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With 7 Group 1 races this Sunday afternoon, the overall meeting is clearly the best day of harness racing in the southern hemisphere. For the code of harness racing it is what Victoria Derby Day is for the gallops. The best of the best racing against one another for stacks of prize money. Horses, trainers and drivers have come from all parts of Australia and New Zealand to have a horse compete on the day is a feat for any participant. The 'jewel in the crown' is clearly the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion, it will be race 7 and will be run at 3:40pm. The barrier draw looks set to enhance the spectacle and now everyone is hoping that Mother Nature plays her role and the rain stays away. If it remains dry I am expecting the horses off the back row to prove hardest to beat. With Mach Beauty and Keayang Cullen drawn well on the front row I expect there to be an early speed battle and while the fire should die down pretty quickly the early burn should help those run on horses. I like For A Reason, Belinda McCarthy opted to miss the Hunter Cup and concentrate on the Inter Dominion which is a plus. He was scintillating at Goulburn and while beaten at his two subsequent runs, with the right run he has a devastating turn of speed. He looks set to stalk Beautide throughout and he is clearly the hardest horse to beat. His versatility is a huge advantage and James Rattray has the option of making a move midrace should he deem it necessary. Im Victorious will be in front of his main dangers early and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gary Hall Jnr try and get off the pegs early in the race while Smolda might land in a good position early despite a wide front row draw. The best roughie is Seel N Print, he is flying at the moment and is a very good stayer. Of the other chances Restrepo might be suited out of the fireworks early and has proved his toughness in Victoria. While the best Terror To Love would be ultra competitive, will we see the best of him on Sunday and Caribbean Blaster could be set to cover some territory from his wide draw. The first Gr. 1 of the afternoon is the NSW Oaks. Nike Franco has drawn gate one and that isn't ideal but Chris Alford will be off the pegs and her toughness will take her a long way. She is still green and when she learns what the racing caper is all about she will be even better. Hardest to beat is the kiwi filly My Willow, she will be better for her first look at Menangle last week while the Victorian fillies Quick Draft, Mindarie Priddy and Whereibylong are all hopes. The best roughie is the NSW trained Shes A Runa. The Ladyship Mile has attracted the best mare from New Zealand in Adore Me but the visitors draw gives her rivals some small hope of an upset. Baby Bling is a Miracle Mile winner that hit the line strongly last week against the boys and she is the best local hope to upset the favourite. There are plenty of trifecta and first four chances including Steam Washed after three straight wins including a scorching 1:53.3 win at Melton last start, Elusive Chick has drawn well and could be dangerous should she settle close to the leaders with her quick sprint while the form around Leda McNally in WA is very strong but the draw is a concern. The NSW Derby market is dominated by Bling It On and while with the right run he could blow his rivals away I am happy to take the each way odds being offered about Yayas Hotspot. The Shane Tritton three year old is back to his best after going off the boil late last year and I would expect him to go for an all the way win this week after handing up the lead in the heat. Hardest to beat is the McCarthy pair Bling It On and Allblack Stride while Isaiah and Iam Mr Brightside have small winning hopes as well. Last year's Chariots Of Fire has turned out to be one of the form races of the season with Smolda, Restrepo, Mach Beauty and Im Victorious all coming out of that race and into this year's Inter Dominion. There is depth across the board but with plenty of early speed in the race I'm tipping Guaranteed to prove too strong. He stormed home last week to win the Paleface Adios and he loves racing on the big Menangle track having only tasted defeat once on the circuit in his career. There are plenty of other chances though, Franco Nelson, Elios, Border Control, Chilli Palmer and Nowitzki all could be in the finish with the right run. The Bohemia Crystal FFA sees Jivin Cullen arrive from New Zealand with some solid form behind Terror To Love and Smolda and he looks the leading chance in a tough race. Im Corzin Terror has been racing well in Victoria and won the Terang Cup last week and if he turns up at his best he looks to be the main danger. Mah Sish is clearly not the horse he was a year ago but his form is not as bad as it reads on paper while Ardghal is a hope, he will be an even better horse in twelve months time and should blossom from the experience racing the better horses. Abettorpunt was very brave at Terang as well and can win at his best. The Glenferrie Farm Challenge for the trotters sees the battle of the Anzacs and after a surprise win last year I think the Australian's can make it another win in the series. My High Expectations is in the best form of his career and has performed extremely well at Menangle in the past. Last year's winner Keystone Del has drawn terribly but is in great form while Stent and Master Lavros look to be the best of the visitors. My best bet of the day is Yayas Hotspot in the NSW Derby but it looks to be one of those meetings that if you can find just one or two winners in the ten races then you should go home a winner. Don't forget you will see all the action on Sky Racing1 from 11am with a full preview of the meeting. Harness racing just doesn't get any better, enjoy your Sunday afternoon! Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing NSW       Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E: nogrady@hrnsw.com.au| W: www.hrnsw.com.au & www.trotstv.com.au       Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.            

