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The going will get a little tough and that will see only the tough get going at Yarra Valley tomorrow, according to trainer Brent Lilley who will be among the thousands enjoying grass track racing’s Victorian return tomorrow. The former Kiwi’s well accustomed to grass track trots from his New Zealand roots and has a trotter running in each of tomorrow’s two standing starts on the turf. “It’s great,” Lilley said. “I wish there was more of it.” The going will likely be lush after 30 millimetres of rain fell in the area since Saturday, with Lilley predicting the 1950-metre trots will be a test of the fittest. “I think the distance between the first horse and the last will be big, a lot will get tired,” he said. “It will probably be an advantage to those who have raced on it before, it can be pretty taxing. If there’s a bit of rain about you wouldn’t want to have pads under their shoes because it can become slippery.” Both races will feature in extended coverage of the raceday on thetrots.com.au’s Trots Vision which will be live from the first at 10.44am, with host Paul Campbell roving on-course to deliver the pre- and post-race interviews on a huge Melbourne Cup Day celebration at the Yarra Valley. Lilley said “it’s a great day” and was hopeful his grass track entrants would deliver bold showings, including Trotting Rockstar, who steps out as the backmarker (off 20 metres) in the United Petroleum Trotters Handicap at 12.36pm. “Trotting Rockstar started off on the wrong foot last week,” Lilley said of the five-year-old, who began badly when resuming from a spell at Bendigo last Tuesday. “He made up a bit of ground without being thrashed about and I think he’s my best chance.” It will be Trotting Rockstar’s first go on the grass, while stablemate Belles Son will have his fourth career start on the turf when he steps out for the De Bortoli Trotters Handicap at 2.35pm. The nine-year-old Majestic Son gelding was third at Motukarara Raceway in November 2016 before running sixth and eighth in Group 3 races on the Christchurch grass track. “He had no issues with the grass back home,” Lilley said. “But he’s not going as good as he was in his heyday, his best days are probably behind him.” Amid a busy national racing schedule, the day’s first three races (10.44am, 11.19am and 11.59am) will feature on Sky Racing 1, while the remaining six races will be on Sky Racing 2. All nine races will stream on Trots Vision amid live, free and extended coverage.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

IF you’re a fan of the NZ Cup, then make sure you tune in a race at Penrith in suburban Sydney on Thursday night. One of Australia’s most exciting young pacers Ignatius kick-starts a campaign which will see him tackle the NZ Cup and then the Auckland Inter Dominion. “We’re very keen on the NZ Cup, especially with the Inters starting just a couple of weeks later,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “Plus, Gareth (Rattray, Jimmy’s brother) gave him a few standing-start runs back in Tassie and he really handled it well.” Ignatius won his Chariots Of Fire lead-up then drew poorly in the big one itself and finished down the track. He’s been freshened since. “He’s been working well at home, pleased with a strong trial win in 1min53sec and change last Tuesday and he’s ready to go,” Rattray said. “The problem we have at Penrith is the draw. Inside the back around that tight track could be tricky. “But the time I took him to Penrith he went as good as he ever has in any race, anywhere. It was an amazing win, so I know he loves the little track.” Ignatius has opened $3 second elect on the Aussie TAB with the older and in-form Ellmers Image $2.80 favourite from outside the back row. This Renshaw Cup is a ripper with other class runners including Brent Lilley’s recent Kiwi import Sicario (gate five, $5) and Kevin Pizzuto’s Harness Jewels hopeful Picard (six, $5). Beyond Penrith, Ignatius will head to the one-time Grand Circuit race – the $65,000 Group 2 Treuer Memorial – at Bankstown on April 26. “Then it’s into the Breeders Challenge series before we decide on whether to take him to Queensland for their winter features or rest him and focus just on NZ. He could do both,” Rattray said. “He really enjoyed that little freshen-up after the Chariots and it’s exciting to have him back racing again.”   Adam Hamilton

