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It is hard enough for any harness racing competitor to win first-up from a spell. While some stars – such as Guaranteed and Elegant Image – can accomplish the feat, victories after breaks are rare in any class or gait. It’s even rarer to see a trainer produce a winner during its return from a two-year break. So to have that exact feat achieved three times on the one card is unheard of. Yet that’s what happened at Ballarat last Friday night, when two pacers and a trotter scored at their first outings since 2012! Astute mentor Colin Redwood was the first to showcase his excellent horsemanship when Spiceman won at his initial start since October 30, 2012. Driven by Ashley Matthews, Spiceman led throughout to account for Outofthefire and Ruby Victory in 2:01.1 for the 1710 metress What made the triumph even more impressive is the fact the six-year-old only had two previous starts, where he finished at the tail of the field. Wallis King then repeated the dose for trainer Beau Tindale at his first appearance since May 2012. A high-priced two-year-old, Wallis King previous start was the Australian Pacing Gold Consolation at Albion Park. Now five, the gelding set the pace from barrier five before beating Mister Eurasian and Wingofwaves. Thrilled with the effort, Tindale believes Wallis King is capable of making up for lost time providing his troubled tendons don’t cause problems. “He damaged his tendons in both front legs, with vets saying he would never race again,” Tindale said. “A lot of work, including stem cell treatment, has been put into getting him back to the races. “I don’t get nervous with my horses before the race, but I was that nervous with him I almost couldn’t watch him go around. “On class he was always going to be too good for that field, and if he can stay sound, he’ll get to metropolitan grade. “He’s pulled up fine, so now we just press on.” Heading North then rounded out the amazing occurrence for Daryl Weightman when he scored from Make A Fuss and All Honour, with Weightman’s son, Nathan, in the sulky. Another which was sidelined with tendon problems, Heading North’s absence was also extended by two broken legs. The snapped limbs, however, belonged to the Weightmans. “He did his offside front tendon and was out for a while, then not long after I had him back in work, I busted my leg, so he went back into the paddock,” Daryl explained. “Nathan decided to get his licence so he could work them up, but then he broke his leg as well, so the horse was put aside once more. “During that time, he also got a bout of sand colic, which is when the stomach is filled with sand, which made him pretty crook.” With no major plans in mind for the son of John Street North, Weightman will ease Heading North into harder targets. “If he can keep going I reckon he can win an M0,” Weightman said. “Other than that, I’ve got nothing picked out for him.” In an effort which would normally be the stand out performance of the night, Michelle Wight produced Myrniongfirecracker to win at his first start for 13 months. Leading throughout from the pole, the son of Safe And Sound also broke a 22-month drought from the winners’ circle. Keeping in with the evening’s trend, Abettorpunt and Roy George were successful at their returns from ‘traditional’ spells. PAUL COURTS

Friday night’s Laser Electrical Ballarat Lightning Mile is shaping as an exciting spectacle for harness racing fans. With $50,000 on offer – consisting of $30,000 in stake and $20,000 in bonuses – the 1609-metre sprint has assembled a strong field. The bonuses are broken down to $10,000 if the winner breaks Smoken Up’s 1:53.1 track record set in last year’s Mile and another $10,000 if Smoken Up’s state mark of 1:51.1 is lowered. The ‘swift seven’ are headed by established star Keayang Cullen and newcomer Maximan. Successful at his three starts since crossing the Tasman, Maximan has been kept fresh since his inspirational free-for-all win at Tabcorp Park Melton. On that occasion, the Andy Gath-trained gelding was headed along the home straight only to fight back to win in an effort reminiscent of Smoken Up! The stylish son of Armbro Operative will begin from barrier five, with Keayang Cullen drawn on his outside. Winner of his last seven starts, Keayang Cullen will be first-up since his Breeders’ Crown Free-For-All triumph in August. The Marg Lee-trained son of Christian Cullen trialled in sensational fashion at Ballarat last weekend, equalling the 2200-metre track record with his 1:55.4 performance. Popular identity Paul Rowse is hoping to be both the presenter and recipient of the feature’s trophy. Along with his role as Ballarat’s chief executive, Rowse is the trainer of Savesomtimetodream, which will come from gate two. A handy son of Village Jasper, Savesomtimetodream has won two of his last five starts, with two thirds also to his credit. Thanks to the generous gesture of trainer Lance Justice, Smoken Up will lead the field onto the track ahead of the Group Three event. PAUL COURTS

