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Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. is delighted to be reunited with talented harness racing pacer The Bucket List, who looks a star bet at Gloucester Park on Friday night, despite starting from the back mark of 40 metres in the 2503m Book A Private Box Handicap. Hall has driven the New Zealand-bred eight-year-old only once --- 504 days ago when he brought the 14/1 chance home with a spirited burst from sixth at the bell to finish second to the 5/1 on favourite Hectorjayjay in a 2536m heat of the Interdominion championship at Gloucester Park on December 2, 2016. Hall replaces the Michael Brennan-trained gelding’s regular reinsman Michael Grantham, who is recovering from a broken hand. Grantham was in the sulky when The Bucket List smashed superstar Im Themightyquinn’s track record for a 2503m stand with a runaway victory by more than eight lengths from the pacemaker The Real Nadal last Friday week. The Bucket List started off the 20m mark and revealed sparkling speed when he took off three wide from last in a field of ten 750m from home, surged to the front at the 300m mark and rated 1.57.1 which lowered Im Themightyquinn’s record rate of 1.57.9 set when he started from 30m and ran on from tenth in the middle stages to beat Christopher Three by three lengths on July 23, 2010. The Bucket List, who has raced 91 times for 21 wins, 24 seconds and 11 thirds for stakes of $408,301, has a remarkable record in standing-start events. He had 39 starts in New Zealand for eight wins and 16 placings. Seven of those starts were in stands for three wins and three placings. In Western Australia The Bucket List has contested 16 standing-start races for eight wins, five seconds, two thirds and one fourth. That means that he has had 23 starts in stands for 11 wins, ten placings, one fourth and one sixth. Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive frontmarker The Real Nadal, said that the gelding, trained at Serpentine by Amber Sparks, has close to returning to the winning list. “The Real Nadal ran a good race when he led and finished second to The Bucket List at his most recent start,” Suvaljko said. “But The Bucket List beat him pretty easily. However, The Real Nadal meets The Bucket List on 20m better terms.” Tommy Be Good (30m) and Importer Exporter (20m) should be prominent, along with The Real Nadal. Tommy Be Good warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when he finished full of running to win easily from All The Whispers and Red Hot Roxy in a 2150m mobile trial at Byford on Sunday morning. He dashed over the final 400m in 27.5sec. Importer Exporter, trained at Oakford by Chris Winston, is a capable standing-start performer who impressed when he raced in fifth position before finishing strongly to win the 2902m Easter Cup from Bettors Fire and Runrunjimmydunn last Friday fortnight. A new drive for Hall will be behind the Nathan Turvey-trained Carter Micheal, who will start out wide at barrier No. 7 in a field of nine in the final event, the TABtouch --- The Brand That Funds The Industry Pace. Carter Micheal, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old who has won at 12 of his 31 starts, is sure to be a short-priced favourite. But he is certainly far from being a good thing after disappointing efforts when a beaten favourite at each of his past three starts. Carter Micheal, a 2/1 on fancy at Narrogin last Saturday night, set a dawdling early pace, with opening quarters of the final mile in 31.6sec. and 30.7sec. before covering the final sections in 28.4sec. and 28.6sec. He was overhauled 25m from the post by McArdles Gem, who finished fast after enjoying a perfect sit behind the pacemaker. Carter Michael has had 25 starts in Western Australia for 11 wins and seven placings. But his nine appearances at Gloucester Park have produced no wins and just three placings. His chief opposition is likely to come from Walkabout Creek, Shes Artful and Shardons Rocket. Walkabout Creek (barrier one) and Shes Artful (No. 2) possess good gate speed and are capable frontrunners. The 13-year-old Shardons Rocket will start from the outside barrier and will have admirers at his 360th start after his sound second to Raffaello after racing in the breeze last Friday night. Ken Casellas

This Friday evening will see the 2018 edition of the Lizzie of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars Drivers Series wrap up at Alexandra Park. Fittingly held alongside the triple header Group One meeting at Alexandra Park, the Lizzie of Rosslands challenge will find the winner of the 2018 Kidz Kartz Driver of the Year, showcasing the tremendous growth and contribution Kidz Kartz is making to harness racing nationwide. The annual series sees 12 drivers from New Zealand and Australia compete over six races at Cambridge and Alexandra Park. The competitors and their clubs are: Isabella Cassar age 15 (Newcastle Maitland, Australia), Jake Bigeni age 14 (Penrith Nepean, Australia), Zev Meredith age 15 (Franklin), Lillian Bouzaid age 17 (Taranaki), Kendra Rogers age 12 (Waikato), Sophie Woodhouse age 15 (Otago), Natasha Kyle age 16 (Southland), Sam Thornley age 16 (Canterbury), Navana McLachlan age 14 (Kumeu), Nathan Darby age 14 (Franklin), Katelyn Veacock age 13 (Kumeu) and Jordyn Bublitz age 14 (Waikato). The first round of heats were held at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday night, with ponies provided of similar abilities from the Northern Kidz Kartz clubs. The results of the first heats were: Race 1 – 1st Zev Meredith; 2nd Nathan Darby; 3rd Sam Thornley Race 2 – 1st Sam Thornley; 2nd Jake Bigeni; 3rd Jordyn Bublitz Three further heats will be held at Alexandra Park, and presentations to the winner will be made afterwards. This year will be the final time the series will be known as the “Lizzie Of Rosslands Series” with the new name next year to be the “Kerry and Helen Hoggard Memorial Rising Stars Drivers Series”. The Hoggard family have been supporters of the series and Kidz Kartz from the very start and Marilyn Hoggard feels now would be a good time to change the series name to remember the contribution that her late husband Kerry and daughter Helen made. Kerry was one of the most widely respected and enthusiastic supporters of harness racing in New Zealand and raced stock under the Rosslands Stud banner with Marilyn and Helen. He was also heavily involved with HRNZ Board. Helen loved harness racing and was a keen student of the stud book. She was very involved in the selection of yearlings which included former Jewels winner, Lizzie Maguire. Helen was a big supporter of Kidz Kartz and generously purchased a pony for Franklin Kidz Kartz in Cossack, who is still racing today with the club. Kidz Kartz would also like to thank their other generous sponsors during the series: Dunstan Feeds, Breckon Farms, Kendayla Park, Chaff Chaps, Woodlands Stud, Taranaki Kidz Kartz, Tui Ribbons, PhotoForce Photography – with further thanks to Alexandra Park and the Alexandra Park starting crew, Cambridge Raceway and their starting crew, Aaron White and Magness Video ltd. Good luck to all competitors, and well done to our Kidz Kartz clubs nationwide for the hard work and dedication given to supporting our next generation of industry participants. For more information please visit the Lizzie Of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars 2018 page on Facebook.   HRNZ Marketing  

