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  If you listened to harness racing trainer Vince Vallelonga throughout the season you would have the thought he was either a nutcase or a genius.   As it turns out, he is the latter thanks to Major Crocker success in last Sunday’s Australasian Breeders’ Crown Final at Tabcorp Park Melton.   At any point during the year, if you got into a conversation about Major Crocker, Vallelonga would have told you in no uncertain terms he was good enough to win at Group One level.   Sure he finished second in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, but to the casual observer the son of Art Major was a step below the best.   Much to Vallelonga’s delight – and “I told you so’s” - Major Crocker is now a top shelf winner.   “I never had any doubt he was good enough to race against, and beat, the best of his age,” Vallelonga said.   “He just needed that ounce of fortune to take one out and today he got it.   “This is only his first season of racing and he has come such a long way, but I knew all along what he was capable of.”   Driven by Greg Sugars, Major Crocker began swiftly to lead from barrier three, but was instantly challenged by Hectorjayjay for the pacemaker’s role.   Given little peace, Major Crocker was then challenged by Saloon Passage before Bling It On became the third opponent to ‘have a crack’ as Sugars, in a race winning move, elected to take a trail.   Enjoying the run of the race along the pegs, Major Crocker was angled into the passing lane during the latter stages before regaining the lead in the last stride to score by a head from Bling It On.   Alleluia, which gained a late three-wide trail, was two metres away third.   “He had to work hard to get there, but I was happy when we found the lead,” Sugars said.   “Then around the home turn I couldn’t believe how well he was travelling.   “The others were flat out and he was just cruising.”   Covering the last half in 56.6 seconds, the year-old rated a slick 1:55 for the 2240 metres to provide Vallelonga with his initial Group One triumph.   “I’m just over the moon with him,” Vallelonga said.   “To be honest I am just lost for words right now.   “I knew he was ready to run the race of his life.   “I’m not saying I declared him the winner, I just knew how good he was feeling and that he was ready for a big effort.”   Sent to for a spell the following morning, Major Crocker will spend up to three months in a paddock.   “It has been a long season, but he has handled it like a seasoned trouper,” Vallelonga said.   “I will give him eight to 10 weeks off then aim him at races such as the Chariots Of Fire.   “I’ve always said he would be better as a four-year-old after he had a season of racing under his belt and hopefully that will remain the case.”   Bred and owned by Gary Crocker, the gelding took his tally to nine wins and seven placings from 24 starts for earnings of $264,665.   Paul Courts    

He was named, by majority owner Rob Nalder, after one of the greatest cricketers of the twentieth century – the explosive West Indian batsmen Viv Richards. The Aussie Caribbean Blaster certainly didn’t let anyone down and especially not the great man Viv Richards. Two people who he did leave an indelible impression on are the husband and wife team Andy and Kate Gath. “He’s the most perfect horse I’ve ever trained” said Andy recently. “He’s everything you want in a horse – great gaited, a great constitution and amazing recovery rate after a tough run, perfect conformation and always gave 120% in all his races.” Sadly Caribbean Blaster suffered a suspensory injury in late July and he will now commence a new chapter in his best selling life story – a stud career at Yirribee Stud in Southern NSW, under the management of his part owner Alabar Bloodstock. The “Blaster” displayed the attributes of a top horse right from the start, albeit he raced rather greenly in his three starts as a two year old. As a three year old, there were signs that he could develop into a “Big Time” horse – second in the Group One South Australian Derby, a fast closing second to Sushi Sushi in the Breeders Crown Semi Final and then a close up fourth place finish from the 12 hole in the Breeders Crown Final – his own mile rate being 1:54.9 for the 2240 metres. Just five days later Caribbean Blaster won The Graduate, a 2240 metre standing start race, in a 1:57.5 mile rate – an Australasian record which remains to this day. “The turning point in Caribbean Blaster’s career came when he triumphed in the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle” said Andy Gath. That night he defeated Sushi Sushi, Excel Stride and the hotshot Kiwi Hands Christian in 1:52.6, last quarter in 26.6 seconds. The defining victory in his career was the 2012 Victoria Cup when he was handed the number 13 saddlecloth to start with. Aided by a brilliant Kate Gath steer, the Blaster defeated Australia’s best including Im Themightyquinn, Smoken Up, Mah Sish, Washakie and The Gold Ace to name a few. Caribbean Blaster raced on 79 occasions in a predominately four season career for 24 victories and prizemoney of $1,113,678 – he passed the million dollar mark when defeating the mighty warrior Smoken Up in the 2014 South Australian Cup. He was driven in every one of those starts by the effervescent Kate Gath. As impressive as Caribbean Blaster was on the racetrack, he has a pedigree that could be described as glittering as diamonds. His sire Bettor’s Delight as a champion stallion and has dominated the Leading Sires lists in the Southern Hemisphere for the past three years. Caribbean Blaster is from the Safely Kept mare Kalypso and was bred and sold at the 2009 APG sales for $70,000 by the Bathurst based Brooklyn Lodge. He is thus a half brother to four winners including Protikori ($212,109), placed in four Group One events, and the $125,000 winning Kalypson Kid 1:56.4. Caribbean Blaster will stand at Yirribee Pacing Stud for a debut Service Fee of $2,750 (incl GST). All booking enquiries can be directed to Alabar Bloodstock – (03) 5859 2201. Harnesslink Media        

