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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

Heats of the Victoria Oaks will be a headline of Friday night’s Anzac Day harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton but it might not be left to the Victorian’s to share the prize as Tasmanian invader Barynya crosses the Apple Isle. Following the clinic that Beautide has put on this season, confidence from down south is brimming but Dick Eaves remains cautiously optimistic as he tries to firstly qualify for, and then win, one of the classics. But there is reason to remain positive because the little filly, who is a half-sister to Lombo Navigator has won seven from 10 including her last six straight. They may all have been in Tasmania but a gritty win in the Tasmanian Oaks over Victorian filly Sandy Kay has set the scene for an intriguing showdown this Friday night. “It’s the same old story, when you go for these sort of races you come up against the best so whether she is capable of measuring up I guess we will find out on Friday,” Eaves said. “She had a pretty hard run in the Oaks over 2600 metres. She got dragged back and then she worked forward and sat outside the Victorian Sandy Kay and got the better of her in the straight and they got home in a pretty good last half. “It’s probably going to come down to how quick she can get home because some of those horses can run 26.5sec quarters so it’s going to be difficult.” The second row barrier might appear on paper as a further stumbling block however the respected Tasmanian trainer is of the opinion that it could be her greatest asset come race time. “I don’t mind the back row draw, coming off the trip over I think the best place for her is probably going to be trailing up and she’s proved that she can race in any style and still get the job done so I’m not too concerned. We will just be hoping for some hustle and bustle early.” Eaves said. “I think this filly has the ability to match up and I think the better class she races in, the better she will go. “We will head back to Tasmania after this but if she races well it will give us a good guide on the future because she is eligible for the Vicbred Super Series and the Breeders Crown.” Barynya has been marked a $14 fourth favourite with Harness Racing Victoria Form Expert Jason Bonnington with Whereibylong the $2.50 favourite over Mindarie Priddy at $3 and Quick Draft at $4.50. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Rising Ballarat trainer Mick Stanley has been involved with one or two good pacers in his relatively short career to date but it’s his life lessons in the sport that are now moulding Hilltop Hustler into potentially his best ever horses. Because temptation has been lingering to shoot for the stars with the talented gelding. He has shown potential that matches almost any horse in the state but Stanley’s cool hand has yet to release the breaks. A tilt at the Mildura Cup was his first Free For All foray but it didn’t end the way connections would have been hoping. In saying that, his trainer took plenty from the run. “Even after Mildura, where we didn’t have the best of luck, one thing Gavin (Lang) did say to me after the race was that you may have missed out on the cheque tonight but make sure you look after him and he will have a good future next year,” Stanley said. “To hear that from a guy like Gavin who has driven so many group horses and great horses, it just gives me a bit of confidence that we’re heading in the right direction with him.” For now though, Hilltop Hustler will push on to the Warragul Cup where he will have to take on potential Country Cup Kings Arber and Savesomtimetodream. And even Stanley knows that the expected drop in grade will still present its own problems. “I wouldn’t say any Cup around Victoria is a step down, they’re all hard to win but my fella is racing in good form and Warragul was a target because it’s drawn on class so he should draw better than a few of his rivals which makes it a nice race for him,” he said. “I’ve always had a big opinion of him and looked after him so I can get the best out of him.” Sunday might be the conclusion of a big weekend for the stable but Saturday is where everything begins. Smart two-year-old filly Soho Tokyo heads to Menangle in the hope of moving through to the final of the APG. The rich feature race has been on the radar for Stanley for quite a while and his opinion of the filly suggest she will be hard to beat in both heat and final. “I do love this filly, she’s just a beautiful filly to deal with, there’s no fuss about her. She’s a real professional and she just gets the job done,” he said. “I was rapt with the heat run and I think I have her peaking at the right time. We’ve got a nice barrier for the semi-final so hopefully we can progress through and I think I’ve got a filly that’s a live chance to win the final that’s for sure.”

