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Young Waikato driver Kyle Marshall has started the harness racing season in fine style and has shown a real ability in the bike for such a young driver. Everyone knows how hard it is to break into the winners circle when you are starting out but Kyle is making a real habit out of it and has a lot of astute judges sitting up and taking notice. Kyle has been around horses most of his life but got keen on harness racing at a young age. " I got involved with Kidz Kartz pretty early and I have had the bug ever since." "After that I use to help out at John Dickie's after school and on weekends and that confirmed to me that this is what I wanted to do," Kyle told Harnesslink this week. Getting his junior driving licence in the 2010/2011 season, Kyle went winless in his first season before driving five winners in his second season. In the 2012/2013 season  Kyle continued to improve and racked up 10 wins but before the end of that season he made the decision to go to Australia to learn from one of the best. " I spent 18 months with Brent Lilley and I can't thank him enough for all the help and advice he gave me while I was there." "I think I came back a better driver thanks to Brent's advice and help," Kyle said. Returning to New Zealand this season Kyle has already racked up six winners and is the leading North Island based junior driver at this stage of the year. One win stands out for Kyle since his return from Australia.  "I drove Unmissuble to win for my father at Manawatu which was a big thrill." "We brought her as a weanling for $400 and have taken her right through to winning a race so it was a special day" "She was unlucky at Cambridge last Sunday and is not without a chance at Alexandra Park on Friday night," he said. Kyle knows he wouldn't be where he is today without the support of his family. "Dad took out a licence to help me early on and the whole family have become involved in the ownership side to help me get more drives. I wouldn't be having the success I"m having if it wasn't for them," he said.  Kyle, who helps his father David out with his small team at Cambridge, hopes one day to go into partnership with his father. " That would be special to train in partnership with dad," he said. With his great start to the season Kyle has his sights set on the New Zealand Junior Drivers Championships "To qualify is the first aim but like everyone else I really would love to win it," he said. To succeed in harness racing today, you usually need a deep long term family connection to the industry or be attached to one of the leading stables. Kyle has managed to succeed without either and looks to have a big future in the sport he loves. Harnesslink Media

New Zealand pacer Lets Elope will make his debut for Victorian-based harness racing trainer Brent Lilley on Sunday. Sent to Lilley to take advantage of the local handicapping system, Lets Elope is engaged in the St Arnaud Cup. Despite the gelding’s 20-metre handicap, Lilley is confident Lets Elope can begin his Australian career on a winning note. “He has settled in really well and I’m looking forward to starting him on Sunday,” Lilley said. “He was open class in New Zealand, but over here he is still an M1, so his owners gave me a call and asked to send him over. “Sunday’s Cup is the ideal race to start him off in and he’s the one to beat.” Following his provincial engagement, Lets Elope is likely to follow the country cup circuit this campaign, with Lilley positive the son of Real Desire can become a strong feature race contender. “Down the track I reckon he can be competitive in the better races,” Lilley said. “For now, I will just pick races as they come along and let him work through the grades. “He is pretty reliable from the stand and is good from the mobile, so there are plenty of options. “I’ll certainly be looking at the country cups with him.” From Alta Vista, the six-year-old is a half-brother to top performer Five Star Anvil, which is no stranger to country cup glory, having captured the 2013 Mildura Cup. PAUL COURTS

Yesterday’s ‘Valley Vibe’ meeting at Yarra Valley saw about 5000 patrons on course for Melbourne Cup Day of harness racing action. Club manager Brett Shambrook naturally hailed the event a success, with pristine weather conditions and a magnificent family atmosphere making it a great spectacle for racegoers. “It was a really good crowd, I’d say about 5000 people,” Shambrook said. “It was about on a par with the year before. “We had 700 kids roll through the gates, so there was a great family presence and just a really good vibe at the meeting.” More than 180 contestants took part in the Fashions on the Field events, while punters were well catered for with six bookmakers on course and TAB tote facilities in operation. “The feedback was really positive,” Shambrook said. “The comments were that it was a great atmosphere, a really good vibe. “We had the Yarra Valley Food Group on course, so local produce of all varieties was available. We also had the cocktail bar, which was very successful.” The Valley Vibe Silent Disco initiative also proved popular, attracting young racegoers trackside. The club is now gearing up for tomorrow’s Oaks Day meeting, which is bound to attract another strong gathering. “The cocktail bar will be in operation again and we’re looking forward to a great day’s racing here at the Yarra Valley trots,” Shambrook said. As for the racing, reinsman Greg Sugars took driving honours with a winning treble behind Die Hard Demon, Somedreamsomewhere and Wemen Sporty. Trainer Brent Lilley registered double via Sun Of Anarchy and Motu Prince Of Peru. HRV Media

