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Several upsets at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday afternoon left harness racing punters reeling and history confirmed the average priced winner was more than $10 longer at any of the corresponding meetings since the track first opened in 2008. Menangle has always hosted a feature meeting on the final Sunday in June and with NSW Breeders Challenge finals conducted, favourites historically have performed well. Here are the statistics from previous years Year / No. of Races / No. of Successful Favs / Average Priced Winner 2008 / 9 / 4 / $7.22 2009 / 8 / 4 / $5.51 2010 / 8 / 4 / $4.51 2011 / 9 / 4 / $2.93 2012 / 10 / 4 / $7.15 2013 / 11 / 7 / $3.53 2014 / 11 / 4 / $7.07 2015 / 10 / 6 / $3.51 2016 / 11 / 1 / $17.34 The only favourite to win on Sunday was two year old trotter Empire Bay trained by Blake Fitzpatrick. Five odds-on favourites were beaten including Bacardi Hurricane ($1.70), Glenferrie Burn ($1.30), Ameretto ($1.30), Dont Think Twice ($1.70) and Lennytheshark ($1.40). Other beaten favourites include Heavens Trend ($2.00), Arma The Gun ($2.10), Three Of The Best ($2.60) and Spare Me Days ($3.80) while $2.90 equal favourites Jilliby Jagger and Lumos both suffered defeat in a heat of the Rising Stars. The only trainer to enjoy multiple winners at the meeting was Steve Turnbull who trained two year old gelding Conviction and four year old gelding Mouse In The House to win the respective Group 1 finals. Only one stallion sired two winners with Four Starzzz Shark the sire of Charlaval and Mouse In The House. The longest priced winner of the afternoon was two year old filly Shezallapples, she returned $91.20 for the win while another four winners were longer than $10 in the market. Greg Hayes

I read your tweet following the Len Smith Mile Sky Racing Debacle and I felt compelled to write you an email (my first to any Harness Publication) Until recently I attended meetings every week of all codes (Harness racing, Thoroughbred & - in various locations in Aust & internationally). But due to work circumstances cannot anymore. I still actively participate as an owner and member of numerous race clubs & associations. I have supported MANY THINGS (rightly or wrongly over my 30+ years in Harness Racing) as long there was a vision and a reason why that lead to a betterment of the sport.  The decision by Sky Racing Australia to split with screen with The Group 1 Len Smith Mile & the a Coleraine Gallops BM64 race was an utter disgrace and taking the racing industry back to the PRE-TABCORP Days. Harness Racing Coverage (& Thoroughbred & Greyhound) to that matter should burst into the 21st Century. Trials are beamed on the internet minutes after they are run - whether on a cold Wednesday Night   We have 3 channels on Sky Racing, Internet Streaming on apps, etc BUT still cannot see the race in the entirety due to clashes. This situation appears to occur nearly every day. Frustrating!!! Harness, Gallops, & Greyhound Fans are ALL being duped. Policies sent out to media by Sky Racing are inconsistent and only remain in force until the "anger blows over". Then its back to the normailty of clashes All in the name of building revenue for the shareholder. Excuses Excuses........ On this occasion I appreciate that both races were late, (the Len Smith Mile 1min) & the Coleraine Race (5mins) but TABCORP HOLDINGS - get your media arm working properly. Without a QULAITY OFFERING shareholder value will decline - rapidly!!!! As a quick fix what I propose is that a the very least: "The major race for the Day - whether it be a Group 1 or whatever for EITHER code should be given priority. A showcase to be proud of!!!" These "showcase events" are the main reason why MOST people participate,  - punting, watching, own, train, drive, etc. TV Presenters build up the race to a crescendo - but he execution fails to deliver - eg SPLIT SCREENS. Like a warm Beer in Australia!!! Leaving watchers EXTREMELY disappointed. PLEASE SKY RACING bring the coverage up to the 21st Century!! SURELY you can provide a QUALITY SERVICE that doesn't offend OLD & NEW viewers Steve Littlejohn

