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Having been given his name because he entered the world on wobbly legs Victoria’s leading three-year-old trotter’s title could become more associated with his behaviour. Despite chucking a wobbly out of the gates in last night’s Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting heats, reigning champion Wobelee recovered to win his three-year-old colts and geldings’ heat. It was a challenging but ultimately satisfying result for trainer Alison Alford and driver Chris Alford, with the winner of 14 of 18 starts – who’s never failed to place – overcoming the early 20m advantage his mistake gifted his rivals at Bendigo. “He’s a bit difficult, but when he can go like he does you sort of put up with it,” Chris told Trots Vision post-race. “Bit more work to do to get him to be normal.” Wobelee was fractious in the lead-up to the race and galloped as soon as the gates opened but gradually recovered in the run to score by 3.8 metres from Anywhere Hugo and Aldebaran Pete. “We’ll just have to try and iron out some of his pre-race issues and go from there,” Alford said. “Ability-wise he’s as good as all the ones who have gone around and qualified tonight. Touch wood, apart from his canter out tonight when he just got a bit keen, his run was really good and if he does the same in the final he will be right there.” Chris Svanosio will also take a strong hand into the July 6 Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting finals at Tabcorp Park, having not only had Anywhere Hugo the best of the rest behind Wobelee but also claimed the first boys’ heat with Kyvalley Finn. “Luckily this bloke was able to get out good enough to be able to get off the pegs after the start and work to the front,” Svanosio told Trots Vision. “He did it well. He’s never been out in front but he’s pretty tough and keeps fighting on. Now I just have to have him spot-on for the final.” The remaining colts and geldings' heat winner was Majestic Player, who led and held off favourite Lunchwitharthur, who recovered well after breaking stride early in the race. The victory was the first of a Majestic double for Yabby Dam Farms, with trainer Anton Golino producing a race-to-race double when another offspring of Majestic Son – Pretty Majestic – claimed the last of the night’s three-year-old trotting fillies' heats. Reinsman Jason Lee said Pretty Majestic, the Victoria Trotters Oaks winner, had a “good hit-out, she always improves after a run”. “She’s a pretty lazy type, which is a good thing to have, you don’t want to over-race them,” Lee told Trots Vision. “She did what she had to and hopefully she improves a bit – I’m confident she will.” The remaining fillies’ winners were two-year-old Vicbred champion Moonshine Linda for trainer-driver Gavin Lang and Moonlight Dream, who improved her record to six wins and five seconds from 14 starts with a win for trainer Andy Gath and reinswoman Kate Gath. “We decided to have a good crack,” Kate told Trots Vision after guiding Moonlight Dream to the front from the widest gate. “She has pretty good gate speed and as we know getting on the fence makes all the difference. “She has a habit of running pretty strong early. Once I crossed them I made sure I grabbed hold of her. I was really happy when I saw the lead time and the first quarter. “She’s a lovely little horse. It will be good to hopefully get things to go her way next week and she won’t be too far away." The Aldebaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting heats conclude with Thursday night's four-year-old heats at Geelong before the attention turns towards Friday night's 12 pacing semi-finals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series. Michael Howard

It may have been an all-too familiar sight for rivals at Maryborough today when reinsman Chris Alford and his two-year-old trotter produced an eye-catching win. Sleepee kicked off the Vicbred Super Series Aldebaran Park trotting heats at Maryborough on Monday with a romp from seventh at the bend to first at the line, with Alison and Chris Alford’s red-and-white silks making it impossible to avoid comparisons to last year's two-year-old Victorian trotter of the year Wobelee. Winner of the Redwood Classic at this track a little under 12 months ago, Wobelee’s owner-breeder Colin Murphy also bred Sleepee, who he has since leased to Alison and her mum, Vicki Woodhouse. Making her debut Sleepee was backed into $2.50 favourite for today’s opening heat and, after a quiet run at the back of the field, hit the line to win by a half-neck from Michael Hughes’ entrant Gatesys Alley. “It was a very big surprise,” Chris Alford told Trots Vision post-race. “She’s been trotting OK at the trials without showing a lot, but she sprinted home really well today, which will keep the wife and the mother-in-law very happy.” Expectations for the big filly, who is by Dejarmbro out of Safely Safely, were kept low-key despite the impressive win. “Hopefully she’s just a nice little racehorse and can pick up some prizemoney along the way,” Alford said. The remaining Aldebaran Park fillies' heat was won by Mario Magri’s polemarker and race favourite Georgias Pride, who beat Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic winner Fear The Yankee by a half-head. “She’s a lovely filly,” Georgias Pride’s reinsman John Caldow told Trots Vision post-race. “A natural two-year-old, she’s great to drive.” Today’s leading performers will advance to the VSS trotting finals at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday July 6, as will the victors of today’s colts and geldings heats. The first of those was claimed by Anton Golino’s Always Ready in Nathan Jack’s hands, having sat in in the breeze for the last lap and won by 6.8m from Zarem. It sets up a ripping final, with David Jack’s Home Grown Platinum winner Moreton Bay looming large having advanced to four wins from seven starts with today’s comfortable victory by 15.4m over Dream Mastar in the last heat. “Wide draw and I was quite happy with him,” Jack told Trots Vision. “He’s a big fella and he probably should be a better horse next year. He’s going on ability, not the manners yet that will come with it.” The Aledbaran Park Vicbred Super Series trotting heats continue tomorrow night at Bendigo when the three-year-olds step out, with the four-year-olds to follow at Geelong on Thursday. Michael Howard