Reigning Maryborough Pacers’ and Trotters’ Cups champions Michael Thomas and Im Corzin Terror will return to defend their harness racing crowns. Michael Thomas is chasing consecutive wins as a squaregaiter, while Im Corzin Terror will be out to retain his pacing title. Michael Thomas led throughout for trainer Lisa Miles last year to account for Paparazzi Snapshot and Lightning Joy in the 2690-metre event. Successful off the front line, Michael Thomas, which is first-up from a 10-month spell, faces a 10-metre handicap this time around. The Kari Males-trained Tsonga is the only other handicapped runner and will share the back mark with Michael Thomas. Boasting four wins from five starts for trainer Brent Lilley, former European stallion, Kvintet Avenger remains the one to beat as he aims for his second Cup triumph of the season. Kvintet Avenger captured the Swan Hill Trotters’ Cup in fine style a fortnight ago. Lilley has a high opinion of the son of Love You and is working the six-year-old towards key targets such as the V L Dullard Cup and Great Southern Star. As for Im Corzin Terror’s task at hand, the Amanda Grieve-trained gelding will have to overcome a large field and a 20-metre handicap. An eye-catching second behind boom pacer Guaranteed in last weekend’s Kilmore Cup, Im Corzin Terror is primed for a win after four runs this campaign. Like she did with Guaranteed, prominent horsewoman Emma Stewart will be looking to extend Im Corzin Terror’s bridesmaid status. Stewart, who prepares her team with Clayton Tonkin, will be represented by Hes Kinky and Goodtime Mike. Stewart is one of three trainers with dual representation, with Itdontmattertome and Highview Conall from the Amanda Turnbull stable, while Lance Justice has Im Barney Rubble and Machin Out engaged in the feature. PAUL COURTS

Thirteen-win pacer Lets Elope has ended his New Zealand career on a triumphant note. The winner of $324,978 is scheduled to leave for Australia either Wednesday (October 22) or next week. Co-owner/trainer Frank Cooney said he was left with no option but to send the 6-year-old Real desire gelding abroad. He said he made the decision well before Friday’s win in the $14,000 Smart Choice Mobile for the C3-C9 pacers at Alexandra Park. “There’s just nothing for him up here now until possibly Christmas and the New Year. He’s not quite good enough to compete against the (NZ) Cup horses and he would be handicapped out of it if he stayed up here. “Australia was the obvious option because he will be a M1 pacer there,” Cooney said. Let’s Elope was quoted at $151 to win the New Zealand Cup. He will now head to Victoria and race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park in the Brent Lilley colours. “He may come back one day because he’s owned here in New Zealand but to be honest I think he will win more over there and that’s where he will stay,” said Cooney, whose wife Anne co-owns Lets Elope with Peter Haslam and Warren Outrim. Haslam pointed out that lets Elope had never been beaten once he got to the front in his races. That trend continued in Friday’s 2200m mobile. Brilliant anticipation from driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) saw Lets Elope sprint hard to the lead when hot favourite Hughie Green broke wildly at the 600m. The 3-year-old galloped for 200m yet still managed to finish a huge third – half a length and 7-3/4 lengths behind Lets Elope and Norvic Nightowl. Imajollywally was later promoted to third. Lets Elope stopped the clock in 2:41.8 (mile rate: 1:58.3) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 56.1 and 26.6. Co-trainer Tate Hopkins said it was very difficult for any horse to make up ground from the back when the good horses were coming home in 56 and 26. “That’s why he’s not going to the (NZ) Cup Carnival. It’s just too hard for a horse like him to make up ground on the top horses when they are going that fast. “And they are likely to go faster in the Junior and Senior Free-For-All down south. Those were the two races he probably would have started in,” Hopkins said. “It’s sad to see him go but Frank has made the best decision for both the horse and owners,” he added. Cooney said Lets Elope was the equal best horse he had trained – alongside eight-win ($101,050) mid-1980s pacer, Kurahaupo Eden. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