CHICAGO Bull just continues doing everything right heading towards the New Zealand Cup. The pint-sized superstar stretched his unbeaten run this season to seven wins with another easy and dominant display at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The horse they call “mini Quinny” in WA, has won 11 of his past 12 starts and was only beaten a whisker in the other. There is no doubt he’s the best pacer in this part of the world right now. And he’s only got one more run at home at Gloucester Park before heading to Melbourne for the Victoria Cup across the Tasman for the NZ Cup. “He runs again here on Friday week, then it’s across to Melbourne where we will stay with Daniel Jack for the Victoria Cup,’ Hall Sr said. After the October 13 Victoria Cup, Chicago Bull heads to NZ via Auckland for an Alexandra Park standing start on October 26. Hall Sr said he planned to run Chicago Bull in both the NZ Cup and the NZ Free-For-All on the Friday. “If he misses anything it will be the Inter Dominioon because is the money is not huge and he’s got the two big races at home in January,” Hall Sr said. “I’d love to run in the Inter Dom because the race means so much, but the prizemoney isn’t great and if something has to give, that’ll be it.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ TIGER Tara will need to do something and quickly to return to the NZ Cup after his fantastic placing last year. Kevin Pizzuto’s stable star has been winless in three runs this campaign and looked a shadow of himself in the free-for-all at Menangle last night. He drew wide, settled last in a hotly run race and made no impact before finishing 5.5m from the winner in seventh spot. The race was run by Steve Turnbull’s emerging talent Joes Star Of Mia, who gunned-down the in-form My Alpha Rock for an upset in a 1min50.3sec mile. My Alpha Rock worked hard to find the front from a wide draw in a 26.9sec opening quarter and kept finding for Lauren Tritton, but Joes Star Of Mia nabbed victory by a nose in the last stride. ____________________________________________________________________________________ NEW Zealand Cup plans for Queensland’s best pacer, Alleluia, will be a lot clearer by the end of this week. Owner Greg Mitchell has set Wednesday as D-Day. “It’s been a lifetime dream to have a runner in the NZ Cup. I’m really looking to experiencing the whole event,” he said. Alleluia won four on end at Albion Park before storming home from a bad draw and hopeless position for fourth in the free-for-all last night. It’s certainly the right year to chase the NZ Cup with some big names either having gone amiss or been sold to the US. WA’s Chicago Bull is the horse to beat and much interest will surround Ultimate Machete when he returns to racing next month for the All Stars barn. ____________________________________________________________________________________ IF you get the chance, take a look at Gods Spirit in the third race at Menangle on Tuesday. The former Kiwi, who won his only NZ start before being sold to Team Tritton, has looked fantastic winning all three runs for the new barn so far. Shane Tritton has declared him a serious Chariots of Fire horse. Gods Spirit’s three wins have been by an aggregate 53.9 metres and he’s paced miles in 1min51.0sec, 1min51.7sec and 1min50.9sec. “He’s something else. Now it’s about teaching to become a complete racehorse before he goes into the big races. The ability is there,” Tritton said. “The trick with our handicapping system now is that’s only four wins away from being in fast-class at Menangle. If he keeps winning he’ll get there after just eight runs. “That makes it tricky to teach him along the way.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ HE might be an 11-year-old now, but Kyvalley Blur may never have raced better. The US-bred member of Brent Lilley’s barn made a one-act affair of the Group 3 True Roman free-for-all at Melton in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2240m last night. It was his fourth win from his past five starts and the only defeat was a top second to the now sadly sidelined star Sparkling Success. Last night’s win capped a milestone for Kyvalley Road, who stormed past the $500,000 barrier. Lilley “owned” the race with the first four runners home. El Paco, Any Old Way and Conon Bridge were next across the line in order. Despite his years, Kyvalley Blur looks every bit a major player in the upcoming resurrection of the Inter Dominion trotting series in Victoria. ____________________________________________________________________________________ INTERESTING move in Tasmania with the state’s marquee race, the Tasmania Cup, switching back from a mobile to standing-start handicap on March 16, 2019. Horses will need to contest qualifying heats the week before to qualify. “There will be a 40m maximum backmark,” added Harness Racing Tasmanian spokesman Duncan Dornauf. ____________________________________________________________________________________ IT is amazing to think Love Ina Chevy was on death’s door for the best part of a week from a snake bite to his mouth less than three years ago. Trainer Lance Justice held 24-hour vigils, day after day, as his prospects of surviving continued to fluctuate. Eventually he turned the corner. Now he’s winning the fast-class races at Melton. Love Ina Chevy underlined his career-best form when he posted his third Melton win from his past five starts in the fifth event last night. And he did so after sitting behind the leader and main danger, Audi Hare, and still having enough “ping” to gun him down in a closing 26.8sec quarter at the end of a 1min54.0sec mile rate for 1720m. Unthinkably, Justice has every reason to aim for the Melbourne Inter Dominion series given Love Ina Chevy’s improvement, gate speed and versatility.   Adam Hamilton

