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As we head towards nomination time for next year’s Australian Pacing Gold’s (APG) Yearling Sales, Chairman of APG, Robert Marshall, reflected on the contribution the sales company has made to Australian standardbred breeding and  harness racing. “APG is Australian focussed, always has been, always will be”, Marshall said. “Our mission is to provide the opportunity for standardbred breeders to offer their yearlings for sale in a market and for a Futurity event, where only Australian bred horses are offered and compete.” APG’s Futurity Series acknowledges the importance of the purchaser in the equation. While APG’s model originally focussed on a National 2YO Final, it now looks to provide the purchaser with the opportunity to earn across the States and for more than just the 2YO season. Marshall noted that, with the pressure on wagering revenues, impacted even more by the outbreak of COVID-19, owners will be looking to purchase a yearling where the likelihood of a return is enhanced by greater opportunity. The investment in a yearling is, for most purchasers, a leap into the unknown. Clearly some will not make it to the racetrack and some may not make it as a 2YO. APG’s Futurity Series provides the purchaser with a lot more in the way of opportunity than was available under the previous format. The purchaser is no longer competing for one pot of money - the State-based series provides Group racing in all east coast states as well as WA for 2yo and 3yo Colts and Fillies. Given the reduced prizemoney available across Australia, purchasers will have a keen eye on where they spend the discretionary dollar in 2021 and the likelihood of a return. On the suggestion that APG might open its books to NZ-Bred yearlings as is the case with Nutrien Ag’s proposed sale in 2021, Marshall was adamant: “APG is Australian owned for Australian bred.”  

INTER Dominion-winning trainer Kevin Pizzuto thinks he can win the first $1 million Miracle Mile. But it’s not with Tiger Tara, who gave him the biggest win of his career last Saturday in the Inter Dominion final at Melton. Pizzuto is priming one of Australia’s fastest pacers, Majordan, for the newly boosted $1 million Ainsworth Miracle Mile – up from $750,000 last year – at Menangle on March 2. “I’m sure he can go at least at 1min47sec,” Pizzuto said. “He’s a genuine speedster and that’s his focus. “We left him at home instead of going to the Inter Dominion so we could keep him to mile racing.” Majordan has won eight of his 14 starts since being bought by US-based owners Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks. Two of those wins have been in 1min49.3sec and his career-best 1min49.2sec miles at Menangle. “He’s had a couple of weeks off since he made it three wins on end (December 8, Menangle) and will be back racing towards the end of January,” Pizzuto said. A logical target is another boosted race, the $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile on February 8, where the winner is guaranteed a spot in the Miracle Mile. Majordan’s one Newcastle start saw him smash the track record winning the Group 3 Ross Gigg Mile in a 1min51.4sec mile back on May 26, this year. Pizzuto revealed Tiger Tara may not even chase the Miracle Mile. “He can’t go in everything and the sprint races don’t suit him as much, he’s a stayer,” he said. “If we go to Perth for their big races, which is looking likely, and back for the Hunter Cup in Melbourne then I’ll probably give him a break after that.” Meanwhile, reigning Miracle Mile champ My Field Marshal has settled well in Perth since arriving in the early hours of Thursday morning. Trainer Tim Butt confirmed My Field Marshal would open his Perth raid in the $50,000 Group 2 Village Kid Pace (1730m) at Gloucester Park next Friday night (December 28). Then comes the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup on January 11 and the $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup a week later.   Adam Hamilton

Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley signaled his class with a stunning all-the-way harness racing victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday). Aided by a brilliant front-running drive from Kate Gath, the richly talented Skyvalley gelding defied race favourite Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in the 2240 mobile start feature. Having his third local start, Tornado Valley went one better than his effort last week when a runner-up behind Red Hot Tooth in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne. Showing good gate speed to lead from his handy draw, Tornado Valley controlled the tempo of the event while Sparkling Success was forced to work hard without cover. The lead time was covered in 45.2 seconds. Tornado Valley traveled strongly throughout; the first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.9 and 30.7 seconds. The first move in the race came via Vincennes who eased three-deep passing the 1000m mark. Entering the back straight, Gath allowed Tornado Valley to stride boldly while Sparkling Success chased gamely on his outside. The third quarter was covered in 28.7 seconds. At the top of the straight, Tornado Valley and Sparkling Success were set for an epic stretch battle but Tornado Valley failed to yield while Sparkling Success tried valiantly. Tornado Valley held Sparkling Success by 1.9m while Sky Petite was further 11.3m away in third after sitting one out/one back throughout. The final split was covered in a very slick 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate was 1:57.2 – well outside of the track and race record of 1:56 held by Keystone Del when successful in 2016. Tornado Valley is raced by Queensland based owner Norm Jenkin (of Flashing Red fame). It is the second time Andy Gath has prepared the winner of the Grand Prix after scoring with inaugural winner, former star trotting mare La Coocaracha back in 2001. An obvious long term target will be the recently re-introduced Inter Dominion series which will be staged in Victoria later this year. Tornado Valley joins Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) as winners of an Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters event this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month. And the race to be crowned the 2017/18 APG Trotting Master is very much alive. The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 20 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events held at Alexandra Park. 7 9:30pm SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS AUSTRALIAN TROTTING GRAND PRIX (GROUP 1) 2240M $100,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr4 4 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 12.20   GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): Jenkscraft Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Fr6 7 John Meade Chris Svanosio 1.9m $ 1.50 fav  PRU 3WE OLM 2 3 SKY PETITE      Fr5 6 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 13.2m $ 23.80   PRS GS 4 4 SAVANNAH JAY JAY      Fr3 3 Stan Cameron Neil McCallum 14.3m $ 60.20   PRS GS 3 5 REGAL PEPPERELL      Fr1 1 Michael Barby Anne-Maree Conroy 15.0m $ 36.10   PRS BB ODM 5 PH RR HUE USL 6 VINCENNES      Sr2 9 Anton Golino Jason Lee 16.6m $ 18.80   8 3WL 7 MAORI TIME      Sr1 8 Brent Lilley Gavin Lang 19.9m $ 12.60   PRS 12 3WLT 8 MY TRIBECA ITA      Fr2 2 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 21.7m $ 9.30   6 9 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Sr3 10 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 22.6m $ 10.30   10 3WLT Scratchings   THE BOSS MAN 5 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:43:2 Mile Rate: 1:57:2 Lead Time: 45.2 First Quarter: 30.9 Second Quarter: 30.7 Third Quarter: 28.7 Fourth Quarter: 27.7 Margins: 1.9m x 11.3m   Chris Barsby

Australia's fastest pacer Hectorjyayjay is primed to smash the clock. Driver Josh Aiken just hopes that’s quick enough to win Saturday night’s Miracle Mile. Aiken has cast aside the initial disappointment of yet another bad barrier to focus on the main positive – Hectorjayjay is as good as he can possibly be for the most suitable feature race on the calendar for him. “Of course we’d have loved a better draw, but it is what it is and at least he’s off the front row this time so he can use his gate speed,” Aiken said. “I don’t think it’s a given he’s the leader, but if the form plays out like last week, Yayas Hot Spot should be across those inside really quickly and I’ll come across with him. “Hector did get off the gate really quickly last week and he’s shown before he can muster lots of speed from those wider draws.” Aiken was thrilled with Hectorjayjay’s qualifying win last week and said the fact it was really just a 400m dash home actually suited his preparation. “He had a hard run in the Victoria Cup after finding the early trouble so we spent a lot of time freshening him up after that. It meant he needed the run last week,” he said. “I know it was a $100,000 Group 1 race last week, but we were all so focused on this week it felt like a heat and so it was about get as easy a run as possible, which is why I drove him so conservatively and was happy to let it be a dash down the home straight. “If I find the front this week it will be different, not just for me, but for everyone else. You can sure there won’t be any slow quarters. “But Hector is ready now. That run topped him off. I think he can get down to that 1min47sec zone and I base that on the fact he’s gone 1min51sec for the sprint trip at Melton and 1min53sec around Gloucester Park. Menangle is so much quicker. “If I find the front, I know I have to make those away from the markers really work hard, especially around that final bend. “This has always been the race we’ve thought best suits him of all the really big races and we’ve got him right where we want for it.” Hectorjayjay remains a $3.80 second favourite on the Aussie TAB behind Lazarus at $2.60. Next come Bling It On and Lennytheshark at $6 and Smolda at $6.50. Adam Hamilton

