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As he headed out for Monday's final drivers invitational race behind The Sparrow Hawk, who is trained by his neighbour Brent Lilley at Bolinda, Chris Alford looked steeled and determined. The champion reinsman always takes pride in his performance and rates every race as important for the owners and trainers who entrust him with their horses. But on this day he's also right in the mix to take out his third Decron Horse Care Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship. After winning the first heat with Artful Christian for Terang trainer Chris Svanosio, Alford drove 60/1 outsider Farastheeyecansee for Adelaide trainer Toby Ryan in the second heat and managed to beat only one other runner home. Fourth in heat four three Turning Express for Mt Gambier trainer David Drury earned Alford valuable points and a great chance of taking out the title. With co-leader Kerryn Manning piloting a 100/1 chance in the final heat she was virtually out of the contest, but arch-rival Gavin Lang was still alive after victory with Cruz for Werribee trainer Jeff Tarbone in the third heat. On paper it looked a match race between a couple of hardened veterans - Alford with 35,000 career drives under the belt and approaching 6000 winners and Lang with some 30,200 drives and also in sight of the magical 6000 mark. The final event of the day resulted in the best finish of the day with a bunch of seven runners at the wire spread over just three metres of the track. The judge called for the photo and announced that Alford and The Sparrow Hawk had been pipped on the post by Greg Sugars and Blazedale for Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart.  Lang wasn't far away in 5th place aboard a somewhat unlucky Jilliby Shania and Manning tailed the field home, and so it was Alford who claimed the Noel Smith Memorial Shield. Alford also had the honour of handing over the commemorative Wooden Spoon, which he collected in 2016, to first-time NSW visitor Todd McCarthy. Perhaps a good omen for McCarthy for next year's staging. Tony Logan

New Zealand harness racing owner Helen Conaghan celebrated her first classic win when Our Jimmie NZ led throughout to win the $30,000 Group 3 SA BOTRA South Australian Derby (2230m) at Globe Derby Park. Trainer Brent Lilley supplied the Derby quinella when Our Jimmie ($2.50) scored an easy seven metre win from King Solomon ($1.70 favourite) with Jilliby Road Runner ($12.50), nine metres away third. “There is not much between them and I knew when Anthony (driver Anthony Butt) was able to lead and dictate he would be the one to beat,” Lilley said. “Both horses will go home and be set for the Victoria Derby but they have to keep stepping up. “They have improved since coming from New Zealand but have a big step to take if they are going to be any chance of taking off the Victoria Derby.” Butt virtually sealed the Derby when he could record 31.6 and 30.2 first quarters which made it near impossible for the three-year-olds back in the field to catch him coming home in 28.3 and 28. For Ms Conaghan, from Christchurch, she was over the moon. “I came into harness ownership about nine years ago, with my partner Paul Walton and we purchased the mare Trinity College for about $3000. She had only one start but we mated her with Big Jim and Our Jimmie is the result. “He showed some ability at home but after talking with a few people we made the decision to send him across to Brent Lilley, himself a New Zealand, and it was a decision we have not regretted.” Our Jimmie notched his seventh win from eight starts for Lilley with the Derby win. “The horses seem to happy here,” Ms Conaghan said, “and there are meetings seven days a week.” King Solomon and Jilliby Road Runner both ran well but found the winner too strong. The South Australians were basically out of the race as they settled towards the rear of the field but Breach The Beach caught the eye late for trainer-driver Danielle Hill. Graham Fischer

NEWLY-CROWNED Inter Dominion champion Smolda headlines a strong Kiwi presence across a big weekend of feature racing in Australia. Smolda steps out for the first time since his powerhouse Gloucester Park triumph on December 9 when he drops sharply in grade in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 South Australian Pacing Cup (2645m) at Globe Derby. Despite the lack of racing and an outside back row draw (gate 12), Smolda looks a league above his rivals and is a $1.40 favourite on the Aussie TAB. “The break is just what he needed and he’s raring to go again after a long and hard campaign in Perth,” Purdon said. “He’s ready to run a big race, but there is room to improve with the Hunter Cup still a month away.” The only rivals with claims on testing him at all appear to be Brent Lilley’s former Kiwi pacer Messini (gate 11) and emerging Victorian Jilliby Jagger, who could press forward and find the lead from gate six. But the gruelling 2645m trip plays right into Smolda’s corner. For Globe Derby he heads to the