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The curtain has come down on the harness racing career of outstanding Kyabram-trained trotting mare Claudys Princess. Wear and tear has contributed to ongoing problems to keep the seven-year-old Bacardi Lindy mare racing and the decision was made this week to retire her to the life of a broodmare. As co-breeder with Josh Pell and owner of Claudys Princess it has been an unbelievable ride for me personally and the other members of the Catchya Syndicate which has raced the mare throughout her career. With not even one potential buyer when she was offered for sale as a scrawny yearling with a reserve of only $4000 at a mixed sale run by the Shepparton Harness Racing Club in 2012, Princess has done pretty well for herself. In fact 22 wins, 14 seconds and five thirds from 53 starts and stake earnings of more than $400,000 which has her sitting in fourth place on the Australian all-time female trotters money earners list. Only household names such as Scotch Notch, Somethingaboutmaori and La Coocaracha have won more prizemoney. Three of her five Group One wins were in finals of the Vicbred Super Series at the ages of two, three and four. The only other female Australian trotter to achieve this feat was the David Aiken-trained super trotter Spidergirl. Claudys Princess claimed almost every feature event for trotting fillies in her three-year-old season, winning the Victoria and NSW Oaks, the Vicbred final and finishing second to her great rival Illawong Helios in the Victoria Derby. Top reinsman Gavin Lang partnered her to 21 of her 22 wins with NSW horseman Darren Hancock in the sulky when she won the La Coocaracha trotting mares feature at Menangle in 2015 in personal best career mile rate time of 1:55.5. But she was credited with a 1:54.7 time when she finished second to Glenferrie Typhoon in the Maori Mile at Bendigo early last year. Shepparton and Kilmore trotters cup triumphs and a mares Breeders Crown title are also on her impressive resume. Nurtured by Kyabram trainer Graeme Lyon in her two-year-old season she provided Lyon with his first Group One winner when she won the Vicbred Super Series final in 2013. Mick Blackmore took the reins as Claudys Princess trainer when she was a three-year-old and he went on to guide her to 21 wins. Blackmore this week described Claudys Princess as a once-in-a-lifetime horse who had enabled him to compete at the elite racing level in the industry for several years. ‘‘She stood out because of her easy-going graceful action, great nature and her iron will-to-win,’’ Blackmore said. ‘‘Not many horses could come back from a bleeding attack she suffered when a five-year-old and still be competitive at the very top level. ‘‘In her very last race in August this year when she was having niggling injury problems she was still gutsy enough to run second to the champion Keystone Del, a million dollar earner. ‘‘Probably her best career run ever though was in the Victoria Derby when she ran second. ‘‘It’s been a privilege to train her and I just love her for the good times she has given us and the beautiful mare she is.’’ Connections will now wait anxiously for her first foal, hopefully by Majestic Son, to continue the dream. Gus Underwood - Shepparton News

