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This weekends $750,000 Miracle Mile is one of the most sought after races on the Australasian harness racing calendar and as you would expect with a race of that statue it has drawn an outstanding field. Most Australians would tell you that the race is all but over before it starts with Beautide nigh on unbeatable from barrier three. Australian and New Zealand bookmakers have responded to the draw of three for Beautide by making him a $1:80 favourite with Christen Me varying from $4:50 - $4:80. We don't think that is an accurate reflection of where the two horses are because we don't think that there is anything between the two superstars.  Last year from barrier five Christen Me worked to the death and was a sitting duck for Beautide who raced three back on the inner. His run was every bit as good as the winner and Christen Me went on to be crowned Grand Circuit champion via his Hunter Cup win after again sitting parked. Christen Me only met Beautide once outside the Miracle Mile and that was in the Victorian Cup where he beat him home after settling behind him in the running and still being behind him at the quarter pole. Last year Christen Me was coming into the Miracle Mile off a disappointing run in the New Zealand Cup where he ran third after a soft run and a wild gallop in the NZFFA. This year Christen Me put in an outstanding run in the New Zealand Cup after missing away from a stand and then dealt to the opposition in the NZFFA. In cold and windy conditions, Christen Me ran the 1950 metres in 2:18.4, a mile rate of 1:54.1 with closing sectionals of 54.9 and 27.4 which was just outside the New Zealand record set by Auckland Reactor in perfect conditions.  So Christen Me goes into the Miracle Mile right in the zone on a track where he has had three runs over a mile for two wins and a second. For Dalgety the draw could not have been too much better with Christen Me drawing directly outside Beautide. "We would just love to get to the two out line and let them do their stuff." "Sure we'd love to lead but even though it is only a mile it is going to be a stamina test so you end up  being a sitting duck when you are top ending in that calibre of field," Cran said. Christen Me flew into Sydney last Friday without any problems but Cran thought the current heatwave may be a slight concern. " Murray Howard took him across and we are stabled with Blake Fitzpatrick" "Christen Me is in super shape although the 42 degrees is a bit hot," Cran said Cran has been adament all season that Christen Me is a lot better horse with that initial season on the Grand Circuit under his belt and that he has come back bigger and better. Everything points to Christen Me giving Beautide one hell of a race on Saturday night. We think he is a real chance to upstage Beautide and those odds are just way to tempting. Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink, we thought we would be brave and offer our opinion on the Breeders Crown Finals as we head towards one of the seasons biggest harness racing days at Melton on Sunday. Our first preview is of the 2 year old trotters division.  2 year old Trotting Fillies Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park final for 2 year old fillies looks to be a battle between three fillies that are all sired via frozen semen and are all by stallions that are at the top of the siring charts in North America. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained daughter of Angus Hall in Arya looks very hard to beat here after an outstanding season in New Zealand which was followed up by a great second to the leading Australian male trotter in Eljaykay Phoenix in the Redwood Classic. Arya has been foolproof all season which in the 2 year old trotting ranks is a major plus and with no Endsino in the field she looks to have a class edge as well. Arya should come into five on the front line which is the perfect draw for here as she can stay out of the early rush and work to the lead without having to burn from the gate. The two main dangers to Arya have both drawn nicely on the front line and are both beautifully bred trotters. Glenferrie Burn who has drawn one is a daughter of the brilliant Muscle Hill from the 16 win Sundon mare in Adellas Dash ($102,626). She has developed as the season has progressed and looks a real chance from the draw to get a soft run. Val Gardena who has drawn three is a daughter of leading North American sire Kadabra from an Andover Hall mare. She has only missed a placing once this season in ten starts and comes into this race a last start winner. From her handy draw Blake Fitzpatrick has plenty of options with Val Gardena and she looks a major player here. Of the others Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty have both shown enough to be serious place chances but its hard to see them as genuine winning chances. Selections Arya clearly on top, followed by a combination of Val Gardena, Glenferrie Burn, Meadow Valley Road and Naked Majesty. 2 year old Trotting Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final The $87,000 Aldebaran Park Final for 2 year old colts/geldings has drawn a cracking field and the draw has only evened out the contest even more.  All the top contenders have drawn the front line with the favourite Eljaykay Phoenix fearing the worst with barrier seven. A son of champion sire Sundon, Eljaykay Phoenix has looked a class above them for most of the season but his recent defeat by Shared Interest has thrown this division wide open. Throw in his draw and the fact that all the real challengers have drawn inside him means if Eljaykay Phoneix and Joshua Aiken are going to win the final, they are going to have to do it the hard way. His main challenger is the son of Angus Hall in Shared Interest who has drawn beautifully at barrier two which gives Nathan Jack plenty of options Weather he tries to park Eljaykay Phoenix or takes a sit on his back, Shared Interest has the all round game to win the final. The chances don't end there with both Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck capable of toppling the favoured duo if things go their way. Illawong Armstrong finally gets a good draw and Jodi Quinlan will be hoping that the favoured pair go to war which then brings her horse right into play. The enigma of the field is The Pres gelding Primz Luck whose ring craft has let him down lately but who has ability to burn as he showed in New Zealand several times. Now in the Kerryn Manning barn and to be driven by her in the final, Primz Luck threw it away on his Australian debut in the Redwood Classic. Kerryn has had five weeks since then to iron out those kinks and if he gets around on Sunday they will all know they have been to the races. Selections. Can't split the two favourites in Shared Interest and Eljaykay Phoenix due to the draws but lean a bit towards Eljaykay Phoneix on his overall record. Illawong Armstrong and Primz Luck are both live chances depending how the race is run. Throw in Kyvalley Boomerang, Fabrication and Hadrians Phoenix for trifectas and first fours.  Harnesslink Media    