Master harness racing trainer David Aiken pulled off the ultimate big-race success when he trained the quinella in today’s $100,000 TABCORP.COM.AU Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The only problem was it wasn’t quite the way punters expected it to go. Aiken’s up and comer Hectorjayjay ($10.10), finished like a train to swamp odds-on favourite Lennytheshark ($1.40 favourite) by 1.2m, with Ohoka Punter ($7) a fighting third 7.1m further way. The winner rated a slashing 1:50.5, confirming the huge wraps that Aiken had placed on the five-year-old gelding, who is now bound for Queensland and further feature starts. Victoria’s two leading reinsmen Gavin Lang (Hectorjayjay) and Chris Alford (Lennytheshark) cleared away to fight out the finish although the wicked grin on Lang’s face in the last 100m clearly indicated he knew he had the race in his keeping. Close behind the placegetters were outsiders Blazin N Cullen and Alta Jerome, just ahead of the mighty mare Frith, who endured a torrid run and couldn’t match the Grand Circuit stars in the straight. “Gavin really likes this five-year-old gelding by Dream Away,” said Aiken. “He doesn’t say a lot but I just really got the feeling he’s been impressed with his turn of foot.” Lang explained that draws were important and 14 was not ideal against a quality field like that. “As I always say before the race, it’s only a number, we usually have a post mortem after and decide if they’re good bad or otherwise . . . and it turned out perfectly,” said Lang. “That’s one thing about drawing 14, you need those type of quick sectionals early to bring you into the race and that’s how it turned out. “That early burn gives you a chance. Over a mile if they go slowly early then you are left to do your share of work to get into the race and chasing quality horses, well, you just won’t catch them.” Lang said Hectorjayjay always travelled well and his only concern pre-race was that he had been scratched from his last run because he had a minor problem. “But a solidly run race (like today’s) can be their downfall and to the stable’s credit they did a great job and had him in excellent condition,” he said. Home straight: “He’s a good horse and that’s one of the qualities that good horses have - under pressure they really dig in.” “I’m sure these two horses will have some epic battles in the future.” Michael Howard

Harness Racing Fans called for a dead-heat but the judge gave Rockmemama the nod by the barest margin in today’s three-year-old fillies final of the Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge. Just when Eye See Diamonds (Nathan Jack) looked set to win, Rockmemama dived at her and scored a last-stride win, rating 1:52.4 with even-money favourite Heavens Trend a plucky third after racing without cover for most of the journey. In a day of upsets, it was a popular win for Newcastle reinsman Mark Callaghan as there was a sprinkling of money for the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven as she started at $7.90. It was the stringbean Callaghan’s first Group One success. Likewise for trainer Darryl Thomas, who is based at Sawyers Gully. “Yes that was quite a thrill,” said Callaghan. “Darryl seems to be able to get this horse to peak at just the right time. “That’s what he did for Bathurst and she won with authority and this was her fourth run in again today and she’s peaked again and she’s won again. “I thought we’d either be behind the leader or three back on the fence and I wasn’t too concerned either way  . . . as long as we were tracking the good horses - and we were, I knew I’d be right there. “So it all worked out well. “They ran a quick last half so she did a good job to get over the top of them.” Callaghan has three young boys who help out around the stables. All three were on hand to cheer and there were even a few tears on the pedestal as they savoured their father’s biggest win. Michael Court

It was sweet revenge for harness racing owner Daniel Cordina, of Cordina Chicken Farms, when the well-backed Charlaval took out today’s thee-year-old colts and geldings Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Cordina was holidaying in the US a few years ago when Blissfull Guy lost a Breeders Challenge to No Ah Saint on protest. But Cordina was “back in the spotlight” today when Charlaval came from well back on the home turn to beat Sams The Master by a head with Rock Of America 3.6m away third in a 1:51.9 mile rate. Cordina was delighted to finally get a Breeders Challenge trophy for the sideboard. “I’m just sorry my Dad (his late father Joe) was not here to see this win,” he said. “Dad actually raced a horse by the same name about 50 years ago and I never for a moment dreamed we would be here today to celebrate something like this.” Trained by Cordina’s good friends KerryAnn Turner and reinsman Robbie Morris, Charlaval’s win was even more impressive as he appeared to be racing on a slower section of the track. Morris was delighted with the win. “It always good to be here on these big days and for him to do all that work and come down the outside like that was a real thrill,” he said. “It’s hard to believe he didn’t even make this race last year. “He matured late and took all day to do everything but he’s really hitting his straps now and we couldn’t be happier with him. “I needed everything to do a bit of work and it sort of played in my hands really. Match In Heaven carted me into it for a long way and that probably helped a lot and we were able to come off his back and move right into the finish. “It’s been a great combination (with KerryAnn) and our is a real family affair at home: we’re a tight knit team and you couldn’t do it without them. “We’ve always had that family support. Kids come and help at the weekend and it’s a really good feeling to score in a race like this. “I couldn’t be happier for Daniel.” Michael Howard

