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Amid all the “Kiwi this” and “New Zealand that”, which has dominated much of the Summer Of Glory conversation, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley’s strong stable is happy to wait in the shadows until show time on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Champion trotter Keystone Del will attempt to unseat New Zealand raiders Monbet and Speeding Spur in the Settle Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. And 89 minutes later Messini will rip from barrier six to take the fight to Ohoka Punter and Smolda in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Lilley’s runners are among the few Australian chances at single-figure odds in the betting, and the Bolinda trainer was looking forward to having his chargers return to the grand stage. It will be familiar ground for five-time Group 1 winner Keystone Del, who Lilley said had “been going really well”. “We have kept him a little on the fresh side lately because it will be 12 or so weeks from the start (of his campaign) to the Great Southern Star and he has a very busy schedule,” he said. “He is the forgotten horse a little bit with Monbet, but it is a star-studded field.” Lilley said the attention given to the favourite was not misguided. “He’s all class Monbet. We will probably have an advantage, having been drawn inside him. “Anthony (Butt) is a very good race driver and will try and place (Keystone Del) in the running. But it is not just Monbet, it’s Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur is going very well and has a good draw. “There are definitely half a dozen chances in the race. It is never ever easy and you expect to get competition, that is what it is all about. This is one of the best trotting fields we’re seen over here.” There will be no excuses from Keystone Del’s camp. “He’s ready to go. It’s so hard to always peak with all the group 1s over the next five to six weeks, but he’ll be more than competitive.” Similarly, Messini is expected to give followers a good sight in the A. G. Hunter Cup, having performed admirably in last Saturday’s showcase. “He went really good in the Victoria Cup,” Lilley said. “He made an early move, then got held up at the corner and hit the line full of running. “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to this week. The 3200m and standing start don’t hold any worries.“ Drawn sixth, Messini could well be in the mix, but there is plenty of pace inside, not the least of all being Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ohoka Punter (barrier three) and Smolda (barrier five). “Some of the better chances have drawn the front row. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the first 100m, we’ll be up among it,” Lilley said. “In an ideal world we’d step to the front and stay there, but everyone on the front row is thinking the same. “If we step good and get to the front of the field that would be great, but it’s a 3200m race and so there’s plenty of time to work into it.” by Michael Howard

The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters heats back up again this weekend. And it heads to Australia for the first time this season with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix over 2240m at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday night. After first being staged in 2001 and won by star mare La Coocaracha, this race was made famous after champion trotter Sundons Gift made it his own when successful on four straight occasions (2007-10). Following the success of Master Lavros in the Dominion at Addington last November, the opening leg of the 2015/16 Trotting Masters, an all-star cast has been assembled this weekend in the mobile start feature. Many believe this is THE feature this weekend. With a perfect blend of proven against unproven, a reputation will be enhanced dramatically with victory. Australia’s best trotter Keystone Del is aiming at redemption after being forced to play the runners-up role last season with star Kiwi Stent proving victorious while his win streak of six straight wins came to an abrupt ending last start at Shepparton at the hands of emerging star Glenferrie Typhoon, a rival again this weekend. After a recent switch to the leading stables of Brent Lilley, Keystone Del will start from gate three with champion reinsman Anthony Butt booked to take the drive. Glenferrie Typhoon proved his recent Shepparton track record thumping was no fluke with another stunning victory last week in the Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters Cup for in-form husband and wife combination of Andy and Kate Gath. The New Zealand bred gelding will be looking for his third straight victory and will start from the inside gate. Also carrying the ‘Glenferrie’ moniker is the Belinda McCarthy trained Glenferrie Dreamer who chased home Monbet last week in the Australasian Trotting Championship Final. The Sydney trained trotter will appreciate the mobile start and will leave from gate five. Young Kiwi stars Monbet and Speeding Spur both contain ‘X factor’ coupled with explosive qualities and both command enormous respect. The four-year-old phenomenon’s are both unbeaten at Melton and will provide New Zealand with an excellent chance of maintaining the recent kiwi dominance in the feature. Monbet starts from gate four while Speeding Spur starts from gate six. Classy mares Arboe and Habibti will take their shot despite both coming off crushing defeats at their most recent starts. On each occasion, they felt the full fury of Monbet. The Anton Golino prepared Arboe starts from gate two while the Adam Kelly trained Habibti must overcome gate seven, the outside gate. American bred trotter Kyvalley Blur, aka ‘Mr Consistency’ is a proven big race performer at Melton and boasts excellent recent form with placing’s at his past eight starts. The Chocolatier stallion has drawn gate eight, the sole second-line runner. The Grand Prix will be a cracking event, it’s race 5 on the program and timed to start at 8.03pm local time. by Chris Barsby

