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The Race To Royalty is taking shape during TAB Breeders Crown heats week in Victoria, with local and abroad two and three-year-olds making their play for the age racing riches. All two-year-old Victorian heat contestants at Ballarat on Tuesday and Kilmore on Wednesday booked places in the August 18 semi-finals at Bendigo's Lords Raceway. Fifteen contested the Always B Miki fillies Victorian heats and they will likely be joined by All Stars' Art Major three-year-old Our Princess Tiffany, who is unbeaten in seven starts including in the $150,000 2YO Diamond and on her Australian debut at Menangle on Tuesday. The class is also expected to feature Australian heat winners Miss Streisand (New South Wales), Betamerica (Queensland) and Mandy John (Western Australia). Soho Crucio (South Australia) and Karalta Moondance (Tasmania) may also attend, but Gladamare (New Zealand North Island) will not. The TAB.com.au has listed Princess Tiffany a $1.80 favourite in all-in markets for the two-year-old fillies ahead of Emma Stewart's Kualoa ($3.20) and Mick Stanley's Soho Nolita ($5.50). The 14 contestants of last night's Woodlands Stud two-year-old colts and geldings Victorian heats have also advanced to semi-finals night, where they likely be confronted by four interstate or international visitors. While Kolovos (New Zealand North Island), Leonidas (New South Wales) and Regulus (Queensland) have been ruled out, All Stars colt Im Anothermasterpiece will endeavour to build on his record of seven wins and three placings from 10 starts at the Breeders Crown. Culture King (South Australia), The Embezzler (Western Australia) and Max Delight (Tasmania) are also expected at the Bendigo semi-finals, but it's a Victorian pair who top the TAB.com.au all-in market. Heat winners Hurricane Harley ($2.40) and Centenario ($3.40) are on top, with Im Another Masterpiece ($4.50) and Bernie Hewitt's College Chapel ($5) tipped to be snapping at their heels. Tonight it's the turn of the three-year-old fillies to have their Woodlands Stud heats, and it's likely all 21 contestants will advance to the August 18 semi-finals after the scratchings of Hows The Memory and Fire Safe from tonight. Likely to be waiting for them in the semi-finals are Jarades Delight (New South Wales), Red Charmer (Queensland) and Our Angel Of Harlem (Western Australia). The jury is still out on South Australian heat winner Melodys Daughter, while Western Glory (Tasmania) and New Zealand heat winners Somethingaboutmary and the brilliant Shez All Rock have been ruled out. Punters think with the absence of Shez All Rock, who experienced a leg complaint, the Victorians will deliver the ultimate Race to Royatly winner in this class, with the TAB.com.au listing Emma Stewart's Speak No Evil a $2.50 favourite. Our Angel Of Harlem ($3), the former Kiwi who's now stationed with WA trainer Mike Reed, and Courtney Slater's well-traveled Goodtime Heaven ($3.50) are next in the market. There will be no shortage of excitement around the three-year-old colts and geldings heats, with Ignatius (New South Wales) and VHRSC Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One (Queensland) both set for Breeders Crown campaigns, as is New Zealand qualifier Diamonds N Cash, who will race for Victorian trainer Andy Gath. Today's withdrawal of Ange McDowell's much-loved Lumineer will dampen the Victorian resistance, but Emma Stewart's clan of Ride High, Poster Boy and Konan are all in single figures with the TAB.com.au, which has Ignatius ($2.30) on top. With scratchings excluded, 27 horses will contest Friday night's heats, vying to be among the 21 who will challenge the three raiders in the August 18 semi-finals. The Victorian trotters have their heats at Maryborough next Thursday. New Zealand heats have seen Stress Factor, winner of Sunday's Victorian Trotters Derby, and Show Gait qualify for the respective boys and girls three-year-old finals. The jury is still out on whether two-year-old boys Anditover and Enhance Your Calm will make the trip across the Tasman, but two-year-old fillies Enable Me and On The Mantlepiece aren't expected. Michael Howard

Just how many winners will Chris Alford drive this season? The champion driver reached yet another mega-milestone with his 400th win aboard With Gusto at Ballarat last night. It came just eight days after Alford set an Australasian record with his 389th win of the season at Geelong. And to think there is still another 45 meetings in Victoria this season. At Alford’s current strike rate, and mindful of the plethora of Emma Stewart-trained stars he will drive through the Breeders Crown, he can genuinely push towards 440 wins this season. “I must admit I never thought I’d break the record, let alone get 400 wins in a season. I’ve had so much amazing support, much of from long-time supporting trainers and owners,” Alford said. “It’s nice to end the week on a positive after we lost Wobelee to injury, albeit nothing too serious. “Even without Wobelee, I’m still really looking forward to the Breeders Crown. It’ll be a great way to finish the season.” One of Alford’s two wins last night came aboard Emma Stewart’s Breeders Crown-bound four-year-old The Storm Inside, who has comeback from two serious injury setbacks to extend his unbeaten record to 10 wins. He won the Australian Gold final at two and raced just once at three before more than 18 months on the sidelines.   Adam Hamilton

