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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 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   

New Zealander Trevor Casey is enjoying a lot of success with his team of harness racing horses both sides of the Tasman. The popular owner has 30 horses including Australasia's best trotter Stent, leading two year olds Our Waikiki Beach and Lazarus and Saturday night's NSW Trotters Oaks winner My Arya. Saturday night's victory meant a lot to Casey as he bred the talented daughter of Angus Hall. "I did breed her and she's the only daughter that Belle Galleon (Stent's mother) has had and I certainly will be retaining her as a broodmare at the end of her career," said Casey. "I raised her right from day dot, watched her grow up, then saw her get broken in and have since watched her all the way through." Casey chose to target the New South Wales Trotters Oaks rather than the NZ Harness Jewels after a narrow defeat in the Menangle feature twelve months ago. "My Arya could have got into the Harness Jewels and she would have been a show but I wanted to win the NSW Oaks because I ran second last year with Daenerys Targaryen and I wanted to come back and have another go at it and we were successful." "We won't be coming back for the NSW Trotters Derby next week, the Victorian Oaks is the week after which means she would have to race four weeks in a row and I just don't think that's fair on her." While at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night Casey took the opportunity to speak with club officials about Stent returning to race on the 1400 metre track. "Stent will be back, I actually said to the team here tonight I'd like to see a mile race here for the open trotters again, I would really love to see the horse at Menangle over the mile again because I think he could go 1:52.0." My Arya's trainer Brent Lilley was excited with the victory and thought her manners took her a long way. "She's proved over here she's the best trotting filly at the moment but I thought the run of the second horse (My Tribeca) was great, My Arya has got manners but the gap between her and the rest is definitely closing," said Lilley. "In saying all that, we still wouldn't swap her for any of them, so after the Victorian Trotters Oaks she will head towards the Breeders Crown and then spell." Greg Hayes

There are only five TAB Carnival Of Cups meetings remaining this season however a number of horses still remain in contention to be crowned the series' leading pacer. With $5,000 on offer to the horse's owners, some trainers will look to compete at the remaining harness racing meetings in a bid to secure vital points. Every winner at a Carnival of Cups meeting receives three points, the runner up gets two points while third picks up one. Hollywood Sign set up a healthy lead after winning races at four meetings and placing third at another for trainer Trevor White but has since been sold and now is prepared by Victorian horseman Brent Lilley. The son of Life Sign has a three point lead over five pacers including Eugowra's Canola Cup winner Holm Three. Snoop Stride will compete at Cootamundra on Sunday afternoon and should the son of Stonebridge Regal win the final event he will join Hollywood Sign on thirteen points. The Turnbull family dominate the trainers and drivers points tables with Steve more than 100 points clear of his nearest rival in the training division while Amanda has a 42 point lead over her father in the leading driver tally.   LEADING HORSE HOLLYWOOD SIGN 13 HOLM THREE 10 MOUSE IN THE HOUSE 10 READ ABOUT LEXY 10 RISEANDRISEAGAIN 10 SNOOP STRIDE 10* DENISES LEGACY 9* MITHRYS MAGIC 9 STRATHLACHLAN ANDY 9* LEXUS ON THE BEACH 8 PEPPERALL 8 SOKYS BIGBULLET 8* STENING 8* *racing at Cootamundra this Sunday       LEADING TRAINER A S TURNBULL 145 S J SNUDDEN 41 S P TRITTON 36 B J HEWITT 33 D M HEWITT 22     LEADING DRIVER A J TURNBULL 85 A S TURNBULL 43 C R BELL 35 D N MORAN 32 B J HEWITT 27   Greg Hayes

Exciting New Zealand youngster My Arya continues to thrive on the Australian conditions. Sent across the Tasman to be prepared by Victorian harness racing horseman Brent Lilley, My Arya extended her Aussie winning streak to seven – including six wins this season.   Having competed on the mainland during the summer, My Arya returned to the Shaky Isles where she registered a placing from three starts.   Back with Lilley for the past fortnight, My Arya was triumphant in track record time at Cranbourne during the weekend.   “She went terrific,” Lilley declared. “Anthony Butt never had to move and said she was never out of second gear.   “To do it that easily and in record time is a super effort. She’s a very classy filly, which is going to be hard to beat in all the fillies’ race for the remainder of the season.”   Leading throughout from barrier six, My Arya cruised to a 12-and-a-half metre triumph from Glenferrie Burn, with Hush Your Majesty four-and-a-half.   “The draw wasn’t the best, but I knew she had class on her side,” Lilley said. “In the end she did it so easily, which was great to see.”   With the final 800 metres run in 58.5 seconds, the daughter of Angus Hall covered the mile in 1:58.5, slicing six-tenths of a second off Kyvalley Blur’s track record.   Set to give My Arya “a few easy days”, Lilley plans to take the three-year-old to Tabcorp Park Menangle for Saturday night’s New South Wales Trotters’ Oaks.   “She’ll have a few easy days given she’s done a bit of travelling to New Zealand and back, but we will head up the Hume with her for the Oaks on the weekend,” Lilley said.   “After that I’ll aim her at the Victoria Oaks before deciding on whether to put her in the Derby on Redwood Day.   “She also has the Breeders’ Crown at the end of the season, so I will make a decision on the Derby when the time comes.”           *** Paul Courts

