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Harness racing at Menangle last Sunday has had a flow on effect to this Friday's Auckland Trotting Cup with two of the big names who raced last Sunday having been scratched in the last twenty four hours. Three time New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love was the first out yesterday after arriving back in New Zealand from Australia with the issues with his heels that hindered him on Sunday at Menangle still worrying the champion pacer. “ You can tell he’s just not himself,’’ “We were going to wait until tomorrow (Wednesday)  before we made a decision but I’ve just brought him in out of the paddock and there’s no way we can have him right for this week.’’ Paul Court said. That withdrawal was quickly followed by Sunday's Chariots Of Fire winner Sky Major who of the favoured runners had drawn the best at barrier five. With Pemberton Shard also out after having such a hard run on Sunday at Menangle, the Auckland Cup field is now down to just ten runners. All of which makes Adore Me so much harder to beat on Friday night as not only are two of her biggest challengers not there any more, but the reduced size of the field makes her task of getting around the field at some point in the running so much easier. The Tab opened Adore Me at $2.10 yesterday but several large bets quickly shortened her in to her present quote of $1:60 The second favourite is as expected the champion pacer Christen Me who has drawn better than Adore Me at two on the second line. His opening price of $4:60 has already shortened to 3:80 and looks great value for a horse who for the second season running has earned the right to be called the Australasian Grand Circuit champion. The only other runner in single figures is Ohoka Punter at $7:50 who has been set for this all season and seems to be right in the zone at the moment. All the other runners are quoted at $16 or more which supports the fact that on paper this looks like a three horse race. Watch out for our runner by runner preview out tomorrow. Harnesslink Media     

Harness racing followers on both sides of the Tasman are never slow to claim the superiority of their racehorses when stock bred in their country have a big day on the Australasian harness racing scene. So it is no surprise today that Kiwi breeders and enthusiasts are feeling very smug after the huge day at Menangle yesterday by racehorses with the prefix NZ beside their name. Their were seven Group 1 races yesterday and Kiwi breds won four with Australian breds winning two and the Europeans one. And all that success on Australia's biggest harness racing day and in their  own backyard makes it all the more memorable for the Kiwis. There were a couple of constants throughout the day and that was the dominance of Bettor's Delight and Art Major in the Group 1 pacing races. Of the six pacing Group1 races that pair won four with the tally being two a piece. Fight For Glory in the New South Wales Oaks and Sky Major in the Chariots Of Fire did Art Major proud while Adore Me and Beautide made sure Bettor's Delight hogged the limelight as well. Both sires had multiple runners in most of the Group 1 races and Bettor's Delight ended up with five placed runners and Art Major two placed runners to reinforce their dominance. A lot of comment has been made in recent years from leading Australian breeders about how they were getting on top of their Kiwi counterparts. They put this down to the ever increasing number of well bred Kiwi mares who now call Australia home and that they saw a time in the not to distant future where the Australian bred horse would dominate racing in Australia. New Zealand breeders from the start of this industry in New Zealand have sold racemares and broodmares to Australia and will continue to do so in the future. It has never affected the ability of the New Zealand breeder to churn our those top horses year in year out. With Bettor's Delight serving 301 mares in New Zealand this year and Art Major over 170 there will be no shortage of horses by these two dominant sires in New Zealand in the next few years. Throw in the likes of Mach Three (130) and newcomers such as A Rocknroll Dance (161) and next year the recently announced Sweet Lou and there is a real confidence amongst New Zealand breeders that the glory days are far from coming to an end. Harnesslink Media

Australians haven’t seen the last of star Kiwi harness racing performer Our Sky Major. Although part-owned on both sides of the Tasman, the son of Art Major is trained in New Zealand by champion horseman, Barry Purdon. As for his latest Aussie adventure, Our Sky Major captured the Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle just moments ago. Driven by Zac Butcher, Our Sky Major accounted for Bling It On and Isaiah in 1:51.5 for the 1609-metre trip. Pleased with the four-year-old’s performance, Purdon revealed Our Sky Major will return to Australia – Victoria to be precise - later in the season for another shot at Breeders’ Crown glory. Our Sky Major finished third in the two-year-old division and fourth last season. First, the entire will return to the Shaky Isles for the Taylor Mile, Messenger and Harness Jewels. “He will go home now for our major four-year-old races, but will be back for the Breeders’ Crown in August,” Purdon said. Our Sky Major’s victory provided Purdon with his fourth triumph in the Chariots Of Fire since its inception in 1995. Capturing the inaugural running with Gingerman, Purdon also scored with Franco Hat Trick in 1998 and Holmes D G ’99. PAUL COURTS

