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The TAB Australian Trotting Grand Prix shapes as a rematch of the Great Southern Star, with the first eight horses across the line in that event backing up in this Saturday night's Group 1. Andy Gath's star Tornado Valley tipped out Rob O'Connell-trained Magicool in a thrilling GSS on February 5, but will need to be at his very best to repeat the dose after drawing unfavourably on the back row in nine as the latter secured barrier four. New Zealander Majestic Man was third in that race and will find it tough from barrier 10, while fourth place-getter Pink Galahs, for Matthew Craven, has five. Monaro Mia (Wayne Potter), Robbie Royale (Brent Lilley), Sparkling Success (John Meade), Always Ready (Anton Golino and Jack MacKinnon), Sundons Courage (Brad Angove), Red Hot Tooth (Kari Males), McLovin (Andy Gath) and Tough Monarch (Rickie Alchin) have also accepted for the $100,000 event, which is one of four Group 1s on Saturday night's Tabcorp Park Melton card. The TAB opened Tornado Valley as a $2.40 favourite on Tuesday afternoon. Other highlights of the meeting include the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold Series Final, the IRT Australia Need For Speed Princess Final and the Alan Mance Need For Speed Prince Final. Of course, the night will be dominated by the WomenCan Team Teal 'Night at the Trots' function. Meanwhile, a strong field of nine sprinters have accepted for the Geelong Rocket on Friday night. Stars such as Shakamaker, Blatant Lie, Smoken Up and Melpark Major have won the race, which has not been contested since 2013. The 1609m dash will carry $24,000 in prizemoney and is for the fast class pacers rated between 90-120. After a stack of Victorian-trained horses tackle Group 1s in a big feature meeting at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night, attention then turns to Sunday's Boort meeting. The eight-race card includes the Councillor Neil Beattie and Family Boort Pacing Cup and The Honourable Peter Walsh Boort Trotters Cup, both worth $14,500.   HRV - Tim O'Connor

There is so much at stake for harness racing star Victorian trotter Sparkling Success this weekend. The John Meade prepared six-year-old lines up in the third leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Obviously the rich prizemoney is a key focus but an outright lead in the Trotting Masters is another attraction, Sparkling Success shares the lead with New Zealand trotter Amaretto Sun following his longshot triumph in the opening leg of the series, the Dominion at Addington back in November. The Grand Prix was first staged back in 2001 and won by La Coocaracha, it features a great honour roll including former champion Sundons Gift who won the event four years in succession (2007-10). Other great names include Take A Moment, Sumthingaboutmaori, Vulcan, Stent and last year’s winner On Thunder Road. The five leg Trotting Masters takes in the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. And with Amaretto Sun remaining in Christchurch, Sparkling Success has the perfect opportunity to add to his Great Southern Star triumph. Regarded as the best trotter in Australia, Sparkling Success must overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line, in Saturday’s 2240m mobile start feature. Last week, in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne, he finished a gallant third behind Red Hot Tooth and Tornado Valley after making an early break. Despite the wide draw, punters will rally around their star performer. And with a possible trip to New York for the $1.3 million International Trot at the end of the year looming, victory will only enhance his burgeoning reputation. But rivals will come thick and fast. New Australasian record holder Maori Time looms as a legitimate threat despite her tricky draw, the inside of the second-line. Maori Time rated 1:51.5 when successful in the Gr.1 $50,000 Trotters Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on February 24. Prepared by master conditioner Brent Lilley, the former New Zealand horseman shoots for his second victory in the Grand Prix following his triumph two years ago with millionaire performer Keystone Del. Courageous performer Kyvalley Blur also represents the Lilley stable, the veteran gelding continues to race in excellent form highlighted by his victory three starts ago in the Dullard Cup. Kyvalley Blur has drawn the outside of the second-line, gate 10. Gun young trainer Anton Golino is represented by both My Tribeca and Vincennes, both unplaced behind Maori Time in Sydney last start. My Tribeca has drawn ideally in gate two while Vincennes draws directly behind his stable in gate nine. Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley showcased his immense talent last week when finishing gamely behind Red Hot Tooth at Cranbourne after proving costly in his Australian debut on February 23. Prepared by Andy and Kate Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has drawn nicely in gate four. In-form mare Regal Pepperell tackles her biggest challenge to date but boasts outstanding recent winning form. A winner at 5 of her past 6 starts, the Michael Barby trained mare has claimed both the Hamilton and Wedderburn Cups during her recent form burst. Regal Pepperel will start from the coveted inside gate. Another classy mare in Sky Petite will prove competitive despite drawing awkwardly in gate 6 for trainer Dean Pattison. Unplaced last week at Cranbourne behind Red Hot Tooth, the Skyvalley mare scored three starts ago in the Crystal Bucket at Echuca. Savannah Jay Jay aims for his biggest victory and draws handily in gate three for trainer Stan Cameron, but the Armbro Invasion gelding is winless this season in eight starts. The Boss Man (gate 5) is an early scratching. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The two remaining legs of the APG Trotting Masters will be staged at Alexandra Park in Auckland next month. Chris Barsby