Unbeaten filly Bamako Mali added one of harness racing’s most unusual trophies to Team McCarthy’s burgeoning trophy cabinet with an all-the-way win in tonight’s $50,000 Allied Express Pink Bonnet at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Fresh from an impressive effort to win on Tuesday to qualify for the Group Two feature, Bamako Mali probably won the race when the mobile let them go. Reinsman Luke McCarthy took full advantage of Bamako Mali’s enormous gate speed and had little problem holding out her rivals in the run to the first turn, despite pressure from Butterfly Princess, driven by the race sponsor Colin McDowell and Miss Condoleezza (Anthony Butt). There was no loafing in those early stages of the race either, with a 27.8 first split of the mile before McCarthy was able to back off the speed ever so slightly with a 30.1 second split. Then it was foot to the floor stuff as this impressive Art Major filly gave none of her rivals a hope, coming home with a last half of 57.7 seconds (29s and 28.7s) to beat Mustang Jet by four and a half metres in a 1:55.6 mile rate with the gutsy Girls Go Racing coming from three back on the markers to grab third for the winning stable. Part of Bamako Mali’s prize in winning the Pink Bonnet is exactly that, a pink bonnet, which she wasn’t all that keen to wear – but relented in the end. Trainer Belinda McCarthy gave the credit to her husband Luke for “another great drive” but Bamako Mali will definitely go on to bigger and better things. Harness Racing New South Wales ALLIED EXPRESS PINK BONNET (GROUP 2)

Harness racing's team McCarthy struck a blow eight days out from the Camarda and Cantrill NSW Derby when pre-post favourite Allblack Stride drew barrier three for next Sunday’s $200,000 harness racing feature. The Belinda McCarthy-trained and Luke McCarthy driven three-year-old star by Christian Cullen will now start favourite for the Group One feature, despite the presence of some in-form pacers. Allblack Stride’s stablemate Bling It on will come from the middle of the pack after drawing gate seven, while New Zealand visitor Isaiah will come from gate four for the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen team after a handy third in his Australian debut at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. Iam Mr Brightside, who was narrowly beaten by Allblack Stride in heat one of the Derby preludes, will also be in the action after drawing gate five for the KerryAnn Turner stable. The draw for the Camarda and Cantrill NSW Derby is: Major Crocker Major Secret Allblack Stride Isaiah Iam Mr Brightside Cilantro Bling It On Mighty Gift Written In Red (1st em) El Fuego (2nd em) Yayas Hot Spot Royal Capone Harness Racing New South Wales New South Wales Derby - Heat One New South Wales Derby - Heat Two

A slashing front running performance by Mach Beauty on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle has seen the five year old's odds shorten with TAB.COM.AU to win this year's Inter Dominion Grand Final. Driven by David Morris, the son of Mach Three fired out at the start and proved too strong for the Belinda McCarthy trained For A Reason, the overall second favourite for the event. "It is half embarrassing the way he has to be driven and I think he proved that on Saturday night that it is definitely the best way to drive him," Tritton said. "He needs to go fast enough in the early stages to take the sting out of the sprinters at the finish, David Morris has been doing such a good job for the stable but unfortunately he has been suspended so Lauren (Panella) will be back aboard Mach Beauty this week." While the step up to 2400 metres is a query, Tritton expects Mach Beauty to be driven in the same aggressive manner. "The extra trip doesn't worry me, he isn't suited by sitting on the back of the leader because he likes to run along, if he qualified for the Inter Dominion final then we might reconsider our tactics over the 3000 metres but we have to get through the heats first." "I'm proud to have four horses in the heats, I thought Suave Stuey Lombo was ok the other night, he may have needed to be a bit closer to Mach Beauty in the run but I was happy with him." Tritton's other two runners are Ardghal and Brave Wiggy. "Brave Wiggy returned home from Melbourne on Monday, I just want to see how he pulls up from the trip, it was pretty hot but he looks to have handled it ok." "While I have been in Melbourne I have had great support from Ricky Hunt, my mum and all the team at home." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

