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‘One lucky racegoer at Sydney’s Bankstown Paceway harness racing track will take home with a diamond – as part of Bankstown Central’s Nader Jewellers “lucky door prize” race book competition – on the historic 30th Anniversary Group 1 M. H. Treuer Memorial Gala Race Night on Saturday, December 7th, 2013,’ Bankstown Paceway director Megan Lavender has revealed to Harnesslink. ‘What’s more, the trainer of each winning race horse on the night will also go home with a uniquely crafted time piece from Nader Jewellers as part of the 30th birthday celebrations for Sydney’s Group 1 harness race,’ Ms Lavender said. ‘Meanwhile, in the ultimate fight for the family jewels, the harness racing dynasties of Bankstown and Bathurst have taken an early lead in Bankstown Paceway’s 2013/14 Trainers Premiership,’ she said. ‘With four race wins, three second placings and two thirds during the recent Bankstown City Council Cup of Harness Racing, Bankstown’s Dean McDowell currently heads the table of trainers with twenty premiership points. ‘Also sitting on twenty premiership points is 2012/13 New South Wales state premiership winning trainer, Bathurst based Steve Turnbull, who claimed three race wins, five second placings and one third during the carnival at Bankstown Paceway. ‘Last season, standardbred horses trained by Mr Turnbull contested an astounding 1,158 harness races across New South Wales, where they won 199 races, placed second in 185 races, third in 146 races and fourth in 136 races – collecting $1,229,859 in stakes prizemoney. ‘In this season’s local premiership, Messrs McDowell and Turnbull are followed by 2011/12 Bankstown Paceway trainers premiership winner David Waite on eight points, 2012/13 trainers premiership winner Martin Herbert and legendary racing broadcaster John Tapp on six points each, and Richard Baverstock, Blake Fitzpatrick, Michael Kelly, Belinda McCarthy, Kerry Ann Turner and Joshua Willick all on three points each,’ Ms Lavender added. Bankstown Paceway’s 2013/14 Trainers Premiership continues during the Allied Express Summer Carnival of Harness Racing – and racecourse entry is free for all harness race meetings held at Condell Park’s Bankstown Paceway, 178 Eldridge Road, Bankstown, during the following days of the carnival: a.. Monday 2 December 2013 – Race 1 at 1.39 pm (Gates open at 11 am) – M. H. Treuer Memorial Prelude Race Day (Day Race Meeting); b.. SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 2013 – Race 1 at 6.10 pm (Gates open at 5 pm) – 30TH ANNIVERSARY GROUP 1 M. H. TREUER MEMORIAL GALA RACE NIGHT (NIGHT RACE MEETING); c.. Monday 16 December 2013 – Race 1 at 1.39 pm (Gates open at 11 am) – Christmas Cup Race Day (Day Race Meeting); d.. Friday 3 January 2014 – Race 1 at 2.04 pm – Elvis Birthday Race Day (Day Race Meeting); e.. Monday 3 February 2014 – Race 1 after 1 pm – Year of the Horse New Year Cup Race Day (Day Race Meeting); and f.. Friday 28 February 2014 – Race 1 after 1 pm – Cancer Council Relay for Life Race Day (Day Race Meeting). Bookings for race day lunch and race night dining packages can be made at or on 02 9708 4111. Andrew Ho  

Trainer Hugh Cathels has confirmed he will be sending Garnet River back to the Sydney stable of Belinda McCarthy in an attempt to qualify the eight year old for next month's Miracle Mile. Garnet River will start at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday night in the Nick Robin Free For All before staying on for races in New South Wales like the Newcastle Mile. "I was very disappointed that Garnet River was made the emergency for the Popular Alm Sprint at Kilmore on Sunday plus there isn't a lot on for him in Victoria so the logical option was to send him back to Sydney to the McCarthy's again," Cathels said. "He has only had two runs back from a spell and did a really good job both times. He didn't have a trial leading into the Markovina Free For All and he only finished six metres behind Smoken Up after getting tired in the last little bit and then his run in the Geelong Rocket was great, he finished second behind Abettorpunt and wasn't beaten far." Cathels is hoping to take Garnet River to the USA next year and believes he has the attributes to race there successfully. "I had planned to take him there as a six year old and as a seven year old but it never happened. I'm a vet so my quiet time of the year is from February to August which is the spring time in North America, it would be like a working holiday, he's a 50-50 chance to go at this stage." "He has tremendous gate speed which is a plus wherever you race but he also has tremendous acceleration which is a huge bonus especially the way they race in North America." Garnet River will stay in Sydney with Belinda and Luke McCarthy until after the Inter Dominion. "He wouldn't be thought highly enough of to get a start in the Victoria Cup so he can stay in Sydney and see what races he can compete in up there, if he was going well enough then a run in a heat of the Inter Dominion wouldn't be out of the question." Cathels is unsure of what driver he will be using this Saturday night however Darren Binskin did drive the horse at his last win. Nancy O'Grady || Harness Racing New South Wales |  