It's no surprise to see leading harness racing owners Emilio and Mary Rosati in the winners’ circle on Breeders Challenge Day at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And beautifully-bred mare Sapphire Stride added to the fanfare when she scored a surprise win in today’s Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Group One for four-year-old mares. What did surprise, however, was the price: Sapphire Stride was sent out at the amazing odds of $36.20 on the TAB before leading most of the way to defeat Hey Porsha and Dolly Braveheart, scoring by a head in a 1:52.7 mile rate. Disappointment of the race was the $1.30 favourite Ameretto (Ash Grives), who settled down near last and couldn’t make up the ground in the straight before finishing a close fourth. In a field of young drivers, John McCarthy could probably be classed as a veteran, even though he’s only mid 50s, but he took Emilio Rosati’s advice and showed the youngsters a thing or two. “I thought she’d be quick out and I might struggle to get to the lead (from gate five),” said a jubilant McCarthy after scoring on the Belinda McCarthy-trained mare. “But they just didn’t come at me in the straight. “I was getting a bit tired near the line  . . . but so were they and she just kept boxing on.” McCarthy [senior] described Sapphire Stride as a nice mare: “We had a good barrier today and it might have been different if we didn’t and this win has made it really good for her as a broodmare later on. “Emilio said you go show them – and today we did.” Michael Howard

Leading local harness racing reinsman Jimmy Douglass knocked something off his “bucket list” when he scored an amazing win with outsider Shezallapples in today’s Group One Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Despite his successes around the country, the win was Douglass’ first Group One in his home state. And while his Victoria Derby win a few years ago was something special, the pocket rocket was over the moon to score with Shezallapples after securing a late split near the pegs to beat Rocknroll Emma by 2.9m with Im With Lexy third in a 1:53.3 mile rate. Punters were left reeling after the David Thorn-trained youngster paid a massive $91.20 on the tote, despite Douglass’ suggestion that he seriously felt he was a great chance going into the race. “At the top of the straight I was full of running,” he said. “I aimed up for a big gap in the middle and then it suddenly closed. “I then had to switch to the outside or the inside and I decided to go back to the inside and we were lucky enough to get through and when we did we sprinted really quickly. “I honestly thought she was a hope going into the race. “She went really well in the semi and every run she has just got better and better and David (Thorn) has been really happy with her work. “I thought she felt terrific last start and I knew that with a bit of luck she had a great hope. “They’re good fillies, and to run 52 – well, she’s only a two-year-old filly. “In both heats there was a slow second quarter and both times I went back and said she’d be better if they run along and that’s exactly how it panned out today. “This was good for Paul (Shipley), he was on this horse and was tipped out at Penrith. “Obviously he couldn’t go on with the horse and he’s good friends with the Thorn family, so they were really happy to get him.” The two-year-old colts’ Breeders Challenge was Bathurst-bound after For A Reason youngster Conviction scored the gutsiest of wins for Amanda Turnbull and her trainer/father Steve. Posted in the breeze for the entire journey, Conviction fought off all challengers in the straight to beat Three Of The Best and Redbank Blaze by 1.4m in a 1:53.5 mile rate. “It was a super tough effort. I had to go for home a bit early but he was never going to let that one past,” said Amanda after the win. “When he heard them coming he was right and knuckled down to hold them off.” “When he got beaten at Bathurst he proved to us how tough he really was and I learned a bit about him that night.” Michael Court

Even a protest hearing which didn’t even involve him could not take the gloss off Jason Grimson’s marvellous week which saw him crowned the Harness Racing New South Wales Rising Stars 2016 champion at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. Ironically Grimson finished last in the final Rising Stars event at the premier track at the end of a hectic week but there were excuses for that defeat as he endured a torrid run with $16.50 outsider Du Vella. Yet the young Riverina reinsman had enough points in the bank to finish the series an impressive winner, despite the dramas of the final heat. Stormont Czar (Stuart McDonald) was declared the winner of the race despite finishing second across the line behind Jilliby Jagger (Sam Ison), with Floyd Mayweather (Ellen Rixon) a close third. While stewards adjourned to their room to eventually reverse the first two placings and give Stormont Czar the race, Grimson was able to celebrate what has been a meteoric rise through the ranks of harness racing, including his first Group One success at Bathurst earlier this year. Grimson was understandably “stoked” with his great run: “I barely knew half these drivers before this week but now I can say they are friends for life,” he said. “It’s been a great week and we’ve have really enjoyed the challenge. “I’ve had a fair bit of luck this week because I got to drive some nice horses. It’s been a really good trip. “And I have to thank the trainers for putting their horses in and giving us all an opportunity. Without them all this just wouldn’t happen.”   Final point score JASON GRIMSON 83 STUART MCDONALD 78 ELLEN RIXON 77 SAM ISON 75 MITCEH TURNBULL 73 BRAD ELDER 61 TOM PAY 60 MARTELLE MAGUIRE 56 JAMES HARDING 45 ROSS DRUITT 29   Michael Court

