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Champion Australian reinsman Chris Alford says taking on the most feared horse in harness racing could actually help Poster Boy win the A$1million Miracle Mile.  The Victorian four-year-old earned an automatic invite to Australasia’s richest harness race with a stunning display in the A$200,000 Chariots of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.  He came from fourth last at the 600m mark to blow past some superstar opponents and had punters beaming after being backed in from $5.50 to start $3.80.  Trainer Emma Stewart was quick to accept the invite to the Miracle Mile on Saturday week so Poster Boy joins longshot Newcastle Mile winner Yayas Hot Spot as the only guaranteed starters with the other six spots to be decided from two preludes at Menangle this Saturday.  In one of those preludes will be the iron warrior of pacing Tiger Tara, fresh from adding the Hunter Cup at Melton to his Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup victories this season which has seen him ascend to the top of the Australian pacing ranks.  But while Tiger Tara remains the $3.50 Miracle Mile favourite with the Australian TAB compared with Poster Boy’s $6.50, driver Alford says the hard-running champ could aid Poster Boy.  “The harder they go in the Mile the better it will suit us,” said Alford, who tipped Poster Boy strongly last week.  “He will follow any speed and in fact his best chance of winning the Mile would be if they went really hard and he can sit off them just like he did tonight.  “I am glad Emma accepted the invite because he has developed into a really good Grand Circuit horse.  “He has always been fast but now he is strong enough to carry that speed longer and that is what you need for a Miracle Mile.” While Poster Boy has his spot in the great race the competition for the remaining six places has intensified as more big names eye the preludes.  Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto will also have Majordan in them after he smashed some serious free-for-all opponents on Saturday night, leading from barrier nine to pace 1:49.5, which compares favourably with Poster Boy’s 1:49.1 considering Majordan did all the work in his race.  “He is a really good horse but Tiger is flying at the moment,” said Pizzuto comparing the pair.  Kiwi trainer Mark Purdon could have up to five prelude contenders, including Chase Auckland who was the luckless Chariots favourite after never getting clear in the straight.  Saturday’s meeting will also sees heats of the NSW Derby and Oaks as well as the open class mares chasing the final four spots in the Ladyship Mile, which will be run Miracle Mile night March 2.  Dream About Me and Elle Mac will make last minute trips to Sydney on Friday to contest the final lead-up to the Ladyship Mile, with the pair needing at least a top four finish to be guaranteed a start.  And they will be joined on the flight by Princess Tiffany, who was originally going to miss the NSW Oaks but after trialling well at Rangiora last week she will head to Menangle on Saturday night for the Oaks heats. Michael Guerin

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  

Poster Boy had a perfect all-to-plan tune-up for Saturday night’s Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire, the Group 1 four-year-old sprint for $200,000. Having saluted when first up in the TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza, which earned the half-brother to Yankee Rockstar and Born To Rocknoll a place in the Chariots, Poster Boy made it two-from-two this time in when he won the Sandhu Enterprises Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. The Emma Stewart-trained four-year-old cleared out and won comfortably for reinsman Chris Alford, who heaped praise on the “beautiful little colt”. “He just does what he wants too,” Alford told Trots Vision. “Clayton wanted him to have a bit of a blowout the last 400 and he felt really good.” Poster Boy saluted by 12m from San Domino off a 55.6 final 800m, taking his stakes won to $551,390 for owner-breeders Anne and Bill Anderson of Lauriston Bloodstock. Alford said the Somebeachsomewhere entire had great versatility, which should stand him in good stead Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He can buzz off the gate for a 100 and then just drop the bit, and you can pull out go again and then he will just drop the bit again,” Alford said. “He can just sprint and slow down as much as you like.” Rackemup Tigerpie will also fly the Victorian flag in the feature, having qualified with a third placing in last week’s Paleface Adios Stakes Michael Stanley’s Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old has been enlisted a $23 chance with the TAB.com.au, with Poster Boy ($5.50) on the third line of betting outside polemarker Chase Auckland ($2.50) and Ignatius ($3). Michael Howard for Trots Media

Champion Victorian harness racing driver Chris Alford admits he had his fingers crossed when he travelled to Maryborough on Thursday to drive exciting first-starter Kyvalley Chief. The three-year-old colt (Muscle Hill-Love Ya Doosie (Love You), raced by KPC Racing, had shown some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies at the trials – a touch unpredictable, but brilliant on his best behaviour. “There’s no doubting his ability – when he decides to put his best foot forward, he does it effortlessly,” Alford said. Punters sent Kyvalley Chief out as a $3 chance with the Gavin Lang-trained and driven Classy Spirit assuming favouritism at $2.10. With several of the youngsters not bringing their best manners and breaking at the start to cause interference, HRV starter Doug Gretgrix, officiating at his final meeting after 21 years, had no option but to call the first attempt of the race a false start. “I was a bit lucky because Kyvalley Chief was in a cranky mood. He galloped in the score-up, wouldn’t trot properly and was trying to go sideways, so I did have my hands full,” Alford said. “Without doubt, had they gone I’d have been 200 metres behind them. “But fortunately, in the second attempt he went up like a complete gentleman and we trotted to the lead.  He went fantastic.” Kyvalley Chief won by 19 metres from Classy Spirit, with a massive 51 metres back to Zarem in third spot with quarters of 30.8, 31.4, 29.5 and 31.3 for a rate of 2.03. “It was annoying that he played up the first time, but thankfully he made amends time and went similar to his Bendigo trial four days earlier.  He was on his best behaviour there and won in a jog and in a pretty handy time.” Alford said Kyvalley Chief, despite having a handful of trials and heaps of education, was probably still “a big immature boy”. “He’s certainly a work in progress, but he’s got heaps of raw ability so hopefully it will all come together for him soon.” To watch a video replay click here. Kyvalley Chief was bred by Breckon Farms, who have a full brother to Kyvalley Chief at this year's inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka, Auckland, on the 18th of February. He is Lot 53, Doosie Do by Muscle Hill from Love Ya Doosie. For the catalogue pedigree click here. Doosie Do From the race winning Love You mare Love Ya Doosie (T, 2.7.5, 2 wins, $12,375) who is a half-sister to champion trotter, 9-time Group 1 winner and 4YO Trotter of the Year, Trotter of the Year (twice), Harness Horse of the Year and Australian Trotter of the Year I Can Doosit (T, 1.55.5; 36 wins, $1,445,774,), Group 3 winner and Group 2 placed Sno's Big Boy (T, 1.58.4, 15 wins, $215,309), Heezadoo Early (T, 2.06.9, 5 wins, $46,866) and Yankeedoosie (T.3, 2.05.2, 4 wins, $43,999). Second dam is the broodmare gem and dual Broodmare of the Year sheezadoosie (T, 2.04.2, 7 wins, $48,632) who is the dam of 6 foals to race, 6 winners and the granddam of the promising Forget The Price Tag (T, 2.04.9, 2700m, 2 wins & 2 placings from just 6 starts, $21,703). From the family of Golden Blend (T, 1.55, 33 wins, $294,630), Group 2 winner Aldebaran Ay M (T, 1.58.8, 9 wins, $72,419), Group 1 placed Aldebaran Southland (T, 2.00.1, 12 wins $67,332), Breena Almahurst, Brighton Lobell, Noble Hustle, American Hustle, Hardesty, Noble Traveller etc Kyvalley Chief was the first leg of a winning treble for master reinsman Alford at the Maryborough meeting. He followed with victories in the 4yo and older trot with Flash Kyvalley (Skyvalley-Cashel Dagha (Pine Chip) and a heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series with Bettor Be Sorry (Bettors Delight-Whos Sorry Now (Western Ideal). Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