The 2012/13 HRNSW Industry Awards night was held at the Hilton Hotel Sydney on Saturday night where the feats of both humans and equines were recognised. Exciting filly Frith was unanimously named NSW Horse of The Year after a scintillating three-year-old season which included the NSW Breeders Challenge, Victorian Breeders Crown, WA and Victorian Oaks. The 3YO of the year was also taken out by Frith whilst Bling It On took the honours in the 2YO category. The Nicole Molander-trained Keystone Del was named Trotter of The Year and Gaius Caesar won the open aged horse division. The Board and staff of HRNSW would like to congratulate the following award winners:   Award Nominees Winner McLachlan Thorpe & Partners Carnival of Cups - Leading Trotting Trainer   Blake Fitzpatrick   Blake Fitzpatrick   Goulburn HRC Carnival of Cups - Leading Driver   Amanda Turnbull   Amanda Turnbull   NSW Standardbred Owners Association Carnival of Cups - Leading Trainer   Steve Turnbull   Steve Turnbull   Albury HRC Carnival of Cups - Leading Horse   Make Some Magic NZ   Make Some Magic NZ   Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 1 Meeting   Coolamon HRC Maitland HRC Penrith HRC   Maitland HRC   Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 2 Meeting   Eugowra HRC Fairfield HRC Orange HRC Orange HRC   Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 3 Meeting   Blayney HRC Broken Hill HRC Griffith HRC   Broken Hill HRC   Tabcorp Centurions   Amanda Turnbull Lauren Panella Blake Fitzpatrick Luke McCarthy Robert Morris Steve Turnbull Shane Tritton Belinda McCarthy   All   Daily Form Service Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Country)   Andrew Pitt Ashleigh Camilleri Grace Grant Paul Diebert Sam Hewitt   Paul Diebert   Lexus of Parramatta Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Metro)   Alex Alchin Kylie Barnes Lauren Panella Todd McCarthy   Lauren Panella   OAMPS Champion Junior Driver   Amanda Turnbull   Amanda Turnbull   OAMPS Champion Driver   Amanda Turnbull Amanda Turnbull OAMPS Champion Trainer   Steve Turnbull Steve Turnbull   National Trotguide Best Coverage by a Regional Newspaper   The Daily Advertiser - Wagga The Irrigator - Leeton The Maitland - Mercury   The Daily Advertiser Wagga   PMG Media Best Coverage by a Regional Television Station   Harbor Television Productions NBN Newcastle Prime 7 Wagga   NBN Newcastle   Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Volunteer Appreciation Awards                         Stephen Hunt Cootamundra HRC Greg Maxwell Young HRC John Den Eugowra HRC  Robert Chew Bathurst HRC Megan Lavender Bankstown HRC Andrew Ho Bankstown HRC Bert Read Bankstown HRC   All Penrith HRC Don Clough Appreciation Award   Richard Earnshaw   Richard Earnshaw   Harness Breeders NSW Broodmare of the Year   Falcon Black Beauty NZ Jackie Kelly Left For Me Full Pleasure Rochelle Hanover   Left For Me   Pepper Tree Farm NSW Sire of the Year   Presidential Ball USA Tinted Cloud USA Pacific Rocket Ifihadyourluck USA John Street North USA   Presidential Ball USA   Yirribee Stud in conjunction with Alabar Outstanding Service to the Breeding Industry   Pepper Tree Farm Pepper Tree Farm   Breckon Farm NSW 2YO Trotter of the Year   My Valerie NZ Swishbye Verbier   My Valerie NZ   Addington Raceway NSW 2YO Filly Pacer of the Year   Denises Legacy Distant Memory Majestic Amy Ocean Diva Spicy Stride   Distant Memory   House of Brook NSW 2YO C&G Pacer of the Year   Allblack Stride NZ All Eyes On Us Bling It On Business In Motion Lettucerockthem   Bling It On   Sky Racing NSW 2YO of the Year   My Valerie NZ Distant Memory Bling It On   Bling It On   Bulli HRC NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year   Duchess Ella Nickys Invasion Vincennes   Duchess Ella   Sir Lincoln NSW 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year                 Frith Gypsy Babe Im Tondelayo Laaganoosh Tarelle   Frith   Yirribee Stud in conjunction with Alabar NSW 3YO C&G Pacer of the Year   Be Brave Caesar Augustus Ee And Em Stride Home Of The Brave Sir Eric NZ Ultimate Art   Home Of The Brave   Tabcorp NSW 3YO of the Year   Duchess Ella Frith Home Of The Brave Frith   NSWHRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year   Keystone Del NZ King Of Strathfield NZ Neville Vaughan NZ   Keystone Del NZ   Cordina Farms NSW Aged Mare Pacer of the Year   Baby Bling NZ Forever Gold Obahma Joy Our Sixpence NZ   Baby Bling NZ   Harness Racing Travelworld NSW Aged E&G Pacer of the Year   Chariot King Excel Stride Gaius Caesar NZ Ideal Scott NZ Mach Alert NZ Mach Beauty Washakie NZ   Gaius Caesar   Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Aged Horse of the Year   Keystone Del NZ Baby Bling NZ Gaius Caesar   Gaius Caesar   OAMPS - NSW Horse of The Year   Bling It On Frith Gaius Caesar   Frith        

The new 2013/14 Grand Circuit season is underway. And all the right ingredients have been added including speed, colour, excitement and horsepower at its very best which sets up for an intriguing season ahead. As per normal, the Gr.1 $200,000 Garrards Queensland Pacing Championship at Albion Park kick starts the season and the traditional state of origin is always a factor between the host state and New South Wales. Tonight was no different with Team McCarthy heading north to take on the best available from the sunshine state. The McCarthy stable have dominated the QPC winning six of the last eight editions with only champion pacer Blacks A Fake standing in their way after recording back to back victories in 2008/09. Multiple Group One winner Ideal Scott was a heavily backed favourite to take out the event after recent Kiwi import Field Officer drew poorly on the inside of the second-line. The Belinda McCarthy trained and John McCarthy driven Ideal Scott began nicely from his trailing draw and found himself midfield in the moving line as Devil Dodger and Saucy Legend contested the early lead in the 2680m feature. The lead time was covered in 81.3 seconds. Devil Dodger continued to set the speed in front while McCarthy waited patiently in the moving line as Field Officer raced to his immediate inside. McCarthy made his move at the 1200m mark as he worked around three-wide quickly to park outside Devil Dodger while Field Officer remained firmly entrenched on the marked line. The first half of the final mile was covered in 29.5 and 30.4 seconds. Heading down the back straight on the final occasion, Ideal Scott travelled powerfully on the outside of Devil Dodger while Pub Blitz worked clear of a pocket after following Devil Dodger. The third quarter was covered in 27.5 seconds. As they straightened, Ideal Scott raced clear of his rivals with Pub Blitz, Devil Dodger, Field Officer and Vegas Bound all battling for the minor prizes. Ideal Scott scored comfortably at the finish by 3.5m over Pub Blitz with a further 1.75m back to an unlucky Field Officer. The