This Saturday night’s $75,575 Shepparton Gold Cup has attracted an outstanding harness racing line-up and one of the main acts of the race is the Brent Lilley trained Messini. Now back in Australia after a fruitful New Zealand Cup campaign, which culminated in him running a brave fifth in the cup before backing up with a third in the New Zealand Free For All three days later, Lilley said the horse had come back in terrific order. “He had two weeks out after cup week but he has come back in fine fettle. He had a trial at Geelong last week and trialled lovely so I couldn’t be happier with him," he said. Although not overly experienced from behind the tapes having only five starts out of the stand, Lilley believes the standing start conditions of Saturday night’s race will not pose any problems “He has had a bit of practice at the standing starts and every time he begins quicker and quicker. He probably began a wee bit too good for himself in the NZ Cup which left him parked outside Arden Rooney," Lilley said. He has drawn a little awkwardly in five but Lilley is confident he can step away fast and find the lead. “He doesn’t have to lead but from the draw if he can make a good beginning and jump in front then he likes to roll along at a good pace, but I’ll leave that up to Chris (Alford). I’m confident he will begin quickly anyway.” It is a tremendous field to do battle Saturday night with a host of super pacers engaged to tackle Messini including Yankee Rockstar, Ohoka Punter, Hectorjayjay, Barimah and Keayang Steamer. It will be a bumper night of racing as the #RoadToGlory continues with a big 10-race program kicking off at 6.28pm. by Matt Jackson Harness Racing Victoria

Whenever you see the names Brent Lilley and Anthony Butt combining with a trotter regardless of the race or harness racing venue, it always pays to give the combination plenty of respect as their great record deserves. Last night at Globe Derby Park in the $30,000 South Australian Trotters Cup, they lined up the former New Zealand trotter Leannes Boy for his first start on Australian soil and he showed he is a trotter with a big future in front of him with a tradesman like victory over a handy field. Away well from barrier two for Anthony, Leannes Boy was happy to take a trail behind stablemate Zedalite and Josh Duggan after 500 metres metres. With Josh ensuring a smart tempo in front there was no serious challengers mid race although Irish Whisper and Damien Wilson went up and sat on Zedalite's wheel. Down the back straight the last time it was pretty obvious that the two Lilley runners in  Zedalite and Leannes Boy were the two that were going to fight out the finish as few looked to run on from back in the field. Zedalite turned for home in front but Leannes Boy eased out on the bend and wore down the leader late in the piece without Anthony getting too excited in the bike. Irish Whisper fought on well for third but over 16 metres away from the first two at the finish.  Leannes Boy cut out the 2645 metres from the stand in a smart 3:24.1, a mile rate of 2:04.2 with closing sectionals of 57 and 28.4  The seven-year-old gelding by Armbro Invasion was very competitive throughout the winter and spring at both Alexandra Park and Addington Raceway against trotters such as One Over Da Moon, Paramount Dream and Prince Fearless, Leanne's Boy has the potential to be a big success in his new homeland. Harnesslink Media

The injury plagued elite grade pacer Franco Nelson is to have a change of scenery once again as he heads over to join the Victorian barn of former Kiwi driver Anthony Butt Anthony and his new partner are in the process of setting up a small boutique stable on Gavin Lang's old property and there wouldn't be a better horse to get things under way with The six year old son of Christian Cullen is lightly raced considering he was mixing it with the best at two and Anthony will be his fourth trainer to date in his stop start career. Franco Nelson had his last start for his present trainer Michael House in the $57,500 Waikato Flying Mile at Cambridge Raceway on Friday night where he ran a very creditable third after leading easily off the gate in the hands of his soon to be regular pilot Anthony Butt who made the trip from Melbourne to drive the entire. Anthony is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be involved with a horse of the class of Franco Nelson. " He went great in the New Zealand Cup in his first run for such a long time and Dexter had no luck in the Auckland Cup, being shoved out wide at the 800 metres mark so I think you can disregard that run". " There are so many opportunities for a horse like him in Australia" " With his proven class, he shouldn't be a hard horse to place," Anthony said. Anthony is not getting ahead of himself, fully aware of all the issues that have troubled the star pacer in recent times. " I have been really lucky in having such a quality horse sent to me to train but I have a pool there which he needs so I can do a lot of the day to day work with him." " If we can get him back to his best, it could be very exciting." " I can't wait to get him home and and sort out a programme for him," said Anthony. Franco Nelson is not the only horse that has Anthony excited heading into the major cup races and series in Victoria. " I have driven Keystone Del to his last two wins since he joined Brent's barn and he has gone super both times." " I think he will be very competitive when all the big trotting races come around," Anthony said. Anthony is also hopeful of attracting some more New Zealand owned horses to his new training establishment. " It would work out great if a few more horses came over from home." " There are great opportunities here for a promising horse and I more than happy to look after any visitors as well," Anthony said. Harnesslink Media   This is a corrected version of a article Harnesslink first published on Friday 8th January 2016.