TWO of the major Inter Dominion players – trotter Tornado Valley and pacer Shadow Sax - had easy warm-up wins at Melton last Friday night. The first was Inter Dominion trotting favourite Tornado Valley, who effortlessly made it 13 wins from his past 15 starts. He’s the $3 favourite on the Aussie TAB for the trotting final from Kiwi star Speeding Spur at $3.80. Kate Gath took Tornado Valley straight to the front from gate three, cruised through a 62sec middle half and really just sprinted a 28.2sec to win hard-held by four metres in the Group 3 Lenin Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m). The fact Kyvalley Blur performed so well in his two NZ Cup Week runs last week speaks volumes for Tornado Valley’s form given he’s been easily beating that horse in Victoria of late. Shadow Sax and San Carlo clashed in the Group 3 Popular Alm free-for-all (2240m), but it proved a fizzer. Shadow Sax cruised to the lead, while San Carlo was three pegs and that was the race. Driver Chris Alford dictated terms in front and ripped home in 54.7 and 26.9sec to win easily on Shadow Sax, while San Carlo only saw daylight late and charged home for second. The Emma Stewart-trained Shadow Sax has won his past two on end from good draws and boasts 23 wins from just 37 career wins. _________________________________________________________________________________________ TOP WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond will make a final decision this week on a Melbourne Inter Dominion raid. The Bonds have set last year’s finalists Galactic Star and the emerging Vampiro for the series, but have travel concerns. “If they stick with this requirement to be in Melbourne five days before the first round of heats, then we won’t go,” Greg Bond said. Galactic Star, who finished fifth to Lazarus in last year’s final, has returned with wins at his two starts after a let-up. The latest win came in strong style at Gloucester Park last Friday night where Ryan Warwick gave him a lovely one-one trail and he scored by 3.4m in a 1min54.2sec mile rate for 1730m. It was part of a big night for Team Bond, who also won the $50,000 4YO Championship with the exciting former Kiwi, Mighty Conqueror. The son of American Ideal won three of his four NZ runs before heading to Team Bond where’s easily won all four starts. But it was last Friday’s win which stamped him as a major Golden Nugget player. Mighty Conqueror won a blazing 200m sprint for the lead at the start then copped plenty of midrace heat from Golden State – who finished a distant last – and still held-off the classy Bechors Brook to win easily by 7.7m. His 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2130m was just 1.0sec outside Beaudiene Boaz’s track record. “We thought he could make a Nugget horse and he keeps stepping-up,” Bond said. Team Bond already has a major Nugget hopeful in buzz Kiwi import Ana Malak, who makes his debut for the stable at Pinjarra tomorrow (Monday). Another winner of note last Friday night’s Gloucester Park meeting was former star Kiwi filly Our Angel Of Harlem, who overcame a wide draw to score easily for father/son Mike and Mark Reed. It will be interesting to see if they throw the now fiur-year-old mare in against the “boys” in the Nugget. _________________________________________________________________________________________ LET It Ride looks right on target for the Inter Dominion despite being beaten at Menangle last night. Anthony Butt drove the Group 1 Blacks A Fake winner more aggressively from the outside draw at his third run from a spell and Let It Ride ran a mighty race in slick time. He did all the work outside the leader and was in front until the emerging Ellmers Image nabbed him in the last 50m. They went a 1min49.9sec mile. Ellmers Image’s win gives Amanda Turnbull two good Inter Dominion heat drives, the other being Joes Star Of Mia, trained by her father Steve. The other feature race at Menangle, the Group 3 Sue Kelly Stakes for mares’, went to the flying Village Witch in a 1min50.9sec mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ THE rise and rise of young Swede Kima Frenning continues to build momentum. Frenning has enjoyed a stellar 2018 through her relationship with open-class pacing stars Wrappers Delight and Im The Boss. And Wrappers Delight gives her a serious chance of winning the Inter Dominion final. Frenning scored another career first when former classy Kiwi pacer Buster Brady won easily at Cranbourne last night. It was Frenning’s first win as a trainer in her own right. _________________________________________________________________________________________ DAVID Aiken thinks his recent stable addition Big Jack Hammer won’t be out of his depth in the Inter Dominion trotting series. The six-year-old, raced in the same interests as Aiken’s leading Inter Dominion pacing hope Wrappers Delight, looked sharp winning at Melton last Friday night. It was just his second run for Aiken. Big Jack Hammer was backed for plenty on debut for Aiken in the Yarra Valley Trotters’ Cup, but made a mess of the start and caught the eye making up loads of ground afterwards. His manners were much better from the mobile start last Friday, pushing forward from gate five to find the front and never looking in danger. The eye-catching run came from runner-up Aleppo Murphy, who galloped at the start, lost at least 30-40m, but flew home to get within 3.3m of the winner. The flop was Inter Dominion hopeful Magicool, who went into the race with nine wins and two seconds from 11 starts, but weakened after sitting parked to finish almost 30m away in seventh spot.   Adam Hamilton

