseman Peter Goudie.   Top reinsman Greg Sugars and Chris Alford again collected their share of success at the meeting.   Alford drove the opening race winner, Say A Prayer, for Longwarry horseman Geoff Walker, along with Heavens Showgirl and Its Longtall Sally for Drouin West's Quinlan stable.   Sugars and his wife Jess Tubbs produced the Daily Double with Robert The Bruce and Little Peanut.   The two top drivers look set to battle out another driving premiership at Warragul with six meetings remaining in the season. Next trots at Warragul are on Monday afternoon, February 3rd.     by Kyle Galley

You could barely wipe the smile off Richie Caruana’s face after he landed a breakthrough metropolitan victory while securing a spot in the lucrative Mercury80 final on Friday night. The Rockbank trainer took the drive behind his horse Off The Radar and he relished the 1200m sprint, charging home to score in the third heat of the series at Tabcorp Park Melton. He came from off the speed to run over the top of pre-race favourite Call Me Hector, who endured a tough run but battled on to also clinch a place in the final. Caruana, who had only trained 12 winners before Friday night’s triumph, said it was great to now be part of the $50,000 showdown on January 25. “It’s a bit of a thrill being in a race like that - I’ve never been in one. It’s going to be a good feeling,” he said. Caruana only trains a small team of horses part-time, but has had plenty of fun with Off The Radar, who has now won 10 career races. Four of those have been since racing under the Caruana name. “I didn’t know what he was going to do today, honestly, because he is a bit of a lazy horse, but he can hold his ground for a bit of distance,” Caruana said. “He keeps on going.” Off The Radar clocked 84.3 seconds during his win on Friday, which was the slowest of the three heats. Always Fast is the clubhouse leader after posting a time of 82.8 seconds, which was slicker than stablemate Liftntorque’s run of 83.4 seconds. The quickest horse of the series scores a $20,000 bonus, with $10,000 paid to the successful owner(s) and $5000 going to the trainer and driver. The last of the four heats will be run this coming Friday night, January 17. Meanwhile, Sammy Showdown continued his progression towards being an elite squaregaiter with a fifth-straight win in the Allied Express Trot (1720m, NR 70-85). Trained and driven by Myrniong’s Kylie Sugars, the four-year-old was a convincing winner of the $20,000 event, which was the biggest stakes race of his career to date. Sugars was “rapt” with the performance. “He sprinted hard and he sprinted hard to the line,” she said. “I looked over my right shoulder straightening up and I could see Kate (Gath and Majestuoso) coming and I think he heard her too and he kicked again. “But what I really was happy about was at the start, how he accelerated through.” Driving honours on Friday night went to Josh Duggan, who scored wins behind Alice Kay (Empire Stallions Pace Final, 1720m, NR 52-55) and Will I Rocknroll (IRT Australia Pace, 2240m, 4YO+), while nine individual trainers claimed success on the card.   HRV Trots Media - Tim O'Connor

The Southbrook , Qld breeders Lindsay and Mary Vagg have just survived a tough year of drought that has turned their Darling Downs property into a dry and dusty landscape. Despite the lack of rain , the horses that were inspected on their property in late November were the equal of any in Australia and their draft of six (3 Colts and 3 Fillies) that will be presented at the first APG Sale for 2020 at Albion Park on Australia Day are outstanding on type and pedigree. Three of those six yearlings are either first or second foals from their Dams. The other Dams have already produced the winners of over 40 races and this from just 7 foals of racing age. The very first yearling to be sold in the Southern Hemisphere by the 2016 USTA Three Year Old Colt of the Year, Betting Line, will headline the six pack of the Vagg’s draft. The Filly (Lot 3) from the Major In Art mare Ilikemillie is offered on account of Lindsay and Mary’s daughter and son in law Kristie and Julian Norrish. She is very typical of what you will see in the 52 progeny of Betting Line that will be consigned to APG Sales around Australia in 2020.  This Filly is brown or black in colour , athletically built , correct in her conformation and with a lovely head. She is the first foal of a five time winning mare whilst her granddam and third dam , Mi Coconut and Milady , won 44 races between them and over $340,000 in prizemoney. The Vagg’s will also offer the last of the five Betting Line progeny in the Brisbane Sale  -  Lot 35.  This Colt from the Art Major mare Victree Bonita is a strong individual , the typical Betting Line , brown or black with two white hinds. You will be hard pressed finding a more impressive looking Betting Line colt anywhere in this sunburnt Country. He is the first colt foal from a talented racemare who won over $75,000 on Qld racetracks. An equally impressive Colt in their draft is Lot 31 , the Always B Miki  - Victree Bette lad. He is a powerfully built individual from the Bettors Delight half sister to the champion juvenile and FFA pacer I Am Sam $531,700. Always B Miki retired as the fastest Pacer in history and being totally devoid of any Cam Fella blood should be a perfect match for Bettors Delight mares. Lot 9 , a Filly by A Rocknroll Dance from the Modern Art mare Mardys Victree is another yearling that should be on any Filly buyers shopping List. Aside from the fact that this Filly is a three quarter sister to the smart Rock With Sam 1.54 winner to date of $166,640 and a half sister to the sub 1.56 pacer Victree Mikayla 1.55.7 $23,350 it is the combination of the blood of A Rocknroll Dance and Modern Art that provides the spice to the Pedigree.  