Recently retired harness racing champion Smoken Up is set to return to the track at Ballarat next Friday night! Unfortunately for his diehard fans, the son of Tinted Cloud won’t be competing. Instead, the multi-millionaire will lead the field out before the running of the Laser Electrical Lightning Mile. As the defending champion and track record holder, Smoken Up is the perfect ‘general’ to escort this year’s combatants onto the track according to club chief executive Paul Rowse. “We are thrilled to have Smoken Up returning this year to lead out the field,” Rowse declared. “As the defending champion and track record hold, he is the perfect benchmark for this season’s runners. “The club cannot thank Lance (Justice, trainer) enough for taking the time to bring Smoken Up to Ballarat for this. “As usual, Lance is more than happy to promote our industry through his champion, which will no doubt draw another crowd to the stalls.” Driven by Justice last year, Smoken Up sizzled around the world class venue in 1:53.1, including a 26.3-second opening quarter. Along with the $20,000 winner’s cheque, the gelding earned connections an additional $10,000 with his record-breaking performance. With the bonus being offered again – plus the fact the event is the nation’s richest open class feature for the weekend – Roswe predicts the cash could ‘go off’ once more...especially if interstate speedsters such as Suave Stuey Lombo make the trip south. “Smoken Up’s time is quick, but under the right conditions I reckon it could be broken next week,” Rowse said. “There are quick horses here in Victoria, and if speedsters like Suave Stuey Lombo were to come down, it would be very interesting.” PAUL COURTS

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

JUST days out from the TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day and the generosity just keeps flowing. Already a major sponsor in two areas, Alabar Bloodstock has once again increased its involvement in what has developed in Victorian harness racing’s biggest social event. One of the first to support last year’s inaugural edition, Alabar was quick to return this time to cover the costs of the foot and netballs. On top of that, the leading breeding establishment has donated a service to Grinfromeartoear as the headliner for the mega raffle. Now Alabar has joined forced with Amart Melton and Burley to deliver ‘Auckland Reactor’ soccer and footballs to the first 60 kids to attend the big day. The latest gesture also compliments the two bikes Amart Melton has donated for the lucky boy and girl who guess the correct (or closest to) amount of snakes in a jar, which will be displayed throughout the day…entry is FREE!. Not to forget prominent owner Kevin Riseley, who has generously offered to cover the cost of hiring a jumping castle for children to enjoy, or Allan McNeil, who has donated lolly bags. “Alabar, Amart, Kevin and Allan have just been so generous,” event organiser Robbie O’Connell said. “Their focus on the kids’ activities will help turn this into a massive family day, just the kind of event harness racing needs. “Now we have the dads playing footy, the mums hitting the netball court and the kids going nuts, as kids should.” Other sponsors include Tabcorp, James and son, Seelite Windows and Doors and Glenn Sharp. A fun occasion for all industry participants, Sunday’s event also has a serious side – raising valuable funds for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. That’s where a small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) comes into play. Not only does the fee cover the costs of the games, sausage sizzle and the night’s function, it adds to the tally to aid children suffering from Neurofibromatosis. Last year’s event raised $14,000, which is outstanding considering the foundation receives just $18,000 from the government. Along with the fun and games, the function will also include a memorabilia auction. It was last year’s auction that proved to be the biggest money spinner for the cause. Paul Smart from Azuma International supplied the various pieces of memorabilia, which raised almost $8000. Smart will be back this year with “some sensational memorabilia”, so attendees better make sure their wallets are loaded! Teams from four districts – Melton (Go Blues), Ballarat, Shepparton and Bendigo – will do battle throughout the day, with the first event, a netball match, to begin at 11:30am at the Strathfieldsaye Sports Club. The first footy game is scheduled to start at noon. “The Strathfieldsaye Club has offered us free use of their grounds and facilities,” O’Connell said. They have two footy ovals and three netball courts, so it’s the perfect pl ace for us. “Last year’s day was big, but this year will be huge.” For more information please contact Robbie O'Connell on 0404 728 885. Paul Courts

A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ......................................................................   Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria

