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Having already toyed with the idea of changing the conditions of their flagship event, the Bankstown Harness Racing Club may have had the decision made for them. Guardians of the M H Treuer Memorial, Bankstown traditionally hosts the Group One in the first week of December. With Racing and Wagering Western Australia announcing they will shift the Inter Dominion to November/December in 2015 an obvious clash will occur with the provincial feature. Unlike other clashes, such as the Miracle Mile and Ballarat Cup, the Truer Memorial won’t be subject to a switch in date. Australasia’s premier sprint, the Miracle Mile has been moved from November to February, with the Ballarat Cup – one of the most popular nights in Victoria – set to return to its original time slot in January. As for Bankstown, club President Les Bentley stated the club will continue to race the Treuer Memorial in December while aiming for lower graded pacers. A former Grand Circuit event, the Treuer Memorial is an open class race staged over 2540 metres, with Washakie boasting a record five wins for trainer John McCarthy. With Australia’s best destined to be competing at Gloucester Park, Bankstown will alter conditions to cater for “up-and-comers.” “We were already looking to change the class of horse we want to attract to the Treuer,” Bentley said. “With the news of the Inter Dominion it fits in quite well for us as the good ones will be in Western Australia. “We’re still considering what class we will make the race, but we want to attract the up-and-comers as we are not getting the Grand Circuit horses anymore.” It’s believed the club will announce the Treuer Memorial is open to M2-M4 pacers soon. “We still want descent metropolitan horses, but those who are on the way up,” Bentley said. “Something like M2 to M4 would be ideal.” Bentley also revealed the club is looking to increase the once high-ranking event to $105,000, having been stagnate on $100,000 for too long. The Treuer Memorial first offered $100,000 in 1986 when won by True Delight before peaking to $198,000 in 1996 when Our Sir Vancelot was triumphant and returning to $100,000 in 1998 when Christian Cullen scored A slight resurgence saw the stake rise to $125,000 for Robin Hood’s victory in 2008 before slipping back to a 22-year low again. “We are hoping to increase the stake to $105,000 in 2015,” Bentley said. PAUL COURTS

Several of harness racing’s major events – including the New Zealand Cup – are on the cards for top pacer For A Reason. Due to return to racing at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the first week of October, For A Reason will have at least one more trial before a firm date is set for the stallion’s first-up run according to trainer Belinda McCarthy. Should all go according to plan, For A Reason will have “two or three runs” before being taken across the Tasman for New Zealand’s premier event. “At this stage he will have another trial at Menangle on Tuesday week before heading to the races the following week,” McCarthy explained. “He is paid up for the New Zealand Cup but whether he goes will depend on his fitness. “Ideally he will have two or three runs here to bring him to his peak then we’ll go over for the Cup and Free-For-All.” While the Shaky Isles’ campaign is yet to be confirmed, McCarthy stated the SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile is a certain target. Australasia’s premier sprint is scheduled to be run at Menangle on November 29. The son of Art Major will then be given a freshen up ahead of his Victoria Cup title defence at Melton on January 31 followed by an Inter Dominion heat three weeks later. “The Miracle Mile is one race we are definitely aiming at,” McCarthy said. “Whether he goes to New Zealand or not, we want him at his best for the Miracle Mile. “He’ll also go south for the Victoria Cup and then head into the Inter Dominion. “He has a long summer ahead.” McCarthy is also set to give former boom pacer Bonavista Bay his first start since March 2013…that appearance, for Western Australian trainer Mike Reed, followed a three-year absence from the track. Retired to stud due to injury, the Group One winner has progressed well this campaign. “He will have another trial, and if he comes through that okay, he will be ready to race,” McCarthy said. “He was sent to us so he can race on Menangle, which should be better on his legs given the wider turns.” Originally trained in Victoria by Emma Stewart, the injury-plagued stallion won 14 of his first 20 starts, with three placings also to his credit. Bonavista Bay’s victories include the Melton Plate, Golden Nugget, Vicbred Final and Ford McInerney Classic. The nine-year-old is poised to make his debut for McCarthy the same time as For A Reason’s return. PAUL COURTS