The Boss Man landed a knockout blow in today’s Zonzo Estate Yarra Valley Trotters Cup to deliver the harness racing silverware to Junortoun trainer Scott Dyer and reinswoman Ellen Tormey. The seven-year-old son of Bacardi Lindy (out of Sundon mare Oh Yes Indeed) came off 10m in the Group 3, $20,000, 2650-metre standing start event and clocked a rate of 2:03.0 – the fourth-fastest race time ever. “Once Ellen pulled him out today, off he went,” Dyer said. “He’s that sort of horse. Once you pull him out he tows you in to the race.” Dyer had plenty of praise for Tormey’s drive and said her intimate knowledge of the gelding held her in good stead. “I’m rapt for her. She drove him very well … He’s the sort of horse you need to know a fair bit and Ellen gets along with him well.” Stepping away well from the tapes The Boss Man settled one-one, which eventually became one-two when El Paco marched to the breeze inside the final mile. Leader Lord Liam trotted through his first half in 61.9secs and appeared certain to have a good kick left, but when Tormey took her charge three-wide down the back it was almost game over by the quarter pole. The Boss Man rounded up the leaders with absolute authority, pinching a 10m-or-so break at the bend before coasting to the line with 8.9 metres to spare on runner-up K D Muscles (Kate Gath), with Aleppo Sunrise (Haydon Gray) a further 5.1m back in third. The last 400m was covered in 28.3secs, so the winner’s bettered 56.9secs home. Dyer said the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint at Tabcorp Park Melton was potentially a short-term aim for The Boss Man. VIDEO: RE-LIVE THE BOSS MAN'S WIN “I’m more than happy to take him to Melton to take on Keystone Del in the mile race. I know it’s a huge step up but he’s got to start racing them if he’s to take that next step,” he said. Asked if there was one race more than any other he’d like to win Dyer replied, “I’m a bit old-school, so I just take it one race at a time.” It has been an eventful experience training The Boss Man, Dyer said, the 17-time winner overcoming a serious illness caused by a suspected spider bite a year ago. “He nearly died,” Dyer said. “It was a bit like Love Ina Chevy. He’s had to overcome a fair bit.” The Boss Man leads the Maori’s Idol Trophy series (Victoria’s trotting country cups premiership) on five points, one clear of El Paco and Majestic Ess Jay. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Gippsland trotter Cruisin Around has been declared the Australian Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding of the Year on the back of a stellar season of harness racing. The young horse captured the Breeders Crown Final, Vicbred Super Series Final and the Holmfield Classic for local horseman Michael Hughes and a syndicate of owners. All told, the Bacardi Lindy gelding collected eight wins and three placings from 14 starts for stakemoney of $123,310 last season. Australian Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year for the recently completed season is the Gippsland bred, New Zealand trained Our Waikiki Beach. In his second season of racing, Our Waikiki Beach won 11 races with one placing from 12 starts, including the Breeders Crown and New South Wales Derby Finals. The horse was only beaten once during the season - in fact that was his only defeat so far when he took on the older horses in Sydney. Our Waikiki Beach won the Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year title in 2015. Former local Jodi Quinlan trains Illawong Byron, declared Australian Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding of the Year for 2015/2016. Further award success may come for local harness racing over coming weeks, with the Victorian industry awards to be announced in early November. Kyle Galley

The heartache of 2015 made all the more glorious the ecstasy of 2016 for the connections of Cruisin Around, who won the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series at Tabcorp Park Melton for harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings. In Greg Sugars’ hands the trotter overcome favourite Sundons Courage to win for Cranbourne trainer Michael Hughes and a merry band of Cranbourne owners. Among them was Bill Hutchison, who said it was the “greatest night of my life in harness racing”. “There’s no greater fun than owning a horse with blokes like this,” Hutchison said. “Cranbourne blokes, I’ve been on the committee about three or four years down there now, we got together ... this is sensational.” The gelding by Bacardi Lindy out of Cloud Chaser was beaten 2.6m into second by Chris Angove-trained Sundons Courage in the two-year-old Vicbred race last year, a fact not lost on his owners. “We had unfinished business and we got there tonight, and he proved he’s the best of them,” Hutchison said. Having started the back row, Sugars had Cruisin Around one-out three-back mid-race before drawing three-wide down the back straight to chase leader Sundons Courage, driven by Chris Alford. “Always a little bit of a concern with the two main dangers obviously going to settle down a fair way in front of us,” Sugars said. “Drawn the back row we had to rely on a little bit of luck at some stage, but that meant that we didn’t spend any petrol earlier.” Sugars tried to join the front runners at the turn but Sundons Courage remained strong out front. “When Chrissy kicked and I just got to his wheel I was flat out and he seemed to be going well on the leader, I wasn’t confident I was going to pick him up,” Sugars said. But the last 50m was all Cruisin Around.  “They had to do a bit of work to find the front in Sundons Courage and we got off relatively easy, lobbed within a couple of lengths and that was probably the difference over the last 150m,” Sugars said. “Halfway up the straight this horse really dug deep and I felt him lift and Sundons Courage probably just felt the pinch for that early work and (Cruisin Around) was strong to the finish.  “There’s not much between those two, as we’ve seen they have fought out quite a few finishes, not only this preparation but last season as well. “It’s good to turn the tables on him in the Vicbred when I thought we had the race shot to pieces last year. Really pleased for this group of owners, the horse did a terrific job. Full credit to (trainer) Mick (Hughes), he had him in tip-top order this whole campaign.” A 29.6 last quarter sealed a 2:00.3 winning mile rate for Cruisin Around and a terrific result for Hughes. “It was special. We just missed out last year as a two-year-old when Sundons Courage just got him on the line,” Hughes said. “This time we reversed the tables and it was a good effort, great drive by Greg. “Last prep he gave me a few headaches but this time in he has been really good. He was very immature last time in but he has sort of grown half a brain this time, put it all together and he has the record on the board.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A two-year-old gelding broke his maiden status at Tabcorp Park Melton Friday nightband in doing so delivered his Elmore harness racing trainer her first Group 1 victory. Needabacardi was the toast of the town when the Bacardi Lindy gelding by Modern Maori mowed down favourites Illawong Byron and Deltasun to win the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for two-year-old colts and geldings. The victory brought a career highlight for trainer Jenny Johnson. “My first Group 1, obviously, (part-owner) Graham (Johannesen’s) had a few, but the first one for me,” Johnson said. “He has got a lot of speed and he’s improved a lot in a couple of starts. He’s going very well. A big win for Elmore, the town’s doing well.” Illawong Byron found the front for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan and controlled the race, with 31.4 and 32.0 first and second quarters setting up what loomed as a dramatic showdown between the gelding and Deltasun on his back. But it was Needabacardi, three back the pegs, who had the most left in the tank and Anthony Butt hit the line first in a 2:03.0 mile rate. “He went really good in the heat, gave me a really good feel that night. He got knocked down in the start and recovered really well,” Butt said. “I thought from the draw he needed a little bit of luck and things panned out really good for him. “He’s just a lovely horse. Apparently he had done things wrong his first couple of starts through a bit of inexperience. These young trotters, they just have to put it all together and he has a really big motor.” The win, at $16.70, brought great joy to owners Graeme Johannesen, Wendy Dalton, Sandra Brown, Colin Pascoe, Richard Jones and Chris Jones. “He was a bit of a pain to start with, he was a yearling and it’s good to get him through and prove that you are not completely over the hill,” Johannesen said. “He’s a nice horse. He was in the sales and he hurt a leg or got a cold or something. We were working a half-brother to him at the time. When this bloke was there we sort of looked at him, got a few people together and bought him. This bloke’s got a lot of ability, he’s a nice horse.” Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria

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

There were plenty of smiles in the Rangiora birdcage today when the Peter Robertson trained Bacardi N Coke captured the Fernside Handicap Trot. Driven to perfection by Craig Thornley who is well known for his big smile, the Bacardi Lindy gelding exploded through the gaps to record his second career victory. “He's getting stronger with racing and finally starting to figure out what it's all about” said part owner Maree Robertson. Away quickly from the stand, Bacardi N Coke was slotted into a trailing spot behind Sarah Palin, but with a couple of lead changes, Thornley soon found himself all dressed up with nowhere to go back on the pegs. With some jostling for positions happening up front, Thornley was able to sneak up the pegs before squeezing through between favourite Monkeys Way and Sarah Palin. “We have been getting some acupuncture for him lately and he really seems to be responding to it” The 4yo gelding is owned by Maree Robertson, Peter Robertson, Mitchell Robertson, Michelle Gason and Brad Robertson. Bacardi N Coke Meanwhile, Balcairn trainer and driver Don Burrows picked up his first driving win since 2003 when he saluted the judge with maiden trotter Lightworkofit. His last driving win was In Shot at the Kapiti Coast on the 3rd of January 2003, but since then Burrows also trained 3 winners including Stanley Bay who was successful at Hawera back in April of 2007, Robbie Holmes was the driver on the occasion. Lightworkofit Andrew Fitzgerald