Shadow Sax’s surge towards the Melbourne Inter Dominion gained some serious momentum with an easy Sokyola Sprint win at Melton last night. After some brave runs from bad draws in strong races, Shadow Sax drew superbly in gate three and used it to lead and dominate. With Chris Alford away at Globe Derby for the Australian Drivers’ Championship, Mark Pitt took the reins on Shadow Sax and always looked in control. And he beat fellow key Inter Dominion hopefuls Wrappers Delight and Menin Gate in the process. Shadow Sax clocked a 1min52.5sec mile rate for 1720m – just 1.8sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record – and closed with splits of 55.0 and 26.6sec. Wrappers Delight’s run was enormous given he sat parked early then took the one-one trail on Menin Gate, but had to swing three-wide and make-up good ground in the blistering last quarter for second. The concern from the race was how sharply Menin Gate, who returned from a long spell with a terrific Swan Hill Cup win – dropped out to finish a distant last. Stewards queried the race and stood him down pending vet tests. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ An emerging star and a rejuvenated veteran stole the show in the Group 3 Nick Robin Free-For-All (1609m) at Menangle last night. And both of them – Joes Star Of Mia and Maximan – could be Inter Dominion-bound. Joes Star Of Mia has made a stunning step into Menangle’s big league, following a ripper fourth and eye-catching second with a sub-1min50sec win last night. Despite being part of a slick 26.5sec quarter as driver Amanda Turnbull fought to lead, Joes Star Of Mia followed with splits of 28.0, 27.3 and 27.5sec to win brilliantly in a 1min49.3sec mile. Most thought the currently sidelined Atomic Red was trainer Steve Turnbull’s next star horse, but Joes Star Of Mia has pinched that title, at least for now. Maximan’s slashing second, coming from a mile off them and finishing well ahead of Let It Ride, has got trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton thinking. “We’re talking with the owners about paying the late entry for the Inter Dominion. He won a couple in a row and he’s smashed the clock finishing second in both runs since,” Shane Tritton said. “I’ll be talking to HRV about it. He’s going well enough to give it a go for sure.” Maximan’s stablemate, My Alpha Rock, tired late but wasn’t disgraced in eighth spot after sitting parked. Let It Ride settled near last and was standing-up the leaders a huge start on the home bend before finishing well for fifth, less than five metres from Joes Star Of Mia. He’s now got two runs under his belt and shows every sign he will appreciate getting over further than a mile. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Many of the biggest names in Australian driving ranks locked horns at Globe Derby last night. There were eight heats of the Australian Drivers’ Championship and it went right down to the last heat to decide the winner. And it was NSW young gun Todd McCarthy who snatched victory by just two points over Queensland-based Adam Sanderson with WA veteran Chris Lewis another four points away in third spot. McCarthy only won the one heat – heat two about Imprincessgemma – but was consistent through the right races, also snaring a second and three fourths. Final standings were: Todd McCarthy (72pts), Adam Sanderson (70), Chris Lewis (66), Greg Sugars (63), Pete McMullen (63), Dani Hill (62), Ricky Duggan (59), Ellen Rixon (51), Todd Rattray (45), Chris Alford (44), Shannon Suvaljko (40) and Ryan Hryhorec (37). ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Former Kiwi pacer Vampiro continued his rapid rise through the ranks with the biggest win of his career at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Driver Ryan Warwick made the most of a good draw (gate three) and Vampiro’s gate speed to lead and always looked in control in the $50,000 Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2130m). After cruising through a 61.4sec middle half, Vampiro finished-off in 56.0 and 27.9sec to hold-off a gallant and revitalised stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone in 1min57sec mile rate. Vampiro’s won five of his past seven starts and 17 of his 38 career runs and with Chicago Bull sidelined he is pressing for the top seeding in WA’s open-class ranks. “I liked him from the start, but Bondy (co-trainer Greg Bond) wasn’t so sure. He rushed through his grades and took a few runs in open-class to take the next step, but he’s into it now,” Warwick said. Vampiro is one of two “Team Bond” pacers being set for the Melbourne Inter Dominion. The other, Galactic Star, is slated to return to racing next Friday night at Gloucester Park. Team Bond’s other emerging open-class player. Mitch Maguire, also impressed winning last Friday night, coming from a 10m handicap to score by 16m in a slick 1min58.8sec mile rate for the long 2503m from the stand.   Adam Hamilton

Finding a horse with the ability to score five wins on the trot is like finding a needle in a lucerne bale, so it's no surprise it took Russell Maisner four decades and just as many generations of breeding to find one in Abridged.  Maisner, whose first taste of the trots was attending the Showgrounds as a 10-year-old in the 1970s, will be at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night watching the unbeaten four-year-old shoot for win number six in the 1720m Fixwell Smash Repairs Pace.  But the story behind this promising pacer is anything but abridged. It all started in the early 1990s; Maisner was driving in races – his main passion – for about a decade while forging a corporate career to pay the bills. Along came Lady Muck, a Muckalee Strike mare who won six races from 13 starts for Brian Hancock in 1990/91. “(She was) the first horse we bought,” he said. “There were a couple of friends (in on her, but) we dissolved the partnership (and) I kept her.” Maisner bred Laconic, a filly out of star sire What’s Next. He raced her 21 times with wife Karen Dunwoodie for nine wins, including winning the 2001 Australian Pacing Gold three-year-old fillies’ final with good friend Darren Hancock aboard. He said Laconic, who was trained by Peter and Kerryn Manning, was the fastest horse he had owned.  “She just had blinding speed, brilliant gate speed and as long as you didn’t look at her from the knees down she was a beautiful horse,” he said. “She won (the APG final) with bone chips in both her knees, so we never saw the best of her.” Laconic was sent to the breeding barn and it didn’t take long for her to excel. Her first foal, by US sire Panorama, was Abbreviated – the dam of Abridged. He brought good friend, Sydneysider John Chase, on board. “John had been in the thoroughbreds and had a horse with Gai Waterhouse but didn’t really enjoy the experience of a syndicate,” he said. “So we went halves and John put his wife in and I put my wife in (as co-owners) and he has been my partner now for 14 years.” Abbreviated, also trained at Great Western, won eight races – including one with Maisner on board – between 2006 and 2008 until injury issues again took their toll. But Abbreviated would shine as a broodmare, with her first three starters – the last Abridged – all winning at least four races. The fourth, three-year-old Brevity, is also looking promising. The son of late, brilliant Alabar stallion Mach Three, Abridged won those races faster than any horse Maisner had owned or driven. “We know he will get beaten as it gets harder. I don’t know where we will end up, you harbour dreams (of winning top-flight races) deep down in your soul,” he said. “But it is hope and so you just go ‘we will just enjoy the wins as they come’. We saviour every win; we don’t take anything for granted.” Maisner doesn’t take his love for driving for granted either: He has driven in almost 100 races since 1980, winning six of them. He is so passionate about sitting in the sulky he makes almost weekly 300km round trips from his Hawthorn home to Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Smythes Creek stables for the privilege. He said he loved the professionalism of Stewart, who along with regular driver Chris Alford departed Sunday night’s Gordon Rothacker Medal celebration with a suitcase of trophies.  “The reason why I drive the distances I do to go there is just because I love the way they train, I love their approach to the horses,” he said. The regular trips also give him a chance to see the treasure chest of quality four-year-olds at Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s stables, the likes of Poster Boy, Ride High and Konan to name a few. “I know we think reasonably well of Abridged, but I drive these horses and it is like, ‘err, I don’t know if we want to meet any of these’,” he said. “You look at them, there’s probably about six or seven of them on the list. It is very intimidating.” Regardless of what the future holds, Maisner is always looking forward with hope – and with good reason. Abbreviated is one a handful broodmares booked in to be served with Mach Three’s final reserves of frozen sperm. All going well, a full brother to Abridged is on the way.   Shaun Campbell for Trots Media

The Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup kicks off a bold new era Thursday night and has drawn one of the more open editions of the race in recent memory. The Group 2 showpiece will be the 55th running of one of Australia’s greatest races, which will be race seven on the card and the first of 25 cups in the 2018-19 Trots Country Cups Championship. Andy Gath is one of three trainers with two runners in the field, preparing Burnaholeinmypocket and Three Ways, while Glenn Douglas has readied Bernie Winkle and Shortys Mate and David Aiken Im The Boss and Audi Hare. The cup's preferential barrier draw was arranged on prizemoney earned in the last four starts, which hasn’t advantaged Gath with Three Ways, who has been racing very consistently, drawn the back row and Burnaholeinmypocket outside the front row. The latter looks to be getting back towards peak form and might well deliver Gath's second Kilmore Cup, which True Cam won in 2004 when beating Sokyola. He said Kate Gath would drive Three Ways and, in Alex Ashwood's absence, it would be a pick of the available drivers, with leading lights Chris Alford, Gavin Lang and John Caldow among those seemingly yet to have a designated drive. “I like the concept of the barrier draw being done on the last four starts prizemoney, rather than the metro class, and it should prove to be a good point of where you’re at rather than a historical metro class form," Gath said. “The draw probably hurts Burnaholeinmypocket, he has had bad draws most of his life and this is the third time in a row he has drawn the outside of the front row, so it’s not ideal. "But it’s not a fast front row, he has got really good gate speed. We didn’t come out quick on him the other night as we knew he had no chance of crossing Audi Hare or Love Ina Chevy, but he does run the gate pretty quick and I think it is probably a race where he will probably come out pretty solid and try and get a forward position. “He has run over the distance (2690m) a couple of times before and has gone average, but both of them were on really hot days and he has a bit of a breathing issue. When it is really hot he doesn’t perform at his best. He has probably got an each-way hope, it’s a pretty even race." The stable considers its main chance to be Three Ways, who draws the second row, so tactics will likely differ to recent runs. “We know from the draw he is not going to lead, obviously, but sitting off the speed he has put in some really good runs and he won a race at Ballarat in nearly track record time with a cold sit against Hughie Green," Gath said. “I don’t think any of them, maybe apart from My Kiwi Mate, could probably make their own luck and win. I think (Three Ways) is going to have to have a bit of luck from that draw and if things go right he is a winning chance at the top of his game." Gath said Three Ways had gotten stronger as he got older and was handling his workload better, but in regards to the longer distance, "you don’t know until you go over it”. “His 2200m record is pretty good, but if it’s like last year - a last man standing affair when there wasn’t many in it - we don’t really know. He will probably be driven with a sit, but we’ll drive to tempo." Gath also shared his thoughts on his Cup rivals. “I thought My Kiwi Mate was really good last start when he won, he is a Bendigo Cup winner, he is a very seasoned and well performed horse at this level, but he is not the only one. "Bettermatch was fantastic when he won at Menangle, as it looked like he’d just joined in, but how you line up his form coming off a long spell and in this race is pretty hard to say. "Obviously Im The Boss is a proven country cups horse too, but he is first-up, so it’s going to be pretty tough for him to win this type of race." Gath has two more runners on the night in the classy Star Of Memphis in race six and the very progressive Diamonds N Cash, a half-brother to former top class stablemate Diamonds N Furs. “Unfortunately in the 4YO & 5YO Championship Star Of Memphis galloped and knocked his tendon and bruised it really bad and kept him off the scene for virtually 12 months. He has always been a good horse, again he has drawn eight, but in saying that he has probably drawn behind the eventual leader, Makes Every Scents, which obviously brings him into the race in a pretty even field. “(Diamonds N Cash) has done a really good job since he's been here, he is a horse that only started racing as a three-year-old in New Zealand, so this is virtually his first racing preparation. “Win, lose or draw he’ll go for a bit of a break after this race and then get him ready for the 4YO & 5YO Championship on November 10. He has a really good future and we’ll put him away after this run and give him a bit of a break and hopefully he develops into a Chariots Of Fire horse down the track." The other feature on the night is the Group 3 McIvor Estate Kilmore Trotters Cup, the only race left in Victoria run over more than 3000m, where Father Christmas has opened a $2.80 favourite with TAB fixed odds over Margaret Ruth ($3.80), Majestic Ess Jay ($5), Destinée Jenilou ($6) and Kyvalley Barney ($6.50). This race kicks off the 2018/19 Maori’s Idol Trotting Championship. Luke Humphreys’ Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup Preview 1 BERNIE WINKLE ($81 TAB.com.au fixed odds): Consistent type that very rarely runs a bad race. Had absolutely no luck at Mildura two starts back before down the field on Saturday night at Melton. Will find a few too good but should get every chance from the gate one draw. Trainer Glenn Douglas has won the race twice with Bold Cruiser in 2008 and Make Mine Cullen in 2010. 2 SHORTYS MATE ($151): Stablemate to Bernie Winkle who was fourth behind two rivals at Melton on Saturday night. Racing ok but outclassed. 3 BAD BILLY ($17): Has been racing well without winning and will be hoping to enjoy an economical run here. Did win the Hamilton Cup in January over a similar distance. 4 MAGICAL MARN ($10): Renowned for his barnstorming finish, which got him past the post first in multiple races during the winter at Melton. If anything, should be starting to come into his own even more now being a five-year-old. Hasn’t won for a while but has been racing respectfully. 5 BLACKBIRD POWER (EMG $151): Emergency runner but if he gained a start he could finish in the first half of the field as he has been racing well in Sydney. Formerly prepared by Ross Sugars, now in New South Wales with Gavin Kelly. 6 IM THE BOSS ($5): Multiple Cup winner last season at Cobram, Mildura and Shepparton including a narrow second to Cruz Bromac at Warragul. Personally surprised to see him open favourite as he was a bit disappointing towards the end of last campaign. He was a little bit disappointing in my eyes in his second trial back. Tactics will be interesting from the draw. Trainer David Aiken won the race in 2017 with Lennytheshark. 7 BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET ($18): One of two Andy Gath runners that can race very well but also on occasions poorly. Has been very good in his last couple of runs including a two-race stint at Mildura for two wins, which definitely would’ve got his confidence up. He produced a marvellous trial at Melton on August 28 when beating Magical Marn in 1:53.8 leading all the way. Was then a very good third in The Gammalite behind My Kiwi Mate and Magical Marn from a poor draw and has run respectfully at Swan Hill and Melton since when sitting outside the leader on both occasions. Poor draw and two runs over this distance range have produced down the track finishes in the 2015 Queensland Derby and 2017 Maryborough Gold Cup. In good form though and can’t be dismissed. 8 KEEP ON ROCKING ($34): Could be the roughie of the race. Likely to enjoy a very economical run on the pegs and has been racing in good form. Won after getting it way too easy at Melton last Saturday and that was unlucky not to be a second consecutive win as he was run down very late the week before. 9 MY KIWI MATE ($2.70): Former Bendigo Cup winner in 2017 and second in this race to Lennytheshark in 2017, making him the only horse in the field to have run in this race before. Absolutely brilliant win in The Gammalite when running down Magical Marn after having no luck early and passing every single horse out very wide in the final 400 meters. On that run without a shadow of a doubt is the one to beat here and there is already good support for him on TAB Fixed Odds. Ted Demmler, the father of trainer/driver Craig Demmler, won the race in 1984 on Raging Bull. 10 THREE WAYS ($31): Another one that looks juicy overs despite drawing poorly. If you go back through his form he has run in the placings in Group 1 races behind Lazarus, including a second in the 2016 Derby. His last two wins have been when he led and enjoyed very easy runs and that is unlikely to be the case here. Have always thought he is a better stayer than sprinter, however, and that could go in his advantage late. 11 BETTERMATCH ($4.80): Tim Butt trained New South Wales raider who is the winner of 11 from 13 including his last five, all of them in good time at Wagga, Young and Menangle. Formerly trained by Colin Thomas before being purchased by the Butt stable and on his debut for them stormed down the outside to win at Menangle in 1:50.4. This since has subsequently raised the eyes of many and made him a possible aspirant for races such as the New Zealand Trotting Cup. However this particular race will answer a lot of questions, one of mine being he has never in his life started over a distance further than 1800 meters. Tim Butt is a great staying trainer, however, this will be a completely different experience for this lightly-raced six-year-old compared to previous wins. 12 ELLMERS IMAGE ($4.80): The other raider from New South Wales in the field prepared and driven by Amanda Turnbull. Has been racing very consistently up at Menangle and had two very deserving wins in the Group 3 Mount Eden Stakes and an absolutely brilliant M1 win in 1:50.7 just under two weeks ago. A bit like his fellow NSW raider this will be a completely different race and the barrier draw hasn’t helped, but can’t knock his last couple of runs. 13 AUDI HARE ($31): Remarkably despite winning the Group 2 Breeders Crown Free For All over the Breeders Crown meeting pops up at $31 for this, with that reason obviously being due to the barrier draw. Had a trial earlier this month where he ran very well and was not disgraced at Melton last Saturday when caught late by Love Ina Chevy. Will need the correct run into it. Selections: 9 My Kiwi Mate 10 Three Ways 4 Magical Marn 8 Keep On Rocking   Luke Humphreys Trots Media