Ballarat Cup on January 21 and a defence of his Hunter Cup title on February 4. Also at Globe Derby, another Lilley-trained former Kiwi pacer King Solomon stifles betting in the South Australian Derby from gate four after two wins and a third since crossing the Tasman. Over in Perth on Friday night, classy Kiwi Franco Nelson has finally had some overdue luck in the barrier draws. Temporarily in the care of Greg and Skye Bond, Franco Nelson drew wide and was never a chance in a leader dominated race when seventh at Gloucester Park last week at his first outing since an eye-catching fifth in the Inter Dominion final. Franco Nelson needed a good draw to be a winning chance in Friday night’s $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup and it came with gate three. Importantly, he has drawn inside key rivals Chicago Bull (four), Beaudiene Boaz (five), Soho Tribeca (six), Our Jimmy Johnstone (seven) and Bettors Fire (nine). Based on what we saw during the Perth Inter Dominion, Franco Nelson should be able to hold those outside him and be a chance of finding the lead from speedy polemarker Mynameiskenny. If he leads, Franco Nelson will take quite some beating over the 2536m around Gloucester Park. The Aussie TAB has opened Franco Nelson $3 equal favourite with Chicago Bull, who ran a slashing second to Beaudiene Boaz in last week’s Village Kid Pace over 2130m.   Adam Hamilton

Leading harness racing trainers and drivers are deciphering the many machinations that could make up Saturday night's Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup. Plenty of pace has drawn the front row amid proven Grand Circuit and Group 1 types, presenting a luring tactical battle. “It looks like there could be a bit of speed off the gate with Metro Mike and It Is Billy inside,” said Bolinda trainer Brent Lilley, who has Messini drawn in gate four. Analysts expect Metro Mike will allow It Is Billy to slide to the front, potentially leaving race-hardened Messini to sit parked. Spirits remain high in Lilley’s camp despite their Art Major six-year-old being on the back of a “disappointing” New Zealand campaign and a disqualification at Bankstown last start, when Messini and driver Anthony Butt encroached inside the markers and were disqualified. “He was very unlucky there,” Lilley said. “With a clear run he looked like he would have won.” Perhaps his biggest obstacle to Saturday night success could come from Tee Cee Bee Macray, who will likely start favourite in his first tilt at a Trots Country Cup. “Tee Cee Bee Macray is looking like a top horse on the way up, so things will need to right for (Messini) to win, but in saying that he is pretty versatile,” Lilley said. Greg Sugars has been in the sulky for Tee Cee Bee Macray’s last eight drives, amassing a formidable record of four wins and four second placings, the latter including his last start when the Ponder gelding poked his head in front only to be pipped by Major Secret. “He’s always had that tendency to find the front and ease up,” Sugars said of the five-year-old, who is trained by Alan Tubbs. “He has never had big winning margins, even when he went out against weaker opposition.” They are weaknesses in Tee Cee Bee Macray that don’t burden the enthusiasm for him, attributed largely to his exhilarating speed. That was evident in his last start. “I thought with him being first up and going on the sectionals I was very pleased with the run,” Sugars said. “I was told his last half was equal to anything he’d run before at Tabcorp Park and the clock doesn’t lie.” It’s a fact not lost on Gavin Lang, the veteran reinsman who will pilot Emma Stewart-trained Young Modern, who has drawn gate six, next door to Sugars. Having opposed Tee Cee Bee Macray throughout the 2015-16 season in four-year-old racing with superstar Ideal For Real, Lang has been well aware of his rival’s ability to mow down opponents on the final straight. He expects Tee Cee Bee Macray to race further forward in the Geelong Cup. “Tee Cee Bee Macray has drawn nicely on the front and at some stage he is going to have roll forward instead of dropping out,” Lang said. “He keeps running super runs without winning and he is not going to be able to keep giving the other ones a start.” His six-year-old, Young Modern, has continued to perform well against quality free for all competition, having crossed to Emma Stewart’s stable mid-year. “His last few have been quite good, but at that level you have to have things go right for you to win. He’s going very well,” Lang said. “I expect him to front up again Saturday night in what appears a very strong race on paper. He has shown, Young Modern, when he was coming through the grades that strength was his main attribute, but lately at this level he has shown if he gets a good trip he can really get home quickly.” He’ll potentially be trying to mow down Sugars, who gets the last word. “We are not going to be too far from the front and with his finishing sprint (Tee Cee Bee Macray) should be right there.” The cup takes place at 9.32pm. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator) Fields for Geelong, Saturday 10 December 2016 Form guide for Geelong, Saturday 10 December 2016