Lightly-raced trotter Elegant Image will be aimed at some of harness racing’s biggest features this season. Scoring a first-up win at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, Elegant Image will be eased along by trainer Andy Gath, who has earmarked several majors for the son of S J’s Photo. With events such as the Bill Collins Mile and Dullard Cup on the agenda, Gath’s primary target is the Great Southern Star in March. “He has come back in great shape,” Gath said. “He is a first-up specialist, so I expected a very forward showing from him tonight. “At this stage I will race him in the free-for-alls, which are on about every fortnight, as we prepare for the better races close to Christmas. “Long term, I’m looking at the Great Southern Star.” With Gath’s wife, Kate, in the sulky, Elegant Image showed his customary gate speed to find the lead from barrier six as My High Expectations worked at his wheel. Striding clear of the pack along the home straight, the gelding completed a three-and-a-half metre win from El Paco, with Cold Sister three metres away third. “Once he found the front I was pretty confident they wouldn’t run him down,” Gath said. “In the end he did it quite easily. “That run will tighten him up a bit and he will be better again next time around.” PAUL COURTS

Exciting Western Australian pacer Elegant Christian gave notice of bigger harness racing wins to come with his success at Gloucester Park tonight. Having his third run back from a spell for trainer Gary Hall, the four-year-old remains unbeaten this campaign as he works towards the local age-based features in November and December. “He has come back well,” Hall declared. “I’m really happy with his progress and still think there is a bit of improvement in him yet. “All going well he will be racing in the Golden Nugget and McInerney in a couple of months.” Driven by Hall’s reinsman-son Clint, Elegant Christian led throughout from barrier two to account for Bettor Off and Sign In. Rating 1:58.1 for the 2130 metres, the son of Christian Cullen covered the last half in 56.1 seconds. “Once he got to the front he was never going to be run down,” Hall said. “It was a nice easy win for him. “He’ll keep getting better as he goes along and should be able to make his way through the grades without too much fuss.” Since crossing the Tasman, Elegant Christian has registered nine wins from 11 starts, including the Western Gateway Pace and Caduceus Classic. PAUL COURTS

Rising harness racing star Maximan maintained his unbeaten Australian record with a ‘Smoken Up style' victory at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. First-up for seven weeks, Maximan registered his third win for trainer Andy Gath, who is thrilled with the gelding’s performance. Driven by Gath’s reinswoman-wife, Kate, Maximan began brilliantly to lead from barrier six but was given no peace in front as in-form gelding, Exciteusinthecity, applied pressure from the ‘death seat’. Fending off the initial challenge turning for home, the son of Armbro Operative was passed by Cut For An Ace along the sprint lane during the latter stages before fighting back to score by a head. “That was a super run,” Gath said. “He is first-up from a spell and is in need of the hit out. “To be headed like he was and fight back the way he did is pretty impressive. “It was a Smoken Up type performance and if he can be a quarter as good as Smoken Up I’ll be rapt.” Covering the last half in 57 seconds, Maximan rated a slick 1:55.5 for the 2240 metres, taking his record to 12 wins and 12 placings from 34 starts. Citing next month’s Kilmore Cup as the six-year-old’s first major target, Gath believes Maximan can make his way to some of the major races during summer. “I will aim him at the Kilmore Cup via the Nyah Cup,” Gath said. “I’m not sure if he will have a run before then. “I’ll just wait and see how he pulls up.” PAUL COURTS