The Dams of both stallions are in fact half sisters and also half sisters to the champion racehorse and stallion Western Hanover. This combination of blood has already hit the jackpot in Australia in the form of the Riverina gelding Whereyabinboppin 1.52.7.  Under the guidance of Junee horseman Steve Harris he is undefeated in 5 starts for Steve and looks an exciting prospect for the future. The Lindsay and Mary team is completed with a Shadow Play Colt ( Lot 12 ) and Changeover Filly (Lot 23 ).  Once again they are well grown and developed youngsters and will not possibly disappoint on inspection. “ It has certainly been a tough year and has been costly to feed our stock but they have come along nicely and are all for genuine Sale “  said Lindsay last week. “ They are all QBRED For Life and the Colts are also VicBred so their earning potential is most attractive “ added Lindsay. Australia Day at Albion  -   a day to plan a Victory with a Victree Yearling. Please note, we will have online and telephone bidding options available if you are unable to attend. I have  personally inspected pretty much all of the Brisbane yearlings and will be pleased to answer any questions that you may have on the individuals featuring in the sale.  I can be contacted on 0418 500 211. Louise Toulmin is available on (03) 5275 1999 or e-mail her at louiset@apgold.com.au and she’ll be pleased to assist you with your pre-sale bidding approvals or to answer any other questions that you may have.   John Coffey

Enthusiastic Mildura harness racing trainer Reece Moore knew that the odds were stacked against him when he took on a veteran pacer around six months ago. Thelonghaul was 10 years old, he was out of work and hadn't had a racestart for more than two-and-a-half years - but Moore did get Thelonghaul for free! "There wasn't too much in his favor," Moore admits. "But he was by a sire I have a lot of time for in Blissfull Hall and he wasn't costing me one cent," he said. It took Moore another three or four months to jog up the aptly-named pacer, before taking him to the trials. And just 20 days shy of being off the scene for three years, Moore finally got his "gift" horse to a race meeting at Mildura. Thelonghaul (Blissfull Hall-Everlong (Safely Kept) finished eighth beaten 46 metres - but the next week improved enormously to run third. Eleven starts after his return to racing - and three and a half years since his previous win in Adelaide - Thelonghaul rewarded Moore for his faith with a victory at Boort last Monday afternoon. "I thought a few of his recent runs were good, particularly his previous start when he ran fourth at Mildura. He got held up and wasn't beaten far," Moore said. Talented Ballarat reinsman James Herbertson worked to the lead in the early stages at Boort and then rated the old timer to perfection. They scored easily by 11 metres. James Herbertson scored a comfortable win on giveaway gelding Thelonghaul at Boort – the pacer’s first victory in more than three years Moore said he initially became keen on the horse after being told the owners only wanted a couple of hundred dollars. "Then I later found out they were giving him away for free. I rang up and one of the owners was overseas and hadn't signed the transfer papers. So, I sort of forgot about it and then they rang four or five months later to say they had all the paperwork complete," he said. "I was full up then and really didn't want to take the horse, but thankfully I did!" Moore was born in Kalgoorlie, but was living on Queensland's Gold Coast when he became interested in harness racing. "I think I was sitting in a pub having a 'parmie' watching the trots on television. I thought being a race driver would be a good job because they travel about and get paid!" he said. "Soon afterwards I found out that Dean Braun was wanting a stablehand at his stables down near Geelong. "Despite never ever having even put a bridle on a horse I applied. So I then drove all the way down by myself to Victoria. I have no idea why Dean took me on because I was certainly a work in progress!" Moore said after obtaining his driver's licence, he won at his first attempt with a Braun-trained horse at Terang. "Dean was great. He inspired me and gave me good advice, including you can never stop learning in this sport!" Moore has certainly taken that on board and is always keen to listen and learn - and Thelonghaul provided due reward for his perseverance and patience. "It was the first time I'd raced at Boort. I seem to have a bit of luck when I travel, but I only nominate if the weather is okay and if I know I can be competitive," he said. "I'm really enjoying it at the moment and I'm keen to get more of the older-type horses and rejuvenate them. "I take them down to the river near Mildura most nights for a half-hour swim and a walk around. It's a change of routine and I think it's good for them mentally."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Catalogues for the 2020 Tasmanian Harness Yearling Sale, to be held at Carrick Park on Saturday, February 15, are available from all racetracks, Tasracing and the Office of Racing Integrity. The sale has attracted 19 entries – seven colts, 11 fillies and one gelding – from many of Tasmania’s leading standardbred breeders. Sixteen different stallions are represented in the catalogue with Rock N Roll Heaven (3 lots) and Sunshine Beach (2) the only sires with multiple entries. The sale includes stock from the first crop of highly credentialled young stallions Betting Line, Racing Hill and Guaranteed. Other well known sires represented are Well Said, Sweet Lou, Hurrikane Kingcole, Modern Art, Tell All, Village Jolt, Metropolitan, Sutter Hanover, Ifihadyourluck, Major Bronski and Caribbean Blaster. The on-line catalogue, with photos of the majority of yearlings, can be viewed at tasracingcorporate.com.au Click on harness, then click on 2020 Tasmanian Harness Yearling Sale   By Peter Wharton