With several key harness racing targets on his schedule, Kvintet Avenger will be out to create a slice of history this summer. Carving an impressive Australian career, Kvintet Avenger has been aimed at features such as the V L Dullard Cup, Australasian Trotting Championship and Great Southern Star by trainer Brent Lilley. Success in any top shelf event will see Kvintet Avenger become the first European-bred performer to enjoy Group One success ‘Down Under’. “Races like the Dullard Cup and Great Southern Star are the aim, but he has to keep improving first,” Lilley declared. “That said, he has done everything asked of him so far and gives every indication there is more to come. “With the way he is progressing I can’t see any reason why he won’t make his way into that company and prove competitive.” Boasting four wins and a second from five local starts, Kvintet Avenger’s latest triumph came in Saturday night’s Swan Hill Trotters’ Cup. Driven confidently by Rodney Petroff, the son of Love You began well from his 10-metre mark to settle in the ‘death seat’ as Neville Vaughan worked to the lead. Striding to the front along the break straight as Neville Vaughan broke gait, Kvintet Avenger cruised to a strong two-and-a-half metre win from Wildenstein, with Monsieur Deville nine metres away third. “That was another good run from him,” Lilley said. “I wasn’t concerned about him sitting outside the leader as he is pretty strong. “Down the back when he rolled to the front I knew they wouldn’t catch him and Rodney just let him stride to the line as he pleased.” Originally purchased along with two other squaregaiters by clients of New Zealand trainer Tim Butt, Kvintet Avenger was then transferred to Lilley. “He’s a nice type…a really lovely horse,” Lilley said. “Tim bought three from Scandinavia, including him, but he didn’t work out as expected, so Tim sent him over here to see if I can get him straightened out. “He’s come along really well and should keep improving as he goes along.” PAUL COURTS

Former European trotter Kvintet Avenger is enjoying his harness racing career Down Under. Originally purchased along with two other squaregaiters by clients of New Zealand trainer Tim Butt, Kvintet Avenger has since been transferred to Victorian mentor Brent Lilley. Thriving under the Aussie conditions, Kvintet Avenger has won his two Southern Hemisphere starts in stylish fashion, including Kilmore last night. Pleased with the stallion’s progress, Lilley expects Kvintet Avenger to progress through the grades at a steady tempo. “He’s a nice type…a really lovely horse,” Lilley said. “Tim bought three from Scandinavia, including him, but he didn’t work out as expected, so Tim sent him over here to see if I can get him straightened out. “He’s come along really well, and if he can progress as expected, I’ll be looking at some of the better races down the track.” Driven by Rodney Petroff, Kvintet Avenger was caught three-wide from barrier six before working his way to the front during the middle stages. Never in danger of being run down, the son of Love You completed a three-and-a-half metre win from The Majestic, with Wildenstein five-and-a-half metres away third. “He did it very easy,” Lilley declared. “Rodney didn’t have to move on him and he’s gone to the line with plenty up his sleeve.” Set to make his metropolitan debut at Tabcorp Park Melton next week, Kvintet Avenger is being readied for events such as the V L Dullard Cup at Ballarat on December 13. “I’ll put him in a TM0 next week and see how he goes,” Lilley said. “Races like the Dullard Cup and even Great Southern Star are the aim, but he has to keep improving first. “That said, he has done everything asked of him so far and gives every indication there is more to come.” PAUL COURTS

Harness racing driver Mark Purdon has paid tribute to Brent Lilley after winning the Pegasus Spur @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Final with Our Twentyten. The Kiwi horseman, who has driven three Group 1 winners today at Tabcorp Park Melton, said Lilley had done a super job with Our Twentyten, who is by Muscles Yankee out of Regal Volo. “Credit to Brent,” he said. “He’s got him absolutely spot on for today and he’s done a fantastic job.” Our Twentyten started $1.70 favourite on the tote but had his work cut out for him rounding the home turn when pole marker and pacesetter Bad Habbott, who ran a mighty race, kicked clear. Purdon took Our Twentyten back behind the leader at the final bend before peeling out again and overpowering the Russell Commens trained son of Sundon in the last 150m. “He tested me on the corner and I dropped in but by the time we straightened up he felt good again,” said Purdon. Lilley said he was thrilled to notch the Group 1. “He’s done a super job since we’ve had him. I’m grateful to Mark for the opportunity,” he said. “He’ll go for a well-deserved spell now.” Asdenro ran third for Haydon Gray, while Master Hugh was fourth for Chris Svanosio. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