A pair of former Kiwis combined with Australia’s greatest to win the $75,000 Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Derby at Maryborough. Brent Lilley, who has trained more than 700 winners since calling Australia home, and his recent Kiwi import Stress Factor joined forces with champion driver Chris Alford. It was a huge and immediate reward for the syndicate who just recently bought Stress Factor from the All Stars’ barn to move to Lilley’s barn in Victoria. The syndicate includes Fred Crews of Maori Time fame along with John Wilkinson, Bruce and Denise Morrison, Gary Dowling and Robert Owen. Just as he did winning his first Aussie start eight days earlier, Stress Factor showed good gate speed and found the lead, but this time he was hard for Alford to rate in front. “I’d like to have gone slower, but he was keen and wanted to keep rolling,” Alford told Trots Vision after the win. “They don’t get the chance to race much over 2600m if ever – just today – it’s hard to know if they’re going to finish it off and all of those ones back in the field are in the same boat. “I thought we were holding on pretty good until about the last 50 (metres). Kyvalley Finn did rush though really quickly, but I did thing we hung on on the line.” Only a few weeks back Alford was in the box seat to win the Derby with his own stable star Wobelee before injury hit. “Luckily this horse came along and I was able to continue my good record with Lil (Lilley),” Alford said. Next stop for Stress Factor is the Breeders Crown. Alford/Lilley also combined for an easy win with rejuvenated veteran Kyvalley Blur in the free-for-all. As usual, Alford summed the race up superbly on the rising 11-year-old when he blast around the field midrace to take the lead and went on to easily beat the very classy Sparkling Eyes by 10.2m in a 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2190m. Kyvalley Blur, a US-bred who started his career with Chris Lang Sr, has now won 26 races and more than $475,000 from his 110 starts. Lilley finished Australia’s biggest all-trotting meeting with four wins after El Paco won the opening event and On Fast Forward won race five. _______________________________________________________________________ TOP Aussie trotter Sparkling Success didn’t win first-up at Maryborough, but he left the track a winner. This season’s Great Southern Star winner has officially been invited and accepted the challenge to tackle the $US1 million Yonkers International Trot in the US on October 13. Victorian farmer and hobby trainer John Meade and his wife Mary gleefully accepted the invite. “We’ve got everything in place. We’re doing this,” Mary said. “We’ll head across in mid-September.” _______________________________________________________________________ WHEN Emilio and Mary Rosati bred Emerald Stride they had every reason to be optimistic the filly would win a seriously big race. After all, Emerald Stride is by Bettors Delight out of Emilios Stride, who is a half-sister to Well Said, a former US Pacer of the Year. But although Emerald Stride did qualify as a pacer he wasn’t quick slick enough according to trainer-driver David Miles and, after a nudge driver Rod Petroff after driving her in a trial, Miles opted to switch her to trotting. Just a few months later she snared Australia’s most prized juvenile trotting race, the Group 1 Redwood Classic. “I always thought she was a trotter, but she was paid-up for the APG and it’s a lot of money to pay up for those series, so we tried to get her to that series,” Miles told Trots Vision. “She trialled as a pacer at Bendigo one morning and Rod Petroff drove her and said ‘I think she’s a trotter.’ “A week later she went to Melton and ran a mile in five, they don’t that after only having the trotting shoes on for a week.” The win was a huge buzz for Rosati. “Winning any big race is great, but Mary loves the trotters so winning this race is extra special,” he said. _______________________________________________________________________ TIM and Anthony Butt were left wondering what might have been after their emerging three-year-old trotter Majestic Courtney completed a hattrick of wins and strolled home in the fourth race at Maryborough. Majestic Courtney hadn’t quite done in his only three starts to make the Victoria Trotters’ Derby field and was first emergency, but didn’t gain a start. Instead he tackled a virtual “consolation” and won as he liked by 11.9m in a 2min1sec mile rate for 2190m. In windy conditions, Majestic Courtney’s mile rate stacked-up well against the 2min3.3sec Stress Factor went over the longer 2690m of the Derby.   Adam Hamilton