final split was also covered in 27.5 seconds. The mile rate was 1;57.8, well outside of the race record of 1;55.9 set by Mr Feelgood in 2010. “We love this race and we love coming back to Queensland every chance we get. This is a great race and we always target it with our team of horses.” Winning driver John McCarthy said. “He went great last week and he’s done very well during the week, I drove confidently knowing that he can run such a great half and I was pretty confident a fair way out. He’s still on the up this horse and we’ll take him home and get him ready for the Miracle Mile now.” McCarthy added. Surprisingly, the victory provided John with his first driving success in the state’s biggest event while it was also a first for Belinda as a trainer. A strong crowd watched the event including Queensland State Premier, the Honourable Campbell Newman along with State Treasurer, the Honourable Tim Nicholls. The next leg of the Grand Circuit is the Gr.1 $NZ650,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 12. Ideal Scott claims first points of the new season with the Grand Circuit champion collecting a $20,000 bonus from Australian Pacing Gold at seasons end. Video attached by Chris Barsby

It's rare to see big-spending owner Emilio Rosati campaign a horse without the suffix 'Stride.' But the businessman, who divides his time between his home in Sydney and business in Melbourne, has come up trumps with an unbeaten three- year-old which fits that category. The horse in question, Heavenly Cullen, a filly which made it two wins from as many starts when she led throughout in a fast 1:56.4 at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, last Tuesday. The Rosatis - Emilio and his wife, Mary - trading as E & M Stride, bought the Christian Cullen filly at the inaugural two-year-old trialling sale at Menangle. Heavenly Cullen is prepared by Belinda McCarthy, whose husband, Luke, drove her on debut to win at Penrith, then again last Tuesday. "I like the filly, and I'm rapt in the trialling sale concept," Luke said. "This filly was a reasonable price, one of the less expensive ones on the day, so you can pick up a bargain there. "This type of sale shouldn't be thought of as opposition to yearling sales, but rather as an adjunct to them...the thoroughbreds have shown that." The sale is sponsored by Garrards Horse & Hound, which has arranged for a Trade Display to partner the sale and Industry Day, where kindred bodies will be featured. Some 50 youngsters have been catalogued, and they are the only ones eligible to be nominated for a rich late season two-year-old Group feature, the C.J. Garrard Classic, over 2300 metres, also at Tabcorp Park, Menangle. On top of that, most of the youngsters are also eligible for rich young horse classics including Australian Pacing Gold, Australasian Breeders' Crown, Bathurst Gold Crown, the Lombo, New South Wales Breeders Challenge, QBred or Vicbred. On the day, all horses will trial over 800 metres, with the final 400 metres flat out, from 8.30am, after a complimentary breakfast at 7.30am. The sale will start around 1pm. Catalogues are available by calling Kerry Baker on 0402 336 598 or by emailing

Bathurst becomes an entirely different city in the week leading up to the famed Bathurst 1000 “Great Race”. Thousands of visitors, street parades,and a lot of celebrity-spotting, all make for a buzz that you can actually feel. Many of the visitors made it to last Wednesday’s harness meeting, to experience- or perhaps re-discover- horse power of that other kind. The meeting was part of the official program of community activities for Race Week, and free entry for those presenting car racing entry passes ensured a large crowd. With races named for the competing teams up on the mountain, and winners’ sashes presented by visitors selected from the crowd, the fixture had an appropriate motor racing theme. Cousins Emma and Amanda Turnbull scored driving doubles, in a demonstration of female capability that’s taken for granted in harness racing but quite foreign to motor racing. Emma Turnbull’s double, maintaining an excellent strike-rate this year, came in the final two races, both for R 0 class, with Premium Angus and Queen Leianne. Both winners are trained by her mother Wendy. Premium Angus ($8.90) was quite impressive, taking off three-wide coming to the bell and maintaining the run for the entire lap, including a sharp 28.4 third quarter. He was too strong for leader Sunnyside Magic and pegs runner Blazing Boris. It was just the fourth start for the four-year-old son of Patirra, a handy mare for this stable which won 13 races including several at Harold Park. Queen Leianne ($2.60 fav.) scored in contrasting style, setting a moderate tempo throughout, for an overall 2:04.4 rate, in defeating Tulhurst Daydreamer, three-wide from the bell, and Stylish Number. The winner, a $3000 purchase for Winton Sanders at the 2011 Gold Crown Sale, was having just her third lifetime start. She’s a close relative of multiple Oaks and classics winner Yada Yada Yada. Amanda Turnbull’s winners Pevensey and Mercy Mercy were provided by brother Josh and father Steve, respectively. Pevensey ($2.20 fav.) occupied the death in the 2130 metres C0-C1 King of the Mountain Pace until obtaining cover at the 1300 metres point. She pulled out too many guns in the straight to hold off Hand For Tilly, which sat in the running line, and leader Why So Serious. It was the third career win, but the first in six starts this term, for the half-sister to Dinki Di. Mercy Mercy ($1.70 fav.) justified the decision of her owner and former trainer Belinda McCarthy to place the filly in easier country racing, when successful in a 3C0 sprint event. She led throughout, defeating Beau Savant which sat outside her all the way in a gallant effort, and Colonel Brook, one of three placegetters on the night for Ian Mutton/Robert Clifford. Steve Turnbull completed a training double when he drove Hes Magic Red ($7.80 ) to a narrow and exciting win in the R4+ Erebus Motor Sport V8 Pace, over 2130 metres. Leader The Wifes