David McCarthy does a great job at the All Stars Racing Stables with his previews of all of their runners each weekend and this week is no exception with his preview for the big weekend of harness racing ahead. With the kind permission of the All Stars team we have reprinted the preview below. Auckland - Friday night Race 2 Chase The Dream (8) Natalie Form: Impressive late run to win the Sapling Stakes on debut. Ability not in question. Comment: "First time that way round but he has high speed and he is also pretty tough. The sort of hors e you can use a bit and he will still kick on. Doing well up there too" Race 3 Wanna Play (3) Natalie Form: Broke last week after good racing in south Comment:  "One I am not too confident about. Standing starts are not really her thing and she is not quite as good right-handed. On ability she would win it but I have reservations" Race 4 Arden's Choice (6) Natalie    Form:  Strong second to stablemate at Timaru mile rate1.57 plus and home in fast time. Comment:  "There's not much between our fillies and I don't know a lot about some of the others. outside the two favoured ones. I will go with Dream About Me in spite of the draw but my drive Arden's Choice is up there with her and the run of the race will decide  the best of our pair. They haven't had a lot of practice raceday but should be ready.  Dream About Me (11) Tim Form: Won debut at Timaru. Hard form to fault. Comment: see above Race 6 Change Stride (10) Brent Mangos Form: Consistent form over the summer and again last week. Draw no help. Comment: Yes working ok up there and will go a good race but maybe just a little below our other two at this level. Kept Under Wraps (6) Natalie Form: Eye catching trial and then eye catching first upper last week. Danger here. Comment: "The boys up north are very pleased with him and he will improve a lot with that last run after one trial. He will improve again with this but is competitive.  Follow The Stars (13) Tim Form: Brave in Victoria Derby beaten by the draw. Not a good one here either. Comment: "Doing really well up there and I expect him to win even from that draw with any luck at all" Race 8 Classical Art (1) Natalie Form: Progressed nicely from quiet trial to bold run last week. Poised. Comment: "Nothing will beat her out of the gate but the decisions are not easy after that. If I don't go out of the gate she could end up pulling three back on the fence and that is no way to go about it. Its a question whether I hand up to one of the top ones and risk her tugging in the trail or just try and win it from the front which is  hard to do but she is capable of doing it. The tactics will be interesting but I expect her to lead early at least. Linda Lovegrace (5) Ricky May Form: Missed a race last week but flashed home strongly at Ashburton previously. Comment: "I am not too worried about her missing that race last week. She hasn't missed any work. Also she always seems to go really well when she is freshened. Her best races have sometimes been like that. So she is a contender though not my top one. Supersonic Miss (10) Tim Form: Showed her class as false odds last week. Super on best day. Comment:  "I think she is the best chance of the three actually. From that draw she will be out of the early rush and will have options after that. She thrives on racing and should only  have improved with that race.  She gets top billing. Race 9 Border Control (2) Tim Form: Did some work to lead last week from a handicap and beaten by passing lane. Ran fastest time. Still on up.   Comment: "Another good run from a handicap last week and he can still get better. Each way chance and a good one. Smolda (5) Natalie Form:  Outstanding first up last week from a long handicap and should only be improved Comment: "I think he can win. That is based on his first up run last week  which was great and his work this week has them really happy up north. He has stepped up they feel so he should be competitive in this field. " Menangle - Sunday Afternoon Race 3  Fight For Glory (11) Natalie  Form:  Easy winner of her heat and one of the hardest to beat here. Comment: "She doesn't need bad luck but she doesn't need good luck if you get what I mean. Even from that draw  if she gets a reasonable run she should be very hard to beat. Her heat run was most impressive. She is at the top of her game and I think unless I do something stupid or somebody else does she is the one to beat. Race 4 Adore Me ( 12) Natalie Form: Went 1.51 last week but has a woeful draw. Comment: " Mark was happy to just do the training for the day as I am driving the others and if anything comes up he has the time to deal with it. It is all good news on the training front from Sydney. I don't know about that draw, whether to go straight out of the gate or wait a few seconds and see what happens. There is a bit of speed on the front line so it will be interesting. I notice that while Ruby did it hardly any horses win at Menangle  when parked so we will have to see.  She is the best horse in  the race so unless I stuff it up she should still be the horse to beat. We would decide on an Auckland Cup run after seeing how hard a race she has " Race 5 Hug The Wind (1) Natalie Form: Devastating heat win makes him favourite. Draw might be tricky. Comment: "As I said I would actually have preferred a gate one or two out. You need gatespeed from one and fortunately he has it  What unfolds from there is not so easy to predict.  You run the risk of getting trapped if you hand up to the wrong horses. He is really well and probably the one to beat" Race 6 Isaiah (5) Natalie  Form: Outstanding leadup over a mile last week and improved with that Comment: Well he has stepped up all season really but this will be his biggest test. Sky Major in particular looked very impressive last week and Bling It On is highly rated so from 5 I will just have to see what develops. It was a great leadup last week and he will improve with that so I am very hopeful he can pull it off" Cheviot - Sunday Afternoon Race9 Sophisticated Lady (3) Jim Curtin Emeli Maguire (4) Ricky May Northern Velocity (10) Matt Comment : "Northern Velocity would be the pick of them but she has that woeful draw which will not help.She hopped out of her gear last week but it was just that she lost concentration. She is still a bit  dumb when it comes to racing. The other two are sort of in the same boat. Emeli Maguire might have a break after this. We will see how she goes. She is a lanky filly and has some growing to do. Sophisticated Lady had a run just good enough to qualify at the trials with a race coming up. She might also need a little break after this we will see. Northern Velocity wouldn't want to be giving the other two too much ground turning for home but if all goes well she will be the best of them" Courtesy of All Star Racing Stables - Check Site here                                                                                                                                                                             