Honours and dollars were shared although there were hardly any great surprises after the three Group Two Trotters Finals at Tabcorp Park Menangle this afternoon. Harness Racing Trainer/Driver Blake Fitzpatrick kicked off the big Breeders Challenge Finals Day in typical fashion when he took Empire Bay to victory in the opening event, the Two-Year-Old Trotters Final. Sent out a prohibitive $1.50 favourite, Empire Bay was a comfortable winner over his only two rivals Shang Fang Sword and Nanas Eyes. While he was expected to dominate the trotters’ races, Fitzpatrick could only fill the minor places with his following two entries with Seven Secrets running fourth in the three-year-old final and short-priced favourite Glenferrie Burn leaving its run too late and ending up second with a late burst in the four and five-year-old Trotters’ Final. Zac Phillips guided Red Hot Tooth to victory to deny Fitzpatrick of making it two from two while Todd McCarthy held on from a fast-finishing Fitzpatrick with Glenferrie Burn in the third race. Fitzpatrick was delighted to draw first blood: “He (Empire Bay) went great, he’s been a really smart horse and he’s made mistakes in the wrong races,” he said. “His record really should be better than it is. “I was happy to follow Shang Fang Sword as my bloke has really good speed and he picked the leader up quickly and finished the race right off. “He’ll have a short break now and then head to Victoria for the Redwood and then the Breeders Crown.” The Three-Year-Old Trotters Final could almost be considered a Bathurst victory as Red Hot Tooth was bred by Geoff Bullock from Bathurst. He sent the horse to Kari Males, who trains out of Bolinda in Victoria but is originally a Bathurst girl. Young Victorian-based reinsman Zac Phillips, 20, caught a plane this morning to drive the horse and then headed straight back to drive at Shepparton tonight. “I’ve been up here a few times but this is the first time I’ve driven a winner here,” he grinned. “She’s been a revelation this horse and came down around six months ago. She wasn’t much to look at but has had six starts and kept improving. “Once she began to race the better horses she just acquitted herself well. “I thought I’d be hard to beat if could lead and we had such a great run I was really confident. “If she’s in front she runs her best races. “I think she could have gone quicker had she needed to. It’s a terrific story the owners are lovely people and it’s really good to see people win on a big day like today.” Michael Howard

Harness Racing Form analyst Trent Orwin previews his best selections for Sunday's Len Smith Mile Day at Menangle.    Race 4 (12:14pm) – NSW 2016 RISING STARS HEAT 10 – 1609m   A great clash between Lumos and Jilliby Jagger awaits with the former drawn the pole and the latter out in barrier eight.    I’m expecting Lumos to lead with Jilliby Jagger making a move to sit parked and hopefully the five-year-old gelding Jilliby Jagger can prove too strong for the speedy six-year-old gelding Lumos.   Jilliby Jagger has been contesting stronger races; five starts back he defeated Young Modern and All Eyes On Us before running third behind Messini and Hectorjayjay in the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Final (2240m).   Both runs this preparation have been good and Jilliby Jagger can go close here.   Selections: 10-1-3-4   Race 8 (2:35pm) – NSW BREEDERS CHALLENGE 3YO COLTS & GELDINGS FINAL – 1609m   Arma The Gun should lead from barrier three and the three-year-old gelding’s form reads super heading into today’s Group 1 contest.   A winner at five of his past six starts, Arma The Gun was able to lead in both heat and semi-final of the series when rating 1:52.9, home in 56 seconds in the semi-final.   He was a dominant winner four back in 1:51.9, after charging home in 26.7 seconds.    Don’t take too short a price because he is beatable and you could have something smaller on Fouroeight at around the $8.50 mark or better.    Selections: 4-13-5-6   Race 10 (3:55pm) – LEN SMITH MILE – 1609m   Lennytheshark should get redemption in the Len Smith Mile; it was the race that really grabbed my attention last season with his excellent third-placed effort.   There are a couple of really big guns (the Grand Circuit horses) and they take on a number of consistent free-for-all horses that aren’t good enough to match said big guns on a weekly basis.   Hectorjayjay is a stablemate to Lennytheshark and he has really transformed into a very good racehorse.    Always blessed with speed, Hectorjayjay has added toughness to his repertoire. Follows out Mach Beauty at the start and should settle in the moving line before showing his turn of foot to hopefully run into the placings for us.   Selections: 2-14-6-13   Reprinted with permission  www.racingbase.com