Yirribee Pacing Stud produced a winning treble at the Leeton meeting last Friday night (January 10). Gumly Grey, a five-year-old Million Dollar Cam gelding, notched his fifth win, while the three-year-old colt Heres Your Bonus and Feeling The Love - both bred by Yirribee Pacing Stud – posted their first and third successes respectively. Million Dollar Gem, a daughter of Million Dollar and another product of Yirribee, won in 1:55.2 at Yonkers, New York. Tintin In America, the sire of dual USA Female Pacer of the Year Shartin, led in a ‘new’ winner with the four-year-old mare American Flyer at Timaru, New Zealand. While Caribbean Blaster was represented by Oneofthelads, who scored at Scottsdale and Hobart within 48 hours, and Caribbean Jack, who won in a career-best 1:57.7 at Parkes. Hooded Angel became the fourth winner bred by Yirribee Pacing Stud for the week when he led from end-to-end to post win No. 15 at Penrith.   By Peter Wharton

STEWIE McDonald left New Zealand for Australia just hoping to drive some winners and now he's jagged a Group 1. And not just any Group 1, but the second biggest race in Western Australia, the $300,000 Fremantle Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park last night. The effervescent McDonald teamed with WA's champion trainer Gary Hall Sr and the improving Caviar Star to win a Cup stripped of its two stars, My Field Marshal and Alta Orlando, who were stranded in Melbourne by flight cancellations to Perth. Both are still set to fly to Perth this week for Friday WA Pacing Cup. "It would be easier for me if they didn't get here for next week, but that's not what I want. We need the best possible field," McDonld said. Back to last night and McDonald drove superbly, crossing two key rivals before sitting behind the surprise leader, Vampiro, and nabbing him late to win. Remarkably, they smashed Lazarus' track record by 0.3sec with a scorching 1min54.2sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. It continued his Hall Sr's dominance of the Fremantle Cup. It was his ninth win in just 19 years and he's won seven of the past 11. "He's no star this horse, but he's improving all the time and he tries so hard," Hall Sr said. Watch the video here. McDonald, who works for Hall Sr and is second string stable driver behind Gary Hall Jr, was a relatively late-comer to harness. "I only starting to get into it when I was 14 or 15 back home and moved to WA for more opportunities, starting out with Ross Olivieri, who was terrific to me early," he said. "I had that five months or so in Sydney, which didn't go as well as I'd hoped, then came back here to work for 'Senior'. We have our differences, but he's a marvel and I've got so much to thank him for. "Originally Gaz (Gary Jr) was going to drive Rocknroll Lincoln, but that didn't work out and he switched to Shockwave so it I stayed with Caviar Star. I really though we could give this a shake after he went the best race of his career the week before. "Give him a decent draw and he'll be right there again next week, he'll love the longer trip as he's such a great stayer." Vampiro was outstanding in second after blasting across from rhe outside, gate nine, to lead and setting the record times in front. The emerging Bill Haley had a checkered passage and ran on well late for third at his first try in the big league. The hardluck story was Galactic Star, who was charging into the action along rhe inside rounding the final bend before clipping Bill Haley's wheel and galloping. He's right on target for next Friday with a good draw.   Adam Hamilton

IGNATIUS’ return to form meant a lot more than just a win for Jimmy Rattray and his team. It was a real morale boost after a seriously scary and hectic week at his property near Exeter in the NSW Southern Highlands, deep in one of the many regions ravaged by bushfires. “It came within four kilometres of our place,” Rattray said. “Last Saturday (week) was the scariest. We didn’t get any of the horses out, so we had 35 of them huddled around the main barn as ash was dropping from the sky and the smoke was so thick it was really hard to breath. “We got them all out the next day, but the conditions improved and we were able to bring them back Monday night and Tuesday. “They’d only be back a few days when things flared again so badly they issued another warning Friday and we got 25 of the horses out. We kept 10 here because we knew could get them out really quickly if we had to.” Ignatius was one of the 10 to stay because racing at Menangle last night (Saturday) was vital for him to gain fitness and prove he was worth chasing the $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup with. And he did just that, working to the front and winning emphatically. “That’s the best he’s felt in ages,” Rattray said. “He really needed the racing this time to get fit, but last night he travelled well and hit the line feeling very strong. “The Hunter Cup looks a goer now, I just have to work out whether to give him another lead-up run here or go to Melbourne for a race the week before the Hunter Cup (the Casey Classic, January 25 at Melton).” While Ignatius is back on song, Rattray the bushfires are still presenting a challenge with his other Hunter Cup hopeful, Harjeet. “Like Ignatius, he needs racing. He was to race at Goulburn today, but the smoke from the fires rolled-in really thick again and they had to call the meeting off,” he said. “Hopefully that Goulburn Cup meeting goes ahead next week so he can race there and then we can make the decision on Melbourne.”   Adam Hamilton