On Thunder Road got back on track with an impressive harness racing win in the Group 1 feature race at Tabcorp Park Melton on Australian trotting's showcase night. Trained and driven by Darren Hancock, the six-year-old Bettor's Delight pacer-cum-trotter restored supporters' faith with  a 2.5m win in the $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. “He’s a lovely horse,” Hancock said. “He went off the rails a little bit in big races, he looked like being good, but he just had a few littles issues. Overall he’s done a great job.” After a win in Ballarat’s E. B. Cochran Trotters Cup the summer looked to be at On Thunder Road’s feet before 10th placings in the V. L. Dullard Trotters Cup and Great Southern Star saw the brakes put on his campaign. A short freshen up was in order and On Thunder Road returned with a vengeance at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. “I’d like to thank (trainer) Wayne Potter, he’s done a lot with him,” Hancock said. “He helped me with him the last couple of weeks. (On Thunder Road) has just got better and better. He’s just so tough.” Sluggish away from gate three, On Thunder Road was led up three-wide, eventually sweeping straight past the breeze position to claim the lead from Clover Mac. Favourite Sunny Ruby settled one-out one-back behind Prince Fearless, who sat outside On Thunder Road as 59.3 seconds lapsed in the first two quarters. On Thunder Road maintained a strong pace through the third quarter (29.0) to spread the field and make it tough for the swoopers. Only Clover Mac, who Kate Gath dove down the sprint lane, threatened down the straight, with Sunny Ruby unable to make ground. On Thunder Road held all the cards and saluted by 2.5m to Clover Mac, with Daryl Boko running into third. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters has reached the fork in the road. On Saturday night, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix will take place at Tabcorp Park Melton and the harness racing title to be crowned the premier trotter in the southern hemisphere is up for grabs. It’s leg three of the five and there are a number of candidates vying for the top prize. Star New Zealand trotter Monbet took the opening leg with his victory in the Dominion last November while Australian ace Glenferrie Typhoon proved triumphant in the Great Southern Star last month. Neither is competing this weekend. But quality performers Speeding Spur and Sunny Ruby are ideally placed to take control of the Trotting Masters if victorious. Speeding Spur has 60 points while Sunny Ruby has 45 points, both well within reach of co-leaders Monbet and Glenferrie Typhoon who have 100 points. And historically the New Zealand bred performers have a commanding edge in this event. First staged in 2001, star local mare La Coocaracha proved successful before the Kiwi’s arrived in force with Take A Moment, Gold N Gold, Allegro Agitato, Sundons Gift, Vulcan, Stent and Keytsone Del all proving successful. Joining La Coocaracha as Australian bred winners are Sumthingaboutmaori, A Touch Of Flair and I Didn’t Do It. There are four Australian bred trotters competing this year in the shape of Glenferrie Burn, Maorisfavouritesun, Vincennes and El Paco while Itz Not Dark Yet is listed as the emergency. The remainder of the field is New Zealand bred with Daryl Boko being Finnish bred. The Chris Lang trained and driven Sundons Gift is the most successful trotter in the races history winning it four straight times (2007/10) while Stent went back to back in 2014/15 but reigning champion Keystone Del won’t get the opportunity to defend his crown owing to setbacks. However, Speeding Spur gets the opportunity to go one better after finishing a gallant second behind Keystone Del in track record time last year. Three mares have won the Grand Prix with La Coocaracha, Sumthingaboutmaori and Allegro Agitato the most recent when successful back in 2005. Representing the fairer sex this year is Sunny Ruby, Glenferrie Burn and KD Muscles. Leading reinsman Anthony Butt is chasing his third victory in the event when he takes the drive behind Sunny Ruby following his previous triumphs with Take A Moment and Keystone Del. And Sunny Ruby looms as the horse to beat given her recent form; the Sonya Smith trainee has won 4 of her 5 starts on Australian soil including last week’s Gr.1 Knight Pistol at Cranbourne while she also prepares Daryl Boko. Also duly represented is Andy Gath (Clover Mac & KD Muscles), Anton Golino (Glenferrie Burn & Vincennes) and Mattie Craven (El Paco & Uncas). New South Wales trotter On Thunder Road will command respect along with the Nicole Molander trained Prince Fearless. Leading trainer David Aiken prepares Maorisfavouritesun. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will head back to New Zealand for the two remaining legs of the series with the ANZAC Cup followed by the Canam Rowe Cup in late April. Both events will take place at Alexandra Park, Auckland. Chris Barsby