The stress factor hit fever pitch in the final strides but Brent Lilley’s recent addition held off fast-finishing Kyvalley Finn to claim the Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby. Stress Factor delivered Lilley his fourth victory of the day, following earlier Redwood Day success with El Paco, On Fast Forward and Kyvalley Blur, with the Derby winner holding on by a half-head for driver Chris Alford and new owners John Wilkinson, Fred Crews, Bruce Morrison, Denise Morrison, Gary Dowling and Robert Owen. The syndicate purchased the Majestic Son gelding in June and he went three-from-three with today’s Group 1 triumph at Maryborough. “Victorian Derbys are always something you aspire to win and to pull it off was great,” Lilley told Trots Vision post-race. “He looked like he was holding them off fairly comfortably but (Kyvalley Finn) come late. We were all pleased the line come up when it did.” Alford worked to the lead from gate three, with Andy Gath’s polemarker Reils taking leader’s back and his stablemate Scallywag Sam sitting in the breeze, punching a back-straight head wind that had challenged front runners throughout the day. Despite little pressure on the leader throughout the 2690m long-distance Derby the pace remained honest. “Probably could have gone a bit slower, but he just wanted to keep rolling along pretty strong,” Alford said. “They don’t get a chance to race much over 2600m if ever – just today – it’s hard to know if they’re going to finish it off and all of the ones back in the field are in the same boat. “I thought we were holding on pretty good until about the last 50. (Kyvalley Finn) did rush through really quick but I did think we hung on on the line.” For Alford the result will ease some of the pain of having his usual drive for this class, Wobelee, sidelined by injury, and Stress Factor appears well poised to deliver more success for connections. “He was really brave,” Alford said. “He really fought it out well. He did a good job and hopefully he can keep going for the Breeders Crown.” Michael Howard for Trots Media

The reigning Great Southern Star champion, Sparkling Success, has been invited to compete in the US $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway in New York on October 13 after resuming from a five month break at Maryborough this afternoon. The six-year old son of Great Success was issued the invitation by Yonkers Raceway’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Bob Galterio and the Racing Secretary Steve Starr and was immediately accepted by trainer John Meade. “I’m being realistic, I’m a dairy farmer from country Victoria taking on some of the best trainers in the world, some people would say I’m no chance of winning over there but what an opportunity this is going to be,” Meade said. “I’ve got nothing to lose, my wife Mary and I have decided to sell the cows and from the end of August we won’t have to worry about milking them anymore. “I’m not someone who can sit on my backside for long so I’ll concentrate on getting the farm right and train a few horses and what better way to spend the first few months of not having to worry about milking the cows by spending some time in the USA.” Sparkling Success is expected to leave Australia on September 15 and Meade will meet the gelding on arrival. “I haven’t travelled horses before so I have a lot of talking to other trainers to do, Brent Lilley is at Maryborough today so I’ll be having a chat to him about how he got Maori Time across to Sweden in such good condition. “I wouldn’t mind having a chat to Mark Purdon at some stage as well because he travels his horses quite a fair bit so hopefully I get the chance to bump into him between now and when I leave.” Meade confirmed the short term goal will be the Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Melton, a race he beat Maori Time in last year. “The Breeders Crown race would be nice to win again, he won it narrowly last year and it is on a couple of weeks before he leaves so it fits in nicely. “I am going to stay with Jonas Czernyson while I’m in New York, Duncan McPherson from Aldebaran Park has already made contact with me and offered to help me out which is great because I haven’t dealt with too many people in America before. “If everything goes to plan in the USA I might leave Sparkling Success there until Christmas, he needs to do five weeks quarantine before he can come back to Australia, so if I brought him home straight away after Yonkers he will miss the Inter Dominion anyway, I guess it all depends on how he is going, if he is racing competitively it makes sense to stay.” Harness Racing Australia Chief Executive Andrew Kelly believes the invitation was another step forward for Australian trotting. “To have Maori Time competing in the Elitloppet and now Sparkling Success invited to the International Trot in the same calendar year should be a clear indication how much the Australian trotting industry is respected on the world stage,” Kelly said. “On another issue it is great to see as soon as an opportunity like this arises, men with international experience like Aldebaran Park’s Duncan McPherson offering their assistance to John and Mary with Sparkling Success.” Greg Hayes

A largely stress-free victory on Saturday night has set Brent Lilley’s latest purchase on a smooth path towards Sunday’s Seelite Windows and Doors Victoria Trotters Derby. Stress Factor found the front in Saturday night’s SBG Accountants 3YO Trot for reinsman Chris Alford and held off fast-finishing Majestic Player to salute ahead of a number of likely Derby opponents, including third-placed Anywhere Hugo and fourth-placed Kyvalley Finn. “He was really good,” Alford told Trots Vision post-race. “He raced in all the good races in New Zealand and then has been purchased by Brent and his clients. He’s done a good job and was really strong tonight.” The hit-out at Tabcorp Park was Stress Factor’s Australian debut, having previously raced in New Zealand for co-trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, for whom he produced three wins in eight starts and ran fourth in the 3YO Ruby on Harness Jewels day, finishing 1.4m behind Alford’s third-placed Wobelee. “He seemed to wait for them a little bit, I’m pretty sure that’s just because he hasn’t had a run for a little bit,” Alford said. “Brent said his work at home, he feels like a nice horse. He’s got the Derby next weekend and then hopefully on to the Breeders Crown, he should just keep getting better.” Michael Howard