Harness racings big day on Sunday at Melton has drawn great fields throughout most of the divisions and the 3 year old trotters are no exception. 3 Year Old Trotters Breeders Crown Final Unlike the two year old trotters where the fillies and colts are separated, at three they are all thrown in together which is a real shame. The other disappointing thing in this years three year old final is the absence of the top Kiwi three year old trotters such as King Denny and Majestic Time but I suppose you can't be everywhere in a long season. In our view in this years final there are really only four winning chances and we deal with those one by one. First up is Our Twentyten who has drawn nicely at barrier four. A serious contender in the classics in New Zealand before his sale to Australia to clients of Brent Lilley, Our Twentyten has quickly established himself as one of the best three year old trotters  in his adopted land. His previous trainer Mark Purdon takes the drive on Sunday which in our view is another tick for Our Twentyten. Our Twentyten does have real gate speed and we expect Mark Purdon to try to grab the lead early and dictate the tempo of the race. The big danger is undoubtedly Claudys Princess who has drawn awkwardly at two on the second line. She has finished either first or second in all of her 13 starts at three and a lot of those starts have been at Group or Listed level. The danger is Claudys Princess is not in complete control of her own destiny from the second line but with the master Gavin Lang in the bike she can overcome the draw. Her last win over Asdenro was an arrogant performance which shows she is right at the top of her game at the moment.  The enigma of the race is without doubt the Kiwi  One Over Da Moon who has drawn barrier five and who has been in the Chris Lang barn for a couple of months now. When he is good he is very good and when he is bad he is awful about sums up One Over Da Moon. Can throw the toys out at times such as the Redwood Classic where he just self destructed and he did the same thing in the Harness Jewels in New Zealand as well but there is no doubting the ability is there. One Over Da Moon was eased out of the gate the last time he raced at  Maryborough before finding the front and that was due to the fact he can over race if you chase him out of the gate which makes his job at  Group One level that much harder. The last of the quartet we fancy is Asdenro who has drawn barrier three. Asdenro has finished in the first three in 11 of 13 starts at three but has been unable to win since he starting racing in the Group and Listed races. He is competitive but just half a length off the top trotters in this division. Asdenro is a free going type who likes to lead but that tends to make him a sitting duck for the likes of Our Twentyten and Claudys Princess who have such high speed. If he burns the gate in trying to hold out Our Twentyten then in our view he can't win the final as the favoured pair have that small class edge. His best chance of winning this race is if the two favourites go to war and he runs over the top of them late in the piece.  SELECTIONS This is a very close call but we think the draw gives Our Twentyten the edge over Claudys Princess but there is not much in it. One Over Da Moon needs to bring his "A' game to be a chance and we think the other two are going just a touch better than him at the moment although his class will always make him a threat. Asdenro needs a few things to happen for him to win but the determination is certainly there. Throw in Bad Habbott, Four Lillies and Lightning Calder for first fours Harnesslink Media

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Most of the Kiwi trainers of this weekends Breeders Crown semi final runners will sleep well tonight after the fields for the harness racing meeting at Ballarat on Saturday night (August 16th) were released this afternoon. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen must have wondered what they had done to get such great draws with their two main chances on Saturday night. Follow The Stars has drawn beautifully at barrier three in his semi in which his main dangers in Birdy Mach and Field Marshall have both drawn awkwardly on the second line. Linda Lovegrace, who created such a big impression on her Australian debut when narrowly going down to Follow The Stars last weekend, has drawn a lovely gate at four in her semi with her main opposition Niki No No drawn outside her at five. Another Kiwi Cyclone Kate has drawn two on the second line in the same heat which is a draw that really suits her as she is much better coming off a horses back.  