Victoria-based Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley has never won a Group One event at Alexandra Park, but he is hoping that will all change before the end of the year. In fact on the last day of 2016 Lilley will line up his star trotter Kyvalley Blur in the Group One $80,000 National Trot at Alexandra Park and that's the race Lilley wants to nail. After a win and then two thirds during (NZ) Cup Week, Lilley has already termed Kyvalley Blur’s New Zealand campaign a success. “He’s more than paid his way, and apart from being slow away from a handicap at Kaikoura, it’s been well worth him coming over. I’ve been back and forth and will do so again in December. “The horse is being looked after by my partner Tracey at her Dad, Barry Cullen’s stable at Morrinsville. Bob Butt did a wonderful job with him down south,” Lilley said. “I’m grateful to everyone who has helped the horse in New Zealand,” he added. The former Cantabrian horseman said Kyvalley Blur’s first-up win at Alexandra Park on October 7 will put him in good stead for his two races in Auckland. “The opposition might not be as tough as what he will meet this time around but I was really pleased with the way he won and came through that race first-up in New Zealand. “David (Butcher) did a good job that night and we will be asking him again if he wants the drive,” said Lilley. He said Kyvalley Blur will have three races in the North Island before heading back to Australia to tackle the Aussie Grand Prix in late January and then the Great Southern Star on February 4. “He will line up at Auckland on December 16 and 31 and in between those races he will start at Cambridge Raceway on Christmas Eve. Then he will head home,” Lilley said. The black 9-year-old Chocolatier gelding impressed Butt at the Rangiora Trials yesterday (Tuesday) when beating Arya and Master Lavros by two-and-a-half lengths each. “Bob said he felt real nice and came home real good in 58 and 27.5. That’s very encouraging and with Monbet not heading to Auckland I think we have a real chance of going close in the National Trot,” said Lilley. Kyvalley Blur ran third behind Monbet in the two Group One events at Addington Raceway. In the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All he got within two lengths of the champion and then three days later was just under six lengths behind him in the Dominion Trot. “It would be fantastic to win a Group race over here. He’s won the Group One Bill Collins Trot Mile (2013) and has placed numerous times in other Group races. “If any horse deserved a Group race in New Zealand then it’s this fella,” said Lilley. Kyvalley Blur has raced 87 times for 20 wins, 36 placings and netted $383,108 in stakes. He made his with a second at Kilmore on May 8, 2011. “He’s lovely horse to have around and we are looking for home to come – hopefully after he has done the business in the North Island. “Whatever happens the decision to come over has been well worth it. he’s already proven he can go the Alexandra Park way around. I’m looking forward to the second phase of his New Zealand campaign,” he said. Lilley has won nice stake money at Alexandra Park previously. In 2014 he trained Zedalite (Rod Petroff) to run a nose-second behind Superbowlcheerleader in the Group One $100,000 Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park. The American-bred Kyvalley Blur is owned by J W Connelly and was bred by C T Cone. Duane Ranger

Breaking news at Lilley Land, the Queen has overthrown the King. Most harness racing analysts believe the coup will be short-lived, with the King currently recuperating. However, some are boldly suggesting there is a changing of the guard at the top of the Victorian trots. In the past fortnight reigning Victorian trotting mare of the year Maori Time has claimed back-to-back victories over more highly acclaimed stablemate, and reigning trotting male of the year, Keystone Del. And last night the Brent Lilley-trained mare was completely dominant, while Del only beat one runner home. Important note, a post-race veterinarian’s examination revealed Keystone Del to be suffering cardiac arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat – and he was stood down by stewards pending a vet’s certificate, ECG and one successful trial. But no matter how you look at it, Maori Time’s win in last night’s $50,000, Group 1 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint was dominant. The seven-year-old daughter of stallion Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna burnt the candle at both ends of the 1720m race to record a 1:55.4 mile rate, going coast-to-coast for a 7.5m win over Sydneysider On Thunder Road. Maori Time’s victory – her second straight success in this race – was even more impressive when you consider what she had to overcome in the run, revealed post-event by winning reinsman Chris Alford. “We had a bit of drama… she