Sydney junior driver Alex Alchin was happy to be back in New South Wales this week after being forced to evacuate horses from the property of Victorian trainer Adam Kelly because of the damaging bushfires near Melbourne over the weekend. Alchin works for Belinda McCarthy and was assisting in Victoria with her runners that had raced at Melton on Saturday night. "Darryl Crapper and I went and checked on the horses on Sunday morning at Adam Kelly's property before returning to the place where we were staying about half an hour away," Alchin said. "We got a call at about 2:30pm in the afternoon to say the police had advised people to evacuate at Adam's property so we rushed back to the property and got the horses out." After arriving at Kelly's property Alchin was not too concerned with the situation. "When we got there to be honest I didn't think it looked too bad, we could see the flames but it looked like it was a very long way away and I thought we would be fine but then the wind changed and within five minutes the fire was just about at the front gate." "Once the wind had changed it was too late to go so we just moved all the horses away from the flames and moved the cars and explosive items like gas bottles as far away from the heat as we could and hoped for the best." Another wind change proved very helpful and saved any potential losses. "The wind shifted again and it helped a lot but without the help of the helicopters dropping water on the fire it could have been a different story, the helicopters were sucking water out of the dams on Adam's place and dropping it straight onto the fire." "It all happened very quickly, I think the fire got to Adam's place by about 4:30pm and we were all very lucky I think." Alchin returned to Sydney on Monday and is looking forward to the upcoming Inter Dominion carnival. Harness Racing New South Wales             Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E: nogrady@hrnsw.com.au| W: www.hrnsw.com.au & www.trotstv.com.au       Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.            

Miracle Mile winning reinsman Mat Rue is heading overseas. The richly talented horseman will relocate to North America in April where he will be based with leading trainer and former Aussie Noel Daley in New Jersey on a six month stay. Rue will be packing his drivers bag during his time abroad but the main purpose of the trip is to expand his knowledge of the training regime and general horse care. Confirmation of the trip was verified after a trip to the Consulate General of the United States in Sydney on Wednesday where Visas were approved. “Things have certainly changed and rather dramatically in the past couple of months; I was set to leave Luke and Belinda McCarthy and set up my own stable at Bathurst which was meant to coincide with the new track being built but getting a barn has come with a few obstacles so after speaking with Noel and Luke at Christmas, the plan was put in place and I can’t wait to get over there.” Rue said. The rise to prominence for Rue elevated rapidly on April 28 last year, a smart front running drive aboard Lettucerockthem in the $307,000 Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old Colts and Geldings Final was followed by a skilful drive on outsider Baby Bling in the 2013 $750,000 Miracle Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Rue was a regular in the winner’s circle at Menangle which was followed by a highly successful campaign in Brisbane where he acted as caretaker trainer and driver for Team McCarthy. The lightweight reinsman is still a regular winner in Sydney where he has become the stable driver for the astute Peter Walsh stable while still maintaining close links to the McCarthy stable. But the opportunity to broaden his skillset was too good to ignore. “The chat with Noel was great and it really got me thinking, as they say, you never stop learning in this game and the opportunities should prove to be invaluable. I’ve heard so many stories from people that have spent large chunks of time up there and I can’t wait to experience it firsthand. “It’s not about going up there to become a driver but Noel suggested I bring my gear and I will take my opportunities when presented but just being able to fine tune a few things on the training side will hopefully hold me in good stead for the future. “Who knows what the future holds but this will only benefit me long term, I should be arriving when it becomes a little warmer and all the good racing will be just around the corner like the Hambletonian, Meadowland Pace, Little Brown Jug and maybe even a trip to Kentucky for their Grand Circuit week.” Rue and his partner Gemma Hewitt will head off in April. In the meantime, Rue will keep taking his opportunities in Sydney and hopefully the winners will keep flowing. by Chris Barsby

HAMILTON-trained colt The Fat Man will start from the pole in the third heat of the Nicola Victoria Derby  tomorrow night at Melton’s Tabcorp Park, and driver Matthew Craven is hoping the son of American Ideal can extend his two-win streak. Craven said the up-and-comer from the David Lewis stable had impressed in both his wins this time in, including a last-start triumph at Hamilton on Wednesday from a wide draw. “He won’t have taken any harm from the two runs that’s for sure,” Craven said. “He’s gone well both times. Obviously this is a step up in class but he should get a good run from the draw.” The Fat Man took out the Terang Silver Vase at Melton two starts back by over 9m before Wednesday’s workmanlike performance at his home track. Highly rated Bettors Delight gelding Our Maxim, from the Barry Purdon barn in Auckland, impressive last-start Mt Gambier Derby winner Major Secret from the Emma Stewart team, and outstanding New South Wales Art Major three-year-old Lettucerockthem are The Fat Man’s stiffest competition in the third heat. Lettucerockthem is from the in-form Belinda McCarthy yard, and the Cobbitty stable