KATE Gath’s golden run continued when she won both features at Saturday’s Shepparton Cup meeting. Gath teamed with trainer Emma Stewart and Victoria’s most improved pacer, Phoenix Prince, to snare the $60,000 Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup and earlier with her husband Andy andMcLovin in the Group 3 George Gath Trot. Phoenix Prince is clearly Victoria’s country cups star right now with the latest win following victories in the Geelong and Cranbourne Cups as well as second in the Bendigo Cup and third in the Stawell Cup. Gath has been aboard in four of those runs, including the Geelong Cup win, while Jodi Quinlan partnered Phoenix Prince to win at Cranbourne. The Shepparton Cup was Phoenix Prince’s most important win yet, beating all of Australia’s three Auckland Inter Dominion finalists – Sicario (fourth), My Kiwi Mate (sixth) and San Carlo (seventh) – along with emerging star Lochinvar Art (fifth) and Our Uncle Sam (second). Our Uncle Sam found the front and copped some midrace pressure from San Carlo, who weakened, while Our Uncle Sam was only beaten a head. Lochinvar Art was thehardluck runner, being shuffled to four-back on the inside and storming home late when he saw some daylight from a hopeless position. McLovin has bounced-back to winning form at his first run since illness derailed his Auckland Inter Dominion campaign. The former Kiwi gelding got the job done – only just – but did show plenty of fight to lift after looking in strife on the last bend to snatch a head overSundons Courage in the Group 3 George Gath Trot at Shepparton on Saturday night. While it was great to see him back in winning form, he did have a lovely one-one trail and was entitled to win and win with more ease given the closing splits of 58.0 and 29.4sec at the end of a 2min0.7sec mile rate for 2190m. He’s sure to be fitter for the run, but will need to lift plenty for his date with the likes of OscarBonavena, etc in the Group 1 Dullard Cup at Melton on January 25 and the Group 1 Great Southern Star a week after that. The win certainly meant plenty to trainer Andy Gath. “It’s a great thrill to win this race again in honour of my legendary grandfather,” he said. __________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S great to haveCran Dalgety back in the Aussie feature race mix. His emerging filly Dr Susan capped her Victoria Oaks preparation with a very impressive win in the $50,000 Group 2Raith Memorial at Menangle on Saturday night. Fresh from a well-held third in the Sires Stake final at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve, Dr Susan underlined the depth of talent on this year’s Kiwi crop. Anthony Butt bustled her out of gate five and had a crack for the lead from local KeepRockin through a brisk 26sec opening quarter, but then had to grab hold and drop in behind the leader. Rather than risk being pocketed, Butt came off the leader’s back at the 500m and zoomed away with a big lead, until local outsiderVincenzina emerged from the back and roared home to miss causing an upset by just a head. Although the margin wasn’t great, Dr Susan did the do the early work and paced an impressive 1min52.1sec mile. The heats of the Oaks are at Ballarat next Saturday night. Dr Susan’s win underlines why another Kiwi, Stylish Memphis, is clear favourite to win the Oaks given she did more work and easily beat home Dr Susan on New Year’s Eve in Auckland. __________________________________________________________________________________ ONE horse with enough sheer speed to at least test Self Assured in Saturday week’s 4YO Bonanza is Hurricane Harley. Emma Stewart’s pacer simply packed too much speed for his older rivals despite sitting parked in yesterday’s Hamilton Cup. Although sitting parked is not his go, it was only 1660m and turned into an 800m dash with a 54.3sec last half. Hurricane Harley had too much sheer brilliance for the leader and main rival Duke Of Wellington to win by a neck. The race was robbed of much interest with the scratching of buzz pacer Lumineer, who was shooting for his 16th win from just 18 starts. “He has a float mishap. It’s nothing major, just some superficial stuff, but we’d never take any risk with him after the problems he’s had,” trainer Ange McDowall said. __________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Kiwi Our Alfie Romeo isn't just the best mare in WA, she looks one of the best in Australia. Greg and Skye Bond's five-year-old thrashed a good field at Gloucester Park last Friday night, leafing throughout to win unextended by 8.1m and dashing home in 55.6 and 27.4sec. The daughter of Washington VC won 12 of her 20 runs in WA last season and has raced eight times this term for four wins, two seconds and a third. __________________________________________________________________________________ EXCITING former Kiwi filly Tiffany Rose looks right on target for a NSW Oaks raid despite suffering her first WA defeat at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere had eight starts at two in NZ for seven placings, some in the top races, and then won her first five starts in WA for trainer Mike Reed. She drew the outside, gate nine, drifted back to last and stormed home for a close third to WA's other top filly, Double Expresso, last Friday night. Driver Chris Lewis won the race when he mad a mid race move to sit parked on Double Expresso and dug deep to win in 1min57.4sec mile rate for 2130m. __________________________________________________________________________________ ONE of Australia’s most loved and popular pacers,Emain Macha, added to his fantastic record with an easy win in the Italian Cup at Globe Derby on Saturday. The six-year-old fifth win from nine starts this campaign took his record to 32 wins from 54 starts with another 13 placings and over $270,000 in earnings.   Adam Hamilton