Another Gloucester Park meeting, another easy win for the NZ Cup-bound Chicago Bull. Gary Hall Sr’s five-year-old made it three cosy wins from as many starts this campaign when he led from the pole and was never out of second gear at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Chicago Bull zipped home in 26.8sec with driver Gary Hall Jr just sitting against him in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 2130m. It was a Hall Sr quinella with the emerging Runrunjimmydunn sitting behind Chicago Bull and running second, while the talented Galactic Star ran a brave third after parking outside the champ. “He’ll have another a couple of runs, then a freshen-up before we lock-in travel plans. I’d like to go to the Victoria Cup on the way to NZ. The timing works if it fits the available flights,” Hall Sr said. ______________________________________________________________________ BRENT Lilley’s new Kiwi import Stress Factor is the one to beat in next Sunday’s Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Derby. That was clear after the former All Stars’ trotter made an impressive Aussie winning debut for new trainer Brent Lilley. Stress Factor showed great manners and gate speed with Chris Alford aboard to work forward and take the lead and went on to win by 2.3m in a 1min59.4sec for 2240m. The eye-catching run was Anton Golino’s Majestic Player, who stormed home from midfield to finish second. Highly-rated local Anywhere Hugo finished third, but would need to improve sharply to be a major player in the Derby. ______________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton has no regrets about skipping the recent Queensland Carnival with his emerging star Gotta Go Ya Hu. The four-year-old son of Big Jim made it two sparkling wins in a row at Menangle when he blasted home from last to win running away by 5.2m in a 1min51.3sec mile. “We think he’s our next really top horse, but we made the decision to keep him back from the big races and let him learn,” Tritton said. “Of course you look back at those Queensland races and wonder. I think he’s match it with anything racing right now, he’s got this amazing speed, but we will turn him loose next campaign.” In contrast to most Tritton horses, Gotta Go Ya Hu excels when driven from back in the field, as shown by his past two wins. Suited by the leaders blazing a 54.2sec first half, Gotta Go Ya Hu stormed around the field to win easily. “You’ll note how we drive him and you’ll see more of our horses driven like that. While it’s worked to be aggressive and on the speed, we’re a bit sick of being the bunny for others,” Tritton said. ______________________________________________________________________ MOST Kiwis know Our Golden Goddess has always had the potential to be one of the best mares in Australasia. And now two sparkling wins this campaign have her firmly headed in that direction for trainer-driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old Art Major mare toyed with her rivals last night at Melton, the highlight being a staggering 26.2sec closing quarter. Manning had a big night after earlier leading throughout for an impressive but upset win aboard Tough Call in the Group 3 TAB Multiplier final, beating highly-rated Jilliby Bandit on his merits. ______________________________________________________________________ ONE of the biggest stories of this year’s hugely successful Queensland Winter Carnival has been the massive interstate flavour. Queenslanders are used to raiders snatching their major races, but this year trainers like Chris Frisby, Craig Cross and Kerry Ann Turner sent teams up from NSW and had a massive influence. Of course the now NSW-based Tim Butt won the Blacks A Fake with Let It Ride and Amanda Turnbull also came from NSW to win the Sunshine Sprint with Tact Tate. Even last night, NSW raiders won four of the 10 races and Luke McCarthy, who has enjoyed a stellar stint up north, drove three winners. “It’s been a huge success story this Carnival,” Albion Park chief Damian Raedler said. “Betting figures have soared, the media coverage has been outstanding and there is a real buzz around.” ______________________________________________________________________ ROBBIE Morris returned home from his successful three-week Queensland stint to reunite with fiancé Kerry Ann Turner and the pair dominated the Menangle meeting last night. Turner trained four of the nine winners and in two of the races she also snared the quinella. Turner drove Redbank Blaze to win, while Morris was aboard their other three winners: Cherry Stride, Dance For Glory and Fat Prophet. “We had plenty of success in Queensland, but Kerryn Ann did a fantastic job back home and it’s great to back together and having the success we did last night,” Morris said. ______________________________________________________________________ SAME dominance, different state for Emma Stewart. Victoria’s top trainer snared yet another feature this season when Art Major colt Thats Perfect thrashed his rivals in the $50,000 Ubet Southern Cross final for three-year-old colts and geldings at Globe Derby last night. Thats Perfect, driven by Sidney Van Den Brande, roared away to win by 26m in a 1min57.2sec mile rate for 2230m and led a Victorian dominance on the night. Trainer Brett Bunfield, who has taken over most of the horses previously trained in Victoria by Nicole Molander, won the 3YO fillies’ final by 17m with Bettors Delight filly Saphirique. And Nathan Jack trained the quinella in the 2YO colts and geldings final with Art Major colt Animal thrashing stablemate Young Rooster in a sparkling 1min56.5sec mile rate for 1800m. Trainer Bronte Giorgio landed the only local win in the finals with Bubbles And Cheese beating another local, Shesashark, by a whisker in the 2YO fillies’ final. ______________________________________________________________________ IT might not have been the result punters hoped for, but nobody could begrudge popular trainer-driver David Murphy his feature win with Valla Reine in the $50,000 Australian Gold Autumn 2YO Sale final. The daughter of Cams Fool led and just staved-off a gallant Cautivar to win by a nose with heavily-backed favourite Jilliby Macarena having every chance after a superb Jason Lee drive in third spot.   Adam Hamilton