AUSTRALIA’S leading NZ Cup contender Chicago Bull is having a brief freshen-up after posting his sixth win from as many starts this campaign at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Gary Hall Sr’s superstar won in trackwork-like style by working to the front from stablemate Runrunjimmydunn, cruising through a 59.8sec middle half and dashing home in 55.3 and 27.5sec to win without being extended. “I wanted to give him a fairly easy time, but he’s having a little break after tonight so I was happy to let him finish-off the race a bit,” driver Gary Hall Jr said. “He’s having three weeks at home now. The first couple fairly quiet, then the hopples on again to prepare for the first of two runs here (Gloucester Park) before he heads to the Victoria Cup (Melton, October 13).” Hall Sr described Chicago Bull’s preparation as “perfect”, but quickly added: “You’re reluctant to say that because they are horses and things can go wrong, but every thing has been perfect so far. “There’s no doubt he’s come back better than ever.” The plan is for Chicago Bull to be flown to Auckland soon after the Victoria Cup and race once at Alexandra Park ahead of his NZ Cup tilt at Addington. Hall Sr and his major rivals Greg and Skye Bond dominated the Gloucester Park card with four wins each. Along with Chicago Bull, Hall Sr teamed with his son, Gary Jr, to win with three-year-old Speed Man, Beaudiene Beaufighter and Alta Christiano juvenile filly Fake News. The Bonds struck early winning the first three races with Lincs Tiger, Detroit Lily and the very emerging open-class player Vampiro. They also snared the quinella in race eight with talented mares Better B Chevron and Dodolicious. The Bonds had to be content with second in the feature of the night when former star juvenile Mitch Maguire chased home the exciting Simba Bromac in the $25,000 Schrader Final. _______________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIANS Chris Alford and Emma Stewart closed-out the 2017/18 season with record-smashing results. Alford obliterated the previous Australian driving record of 388 wins in a season with a staggering 457 victories. They came at a powerhouse 27.92 per cent strike rate. Alford’s dominance was underlined by the fact Greg Sugars finished second with 229 winners. Stewart, who unofficially trains in partnership with Clayton Tonkin, also bettered Grant Dixon’s 299 Australian record with 308 wins. Her strike rate was out of this world at 39.09 per cent and would’ve been far higher if you eliminated the number of times she beat her own horses. The Queensland-based Dixon had another fantastic season with 289 wins, headlined by Colt Thirty One’s Victoria Derby triumph. _______________________________________________________________________________ TIGER Tara’s NZ Cup preparation struck a snag with his scratching from Menangle last night. There’s nothing wrong with the star stayer, but his trainer Kevin Pizzuto is recovering from minor injuries after a car accident last Tuesday. “A car came out of nowhere, hit us side-on, so we lost control and crashed into some trees. It’s wrecked my car and float,” Pizzuto said. “We were lucky it wasn’t a lot worse. “It’s left me needing help with the horses.” Making matters worse in so parts of Australia is the drought conditions, which has made feed both scarce and very expensive. With Tiger Tara out of the Club Menangle free-for-all, Team Tritton’s emerging open-class player My Alpha Rock worked to the front, controlled the tempo and blitzed his rivals. My Alpha Rock finished off in splits of 53.7 and 27.1sec to score by 7.7m in a 1min55.3sec mile rate for 2300m. The other eye-catching Menangle winner was Jason Grimson’s mare Ideal Lifestyle, who was good enough to blaze a 25.8sec lead time, but keep going to win by a whopping 16.5m in a 1min50.3sec mile. _______________________________________________________________________________ GAVIN Lang reminded everyone of his genius in the sulky when he won what looked the unwinnable on the home turn with brilliant mare Carlas Pixel at Melton last night. In a leader dominated race where the last half was run in 54.8sec, Lang felt he couldn’t winning coming wide, so instead weaved his way through the field, then back inside the leader Three Ways to snatch a nose win in a 1min55.2sec mile rate in the My Lightning Blue free-for-all. It came just a week Carlas Pixel won the Breeders Crown 4YO Mares’ final. She’s also won the Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle back in February. Carlas Pixel denied Three Ways’ driver Kate Gath a quartet of wins on the night. She snared wins on High Rolling, Van Mara and emerging trotter Ymbro Wasted. _______________________________________________________________________________ WHEN owner Fred Crews tackled the famous Elitlopp Trot in Sweden with Maori Time earlier this year, he vowed to do it again before too long. Crews and trained Bill Morgan have always had a huge opinion of trotter Maori Law and, after a stint on the sidelines with injury, he has returned in fine style. Maori Law had 13 months out, ran two solid placings in his first two runs back, then scored in dominant style at Melton last night with Gavin Lang aboard. The six-year-old boasts 13 wins from just 18 starts and looks a serious Inter Dominion player later this year. _______________________________________________________________________________ IT was a milestone win for Alleluia in the free-for-all at Albion Park last night. The former Kiwi passed $500,000 in career earnings by posting his 31st win from 132 starts with another 49 placings. Alleluia’s $7075 for the latest win took his bank balance to $500,900.   Adam Hamilton

