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In the lead up to the end of 2019, we’re feeling a little nostalgic at Trots Media. In the spirit of celebrating our great sport and remembering just what our incredible athletes are capable of on, and off the track, let’s take a look back at the decade that was. Blake Redden has detailed what he considers to be the 10 best races between 2010 and today. Stay tuned for the countdown as we deliver one incredible race replay each and every day in the search for the most exciting contest in the last 10 years. 10: 2018 Inter Dominion – Tiger Tara It would be remiss of us not to start with a race fresh in the memory. The win of Tiger Tara in the 2018 Inter Dominion makes it into this list for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the first Inter Dominion back in Melbourne for more than a decade. The build-up felt organic and, for trots fans at the very least, this felt like something extra special. That was only confirmed when Tabcorp Park Melton saw one of its biggest ever crowds turn out to finals night, which was quickly turned into a one act affair. There was drama, however, with Mach Doro carving across the face of the field early to lead before handing over to Tiger Tara. From there it became a time trial and, wow, did Kevin Pizzuto’s pacer put on a display for patrons on-course and those watching around Australasia. Let's relive the night to remember:   HRV Trots Media - Blake Redden  

Sunday’s time-honoured Volstead Redwood Classic is the annual clash of Australasia’s best juvenile squaregaiters and this edition promises to be no different. Powderkeg has quickly ascended to the head of the Australian ranks with wins in his first two Victorian starts, which included a strong win in the Group 1 Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series a month ago. The Lisa Miles-trained son of Muscle Hill is an imposing character on and off the track. “To sit behind him, he’s just a beautiful trotter. He’s well balanced and the fact that he’s a colt probably adds a bit of spark to him,” Miles said. “Since he won the Group 1 race at Melton he’s actually gained quite a lot of confidence and he’s trotting well so I’m really happy with him. “He’s a pretty casual customer, he’s been in a false start from the mobile and he seems to take everything in his stride so hopefully he can do that in a full field on Sunday.” Originally prepared in South Australia, it was a matter of right place and right time for Miles who took over the training of the two-year-old after he debuted at Port Pirie. “I’ve trained horses for Geoff Easom on and off for quite a few years now and through my really good friend Jill Nielson who trains for Geoff on a full-time basis,” Miles said. “The two-year-old trotting races are quite sparse in South Australia so it was probably always likely that he’d come to Victoria.” For Miles, it will be a special day win, lose or draw. She’ll have a runner earlier in the day in a race named after her Grandfather Alf Simons. Following a heartbreaking defeat in the Cricket World Cup just a matter of weeks ago, the Kiwis will be looking find some solace in a Group 1 win at Carisbrooke Raceway this Sunday. Ultimate Stride was green on his Australian debut but he rushed past Powderkeg late when they clashed in what is a key form reference for the feature race on Sunday. In what looms a particularly deep edition of the Redwood Classic, almost every horse has winning claims. New South Wales trainer Blake Fitzpatrick has put big wraps on Gimondi, who will begin from barrier three, while Im Daddy Warbucks was one of the runs of the race in the Vicbred Super Series final. Andover Sun and Dublin Chubb both have their fair share of ability however it would be folly to count out Is That A Bid, who is already a Group 1 winner this season. TAB bookmakers opened Ultimate Stride the $2.10 fixed odds favourite with Im Daddy Warbucks ($5), Powderkeg ($5.50) and Andover Sun ($10) the others well represented early doors. Value punters have been keen to play early with Dublin Chubb ($31-$18) and Pink Galahs ($21-$15) both supported.   Blake Redden HRV Trots Media

The 2018 Seelite Windows and Doors Maryborough Trotters Cup brings together converging formlines from right across the state. While horses like Father Christmas, King Denny and Fabrication are returning from tackling the TAB Inter Dominion, there are others that haven’t been through the rigors of that series. One of those is the Brad Stevens-prepared Endsin A Party. A Yabby Dam Racing McNamara Memorial Geelong Trotters Cup winner two starts back, he thrived over the staying trip when able to lead all the way to defeat Inter Dominion contender Save Our Pennys. “I’m sure Save Our Pennys wasn’t fully wound up but it was nice to see him go so well through the Inter Dominion,” Stevens said. “I’d love to see him in one of these longer races be able to sit back and use his speed when they are running along. He definitely doesn’t need to lead; it’s all tempo dependent.” The story of how the gelding came to be with Stevens is one of sheer luck. For all intents and purposes the horse was ready to move interstate before a late change. “He was up for sale and someone from Sydney was buying him but the sale fell through so we were lucky enough to get him in the end,” Stevens said. “I’m pretty good mates with Matty Gath so I knew the horse had ability and he told me it had ability so it was just a matter of trying to convert it into winning races.” With a bright future ahead, the son of Pegasus Spur won’t be aggressively targeting the $10,000 Maori's Idol Trotting Championship - awarded to the leading trotter across the season's country cups - despite sitting prominently on the leaderboard. Instead his trainer plans to race him sparingly over the summer to get the most out of his steed. “We might look at the Cobram Trotters Cup after this and then maybe a break, I think he probably races his best when we keep him fresh,” Stevens said. Father Christmas is currently the $4.60 TAB Fixed Odds favourite for the Maryborough Trotters Cup with a wide array of chances in the market including Fratellino ($5), The Boss Man ($6), Destinee Jenilou ($6), Fabrication ($7.50) and Egee Money ($10). Endsin A Party has firmed from his opening price to be a $19 chance.   Blake Redden