Next months Devonport Pacing Cup is on the radar for Ideal World after he scored a six-metre win in the Good Sports North Eastern Pacing Cup at Scottsdale yesterday. Trained in South Australia by Aaron Bain, the seven-year-old gelded son of American Ideal has called Tasmania home for the past month, and was well driven by Mark Yole in last nights $12,000 feature. Sent out as the $2.70 second elect in the market, Yole was able to settle close to the speed in the 2692 metre event. “He lobbed handy early, El Jays Mystery was looking for a bit of cover so I worked around her and got it easy during the middle stages,” said winning driver Mark Yole who was happy to race outside the leader on the rain-affected track. “I think that was key, it looked really hard to make ground all day,” added the driver. The heavy track was also reflected in the mile rate of 2m 10.7s, the slowest mile rate recorded in the race since Tyne Playboy scored in 2m 11.6s in 2000. Ideal World was sent to the state to contest last months Tassie Golden Apple series where he finished second in the final behind Ryley Major before running down the track in the Meander Valley Cup at Carrick Park on 29 December, and the plain is for the pacer to tackle another Tasmanian feature race. “Talking with Aaron (Bain) after the race he plans to race him in Devonport next Sunday and then press on to the Devonport Cup next month and he will assess things from there,” said Yole. The $30,000 Devonport Pacing Cup will be held on 2 February. Yole was the standout driver on the card with a driving treble. He scored in the Enzed Pace with Oneofthelads who is trained by his brother Ben. “He was very well placed, I was really happy with his run in Launceston last week and he was able to just miss all the carnage early in the race,” said Mark who also scored on Stylish Trend in the Lords Hotel Pace. “The key to him was his good standing start manners on the tight track, his trial last Monday suggested he was starting to find some of his better form,” explained the driver. Some much-needed rain fell throughout the meeting with Yole full of praise for the officials to get through the entire seven-race card. “It was a credit to all to get through the meeting with the heavy rain that fell in the region,” he said.   Duncan Dornauf for Tasracing

A revitalized Kima Frenning was wearing a bigger smile than usual after winning the feature event at this week's Swan Hill harness racing meeting, the Kiel Tiling 2020 Blue Pearl Classic. The champion reinswoman has just returned to Australia after a two-week holiday back home in Sweden and said she was thrilled to win the female-drivers' race. "I've driven in this race once previously and I haven't happy memories because I got suspended for three weeks for an unacceptable drive," Frenning said "So, I suppose I could look at this result as a little bit of sweet revenge!" she laughed. Frenning combined with all-conquering Ballarat trainer Emma Stewart to win with three-year-old filly Shesskylah (Alta Christiano-Yeronga Songbird (Classic Garry). The annual Blue Pearl Classic was being held for the fourth time by the Swan Hill club, and aims to highlight the contributions of reinswomen in the sport. The $9000 race also carries a $1000 blue pearl necklace for the successful driver and an inscribed rug for the winning owner. Ellen Tormey on Ajay Breezy Rose was the pilot after beginning fast off the gate. Frenning landed one-one into the first turn, then got shuffled back one spot when Bec Bartley worked Rockon Locksley around to the death-seat. Travelling down the back for the final time, Frenning made her move on Shesskylah and rounded them up quickly to get outside the leader in the blink of an eye. She slipped into overdrive up the straight-the last half being run in a sizzling 55 secs flat. The classy filly has now had four starts for four impressive wins for Stewart. Blue Pearl race drivers: Stacey Towers, Ellen Tormey, Kerryn Manning, Tina Ridis, Jackie Barker, sponsor Tony Kiel, Kima Frenning, Katrina Cain and Rebecca Bartley (Photograph: Brook Shaune-Bould) The win was the first leg of a winning treble for the Frenning-Stewart combination at Swan Hill. The others were Like A Wildfire (Big Jim-I'm Against The Wind (D M Dillinger) and Minuscule (Bettors Delight-Our Petite Soeur (Grinfromeartoear). "It's always a pleasure to drive for Emma. Her horses are so well prepared, and they really make you look good-it's a bit hard to muck up on them," she said. "I just point them in the right direction, and they do the rest!" Frenning said she had regained her keenness after a short holiday. "I was getting a little tired and needed a good break. I didn't even wander down to the horse stables or do anything like that while I was home," she said. "I just relaxed and probably ate too much. But I caught up with family and friends and it was special to see my grandmother because she's 93 and my last visit home was in mid-2018." Frenning said she was excited to get the three wins at Swan Hill after "not doing much good" at her return to driving a few days earlier at Cobram Cup day. The gifted horsewoman has driven over 60 winners for the season-10 of these being at city meetings. She has recently lost her junior concession claim, but is hoping to still get the support of owners and trainers. "I just love it, and I'll make sure I am doing my best with the opportunities I get," she said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Breeding authority Peter Wharton presents all the harness racing news on breeding from Australia, New Zealand and North American every Friday brought to you by Garrard’s Horse & Hound.   