An incredible $12,000 was raised at Ballarat and District Trotting Club last night when it hosted its annual Girls Night Out fundraiser. The event has long raised much-needed funds for charity groups that either support or raise funds to fight breast cancer and this year’s supported the Love Your Sister Charity founded by Gold Logie winning actor Samuel Johnson and his beloved late sister Connie. Samuel made a special trip to be on-course on the night, which added a personal touch to an already popular evening. Once the details of the event were released the 380 available dining packages were sold within weeks. The night was a huge success with the $12,000 raised on-course on the night through raffles, sponsorship of races, live auctions in addition to the trotting club donating $10 from every dining package to the cause. Club spokeswoman Belinda Eden said the support of local businesses and the response from the community was a key reason the night was such as success. "The local businesses that either donated prizes or gave up their time to offer their services on the night was such a big reason this fundraiser was such a success and puts into perspective on why clubs play such an important role in our community," she said. Samuel played a key part in the night, entertaining the sold out event with stories, book signings and photos. His energy and passion for the cause was infectious. He also tried his hand at harness racing, participating in the HRV pony trot challenge where he raced against leading reinswomen Kerryn Manning, Kate Gath and Jodi Quinlan, who are also Team Teal ambassadors, the Harness Racing Victoria fundraiser for Women’s Cancer Foundation.   The Trots Victoria

Having been involved in harness racing all her life Katrina Fitzpatrick is not one to sit on the sidelines as her daughter and grandchildren prepare for a heartbreaking situation, life without a husband and father. Her son-in-law Nigel Munro has terminal brain cancer and is in palliative care in Ballarat after being told he would not return home.  He will leave behind wife Kylie Munro and daughters Sienna, 5, and Tia, 2. Ms Fitzpatrick has worked with the Ballarat and District Trotting Club to put on the Trots Night Fundraiser A Mother’s Plea for Help.  The event, along with a GoFundMe page, will raise money to support and offer a sense of security to Mrs Munro and her two daughters. “It’s really lovely for everyone to get behind us because we’ve never asked for anything like this,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.  “But when you have a family going through this, and Kylie has had a pretty rough go, I just wish I could have a wand and wave it and make everything good. But I can’t, we’ve just got to make sure that the girls are secure.” The fundraiser will include a three-course meal and a night of harness racing, along with auctions, raffles and a race book. There will also be face painting and children’s activities.   Already there has been a strong response with a long list of sponsors, many donating prizes for the auction. “It’s pretty hard to go and see Nigel the way he is at the moment, but the community has really rallied around us,” Ms Fitzpatrick said. “It is a terrible thing but you have to do what you can.” Ballarat and District Trotting Club chief executive officer Paul Rowse said he was expecting a big attendance on the night and a lot of support for the Munro family.  “When something like this affects one of our trotting community, I would say that the people always rally behind them,” he said.  “And I know that Katrina Fitzpatrick is well known and well liked in the sport. “I’m sure that people will rally behind the family to raise as much money as possible on the night.” The fundraiser will be held in the club’s function rooms on February 2, from 6-10pm. Tickets are $35 for people 16 years and over, $22 for children 12-15, and $13 for children 2-11, bookings are essential via 5335 9041. If you can not make the event, but still want to help, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe page online at www.gofundme.com/mothers-pleade-for-help.  By Siobhan Calafiore Reprinted with permission of The Courier News

Lightning Mile night at Ballarat was billed as a showdown between rising star Moonrock and a most talented field in the night’s harness racing feature but most left the track talking about an entirely different race. It wasn’t the flying mile but the standard sprint trip of 1710 metres where the sparks were flying with progressive gelding Beach Surge smashing the track record in an indomitable display. Rushing the gate in a 27.8sec first quarter, there was no stopping as they ran even fractions for each quarter of the final mile. In a twist of fate the previous track record holder was also owned by Richard Matthews with The Culture holding a benchmark of 1:53.0. That was well and truly bettered by the four-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere as he stopped the clock in 1:51.7. The win had more than a few people singing the praises of Beach Surge on social media with it becoming clear he’s a