Every point matters in the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion trotting championship and form analyst Blake Redden has broken it down horse-by-horse after two heats of ID18. In addition to detailing the official points score, which can be viewed by clicking here, Redden has given each runner a race-by-race rating. 32 Points – Tornado Valley  (17.5/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Copped pressure through the third quarter and was still trucking on the line Night 2: 8.5/10 – Flexed his muscle after the start and dictated thereafter. 27 Points – Speeding Spur  (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – He got a pretty soft time through the middle stages but he staved off a pretty serious challenge from Maori Law and was well clear late. Night 2: 8/10 – Didn’t find the pegs but brave as ever from the breeze. It’s hard to knock his form as the key danger to the favourite right now. 26 Points – Save Our Pennys (17/20) Night 1: 9/10 – Came into this second-up from a break and loomed the winner on the bend, magical effort. Night 2: 8/10 – Had to be driven hard after the start but held the leader's back and produced a most similar run as Night 1 over what probably isn’t his best trip. 22 Points – Big Jack Hammer (14.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have to work in transit but he hit the line nicely. Night 2: 8/10 – Ran the gate and landed a lovely spot in the one by one. Looked the winner half way up the straight but his first genuine crack at this level from off the pegs and he stood up. 21 Points – Kyvalley Blur (13/20) Night 1: 4/10 – He was off the bit a long way out and despite trying to rally late he just didn’t come on as expected. Night 2: 9/10 – Phenomenal is just about the only way to describe his performance. Chris Alford take a bow, sliced through the field and came with his customary turn of speed. 20 Points – Tough Monarch (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – You will find varying opinions on how good this guy’s run was, I wasn’t as taken as some others but he did work to the breeze and apply the pressure to the leader.  Night 2: 7/10 – Came wide on the track and was still finding the line at the end. A nice run to keep him ticking over. 18 Points – Rompers Monarchy (11.5/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Had the right run in transit and made OK ground late. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Off the pegs this time and did run the gate. Not many made ground and while she got a touch tired late, the run was still sound. 18 Points – Sky Petite (15/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Superb effort from this girl to make ground wide on the track. She didn’t get heaps of points but it sets her up for a nice series. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Used her gate speed to full effect before landing behind the speed, just halted for momentum early in the straight and she didn’t shirk the task late. 16 Points – Kingdom Come (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6.5/10 – Didn’t have much luck off a soft run and hit the line well. Night 2: 7/10 – Was handled beautifully by Kate Gath and he was just struggling to get a full crack at the sprint lane for a stride or two so he has put in another super run. 16 Points – Monty Python (14/20)  Night 1: 7/10 – Sat parked and lifted when beaten so a pretty nice effort all things considered. Night 2: 7/10 – He was forced to start the three-wide train and he loomed dangerously halfway up the lane. Another very nice effort. 15 Points – Red Hot Tooth (13/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was forced to come wide in the track and not many horses made ground out wide all night so there’s merit to her run. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Was afforded a pegline run and given the slick last quarter she did as much as possible, she just keeps hanging in there. 14 Points – Maori Law (12.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Worked early, went back and then launched with an almighty run at the 800m. He did get tired late but the run was sensational given he will have improvement. Night 2: 4/10 – A horror story from start to finish. Total forgive. 14 points - Wilmas Mate (11/20)  Night 1: 5/10 – She got further back than expected on the pegs but just a middling effort Night 2: 6/10 – Played for luck in between horses and she was poking through late, trending in the right direction at least. 13 Points – Enrolled (13.5/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – This fella didn’t have much luck late and could have finished a touch closer. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Worked the breeze and not the worst place to be over the sprint but still went massive to finish where he did. 10 Points – Father Christmas (10.5/20)  Night 1: 4.5/10 – Didn’t have the clearest of passages at a crucial stage and finished off quite OK. Night 2: 6/10 – Unsuited by the distance but he didn’t lose the back of Tough Monarch in the lane so there are signs he is starting to turn it around. 9 Points – Fabrication (11/20) Night 1: 5/10 – Had a soft run and probably just held his ground more than made any late. Night 2: 6/10 – Hard to know what to make of this run. Galloped early but was flashing to the line albeit well beaten. Definitely some merit to the run but he needs points to qualify. 9 Points – Our Twentyten (6/20)  Night 1: 4/10 – Had every possible and was just fair on face value. Night 2: 2/10 – Further back on the pegs than last time but just fair again. 8 Points – Alderbeck (7.5/20)  Night 1: 3.5/10 – Was forced to lead the three-wide train so while you can be somewhat forgiving, he was never in the race. Night 2: 4/10 – Didn’t have heaps of clear air late and was holding his ground. 7 Points – Illawong Armstrong (9/20)  Night 1: 6/10 – Another that had no luck in the lane, it’s best to forgive his run completely. Night 2: 3/10 – Had every chance after finding the front and probably just not at his best. 7 Points – King Denny (11/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Another forced to come wide on the track and while he wasn’t rewarded via points, he ran quite well. Night 2: 5/10 – It was always going to be hard for him from the draw and the sprint trip didn’t suit so he gets a pass mark. 7 Points – Kowhai Monarch (8.5/20) Night 1: 2.5/10 – Did some work in the middle stages but looked very tired late. Night 2: 6/10 – Many horses went about as well as each other in a blanket finish but driven more quietly he was hitting the line pretty strongly. 5 Points – Kheiron (6/20) Night 1: 3/10 – He was wide on the track but remained at the tail throughout. Night 2: 3/10 – Similar to his first run in this series, hard to see him getting involved from here. Scratched – Cruisin Around (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – Just not at his best. For full results and videos click here Trots Media - Blake Redden