There is an old saying in harness racing that the best will always stand up on the big occasion. Thats how it was over the weekend for the super sire Art Major with his sons and daughters in both hemispheres dominating their opposition. In the Breeders Crown semi finals at Ballarat, Art Major sired horses won five of the eight semi finals for the two and three year olds. The fields were incredibly strong but that didn't stop Art Major from making it a one sire show. Both of the 3 year old fillies semi finals fell to Art Majors with the recent Kiwi import Just Cala winning her semi final in a 1:57 mile rate while in the other semi final Quick Draft defeated Nike Franco and Barynya in a 1:57.5 mile rate and in a manner that left few excuses for the beaten division. The Art Major 2 year old colt Follow The Stars showed why he is rated the best juvenile in Australasia with a powerhouse performance in his semi final, running away over the last 400 meters to win by over four lengths with the last half in a brilliant 55.5 To wrap up the night both the 3 year old colt/geldings semi finals were won by sons of Art Major. First up Major Crocker showed his class with an all the way win in a mile rate of 1:58, with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9 which suggest he is a serious chance in the final. In the second semi final, the race was seen as a match race between Bling It On and Sky Major and thats how it turned out. Bling It On got away with some cheap sectionals mid race in front and sprinted home in 26.4 from the 400 meters but still got nailed late by Art Major's son Sky Major with the overall mile rate being 1:59.8. At Mohawk in Canada on Saturday night was one of the first stakes races for the season that were open to all comers with divisions of the Eternal Camnation for fillies. Easily the most impressive of the Eternal Camnation divisional winners was the Art Major filly Jk Shesalady who made it four from four for the season with a huge win by seven lengths in 1:53.4 Jk Shesalady now looms as one of the early favourites for the $450,000 Shes A Great Lady final on August 30th. Another highlight for Art Major recently has been his achievement in topping the $100,000,000  mark in stake earnings worldwide. The 15 year old son of Artsplace has $72.6 million in North America, $23.6 million in Australia and $4.6 million in New Zealand which are great figures for a sire with so many years still in front of him. Alabar Stud must be smiling 24/7 at the moment with the results that their premier stallion is churning out week after week.  Harnesslink Media Jk Shesalady  

The harness racing writers couldn’t have scripted the barrier draw for the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown (3YO colts and geldings) Series final any better today at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite a random draw, the final two horses left in the barrel were Kiwi champ Our Sky Major and his main adversary Bling It On. Fresh in the minds of racegoers was that less than 24 hours before the draw Our Sky Major had edged out Bling It On in a thrilling Breeders Crown semi-final battle at Ballarat. The two remaining ping pong balls in the barrel were gates three and 13 – meaning one favourite would have a plum draw, while the other had to come from outside the second line. Bling It On’s owner, Harvey Kaplan, and his family were thrilled when their charge drew three, leaving the Our Sky Major camp lamenting an unlucky 13 draw. When Our Sky Major narrowly pipped Bling It On in the semi-final last night, the Barry Purdon trained Kiwi star had drawn the front line, while Bling It On – from the Belinda McCarthy yard – had to come from the second row. Bling It On whipped around to find the lead with a blistering mid-race move at Ballarat before Zac Butcher worked Our Sky Major into clear air late and grabbed the win right on the wire. Reversing the semi-final draw has made this headline clash, one of many not-to-be-missed events on Breeders Crown finals day at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday, even more tantalising than it already promised to be. Adding further intrigue is that the front line is choc full of speed in the three-year-old boys’ final, with Will Mach My Word (gate two), Bling It On (three), Major Crocker (four), Saloon Passage (five) and Hectorjayjay (six) all realistic shots at finding the early lead. TAB fixed odds reacted by slotting Bling It On in as race favourite at $2.10, with Our Sky Major a $2.50 second pick. Bling It On’s stable-mate Lettucerockthem is on the third line of betting at $5.50 despite a gate nine draw, while Vince Vallelonga trained Major Crocker, who won his semi-final, is $13. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria MARKET NOW OPEN AT THE TAB Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014