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

Talented trotter Mingara will look to keep her unbeaten Australia record intact when she steps out at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.  The daughter of Thanksgiving has been super impressive since arriving in Sydney for harness racing trainer Nicole Molander and driver Blake Fitzpatrick believes her manners will take her a long way again this weekend. "She has been very safe here in Sydney and she has also been very quick away from the start so if she continues with that pattern she should prove hard to beat," Fitzpatrick said. "Her manners are so good that I think she will continue on her upward spiral and in my opinion she has been better with each run she has had for Nicole." Molander's stable star Keystone Del arrived from New Zealand winning six of his first eight starts but Fitzpatrick isn't ready to label Mingara in that class. "She is no Keystone Del but she could progress through to open class racing. Her last win here in Sydney was very comfortable and she won by more than fifteen metres when coming off a ten metre handicap." "Nicole does a fantastic job with her trotters. She has a lot of experience with the square gaiters and she gets them trotting so well which is important especially at Menangle where the trotters race at such a fast speed." Fitzpatrick is currently serving a driving suspension but will return to the sulky this weekend. "I will be driving Windinherhair for Nicole as well. She picked up two races last week and hopefully she can continue that form. She is racing well but it is a step up again for her." "Mister Presley looks well placed this week and I think he will be a good chance on Saturday night, especially if he can return to something like his best." Greg Hayes - Harness Racing New South Wales         Related Links Fields for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Saturday 09 August 2014 Form guide for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Saturday 09 August 2014  