Connections of talented pacer Mister Jay Cee are hoping he can change his family’s history in one of harness racing’s premier events. A well-bred gelding, Mister Jay Cee is engaged in Sunday’s Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Despite drawing perfectly in barrier one, Mister Jay Cee is one of the outsiders for trainer Richard Baverstock. By Modert Art, the four-year-old is from Bettor By Far, making Mister Jay Cee a relative to Kept For Pleasure, Its My Pleasure and Nowtizku, which were all unplaced in the Group One. Kept For Pleasure finished sixth in the 2009 edition, followed by Its My Pleasure and Nowitzki, which finished seventh in 2011 and ’14. Thrilled with the draw, Baverstock feels Mister Jay Cee can upset a few of his rivals with the right run. “We are just rapt to make the Final,” Baverstock said. “He’s not quite up to the real top ones, but he goes well enough. “The biggest problem with him is he switches off in his races and drops the bit, which you can’t afford to do against this level. “If the penny drops with him he will be a lot better horse. “The draw has really helped and if he gets a good run along the pegs he may be able to sneak a placing.” PAUL COURTS

Harness racings big day at Menangle Inter Dominion Final day on Sunday is littered with great races all day and one of the hardest races to pick a winner in is the Chariots Of Fire. Here is our view of the race runner by runner Form 700 Chariots Of Fire 1) Mister Jay Cee - Starts - 30 - Wins 10 - Seconds 6 - Thirds 3  -  Stakes $86,850 In good form but a yard behind half a dozen horses here. Couldn't sprint with Our Sky Major in the Paleface Adios on Saturday night and hard to see how he can turn that around in a week. Not for us even from the draw. 2) Iam Mr Brightside - Starts - 31 - Wins 12 - Seconds 5 - Thirds 6  -  $135,615 Huge run in the Hondo Grattan behind Bling It On and Messini where he had no luck at all in the straight and flashed late for third after starting from barrier nine. Likes to follow speed and the quicker they go the better for him. At least three here better than him but right at the top of his game at the moment which makes him a trifecta and first four player. 3) Bling It On - Starts 43 - Wins 31 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $799,422 He is the favourite and he deserves to be so but he has quite a few runners snapping at his heels. Won the Hondo Grattan but not as dominant as he should have been given the run he got He has blinding speed coming off a horses back with one run at them and is best driven that way. Not quite as dominant when he has to work hard during the running and that makes him vunerable for us unless he gets the run to suit. 4) Alta Jerome - Starts 30 - Wins 11 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 5  -  $97,908 Has been thrown in the deepend since arriving from New Zealand and has been exposed a bit at times. He does have blinding gate speed and loves to lead but to much class in this field for him to be competitive if he trys to lead all the way here. We are not sure he would settle even if they did try to take a sit which put us off even more. Not a first four player for us. 5) Our Sky Major - Starts 35 - Wins 12 - Seconds 7 - Thirds 5  -  Stakes $474,579 Very much like Bling It On in a lot of ways. He has a lethal sprint coming off a horses back with one run at them but not quite as good when he has to do work in the race. Loves Australia having only missed a place one in nine starts there and always in the best company. Bonus for punters is driver Zac Butcher is right in the zone at the moment. Definite winning chance 6) Isaiah - Starts 13 - Wins 13 - Seconds 5 - Thirds 9  -  Stakes $554,868 Of the three favourites for the race, Isaiah is the opposite to the other two main contenders in that he has an allround game. Not as lethal with one run at them as the other two but can work really hard in his races and make his own luck and still kick on at the finish. Has been in sublime form in New Zealand prior to heading to Sydney and Natalie is driving superbly at the moment so he ticks every box for us. Definite winning chance. 7) El Fuego - Starts 29 - Wins 10 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $92,573  (Emerg 2) Unlikely to get back into the field but would struggle even if he did in our view. His last two runs in the Hondo Grattan and the Paleface Adios have been just ok and this field is too rich if you are not at the top of your game and he's not. Not for us 8) Yankee Rockstar - Starts 18 - Wins 14 - Seconds 1 - Thirds 2  -  $111,920 The big question mark in the race for us. Only out of the money once in 18 starts but a lot of those runs were not against the quality he is facing here. He has been very competitive against Bling It On in the past. Stepped up last time but did draw one on that occasion and just held on but it was a quality field. Will he take the step up on Sunday is the big unknown. Not a winning chance for us but a must include for trifectas and first fours 9) All Eyes On Us - Starts 16 - Wins 8 - Seconds 4 - Thirds 1  -  Stakes $148,660 Has only had six runs back from 15 months away from the track. Tracked Bling It On everywhere in the Hondo Grattan and couldn't take ground off him and although held up a touch in the Paleface Adios he didn't flatter once clear. Needed to draw close in to be a player for us and from barrier eight we can't see him playing a part. Not for us. 10) Messini - Starts 15 - Wins 15 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $271,916 This is a horse that if he had drawn better would have been right amongst it. Much bettor on the pace so worst possible draw for him but he will keep going when others are struggling. Great run in the Bonanza at Melton where he made up a huge amount of ground in a fast run race and then only went under by a neck to Bling It On in the Hondo Grattan after giving that horse the drag into the race. His only hope is that they go to war up front and if they do he is a chance to get some of it. 11) Alleluia - Starts 31 - Wins 9 - Seconds 10 - Thirds 3  -  Stakes $161,072  (Emerg 1 ) Going near enough in Queensland before coming to Sydney but his two runs since arriving have been below what he is capable of. First up he finished fifth in the Hondo Grattan before a very average eighth in the Paleface Adios. First ballot but if he did make it back into the field, we couldn't have him on form or draw. Not for us 12) Hector JayJay - Starts 34 - Wins 14 - Seconds - 7 - Thirds 5  -  Stakes $118,787 On the surface his last two runs have been excellent with a close second to Yankee Rockstar at Melton in the 4 year old Bonanza and another close second to Sky Major in the Paleface Adios. However in both runs he got a great sit close to pace from inside draws and that ain't going to happen on Sunday. If he had drawn in the first two or three he would have been a trifecta and first four player but from out at ten we struggle to see him playing a major role in this race Selections Three horses for us look to an edge in class over the rest and we have had great trouble seperating them. In the end we went for Isaiah by the merest of margins over Bling It On and Our Sky Major who we couldn't seperate. The run each receives could well determine the outcome of the race there is so little between them. For trifectas and first fours we would add in Messini, Yankee Rockstar and Iam Mr Brightside Harnesslink Media