Bendigo Cup winner’s family background   The Terang horse Code Bailey, the track record-breaking winner of the Group 2 $70,000 Garrard’s Horse & Hound Bendigo Pacing Cup, is a member of New Zealand’s top ranking standardbred families.   To watch the video replay click on this link.   Code Bailey, who has won 16 races and $169,585 in stakes, is a five-year-old entire by the In The Pocket horse Christian Cullen, a legendary pacer who topped the sire’s list in both Australia and NZ.   Taffeta Bromac, the dam of Code Bailey, was by the American import Badlands Hanover, from Trapiche, by Pacific Rocket from the Noodlum mare Burgundy Lass, dam of the dual NZ Cup winner, Horse of the Year and successful colonial sire Il Vicolo.   The winner of three races, Taffeta Bromac also ranks as the dam of the Gloucester Park winner Trust My Judgement 1:58 ($95,650 to date). Burgundy Lass founded a most successful branch of the Regina family. She was the grand- dam of Stunin Cullen ($1.3million), Gotta Go Cullen ($1.1million) and Coburg, all Group 1 winners, and the third dam of the Caduceus Club Classic winner Veste (dam of recent 2YO winner It’s All About Faith), Match Point 1:51.6 ($194,501) and The Culture (1:51.6).   Our Triple Play, a multiple Group winner in NSW, is also a member of this fine family.     Brother to Smolda   Scorcha, a three-year-old brother to the Inter Dominion champion and A. G. Hunter Cup winner Smolda, made an auspicious debut at the Cobram Cup meeting.     Forced to sit parked from the outset, the gelding careered away in the closing stages to score by 11 metres in a 1:57.8 rating over 1670 metres. Bred and raced by Paul Blackshaw, of Wangaratta, Scorcha is a gelding by Courage Under Fire out of Under The Mattress (1:58), a capable racemare by Safely Kept from Lotsa Wealth, by Entrepreneur from the Golden Wealth mare Tara Wealth.   Under The Mattress, who won 17 races and earned $105,711, ranked as a half-sister to seven winners including the Tasmanian Derby winner Ginger Bliss 1:53.7 ($191,917), her dam, Lotsa Wealth, being a half-sister to the Gloucester Park winner Balthazar.     Won Simpson Memorial   Winner of the Paleface Adios Classic as a two-year-old last season, Governor Jujon downed the top three-year-olds in the Group 2 $50,000 Simpson Memorial at Menangle on Monday.   Governor Jujon pictured in a previous win                       --Dan Costello photo   Governor Jujon has been sparingly raced but has proved himself a young pacer of great ability. By Cammibest, who stands at Burwood Stud in Queensland who bred the Simpson winner, Governor Jujon is out of a capable racemare in Fifth And Broadway (1:56.7), by Western Terror from the Muckalee Strike mare Broadway Gal, who left a string of classic winners including the Victoria Oaks winner and dual Sires Stakes champion Broadway’s Best ($643,091).     A Star from top WA mare   One of the most consistent mares in Victoria so far this season is All Starzzz Megan, who downed a handy field in the Graham Goffin Memorial at Melton.   All Starzzz Megan                                                         --Ararat Harness Racing photo   An eight-year-old mare by Four Starzzz Shark, she is out of a top flight WA racemare in Lady De Beau and the second of her produce to race. Lady De Beau, who totted up 15 wins and $206,097, was by Million To One from Perfect Lass, by Cadillac from the El Patron mare Imapet, and tracing to a noted foundation mare in Free Advice, ancestress of horses the calibre of Welcome Advice, Rip Van Winkle, Dale Spring and Allwood’s Chief.     Half-brothers win at Penrith   It was no mean feat for the half-brothers Chewalla (by American Ideal) and Tupelo Beach (by Somebeachsomewhere) to win consecutive races at Penrith recently.   Both were bred and are raced by American cousins Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks and are trained by Kevin Pizzuto.   My Tupelo Honey (1:59.8), the dam of Chewalla and Tupelo Beach, was out of a champion racemare in Tupelo Rose, who took a record of 1:51.4, earned $879,867 and won 35 races including a record four Oaks classics. Besides My Tupelo Honey, she was also the dam of Willy Mucha 1:50.2 ($390,400), the Addington winner Tupelo Mississippi and the three year-old Gracelands Rose, who qualified in September.   Two of Tupelo Rose’s daughters, Kiwi Rose and Capelo Rose, bred on with marked successes. Kiwi Rose left the Tasmanian Derby and Terang Cup winner Maraetai 1:52.3 ($157,710) and the Melton and Albion Park victor Glenferrie Boss 1:53.6 ($87,740), while Capelo Rose is the dam of the Ontario Sire Stakes champions Machapelo 1:51.4 ($653,082) and Capela 1:52.8 ($254,115) and the Little Brown Jug heat winner Resistance Futile 1:49.2 ($402,109).   Other members of this family have been The Tupelo Flash 1:52.2 ($169,800), Our Ideal Act (Northam Cup) and Mayhem Seelster 1:51.6 ($300,709).     Group winner from top American family   Our Millionaire, who has won seven races in quick time this season, and has graduated to a NR 85 mark, is regarded as one of the best young pacers in the country. He notched his sixth win on end when he outclassed a smart lineup in the Group 3 $30,000 Metropolitan Pace Final at Melton last Saturday.   Our Millionaire                                                          --Stuart McCormick photo   Our Millionaire has an all-American breeding background and one which has been most successful. By the Little Brown Jug winner Million Dollar Cam (son of Cam’s Card Shark), he is out of the Western Ideal mare Rarified Air, who was unraced and first bred from in America.   