They’re on their way. The powerful New South Wales harness racing stable of Belinda and Luke McCarthy were to the fore at Menangle on Tuesday, winning three Breeders Crown heats, and the Cobbitty yard is sure to be strongly represented at next month’s semi-finals in Victoria. Ominous Warning captured the first race at Menangle, the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Heat 6, defeating Francisco De Gore by a half-neck in a 1:59.1 mile rate with a last quarter of 26.8 seconds and a last half of 55.1. The son of Four Starzzz Shark found the lead easily early in the 2300m race before churning out comfortable early sectionals. Driver Luke McCarthy got busy on Ominous Warning late in the home straight as Francisco De Gore ascended down the outside, the $1.10 favourite holding on for a narrow win over the fast-finishing $40.10 outsider. Another few strides and the result probably went the other way, so punters won’t be sacking the second horse in a hurry. Lettucerockthem showed in Race 2, the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings Heat 5, that he’s in seriously good form. The son of Art Major scored an easy victory, the final 5.4m winning margin not a true indicator of the dominance with which Lettucerockthem handled Tuesday’s competition. Luke McCarthy kept peeping over his shoulder time and again in the straight aboard Lettucerockthem to see Ideal Legacy’s driver hard at work, while the rest of the field might as well have been in another race. Consequently, Lettucerockthem never had to leave second gear, clocking a mile rate of 1:58.3 and a last quarter of 28.4. Flying filly Bamako Mali then gave the McCarthys a third crown heat win for the day in a blistering 1:57.9 in heat six of the two-year-old fillies’ division. McCarthy took Bamako Mali to the front at the top of lane and she dashed clear before late challengers came from all corners in the last 50m. The race commentator commented “she was no good thing” but as is her style Bamako Mali lifted when challenged and held on by a head over Ameretto with a similar distance to Butterfly Princess in third. “Someone told me it was only 0.7 seconds outside the track record,” McCarthy said (Sheezallattitude holds the two-year-old fillies’ record for the 2300m start with a 1:57.2 set in 2010). “She’s got a great will to win. The other one almost headed her. I’d say it levelled up but she fought back. She’s a great trier.” Bamako Mali has won nine of 13 starts and been placed second or third at the other four. On Ominous Warning McCarthy said the gelding had pulled up “a little bit sick” after his recent Breeders Challenge defeat. “We were disappointed not to win that,” he said. “Luckily we were able to get him right in time for yesterday. “Ominous Warning is pretty good. He was still probably a bit underdone yesterday.” McCarthy said Lettucerockthem was potentially in career-best form. “He’s probably in the best form he’s been in since he was a two-year-old,” he said. “I felt he travelled really good throughout yesterday.” Other Breeders Crown heat winners at Menangle were Saloon Passage for Nathan Hurst in the three-year-old boys’ sixth heat, winning by 10.5m in a rate of 1:55.7, and Ocean Diva for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and driver Blake Fitzpatrick by a short half-head over Starzzzinthenight in 1:59.5 in the three-year-old fillies’ fifth heat. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Four year old trotter Vincennes brought up his first Gr. 1 victory when he won the Vicbred final for trainer Blake Fitzpatrick on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Fitzpatrick was extremely proud of the gelding and believes he deserved to win a race at the highest level. "Vincennes has always had his fair share of ability but what a lot of people don't realise is that he is a February foal so he has always been giving away ages to his rivals," Fitzpatrick said. "I was rapt with Friday night's win, they ran 28.3 for the third quarter, he made up a lot of ground on the leaders between the 800 and the 400 metre mark and then was able to drop in for a quick breather on the turn before coming out again. To beat a horse like Blitzthemcalder is a big effort." Unfortunately for connections, Vincennes is not eligible for the rich Breeders Crown series. "No he's not a Breeders Crown horse so the plan is to bring him back to Sydney and let him have a few runs at Menangle before going for a good break, every time in the past that he has had a break he has come back a little bit stronger so hopefully that is the case this time around." "The next step for him will be to measure up against the open class trotters, you never really know if they are going to go to that next level until you give them their chance but I'm pretty sure he will be able to make that leap." Closer to home Fitzpatrick will have two runners at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. "Annie Morva has been knocking on the door and she is going to win another race soon, I don't think she has won one since February but hasn't been far away lately." "Iamboogie has been racing really well, he has had 19 starts and has never finished further back than 4th." By Greg Hayes (Harness Racing New South Wales)  