Harness Racing Trainer Des Kelly passed away at age 82 on June 23 at West Gippsland Hospital, Warragul. Mr Kelly was involved in harness racing from 17 years of age right up until his death, a total of 65 years in the industry. He took over from his father, Jack Kelly, who trained Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid. Mr Kelly's achievements included: 1977 Kilmore Cup (Infield), 1976 Navy Cup (Infield), 1988 2YO Trotters Sires Stakes Final (Georgian Gent), Victorian Harness Racing Media Association certificate of honour for enduring and excellent service to harness racing 18/12/2008, winner 1998 software and electronics design award with his partner, Paul Dawson, for the new style mobile barrier system, has transported horses to the USA for racing, winning several races as trainer and driver while there. Mr Kelly is the father of Michael Kelly, who drove horses for many years and piloted Infield and Georgian Gent to their victories, under his tutelage. He is grandfather of Matt Cormick, young trainer and driver starting out in the industry and already tasting a degree of success. Also grandfather to Daniel Cormick, Matt's younger brother, who was in the industry for a brief period, hopefully to return to it in the future. Mr Kelly's funeral will be held at 11am next Friday, July 1, at St Joseph's Church in Iona. Trots Media

Harness racing trainer Paul Hill will be hoping history can repeat itself when his two smart youngsters Rocknroll Turbo and Playing Arkabella contest the Dandy Patch Stakes and the Evicus Stakes respectively at UBET Park Hobart tonight. Hill won the two features last season with Hillview Jake (Dandy Patch) and Chica Bella and tonight both of his two-year-olds are pre-race favourites. Rocknroll Turbo is owned and was bred by Charlie and Connie Beadman and while they have enjoyed enormous success with youngsters over the years Hill says this colt could be the best they have owned. "Charlie has bred some good ones but Rocknroll Turbo is just a freak," Hill said. "From the first day he came into work he's been a thorough professional and he does everything asked of him with so much ease it's ridiculous. "Charlie had Jerrys Jet as a two-year-old and he was very special and he was just as good at three but I think this colt is better." Rocknroll Turbo has had only two starts for as many wins. He debuted with an impressive win in the Debutante Stakes in Launceston after which Hill sent him for a spell prior to him winning his Dandy Patch Prelude. He meets the same opposition tonight and drawing gate seven on the outside of the front row should pose no problem. "Rocknroll Turbo was probably about 85 per cent right in the Dandy Patch Prelude but he will be spot on tomorrow night." Playing Arkabella also has drawn gate seven in the Evicus final but she too possesses enough early speed to overcome that if connections opt to try and lead but given his she was handled in the Evicus Prelude she will more than likely be driven cold. "Playing Arkabella has had no luck with barrier draws so this is no surprise to draw seven of seven but from there we might have a look for the front but she's probably better sat so the draw is of no great concern," Hill said. Playing Arkabella has won three of her seven starts and she was placed in the other four. The filly impressed with a tough win in the Sweepstakes final two starts back in Hobart last month and her win in the Evicus Prelude at her subsequent outing also was impressive defeating first-starter El Jays Mystery from the Dick Eaves stable. Peter Staples

Durable pacer Glenferrie Hood sprung a major harness racing upset by claiming the Gr.3 $30,000 Wondais Mate at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). Recently transferred to the leading stables of Vicki Rasmussen, the Christian Cullen gelding had not won since taking out the Terang Cup back in February this year. But Glenferrie Hood ($34.90) turned his fortunes around with a barnstorming finish to defeat Ideal Scott ($5.90) and kiwi sensation Christen Me ($1.60 fav) in a time of 1:52.4 for the 1660m feature event. Sectionals were posted in 27.5, 29.2, 27.6 and 28.2 seconds. “He was absolutely super tonight and thrived on a genuine speed and finished really well, I still gave myself a good chance working off the back straight and got good cover flow from Christen Me before unwinding with a big late burst.” Winning driver Pete McMullen said. Connections of Glenferrie Hood have the option of starting again next week in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood Open Pace or waiting for the Gr.2 $50,000 Sunshine Sprint on July 9. Tonight’s victory guarantees him a start in the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake on July 16. “The draw was the obvious concern tonight because I wasn’t sure where we would land but we were lucky enough to get into a fairly handy spot, things played out pretty good thereafter. I thought he went really good last week; he got a little rank mid-race before being caught up behind weakening horses. “Obviously the opposition will only get stronger in the coming weeks but he’s fit and in-form so he’s got a show provided he gets some normal luck. Hopefully, he can land some handy draws which will give him a shot again.” Glenferrie Hood has now won 21 of his 62 starts while amassing more than $220,000 in prizemoney. Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety was happy with the effort of Christen Me and stated he will improve off tonight’s run. Christen Me had not raced since May 21 at Addington. The Brisbane winter carnival officially gets underway next week at Albion Park with three weeks of high quality pacing action planned.