Maryborough’s final straight presents as a field of dreams for Thursday’s Humbletonian, when 10 of the 95 contestants will break their maiden status. The combatants have collectively contested 679 races without success, but that could all change with the Harness Breeders Victoria-sponsored day and the wait will make the work all the more worthwhile. None have been there and not done that more times than Rebecca Wardlaw’s much-loved mare Sucralose, the Village Jolt four-year-old who’s gone oh-so-close with 10 placings in her 42 starts. “She’s been knocking on the door,” trainer Wardlaw said. “She was a real puller, she would just over race all the time and it has taken a lot to get her to settle. “She would always throw in a gallop right when you need her not too. She’s so close to winning it’s not funny. She loves to run, she just can’t quite get everything right on the day. But she’s just an awesome little horse.” The mare has been in Wardlaw’s keeping for all her starts, having been snapped up after Rebecca’s husband, Stephen, and Wallace Van Niekerk, his workmate at Pyrenees Hay Co-Operative in Avoca, hatched the plan amid their long and varied chats during late-night shifts. It’s a plan that seems certain to soon reap significant dividends, with Sucralose finishing top four in his last six starts including a second placing in the hands of Chris Alford at Kilmore on July 25. “At Kilmore I thought that one was going to be ours,” Wardlaw said. “We were so close.” The trainer’s optimism extends into Thursday’s Humbletonian, when Sucralose will contest race eight – the Harness Breeders Victoria Vicbred Pace – with Mark Hayes to take the reins from gate nine. “I think she’s got a pretty good chance on Thursday,” Wardlaw said. “I prefer her on the outside, hopefully she will run through behind Chris Alford and be somewhere close when it counts at the end.” For those who do salute the rewards will be many. All are Vicbred eligible, so victory for those aged two, three and four would secure their full $7000 bonuses, and in addition Harness Breeders Victoria will gift a $250 bonus to each winner’s breeder and the Victorian Square Trotting Association a further $250 to its successful members who are on course. “I think it’s fantastic,” Wardlaw said. “We’ve got one more crack at it and are hoping to break through. It’s a great initiative at a great track that gives everyone a good opportunity.” In addition to breaking her horse’s maiden the second last day of the season also gives Wardlaw a final chance to break a maiden of her own, having been winless in her 111 starts in 2017-18. “I have had a tough year. If I was to break through I’d be ecstatic,” she said. While success hasn’t been forthcoming it hasn’t dulled her families’ passion for the sport. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as a Clerk of the Course and husband, Stephen, has for 30 years been a track attendant at Maryborough. “We run our own farm, cut our own chaff and grow our own hay and then harness racing is what we do as a family. Some days it’s hard, but we wouldn’t do anything else.” Michael Howard