Punters left Tabcorp Park Melton on a high after favourites dominated the nine-race harness racing card, including well-travelled three-year-old High Gait, who added a third Australian Group 1 to her decorated career. Driver Chris 'Puppet' Alford brought up his 200th win in Victoria for the season in the Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks when he steered High Gait to a hard-earned victory, with the Muscles Yankee filly out of Regal Volo having to fight off a terrific Red Hot Tooth to claim the bulk of the $60,575 stakes. “(High Gait) is a professional little horse. They have probably caught up to her a little bit from last year, but she was still good enough to win,” Alford said. “It’s always good to drive a real nice trotter and ones like this don’t come along too often.” The win rewarded the efforts of trainer Nicole Molander, who has taken back responsibility for the filly after a stint in leading Kiwi trainer Mark Purdon’s care. The Group 1 win was hard earned, with Kari Males’ filly Red Hot Tooth (Yankee Paco/Karaka Tooth) defying her $36 odds to lead impressively. She was joined by the favourite at the 400m mark but never gave up the fight, with High Gait’s class edge bearing fruit in the dying stages to win by 1.3m. “There was plenty of action early and I had to probably come out earlier than what I would have liked,” Alford said. “She got to the front and, I’m not sure what happened, she was going to win by a length and just clocked off, but fortunately she held on.” It was the second of a double for Alford on the night, having earlier steered Our Missionary Man (Jeremes Jet/Hawthorne) to victory in the DNR Logistics Pace for trainer Emma Stewart. Stewart also walked away with a double after Major Secret’s return from a lengthy lay-off continued to bring success, having claimed the tab.com.au Pace for two consecutive victories in the hands of driver Gavin Lang. “For a horse that’s come back after nearly 12 months off and to win two races in a row like that, it’s really a credit to everybody involved,” Lang said of the five-year-old by Art Major out of Secret Life. “We all know how good he has been, but to come back and race at this level and show the ability he has got, to sundry and all it’s a great effort.” Alan Tubbs’ four-year-old Ponder gelding, Tee Cee Bee Macray, again produced a show-stopping burst to salute, this time winning the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Pace final for driver Greg Sugars. “He’s got tremendous speed,” Sugars said. “That’s a pretty impressive last quarter … he would have run clearly under 27 (seconds). Very fast horse, very bright future in front of him.” From last at the bell, Tee Cee Bee Macray was given cover into the race before taking off four-wide around the last corner to pursue Kerryn Manning’s heat winner Miss Dreamin and Mildura flyer Murranji Track, who emerged from the box seat into the sprint lane. None could match Tee Cee Bee Macray’s irresistible pace. “He’s turning into more and more of a racehorse every time he steps out on to the track,” Sugars said. “That speed he’s got, it’s going to hold him in good stead when he’s up in grade against better horses, because he can follow any speed and still finish off just as quick. He’s an exciting animal.” Others to venture into the winners’ circle included talented trotters Illawong Byron and Claudys Princess. Trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan's two-year-old gelding by Muscle Mass out of Illawong Blush registered a fourth win from seven starts when Illawong Byron won the Group 2 Haras Des Trotteurs Tatlow Stakes. “He was very fired up tonight in the warm up,” Quinlan said post-race. “I always planned to press forward, I just had to really balance him early. He was just trying to go a little bit too hard and starting to mix his gear a little bit. That’s all an experience thing and if he settles he doesn’t usually trot like that, he usually trots quite good. He is just getting a little fired up.” But despite being a temperamental two-year-old he proved too good, as did Claudys Princess (Bacardi Lindy/All Finesse) who by contrast was once again on her best behaviour to win the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot for trainer Michael Blackmore and driver Gavin Lang. “That’s been the great thing about (Claudys Princess), her manners have been exemplary all her life and, as you know, in the trotting ranks you are halfway home when they are like that,” Lang said. There were further smiles in trainer Michael Barby and driver Anne-Maree Conroy’s camp after It Is Billy also confirmed his top billing to win the Mittys Young Pedro Free For All, a second straight success for the It Is I gelding out of Glenlyon Glad. Having led throughout a 26.8 last quarter clinched the deal for It Is Billy. “He can move when he wants too,” Conroy said. “It’s terrific that he did win. The (owners) are happy all the time, it’s great to win for them.” Also making it two wins in as many meetings at Tabcorp Park Melton was Tenno Dance, who won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap for trainer Glenn Sharp and driver Josh Duggan. The five-year-old by Tennotrump out of Disco Dance registered a half-head win from Jimbo Johnson. The night closed with an old favourite from trainer David Aiken’s stable, Smudge Bromac, winning the Cogs Claiming Pace, a 34th career win for the 10-year-old veteran of 189 races. “He went awesome,” driver Josh Aiken said. “He knows his job and loves racing and it’s just good he can still win at age 10.” by Michael Howard