The raiders have stepped to the fore in the harness racing TAB Inter Dominion pacing championship as Blake Redden deep dives runner-by-runner in who's stepped up and who's on the verge of stepping out after two nights of pacing heats. In addition to detailing the official points score, which can be viewed by clicking here, Redden has given each runner a race-by-race rating. 32 Points – Cruz Bromac (16.5/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Didn’t do anything unexpected when leading and breezing away as a short-priced favourite. Night 2: 8.5/10 – A simply spectacular drive which meant he could just control this race. 29 Points – Im Pats Delight (17.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Had to work hard to shoot for the front but came back underneath Gavin Lang and was trying all the way to the line. Night 2: 9/10 – Did it very easily and it’s quite clear he is building into this series perfectly. 27 Points – Galactic Star (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Sprung a surprise at the start and changed the complexion of the race. He was entitled to win in the end but still a super win when it’s all told. Night 2: 8/10 – After the early speed the heat came out of this race so for him to take the ground he did in the straight was the perfect indicator that he’s right on track after night 1. 27 Points – Spankem (18/20) Night 1: 9/10 – It’s easy to look at the drive of Nat Rasmussen and underrate just how strong this bloke was through the line. Proved he is a serious contender. Night 2: 9/10 – Ran the hands off the clock in an unsuitable race, into equal favouritism for the series and it’s not hard to understand why. 24 Points – Tiger Tara (16.5/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Got shuffled back but hit the line with great gusto late. Nice to see him back after a too-bad-to-be-true run in the NZ FFA. Night 2: 8.5/10 – Driven aggressively and was ironically able to get a relatively nice run from the breeze. Banked points and couldn’t be shaken off late. 24 Points – Wrappers Delight (16/20) Night 1: 8/10 – Ended up in an awkward spot and was one of the only horses to come wide on the track and make ground for the night. Night 2: 8/10 – Found the lead as expected, got a soft time and ripped home in a quarter. We didn’t learn anything new about him and he’s largely still an unknown commodity in this series. 21 Points – Audi Hare (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Had a quiet time along the pegs but probably just held his ground like most of the beaten brigade behind Audi Hare. Night 2: 7/10 – Had to work very hard early, got plenty of respite in the middle stages but was just controlled by a better horse late. 21 Points – Cant Refuse (15.5/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Didn’t have to go around a horse but he was finishing hard up the inside. Night 2: 8/10 – Another soft run and was able to burst through to snatch second late. He’s probably going to need luck right through this series but his turn of foot will give him knockout chances going forward. 21 Points – San Carlo (15.5/20) Night 1: 8.5/10 – Sat parked and just kept finding all the way to the line despite not winning. The Galactic Star formline looks fine for this series and he’s only going to improve. Night 2: 7/10 – Understandably was happy to hand the breeze over once Tiger Tara arrived so quickly, he didn’t make any ground in the lane but he didn’t need to, it’s his staying prowess that brings him into the final. 20 Points – Mach Doro (14/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Had every possible and while he didn’t lose anything late, he didn’t gain anything either. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Worked hard early and was finishing off as well as anything, the big question now looms, is he better over the sprint trip? 20 Points – Maximan (14/20) Night 1: 7/10 – A terrific plan from Team Tritton to punch the breeze in a race where no horse was likely to make much ground. Battled away willfully late. Night 2: 7/10 – Looked a stone-cold certainty to run a drum at the top of the straight and he didn’t throw in the towel but the class just got to him late. 18 Points – Cash N Flow (12.5/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Trailed home Cruz Bromac who controlled the race but he held everything else. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Got back and was never a factor over the sprint trip. 15 Points – Im The Boss (14/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was never really in the hunt and while well beaten, no great knock on his effort. Night 2: 7.5/10 – Got fired up from the breeze as is customary and while it was hard for the others to make ground, he still gets a big tick and some much needed points heading into the suitable staying heat. 15 Points – Our Uncle Sam (14/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Ended up getting shuffled back but his run was full of merit to get as close to the winner as he did. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Came three-wide solo and he was still fighting hard late for sixth. He’s not far off them, but may just lack the absolute class required. 14 Points – Franco Nelson (13.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Ended up being an awkward race for him and he didn’t find the front as expected so overall there was merit to his performance. Night 2: 7/10 – Was forced to pull three-wide after the tempo had slackened mid-race and he made a 100-metre dash at the leaders so it’s obvious he is on the improve and might be an each-way sleeper in the series. 14 Points – Mattgregor (11/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Was three-wide for a while and finished with the peloton. Pretty inconclusive. Night 2: 5.5/10 – He came out running and lobbed behind the leader but just couldn’t improve his position inside the final quarter. 14 Points – Motu Meteor (14/20) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Surprising to see him so close to the action but it was a masterstroke in terms of earning very valuable points for the series. He went right up to his best (if not exceeded it). Night 2: 6.5/10 – Raced the gate, got shuffled back and wasn’t losing ground late so another solid performance. 14 Points – Yayas Hot Spot (13/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Wasn’t asked to do much work but when he saw a gap he finished off nicely. Night 2: 6/10 – Looked in a bit of bother halfway home but the last 50 metres he did lift and he has raced well over staying trips in Victoria before so don’t drop off him yet. 12 Points – Village Witch (12.5/20) Night 1: 7/10 – Took a while to hit her top but she was finishing off as well as anything. Night 2: 5.5/10 – Hard to judge exactly where she is at given she was wide on the track. A total forgive run again. 11 Points – Bad Billy (11/20) Night 1: 4.5/10 – Was probably a bit better than it first looks on paper but was beaten a fair way. Night 2: 6.5/10 – Was guaranteed a nice run and held his ground well at the finish but showed under these conditions he isn’t quite up to the best in the series. 11 Points – Conviction (13/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – He was poking up along the pegs nicely and perhaps a little bit underrated for a race like the consolation based on that. Night 2: 6.5/10 – He was poking through late in an on speed dominated race. He is half flying but just needs to find the right conditions. 11 Points – Joes Star Of Mia (12.5/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Was left in an awkward spot with over a lap to go and really hard to take much from the night out. Night 2: 6/10 – Had to chase the helmet of Franco Nelson but when he got wound up he was running through the line. 11 Points – My Alpha Rock (11/20) Night 1: 6.5/10 – Took his chances in front and did cop pressure but hard to see him leading all the way and winning a heat or final of this series now. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Another inconclusive run coming wide over the sprint trip. 10 Points – Ellmers Image (11.5/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Ended up in a place he probably didn’t want to be but the tank read empty halfway up the straight. Night 2: 6/10 – Dropped in three poles and visually was far better with that quiet run but still a little ways off the big guns. 10 Points – Mister Wickham (10.5/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Never looked likely but went about as good as Magical Marn given he was off the pegs. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Not much changed for him tonight, he was given an easy time out the back and did as much as expected late. 9 Points – Tee Cee Bee Macray (6.5/20) Night 1: 2/10 – Didn’t make much ground off a soft trip. Night 2: 4.5/10 – An improved effort but may have been suited by the 1710 metres. 8 Points – Magical Marn (9/20) Night 1: 6/10 – Didn’t do any work but he found the line as well as could be expected. Night 2: 3/10 – He wasn’t able to run on like night 1, he’ll need big points Saturday night or the consolation is calling. 7 Points – Freyberg (8/20) Night 1: 5/10 – Beaten a long way but wasn’t exactly losing ground late. Night 2: 3/10 – Settled at the rear and made no impression. 6 Points – Hickstead (10/20) Night 1: 5.5/10 – Just never involved in any meaningful way from the back of the field. Night 2: 4.5/10 – Was never in the hunt and while he was OK in the lane he didn’t pick up much ground. 5 Points – Ideal Success (8/20) Night 1: 4/10 – It didn’t look his race on paper and that’s exactly how it panned out. Night 2: 4/10 – Found himself further back than expected but he was going up and down late. 3 Points – John Of Arc Night 1: 2/10 – Beaten very early Night 2: 2/10 – Never sighted Scratched – Shadow Sax (7.5/10) Night 1: 7.5/10 – Got back and made terrific ground, he didn’t get the rewards point-wise but it was a terrific effort Scratched – Let It Ride (5/10) Night 1: 5/10 – Had a nice run and got out in enough time but just didn’t have his usual ping. Scratched – Italian Delight  (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – The market said he wouldn’t be a factor and that proved true. Scratched – Burnaholeinmypocket (2/10) Night 1: 2/10 – Has every chance and was gone a fair way out. We know he is better than that. Scratched – Is It Billy (1/10) Night 1: 1/10 – He was beaten to quickly. For full results and videos click here   Trots Media - Blake Redden

