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YOUNG gun Self Assured will have to create history to overcome a horror draw and win Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire (1609m) at Menangle. The All Stars’ young star drew the dreaded outside alley (gate 12, will start from 10). No horse has won the Chariots Of Fire from the outside draw at Menangle. And Harness Racing NSW figures show only seven per cent of Menangle winners over the past 12 months (27 of 379 races) have come from the outside and that includes all distances, not just mile racing. Drawing the outside saw Self Assured’s odds soar on the Aussie TAB from $1.75 pre-draw to $2.80. In contrast, the money has poured in for Lochinvar Art, the horse who upstaged Self Assured in track record time in the 4YO Bonanza at Melton last month. Lochinvar Art has drawn gate five, but if the emergencies drawn inside him (Supreme Dominator three and Catch A Moment four) come out, he will start from barrier three. He was $4.50 pre-draw, firmed $3.80 after the draw and has since been backed into $3.20. He looks certain to challenge for favouritism. The other big winners from the draw were Demon Delight (gate one, $5), who was big behind Self Assured at Menangle last Saturday week, and likely early leader Max Delight (two, $5.50). __________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S great Princess Tiffany is headed to Sydney, but a huge task awaits her on Saturday night. Fresh from fibrillating at Addington last week, the megastar mare will start from the second outside draw (gate nine) in the last qualifier for the Ladyship Mile, the $50,000 Group 2 Robin Dundee (1609m). Peter Bagrie’s mare Bettors Heart drew gate seven and Steve Telfer’s Step Up has gate five, while Barry Purdon’s Havtime snared the pole, but will need to improve on her Sibelia Stakes run last week. WA’s best mare Our Alfie Romeo has also come across for the race, but drew the extreme outside. __________________________________________________________________________________ STYLISH Memphis has gate five in the first of the NSW Oaks heats on Saturday night. Her major rivals look to be Victorian trio Amelia Rose (three), Alice Kay (seven) and Its Ebonynivory (nine). Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan should make light work of wide draw (gate eight) in the second heat with major rival Jenden Stride drawn even worse (10). The third heat should be the most competitive with leading contenders Vincenzina (three), Maajida (six), Our Antonio Rose (eigtht) and Its Beaujolais (nine). __________________________________________________________________________________ THERE is a Miracle Mile berth up for grabs in Friday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile. It’s a good field, but not as much star factor as expected with most of the biggest names waiting for the qualifying sprints at Menangle on Saturday week. Renowned speedster Majordan looks the leader and one to beat from gate eight, but other key runners include: Let it Ride (one), Hail Christian (two) and The Black Prince (three).   Adam Hamilton