Emma Stewart and Chris Alford launched into rare trots air with a stunning domination of tonight's Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series three-year-old heats. No Australian driver has bettered Alford's six winning drives at an Australian meet and Stewart's seven training wins see her join a shortlist that includes only Lance Justice (Globe Derby, 1989), John McCarthy (Albion Park, 2010) and Steve Turnbull (Parkes, 2014). Making the Stewart stable's feat all the more notable is that the dominance came just one night after she triumphed in five of the Vicbred Super Series' two-year-old heats. "It sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it," Alford told Trots Vision after Speak No Evil capped their magical night at Kilmore. "Probably four of those (12 wins) they had quinellas as well." It's the first time Alford has achieved six wins according to Harness Racing Australia records, making him the 20th driver to do so on Australian soil. Of those 20, none have matched Alford's six wins, two seconds and one third. But the first Southern Hemisphere reinsman to 6000 wins gave much credit to Stewart, her partner Clayton Tonkin and their tireless Ballarat team. "It just goes to show the work ethic and the way they present their horses," Alford said. "They have them right for these big series. "The owners pay a lot of money for these horses and want results. This is the time of year they have to be racing and they work really hard to get them right on these nights and the results are showing from last night and tonight." Stewart won four of the five colts and geldings' heats through Major Times, Liftntorque, Konan and Ride High, who produced a stunning 25.7-second final quarter to pip stablemate Poster Boy. It was Kasbah Kid who prevented the clean sweep of the boys' heats for Geoff Webster and Greg Sugars. "I nearly feel bad for upsetting the Stewart-Alford combination," Sugars joked to Trots Vision post-race. Nostra Beach, Nostra Villa and Speak No Evil won three of the four fillies' finals, with Ghadastar the exception, winning the first fillies' heat for Ahmed Taiba and Damien Wilson. CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT ALL THE WINNING DRIVERS HAD TO SAY   Michael Howard

It was yet another memorable meeting for Chris Alford at HQ tonight, the champion reinsman driving five winners on the 11-event card at Tabcorp Park Melton. “The Puppet” steered Big Jack Hammer home in the Yabby Dam Racing Trot for trainer Tim O’Brien, Anywhere Hugo to a stunning VHRSC Holmfield win for trainer Chris Svanosio, and a treble for champion trainer Emma Stewart – Kualoa in the Benstud Standardbreds Youthful Stakes for 2YO Fillies, Tell Me Tales in the Alabar Silver Chalice and Nostra Villa in the GBL Property Consultants Pace. “Driving horses like this makes it so much easier,” Alford said after the win aboard Nostra Villa in the last race of the night to cap his handful of wins. Nostra Villa was dominant in defeating a small field of three-year-old fillies, finishing 2.2m clear of Matthew Craven-trained My Harmony Blue in 1:57.4 for the 2240m. “She had it quite easy early but to break 27 on the way home is a pretty good job,” Alford said. Earlier, Alford had landed Group 2 success aboard Anywhere Hugo, which stormed home to score by a neck over Kyvalley Finn in the VHRSC Holmfield over 1720m. The Svanosio-trained trotter rated 1:59.1. Tell Me Tales never looked like losing the Alabar Silver Chalice, taking the lead off stablemate Flying Moth in the middle stages before holding that mare off in the home straight for a 1.8m win in a rate of 1:55.3 for the 2240m trip. Two-year-old Kualoa had 7.2m to spare on runner-up Larajay Macray in the Benstud Standardbreds Youthful Stakes over 1720m, the Stewart-trained daughter of Art Major defeating two valiant Jess Tubbs-trained youngsters – with Lady Rocknrolla (Larajay Macray’s stablemate) running third. The winner rated 1:55.8. Big Jack Hammer led from go to whoa in the Yabby Dam Racing Trot to hold off rank outsider Desert Flyer by 4.8m with Zhenya third, the mile rate for the race 2:00.9. Read why tonight's win of Rockabella Starz was so special to connections Other winners tonight were Stroke Of Luck for Kerryn Manning in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m, holding off Dancingwithsierra by 3m in 1:56.2, Rockabella Starz in the Hygain Pace for Kari Males and Zac Phillips in 1:58.9 by a head over Platinum Power, Magical Marn in the Hyland Harness Colours Pace for trainer Adam Kelly and Phillips, producing an explosive finish to overhaul Solarsonic with Mach Cruiser in third (the rate for the 2240m trip 1:55.6), Moonrock in the Young Pedro Free for All for trainer Sonya Smith and reinsman Anthony Butt, who held off Bad Billy by a half-head in 1:54.6, boom two-year-old Lochinvar Art for Laura Crossland and David Moran in the Benstud Standardbreds Youthful Stakes for 2YO Colts and Geldings, which paced 1:57.3 for the 1720m trip to score by 3.2m over Fourbigmen, and Beach Skipper for Lance Justice in the TAB Multiplier Pace Final, going 1:56.4 over 1720m.   Cody Winnell

