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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 harnessnews.com.au.  “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 www.racingbase.com

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

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a pacer that is certain to attract plenty of interest and attention as he chases the state’s best races. Name: Christen Me Stable Name: CC Age: 7yo gelding Owner: Charles Roberts & Vicki Purdon Trainer: Cran Dalgety Driver: Dexter Dunn Prizemoney: $2,356,392 Biggest win: Gr.1 Miracle Mile, Gr.1 Hunter Cup, Gr.1 Victoria Cup, Gr.1 Chariots of Fire Target: UBET Picket Fence Challenge – Gr.2 $50k Sunshine Sprint and Gr.1 $200k Blacks A Fake Trainer says: “He’s an elite athlete, one of the very best in this part of the world and a pleasure to be part of his team. He’s always performed every time he’s raced in Australia previously and although we venture into unchartered waters with Brisbane this time around, I’m confident he can get the job done. Unfortunately, we’ve missed the bulk of the season owing to a few setbacks but the Queensland campaign fits his schedule perfectly so hopefully we can pick up some money and some warm weather next month.” Barsby says: “The star attraction of the 2016 Brisbane winter carnival, what a thrill to have a horse of this magnitude racing in our backyard and vying for the lucrative prizes on offer. It’s a formidable trio of outstanding horse, trainer and driver so expect plenty of support to head his way when his graces the track at Albion Park. His form since resuming has been very good and the Australian style of racing suits him ideally – get your backside trackside to witness this modern day great.”

It was a night to remember for Wayne and Lyn Graham. Within the space of 25 minutes, the popular Queensland couple snared their biggest double during their long and decorated careers in harness racing after claiming the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle plus the $80,000 Albion Park Gold Final. Park Life, handled by their son Shane, claimed the Sydney classic while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson handled Jossie James in the home state feature. The respected couple have been a regular fixture in Brisbane harness racing circles for decades and has enjoyed tremendous success with such stars like Sparkling Melody, Mach Alert, Yahoo Buckaroo, Lively Highlander, Bossys Henry, Power In Disguise, Innocent Nero, Rapt In Red, French Heiress and Albert Aralar among others at Moomba Lodge, their property at Beaudesert. Their current team is headed by exciting four-year-old Major Coup, a last start winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park plus this pair of precocious fillies. Park Life, a $16,000 purchase from the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year is raced by Victorian based couple Stephen and Narelle Dickson in partnership with local owner Pete Poulsen. The filly was bred by Mario Di Carlo. From 6 starts to date, the Rock N Roll Heaven – Strawbs Interact filly has recorded 3 wins and 3 minor placings while amassing more than $168,000 in stakes. After drawing the coveted inside gate, Park Life was handled perfectly by the reigning Australian Driver of the Year and sat just off the pace which was set by race favourite High Rolling but that filly could not withstand the strong sprint from Park Life at the top of the long straight before defeating Victorian fillies Perfect Sense and Petacular in a time of 1:53.2. High Rolling finished 5th. The time is the fastest recorded by a two-year-old this season. While celebrations and presentations were underway for the diminutive filly, the couple took time out to witness stablemate Jossie James lead throughout and beat Our Major Day and Rock With Sam in the Brisbane feature. The punters favourite rated 1:55.4 in the 1660m event, slightly slower than her heat success of 1:55.0 eight days earlier. Bred and raced by longtime stable clients Trevor and Louise O’Reilly, the Big Jim – Empty Promises filly has now won 2 of her 4 starts to date. The filly was passed in at $7500 after failing to make the reserve price of $16,000 at the Brisbane division of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale last year. Jossie James has now banked more than $39,000 in stakes. The O’Reilly’s have been breeding from this family for over three generations and have enjoyed considerable success with this lineage. Local horseman Garry Fliedner has played a major role in the development of both fillies and was on hand at Albion Park to share in the celebrations. Both fillies will be aimed at the upcoming QBRED features during the Brisbane winter carnival. Chris Barsby