Smart New Zealand-bred harness racing five-year-old El Jacko still has difficulty in negotiating the final bend in his races at Gloucester Park, but he has the class to overcome this wayward habit and win the 2130m Book Your Next Conference at Gloucester Park Pace on Friday night. The Skye Bond-trained El Jacko will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line and Ryan Warwick is likely to adopt similar tactics he used last Friday night by using the gelding’s gate speed to forge forward in the early stages in a bid for the lead or to race outside the pacemaker. Last week El Jacko raced three wide early and then outside the pacemaker Courage To Live before taking the lead 450m from home. He was still in front approaching the home turn, but began to hang in and went inside some marker pegs before being overhauled in the final 110m by Whozideawasthis and finishing a 4m second to that pacer. Hardest for El Jacko (a winner at 13 of his 29 starts) to beat is likely to be Arthur Lowe, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young from barrier two on the back line. Arthur Lowe, trained by Nathan Turvey, was restrained from barrier eight in a 2536m event last Friday night when he impressed in finishing strongly from ninth at the bell to be second to Futurist. McArdles Gem also will have admirers after his victory over Carter Micheal at Narrogin last Friday night when he sat behind the pacemaking Carter Micheal before finishing with a strong burst. Warwick will start the program on Friday night with new drives from outside the Bond stable. He will handle Tisadream from the favourable barrier two in the opening event and The Spinster from barrier five in race two. He will drive Tisadream for Capel trainer Andrew de Campo in the Book Into the $50 Beau Rivage Buffet Special Pace, with the handy four-year-old resuming after a three-month absence. Tisadream, who finished third to stablemate Handsandwheels in the WA Derby in April 2017, is capable of a bold first-up showing. However, Aiden de Campo gave punters a valuable lead by opting to drive stablemate The Accumulator from barrier eight. The Accumulator started from the No. 9 barrier in the Clarke final last Friday night and maintained his excellent form when he was last in the middle stages and sustained a strong three-wide burst from seventh at the bell to finish fourth behind Whozideawasthis. This followed The Accumulator’s splendid second to El Jacko the previous week when he fought on grandly after racing without cover. The Accumulator is expected to vie for favouritism with The Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Willoughby, who looks an excellent chance from the favourable No. 3 barrier on the front line. Lord Willoughby Was buried in eighth position at the bell before flashing home to finish third to Whozideawasthis and El Jacko last Friday night. Ken Casellas

Shannon Suvaljko, the State’s leading harness racing driver, is looking forward to driving smart three-year-olds Our Angel of Harlem and Golden State at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he gives both Mike Reed-trained pacers excellent prospects of winning. Our Angel of Harlem is drawn awkwardly at barrier six on the front line in the 2130m Bridal Expo at Gloucester Park Pace, a prelude of the WA Oaks in which she faces a strong challenge from Liberty Rose, who has drawn the coveted No. 1 barrier. “From the inside draw, Liberty Rose is probably the one to beat,” Suvaljko said. “However, Our Angel of Harlem is versatile. We have a few options; she can lead, sit or breeze. And she’s spot on for the grand final (the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 4).” Our Angel of Harlem won an Oaks prelude last Friday night when she started from the outside of the back line, settled at the rear and dashed forward after 900m to race outside the pacemaker Amelias Courage before getting to the front 80m from the post and winning by a neck from Amelias Courage, with Lady De la Renta in third place. She sprinted home over the final 400m in 27.5sec. and rated 1.58.1 over the 2536m journey. Friday night’s 2130m event will pose no great problems for Our Angel of Harlem, but Suvaljko said that the filly’s favourite distance was 2536m. “That’s her best distance; it gives her time to relax,” he said. Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. spoke with confidence about Liberty Rose’s chances on Friday night, saying that the filly was talented and tough and that he was confident she would set the pace and prove very hard to catch. The New Zealand-bred Liberty Rose won impressively at Pinjarra and Gloucester Park at her first two starts in Western Australia before a broken carrier strap forced Gary Hall jun. to retire her mid-race in last week’s event won by Our Angel of Harlem. The Michael Brennan-trained Miss Sangrial will have admirers and should run a bold race after she had no luck in last week’s prelude when she was cast back in the field behind a tiring runner in the final circuit. Miss Sangrial, to be driven by Chris Lewis, will start and should enjoy a perfect passage behind the expected pacemaker Liberty Rose. The Colin Brown-trained and driven Amelias Courage should clinch a start in the Oaks final with another stout-hearted performance. She will start from barrier five on the front line and should be in a prominent, forward position throughout. Golden State will start out wide at barrier eight in a field of nine in the www.gloucesterpark.com.au Pace over 2130m spoke with confidence about the New Zealand-bred colt’s prospects in an event which is likely to be dominated by Golden State, his stablemate Bechers Brook and the Aiden Warwick-trained Sweet N Fast. Golden State began brilliantly from barrier eight in the 2536m WA Derby last Friday week and he set a solid pace before wilting in the final stages to finish eighth behind King of Swing. He was an all-the-way winner over 2130m two starts before that. “Golden State doesn’t have to lead,” Suvaljko said. “He’s probably better if you don’t have to use him from out there (barrier eight). There’s nothing between him and Bechers Brook and most of the time Golden State can beat Bechers Brook over 2130m.” Bechers Brook, who will again be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green, should prove hard to beat, even from the outside barrier (No. 9). He was most impressive in the WA Derby when he charged home, six wide, from 11th on the home to finish a head second to King of Swing. Adding considerable interest to the race will be the appearance of Christian Cullen gelding Sweet N Fast, who will be driven by Aldo Cortopassi for trainer Aiden Warwick. Sweet And Fast possesses good gate speed and there is a strong chance he could be set alight in the early stages. His four WA starts have produced three wins and a second placing. Ken Casellas