star on the rise in his own right. Trainer Andy Gath is happy to let his horse do the talking in the short-term at least. “What he did last night was pretty exceptional,” Gath said. “We know he is really well-bred and he does have the right attributes. “He is a big strong horse; he is well gaited and has early speed.” All that and more was on show when he burnt early and still had the plugs in when crossing the line a tear away victor. Being in his last year of age-restricted racing there is the obvious lure of throwing him into the deep-end but that will very much be dependent on just what the landscape looks like in a month or two. “Ultimate Machete and Vincent are at the head of a pretty smart crop of four-year-old’s,” Gath said. “It does make it tough when that’s the level you have to measure up to but we would probably look at a race like the Bonanza because it’s in our backyard.” Any further than that right now may just be pie in the sky. The Long Forrest horseman noting that he can still get excited on raceday and isn’t the best traveler. There is however a lot of water to go under the bridge before a race like the Chariots Of Fire rolls around and plenty can change. For now though, Beach Surge will tackle a $10,000 C2-3 at Kilmore Friday night where he has drawn the front row and looks the horse to beat again. “It’s probably not ideal backing him up quickly after the last win but the race is there and he seems well,” Gath said. Blake Redden

The charitable trots and Ballarat communities have again come out in force with dining all but selling out and auction items aplenty for tomorrow night’s Connor Clarke harness racing Fundraiser. In aid of Connor, a pony trots driver battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and his family, the Ballarat and District Trotting Club has been thrilled with the response to its function, according to club business development and marketing manager Belinda Eden. “The night will hopefully raise funding to help with the costs of his travel, medical and other on-going costs,” Ms Eden said. “We’ve been inundated with support, it’s been fantastic.” In addition to about “99 per cent” of dining packages being sold, with $10 of the $35 adult ticket benefitting the Clarke family, the club will host an auction of more than 35 items. “Everyone has been amazed about the amount of people who have thrown their support behind the night, both people locally and from as far away as Queensland. The trots community has really rallied together.” The night runs from 6-10pm, with all racegoers welcome to attend and to bid on the auction items, including items that are being live on the club’s Facebook page. It will also feature four pony trots races and a donation from Harness Racing Victoria and the pony trots community to the Clarke family. CLICK HERE FOR EVENT AND AUCTION DETAILS Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Ballarat, Saturday 09 September 2017 Form guide for Ballarat, Saturday 09 September 2017

It looks as though the Victorian Summer of Glory Carnival is going to be lots of fun for harness racing trainer/driver Darren Hancock. The astute horseman has seven-year-old gelding On Thunder Road absolutely flying and tonight they combined to give nothing else a chance in the E.B. Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat. The son of Bettor's Delight – a sire better known for his pacing production prowess – worked to the front early in the 2200-metre Group 2 feature and always travelled well, producing a superb performance to break the track record – a 1:58.2 mile rate – to defeat gun mares High Gait (Chris Alford) and Glenferrie Burn (Todd Matthews) in second and third placings. Next up it’s a Group 1 double for On Thunder Road, Hancock hoping his stable star will prove the boss in the Group 1 Haras Des Trotteurs Dullard Cup next Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton on night one of the Summer of Glory, and then the big dance – the $300,000 Group 1 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star on A.G. Hunter Cup night a week later. “He went to the line good. I’m happy with him and he’s got plenty still in the tank,” Hancock said post-race. “It was a good run. He’s only had a couple of runs in the last month and they’ve been spaced out, so he hadn’t run for a little while. This will be a nice blowout for the other races ahead.” Hancock looked confident in the run and for good reason. “Yeah, he’s a pretty hard horse to get past. He’s pretty tough,” Hancock said. As for his Great Southern Star chances, Hancock is feeling good. “We left him at home last year because he was still learning a bit; he’s starting to step up now,” he said. Meanwhile, star New Zealand trotter and reigning Great Southern Star champion Speeding Spur has been nominated for this year’s GSS but a final decision on him coming will be dependent on how he pulls up after his next assignment in NZ on Thursday. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