started belting the wheel out of the gate and wanted to bowl along. She was all right to the winning post and then she wanted to get going again,” he said. Maori Time hummed through the first quarter in 28.6secs, notched a 29.7secs second split, and then went 28.5secs and 29.4secs for the third and fourth stanzas. Her sustained speed was too hot to handle for the opposition. It is also worth keeping in mind there was a stiff breeze up the straight last night, so conditions weren’t conducive to ultra-quick times. The win followed a last-start Derby Royale Trotters Free-for-All triumph where she also had Keystone Del’s measure. “She’s lost none of her zest, that’s for sure,” Alford said, referring to the fact he drove Maori Time four years ago when she was a three-year-old filly. “She’ll probably be targeting the major races (over summer) and she’s not out of them.” Keystone Del is an absolute superstar and has earned over $1 million in stakes. So while the Queen is keeping the throne warm for the time being it must be likely the King will be back where he belongs. Then again, father time waits for no man… Meanwhile, from a squaregaiting viewpoint the upcoming Summer of Glory looks tantalising. On Victoria Cup night (January 30) we’ll see the $100,000 Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, and one week later on Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup night the $300,000 Group 1 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star over 2760m should prove to be one of the races of the summer after the news during the week that New Zealand superstar Monbet is crossing the ditch in search of more riches. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Brent Lilley keeps raising the bar. The former Kiwi horseman enjoyed one of most rewarding 26 hours of his career with a treble across two countries over the weekend. It started when he rejuvenated veteran Kyvalley Blur opened his NZ raid with a “drive-by” win at Alexandra Park enroute to the free-for-all and Dominion at Addington in Cup Week. Then came a double when Lilley’s two stable stars, Keystone Del and Messini, won at Melton last night (Saturday). Keystone Del, now a nine-year-old, returned from a spell and showed he still had plenty of zip with an easy win in the True Roman Trot (2240m). Anthony Butt has was to settle him off the speed with stablemate Maori Time in front and the classy but underdone Glenferrie Typhoon sitting outside the leader. Keystone Del had the race won a long way out and did it easily in a 1min57.9sec mile rate and 56.7sec closing half. Despite the win, Lilley said it was unlikely Keystone Del would join Kyvalley Blur and Messini at NZ Cup Week. “I’ll chat with Patrick and Michael (Hall, the owners), but I’d prefer to stay here. There are some nice races for him at home, including the Bill Collins (November 12),” Lilley said. It is a different story with Messini after his fast-finishing win in the VHRSC Classic (2240m) at Melton. Now a six-year-old, Messini took a few runs to regain form and fitness this campaign but has won his past two free-for-alls at Melton in good style. In the VHRSC Classic he made the most of the one-one trail and a superb Anthony Butt drive to out-ping a good field in a farcically run race. The leaders – Stunning Grin in front and Ohoka Punter outside him – walked through a 49.1sec lead time and very steady 61.3sec first half of the last mile. They ran home in a staggering 54.4sec and Ohoka Punter, the $1.30 favourite, got past Stunning Grin, but couldn’t stave-off Messini and Flaming Flutter, who used the sprint lane for third. Lilley said Messini will back-up in next Saturday night’s Swan Hill Cup – probably against the likes of Hectorjayjay and Yankee Rockstar – before heading to NZ. “He will go to the Kaikoura Cup and then into the NZ Cup,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

David Butcher says veteran Aussie trotter Kyvalley Blur reminds him of Elsu. Not in his gait, or even his ability, but his cunning. Butcher had his first, and possibly last, drive in Kyvalley Blur when the US-bred, Australian-trained trotter won his New Zealand debut at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The race was a stopover hit and run mission in Auckland for Kyvalley Blur on his way south for the New Zealand Free-For-All and Dominion, where he will join his stablemate Messini for trainer Brent Lilley. Butcher drove the perfect race on Kyvalley Blur and the pair won pulling away but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for those who took the odds-on as the nine-year-old showed none of his expected gate speed and appeared to be flat out for much of the race. “He knew what he was doing,” laughed Butcher. “Those older horses who have been there, done that no when they have to put in to get the job done. “I learnt that driving Elsu years ago. When those good horses have been doing it for a while they learn when to put it and when they can cruise. “So while he may have looked like he lacked speed, he actually jogged it.”