Talented Tasmanian-born reinsman Josh Duggan celebrated the biggest win of his career when he partnered Victorian pacer Lets Elope to an emphatic harness racing victory in the $40.000 UBET Tasmania Cup in Hobart yesterday. The Brent Lilley-trained gelding was given the run of the race by Duggan who had the seven-year-old settled just beyond midfield in the one-out line and poised to pounce when the leaders started to feel the pressure in the back straight the last time. Duggan eased his charge out four-wide to make his run 500 metres from home but he had the well-backed Star Chamber (Nathan Ford) breathing down his neck. But when Lets Elope hit the front Duggan called on the gelding for the supreme effort and he had delivered the goods to go on and hit the line seven metres clear of Star Chamber with outsider Outback Mach almost 109 metres away third. Duggan, 23, is the son of star Tasmanian reinsman Ricky Duggan and his wife Linda. Instead of staying in Tasmania to follow in his father's footsteps he opted to venture to Victoria six years ago to try and carve a career from the industry. "I wasn't going to come home for Christmas this year until Brett Lilley asked if I'd drive this horse here in Tassie for two starts," Duggan said. "He was second in Launceston last week but he had to do it tough and was beaten by Star Chamber but the roles were reversed today and it was our turn." "You hope to win a lot bigger races but it is really special to come home and win the state's biggest event at my first drive in the race." "When the others in front of us had done so much hard work I knew my horse would be hard to beat and that Star Chamber would be the only danger." "But in the home straight my horse was strong and finished it off like a good horse," he said. Duggan has worked for Chris and Alice Alford since he arrived in Victoria in 2009 and at the start of this season he outdrove his novice driver's claim. "I've been working for Chris and Alice (Alford) for six years now and without their support I wouldn't be where I am today in this industry," he said. Peter Staples

Arguably Australia's best trotter, Keystone Del will trial at Lord's Raceway Bendigo on Sunday morning. Harness racing trials start at 9 am, with Keystone Del scheduled to compete in trial 6. ‚ÄčEntry is free, and breakfast is available from the track kiosk. Keystone Del has recently changed stables, with Brent Lilley training, and Anthony Butt driving the gelding at his first hit-out for the new connections. Keystone Del , 1'53.9 is the winner of 30 races and has earned over $770,000 in stakes. For Trial Fields, click  here:   http://www.bhrc.com.au/trials.html