It's been a big week for Bruce and Vicki Edward, and it has come smack bang at the end of a big harness racing season. Today new life reinvigorated their Durham Park farm, on Ballarat’s outskirts, when their new crop of yearlings arrived at the farm, which has been in a state of rebuild since being razed by fire last December. Their arrival, less than a month after mares returned to the property, signal a significant milestone and comes just days after the Edwards were anointed Woodlands Park Victorian Breeder of the Year. “It’s a bit of a boost up,” Mr Edward said of the award. “It has been a year of highs and lows and this is definitely one of the highs.” The honour was announced at Harness Breeders Victoria’s awards on Saturday night, when the 2015-16 season was celebrated. They put something of a full stop on a season Mr Edward won’t soon forget. “We had the big fire the week before Christmas, which was basically a wipe out,” he said, reflecting on the December 19 blaze that destroyed fencing, stables and their Durham house. “The remarkable thing was every horse survived, I have no idea how. "Alabar was very helpful, because all of our horses were sent up there. The fences are all done, the stables are built and we are getting there. It’s been an enormous amount of work.” While on some levels, the Edwards are starting again, the reality is they’ve come a long way in a relatively short time since having their first taste of the trots a decade ago. “I bought a couple of horses with David Murphy as part of a syndicate about 10 years ago,” Mr Edward said. “I had the farm, it was an interest and a hobby and I was heading towards retirement. I had no family in harness racing or deep-seated links, but I had an extensive background in agricultural breeding.” And so from that modest start his interest bloomed. “I bought a handful of cheap mares to basically learn with and then I decided to get into the filly aspect of it,” Mr Edward said. “I bought them as young fillies and raced them with the aim of them becoming broodmares. "I bought 14 or 15 US mares over three or four years and half a dozen from New Zealand. Our issue was our mares, nobody knew them, so we had to be patient at the sales and wait for them to perform.” And perform they did, no more than this year when Petacular, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Ideal Priority, dominated two-year-old fillies ranks and Ideal For Real was a force among the four-year-olds and looks destined for Grand Circuit success. Both were babies from the Edwards’ breeding barn and led to them being awarded breeder of the year. “I certainly was not expecting the award. We are a relatively new on the breeding scene and I’m sure that are many others more experienced and with many winners. “I keep track of all of the (foals as they go on). I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it. This is the exciting part of the year, we have had our first foals and I am very excited. “It’s been a tough year, but we are getting noticed now and the top trainers are buying our horses, including Mark Purdon, Clayton Tonkin and Andy Gath.” But it’s not just those big names in Edwards’ aim. “We have a slightly different outlook, our slogan is we have a yearling for everyone,” he said. “We like to have sales toppers, but to also get quality yearlings who can be serviced by cheaper stallions and sell for less, and to be honest a lot of those are the horses who have performed very well.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) was saddened to learn of the passing on Saturday of long-time industry stalwart Brian Frawley, at age 82. Mr Frawley is the father of recently appointed HRV Board Member Danny Frawley. He enjoyed considerable success as a trainer, including multiple Moonee Valley winners Noble Man, Evarestis and Grumpy Ole Man, as well as other classy performers in Lahaina and Noble Gent. Mr Frawley served on the Committee of the Ballarat & District Trotting Club for in excess of 35 years, leading the club as President from 1981 to 1986 and being awarded Life Membership in 1988. His greatest moment in the sport came when Vanderport, a horse he part-owned, ran 2nd to Village Kid in the 1986 Inter Dominion Grand Final at Albion Park in Queensland, when driven by his daughter Anne. READ THE BALLARAT COURIER'S TRIBUTE TO BRIAN FRAWLEY HRV extends its sincere condolences to his wife Shirley, their six children and the extended Frawley family. Mr Frawley’s funeral will be held at 10.30am on Wednesday at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Sturt Street, Ballarat.   Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

A colourful night at the Ballarat trots in winter has potentially converted hundreds of people into harness racing industry enthusiasts. Ballarat and District Trotting Club Chief Executive Paul Rowse described the atmosphere at Bray Raceway as “amazing” on Tuesday night as club sponsor PETstock held its annual conference at the race meeting. Hundreds of colourfully dressed PETstock employees were thrilled with the night’s action, the club reporting on-course turnover and bar and restaurant sales through the roof. Rowse said $24,000 was turned over on-course, up from the usual average of about $10,000 at this time of year, while $10,000 went through the bar. “You’d be lucky to two or three grand normally through the bar on a Tuesday night in winter,” Rowse said. The club also served 320 meals. PETstock Managing Director David Young, who with a group of colleagues is part-owner of recent Group 1 winning filly Petacular, spoke of the exhilaration the ownership group is having with the Michael Stanley trained pacer. "It's been absolutely awesome with Petacular," Young said.  "All the work mates involved are really thoroughly enjoying it and I think there's a bit of regret from the ones who didn't initially want to be in it, given how well she's going." Young said PETstock was enjoying its association with the Ballarat club and added Tuesday night was a fantastic way for staff from all over Australia and New Zealand to catch up. "We had a competition throughout the night where we were all divided up into teams and so in each race the teams were cheering for their horse. It was an awesome scene. And it sounds like a lot of the crew didn't mind a punt because the on-course turnover was well up," he said. Rowse said Young was constantly keen to promote ownership and plenty of the PETstock crew on track were eager to either buy a second horse after the Petacular experience or take their first step into racehorse ownership. “The night showed that if you put in that little bit extra effort then people will leave having had a positive experience and hopefully we’ve got 300 converts to our club and the sport,” Rowse said. “What would otherwise have been a cold, quiet night at the trots turned into a fantastic night full of colour and hopefully we’ll all benefit as an industry from it.” Rowse thanked both Shepparton and Terang clubs for agreeing to calendar changes which allowed Ballarat to race on the night of PETstock’s conference. “The moral is if any club has the potential to attract a big audience or put on a special night then work together with other clubs to make it happen. We’d be willing to do the same if clubs approached us. It’s about collaboration for the betterment of the industry. We were very thankful that Shepparton and Terang were good enough to help us out.” The night was also saw the club utilise electronic betting terminals (EBTs) for the first time, Rowse saying he believed the club was the first non-dual-code racing club to utilise them. About $3000 was turned over through the EBTs. Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV) Blake Redden was also on hand running a punter’s club, which the colourful PETstock crew – each attendee came dressed in bright colours representing their state – lapped up. The club also ran mobile barrier rides between all races giving attendees a close-up view of the action. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The big names in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series two-year-old colts and geldings trotters' division have drawn the front row and are en route to a formiddable showdown in next Friday night's harness racing final. At Tabcorp Park Melton on the Super Series semi-final night for pacers, the trotters' barrier draw saw Deltasun claim the pole mark and Illawong Byron draw barrier six, giving a relatively direct route into their next big showdown. Fillies heat winners Yankee Redback (barrier two) and Illawong Shimmer (barrier five) also both drew the first row. Illawong Byron’s standing was only reaffirmed at last Tuesday night's heats at Ballarat when the two-year-old gelding by Muscle Mass out of Illawong Blush dominated and won by 41.6m. Showing gate speed from barrier six, the result was never in doubt for Bacchus Marsh trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. “I am very happy with him,” Quinlan said. “I was a little disappointed that he overraced, but he has always shown above average ability and I couldn’t be happier with him on that score, he is a classy animal.” Quinlan partly attributed Illawong Byron’s overracing to the gelding coming to the end of a very impressive campaign. “He is still quite green. He is a fairly reliable two-year-old trotter, but he probably overraces and in an ideal world he would probably go to the paddock, but he has a few important races to run yet,” she said. The other colts and geldings heat was won by Deltasun (Tennotrump/Deltasu), a $1.04 favourite who took the honours by 14.6m for Ararat trainer Terry Young and Bacchus Marsh driver Gavin Lang. “There’s no doubt the horse to beat is Deltasun and the barrier will be important," Quinlan said. "But (Illawong Byron) is a good, versatile horse and can also run well from behind.” While it could be argued the colts and geldings shapes as a two-horse race, the two-year-old fillies presents as much more open. Ross Sugars’ Illawong Shimmer (Muscle Mass/Shining Sun) was impressive in leading and winning the first heat by 3.4m from Maree and John Caldow’s hope Valsue. But heat two proved more open, particularly once Anton Golino’s $1.60 favourite Sval Queen broke in the running. Yankee Redback, the only horse in hobby trainer Michael Scandolera’s Kilmore stable, took advantage, with driver Michael Bellman drawing her off leader Kyvalley Kyrie’s back to win by 7.7m. “She had a lot of luck. I thought she was about the third or fourth best horse in the race, but the others galloped and she didn’t,” Scandolera said. “She has beautiful manners. She’s just a natural. “When we broke her in she had a lot of fire, and still has a lot of fire. She’s a very intelligent horse and I let her do her own thing.” Scandolera said if things fell Yankee Redback’s way in the final she could take advantage. “She goes away very quick and very safely, and if she leads she can make her own race, but if she doesn’t and has to go back she can still go all right.”   Barrier draws: Two-year-old colts and geldings 1: Deltasun 2: Prosthesis 3: Bootleg Bert 4: Kheiron 5: Me Pat Malone (emg) 6: Illawong Byron 7: Endsin A Party 8: Needabacardi 9: Aldebaran Pirate 10: Carnera 11: Just Oscar 12: Red Rustler (ODM)   Two-year-old fillies 1: White House Sweet 2: Yankee Redback 3: Ten Spanners 4: Watts Up Rainbow 5: Illawong Shimmer 6: Star In Sight 7: Downtown Miss 8: Kyvalley Kyrie 9: Derrie Aire 10: Midnightpinevale (ODM) 11: Myrniong Rainbow (ODM) 12: Betty Hall (ODM) 13: Valsue (ODM)