Washington Heritage may be all the talk in tomorrow night’s Mildura Pacing Cup after winning 13 from his first 14 starts but Geoff Webster’s affinity with the week-long carnival has become almost impossible to resist. He of course trained pacer-turned-trotter Mister Zion to win the 2010 Mildura  Pacing Cup before he made the switch. And last season Flaming Flutter crushed his rivals in the Mildura Guineas while this year he has already cruised to a win in his Cup heat on Tuesday night. Now, the stage is set for a showdown of epic proportions as the pair square off again for one of the biggest regional features of the year; Flaming Flutter drawn three, Washington Heritage in seven. The leading Bannockburn trainer couldn’t be happier with his charge going into the race. “He had an easy trip in his heat, it really was a good lead in to the final,” Webster said. “He hasn’t really fulfilled his potential yet; he is always on the improve and he just keeps taking the next step so I’m sure whatever he does this season he be in the top level without any problems next year. “He’s only a four-year-old so probably the Breeders Crown later in the year is his main aim so whether I give him a break now I’m not quite sure but at the end of the day he will have a break after the Crown.” But Webster might have his greatest thrill for the weekend a world away at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. The exquisitely bred Mach Doro, a half-brother to Fly Like An Eagle, will tune up for the APG semi-finals when he takes on a small field in his heat. Webster isn’t one for making brash statements but his assessment of the debutante winner is enough to make most stand up and take notice.  “He’s the best two-year-old I’ve had, he’s got gait speed and he is very well-mannered, he just ticks all the boxes. It’s going to take a very good horse to beat him,” he said. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

Harness Racing Victoria has today released the racing calendar until June 30, 2015. And in a landmark decision the SEW Victoria Cup has been shifted to coincide with harness racing's most famous race - the Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup. The Victoria Cup will be run on Saturday night January 31, one week before the Hunter Cup on February 7, offering an unforgettable two weekends of pacing action, showcasing the best horses in Australasia as they vie for $800,000 on their way to the Inter Dominion Final in Sydney in early March. Victoria Cup night will also feature the heats of the Victoria Derby, with the final to be held on Hunter Cup night. As part of the change, the Ballarat Cup will move from January to December 13, in place of where the Victoria Cup has been held in recent years while the Ballarat track will again host Semi-Final night for the Breeders Crown, this year on August 16. "The movement of the Victoria Cup to one week before the Hunter Cup provides a great opportunity for HRV and our main Metropolitan venue - Tabcorp Park Melton, to build these two Fabulous weekends into Australasia's biggest harness racing carnival", HRV CEO John Anderson said. "At the same time, the change not only gives Ballarat the opportunity to develop a mouth-watering feast of Christmas racing, but also allows us to develop one of the great regional carnivals in December with two sensational Group 1 Country Cups a week a part - the Cranbourne Pacing Cup on Saturday night December 6 and the Ballarat Cup on December 13. "The restructuring of the race program will assist both Tabcorp Park Melton and Ballarat to maximise attendance, wagering, media coverage and hospitality sales." The amendments now dictate a period of exceptional harness racing between January 31 and early March which will house the Victoria and Hunter Cups, a Victoria Derby, an Inter Dominion Final in NSW on March 1, plus a Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star. The total number of meetings for the year will increase by 4 to 460 with no material change to the number of meetings conducted by any single club. BLAKE REDDEN COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER [Harness Racing Victoria]