must be thrilled with their Derby prospects with Bling It On expected to be hot favourite in the first heat from barrier four. The brilliant Breeders Crown champion from last season blitzed his rivals at Cranbourne last time out by 36.7m in 1:57, coming home in 54.4. And giving the McCarthys an even stronger Derby hand will be Allblack Stride in the second heat, who has drawn barrier two. The last-start Cranbourne winner came home in 55.2 in scoring by 16.9m after running third in the Simpson Memorial behind Iam Mr Brightside and Lettucerockthem in the Simpson Memorial at Menangle two runs back. And astute Heywood trainer Kevin Brough will be hoping to produce the knockout blow with Paua Fella in the second heat, the last-start SA Derby winner to be driven by Craven. The first heat of the Derby kicks off a huge Hunter Cup program tomorrow night at 6.05pm By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Talented reinsman Robert Morris has admitted Saturday night's barrier draw in heat one of the Victoria Derby is not ideal for Iam Mr Brightside after drawing outside the Belinda McCarthy trained Bling It On but still believes he is driving a winning chance. Iam Mr Brightside won the Simpson Memorial at Tabcorp Park Menangle at his last start when he rated 1:51.6 and defeated Bling It On. "Iam Mr Brightside is really good and at the top of his game at the moment, the draw would have been perfect if we could have swapped draws with Bling It On but you have to take it as it comes," Morris said. "He had a couple of easy days after winning the Simpson Memorial which you expect after running a time like that but since then he has had a couple of very strong gallops in the sand and he was very impressive at the trials last week so I think Kerryann (Turner trainer) has done her job, now it is up to me." While the Victoria Derby was always a possibility, the trip to Melton was only confirmed after Iam Mr Brightside won at Menangle in record time. "The horse's owner Bill Green has been a fantastic supporter of Kerryann and mine and he never put any pressure on to go to Victoria but he deserves his chance in the series. "He was bought at the ready to run sale at Menangle and isn't paid up for very much so at this stage he will compete in Melbourne then come home for the NSW Derby and after that he can go to Bathurst or the Seymour series in Brisbane." Morris will also drive Fourstarzzzspecial in a Victoria Derby heat this Saturday night. "He has got the perfect draw because he has drawn two on the second row and is drawn to follow out Allblack Stride, he probably lacks the tactical speed at the highest level but he is a typical tradesman and is as honest as they come so I give him a good chance of qualifying." By Greg Hayes (Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales)             Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E: nogrady@hrnsw.com.au| W: www.hrnsw.com.au & www.trotstv.com.au       Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.            

Saturday night at Melton’s Tabcorp Park will see the 66th running of the time-honoured premier harness racing handicap of Australasia, the Del-Re National Food Group A.G. Hunter Cup. The event is steeped in tradition and prestige. The annual stand-start Group 1 is a highlight on the Australasian harness racing calendar, an event whose honour roll is adorned by such stars of the game as Minuteman (1964 and 66), Pure Steel (1977, 78 and 80), Koala King (1981), Gammalite (1982), Popular Alm (1983), Blossom Lady (1994 and 95), Elsu (2005 and 2006) and Blacks A Fake (2008), just to name a few. This year another star will etch their name among the sport’s elite, and a highly competitive race looks assured with most of the key players peaking in form at the right time. With $400,000 in prize money on offer for the 3280m marathon, the race annually draws the strongest and fastest pacers from around the land and abroad. In recent years, the Kiwis have boasted bragging rights in the Hunter Cup, largely thanks to genius siblings Tim and Anthony Butt, who have combined to win four of the last five versions of the race. Anthony has seven times driven the winner of the Hunter Cup, his domination of the event kicking off back in 1994 when the mighty Blossom Lady prevailed at Moonee Valley. The super mare would return to the Valley 12 months later and go back to back, despite being forced to punch the breeze outside the leader from the 1700m. The champion stayer trained by the late Derek Jones raced to the lead down the back the final time and held off all comers late – including the brilliant Golden Reign – to score the gutsiest of successes. Nine years later Butt combined with his brother, trainer Tim, aboard Mister D G, who defeated Mont Denver Gold by 1.3m. The siblings would win the race again five years later, this time with Mr Feelgood, kicking off a domination of the event with further wins in 2011 with Stunin Cullen, 2012 with Choise Achiever and last year with Mah Sish. The Butts are back this year with reigning champion Mah Sish shooting for back to back wins in the big race. And if his most recent win at Ballarat – he led all the way to take out The Pure Steel on Saturday night – is any indication, the brothers might be