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A pair of leading stables is eyeing the upcoming Queensland summer carnival. The summer features, to be staged at Albion Park from December 1 through until December 15 has caught the attention of Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy plus Kerryann Turner and Robbie Morris. And both stables are likely to bring plenty of talent north of the border. In recent times, both combinations have been frequent visitors to the Sunshine State while success has also followed and consistently. The Queensland summer carnival clashes directly with the famed Inter Dominion series, being staged in Melbourne this year after spending the past three years based in Perth. With many leading stables heading to Melbourne, the Sydney combinations have focused on the Brisbane features. The Cross/McCarthy stable arrives this week and again will be based south of Brisbane at the property of Cristina Monte and Charlie Cini with six horses and the possibility of more to come in the coming weeks. “The carnival looks a good option for a number of our horses and we’re still considering on bringing Mach Doro up for the open class events. We haven’t made a decision about him yet but it’s definitely an option,” McCarthy explained. “We have runners this weekend at Redcliffe and they will remain for the Albion Park carnival. Hopefully, we can make a good start this weekend.” He added. The stable has Young American, Ima Kennedy Two, Blue Moon Rising, Rich Virgin and Living Again starting this Saturday night at the Redcliffe meeting. The Turner/Morris stable are yet to head north as they have confirmed their team but numbers should be strong with at least six to eight shortlisted. Stable favourite Aztec Bromac is likely for the open class events in December. Last year, the American Ideal gelding scored victories in both the Christmas and Queensland Cups. Two starts ago, Aztec Bromac rated a new personal best time of 1:51.6 when successful at TABCORP Park, Menangle. “We’re definitely looking at bringing him up again at this stage, he’s engaged to race again this weekend at Menangle while we’re sorting what races suit some of our team best,” Morris said. “As long as the features are at Albion Park, we’re keen to be part of the action again.” He added. The Queensland summer carnival features over three consecutive Saturday nights include; December 1 – Gr.3 $30,660 Be Good Johnny Sprint, $20,660 APHRC Members Cup, December 8 - $20,660 Christmas Cup, $20,660 Forever Gold Mares FFA December 15 – Gr.2 $50,660 Queensland Cup, Gr.2 $40,770 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship Final, $20,660 C2-C5 Feature & $14,999 King of the Claimers Final Chris Barsby

It’s a busy weekend coming up for the Marburg Pacing Association. The club will conduct two meetings, racing both Friday and Sunday afternoon with strong fields spread across both days. A total of 135 horses are listed to start across the two days of racing which will see 16 races staged. And several are looking to break their run of outs. At the top of the list is the Brian McCall prepared Ohoka Cooper who starts in the Speed-Action-Winners Marburg Pace on Friday. The Bettors Delight gelding will start from the coveted inside gate in the 2200m mobile start event with local reinsman Steven Doherty booked to drive. A winner of 10 races from 76 starts to date, the well-traveled pacer has forgotten where the winning post is situated with his latest victory coming way back in July of 2016 at Gloucester Park in Perth. Plenty has happened since his latest triumph. And a lot has changed too. Ohoka Cooper has traveled across the Nullarbor, making the 3900km trek from Perth to Sydney where he joined the stables of Darren McCall at Menangle. But the Sydney stint was short lived before heading further up the highway to join the stable of his current mentor. McCall trained former Albion Park speedster Lebron, a winner of 30 races and $250,000. “This horse is no Lebron, let’s make that very clear; he’s your typical old style New Zealand type that lacks high speed but grinds away and tries hard every time he starts. His lack of pace is his biggest detriment and he much prefers the longer trips compared the speed racing.” McCall said. Ohoka Cooper is raced by McCall’s partner, Rachel Beaton. Originally from New Zealand where he commenced his career with legendary