Top trainer Emma Stewart took over the mantle for the most number of wins prepared in a season in Australia when Tiger Storm won the fourth race at Warragul trots on Sunday afternoon. It was only the second horse Stewart had raced at the Warragul Pacing Bowl during 2018, but Tiger Storm's victory goes down in the record books with the success bringing up 300 victories for the season for the stable, passing the previous mark of 299 wins set by Queensland horseman Bill Dixon in 2010/2011. Tiger Storm ran a a short-priced favourite on Sunday, and went straight to the front at the start of the race for driver Chris Alford, one of four wins on the day for the master horseman who himself has set a national record for winners driven this season. Alford's quartet of victories enabled him to secure the Warragul Driver of the Year title for the fifteenth time. Three of those victories came for Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan, who was once again crowned Trainer of the Year at Warragul. His winners on Sunday were Scruffy Marshall, Starofsahara and Emiliana. Feature race on Sunday was the Women in Trotting Tribute, to acknowledge the involvement of females past and present in harness racing. The race, for female drivers only, attracted seven starters, and, fittingly, local reinswoman Casey Parker drove the winner, Rocknroll Gold. It was Parker's biggest racetrack success so far, having been a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Competitors in Sunday's Women in Trotting Tribute staged at Warragul -photo Matt Walker Fellow local Simone Walker drove Montenero to produce a local Quinella. The winner is trained by Michael Hughes, who produced a double on the day, after Express Yourself won the Trotters Handicap. Hughes has recently settled into a new property at Iona, and Sunday's victory by Express Yourself was the first winner from the new facility. It was also the first race success for Michelle Seamons, another past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, who owns the talented five-year-old mare. Gippsland trainer Steve Austen was a proud man after his horse Priddy Easy won the first race of the day. Four months ago Priddy Easy suffered a nasty chest injury after a paddock accident at Austen's Labertouche property. He and his wife Karen have nursed the horse back to health, and Sunday's victory was the third for the pacer, which has also run nine minor placings. Greg Sugars drove Priddy Easy on Sunday - his wife Jess trained Fong Nien to win the sixth event to bring up a double for the top reinsman.   Kyle Galley

Emma Stewart recorded her 300th training win of 2017-18 today, the most wins an Australian trots trainer has produced in a single season. Only hours after claiming three Group 1s titles at last night’s TAB Breeders Crown it was back to business for the Ballarat trainer at Warragul, where she achieved the unprecedented milestone with Tiger Storm winning the Leonie Collins and Deb Quinlan 2YO Pace. The victory moved Stewart pass the record set by Queensland trainer Bill Dixon in 2010-11, with Stewart amassing the triple century from just 772 starts, a remarkable 39 per cent win rate. The achievement is testimony to Stewart and her great partnership with Clayton Tonkin, who said they had a real “passion for it and I’m sure when success follows you, you want to work hard because it’s something you love”. Last night’s TAB Breeders Crown delivered three Group 1 wins to Stewart’s stable, with Ride High winning the showcase IRT three-year-old colts and geldings final and Lauriston Bloodstock speedsters Speak No Evil and Hurricane Harley claiming their divisions. “(Ride High’s) very special to us, for him to win I'm very excited,” Stewart said. “We just let him mature and he's only had a handful of starts and he just keeps getting better and better." Tiger Storm’s victory that brought up the 300 was fittingly steered by reinsman Chris Alford, boosting his season win tally to 447, a national driving record that by Friday’s season end will be a mark that many think will never be bettered. Michael Howard

IT is the Jewel in the Crown, literally. This epic showdown between the best modern era crop of three-year-olds Australia has seen is the standout highlight of Breeders Crown Super Saturday. And it’s come at a crucial time with the new wave – including NZ’s Chase Auckland when he returns - offering the solution to our desperately think open-class stocks across Australia and NZ. But, for now, we await this awesome contest between the likes of former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius, glamour Emma Stewart pair Poster Boy and Ride High, gun Queenslander Colt Thirty One and the support cast. Emma Stewart has qualified half the field – six of the 12 finalists -  but such is the depth she doesn’t even have the favourite. Ignatius, despite suffering just his second defeat in 18 starts when edged-out by Poster Boy in their semi-final, has been backed from $3.50 into $3 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 10) in the final. “I was proud of him last week. He did the work, they broke the track record and Poster Boy just got him,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “The run should bring him just that little bit more as well.” Poster Boy, already a winner of the NSW Derby and Vicbred finals this term, is her most favoured runner. He’s been $4.50 into $4.20 from gate nine. “He just shouldn’t have been able to do that,” said driver Chris Alford, shaking his head after Poster Boy came three-wide without cover in a 55sec last half to edge-out Ignatius. Stewart’s other runners are the untapped Ride High (gate 12, $4.50), who beat stablemate Konan (gate eight, $5) in the other semi. She also has outsiders Maraetai (gate seven, $16), Major Times (gate five, $26) and Tam Major (gate two, $35). Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One had little luck when fifth in his semi behind Ride High, but drew to be a big factor from the pole in the final. “I think he’s in the top five of an amazingly strong crop,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “We needed a good draw and got it. “You’ve got to use these draws. Plan A is to get out as quick as can and hold the lead if possible. “I know the pressure will be on, but I’d rather be in front than anywhere else.”   Adam Hamilton

Tasmania’s superstar pacer Ignatius is through to the IRT Breeders Crown Final after running a sensational second to Poster Boy in his $20,000 Semi-Final tonight at Bendigo. The James Rattray trained and driven dual Group 1 winning three-year-old was forced to sit in the death seat outside the Emma Stewart-trained Tasmanian Derby winner Maraetai. Maraetai kicked on the home corner and led Ignatius by four metres but the Tasmanian champion was in for the fight. “I called on him at the 400-metre mark as the leader sneaked away and he responded like the fighter he is, slowly but surely he was closing the gap on the front-runner and then Chris Alford came with Poster Boy and put his head in front but Ignatius kept coming and he’s only gone down by a half neck,” said James full of admiration. “To cap it off the Semi was run in track record time of 1:54.1 and he never wilted at any stage, it was a courageous effort, he had the seven-hour float trip earlier in the week and he now has another week to acclimatise and ready himself for the Final, the tough run will just top him off nicely.” Leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart dominated the earlier Semi-Final with her four stable runners filling the first four placings. Ride High made it seven wins from eight career starts, including a win in Launceston on Final night of the Bandox and Glode Derby in May, with a brilliant display accounting for stablemates Konan, Major Times and Tam Major, but the race was run in much slower time than the second Semi recording 1:56.3. “We didn’t get any favours with the barrier draw in the Final starting from three on the second line,” said James. “But both of Emma’s top hopes are drawn out the back as well so it could have been worse, I’m confident he will do us proud in the Final.” The draw for next Saturday nights IRT Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Final. 1 Colt Thirty One 2 Tam Major 3 Braeview Bondi 4 Diamonds N Cash 5 Major Times 6 Brackenreid (emerg) 7 Maraetai —–Second row—– 8 Konan 9 Poster Boy 10 Ignatius 11 Duplicated 12 Ride High 13 Alpha Charlie   The Paul Ashwood-trained Max Delight, driven by Rohan Hillier, ran a huge race at odds of $58 when fourth behind Centenario in his Semi Final of the Two-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Division, beaten 10.6-metres.Max Delight has drawn outside the front line in seven for the Final. Shane Yates