With the announcement last week by the Premier the Hon. Dr. Dennis Napthine that the Victorian Government have extended further funding support to the VICBRED Platinum program, details are now finalised with regard to the inaugural running of the VICBRED Platinum Home Grown Classic 2YO Series. The additional series has been designed in consultation with Harness Breeders Victoria and the Victorian State Government and will specifically support Victorian bred and branded 2YO & 3YO horses who are yet to win stakes above a prescribed total stakes threshold of $6,000 at acceptance time for the heats (excluding VICBRED First Win Bonuses). Stakes for the races will be spread more broadly with winners taking 50% of the total stake and the balance shared down to last, ensuring that stakes are shared at the grass roots. The inaugural VICBRED Platinum Home Grown Classic 2YO Series, to be conducted in May, will comprise of divisions for colts & geldings and fillies, and will be run for both pacers and trotters. Due to the requirement to conduct this new series within the current financial year and an already congested feature race schedule, the Tatlow series will be relocated and be run later in the season at a time yet to be confirmed. Each division of the new series will comprise of $10,325 Heats into $50,000 Finals. The schedule for the inaugural series will be as follows: Thursday 8 May (Bendigo) - 2YO Pacing Colts & Geldings Heats ($10,325) Thursday 15 May (Geelong @ Tabcorp Park) - 2YO Pacing Fillies Heats ($10,325) Friday 16 May (Tabcorp Park) - 2YO Pacing Colts & Geldings Final ($50,000) Wednesday 21 May (Maryborough) - 2YO Trotting Colts & Geldings and 2YO Trotting Fillies Heats ($10,325) Friday 23 May (Tabcorp Park) - 2YO Pacing Fillies Final ($50,000) Friday 30 May (Tabcorp Park) - 2YO Trotting Colts & Geldings Final ($50,000) and 2YO Trotting Fillies Final ($50,000) To compete horses will need to be VICBRED Platinum eligible (VICBRED and Branded in Victoria) and must not have won more than $6,000 in total stakes at acceptance time for the heats. The inclusion of this new 2YO series and a similar 3YO series in September will see an additional $750,000 allocated to the VICBRED Platinum Program over the next 2 years. This is over and above the already successful VICBRED Platinum Country Series, Mares Sprint Championship Series and Metropolitan races. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria)

It was a stunning harness racing final of the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star and Keystone Del outsprinted his more highly fancied contemporary to claim the $300,000 final. Starting from barrier one, race favourite Stent held up from the inside, working to hold out the early challengers. In a surprise, Keystone Del was shuffled back early as Cold Sister and eventually Blitzthemcalder worked around to find the breeze. But when the pressure went on it was Stent turning for home in front with an ominous figuring looming up out wide in Keystone Del. The ex-kiwi son of Dr Ronerail had to fight hard for it but struck the lead halfway up the lane and continued to grind him to take the race in 1:56.5. Stent held second from My High Expectations and Zedalite who got home into fourth. With the quinella showing form counts for everything after winning their heats, the second ever Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star will go down in history as another war of attrition. Keystone Del is trained by former kiwi Nicole Molander and was driven by usual driver Blake Fitzpatrick. Keystone Del has had an incredible six weeks taking the Glenferrie Farm Challenge and the heat and final of Saturday night’s race. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

The Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed For Speed Gold, Silver and Bronze harness racing series’ have become one of the key facets of Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star night and it only solidified its place in 2014. Spidergirl stole the show in a brilliant display in the Gold Final, handling her rivals with ease in a speedy mile rate of 1:56.8. Drawn outside the second row, she was forced to work mid-race to the breeze before handing that position over to her stablemate Vics Cheval. In a race changes Death Defying found the front in the opening stages before handing over to Quite A Moment who in turn allowed Shes An Image to stride clear. In the burn off the back Spidergirl re-emerged into the running line and loomed up to hit the front at the top of the straight. Charging clear from firstly Waikare Patricia who came into the race three-wide and then Josephine Jones who was running home. Spidergirl went on to win the Group 2 by 2.5 metres from Josephine Jones with Quite A Moment sneaking up along the pegs into third. The last half came in 58.1secs. Maori Time may have shown during her three-year-old season that she was first class, but her return to take on the older mares through the Lyn McPherson Breed For Speed Silver series has cemented hers as a mare on the rise. Drawn barrier four, she trotted to the front and turned it on, rating 1:58.8 for the mile. With major danger Queens Vacation enjoying the run behind the leader throughout, it appeared a battle was ready to erupt heading to the corner but Chris Lang’s six-time winner put it beyond doubt. Cruising home by 3.1 metres, Maori Time finished off in a 57.9secs last half and took her prizemoney past the $60,000 level. The Bronze final was taken to odds-on favourite Dizzyinterest who outclassed her rivals from the chair. In a mile rate of 2:00.5, she made amends for her mistake in the heat, going on to score from Nomistakingpegasus by 3.9 metres. The sprint trip was conquered in even quarters of 29.2secs, 30.9secs, 30.8secs and 30.3secs. A strong competitor through her three-year-old season, the David Aiken-trained mare showed she is back to her best and read to race through her classes after capturing the $10,000 final. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Kiwi raider Stent stamped himself as the nominal harness racing Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star favourite with a comfortable win in the first elimination heat. Beginning swiftly from barrier one, he held the early challenge of Tender Don at bay before trotting strongly throughout to hold Aleppo Midas who sat parked for the last lap. The quinella cleared out from Cold Sister who ran home into third to secure her place in the final while I See Icy Earl rattled home into fourth after having a soft run. In an almost track-record time, Stent rated 1:56.0 for the mile having completed quarters of 29.1secs, 30.6secs, 28.9secs and 27.6secs. With the win comes the added bonus of first choice of barriers for the final, as long as the second heat winner doesn’t equal or break the time recorded by Stent. Keystone Del charges into final The second of the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star heats went to Keystone Del in what was a slower time than Stent but no less impressive. From the one by one position, Blake Fitzpatrick simply sat and waited as Flying Isa lead from the pole with My High Expectations parked outside him. The pair turned it on off the back and when the gaps came for Keystone Del he loomed up and charged to the front halfway down the straight, racing to victory in a time of 1:56.6. My High Expectations battled on for second while Zedalite was produced along the sprint lane to snag a certain position in the final. The barrier draw for the final will be conducted at around 8pm on track. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

David Aiken may have a strong hand in the night’s feature race, but it is his undercard that could provide the biggest success for the Avenel trainer. Like Brad Pitt walking down Hollywood Boulevard, Aiken will have a bevy of beautiful women hanging off his arms in the form of trotting mares. And of his runners, it could be an almost clean sweep of the podium with representation in the Lyn McPherson Memorial Gold and Bronze series’. Vics Cheval and Spidergirl will be the leading lights as they fight for favouritism with TAB fixed odds for the Group 2 Gold Series final which allows automatic entry into next year’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star heats. And not just that, they will be shooting for a $3,000 bonus for running a race record and an extra $10,000 if they can break the track record. For now though, the master training will be content with having his girls on song come Saturday night. “Both the mares were really good in their work this week. They are obviously out the draw which makes it a bit tough. We were trying to get Spidergirl back in the draw but she was out of position last week which didn’t help,” Aiken said. “Spidergirl I thought her run was terrific. Both her and Cold Sister made 10 metres up the back straight when they went a 58.6 quarter. “Vics Cheval has really come ahead but I’ve never really put her in the same class. In saying that, I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them won.” Aiken’s Bronze runner, Dizzyinterest, had a torrid run in her heat, galloping at the start before working to the top mid-race and then fading for sixth. That was her first-up run however and she was backed into odds-on so the signs are clear that she has returned to the track in good style. And given her form as a three-year-old, her trainer has no doubt she is up to Saturday night’s race. “She can be a little erratic at times and breaking at the gate she did a lot of work to find the front. She finished off okay in fourth and it was only her first run back so she should be better for it,” Aiken said. “As a three-year-old she wasn’t far behind Vics Cheval with Spidergirl better than them. She can do things wrong but she has her fair share of ability.” The last of the team’s runners on the night is Im Havinaball who has drawn the outside of the front row in the Princess Of Speed. Having to take on Claudys Princess, things aren’t going to be easy for the lightly raced three-year-old but Aiken does rate her ability. “She keeps improving and I think up the track she will narrow the gap to Claudys Princess,” he said. “She is the benchmark filly at the moment so to run second to her the other day was pleasing. My filly has a lot of experience to gain in terms of her gait but I do really like her.” By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