In flight now back to the States, I have the opportunity to share additional observations and thoughts about the Down Under racing scene stemming from my month long Harness Racing related travels throughout New Zealand and Australia. While this has probably been about my fifteenth Down Under trip in the last eighteen years, the pace of Industry change is staggering and the challenges confronting the Down Under racing scene daunting. Both the general malaise felt by most North American industry participants, and the general negativity of crucial North American Industry trends, are evident Down Under. While the symptoms may differ, the underlying problem of relevancy in a new competitive environment seems to be afflicting the Industry worldwide. Lack of parimutuel handle, long a North American Harness Racing problem outside of the Meadowlands and Woodbine/Mohawk, is increasingly a problem. Down Under Corporate bookmaking companies like Betfair have taken huge amounts out of parimutuel pools, and fixed odds betting is now the pre-eminent vehicle for most significant wagers. This impacts both the Industry's bottom line and the ability of tracks to offer viable on site wagering. The Down Under structure of racing is totally different from ours, with Governmental, regulatory, and track management following a completely different model, but the siphoning off of betting dollars to these Corporates is threatening Down Under racing as off shore and on line betting is diverting North American wagering dollars from Industry and Governmental coffers. In this regard, New Zealand's new Minister in charge of racing has recently announced the hiring of a prominent Aussie Thoroughbred breeder and administrator to assess New Zealand's business model with an eye toward aligning all functional aspects to better regulate, coordinate, and optimize New Zealand's three breed racing industry. This is a much needed outreach, and all reports indicate that the individual chosen has a proven track record on point, but I think that an opportunity to really reassess NZ's industry structure looking at all global alternatives is being missed. The Aussie structure is very similar to that of NZ, and optimization might well require a fresh look at all alternatives. I am also concerned by the lack of a Harness Racing advocate in the mix, as Thoroughbred interests have a long history of structuring everything to suit their interests, often to the detriment of Harness Racing  interests. Just look at the fact that SKY/TAB still block international simulcasting of Down Under Harness Racing into the North American market while blithely saturating North America with Thoroughbred product! Hopefully, the speed with which one person can propose necessary changes will outweigh the dangers of Thoroughbred parochialism and lack of a comprehensive, globally focused analysis. Both in Australia and New Zealand, the Harness Racing industry is suffering from the effects caused by their lack of control of their own product. That is potentially a fatal flaw that, thankfully, we have not yet let happen in North America! The tracks have had all their simulcast/streaming rights assigned by contract to Sky/Tab. To be fair, the complicated Down Under racing income model has some compensating pluses - such as participation in income streams generated by other breeds and from sports betting - but they have become a supplier of racing product to a behometh that values only quantity of product supplied for wagering. As a result, race quality, programming quality, and international marketing opportunities suffer significantly. I spent a few evenings watching races on SKY and I could not believe how boring, annoying, and frightening the experience was! There was basically no race commentary, no interesting interviews or discussions, no soul at all..just wall to wall racing with dog, harness, and thoroughbred races immediately back to back. There is no concern to promoting racing, only to creating gambling addicts, which should be alarming to all! In the old days, many of the Down Under tracks, like many of ours' in North America still do, had really interesting programming of their races. That is totally gone now! A very interesting development is in play in NZ, where it appears the sale of PGG auction operations to NZ Bloodstock is in the works. There is a perceptive article on this subject on Harnesslink, suggesting that the harness industry, itself, should take over direct ownership and control of industry auctions as a means of keeping within the industry the approximately NZ$800,000 to a million dollars of net profit that these sales would generate to a lean, well run operator. The article suggests, and I agree, that these monies could provide a significant cash infusion to an industry in dire need of just that. In the short term, with good management and creativity, there is no reason that Alexandra Park and Addington could not take over operation of these sales to be held on site at their tracks. In North America, Hanover shoe farm's' brilliant strategic move in running the world famous Harrisburg yearling sale has been a major economic boon accelerating their ability for growth and investment. Both in Australia and New Zealand the industry would probably be wise to go in house with auctions! A few thoughts on various points....the best Down Under horses are now AT LEAST as good as North America's best! Absolutely no question about that! And they achieve this without the kind of veterinary support that we have....creating a truly international pacing championship race would make real sense now! It would need a huge purse ($)1 million, travel and quarantine solutions, big publicity, and be at the right time of the year (probably October/November). And it would probably be best raced every two years, alternating between hemispheres. Not easy, but this is the type of event that could be thoroughbred-like in its' popularity and global marketability. North American tracks should take a page from their Down Under cousins by having a special "birdcage" or room, where the track hosts (and toasts) winning owners after each race. They also supply a flash drive of the race, champagne, great conversation, and small, but nice, gifts! A gesture to owners worth it's weight in gold! Victorian racing is hamstrung by its' economic pressures resulting from years of poor management. They carry $28 million in debt and lost about $1.5 million last year. As a result, they hired a turn around specialist from outside the industry, and David Martin is delivering! Racing Victoria is slightly profitable this year. Amazing, as without corrective action, losses this year would've been in excess of $3 million! Sadly, because of racing's strange business model in Australia, this turn around was accomplished thru creation of more races at the expense of smaller fields and less interesting racing. Good for the short term bottom line, bad for racing long term, a fact realized by Mr. Martin. But to get to tomorrow, today has to be survived, and Mr. Martin has travelled throughout Victoria trying to explain the current state of affairs and the reasons behind Victorian racing strategy. This effort is admirable, and I sense that he is building a lot of good will even from those who don't like the remedy he is pushing. We need far more of our Industry leaders Down Under and in North America to follow suit. Racetrack owners and top management need to get out of the Board Room and communicate/interact with all elements of the Industry. There is no other way for our industry's administrators to understand the emotions and problems at play, and to hear the breadth of opinions they need to encounter to chart the right course. Too many of our leaders hide in ivory towers, oblivious to the thoughts, perceptions, and concerns - as well as opportunities - that are apparent to just about everyone else in the industry! What our industry needs everywhere is PASSION! It transforms, it motivates, and it is contagious! And racing's doldrums have eviscerated passion. Our leaders would sometimes be better served to make passionate mistakes than impassionate, reasoned decisions. Ours' must be an industry of passion, it is the only model enabling survival! On this front, I was extremely impressed with the Directors of Alexandra Park, Menangle, and Penrith. They are present most, if not all, nights when the tracks race. They are well dressed, pay attention to detail, are welcoming and observant. They are lifetime lovers of the game and they care! It was their real passion for the sport and their job that impressed me, their hospitality was a mere by product of that. Throughout this trip I met an incredible array of trainers, owners, drivers, grooms, agents, administrators,and racing officials....it was one of my most pleasant and enlightening trips! I could continue with quite a few additional observations, but perhaps on reflection I will at a later date. And, oh yes, I spent a lot of time with the almost twenty pacers and trotters that I have Down Under (with my cousin, Marc), and with our three trainers Down Under...and loved (almost) every minute of it! Gordon Banks