SUDDENLY this Chariots Of Fire has a serious pulse. Just when most had conceded Australia’s biggest 4YO race to young Kiwi star Self Assured, things changed and in a big way last night. In one of the biggest shocks for a long time, Self Assured was beaten, and seemingly on his merits, in the Group 1 4YO Bonanza at Melton. And former Kiwi pacer Balraj not only stretched his unbeaten Aussie record to eight wins, but smashed the clock with a blazing 1min49.9sec mile at Menangle last night doing so. Balral led, cruised through a 56.5sec opening half then showed all his speed with closing splits of 53.4 and 26.2sec. He won by 21.8m. But let’s get back to the Bonanza where Self Assured did have to do the work outside Lochinvar Art, but never really looked like beating him. It’s understandable why when you see the time … a 1min48.5sec mile rate for 1720m. It’s the first time 1min50sec has been broken at Melton and took a staggering 2.2sec off Cruz Bromac’s track record. It was a bold, daring and confident drive from Lochinvar Art’s trainer David Moran, especially when he went for home with a big lead at the 400m. Self Assured chased hard, but Lochinvar Art was strong to the line and won very impressively with Moran giving a big very salute “He’s a legend, a champion this horse. I’m so chuffed I’m a bit lost for words,” Moran said. “We had a little issue with him before the Shepparton Cup, but he was fantastic this week and now it’s onto the Chariots.” While Lochinvar Art is now qualified for the Chariots, Self Assured will have to head to Menangle to try and qualify through the Hondo Grattan or Paleface Adios. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ MACH Shard capped his Hunter Cup preparation when he scored in a brutally run Group 2 Casey Classic (2240m) at Melton last night Driver Zachary Butcher’s patience was rewarded when he sat back while others went hard early or midrace and Mach Shard overhauled them late in a slick 1min52.7sec mile rate – just 1.2sec outside the track record set by Bling It On in the Victoria Cup last October. NSW raider Cash N Flow looked the winner when he swooped coming to the last bend, but was just nabbed late in a massive run. Triple Eight was far from disgraced in fourth spot after doing the work outside the leader and eventually working to the front in a 27sec second quarter. Thefixer tried to make a midrace move, but was trapped deep in that 27sec split and just battled into fifth spot. Mark Purdon was open before the race, saying Thefixer needed the run to top him off for the Hunter Cup so he still looks a major force next week. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ STILL on the Hunter Cup and could former NZ and WA pacer King Of Swing be a surprise starter? He brilliantly won just his second run for the Craig Cross barn in a scorching 1min48.8sec mile at Menangle last night.King Of Swing began well, sat behind Majordan and dug deep to get past the leader and then hold-off Ignatius in a stirring battle. Co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy believes King Of Swing would certainly acquit himself well if they give the Hunter Cup a crack. Ignatius ran a terrific race for second in a performance which will surely entice trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray to tackle the Hunter Cup as well. __________________________________________________________________________________________ A KIWI brilliantly won last night’s Group 1 Dullard Cup, but it was veteran not the young gun most expected. Oscar Bonavena was all the rage, but had to burn to make a midrace move to sit outside the leader and then weakened alarmingly late to beat just a few rivals home. It was Temporale, so superbly rejuvenated by Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, who stormed home over the top a hot field to win easily. Talented local mare Red Hot Tooth led, sat on McLovin (who was rundown late for third) and ran a slashing race for second. The other classy Kiwi runner, Massive Metro, galloped down the back straight the last time, losing all chance. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ SYDNEY plans have been shelved for emerging WA pacing star Shockwave. The Golden Nugget winner, who locked wheels when looming as the winner in last Friday week’s Group 1 WA Pacing Cup, suffered some minor bruising in a hind fetlock in the incident. “It’s nothing serious at all, but Kevin (Jeavons, owner) and I agreed he had to be 100 per cent spot-on to go to Sydney, so we’ll stay home and give him a little freshen-up now,” trainer Ryan Bell said. “He’s not the sort of horse who enjoys spelling in winter, so he’ll have a winter racing campaign with a view to building him towards a crack at the Inter Dominion in Sydney at the end of the year.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________ JUST a week after winning their first WA Pacing Cup, Team Bond snared the feature race again at Gloucester Park. Former Kiwi gelding Ocean Ridge led throughout in slick time to thrash his rivals in the $50,000 Group 2 Nights Of Thunder (1720m) last Friday night. Ryan Warwick took the reins and just kept rolling with splits of the last mile in 29.2, 28.2, 27.4 and 28.3sec for a 1min52.6sec mile rate. “He hasn’t been the most tractable horse, but it’s coming together now and I think he can go on and win better races,” Warwick said. The other feature, the $30,000 Im Themightyquinn final, provided a narrow farewell win for Its Rock And Roll and trainer-driver Colin Brown. The talented four-year-old was sold before the race and, like so many others, is USA-bound. Another highlight of the night was the powerhouse front-running win of Barry Howlett’s Talktomeurmattjesty in the free-for-all. The big, bold gelding blazed over the long 2536m trip in a 1min54.9sec mile rate, just 0.7sec outside the new track record set just two weeks earlier by Caviar Star in the Group 1 Fremantle Cup. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ANTHONY Butt is confident big-spending owners Emilio Rosati have found another major race player. Superbly-bred young trotter Elite Stride – by Muscle Hill out of their former talented US mare Real Babe – finally made it the races the first time and won by 50.5 metres at Melton last week. “I first drove him nine months ago when Noel Daley had him and he was getting ready for the two-year-old races, but he had a little setback and went out for a break again. Everyone felt then he could be a bit special,” Butt said. “We’ve been very, very patient with him, but it was good to get to the races and win that one the other day. I think Emilio and Mary were an anxious and interested in that as they were Line Up in the Derby. He’s their baby, they bred him. “This colt has the talent and potential and now it’s about bringing everything together and hoping he’s got the manners, etc. “I’ll give him a couple of runs through the Foundation series at Menangle now and the first real target for him is the Need For Speed back down here (Melton) at the end of February.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________ TOP trainer Emma Stewart snared the quirky and inaugural $50,000 Group 2 Mercury80 final at Melton last night. It was the final of a series of races over the 1200m scamper and Always Fast survived an early fight for the lead then easily won the final. He paced the 1200m in 81.5sec, missing a big bonus for breaking 80sec, but did it in fantastic style winning by seven metres.   By Adam Hamilton