Bolinda trainer Brent Lilley took the honours at the Geelong trots on Tuesday, finishing the night with a stable double thanks to a pair of six-year-olds. Art Major/Endeared mare Star Crossed, first-up for the stable having her first outing since February, greeted the judge first in the Flying Brick Cider Company Pace for C1 class over 2100 metres. With stable reinsman Anthony Butt in the sulky, Star Crossed starting from the extreme draw wasn’t pushed early, settling with most of the field ahead of her as Joelissa led from gate two after the hot favourite Captain Snoozzze galloped away from gate three. Gaining a three-wide trail home in the final circuit on the back of Jimmy The Editor, Star Crossed at tote odds of $17.40 finished best to score from Jimmy The Editor and Joelissa in a mile rate of 2:00.2. Kiwi bred American Ideal/Jazz Tanner gelding Eric Clapton taking a concession for youthful Brad Chisholm who has been helping out at the camp, made a one act affair of the Relay For Life Dec 3rd Pace for C3 & C4 class over 2100 metres. Beginning fast from outside the front line, Eric Clapton ran his rivals ragged in accounting for Guggenheim (four back the markers) which death-seated for the last lap by a neck, with Bad Boy Brad (four wide last lap from near last) five metres away in third place. The mile rate was 1:57.1. Wallan’s Shinn family snared the Harness Breeders Victoria Trackbred Pace for C0 class (mares) over 1609 metres with Aurore, a four-year-old daughter of Dawn Ofa New Day and Aurelia bred and raced by Noel Shinn. Trained by Ruth and driven by son Chris, Aurore was another to begin with great zest from outside the front row to lead and was never headed, registering a 1.3-metre margin in advance of Fianna Gael which trailed from the pole and Nymeria (one/one – three wide home turn) in a rate of 1:59.5. Flowerdale part-owner/trainer/driver Ivan Antolas was successful with 4Y0 Bacardi Lindy Springhasprung  mare Aussie Beach Blond in the Corio Waste Management Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2100 metres. A winner in restricted company at Bendigo on November 7, Aussie Beach Blond from gate four was trapped in the open, before receiving cover racing for the bell when Anthony Butt sent Georgies Smile forward from mid-field to park outside the pacemaker Shiftywall which crossed to lead as the start was effected. Easing wide in the last lap, Aussie Beach Girl raced clear on turning to record an easy 12.2-metre victory over Handy That from last at the bell in a mile rate of 2:09, with Very Belle third after following the weakening leader. Drouin’s Gary and Debbie Quinlan snared the Geelong Pacing Cup 2nd January Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2100 metres with 4Y0 Sundon/Star Spangled Rama gelding Omy Son which broke his maiden status at start number 10. Driven by Nathan Jack, Omy Son settled four back along the markers from gate three, with Lilymaystorm inside him beginning best to lead. Rushing forward when the speed slackened to make an unsuccessful bid for the front running, Omy Son was then eased to drop to the back of the pacemaker. Moving off the heels of Lilymaystorm on the final bend, Omy Son was nursed to the wire in winning by 3.8 metres from the leader, with Ghent (one/one at bell) third. The mile rate 2:06.3. Perennial placegetter The Gingerbreadman finally cracked it for another victory by taking the Devcon Properties Pace for C2 class over 2100 metres in 1:59.8. Part-owned and trained by Meltonian Ian Hunter, The Gingerbreadman driven as usual by John Justice possied four back in the moving line, as the polemarker Aloha Don Ho retained the front running. When Aloha Don Ho surrendered the lead mid-race to stablemate Bettor Than Best, The Gingerbreadman was off and running three-wide racing for the bell. Despite racing wide for the remainder of the trip, The Gingerbreadman raced away in the straight to score convincingly by three metres from Glenferrie Arch which followed him home. Aloha Don Ho used the sprint lane to finish third. McArdle/Glenferrie Miss 6Y0 gelding Glenferrie College notched up his 12th victory at start number 70 when successful in the Jims Mowing Claiming Pace over 2100 metres. Trained at nearby Lara by Dean Braun, Glenferrie College driven by Chris Alford starting from inside the second line was restrained immediately the start was effected to settle at the tail of the field, with only stablemate Comply Or Die behind him after being trapped wide from gate six. Trailing Our Mels Dream forward in the last lap, Glenferrie College despite being four wide on the home turn, ran home strongly to record a 6.2-metre margin on the wire over Our Mels Dream and The Family Guy which raced in the open. The mile rate 1:58.4. Terang trainer Matthew Craven combined with Chris Svanosio to land the Bendigo Bank Trotters Handicap for T2 or better class over 2570 metres with smart but sometimes unreliable 8Y0 Ganymeade/Smokey Robyn gelding Hinault, who has been going great guns of late. Raced by a large group of stable supporters including veteran Terang identity Ray Payne, Hinault began safely from 30 metres and was soon racing one-one after Sundons Comet went forward at a great rate from 10 metres to cross the poleline leader Shiraz Cabernet. Not happy with the tempo through the middle stages, Hinault was set alight to assume control at the bell and from there on, the race became a procession, with Hinault coasting to the wire untouched to register a 1.8-metre victory over Sundons Comet along the sprint lane in a rate of 2:05.3. Maybelina, first-up since July, ran home nicely from four back the markers to finish third 4.1 metres away. Len Baker  

Chris Alford probably thought he’d lost a couple of battles in the run aboard Messini in the four-year-old entires and geldings Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. For starters he tried to lead aboard the Brent Lilley-trained stallion from the pole but was crossed early by Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker drawn alongside. Secondly, once crossed and it was clear Walker was going to hand up to Major Crocker, Alford tried to angle away from the markers but couldn’t when Young Modern and Mick Stanley snared the one-one. Alford explained: “I had to make a decision how hard to go in the first 200 … when Simone got that half-length she presumed she could get across and she was going to keep going, and I thought we were going a bit too hard and thought she might think about handing up since we had gone that hard. Luckily I tried to get off the fence and Mick Stanley put me back in there thankfully, and it all worked out good after that.” Once in front Major Crocker copped too much pepper from Keayang Active, running a 43.7secs lead time and 28.5secs first quarter. When Jilliby Jagger came from near the rear and eased three and four-wide coming off the back straight Hectorjayjay made his move. Walked eased Hectorjayjay to the outside of a tiring Major Crocker and Alford and Messini followed closely. Once in the home stretch Hectorjayjay gave his trademark kick and got about 5m clear of Messini. But the former New Zealander typically wasn’t going to go down without a fight and he stuck his head down and got going, stride by stride reeling in Hectorjayjay to eventually score a half-neck win in 1:54.9 (28.6secs third and fourth quarters). “It was a great race now that we’ve won but things didn’t go exactly how we wanted them to go,” Alford said. “He’s just a great little trier. I thought his head was dragging on the ground near the line he was trying that hard. He deserved that win." Jilliby Jagger ran third for Glen Craven, while Barimah ran on well for fourth for Damian Wilson and Major Crocker battled away for fifth with Greg Sugars in the sulky. The win meant back-to-back Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series successes for Messini. The race was one of the most exciting on the strong Saturday night card. Messini is by Art Major out of Mesmerizing. Re-live Messini's win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final Cody Winnell