Friday night was a red letter affair for the Aikens. David Aiken, head of the Avenel operation, trained two Group 1 winners on the opening night of the Vicbred Super Series finals carnival at Tabcorp Park, while his son, Josh, drove his first Group 1 winner aboard the stable’s rising star Eljaykay Phoenix. The 21-year-old looked totally undaunted against drivers several years his senior, taking Eljaykay Phoenix to the front early, and not panicking when headed by Jodi Quinlan aboard Illawong Armstrong with a lap to go in the two-year-old male trotters’ final. The pair stayed one-two for the remainder of the race, with Eljaykay Phoenix proving 5.4m too strong in a mile rate of 2:03.8. “It felt awesome coming around the home turn,” the young driver said after the race. “That’s just unreal. I can’t explain how good it feels.” David Aiken then made it two Group 1s for the night with four-year-old Spidergirl capping her domination of the futurity series after previously taking out the two- and three-year-old titles. Chris Alford took Spidergirl to the front early and was never headed, the long odds-on favourite beating second favourite Paris Pepperell by 7.3m, with the rest of the field more than 20m away. Meanwhile, favourite punters were on song for most of the night with seven of the 10 races going their way. Claudys Princess was one of those, the Mick Blackmore-trained three-year-old filly saluting by 2.2m over Illawong Helios in her Super Series final. The win was Claudys Princess’s ninth from 12 starts and Blackmore will now have to seriously consider taking her to the Derby on Redwood Day. “She’ll tell us,” he said when asked about what was next for the daughter of Bacardi Lindy. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang was thrilled with the success. “While there are a lot of people at the top of the tree who deserve the accolades they get, there are a lot of people down the other end who really make our industry what it is,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire.” New South Welsh visitor Vincennes wasn’t the favourite but was well-supported before taking out the four-year-old males’ trotters final. And with six races being beamed live into France for wagering and broadcast last night, there’s a fair chance the French punters took the omen and made him favourite. Trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick delivered a copybook drive aboard Vincennes to defeat punters’ fancy Blitzthemcalder by 2.5m. Blitzthemcalder sat in the breeze mid-race and took the lead on the home turn, but Vincennes had momentum up after securing an economical trip four-back in the running line. Vincennes’ winning mile rate was 2:00.0, coming home in a last half-mile of 58.2secs. Andy Gath’s young trotter Endsino, driven by Kate Gath, started a short-priced favourite and showed she has a bright future by winning the two-year-old fillies’ trotters’ final. Endsino was over 12m too strong for her nearest rival, Shesa Amason, who gave cheek from her pole draw. The other Group 1 victor for the night was long-shot Imamenace for hobby trainer Peter Cormican and reinsman Greg Sugars. Imamenace sat outside race leader Spidergrace before getting the better of the David Moran-trained horse after a stirring battle in the home straight. Despite reinswoman Laura Crossland throwing everything at Spidergrace, Imamenace proved the tougher horse on the night. Alford finished with driving honours on the night, the Spidergirl victory coming after the champion horseman won on Triumphant Monarch in the first race. Amy Tubbs trained-and-driven Brunelleschi won the inaugural Group 3 Noopy Kisok Trotters Free For All, while Sonofanearl won the Aldebaran Park Monte despite a 20m handicap for rider Riina Maattanen. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

With six races being beamed live into France tonight, the harness racing omen tip had to be Vincennes. And the Blake Fitzpatrick trained-and-driven Sydneysider didn’t let his backers down, taking out the 4YO trotting males’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Vincennes, a son of French stallion Ganymede, settled four back in the running line while race favourite Blitzthemcalder sat outside leader The Boss Man in the run. Turning for home Fitzpatrick took Vincennes to the outside, slowly but surely getting the better of Blitzthemcalder to spoil that horse’s shot at emulating what Spidergirl did earlier in the night – winning the Vicbred final at age two, three and four. “This is very exciting,” Fitzpatrick said post-race. “He’s always shown enough ability to win at this level it was just a matter of when. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet either.” Vincennes produced a winning mile rate of two minutes flat and won by 2.5m over Blitzthemcalder (Chris Alford), while The Boss Man held on for third for driver Scott Dyer and Invasive was fourth for Lance Justice. Vincennes by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