Tasmanian champion four-year-old Ignatius suffered from another horror draw in Saturday night's Group 1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire. Trainer-driver James Rattray had no other option than to press forward in the early stages from a wide draw, but was trapped three-wide through the first turn in a scintillating first quarter of 26 seconds and drew up into the death seat through the second split of 27.9-seconds. The enormous effort started to take its toll in the home stretch as the Emma Stewart trained Poster Boy, with Chris Alford in the sulky, swamped the early speed setters to claim the Chariots Of Fire and record a mile-rate of 1:49.1. Ignatius battled on courageously in the straight to finish ninth, 15.3-metres from the winner.   Shane Yates

A flashing finish from the tail of the field saw Victoria's next pacing superstar Poster Boy power past his harness racing rivals and win tonight's $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle. While trainer Emma Stewart had suggested Poster Boy might be driven more aggressively and closer to the lead, champion reinsman Chris Alford simply never got the chance as the speed was on from the outset and from his wide draw Poster Boy was forced to settle near the tail of the field. Covering the mile in a stunning 1:49.1, Poster Boy edged out New Zealand visitor Ashley Locaz (Luke McCarthy) by two metres with despised outsider Hail Christian (Blake Fitzpatrick) a fabulous third 1.75m further away. That left Poster Boy's owners Bill and Anne Anderson with a massive decision to make as the win earned then an invitation into the $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile in two weeks' time. They have 48 hours to decide whether or not to accept the invitation but as Alford pointed out, Poster Boy was certainly up to the challenge and he felt co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin thought the same thing of their latest stable star. While they are tipped to accept the invitation, Alford suggested it would all come down to how the horse pulled up after such a mighty performance. The lightning speed took its toll on the favoured runners Chase Auckland ($3.10), Ignatius ($5.90) and early leader Picard ($6.80), who were all over-run in the straight after a 54.9s opening half took its toll. Ignatius was trapped wide from his wide barrier draw, although was able to work up outside the leader, he had nothing left in the run home. Poster Boy, on the other hand, sprouted wins in the final 100m (final splits of 28.4s and 26.8s) and is expected to join Yayas Hot Spot as the second horse in the first $1m Miracle Mile. 8 9:47pm CORDINA CHICKEN FARMS CHARIOTS OF FIRE (GROUP 1) 1609M $200,000 4YO. RBD. Mobile Final Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 POSTER BOY  $120,000   Fr7 8 Emma Stewart Chris Alford   $ 3.80   PRS SWAB   BAY HORSE 4 by SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE USA out of ASTON VILLA USA (ARTSPLACE (US))  Owner(s): Lauriston Bloodstock Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): Lauriston Bloodstock Pty Ltd 2 ASHLEY LOCAZ NZ  $ 30,000   Fr10 12 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Luke McCarthy 1.90 $ 12.00   RAS HUE SWAB 3 HAIL CHRISTIAN NZ  $ 20,000   Fr9 10 Paul Court Anthony Butt 3.60 $ 101.00   RAS SWAB 4 ALL U NEED IS FAITH NZ  $ 10,000   Fr3 4 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon 3.80 $ 18.00   PRWU 5 PICARD  $ 5,000   Fr2 2 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy 5.10 $ 10.00   GS L 6 THE BLACK PRINCE NZ  $ 3,000   Fr4 5 Roy Roots Jnr Chris Geary 7.40 $ 71.00   VXBR 7 CHASE AUCKLAND NZ  $ 3,000   Fr1 1 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 8.80 $ 2.90 fav  GS HU QDT VXAR INQADJ 8 BOYD WRITER  $ 3,000   Fr5 6 David Hewitt Brad Hewitt 9.70 $ 81.00   RAS 9 IGNATIUS  $ 3,000   Fr8 9 James Rattray James Rattray 15.30 $ 4.20   PRS 3WE 3WM WF 10 RACKEMUP TIGERPIE  $ 3,000   Fr6 7 Michael Stanley Michael Stanley 15.90 $ 19.00   VXBR 3WE WF Scratchings   ROYAL GAMBLE NZ 3 JACK FARTHING NZ 11 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:49:1 Mile Rate: 1:49:1 First Quarter: 26 Second Quarter: 27.9 Third Quarter: 28.4 Fourth Quarter: 26.8   Mandy Madern