AUSTRALIA’S greatest pacer of the past decade, Lennytheshark, has run his last race. Connections made the call to bring down the curtain on his stellar career after the eight-year-old’s last-start third at Melton on May 26. They are deep in negotiations with at least three major studs for Lennytheshark’s next chapter in the breeding barn. Lennytheshark retires as one of the modern greats of the sport, a winner of 39 races, including the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and two Victoria Cups. And, remarkably, megastar driver Chris Alford has declared Lennytheshark the best horse he’s driven in his 35-year career … above even Golden Reign. “He’s the best. He stands alone now,” Alford said. “I’d always had him right up there with Golden Reign, but Lenny is the best because he came back year after year and did it at the top level. Golden Reign was cut down in his prime. “Look at that Miracle Mile. It’s up with the greatest wins I’ve been part of. He had Lazarus camped on his back and still held him off to win one of the world’s great sprint races. “I remember that race so clearly. Looking around and thinking to myself ‘uh oh, Lazarus is right on my back, how the heck can I beat him now.’ But Lenny found a way, it was incredible how deep he dug that night.” Lennytheshark started his career with John Justice and won a NSW Derby before going amiss and eventually making his comeback for David Aiken. Aiken zoomed him through the ranks, with Alford aboard, and into open-class where he was a key player for four years and THE dominant force for at least 12-18 months. Part-owner Martin Riseley said he, his father Kevin, and their family felt the time was right for retirement. “Dad (Kevin) and I are excited to confirm he’s been retired to stud,” Martin Riseley said. “What a ride it’s been and we can’t wait to see what Lenny can produce as a stallion on the back of his magnificent racing career. We hope that everyone can experience what it’s like to own a ‘Shark’.” “We are finalising where he will be standing at stud, so watch this space.” THE LENNYTHESHARK FILE 8YO entire. By Four Starzzz Shark out of Botswana (by Albert Albert) Record: 82 starts; 39 wins; 33 placings Prizemoney: $3,007,585 (6th highest all-time in Australasia) MAJOR WINS 2015 Perth Inter Dominion 2017 Miracle Mile 2016 and 2017 Victoria Cups 2013 NSW Derby   News Corp Australia Network Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun

Wobelee is used to overcoming obstacles. Champion Aussie horseman Chris Alford says he can do that again from what looks a horror barrier at the Harness Jewels on Saturday at Cambridge. One of the best juvenile trotters produced in Australia, the now three-year-old will start from the outside of the front line in his $125,000 mobile mile, a draw almost certainly made worse by hot favourite Winterfell drawing the ace. But few Australian horsemen know more about beating the Kiwis, even on their home tracks, than Alford, who has won group ones at Addington and Alexandra Park as well as more than 6000 races in his homeland. And Alford is adamant Wobelee, trained by his wife Alison, can win. "I have watched a lot of videos of the locals and they are no better than him," says Alford in his matter-of-fact way. "Winterfell was good winning the Derby but went a 2:0 mile rate whereas my horse went the same mile rate winning the NSW Derby after galloping and losing 50m early. "I am not saying we are going to just turn up and win because it won't be easy but he is good enough to overcome that barrier." Wobelee has been overcoming obstacles his whole life. When he was born his legs were so badly conformed he couldn't stand for days. Hence, his name. He tends to need a little help along the way, as he can be cranky pre-start and will be spending the minutes before the score up on Saturday with an attendant or keeping the clerk of the course's horse company. "He is fine as long as he doesn't have to circle with the other horses and I have explained that to the stewards. "But he will be good as gold during the race and while we might have to sit parked to win, I think he can." Michael Guerin