ONE of the biggest surprises of Breeders Challenge Day was not the failure of short-priced favourite Ominous Warning but the win of Its Only Rocknroll in the Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge two-year-old colts and geldings’ final. Aided by a superb drive from Cawdor horseman Blake Fitzpatrick, Its Only Rocknroll came from three back on the markers to run down a host of rivals in the straight, scoring by a half-neck from Sports Spook with the unlucky Spare Me Days in third spot, 3.7m away. Odds-on favourite Ominous Warning, from the powerful Luke and Belinda McCarthy stable was chasing his fifth successive win but wilted badly in the straight to finish second last after getting no peace in the run. Spare Me Days (Brad Hewitt) made a lightning mid-race move to sit outside Ominous Warning and the two went-head-and-head until turning for home. While Ominous Warning was the first to wave the white flag, Spare Me Days fought on doggedly and was only collared by the first two in the shadows of the post. The winner rated 1:55.5 with a last half of 56.3 seconds. Part-owner Peter Gianni later sang the praises of Fitzpatrick: “This horse wouldn’t even pace properly a couple of months ago and look at him now,” Gianni said. “I have to give Lisa and Blake Fitzpatrick the credit for all their hard work with this horse.” Its Only Rocknroll By Michael Court (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

Blake Fitzpatrick is confident his trotter Vincennes can measure up on Saturday night at Cranbourne in the second heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires’ and geldings’ series. “We’ve always had a pretty good opinion of him,” Fitzpatrick said. “He ran a really good race last time (second beaten 1.1m by Blitzthemcalder). He’s done a great job for us up here in Sydney.” Vincennes had won six of his previous seven starts before the last-start second and Fitzpatrick says the son of Ganymede and Showmethemaori had trained on strongly. “He was first-up at Melton so he’s worked better since that run.” Vincennes will start from inside the back row behind polemarker Glenferrie Dreamer from the Craig Demmler stable. “It’s a little bit awkward, but if Glenferrie Dreamer doesn’t come out quickly enough we’ll be looking to get off the fence,” Fitzpatrick said. In the second heat of the 4YO trotting mares’ Super Series the long odds-on favourite will be pole runner Maori Time from the powerful Chris Lang yard. “It looks a winnable race,” Lang said. “Obviously the main fillies Spidergirl and Paris Pepperell aren’t there.” Lang said Maori Time, Paris Pepperell and other mares in the 4YO division were a few rungs below Spidergirl. “I don’t think there’s another mare in the country on a par with Spidergirl at this point,” he said. “She’s got to be considered one of the best trotters in Australia.” Maori Time ran third to Spidergirl last time out, while Paris Pepperell finished second in the same race. They spaced the rest of the field by 40m. There will be extra incentive for trainers to win Race 2 at Cranbourne, the Cranbourne Trainers Bonanza Pace. The winning trainer of the race will go into an end-of-season draw for a trip for two to one of the world’s premier harness racing events. For more details on the Trainers Bonanza, visit the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club website. The first race at Cranbourne begins at 5.22pm. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The NSW Rising Stars series continued at Penrith last night with the Riverina's Todd Prest closing in on leader Chris Geary following a victory with the Ian Wilson trained Charli Springfield. The opening event was taken out by the Blake Fitzpatrick trained Iam Ready for Maitland's Grace Grant which has elevated her to third position on the leader board. The current points tally is as follows; Chris Geary 71 Todd Prest 65 Grace Grant 53 Jack Trainor 47 Kristy Sheehy (WA) 47 Mitch Turnbull 47 Kasey Hocking 41 Nathan Xuereb 37 Max Hughes 36 Liam Armstrong 18 Mitch Turnbull - Western Dist - 4 The next three heats will be held tomorrow at Bathurst Harness Racing Club race 1 - 5:14pm, race 3 - 6:06pm & race 5 - 7:10pm The fourth round of heats will be conducted at Newcastle tomorrow night before concluding with a final heat at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Sunday. Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales  

Promising horseman David White has had a busy week. He left for Victoria on Monday, raced on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Sydney to put the final touches on his four year old pacer Hollywood Sign before Saturday night's semi final of the Breeders Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle. "I work for Blake Fitzpatrick and he has had some horses campaigning in Victoria and I have been looking after them but I am hoping for a good result in the semi finals of the Breeders Challenge back in Sydney on Saturday night that's for sure," White said. "I think he has drawn the weaker semi final which will give him the best chance of progressing through to the final, he has got good gate speed and I have a couple of options in the race." White races the horse in partnership with his uncle Trevor and friend Matthew Peden. "Trevor did a great job with him in the Riverina and sent him up to me in great condition and he hasn't been too far away recently at Menangle. Actually Matt (Peden) said to me the other day his combined beaten margin since moving up here has been ten metres combined." "To be honest he probably lacks that real high speed quarter, he doesn't possess the 26 second quarter and that is probably the difference between him and some of the other horses in the series but I'm hoping he can scrape in." Hollywood Sign is the only horse that White is currently training and will compete in race four on Saturday night. "Blake lets me work him in with his team and that is a great help, I have really enjoyed my 18 months with Blake, he has taught me so much and it is great to be working with the calibre of horses he has in his stable." "When I moved up from Wagga it was something different for me being away from home but I really enjoy it and I still get to go home occasionally which is good." Harness Racing New South Wales