Spring has officially arrived, which means harness racing’s Grand Circuit is not far away. In fact, the $200,000 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship at Albion Park kicks it all off next month, which also means the big names are starting to warm up for the prized event. And the biggest name in the Sunshine State is Avonnova - the free legged pacer which rocketed his way to the top following a spate of top efforts last season. The former Sydney claimer has been transformed into an equine wrecking ball under the leadership of his owner-trainer Ian Gurney. Since being claimed out of a Goulburn event last October, Avonnova has won 11 of his 19 starts, including nine of his last 12 outings. Amazingly his loses during those dozen runs have been behind Inter Dominion winners Beautide and Im Themightyquinn. The son of Art Major will be first-up at Albion Park on Saturday night and faces a tough task from the outside of the front row. “He’s ready to go again and I’m happy with where he’s at right now,” Gurney said. “He enjoyed his down time and has trained on well in readiness for this campaign. “The two main targets with him will be the QPC followed by the Miracle Mile in Sydney.” Two recent trials at Albion Park indicate Avonnova has returned bigger and better than ever, with the latest effort coming on Tuesday. Avonnova won the 1660-metre hit out by rating a slick 1:54.6, covering the last half in 56.4 seconds. “He probably needed that extra trial this week because he had a good blow afterwards, but he’s very bright and happy within himself, so I’m happy to get his current campaign underway,” Gurney declared. “After speaking with Shane (Graham, driver) following the trial, he’s given me plenty of confidence. He has led in both trials and Shane tells me he felt great, he never pushed him out in either trial and just let him cruise up the straight. “On paper, the draw doesn’t look that good, but the more I look at the field the more I think he’ll be going forward.” CHRIS BARSBY

Top Tasmanian harness racing drivers Ricky Duggan and Gareth Rattray will represent Tasmania in the inaugural Australian Driving Championship. The pair will be among 12 of the nation’s best drivers competing for the title of Australia’s Top Driver in South Australia on October 18. Each state will select two representatives. Just last weekend Duggan was announced the Halwes Medal winner – Tasmania’s highest individual honour. Duggan polled 66 votes – including five at the final meeting of the season - to edge out defending champion Rattray on 63. Rattray was also successful in 2012. Tasracing chief executive Eliot Forbes is confident Duggan and Rattray will perform on the other side of Bass Strait. “Gareth has won the past nine Tasmanian driving premierships, while Ricky has won more feature races than any current driver,” Forbes said. “Ricky also has 1303 wins and is fourth on the all-time list.” Rohan Hiller, who finished second in the driving premiership in 2011/12 and 2012/13, is the emergency. PAUL COURTS