If the ballot comes out in the second semi final for 2 year old fillies, then Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn will start from three and the Cran Dalgety trained Kate Perry from four which should give both a big show of qualifying for the final. Joannes A Delight is one of the few Kiwis to have drawn badly at four on the second line in the same heat but she showed in New Zealand she is a high class filly who can do a lot of work in her races so it wouldn't pay to discount her chances even from the draw. Barry Purdon's star 3 year old Sky Major has drawn a great gate at three in the second semi final for the 3 year old colts and geldings with the likely favourite for that division Bling It On awkwardly drawn at three on the second line which makes for a very intriguing contest. Kept Under Wraps from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn has drawn at two on the second line in the first semi final for 2 year old colts and geldings with most of the serious competition in this semi drawn wide on the front line so it is hard to know how it will pan out but Kept Under Wraps still looks the horse they all have to beat. Messini has been another in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rrasmussen barn all season until they sent him to Brent Lilley to race in the Victorian Sires Stakes series and it is still in Brent's colours heading into this weekends semi final for 3 year old colts and geldings where from his barrier draw of two he should be terribly hard to beat. All in all the Kiwis would have to very pleased with how the draws have panned out and a finals berth now looks a possibility for most of them. Harnesslink Media

Maryborough was a happy hunting ground for trainer Andy Gath today – the Long Forest harness racing horseman qualifying two horses for the two-year-old trotting fillies Breeders Crown final. Gath’s rising stars Endsino (by Angus Hall out of Jauriol) and Naked Majesty (by Majestic Son out of Starcus) both saluted in their crown heats, with Andy’s wife Kate driving both winners. Endsino started long odds-on in her heat and never looked like getting rolled, leading all the way in a mile rate of 2:04.2 to score a 7.7-metre win over Glenferrie Burn. Naked Majesty won by 3.3m in her heat, overpowering early leader Meadow Valley Road late in the race. Gath sat quietly aboard Naked Majesty behind the leader, the filly peeling to the outside in the stretch to win in a rate 2:05.7. Fabrication recorded a half-neck win in the second heat of the two-year-old colts and geldings crown, defying a fierce challenge from runner-up Kyvalley Boomerang in the home stretch. Driven by Daryl Douglas for Tatura trainer David Abrahams, Fabrication found the front early and controlled the race before Kyvalley Boomerang launched his claim late. Kyvalley Boomerang got on terms with the leader 100 metres from home but it wasn’t to be, the early leader kicking on gamely to earn a ticket into the crown final. King of the trotters, Chris Lang, prevailed victorious with One Over Da Moon in the three-year-old trotters second heat. The colt by Majestic Son cruised around the field early to find the lead before going to the line with a 2.1-metre advantage over runner-up Four Lillies, with underrated Coimadai Lodge hitting the line hard out wide for third. Shared Interest announced himself a major player in the two-year-old colts and geldings’ division with a comfortable heat win over race favourite Eljaykay Phoenix. Driven by Nathan Jack, Shared Interest cruised up to the long odds-on elect at the 400m, eventually peeling into the sprint lane to shoot clear for a 3.3m win. Eljaykay Phoenix battled on for second, but has clearly come back to his rivals somewhat after dominating throughout the Vicbred Super Series, while Illawong Armstrong was third beaten 22.1m. Our Twentyten took out the final Breeders Crown heat for the day, the Brent Lilley trained and Rodney Petroff driven son of Muscles Yankee 3.7 metres too strong for Claudys Princess in their three-year-olds heat. Filly Claudys Princess punched the breeze throughout and battled on gamely for second, while Asdenro secured a beaut run on the leader’s back and was a clear third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Thursday’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting belonged to Riddell trainer Adam Kelly and stable reinsman Gavin Lang, Kelly chalking up a stable treble and Lang a driving quartet. Four-year-old Mach Three/Going Royce gelding Pushkin was first to greet the judge in the SEW-Eurodrive Pace for R2 to R4 class over 2240 metres. Trapped in the open from gate three in the early stages, Pushkin extended to cross the surprise pacemaker Danish King and Pushkin enjoyed a sweet time at the head of affairs. Kicking clear at the straight entrance, Pushkin just lasted from a flying Jeans Mattjesty, which had been at the tail of the field for most of the trip, scoring by a nose in a rate of 2:06.5, with Voce (one/one – three wide home turn) an eye-catching third when first-up since April. Kiwi-bred Art Major/Strathrowan filly Dazzling Arded was next to come along in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 