horseman Tony Herlihy, the full-brother to talented performer On The Rantan scored a victory at Cambridge but was later sold to Perth connections following eight starts in his homeland. Joining the Perth stables of Kade Howson, Ohoka Cooper showed a liking for the Perth style of racing and contested several features including Preludes of the WA Derby, Golden Nugget, 4yo Championship and the McInerney Ford Classic. During his time in the west, he managed to win 9 races (7 at Gloucester Park) during his time with Howson and then Ray Williams. His stint in Sydney lasted for only eight starts where he failed to hit the board and his lack of high speed was exposed. “Darren said he couldn’t match them on the big track and wasn’t suited so he asked if I would take him on. Originally, I struggled to work him out and his form deteriorated but in recent times, he’s actually improved slightly. “I actually think he would thrive if we staged the long distance stand-start races, he’s not the type you can really use off the gate but he should land a good spot in his race this week. “The pressure is actually on because big brother Darren had a winner (Fortyeighthenson) at Menangle last weekend while my sister Sharon (Furey) was in the winners list at Redcliffe last night (Wednesday) with Living Grand.” Meanwhile, Lebron is finally settling into his life of retirement following his decorated racing career. The Jennas Beach Boy gelding hasn’t raced since July, 2016. “He took a while to adapt but he’s loving life now, he’s as fat as a fool.”   Chris Barsby

Former racetrack queen Forever Gold has settled into her role of motherhood perfectly. Considered one of the best mares produced in the Sunshine State, Forever Gold wowed fans with her fierce tenacity and great desire to win during her many seasons of racing for owner/breeders Murray Cole and Beau Watson. Prepared by Kylie Rasmussen and Darren Weeks throughout her glittering career, the Famous Forever mare retired with 42 victories from 92 starts while amassing more than $700,000 in stakes. Some of her biggest victories include the Queensland Oaks, Inter Dominion heat, Governors Cup, Robin Dundee Stakes, Make Mine Cullen, 4/5yo Championship, Qld Ladyship Stakes (x 4) and the 2yo & 3yo QBRED Breeders Classic and Triads Finals. Feature race placings include Nursery Pace Final, Gold Coast Oaks, Ladyship Mile, Teeny Teeny, Ranji Bill, Angelique Club Cup, Northern Breeders Stakes, Queen of Hearts, Redcliffe Gold Cup, Lord Mayors Cup, Christmas Cup, Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake. Upon her retirement in 2015, Forever Gold headed to Egmont Park to take on her next role as a broodmare. At stud, the mare better known as ‘Tammy’ has delivered three foals. And the latest arrived just recently. Forever Gold delivered another healthy colt by North American siring sensation Captaintreacherous, a full brother to her previous mating. Captaintreacherous has enjoyed tremendous success in North America this season through the likes of Captain Ahab, Tall Drink Hanover, Captain Crunch, Treacherous Reign and Cruise Captain among others. His North American service fee has just been increased to $25,000 for 2019. Her first foal, now a two-year-old by Rock N Roll Heaven will soon head back to the Rasmussen/Weeks training operation for her next campaign. Rock N Roll Heaven has produced some wonderful fillies/mares including the likes of Shez All Rock, Rocknroll Magic, Mackenzie, Goodtime Heaven and Park Life among others. The filly is unnamed at this point. It is understood that Forever Gold will have the current breeding season off.   Chris Barsby

The return to racing for Leos Best is still a long way off. Since being crowned the 2016/17 Queensland Harness Horse of the Year, the Cammibest gelding has graced the racetrack only twice. Prepared by leading horseman Grant Dixon, the multiple feature race winner has been plagued by soundness issues for the past twelve months. The issues started after he pulled a shoe and drove a nail through his hoof late last year while niggling problems since have kept him away from the track. And he’s still no closer to a return. “He’s still spelling up at Egmont Park but he’s due for another scan next week so hopefully he gets the green light to resume work sooner rather than later.” Dixon explained. Raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour, Leos Best has been based at their iconic stud farm at Biddeston on the Darling Downs under the care of Tobi Raeth. The now six-year-old made a cameo back in November, 2017 which resulted in a first-up victory at Albion Park on November 11 followed by a dismal effort two weeks later when unplaced. Leos Best finished fifth behind Smooth Showgirl but never threatened at any stage. He hasn’t raced since. Overall, Leos Best has won 26 of his 44 starts while banking more than $345,000. Chris Barsby