the toast of the town again. Another Land of the Long White Cloud Hunter Cup hopeful will be Christen Me from the Cran Dalgety yard, whose runner-up effort behind locally trained Restrepo in the Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup last weekend was enormous. With star Kiwi reinsman Dexter Dunn in the sulky, Christen Me looked home for all money before fast-finishing Restrepo nabbed him with a last-gasp lunge. Christen Me’s Australian record is first-class, with wins in the Hondo Grattan and Chariots Of Fire last year, followed by a second in the Miracle Mile behind Beautide and a third in the Victoria Cup before last Saturday’s Ballarat effort. One of the leading hometown hopes at Melton in the Hunter Cup will be Andy Gath-trained big-race specialist Caribbean Blaster. The son of Bettors Delight, who won the SA Cup earlier this month and last year captured the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup, is flying. Before his Globe Derby success he had run placings in the Victoria Cup and a free-for-all at Melton after an enormous fourth when he worked overtime in a top-quality Cranbourne Cup field. Another local aiming to keep the Hunter Cup in town will be 11-year-old marvel Smoken Up, one of Caribbean Blaster’s regular sparring partners. The Lance Justice trained-and-driven warhorse was winning races when a lot of his rivals weren’t even born, yet he is expected to line up in one of the few big races to elude him so far in a career that has netted 70 wins and over $3.5 million in prize money. Smoken Up found the lead at Ballarat before finishing fourth and being relegated to fifth on protest. He ran a head second to The Gold Ace in The Shepparton Cup off a 30m back mark, was second to Caribbean Blaster in a stirring finish to the Group 1 SA Cup, was second to Keayang Steamer in the Horsham Pacing Cup, won the Laser Electrical over Mah Sish at Melton in December, and ran fifth in last year’s Miracle Mile behind Beautide after a blistering victory in the Group 1 Cordina Sprint a week earlier. Up-and-comer Im Corzin Terror from the powerful Dean Braun stable has his eyes on the prize after running second to Mah Sish in The Pure Steel and might be the under-the-radar Hunter Cup chance. On January 11, Im Corzin Terror’s run to win the Bendigo Cup was sublime, coasting clear of his rivals for a 14.8m triumph. He’s got gears. New South Wales hot pot The Gold Ace got shuffled back early at Ballarat despite most punters assuming he’d find the lead. He’s much better than his sixth-place finish in that race suggests, with big wins in the Shepparton Cup, Cranbourne Cup and Kevin Newman Cup at Menangle at three of his previous four runs before Ballarat. Astute punters won’t be jumping off the Belinda McCarthy-trained star too quickly. And of course the honest Restrepo will take winning form into the race after the Emma Stewart-trained gun took out the Ballarat feature with superstar driver Gavin Lang aboard. Adding to the intrigue in the Hunter Cup is the fact the race is a stand-start event, with a key stipulation of entry into the event being that horses must have qualified for the race by starting in and beginning safely in a minimum of one stand-start race in the 12 months leading up to the event. The A.G. Hunter Cup will be the jewel on a big night of harness racing at Melton on Saturday night, with other highlights to include the Group 1 Chiko Australasian Trotting Championship, the Group 2 Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship, the Group 3 Glenferrie Farm Melton Trotters Cup and the heats of the VHRSC Victoria Derby. NEED TO KNOW: - Free entry - Gates open from 5:30pm - Free Kids entertainment including Animal Farm, Jumping Castle, Face Painting, Sulky Trotting Carousel,    Giant Slide & Bungee Run - Music on the front lawn - On-course betting voucher promotions - After party in the Legends Bar from 10:30pm onwards - TAB Jackpot COURTESY BUS PICK-UP POINT: 4:30pm, Saturday 1 February Federation Square, Russell St extension (located at the back of Federation Square near carpark). Travelling to Tabcorp Park, arriving approximately 5:30pm. DEPARTS TABCORP PARK: At 11:00pm, travelling to Federation Square. To book call (03) 8746 0600 Ticket price -  $10 per person DINING OPTIONS There’s plenty of dining options available so be sure to book your spot today by calling (03) 8746 0631 Home Straight Restaurant - $65 per person 3 Course Buffet Cash Bar Facilities Racebook Dress Code – Smart Casual Toolern Room - $110 per person 3 Course Meal plus Beer Wine & Soft Drink Grandstand access Racebook Dress Code – Jacket & Tie Corporate Suites - $140 per person Accommodate between 20-30 guests Deluxe Canapes plus Beer, Wine & Soft Drink Racebooks Private Wait Staff Private balcony overlooking the Home Straight  TO BOOK CALL (03) 8746 0631 By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