Harness racing drivers Zac Butcher and Luke McCarthy both produced brilliant drives in the second semi-final of the three-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown at Bray Raceway in Ballarat tonight. In the end Butcher took the win, just, aboard New Zealand star Our Sky Major, while McCarthy – whose dashing mid-race move aboard Bling It On from his back-row draw gave his horse a genuine winning chance – had to settle for second. If those two repeat their runs in the final at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday, it will be a classic Group 1 race. Hectorjayjay pinged off the arm to lead for Simone Walker early, which was a  surprise as the pre-race hype had been about Saloon Passage and Our Sky Major possibly getting involved in a two-horse speed duel. Hectorjayjay quickly handed up to Our Sky Major, which shuffled Saloon Passage three back along the pegs. McCarthy made a bold and dashing move aboard Bling It On at the 1200-metre mark and the star pacer had such a head of steam up that he was able to run to the lead. Our Sky Major was then behind the leader, Hectorjayjay was three-back the inside and Saloon Passage was in all sorts of traffic. But Butcher didn’t panic and was able to extricate the $1.50  Our Sky Major into clear running in the home straight, the son of Art Major driving hard late to pip Bling It On in a thriller, with Hectorjayjay rallying again for third. Jilliby Jagger ran on hard to finish fourth, while Saloon Passage was fifth and Mighty Gift sixth. The other three-year-old boys’ semi-final was taken out by Major Crocker and Greg Sugars for trainer Vince Vallelonga. Major Crocker was too strong for runner-up Alleluia, with Will Mach My Word third. That trio were 1-2-3 for the last lap. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Rising-star reinswoman Amanda Turnbull combined with New South Wales harness racing trainer Dennis Picker to win the first semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old fillies tonight at Ballarat with Just Cala. The daughter of Art Major defeated Spicy Stride by 7.1 metres in a mile rate of 1:57.0, while Ocean Diva ran third for Blake Fitzpatrick and Somedreamsomewhere ran fourth for Daryl Douglas. Just Cala had put the writing on the wall at her previous start when she came from an awkward position to rattle home and run second behind Rocknroll Arden. Just Cala The second semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old  fillies saw a major upset – with $1.20 favourite Nike Franco missing a place at Ballarat tonight. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly galloped early and lost ground, which meant she had to use up a bit more petrol than first planned to find the lead. Once there Nike Franco was able to get away with a 30.5-second first quarter and a 32.1-second second split, but after they sprinted up down the back straight driver Luke McCarthy was starting to wind her up as Quick Draft and Barynya were on the march. In the home straight Quick Draft finished the strongest for Chris Alford, delivering in-form trainer David Aiken the win, with Tasmanian filly Barynya second (beaten 1.6 metres) and David Moran trained-and-driven Our Santa Catalina battling on well for third after leading early. Nike Franco ran fourth. The mile rate was 1:57.2, with the last half 55.6 seconds. Quick Draft by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racing often throws up great contests when the Kiwis and Australians meet in battle but the Breeders Crown semis at Ballarat tonight were very one sided with the Kiwis in complete control. In the first semi final, Linda Lovegrace was sent straight to the front by Mark Purdon from barrier four and dictated a solid tempo from the start.  Niki No No worked early from barrier five to get up outside Linda Lovegrace but then proceeded to badly over race with a 29 quarter outside the leader as Greg Sugars fought to get her to settle. Given more reign as they turned for home Linda Lovegrace shot away but then had to withstand a huge finish from the other Kiwi in the race in Cyclone Kate but had enough in reserve to hold on by a length. Linda Lovegrace paced the 2200 meters in 2:41.5, a mile rate of 1:58.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 27.7 Cyclone Kate was sent forward three wide from the 600 meters and to get as close as she did was a big effort and she is a filly that has really improved in the last few weeks. Lettucesomewhere lobbed the trail from barrier one and battled on for third while Niki No No stuck on bravely for fourth after pulling her head off most of the way. The first two looked a class above the competition and both will approach the final with some confidence. Linda Lovegrace In the second semi final Big Lucy and Mark Purdon grabbed an early lead from barrier three before handing up to Kate Perry and Dexter Dunn from barrier four. There was a lot of early moves from the back in this heat and when the dust settled, Joannes A Delight with Anthony Butt in the bike was in the death seat outside Kate Perry with Soho Tokyo on her back. Dexter and Kate Perry snuck a quiet quarter down the back and then brushed home in 27.1 to hold out a game Joannes A Delight by half a neck with Big Lucy finishing third after being unable to clear the pocket. Soho  Tokyo was unable to get clear until late in the race and finished fourth and the same applies to Bamako Mali who finished fifth. Kate Perry paced the 2200 meters in 2:41, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27.1. Joannes A Delight was game in defeat after doing a truck load of work while Big Lucy was going double with no where to go in the straight. The first three home were all Kiwis and after the two semis, the  Kiwis would appear to have a stranglehold on the 2 year old fillies division. Kate Perry Harnesslink Media 