It’s all about the ‘Young Guns’ of Tasmanian harness racing at present. Last week it was the state’s best bred three-year-old’s on display in the 6tyo Bandbox which was won by Nostra Beach and the Roberts Equine Supplies Globe Derby Stakes which was won brilliantly by Izaha. Both horses will be more than competitive in feature three-year-old races across Bass Straight in the final few months of the season. This week sees the “Young Guns” of the human variety in the spotlight with the first two heats of the 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge being held in Devonport on Friday evening before heats three and four in Hobart on Sunday night. The Stars Emma Stewart and Chris Alford – Victoria’s leading trainer and driver combined for five (including two track records) of the 11 winners in Launceston on Friday evening. It was the third time this season and the 11th time in his career that Alford has achieved the feat. It was the ninth time in Emma Stewart’s training career that she has prepared five winners on the one program. Nostra Beach – star three-year-old filly who easily won the Group 3 Bandbox. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere will be expecting her first foal this season by top sire American Ideal, after an embryo transfer took place during the past breeding season. Izaha (inside) holding of Feelin Dusty in the 2018 Globe Derby Final on Friday. Izaha – the Todd Rattray trained and driven pacer followed in the footsteps of his older half-brother Harjeet when he added the Group 3 Globe Derby Final to his resume. The son of Roll With Joe now boosts an impressive record of six wins from 11 starts. Mark Yole – told tasracing.com.au’s Live Stream audience that he was confident that he would hold the lead on Rocknrollhighlight and that the mare would be very hard to rundown. Yole’s plan paid off and the viewers that invested on the local tote would have been more than happy with the $20 starting price. Ricky Duggan – after driving four winners in Hobart the previous week, the master driver continued his brilliant form in Launceston with a driving double. Hannah Van dongen – warmed up for this week’s 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge with a win aboard Long Ago which now gives Van dongen a one-win lead in the states female drivers premiership. Multiple Winners Launceston – Friday Emma Stewart – five training wins and Chris Alford five driving wins; Ride High, Nostra Beach, Shes Magnetic, Another Safari and Perfect Major. Ricky Duggan – driving double; Falcon Harry and Mi Ju Dan. Ben Yole – training double; Rocknrollhighlight and Long Ago. Calculated Sectional Standouts Quickest last halves (800m) from last week’s action in Launceston on Friday. Nostra Bech 56.10, Ride High 56.70, Ideal Bliss 56.94, Feelin Dusty 56.99 and Shes Magnetic 57.01. View all Tasmanian Sectional Data here. Tasracing Official Price Launceston Hit’s: Izaha $2.60 into $2.00, Shes Magnetic $2.10 into $1.85 and Perfect Major $1.40 into $1.28. Defied The Drift: Rocknroll Highlights $13 out to $15, Another Safari $1.85 out to $2.50, Long Ago $7 out to $8 and Falcon Harry $4.40 out to $5.00 Missed: Scooterwillrev $3.20 into $2.80 and Regal Ashes $12 into $9.50. Black Booker Blossom Grant Debutant from the Scott Woods stable who has featured in the Trial File in previous weeks was a brave third on Friday evening. Driver Brady Woods positioned the daughter of Art Major one-out and one-back before making up good ground during the back straight quarter where she was recorded by the Tasracing Calculated Sectionals in 28.79secs. She battled on well in the home straight with her last quarter clocked in 29.12sec and was only defeated by a half head for second position by Karalta Moondance. Watch the replay here. Trial File Hobart on Monday Four-year-old entire Jaks Teller recorded an impressive 2:00.1 mile rate when winning the first trial of the night off a 40-meter handicap for the 2090-metre journey. The Juanita McKenzie trained pacer defeated Streetside Classic by 2 metres in a 59.5 last half mile. Other winners at the Hobart trials included; Resurgent Storm (2:01.6), Pezzamystic (2:09.2), Albayzin (2:02.9), Boris Bananas (2:05.7) and Dasher Houli (2:01.9). Devonport on Monday The Ben Yole trained Another Swinger resumed from a month away from the race track with a 2-metre win in a C2-C9 class trial. The mile rate 2:03.9 for the 2297-metre trip was clearly the quickest mile rate across the four trials held. The remaining three trial winners were; Hez The One (2:05.0), Smokey Mac (2:09.7) and Mister Last (2:07.9). Week Ahead The first two rounds of heats of the 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge will be held this weekend for the state’s best up and coming drivers. The first two heats will open the seven race card in Devonport on Friday evening. The drivers selected are Dylan Ford, Taylor Ford, Samantha Gangell, Matthew Howlett, Braden Howlett, Samantha Freeman, Wade Rattray (emergency), Hannah Van dongen, Brady Woods, Charlie Castles and Germain Boisrame. Boisrame is a 21-year-old driver who drove eight winners in his home country of France before moving out to Australia earlier this year where he has taken up employment with trainer-driver Todd Rattray. Alreadyy nicknamed “The French Man” amongst participants, Boisrame has been allocated the drive on the Craig Hayes trained Semowillrev in the opening heat. The talented three-year-old pacer has won seven races from 10 career starts and goes into Friday’s race off a last-start third in the Tasmanian Derby. Boisrame will drive the Kate MacLeod-trained Rattlenhum in Heat Two, who looks to be amongst the winning chances after the pacers top three placings in his last three starts. A further two heats of the 6tyo Youngbloods Challenge will be held on Sunday night in Hobart. The eyes of many harness racing fans will be tuned into the final race of the Hobart card to see the current star of Tasmanian harness racing, Harjeet, who is resuming to the race track for the first time since winning the Group 3 Raider Stakes in early May. The Todd Rattray trained and driven gelding is being aimed at the Vicbred Series which commences in late June. Rattray’s partner Lyrae Graham, owns star three-year-old Iganatius who will commence his NSW Breeders Challenge mission when he lines up in a heat at Penrith on Thursday evening. The James Rattray-trained and driven pacer has drawn barrier 2 on the second row in the eight-horse field that is due to start at 18:49. Havea look at horses with Tasmanian interest that are racing at metropolitan venues this weekend: Melton – Saturday night Race 2 – 12. Fowsands* Race 9 – 2. Isaac Menangle – Saturday night Race 6 – 4. Pachacuti* and 7. Blue Pointer* Race 8 – 6. Rykov Leis* *donates Tasbred horses.   Duncan Dornauf