A HOT field of in-form pacers will come together for the running of the Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup on Saturday night. The headline act for the stand-start Group 2 feature will be backmarker Smoken Up after his brave second to Caribbean Blaster in last Saturday night's Group 1 SA Cup. Shooting for an unprecedented five SA Cup wins, Smoken Up was beaten a head by Andy Gath-trained Caribbean Blaster but lost no admirers after the run. Justice, originally from South Australia, said Smoken Up was brave in defeat. "The winner got a metre ahead on the home turn when I locked wheels with the one on the inside and Smoken Up fought back to be beaten a head at the end. In his mind he won," Justice said. "The 30m (back-mark handicap) is a bit tough on him but he's been racing really well and if he has to go to this race to get a start in the Hunter Cup, that's what we'll do. With how he begins, he could easily win the Hunter Cup." Justice said Smoken Up's huge fan base cheered him off the track last weekend despite getting beaten. "The committee wanted me to do another couple of laps but I said I couldn't because I didn't win the race. It's for the winner to be out there after the race," he said. Avenel trainer David Aiken will have three runners in the Shepparton Cup, Wartime Sweetheart, Smudge Bromac and Composed. All three will start from the front line. Wartime Sweetheart ran second to Im Corzin Terror in the Bendigo Cup last weekend and Aiken said his seven-year-old could run another big race. "He's flying, we're rapt with how he's going," he said. "Both he and Smudge Bromac can be a bit risky from the stand. I'd probably lean towards Wartime Sweetheart as my best chance though because he's going a bit better at the moment." Trainer-driver Scott Stewart will be hoping Bitobliss's last-start flop in the Bendigo Cup was a mere apparition, with the star pacer dropping out sharply in the straight after looking a chance heading off the back. Alongside Bitobliss behind the 20m tape will be New South Welsh raider The Gold Ace from the powerful Cobbitty stable of Luke and Belinda McCarthy. The Gold Ace, who two starts back won the Cranbourne Cup, ran sixth last time out in the Victoria Cup after leading. Washmepockets, in-form Scandalman, Restrepo and up-and-coming star and last-start Bendigo Cup winner Im Corzin Terror are the other Shepparton Cup combatants. The feature for the trotters on Shepparton Cup night will be the Group 3 George Gath over 2190m, which pits the two horses who finished one-two in the Maori Mile last Saturday, My High Expectations and Kyvalley Blur, back against one another. Cold Sister has drawn three for the event after an unlucky run in transit last week, while veteran Earl Of Mot - a stablemate of Smoken Up - has drawn outside the front row in what will be his 207th and most likely final start. "I just can't get a good draw with him," Justice said. "This will most likely be swansong, I'd say. We'll probably retire him afterwards. He's been a grand old horse." Shepparton Cup night kicks off at 6.25pm. By Cody Winnell [Harness Racing Victoria]  

Trainer Paul Court admits Terror To Love is vulnerable in his comeback race at Invercargill today. The three-time New Zealand Cup winner hasn’t raced since a dreadful last in the Miracle Mile in Sydney in November but it isn’t just a lack of race fitness that worries co-trainer Court heading into today’s $50,000 Northern Southland Cup. It is also the hard-running presence of Arden Rooney off the front line and his ability to dictate the tempo of the race and therefore how many, if any, mid-race challengers eventuate. Arden Rooney may not be in the same class of Terror To Love yet but he continued a huge summer with a crushing Ashburton Cup win last start, winning by 11 lengths against many of his opponents today. “After what he did at Ashburton he will be hard to catch,” said Court. “We can’t be arrogant enough to think we will just turn up and win all the time and if Arden Rooney gets his way in front then he could sprint the last 800m in 56 seconds and we might be giving him a five-length start. “So it is a tricky race and while we are very happy with our horse he could easily get beaten.” Terror To Love looked sharp enough at the Ashburton trials last week but was all out to win this race last season and that was chasing inferior horses to those he faces today. The real problem could be that Arden Rooney is the only starter off the front so should easily lead and then after what he did at Ashburton rival drivers will be loathe to attack him, giving his trainer-driver Mark Purdon a huge tactical advantage. One attacker, like Jimmy Johnstone or Glencoe VC, could change the dynamic of the race but if his rivals fall into racing in pairs behind him, Arden Rooney might sneak the win. The local connections of Franco Ledger are hoping for a return to form after his libido got the best of him when he failed as favourite at Omakau last start. “He got very colty and had run his race before he even got on the track,” said managing owner Brendan McIntyre. “He was kicking out in his box and then got on to the track and pulled very hard there but he has apparently settled down well so we are confident he will go better.” At least Arden Rooney’s presence should ensure a solid tempo, which is what Franco Ledger needs to show his best. The day’s other feature, the $20,000 trot, sees track specialist Springbank Sam up against two of the rising stars of New Zealand trotting in Sheemon and Royal Aspirations in a clash that will even rival the Cup for highlight of the day. Meanwhile, one of New Zealand’s best pacers will try and end his standing start hoodoo in Victoria on Saturday night. The Gold Ace is now trained by Belinda McCarthy in Sydney and will head to Shepparton in Victoria for the standing start Cup there on Saturday, taking on Smoke Up. The Gold Ace won the New Zealand Free-For-All and Flying Mile last season but struggled in his standing start races but is dipping his toe back in that well with a view to the A$400,000 Hunter Cup at Melton in two weeks. “He has been stepping well at home and with the Hunter being worth so much it if worth giving him another go from the stands,” said driver Luke McCarthy. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of the New Zealand Herald)