Fresh from his maiden Group 1 training victory with Bacardi Hurricane in Saturday night's Need For Speed Prince Final at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton, Jarrod Alchin is contemplating whether to start the three-year-old trotter in Thursday's Bathurst Gold Coronet. Alchin will not risk the lightly raced trotter with so many feature races remaining in the season and will determine later in the week whether the son of Bacardi Lindy will make the trip to Bathurst. "Bacardi Hurricane is in the Gold Coronet, he travelled back from Melbourne to Sydney on Monday and I'll see how he pulls up," Alchin said. "At this stage he'll go around but he'll want to travel home well because he's still got the Foundation Final, The Flying Mile and the NSW Trotters Derby just across the road coming up." Alchin thanked the connections of Bacardi Hurricane for being patient and believes their decision to spell the trotter as a two year old has been the making of him. "He had all the ability in the world as a two year old but to their credit the owners listened to me and we just tipped him out. In the long run that has done him the world of good, to look at him now he is still pretty immature and whatever he is doing at the moment he will improve on. "I've been friends with the Munday family for quite a few years since I moved to Menangle about twelve or thirteen years ago. To get my first group one as a trainer for them was very special." Alchin also praised his younger brother Alex who played a big role in Saturday night's success. Alex Alchin has been in Victoria for the past month in preparation for last Saturday night and also trained a winner at Melton with Cyclone Lucky Seven winning a Group 3. "Alex is going to go a long way, he has worked for all of the big trainers in Sydney like John and Luke McCarthy and Paul Fitzpatrick. Nothing gets missed, so when I thought about sending a team to Victoria I didn't hesitate to send Alex down with them. "Alex is going to make a great trainer in his own right. It depends on what he decides to do but I think he's going to go out on his own and try to get a team together. I know he'll be very successful at it because he is so professional." Greg Hayes

Just when you thought that Claudys Princess couldn't  get any better, Mick Blackmore's champion mare produces a run that has you reaching yet again for the superlatives. Last night at Tabcorp Park Melton, the daughter of Bacardi Lindy really shouldn't have won after having nothing go her way in the running in the small field. Eased off the gate by driver Gavin Lang, Claudys Princess settled fourth on the inner as Edge Hill and Blake Fitzpatrick set a moderate tempo in front. With just over a lap to go Gavin eased Claudys Princess out into the running line and she began to work forward slowly. Gong past the 800 metres, Blake Fitzpatrick opened the afterburners on Edge Hill and she sizzled down the back straight in 27.7. Claudys Princess stayed in contact but the rest of the field were feeling the pinch. Across the top Gavin slotted Claudys Princess down onto Edge Hill's back to give her a short breather before recommencing battle as soon as they straightened for home. Slowly but surely, Claudys Princess hauled in Edge Hill for a memorable win against the odds. Claudys Princess trotted the 2240 metres in 2:47.5, a mile rate of 2:00.3 with closing sectionals of 57 and 29.3 which Claudys Princess would have bettered by some margin. Last nights victory was number 19 from 30 career starts for stake earnings of $310,281. The staggering statistic is she has only missed a first three finish once in her 30 lifetime starts. A lot of age group starts have trouble making the step up to free for all class as older horses but Claudys Princess looks to have all the attributes necessary to make it in the best company. Harnesslink Media