Harness racing Group 1 trebles are almost unheard of. And when they do occur, the feat is usually reserved for the rich, powerful, multinational-type stables. But Shelbourne horseman Larry Eastman lived the fairy-tale on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, winning three Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Eastman’s stable-star three-year-olds Menin Gate and Morton Plains won their age group’s male and female finals respectively before Milly Perez scored a boil-over in the four-year-old mares’ decider. All three were driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, who also picked up the four-year-old entires and geldings’ final with Messini for trainer Brent Lilley to finish with a Group 1 quartet. An emotional Eastman paid tribute to his wife, Lynette. “I’m feeling pretty good (but) I’m rapt for Lynette, my wife,” he told the large crowd, who braved a chilly night out for one of the best nights of harness racing seen in recent times. “(She’s) the best horse on the farm by a long way… works daylight until dark every day. “Whilst people probably think it’s my expertise or whatever it’s not, she’s got a good eye for a horse and she’s really good at what she does as well.” Eastman, clearly elated, had nothing but praise for Alford. “We’ve been great friends for a long time and he’s really pulled them out tonight for us,” he said. “… It makes all the difference. We use these guys because they are the best and on big nights like tonight it counts.” Morton Plains (Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That) brought up the first of Eastman’s trio of treats for the evening. The filly took the lead off early frontrunner Niki No No with a mile to run in their Group 1 final over 2240m. A 30.2secs first quarter had the Eastman backers feeling good and a second split of 30.6secs was   comfortable. Off the back Morton Plains looked to have the better of death-seating Lovelist, while driver Greg Sugars sat quietly aboard Niki No No behind the leader awaiting his opportunity along the sprint lane. But Morton Plains kicked strongly at the top of the stretch, Niki No No unable to peg back the leader who kept finding to win by four metres, Niki No No holding on to second and Vapar Grin running third. “The Birchip boys who own Menin Gate, most are in this filly as well. A couple of them are in Morton Plains that weren’t in Menin Gate … they get their thrills tonight. I’m really pleased for them,” Eastman said. “These guys have been in for the long haul … I mean the Lowry boys have been in this industry for years and years and they’ve put their hard-earned in. “Their farming enterprise didn’t have a very good year last year and until it rains this year they’re on a sticky wicket again. For those people and the farming community at Birchip (the win) really gives the town a bit of a buzz.” Eastman made it a three-year-olds’ clean sweep in Race 7 with Somebeachsomewhere/Dreams Of Heaven gelding Menin Gate in the colts’ and geldings’ final. The Victoria Derby champion from earlier in the season began fast from the pole to lead and was never headed, the inside-back-row Mister Wickham finishing second after following the winner all the way and Follow The Stars running third for Anthony Butt and Mark Purdon. Menin Gate rated 1:55.6 for the 2240m trip, sprinting home in 56.1secs. “He was switched on tonight, not like last week,” Alford said. “Once he was able to hold the front pretty comfortable I knew he’d run a strong last mile and was going to be hard for the horses off the fence and thankfully he kept going.” While he was no doubt confident both his three-year-olds would be competitive, Eastman certainly had his doubts about Milly Perez. “When Col Moore texted to say he’d pulled barrier 13 out I just thought `well that’s the end of the road for Milly’, because last week if you watch the tapes she went unbelievable ... we just were hoping for a barrier,” he said. “This little mare’s blessed with a really good turn of foot and I just thought from 13 we’d be too far back.” Eastman and Alford needed for there to be some speed on early. Their wish was Josh Aiken and Nathan Jack’s command. Crossed early by Shes A Runa, Jack took race favourite and polemarker Berisari quickly away from the pegs out of the straight the first time to run to the front. But Aiken and Quick Draft swiftly built up momentum and declared war on the long odds-on favourite, the pair engaging in a two-horse war to the mile marker before finally Quick Draft was forced to relent. The lead time of 42.9secs was electric and Jack quickly applied the brakes in a bid to give Berisari some respite with opening quarters of 30.3secs and 31.9secs. The pressure went on again down the back with a 29.1secs third split as Barynya and John Caldow made their move and got by Berisari. But Alford and Milly Perez, who were last at the 800m, followed Barynya into the action before peeling around her in the home straight. Once she stretched out Milly Perez dashed right away from her rivals, the Four Starzzz Shark/Alta Calypso bay winning by 13m over Beach Shack (David Aiken), Barynya holding down third. Lucky Metro was fourth for Charlie Borg, while Berisari battled away bravely to run fifth – a big run given her adversary Quick Draft came in tailed off. “We needed some genuine tempo and thanks to a couple of guys out there tonight it was game on and she reaped the reward,” Eastman said of Milly Perez. Meanwhile, Eastman also had high praise for the Vicbred program and highlighted the importance of the scheme to the Victorian industry. “Vicbred needs more and more pumped into it day in and day out,” he said. “Let’s look after our home base, that’s where these guys get the benefits. “We need to look after Victoria. That’s where we put our hard yakka in.” The Vicbred program pays out well over $9 million in stakes and bonuses to eligible horses and the series’ goal is to strengthen opportunities for Victorian-bred standardbreds. As for the trip home to Birchip for Eastman’s owners, it’ll no doubt be an enjoyable ride. Cody Winnell VIDEOS Menin Gate won his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Morton Plains won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Milly Perez won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final