Rarified Air, who was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms, was out of the studbook gem Rich N Elegant, by Direct Scooter from Proven Perfect, by Abercrombie from the Shadow Wave mare Shifting Sands, who founded a noted branch of the Golden Miss family.   Rich N Elegant was the dam of seven classic winners, five successful siring sons and the winners of around $6 million including Rocknroll Hanover, Royalflush Hanover and Red River Hanover.     Noted family of trotters   Mr Sundon, who won the $50,000 Trotters Cup at Gloucester Park in track record time and has now won his last three races, is a six-year-old gelding expected to graduate far beyond his present rating.   A member of Ross Olivieri’s Oakford team, he has a good deal more in his favour on the score of blood than most. By Sundon, the leading sire on both sides of the Tasman for over a decade, Mr Sundon is out of the Gee Whiz II mare Geena Hest, a capable racemare who is proving a very successful broodmare.   Besides Mr Sundon, she is also the dam of The Redwood winner Maidstone Miss, Countessa Hest Tr 2:01.5 ($137,858), Dreamit (Tr 2:00.8), Geena’s Success (Tr 1:59.6) and the Pine Chip mare Anreca Hest, dam of the NZ Trotting Stakes and Inter Dominion heat winner The Fiery Ginga Tr 2:00.1 ($397,927).   Another daughter, Rosedorae, is the dam of the talented Victorian square-gaiter BD Khaosan Tr 2:01.2 (11 wins and $93,238 to date).   Mr Sundon is the tenth and last foal of Geena Hest. By the Speedy Crown horse Gee Whiz II, Geena Hest was out of Lisa Hest (Tr 2:03.7), by Count Bay from Den Hest (4 wins), by Johnny Globe from Mocassin, the dam of the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final winner Stylish Major and his full brother, the ID Consolation winner Le Chant.       Tasmanian yearling sale on February 15   The 2020 Tasmanian Harness Yearling Sale will be held at Carrick Park, near Launceston, on Saturday, February 15. The sale has attracted 21 entries from many of the State’s leading breeders.   The on-line catalogue can be viewed at tasracingcorporate.com.au Hard copy cataloguesare available from all tracks.     First winner by trotting sire   The Sundon horse, Red Samurai, a cups winning trotter and who stood stud in Victoria, was represented by his first winner when Peachee was successful at Pinjarra (WA).   Peachee has been placed twice from six starts as a three-year-old last season. Raced and trained by his breeder, Nigel Johns, Peachee is out of the Continentalman mare Continentalcastleton (Tr 2:06.1), whose dam, Gee Castleton was by Gee Whiz II from the Tarport Coulter mare Margaret Castleton, who left several useful winners including a Free-For-All trotter in Boy Castleton, who won in 2:00 in America.       Art Meeker’s death   One of Tasmania’s best known standardbred veterinarians and studmasters, Dr Art Meeker, of Hobart, died last Saturday as a result of an injury sustained in a fall aged 79. Meeker, an American native, conducted the Neptune Stud for almost 20 years.   The stud stood the imported stallions Holly Sand, Scotch Luck and Duke Duane, who sired more than 360 winners between them and made a substantial mark on Tasmanian breeding and racing.   When Neptune Stud closed down in 1990, he established a mobile veterinary clinic, making up to 20 visits in a day in southern Tasmania. Meeker was recognised for his services to the industry by being awarded the Edgar Tatlow Medal in 2015.     USA Dan Patch Award winners   The divisional winners for the 2019 Dan Patch Awards were announced recently. The winners were: 2YO Colt/Gelding: Tall Dark Stranger (Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty-Art Major) 2YO Filly: Lyons Sentinel (Captaintreacherous-Tutu Hanover-Western Ideal) 3YO Colt/Gelding: Bettor’s Wish (Bettor’s Delight-Lifetime Star-Western Ideal) 3YO Filly: Warrawee Ubeaut (Sweet Lou-Great Memories-Apache’s Fame) Aged Horse/Gelding: McWicked (McArdle-Western Sahara-Western Ideal) Aged Mare: Shartin N (Tintin In America-Bagdarin-Live Or Die) 2YO Trotting Colt/Gelding: Real Cool Sam (Muscle Hill-Cooler Schooner-Broadway Hall) 2YO Trotting Filly: Ramona Hill (Muscle Hill-Lock Down Lindy-Lucky Chucky) 3YO Trotting Colt/Gelding: Greenshoe (Father Patrick-Designed To Be-Donato Hanover) 3YO Trotting Filly: When Dovescry (Muscle Hill-Cedar Dove-Andover Hall) Aged Trotting Horse/Gelding: Six Pack (Muscle Mass-Pleasing Lady-Cantab Hall) Aged Trotting Mare: Atlanta (Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip-Cantab Hall)     by Peter Wharton

After nearly 30 years at the echelon of harness racing Down Under, you'd be forgiven for thinking Menangle trainer Tim Butt's passion might be a little dulled. But nothing could be further from the truth -he's bubbling with anticipation as he finalises plans for a trip to France later this month on a mission to find Australasia's next boom trotter. Butt already has a cornerstone investor on-board with his plan to source an elite French stallion to race and then stand at stud in Australasia, but he's excited that smaller shares still available could possibly bring serious new investors into the sport he loves. "I've never really thought about doing anything other than harness racing. My parents did it, and my grandparents on both sides of the family were in harness racing, so I've just always loved going to the races and wanted to be good at it," Butt said. "I love the sport and the competitiveness, but for me, it's the challenge of finding that next top-liner. Having a good horse and winning the big races drives me and keeps me excited for what's ahead," he said. "I'm heading to France to look at the best trotting stallions in the world and that's exciting for me, but also an