Australia's premier all-trotting night will next year showcase the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, strengthening the metropolitan squaregait celebration. The $100,000 Group 1 feature will be staged on Saturday, March 11, amid the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed for Speed night, which features the culmination of Harness Racing Victoria's Teal Pants Promotion in aid of the Women's Cancer Foundation. With all races to be beamed into European markets, night proponent Duncan McPherson, principal of Aldebaran Park, said the Group 1's addition would ensure the region's best trotters would be on show. "The internationalisation of the sport continues to advance our industry and nights like this show to the world the trotting gait is alive and well," Mr McPherson said. "In races such as the Grand Prix, Need for Speed and Breed for Speed finals you will see horses cracking two minutes and it will no doubt enhance opportunities going forward." The Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix last year featured as part of the Summer of Glory on Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup night, but next year's staging on March 11 will see it run in addition to the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed for Speed and Need for Speed finals. The move follows the transfer of the Group 1 $300,000 Pryde's Easifeed Great Southern Star to February 4, the night of the Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup, having previously been scheduled on the all-trotting night. The Summer of Glory will retain two free-for-all features, with the $50,000 Haras Des Trotteurs V. L. Dullard Cup to now run on Victoria Cup night (January 28) ahead of the super Saturday (February 4) featuring the $500,000 Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup and $300,000 Pryde's Easifeed Great Southern Star. The bolstering of the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed for Speed night was welcomed by trots owner Michael Taranto, managing director of Seelite Windows and Doors, which sponsors the Australian Trotting Grand Prix. "Previously the Great Southern Star was the showcase free-for-all, but it has been moved as part of the Summer of Glory carnival and HRV has been good enough to reallocate a metro free-for-all trot to the night in the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix," Mr Taranto said. "From a sponsor's point of view I'm extremely happy with that and it's a great result that the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix will be showcased on one of only two metro all-trotting race nights of the year (the other being the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Trotting Finals night). "It also features the culmination of the month of teal in recognition of the cancer foundation and to be associated with that as well is fantastic." Mr McPherson said women's health would be front and centre through the night's support of the Women's Cancer Foundation, which includes female drivers wearing teal pants from February 1 to March 11 to raise awareness and money. "This gives Harness Racing Victoria a massive opportunity to expose itself to the community and be a parent group in raising awareness around women's health," Mr McPherson said. The above schedule changes are subject to ratification at the Harness Racing Australia meeting on Friday. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness racing records fell on a historic night at Tabcorp Park Melton , where Smolda claimed the grand prize and a champion trotter held off the young superstars snapping at his heels. Smolda slashed 1.1 seconds off Arden Rooney’s 3280m standing start track record, a mark unlikely to ever be broken having been the last standing start Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. And Keystone Del not only added a sixth Group 1 victory when he clinched the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, but he smashed his own trotting track record by 1.2 seconds. They followed the lead of Cold Major, who earlier lowered the track record for 1720m in the Bertocchi Free For All, taking 0.3 of a second off Smoken Up’s record, which had stood since February 2012. A major prize also went the way of Amanda Turnbull’s camp after the trainer-driver steered Tact Tate to victory in the Group 1 Nestle Professional 4YO Bonanza, securing a place in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. “We’re very excited,” Turnbull said post-race. “It’s a really big thrill.” It was an unforgettable night to a close out a thrilling Summer Of Glory, which attracted big attendances and reaffirmed the sport’s champions. Few more so than Smolda, who followed last week’s close-run second to Lennytheshark in the Good Form Victoria Cup with a victory tonight, earning every cent of his stake in the $500,000 A. G. Hunter Cup. A weight of money saw Smolda draw into $2.30 for the great race, but it was second-favourite Ohoka Punter who started the better, taking the lead while Smolda was slow away and had to grind early to eventually find the breeze. But Smolda’s trainer and driver, Mark Purdon, drove with confidence, pushing Smolda to the front with two laps to go. Come the final straight, Ohoka Punter drew off its back and the Kiwis went head-to-head down the straight, with Smolda holding on to win by a head in a record 1:57.3 mile rate. “This one’s eluded us, so it was nice to get it and be able to say we’ve done it,” Purdon said. Arguably the night’s most popular win came in race five, when Keystone Del led all the way for Brent Lilley, holding off Kiwi Speeding Spur, while short-priced favourite Monbet and well-backed Glenferrie Typhoon galloped late to rule themselves out. Victorious driver Anthony Butt said it was a “great performance” by Keystone Del, which “really dug in and the horses couldn’t pass him”. That winning feeling was also celebrated in the David Aiken camp, which savoured three winners with Juliette Bromac winning the Devondale Rising Stars Pace Final, Cold Major claiming