As David Aiken’s reputation as one of Victoria’s best trainers grows, so too does his affinity with the squaregaiter. In many ways, just as trotting as a whole have, Aiken has pinned his badge to the gait which is used exclusively across Scandinavia. And it’s starting to pay rewards. He has developed My High Expectations from a solid performer up north, to one of Australia’s best and brightest in just 18 months. And his other stable star, Cold Sister, has stamped herself as one of the top two of her sex as she contests a second Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star. She will be the first of Aiken’s Group 1 double to step out when she takes on the first elimination heat at 7pm and from barrier six, it’s might turn out to be the front or bust for connections. “She has that early speed so over the short trip we will see how it pans out but we usually go forward with her and try to find someone to sit on. That would probably be the plan I’d say,” Aiken said. “It’s a great race to be a part of and she has shown she has been competitive with the boys. It was a hard decision but we made the same decision last year and we didn’t regret it.” In fact, both of Aiken’s squaregaiting stars ran in the race last year and My High Expectations showed that he was capable in the big league on this night 12 months ago. Last week in the Australian Trotting Grand Prix he was stuck three wide – albeit with cover – for most of the journey. “It was just one of those races that didn’t pan out. Chris (Lang) probably drove to get the good sit on us with Kyvalley Blur but then he was hung out three wide and that put us wide for the last mile and then Chris couldn’t take me into it,” Aiken said. “I thought his run was very good last week. There’s a lot of speed inside but I think I’ll be going forward to get a spot there somewhere. “It’s a really even series with Stent and Flying Isa, Blitzthemcalder so it’s pretty strong but I couldn’t be happier with my bloke.” My High Expectations is $6 to win the series with TAB fixed odds while value punters will be able to secure $51 about Cold Sister to take the title.       By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

The Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star is still in its infant state but after making waves on the international stage in its inaugural year 12 months ago, the scene is set for another classic. With the prizemoney for the final topped up to $300,000, taking the entire series to $400,000, it has already become the most sought after trotting race in the southern hemisphere. And one combination that will be vying for a share in the stakes is Elegant Image and Kate Gath. The pair combined last year to run second in both their heat and final but that was when the horse was nowhere near his best. Now, he is flying; coming off a win in the Group 1 Knight Pistol a fortnight ago, Gath couldn’t have wished for anything more, except perhaps a better barrier in their elimination heat. .“What can you do? You’ve just got to go out there and do your best and be optimistic. It’s not going to be easy; we’re going to have our work cut out,” Gath said on RSN’s industry leading program Gait Speed on Tuesday. “He was trotting terribly in last year’s Great Southern Star so he did quite a job to finish where he did because he just had no rhythm. At the moment I’m really happy with him, if we just get a tiny bit of luck in the heat I’m sure we can make the final.” Even that might be enough because in a race that’s so very different from every other on the calendar, connections choose their own barrier in order of where they finished in the qualifiers. So finishing fifth and scraping into the final will almost certainly guarantee a poor barrier. And in a race with so many top line squaregaiters, that could be a crucial blow heading into the race run just three hours after the first heat. In saying that, Gath sees no reason Elegant Image won’t have the pick of the barriers despite being a $10 chance in his heat with TAB fixed odds. “He feels terrific. He had a couple of little issues in between his form of a few months ago which made it difficult but thankfully it appears we’ve been able to resurrect him and everything is on song again now,” She said. “I was happy with his run in Sydney and although Keystone Del was unlucky in the Knight Pistol, we did all the work in the death so I was really happy with that run too.” As for preparation in between heat and final, it will be an almost well-worn path for the six-year-old gelding. “We walked him a little bit in between last year but he always works heats and he seems to go much better in the second heat so it’s sort of what he’s used to even though the gap will be bigger if he does qualify,” Gath said. Elegant Image is an $18 chance with TAB Fixed Odds to win the second-ever running of the Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star with the final set down for 10pm. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

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