Kvintet Avenger will be awarded the Maori’s Idol Trophy for the 2014-15 harness racing season at the Victorian Square Trotters Association’s annual presentation night at Maryborough on October 19.  Trained by Brent Lilley, Kvintet Avenger, by Love You out of Nobes Hanover, won three races and finished with two more minor placings from five races in the series to accumulate 15 points, finishing two points clear of Action Kosmos (nine starts in the series for two wins and three minor placings for 13 points), with Neville Vaughan third after winning three races in the series from five starts to score 12 points. Kvintet Avenger’s connections will receive a trophy plus a $1000 voucher at the Melton Saddlery, which is a proud sponsor of the Maori’s Idol Trophy Series. MAORI'S IDOL TROPHY SERIES 2014-15 1st: Kvintet Avenger (5:3-1-1) 15 points 2nd: Action Kosmos (9:2-2-1) 13 points 3rd: Neville Vaughan (5: 3-0-0) 12 points 4th: Quite A Moment (7: 1-3-1) 11 points Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The exciting Dancingwithsierra resumes tomorrow night at the harness racing meeting at Kilmore in the third heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred 2YO Fillies Super Series.   After making a huge splash at her first prep with three wins and a second from four starts, the Gary Hoban-trained daughter of Modern Art/Sierra Tango has tuned up for tomorrow night’s hit-out with two recent trials (a win at Melton on May 25 in 2:02.7, last half 57.9) and a third at Ballarat on June 6 behind Emma Stewart pair Heavens Trend and Beaming.   John Caldow takes the reins aboard the Toolern Vale filly tomorrow night from barrier five.   The in-form Brent Lilley stable, which scored a quintet at Melton last Friday night, has New Romantics engaged in this heat from barrier four for Anthony Butt.   The daughter of Art Major/Showtime Franco debuted with a 10.1m fourth behind Whirily School before running second beaten 3.3m by that horse in the $50,000 Vicbred Home Grown Classic Final on May 15.   Geoff Webster presents Mach Three/Indi Rose filly Sheluvsme first-up since May 15 when fifth in the Home Grown Classic.   She also finished runner-up to Whirily School at Geelong on May 7, beaten 3.1m.   Gumdrops’ half-sister Platinum Power will have her second start after finishing down the track on debut at Maryborough in January for Steven Zammit.   Rocknroll Magic, who defeated Dancingwithsierra in the Des McQueen at Melton on March 14 will line up in barrier 13 with Gavin Lang in the sulky.   Two heats of the three-year-old fillies’ division will be held, the first Race 1 on the card at 5.25pm and the second Race 6 at 8pm.   In the first race, Russell Jack-trained Grand Anse has drawn gate five with Nathan Jack to take the drive.   Grand Anse won the Wagga Oaks in March before heading to Hobart for the Tasmanian Oaks where she finished second to Sudden Change.   A daughter of superstar mare Tailamade Lombo, Maid For You Lombo, will start from barrier four for Monegeetta trainer David Miles, while Yankee Showgirl from the Gary Quinlan stable at Drouin West has the outside-front-row draw to overcome but has won two of her last four outings.   Michael Stanley will line up Soho Berlin from barrier two, the SBSW / Giveusachance filly coming off two minor placings and out of a friendlier barrier than she’s been drawing of late.   Another filly who will appreciate a good draw is the David Aiken-trained Glory Daze, who ran a mighty race behind Sukovia last start after breaking stride and losing considerable ground early at Shepparton.   The second of the three-year-old fillies’ heats sees high-class daughter of Art Major/Golden Showgirl Smooth Showgirl coming out of barrier nine for Belinda McCarthy and Nathan Jack. At her most recent outing Smooth Showgirl collected the win in the Seymour Nursery Final for 3YO Fillies at Albion Park, securing $45,100 in stakes money.   Other fillies in the second of the night’s 3YO fillies’ heats who have shown plenty of promise so far include Starzzz Of Icon, Boadiceas Fury, Another Fireball and Shishi.   CODY WINNELL