Sky Racing’s Andrew Bensley is normally the person holding the microphone and asking the winning harness racing connections how they feel after a big race victory. However this Sunday afternoon he is hoping he is the one being asked the questions.  Bensley is the part owner of Yankee Rockstar and the talented four year old will line up in the Gr. 1 FORM 700 Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle. While Bensley feels no nerves before conducting important interviews with racing royalty, he admits there will be a ‘few butterflies’ this weekend. “I’m normally pretty quiet when I watch Yankee Rockstar race and let it all unfold but I did get a little bit excited last start in the Bonanza because I knew that if he won that race, he qualified for the Chariots,” Bensley said. “I rode him home from the 100 metre mark that night and this weekend’s race is a much bigger one.” Yankee Rockstar has drawn barrier eight but will move into gate seven if the emergencies fail to get a start. “We would have loved to have drawn a barrier so he is going to need a lot of luck from where he has drawn, especially considering Bling It On has drawn inside him.” “The best thing about his Bonanza win was when Gavin Lang put one on his tail in the straight he knuckled down and found a little bit more, because up until then he hadn’t really been in many situations where he has had to find under pressure.” Bensley will be trackside at Menangle on Sunday afternoon with his beloved Stetson hat. “My Stetson was an amazing gift from an amazing lady in Gai Waterhouse and I know that she likes to see me wearing it because she told me to make sure that I had it on if Yankee Rockstar won at Melton so I know she will be watching on Sunday.” “I love harness racing, I am in a syndicate with Tim Bunning and we have five horses, I had a horse many years ago called Dunme Dough that did a good job but I’m really enjoying being back in the sport again as an owner.” The Inter Dominion 2015 is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Name: Greg Hayes Position: Media Coordinator Phone: (02) 9722 6600 Email: Related Links Fields for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Sunday 01 March 2015 Form guide for Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle, Sunday 01 March 2015