Todd and James Rattray have enjoyed a glorious run with their star pacer Ignatius, tonight at Menangle they plan another step in the successful journey with a tilt at victory in the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire. Ignatius earned his place in the $200,000 4YO feature with a sensational win in last week’s Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes. “He couldn’t be better than he is right now, Todd has prepared him perfectly for this campaign, he has eased him through a slight setback in January and got him right for the trip,” said James. “His run last week to win the Paleface Adios Stakes was certainly one of his best ever performances and has him primed for an all-out assault on the Group 1 tonight against the best in the land.” Ignatius drew wide in the Paleface Adios and did some early work out three-wide through the first turn before James found the death-seat outside the favourite Chase Auckland. “Chase Auckland and Ignatius have drawn almost identical gates to last week, Chase Auckland is in one again we are again out wide in eight but Ignatius returned his career best mile-rate of 1:50.2 to beat him last time and he has felt even better at home during the week,” said James. “Chase Auckland, Poster Boy, Picard and Ashley Locaz are all topliners but they will know Ignatius is there when the pressure is on turning for home over 1609-metres, the winner receives an invitation to the Miracle Mile so there’s a lot on the line.” Todd made the trip to Sydney during the week and was there to keep a close eye on Ignatius as he was taken into the Retention Barn at Menangle Park on Thursday. “He’s looking and feeling great, he put up a great performance last week and that will have just topped him off perfectly for the Chariots,” said Todd. “Ignatius couldn’t be in better hands than James, we have a great relationship, racing to us has always been a family affair, we all share the ups and downs together and that’s the way it should be, let’s hope we all have something to celebrate tonight.”   Shane Yates

AUSTRALIA’S most successful driver says he doesn’t fear the country’s most exciting pacer in Saturday’s $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle.  And Chris Alford says he even has a surprising plan how to beat Ignatius with Victorian star Poster Boy.  Ignatius started the week as the TAB favourite for Saturday night’s great four-year-old mile but has lost that honour to Chase Auckland, even after he sat parked outside him and beat him last Saturday.  That would seem to be punters rallying for the Purdon-Rasmussen training factor as well as Chase Auckland having the ace draw.  But Chris Alford, the most successful harness driver in Australian history with over 6700 wins, says he can beat both of them with Poster Boy.  The latter has only met Ignatius twice and beaten him both times as well as winning the NSW Derby this time last year.  Add that to a comeback win over Inter Dominion star Spankem two starts ago and a walk in the park at Melton last Saturday and Poster Boy’s $5.50 bookies quote starts to look inviting.  One of the reasons for the value is his widish draw at barrier seven but Alford says rather than track Ignatius, who many expect to see parked again, he wants to stay in front of him.  “I think we are every bit as good as him,” he offers.  “And we are drawn inside him so my first plan would be to stay in front of him. “This has always been a good horse because he has real speed but now he has developed the stamina to go with it.  “So he could be in for a very good season.” The Chariots has gone from being a great four-year-old race to one of the fastest miles run in Australasia every year and the winners now become genuine contenders for the Miracle Mile, as shown by the performances of Have Faith In Me (won Miracle Mile), Lazarus (third) and Jilliby Kung Fu (second) in recent season.  But whether Poster Boy is ready for a Miracle Mile on March 2 should be win on Saturday will be up to trainer Emma Stewart. “Emma and Clayton (Tonkin, partner) have a great record at Menangle and they are one of the few stables from down here where the horses don’t need a run on the track before they showed their best up there.  “Their horses are just so tough and they suit Menangle because their is nowhere to hide.” Poster Boy is Alford’s only drive on Saturday night but he is confident about the classic chances of Kualoa (NSW Oaks) and Centenario (NSW Derby) in coming weeks.   Michael Guerin  

TALENTED pacer Ignatius will have to face another wide draw in Saturday night's Group 1 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Menangle. The James Rattray trained and driven pacer has faced wide barrier draws in his two qualifying races and has landed barrier nine for the four-year-old feature. Ignatius was forced to do it the tough way outside the leader to win last Saturday night's Paleface Adios Stakes, beating Chase Auckland in a mile rate of 1:50.2. The winner of the Chariots Of Fire will receive an automatic invitation to the $1million Miracle Mile on March 2. The Chariots Of Fire barrier draw was conducted in the Harness Racing New South Wales office as a random barrier draw performed by HRNSW executive management.   Chariots Of Fire - GROUP 1 (1609m) 1 Chase Auckland 2 Picard 3 Royal Gamble (EM1) 4 All U Need Is Faith 5 The Black Prince 6 Boyd Writer 7 Rackemup Tigerpie 8 Poster Boy 9 Ignatius 10 Hail Christian 11 Jack Farthing (EM2) 12 Ashley Locaz   AMANDA RANDO MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES  