Harnesslink has learned that the outstanding racehorse, Caribbean Blaster has suffered a career ending injury which has brought a premature end to his harness racing career. The super consistent and talented entire faced the starter on 79 occasions for 24 wins, 21 seconds and 14 thirds for $1,113,677 in stakes. Trained throughout his career by Andy Gath and driven in every start by his wife Kate, Caribbean Blaster finished in the first three in 59 of the 79 races he contested in Australia while he also contested two New Zealand Cups at Addington. He has a string of great performances to his name but two of the better ones would be his win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire in 1:52.6 over Excel Stride 1:50.3 ($769,464) and Sushi Sushi 1:54.1 ($1,103,327) and his win in the Victoria Cup in a 1:53.7mr (2240 meters) over Im Themightyquinn 1:50.4 ($4,567,456) and Mah Sish 1:55.4 ($800,911). Part owned by Alabar Bloodstock, the rising seven year old son of champion sire Bettors Delight has all the ingredients to make a successful sire now his racing career has ended. Not only does he have a great racetrack record, but Caribbean Blaster is by a great sire from a very strong maternal family. His dam is the Safely Kept mare in Kalypso 2:00.8 ($30,110) who apart from Caribbean Blaster has also produced such smart types as Protikora 1:59 ($212,109) and Kalypson Kid 1:56.4 ($125,351). Kalypso is a half sister to six winners including the classy Grand Stride 1:52.4 ($324,658) while his third dam has left nine winners including smart types such as Heezgotattitude 1:56.8 ($157,987) and Zaneden 1:56.6 ($123,500). With his sire Bettors Delight in such hot demand, it may well be an opportune time for one of his best performed sons to start his stud career. Harnesslink media

Sydney’s iconic pacing race, the Miracle Mile, is set for a historic date change as New South Wales harness racing bosses turn their back on the Inter Dominion. And that will ensure the Interdom reverts to its famous three rounds of heats and a Grand Final from 2016, being staged in Western Australia. The Miracle Mile has traditionally been held in November since it was first run in 1967 but will move to March in 2016 to replace the Inter Dominion, which NSW did not bid for the rights to stage. Bidding for the rights to the Inter Dominion for 2016-18 closed yesterday and WA was the only state to chase the series so will host it for three years and looks almost certain to retain the series as clubs in the eastern states concentrate on their home grown features. Menangle will still host the Inter Dominion next season but when it moves to Perth the Miracle Mile will take its place on the seven-group one day in March which has become Australian harness racing’s biggest meeting. The meeting, which also plays host to the NSW Derby, Oaks, Chariots Of Fire, Ladyship Mile and Sydney’s richest trot, the Glenferrie Farm Challenge, was created to compliment the Inter Dominion two years ago. But NSWHRC club boss John Dumesny says the Miracle Mile will now move to that March meeting and could become a truly international race. “We have loved hosting the Inter Dominion and are looking forward to a great series next February-March,” Dumesny told the Telegraph. “But we are happy to see it go to Perth, which will be good for the industry there and frees us up to hold the Miracle Mile on our biggest day. “And we think the March slot is perfect for us to try and lure leading North American pacers down to Australia and make the Miracle Mile carnival one of the world’s best.” The move comes as the harness racing calendar undergoes a massive shift, with almost all its major races now being staged after Christmas. The Victoria Cup has already moved from mid-December to late January and sets up a two-month window in which the best US free-for-all pacers could be attracted to come Down Under in their off-season. So it would not surprise to see Victorian, Queensland and NSW harness bosses work together to create a circuit of world class races during that time slot, with potential benefits for the Inter Dominion as well. The only point of argument heading forward is likely to be the exact timing of the Inter Dominion, with Perth understood to be keen on early March, which is when the new Miracle Mile meeting will be scheduled for. But it provides harness racing authorities across Australia with the opportunity to finally work together to create a better, sustainable calendar for their best races. by Michael Guerin, for Harness Racing Australia