The All Stars barn principals Natalie and Mark probably have to check each morning at the moment just to see which country they are in. The duo travel between Christchurch, Sydney and Auckland so much at the moment that it must make their heads spin at times. Mark will spend  this week in Sydney preparing the team for the big day at Menangle on Sunday. Natalie is already back in Christchurch after her big night at Sydney preparing the team for meetings at Addington and Auckland. Natalie will head to Auckland on Friday and then over to Sydney after the Auckland meeting. Natalie will take the drives on all of their runners on Sunday including Adore Me. The Auckland based team at the moment is under the care of Duane Marfisi and Tim Williams. Natalie was pleased with how things panned out on Saturday night at Menangle "We were especially happy that the Sydney team had a really good hitout because it is such a testing track and nearly all of them needed a strong race." "Isaiah  thrilled me with his run." I thought with his lack of recent racing if he got fourth even with that run in a race that quick he was doing well and he did better than that." "Mark was very pleased with Adore Me as you might think." "Isaiah's draw in the Chariots is quite a good one without having had time to analyse the form." "But he will improve heaps with the run." "Hug The Wind and Fight For Glory were both great." "Hug the Wind has drawn one." "I would have preferred two to four to be honest but we will take one." Fight For Glory has a tough draw but she is at the top of her game and she can tough it and still sprint home so it could have been worse." " They were all good," Natalie said. Its hard to comprehend at times how many top horses are part of the All Star barn but this weekend is a good example of their depth of talent. On Friday night they will line up serious winning chances in the Great Northern Oaks and City Of Auckland Free For All before heading to Sydney where they have big chances in the New South Wales Derby, Oaks, Ladyship Mile and Chariots Of Fire. Harnesslink Media

The draws for four of the big harness racing features at next Sunday's huge Interdominion Grand Final day at Menangle were done this morning and we have added some brief comments on how the favoured runners have fared. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 FORM 700 Chariots Of Fire was conducted this morning. 1. MISTER JAY CEE 2. IAM MR BRIGHTSIDE 3. BLING IT ON 4. ALTA JEROME 5. OUR SKY MAJOR 6. ISAIAH 7. EL FUEGO                                         EMERGENCY 2 8. YANKEE ROCKSTAR 9. ALL EYES ON US 10. MESSINI 11. ALLELUIA                                          EMERGENCY 1 12. HECTORJAY JAY The draw has really turned this race into a three way battle with the two Kiwis Our Sky Major and Isaiah drawn slightly worse than Bling It On but both the Kiwis can probably do a bit a bit more work than Bling It On which sets it up as an intriguing contest The Belinda McCarthy trained Bling It On has firmed into favourite with TAB.COM.AU after the draw and is now $3.00.  New Zealander pair Isaiah and Our Sky Major hold the second line of betting at $3.50. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 CAMARDA & CANTRILL NSW DERBY was conducted this morning. 1. HUG THE WIND 2. KILCULLEN 3. ART UNION 4. BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET               EMERGENCY 2 5. SLUGGEM 6. LETS CUT LOOSE 7. CORPORAL LUNA 8. SPORTY SPOOK 9. PADRISIMO 10. IDEAL FOR REAL 11. AZTEC BROMAC 12. SPARE ME DAYS                               EMERGENCY 1 After the draw this really looks like Hug The Winds race to lose. Art Union from the draw looks the only real chance to roll the favourite with the other two horses from the heats that really impressed in Ideal For Real and Aztec Bromac both having their work cut out from the draw The Mark Purdon trained Hug The Wind dominates the market and is currently a $1.65 chance with TAB.COM.AU after the draw.  Art Union and Ideal For Real are the equal second favourites and are $4.20 chances. The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 FORM 700 NSW Oaks was conducted this morning. 1. DELIGHT ME 2. REBEL DIAMOND 3. WHITERSHADEOFPALE                     EMERGENCY 1 4. LOVELIST 5. BBS INSPIRATION                             EMERGENCY 2 6. MAKES EVERY SCENTS 7. BUTTERFLY PRINCESS 8. SMOOTH SHOWGIRL 9. DU VELLA 10. DELIGHTFUL LANA 11. FIGHT FOR GLORY 12. READ ABOUT LEXY The barrier has really opened up this race. After the heats Fight For Glory looked very hard to beat but the draw has certainly fallen the way of her main challenger in Delight Me with barrier one and with Fight For Glory out at nine it is too hard to call. From the heats last night both Delighful Lana and Du Vella look an outside chance with runs to suit but it is hard to go past the favoured pair TAB.COM.AU has reopened the market for the NSW Oaks with joint favourites for the event.  The Emma Stewart trained Delight Me and the Mark Purdon prepared Fight For Glory are $2.50.  Delightful Lana and Du Vella sit on the next line of betting at $7.50 The barrier draw for Sunday’s Gr. 1 CORDINA CHICKEN FARMS LADYSHIP MILE was conducted this morning. 1. FRITH 2. PAS ULTIMATE DELIGHT 3. DYNAMITE DENN NEE                 EMERGENCY 2 4. BEAUTY SECRET 5. MAJOR FOXY STYX 6. TACT HAYLEYS DELIGHT 7. LATERRON                                  EMERGENCY 1 8. COURAGEOUSNQUICK 9. RATHMORE LADY 10. PEMBERTON SHARD 11. ELUSIVE CHICK 12. ADORE ME Before the draw this looked an Adore Me benefit but with her at ten and Frith at barrier one the race all of a sudden has become a real competitive affair. Adore Me got beaten from the same visitors draw last year but she is certainly a bigger and better mare this year. Weather she can give Frith such an advantage and still beat her is the $64,000 question TAB.COM.AU suggests the Ladyship Mile is a two horse race. In a classic Trans-Tasman battle Mark Purdon’s super mare Adore Me is the $1.80 favourite despite the wide draw while the Australian mare Frith trained by Bruce Harpley is the second favourite and priced at $2.50. The Gr. 1 barrier draws for the Bohemia Crystal Free For All and Trotters Standing Start will be conducted on Monday morning at the offices of HRNSW. Harnesslink Media