The fairytale perhaps didn’t have its most remarkable end but it was still all smiles in Brent Lilley’s camp after a brilliant one-two punch in Saturday’s Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free For All. Returning millionaire trotter Keystone Del was outstanding in running a bold second when first up in almost 12 months, doing plenty of work before being mown day late by talented sit-sprint stablemate Kyvalley Blur. It was another well-timed assault by champion reinsman Chris Alford, who with every win sets a new mark for most driving victories in a season, which today stands at 391, three clear of Daryl Douglas’ previous record. “(It’s) a big thrill to have a record like that and as you said it will be hard to top,” Alford told Trots Vision’s Rob Auber on Saturday night. “I doubt I’ll ever do it again.” Alford peeled off Sundons Courage’s back at the final turn and took off after in-form leader Tornado Valley and Keystone Del, who had advanced three-wide from the back of the field and raced without cover for much of the last lap. “(Kyvalley Blur) likes to have cover for as long as he can and once he hits the home straight he really motors,” Alford said. “Good speed was on and he is very lethal when he gets a sit like that. He was still a fair way off them at the 400, but when he gets to that home straight he just flattens out and knows where that post is.” Kyvalley Blur clipped Keystone Del and his driver Josh Duggan by a neck at the post, with Tornado Valley 8m back in third, tasting defeat for only the second time in his last 12 starts. Alford offered some kind words on Keystone Del post-race. “Great horses like him, they know when it’s race day,” he said. “I’m sure he’s probably been working well at home, but for him to come three wide so early and this old fella (Kyvalley Blur), who’s race fit, to just grab him on the line was a super effort by the horse and the team that’s got him back.”   Michael Howard for Trots Media

The Swedish media has quite openly admitted it knows very little about the form and ability of Australian mare Maori Time in the lead up to Sunday’s Elitloppet.  The Brent Lilley trained mare has attracted a lot of publicity and interest in Sweden but she has been given little chance of getting past the elimination stage by the local press. While the mare is being shunned by the locals, the common feeling amongst the Maori Time crew headed up by Lilley is contentment. “Since we have arrived I don’t think we could have asked for things to go better than they have,” Lilley said. “She has settled in perfectly at Stig’s (Johansson), she has eaten everything, her work has been great.  We won’t have an excuse in the world on Sunday.” Maori Time will have her last serious hit-out on Friday morning before she competes on Sunday. “Stig drove her earlier in the week for me and he was really impressed with her and the way she worked.  Watching her I was really happy with the way she got through it. “I’ve got the farrier coming this afternoon (Thursday).  She is trotting really well at the moment so we will just get him to put the front shoes back on and she can have a new set of aluminiums put on behind.” Maori Time has drawn barrier six in her heat on Sunday directly outside overall series favourite Bold Eagle.  The French trotting star won his heat impressively in 2017 before fading in the final to finish behind Timoko. After racing outside the leader in his heat last year the question has been raised in the Swedish media whether Bold Eagle’s driver Franck Nivard would be less aggressive in the heat this year in an attempt to save something for the final. If Nivard is not as aggressive as he was a year ago it could be a chance for Maori Time to use her speed to get into the race early. Owner Fred Crews understands his mare Maori Time is facing a huge task racing arguably the world’s best trotter in Bold Eagle. “I know Australia has had better trotters come to the Elitloppet in the past.  The last Australian horse to come was Sundons Gift and he was a better horse than Maori Time but what my mare does have is gate speed and she can put herself into the race,” Crews said. “It isn’t ideal that we have drawn directly outside Bold Eagle but it is an honour to be representing Australia, I know there are a lot of people back home who will be staying up late on a Sunday night watching Sky to cheer her on and I’ve had great support from gentleman like Duncan McPherson from Aldebaran Park who have made this trip possible.” Sky Racing will cover Solvalla on Saturday and Sunday night with Anthony Manton broadcasting the races live from the track.  Maori Time will compete at 11:22pm (AEST) on Sunday night.   Greg Hayes