As this weekends Australasian Breeders Crown finals loom large, here at Harnesslink we thought we would do a runner by runner preview of each of the finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. First up is the $84,000 two year old trotting fillies final 1) High Gait  (Muscles Yankee)     Starts 8   -   Wins 7   -   Seconds 1   -   Thirds 0     Stakes  $100,631   High Gait has had an outstanding season winning seven from eight and being beaten a nose in her other start. Beat the boys on Redwood day and from this draw with her gait speed it is hard to see her beaten.  Great manners just add to the impression that she is nigh on unbeatable from barrier 1 2) The Cooler  (Majestic Son)   Starts 4   -   Wins 0   -   Seconds 0   -   Thirds 3   -   Stakemoney $8,200 The Cooler is yet to go a bad race in her brief four start career with three thirds and a fourth. Hard to see her troubling two or three here on class but does things right which is a big plus in two year old trots. Throw in for trifectas and first fours 3) Smile Smile Smile  (Angus Hall)   -   Starts 3  -  Wins 2  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $7493 Promising filly with a good draw but needed to draw inside High Gait to be a chance to beat her. Still on the up and looks a major player her. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 4) A Nip Will Do (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 14  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 3  -  Stakes $7,178 Thereabouts in a lot of her starts this season but it is hard to see her playing a major part here. Several runners appear to have the wood on her in this race going on past performances. Not for us. 5) Jay Bee Flex (Federal Flex)  Starts 6  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 2  -  Stakes $4363 Last run at Maryborough was her best run this season, finishing a close up third to Smile Smile Smile. However the depth of this field is far stronger and the draw doesn't help either. Not for us. 6) Liava (Bacardi Lindy)  Starts 4  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1403 Has failed to really impress in her four starts todate. Hard to see on exposed form how she is a player here. Not for us 7) Parisian Chic (Love You)  Starts 6  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,658 A real winning chance if she had just drawn well instead of the outside of the front line. Really nice second two starts back to Missandei and has won three of her last four. Major player here but more a trifecta and first four chance due to the draw                                                                                                                         SECOND LINE 8) Missandei (Angus Hall)  Starts 7  -  Wins 3  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $76,530 The obvious danger to High Gait  having drawn on her back and seems to have improved even further since her Harness Jewels win. Only filly in this field to have beaten High Gait but her fortunes may depend on how much mid race pressure the favourite is put under. Can win this but does need a few things to go her way. Clear second pick. 9) Cobbler Creek (Great Success)  Starts 9  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $6438 Has won a race this season which is more than some here. Just appears to be be a length or two off the good ones in this race Not for us. 10) Sky Majesty (Skyvalley)  Starts 8  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 2  -  Thirds 1  -  Stakes $12,540 Has really come solid in her last four starts and has definitely improved lately. Needed a good front line draw to help her chances so from three second line she faces a real challenge. First four player at best for us from the draw. 11) Fear Not (Skyvalley)  Starts 12  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 0  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $2935  ( Emerg 1) The emergency for the race and on disclosed form would appear to be out of her depth. Not for us 12) Social Fireball (Courage Under Fire)  Starts 7  -  Wins 1  -  Seconds 4  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $18,676 Pacing bred filly that has developed into a lovely trotter. Hard to fault her last five runs with her second in the $60,000 Vicbred Trot in smart time over the distance of 2240 metres a good pointer. Appeals to us as a trifecta and first four player even from the draw. 13) Mizurri (Skyvalley)   Starts 3  -  Wins 0  -  Seconds 1  -  Thirds 0  -  Stakes $1,038 Very inexperienced filly and this looks a huge jump in class to us. Throw in the draw and it looks like mission impossible. Not for us. SELECTIONS High Gait from the draw looks very hard to beat. Should lead and should win Missandei is the clear second pick and if High Gait is eyeballed in front during the race, she is a chance to upset the favourite up the passing lane. For trifecta and first four takers, throw in The Cooler, Smile Smile Smile, Parisian Chic and Social Fireball. Harnesslink Media

Cranbourne’s harness racing community has plenty to be excited about this week with two of the best locally trained horses the hot favourites to take out their respective Group 1 assignments. Exciting youngster Cruisin Around, trained by Michael Hughes, will line up in the $60,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, at Melton on Friday night. Then on Saturday night the spotlight will move to fellow local Hectorjayjay, from the Simone and Bill Walker stables, when he takes his place in the $110,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, for four-year-old entires and geldings.  Bridget Cook Read the full article at the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club's website  

The barrier draws for the 2015 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Finals nights at the harness racing meetings on Friday and Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton were conducted this morning at the Legends Café. Twelve Group 1 races will be held across two big nights of harness racing with the trotting finals on Friday followed by the pacers on Saturday. Claudys Princess was the big winner in the four-year-old trotting mares’ final, the Mick Blackmore-trained two-time Vicbred Super Series champion at two and three pulling gate four, while her biggest rival, Illawong Helios from the Ross Sugars camp, snared gate eight and will need a pinch of luck. “It does help,” Blackmore said of the draw. “But you still need a few other things to go your way. “Illawong Helios just needs a bit of luck though and she’ll be right in it.”  Blackmore said Claudys Princess was a picture of health for her tilt at the rare Vicbred Super Series clean sweep after suffering a virus two runs back at Melton when third in the Bacardi Lindy Trot. “Her blood was down a bit after that run at Melton but since then she’s done really good and worked a treat,” he said. Illawong Helios has won 11 of her last 12 starts for Ross and Greg Sugars but the inside-back-row draw Friday night means she’ll be giving her arch rival a start. “It’s not the best but it could have been worse,” a matter-of-fact Ross Sugars said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult. We’ll probably end up four back on the fence, maybe three back, while Claudys will be in front. “She’s probably a three- or four-length better horse anyway, so given we’ll be giving her a start it’s going to be very tough. “But win, lose or draw she’s had a fantastic season … we’re very proud of our mare and we’ve had a lot of luck with the barrier draws. We just needed it one more time and unfortunately it didn’t fall our way.” View all of Friday night’s fields for Tabcorp Park Melton Cody Winnell