We can’t believe the time has come already – the Pinjarra Paceway’s annual Sponsorship Raffle for Naming Rights to our premier harness racing pacing event the $50,000 Pinjarra Pacing Cup is here again!   This season, the Pinjarra Pacing Cup race day is on Monday 6th March and it will be a spectacular day of action packed harness racing, fun and entertainment for the whole family and we’re expecting a huge crowd on-course.  As per previous years, there are strictly limited 50 tickets available; tickets are priced at $400 each and ALL ticketholders win a PRIZE! The Sponsorship Raffle prize details are: 1st Prize - Exclusive Naming Rights to the $50,000 2017 Pinjarra Pacing Cup          Naming Rights to one supporting race on Cup Day.          A 15m x 1.2m permanent Track Sign on-course for 1 entire year.          Your Company logo placement in all Cup Day advertising and promotional material.          Full Page, colour race book advertisement.          Promotional activities, PA Announcements and temporary signage displays on Cup Day.          Hospitality trackside for 20 guests – including a delicious buffet lunch & beverages on Cup Day. 2nd to 8th Prize          Naming rights to one supporting race on Cup Day.          Half page, colour race book advertisement.          Opportunity to display your temporary signage on Cup Day.          Hospitality for 4 guests on Cup Day – including a delicious buffet lunch & beverages. 9th to 50th Prize          Hospitality for 2 guests on Cup Day – including a delicious buffet lunch & beverages. Ticketholders will also be invited to a special cocktail function for drawing of the Sponsorship Raffle, in early February 2017. Please find attached a brochure with full details of this year’s Sponsorship Raffle – and don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions at all. If you’d like to purchase a Raffle ticket please just return to me the final page of the PDF document here, and I’ll arrange an invoice for you. Thanks very much once again, I look forward to hearing from you.   Kathleen Howse Marketing & Administration

There is not much of Chicago Bull but it didn't stop the talented harness racing four-year-old beating the older horses in the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand bred son of Bettor's Delight  is set to step into Grand Circuit company in next Friday's Western Australian Pacing Cup as favourite after rating 1.56.7 in his Fremantle Cup victory, which had trainer Gary Hall snr singing his praises "Chicago Bull is probably the smallest horse I've trained," Hall told the West Australian. "He's a little more than pony-sized. But he's a dynamic powerhouse."      

Despite tasting defeat, talented young harness racing horseman Nathan Purdon walked away from last Sunday’s Sydney feature meeting a content person. Purdon prepared Ohoka Punter for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle and the star pacer produced a courageous effort to fill third placing behind the David Aiken duo of Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark in a time of 1:50.5. Following two brilliant victories at Albion Park, connections decided to take at throw at the stumps and head south for the sprint feature rather than stay and wait in Brisbane for the upcoming winter carnival features. And the two start campaign proved very successful. “He performed at a very high level in both starts, his first-up win was very impressive and I thought his effort in the Len Smith was very commendable given how much work he did and the time they posted. The top two finishes are wee nice horses.” Purdon said. The New Zealand horseman has returned to Brisbane and Ohoka Punter is due back tomorrow (Thursday) in readiness for next week’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. The open class features during the carnival are loaded with stars including Hectorjayjay, Christen Me, Avonnova and Ultimate Art but Ohoka Punter is right there with them and Purdon is just hoping for some luck. “The Brisbane style of racing is very hard and a little unforgiving so we need to be at our best and have lady luck on our side in both events. The barrier draw for each race will go a long way in determining who gains the advantage. “The best part about last Sunday was the way he came through the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way he pulled up and his recovery was great so that’s very pleasing as we head into the Brisbane features.” Champion reinsman Anthony Butt handled the dual Group One winner in Sydney but Purdon will take the lines himself in both Albion Park features. The barrier draw for the Sunshine Sprint will be conducted next Tuesday (July 5). Chris Barsby