Kyvalley Blur's blistering burst for a third straight salute highlighted a night for the stoic standies at Tabcorp Park, when the average age of winning horses was 6 years and two months. With Gusto broke his metropolitan maiden status at age nine and start 115 for trainer Graeme Dalton and owner Leigh Graham, seven-year-old Our Twentyten toughed out his second career metropolitan win and stablemates Kyvalley Blur (10-year-old) and Keystone Del (11) finished one-two in the Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters Free For All. "He's really in the zone at the moment," reinsman Chris Alford told Trots Vision post Kyvalley Blur's Group 3 win. "He got a good run and good trail up, but he finished really well and did it easy tonight. While he's racing like this he will be hard to beat any time he goes out." The champion reinsman, whose record-smashing season win total stands at 423, also steered With Gusto to his maiden metropolitan victory when he held the front with the It Is I gelding and recorded a 2.5m victory, getting home in 27.4. "We broke seven for the lead, which is pretty quick, and we then got to back it off a bit so he was good then. He's racing with a lot of confidence, winning those two claimers gave him the heart to kick on up the straight." Our Twentyten, who turns eight when the calendar ticks into spring, "got reward for effort" according to reinsman Rodney Petroff, whose victory with the Muscles Yankee trotter was the first of a running double. "He's been going very well," Petroff said. "He just made his own luck tonight and it turned out the right result. He's always thereabouts, he's run that many seconds in good country cups, it's just very good for the horse and the owners to get a win tonight."   Michael Howard for The Trots

The Inter Dominion dream is still alive for injury-plagued superstar Hectorjayjay. It’s been well documented his latest injury setback prompted another stable switch to Matty Craven near Warrnambool, so beach swimming could become part of his routine. And that’s just what Hectorjayjay has started doing, making regular visits to into the chilly Lady Bay beach in Warrnambool. “Not only is he swimming and doing really well, but he starts jogging this week,” part-owner Mick Harvey said. “We’ve mapped out a plan for him and the Inter Dominion is part of it. If everything keeps going the way it is, he’ll he on target for the Inters. “Matty is thrilled with how he’s been since he got to his place a few weeks ago.” Hectorjayjay brilliantly won the Group 1 Blacks A Fake last July and returned from almost a year out to win at Kilmore for Gavin Lang in late June, but developed another minor issue. __________________________________________________________________________ NZ Cup hopeful Tiger Tara was beaten, but far from disgraced at his comeback run at Menangle last night. Kevin Pizzuto’s star did plenty of early work to eventually find the lead, kicked away with a big break at the top of the home straight, but was nabbed late by the much-improved sit-sprinter Loorim Creek. They ran a strong 1min51.5sec mile and Tiger Tara was beaten just 1.9m. It was his first run since the Miracle Mile on February 24. The shock of the race was the flop of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s heavily backed favourite Cash N Flow ($2.90 into $1.90), who beat just one rival home. Cash N Flow, an eye-catching when runner-up at his first Menangle run, worked forward early, sat parked, loomed as a winning hope coming to the final bend, but wilted to be beaten 15m in ninth spot. __________________________________________________________________________ LUCKY hobby trainer Ange McDowall is a patient person. McDowall’s star Lumineer – one of Australia’s most exciting pacers – is out of the Breeders Crown with another injury setback, but it’s only minor. “It’s not a broken bone, it’s just an untimely hiccup. It’s an abscess which didn’t burst in time,” she said. Lumineer, who boasts eight wins from nine starts, hasn’t raced since being injured during the Victoria Derby final on January 27. He was scratched from his Breeders Crown qualifier at Bendigo last Friday night. __________________________________________________________________________ STILL on the Breeders Crown qualifiers and, as expected, they proved a feast for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin across four meetings in Victoria last week. Stewart and Tonkin amazingly won all of the nine heats run at Ballarat, Kilmore, Shepparton and Bendigo. At Kilmore last Tuesday, Two Times Bettor turned the tables on Kualoa from the Vicbred final in the first heat, then Somebeachsomewhere filly Swimsuit Edition won the second heat. Stewart and Tonkin landed the trifecta in the second of the Ballarat heats last Wednesday with Hurricane Harley storming home over the top of the leader, Hardhitter, with the emerging Brevity in third spot. In the other heat, Australian Gold and Vicbred winner Centenario led throughout to score. Last Thursday, Stewart and Tonkin easily won both three-year-old pacing fillies’ heats with Pistol Abbey (who beat stablemate Tenniele Erin in the first heat) and final favourite Speak No Evil. With Shez All Rock sidelined, Vicbred winner Speak No Evil looks a standout for the final. Stewart and Tonkin then unleashed seven runners across the three heats for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings at Ballarat on Friday night winning with NSW Derby winner Poster Boy, the untapped Ride High and underrated Major Times, who upstaged more highly-fancied stablemate Maraetai. __________________________________________________________________________ THE old marvel did it again. Kyvalley Blur, the rising 11-year-old who was bred in North America, toyed with his younger rivals in the Group 3 Aldebaran Park Trotters’ free-for-all at Melton last night. It was his second win at the top level in six days after a dominant display in the free-for-all at Maryborough on Redwood Day. Chris Alford was content to sit back and wait for the last shot at Sparkling Success, who gave him the trail home, and comeback champ Keystone Del, who sat parked. Kyvalley Blur exploded past his classy rivals halfway down the straight and cruised to a 5.7m win in a slick 1min58sec mile rate for 2240m. Keystone Del battled on well for second, the spot he occupied at his first run back from a year out. Sparkling Success, who is US bound for the Yonkers International Trot in October, ran on quite well, but has yet to show his peak form in two runs back from a spell. __________________________________________________________________________ STABLE star Chicago Bull stayed home, but trainer Gary Hall Sr still won the major fast-class race at Gloucester Park last Friday night with the promising Kiwi-bred Runrunjimmydunn. The son of American Ideal, superbly driven by Gary Hall Jr, outstayed classy rivals Motu Premier and Vampiro and the end of the Marathon over an epic 3309m. The other fast-class race produced an upset when Greg and Skye Bond’s four-year-old Rock Diamonds upstaged classy open-class performers The Bucket List and Bettors Fire in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2130m.   Adam Hamilton

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