Tim Butt is a man that knows how to train big race winners. For over two decades he has made it his business to not only plunder the riches on offer in the Shaky Isles, he has also targeted the biggest races in Australia. Now however, the tables have turned and the ex-Kiwi horseman now calls Sydney home. It may not be as far to travel but the task is no easier as Let It Ride arrives at this year’s TAB Inter Dominion as, in many ways, the forgotten horse. After a devastating win in the Blacks A Fake through the Queensland winter, he has been taken along slowly as an early season five-year-old. “People maybe forget that a lot of the big guns either weren’t at their best or weren’t in the Blacks A Fake but I was really pleased with him obviously,” Butt said. “He maybe can’t win this weekend from the draw but he should get a nice run and he’ll be finishing off well.” While he hasn’t yet captured the heights of last campaign, which saw him run second in the Chariots Of Fire before claiming the final Grand Circuit race of the season, Butt has been happy with his progress. “It’s very hard at Menangle when you’re drawing 10, so I’ve been happy with his three runs this time in,” he said. “You don’t really know until you do it but I think he’s the kind of horse that will get through the series. It’s made easier if you get a couple of soft runs through the heats but he’s a good leader as well.” Wilmas Mate has landed on Aussie shores for the first time since taking out the Victoria Trotters Derby and a Breeders Crown Final in 2016 and she’s heading to Butt’s Sydney base after ID18. “I’m rapt to get her. I’ve only had her about 10 days but her last run was actually quite good and she just hadn’t been having much go her way in New Zealand. “This series might come up a bit quick for her but she has drawn well for the first heat and after this I’m confident she’s going to do a really good job up at Menangle in the future.” Blake Redden