The life of a standardbred horse after harness racing commitments will take centre stage at Horsham Harness Racing Club's 2018 Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Nine-time winning pacer Kenny Trickem and former accomplished trotter Waikare Aristocrat have made a seamless transition to a new career under saddle and will appear at The Weekly Advertiser Pacing Cup celebration as ambassadors for Harness Racing Victoria's Harness Education and Rehoming, HERO, program. Cup patrons will have an up-close-and-personal opportunity to meet both horses as part of a new promotion called 'Pat Your HERO'. Waikare Aristocrat, 'Toff', has been involved with HERO since its inception. The 10-year-old trotting-bred gelding notched 15 wins for $124,160 in stakes from 69 race starts and worked his way down to metropolitan class before retiring in July 2015. He now regularly attends country cup and feature race meetings. HERO program manager Tanya McDermott, whose family bred and raced the son of Safely Kept, said the gelding thrived on human attention and demonstrated the renowned standardbred temperament "Toff is a people horse but has a special affinity with children," she said. "He likes nothing better than getting out and about and has travelled to all parts of the state to promote HERO. "He is also an accomplished show performer and enjoys trail and recreational rides. When he's not working for HERO, he is an excellent nanny, babysitting his yearling niece." The other HERO horse in Horsham, Kenny Trickem, was a favourite of trainer Luke Bryant's stable and has recently completed his re-education for riding under the care of Warren Cochrane at Cobe Lodge. Ms McDermott said Kenny Trickem, the son of Stonebridge Regal, last raced in September 2017 and was now available for sale to a loving forever home. She added that the horse had a magnificent nature and was 'very' laid back under saddle. "Kenny is a gem. His racing owners were passionate about finding him the perfect life after racing opportunity and he will be the ultimate trail-riding companion for his new owner," she said. "He is so entirely relaxed and loves to get out in the bush. Not much happens in a rush in Kenny's world, he epitomises the standardbred temperament we all love." Now in its third year, HERO is designed to create positive pathways for standardbred horses exiting racing, catering for horses that had ended their career and others that fail to make it to the track. "HERO works directly with the harness-racing industry, its breeders, owners, trainers and drivers," Ms McDermott said. "The program's focus is the facilitation of opportunities for standardbreds to transition from training to appropriate long-term retirement homes, primarily as ridden or pleasure harness horses. "Since HERO's inception, the support from all sectors of the harness-racing community has been extraordinary, not only those involved with the hands-on care and training of horses, but also sponsors, administrators and the like. "As a result, more standardbreds than ever before are placed into loving life after racing homes, which is a very satisfying outcome. "With the financial support of both HRV and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, we are providing tangible financial and practical support for retrainers and heightening the profile of standardbreds who make amazing pleasure horses after their racing life has concluded." People seeking further information about the HERO program can visit www.hrvhero.com.au, email hrvhero@hrv.org.au or phone 0407 413 156 during business hours.   TANYA McDERMOTT