the free for all and Quick Draft emerging in the Harness Breeders Victoria Ladyship Cup. The latter win was a great thrill for Luke McCarthy, who stepped into the sulky of the pre-race emergency after his previous drive, Nike Franco, was scratched. “It was a genuine tempo and (Quick Draft) just went really good at the end of it,” McCarthy said. “These mares’ races are always really competitive and good to see her get this one on her CV.” The victory qualified Quick Draft for the Ladyship Mile at Menangle. Victoria Cup winning reinsman Chris Alford delivered a 10 out of 10 drive aboard Dancingwithsierra to win the first race, the Gary Hoban trained filly defeating Rockstar Angel and $1.20 favourite Rocknroll Magic in 1:55.9. Almost El Eagle, who was cherry ripe for a Hunter Cup berth tonight but didn’t make the final field, proved his class with a big win in the Edgell Sidewinders Pace. Driven by John Caldow for trainer Steve Duffy, Almost El Eagle showed his customary dash up the home straight to overhaul the leaders for a 1:54.8 win, beating Desdon Murruffy in second by 2.7m. Well-backed Quite A Moment won the Fonterra Lenin Trotters Free for All (Group 3) for Greg Hope and Ricky May, while a big group of happy connections rounded out the night with The Storm Inside winning the Swift Signs Premiere Stakes for trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Greg Sugars. by Michael Howard

All harness racing pundits assessing the form leading into tonights $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton were in agreement that it was a two horse war. Glenferrie Typhoon from barrier 1 was expected to lead early and going by his previous two starts was expected to be very difficult to catch. The main danger was the star New Zealand four year old Monbet who after two sensational victories in the last fortnight was looking to cement his standing as the best trotter in Australasia at present. The script went out of the window as soon as the mobile gate left the start with Anthony Butt sooling Keystone Del straight to the front with Glenferrie Typhoon settling in the trail and Monbet settling in the open on Keystone Del's wheel. However Monbet looked scratchy in his gate a couple of times early in the race and driver Ricky May was happy to take a trail when the Kiwi raider Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie worked around to sit in the open with just over a lap to go. Going past the 600 metres Speeding Spur put it to Keystone Del and the pair drew clear a length of Monbet who started to trot very roughly, finally galloping and being retired from the race. Keystone Del and Speeding Spur turned for home together but as they did Glenferrie Typhoon also went into a gallop in the trail, extinguishing his chances. Under a hard drive from Anthony Butt , the Dr Ronerail gelding Keystone Del was able to keep a game Speeding Spur at bay down the straight by an ever reducing head with Arboe flying late to be only a half neck away third. The time of 2:41.5 for the 2240 metres was a new track record at Tabcorp Park Melton, a mile rate of 1:56 with smart closing sectionals of 55.9 and 28.1. Anthony Butt was full of praise for Keystone Del post race. " He has gone great tonight. " He was travelling well most of the way but Josh really turned up the pressure at the 600 metres mark. " I was waiting for Monbet to come out of the one by one but it never happened," Anthony said. Tonights  win by Keystone Del was his 33rd career success at just his 55th start and took his career earnings over the $860,000 mark. Tonights win was a timely reminder by Keystone Del to the young pretenders that he was not going to give up his crown as the best trotter in Australia easily. Harnesslink Media

Tonight will serve up the best trots race Melbourne has seen “in a long time”, says the harness racing trainer of local hope Arboe. Anton Golino said Monbet’s decision to stay on and chase the $100,000 prizemoney in the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton had added further fuel to the fire. Great Australian trotter Keystone Del will be second-up from a spell and eager to add to his Group 1 haul tonight, while in-form Glenferrie Typhoon has drawn barrier one and is expected to use its gate speed to lead. New Zealand raider Speeding Spur, which beat Monbet in April last year, and Kyvalley Blur are also rated highly and will be pressing. “It’s a cracking field,” Golino said. “It’s as good a trots field as I’ve seen for a long time here. “Monbet’s a star. He’s definitely a top horse, but this will be his biggest test. He’s beat up open horses in New Zealand, he’s obviously the benchmark right now.” Trainer Greg Hope said it was “astounding” what Monbet was doing at age four, having set alight the Summer Of Glory with a barnstorming win in the APCO Australasian Trotting Championship. “Most horses, when they are racing at the top level, need a bit of age on them really, but he’s stepped up at a young age,” Hope told RSN. “I think he can (take improvement into tonight). I think he’s going to need too, Speeding Spur is coming and Keystone Del and there’s going to be a battle up there.” Among those kept tight in the market is Andy Gath’s Glenferrie Typhon, an in-form horse in an in-form trainer. “His last two runs have been career best runs, and maybe this one will have to top them,” Gath said. “It’s a great field. We were helped by the barrier draw and he has pretty good gate speed.” Gath said Glenferrie Typhoon had matured nicely into the quality horse he knew he had the ability to become, but would face his toughest test tonight. Golino’s chance, Arboe, has been somewhat forgotten after a disappointing Australasian Trotting Championships, when expectations it would take the fight to Monbet fizzled in the first heat. Golino said Arboe “got a little fierce” in the lead-up, which affected her airways. “Hopefully it’s something we can just forget about and put a line through it. She is back to herself, training well,” he said. “She’s had nine starts and these horses are hardened, seasoned racehorses. Ability is not the question, but it is a tough challenge for her.” Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