Will Shartin be crowned the USTA Horse of the Year? Following her victory in the $270,00 Breeders Crown Open Mares Pace at Pocono Downs last weekend, the New Zealand bred mare has clearly established herself as the best pacing mare in the world. It is the first time a ‘down under’ performer has won a Breeders Crown Final. Other feature race victories include the $373,000 Matchmaker at Yonkers, $150,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s, $102,200 Sam ‘Chip’ Noble Memorial at Miami Valley, Ohio, $370,000 Roses are Red at Mohawk, $197,400 Lady Liberty at Meadowlands and the $98,500 Allerage Farms Mare Pace at The Red Mile. Overall, Shartin has won 18 of her 23 starts in North America this season for trainer Jim King Jr. and owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. And with earnings currently sitting at $968,361 – she has surpassed the previous record of Dreamfair Eternal's seasonal earnings record for a pacing mare of $925,575 set in 2010 as well as moving nearer the million-dollar mark. Her next assignment will come in the $175,000 TVG Mares FFA at Meadowlands on November 24. Given the fact that Atlanta, a winner of the Hambletonian against the colts and geldings earlier this year, was beaten in her Breeders Crown Final only strengthens the claims of Shartin taking the top gong. The Tintin In America mare was developed by astute Victorian based horseman Dean Braun and won 7 of her 13 starts including both the Queensland and Tasmanian Oaks. And it was great to see Braun part of the celebrations trackside last weekend. “That was something else to be trackside to watch her achieve something that has never been done before, a horse to come from the southern hemisphere and win a Breeders Crown plus all of the other features she’s claimed is truly remarkable,” Braun said. “It was super to finally meet Richard and the King’s after countless phone-calls during the journey, they’ve done an unbelievable job with her and I wish them continued success. The scary part is I think she is far from finished and the team behind her believes that too.” He added. Only recently, Braun sold Duplicated to Poillucci and he has entered the stables of Team King. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding qualified recently at Harrah’s Chester in Philadelphia winning in a time of 1:56.2 Duplicated is scheduled to make his North American debut later this week.   by Chris Barsby

Queensland will not be represented in the 2018 New Zealand Cup. The famed two mile stand-start feature staged in Christchurch at Addington Raceway will take place on November 14 and Alleluia won’t be making the trip. Prepared by Grant Dixon for leading owner Greg Mitchell, a late entry payment was made last month which had the Art Major gelding on the cusp of the final field of 15 starters before slipping to 17th in the latest rankings form Harness Racing New Zealand. Following his third placing behind Let It Ride in the Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park during the winter carnival back in July, Alleluia continued his strong form with a string of open class victories at Albion Park during August and September. As a result, connections decided to chase the New Zealand Cup. But his form has dipped slightly in recent weeks including his latest effort last weekend when fourth behind his stable mate Ohoka Punter after leading. “While he’s a proven Redcliffe Cup winner he’s not entirely comfortable on the track, the other major factor of not going ahead with New Zealand is the travel involved. There is no direct flight into Christchurch meaning we have to road down to Sydney before flying to Auckland and then getting a connecting flight to Christchurch which is very taxing.” Dixon said. Alleluia remains in contention for the Inter Dominion series coming up in Melbourne starting on December 1. In the latest rankings from Harness Racing Victoria, he sits 36th. The Queensland Summer Carnival is another option available for connections with a trio of open class features scheduled The local carnival starts on December 1. “We’ll see where he ends up with the rankings for the Inter but the local carnival is a nice back-up and he’ll be very competitive in each of those races. “His form is still very solid, the open class races are very competitive here and once we return to Albion Park, I think his best will return.” Alleluia has won 33 races from 138 starts while banking more than $521,000.   Chris Barsby