Not one for lofty claims, harness racing trainer Simone Walker freely admits that her eight-year-old trotter, Stoned I Am, is unlikely to bring down the great Keystone Del. But, on the verge of their showdown in the $30,575 Group 2 John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup, the Pearcedale trainer-driver made it clear she’ll be out there to keep her million-dollar winning opponent honest. “We will see what happens,” Walker said. “Ideally I’d like to be sitting on (Keystone Del's) back, but he can reel off a 27-second quarter and I don’t think my old fella has that in him anymore.” Walker said the Brent Lilley-trained gelding, who has won four straight and 39 of his 62 starts, significantly impacts the way a race is run. “The problem when you have a horse like that in the race everyone runs to that horse, not to what best suits them,” she said. “It is a small field and that can also make it more difficult. I think it will be definitely fast to the first turn, and then whoever leads will probably hand up to Keystone Del.” She hopes that will be Stoned I Am, who will start from barrier four, inside Keystone Del, and then use his sit-sprint preference to potentially challenge the favourite and hold off the remainder of the seven-horse field. There is reason for optimism in the camp of Stoned I Am, who is by Sundon out of Stoned At Midnight. After a strong showing in a Group 3 at Cranbourne when locked wheels potentially cost him a place, Stoned I Am won the Seelite Windows & Doors Coulter Crown last start, his third victory at Group level from 44 attempts. Group win number four will be at lengthy odds and Anthony Butt, who has driven Keystone Del in his last 11 starts to deliver nine wins, will be only too happy to again take the reins of the gelding by Dr Ronerail out of Flipside. “(Keystone Del’s) been the benchmark for trotters in Australia, he’s done a great job and is probably still going as good as ever,” Butt told RSN’s Inside Word. “He’s well trained and a great horse, driving him is the easy part probably. “He’s just got a big motor. He’s got a great will to win, just a real athlete and he tries really hard. The all-round game really, it’s just a pleasure to drive him. “He’s trotting beautifully, leaving the gate well and he has that high cruising speed and he just takes the sprint out of the others a long way from home. He’s got that ability to maintain his high speed for a long time and so the rest get tired before he does.” That’s the challenge confronting Walker and company in race four of Saturday night’s 10-race card at Ballarat’s Bray Raceway, which will also feature the $15,575 Flying Horse Ballarat 2YO Rising Star. There will be plenty of talent on display, with Laura Crossland’s unbeaten Grinfromeartoear sired colt Lochinvar Delight drawn the back row, while Emma Stewart will hope the pole draw will help Ferdinand (by Courage Under Fire out of To Die With Dignity) to go one better, having placed second at both starts. Marg Lee’s last start winner, Jilliby Kung Fu (by Four Starzzz Shark out of Slip Slop Slap), will also likely start short, but Glen Craven may need to find luck from barrier seven. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness racing drivers Kerryn Manning and Chris Alford led a Victorian surge on day four of the International All Star Series at Ballarat, overturning The World’s advantage. Manning drove a treble, including two series victories, and Alford was at his consistent best producing  a win, two thirds and a fourth to position himself as the night's leading pointscorer. The headlines belonged to Manning, who not only ended the day on top of the leaderboard but wiped almost a second off a track record with her all-the-way win driving trainer Matt Craven’s The Culture. The World weren’t without their shining moments. US contestant Corey Callahan had his best day yet, amassing 32 points that included two placings, and his compatriot Brett Miller produced another long-shot winner for an overjoyed group of owners. Miller brings joy to trainer The day was more difficult for Yannick Gingras (16 points) and Dexter Dunn (23.5 points), who entered the day respective $2.50 and $2.60 favourites. Dunn lost his lead on the series to Manning by a point, with the latter’s golden day continuing in race two – the first of the day’s All Stars series races – when she guided Brent Lilley’s Kyvalley Boomerang to victory. “He got knocked over early and I thought that was it for me, but to his credit he picked himself up and did a good job,” Manning said. Dexter Dunn (Zaire Diva) and Chris