An Australian gambler was able to parlay A$1,600 (US$1,245) into an incredible A$56,000 (US$43,000) after pulling off an upset win during a horserace in February 2013. While he basked in his winnings and the attention he received after the long-shot victory, some began quietly questioning how it was possible. The truth has finally come out, with the gambler among 78 looking at charges of fraud. Edward Ridgway was the prophet who foresaw Alma’s Fury winning the race that day. The track was wet, which always resulted in a poor performance by the horse. Always, except for one race. That win unleashed an investigation that uncovered a history of fraudulent bets. All of the bets were perpetrated by the same individual, Stephen Charles Fletcher, who was already in hot water for receiving insider information in various gambling activities, according to The Sydney Morning Herald report. Fletcher was first introduced to authorities in 2006 after he and his betting partner, Eddie Hayson, had won millions wagering on a rugby match. Authorities accused the pair of learning prior to the match that a key player wouldn’t be on the field due to an injury, and used the information to enter their bets. Both Fletcher and Hayson denied the allegations, and there wasn’t enough proof for a conviction. However, Fletcher was subsequently banned from gambling. From September 2012 to March 2013, Fletcher used the identities of 77 individuals, including police officers, to continue his betting activities, according to the report. He has been shown to have been behind bets placed at a number of horserace tracks around Australia, and also in Hong Kong and Singapore. In one instance, he used Ridgway’s account in a horserace in Hong Kong, turning US$233 into US$13,774. In February 2013, Fletcher made 28 bets under the names of others in racing events ranging from greyhounds in Western Australia to harness racing in Penrith. Former police officers Senior Constable Marc Smith and Senior Constable Tony Williams were also caught up in the investigation. The duo face charges for soliciting fellow officers to join in on the fraud. It has been determined that Williams met Fletcher through the latter’s friend, Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, who is also under investigation. Fletcher has now been charged with 78 counts of “dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.” Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in an Aussie prison. Knowing his propensity for using others’ identities, authorities will probably want to make sure it’s really him before sending him away. By Erik Gibbs Reprinted with permission of Calvinayre.com site

A local builder has run away with a $2.7 million post-auction deal on a rundown 1890s Ascot Vale racing stable complex. Goodwood, at 42 Myross Ave, was once home to late harness-racing trainer and driver William “Bill” Davin for 60 years. The property was quoted at $2.5 million-$3 million, but John Paul Kavanagh, and his wife Erin, were the only ones to raise their hands at the auction of the 1336sq m block on Whiskey Hill, which comprised an original heritage-listed home and nine stables. A string of harness-racing champions were housed in the stables, including eight Hunter Cup winners and three-time winner of “the Melbourne Cup of harness-racing”, the Inter Dominion, Our Sir Vancelot.   Nelson Alexander Ascot Vale’s Michael Keogh said while he didn’t plan to buy horses — let alone harness-racing champions — for the stables anytime soon, he hoped to renovate the home. “We live just around the corner and we’d been looking for a bigger block in the area, but they’re aren’t too many of them around,” he said. “I’d been keeping a bit of an eye on this property though and I’ve met with heritage advisers so I know what we can and can’t do to the home.” By Charlotte Durut Reprinted with permission of news .com.au  

Maori Time is the fifth entrant into Sweden’s famed Elitloppet as Australia bursts back on to harness racing’s European stage. The much-anticipated invitation was received overnight, which will see Maori Time leave Australia’s shores on May 9 to contest the May 27 Elitloppet at Stockholm’s famed Solvalla race track. Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the invitation was a great result for connections and the Victorian trotting gait. “It is a terrific feather in the cap for all to have a horse considered good enough to make that trip,” Mr Kelly said. “This is not a small adventure to be undertaken by connections and by Maori Time herself.” Owner and breeder Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley have both long awaited the invitation, which was pursued soon after Maori Time produced an Australian record smashing 1:51.5 mile rate when saluting at Menangle on February 24. She will be the first Australian-trained horse to make the trip since Sundons Gift ran sixth in his heat in the 2009 Elitloppet. “It’s a very short and elite list,” Mr Kelly said of Australia’s Elitloppet entrants. “It’s the most famous race in Scandinavia if not Europe. “Fans from all over attend the day, they paint their faces and dress in their traditional grab to make the most of the day. The horses are very well known in that part of the world and have their own fan clubs.” Maori Time is only the fifth horse to have been invited for the May 27 race day, which features two heats into a final. The eight-year-old by Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna joins other invitees Readly Express (Sweden), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland), Bold Eagle (France) and Propulsion (Sweden). Her exposure on the world stage further reinforces Australia’s trotting wealth and strengthens European bonds. “It’s important not only to be sharing our racing product to Europe but that people realise the bloodstock talent that exists in Australia and that Europeans may want to invest in Australia as well,” Mr Kelly said. “It is a great opportunity to showcase some of our bloodlines. The wagering on our racing is bubbling along really well in Europe and those in Sweden are really interested in our product.” Trots Media - Michael Howard READ: ELITLOPPET A TRIP OF A LIFETIME, FRED CREWS TOLD THETROTS.COM.AU