Unlike many of her harness racing compatriots, Amarula won’t be chasing any Vicbred or Breeders Crown riches in coming months.   Instead, the three-year-old trotting filly will head to Saturday night’s VHRSC Holmfield and then maybe the Seelite Windows & Doors Victoria Trotters Derby at Maryborough in August.   Amarula’s driver, John Caldow, whose wife Maree trains the filly, predicted the daughter of Bacardi Lindy/Valley Of The Moon would get better with time.   “Hopefully she comes back a good four-year-old,” he said after mentioning the Trotters Derby being a potential target race.   “She’s a lovely horse and she’s got good high speed.”   Amarula produced a massive run in last weekend’s Noel Simpson Memorial Victoria Trotters Oaks, attacking the line to finish second behind My Arya.   “There wasn’t a lot of speed early, which didn’t help, so to be able to get home after no speed early it was a really good run,” Caldow said.   While the shorter trip of the Holmfield (1720m) on Saturday night isn’t ideal for the staying type, Caldow said Amarula should still run well.   “She stays really well … and most horses who stay well go pretty good over the short trip anyway,” he said.   “She’s a lovely trotter and I’m sure she’ll go well.”   The Group 2 Holmfield has drawn a stellar line-up with the likes of Fabrication (drawn the pole), Group 1 winner Endsino (barrier two), highly rated gelding Illawong Armstrong (gate four), talented ex-Kiwi Blue Sky Commander for the Butterworth team and Kerryn Manning (gate five), Oaks champion My Arya (barrier eight), rising star Gus An Maori (barrier nine) and champion juvenile Eljaykay Phoenix (barrier 10) in the field.   Cody Winnell

Life is about to get tougher for the handy harness racing performer Columbias Deejay.   Racing in ultra-consistent fashion this season, Columbias Deejay has been set for the rich Vicbred Super Series following his victory at Geelong yesterday.   Pleased with the four-year-old’s progress, trainer David Magri believes the Bacardi Lindy gelding is capable of making his way into the Final.   The $60,000 decider is scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Melton on July 3 as part of a stellar weekend, which will see 12 Group Ones conducted at the venue across two nights.   “He has come along really well this season and is capable of mixing it with some of the better ones in his age,” Magri said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he will come out and win the Final, but he is good enough to get into it.   “Once you’re in the race you never know what might happen.   “He’s certainly capable of winning a heat, so that’s the way we will head. The heats are still a few weeks away, so I will give him another start or two before then, including Melton next Friday night.”   With Magri in the cart during his latest win, Columbias Deejay led throughout from three to score by eight-and-a-half metres from Tommy Kay, with Tawonga South a metre-and-a-half away third.   “Once he got to the front I knew they wouldn’t run him down,” Magri said. “He was down in class on what he has been racing against, so I felt he would be hard to beat.”   Paul Courts

Exciting filly Amarula extended her unbeaten Aussie record with her triumph in last Saturday night’s South Australia Trotters’ Derby. Upstaging the boys in impressive fashion, Amarula stretched her winning streak to five for Victorian horsewoman Maree Caldow. Thrilled with the youngster’s progress, Caldow is planning another interstate trip, but will restrict Amarula to racing against her own sex. “We couldn’t be happier with her,” Caldow said. “She has done a tremendous job since she got here and just seems to be getting better all the time. “The great things about her is she is not one dimensional and can pretty much do everything. “She will have a couple of easy days now, then we will be off again, this time to Menangle for the New South Wales Trotters’ Oaks. “She will return home for the Victoria Trotters’ Oaks after that which will pretty much see out her season. “At this stage there is no plan to take on the boys in the Victoria Trotters’ Derby, but you never how plans can change when looking that far ahead.” Driven by Caldow’s husband, John, during her Blue Riband victory, Amarula began swiftly to lead from barrier seven as the hot favourite, Blue Sky Commander, settled on her back. Proving too slick along the home straight, the daughter of Bacardi Lindy completed a two-metre win from Blue Sky Commander, with Bold Law 22 metres away third. “She came out of the gate well, and once in front, John said she just dropped the bit and strolled along,” Caldow said. “She is a very relaxed filly, which should take her far. “So far she has met every target we’ve set for her and gives every indication she will keep getting better.” The Caldows are no stranger to success in the Derby, having captured the 2008 edition with Lord Of The Gym. PAUL COURTS

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