Chris Alford didn’t just win the NSW Trotters’ Derby, but he learnt a lot about his megastar young trotter Wobelee ahead the Harness Jewels raid.  It was a rocky ride for punters who send Wobelee out a $1.60 favourite when he played-up just before the mobile start release point, galloped and lost more than 30m.  He quickly caught the field, weaved through some traffic and landed three back in the running line.  Alford launched Wobelee three-wide rounding the last bend and he zoomed clear to win by 7.7m in a 2min0.2sec mile rate for 2300m, capped by his own last quarter in 27.4sec.  “He’s got some tricks, but he’s never done that before at the start,” Alford said. “It might have been a blessing in disguise. It gave me the chance to follow them and drive him with a sit. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  “That could be the way to drive him going ahead.”  Wobelee certainly showed some sparkling change-up speed when Alford cut him loose on the final bend.  His return to winning form cements the NZ raid and Wobelee will join the other Victorian-based horses on a flight to Auckland the Thursday morning before the Jewels.  Wobelee won 12 races on end before a shock first-up defeat behind former Kiwi trotter Scallywag Sam at Kilmore last Friday week   Adam Hamilton

A shock first-up defeat has only fuelled Chris Alford’s desire to not only tackle the Harness Jewels, but win it with his superstar young trotter Wobelee. Wobelee’s 12-race winning streak came to an end when he found the lead early, but could not hold-off the winning sprint lane burst of former Kiwi trotter Scallywag Sam at Kilmore last Friday night. It wasn’t the lead-up fans expected going to Sydney for Saturday night’s $40,000 Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Derby at Menangle. “We’re confident he’ll be right this week. We’d been a bit behind with him going into Kilmore and he needed the run. It’ll bring him along nicely for Menangle,” Alford said. Wobelee is the Aussie TAB’s $1.80 favourite from gate six against a field lacking any real star power at Menangle. “There’s a group of locals, who don’t usually measure up, and Wobelee has had the measure of the other Victorians headed by One Muscle Hill,” Alford said. Speculation emerged after Wobelee’s first-up defeat that the Jewels trip could be in jeopardy, but Alford quickly dismissed it. “Nothing has changed. He’s going across. We’ve got everything in place,” Alford said. “He’s got the race in Sydney this week, comes home and then the plan goes to Auckland the Thursday before the Jewels.” Alford’s commitment with Wobelee at Menangle means he will again miss driving one of his favourites, champion old-timer Lennytheshark, at Cranbourne on Saturday night. Lennytheshark returned from a break with an epic second after doing all the work behind much-improved stablemate Im The Boss in the Shepparton Cup on April 28. David Aiken drove him at Shepparton and is expected to take the reins again from gate seven against a moderate bunch at Cranbourne. The race is sure to help shape Aiken’s mind around a possible Sydney trip for next month’s Len Smith Mile and even a Queensland Winter Carnival raid. Adam Hamilton