FOLLOWING on from last week’s column launch, Harnesslink presents another ‘Flashback Friday’, written by multiple award-winning journalist PAUL COURTS. If you have any past champions or magical moments you’d like to relive, contact Paul who will be glad to hear from you…enjoy! Memories of one of the most gifted performers to pull a sulky will come to the fore again at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight with the running of the Maori’s Idol Free-For-All. Named in honour of the 1970s superstar, the feature has assembled a solid field headed by American-bred trotter My High Expectations. Racing in sensation form to premier trainer David Aiken, My High Expectations was a first-up winner at the track a fortnight ago in an event named after another former topliner, True Roman. Successful at three of his last four starts, My High Expectations should have no trouble adding to his tally of 31 wins. As stylish and talented as My High Expectations is, even Aiken has to admit the son of Ken Warkentin has a long way to go before he can be compared to the great Maori’s Idol. By Ike Frost from sensational matron Maori Miss, Maori’s Idol was bred, owned and trained by Ric Healy. Making his debut against older horses at Globe Derby in October 1975, the three-year-old lost a conservative 250 metres at the start before racing five-wide during the final stages to win by 15 metres. The youngster ran the last half in a remarkable 59 seconds despite covering more ground than ‘early settlers.’ Maori’s Idol’s exhibition was so impressive it attracted an unheralded $100,000 offer from international interests, which was quickly turned down by Healy. Triumphant at his only other start that season, Maori’s Idol returned at four to win 11 of his 13 starts, including his last four outings. The boom trotter sealed his greatness the following term by winning his next 20 starts to equal Lucky Creed’s national winning sequence record of 24. Included in those victories is his 1:59.3 effort in the Kaiser Stuhl Summer Wine Free-For-All at Moonee Valley to become the first trotter to break two minutes. “Breaking two minutes was his greatest moment,” regular driver, Bryan Healy declared. “It was his first time from the mobile, he missed the start and lost about a second, got a slight check, losing another second, and still broke two minutes after starting out in gate six.” After dominating the season, Maori’s Idol was expected to score a hollow victory in the 1978 Inter Dominion at the Valley, but suffered a shock loss when finishing third to Derby Royale in the Final. Sent for a spell, Maori’s Idol returned later in the year for an ambitious campaign against the nation’s best Grand Circuit pacers in the Sir Clive Uhr Championship – known these days as the Queensland Pacing Championship – at Albion Park. The stallion made a clean sweep of the heats, defeating the likes of Paleface Adios, Roma Hanover and Sammy Karamea. Maori’s Idol’s time in the opening round was 1.2 seconds quicker than fellow winner, Rip Van Winkle. In the second round, the squaregaiter’s rate was again the fastest of the night, an amazing nine-and-a-half seconds quicker than Koala King in the other heat. Finding the lead in the Final, Maori’s Idol was given little peace during the middle stages, but still led the field into the straight before being overpowered Rip Van Winkle to finish second. “His efforts during the Clive Uhr heats were unbelievable,” Healy said. “It was disappointing he didn’t win the Final, but it was no disgrace.” Maori’s Idol then created history when he was declared the 1978 Australian Horse of the Year – the first trotter to win the coveted award. He remains the only trotter on the prestigious award’s honour role! Sent for a spell after his Queensland campaign, Maori’s Idol missed a placing for the first time upon his return when 11th in the Kilmore Cup. After failing to finish in a Free-For-All at the Valley on December 9, 1979, Maori’s Idol was retired. Disheartened the champion wasn’t receiving the patronage he deserved at stud, a problem still facing colonial stallions, Healy decided to put Maori’s Idol back in work. Despite a 32-month absence, Maori’s Idol made light of his 40-metre handicap to score an effortless first-up win at the Valley in a class record 2:07.7. Much to Healy’s dismay, Maori’s Idol became sore in his fetlock - the injury which led to his original retirement - with the horseman sending the champion back to stud. The majestic looking star was retired with 40 wins and four placings from 46 starts for earnings of $98,820. Eight of his victories were against the pacers. Receiving greater respect at stud the second time, Maori’s Idol carried his prowess from the racetrack to the breeding barn to be Australia’s leading trotting sire seven times. Maori’s Idol’s progeny have won numerous features, with his 183 winners earning more than $3.9million, making the ‘Marnoo Marvel’ the most successful trotting sire from this side of the equator. His leading performers include Alabamas Idol, Kimbo, Diggers Idol and Lauries Legacy, Kwik Kiwi, Mighty Maori, Dashing Chief, Sparkling Eyes, Kwik Kiss and Rainbows Idol. While the Maori Dynasty has produced several outstanding trotters, including Inter Dominion winner, Sumthingaboutmaori, Healy said Maori’s Idol will always be at the top of the mantle. “There will never be another one like him,” Healy said. “Even Sumthingaboutmaori isn’t half the horse he was.” In 2000 Maori’s Idol was fittingly voted the Trotter of the Century by a panel of experts. Sadly in October 2006, Maori’s Idol had to be put down at a ripe age of 34 after struggling with illness.