Harness Racing aficionados will be licking their lips at the thought of next Saturday night’s four-year-old entires and geldings’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final after tonight’s semis and barrier draw. Heat winners Ideal For Real and Tee Cee Bee Macray have drawn five and 13 respectively, while reigning Vicbred champ and horse of the year Menin Gate, a fierce warrior when in front, has drawn well in barrier three. Murranji Track in gate two has good gate speed and can run along also, so he will surely create headaches for speed mappers. Tee Cee Bee Macray was ultra-impressive in winning his heat tonight, and while barrier 13 is never ideal, he does his best work when winding up with a big finish. Trained by Alan Tubbs, Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder/Way Mya Macray) sprinted powerfully through the final 400m to overhaul pacemaker Solarsonic in the run to the line. Driven by Greg Sugars, Tee Cee Bee Macray rated 1:56.9. “There’s a lot of depth in the (four-year-old) field … but he’s very fast,” Sugars said. “He’s a very good horse.” The win clearly meant plenty for the Tubbs team, who received plenty of congratulations trackside. Ideal For Real (American Ideal/Tamara Hall) was also super-impressive, the Emma Stewart-trained star winning its 10th race from 18 starts with a 1:56.2 run to score by 14.2m over runner-up Sevens Hope with Mister Wickham third. Despite the ease of the win and the high expectations being placed on Ideal For Real, Lang said the entire still had a bit to learn. “He’s got to learn to go straight or he’ll have to cover more ground than the others … he’ll get beat doing that,” he said. “He’s got a good record but it won’t be an easy race next week.” The continued dominance of the Emma Stewart stable was on full display in the four-year-old mares’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-finals tonight. The Smythes Creek trainer qualified five mares for next Saturday night’s final, giving her almost half the field. Stewart-trained Starburst Girl (barrier two for the final), Brighty Valentine (three), Lovelist (seven), Delight Me (nine) and Stay And Play (11) will all line up in the big dance. Delight Me (Bettor's Delight/Cornsilk) impressively won her semi-final with Gavin Lang in the sulky, defeating stablemates Lovelist and Starburst Girl in the first semi-final, working wide in the run before finding the line strongly. Stay And Play (Live Or Die/Play Ball) posted a mile rate of 1:56.2 in her 8.3m win over Snip Of Grand in the second semi-final, with third placegetter Brighty Valentine also hailing from the Stewart stable.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Mares Final barrier draw 1: Diamond Castle 2: Starburst Girl 3: Brighty Valentine 4: Soho Tokyo 5: Boadiceas Fury 6: Snip Of Grand 7: Lovelist 8: Glory Daze 9: Delight Me 10: Morton Plains 11: Stay And Play 12: Keayang Mercedes (em) 13: Miss Dreaming Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires & Geldings Final barrier draw 1: Repeat After Me 2: Murranji Track 3: Menin Gate 4: Sevens Hope 5: Ideal For Real 6: Lucky Lombo 7: Mister Wickham 8: Solarsonic 9: Stagger Lee 10: Soynwasabi 11: Rule Of Thumb (em) 12: Blacknbrown 13: Tee Cee Bee Macray ............................................................................................................................................................................... Tingira Beach has emerged a frontrunner in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series' two-year-old colts and geldings for New South Wales team Shane and Lauren Tritton, dominating his semi-final and drawing well. Things only got better for the Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Western Tingira after he won his class's second semi-final by 12.9m, having then drawn barrier four in the final. Conversely, fellow semi-final winner Jilliby Kung Fu will start from barrier 12 and will have to do things the hard way in the final on Saturday, July 2. Lauren Tritton, driver of Tingira Beach, warned there was more improvement to come from her colt, who found the front and comfortably beat highly-fancied Victorians Our Little General and Wrappers Delight into second and third place. “(Tingira Beach) is still really green, he still had a look around, but tonight he raced a lot better," Tritton said post-win. "He still had a good look around in the race and was on and off the bit. Next week he might run a bit better and could get the best of them." Tritton said Tingira Beach's favourable draw, albeit with Geoff Webster's Wrappers Delight inside her, would not be a huge factor. “He’s very versatile and the barrier doesn’t really mean much too him," Tritton said. "He hasn’t got that much gate speed in him, it’s always good to draw a good barrier but that’s not much of a worry.” It could be a worry for Jilliby Kung Fu, though the talented Terang colt is only too happy to run them down from behind. In his semi-final, Jilliby Kung Fu found the front and, though he “gets a bit lonely out there on his own”, according to driver Jason Lee, he had enough of a buffer to win by 2.5m from Geoff Webster’s fast-finishing Misterfreeze. The two-year-old colt by Four Starzzz Shark out of Slip Slop Slap, trained at Terang by Marg Lee, produced a fifth win in 10 starts when from barrier 10 he looped the field to find the front. “I think he’s a better chaser and I probably got a bit of itchy feet and thought I should jump around to the front, but he didn’t really want to go on with the job,” Jason Lee said. “He had a little bit left in the tank.” Misterfreeze kept him close company at Tabcorp Park Melton in the semi-finals and Somebeachshadow, trained by Craig Demmler and driven by Jodi Quinlan, surprised with a third placing having started a $59 shot.   Barrier draws: Two-year-old colts and geldings pacers 1: Wrappers Delight 2: Ruthless Armbro 3: Misterfreeze 4: Tingira Beach 5: Form Analyst (emg) 6: Island Specialmajor 7: Canada Bay 8: Our Little General 9: Bundy Playboy 10: Albarock 11: Somebeachshadow 12: Jilliby Kung Fu 13: Classic Maker (ODM) Cody Winnell & Michael Howard

