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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

The 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters continues this weekend. With two legs of the five race harness racing series already decided, it’s now make or break time as we head into in the $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton this Saturday. A heat/final concept staged on the SAME night staged over the 1720m distance. And holding the whip hand is evergreen trotter Keystone Del, a co-leader in the Trotting Masters after his dominant display in the Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton last month. Regarded as Australia’s best trotter, the winner of the Great Southern Star two years ago heads into this year’s series in peak form yet again following his effortless victory in track record time last week at Cranbourne in the Gr.1 $50,000 Aldebaran Park The Knight Pistol. Keystone Del rated 1:56.1 for the 1609m event. Now prepared by master trainer Brent Lilley, the Dr Ronerail gelding has won 5 of his 6 starts since joining the stable and has landed the inside gate in his qualifying heat. Boom Kiwi trotter Speeding Spur looms as his biggest threat but must overcome gate six but his recent form is sensational highlighted by his victory last week at Alexandra Park where he overcame a 50m handicap which followed his monstrous performance in the Grand Prix when beaten narrowly by Keystone Del. Prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, Speeding Spur is a proven big race performer in Melbourne. Other chances include Kyvalley Blur, Our Overanova, Leannes Boy and Daryl Boko. In the opening heat, the Andy and Kate Gath prepared Glenferrie Typhoon looms as the hardest to beat after landing the inside gate. Glenferrie Typhoon has won 3 of his 5 races this year with breaks made in the other two including last week at Cranbourne in The Knight Pistol behind Keystone Del. Two starts ago, the Majestic Son gelding smashed the track record in the Maori Mile at Bendigo when leading throughout in a time of 1:54.4. Star mare Claudys Princess chased valiantly when runner-up to Glenferrie Typhoon on that occasion and looms as a legitimate threat again this week. Prepared by Mick Blackmore, Claudys Princess was responsible for an excellent effort in the Gr.1 Trotters Cup at TABCORP Park, Menangle last start after making a break in the final lap before regrouping to finish off well when fifth behind On Thunder Road. Others that warrant respect in the opening heat include Maori Time, Super Zeck, Quite A Moment and Son Of Sonoko. The $50,000 qualifying heats will be staged as races 3 and 4 while the $300,000 final is scheduled as race 9 on the program. Hoofnote; the opening leg of the Trotting Masters was the Dominion staged at Addington in November and was won by Master Lavros. by Chris Barsby

Australia’s best trotter, Keystone Del, may be bound for the US. Harness racing trainer Brent Lilley said the Yonkers International would be an intriguing option should the opportunity present for the eight-year-old, who looks hard to beat in next weekend’s Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton. Lilley made the comment after Keystone Del smashed the track record at Cranbourne over the mile in tonight’s Group 1 Aldebaran Park Knight Pistol for driver Anthony Butt. KEYSTONE DEL SCORCHES RIVALS IN THE KNIGHT PISTOL Straight to the breeze from barrier four outside race leader Arboe, barrier two, Keystone Del powered home in 1:56.1 by 11.1m over stablemate Kyvalley Blur (Nathan Jack), with the flying Super Zeck into third for Darren Cole and John Caldow. Arboe finished fourth. Keystone Del boasts 35 wins from his 57 starts to date for stake earnings fast approaching $1million. by Cody Winnell

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

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