Outstanding harness racing youngster My Arya will face her toughest Australian assignment at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.   Unbeaten from eight Aussie runs this season, My Arya will compete against the ‘boys’ in the time-honoured The Holmfield.   Along with a strong assembly, the Brent Lilley-trained trotter also has to contend with a second row draw.   Although disappointed with the three-year-old’s starting position, Lilley believes My Arya is “racing well enough to overcome it”.   “She is one off the back, but I would have preferred she drew one off the front,” Lilley said. “The draw makes it tough, and the field is pretty handy, but she is in top shape and form.   “There is no doubt she is racing well enough to overcome it, but she will need a bit of luck.”   Despite his confidence in the daughter of Angus Hall, Lilley concedes rising star Eljaykay Phoenix is the one to beat.   Last season’s premier freshman, Eljaykay Phoenix will begin from gate 10 for trainer David Aiken.   Boasting 12 wins from 16 starts, Eljaykay Phoenix missed a placing for the first time when fifth at fifth at Melton on May 19.   “Forget his last run, Eljaykay Phoenix is the one to beat,” Lilley said. “Although he also has the back row to overcome, he has the class to do it.”   Paul Courts

It didn’t take long to realise harness racing trainer Brent Lilley might be in for a good night at Tabcorp Park Melton. But not many could have predicted just how well the script would play out for the Bolinda horseman, who walked away from tonight's Trotters Oaks meeting with five wins – including the two feature races. It all began with five-year-old Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding Crusader Acey, who showed his last-start win at Shepparton was no fluke with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m to open the program. From barrier seven reinsman Anthony Butt produced a carbon copy of his steer aboard Hollywood Sign last month when it won the Rising Stars Final, driving Crusader Acey across the field early to find the pegs before handing up to the favourite, Macho Comacho. Crusader Acey out-sprinted Macho Comacho late along the sprint lane to win by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.1. Lilley notched a winning double in the fourth race with five-year-old Monarchy/Sun Mist mare Rosemma. The foolproof trotter dashed to the lead early from barrier five for Rodney Petroff, while stablemate and race favourite Kyvalley Pink blew its chances by galloping away. Rosemma rated 2:00.7 to hold off a fast-finishing Mister Independent by 1.1m in the Garrards Horse and Hount Trot. Lilley and Butt then snared Race 7, the TAB.com.au Pace ,with impressive gelding Lets Elope (by Real Desire out of Alta Vista), finding the lead from barrier two before staving off all comers at the finish. Lets Elope carved out splits of 30.4secs, 29.8secs, 28.5secs and 27.6secs, clocking a 1:56.4 mile rate. Punters backed Lilley and Butt in to do it again in Race 8, the night’s feature, the $60,505 Group 1 Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks. Favourite backers were grinning 2mins and 47secs after the mobile arms folded back, My Arya leading from start to finish to register a 3m win over Amarula with Little Miss Zigzag flashing home for third. The Angus Hall filly held out an early challenge from Fiery Mountain Girl to lead before getting away with a 61.3secs first half at the head of affairs. She upped the tempo down the back the last time and took the zing out of any chasers with a 28secs third quarter. Sprinting home in 29.8secs, My Arya never looked like being headed and has now won 10 of her 11 Australian starts. Her winning mile rate for tonight’s 2240m trip was 2:00.4. Lilley and Butt capped the night in Race 9 by taking out the Pryde’s Easifeed Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old trotters with Kyvalley Tinman. The son of Majestic Son/Kyvalley Kitty sat on the speed in the run before out-staying his rivals, quickly getting the better of early leader Calder Knight turning for home before seeing off a late charge by impressive filly Princess Phoenix for a 1.3m win in 2:04.2 for the 2240m journey. While Lilley made the headlines with five winners, Butt’s performance should be undersold, finishing with a metropolitan quartet of his own. In other results, Aldebaran Macha easily took out the Good Form Pace over 2240m for David and Josh Aiken, the son of Mach Three/Aldebaran Bromac too good for runner-up Hez The Wild Card in 1:56.2. Anton Golino and Todd McCarthy took out the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot with rising star Arboe, who held off Vics Cheval at the finish by 3.2m. Arboe, by Love You out of Lough Neagh, has now won five of six starts and has genuine star power. Arboe rated 1:59.0 over the 2240m, Claudys Princess finishing third beaten 13.2m by the winner. Bringing up a double for Todd McCarthy was Glenferrie Hood, a pacer making a name for himself in Victoria with two straight wins here. The son of Christian Cullen/Niftey Franco found the lead from gate seven early and ran along to record a mile rate of 1:53.7, defeating Sapphire Swayze by 3.6m with Im Barney Rubble third. Shes A Runa notched her 16th win at start No.27 by taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final for trainer Amanda Turnbull and driver Nathan Jack. The Jeremes Jet/Runacullen mare, a four-year-old, was 7.3m too strong for Gollahman, while in-form Ithappenstobeametro stuck on gamely for third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:55.5. Trainer Dean Braun looks to have another star on his hands in the form of Wardwell, who won tonight’s Pegasus Club 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. The gelding by Mach Three out of Ohappy Daze won by 7.4m over Starwyn Jasper with Brighty Valentine third in a rate of 1:59.0. Wardwell has now won three from three and bigger races look on his agenda moving forward. David Miles and his talented four-year-old Smokey Quartz capped the night with a gutsy success over Masterofthurles, that pair racing well clear of third placegetter Thunder Fee in the last race, the 2Construct Pace Final over 1720m. Smokey Quartz and Masterofthurles were involved in a speed war early, the latter eventually holding up and Smokey Quartz dropping to the leader’s back. From there Smokey Quartz eventually got out, rounded up the early pace setter and went on to score by 2.8m in a rate of 1:56.4. Smokey Quartz is a son of the great Courage Under Fire out of Pareen. View replays of all tonight's races and get full results by Cody Winnell