EVEN without Spankem, the powerhouse All Stars stable has qualified three runners for Australia’s biggest four-year-old feature. Chase Auckland, Ashley Locaz and All You Need If Faith will fly the stable flag in next Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire (1609m) at Menangle. They might have the numbers, but they don’t have the pre-draw favourite with Tasmania’s Ignatius, a stablemate of dual Inter Dominion winner Beautide, holding that billing. Ignatius did what most thought impossible and sat outside Chase Auckland to win last night’s Group 2 Paleface Adios at Menangle. The closing splits were mindblowing. Ignatius was able to run a 53.2 last half and 26.5sec closing quarter to edge-out Chase Auckland by a half-neck with star Victorian raider Rackemup Tigerpie third after sitting behind the leader. All You Need Is Faith qualified by running fourth, While Chase Auckland has improved at his three Sydney runs back from a long injury-enforced spell and will be better again for the final, Ignatius went out of this world. He has to be the testing material in the Chariots judging by that win. Remembering he was only second-up after a spell as well. “We were thrilled with the way he hit the line when a bit underdone in the Hondo Grattan first-up and the run brought him on,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “He was ready to do a bit more work this time, so I went forward from the draw. To sit outside them and win was pretty impressive.” Another key player will be star Victorian Poster Boy, who qualified via his 4YO Bonanza win at Melton, and sharpened-up with an easy Melton win last night. Picard, who disappointed slightly when rundown on a wet track in last Friday’s Newcastle Mile, and Ashley Locaz are also right in contention on the strength of their Hondo Grattan runs. The pre-draw Aussie TAB market has Ignatius at $2.50 from: Chase Auckland ($3), Ashley Locaz ($4.20), Poster Boy ($6.50), Picard ($8) and Rackemup Tigerpie ($16).   Adam Hamilton

BOOM pacer Turn It Up will enjoy a well-deserved spell before being set for another feature race campaign. Successful in last night’s Waikato Flying Mile, the Australian Pacing Gold graduate will spend several weeks in a paddock before co-trainers Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon aim him towards the Taylor Mile and New Zealand Messenger. The Taylor Mile is scheduled to be conducted on April 26, with the New Zealand Messenger the following week. “He will go for a good break now,” Purdon said. “He has come a long way in a short time and will benefit from a spell. “We won’t be heading over to Sydney for the Chariots Of Fire with him and will work towards the Taylor and Messenger. “After that he also has the Jewels which will round out his season.” Driven by Purdon, Turn It Up enjoyed the run of the race behind the leader, Star Galleria, before being angled into the passing lane during the latter stages. Unleashing a solid sprint, the son of Courage Under Fire scored by a length from the pacemaker. Ashley Locaz – a stablemate of the winner – was two-and-a-half lengths away third in 1:54.5. “He did very well again,” Purdon said. “He has come a long way in a search time, but is still learning what is about. “Everything he has done so far has been on raw ability.” APG Media