1720 metres. First-up since June and on debut in Australia, Dazzling Arden starting from gate two on the second line raced three-wide for most of the trip, with the polemarker Shes Pinkalicious retaining the front running. Showing plenty of intestinal fortitude, Dazzling Arden outstayed her rivals to record a 2.8-metre victory in 2:01.5 over the first-starter Kristy Ann Hanover along the sprint lane after trailing the leader. Richly Deserved (four-wide home turn) from last looked a big chance on straightening and finished third. Ex-Sunraysia seven-year-old gelding Eyes On The Sky, having his first outing since May 2013, was a tough victor of the Woodlands Stud Pace for C1 class over 2240 metres. Making his first appearance for the stable, Eyes On The Sky a son of D M Dilinger and Gipsy Belle who’s most recent victory had been at Mildura on May 26, 2013 raced in the open from gate five, proving too strong over the concluding stages for Pas Mate (one/two – three wide home turn) which joined him halfway up the running appearing to be going better, with Bucksaroo third after following the runner up throughout. The mile rate 2:05.1. Lang was the “punters pal” on the day, also snaring the Pegasus Club 3Y0 Pace over 1720 metres aboard the Sue Hunter (Melton) trained Kenneth J/Artistic Dash gelding Kool Kenny. Given a beaut trip one/one from gate five, Kool Kenny was switched to the sprint lane on straightening, scoring by a half-neck from Gowan Loch, which led from the pole, and Daddywho (three back the markers) The mile rate 2:00.6. It was a great day for the Macedon Ranges district with Kyneton duo Greg and Steve Leight taking the Aldebaran Park 3Y0 Trotters Handicap over 2240 metres with Lawman/Kellybrooke gelding Law Legend, leading all of the way from barrier two, accounting for Eureka Encounter and Fire To Rain in a rate of 2:12.3 in appalling conditions. Four-year-old Britewell/Jenola Bay gelding Our St Pierre gave Bolinda’s Brent Lilley another winner for the week when successful in the tab.com.au Trotters Handicap for TRO & TR1 class over 2240 metres in a rate of 2:09.5. With Chris Alford in the spider, Our St Pierre starting from the 10 metre mark settled six back along the markers, with Atego Turbo beginning like a rocket from outside 10 metres to lead. Moving to be one/one racing for the bell, Our St Pierre was eased three wide on the final bend and finished strongly to gain the day in advance of Our Elvis which moved to face the breeze at the bell before striding clear on the home turn. Only One Aussie which trailed the weakening pacemaker finished third. Len Baker - Harness Racing Victoria  

Messini’s rise to harness racing stardom continued last night at Bendigo. The pacer, whose racing style is to keep his head low, stick his neck out and storm forward like a bullying gridiron hulk barging through would-be tacklers, never looked like getting beat. With Chris Alford in the sulky for trainer Brent Lilley, Messini came home with a 57-second last half to score a 4.6-metre victory in the ninth heat of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old colts and geldings. The high-class son of Art Major led from gate three and toyed with his rivals, only Glen Craven’s lightly raced Jilliby Jagger able to get within a bull’s roar of the winner at the end, the Terang pacer 4.6m behind in second. With a 1:57.5 mile rate – easily the quickest of the three Crown heats on the night – Messini looks cherry ripe for the semi-finals, with a decision to be made regarding whether the pacer remains with Lilley for the business end of the series or heads back to Lilley’s close mate and New Zealand’s leading trainer, Mark Purdon. Purdon sent Messini and Kept Under Wraps to Lilley for the lead-up to the Breeders Crown and Lilley has both horses firing on all cylinders. Messini Other heat winners last night were Will Mach My Word for trainer Geoff Webster with Emmett Brosnan in the chair, the son of Mach Three leading from go to whoa, and Dream Away gelding Hectorjayjay for Bill and Simone Walker, which scored by over 12m in a rate of 2:00.4 in the last race on the card. Will Mach My Word Hectorjayjay by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Champion juvenile Follow The Stars has had to bow to stablemate Linda Lovegrace in their final public outing before heading to Australia for the Breeders Crown. And their trainer Mark Purdon wasn’t surprised. The pair have A$650,000 worth of ABC races ahead of them in the next month and warmed up for their trip to Victoria by finishing only a nose apart at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. The fact the filly could even keep up with Follow The Stars, who has looked freakish this juvenile season, might surprise some but Purdon says Linda Lovegrace has been a huge improver. “She is definitely a better filly now than say Jewels time,” said Purdon. “She is the one from our team that has really gone on in leaps and bounds.”