The first semi final for 2 year old colts/geldings at Ballarat for harness racings holy grail, the Breeders Crown was full of incident. Artistic Flite led out from barrier four only to gallop after 100 meters and drift back through the field. Burnaholeinmypocket grabbed an early lead from barrier five and then handed up to Show Me The Bling who went forward from barrier seven. While all this was going on Kept Under Wraps had been badly checked from one on the second line and settled well back  but once balanced again Mark Purdon sent him forward three wide and he found the death seat with a lap and a half to travel outside of Show Me The Bling. This trio stayed in that order for the next lap until nearing the home turn when Kate Gath on Burnaholeinmypocket pushed Kept Under Wraps out and sprinted away for an easy win. It was the Bettor's Delight geldings third win from just six starts and brought him right into contention for next weeks final. He paced the 2200 in 2:41.1, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28. Kept Under Wraps, after looking beaten on the corner rallied in the straight to claim second off Show Me The Bling with Artistic Flite getting home well for fourth. Kept Under Wraps lost no admirers with a gutsy run for second while both Show Me The Bling and Artistic Flight both did enough to suggest they could grab some of the money on finals day. Burnaholeinmypocket The second semi final for 2 year old colts/ geldings was a showcase for the talents of the brilliant Follow The Stars. Sent straight to the front from barrier three by Mark Purdon, Follow The Stars kept up a solid tempo in front and when Mark Purdon let him go at the top of the lane it was all over. He bolted away for an emphatic win by four and a quarter lengths with Stening who had trailed from the start from barrier one running second and Mojo Major who started from one second line battled on for third. Birdy Mach got well out of his ground and finished up sixth and made the final but will need a big turn around in a week to be a major player in the final. It was the eight win from nine starts for the son of Art Major and ensured he will start favourite in next weeks final. Follow The Stars paced the 2200 meters in 2:40, a mile rate of 1:57 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 27. Follow The Stars Harnesslink Media

History says there aren't too many better at dealing with "big-race presure" than New South Wales reinsman Luke McCarthy. On Saturday night McCarthy has a strong book at Ballarat’s Breeders Crown semi-finals meeting, with drives in seven of the eight semis, and he looks certain to qualify several of his stable stars for the rich Super Sunday finals program at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday. McCarthy’s leading Breeders Crown chance according to the markets is three-year-old filly Nike Franco, who is a $2 favourite with the TAB to take out her series final. Nike Franco is coming off a brilliant Queensland campaign that netted her connections the Tatts Gold Coast Oaks, the Group 1 Queensland Oaks and a comfortable win in the Breeders Crown heat at Albion Park when a money-back favourite last time out. McCarthy spoke confidently about Nike Franco’s chances in the three-year-old girls’ second semi-final from gate five. “I think we’d find the front. She was unbeaten in Queensland and she’s improved since then,” McCarthy said. “I think if she can find the front then she’s the horse to beat.” McCarthy also has a serious live chance in the two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown with rising star Birdy Mach. Winning his heat on Saturday night however will be tough, as New Zealand superstar Follow The Stars has drawn three while Birdy Mach will start from gate 12. “Follow The Stars would probably be the best two-year-old I’ve ever seen. I’m a big fan of his,” McCarthy said. “With Birdy Mach it will be nice for him not to have to go forward and make the pace this time from the draw. We can drive him with a sit and I’m looking forward to it. “He’s a real high-speed horse so driving him from back in the field will suit.” McCarthy also has Ominous Warning in the two-year-old colts and geldings’ section, the son of Four Starzzz Shark to begin from gate 11 in the first semi-final on Saturday night. Ominous Warning won his Breeders Crown heat at Menangle in 1:59.1 with a last half of 55.1 seconds but was only 75 per cent that day, says McCarthy. “He’s right back to his best, so almost at 100 per cent I’d say,” McCarthy said. In the two-year-old fillies’ semi-finals McCarthy will line up Smooth Showgirl and Bamako Mali in Races 2 and 6. Smooth Showgirl has drawn gate three in the first semi-final, with New Zealand star Linda Lovegrace and Vicbred Super Series champion Niki No No drawn outside her. “She’s got good speed early so it will be nice to go forward and get a prominent position early,” McCarthy said. McCarthy also sang the praises of Bamako Mali, who has drawn gate nine in her semi. “She’s just as good when driven with a sit as she is when she goes forward,” he said. But McCarthy is concerned the Kiwi fillies might have the wood on the Australians this year in the juvenile girls’ section. “I think the Kiwi fillies look pretty strong this year,” he said. Bling It On and Lettucerockthem will both carry the McCarthy polish in the three-year-old boys’ section, with Lettucerockthem drawn gate eight in the first semi-final while Bling It On will start from 10 in the second. Bling It On has run into New Zealand champion Our Sky Major in the semi, but if the promised early speed of pole horse Saloon Passage and his driver Nathan Hurst is delivered then Zac Butcher has some decisions to make aboard the series favourite. For Bling It On, a hot speed up front would play into his hands. McCarthy is looking forward to playing the race by ear, the horse’s versatility allowing the reinsman to go into the event with several plans of attack. “I’ll just see how it the race presents itself,” he said. The 10-race Ballarat meeting kicks off at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria The TAB is offering a $200,000 quaddie jackpot on the night -- for more details visit tab.com.au