 It was a good training performance from Lilley as few open class newcomers to Alexandra Park trot so cleanly and it has meant the former Chris Lang trotter has already half paid for his trip. He will head to Addington looking a great chance in the Free-For-All, where he won’t have to meet Monbet, and at least a place hope in the Dominion. “A horse like him who keeps trucking, if he gets to the markers in the Dominion he will be a great place chance,” said Butcher. Lilley’s stable driver Anthony Butt will be reunited with Kyvalley Blur at Addington. While he was the star of the Friday night meeting which played second fiddle to the Addington premier, there was plenty to like about some other winners on the night. Butcher partnered Rory McIlroy to win like a smart three-year-old early in the programme while Brent Mangos produced a handy three-year-old filly in Ask Again, who cruised home in 56.5 seconds in only her second start. And the Michelle Wallis-Bernie Hackett team recorded a trotting double with ex-South Islanders Blood And Whiskey and Thebestlove, the latter once again showing his love of mobile racing to down a luckless C K Spur. The latter galloped early, losing 20m, looped the field to lead and was run down late in 2:47.4 for the 2200m mobile, a huge run from a October three-year-old so he looks classic material.   Michael Guerin

Messini will burst into the start of the Trots Country Cups Carnival in outstanding form and with bold future harness racing plans. Brent Lilley’s head-down bustling pacer will contest next Saturday’s Swan Hill Pacing Cup, the first of the country cups season, before heading across the ditch to contest the Kaikoura Cup, New Zealand Trotting Cup and NZ Free For All in New Zealand. Ownership syndicate manager John Wilkinson revealed the intended journey after his fabulous six-year-old by Art Major out of Mesmerizing won the VHRSC Classic in a 54.4 final 800m at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, Saturday the 8th of October. “They were sensational sectionals,” Mr Wilkinson said. “It was a slow pace early, but to run those sectionals at the end is a credit to Anthony Butt and the trainer.” The open class race started at a walk with Stunning Grin leading the pack to a 49.1 lead time and 31.7 first quarter, before the fun started as they approached the final straight. Messini came off favourite Ohoka Punter’s (breeze) back and hit the line 1.9m ahead of Flaming Flutter (leader’s back), with the Nathon Purdon trained and driven Ohoka Punter a short-half head back in third. “The first half took forever and I was in a pretty good spot and couldn’t really do anything about it,” Butt said. “I just had to sit there and hopefully have a crack at some stage. “(Messini) really come good tonight, probably the best he’s run since I started driving him. He really come out and sprinted.” The performance helped seal plans to pursue another bold plan in New Zealand. “He’s getting better with each run and Brent’s got a pretty ambitious program for him,” Butt said. “If he heads to New Zealand, he raced really good over there last year. He won’t be out of it. “He loves the standing starts. (The NZ Trotting Cup’s) not going to be easy, Mark Purdon’s got a great team over there, but the two-mile really suits this guy.” Mr Wilkinson, a co-owner along with Peter Males, Robert Owen, Gary Dowling, Adam Wilkinson, Jenny Scott, Scott Benger and Sean Pulverman, said connections were buoyed by Messini’s campaign last year, when he finished second in the Kaikoura Cup and fifth in the NZ Trotting Cup. “The competition is going to be very tough (this year), particularly Mark Purdon’s horses, but (Messini) is a good standing start horse,” Mr Wilkinson said. “He showed last year that he can go very well from the standing start and over the longer journey.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Harness racing driver Anthony Butt bided his time before setting mighty trotter Keystone Del free and the brilliant nine-year-old did as he does best at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, Saturday the 8th of November. While stablemate and frontrunner Maori Time was able to set the pace as he pleased out front in the True Roman Trotters Free For All, returning guns Glenferrie Typhoon and Keystone Del sat breeze and three-back-the-outside respectively. Come the final straight it was all set for a showdown but Glenferrie Typhoon, returning after an eight-month lay-off, faded while Keystone Del swept past for a sixth straight win, with Maori Time 3.2m second and Savannah Jay Jay just a half-neck back in third. The quinella was a pleasing sight for trainer Brent Lilley, who was rapt to have his famed gelding by Dr Ronerail out of Flipside back on track. “First up for a while you always think they need the run a little bit, but (Keystone Del’s) done a lot of work so we were confident he’d go good, and he did,” Lilley said. “It was a perfect first-up run, just driven off the pace and looming up late, and he won it with plenty in hand.” The race ran to plan for team Lilley, with Gavin Lang steering Maori Time to the front from gate four and holding the lead unchallenged, with Kate Gath