Melton harness racing debutante driver Tim Williams gave A Piccadilly Princess a brisk breather and then revved her up for a scintillating win in the Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks at Tabcorp Park Melton. The dip from the breeze to the box seat was described as “the winning move” by the connections of another Mark Purdon-trained Group 1 triumph, having overrun Emma Stewart’s super three-year-old filly Heavens Trend in the straight.  “It was a great performance,” Williams, 26, said of A Piccadilly Princess, who recorded a fifth straight victory and a seventh in 13 starts. “I’m privileged to be able to sit behind these horses with these colours on. I can’t thank Mark enough.” The filly by Bettor's Delight out of Hyde Park Royal had to earn the win. Flojos Gold flew out of the gates and was then crossed by Gavin Lang on Heavens Trend when they reached the back straight. As that was happening up front, down back Dancingwithsierra led A Piccadilly Princess three-wide, with the latter settling in the breeze outside Heavens Trend. “We got a good cart into it and that made a difference,” Williams said. There they remained through a 59.7 first half-mile before Lang stretched out on Heavens Trend in a 27.2 third quarter, with A Piccadilly Princess losing touch approaching the final bend and Williams dropping her on to the tail of the leader. “I thought I was in a wee bit of trouble,” Williams said. “It was a timely breather.” Having given more than a length, A Piccadilly Princess found new life down the straight, with the filly putting her nose in front at the 100m and advancing to win by 2.2m from Heavens Trend. Stewart’s other hope, Celebrity Guest, put in an enormous last 200m to draw from the pegs to the outside and storm home into third, relegating a resilient Dancingwithsierra to a close fourth. With some having flown in from Hong Kong for the race, a proud group of owners, including Simon Bradley, Michael Ward and Thomas Patterson, were on hand to accept the coveted Oaks. Patterson said Williams decision to provide their filly brief cover at the top of the straight may have made all the difference. “Coming around the bend we were a little concerned, but Tim was obviously confident he still had a little in her,” Patterson said. “He ducked in and I thought that the other one, Heavens Trend, had got away from us. But Mark and Nat and the team believe in what they have and Tim didn’t panic and it worked out and was probably the winning move.” Patterson said A Piccadilly Princess would return to Purdon’s New Zealand stable for a likely tilt at the New Zealand Oaks and a potential collision with stunning stablemate Our Dream About Me, who won the New South Wales Oaks. Cody Winnell    

With the arrival today of Chase The Dream from the all-star stables of Purdon/Rasmussen ahead of the Group 1 $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby, Top WA trainer Gary Hall Snr will be hard at work putting what he hopes to be winning touches on local harness racing hope Chicago Bull. Lets Chase The Dream (as it will be known in WA) will be stabled at Greg and Skye Bond’s property to contest the WA Derby prelude on Friday night and will most likely be driven by Gary Hall Jnr. Chicago Bull will have the week off after securing a spot in the Derby with an emphatic win over Sprinter and Cant Refuse who sat parked for the entire race in last Friday night's Group 2 Western Gateway Pace. “He is such a professional little race horse, he does what you want him too. I was pretty confident in the run… we know how fast he is and I was wrapped with the run we got” – Gary Hall Jnr In a post-race interview with Gary Hall Snr, he sung Chicago Bull's praises. “He is a winner, good horses win... We go into the WA Derby now, not confident with Chase The Dream coming over, but they are an even bunch of 3yo’s… ...I think it’s fantastic they’re coming over. I am worried though, if that horse wins there will be a truck load of super-stars here for the Inters!” Also on his way west is (OUR) Sky Major who will be trained by Justin Prentice. “I couldn’t be happier, I pick him up Monday night and I can’t wait to get him home” said Justin. Our Sky Major's condition will be assessed by Prentice when he arrives but it’s more than likely he will head to a paddock briefly to acclimatise to the Australian conditions. “He will probably have one or two weeks off and have a brief winter campaign and then set him up for the summer carnival” by Scott Hamilton | GPTV