Tasmanian pacers have had mixed luck at the barriers for this weekend's semi-finals of the Australasian Breeders Crown series at Ballarat and Melton. On Saturday night at Ballarat, Resurgent Spirit (race 8) drew the outside of the front row (7) in the 3YO colts and geldings division while 2YO Boasson Hagen (race 4) will start from the same gate in his semi. Star three-year-old filly Barynya will have to cope with a second-row draw in barrier 11 in race 5. However it was a better result at Melton on Sunday for Tasmania's four-year-olds with Pachacuti to start from gate 1 in a 4YO colts and geldings heat (race 7) and the same draw will enhance Spitfire Rose's chances in the 4YO mares' division (race 6), while Tasmania's other candidate in that age division Delightful Christian will start from inside the second row in race five. The finals in all divisions will be run at Melton on Sunday week (August30th) Barynya is quoted at $4.60 to win her semi-final while Boasson Hagen and Resurgent Spirit are outsiders at $61 in their respective semi-finals. Markets have yet to be framed for Sunday's meeting at Melton. Peter Staples

Kiss Kenny has opened $14 with TAB fixed odds for Saturday night’s Bettors Delight @ Woodlands three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat. It is a great price for punters, according to Harness Racing Victoria Good Form expert Blake Redden. “She is massive overs at that price,” Redden said. “She should be able to hold the lead easily from the pole draw." New South Wales pacer Ocean Diva has opened $2 from gate seven, while Rocknroll Arden ($4.40), Spicy Stride and Just Cala (both $5) are next in line. The second semi-final for the three-year-old girls pits Nike Franco, Whereibylong and Barynya against one another. Nike Franco has opened $1.60, with Whereibylong $2.80 and Barynya $4.60. “There’s not much between the two favourites,” Redden said. “Nike Franco has been flying in Queensland but Whereibylong won’t let her have it easy.” Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria FIXED ODDS BETTING AVAILABLE NOW Related Links Fields for Ballarat, Saturday 16 August 2014 Form guide for Ballarat, Saturday 16 August 2014  

Most of the Kiwi trainers of this weekends Breeders Crown semi final runners will sleep well tonight after the fields for the harness racing meeting at Ballarat on Saturday night (August 16th) were released this afternoon. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen must have wondered what they had done to get such great draws with their two main chances on Saturday night. Follow The Stars has drawn beautifully at barrier three in his semi in which his main dangers in Birdy Mach and Field Marshall have both drawn awkwardly on the second line. Linda Lovegrace, who created such a big impression on her Australian debut when narrowly going down to Follow The Stars last weekend, has drawn a lovely gate at four in her semi with her main opposition Niki No No drawn outside her at five. Another Kiwi Cyclone Kate has drawn two on the second line in the same heat which is a draw that really suits her as she is much better coming off a horses back.  If the ballot comes out in the second semi final for 2 year old fillies, then Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn will start from three and the Cran Dalgety trained Kate Perry from four which should give both a big show of qualifying for the final. Joannes A Delight is one of the few Kiwis to have drawn badly at four on the second line in the same heat but she showed in New Zealand she is a high class filly who can do a lot of work in her races so it wouldn't pay to discount her chances even from the draw. Barry Purdon's star 3 year old Sky Major has drawn a great gate at three in the second semi final for the 3 year old colts and geldings with the likely favourite for that division Bling It On awkwardly drawn at three on the second line which makes for a very intriguing contest. Kept Under Wraps from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn has drawn at two on the second line in the first semi final for 2 year old colts and geldings with most of the serious competition in this semi drawn wide on the front line so it is hard to know how it will pan out but Kept Under Wraps still looks the horse they all have to beat. Messini has been another in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rrasmussen barn all season until they sent him to Brent Lilley to race in the Victorian Sires Stakes series and it is still in Brent's colours heading into this weekends semi final for 3 year old colts and geldings where from his barrier draw of two he should be terribly hard to beat. All in all the Kiwis would have to very pleased with how the draws have panned out and a finals berth now looks a possibility for most of them. Harnesslink Media

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