An Australasian equal record run of 1:48.8 threw Jilliby Kung Fu right into the mix for the harness racing Ainsworth Miracle Mile in a fortnight following a fabulous win in tonight’s $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire. It could be said the race was over in a flash at Tabcorp Park Menangle when this sensational Victorian pacer made light of his wide No 7 barrier and fired off the arm in stunning fashion to burn to the front with the polemarker, second favourite Let It Ride, having no choice but to surrender the front to the barnstorming Jilliby Kung Fu. Yet this was a race that had to be earned and there was no way Amanda Turnbull and Atomic Red were going to hand the race to ‘Jilliby’ on a platter as they were quick to whip up outside the leader and make it a serious staying test. With a first half of 55.6s (quarters of 27.4 and 28.2s) it was certainly no place for the faint-hearted. Yet a third quarter of 26.6 did little to shake off his rivals and it was only in the closing stages that Let It Ride extricated himself from behind the leader and made a three-wide attack on the leader with Atomic Red wilting only slightly into third place after his hard run. But the final split of 26.6 for a closing half of 53.2s told the story as Jilly Kung Fu equalled the track record of 1:48.8 set by Have Faith In Me in the 2016 Miracle Mile, defeating Let It Ride by 1.3m with Atomic Red 7.3m further back in third spot, just ahead of outsider Whittaker . With a run like that there is little doubt Jilliby Kung Fu and his young reinsman Jason Lee have earned their berth against Australasia’s best pacers in the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile to be run on Saturday night, February 24. That decision, according to Jason, is entirely up to ‘mum’, trainer Marg Lee. “Opportunities like this may only come along once in a lifetime and if it is up to me and the horse pulls up OK, we’d be taking that invitation for sure,” he said. “The son of Four Starzzz Shark has matured so much as a four-year-old from the young horse that just refused to run past other horses. Now he’s the full package.” Jilliby Kung Fu 8 9:44pm CORDINA CHICKEN FARMS CHARIOTS OF FIRE (GROUP 1) 1609M $200,000 4YO. RBD. Mobile Final Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 JILLIBY KUNG FU  $120,000   Fr7 9 Margaret Lee Jason Lee   $ 2.10 fav  GS L SWAB   BAY HORSE 4 by FOUR STARZZZ SHARK CA out of SLIP SLOP SLAP (PERFECT ART USA)  Owner(s): Levarg Racing Group  Breeder(s): D J Poole, S B Poole 2 LET IT RIDE NZ  $ 30,000   Fr1 1 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 1.30 $ 3.50   GS D/F$400 UW SWAB 3 ATOMIC RED  $ 20,000   Fr8 10 Steve Turnbull Amanda Turnbull 8.60 $ 5.60   WF FT SWAB 4 WHITTAKER NZ  $ 10,000   Fr3 4 Mark Jones Ashlee Grives 11.20 $ 21.40     5 PAY ME SAM  $ 5,000   Fr5 7 Paul Fitzpatrick Gavin Fitzpatrick 11.80 $ 21.90     6 GOTTA GO YA HU NZ  $ 3,000   Fr10 12 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 13.40 $ 29.10   COTFB RAS 7 ANGEL IN WHITE NZ  $ 3,000   Fr9 11 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Andy McCarthy 17.10 $ 45.50   COTFB RAS 8 CONVICTION  $ 3,000   Fr6 8 Steve Turnbull Mitch Turnbull 18.00 $ 57.60   RAS 9 JOES STAR OF MIA  $ 3,000   Fr2 3 Steve Turnbull Steve Turnbull 19.50 $ 58.60     10 OUR UNCLE SAM  $ 3,000   Fr4 6 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 23.40 $ 17.50   (L) Scratchings   COWBOYS N ALIENS NZ 2 OUR TRIPLE PLAY NZ 5 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:48:8 Mile Rate: 1:48:8 First Quarter: 27.4 Second Quarter: 28.2 Third Quarter: 26.6 Fourth Quarter: 26.6 Margins: 1.3m x 7.3m   Michael Court

Harness racing trainer Tim Butt has his insurance policy heading into Saturday night’s $200,000 Chariots of Fire at Menangle -- his brother. Butt prepares the big post-draw shortener Let It Ride in the four-year-old Group 1 mile, with the exciting pacer securing the ace. Butt, who has only been training at Menangle for a few months after making a surprise move from his New Zealand homeland, admits the draw could be good or bad. And that is where his brother, champion driver Anthony comes in. Anthony has driven Let It Ride six times for five wins and the only time they were beaten was a second to subsequent SA Cup winner Shadow Sax. He is also the leading ever driver of Grand Circuit winners, well clear of Mark Purdon, and between them the Butt brothers have won almost every race that matters in Australasia. “Having Ants on him in a Group 1 gives me so much confidence,” says Butt “I have actually been really happy with my regular driver Chris Geary and I think he has great hands but Ants has been doing it at the highest level for decades.” Butt says that could be important because while many punters will expect Let It Ride to lead, there could be plenty of early speed before the other favourites Jilliby Kung Fu and Atomic Red coming pouring the pressure on. “Leading would be good but so would trailing one of the good horses and Ants can make that decision based on the early sectionals. “But the horse is ready to do the job and has options.” Butt is enjoying his new life in New South Wales, with 12 horses in work and on his way to his capacity of 18. “I just needed a change and have always wanted to give living here a crack. We are loving it. “And to have one of the favourites in this race is a real bonus because just a month ago it looked like Vincent and Ultimate Machete were going to dominate this.” That pair both broke down, leaving three main chances at the head of Saturday night’s market, all probably feeling they have been gifted a Group 1 shot. Jilliby Kung Fu was awesome winning his qualifying race at Melton and won’t need to perform much better Saturday night, with his racing style suited to Menangle even though he is yet to race there. And Atomic Red is one of the brightest staying hopes in NSW and judging by his prelude win three weeks ago he could easily break 1:50. *A newcomer to the Butt team Saturday night is Afterdinnerspeaker (R3) but he is only set to arrive in the country on Friday. By Michael Guerin