He already has a growing reputation and tonight Bling It On showed why he is considered harness racing’s next big star. A member of the powerful Belinda McCarthy stable, Bling It On completed an eye-catching victory in the Honda Grattan Stakes at Tabcorp Park Menangle. As such, the four-year-old has earned a berth in Australasia’s premier four-year-old event – Chariots Of Fire. The Group One is scheduled to be run at the same venue on March 1- Inter Dominion day. After racing midfield with McCarthy’s husband, Luke, holding the reins, Bling It On finished quickly to score from Victorian raider, Messini, and Iam Mr Brightside. “Now we just have to keep this bloke healthy and sound for the Chariots Of Fire,” said Luke as he celebrated the win with the legendary Tony Turnbull), who trained and drove Hondo Grattan. “Hondo Grattan was one of the greatest horses to look through a bridle, but the McCarthys are about the best drivers I have seen,” Turnbull declared. NSWHRC Media

A strong field of harness racing’s rising stars will contest Saturday night’s Chariots Of Fire qualifier at Tabcorp Park Menangle, with two raiders set to tackle the locals. Making the trip north of the Murray River, Messini and Major Crocker have also been greeted with visitors’ draws in the feature. Messini will begin from gate six for trainer Brent Lilley, while Major Crocker will come out of nine for Vince Vallelonga. Both will need luck against talented opposition, including Bling It On, All Eyes On Us, El Fuego and recent Kiwi import, Whozideawasthis. Yet, with all respect to the connections of the promising four-year-olds, they have a long way to go before they can be mentioned in the same breath as the champion which the heat honours – the immortal Hondo Grattan. A once in a generation pacer, Hondo Grattan – or the Bathurst Bulldog as he was affectionately-known – was the idol of Australia during the 1970s. In a time when harness racing was flourishing, Hondo Grattan was a household name as was his trainer-driver, A D (Tony) Turnbull. Although he was a small, compact stallion, Hondo Grattan was built like a tank, with a heart as big as himself. A dour stayer, with a tremendous burst of speed, Hondo Grattan was capable of testing any pacer in the world with his seemingly endless supply of stamina. A son of Hondo Hanover, a 1:59.4 American-bred pacer, from Lola Grattan, Hondo Grattan was an instant success, scoring upon debut at Penrith on May 24, 1971, beating Tuapeka’s Garry and Karamea Stranger in 2:10.2. Enjoying mixed luck during his next five starts, which netted a couple of placings, Hondo Grattan showed a glimpse of the greatness to come by winning 17 of his 21 three-year-old starts. One of those victories included a New South Wales Derby heat at Harold Park, where he equalled the three-year-old track record of 2:02.8. He finished sixth in the Final behind Bold Biami after enjoying a torrid run as the odds-on favourite. Continuing his rapid rise through the grades at four, Hondo Grattan became the toast of the industry when he captured the Inter Dominion at Harold Park. With Turnbull in the cart, Hondo Grattan worked hard outside the leader before digging deep into his reserves of stamina to score by a head from Royal Ascot, with Glamour Chief a yard away third. Racing in solid form at the beginning of his five-year-old campaign, Hondo Grattan was set for his Inter Dominion defence. With that year’s carnival staged at Perth’s Gloucester Park, Hondo Grattan was aiming to become the first pacer to claim consecutive titles. Former warhorse, Captain Sandy, was the only dual Inter Dominion winner, having scored in 1950 and 1953. Experiencing mixed luck during the heats, Hondo Grattan scraped into the Final as the lowest points earner. In one of the most disastrous standing starts of all-time, a major pile-up brought down half the field, but not before Turnbull had Hondo Grattan safely away and in front of the crash. Again working overtime during the run, Hondo Grattan outstayed his rivals to score from Adios Victor and Bret Armagh. Next on the agenda was the Miracle Mile at Harold Park on March 15, which remains one of the most exciting editions of the famed sprint. Much to the large crowds delight, Hondo Grattan and Paleface Adios engaged in an epic struggle along the home straight. With Hondo Grattan’s courage once again shining through, he completed a head win, with Mitchell Victory six metres away third. At six, Hondo Grattan was given his chance for an unprecedented third Inter Dominion, but after an interrupted campaign, could only manage sixth in the New Zealand Final won by local star, Young Quinn. Hondo Grattan competed with distinction during the next year, including a third behind Paleface Adios and Don’t Retreat in the Miracle Mile, before being retired following his minor placings at Bathurst on April 17, 1976. He went to stud with 58 wins and 35 placings from 120 starts for earnings of $215,432. Hondo Grattan failed to replicate his racing feats in the breeding barn, with moderate success coming as a sire. PAUL COURTS