Even by champion driver Chris Alford’s stellar standards, this is a massive weekend coming up. Not only does Alford drive the odds-on favourite Centenario in harness racing’s version of the Golden Slipper, the $350,000 Group 1 Australian Gold final, but he also welcomes back his own stable star, young trotting sensation Wobelee. Wobelee is on a 12-race winning streak, ranks alongside any young trotters Australia has seen and is being set for a daring raid to tackle New Zealand’s best in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on June 2. It is rare for young Aussie horses to race in NZ, but almost unheard for young trotters as opposed to pacers making the trip across the Tasman. “It’s an exciting opportunity. The NZ people have been fantastic to deal with and he’s going unless something unexpected happens in the next couple of weeks,” Alford said. Wobelee returns at Kilmore on Friday night then heads to Sydney the following weekend to chase his sixth Group 1 win in the NSW Trotters Derby at Menangle. “Then, all going well, it’s over to NZ from there,” Alford said. While Wobelee is firmly established as one of the best young trotters Australia has seen, Alford thinks two-year-old pacer Centenario possesses similar potential. “I’ve been asked where Centenario rates with the best babies I’ve driven and he’s right up with any one of them, that’s for sure. He’s a pleasure to drive. “Clayton (Tonkin, co-trainer) keeps telling me this is the race he’ll be primed for and I haven’t seen the best of him yet. “He’s drawn well in three, but you have to respect the two Sydney horses drawn inside him on their form (Hurricane Roy 1 and Muscle Factory 2).” Alford drove all four of Emma Stewart and Tonkin’s juveniles through their qualifying races for the Gold final. “I’m sure I’m on the horse to beat. I’d say Hardhitter is the second best of Emma and Clayton’s, but it won’t be easy for him from outside the back (row, gate 11).” TAB fixed odds on the APG Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night Trots Media - Adam Hamilton

Megastar Aussie trotter Wobelee kick-starts his Harness Jewels campaign when he returns from a spell at Kilmore on Friday night. Trainer-driver Chris Alford is adamant fans will see a more mature and sensible Wobelee than last season or his two-race cameo February/March this year. “He’s growing up and he’s not the handful he was,” he said. “It’ll be great to get him back to the races with some exciting times ahead. “He’s got this race then he heads to Sydney the week after for the NSW (Trotters’) Derby and then it’s over NZ for the Jewels. “He’s going to the Jewels. Something would have to go wrong over the next couple of weeks for that to chance.” Alford praised NZ officials for their contact and assistance around race starting procedures given Wobelee has been notoriously “tricky” in the score-up to his races. “They have been some professional and accommodating. They’ve promised an attendant will be allocated to Wobelee if that’s what we want. I wish all other clubs were as good to deal with,” he said. “Wobelee’s growing maturity, the assurances we’ve got from the NZ officials and the fact it’s pretty easy to get in and out of Auckland (for the Cambridge raceday) make the trip a very attractive one.” Wobelee boasts a 12-race winning streak – five of those at Group 1 level – but hasn’t started since saluting in the $60,000 Group 1 Need For Speed final (1720m) at Melton on March 10. Wobelee’s return launches yet another massive weekend for Alford, who also partners odds-on favourite Centenario in $350,000 Group 1 Australian Gold 2YO colts and geldings final (1720m) at Melton on Saturday night. Alford drove all four of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s youngsters when they qualified for the final, but was always going to partner the unbeaten Centenario in the final. “He’s the best of their four and Clayton (Tonkin) keeps telling me we haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Alford said. “It’s like he’s been here before this horse. He’s such a complete package for a two-year-old. “I’ve been asked where Centenario rates with the best babies I’ve driven and he’s right up with anyone of them, that’s for sure. He’s a pleasure to drive. “He’s drawn well in three, but you have to respect the two Sydney horses drawn inside him on their form (Hurricane Roy 1 and Muscle Factory 2). “I’m sure on the horse to beat. I’d say Hardhitter is the second best of Emma and Clayton’s, but it won’t be easy for him from outside the back (row, gate 11).” Adam Hamitlon