TO win a Group One is always a great feat – to win two, with the same horse, is something extra special. So high-profile breeder Paul Kahlfeldt as well as the “gun” training-driving partnership of Belinda and Luke McCarthy felt like they had climbed the mountain when three-year-old Art Major gelding Lettucerockthem took out Sunday’s $100,000 Pepper Tree Farm NSW Breeders Challenge three-year-old colts and geldings’ final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Reinsman Luke, who speared to the front from gate nine and led all the way to win, later explained that connections had always had a high opinion of Lettucerockthem and now most harness racing fans would know why. “He had a bit of a gut buster first-up from a spell and that seemed to really set him back a bit,” McCarthy said. “After that it took us a while to get him back to his best. We’ve got him right again now and he showed today what he could do with that terrific effort.” Lettucerockthem had his main danger, Theartofconfusion ($2.80 favourite), stuck outside him and there he stayed until he began to give ground on the home turn, fading to finish ninth. It was left to El Fuego (Josh Willick) to chase Lettucerockthem down, finishing 7.9m away in second spot, with Ideal Legacy (Bruce Birch) third in a 1:59.3 mile rate, with the last half run in a slashing 54 seconds. Luke said races like next year’s Chariots Of Fire and, the following year, the Miracle Mile were likely long-term targets for Lettucerockthem. Lettucerockthem   By Michael Court (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

The Emma Stewart stable has the potential to dominate this Friday night’s colossal Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Semi-Final night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Stewart has 10 runners engaged across the 12-race program, including numerous expected prepost favourites. Headlining her chances are unbeaten two-year-old filly Lovelist ($1.60) in the 2YO fillies’ second semi-final and Group 1 star Guaranteed ($1.60) in the 4YO males’ first semi-final. Since arriving on the scene with a win at Maryborough on April 7, Lovelist has won twice at Tabcorp Park Melton – including victory in the Group 2 Vicbred Home Grown Final – before a last-start 5m win at Maryborough in the Super Series 2YO Fillies second heat. “She’s our best two-year-old filly,” Stewart declared on Wednesday. “She’s done everything right. I’d expect her to get through on Friday night and then we hope she goes on to win the final. “While we don’t know exactly how good she is yet, she’d have to be right up there with the best two-year-olds we’ve trained.” Lovelist comes out of gate four on Friday in Race 10, with her main dangers expected to be highly rated David Miles-trained Diamond Castle (drawn 10) and Amanda Turnbull’s Missed By Red (gate five). Harness Racing Victoria’s popular ownership program Raceapacer owns Diamond Castle, which will have an enthusiastic group cheering her on in Friday night’s race. Stewart is confident four-year-old Guaranteed can win through to the Super Series Final but admitted to being concerned about the Chariots of Fire winner’s gate-one draw on Friday night. “I can see us being buried away back on the pegs again,” she said. “But as long as we get through to the final, that’s the main thing.” Stewart believes Ginger Bliss will lead on Friday night before handing up to something else, which would shuffle Guaranteed three back on the markers. However, if Ginger Bliss leads as expected and doesn’t hand up, Guaranteed should be able to hold its back and secure its shot at victory via the sprint lane. Another scenario would be Ginger Bliss pings out early to lead clearly and something else – maybe Classy Guy or Boyz Torque – drops in behind the leader, shuffling Guaranteed back early. Stewart said she would prefer Guaranteed to be off the markers and doing some work rather than being buried away on the inside, but added it was up to driver Gavin Lang to assess the situation on Friday night. “Gavin’s got to weigh it up,” she said. When asked about Guaranteed potentially starting near $1.60, Stewart replied: “That’s pretty short…” Stewart’s three-year-old gelding Presidentialsecret ($6.50) could be her each-way value runner for the night, the trainer spruiking the horse as one “she really likes”. “He does need a bit of luck because he’s not the strongest horse going around but I really like the way he’s working at home and if we can get into the final and then draw a nice gate, he’d be a good chance,” she said. Stewart opens the marathon program with Goodtime Marjie ($3) in the 4YO mares’ first semi-final from gate six. “She’s a really top-class mare but she can do a few things wrong,” the trainer said. “It depends which Goodtime Marjie turns up.” The daughter of Village Jasper has turned up more often than not though, winning seven of her 11 starts to date. Stewart also has a likely favourite in Race 2, the first semi-final of the 2YO fillies’ division with Licinia drawn gate three. “I like her. We’ve only had her for three starts for us and she’s won two of them. She can go forward and do some work so the gate looks ideal.” Punters also look set to put their faith in yet another Stewart runner in Race 6, the 4YO mares’ second semi-final, with Our Femme Fatale drawn gate six. “She’s the most underrated horse we’ve got, I think,” said Stewart. “You always know what you’re going to get from her; she always tries her hardest. She’s a great mare.” Our Femme Fatale sat in the death and out-toughed Earth Angel, which has drawn five on Friday night, last time out at Kilmore. In the 3YO fillies’ first semi-final Stewart will put the polish on Berisari from gate two, with Nathan Jack to take the drive. “If you’d said to me at the start of the year that she’d be one of our best fillies I’d have laughed,” Stewart said. “But she’s going really, really well, and she’s a really good show on Friday night. “Nathan drives her very well. She can go forward and do some work but she also has a sharp sprint on her, so I’m not fussed about tactics. I’ll leave it up to Nathan.” Of Hes Kinky (gate 12 for the second semi-final of the 4YO boys) Stewart said: “He’s a good sit-and-sprint horse who is up in class. He’s a chance.” And in the last race of the night Stewart will have two runners, Tuscan Breeze (John Caldow, gate two) and Bettors Package (Gavin Lang, gate 10). “We were happy with Tuscan Breeze’s first start with us. She’ll keep improving. “Bettors Package is a lovely filly. She’s only tiny but she tries her hardest and with a little bit of luck she can hopefully go very close.” By Cody Winnell