Following the protracted remediation work being carried out at Albion Park, the metropolitan venue for harness racing in Queensland, trainer Ian Gurney is heading south. With Trevor Lambourn currently in Sydney and many others considering a stint while work continues at the famed Breakfast Creek oval, Gurney is also taking his team to Menangle. Gurney will head south with a team of ten including recently inducted Queensland Hall of Famer Avonnova and be based with Luke McCarthy at Cobbitty. “Redcliffe is a unique track and not every horse handles it including most of mine, the bulk of my horses are older types and like the bigger open spaces so we’ll give Sydney a go while Albion Park is out of action.” Gurney said. The team includes Mach Alert, Clarkey, Sparkling Cullect, Smooth Showgirl, Our Hi Jinx, God Sake, That’s How Weroll, Much Bettor, Just Deal It and Avonnova. Promising pacer Cardlesfromheaven will remain in Brisbane but is currently spelling following his victory in the Pot of Gold Final at Albion Park on October 5. Gurney plans on heading south later this week. “I’ll head off on Friday at this stage and we’ll get straight into it after we’ve arrived, I’m hoping I’ve got a good cross section of talent that can do a nice job. “I’m happy with Avonnova and he’s working back into full fitness which is pleasing, under their handicapping, hopefully we can slot into a couple of suitable events. “My target with him is to reach the million dollar mark, which would be an unbelievable way to end his career. He’s healthy and sound so here’s hoping we can achieve it, the track will definitely suit him better down there.” Meanwhile, Trevor Lambourn has managed three minor placings from his six starters to date. Both The Shady One and Battle Born finished second yesterday (Sunday) at Menangle. Since September 1, Albion Park has only staged three Saturday night programs with all meetings transferred to Redcliffe.   Chris Barsby

Reigning Queensland Trotter of the Year Our Overanova displayed all of his qualities with a hard fought victory at Redcliffe last night (Saturday). The Grant Dixon trained and driven performer sat outside feature race winning Needle and proved too strong with Miracle Rising finishing third in the Comfort Inn Northgate Trot over the 1780m distance. In winning, the Monarchy gelding established a new track record with a time of 1:59.6 from the mobile start. The new mark goes along with his trio of track records at Albion Park. Our Overanova holds track records for the 1660m Mobile (1:56.2) plus the 2138m Standing Start (1:59.0) and 2647m Standing Start (2:00.3). “He’s a great horse, he knows how to win and that was a very good effort sitting outside a talented type like Needle and wearing her down.” Dixon said. Our Overanova is currently ranked 29th for the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship in Melbourne starting in December. A winner of the Darrell Alexander Memorial Championship series last year, the veteran trotter will again be considered for that series starting next month. Our Overanova has now won 3 from 5 at the bayside half mile circuit. Overall, he has won 49 from 128 with earnings approaching $400,000. Raced by former Racing Queensland Harness Board Chairman Greg Mitchell, Our Overanova was purchased back in 2013 following his maiden victory at Ashburton.   Chris Barsby