AT last there is some great news in pacing’s open-class ranks. It’s a tough few months with horses like Vincent retiring, stars like Heaven Rocks and Have Faith In Me leaving our shores and questions marks on Lazarus’s racing future. But one of the sport’s absolute stars, the brilliant Hectorjayjay, is just weeks away from a comeback. The millionaire pacer hasn’t raced since sustaining a suspensory ligament injury after the biggest and best win of his career in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 15. Managing-owner Matt McLellan hopes Hectorjayjay could be back to defend that title. “It’s been a long road, but we are getting to the business end now,” he said. “He’s had PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment, a full body scan and several extra targeted scans, four different vets go over him and eight months of rehab. “The past few months he’s been with Peter Clarke on the water-walker. “He’s been back in work for three weeks, will have another month with Peter and then head to the stables to decide when he can race again. “I’d love to think he’ll be back for a few lead-up runs in Victoria and then head to Queensland, but that’s the aim more than anything definite.” Champion driver Gavin Lang will be Hectorjayjay’s new trainer, mainly because he is Melton-based and much closer to McLellan’s home. “This horse is special to me and I want to see him regularly. I’ve had a long association with Gavin, he knows this horse so well and he’s 45mins from my place rather than two hours or so to David (Aiken’s) stables,” McClellan said. “David has done such a fantastic job with the horse, but this is last roll of the dice with Hectorjayjay and there are no guarantees he will make it back. The signs are good, but I want to be close to him to see him often as I can and stay right across his progress. “I also want to give special mention to the huge input Josh Aiken and Kima Frenning had when the horse was at the Aiken stable.” Lang has driven Hectorjayjay 12 times for eight wins – including the 2016 Group 1 Len Smith Mile and Group 2 Sunshine Sprint – three seconds and a luckless fifth. Hectorjayjay’s record sits at 79 starts for 42 wins, 21 placings and $1,143,907 in stakemoney.   Adam Hamilton

Harness racing trainer-driver Paul Fidge is hoping the win of Gus Or Bust at Globe Derby Park on Saturday is finally a change of fortune. Fidge, who has a good strike rate with his small team of horses, admits he was “cheesed off” earlier in the year. “Nothing was going right, with viruses and injuries and it all came to a head on SA Cup night,” Fidge said. “I bought two horses to the track and they were both pre-race scratchings and I thought I’ve had enough so I took a bit of a break. “Gus Or Bust is the only horse I have in work at the moment but Pocketfullofcash is due back this week and Dontsayawordmajor will be join him shortly.” Fidge showed his delight at being back in the winner’s list on Saturday with a traditional short whip wave. Gus Or Bust, specked from $13 into $11.60, came off a 20-metre handicap to score a 2-1/2 metre win from Sun Valley Road ($5.50) with The Dutchman ($44.80), four metres away third. “I could not have asked for a better run,” Fidge said. “There was a strong early tempo which ensured the leaders would tire late, then Sun Valley Road made a run going into the back and took me right into the race. “Gus Or Bust has a good sprint so I sat and waited before letting him stride in the home straight and he quickly went to the front.” Fidge said the six-year-old would now head to Port Pirie for the $8000 Kadina Trotters Cup (1609m) on Friday, April 27, a race he won last year. “He sat parked last year to win with Ken Rogers in the sulky. He is not the type of horse to do it tough but over the short trip he was okay.” Fidge said star trotter Pocketfullofcash had recovered from issues which had plagued him last preparation and hopefully could recapture his best form. Borrelli's a Fine Artist Veteran South Australian trainer-driver Peter Borrelli returned to the winner’s list when Fine Artist led throughout to win the BGC Industrial Cleaning Supplies Pace (1800m) at Globe Derby Park. After being headed early in the home straight, Fine Artist ($6) fought back to score a half head win from Clarenden Valour ($1.70 fav) with Sumarian Artist ($17.50), a neck away third. “It is good to finally have another Globe Derby win,” Borrelli said. “It has been a while – I actually can’t remember my last win here although I did drive Grinfaron to win at Mildura last month. “I have been letting Jayden (Jayden Brewin) drive Fine Artist a lot of the time – I think it is good to encourage the young drivers – but decided to do it myself tonight. “Actually, I nearly had a double as Grinfaron went really well in the opening race but just found Santa Madre too strong.” Borrelli said he was confident Fine Artist was a promising three-year-old. “He has been racing okay but is still learning. Tonight, he was able to lead and dictate and I knew he would be hard to beat. “He doesn’t give up and even though he got headed wasn’t going to go down without a fight.” Even though it was only the gelding’s second win, he also has had eight placings from just 19 starts. Borrelli, 76, is South Australia’s oldest driver following the retirement of 82-year-old Alan Smith who didn’t renew his licence this season.   Graham Fischer  