If Australia was looking for a juvenile that could have a show of matching superstar Kiwi freshman Follow The Stars in the upcoming Australasian Breeders Crown - they may have well found him. And his name is Birdy Mach. The Belinda McCarthy trained Mach Three two-year-old made his much awaited debut at Menangle today and lived up to the hype and more. In fact, his winning time of 1-53.8 may very well be the quickest debut made ever made by a juvenile Downunder. Birdy Mach was sent straight to the front by driver Luke McCarthy in an opening quarter of 27.2. He was then allowed an easy second quarter, before producing a 55.7 last half to dash away for an emphatic 10.9 metre win. Bob Gage finished in second, while Kiwi export Kilcullen, who was a clear second favourite, galloped in the score-up and was never in the contest. Birdy Mach, who is a close relation to the former Chariots Of Fire winner Villagem, is owned by the Gurney family, who are currently enjoying a great run with top Queenslander Free-for-aller Avonnova. He is named after long-time McCarthy employee Daryl ‘Birdy’ Crapper. By Mitchell Robertson Birdy Mach  

Tomorrow night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 4YO entires and geldings second heat at Tabcorp Park Melton has to be one of the strongest midweek harness races in recent memory. If Chariots of Fire winner Guaranteed wanted an easy kill first up, he will be sorely disappointed, bumping into arguably Australia’s form 4YO Lennytheshark. Stewart is certain David Aiken’s rising star will be the horse to beat not only tomorrow night but throughout the series. “If he was up at the time, Lennytheshark would have run in the Chariots,” Stewart said. “I think he’s the horse to beat in the series. Tomorrow night’s field is very strong. It could easily be the final field.” Stewart said while it wasn’t ideal to be bumping straight into a hard, fit Lennytheshark, she was pleased with how her horse was progressing. “He’s had two trials. He’s pretty close actually. The only thing he’ll be lacking is a bit of race fitness. “Gavin (Lang) is pleased with how he feels. It’s good to have him back.” Lennytheshark (gate three) has won four straight races and possesses strong early gate speed. He looks a good chance to cross Guaranteed (drawn one) early. The question will then be how do Greg Sugars and Ginger Bliss begin from seven? “The draw hasn’t helped,” said Ginger Bliss’s trainer John Nicholson. “He’s probably about 80-85 per cent. If it was over 1700m he’d be looking to go forward. He’s a really good miler. But over the 2200m we’ll just have to see.” Guaranteed and Ginger Bliss finished 1-2 in the Group 2 Paleface Adios and the Chariots earlier this year. Stewart can see Lennytheshark finding the lead. “We’ll probably end up getting crossed,” she said. But even if Guaranteed isn’t able to win first-up, making it through to the next phase of the series is the number one objective for Stewart. “We’ve just got to get through the heats to get into the semis,” she said. Guaranteed has won 19 of his 27 starts for prizemoney of $516,913, Lennytheshark has won 12 out of 27 for stakes of $297,424. Ginger Bliss has 14 wins from 34 starts for $163,359. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

After a couple of unruly performances and some on the run gear changes made by harness racing trainer Darren Billinger Lombo Del Rosso appears set for a bright future.   The son of Four Stazzz Shark commenced his career back in March when he looked to be the winner on the home turn but fell after casting a shoe and in his comeback race at Betezy park Globe Derby he finshed third before embarking on a trip to Melbourne to try to qualify for the APG Finals.   In his heat he finished second before finishing down the track in the semis then did a good job to finish fourth in the consolation before returning to South Australia and winning first up at Port Pirie.   A good second to the unbeaten Hez The One in the BOTRA Golden Nursery heats saw him one of the main players going into the final on the last Saturday in May but after locking wheels on the first turn he was never a threat.   Billinger then took the big horse to Strathalbyn and he found the line well after doing some work in the final lap and not looking that comfortable on the small track.   Then at his second run in six days Lombo Del Rosso went back to headquarters on Saturday night to beat a small but quality field in the Nevele R Stud 2yo Pace.   Lombo Del Rosso is a son of Gloria Lombo who won 12 races and over $100,000 in prize money and she is a daughter of champion race mare Lombo Rapid who claimed the Chariots Of Fire in one of her 27 victories.   In the Free For All, Mildura pacer Timeless Era found the front and driver David Harding dictated terms running the first half of the last mile in 62.5 seconds before buzzing home in 56.5 giving odds on favourite Come On Frank little chance of running him down.   by Gary Newton  