Amid all the “Kiwi this” and “New Zealand that”, which has dominated much of the Summer Of Glory conversation, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley’s strong stable is happy to wait in the shadows until show time on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Champion trotter Keystone Del will attempt to unseat New Zealand raiders Monbet and Speeding Spur in the Settle Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. And 89 minutes later Messini will rip from barrier six to take the fight to Ohoka Punter and Smolda in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Lilley’s runners are among the few Australian chances at single-figure odds in the betting, and the Bolinda trainer was looking forward to having his chargers return to the grand stage. It will be familiar ground for five-time Group 1 winner Keystone Del, who Lilley said had “been going really well”. “We have kept him a little on the fresh side lately because it will be 12 or so weeks from the start (of his campaign) to the Great Southern Star and he has a very busy schedule,” he said. “He is the forgotten horse a little bit with Monbet, but it is a star-studded field.” Lilley said the attention given to the favourite was not misguided. “He’s all class Monbet. We will probably have an advantage, having been drawn inside him. “Anthony (Butt) is a very good race driver and will try and place (Keystone Del) in the running. But it is not just Monbet, it’s Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur is going very well and has a good draw. “There are definitely half a dozen chances in the race. It is never ever easy and you expect to get competition, that is what it is all about. This is one of the best trotting fields we’re seen over here.” There will be no excuses from Keystone Del’s camp. “He’s ready to go. It’s so hard to always peak with all the group 1s over the next five to six weeks, but he’ll be more than competitive.” Similarly, Messini is expected to give followers a good sight in the A. G. Hunter Cup, having performed admirably in last Saturday’s showcase. “He went really good in the Victoria Cup,” Lilley said. “He made an early move, then got held up at the corner and hit the line full of running. “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to this week. The 3200m and standing start don’t hold any worries.“ Drawn sixth, Messini could well be in the mix, but there is plenty of pace inside, not the least of all being Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ohoka Punter (barrier three) and Smolda (barrier five). “Some of the better chances have drawn the front row. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the first 100m, we’ll be up among it,” Lilley said. “In an ideal world we’d step to the front and stay there, but everyone on the front row is thinking the same. “If we step good and get to the front of the field that would be great, but it’s a 3200m race and so there’s plenty of time to work into it.” by Michael Howard

The old saying in harness racing that form is temporary and class is permanent was never better displayed when Vulcan turned his career around with an outstanding win at Addington last night. The 8 year old son of Earl has been a big player at the elite level in the not to distant past but has been struggling during the last twelve months  to recapture that sort of form. This is a trotter who has racked up 10 Group 1 wins on both sides of the Tasman with 5 Group 1 wins in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand his victories include the coveted Dominion Handicap, two Harness Jewels victories as well as successes in the New Zealand Trotting Championship and New Zealand Trotting Free For All. In Australia his biggest wins were in the inaugural Great Southern Star (Heat + Final), The Knight Pistol Trot, V L Dullard Trotting Cup and the Australian Trotting Grand Prix. It is an outstanding record however you look at it and judging by last nights win he is not finished yet. With his form dropping away this season,the decision was made after the Dominion Handicap this year to lease a share of the horse to Roddy Butt. Vulcan was transferred to the beach training complex of David and Catherine Butt with Roddy doing most of the day to day work with the horse since his transfer.  