Along with being the favourite, Yankee Rockstar was harness racing’s omen bet of the weekend when he competed at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. A member of the powerful Emma Stewart / Clayton Tonkin stable, Yankee Rockstar captured one of the feature events on the card – The Bonanza. What made the victory fitting is the fact the son of Rocknroll Hanover is part-owned by media identity, Andrew Bensley – also known as Hoss. Bensley received the nickname due to his likeness of actor Dan Blocker, better known for his character ‘Hoss’ on the long-running television series Bonanza! “About 20 years ago Damian Oliver pointed out I look like Dan Blocker and the name Hoss has stuck since,” Bensley said. “It dropped away for a while, but it is back stronger than ever now and looks like it will stick. “I guess with me being known as Hoss and the name of the race, it all worked out as an omen for us.” Bensley, complete with Stetson, was trackside to watch Yankee Rockstar account for Hectorjayjay and Yayas Hot Spot Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang, Yankee Rockstar led throughout, rating 1:52.4 for the 1720-metre trip. “Gai Waterhouse bought me the hat last December and now my co-owners want me to wear it every time he races,” Benlsey said. “They feel the hat may be a good luck piece, so I will wear it with pride.” Bensley’s Stetson – along with Yankee Rockstar - is set to make its next appearance at Menangle on March 1 – Inter Domininion day. “With his Bonanza win he is guaranteed a berth in the Chariots Of Fire, so that’s where he is heading,” Bensley said. “I didn’t get a chance to speak to Emma or Clayton after the race, so at this stage I don’t know if he will have another run before then. “Either way, my hat and I will be at Menangle for the Chariots and cheering him on.” PAUL COURTS

Promising pacer Yankee Rockstar has been aimed at harness racing’s premier four-year-old event – Chariots Of Fire. Following the entire’s victory at Tabcorp Park Melton last night, trainer Emma Stewart revealed her plans for the remainder of the season. To be given a light week, Yankee Rockstar will head to New South Wales to contest a Chariots Of Fire qualifier, in hope of gaining a berth in the Group One. The Chariots Of Fire is scheduled to be conducted at Menangle on March 1 – Inter Dominion day. Stewart is no stranger to success in the feature, having won last year’s edition with boom pacer, Guaranteed. “He has come back in great shape this season and will head towards the Chariots,” Stewart said. “We couldn’t be happier with him. “He will head up to Sydney for one of the heats, then be back for the Chariots.” Driven by master reinsman Gavin Lang last night, Yankee Rockstar began quickly to lead from the pole as Jilliby Jagger worked on his outside. Fending off the initial challenge on the home turn, the son of Rocknroll Hanover staved off a late charge from Hectorjayjay to score by a neck, with Yayas Hot Spot two-and-a-half metres away third. “It got close at the finish, but he was holding them off at the end,” Stewart said. “That run will top him off perfectly before we head to Sydney.” Covering the last half in 55.4 seconds, Yankee Rockstar rated a slick 1:52.4 for the 1720 metres, taking his record to an imposing 14 wins and three placings from 18 starts. PAUL COURTS