As it stands, Glenferrie Hood is the premier Open class pacer in the Sunshine State right now. The recently crowned Albion Park Horse of the Year again dominated his rivals when leading throughout in the Stu Valentine Bloodstock Insurance Open Pace at Redcliffe last night (Saturday) defeating New Zealand Cup hopeful Alleluia and Bodhi Tree in the 1780m event. Handled by Albion Park Metropolitan Driver of the Year Pete McMullen, Glenferrie Hood rated 1:55.8 which is outside of the track record of 1:54.9 held by Tightrope. Possessing brilliant gate speed, the Christian Cullen – Niftey Franco gelding has now recorded back to back victories at the bayside circuit following his all the way triumph a week earlier. In fact, he has won 6 of his last 8 starts. Prepared by dual code trainer Wayne Graham, Glenferrie Hood isn’t among nominations for any upcoming interstate features with the Queensland summer carnival features his main target. “He’s a nine-year-old and while he’s going as good as ever, we’ll just stick with the little fish are sweet mentality and focus on the features in our own backyard in the coming weeks. His gate speed is clearly his best asset, it’s so crucial to the style of racing we have in this state and he’s won a heap of races because of it including his past two starts on the smaller track.” Graham said. The 2018 Queensland Summer Carnival starts on December 1 and ends on December 15, all three race meetings will be staged at Albion Park. Open class features include the Gr.3 $30,660 Be Good Johnny Sprint, the $20,660 Christmas Cup and the Gr.2 $50,660 Queensland Cup. Graham will head to his local thoroughbred track of Beaudesert this Tuesday when he saddles up Pitbull in the Spill The Beans @ Aquis Farm Benchmark 58 Handicap. Brooke Ainsworth takes the ride on the Myboycharlie gelding. Chris Barsby

Tiger Tara is tough. He’s fought in most big fights….he’s won some and he’s lost some. But he’s always in for the fight. And he never takes a backward step. With the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series officially underway, the New South Wales trained eight-year-old showed great tenacity when defying his rivals to score a major victory, leading throughout in the Gr.1 $200,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton tonight (Saturday). The Kevin Pizzuto trained star easily defeated Chicago Bull and Carlas Pixel in a time of 1:53.4 to register his maiden Grand Circuit success. Starting from gate two, driver Todd McCarthy urged the Bettors Delight entire off the gate and defied Mach Doro the early lead which forced a major reshape of tactics of rival drivers. Settling into a comfortable looking stride, Tiger Tara led the way in the 2240m contest while Mach Doro and Franco Nelson were forced to cover extra early ground before eventually gaining a trail on race favourite Chicago Bull who quickly made his move when the pace steadied. The lead time was covered in a moderate 44.2 seconds. Placed in the same event twelve months earlier, Tiger Tara was looking for redemption and rivals allowed McCarthy to dictate terms easily in front with little or no moves being made in the first part of the event. The first half was covered in 30.7 and 28.9 seconds. It spelt disaster for his rivals. Entering the back straight for the final time, McCarthy let Tiger Tara off the chain and rapidly increased the pressure which gave rivals in the second half of the field little or no chance of improving. Tiger Tara was in full-flight while Chicago Bull and Shadow Sax were left working overtime deeper off the track. The back straight quarter was covered in a punishing 26.3 seconds. Approaching the top of the straight, Tiger Tara found separation and raced clear with a widening margin while the race for the place was on in earnest. At the line, Tiger Tara ($7.90) scored by 12.2 metres from Chicago Bull ($1.80) while Carlas Pixel ($77.90) rattled home via inside runs to grab third spot. The final split was covered in 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate of 1:53.4 is well outside of the track record held by Lennytheshark at 1:52.4 set earlier this year. “He was awesome tonight, he felt the best he’s ever felt for some time and that was an unbelievable feeling. He’s such a courageous animal and thoroughly deserved to win a race of this magnitude.” Winning driver Todd McCarthy said. The gifted young reinsman joins his father John (Be Good Johnny – 2005) and big brother Luke (Mr Feelgood – 2010 & For A Reason – 2013) as a winner of the Victoria Cup. Since joining the stables of Pizzuto, Tiger Tara has won 16 of his 37 starts while his earnings are now in excess of $1.5 million. Tiger Tara is now headed back to New Zealand for another shot at the $800,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 13 before returning to Melbourne in December for the $500,000 Inter Dominion series. Last season, he finished third in both the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion. Following his Victoria Cup triumph, Tiger Tara amassed maximum points and is looking to claim the title of Grand Circuit champion this season. He finished third behind Lazarus and Soho Tribeca last term. And it’s another fight he’s ready for, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Chris Barsby