Harness racing trainer Darrel Graham is cautiously optimistic. On the eve on his shock race return, Fernvale based horseman Darrel Graham believes his brilliant pacer Lanercost will perform at the required level in the Sure Products FFA at Albion Park. The former Gr.1 Chariots Of Fire winner tackles the state’s best open class performer Avonnova while enigmatic pacer Franco Jamar resumes for Belinda McCarthy in the 1660m event. After standing a season at Yirribee Stud where he covered close to 40 mares, a decision by owner Dean Shannon was made earlier this year to return to full work. Lanercost has not started since finishing fourth at Albion Park behind Passion Stride back in January, 2013. With months of foundation poured into the Courage Under Fire entire and three recent trial victories, his time has come - again. “He’s ready to go, I’m really happy with his work and trial efforts and everything suggests that he’s ready to take that giant leap back into racing again. It’s a massive challenge bringing a horse back to the track after standing a season at stud but it can be done, look at For A Reason for example.” Graham said. Lanercost will start from a tricky draw, the inside of the second-line but Graham couldn’t be happier with the draw. The front-line is overloaded with pace with noted speedsters, Franco Jamar, Destreos, Holy Camp Boy and Lebron all set to run the gate hard early. “The draw is the least of my worries; I’m drawn to follow the pegs so whether that means I’m behind the leader or three pegs, it doesn’t matter because the guess work has been removed from the draw. “I’m expecting a time of 1;52.5 – 1;53 so the best place for me to be is on the pegs taking all the short cuts. There is no easy return for a horse of this calibre and despite all the work and trials, there’s nothing like match fitness. “He’s a big boy now, he let down nicely during his time away from the track so he’ll need a couple of runs to bring him back to peak fitness. Right now, I’d say he’s around the 90% mark – while that’s good, it needs to better when you’re racing at open class.” With the winter carnival features at Albion Park just around the corner, Graham isn’t planning any miraculous raids on those feature events just yet. A view to the spring carnival in October makes more appeal but Graham will let his stable star do the talking. “No plans are set in stone at this point, it’s a case of run by run but it’s likely the Grand Circuit race later this year is more feasible rather than next month’s winter carnival features. “This horse has surprised me right throughout his career, so it wouldn’t shock me with whatever he does this campaign but hopefully he recaptures that brilliant form he once displayed. He’s good enough to do anything so fingers crossed.” by Chris Barsby

Smart filly Montana Marie was recently retired, but another one of Darrell Graham’s pacing stars is well into his comeback. Brilliant pacer Lanercost, who stood at Yirribee Stud during the breeding season, is back on the racetrack after being retired due to ongoing ham-string issues. And that comeback took a serious step forward on Monday when the speedster, who Graham describes as the quickest horse he has ever sat behind, won a trial impressively at Albion Park in a mile rate of 1-55.7. The comeback is shades of For A Reason, who also stood a season at Yirribee, before embarking on an amazing comeback which saw him win the Victoria Cup and place in both the Miracle Mile and Interdominion Final. Even more coincidental, is the fact the Lanercost and For A Reason are the same age and were the two dominant three and four-year-olds of their respective seasons. It is likely that the former Chariots Of Fire winner, who has earned $A506, 000 in stakes, will target the upcoming Brisbane carnival. Meanwhile, the Queensland campaign of the smart Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained three-year-old Aldo Rossi is over before it even began. "He was fine when he left here but he has picked up a bug somewhere along the way and it has caused a throat infection which has affected his breathing,” said Mark Purdon on his All Stars website. “He will need a decent spell over there now and it is bad luck for all concerned,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson

It is not guaranteed, but top Victorian harness racing trainer Emma Stewart is very keen to tackle the Harness Jewels with her top four-year-old, who was one of the first three Australians invited to compete in the Harness Jewels on In The Gig on Monday night. The other invitees announced on Monday were Blitzthemcalder (4YO Ruby)  and Frith (4YO Diamond), however at this stage the Chariots Of Fire winner looks the most likely of the trio to compete. "I wouldn't rule it out completely but we have to keep in mind that there is the semi final of the Breeders Challenge a fortnight after the Jewels and I wouldn't want to put her whole campaign and season in jeopardy by chasing the one race in New Zealand,” said Frith’s trainer Bruce Harpley. "Adore Me would be extremely hard to beat over there in New Zealand and that is obviously a very strong consideration for both Bernie Kelly (Owner) and I." Meanwhile, talented Junior reinswoman Samantha Ottley has landed the drive on Aldo Rossi in Friday’s NZ Derby, which will be her first drive in a Group One pacing event. “I finished second on Stent in the NZ Trotting Championship when Colin (DeFilippi) was out on suspension, but this will be more first drive in a Group One pacing event,” said an excited Ottley.  