opportunity for investors who want to be part of it." Butt is unrivalled in the Southern Hemisphere for his Group One success - he's won more than 90 Group Ones, including the Miracle Mile, InterDominion Pacers and Trotters final (4), NZ cup (2), Auckland Cup (2), Hunter Cup (2), Dominion Handicap (8) and the list goes on. "We don't have a big team - we aim for quality and hold our numbers at about 24 so we can aim primarily at those big races," Butt said. "That's what our goal is in France. To identify the best modern bred trotting stallion we can afford, race him down here in those good races, with the goal of setting him up for a stud career. So for the people who come on board it's a long-term investment and we're hoping a profitable one." The idea for sourcing Northern Hemisphere trotting blood began when the Butts campaigned with their champion trotter Lyell Creek during their early 2000s. "Lyell Creek was no doubt the best horse I've been associated with - he was brilliant," Butt said. "But this idea really stemmed from when we took him to the Elitloppet in Sweden and it was clear to me just how far ahead of us their trotters were," he said. "We've previously brought three European horses to race down here, in Peak (Denmark), Kvintet Avenger (Finland) and Daryl Boko (Finland) and they had two group one wins and a placing between them. We also brought out Mr Feelgood from America, who was probably the most successful pacer to come out from the States, so I know the qualities I'm looking for," he said. "I've done a lot of homework and have a good relationship with (premiere French horseman and trainer, and owner of Love You) Jean-Pierre Dubois' son Jean Dubois, who is now a gallops trainer out here, at Mittagong. "I've spent a fair bit of time with him talking about my ideas and going through catalogues and we've identified some good options - it's just a case of being able to afford the one you want, taking into account the exchange rates." The Butt team also has a profile in Europe through their hosting of a number of young Swedish horsemen and women to work in Australia. Butt is joining a La Trot (French trotting authority) sponsored tour of about 25 potential buyers and investors being organised by Harness Racing Australia. The week-long tour leaves on January 23 and will be based in the horse-racing region of Normandy. The key focus for Butt will be horse auctions during the initial days of the tour, including broodmare, ready to run, yearling and stallion shares. But the tour will also take in key racing and breeding establishments in Normandy - studs including Le Haras du Pin, the Haras de Sassy training centre, Ecurie Guarato training centre (home of Bald Eagle) and the property of Jean Pierre Debois to view renowned stallion Love You. The tour will also visit the historic Grosbois training centre, on the outskirts of Paris - a harness racing community that includes a castle, trotting museum and 1500 horses in training, utilising numerous straight, forest and qualifying tracks, a restaurant, cinema and veterinary clinic. HRA delegates are also presenting at the Stallions Exhibition, an industry trade fair that is a fixture on the French racing calendar and will be showcasing the innovative Australian BestSeat 360 concept - immersive technology that provides interactive driver's-eye view of the racing action.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

IT is looking likely the two stars of tomorrow’s (Friday) Group 1 Fremantle Cup won’t make the race. NSW-trained pair My Field Marshal, the defending champion, and in-form Alta Orlando are still stranded in Victoria. A string of planned flights have been scrapped and the last hope is a midnight flight tonight (Thursday) from Melbourne to Perth, but that’s far from a lock. “I’m told it’s 50/50, but I think that’s even being optimistic,” Alta Orlando’s co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy said. “They were supposed to go across Monday and they’re still here. I think it’s had something to do with the smoke and the fires.” Both McCarthy and My Field Marshal’s trainer Tim Butt aren’t fussed by such a late flight, if it eventuates. But, if they don’t get across tonight, it’s likely only My Field Marshal will still go to Perth for next week’s Group 1 WA Pacing Cup. “Tim’s still going if we don’t get to the Freo Cup, but I’m leaning towards staying here and taking him (Alta Orlando) to the Ballarat Cup on his way to the Hunter Cup,” McCarthy said. “The problem is if we nominated for the WA Cup and don’t get there for some reason, we can’t run at Ballarat instead. We have to make a choice.” Making matters worse is good barriers for the star pair has them heading the market. My Field Marshal is $2.80 favourite from gate four with Alta Orlando at $4.40 second elect from gate five. ________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIA Cup winner Bling It On is back on song after his failed Auckland Inter Dominion raid. Luke McCarthy said his stable star worked superbly in a private hitout at Menangle during the week. “He’s flying and could’ve run at Menangle this weekend, but I’ll take him to the Goulburn Cup (Sunday week) instead because it’s a random draw,” he said. “It’s then two week’s from that straight into the Hunter Cup.” McCarthy said he could have as many as three Hunter Cup runners. “Bling and Alta (Orlando) are headed there and if King Of Swing wins well for us at his first run for us (Menangle, Saturday night), then we’d consider taking him down as well,” he said. “Cash N Flow is another good enough, but the 2760m doesn’t suit him as well, so we’ll keep him at home for the mile racing at Menangle.”   Adam Hamilton

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