Victorian pacer Messini is the second Australian invited to contest New Zealand’s Harness Racing Jewels meeting at Ashburton on May 30. The Brent Lilley-trained son of Art Major raced in last season’s Jewels last season, before winning the Vicbred Super Series Final, then returning to New Zealand to establish a national 2600-metre mobile record on New Zealand Cup Day. Messini was formerly trained by Mark Purdon. “We are thrilled with the invite and the owners are chuffed,” Lilley declared. “He will be the first horse to wear the Aussie colours made for the Jewels. “We wanted to go to the Jewels, and because he raced so well at the Cup Carnival, he already had some qualifying dollars, but this takes the pressure off.” The Shane Tritton-trained Salty Robyn was invited to contest the two-year-old Jewels earlier this month. Harness Racing NZ plans to invite an Australian to contest each of the nine Jewels divisions. HRV Media

Brent Lilley, who dominated Saturday night's Great Southern Star harness racing program at Melton, enjoyed another big night tonight with a winning double at Bray Raceway, Ballarat. The Bolinda trainer won Races 1 and 5, combining with gun driver Anthony Butt for the pair. Flying McPocket rated 1:58.6 over 2200 metres in the Flying Horse Bistro Pace, the four-year-old McArdle / Fleets Pocket mare scoring by 2.5m over Wingofwaves at juicy odds of $11.90. Polemarker Jilliby Diablo and Greg Sugars had sufficient gate speed to hold out an early challenge from Mister McKinnon (gate five) and Michael Sullivan, the latter able to jag on to the leader’s back for the box-seat trip. Flying McPocket settled third-last in the running line as they negotiated the first 600m in 43.5. The $1.30 favourite, Our Petite Soeur, was in the breeze from virtually the get-go for Gavin Lang from gate three. Opening quarters of 30.9 and 30.4 made for a 61.3 first half, the leaders getting their chance. A 28.3 third quarter was clocked as the favourite made its move, moving up to eyeball the leader at the home turn. But when Lang asked the punter’s fancy for her maximum effort she failed to offer much resistance, Flying McPocket sprouting wings out wide. Flying McPocket showed a tremendous burst to win (last half-mile 57.2), with Wingofwaves also finding the line strongly down the outside in second place. Mister McKinnon ran third with Jilliby Diablo fourth and Our Pete Soeur fifth. The second leg of Lilley’s double came in the fifth race, Sazzasophie saluting in the Heinz and Partners 3YO Pace over 2200m in 2:01.7. The filly by Art Major from I Izz Sassy came out of gate two and was able to angle on to the back of early leader Bella Sainz (the $3.10 favourite) for a slipstream after about 100m. With Zac Phillips in the cart Bella Sainz paced the first half in 64.2, Michelle Wight aboard the death-seating Ithappensinvegas content to let her runner amble along without putting too much pressure on the pacemaker to the 500m, before trying to take closer order when Siliqua (David Murphy) made his advance three-wide-no-cover. Upping the ante through a 29.6 third quarter, Bella Sainz tried to skip clear at the top of the stretch but wasn’t able to, the inside run appearing for Sazzasophie as Ithappensinvegas worked to a narrow lead, the Lilley filly too strong in the last 50m for a 2.2m win. Ithappensinvegas showed character to dead-heat for second from the breeze at big odds, with Ears No Trouble (John Caldow) the other runner-up. Ross Creek trainer Stephen Clarke won Race 2, the T J Coutts Electrical Trotters Handicap with five-year-old Bacardi Lindy / Downsouth Rose gelding William John in a rate of 2:03.4 for the 2200m stand-start trip. Emma Stewart combined with Amanda Turnbull for victory with Starburst Girl in the R U Advertising Pace, the Art Major / Celebrity Ball filly rating 1:54.8 for the 1710m journey to beat Lucky VC by 1.9m. Debutant Time Keepa Lombo produced a peach of a debut for trainer/driver David Miles to salute in the Newington Physiotherapy 2YO Vicbred Pace, the colt by Lombo Pocket Watch out of Lady Muluka Lombo overcoming a couple of checks in running for a half-neck win over Undercover Don in 1:58.9 from the ace draw over 1710m. Zac Phillips drove Uroc Mman to a 1.7m victory as $2.80 favourite in the National Tiles Pace over 2200m, the five-year-old by Mach Three out of Executive Lady rating 1:59.4 from barrier nine. David Lewis-trained American Ideal / Atomic Fusion entire The Fat Man showed again that he’s got top-class potential with a 5.1m win over Dentona in the MDS Accounting Pace over 2200m. John Caldow drove The Fat Man to victory in a rate of 1:57.7, leading from start to finish after coming out of the two-gate. The other highly rated horse in the field, Clark Griswold, came in fourth for reinsman Matthew Craven after working to the breeze in the middle stages from the second line. And Chris Svanosio trained-and-driven four-year-old Majestic Son / Steffi Jay trotter Majestic Ess Jay won the Cantebury International Trot to close the program in a rate of 2:04.7. >> Check out all the Ballarat results and video replays by Cody Winnell