Shane Tritton thinks this Chariots Of Fire will linger in his mind as the one that got away. In racing you have to turn the page quickly, but Tritton is adamant his third and fourth placings (Salty Robyn and Anything For Love) in last Saturday night’s Chariots Of Fire could have been so much better. He thinks Salty Robyn could have beaten the Kiwi champ Lazarus. Tritton felt leading and holding the front on Anything For Love was the best way to drive the emerging pacer to either win or run a placing. And he very publicly said as much via twitter and the media before the race. So he watched in surprise and frustration as driver Andy McCarthy found the lead easily on Anything For Love then couldn’t restrain quickly enough to surrender the front to Lazarus. “I asked Andy what happened to the plan and he said the horse settled quite well and that he felt Mark Purdon was about to really pressure him on Lazarus so he took the trail as he thought it was his best chance of being in the finish,” Tritton said. “I disagreed and it’s just not the way we drive our horses. We go there to win rather than looking for easier runs to get minor placings. “It was a frustrating night. If Anything For Love held the lead after a fairy comfy 26.8sec first quarter, I think he would run a heck of a race and at least finished top three. “And it also would’ve made Lazarus work a lot harder than he did with Salty Robyn camped right on him.” In contrast, Salty Robyn was forced to sit parked in the 1min49sec mile and ran a mighty third, just 4.6m from the winner. Anything For Love was another 2.4m away in third spot. To make matters worse, NSWHRC officials told Tritton that Salty Robyn was “in the mix for a Miracle Mile invite,” but certainly not guaranteed. So Tritton will now back him up in one of the qualifying sprints at Menangle this Saturday night. “I will enter Anything For Love as well, but they not give him a run because he’s only a C2. I hope gets in,” he said. “With Salty Robyn, I think another race and possibly three runs in three weeks will actually be good for him if he does enough next week to make the Miracle Mile field. “As good as he went the other night, I know he can do better. I thought I had him spot on, but I think he was just a little short of that.” Adam Hamilton

Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus is the first horse into the Ainsworth Miracle Mile following a devastating win in the $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. The New Zealand four-year-old, trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, led for the last 800m and held off stablemate Our Waikiki Beach in a career-best 1:49 for the mobile mile. The win earned him an automatic invite to the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 25, which Purdon wasted no time in accepting. That means Lazarus will not have to start in next Saturday's two preludes of the Mile, with the first two in those preludes also guaranteed Miracle Mile invites. The balance of the field will be invited at the discretion of the directors of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club and will not be decided until after next Saturday's prelude. Tonight's group one win was the 23rd in Lazarus's 27-start career and he is closing in on $2 million in stakes. He is a son of champion Bettors Delight and Bethany. Tonight's other feature, the $51,500 Cordina Food Company Sibelia Stakes was won in all-the-way fashion by Cyclone Kate in a personal best 1:50.3, earning her an automatic spot in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile on Miracle Mile night. Lazarus Cyclone Kate