Exciting pacer Beautide has capped off a stellar 2013/14 season by being named Australian Harness Horse of the Year. The gelding was bestowed the top crown by a panel of more than 60 judges, with Harness Racing Australia making the announcement just minutes ago. Trained and driven by James Rattray, Beautide dominated New South Wales-based features, with 12 wins and a second from 14 starts for the term. Beautide’s victories include the Inter Dominion, Miracle, Len Smith and Newcastle Miles for a bankroll of $1,119,844. The son of Bettors Delight also finished fourth behind For A Reason in the Victoria Cup – his only interstate run for the year. Beautide was also a natural choice for Aged Horse/Gelding of the Year. New South Wales performers dominated the various awards, with Frith, Bling It On and Keystone Del taking out their categories. AUSTRALIAN PACER OF THE YEAR BEAUTIDE (brg 2007 by Bettors Delight USA from Gorse Bush) Performances: 14 starts 12 wins 1 placing $1,119,844 1:50.2ms AGED PACING HORSE/GELDING OF THE YEAR BEAUTIDE (brg 2007 by Bettors Delight USA from Gorse Bush) Performances: 14 starts 12 wins 1 placing $1,119,844 1:50.2ms AGED PACING MARE OF THE YEAR FRITH (bm 2009 by Four Starzzz Shark CA from Jackie Kelly) Performances: 10 starts 7 wins 3 placings $175,912 1:53ms 3YO PACING COLT/GELDING OF THE YEAR BLING IT ON (bc 2010 by American Ideal USA from Alldatglittersisgold NZ) Performances: 23 starts 17 starts 4 placings $351,099 1:51.7ms 3YO PACING FILLY OF THE YEAR BARYNYA (bf 2010 by Blissfull Hall USA from Lombo Anastasia) Performances: 15 starts 10 wins 4 placings $210,282 1:55.7ms 2YO PACING COLT/GELDING OF THE YEAR FOLLOW THE STARS (bc 2011 by Art Major USA from Smyrna Duruisseau USA) Aust Performances: 6 starts 6 wins $365,633 1:54.1ms 2YO PACING FILLY OF THE YEAR KATY PERRY NZ (brf 2011 by Bettors Delight USA from Karen Donna (NZ)) Aust Performances: 4 starts 4 wins $230,475 1:57.8ms AUSTRALIAN TROTTER OF THE YEAR KEYSTONE DEL NZ (bg 2007 by Dr Ronerail USA from Flipside (NZ)) Performances: 17 starts 11 wins 4 placings $437,689 TR1:53.9ms AGED TROTTING HORSE/GELDING OF THE YEAR KEYSTONE DEL NZ (bg 2007 by Dr Ronerail USA from Flipside (NZ)) Performances: 17 starts 11 wins 4 placings $437,689 TR1:53.9ms AGED TROTTING MARE OF THE YEAR SPIDERGIRL (bm 2009 by Yankee Spider USA from Lunar Landing) Performances: 12 starts 8 wins 3 placings $153,512 TR1:56.8ms 3YO TROTTING COLT/GELDING OF THE YEAR OUR TWENTYTEN NZ (bc 2010 by Muscles Yankee (US) from Regal Volo USA) Aust Performances: 6 starts 4 wins 1 placing $107,500 TR2:01.1ms 3YO TROTTING FILLY OF THE YEAR CLAUDYS PRINCESS (bkf 2010 by Bacardi Lindy USA from All Finesse) Performances: 13 starts 10 wins 3 placings $146,946 TR1:59.3ms 2YO TROTTING COLT/GELDING OF THE YEAR ELJAYKAY PHOENIX (bg 2011 Sundon USA from Maple Eve Phoenix) Performances: 10 starts 8 wins 2 placings $169,622 TR2:02.6ms 2YO TROTTING FILLY OF THE YEAR MY ARYA NZ (bf 2011 by Angus Hall (US) from Belle Galleon (NZ) Aust Performances: 3 starts 2 wins 1 placing $65,288 TR2:02.7ms - PAUL COURTS

Top harness racing broodmare Soky’s Number has been humanely put down at the age of 28. The 1999 Australian Broodmare of the Year and dual Victorian Broodmare of the Year lived out her days at the Cobram property of Brian and Marilyn Gourley. A New Zealand-bred daughter of Soky’s Atom, Soky’s Number was unraced but quickly proved her worth in the breeding barn. Dam of 17 foals, Soky’s Number produced 13 starters for 11 winners for a combined record of 89 wins and earnings of $1,418,022. Winner of 21 races and $577,197 in stakes, Saab was her best progeny, with his victories including WA Pacing Cup, WA Derby and Golden Nugget. As a sire, Saab’s 88 successful ‘kids’ have amassed more than $3.6million. Soky’s Number is also the dam of talented types Talladega and Saabella – both Group One winners. Talladega captured the Western Austrlia Derby and Australian Pacing Gold and was judged the 1999 Australian Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year. Saabella's major success was the Vicbred Super Series Four-Year-Old Final. Soky’s Number stock includes Soky Jo ($74,517), Saabette ($34,378), Saabrina ($33,776) and Blue Seelster ($33,500). She is the grand-dam of  the WA Pearl and Golden Slipper winner Genuine Numbers 1:53.6 ($190,112), the WA Sales Classic and Gold Bracelet winner Pole Dancer 1:56.4 ($186,352), Bettor’s Ace 1:56 (WA Champagne Classic) and United Legacy (1:55). Soky’s Number is also the third dam of this year's Tatlow winner Kept Under Wraps, Nickle Miss (1:56.6) and So Surreal (1:57.2). PETER WHARTON  