This year’s TAB Inter Dominion is shaping like no other. In the past few years the star power at the top end has been irresistible: We’ve been blessed with the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Smolda just to name a few. And that meant that before the series had started most knew roughly how it was going to shake out come finals night. The same can’t be said for ID18. Connections of horses that sit outside the top three and even top 10 seeds for the series would still be holding genuine hopes of being competitive in a fortnight’s time. One horse which comes into the race with some left-field form is Mach Doro. Victorian’s might be quick to dismiss him after a down-the-track effort in the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup but he worked hard early and after not finding the pegs his chances were effectively over. Regular driver Luke McCarthy explained how favorable this week’s gate one barrier draw has been. “I’m pretty excited that on Saturday night I’ll be able to leave the gate on the bit with him,” McCarthy said. “The Victoria Cup didn’t work out for him and with the way the conditioned racing works at Menangle he’s been drawing tough barriers and we’ve had to really use him hard off the arm to make sure he gets to the pegs. “Being able to come out neutral and get the perfect run on paper on Saturday night means that this looks his chance to measure up and we’re expecting him to be in the finish.” The task will not be an easy one but there is some supporting evidence that the son of Mach Three can be a factor through the series. He defeated series favourite Tiger Tara four starts back on their home digs and while an argument could be made that the latter was still building into his preparation; it’s still a performance worth noting. McCarthy will also drive Cash N Flow and again the barrier draw gods have been kind with the polemarking draw. “His run in the Geelong Cup was OK. I did have to use him mid-race and we probably don’t know quite how good Buster Brady is yet so it might look a lot better in hindsight,” he said. “If Cruz Bromac comes out as quickly, as he can, then I should be able to hold-up behind him and get every chance from there.”   Blake Redden

The connotations are many, the implications are huge. Harness racing Good Form analyst Blake Redden deep dives into Saturday night's PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, runner-by-runner, with an updated version post Vincent's scratching. 1: Heaven Rocks – Arguably the most talented horse in the field. A lovable rogue who could make a meal of it at the start and need plenty of luck or alternatively if he does things right he may lead into the first bend and never be caught. He raced straight past Vincent in the Auckland Cup before becoming his own worst enemy and handing the race back on a platter. If he is crossed early by Major Secret then look for him to get off the pegs and work to the breeze mid-race to keep the pressure on. 2: Shadow Sax – One of the rising starts of the field. Niggling issues kept him away from the track for much of his four-year-old season but he continues to step up to every challenge at five and was an impressive last start winner of the South Australian Cup. He’s a local trained by the state’s leading trainer Emma Stewart. Tactics will be most important. If he can find the front then he will become the horse to beat in many peoples eyes. 3: Bernie Winkle – A sit sprinter who would lap up a strong tempo throughout. He can’t win the race but with a touch of luck he may run into fourth or fifth. 4: Major Secret – A noted quick beginner that may try to fire off the gate and lead early. He was run down by an inferior horse in the Cobram Cup and he’d have to reach a new peak to knock off some of his rivals here. Another local who is a stablemate to Shadow Sax. 5: The Faithful – Was quickly racing through his grades before tackling the Bendigo Cup last time where he was outclassed. This looks even harder. 6: Vincent – SCRATCHED I've taken Vincent out of the Ballarat Cup after I noticed a slight swelling on the nearside front this morning. He is not lame or anything and I am fairly confident it is something minor. You just don't take risks with horses like him" "He was out in the paddock and whether he has just rolled the wrong way or knocked it getting up you can't say but it is not that far from the suspensory and we wouldn't risk racing him until it was completely cleared up. We will get the experts to have a look and check him out because you can never be 100 per cent sure with these sort of injuries just how much is involved with them. But from the outside to my eye it seems a fairly minor problem at this stage." I can't really add much more . just that we are taking the ultra "safe but sure" route with him. Natalie - Allstars site 7: Mister Wickham – Appears the type of horse who improves as the level of racing. He was terrific when running second in the Bendigo Cup but he’d need plenty to go right to be in the frame here. 8: Lennytheshark – Once the king of Australasian harness racing, he’s seceded that title in recent times to the mighty Lazarus. He has trialled well enough leading into this and there’s some chance his efforts in the Inter Dominion in Perth were better than they look on paper but given the second row draw he’d need to be at his best to prove all the doubters wrong again. 9: It Is Billy – Another local, trained by Mick Barby and driven by Anne-Maree Conroy. He’s often threatened at this level without winning a really big race. It’s hard to see him doing any damage given it’s such a strong renewal of the Pacing Cup. Race Overview: With the shock scratching of Vincent the race becomes a true test of tactics. Heaven Rocks hasn’t been made to run the gate on too many occasions but he hasn’t looked hopeless when he has done so. If he does score up with them then Shadow Sax and/or Major Secret will need to be flying into the first bend to cross him. If Major Secret is first across to the pegs then expect him to hand-up to Shadow Sax with Heaven Rocks off the pegs to do the work mid-race. Lennytheshark may end up in a range of different positions in transit depending on what eventuates after the start but as the only one off the second row, Puppet will be able to assess his options early. It’s hard to see him giving the two market leaders a start and a beating but you can never count out a champion. Blake Redden