Calling was fighting strongly and looking likely to hang on, when she broke stride at the fifty-metres point, enabling Hes Magic Red, which had enjoyed the one-one throughout, to grab the lead and hold on in the night’s best finish from stablemates Western Spirit and Veracity Red. Earlier in the meeting, On China Beach NZ ($4.10) made it two wins from three starts this season when she led throughout for trainer-driver Wayne Watterson in a C1-C2 mares class over 2130 metres. Jay Peez Knight and Miss Ellie Shannon, which formed the three-wide train, filled the placings. The speed was solid throughout, with a last half in 59.4 and the mile rate 2:01. The daughter of Courage Under Fire has good gate speed, and a similar front-row draw should see her strongly fancied in this Friday’s $8,000 final for the mares. Essayist ($11.30 , John O’Shea ) relished the blistering early pace of a 2130 metres R0-R3 Holden Racing Team Pace, coming off the pegs on the turn and running out a strong winner in a 2:00.6 mile rate. Runner-up Giannis Bromac NZ, having its first Australian start, held on well for second after withstanding a sustained challenge early from Stevie Wander, and Crackerjack Jo came three-wide from the bell for third, maintaining its recent form. Race week visitors from as far away as Geraldton, Perth, the Sunshine Coast, Buderim and Brisbane, got to present sashes to the winners, and then share some of their Bathurst history with an interested crowd. Some have made their pilgrimage to “The Mount” for many years, while a few were in Bathurst, finally, for the very first time. They’ve all declared they’ll be certain starters for the trots this time next year. Marianne Donnelly  

Former gun youngster For A Reason became Australasia’s second ever fastest miler when thrashing his opposition in a time of 1:50.0 at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday. The seven-year-old son of Art Major, who missed his five and six -year- old seasons through injury, sat back of the hot tempo which was set by Mach Beauty and Excel Stride who went to war up front, before unleashing a devastating sprint to career away for an emphatic 20 metre win. Mister Presley who also sat back off the pace kept coming to finish second, while the favourite pair of Mach Beauty and Excel Stride knocked up to finish third and fourth respectively. John McCarthy who was having his first raceday drive on the Belinda McCarthy trained speedster was understandably impressed with what he felt. “He travelled beautifully the whole way,” said McCarthy. “He probably could have gone even quicker if he was challenged. I never really even flicked him up,” he added. For A Reason stood at Yirribee Stud while he was under injury, where he served around 40 mares. However, something tells me when he does return to stud duty next time around, he may get a few more. That’s if Saturday’s win is any sort of guide to the future anyway. “He starting running around Yirribee as sound as a bell, with no sign of his previous injury, so Belinda, Luke and the owners decided to give him another go. I’m certainly glad that they did. McCarthy was very confident going into Saturday’s race, despite the $7 dividend. “I thought the writing was all on the wall after last week, where he came home in 25.7 to finish second.” McCarthy said that although For A Reason may be better when driven with a sit, he is confident he could have run a similar time from out in front. “He is a pretty versatile horse. The really isn’t much he can’t do,” stimulated McCarthy. The $750,000 Miracle Mile on November 30 is For A Reason’s main target, which could result in an epic clash with superstar kiwi pacer Christen Me. “It should be a great race and I would be really surprised if they don’t easily break 1-50.0 this year.” McCarthy said he is unsure if he will retain the drive on For A Reason. “It will all depend on what Luke wants to drive and nothing will probably be seat in concrete until after the heats. ”He has Excel Stride, Ideal Scott and a couple of others targeting the race, so there is plenty to choose from.” John McCarthy may also have his own stable representative in the race in Terrorway, who returns to the trials tomorrow. “I’ll just see how he comes up. A few of the others are a bit more forward than he is at this stage. I’d say he has about a 50-50 chance of running in the heats.” Australasia’s fastest ever miler is Smoken Up, who recorded a scintillating 1-48.5 when winning the 2011 Len Smith Mile. “I think Excel Stride is the third quickest. He ran 1-50.3 when I drove him to win the Golden Mile earlier in the year,” McCarthy concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

A Tale of Two Cities: Bankstown and Bathurst dynasties dominate trainers table ‘The harness racing dynasties of Bankstown and Bathurst have taken an early lead in Bankstown Paceway’s 2013/14 Trainers Premiership,’ Bankstown Paceway president Les Bentley has told Harnesslink. ‘With four race wins, three second placings and two thirds during the recent Bankstown City Council Cup of Harness Racing, Bankstown’s Dean McDowell currently heads the table of trainers with twenty premiership points,’ Mr Bentley said. ‘Also sitting on twenty premiership points is 2012/13 New South Wales state premiership winning trainer, Bathurst based Steve Turnbull, who claimed three race wins, five second placings and one third during the carnival at Bankstown Paceway,’ he said. ‘Last year, standardbred horses trained by Mr Turnbull contested an astounding 1,158 harness races across New South Wales, where they won 199 races, placed second in 185 races, third in 146 races and fourth in 136 races – collecting $1,229,859 in stakes prizemoney,’ the president said. ‘In this year’s local premiership, Messrs McDowell and Turnbull are followed by 2011/12 Bankstown Paceway trainers premiership winner David Waite on eight points, 2012/13 trainers premiership winner Martin Herbert and legendary racing broadcaster John Tapp on six points each, and Richard Baverstock, Blake Fitzpatrick, Michael Kelly, Belinda McCarthy, Kerry Ann Turner and Joshua Willick all on three points each,’ Mr Bentley added. Megan J Lavender