Records continued to tumble at Tabcorp Park Menangle today as star four-year-old Guaranteed continued his climb towards champion status with an amazing win in the $200,000 Form 700 Chariots Of Fire. Still it took all of master reinsman Gavin Lang's talents as Guaranteed was forced to do it tough, racing wide for almost the entire race before outstaying Ginger Bliss and Majestic Mach to win in an Australasian record mile rate of 1:50.4. That broke Christen Me's 1:50.5 record set in winning last year's Chariots. John Dunn's New Zealand hope Franco Nelson led the Chariots early as the field came out in a slick 27.3 seconds with fellow Kiwi Border Control (Luke McCarthy) having a brief lick for the front before settling back and looking for some cover. Despite a 28.8s split, Guaranteed provided that cover when he moved up to the outside of Franco Nelson and raced without cover for the rest of the journey. The gutsy Victorian worked to the front turning for home after a 27.5s third split and as they came home in 26.8 he simple refused to let anything get past him. No doubt Guaranteed is a four-year-old that will move into the Grand Circuit with ease and may be him we're talking about as an Inter Dominion favourite this time next year. Harness Racing NSW  

If you wanted to bank on a big-race player coming into ID14, then there would only be one choice. Caribbean Blaster. His big race record in the past two years is almost unparalleled. A winner of the Chariots of Fire, Breeders Crown, Victoria Cup and SA Cup, he has also placed in two Hunter Cups, a Cranbourne Cup, a Ballarat Cup and another SA Cup. And there’s nothing that seems to stop him, winning from almost any barrier, Andy Gath has simply had to prepare his pacer to peak on Sunday. That came with a Tabcorp Park trial Tuesday when the son of Bettors Delight ripped home in 55.8secs. “We were just there to keep him ticking along and keep some sharpness in him. He hit the line quite well and seemed to enjoy himself and he got through it good,” Gath said.  “From there draw there is a good chance he is going to have 13 horses in front of him at some stage which is never easy when they are top quality. In saying that I’m not losing any sleep over it, I’m not sure what draw I would have been happy with to tell you the truth. “It gives you a bit of confidence going into a race knowing you are going to get 100% every time. As yet he really hasn’t let us down in a big race and hopefully this is no exception.” But what Gath did have to rely on was a coveted wildcard position, because with only three spots available from the Victorian heat, a fourth wasn’t enough to see the six-year-old through to the final. That came swiftly after the last heat however and deservedly so according to Gath who rated his run as good as any he has shown this time in. “It was up there with any of his runs this season I think. There’s no worse place to be than sitting in the death when they are running a track record so unfortunately he was there, but he battled on strongly,” he said. Owner Rob Nalder drew barrier nine on Monday and while on face value it looks to have made his job even harder, there are some upsides. One of those being the speed drawn on the front row and the likelihood that Lauren Panella and Mach Beauty will be doing everything they can to force Keayang Cullen and Glen Craven into relenting the lead early. And with a raft of mid-race moves expected, it could turn into a survival of the fittest. “Last year we all went in to the race a little bit blind. It was the first time over 3000 metres at Menangle and no one really knew what to expect and maybe drove a little bit cautiously,” Gath said. “I think it will be a little bit different this year now that we’ve got a template to look at. Given the field is so even and there are a lot more winning chances this year there will probably be more mid-race moves.” Gath also explained that squaregaiting stable star Elegant Image had been dealing with issues but after a pleasing return on Friday night, will head to the Glenferrie Challenge on Inter Dominion day. Purdon Has Gelding Smouldering For Inter Heading into an Inter Dominion final third-up from a 9 month spell would be unheard of a decade ago. In fact, it would have been unheard of a year ago. But such is the confidence Mark Purdon holds in his talented young pacer, Smolda will emerge from the Shaky Isle on Sunday to try for an unconventional win in the $750,000 Group 1 race. A win over 2600 metres first-up, followed by a strong second in a record-breaking last quarter has set the five-year-old up for what could be a famous victory. “He’s a great horse and it isn’t a typical build up but I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse and he’s good enough to be there,” Purdon said on RSN’s dedicated trots show Gait Speed this past Tuesday. “All up it was probably close to five months preparation before he stepped out so he had a lot of foundation miles under him.” Given most of the groundwork has been covered off and the barriers have now been decided, tactics will play an integral role in the early stages. And with an expected speed war between Keayang Cullen and Mach Beauty, many would have had Smolda pegged to continue rolling forward and look to take the top off whichever horse eventually wins that battle. That’s not necessarily going to be the case however with Purdon considering his options and suggesting a mid-race move isn’t out of the question. “We’ll probably just see what happens but I wouldn’t be fussy getting into any speed duels early. He’s one horse that can make his own luck so if he settles back I’m not hesitant to make a move on his own at some stage,” he said. TAB fixed odds have Smolda the current third favourite at $5 behind Beautide ($3.60) and Im Victorious ($4.60). Purdon’s hopes won’t just be pinned on one horse though, he brings an army of star Kiwi’s to Menangle on Sunday. Adore Me, rated as New Zealand’s best mare, she is a winner of 16 of her 18 starts but has drawn the carpark in the Ladyship Mile. And her trainer wasn’t mincing his words when suggesting she could have been competitive in the Inter Dominion final had she been set for it. “I think she would have been (competitive),” Purdon said. “I don’t rate her as being as tough as Smolda but she would certainly be as quick and given the right run she wouldn’t be far away in a race like the Inter Dominion final. It is wonderful to train and drive her and to bring her across to take on some of the best horses in Australasia.” Adore Me is the $1.30 favourite for the Ladyship Mile with TAB fixed odds. Purdon also has Border Control in the Chariots of Fire, Isaiah in the NSW Derby and My Willow in the NSW Oaks. By Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)