Sound the alarm because the Shark has well and truly arrived. Punters had already been warned of course – the wraps on the David Aiken-trained horse were enormous before last night’s University Foods 4YO and 5YO Championship, following a powerful win first up when he donkey licked his rivals earlier this month. Heavily backed since fixed odds opened midweek, Lennytheshark started $2.10 but had been odds-on. The punters nailed it. From the pole draw, Lennytheshark cruised to the lead almost unchallenged for driver Chris Alford early and nothing wanted to take him on until the bell. Emma Stewart star Restrepo, which was first up from a spell, launched his claim as the bell sounded and improved to the breeze. Down the back, Dean Braun’s rising star Chilli Palmer started his move with an audacious burst as Lennytheshark quickened up front. Turning for home though and the Shark attacked, Lenny skipping clear and powering further away late to eventually score by a substantial 10.3m. Braun trained the second, third and fourth horses over the line – Inky Cullen, Chilli Palmer and Magical Telf – while Restrepo dropped out to finish seventh. The mile rate was 1:56.5. Meanwhile, two young trotters became Group 1 winners via the finals of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic series. In the fillies’ final it was Blake Fitzpatrick trained and driven Royal Treat too strong. The Majestic Son filly utilized the sprint lane in the home straight to defeat Meadow Valley Road, with Neville Welsh-trained Est Est Est third. Illawong Armstrong prevailed in the colts and geldings’ final for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan, defeating Black Valley and Bring The Action. Champion reinsman Chris Alford took driving honours for the night with a winning treble, while Rebecca Bartley’s amazing run in the Young Drivers Challenge continued, winning the third race of the series after collecting the first two at Shepparton on Thursday night. Last night Bartley steered Smiling Spirit home at cricket score odds of $54.30. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

A late decision by Appin (NSW) harness racing trainer Nicole Molander to contest the $30,505 (Group 2) Bruce Skeggs Memorial Cranbourne Trotters Cup for TM0 or better class over 2555 metres at Cranbourne on Saturday after nominations were extended, paid dividends when  prolific winning six year old Dr Ronerail/Flipside gelding Keystone Del scored a fighting victory in the feature event on the program. With regular reinsman Blake Fitzpatrick again holding the reins, Keystone Del who two stars back was successful in the rich Great Southern Star Final at Tabcorp Park Melton in March, began swiftly from gate five, however Chris Alford aboard Spidergirl inside him had similar thoughts and the pair went head and head as the mobile barrier pulled away, with Keystone Del winning out. Allowed to dawdle at the head of affairs with the field racing in Indian file, Keystone Del went through the first two quarters of the last mile in 33.8 and 33 seconds, with Vics Cheval one of three David Aiken trained runners moving from last to creep forward in the open at the bell. In a last half mile of 29.9 and 28.6, Keystone Del had to pull out all stops to defy a strong challenge by Spidergirl along the sprint lane to gain the day by a nose in a pedestrian mile rate of 2-06.2, with Vics Cheval 4.8 metres away in third place. Even through the rate was nothing special, the race had the crowd on their toes cheering all the way up the running. It was Keystone Del’s 17th victory in 34 outings. The trotters took pride of place at the meeting, with brilliant Bacardi Lindy/All Finesse filly Claudys Princess taking the $10,275 Aldebaran Park Starlet for Three Year Olds over 1609 metres and in doing so, brought up her eighth victory from eleven outings. Driven by Gavin Lang for Kyabram trainer Mick Blackmore, Claudys Princess starting solo on the second line was allowed to amble at the rear of the field, before moving forward three wide racing for the bell to park in the open for the final circuit. Cruising to the front on straightening, Claudys Princess registered a 5.6 metre victory in a rate of 2-01 over Im Havinaball which led and  Indie Pepperell (one/one last lap) which came in third 8.7 metres in arrears of the pair. Bred by veteran Goulburn Valley trotting devotee Gus Underwood, Claudys Fancy is raced by the Catchya Racing Group of which Gus is a member. Honest eight year old Conch Deville/Springfield Wilma mare Rockin Wilma chalked up her 10th victory and first since February, when successful in The Red Shed Trotters Handicap for T1 or better class over 2575 metres. Trained and driven by Sunbury’s Justin Livingtstone, Rockin Wilma starting from 20 metres was given the run of the race trailing the front runner Mosquito Spur after the heavily supported pole line favourite Seascape Boy galloped shortly after the start when contesting the lead. Taken away from the markers approaching the home turn, Rockin Wilma proved far too strong over the concluding stages to score by an easy 14.1 metres in advance of Seascape Boy which made up plenty of ground, with Mosquito Spur holding down third albeit 25.5 metres from the winner. Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