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

When you’ve got a horse that’s 45 starts deep into its harness racing career and still eligible for C1 races, it’s fair to say the lofty heights that connections often set for their pacer as a yearling have mostly been vanquished. But Rule Of Thumb may well be the exception that, pardon the pun, proves the rule. He’d won five starts in his life by this stage and had just returned from a 10-month layoff for three or four relatively solid, but less than spectacular, efforts. Despite that, his trainer Tim Bolitho was always pretty confident the son of Dawn Ofa New Day was going to turn the corner. “He was always a talented younger horse, he was probably one of the ones that wasn’t quite there as a two-year-old or even at three but he made some big races and was learning all the same,” Bolitho said. “He wasn’t the best going horse but I knew the ability was there. Phil (Nott, owner) is pretty easy going so he was happy for us to take our time with him. “There were never had any serious problems, he just had a little issue where he clipped the bony part of his knee and when he had boots on it would just rub. There’d end up being a fair bit of blood so I consulted a few vets and we decided to turn him out.” It may have cost Rule Of Thumb seven months in the paddock and almost a year away from the track but after a few runs to build fitness, the now six-year-old has gone on somewhat of a rampage. Having won seven from his last 11, he has raced through his grades to now tackle an M0 heat and final series kicking off at Cranbourne Saturday night. “We’ve been able to drive him more positively. There’s been no real need to run him off the gate but he’s been able to park and he’s pretty strong,” Bolitho said. “It’s interesting to compare him to a few others we’ve had, Albert Jaccka was pretty strong but lacked a little bit of high speed and Arber had really high speed but this guy is probably a little bit more rounded in terms of having both attributes.” With the lure of a shot at Country Cup’s somewhere in his future, he’s likely to continue his career in Victoria for some time with the promise of more to come. Bolitho will also send Morvah around at the same meeting. Still on his way up, he may be one to watch in the coming months. “There’s probably not a lot between him and Rule Of Thumb in terms of their speed,” he said. “Things just haven’t worked out at his past couple but I’ve made a few gear changes and hopefully we’ll see him back to his best on the weekend.” Blake Redden

Barrier Draws to decide Breeders Crown Fate The chances of runners in next Sunday's TAB Australasian Breeders Crown Finals will be hugely impacted by the all-important Barrier Draws next Monday 24 August, to be conducted in the Legends Cafe© at Tabcorp Park Melton. Coinciding with the Tabcorp Park race meeting, the Barrier Draw action gets underway after Race 3 from 2.30pm where host Cody Winnell and the Good Form team of Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will dissect and analyse the fields for the 2 year olds. The action continues after Race 4 from 3.10pm as the team turn their attention to the 3 year olds. Entry is free and the Legends Cafe© Tabcorp Parkwill be serving an extensive selection of meals throughout the afternoon. TAB Breeders Crown Barrier Draws From 2.30pm, Monday August 24 Legends Cafe©, Tabcorp Park  -  2 Ferris Road, Melton After Race 3  -  2.35pm 2YO TROTTING FILLIES 2YO TROTTING COLTS 2YO PACING FILLIES 2YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS   AFTER RACE 4  -  3.10pm 3YO TROTTING FILLIES 3YO TROTTING COLTS 3YO PACING FILLIES 3YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS TONY ISING MARKETING MANAGER

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

Sky Racing’s Premier Harness Racing Preview show ‘Chasing And Pacing’ will now be able to be seen on the Australian Harness Racing Website. It’s a must watch for Harness Racing fans with ‘Chasing and Pacing’ looking at the major Harness events each week with a look at the latest fixed price odds thanks to TAB.com.au. This week host Gareth Hall will preview the two big nights at Tabcorp Park Melton for the Vicbred Finals for both the Trotters (Friday night) and Pacers (Saturday night) with Harness Racing Victoria’s form expert Blake Redden. It’s also a big night on Saturday at Albion Park where the mighty champion Im Themightyquinn is set to start favourite in the Sunshine Sprint in his first run in Queensland. Racing Queensland’s Harness expert Michael Polster will join Gareth Hall to preview the Sunshine Sprint and the feature three year old race the The Futurity, which will see Belinda McCarthy’s boom youngster ‘Bling It On’ go around as the warm favourite. Sky Racing’s Gareth Hall and Blake Redden preview Firday night’s Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Trotters Finals for the 2YO C&G, 4YO E&G and 3YO fillies at Melton. Watch it here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywIL5SEYGrs Sky Racing’s Gareth Hall and Michael Polster preview Saturday’s night’s G2 Sunshine Sprint highlighted by the champion Im Themightyquinn’s first run in Brisbane and the Group 3 The Futurity at Albion Park. Watch it here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LjDvaIeThU Sky Racing’s Gareth Hall and Blake Redden preview Saturday night’s Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Pacers Finals for the 3YO C&G, 3YO fillies, 2YO filles and the much anticipated 4YO E&G final, which will see the clash between Lennytheshark and Guaranteed. Watch it here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKoY1SsqxRY&feature=youtu.be Harness Racing Australia will continue to work with Sky Racing to ensure that fans have the best coverage possible. Harness Racing Victoria