happy to sit off the pace in the breeze on second favourite Glenferrie Typhoon. “Maori Time, she’s always a leader, so we thought that she would lead and bowl along,” Lilley said. “I thought maybe Glenferrie might have put a bit more pressure on her, he was obviously needing the run as well, but it worked out how we sort of thought it would.” A third quarter of 28.7 and fourth quarter of 28.0 would see Keystone Del in a class of his own, claiming the Group 3 in a 1:57.9 mile rate. He has now won his last six starts in a row. Keystone Del takes his record to 63 starts for 40 wins 7 seconds and 3 thirds for $1,034,520 in earnings with this win. “He’s still seems to be going as good as he ever has. For a nine-year-old he hasn’t had a hell of a lot of starts really. I think he’s still got plenty of good wins ahead of him,” Lilley said. “To have a horse like that in the team, it’s a pleasure really. It’s great to have him back on the track and back doing what he does best.” And Tabcorp Park Melton trots fans are likely to see plenty more of him, with a trip across the ditch to race in New Zealand  appearing unlikely. “The owners (Patrick and Michael Hall) are over tonight. I’ll have a chat with them and see what they want,” Lilley said. “I’m probably happy to keep him at home. There’s a Free For All on the 29th (of October) and the Bill Collins on 12th of November, so that’s probably the plan.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

When it comes to Monbet even the smallest setback has a significant ripple effect. The champion trotter missed a trial at Ashburton today after banging a leg the night before but trainer Greg Hope says it will only delay his campaign a week. But so dominant is Monbet in the market for his first major aim for the season, the Dominion on November 11, some bookies suspended markets as soon as the rumours started. “It really isn’t anything serious,” says Hope. “He looks like he has banged his leg, just above the knee, maybe on a fence or even his feed bin. “Because of who he is we had some x-rays taken and even some fluid from the area analyzed and he is fine. “ It means he will have three easy days and then back to work so I don’t in any way see it costing him any fitness for the Dominion. “He is that big and strong this time in I would say he will definitely be better than last year if it wasn’t for the fact people would think I was crazy for saying that.” Hope says the plan is to race Monbet just once before the Dominion, in the Flying Mile at Ashburton on October 24 but he would not be hugely concerned if he missed that race. “We can work at home with horses like Harrysul and Quite A Moment so we get a good gauge on him and even if he went into the Dominion with only the Cup trial trot the week before I think he would be fine.” Hope has also ruled out any chance of Monbet starting in both the NZ Free-For-All, on Cup day November 8. “Definitely not. If the Dominion was Cup Day and the Free-For-All three days later we would, but not the way it is presently.” That will be music to the ears of rival trainers as they queue for the crumbs from Monbet’s table, especially with New Zealand’s three best other trotters --- Master Lavros, Stent and Speeding Spur --- set to miss that carnival. Monbet would be a dominant Dominion favourite anyway but with his only serious rivals sidelined, horses who wouldn’t normally be in the Dominion conversation are edging up the market. The most surprising of them is Australian veteran Kyvalley Blur, who makes his New Zealand debut at Alexandra Park on Friday. A perennial group race placegetter, Kyvalley Blur is trained by former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley, with two big recent wins at Melton sealing his trip. “He has got a lot little stronger and is racing well but the reality of this trip is, the big trot races over there are looking a bit light behind Monbet,” sats Lilley. “I am going to the Cup meeting anyway because we have Messini for the Cup and this horse has earned his trip. “And Monbet not likely to start in all the biggest races so he could even pick up a race like the Trotting Free-For-All.” But Lilley’s stable star and Autstralia’s best trotter Keystone Del is almost certain not to make the trip back his homeland. Good enough to beat both Monbet, when he galloped, and Speeding Spur in the Grand Prix last season, Keystone Del has little form from a standing start (Dominion) so Lilley is likely to keep him in Australia. “There is a A$50,000 race at home the day after the Dominion that probably suits him better so I doubt he will come, unless something happens to Monbet between now and then. Kyvalley Blur starts from the outside of the front line against moderate opposition on Friday night. “He is a lovely gaited horse so I am sure he will handle Alexandra Park then he will head down south.”   Michael Guerin