Alford (Glenferrie Belle) finished second and third, beaten to the post by Manning who cut the corner, found a gap and then set down wide with a swooping finish. Kerryn Manning's interview post her houdini act Race 14 of the series followed and this time it was all Alford behind Game On Bro, which shot to the lead and never looked back. The fast pace had the pack swooping late, but the Sebastian Steenhuis-trained gelding by Courage Under Fire out off Presidential Rose had enough in the tank to hit the line. “The horse was a bit keen and you’ve just got to drive them,” Alford said. “I tried to keep rating him as slow as I could without strangling him and he was good enough to go on with the job.” Jason Lee almost pinched it with Watchmaka Lombo, while Corey Callahan drove Carseblue into third. Chris Alford finding the Ballarat chill to his liking There was plenty of excitement ahead of the series 15th race, and it didn’t disappoint. Fresh off a second in the Terang Co-Op Pacing Cup and not long since running a 1:51.6 mile at Tabcorp Park Melton, Matt Craven’s The Culture is gaining a loyal following and Kerryn Manning only added to that goodwill. Manning steered The Culture to his front running role from barrier seven and while Chris Alford put highly-fancied Star Of Dionysis on his back, The Culture had too much in the straight. Corey Callahan drove Royal Hustler into second, the $19.10 chance beaten only 4.1m by The Culture who finished in a 1:53.0 mile rate, stripping 0.7 of a second of Saab Quality’s 1710m record set in 2013. Alford finished 2.4m further back in third. “He’s a lovely horse, he actually did that really easy,” Manning said. “The track’s really fast tonight and he probably could have broken that by more.” Kerryn Manning dares dream of a series win after Culture dominates The form book was thrown out for the 16th All Stars race – the last for the day – with three longshots filling the placings in a trifecta worth almost $13,000. Greg Sugars looked as though he had almost pinched it when he moved Cee Goddess to the front and drew clear, only to have Brett Miller draw Premier Rose off his back to take the $36 shot to victory for trainer Ken Tippet. “Anything can happen in a horse race and that right there proved it,” Miller said. “In fact my horse was very good, for the odds being that big, my horse was very good.” Brett Miller's review of a job well done The day began with #trotsallstars taking in historic Sovereign Hill And then the Allstars ventured to a Ballarat Wildlife Park for a cuddle Next stop will be Bendigo on Friday before Saturday’s finale at Tabcorp Park Melton. International All Star Series day four leaderboard:  Kerryn Manning 122.5, Dexter Dunn 121.5, Chris Alford 114, Brett Miller 112.5, Yannick Gingras 104.5, Greg Sugars 104, Jason Lee 95.5, Corey Callahan 93, Gavin Lang 87.5, Anthony Butt 82.5. Overall leaderboard: Victoria 523.5, The World 514. Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria

A wave of generosity continues to wash through Bruce Edward’s ashen Durham Park, keeping spirits high as the harness racing stud farm recovers form a devastating bushfire. The December 19 blaze that razed Edward’s Durham property and impacted many of his neighbours has attracted an astonishing response from the Ballarat community.  “People wonder how I stay so positive about everything, but you can’t help but be positive when there are so many people around you being positive and offering so much assistance,” Edward said.  The Scotsburn Community Fundraiser has raised $20,603 for those affected by the bushfires, which was bolstered when Ballarat and District Trotting Club dedicated a night to the cause. Almost $8000 was raised at the February 12 race meting through donations, raffles and $10 from every dining package, club CEO Paul Rowse said.  “It is a credit to racing people, who were not only there on the ground after the fires, but are still willing to dig deep and help down the track,” Rowse said. “We hoped we might raise about $5000 on the night, but people just kept giving and we raised $8000, which will go a long way to helping those people affected.”  The goodwill was shared further, with Minister for Racing Martin Pakula making available a $1500 grant that shouted BlazeAid volunteers a night out at the race meeting. “It shows how racing can be an integral part of any community and look after its participants, but the community more generally as well,” Mr Pakula said.  BlazeAid volunteers have spent more than eight weeks in the greater Ballarat community, setting up camp from where they’ve rebuilt fences and provided support to those affected.  Extraordinary support for Durham Park also came from Alan Galloway of Alabar Stud, who offered to graze all 53 horses plus foals for six months free of charge. Galloway also gifted Durham Park access to his barn complex so it could prepare its yearlings for sale and accommodation for his staff.  The groundswell of support has only strengthened Edward’s desire to remain a key player in the sport. “We are going to recover and we will come back bigger and stronger,” Edward said. “It might take some time, but we will be there and be active participants in the community for a long while to come.”  Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria    