Burrumbeet harness racing trainer-driver Michael Stanley looks a leading light in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old fillies, winning one heat and placing in the other. Petacular, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Ideal Priority, was outstanding in coming from last to first to win the first semi-final, while stablemate Soho Angel ran second in the second semi-final. And Soho Angel is well-placed for a significant crack at next Saturday night’s final, drawing barrier two with Petacular to start on her back from barrier nine. It capped a great night for Stanley, whose six runners all qualified for the July 2 super series’ finals. Petacular had to work hard for her win, taken back from barrier 13 the front runners were able to lead with comfort, requiring a super effort by Stanley to run down Emma Stewart’s pair Our Celebrity and Perfect Sense. “The race probably didn’t pan out ideally, easy lead time and easy first quarter, but (Petacular) has got a bit of toughness and class about her and did the job nicely,” Stanley said. And, he said, she was improving all the time. “You only have to look at her to know she hasn’t filled out and has a lot of growing to do,” he said. “I’m sure whatever she does this year she can go with it next year.” He was starved of training a fillies double by Flying Moth, who won the second semi-final with driver Damian Wilson for Moama trainer Tony Peacock. By Art Major out of Moody Moth, Flying Moth had the leader’s (Keayang Secret) back and when Jason Lee’s frontrunner tired Wilson dove down the sprint lane to get a sniff of a win amid a tight finish. Soho Angel made a big run outside and Valbarann loomed up on the pegs, but Flying Moth nudged clear to win by a head and a neck for her thrilled connections. “She lacks a little bit of high speed but she does give her best when she’s right,” Wilson said. “The other heat looked like the stronger heat, but she is in there with a fighting chance and with a good draw we will see what happens.”   Barrier draws: Two-year-old fillies pacers 1: Keayang Secret 2: Soho Angel 3: Emoji 4: Perfect Sense 5: Valbarann 6: Artara 7: Flying Moth 8: Wongalea Jatz 9: Petacular 10: Six Elements 11: Chic Boutique 12: Atusa (emg) 13: Our Celebrity   Michael Howard