In-form Goulburn harness racing horseman Brad Hewitt has quickly turned the page on last week. Heading into last Sunday’s feature race day at Menangle, Hewitt was hopeful with stable star Spare Me Days and emerging talent Arma The Gun in their respective Gr.1 Breeders Challenge Finals but came home short. Both pacers ran the punters elect but both missed the place. Hewitt has already switched his focus to his next target, the Brisbane winter carnival which starts this weekend at Albion Park and runs over three consecutive weekends. On Saturday night, Hewitt starts Spare Me Days in the Gr.3 $30,000 Horsepower Nutrition 4yo Championship. “The Brisbane campaign will wrap up his season; he goes straight to the paddock after the Blacks A Fake on July 16 for a well-deserved break because he’s done a super job this season. He’s really stepped it up this season and he’s proven that he’s going to be competitive in the open class arena, his win in the Bulli Cup proved that when he beat some nice horses in very good time at Menangle.” Hewitt said. Spare Me Days has drawn the second-line in the 2138m mobile start feature and meets talented types Major Cam, Birdy Mach and Major Coup among others. But Hewitt knows he’s got the form horse of the race. “I was very happy with his effort last Sunday because he had a poor draw and was forced to do plenty of work while they were running strong time; he kept fighting all the way up the straight. On a positive note, he’s taken no harm from the race and he seems in good order. “Barrier draws haven’t been kind to him lately and again this weekend we’ve got some work in front of us but the draws will hopefully turn around in the coming weeks. Obviously Birdy Mach is a talented type while the likes of Major Cam and Major Coup are still on the way up so it should be a competitive race. “We’re definitely going to start in the Blacks A Fake but a decision on the Sunshine Sprint won’t be made until after this weekend, it’s probably a little unlikely given the recent racing he’s had. I think the genuine speed in the Blacks A Fake which will be generated by the open class stars will suit him nicely.” Hewitt’s father Dave is considering sending talented three-year-old Stanley Ross Robyn north for the Gr.1 $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby on July 16. The former New Zealand gelding continues to improve and was narrowly beaten yesterday (Tuesday) at Menangle when third behind Miss Riviera Belle and Look And Listen in a time of 1:52.7. A decision is expected soon. Chris Barsby

Prominent Tasmanian standardbred breeders Fred and Pauline Barker celebrated another harness racing feature race win when a filly they bred, Shezallapples, scored an impressive victory in the Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies final over 1609 metres at Menangle last Sunday. Shezallapples started as one of the rank outsiders ($91.30) but she proved too good for her rivals scoring by almost three metres from Rocknroll Emma ($6.60) with Im with Lexy a close-up third and well ahead of the $1.50 favourite Don't Think Twice. The win gave driver Jim Douglass his first Group 1 success in his home state and the win also delighted the filly's trainer David Thorn who rated the daughter of Sportswriter-Apple Sorbet a top winning chance going into the race. Shezallapples clocked a mile rate of 1.53.3 to suggest she has a bright future. The Barkers have slowly but surely eased out of standardbred breeding with Apple Sorbet now residing with Ricky Hinds who put the mare to Modern Art which resulted in a filly foal born on Christmas Eve last year. Peter Staples