North Canterbury harness racing trainer Greg Hope has never been slow to point out to journalists his opinion of his outstanding trotter Monbet. Right through his three year old campaign when due to a variety of issues he was playing second fiddle to another outstanding young trotter in Speeding Spur, Greg never let a chance go by without taking the opportunity to tell you that the best was yet to come. That the big son of Love You would continue to improve as he matured into his large frame and if Greg was patient now, he would reap the rewards further down the track. It is a philosophy that Greg and wife Nina, who train the four year old gelding have stuck to again this season with the four year old gelding as they have structured his programme for his long term benefit regardless of the money involved. Even though he dominated the New Zealand FFA on Cup Day this year, he was at home in his box when the $250,000 Dominion Handicap was run three days later.  Now as we approach the $300,000 Southern Star series, Greg is in Australia with his star trotter but not for the big dance. Instead he has targeted the Australasian Trotting Championship and after a brilliant heat win at Ballarat last night appears in a different league to the opposition he will face next week in the $50,000 final. Away slowly as the lone back marker on 20 metres, Monbet tagged on to bunch after 500 metres but when regular driver Ricky May pushed the go button, he quickly looped the field and grabbed the lead and proceeded to run away and hide from a smart field of FFA trotters. At the line he had 19 metres to spare from runner up Super Zeck as Ricky let him coast down to the line. The quality of the win was there for all to see and Monbet carved nearly two seconds off the track record to boot. Ricky May was thrilled with the the first up effort in Australia. "We gave them 20 metres start and still won with a lot in hand so I am rapt with the run." "He was really fresh tonight so I was a bit careful with him early but that run will tidy him nicely for next week and he should strip a better horse again." "I have always said that Monbet was a freakish trotter who has pacer like speed and he looks to have a huge future," Ricky said. Ricky was just as upbeat when talking about his Ballarat Pacing Cup drive Mossdale Conner who ran a creditable fourth in his Australian debut. "I have never known him to get that keen in a race." "Greg had him pretty fresh going into it as he has a big few weeks in front of him but as a result he half pulled himself into the ground." "The way he felt, I didn't think he would have been too far away from the first two if he had settled." "He will be really tight next week so that won't be a problem and I give him a chance of getting amongst it." "The race that will really suit him will be the Hunter Cup where his great standing start manners will make him a huge chance," Ricky said. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing is incredibly parochial at the best of times but when the big clashes occur between Australia and our trans Tasman rival New Zealand, the rhetoric tends to get ratcheted up a few notches again. Last nights Ballarat Cup meeting is a prime example with several mouth watering clashes in the Victoria Derby heats, Australasian Trotting Championship and Ballarat Pacing Cup between the emerging and established stars of harness racing in both countries. When the dust had settled, the Kiwis had a smile from one ear to the other after they dominated the night results wise. Outstanding Kiwi three year old Lazarus treated his Derby heat rivals with disdain and showed Australians why he is held in such high regard by the all conquering All Star barn. While both the other heat winners ran similar time,neither did it in such emphatic fashion and Lazarus will start a very short priced favourite in the $200,000 final next Saturday night. The West Australian Sprinter was impressive in derby heat three and the Kiwi bred looked the most likely to present a challenge to Lazarus next week. So two Kiwi bred winners of the three derby heats was not a good start for the locals and it went from bad to worst when the two heats of the Australasian Trotting Championship were run. First up was star New Zealand trotter Monbet who brained them in the first heat by nearly 20 metres and looks in a different class to his opposition in this series. Just to rub salt into the wound, the second heat was taken out by another Kiwi bred trotter in One Over Da Moon who did everything right and looks primed for a big effort next week against Monbet. Lastly the Ballarat Cup was an Australian bred affair with Smolda and Lennytheshark putting on a great show but Smolda would have had plenty of Kiwis smiling as most of his owners, trainer and driver are New Zealanders these days. The worrying part from an Australian point of view is the invasion is just starting and the reinforcements that will arrive shortly or have just arrived in Australia from New Zealand are genuine stars in their own right in their homeland. One gets the feeling that Ballarat Cup night may become the norm this season when the Aussies and the Kiwis face off on the track. Harnesslink Media

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