Bray Raceway in Ballarat is the place to be this Saturday night. The harness racing club will host a 10-event card of harness racing featuring the John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup (Group 3) and rising star Hectorjayjay in the fast-class race. Club Chief Executive Paul Rowse said there were still dining spots available in the acclaimed Terrace Restaurant, which is always a great way to spend a night at the trots – especially when the nights are wintry. “We’ve got a couple of hundred booked already but there’s still room for more,” Rowse said. The first race on Saturday is scheduled to jump at 5.31pm, an early start meaning the last will be run at 10pm. Revellers looking to rejoice their winnings however can kick on after the last in the always popular Flying Horse Bistro, with live music and a party atmosphere through until 1am. “Punters can come and watch the Richmond versus Essendon game on one of the many TV screens or they can listen to some great live music and celebrate any winnings they’ve made throughout the night,” Rowse said. This year’s John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup sees a quality field of eight in the 2200-metre race, with Brent Lilley-trained Kyvalley Blur (Chocolatier) expected to prove hardest to beat. Kyvalley Blur sat in the breeze and fought on doggedly in the Cranbourne Trotters Cup last time out, Lilley explaining that the death seat probably wasn’t his go. “He was probably a wee bit upside down because he’s normally a sit-sprinter,” Lilley said. “Be he still ran a good race and he’d be my best chance on the night.” Punters might also pay to keep a close eye on Lilley’s runner in Race 6, Saratoga, who is first-up in Australia after crossing from New Zealand. “He’s been here about a month and he has good form in New Zealand and should prove hard to beat,” Lilley said. “Aldebaran Southland is probably his biggest danger.” >> Visit the Ballarat and District Trotting Club for information on how to book a dining package or for other details ahead of Saturday night by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

The New South Wales Trotting Oaks was run at last Saturday nights harness racing meeting at Menangle and as expected Arya produced a polished display to take out the Group  1 feature. Trevor Casey must be racking up those frequent flyer miles points as he once again crossed the Tasman to watch one of his star trotters compete and he was duly rewarded when Arya showed that manners are just as important as ability and luckily she has got big dollops of both. The minor highlight of the race was the run of the Italian bred filly My Tribeca who put up a huge performance after getting badly checked at the start. Bred to northern hemisphere time, My Tribeca was only born on the 14th of May 2012 so was barely a three year old on Saturday night and was only having her second lifetime start which adds even more merit to the run. Both Arya and My Tribeca now head to the Victorian Trotting Oaks on Saturday week and the rematch should be worth going a long way to see. Greg Hayes spoke to the connections of both horses post race. Harnesslink Media   

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