Smythes Creek harness racing trainer Emma Stewart holds plenty of aces in next Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. The three-year-old pacing fillies’ division appears to be one of her strongest hands. Stewart has four runners in the field and semi-final winner Whirily School’s stocks only rose when she pulled gate one at the barrier draw. “It was one of those cases where the wide barrier draw was actually to her advantage,” Greg Sugars said of Whirily School’s semi-final win tonight. “We were able to press forward and once she was able to take up the lead she was always the one to beat. “It’s probably a very honest and fair assessment to say she’s probably a length or so behind the very best of her age group, but she is certainly not far behind them . With a bit of luck in the final she is definitely in with a chance.” Whirily School (Courage Under Fire/Mayhappen) worked forward to eventually find the lead through a 45secs lead time and posted quarters of 30.5, 32.5, 28.9 and 28.9 for a mile rate of 1:58.7. Stablemate Rocknroll Magic will take a power of beating in the final though, despite drawing barrier 11. The filly by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic made it 15 career wins from 22 starts tonight, notching a 1:57.5 mile rate in the chair (55.2 last half) to overhaul leader Rockstar Angel by a half-neck. “I probably expected that is where I would land in the run but I was still confident enough she’d be good enough,” winning driver Gavin Lang said. “She’s one of the main players (in the final), as you know with Emma and Clayton’s horses this time of the year they’re always on song.” Rockstar Angel has drawn barrier eight so will follow Whirily School. In the three-year-old colts and geldings’ final, semi-final winners Soho Tribeca (American Ideal/Pixel Perfect) and Iceenothink (Art Major/Decethree Lombo) have drawn gates three and four for the Final. Iceenothink finished powerfully tonight for Chris Alford and trainer Larry Eastman (who combined to win this section last year with Menin Gate), holding off Mario Attard and Don’t Hold Back, who also savaged the line from well-back. Iceenothink posted a 1:57.4 mile rate. Soho Tribeca, trained by Jayne Davies and driven by Alford, scored by a half-neck over Carter Bromac, with Brallos Pass third in a rate of 1:57.4. “He was going to get a good run through, (it was) just whether he could stay in front of Brallos Pass. That didn’t work out but he (Brallos Pass) had to do a fair bit of work,” Alford said. “Just got to hope he gets a good draw and he can play a part next week.” Burrumbeet trainer-driver Michael Stanley is set for a busy Vicbred finals night once again, qualifying six pacers through tonight’s semis. His three-year-old Spiritwriter drew the pole in the males’ division and that brings him right into contention.   Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Fillies Final Barrier Draw 1: Whirily School 2: Ideal Lifestyle 3: Kalinda 4: Platinum Power (em) 5: Just Wantano 6: Nikkibadwagon 7: Flojos Gold 8: Rockstar Angel 9: Alessa 10: Celebrity Guest 11: Rocknroll Magic 12: Rockabella Starz 13: Champagne Taste Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts & Geldnigs Final Barrier Draw 1: Spiritwriter 2: Battle Born 3: Soho Tribeca 4: Iceenothink 5: Keep On Rocking 6: Senor Macray 7: Brallos Pass 8: Herehecomes 9: Professor Tom 10: Showgun Thomas 11: Illawong Maestro 12: Dont Hold Back 13: Carter Bromac ..................................................................................................................................................................................... Advantage Sundons Courage and Princess Phoenix after the three-year-old trotters' barrier draws for the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Drawn on Friday night amid the pacers' semi-finals, Sundons Courage drew the front row in the colts and geldings and fellow heat winner Cruisin Around will start from barrier eight, while Sky Majesty will start from barrier 12 in the fillies, opening the door further for her rivals. The three-year-old fillies semi-final promises to be an evenly fought and engaging final, with several winning hopes. Among them is Princess Phoenix, a $1.80 favourite in the second heat at Bendigo last Wednesday, who led but was beaten into third by winner Into The Unknown, from Donna Lewis’ Toolern Vale stable, and Geoff Webster’s Rift Valley. The first heat was all about Sky Majesty (Skyvalley/Mystic Hush). Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan was rapt with her filly’s heat win, which she said was one of her “best runs to date”. The 12m victory came after she found the front and careered away, and Sky Majesty should be right in the final despite the tough draw. “I was very happy with her heat,” Quinlan said. “She’s a good chance. There’s not a lot of difference between the horses in the grade, it is pretty even. “(Sky Majesty) can sit and sprint. She is not a class above them, but I think they have all come back to each other.” The three-year-old colts and geldings final also promises much, not the least of which is another showdown between Cruisin Around (Bacardi Lindy/Cloud Chaser) and Sundons Courage. Both won their heats, with Sundons Courage (Sundon/Truscott Photo) a 1.6m winner for Muckleford trainer Chris Angove and Bolinda driver Chris Alford, with Brent Lilley’s $34-shot Kyvalley Tinman running into second. Cruisin Around’s win was even tighter. Driven to one-out one-back by Myrniong’s Greg Sugars, Cruisin Around lost touch with front runners Calder Knight and Big Jack Hammer at the final bend but wound up sufficiently in the straight to win by a short half-head. Bannockburn trainer-driver Geoff Webster’s three-year-old Big Jack Hammer (The Press/Running Pinevale) punched on for second in the breeze and will be a threat come next Friday’s final, says Cranbourne’s Michael Hughes, trainer of Cruisin Around. “There are three or four really good horses,” Hughes said. “(Cruisin Around) has always had a ding-dong battle with Sundons Courage. Big Jack Hammer looked back on song, and a few others are also a chance. It will all come down to who has the best luck.” Hughes’ confidence about his own charge’s horse were only emboldened with Cruisin Around’s heat win. “I think he went pretty good. I was a little worried when he lost ground at the top of the straight, but he did a good job to pick them up in such a quick quarter,” Hughes said. “I give him a really good chance as long as he does everything right. The horse is really good, feels really good, there are no issues. He is a good sit-sprinter, but has also done it the tough way and led before.”   Barrier draws: Three-year-old colts and geldings trotters 1: Kyvalley Tinman 2: Skyflyer 3: Big Jack Hammer 4: Calder Knight 5: Sundons Courage 6: Cargerie 7: Sun Valley Road 8: Cruisin Around 9: Diamond Wes (emg) 10: Sky Me A River 11: Menewa 12: Shetland  13: Imahe Man (ODM)   Barrier draws: Three-year-old fillies trotters 1: Aldebaran Eve 2: Never Never Land (emg) 3: Princess Phoenix 4: Mizurri 5: Defence Power 6: Into The Unknown 7: The Cooler 8: Tension Seeker 9: Getthenet 10: Illawong Bliss 11: Rift Valley 12: Sky Majesty 13: Scottish Sardius (ODM) Michael Howard/Cody Winnell

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