The $55,000 Australian record for a trotting yearling sold at auction is expected to be surpassed at this year's Pryde's EasiFeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale to be held at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday March 11. A full-brother to the new Australasian mile record holder, Maori Time (Tr 1:51.5), Aldebaran Stephan will go under the hammer as Lot 55. Maori Time blitzed her rivals in the weekend's Group 1 Trotters Mile at Menangle for Brent Lilley and Todd McCarthy, taking her stake earnings to $419,801 and delivering connections a third Group 1. Lot 55 is the lynchpin of a 12-strong Aldebaran Park consignment, of Duncan McPherson, Nagambie. The grand looking colt is out of 2016-17 Victorian Broodmare of the Year Sundonna, a member of the famous Maori Miss tribe. Read the full story on the 2018 Pryde's EasiFeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale at www.thetrots.com.au<http://www.thetrots.com.au> Get the latest on all the yearlings in the catalogue by visiting the 2018 Pryde's EasiFeed APTS website<http://www.austrottingsale.com.au/2018-sale-entries/> today   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Champion driver Chris Alford headed to Hunter Cup thinking he could be in for something special with a veteran horse. But it was Lennytheshark in the Hunter Cup itself Alford was thinking most about. While Lennytheshark ran a brave fourth, another veteran gave Alford his golden moment of the night. North American-bred trotter Kyvalley Blur, who was racing so well during an NZ raid just a few weeks ago, returned to his sparkling best for an upset win in the Group 1 Dullard Cup (2240m). And Alford was quick to heap the praise on trainer Brent Lilley, who took over training the 10-year-old Kyvalley Blur about four years ago when Chris Lang Sr retired from training ranks. “Brent’s done a fantastic job to keep this old horse keen and interested in racing,” he said. “The way he turned him around from last week was fantastic. The old guy was disappointing by his standards last week.” A modest Alford forgot to mention another superb drive played a key role in the return to winning form. In a race run upside down, hot favourite Sparkling Success worked overtime three and then outside the leader in a frantic first half. In the run, classy Kiwi raider Temporale looked the winner, but Alford landed the three-wide home on him and stormed over the top late to snatch victory by a half-neck in a slick 1min57.1sec mile rate. It was a buzz for passionate trotting owner-breeder Jim Connelly. Kyvalley Blur’s now raced 102 times for 24 wins, 40 placings and earned almost $450,000. Adam Hamilton

Australian Pacing Gold graduate Messini will be given another shot at Group One glory. Following Messini’s Group Two $60,000 Bendigo Pacing Cup success last night, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley revealed his plans of heading interstate with the son of Art Major. Lilley has earmarked the South Australian Cup as the seven-year-old’s next target, with the time honoured event headling a super card at Globe Derby on Saturday night. Messini is no stranger to top-shelf success, with the stallion triumphant in two Vicbred Super Series Finals.  “We’ll be going over to South Australia next for the Cup,” Lilley said. “It’s an ideal target for him. “He didn’t have much in the race last year, but still finished a strong fourth behind Smolda in track record time. “He’s in terrific form, and with a bit of luck this time, will be very hard to beat.” Driven by Chris Alford during his latest triumph, Messini enjoyed the run of the race in the coveted one-one before sprinting to a five-and-a-half metre win from Mister Wickham, with Bad Billy seven metres away third. “After getting a run like that he was always going to finish strongly,” Lilley said. “He’s just a genuine, consistent racehorse, which gives his all each time he races. It would be nice to have a stable full of horses just like him.” Messini now has earnings of over $656,000 lifetime. APG Media

Top Victorian trainer Brent Lilley has scrapped his Brisbane summer carnival plans. The New Zealand born harness racing horseman has been eyeing off the Queensland riches for some time with a number of his quality performers including open class star Messini. The Art Major entire was beaten behind former Perth pacer John Of Arc in Saturday night’s $20,000 Sokyola Sprint at TABCORP Park, Melton after leading in a time of 1:53.4. Options for Messini during the Brisbane campaign included this week’s Gr.3 $30,540 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint followed by the $20,540 Christmas Cup before ending with the Gr.2 $60,540 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup. All three events will be staged at Albion Park over consecutive weeks. “Things just haven’t worked out for us to make the trip north; there are a number of things that have prevented us from making the trip. It’s disappointing because we’ve been looking at this trip away for a little while now.” Lilley said. The other attraction that made strong appeal for Lilley and his expected northern sojourn was the Gr.2 $40, 630 Egmont Park Stud Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship, the biggest trotting event staged in the Sunshine State. The series starts this Friday while the final is scheduled for December 16. The stand start feature is assessed for T5 trotters or better. Lilley is revered for his deeds with trotters and his stable currently boasts the likes of champion performer Keystone Del, Maori Time and many others. The Racing Queensland summer carnival is officially underway and concludes on December 16. Chris Barsby