In Melbourne.--- Brian Hughes is adamant the new star of Australian pacing hasn’t been lost to New Zealand for good. Hughes trained Ideal Scott to win last season’s Northern Derby but sent the long-striding speedster to leading Sydney trainers Luke and Belinda McCarthy a few months ago because of a lack of winter racing opportunities in New Zealand. The results have been dazzling, with Ideal Scott having already won the A$100,000 Blacks A Fake in Brisbane and now a hot favourite to win the A$100,000 ABC four-year-old final at Melton on Sunday. Luke McCarthy, who has taken over as top dog in Australian harness racing, already rates Ideal Scott potentially the best horse in his stable, an opinion backed up by his 53.8 second last 800m at Melton last Sunday. But while races like the Miracle Mile now look within Ideal Scott’s reach, Hughes says he will return to his South Auckland stable at some stage. “I am glad we sent him over there and thrilled to see the way he is racing,” said Hughes. “And we will keep talking to Luke to work out what races he sees over there for him. “But I am sure he will come back at some stage. He might even divide his time between the two countries, which is what a lot of good horses have to do anyway.” Ideal Scott is one of three high-class pacers Hughes and his partners have sent to Australia over the winter, with Courage To Rule and Delightful Christian also racing at the Breeders Crown. Courage To Rule has been on a winning run in Sydney after arriving there beautifully assessed but faces an awkward task from the ace draw on a fast front line in the A$60,000 ABC Free-For-All at Melton tonight. “He has a horse outside him who should cross him and that could make it tricky for us if we got locked away,” admits McCarthy. And Delightful Christian, who pulled too hard in her semi-final last Saturday, meets a genuine superstar in Frith in her final on Sunday. Meanwhile Hughes, just back from an European vacation, takes two winning chances to Alexandra Park tonight. Machtu makes his three-year-old debut in race six and shouldn’t be a maiden for long. “He has shown enough but his recent workouts haven’t been that taxing so I wouldn’t be surprised if he needed the run tonight,” said Hughes. May Fly comes into race five well for in-form junior driver Simon McMullen and gets her chance to return to form as the northern junior drivers try to work out some sort of pecking order after the three best of recent years --- Zac Butcher, Simon Lawson and Josh Dickie --- all graduated to the senior ranks. The main pace of the night should prove easy picking for Freespin (R8, No.7), who drops a long way in grade from taking on Besotted last start. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Training legend Barry Purdon’s dream Breeders Crown campaign has hit some serious speed bumps. Purdon has reminded harness fans on both sides of the Tasman in the last fortnight of his special gift for peaking horses for the big money races, having five starters in Victoria for four wins and a luckless second heading into Sunday’s rich ABC finals day. But while Purdon has the likes of Sky Major and Cheer The Lady is perfect condition, after a painful 30 minutes on Sunday they might need more than Purdon’s genius to win their Breeders Crown finals. The pair, and stablemate Maxim, all drew the second line in their Breeders Crown finals at Sunday’s barrier draw function. Sky Major, an effortless semi final winner, drew two on the second line and Maxim further out in their A$302,000 group one but that wasn’t the really bad news. What had Purdon shaking his head was the Belinda McCarthy-trained trio of Bling It On (1), All Eyes On Us (2) and Lettucerockthem (5) drawing to control the race. On raw talent there is little between the two camps of juveniles but on a track with a distinct lead-trail advantage like Melton, Purdon’s pair now face a huge task. Cheer The Lady was so dominant winning her heat on Sunday and meets only an average bunch of four-year-old mares that even from the second line she is still the $2.60 favourite to repeat her win of last season. While Purdon’s trio were luckless in the draws, Kiwi three-year-old Bit Of A Legend secured the front line barrier he needed to open one of the shortest favourites in ABC history. After a 13m semi final win on Saturday, Bit Of A Legend drew barrier five and the Australian TAB have opened him $1.10 to defend the title he won against far stronger opposition last season. His stablemate Safedra looks a place chance at best after drawing the second line in a three-year-old fillies final dominated by Frith at $1.40, while juvenile filly Te Amo Bromac also faces a second line draw but in a weak A$302,000 final. Her stablemate Daenerys Targaryen has the advantage of the ace in the A$158,000 juvenile trot final but will need it against local star I’m Stately (4) and Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon, who will start from the unruly. And one of the stars of the ABC carnival so far, Auckland-owned Ideal Scott, is a $1.80 to win the four-year-old final after drawing the ace, with the Kumeu-trained Besotted third favourite after a gutsy third in his Australian debut on Sunday. The New Zealand TAB is moving to provide punters who shy away from very short-priced harness racing favourites with another option. Bookmakers will now frame fixed odds markets without the favourite when the top pick opens shorter than $1.50. While the TAB often gets hit hard by bigger punters on hot harness favourites, smaller punters are reluctant to back $1.50 or shorter chances or bet against them. So starting this week the TAB will open favourite-out markets, which means they will have prices for the rest of the field without the hot favourite and you win if that horses wins or runs second to the hot favourite. In 57 harness races so far this season there have been five $1.50 fixed odds favourites and four have won, the other running second. But the number of hotpots will increase once the superstars return to the track, especially the age group pacers coming back into grade racing. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Sunday’s barrier draws for the Breeders Crown finals may have sealed the fate, for better or worse, of many of the major contenders. Frith will turn up on Super Sunday with a picket fence next to her name and that is expected to continue as she will be trying to make amends for her third place finish in last year’s series. From barrier three she will be hard to hold out at the start, and the finish; however Kiwi filly Safedra (9) and Victoria’s leading chance Im Smouldering (5) will be among a large chase group in the $175,000 final. The second race is for the juvenile trotters and the all-but-unbeaten Im Stately has drawn well in four. Having gone down by a head, a head and a metre in his three defeats, the David Jack-trained colt will have to overcome his Redwood Classic conqueror in Daenerys Targaryen. The New Zealand filly has drawn the pole and despite looking shaky in her gait on more than one occasion, looms as a major threat along with Vicbred Super Series winner Claudys Princess who has drawn seven. One Over Da Moon for Paul Nairn was a winner of the Harness Jewels just on six weeks ago but will be stuck with the extreme draw if the emergency is to be withdrawn. The four-year-old trotters’ final could well be the most open of the season however Shes An Image has returned to form at her past three starts and will be aided by her front row draw of four. Directly outside her are Rosalie Bay and the exciting Maorisfavouritesun however there will also be a serious challenge from the second row as Brunelleschi, drawn nine, and Shakamond, drawn 12, are likely to be well supported. Blitzthemcalder is one of the headline horses of the series and on paper barrier six isn’t what you’d be hoping for in a Group 1 final. However the enigmatic superstar will have time to balance up early; The Boss Man and Spidergirl have drawn barriers one and two while the entire second row can all be considered chances. Lead by Our Dreamlover in nine, the talented back row may turn the race into one of the best of the season for the classic-aged squaregaiters. Majestic Amy was a $12 chance heading into her heat but off the back of an impressive win and inside barrier, she has opened the clear-cut favourite for the two-year-old fillies final. From two, Michael Muscat will have options early as major dangers Te Amo Bromac and Whereibylong have drawn inside the second row. Race 6 will be for the four-year-old boys and Ideal Scott is coming off one of the quickest last halves ever recorded at Tabcorp Park Melton and if he can replicate that he will again be hard to beat. If the emergency comes out he will assume pole position but the challengers will be lining up left right and centre. Heza Presidente in four (three with the emergency out), Kiwi hope Besotted just outside him and both Keayang Steamer (drawn eight) and Restrepo (drawn nine) all primed for battle. The two-year-old colts and geldings go head-to-head on Super Sunday for $303,000 and the race that was turning into the Purdon’s Vs. the McCarthy’s may have been won at the barrier draw. Luke and Belinda McCarthy received front row draws for all three of their superstar juveniles as impressive semi-final winner Bling It On came up with barrier one. All Eyes On Us will start from two and Lettucerockthem from five. In contrast, Barry Purdon’s pair of Our Sky Major (drawn nine) and Our Maxim (drawn 12) will have no favours in the run. The same can be said for Mark Purdon’s lone hope Messini who appears awkwardly placed in four. The four-year-old mares won’t be an easy division to predict however heat winners Born Again Sassy and Major Bonus have both drawn well in one and eight respectively. Real Bonus, who went down narrowly to Major Bonus in their heat, will start from the front row in barrier four. Cheer The Lady is coming off a heat win of her own and last year’s three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown champion will need luck from 10. Shane Tritton not only has Major Bonus qualified for the final, he will also train Light In Every Day from barrier seven in the $100,000 race. The last Breeders Crown final to be run on the program will be for the three-year-old colts and geldings and despite drawing five; Bit Of A Legend will start the shortest priced favourite of the day. Likely challengers Pachacuti and Nowitzki had no luck at the draw taking barriers 12 and 13 for connections of the promising types. by Blake Redden ( Harness Racing Australia)

There is no more formidable team in trotting at the moment than the Luke and Belinda McCarthy stable from Cobbitty in New South Wales. The most significant gulf has emerged in the two-year-old ranks with four of the most outstanding horses to be seen this season all under the care of the leading stable. Allblack Stride proved his wares early in the piece before heading to New Zealand to test the waters. He won’t be around in the next fortnight but a trio of stars will be more than ready to take his place. All Eyes On Us has shown his enigmatic ability already in Victoria; in his heat he appeared to skip for a stride before looking gone before the bend, only a truly brave performance saw him rally and hold off Vicbred Super Series semi-final winner Hectorjayjay. “The trial was good last week but it’s probably a bit harder this week with the draw and the field; I do think he will hopefully have some improvement left in him,” Belinda McCarthy said. “He’s a lovely, big, horse who will probably train on as a three-year-old so he has plenty of potential.” That potential to get better as they get older has also been identified in Lettucerockthem, a stable recruit who has taken all before him since making his way to the husband and wife team. He most notably scored a running win in the Breeders Challenge final at Menangle on Len Smith Mile Day. McCarthy was conceding underdog status however after Barry Purdon’s Our Sky Major drew the pole in what could turn into one of the juvenile races of the season.  “He’s a great horse with a lot of ability. When he gets a nice draw he is just super but with Purdon’s horses it might be a bit harder for him this week,” she said. “Even when Paul Kahlefeldt had him before us, he showed the ability and he has just continued to step up.” That leaves the last, but certainly not least of the exciting trio of chances in the Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-final’s at Ballarat this Saturday night. And that is, of course, Bling It On. A Nursery Pace final winner at Albion Park earlier this season, he won’t have to compete with his stablemates drawing the other semi-final, however Barry Purdon may well again prove the fly in the ointment. Bling It On is already a winner of seven from 12 this season with his worst effort a close-up third in the Group 1 APG final behind his stablemates. He was however, a shock defeat in his last lead up run however McCarthy believes there were genuine reasons for that. “He was probably a bit underdone last time with the road trip coming up and he will be a lot better for that,” she said. “We don’t have the draw again and we have to take on Purdon but it will just be nice to get through the semis and try to draw a barrier in the final. “They are all so talented but you have to go for these big races so clashes are inevitable. I really couldn’t split our three; even on ability they are all very similar. Taking into account all the runners it will end up being the horse with the best barrier and run that takes home the Crown because it’s a strong group.” Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton will bring about the final qualifiers for the 2013 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown series and with them comes one of the most highly touted horses in the series. Ideal Scott is a veteran of just two Australian starts for the McCarthy’s but his New Zealand form prior to returning to Australia was up with the best. Having won the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park late last month, the blistering son of American Ideal will be primed for a tilt at Restrepo and Besotted in a defining heat for the four-year-old’s. “We’ve probably got another hard field with the three best horses in the one heat but he is an up and coming horse who looks really smart,” McCarthy said. “We’ve just been ecstatic to have a horse like him in the stable; he has a very big future in front of him. “I think he has the potential to be right up there with the likes of Excel Stride, he’s only had two starts for us so it’s hard to know where his bottom is at, but he definitely shows us that he can keep improving and getting better.” For fixed odds on all the Breeders Crown semi-finals and all-in markets for August 18, simply follow this link. by Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)

Barrier draws for the 2013 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-finals have just been released and the eight qualifiers have been defined by the way the numbers have fallen. Plenty of favourites have drawn to advantage, while others will have to overcome trickier starting positions, but it’s something they must all conquer to be crowned Breeders Crown champion on August 18. In race 1 on the program, the American Ideal Breeders Crown semi-final for two-year-old colts and geldings, Kiwi pair Messini and Our Maxim have drawn wide on the front line in five and six respectively. Messini was a brilliant winner in his heat at Bendigo back on July 23, while Our Maxim has taken out New Zealand’s most prominent Sales race the PGG Wrightson, before accounting for a small heat field across the ditch. The Belinda McCarthy-trained Bling It On won’t have it easy from 11 (10 if the emergency is scratched) while Motor Smoker, who continues to improve, has drawn two on the front row. In the second event of the night, the Bettors Delight Breeders Crown semi-final for three-year-old fillies, likely favourite Frith had her grip tightened on the race as she drew pole position over the 2200-metre trip. A winner of the Victoria and WA Oaks already this season, the four time Group 1 winner has only lost one race for the entire season and looks set to extend her outstanding record. It won’t be a walkover however, with Kiwi-cum-Tasmanian filly Delightful Christian drawn directly behind the pole marker and coming off a string of wins that included a Breeders Crown heat success over subsequent repechage winner Nola Mayhem. Southern Cross winner Getya Wings Out will also compete in the same heat, having drawn three to continue her vein of good form. In the first heat for the three-year-old colts and geldings, Tasmanian hope Pachacuti has drawn wide on the front in barrier six, while Victorian fancy Ginger Bliss will need to navigate his way from 10. Echeveira will begin from the extreme draw for Long Forrest team Andy and Kate Gath. The second semi-final for two-year-old colts and geldings has drawn together a class field and last start winner Our Sky Major will no doubt be in the forefront of punters minds from his kind draw of one. With a thoroughly dominant Bray win already under his belt, he will have to compete with Vicbred Super Series winner Major Secret (2) as well as NSW star Lettucerockthem who will follow out Emma Stewart’s half-brother to Beauty Secret. Gritty Bendigo heat winner, All Eyes On Us, will come out of four if the emergency is scratched. Recent Group 1-winner Im Smouldering has drawn two (comes out of one if the emergency is scratched) in the next race while QLD marvel, Montana Marie, will start from directly on her outside for Darrell Graham. Gypsy Babe has been a revelation in recent times but her awkward draw of three on the second row won’t do her any favours in a tricky semi-final. Some of the most talented three-year-old’s in the series have drawn in the second semi-final for the boys and the barrier draws have divided opinions. Bit Of A Legend for Cran Dalgety will start from five while compatriot Border Control starts