In his three runs from his new quarters Vulcan was ok at Geraldine before running a much better race to run 4th at Methven last Sunday to Royal Aspirations in the trotters Green Mile. Last night driver Bob Butt who was wearing Roddy's colours had Vulcan away well from his 35 metres handicap and he settled seventh in the running early. Working up on the inner, Vulcan was four back as Vacanza set a hectic pace in front. Going past the 800 metres Vulcan was shuffled back to last and then hooked on to the three wide line on Valmagne's back. Going past the 500 metres mark Bob pushed the go button and Vulcan looped the field and shot clear as they turned for home. At the line Vulcan was still 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Royal Aspirations in a display that was more like the Vulcan of old. Vulcan trotted the 2600 metres from a stand in 3:15.4, a mile rate of 2:00.9 and only 6/10ths of a second outside of the New Zealand record for the trip held by Royal Aspirations. It was Vulcan's 19th career win and along with 19 placings took his earning to $994,969 and cracking the million is now on the radar. "It would be great to crack the million with him as he deserves it after what he has achieved," Bob Butt told Harnesslink this morning. "That is the immediate aim and we will just keep him to races like the one last night to give him every chance to crack the million," Bob said. Judging by the manner of his last to first burst last night it won't be too long until Vulcan cracks the million dollar mark. Never a horse that has received the accolades his performances have deserved, Vulcan deserves every bit of praise that he will receive when he cracks the million mark in the next few weeks. Harnesslink Media  

Exciting Kiwi trotter Stent is the is the 2013/14 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master. The Colin and Julie DeFilippi trained five-year-old displayed great tenacity throughout the series contesting four of the six legs which resulted in a Group One victory in the Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton. Stent was placed in the other three events he contested. The six leg Trotting Masters series comprises of the Hellers Dominion Handicap, Glenferrie Farm Challenge, Australian Trotting Grand Prix, Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, ANZAC Cup and the Canam Rowe Cup. Stent finished the series with 260 points, 40 points clear of his nearest rival Keystone Del who managed to win both the Glenferrie Farm Challenge on his home track of TABCORP Park, Menangle plus the Great Southern Star. The Dream Vacation gelding amassed more than $200,000 in prizemoney this season. The top five point scorers on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters this season were; Stent (260 points) Keystone Del (220) Master Lavros (201) Superbowlcheerleader (101) My High Expectations (90) The crowning of Stent continues this amazing record New Zealand trotters possess at the elite level following on from last year’s hero Vulcan while names like I Can Doosit, One Over Kenny, Mountbatten, Allegro Agitato, Take A Moment and the ultimate champion Lyell Creek. The opening leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters was held in November at Addington during Cup week and giant trotter Master Lavros proved he was a star on the rise when he proved too strong for aging warrior Stig with Stent third. The 3200m stand start feature was covered in a time of 2;03.2. Action then headed to Sydney for the Glenferrie Farm Challenge and born again trotter Keystone Del finished best to score defeating Stent while Elegant Image filled third placing. The 1609m mobile feature was covered in a time of 1;53.9. With the spotlight firmly on Melbourne for the next two legs, Stent stood tall and claimed a thoroughly deserving victory in the Australian Trotting Grand Prix defeating Aleppo Midas and My High Expectations. Stent rated 1;59.1 for the 2240m mobile feature. The Great Southern Star which comprises of heats and final on the same program was taken by Keystone Del who finished with a well-timed sprint to defeat Stent and My High Expectations. The 1720m mobile feature was covered in a time of 1;56.5. The final two legs of the series were hosted by the Auckland Trotting Club at Alexandra Park and the ANZAC Cup was taken out by the mare Superbowlcheerleader who nosed out Aussie invader Zedalite while Cool Cobber finished third. Superbowlcheerleader rated 2;00.9 for the 2200m mobile feature. Master Lavros started the season with a victory in the Dominion and ended the series with another victory by claiming the Rowe Cup after holding off the challenge of Sheemon with Boizel back in third. The 3200m stand start feature was covered in a time of 2;03.9. It was another wonderful season but Stent is the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master, congratulations to Colin and Julie DeFilippi and owner Trevor Casey. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

HRV’s international ambassadors have well and truly arrived for the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star this Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton and with them they have brought world-wide coverage to Victoria’s newest flagship trotting race. Chantal Sutherland and Corey Callahan have already excelled in their fields – Sutherland a star US jockey and Callahan the leading reinsman in the states this season. And joining them is Jonas Czernyson, one of the young guns of the training scene in North America. Each of the three are Group 1 winners in their chosen field and are highly respected horse people. Sutherland – also known for her work on TV in the documentary series Jockeys and drama show Luck – will be riding in the Monte race on the night, competing aboard the Chris Lang Jr-trained Lysenko. Callahan will strut his stuff in the Drivers Invitation race when he takes the reins behind the Dean Braun-trained trotter Duke Of The Moment. The third of the trio, Czernyson, will be observing the Australian trainers throughout the lead up and on the night itself as they prepare to peak their horses twice within three hours. In addition to Great Southern Star night, the international ambassadors will be treated to a range of activities including a trip to an AFL Footy match, Healesville Sanctuary, the races, leading stud Aldebaran Park, Trotting sales and a raft of media commitments. For more information please contact Brett Boyd on 0410 469 382 or email bboyd@hrv.org.au.