Victorian harness racing trainer Brent Lilley will have one of the busiest days of his career this Sunday as he prepares seven runners for Group One events at Tabcorp Park Menangle.  While Lilley does not have a runner in the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion he will be represented in five of the remaining six Group Ones “In the past I have had two or three runners in Group One races on one day, but to get seven horses through to Group Ones is an achievement I am very proud of,” Lilley said. “There are no strong favourites in my seven, but there are a few that might surprise if they get the right run, so I’m just hoping for a little bit of luck on Sunday.” Four-year-old Messini qualified for the Chariots Of Fire after finishing second to Bling It On in the Hondo Grattan Stakes when only a neck behind the winner. “Messini has drawn out wide, but he is flying,” Lilley declared. “The big thing with him will be luck in transit, and while he has got it all ahead of him from the draw, he is right in the zone at the moment. “He has a very good turn of foot and Chris (Alford, driver) will have plenty of options.” Three-year-old filly Rebel Diamond will take her position in the NSW Oaks after finishing second in her heat last Saturday night. “Rebel Diamond is a funny horse,” Lilley said. “She is one of those horses that gets beaten in races where you think she can’t get beaten and then pulls out a strong performance in a race where there is a lot of depth. “She did a good job on Saturday night and has drawn very well on Sunday, so she should get the right trip throughout the race.” Courageousnquick will compete in the Ladyship Mile and Lilley believes his mare has the early speed to cross her rivals. “She’s only had two runs back after a six-month break and she has been great in both of those runs,” Lilley said. “Courageousnquick is electric off the gate and in the past has come off the arm like she was clipped to it. “If she comes out hard I think she can cross Frith and the inside will be the place to be with Adore Me in the race.” Sluggem qualified for the NSW Derby by charging home for fourth in the heat won by Hug The Wind. “His effort was really good because he got checked,” Lilley said “He is still pretty green, but has a good motor and I think he will be a better horse in six or 12 months.” Lilley has three runners in the Trotters Standing Start – Zedalite, Kvintet Avenger and Kyvalley Blur. “Zedalite is the best stayer of my three and he will be suited by the stand and the long trip,” Lilley said. “He’s had a few niggling issues but he is better now.” HRNSW Media

Promising filly All Under Control lived up to her name in last Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite going into the Group One as a maiden, and one of the outsiders as $40.90, All Under Control was never in danger of being beaten. Impressed with the trotter’s performance, trainer Brent Lilley will aim All Under Control towards features such as the Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Super Series. “She’s still got to improve a fair bit, but she goes along well,” Lilley said. “I will wait until her next start or two to see if this was a one off or if she can keep producing those kinds of runs. “There is a bit to like about her on this run, especially the way she responded when Anthony (Butt, driver) showed her the whip. “He gave her one crack up the straight to keep her mind on the job and she found a bit like good horses so.” After travelling midfield from the outside of the front row, All Under Control completed a metre-and-a-half win from Casa Fundada, with Zaire Diva a half-head away third. “I went into the race thinking she was a rough chance, but she really put in,” Lilley said. “On that run, and with a bit of improvement as she gains experience, I’ll have a look at races like the Oaks and Sires’ Stake.” Covering the last half in 60.6 seconds, the daughter of Majestic Son rated 2:02 for the 1720 metres. PAUL COURTS

Boom pacer Messini will continue his low-ley approach to some of harness racing’s main events when he competes at Ballarat tomorrow night. Transferred to Victorian trainer Brent Lilley several weeks ago, the former New Zealander will tackle an M0-M1 Final on the Group One Pacing Cup program. Although the son of Art Major established a national record when successful in the Junior Free-For-All at Addington last month, Lilley is “in no hurry to tackle the top pacers”. Instead, Lilley will limit Messini to age-restricted events such as the Four-Year-Old Bonanza, Chariots Of Fire, Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown series. “He showed in New Zealand he is up to the top ones, but he is still only four and has got a lot of racing ahead of him,” Lilley said. “There are plenty of races for his age to keep him busy for the season. “Although the temptation is there, I’m in no hurry to tackle the top pacers when we can find great options against his own age during the rest of the season.” Despite his awkward second row draw, Messini is a clear favourite, with Lilley confident the rising star can continue his Aussie winning streak. Messini was unbeaten from five outings last term, including the Vicbred Super Series Final. The entire then scored first-up for Lilley at Cranbourne last weekend. “The draw isn’t the best and there are a few handy ones in the field, but he is good enough to overcome it,” Lilley said. “It’s not so much that he needs luck, he just can’t afford any bad luck from the back line. “After this he will have a few easy days, then work towards the Four-Year-Old Bonanza at Melton on Hunter Cup night.” PAUL COURTS

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