from just inside him in four. Standout Victorian Nowitzki had his chances dealt a blow when he drew the 11 marble while the promising Chilli Palmer will have to come from the second-widest draw of 12 to qualify for the final. Mindarie Priddy – arguably the star of the pacing series – has drawn seven, giving her the chance to find her feet early in a small field of eight for the first of the semi-finals for two-year-old fillies. New Zealand’s main hope for the juvenile girl’s series, Te Amo Bromac, will start from barrier four with Des McQueen Classic winner Fon Design in pole position. The last race on the night has seen repechage winner Quick Draft come up with barrier one for David Aiken and Chris Alford. Out wider is Whereibylong for Emma Stewart, who produced the filly for a strong first-up win in her heat late last month. For the full fields, barrier draws and form on Saturday night’s Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-final meeting at Ballarat simply click here. by Blake Redden Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria


Goulburn will host Sunday's Breeders Challenge Regional Finals and with ten races set down for decision, it will be a great afternoon's entertainment. There will be plenty of action off the track for those trackside, with Shannon Noll performing live in concert during the afternoon. The $20,000 Regional Finals have attracted strong fields and will be very competitive events. The first race will begin at 11:05am with the first of the finals to be run as race three. Shez Juslika has drawn perfectly in barrier one and returns from her trip to Queensland where she was placed in a heat of the Nursery Stakes. The Bathurst trained Our Big Mumma will start from the other side of the track but has been racing consistently, including a well deserved victory two starts ago. Race six will see the two year old colts and geldings hit the track and the two McCarthy runners look set to play a major role. The John McCarthy stable will be represented by Karloo Ten Seventy. He finished third behind Onethingforcertain at Menangle last start and was impressive winning his start prior. Belinda McCarthy has Image Of Courage engaged and the son of Courage Under Fire will find this easier than when he finished fifth behind his stablemate Lettucerockthem in the Breeders Challenge final. The lightly raced local Jara Joe will have admirers also. There are seven last start winners engaged in the three year old colts and geldings final but the Michael Formosa trained Ultimate Art looks hard to beat after finishing second behind the Queensland star Majestic Mach at Albion Park last weekend. The son of Modern Art has drawn the second row but should find this company more to his liking. Macca Kelly has won three of his last five starts and despite his awkward second row draw looks the hardest to the beat in the four year old entires and geldings Breeders Challenge Regional Final. The Jake Stockton prepared son of Mach Three was placed in the three year old Breeders Challenge final at Menangle behind Grand Stride and did run second in the Breeders Crown final last season as well. His biggest dangers could be last start Menangle winner Prince Kai and the well drawn Happyever Laughter. The four year old mares division sees six Breeders Challenge finalists clashing again. Mia Sue finished the closest to Obahma Joy on June 30 in the Gr. 1 but both Awesome Belmer and Light In Every Day ran well in the semi finals a fortnight earlier and will be looking for revenge. Kerry Ann Turner looks to have two good winning chances in three year old fillies final with both Icy River and Art In Paris racing in good form. However the impeccably bred The Baggy Green looms as a serious threat after recording two strong victories at Wagga recently. The daughter of Lady Waratah has won six races in her career and is trained by Steve Maguire. by Greg Hayes (Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales)  

Sydney trainer Trevor Munday believes record breaking two year old Onethingforcertain will continue to improve and could develop into an Oaks filly next season. Onethingforcertain became the fastest two year old filly in Australasia when she recorded a 1:54.1 win at Tabcorp Park Menangle last month and Munday is hoping she continues her winning run this Saturday night. "Onethingforcertain has a very high cruising speed and she can be a bit deceptive because last start when she won I thought we had run about 1:58 and when I looked up at the clock she had gone 1:55.3" Munday said. "I honestly think she'll be a better filly next season and with a bit more maturity and time she might go to the next level, everything that I have asked of her since she arrived she has done comfortably." Onethingforcertain started her racing career in Tamworth with trainer and part owner Dwayne Brown and was racing well enough for connections to bring her to Sydney for the Pink Bonnet. "Dwayne's son Scott did two weeks of work experience with John Tapp's stable which is where I work and I got to meet the family and kept in touch with them, then when they brought the filly down for the Pink Bonnet we arranged that Dwayne would stop off at my place on the way to Menangle for her to have a couple of hours off the float before the race." "They took her to Queensland for the Nursery and she just missed out on the final so then Dwayne rang and asked f I would be interested in looking after her until the end of the season here in Sydney where she could race for the better prize money." Onethingforcertain will face her biggest test this Saturday night when she meets the Belinda McCarthy trained Bling It On. "She's got good natural speed so I think we have to use that this week but there are a couple of horses in the race that are talented and my tactics will depend a lot on what they do." "She's double Qbred but she isn't eligible for anything else. She should do a good job for the rest of the season in Sydney." Nancy O'Grady || Harness Racing New South Wales |

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