For the man who has won it almost all, there is one glaring gap in Chris Alford’s trophy cabinet. And if he can finally fill that at gap at Cambridge on June 2 he will be the first Australian reinsman to do so.  The Australian challenge for the Jewels went into over drive last night with group one winners Wobelee (three-year-old trot) and Carla’s Pixel (four-year-old pacing mares) invited. Both are high class and would sit near the top of any market, with Wobelee a juvenile sensation last season and Carla’s Pixel having downed a host of Kiwi big names in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle in February.  Alford’s wife Alison trains Wobelee but Alford will drive but he also looks likely to be offered the drive on Carla’s Pixel.  “That will be up to Dean (Braun, trainer) but the owners have said I will be driving it.  “It is exciting to head there with probably two good chances because as we all know no Aussie has won a Jewels.  “I’ve only driven in them once, behind Blitzemcalder, so to get back there will be great.” Last night’s two invites join four-year-old trotter Custodian on the invite list while it is looking almost certain NSW Oaks winner Shez All Rock will be at Cambridge. She is hot favourite for the Victoria Oaks this week and then joins the All Stars for the NZ Oaks, where she could either win her way into the Jewels or still be invited as the Australian for her division. That leaves the biggest invite of all the Australians still unconfirmed, with Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu still being set for the Jewels but not invited yet. The home of the Jewels races tonight with a continuation of the strong juvenile trot numbers.  Unbeaten filly Tickle Me Pink resumes against fellow class act filly in She Reigns, who would be unbeaten but for a gallop last start.  The juvenile trotting fields in the south have been strong with the Phil Williamson-trained Oscar Bonenova catching the eye winning on debut at Rangiora. Michael Guerin

The Horsham Harness Racing Club today revealed the star studded line up set to contest the 28th annual Decron Horse Care - Noel Smith Memorial - Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship on Monday March 12th. The ten confirmed invitees for the 2018 edition are Kerryn Manning (Vic), Ryan Warwick (WA), Chris Alford (Vic), Chris Geary (NSW) Greg Sugars (Vic), Ryan Hyrhorec (SA), Kate Gath (Vic), Gareth Rattray (Tas), Gavin Lang (Vic) and Peter McMullen (QLD). "It is another wonderful field," said Horsham Club CEO Jo Cross. "We will have five top Victorians including last year's champion Chris Alford here to take on drivers from all corners of Australia," she added. Chris Alford - 2017 Decron Horsham Champion Merv Butterworth of Decron Horse Care said the company was proud to continue its long time association with the Horsham Club's unique event. "All the drivers hold this contest in very high regard," he said. "That they so readily take up the opportunity to compete and are prepared to give up their time to travel from far and wide speaks volumes for its status." The Club and Butterworth also announced today that the Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship would continue into the year 2020 under the umbrella of Decron Horse Care. "Our partnership of the past seven years is now formally extended to ten," said Cross. "It gives us the opportunity to work with Decron and promote both the Drivers Championship and the race day itself, which recognises the contribution of all our industry participants." Drivers will compete in four, penalty free, $7000 races at Horsham with the winner on points to join the elite Noel Smith Memorial Honour Roll and collect a $1500 Travel Insights Melbourne or Melton Saddlery credit voucher. The ten competitors will each receive a Decron Horse Care show bag containing a Decron Leg Wrap Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Poultice, Decron Hoof Care Kit, Decron Osmotic Poultice Gel and promotional merchandise items. And of course there's the traditional sting in the tail that every competitor hopes to avoid - the dreaded, Gary Chequer commemorative wooden spoon which was "won" last year by Todd McCarthy (NSW). Nominations for the Labour Day Monday holiday meeting close with HRV at noon on Wednesday March 8th. Further information is available from Tony Logan on 0427 857411.   Anthony Logan

Champion driver Chris Alford headed to Hunter Cup thinking he could be in for something special with a veteran horse. But it was Lennytheshark in the Hunter Cup itself Alford was thinking most about. While Lennytheshark ran a brave fourth, another veteran gave Alford his golden moment of the night. North American-bred trotter Kyvalley Blur, who was racing so well during an NZ raid just a few weeks ago, returned to his sparkling best for an upset win in the Group 1 Dullard Cup (2240m). And Alford was quick to heap the praise on trainer Brent Lilley, who took over training the 10-year-old Kyvalley Blur about four years ago when Chris Lang Sr retired from training ranks. “Brent’s done a fantastic job to keep this old horse keen and interested in racing,” he said. “The way he turned him around from last week was fantastic. The old guy was disappointing by his standards last week.” A modest Alford forgot to mention another superb drive played a key role in the return to winning form. In a race run upside down, hot favourite Sparkling Success worked overtime three and then outside the leader in a frantic first half. In the run, classy Kiwi raider Temporale looked the winner, but Alford landed the three-wide home on him and stormed over the top late to snatch victory by a half-neck in a slick 1min57.1sec mile rate. It was a buzz for passionate trotting owner-breeder Jim Connelly. Kyvalley Blur’s now raced 102 times for 24 wins, 40 placings and earned almost $450,000. Adam Hamilton