Harness Racing Trainer David Aiken was expected to capture the Group 1 Len Smith Mile (1609m) at Menangle on Sunday. However, it would be his second-seed that would be victorious as five-year-old gelding Hectorjayjay ran down stablemate Lennytheshark to score in 1:50.5.   Lennytheshark was involved in a flying 25.7 opening quarter as Bettor Bet Black scorched over before Lennytheshark was able to find the top in the back straight in a 55-second first half.   Champion reinsman Gavin Lang took three-wide cover with Hectorjayjay before peeling to the outside to give chase to Lennytheshark. The third quarter was run through in 28.3 followed by a 27.2 final quarter as Lennytheshark’s early work took its toll.    Hectorjayjay would defeat Lennytheshark by 1.2m with a further 5.9m back to Ohoka Punter in third place.   “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,” Lang told Michael Court. “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.”   Aiken had originally planned for Hectorjayjay to contest a couple of Queensland features and now that he has claimed the Len Smith Mile, there is no reason not to continue on the original path; later in the year Lennytheshark will defend his Inter Dominion Championship crown in Perth with Hectorjayjay looking to take the coveted title away from his stablemate.   “The plan all along was to take him up to Queensland for the winter features,” Aiken told  “So that’s the way he will keep going.”   The Group 2 Sunshine Sprint (1660m) will be held at Albion Park on July 9 followed by the Group 1 The Blacks A Fake (2680m) at the same venue on July 16.   Former Miracle Mile winner Christen Me is in Queensland to contest both features while Ohoka Punter will return to his home state to tackle both events.    Reprinted with permission

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

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

“Here’s Don’t Think Twice in hot dispute, going back to the inside Celebrity Look and to the outside Fastestgirlintown, the leader is Don’t Think Twice inch-by-inch cutting back the margin, Fastestgirlintown, but Don’t Think Twice is in front - wins the Tiara! Don’t Think Twice goes home to score . . . what a moment for young Jason Grimson – Group 1 Glory!” – Fred Hastings. This was the call that made dreams come true for 22-year-old Jason Grimson as he trained and drove his first Group 1 race at only his sixth start as a trainer. In March 2015 a local group of well-known breeders imbedded their trust into Jason when they gave him their yearling to break in.  A year later he proved himself when his two-year-old broke the fillies track record at Bathurst in the Group 1 Gold Tiara Final. Having spent time riding track work for galloping trainer John McGregor, Jason made the transition from saddle to sulky following in his dad’s footsteps.   Jason’s dad, Colin Grimson, had over 280 winners during his career and tasted success with horses like Double Identity.    This success runs through the family as not only has Jason taken on harness racing full-time with immediate success, he also made an impression with local representative teams in rugby league. With all of his accomplishments thus far, Jason has ambitions to move from the Riverina to the Metropolitan area in the future.   Currently working for one of his biggest influences in the industry, trainer Josh Powderly, Jason has plans to train a couple of horses at a time. Don’t Think Twice has drawn seven and is one of the early fancies in this Sunday’s Group 1 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies feature.      Age: 22 Birthday: 16/07/1993 Birthplace: Bowral Football team: Newcastle Knights Best horse driven: Don’t Think Twice Biggest pet hate: Driving in the rain Jennifer Hawkins or Miranda Kerr: Jennifer Hawkins In a fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed? – Phone / iPad   Ashlea Brennan