Just two two weeks into the harness racing season and reinsman Murray Sullivan is sitting second on the New South Wales drivers’ premiership. While also balancing his full-time job, Sullivan has been busy travelling across the state to net eight wins from 14 outings. Thrilled with his haul, Sullivan is hoping the ‘hot streak’ can continue. “Jason Gaffney and I work the horses together…there are 15 horses in work and we both find time to work full time jobs as well,” Sullivan said. “I work for my Uncle, who has a smallgoods business, and he’s pretty understanding when I have to attend race meetings during the week. It is a bit tougher for Jason because he is a concreter and it can get hard for him to get time off during the week.” Gaffney trained two winners at last weekend’s Parkes meeting, with Sullivan training another and driving all the three. “It has been a great start for us this season and I put it down to the new grading system,” Sullivan said. “I won a race with Battleliner on Sunday, he won two in the space of 10 days and I think without the new system he would have been struggling to win another race." “Last season I didn’t have many starters as a trainer, but in the new season I have had three starters for three winners, so it has been a great start all around.” Sullivan made a recent trip to Wagga in an attempt to qualify runners for the Tabcorp Park Menangle Country Finals. “We normally don’t travel all the way to Wagga, but Three Point Turn went down to try and qualify for the Final and he did a really good job running second in the heat,” Sullivan said. “I also drove the other heat winner at Wagga when Cankickatarget won for the Hutchings stable.” HRNSW Media

Queensland’s forgotten harness racing star Wicked Style makes his long-awaited return at Albion Park on Saturday night. One of Australia’s brightest prospects, Wicked Style has been sidelined due to a reoccurring tendon injury since January 2013. Before being banished to a paddock, the son of Western Edition won 18 of his 28 starts, with six placings also to his credit. His victories include the Group One Q-bred Final and Group Two Nursery Final as well as his last five outings before injury struck. Trainer Shawn Grimsey is thrilled to have the six-year-old at the races after several failed comeback attempts. “This is not the first time we’ve brought him up, but it’s the first time he has made it back to the races,” Grimsey said. “His leg has given us quite a bit of trouble, but at this stage he is in great shape and showing no sign of soreness. “I couldn’t be happier with him and just hope he can hold up to the rigours of racing.” Wicked Style’s first-up appearance has been hampered by a tough outside of the front row draw, with his main dangers draw on his inside. “The draw hasn’t been kind to us, but that’s racing,” Grimsey said. “Naturally I would love to see him return with a win, but at this stage I’m just more concerned about him getting around safely. “After that, I will just take it one run at a time as you can’t plan ahead too far with any horse which has had tendon problems and been off as long as he has because of it.” PAUL COURTS

Several of harness racing’s biggest events are facing date changes as a result of Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s Inter Dominion announcement. Just to recap, thanks to a sensational sponsorship deal with Tabtouch, WA will host the time-honoured series for three years as of the 2015/16 season. Although traditionally conducted in February/March, the Perth-based Inter Dominions have been brought forward to November/December. The alteration causes a clash with other timeslots such as the Miracle Mile, a regular fixture at Tabcorp Park Menangle during the third weekend of November. New South Wales’ M H Treuer Memorial run at Bankstown a week after its neighbouring Mile will also feel the affect of the high class horses heading across the Nullarbor. Cranbourne’s flagship event – the Decron Horse Care Pacing Cup – and the Ballarat Cup are the two Victorian races to be hampered. On the other side of the Tasman, the New Zealand Cup is also run in November. According to chief executive Bruce Christison, directors of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club will meet tomorrow morning to discuss the Miracle Mile issue. It’s believed Australasia’s premier sprint will be moved to March. “The board of directors were already scheduled to meet on Thursday, so the matter will be discussed and resolved then,” Christison said. “We couldn’t really make a decision until Perth settled their plans, but now that it’s official, we will set a date. “Racing and Wagering Western Australia have been open and in communication with us all along, so it wasn’t shock.” News of the switch was a shock to Bankstown’s general manager Geoff Grasso, who was unaware of RWWA’s plans until contacted by harnesslink this afternoon. Grasso stated “it’s obviously going to affect us as the Treuer is on December 6.” The popular Ballarat Cup, normally staged towards the end of January, was only moved to December by Harness Racing Victoria a few months ago. At the same time, HRV transferred the Victoria Cup from December into the Ballarat Cup’s timeslot. Ballarat’s chief executive Paul Rowse is confident the Group One Cup will return to its traditional January date for 2016. “We don’t see it being a problem as the Cup should be back to January by then,” Rowse said. With the Victoria and A G Hunter Cups coupled together, it’s believed the Ballarat Cup will complete a three-week Summer Carnival. Cranbourne’s racing manager Cameron Gallagher stated the club’s board will decide their feature’s future on Monday. “This will have an effect on us, but we will know more on what direction we will take when the board meets next week,” Gallagher said. Several calls were made to New Zealand’s Metropolitan Trotting Club for clarification on the New Zealand Cup, however, the messages were not returned. PAUL COURTS