Star four-year-old Mach Three pacer Our Little General almost claimed the Warragul harness racing club track record when winning the $25,000 Eastern Challenge at Logan Park today. First up since winning the three-year-old division of the Breeders' Crown in August, connections used Thursday's race as a stepping stone to the upcoming Chariots Of Fire event in Sydney. Driver Chris Alford dictated terms to suit in front with Our Little General, who went within two one hundredths of a second of breaking the 2210 metre track record in defeating Beach Surge and Waimac Attack. Our Little General went past the $500,000 in stakes earnings mark with victory on Thursday, and is trained at Cardigan by Emma Stewart for a large group of owners, some of which were trackside to witness the victory. Both Alford and Stewart have now won the Eastern Challenge race twice. It was the first race win at Warragul for Stewart, despite her stables dominant success over a number of seasons. Elsewhere on the day there were mainly small fields, in particular the opening race which was reduced from six runners to four after scratchings, and became a two horse race as the field was well strung out after some mid race interference. Weight of punters support was with local Penny Bobbins, however All Major ran straight past that pacer once the two settled down to fight out the finish. All Major scored by over six metres, and is trained at Cranbourne by Michael Hughes. Oakleigh trainer Janine Stewart and her horse Glam Rock love the Warragul Pacing Bowl. Both horse and trainer have only won two races in their careers, both at Warragul. Glam Rock, driven by Greg Sugars, proved too strong for Melchoir and Rapacious. Stewart was the 2016 Graduate of the Year from the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Eight-year-old gelding Uetliberg is another horse which likes Warragul, having recorded two wins and three placings on the circuit from eight starts. The Frank Offer trained horse overcame a 40 metre handicap to win the Windra Gidgea Memorial Trotters event, beating locals Omy Son and Just Hold On. Swedish born horsewoman Kima Frenning had her first drive at Warragul in the fourth event, and led throughout with gelding Sir Briggen. The underrated Frenning drove a perfect race behind Sir Briggen, which denied locals Mygoldengrinner and Courageous Desire victory. Warragul harness racing returns on Monday, February 11. Kyle Galley

Top Victorian harness racing trainer Emma Stewart began her assault on Tasmania's feature races in Launceston last night where she produced a team of six and walked away with four winners including Major Secret that won the City of Launceston Cup. Major Secret stepped away cleanly from his second-row draw but once the field was settled, driver Chris Alford sent the $1.10 favourite around the field to take up the running. Major Secret cruised to an effortless win over Dapper Dana that came from well back with Taurisi flashing home late to grab third just ahead of Destreos. It was s strong enough win to suggest Major Secret could be a serious contender for the Group 3 Tasmania Cup in Hobart later this month. Stewart did not attend the meeting but driver Alford said he believed the horse was heading to the Tasmania Cup but if all depended on how he performed last night. "If it (Tasmania Cup start) depended on tonight's performance you'd reckon he's sure to be there (Hobart)," Alford said. Stewart's team began well with Isntshejust scoring an effortless win in a C1-C2 event over 1680 metres. Isntshejust (Chris Alford) led from the pole position but she was unable to hold out Johns Legacy that crossed from gate three. But Alford quickly had the four-year-old mare outside of the leader and when he allowed her more rein a lap out she forged to the lead and went on to win comfortably. Apache Shark delivered Stewart's third win of the night. With Alford aboard Apache Shark ($1.30) circumnavigated the field a lap from home and proved too strong for Spot Eight and Call Her Julie in a C5-C7 over 1680 metres. Isntshejust and Apache Shark are owned by Victorian Tony Kiel who said it was his first double in ages. "My family have been in this game a long time and we've had plenty of winners but this is my first double since we got two up at Boort (Victoria) about 40 years ago.," Kiel said. Stewart's three-year-old colt American Alli ($2.60) was backed to beat the local favourite Semowillrev ($1.70) in a 3YO and older C0 over 2200 metres but he made an error at the start and lost about 60 metres. Semowillrev worked around the field to lead but he was run down by Izaha and Lead Singer with American Alli, that was making his debut, a game fourth beaten about nine metres. Masterkova made it four winners for Stewart with an impressive all-the-way win over 1680 metres. It was a one-act affair and no doubt Stewart will be aiming Masterkova at the Tasmanian Oaks. Peter Staples

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