The harness racing Traralgon Pacing Cup will be run for record prizemoney this year. Scheduled for the next harness race meeting at Warragul, on Sunday, June 24, the 2018 edition of the event will be run for $10,000 in prizemoney, a substantial increase on the $7000 stake provided for last year's event. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials expect a strong field of pacers to contest this years event, especially given the increase in prizemoney. The increase has come about because of Harness Racing Victoria's improved financial position, enabling the controlling body to add extra stakes to races statewide in May and June. First staged as the Latrobe Valley Pacing Cup in 1976, the race recognises two decades of trotting at the Glenview Park Racecourse in Traralgon, from 1975 to 1995. The event was reintroduced to the local racing calendar by the Warragul Harness Racing Club in 2006. The previous record stake for the race was $7500, when the race was last staged at Traralgon at the final trots meeting there in November 1995. This year's event will be for two to three win pacers, and should attract strong local entries as several trainers across the region have horses eligible for this class of event. Harness Racing Victoria officials have also seen fit to allocate a $10,000 stake to the Ken Miller Memorial event, to be staged on the same day as the Traralgon Pacing Cup. Three races programmed with $5000 prizemoney on the day will also carry a further $1000 bonus to the winning connections as part of another initiative by Harness Racing Victoria to increase returns to participants during the months of May and June. In a further boost to the sport locally, all remaining meetings at Warragul this year will be staged on Sunday afternoons, in an effort to increase attendances trackside. Further Sunday meetings are planned for July, August and December this year. Harness Racing Victoria officials have adjusted funding arrangements for country trots clubs conducting Sunday afternoon meetings, to help offset the increased cost of casual wages at these events.   Anthony Logan  

The 6TYO Free For All is the feature of tonight’s exciting eight event Launceston Pacing Club harness racing card. Stagger Lee has performed in sensational fashion at its two Tasmanian runs at the track, a first-up second to Isaac in its heat of the Maxfield Drilling Easter Cup after doing all the work and kicking clear at the top of the stretch. In the Cup Final the Maree Caldow-trained Major In Art–Let’s Go Cullen six-year-old gelding ran a gallant third behind the brilliant Harjet and although beaten by 24.3-metres was still putting in strongly on the line. John Caldow has the advantage of drawing four on the front line tonight with Stagger Lee and will no doubt be looking for a softer run than its punishing Easter Cup Series assignments. Isaac (pictured), which ran down Stagger Lee on heat night, has drawn in six and will have the services of Rodney Ashwood. The Juanita McKenzie-trained American Ideal–Twice as Sly eight-year-old gelding put up an unbelievable Heat performance but was disappointing on face-value in the Cup final running eleventh but is more than capable of bouncing back tonight. The Steve Lukac-trained No Spring Secrets is in search of a winning hat-trick but faces a rise in class and a tricky outside front-line draw. The Tell All–Spring Ball six-year-old gelding has claimed some massive scalps of late, defeating Scooterwillrev and 2016 Easter Cup winner Riverboat Jasper with paralysing finishing sprints. The ever consistent Black Centurian, trained by Steven Davis, chased Harjeet home in its Cup Heat before finishing fourth in the Final after being involved in a titanic battle for the placings. Gareth Rattray will have every chance to position the Jr Mint-Mon Poppy Mary eight-year-old gelding precisely where he wants him after the scratching of Scooterwillrev brings him into gate two behind the Tasracing mobile over the 2200-metre journey. Michael Smith's All Style Sammy has drawn the pole and will be handled by Rohan Hillier but takes on the silk department while the grand old campaigner Destreos has his sights set on notching up the magical 1ooth career win for Ken Rattray. Destreos will start from outside the second line from behind the tasracing.com.au mobile but is rated as one of the outsiders in the field of nine at around $33.00 in early markets. Tonights Launceston Pacing Club meeting commences at 17.38 and can be viewed on live stream service at tasracing.com.au. Watch Harjeet demoralise the top hopes in tonight's 6TYO Free-For-All in the Maxfield Drilling Easter Cup. Shane Yates

Aa she has on numerous occasions, harness racing premier horsewoman Emma Stewart made a clean sweep of a race series’ heats at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Appearing to have access to an endless supply of talented pacers, Stewart has dominated qualifiers in recent years, with her stock going on to capture the various Finals, including running quinellas and trifectas! This time around Stewart secured the three Australian Pacing Gold heats, with each of her winners heading into the Group One decider with a perfect record. The $350,000 Final is scheduled to be conducted at Melton on May 5. Winner of his four starts, Centenario led throughout from barrier two to score by 10 metres from Fides, with Soho Thunderstruck a metre-and-a-half away third. “I said before the race he was the stable’s best chance in the heats and it remains the case going into the Final,” Stewart said. “Everything he has done so far has been spot on and he’s getting better with each start. “He’s a very nice type which has a lot going for him.” Driven by Chris Alford, the son of Americal Ideal rated 1:55.4 over 1720 metres, with his time 2.3 seconds quicker than his stablemate, Hurricane Harley. Also driven by Alford, Hurricane Harley began quickly to lead from gate three before accounting for Major Exclusive and Fourbigmen, which is a stablemate of the winner. Successful at his two starts, the colt is expected to be a major improver during his next outing. “He’s got so much raw ability,” Stewart said. “It’s all coming natural to him.” Hardhitter rounded out the APG onslaught when he also set the pace on his way to a two-and-a-half metre win from Arggghhh, with Young Rooster three metres away third. Winner of his two starts, including a 1:54.7 effort upon debut, the son of Mach Three rated 1:58.2. “Like the other two, there is a lot to like about Hardhitter,” Stewart said. “He’s also going to bet better again by the Final.”   APG Media