If the past 18 months is anything to go by, the health of Victoria’s harness racing trotting industry is in thoroughly good order. Superstars like Blitzthemcalder, Im Stately and Spidergirl have all announced themselves as horses which can capture public attention in the blink of an eye. But a larrikin and his favourite little horse could be set to overtake those who have come before them as they shoot for another Group 1 win tonight in the three-year-old fillies’ Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final. Mick Blackmore and Claudys Princess have made it to finals night with the daughter of Bacardi Lindy yet to taste defeat against her own sex. And off the back of seven straight victories including two at the highest level, her trainer is brimming with confidence. “I’m very happy with her, I reckon she is a little bit stronger since returning from her trip to Sydney,” Blackmore said. “Friday night; when you look at it we don’t have the best barrier but we will just have to leave it up to the master (Gavin Lang, driver) to get the job done again. That’s why they call him Group 1 Gav isn’t it?” Barrier six is made even harder by the fact that early speedster Illawong Moonshine has drawn inside her. And the scorecard is getting narrower for Claudys Princess with her winning margin diminishing from 17 metres to just a half-neck in her last three starts. That won’t stop Blackmore preparing for a post-race ritual that has served him well over time. “I usually stop off at McDonald’s on the way home so I’d say that will be the case again, I know it’s bad for me but I just love the stuff,” he said. “If she wins I’ll buy her anything she likes; I’ll nearly kick the wife out of the house and put Claudys in with me.” by Blake Redden