Plenty is at stake for the harness racing connections of classy pacer Alleluia. The gifted four-year-old pacer faces a must win situation this Saturday night at Albion Park when he starts in the Listed $25,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final. The Art Major – Shy Annie gelding is heading south next week in preparation for the country’s biggest four-year-old classic, the Gr.1 $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at TABCORP Park, Menangle on March 1. “That’s been the target for some time, probably since the day we bought him last year and everything has been geared for this campaign so a win this weekend would have us heading south with great confidence.” Owner Greg Mitchell said. The former New Zealand pacer has surprisingly tasted defeat at his past two starts at Albion Park; he was scorched by a red-hot Medal Of Honour in a Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final on January 24 after breezing while he went down on Tuesday as a short priced favourite. Stablemate and proven feature race winner Major Moment conquered Alleluia when he was able to lead throughout under stand-start conditions. “I haven’t been disappointed by his latest defeats, in fact, I thought he was tremendous when Medal Of Honour beat us because we did all the work and the times were fantastic while he lost a lot of early ground on Tuesday before being forced to chase hard. “He’s clearly the horse to beat in the final this weekend and I think that run on Tuesday and looking at the tapes will be very beneficial for him in the final, I think he was caught off guard a little. With a clean getaway, I think he will find the lead and prove very hard to catch. “He’s been great fun and very consistent since I bought him last year, he raced great through the winter carnival against Bling It On and the performance in the Breeders Crown Final was simply outstanding considering the barrier draw and sectionals that were posted.” Alleluia will start next week in the Gr.2 $50,000 Hondo Grattan Stakes at Menangle where he’s expected to clash with Bling It On among others. The Gr.2 $50,000 Paleface Adios Stakes on February 21 is also shortlisted if he fails to qualify in the Hondo Grattan. “We’ll start in both races if need be but hopefully he does enough to stamp his ticket the first time around. The depth in this division is truly extraordinary and could easily be the main race on Inter Dominion Grand Final day. “The Kiwis are loaded with stars while Victoria has plenty of emerging types and then there’s Bling It On, a horse we know well. It’s very exciting to be a part of this great race and I’m sure he’ll perform at his best, like he always does.” Mitchell is also looking forward for his trotter Our Overanova to tackle feature races in Sydney and Melbourne in the coming weeks. Our Overanova must overcome a 50m handicap on Saturday night at Albion Park over the short distance of 2138m. The Monarchy gelding resumed with a solid second behind Our Billy Ray at Albion Park on January 24. Our Overanova is qualified for the Gr.1 $300,000 Great Southern Star at TABCORP Park, Melton on March 7 following his victory in the Gr.3 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship Final back in October. Both Alleluia and Our Overanova are trained and driven by leading horseman Grant Dixon. Hoofnote; Greg Mitchell is the current Racing Queensland Harness Chairman. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 07 February 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 07 February 2015

Promising pacer Major Secret will be given the opportunity to join an elite group of harness racing stars. Winner of yesterday’s Central Victorian Championship at Charlton, Major Secret has been aimed at the Chariots Of Fire by co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Australasia’s premier four-year-old event, the Chariots Of Fire is scheduled to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1 – TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Day. Victory in the Group One will see the son of Art Major become just the fourth campaigner to complete the New South Wales Derby/Chariots Of Fire double. Franco Hat Trick was the ground breaker in 1997 and ’98, followed by Holmes DG in ‘98 and ’99 and Elsu in 2003 and ’04. Thrilled with Major Secret progress this preparation, Stewart believes the exceptionally-bred entire is the ideal Chariots Of Fire candidate. Stewart and Tonkin are no strangers to glory in the feature, having won last season’s edition with boom pacer, Guaranteed. “That was his second run since winning the New South Wales Derby last March and he did it well,” Stewart said. “He has come back in great condition and that is showing at the races. “He’s come back on a pretty easy mark and should be able to get through the grades easily enough. “It’s a big step up from this to the Chariots Of Fire, but he proved last season he is up with the best of his age.” Stewart stated the Vicbred Super Series and Breeders’ Crown are also firmly on Major Secret’s agenda. Major Secret captured the two-year-old Vicbred Final. “After the Chariots Of Fire we will look at the Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown later in the season,” Stewart said. “His racing will pretty much be limited to his age group this season.” PAUL COURTS

The emerging star of New Zealand harness racing has had a change of plans after an ordinary trial at Rangiora on Monday, Dalton Bromac has been in stunning form over the last few months with several outstanding wins against quality opposition. His win over 2200 metres at Auckland on December 19th in a 1:54.2 mile rate which broke the New Zealand record for the distance by 2.1 seconds had a lot of experienced pundits labeling Dalton Bromac as the most promising horse in the country. Trainer Benny Hill was aiming Dalton Bromac at the Pelorus Classic next weekend in an attempt to secure the invite to the Chariots Of Fire which goes to the winner of the race. Taken to the Rangiora trials in preparation for that race, Dalton Bromac won but not in a style that pleased his trainer. Even though he cut out the 2000 metres in a 1:58.8 mile rate, Benny was not impressed " I wasn't happy at all with how he trialed on Monday." " He wasn't himself and I think he was trying to tell me he needs a wee break, " Benny said. Dalton Bromac was being aimed at the Chariots Of Fire but all that went by the way after Monday's trial and after a brief letup Benny has mapped out a new programme for the son of Major In Art. " Now that we are not going to Australia I am going to set him for the Taylor Mile and the Messenger at Auckland in late April," Benny said. Dalton Bromac has come a long way in a very short time and being looked after at this stage of his career should ensure that he fulfills his huge potential. Harnesslink Media  

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