Yirribee Stud boss Rod Woodhouse was cheering loudly when the Belinda McCarthy trained For A Reason took on Saturday night's Victoria Cup. The son of Art Major stood a season at Yirribee before returning to the racetrack earlier this year and Woodhouse admits to having a soft spot for the 1:49.4 winner. "He is just a lovely animal, I have a special attachment to For A Reason because he is such a kind horse and was great to have here on the property," Woodhouse said. "He got 45 mares but I must admit I was pretty disappointed with that, I thought he deserved a lot more but being "a colonial" stallion went against him, I'm sure now that he has run those fast times at Menangle and won a Victoria Cup that the interest will be much bigger when he does eventually retire." Woodhouse admitted the number of broodmares For A Reason attracted in his first season at stud was one of the main reasons he was put back into work. "I was having a chat with Luke McCarthy at the sales in Sydney over a few beers and we got talking about putting him back into work and Luke told me to jog him up for six weeks and see how he was coping." "He handled it very comfortably and when I spoke with Luke again he said jog him up for another five and at the end of those eleven weeks he was ready to head back to the McCarthy stable." There has been plenty of interest in For A Reason since Saturday night's Victoria Cup victory. "You would be surprised, the phone hasn't stopped ringing, I reckon in the first two days after the win I would have had twenty calls asking if there was any frozen semen available." "I put ten mares to him and will be taking eight yearlings to the sales next year, I'm sure there will be plenty of interest in them." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

The 2013 Decron Cranbourne Cup has been won by The Gold Ace in a brilliant front-running display for harness racing trainer Belinda McCarthy. Drawn two, Andy McCarthy shot off the arm to find the top from American Muscle with Youranut sitting parked for much of the race. In an event which lacked any serious mid-race moves, The Gold Ace started to pull in the middle stages before McCarthy let him down off the back to apply the pressure to his rivals. Never seriously threatened, The Gold Ace raced home in a 26.7sec third quarter before a last section of 29.3secs. The mile rate for the 2555-metre journey was 1:58.9 with The Gold Ace charging clear by 1.7 metres from Terrorway and Im Corzin Terror. The winner now secures a spot in the Group 1 SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup next week in what is expected to be a superstar field of pacers. The other Group 1 race of the night, the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Mile was taken by Kyvalley Blur in a deceptive finish. With Elegant Image sprint-laning to the front, Kyvalley Blur kept grinding his way to the lead which he landed right on the winning post. The winner rated a track record 1:59.1 with a 59.1sec last half in the short half-head win from Elegant Image and My High Expectations who sat parked in the race. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Former Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling will chase another Gr. 1 victory in Saturday night's Treuer Memorial however her task was made all the more harder after she drew barrier ten. The Belinda McCarthy trained mare returned to form on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle winning the Robin Dundee Stakes and owner Harvey Kaplan is hoping she can continue to hold her form. "I was very pleased with her performance on Saturday night, it was great to finally get some idea of where she was at and despite the draw this week I'm hoping she can produce another solid run," Kaplan said. "Baby Bling has been a little bit difficult to follow this campaign, she was outstanding first up, very disappointing at her next run and then her Queensland trip didn't give us any idea of where she was at for a couple of reasons, then when she got back to Sydney she ended up drawing barrier twelve in the Cordina Sprint." Kaplan confirmed the McCarthy stable had been giving glowing reports about the mare's condition and wasn't totally shocked by Saturday's win. "The stable had been reporting that she was back to the weight that she was at when she won the Miracle Mile and had been working extremely well but when she was drawn so wide I still had some concerns but to everyone's credit she was very good considering she was forced to cover extra ground." Baby Bling will be nominated for next year's Inter Dominion series and Kaplan believes that will give him and the rest of the ownership group options going forward. "She will be nominated for sure, we might even give her a run in the series and she how she goes but she has already qualified for the Ladyship Mile so we already have that option." "I don't know if the rest of the owners are as keen as I am, but I would still like to see her go to North America but nothing would happen before March next year." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |            