Here we go again with the Marburg Pacing Association hosting another six race harness racing program at Marburg Showground this afternoon. Fresh from the outstanding support shown to the club by the big crowd and generous sponsors on Easter Sunday, Marburg is looking to the future in a mood of optimism. Gates will be open at 10.30am today with trials followed by racing at 12.30pm. You need to see the first as the "pick six” jackpot will operate on the whole program and is worth $1600 (shared prize) if your crystal ball is on the mark. The lucky gate prize is the $100 betting voucher for the over 18s. The race day will include all the usual features which underpin the MPA operation. That includes great food and drink plus the excitement of close up harness racing action. The MPA will be backing up on Labour Day, Monday May 7, with TAB/ Sky Channel coverage and added attractions. Better format ON the bright side, Marburg's mobile start field size and format have changed for the better. Nine runners (up from eight), in two lines of five and four, will comprise a full field from the starting gate. This means that there is potential for anything up to nine more horses to get racing opportunity on the day. The "seeded” barrier draw will also disappear, and "out of the draw” horses will run from the second line. Key positions ON the integrity front, QRIC is advertising four positions for race day stipendiary stewards. As was mooted some years ago, the QRIC policy is to spread the knowledge with race day operatives to be skilled in control of all three codes. To this end there is a requirement for a cadet, a casual position and a permanent steward. The fourth position is, however, more specific, and calls for a senior stipendiary steward to work in harness. It will be interesting to hear what the ever active rumour mill that is the life and soul of Queensland trotting throws up about this one. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 2-3-5: Ima Grumpy Possum (N McMullen)-Outlaw Fella (G Dixon)-Constantly Sideways (G Whitaker). R2: Quinella 1-8: Black Belt (A Richardson) and Somepartysomewhere (N Dawson). R3: E/w 3: Our Hi Jinx (A Sanderson). R4: Quinella 1-2: Sweet As (D Graham) and Get In The Groove G Dixon). R5: E/w 1: Feel The Faith (T Dixon). R6: E/w 4: Artikulate Miss (G Dixon). R7: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Sams A Champ (T Moffat)-Riverleigh Rocket (M Dux)-Ruato Bay (C Petroff). R8: Quinella 1-2: Sky Larhain (M Elkins) and Fire One (G Dixon). R9: E/w 2: Jessica Amber (G Dixon). R10: Quinella 2-3: Miss Moneybags (G Dixon) and Maywyn No Regrets (L Weidemann). Honour board Highlights were flashing on the driver's side of the leader board with Glamorganvale star Nathan Dawson posting a massive nine wins for the week. By the nature of our scoring procedure, the trainers are somewhat disadvantaged. However, the consistent Fernvale barn of Darrell Graham had horses in victory lane on three occasions. Most pleasing result was two winners, Jack DoubleYou and Proficient for owners Margaret and Rachel Scott. Albion Park, April 6: Somepartysomewhere (Nathan Dawson for Greg Franklin); Subtle Advice (Nathan Dawson for Terry Hancock); Surface To Air (Justin Elkins for Greg Elkins); Slippery Jade (Gary Whitaker for Bill Hancock); Supaliner (Robert Morris for Darrell Graham). Albion Park, April 7: Bettabe Perfect (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin); With Authority ( Narissa John); Another Broadway (Nathan Dawson for Darrell Graham); Call Me Yours ( Darrell Graham for Tess Neaves); Handsome Major (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie). Albion Park, April 10: Proficient (Chris Petroff for Trevor Lambourn); Bettor Be Lucky (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price); Only One Promise (Adam Sanderson for Shannon Price). Redcliffe, April 11: Julia Mac (Nathan Dawson for Kay Crone); Miraclesdoappen (Nathan Dawson for Mark McNee); Western Jewels (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey); Never Haveiever (Nathan Dawson for Ryan Veivers); Jack Double You (Dan Russell); Ivanov (Gary Whitaker for Brad Connelly). Redcliffe, April 12: Barboo (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Writeaboutchelsea (Narrissa McMullen); Truet (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Oyster Stride (Gary Whitaker for Kay Crone); Pale Bear Boo (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Its All Go (Matt Elkins). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

Paul Hill has enjoyed a sensational run over the years training some of the state's top harness racing juveniles. The Old Beach mentor is the man with the Midas touch, last season applying the polish to reigning two-year-old Filly of the Year, Iden Bliss, and three-year-old titleholder Playing Arkabella. Paul is equally at home in the sulky but one of his qualities as a top horseman and trainer is knowing that when one of the leading drivers in the state is available you utilise their talent get the job done. Paul's impressive three-year-old Feelin Dusty is engaged tonight in Hobart in race three, the Roberts Sprint Lane Pace, and he has called upon the services of Hall Of Fame reinsman Ricky Duggan. Duggan has driven the Mr Feelgood-Maybe Elite colt on six occasions for three victories and three placings and will need to be at his best tonight to navigate a successful path after drawing wide on the second line in 11. Last year’s Dandy Patch winner has come back strongly as a three-year-old winning three races this season including a runaway 15-metre victory in Hobart on March 18. “It’s a tricky draw so I will be looking to settle back and assess the race from there if the cards fall our way I’d like to travel into the race with a cart up at the bell, hopefully on the back of Streetside Classic,” said a thoughtful Duggan. “I drove Streetside Classic last time out when he ran fourth to Mister Magic Man in Launceston and he has a lot of ability so I won't be underestimating him and Gareth will more than likely try and find the top with Lead Singer so I’m excepting a very competitive race.” “I wouldn’t be swapping my bloke for anything, he’s a talented colt with plenty of courage, he trialled well earlier in the week and Paul always has him ready to race, he’s only missed a place once in 13 starts and that was when he finished in a different suburb after being knocked out of the race, there are not many pacers with a record like that,” said Ricky with a touch of confidence. Tonight's seven-event Tasmanian Pacing Club card, commencing at 18.08, can be viewed via the live service at tasracing.com.au.   Shane Yates  

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