As David Aiken’s reputation as one of Victoria’s best trainers grows, so too does his affinity with the squaregaiter. In many ways, just as trotting as a whole have, Aiken has pinned his badge to the gait which is used exclusively across Scandinavia. And it’s starting to pay rewards. He has developed My High Expectations from a solid performer up north, to one of Australia’s best and brightest in just 18 months. And his other stable star, Cold Sister, has stamped herself as one of the top two of her sex as she contests a second Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star. She will be the first of Aiken’s Group 1 double to step out when she takes on the first elimination heat at 7pm and from barrier six, it’s might turn out to be the front or bust for connections. “She has that early speed so over the short trip we will see how it pans out but we usually go forward with her and try to find someone to sit on. That would probably be the plan I’d say,” Aiken said. “It’s a great race to be a part of and she has shown she has been competitive with the boys. It was a hard decision but we made the same decision last year and we didn’t regret it.” In fact, both of Aiken’s squaregaiting stars ran in the race last year and My High Expectations showed that he was capable in the big league on this night 12 months ago. Last week in the Australian Trotting Grand Prix he was stuck three wide – albeit with cover – for most of the journey. “It was just one of those races that didn’t pan out. Chris (Lang) probably drove to get the good sit on us with Kyvalley Blur but then he was hung out three wide and that put us wide for the last mile and then Chris couldn’t take me into it,” Aiken said. “I thought his run was very good last week. There’s a lot of speed inside but I think I’ll be going forward to get a spot there somewhere. “It’s a really even series with Stent and Flying Isa, Blitzthemcalder so it’s pretty strong but I couldn’t be happier with my bloke.” My High Expectations is $6 to win the series with TAB fixed odds while value punters will be able to secure $51 about Cold Sister to take the title.       By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

The radical rules for Saturday's A$400,000 Great Southern Star are forcing Colin De Filippi to abandon his legendary patience. De Filippi has been known for decades as the harness racing driver with soft hands and the ability to wait, both on the track and in his training decisions. That patience won him a New Zealand Cup with Kym's Girl and a drivers' premiership in 2006, when he reined 121 winners. After a Hall of Fame career, De Filippi is more relaxed about his racing ambitions these days, training just 11 horses with wife Julie and driving 30 winners last season. But the 61-year-old says there is still no thrill like training and driving a top horse which Stent, winner of last Saturday's A$100,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix, undoubtedly is. His belief in his stable star, coupled with the conditions of the Great Southern Star in Melbourne this Saturday night, suggest you can teach an old dog new tricks. It is based on the famous Elitlopp in Sweden which has proven so expensive and elusive for Australasian trotters and that also extends to the GSS's conditions, which is where De Filippi realises he will need to be decisive.The Great Southern Star comprises two A$50,000 ($53,000) heats run at 7pm and 7.31pm Melbourne time with a A$300,000 final at 10pm. Racing twice at group one level in the same night is tough enough but the connections of the finalist get to choose their own barrier draws in the order they qualify in the heats. With sprint racing around Melton being notoriously biased toward those racing handy, the option to choose barrier one or two for the final is crucial. Stent has the huge advantage of drawing the ace in his heat and De Filippi says with a heat victory ensuring he can choose where he starts from in the final, he will be getting aggressive come Saturday night. "He has always been a horse I have looked after but I realise Saturday is a little bit different," says De Filippi. "I will be asking him to show more gate speed this week in the heat and try and lead and stay there because then we are masters of our own destiny in the final. "And I think he will be able to show it [gate speed]. He has natural speed, it is just that I haven't asked him much in the past." De Filippi admits he has never raced a horse twice in one night before, even though he cut his teeth on the rugged South Island circuits where two races in a day were not uncommon. "It has never been my style but this is a magnificent series and a A$300,000 final. "And he is coming into it on the way up. He feels good and is really fit so I think he will handle it. "But I must admit I don't know much about the whole two races in one night thing." Stent is already profiting from De Filippi's patience as he is in career-best form after being allowed to dodge Australian campaigns the last two seasons. "His owner Trevor