Outspoken trainer Shane Tritton thinks Sydney’s extreme heat and a hometrack advantage boost his chances of upsetting Lazarus with Salty Robyn in tonight’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle.  Sydney is in the midst of a scorching heatwave with yesterday Friday reaching 46 degrees celcius in outer suburban areas and similar, if not even hotter temperatures tipped for today (Saturday).  Of course, the heatwave has already caused the postponement of Winx’s return to racing at Randwick today (Saturday) until tomorrow. Adding to the issues at Menangle is the fact the Chariots Of Fire finalists have been required at the on-course retention barn since midday Thursday. “It’s trying conditions for all the horses, but the retention barn isn’t that different to the normal Menangle horse stalls so those who’ve been in them before, like mine, will find it a bit easier and more familiar,” Tritton said.  “I think that plays to the track in general here.  “We’ve been racing here long enough now to know most horses keep getting better and more accustomed to it the more times they race at Menangle.  “The fact the race is here is a definite plus for Salty Robyn. He’s had so much experience here, he knows every part of the track.  “Some horses, especially racing here for the first time, can struggle a bit between the 600 and 400m.  “I know the more often mine have raced here, the better they get used to that part of the track.”  Amazingly, Salty Robyn, who goes into the race with 10 wins on end, won his C0 (open-aged maiden race) on the same day Lazarus smashed his NZ Cup rivals by 10 lengths.  Asked whether Tritton genuinely believes he can beat Lazarus, he said: “I’d like to think so, but it’s hard to be confident. What I am confident is that we can give him a real race.  “We can’t let him get a  break on us and we won’t. If we get the chance to make a move towards the leaders before he does, we will.  “If Lazarus goes before us, we will go with him. “We just want to stay with him as long as we can and hope we can put out head in front on the line.”    Tritton’s other runner, Anything For Love, looks set to burn out of gate nine and challenge, and probably take the lead from Arma The Gun.  It should ensure a blazing first 400m and Lazarus and Salty Robyn are likely to stay out of then, then get going with their runs.   If Anything For Love finds the lead as most expect, Tritton is clear on the tactics as he tweeted them yesterday.    “Owners of Anything For Love have confirmed they will not be looking for cover in the Chariots … horse hasn’t got the maturity to settle and burning out and would rather let him roll than spend the entire back straight trying to stop him,” he tweeted,  As great as Lazarus is, it is worth noting even another of Purdon’s greats – Adore Me – was beaten at her first Menangle run.  Since then, Purdon has given all of his biggest stars lead-up runs at Menangle before going into major races.  Circumstances have not allowed that with Lazarus being set for and winning the Victoria Cup.  At least one Aussie punter isn’t fazed by that. A $20,000 bet was taken on Lazarus at $1.40 last night for him to win the Chariots.  Lazarus has firmed from $1.45 to $1.35 on the Aussie TAB since Monday’s barrier draw, while Salty Robyn has eased from $4.80 to $6. The other Purdon/Rasmussen runners are: Our Waikiki Beach (gate seven) who has eased from $18 to $21 and Lets Chase The Dream (gate nine). His out from $21 to $26.  Adam Hamilton

Lazarus is out to correct one of the great anomalies of pacing in tonight’s A$200,000 Chariots of Fire at Menangle. Because the greatest pacer in Australasia is also the slowest horse in the four-year-old group one. In a remarkable stat, Lazarus, the winner of $1.8million and the New Zealand and Victoria Cups has a fastest official mile rate of 1:52.5, the equal slowest of the 10 acceptors in tonight’s sprint. It is a staggering 3.2 seconds slower that second favourite Salty Robyn’s personal best, all because Lazarus has raced sparingly over sprint trips and never on the lightning-fast Menangle. In fact, Lazarus’s quickest mile rate was actually over the 2240m of the Victoria Cup a fortnight ago. Considering stablemate Have Faith In Me set a track record 1:47.5 in the Miracle Mile last season and Lazarus is better performed he would seem a 1:47 miler in waiting but his lack of Menangle experience should be the greatest concern for punters taking the $1.35 NZ TAB quote tonight. Menangle miles are known for their searing early sectionals and many great horses have found themselves out of their comfort zones early then struggling to make ground after. Add to that that Lazarus has raced the last three Saturday nights and travelled north from Melbourne this week and trainer Mark Purdon admits he could be vulnerable. "He seems great and has trained well but I am also aware this could be a tricky race,” says Purdon. “So while I expect him to go well I wouldn’t be surprised if the race turns out tougher than some people might think.” Purdon is aware he will need to stay handy and not give away tactical advantage to the likes of Salty Robyn with exactly who leads after 400m crucial to his chances of getting the front. If Lazarus was able to reach the lead punters will feel far more comfortable as no horse has ever run past him in his 26-start career. Purdon does have two powerful Chariots support acts in Lets Chase The Dream and Our Waikiki Beach, who he is unable to split the pair from their wide draws. The winner of tonight’s race will be invited to the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 25. Michael Guerin

The Sky Racing Carnival of Miracles gets underway at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Saturday night with the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire the main harness racing feature. This week Trots TV caught up with reinsman Luke McCarthy and trainer-driver Blake Fitzpatrick who both have a big night on Saturday. There is also an update on Team Teal and the usual CEO's Blog and The Week That Was. See links below. Luke McCarthy interview.    Blake Fitzpatrick interview. Team Teal update. CEO's Blog. The Week That Was. AMANDA RANDO

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