 Purdon is also happy with Follow The Stars, who hasn’t raced since being knocked out of the Jewels, his only defeat. Both juveniles won their ABC heats at Addington in walkovers. They will fly out to Melbourne next week with Follow The Stars likely to race in Victoria before the pair contests ABC semi-finals at Ballarat on August 16. They will be joined in Purdon’s care by Arya, Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar, but Vicbred Final-winning three-year-old Messini may stay with ex-pat trainer Brent Lilley, who has been looking after most of Purdon’s Victorian team in the last month. Lilley trained Kept Under Wraps to beat Australia’s best juvenile Birdy Mach in an ABC heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night, suggesting Purdon may have the two favourites for the juvenile division. Purdon says his main NZ Cup hopes Smolda and Adore Me look great, with Smolda only a month away for the trials whereas Adore Me, because she raced later into the season, will not start until October. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

A fluke is defined as “an unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck”. So one could mount an argument that to pinch a win over a highly rated opponent in horse racing is a fluke, but to do it twice in two starts? Not so much. Kept Under Wraps is no longer the hunter in his mini-rivalry against Birdy Mach – he has to be hunted by virtue of his two-from-two record against the highly rated New South Welsh colt. The colt by Bettors Delight in the care of Bolinda trainer Brent Lilley took out the 11th heat of the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for two-year-old colts and geldings at Shepparton last night with a blistering fourth quarter of 26.8 seconds. Birdy Mach ($1.50) and reinsman Luke McCarthy pinged off the arm to find the lead early from the 2190-metre start with Kept Under Wraps ($2.70) straight on to his back for in-form Greg Sugars. Kate Gath took the third favourite Burnaholeinmypocket ($13.60) to the breeze from gate seven, the trio jogtrotting through the middle stages of the race to make it near impossible for the backmarkers to make late ground. With a third quarter of 30.5 seconds after earlier splits of 31.4 and 32.1 it was always going to be hard to topple Birdy Mach in the straight, but once Kept Under Wraps gained  the sprint lane in the home stretch his withering burst of speed carried him over the line first. The final margin of a half-head was closer than when Kept Under Wraps defeated Birdy Mach in the Tatlow Stakes (1.1m) the start prior. Burnaholeinmypocket battled on gamely for third. Lilley admitted Birdy Mach might still be a little bit green and said that horse lacked nothing in the ability stakes before heaping praise on his fella. “Last night to come home with a really quick last quarter like that was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “He’s really come along nicely in the time I’ve had him down here.” Lilley said leading New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon was likely to take Kept Under Wraps and Messini, who Lilley has also enjoyed immense success with of late, back for the Breeders Crown semi-finals and finals next month. “I’ve definitely enjoyed having them here, that’s for sure,” Lilley said. Lilley used to work for Purdon in New Zealand before starting his own training operation at Kaiapoi, near Christchurch. “The relationship with Mark goes back a long way,” Lilley said. “I worked for him when he started out about 15 years ago, then I went out on my own and I’d work a fair few horses on the beach. “Mark would send some down to me that were suited to beach work and he actually sent me a really good horse in Cool Hand Luke (16 wins from 36 starts).” Lilley puts the polish on Messini tomorrow night at Bendigo in heat nine of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown three-year-old colts geldings series. Messini has won four races on the trot – including an 8.8m success in the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series Final two starts back. Meanwhile, Scott Stewart trained-and-driven Its Just Kenny made it two wins from two starts with a 3.4m win in the 10th heat of the two-year-old males’ Breeders Crown series last night, the Kenneth J gelding going 1:59.8 to defeat Mojo Major by 3.4m. The other heat winner was Show Me The Bling, who defeated Mach Doro by 1.4m in a fast rate of 1:58.4 (last half 56.9). Show Me The Bling is trained by David Aiken and was steered by Nathan Jack. By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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