This is the season for rich juvenile harness racing with the APG, Jewels, Vicbred and Breeders Crown all within the next few months. Millions of dollars up for grabs for those lucky enough to have a top young horse.   Follow HRV on Twitter @HRVnews Key Industry Financials At the recent Consultation meeting between HRV and the industry bodies, HRV made a presentation on the key indicators for the 2013/14 financial year. Results at the end of the third quarter (March) indicate the HRV Group will achieve a result of a $1m profit. That result will be slightly down on the original budget due to revenue from the Tabcorp Joint Venture (JV) for the three codes being below original expectations. Stakes increases implemented in September and March mean that total stakes for the year will be $36m, compared to last year's $33.6m - a rise of 7%. Due to the phasing in of the rises, the full impact of the rises will not be felt until next year when there will be an automatic increase of $1.2m for the 2014/15 season. The budget for 2014/15 is not complete, however there are challenges ahead - particularly in the wagering and gaming sectors. Current estimates are for a reduction in racing industry income from the Joint Venture with Tabcorp which, coupled with gaming tax increases and the automatic increase in stakes, puts pressure on the bottom line. To counter that, the Board will be refinancing the debt associated with the land and buildings at Melton. A favourable outcome in lower finance costs should be achieved, which will assist in forecasting another profitable year. Tabcorp CEO Speech At the recent Asian Racing Conference the CEO of Tabcorp (our JV partner) David Attenborough spoke on the importance of Tabcorp to the funding of racing. Click here for a link to an article written by Jessica Gardner from The Age covering the topics raised by Mr Attenborough. Note that Tabcorp returns $657m to the racing industry in Victoria and NSW as well as $225m in taxes. In Victoria, Tabcorp also makes significant contributions toward funding of Herald Sun form guides and radio station RSN so you can see why the company is so important to harness racing in this State. Stakemoney Distribution On March 1, HRV commenced its policy of paying a stake down to last place. The strategy was based around encouraging owners to keep their horse in the racing population longer with a view to increasing field sizes. It is only early days, so only an anecdotal view can be taken at this stage, however the statistics for April are interesting. Below are numbers extracted for this April and compared to last April:   Total number of starters increased by 238 for the month;   Number of individual starters increased by 55;   Nine extra races were run this April;   Starters per race increased from 9.03 (2013) to 9.49. International Product The benefits of importing and exporting harness racing product are increasing all the time - for the overall benefit of the industry. With the increase in product now being imported by Sky Racing from France and Sweden, we are getting a strong wagering benefit through the Tabcorp Joint Venture. For the 10 months ended April 2014, $38m has been wagered on international harness product by Victorians - up 10% on last year. Victorian trotting product is also being exported more into Europe. The net benefit of exporting our races this financial year will be $1m, up from $600,000 last year. With the amount of domestic product maturing, international races are an important source of growth for HRV. Victoria Police New Recruit For the many people passionate about the standardbred breed, last weekend was a monumental day when "Bob" was officially employed by Victoria Police - the first to ever be admitted to the ranks. Congratulations to Nicole Tassone from Raising the Standards, who was the intermediary between Bob's racing career (as Mossdale Allan) and his time as a trainee with Victoria Police. The story was told to a statewide audience by Tony Jones on National Nine News last Saturday night. Click here to view the full story which has received enormous recognition on the Raising the Standard's Facebook Page. TAB Promotions It's been pleasing to see some fabulous harness racing related TAB promotions in May, which will continue throughout June. The TAB's 'Trot Right In' campaign which runs every Friday night in May provides punters with a $10,000 Early Quaddie jackpot on the Tabcorp Park Melton meeting. The TAB has also run a number of special Fixed Odds markets every Friday night combining AFL footy with the Trots. There will be $10,000 First 4 pool guarantees on every race on Friday nights at Tabcorp Park Melton for the first three weekends in June. Cody Winnell HRV welcomes Cody Winnell to the position of Communications Manager. Cody is a very experienced journalist, formerly with the Leader Newspaper group. Importantly Cody is a keen harness racing follower and he will bring his professionalism and enthusiasm to the role. This is a very important appointment for HRV as we plan to provide more content to all forms of media to promote engagement in our sport. He will commence with HRV officially on May 26. Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden will continue with HRV, with their roles more focussed on wagering, providing tips and punting information through the Goodform platform. Welcome Cody and we wish you well in your new career. Lauriston Bloodstock I suspect you never know when you have reached the pinnacle of a profession however Lauriston Bloodstock principals Bill and Anne Anderson must feel they are pretty close. The Andersons have bred many handy types over the years, courtesy of their wise selection of broodmares. In what must be a first for the breeding industry the pair bred the winners of the lucrative APG Finals for both the fillies (Queen Of Pop) and the colts and geldings (Follow The Stars). In an added bonus Bill and Anne owned Queen Of Pop outright although their loyalties were somewhat divided as they also bred favoured runner Rosie OReilly. Follow The Stars for Mark Purdon looks to be something out of the box (Art Major - Smyrna Duruisseau). The Andersons look forward to the next crop from the mare by American Ideal (weanling) and Sportswriter (in foal). First Win Riina Maattanen, formerly of Finland, had her first ride in Australia at Shepparton on May 3. She was successful in the Monte aboard Sonofanearl. Good Luck Jonas Swedish born American based trainer Johan Czernyson was a welcome guest in Melbourne for the Great Southern Star, vowing to return in the future with a runner in the race. Since returning to the US Jonas' five-year-old trotting mare Maven has taken all before her. So much so she has been invited to contest the famed Elitlopp in Sweden on May 25. With no Australian participating we will be adopting Maven as our horse to follow. Vale Daryl Woolcock sadly passed on April 21 after a lifetime in the harness racing industry. Daryl held a trainer/driver license for several decades (HRV computer records commence in 1979) which only lapsed in 2013. He was well respected in the industry. One of the best horses Daryl was associated with came along late in his career when Pepperell Dancer won several feature trotting races in 2008. Ross Gigg - HRV was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Ross Gigg. Ross was a respected and popular manager of the Newcastle Club and would be well known to many Victorian participants. Ross suffered a heart attack at age 58. His later life was in harness racing administration. Prior to that he had been a top Rugby League player with Penrith Panthers (100 games between 1974 and 1984). Our condolences to the Gigg family. Frank Verstrepen - also sad to learn of Frank's sudden passing. He was the principal for Provideo, HRV's long-time vision provider. Provideo held the contract for 15 years until recently and Frank was a terrific supporter of the racing industry. Welcome HRV form guru Jason Bonnington and his wife Renee welcomed a baby girl Bella, on Friday May 9. Congratulations Jason! Did You Know? Chris Alford drove his 200th winner for the season (Australia wide) on Lennytheshark last Friday night (May 9) at Melton. It is the 14th time he has driver 200 winners in a season.

If there was an award for the best early season two-year-old then Artistic Flite would be leading the charge for Anton Golino and harness racing connections, but it won’t get any better for his rivals if the well-travelled horseman’s predictions are correct. After already snaring the Bathurst Gold Crown in tough fashion, his trainer is expecting improvement to come from the talented juvenile son of Artistic Fella. “He hasn’t put in a bad run, he’s pretty tough and I think every race he has won he’s sat outside the leader so he’s been pretty good from the start,” Golino said. “I think he will get better. By the end of the season you will see the best of him. “I don’t think he has ever really been wound up as far as I don’t do much with him in between runs so I can’t see why he won’t keep going.” And with the $322,000 APG final looming if he can navigate his way through Friday night’s semi-final, the challengers are lining up. Artistic Flite and Follow The Stars will renew acquaintances this week while Mach Doro will be lying in wait assuming he makes it through. “He was very good last start, he got into a little bit of trouble coming to the turn but he hit the front and I think he switched off a little. He came out of it super though,” Golino said.  “We’re going to have to try and get off the rail at some stage. I don’t give John any instructions though so whatever he chooses to do I’ll be fine with it.  “Ideally if we can make the final of the Gold and then bring him home for a little freshen up before the big races at the end of the season.” Artistic Flite, who also ran third in the Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial, has been rated the $4.50 second favourite by HRV form expert Jason Bonnington. Follow The Stars is the odds-on elect at $1.40 while Monivae is the only other horse in single figures at $6. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Australia

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