It’s onwards and upwards from here. That’s the simple philosophy that Queensland Harness Racing owner Greg Mitchell is carrying after a spate of setbacks ruled out many of his current racing team. With the winter carnival now upon us, Mitchell was looking forward to being part of the action but a number of his troops have been sent to the spelling paddock owing to injury. But every cloud has a silver lining. Both Alleluia and Our Overanova, the two best performers for Mitchell are ready to fill the void. “Yeah, it’s been a lean period recently with many of the team succumbing to injury including the likes of Only The Brave, Major Moment and a few others. The timing was unfortunate but nobody can predict these things so it’s best to turn the page and having both Youi (Alleluia) and Nova (Our Overanova) back is a great start.” Mitchell said. The classy Alleluia has not raced since competing in the Queensland Pacing Championship last October after suffering a type of shin soreness. The multiple feature race winner was given a lengthy break away from racing but returns to the trials tomorrow (Tuesday) for trainer/driver Grant Dixon. But he won’t be rushed back into the upcoming features. “We’ve been very diligent with his time away from the track and his rehabilitation and despite the fact the big races are tempting, we’ll stick to our original plan. I know Grant is very happy with the way he’s training and the public hit-out this week will be a good start point. “In a perfect world, the features at Redcliffe at the back end of the carnival will be his main targets, races like the Patrons Purse and a repeat of his Redcliffe Cup is the main aim. We’ll be under able to get a few races under his belt and that should have him peaking for the Redcliffe features. “Nova is back from his southern campaign and he’ll be starting this weekend, his record at  is great and the Marathon on July 9 is an obvious target for him. He was a bit unlucky in a number of races for Mick (Stanley – trainer/driver) so I was happy with his efforts.” Alleluia scored an outstanding victory in last year’s Redcliffe Cup when he set a new track record. The Listed $25,000 Chris Garrard Patrons Purse is scheduled for July 22 while the Gr.3 $30,000 Redcliffe Cup is the following week. Chris Barsby

Recent victories in Group 1 races across Australia have provided breeders with big cash bonuses thanks to the NSW Breeders Challenge. A 10% bonus of the advertised first place prize money of any Australian Group 1 race, excluding the Alabar Breeders Challenge events themselves, is payable to the foal nominator of a NSW Breeders Challenge eligible and sustained horse for wins as a 2yo, 3yo and 4yo. More than $120,000 has been paid out in the past three seasons with recent Western Australian Diamond Classic winner Lady Luca earning a $6,400 bonus for her nominator Glenferrie Farm while Solid Earth Pty Ltd won $5,950 when Frankie Rocks won the Qbred Triad Final at Albion Park in May. The foal nominators of Our Waikiki Beach headed by Greg Fusinato have banked $44,424 thanks to the performances of the gelding in Group 1 events across Australia in the past two seasons. HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny stated the figures prove to breeders it makes sense to breed horses in New South Wales. "The HRNSW Board has clearly indicated the importance of the NSW breeders through the continued support and strength of the Alabar Breeders Challenge," Mr Dumesny said. "A range of incentives have been introduced since the inception of the Breeders Challenge and with the recent victories of Lady Luca and Frankie Rocks in different parts of the country, NSW has provided the foal nominators with cash bonuses to celebrate the performances. I think it is fair to say that from east to west NSW is best." Other horses to have won their foal nominators a cash bonus this season include Bathurst Gold Tiara winner Dont Think Twice and Need For Speed winner Bacardi Hurricane. The Alabar Breeders Challenge finals day will be held this Sunday with rich finals being run for 2yo, 3yo and 4yos at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Greg Hayes

Exciting three-year-old Mattgregor is now racing the clock to be ready for the Queensland Derby next month at Albion Park. Connections were again forced to scratch their talented pacer yesterday (Tuesday) owing to an unfortunate setback which occurred on Monday night. The New Zealand bred gelding become cast in his box and ended up with a superficial wound on his hind leg which left connections with no option but to withdraw him from yesterday’s race. “Luckily, he didn’t do any major damage but we weren’t prepared to start him although we need to get some racing under his belt quickly because the Derby classics are just around the corner. All going well, hopefully he’ll be right to go next week.” Trainer Chantal Turpin said. It’s the second time in as many weeks that the speedy pacer has been scratched. Since arriving from New Zealand late last year after being purchased from the stables of respected Canterbury horseman Mark Jones, Mattgregor has won three of his four starts to date. All three victories coming at Albion Park and all in sub 1:54 time. Mattgregor has not raced since winning at Albion Park on December 22 where he paced the mile in a scorching time of 1:53.4. The Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 16. Connections are also mindful of the UBET Picket Fence bonus of $20,000 if he can win three races in a row including the Queensland Derby. Chris Barsby

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