Brent Lilley is returning “home” for NZ Cup Week and could take as many as three of his stable stars with him. Lilley, who has continued to grow into one of Victoria’s top trainers since moving from NZ, said classy pacer Messini and rejuvenated veteran trotter Kyvalley Blur would definitely head to Addington. And, in an exciting twist, Lilley said he was seriously considering taking Australia’s champion trotter Keystone Del across as well. “That’s a real chance,” he said. “He (Keystone Del) will resume at Melton on Saturday week and I’ll talk more with the owners after that. “You know how much I love Cup Week and to go back with some of my best horses will be great.” Keystone Del has not raced since winning at Ballarat on May 28. The US-bred Kyvalley Blur, who started his career with the now retired Chris Lang Sr, has won 19 of his 83 starts and earned $317,293. Most importantly, the gelding has won both starts this season and is racing in career-best form. Messini, who boasts 21 wins from his 60 starts and $512,021 in earnings, took a few runs to find form this campaign, but looked good beating a handy field in the Preux Chevalier free-for-all at Melton at his latest run on September 17.   Adam Hamilton

Anthony Butt admitted to being “pleasantly surprised” with his latest Breeders Crown win aboard Kyvalley Kyrie. Butt teamed with another former Kiwi horseman, Brent Lilley, to score the upset of Breeders Crown Super Sunday when Kyvalley Kyrie led throughout as a $43.40 shot. It was just the filly’s second win from 11 starts in a busy first season of racing. “That’s one we didn’t expect, but she picked the right day to do it all right and she really had to earn the win, too,” Butt said. “Once I found the front the challengers came at me, but I really wanted to hold the lead because I knew she’d keep whacking away. Even if she didn’t win, I thought she could run a big race in front.” Kyvalley Kyrie copped plenty of early pressure from the hot favourite Our Regal Love, but just kept finding in a race run upside down. The mile rate was a solid 2min1.7sec for the 2240m, but they ground home the closing quarter in 31.1sec. “They all had their chance to run her down,” Butt said. Butt heaped praise on Lilley’s training performance. “Lil has to get the credit. Although we’ve always like this filly, she was plain last start and he was able to turn her around when it mattered,” he said. Our Regal Love, who grabbed the one-one trail after an unsuccessful challenge for the lead, rallied again in the home straight, but couldn’t rundown the leader. She finished second. Adam Hamilton

Some harness racing people might say Our Twentyten is a tad underrated. The dual Breeders Crown winner paid $10.10 on the Victorian tote tonight defeating Blue Sky Commander ($2fav) and Sky Petite ($3.30) in the Seelite Windows and Doors Winter Trotters Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton. Afterwards trainer Brent Lilley declared more Breeders Crown riches were being sought with the Breeders Crown Open a target. Steered to perfection by Rodney Petroff, who has developed a great affinity with the son of Muscles Yankee/Regal Volo, Our Twentyten got his head in front right at the wire in the 2240-metre race. Petroff drove confidently out of the gate, pushing through a gap from a back-row draw before working to the breeze and eventually grabbing one-one cover when Sky Petite (Steven Duffy) obliged. Miracle set the tempo despite an outside-front-row draw, Josh Duggan taking the gelding to the front where he reeled off 31.4, 32.1 and 28.4 splits between the mile and the quarter pole. VIDEO REPLAY: Our Twentyten takes out the Winter Trotters Cup Sky Petite and Blue Sky Commander (Kerryn Manning) placed bold bids for victory approaching the home turn but they must have heard Our Twentyten’s hoof beats in hot pursuit. Blue Sky Commander got the better of Sky Petite at the 100m, but Our Twentyten made up the required half-length he needed to get the win inside the final 50m. “He’ll have to meet the better performed horses in the Breeders Crown but he got it (the Breeders Crown) as a three- and four-year-old,” Lilley said. His winning mile rate tonight was 1:59.3, the last quarter covered in 29secs. Blue Sky Commander was gutsy in second, while Sky Petite hung on for third just ahead of Lightning Calder and Savannah Jay Jay. Cody Winnell

Champion trotter Keystone Del is just one phone call away from heading to the US for the $US1 million International Trot at Yonkers in New York on October 16.  Trainer Brent Lilley said he expected to hear confirmation of an invite in coming days.  “We are keen, but the officials over there have been waiting for the Elitlopp (run Sunday night in Sweden) before issuing any invites,” Lilley said.  “Michael Taranto and Andrew Kelly have been doing the legwork from Australia for us and they say there’s a spot for a horse from down here and Keystone Del is the one they want.  “The owners have left the decision to me and I think we should give it a go.  “The timing works well, he’s going as well as ever and Yonkers is the sort of track which will suit this horse, providing he draws well.”  Despite being a rising nine-year-old, Keystone Del has raced 14 times this season for 12 wins and a third. This season alone he’s earned almost $300,000.  The latest win came in the Group 2 Jack Slack Trotters’ Cup (2200m) last night (Saturday). He’s now won 40 of his 63 starts.  Driver Anthony Butt took Keystone Del to the front from gate four, controlled the tempo through a 62.3sec middle half then finished-off in 57.2 and 27.1sec to easily hold-off his main danger Stoned I Am and win by 6.9m.  “If the invite comes through this week, we’ll give him a bit of a break then bring him back and set him for the trip,” Lilley said.  “We can get over there about three weeks before the race and if there’s a race at Yonkers the week before the big one, we’d be keen to give him a lead-up run there.” Adam Hamilton