With 7 Group 1 races this Sunday afternoon, the overall meeting is clearly the best day of harness racing in the southern hemisphere. For the code of harness racing it is what Victoria Derby Day is for the gallops. The best of the best racing against one another for stacks of prize money. Horses, trainers and drivers have come from all parts of Australia and New Zealand to have a horse compete on the day is a feat for any participant. The 'jewel in the crown' is clearly the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion, it will be race 7 and will be run at 3:40pm. The barrier draw looks set to enhance the spectacle and now everyone is hoping that Mother Nature plays her role and the rain stays away. If it remains dry I am expecting the horses off the back row to prove hardest to beat. With Mach Beauty and Keayang Cullen drawn well on the front row I expect there to be an early speed battle and while the fire should die down pretty quickly the early burn should help those run on horses. I like For A Reason, Belinda McCarthy opted to miss the Hunter Cup and concentrate on the Inter Dominion which is a plus. He was scintillating at Goulburn and while beaten at his two subsequent runs, with the right run he has a devastating turn of speed. He looks set to stalk Beautide throughout and he is clearly the hardest horse to beat. His versatility is a huge advantage and James Rattray has the option of making a move midrace should he deem it necessary. Im Victorious will be in front of his main dangers early and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gary Hall Jnr try and get off the pegs early in the race while Smolda might land in a good position early despite a wide front row draw. The best roughie is Seel N Print, he is flying at the moment and is a very good stayer. Of the other chances Restrepo might be suited out of the fireworks early and has proved his toughness in Victoria. While the best Terror To Love would be ultra competitive, will we see the best of him on Sunday and Caribbean Blaster could be set to cover some territory from his wide draw. The first Gr. 1 of the afternoon is the NSW Oaks. Nike Franco has drawn gate one and that isn't ideal but Chris Alford will be off the pegs and her toughness will take her a long way. She is still green and when she learns what the racing caper is all about she will be even better. Hardest to beat is the kiwi filly My Willow, she will be better for her first look at Menangle last week while the Victorian fillies Quick Draft, Mindarie Priddy and Whereibylong are all hopes. The best roughie is the NSW trained Shes A Runa. The Ladyship Mile has attracted the best mare from New Zealand in Adore Me but the visitors draw gives her rivals some small hope of an upset. Baby Bling is a Miracle Mile winner that hit the line strongly last week against the boys and she is the best local hope to upset the favourite. There are plenty of trifecta and first four chances including Steam Washed after three straight wins including a scorching 1:53.3 win at Melton last start, Elusive Chick has drawn well and could be dangerous should she settle close to the leaders with her quick sprint while the form around Leda McNally in WA is very strong but the draw is a concern. The NSW Derby market is dominated by Bling It On and while with the right run he could blow his rivals away I am happy to take the each way odds being offered about Yayas Hotspot. The Shane Tritton three year old is back to his best after going off the boil late last year and I would expect him to go for an all the way win this week after handing up the lead in the heat. Hardest to beat is the McCarthy pair Bling It On and Allblack Stride while Isaiah and Iam Mr Brightside have small winning hopes as well. Last year's Chariots Of Fire has turned out to be one of the form races of the season with Smolda, Restrepo, Mach Beauty and Im Victorious all coming out of that race and into this year's Inter Dominion. There is depth across the board but with plenty of early speed in the race I'm tipping Guaranteed to prove too strong. He stormed home last week to win the Paleface Adios and he loves racing on the big Menangle track having only tasted defeat once on the circuit in his career. There are plenty of other chances though, Franco Nelson, Elios, Border Control, Chilli Palmer and Nowitzki all could be in the finish with the right run. The Bohemia Crystal FFA sees Jivin Cullen arrive from New Zealand with some solid form behind Terror To Love and Smolda and he looks the leading chance in a tough race. Im Corzin Terror has been racing well in Victoria and won the Terang Cup last week and if he turns up at his best he looks to be the main danger. Mah Sish is clearly not the horse he was a year ago but his form is not as bad as it reads on paper while Ardghal is a hope, he will be an even better horse in twelve months time and should blossom from the experience racing the better horses. Abettorpunt was very brave at Terang as well and can win at his best. The Glenferrie Farm Challenge for the trotters sees the battle of the Anzacs and after a surprise win last year I think the Australian's can make it another win in the series. My High Expectations is in the best form of his career and has performed extremely well at Menangle in the past. Last year's winner Keystone Del has drawn terribly but is in great form while Stent and Master Lavros look to be the best of the visitors. My best bet of the day is Yayas Hotspot in the NSW Derby but it looks to be one of those meetings that if you can find just one or two winners in the ten races then you should go home a winner. Don't forget you will see all the action on Sky Racing1 from 11am with a full preview of the meeting. Harness racing just doesn't get any better, enjoy your Sunday afternoon! Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing NSW       Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E: nogrady@hrnsw.com.au| W: www.hrnsw.com.au & www.trotstv.com.au       Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.            