Casey has been good enough to back my opinion and it is now paying dividends," says De Filippi. "And being the type of horse he is he could race on for another four years." That could see Stent put together a huge bankroll as the money on offer for trotters around Australasia continues to grow and Stent definitely knows how to claim a cheque. In his past 28 starts dating back two years, he has won 12, been second 12 times and third twice, with this only two unplaced runs being when he galloped away in the Rowe Cup last season and when he became tangled up with the starting tape at Alexandra Park in December. He meets much-hyped Aussie trotter Blitzthemcalder in his heat this Saturday but the other, later heat looks much stronger, including Flying Isa, Keystone Del and defending champion Vulcan. The series has been robbed of some Kiwi interest though through injuries to Peak and The Fiery Ginga and Stig going sore after racing at Addington last Friday, while the connections of Master Lavros, Irish Whisper, Habibti and Sovereignty have decided to bypass it for form reasons. Great Southern Star Where: Melton, Victoria. When: Saturday night. What: Trotting series, with two heats as races 3 and 4, with final as race 9. Who: Many of the best trotters from around Australasia. How much: A$400,000 in total stakes. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Hearld  

The $400,000 Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star has quickly become a squaregaiting extravaganza in just its second year since inception. This morning’s barrier draw played a strong hand in just who might be the 2014 champion and as always there have been winners and losers as the dust settles on the fields for Saturday night. The first heat is full of some of the up and coming stars of the sport. Stent has drawn perfectly in barrier one following his Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix win last week while runner-up Aleppo Midas has pulled position three. Four-year-old star Blitzthemcalder will split the pair in barrier two as he aims to win the world-renown race at just his second start in the last seven weeks. In the second of the heats, arguably the stronger, Flying Isa has the aid over the pole as he returns to the mile which he so dominantly won at two starts back when breaking the Menangle track record. Contenders will come thick and fast however with dual-Glenferrie Challenge winner Keystone Del in three, last year’s winner Vulcan in four and My High Expectations in barrier six. The race, styled on the Elitloppet in Sweden, gives barrier preference to heat winners, followed by runners-up and so on meaning that each heat will be fiercely contested. And the night won’t just be highlighted by the Great Southern Star with Girls Night Out – and the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Series – playing a major role. A huge fundraising effort will be held on the night to support the fight against Ovarian Cancer. For more information on the Great Southern Star visit www.greatsouthernstar.com.au. For more information on the Women’s Cancer Foundation – Ovarian Cancer Institute visit http://www.womenscancerfoundation.org.au. And for Saturday night’s fields just click this link. \   HRV Media

Star Kiwi trotter Stent has blown the race wide open to be crowned the 2013/14 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters champion. Heading into last night’s (Saturday) Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton it was gridlock at the top of the leaderboard with a sole point separating three trotters. Dominion Handicap winner Master Lavros held a slender lead over Glenferrie Farm Challenge winner Keystone Del and the ultra-consistent Stent. But the success of Stent last night has seen him race away with a clear lead at the halfway point of the season. The Colin DeFilippi trained and driven five-year-old capitalized on a lovely run against the pegs throughout before forcing clear off the back straight and proving to be a decisive winner by five metres from Aleppo Midas and My High Expectations in a time of 1;59.1 for the 2240m event. Stent is raced by well-known identity Trevor Casey. The Dream Vacation – Belle Galleon gelding will back-up in next week’s Great Southern Star, a heat/final concept conducted on the same night which has been modelled on Sweden’s universally revered Elitlopp. Two heats of $50,000 will be staged before progressing to a $250,000 final. Three legs of the series remain with the Gr.1 $300,000 Great Southern Star at TABCORP Park, Melton scheduled for next weekend (March 22) before the action returns to Auckland. The $80,000 Glenferrie Farm Anzac Cup will be held on April 25 followed by the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup completes the season on May 9. The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters leaderboard is as follows; Stent (200 points) Keystone Del (120) Master Lavros (101) Stig (60) Elegant Image & Vulcan (40) by Chris Barsby

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