Sunshine Sprint winner Tact Tate has been sold. The Amanda Turnbull prepared pacer will do his future racing in North America and is scheduled to fly out this weekend. Tact Tate scored a brilliant victory in the Gr.2 $50,540 Garrards Sunshine Sprint in 1:53.0 defeating Celestial Arden and Ohoka Punter before finishing an unlucky 6th behind Let It Ride the following week in the Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship back in July during the Queensland winter carnival. The McArdle gelding was unplaced in his only start since the Brisbane campaign, finishing 9th behind Gotta Go Ya Hu on September 15 at Menangle. “It obviously was a very tough decision but there was plenty of interest in him and things moved along pretty quickly and he’s headed out this weekend. He’s been an absolute ripper for me and all of the other owners and provided us with so much fun and excitement, he won two Gr.1 features and I’m sure he’ll do a great job in the States.” Co-owner Steve Salter said. Purchased for a moderate amount from New Zealand back in 2015, the former Southland pacer transformed into a great money-spinner for his connections winning 11 races including his first five starts in Victoria. His biggest victories came via the Gr.1 $100,000 Bonanza at Melton in a career best 1:51.9 and the Gr.1 $100,000 Bohemia Crystal FFA at Menangle defeating Have Faith In Me in 1:53.6 for 2400m. Other feature victories include the Gr.2 $50,000 Treuer Memorial and the Gr.3 $30,600 Sydney Cup. His most recent victory came via the Sunshine Sprint back on July 14. In recent times, former southern hemisphere pacers have performed exceptionally well in North America highlighted by the deeds of star mare Shartin and the mighty champion Lazarus. Shartin, a former winner of the Queensland Oaks, has confirmed her ranking as the best pacing mare in the world this year with a string of feature race victories throughout North America and Canada. The Tintin In America mare has banked more than $820,000 this year.   Chris Barsby

The time for talk is over. Following the departure of superstar pacer and reigning Grand Circuit champion Lazarus to the northern hemisphere earlier this year, the debate has raged. Who holds the mantle as the best pacer in this part of the world? And everybody has an opinion. Many believe pint-sized Perth based pacer Chicago Bull is the heir apparent, his form is without doubt sensational in his home state but he’s yet to prove himself on the eastern seaboard. Until now. The ‘Wonder from The West’ has arrived in Melbourne in preparation for Saturday night’s Gr.1 $200,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup, the opening leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series. Prepared by the masterful father/son combination of Gary Hall Snr and Jnr, the Bettors Delight six-year-old has won his past 9 starts - all at his home track of Gloucester Park. But history is against the millionaire pacer. Since first being staged back in 1974 when Kings Mead scored, only once has a sandgroper proven triumphant and that was the mighty Preux Chevalier back in 1984. And since the turn of the millennium, Perth trained pacers haven’t fired in the Garden State feature. That list also includes champion pacer Im Themightyquinn (58 wins - $ 4,567,456). Six runners have attempted to grab glory but the best result is a 6th placing (twice). 