The Shannon Price stable will start two horses in Thursday's $50,000 Renshaw Cup at Penrith Paceway. American Legend and Terror Time have both performed well in their home state of Queensland and stable representative Scott Miller is expecting a big performance this week. "Both of the horses have been racing really well in Queensland and under the grading system up here a horse like Terror Time will have to start competing against the free-for-allers so we have taken the option to get them both to Sydney where they are better assessed and the Renshaw Cup is a great starting point," Miller said. "We are unsure how long we will stay at this stage, it all depends on how Chevals Clivesdale goes in the heat of the Carousel on Thursday night, if he happened to win his way through to the feature on Len Smith Mile day then we would stay for the fortnight." Terror Time has won more than $250,000 in his career and has already won 20 races. "He has won four of his last five starts and his last win saw him break 29 seconds for his final three quarters, he is a really tough horse and Brad Cowen his regular driver will stick with him." "American Legend on the other hand is a totally different type of horse, he is a speed horse that has to be saved up for the final shot but when driven like that he can be very effective, Blake Fitzpatrick will take the drive on him for us." Chevals Clivesdale has been in great form in Queensland too and has earned a trip south. "The Rising Stars series has seen horses moving through the grades race for good prize money but unfortunately there wasn't anything coming up for Chevals Clivesdale so we thought the Carousel looked a good series for him." "He has got really good speed but he is very versatile as well, he has won four of his last six and his last win he rated 1:57.6 for the 2138 metres." By Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing New South Wales |  

Respected horseman Blake Fitzpatrick will have a three pronged attack in Saturday night's heats of the Australian Pacing Gold for the two year old fillies at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  Fitzpatrick has a strong team of juveniles this season and unbeaten filly Our Awesome Girl could be one of the better ones in the stable. "Our Awesome Girl is a very promising filly that's for sure, and in the space of six weeks she has just continued to improve," Fitzpatrick said. "She's quite a big filly and I must admit I had some concerns earlier in the season but she has put it altogether of late and once the penny started to drop the APG became an obvious target." Our Awesome Girl is raced by Fitzpatrick's mother and Pam Usher. "They are going to have a bit of fun with her this season, she won her first race at Newcastle by four or five metres and it was another thirty metres back to third." In the second of the heats, Fitzpatrick will start Star Jasmine and Candy Crush. "Gavin (Fitzpatrick, brother) will drive Star Jasmine, she had her first start at Bankstown and I thought her run was very good." "She was passed in at the APG sales and was retained by her breeder Ron Littler." Candy Crush was only a cheap purchase and looked set to qualify for the Bathurst Gold Tiara last start before veering in at a crucial stage in the straight. "She had never been hit with the whip before and ducked in but she requalified at Penrith on Tuesday and I think she is going to be a filly of the future." by Greg Hayes - SKY Racing (Courtesy of Harness Racing AU)

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