In Sydney.--- Miracle Mile hero James Rattray says his time with two of the legends of New Zealand racing helped him to his greatest career victory. Rattray produced the perfect driving display behind Beautide to win Saturday’s A$750,000 thriller at Menangle, gunning down Kiwi star Christen Me in the last 100m in a race record 1:50.2. Rattray gave up the coveted one-one early in the race to tuck Beautide away three deep on the markers, a gamble that paid the ultimate dividend as they barely went around a horse on their way to giving Tasmania just its second win in the Mile. Rattray is from Tasmania’s most famous harness racing family and only moved to Sydney three months ago to chase the enormous riches at Menangle. But he cut his teeth driving in New Zealand, learning from the best --- Tony Herlihy. "Working for Tony changed everything for me,” said Rattray. “Just watching him drive and talking to him about it, I learned so much. “And there was the bonus of having Roy Purdon there every morning too. “For somebody like me to have two legends like them to learn from was a dream come true.” Remarkably, while Beautide has been the find of the Australian pacing season, Rattray still struggles for recognition in Sydney, where the most dominant stables already have regular drivers. “I am training about five horses and probably only want to get to eight so I can give them as much attention as possible. “But I’d love to get more drives. I really only drive my own horses and probably have one or two drives most weeks. “Hopefully this will help change that.” Beautide is yet another success story for Woodlands Stud’s champion stallion Bettors Delight, who is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest pacing stallions to ever stand in Australasia. The five-year-old now heads to the Victoria Cup in 12 days, where he will be joined by Saturday’s brave runner-up Christen Me. The Canterbury pacer was magnificent in second after sitting parked and hitting the lead at the top of the long Menangle straight, putting a difficult November behind him. But while he has bounced back to his top form the connections of fellow Kiwi rep Terror To Love were left scratching their heads as he dropped out to finish last. The three-time New Zealand Cup winner never looked comfortable on the track and while he briefly loomed up three wide he raced 10 lengths below his Addington form of just three weeks ago. He has now failed to win in six starts at Menangle, which raises questions over whether the Interdominions there in March are the most logical long-term aim for him. The other expensive failure in Saturday’s Mile was Smoken Up, who led but was beaten at the top of the straight, racing well below his 1:49.9 win just seven days earlier. Meanwhile, rejoining the Grand Circuit will be Auckland-owned pacer The Gold Ace after his win in a A$50,000 free-for-all on Saturday night. Having his first start for new trainer Belinda McCarthy, who won six races at the meeting, The Gold Ace was brilliant beating the second stringer open class horses and could finally have found his niche in the pacing world. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Broodmare gem Alldatglittersisgold achieved a truly amazing feat when two of her progeny were successful in Group races at Menangle yesterday. Former Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling, a six-year-old daughter of Western Terror and Alldatglittersisgold, returned to her best to easily win the Robin Dundee Stakes (Group 2), breaking the winning streak of New Zealand owned mare Simple Saver. Before her younger brother Bling It On, a three-year-old by American Ideal, downed Yankee Rockstar to win the (Group 2) Chokin Three-Year-Old Championship. Both horses share many of the same owners and are trained by Belinda McCarthy, who astonishingly won six of the ten races yesterday. Alldatglittersisgold, who was named Australian Broodmare of the Year last season, is a 13-year-old daughter of Caprock and Lordship mare Glitter, whose progeny include Sparks Will Fly, Champagne Tastes, Our Graedy (32 wins, $307,713), and Fleet Vance, who herself has produced some more than handy performers in the form of Place Of Glory, Passion N Glory, and Lifeswhatyoumakeit. Alldatglittersisgold was purchased from New Zealand whilst in foal to Western Terror (Baby Bling) for $10,000 by the late Kaye Gilgour and Harvey Kaplan. Bling It On is the first foal she bred after being imported to Australia. Alldatglittersisgold is currently in foal to Somebeachsomewhere. *Baby Bling paced the mile in 1-52.8, while her younger brother Bling It On clocked in a smidgen quicker in 1-52.4 By Mitchell Robertson

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