The QBRED Breeders Classic 3yo Finals were full of high excitement and intense drama. Both divisions were held as Gr.2 $50,000 events at Albion Park last night (Friday) over 2138m and quality was strong with a number of chances heavily spruiked for the respective harness racing finals. In the colts and geldings finals, punters found it hard to split Timmo Time, Frankie Rocks, Leos Best and Catcha Lefty. With Timmo Time making an error at the start, Catcha Lefty charged around the field to lead before reaching the 1600m before the Grant Dixon trained duo of Leos Best and Frankie Rocks making early moves. More interference was met at the bell which enabled Leos Best to find the back of Catcha Lefty. In the straight, Leos Best ($5) finished best via the sprintlane to beat the unlucky Timmo Time ($4.10) by a half neck margin with a further neck away to Catcha Lefty ($2.40 fav) in third. The mile rate was 1:57.0. Leos Best was driven by Bart Cockburn and is raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. The Cammibest – Miss Marleo gelding is a graduate of the Redcliffe Yearling Sale and is now the winner of more than $134,000 in stakes. In the fillies’ final, again, it was a race marred by interference. The Grant Dixon stable was well represented with punters finding it hard to split Cherish The Moment and Get In The Groove. Speedy filly Firebby fired off the gate to lead and ran along at a genuine speed while Cherish The Moment was forced to race without cover. Heading off the back straight, Cherish The Moment gave ground quickly before breaking which caused a massive chain reaction of interference which had a number of fillies in trouble including Reds Jet Star, Covert Beauty and Get In The Groove. At the line, it was Georgia Grace ($20) who made the most of her luck to score by 2.3 metres from Firebby ($26.20) who nosed out Hereiam ($67.50). The winning mile rate was 1:57.4. Georgia Grace is trained by Shawn Grimsey and was handled perfectly by Adam Sanderson. The Rock N Roll Heaven – Grace With Pace filly is raced by Barry Grimsey and his daughter-in-law Michelle Grimsey and was purchased at the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Brisbane Sales after being bred by Kevin and Kay Seymour. Georgia Grace has now amassed more than $60,000 in prizemoney. The Listed $25,000 QBRED Breeders Classic 4yo Finals were also staged and the mares final was taken out by Bettor Promise ($3.40) who outstayed Mathilda Diventa ($4.80) while Bettorthanspecial ($2 fav) finished a close-up third. Despite racing without cover, Bettor Promise rated 1:55.8. The Bettor's Delight – As Promises mare has now won the 2yo and 4yo divisions of the Breeders Classic Finals while finishing 6th in the 3yo Final last year. Bettor Promise is trained in partnership by Shannon Price and Scott Miller and provided Bart Cockburn with another triumph on the night. In the Entires and Geldings Final, race favourite Major Coup ($1.20 fav) led throughout to defeat Constantlysideways ($10) by 3m with Drifting Away ($23.90) in third. The winning mile rate was 1:55.9. Major Coup is trained by Wayne Graham and was handled by his reinsman son Shane. The Art Major – Attracts Attention gelding is raced by his breeder, Terry Flynn. Racing Queensland

Today at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Dream About Me showed once again why she has yet to be beaten in twelve lifetime starts with a display of power that left a talented field of harness racing three year old fillies with no answers. Away from the tricky draw on the inside of the second line early in the $200,000 New South Wales Oaks Final, driver Natalie Rasmussen looped the field with a mile to go to sit outside the leader Rocknroll Magic. Applying pressure from the 800 metres with a quarter down the back in 27.2, Dream About Me surged to the lead on the last corner and that was the race done and dusted. Champion West Australian filly Dodolicious ran on strongly for second nine metres in arrears of Dream About Me with a further nine metres back to the outsider Art Mistress who made ground late for third. Dream About Me cut out the 2400 metres in 2:50.3, a mile rate of 1:54.2 which equalled the track record for a three year old filly and the closing sectionals were cut out in a quick 55 and 27.8. The daughter of Bettor's Delight looked to be cruising in the home straight and looked to have plenty to offer still. Natalie was stoked with the performance  " She just won that with ridiculous ease." " She was waiting for them in the straight, flicking her ears and messing about." " This is an exceptional filly and I don't think people realise how good she is." " I know Lazarus and Waikiki Beach are outstanding colts but I seriously think she is good enough to beat them," Natalie told Harnesslink this afternoon. Leading West Australian trainer Greg Bond was over the moon with the performance of his filly Dodolicious to run second. " It is no disgrace to run second to a champion and my filly was clearly the second best filly out there today so we are thrilled with her run." " The fact I bred the filly makes the result just that bit sweeter" " It was a big call to make the trip from Perth but you never win anything staying at home" " She can go  home now and get ready for the Oaks in Perth," Greg said. A lot of pundits have been arguing over the merits of Waikiki Beach and Lazarus as to who is the best three year old in Australasia. With Natalie's forthwright comments today, two possabilities has now become three and that clash between the three All Stars champions when it happens will be one of the highlights of the season. Our Dream About Me Harnesslink Media 

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