The sales topper at the 2016 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale held today Sunday the 13th of March in Melbourne is destined for the Brent Lilley harness racing stable. A colt by Majestic Son (sire of two-year-old Group 1 two-year-old winners Im Stately, Daenarys Targaryen and One Over Da Moon) out of proven producer Pinevale Ellason (Duchess Ella, Ruby Pinevale and All Star Angus) sold for $47,000 to Jim Connelly and will join the powerful Lilley yard. “Really pleased we got him,” Lilley said. “We had a good look around and thought he was the pick of the sale. On type obviously and breeding, he ticks both boxes.” Seller Terry Forster was “rapt” with the result. “We’re delighted with the result. It’ll keep the wheels turning,” he said. “We were hoping we’d go close to topping the sale because of the breeding and the progeny that this mare has had.” Preparer Pauleen Thomson was also thrilled with the result and she had an extra special day because two of the yearlings she prepared were among the top three priced sales of the day. Thomson prepared Lot 10, the sales topper, and Lot 13, a colt by Majestic Son out of Cloud Chaser which sold for $36,000. “I’m absolutely rapt. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He’s always been a really nice colt,” Thomson said of the Majestic Son/Pinevale Ellason colt. “He’s got a beautiful nature, no problems at all, just a really nice natured animal.” The second highest priced sale was Lot 31, a bay colt by Aldebaran Park first season sire Yield Boko out of Joyces Choice, prepared by Haley Toulmin. It went for $40,000. This year’s sale average was $14,900, up from last year’s average of $12,900 (an increase of about 7.5 per cent). 2016 Sale Results               Lot Sire Dam Sex Sales Price Purchaser Reserve 1 Bacardi Lindy Enjoy A Champers Filly Withdrawn N/A N/A 2 Pegasus Spur Its Billie Holiday Colt Passed In N/A $10,000 3 Fling It Black Curlew Filly Passed In N/A $15,000 4 Skyvalley Im Sonialeelee Filly $6,000 G Conroy   5 Angus Hall Petite Flair Filly $8,000 I Nicholas   6 Yankee Spider Maori Azolla Colt Passed In N/A $12,000 7 Imperial Count Icantremember Colt Withdrawn N/A N/A 8 Skyvalley Aldebaran Deegan Colt $9,500 A Ashwood   9 Majestic Son Missgoodytwoshoes Filly $14,500 L Fitzpatrick   10 Majestic Son Pinevale Ellason Colt $47,000 KPC Racing   11 Brylin Boyz Shez Allrighty Colt $8,000 S Thompson   12 The Pres Miriama Filly $6,000 Z Cauchi   13 Majestic Son Cloud Chaser Colt $36,000 M Caldow   14 Yield Boko Kyvalley Bling Colt $9,000 L Justice   15 Lucky Chucky Charlotte Galleon Colt $13,000 J Knight   16 CR Commando Kano Classic Colt Passed In N/A $15,000 17 Yield Boko Aldebaran Crumpet Colt $15,000 Y Males   18 Majestic Son Singing Creek Colt Withdrawn N/A N/A 19 Tennotrump Eagles Image Colt $8,000 P Mellington   20 Yield Boko Aldebaran Queenie Filly $19,000 D Scott   21 Majestic Son Ostensibly Colt Passed In N/A $10,000 22 Angus Hall Idoido Colt Passed In N/A $35,000 23 Muscle Hill Aftanoondelite Colt Passed In N/A $50,000 24 Yield Boko Aldebaran Revenue Filly $12,000 N Shinn   25 Majestic Son Missy Calder Filly Withdrawn N/A N/A 26 Pegasus Spur Lover Or Loser Colt $8,000 A Alchin   27 Bad Boy Truscott Poet Laureate Filly $10,000 C Murphy   28 Yield Boko Aldebaran Sunset Colt $16,000 M Taranto   29 Angus Hall Running Pinevale Gelding $13,000 I Caruana   30 Muscle Hill Starcus Colt $22,000 B Lilley   31 Yield Boko Joyces Choice Colt $40,000 G Webster   32 Bacardi Lindy Ima Tartan Tease Filly $15,000 W Agostino   33 Majestic Son Maori Road Filly $31,000 Raceapacer   34 Yield Boko Countess Angela Colt Withdrawn N/A N/A 35 Angus Hall Flash And Flair Colt $27,000 M Craven   36 Down Under Muscles Dodo Rocket Filly $30,000 D Aiken   37 Armbro Invasion Betty Cuthbert Filly $8,000 S Cameron   38 Yield Boko Bromac Aldebaran Filly $9,000 D Aitkin   39 Framework Pepperell Dargent Filly $4,000 F Cauchi   40 Majestic Son Lindys Two Step Filly $9,000 B Edwards   41 Kyvalley Blur Aldebaran Hall Colt $15,000 M Craven   42 Yield Boko Notnow Itstooearly Colt Withdrawn N/A N/A 43 Down Under Muscles Elite Action Colt $4,500 Veritas Holdings   44 Yankee Spider Lunar Landing Colt Passed In N/A $50,000 45 Bacardi Lindy Cruzenthepacific Filly $10,000 E Tormey   46 Yield Boko Maori Lindy Colt $11,500 MC Family Trust   47 Bacardi Lindy Docmelfi Filly $11,000 M Taranto   48 Armbro Variable La Cousu Colt $15,000 A Gath   49 Yankee Spider Stand On Me Filly $10,000 J Shelley   50 Down Under Muscles Melpark Sunrise Filly $12,000 T Bradley   51 Skyvalley Aldebaran Pearl Colt $8,000 Tonn Pty Ltd       Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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