Among her many traits, consistency, a will to win and electric gate speed helps make Maori Time a true harness racing all-rounder. From arguably the most famous trotting family of them all, the Pegasus Spur/Sundonna eight-year-old has earned a tick over $392,000 from 59 starts, with 23 wins and a further 19 minor placings (42 podiums from 59!). And remarkably, the three-time Group 1 winner is now a three-time Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint winner following last night’s narrow win at Tabcorp Park Melton. With Gavin Lang in the sulky, Maori Time overcame an inside-back-row draw to overhaul Sparkling Success (Chris Svanosio) and Glenferrie Typhoon (Kate Gath) in a three-way photo. Her winning mile rate was 1:56.6 for the 1720m trip. It was Maori Time's third win on the trot this season. Maori Time is trained by Brent Lilley and raced by owner/breeder Fred Crews. The mare has now won more Bill Collins Sprint races than any other squaregaiter, Maori Time’s triple success eclipsing two-time race winners Will Trapper (2008 & 2011), Take A Moment (2002 & 2003) and Pride Of Petite (1996 & 1998). Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

THE kid gloves are coming off. Trainer Steve O’Donoghue has superbly placed buzz pacer San Carlo through a record of 22 starts for 19 wins – the latest in career-best fashion and very slick time at Melton last Thursday night. Now comes the big league. The really big league. San Carlo’s next start will be against some of Australia’s best pacers in the $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 14. The Victoria Cup is two-fold for importance. It’s not just a huge race itself, but also the ideal vehicle for San Carlo to rise rapidly up the Perth Inter Dominion rankings and secure himself a spot in the series, which starts at Gloucester Park on November 24. San Carlo sat parked outside and beat a former NZ Cup contestant Moonrock and ran quicker time than Major Crocker did winning the free-for-all on the same night. San Carlo bludgeoned his way to a 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2240m, including closing splits of 56.0 and 28.4sec to beat Moonrock by 1.7m. By comparison, Major Crocker was superbly driven to have a fairly economical run by Greg Sugars and beat a handy free-for-all field in a 1min54.8sec mile rate. Major Crocker is another headed for the Victoria Cup, a race he ran second to Lazarus in last season. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a marvel Maori Time is. The classy and veteran mare posted her 22nd win and hit $363,501 in stakes with a dominant display in the Group 3 True Roman Trot (2240m) at Melton last Thursday night. She’s a credit to trainer Brent Lilley, who took over from the now retired Chris Lang about three years ago. Lilley snared the quinella when Sun Of Anarchy sat behind the leader and ran a clear second in a sizzling 56.8sec last half. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ MAKE no mistake, Soho Tribeca will be a player in the upcoming Perth Inter Dominion series. Kim Prentice’s five-year-old returned from a break with the most dominant of wins at Gloucester Park last Friday night. First-up since winning the Group 1 Vicbred final at Melton on July 8, Soho Tribeca sat parked outside the sensationally-backed Itz Bettor To Win and crushed it. He posted a slick 1min55.3sec mile rate and ripped home in 56.7 and 28.6sec to post the 15th win of his 39-start career. Soho Tribeca has already shown his potential at Grand Circuit level with placings behind Chicago Bull in the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups earlier this year. At the same meeting last Friday, Skye Bond’s talented free-for-aller Simply Susational narrowly, but impressively won the Media Guild Cup with Ryan Warwick in the bike. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ HARRY Martin won everyone’s hearts in his golden days of the early 2000s with Grand Circuit star Double Identity. The great old horse raced 146 times for 51 wins, 39 placings and earned $1,255,647. His big wins included a Victoria Cup, Miracle Mile, SA Cup, Treuer Memorial and so many more. Now Martin has another open-class player who has blossomed in his older years in Double Event, the eight-year-old who upstaged a strong field to win the Group 3 Les Chant in a blazing 1min50.6sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night. The focus of the race was around whether former WA pacer Galactic Star could make it three wins from as many starts for new trainer Craig Cross, but he had to settle for third.   Adam Hamilton

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