Terror To Love’s Menangle nightmare continues even before he gets on the plane to Sydney for Sunday’s A$750,000 Inter Dominion Final. And while the men behind the $2million earner are trying to put on a brave face after drawing the outside of the second line, the great Kiwi pacer could need a miracle come Sunday. Terror To Love drew barrier 14, meaning he will start from four on the second line in the 3009m thriller, with fellow Kiwi pacers Smolda (8) and The Gold Ace (10) rounding out a horror draw for the New Zealanders in the race. That saw all three drift in betting for the final, with Terror To Love now $15 in Australia, amazing odds for a three-time New Zealand Cup winner. The lack of love from Aussie bookies in understandable though as Terror To Love was dreadful when finishing last in the Miracle Mile at Menangle last November and has yet to win in six starts at the Sydney track. His connections openly admit they lack confidence with the stallion in Sydney and now face settling a lot closer to last than first in the giant field. “At first glance it is not ideal,” said co-trainer Paul Court. “But at least the other favourites Beautide and For A Reason as well as Smolda will probably settle back there too. “So if they go hard then we will all end up moving into the race later and that could work out well. “But sure, after how he went in the Miracle Mile there it is hard to be confident.” One excuse given for Terror To Love’s poor Menangle record is the track surface, which is soft on top of a hard base but Court says the big pacer will be re-shod to try and gain more grip. Smolda drifted to third favouritism of $5 in Australia and will start longer as he is unlikely to be asked to run the gate hard so looks certain to settle rearward. Beautide remains the favourite with his draw of two on the second line suggesting he will end up midfield in the running line without doing any work. “To be honest, the draw is perfect,” says trainer-driver James Rattray. Smolda’s trainer-driver Mark Purdon also had no luck in the draw for the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile, one of the seven group one at Sunday’s amazing meeting, with his champion mare Adore Me to start from the outside of the front line. But she is so highly regarded in Australia, where she has never raced, that she is still the $1.30 favourite for the race. Stablemates Isaiah (NSW Derby) and Willow (NSW Oaks) has both drawn perfectly though while Border Control heads a super-strong Kiwi team in the Chariots of Fire. The big winner in the draws for that race was trainer Robert Dunn, who has Franco Nelson drawn the ace and Elios barrier three in a powerful field. Meanwhile, Smolda has opened the $3.50 favourite in a confused market for the Auckland Trotting Cup on Friday week. He is one of six Interdom finalists who will only be confirmed to make the trip back to Auckland depending on how they perform on Sunday and would be 50-50 at best to start in the Cup. Terror To Love is more likely to back up and is the $4.50 Cup second favourite while Adore Me is $5. The field for the A$750,000 Inter Dominion final at Menangle on Sunday.---- I’m Victorious (1), Livingontheinterest (2), Seel N Print (3), Keayang Cullen (4), Forever Gold (5), Mach Beauty (6), Wartime Sweetheart (7), Smolda (8), Caribbean Blaster (9), The Gold Ace (10), Restrepo (11), Beautide (12), For A Reason (13), Terror To Love (14). Emergencies: Pub Blitz and Ardghal not draw in field and would take barrier of any scratched runner. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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