Australia’s leading harness racing drivers are set to converge on Globe Derby next month. Thanks to the vision of Harness Racing Australia and Harness Racing SA, the inaugural Australian Driving Championship will be conducted on October 18. The six race series will pit 12 drivers against each other - two nominated from each state’s governing body – for the title of Australian Driving Champion. Destined to be a treat for harness racing enthusiasts, the Championship will not only promote the nation's best drivers, but provide them with an opportunity to showcase their talents in a never-before-seen manner. In addition to bragging rights, the champion will have their performance factored into the selection of Australia's representative to compete in the World Driving Championship, which is conducted every second year. The next edition of the global series will be hosted by New South Wales in 2015. A review of the inaugural event will determine its future, including rotation of venues and the governing rules. PAUL COURTS

Talk about a tight harness finish… Last night’s Ballarat meeting was another reminder why harness racing is so exciting thanks to one of the closest finishes on record. Commonly referred to as a ’blanket finish’, the Peter McErvale Trot saw the first five runners past line separated by a two metres – including a dead-heat. Monica My Dear and Chipmont Lad shared top honours after sprinting quickly along the home straight to hit the finish locked together. Monica My Dear trailed the pacemaker before gaining an opening, while Chipmont Lad travelled two-back in the running line before coming three-wide on the final bend. Trained and driven by David Murphy, Monica My Dear is a seven-year-old daughter of former topline pacer It Is I, which was also trained by Murphy. Chipmont Lad, prepared by Bob Conroy, broke a long drought of ‘outs’ to register his first win since February 2013. As for the placegetters, Nomistakingpegasus was a short half-head away, with a half-head to Lombo Scrutinizer and a half-neck to Mygreekkalesa. The co winners rated 2:05.4 for the 2200 metres, with the last half covered in 59.8 seconds. PAUL COURTS

Australasian harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – has a confirmed date for the 2015/16 season. Following Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s announcement that the Inter Dominion will be conducted in November/December as of 2015, the New South Wales Harness Racing Club had to select an alternative for the Miracle Mile. The Grand Circuit event has been a regular fixture during the third weekend of November at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Not only has the premier club moved its flagship feature, it has also shifted the entire Sky Racing Carnival of Miracles. Beginning with the Coca-Cola Amatil Sprint on February 13, the carnival concludes with the SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile on February 28. As a result of the date change, there will be no Miracle Mile in 2015, with prizemoney predicted to remain at $750,000 despite rumours of a lift to $1million. “The club is excited to be able to use our greatest race, the Miracle Mile to form part of a meeting that has already been described as the best day’s racing on the Australasian calendar,” chairman Ray Sharman said. “By having a race with the prestige and international significance of the Miracle Mile at this time of year, it opens up the opportunity for us to gain the continued support of Destination NSW and the free-to-air coverage generated from Channel Nine.” Originally planning to confirm a date at tomorrow’s director’s meetings, the club released the details early due to the intense interest following the Inter Dominion announcement yesterday. “The club has been pleased with the level of interest in both the Inter Dominion and Miracle Mile,” Bruce Christison said. “The cIub has been considering the move but needed to wait for confirmation of the Perth bid before a final decision could be made. “The board had intended to discuss the matter at tomorrow’s (Thursday) meeting and then make an announcement, but due to the level of interest following Perth’s announcement on Tuesday we brought that forward.” PAUL COURTS

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