2015 - David Hercules - 6th behind Christen Me 2013 - Im Victorious - 12th behind For A Reason 2011 - Im Themightyquinn - 12th behind Smoken Up 2005 - Ohoka Ace - 8th behind Be Good Johnny 2003 - Baltic Eagle - 9th behind Young Rufus 2000 - Saab - 6th behind Breenys Fella So, can the ‘Bull’ etch his name into the record books? Can Snr and Jnr claim more Grand Circuit glory? As it stands, Snr has trained 26 Grand Circuit winners while Jnr has driven 22 Grand Circuit winners. Standing in their way is 11 rivals boasting outstanding credentials headlined by local ace Shadow Sax, prepared by record breaking Emma Stewart, fresh from her 309 win season last term. Triple Victoria Cup winning reinsman Chris Alford will partner Shadow Sax and aims for his 19th Grand Circuit victory. The late Vin Knight remains the most winningest driver of the Victoria Cup with 5 victories. Fellow Victorian based trainer David Aiken, a dual Cup winner with recently retired Lennytheshark, prepares both Im The Boss and Wrappers Delight. Im The Boss, a winner of the Cobram, Mildura, Shepparton and Kilmore Cups will be handled by Greg Sugars while Kima Frenning sticks with in-form pacer and last start Smoken Up Sprint winner Wrappers Delight. The last female driver to land success in the Victoria Cup was Kate Gath (Caribbean Blaster) back in 2012. Three female drivers have won the Victoria Cup – Kate Gath, Amy Tubbs and Natalie Rasmussen. Speaking of the fairer sex, both Carlas Pixel and Ameretto are both looking to become the first mare to win the Victoria Cup. The Dean Braun trained Carlas Pixel, the recently crowned Australian Mare of the Year; finished an eye-catching 5th last week while the Kerryn Manning prepared Ameretto finished a close-up second behind Wrappers Delight after sitting in the trail. But both mares have drawn awkwardly off the second-line. The state of New South Wales has a proud and strong history in the Victoria Cup and head south with strength in numbers this year. Winners that have come from north of the Murray River include Don’t Retreat (1976), Paleface Adios (1977), Koala King (1978, 79 & 80), Frosty Imp (1981), Jofess (2002), Double Identity (2003), Mr Feelgood (2010) and For a Reason (2013). Koala King remains the only pacer to have claimed three Victoria Cups. The team from the Harbour City this year has five representatives including a trio from the Shane and Lauren Tritton stable with Gotta Go Ya Hu, Franco Nelson and My Alpha Rock as they chase their biggest victory. Lauren Tritton will partner Franco Nelson and like Kima Frenning, is aiming to become the latest female to drive a winner of the Victoria Cup. Kevin Pizzuto is duly represented with millionaire Tiger Tara and last start Paul Fitzpatrick FFA winner Majordan stepping out while Craig Cross will start last start Les Chant Cup winner Mach Doro. Dual Victorian Cup winning driver Luke McCarthy will take the drive behind the speedy beginner. Surprisingly, there is no representation from New Zealand this year. The 2018 Victorian Cup field has won 263 races collectively while amassing more than $6.7 million in stakes. The Australian Pacers Grand Circuit began in 1977 and was designed to be the showpiece of the Australian Harness Racing Industry with horses competing from every State within Australia.  In 1992 New Zealand was admitted and the Circuit was renamed the Australasian Grand Circuit.   The best horses available are brought together to race for very attractive prizemoney.  With the associated opportunities for promotion and marketing, this benefits owners and harness racing clubs as well as the industry overall.  In its first season in 1977, total stakemoney for the eight races forming the Circuit was $554,020.  Now, the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series is racing for total stakemoney of $3.65 million. Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit Champion. So, who will strike the first blow in the new season of Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit racing? Time will tell.   Chris Barsby

Nominations for the 2018 TAB Inter Dominion series in Melbourne later this year have now closed. A total of 104 pacers are chasing the code’s ultimate prize while 88 trotters are striving for greatness, it’s the first time since 2012 that a trotting series has been staged. Ironically, the last trotting series staged was won by the star performer I Can Doosit, prepared by master horseman Mark Purdon. With most states of Australia represented across both divisions plus both islands of New Zealand, the series looks loaded with talent. And the Sunshine State is amongst the early action. The John Cremin prepared Melpark Royal Son and the Grant Dixon trained duo of Miracle Rising and Our Overanova are all nominated for the trotting series. In the pacing division, Grant Dixon has a trio nominated including Alleluia, Frankie Rocks and Ohoka Punter while Chantal Turpin has nominated both Mattgregor and Watch Pulp Fiction. The last pacing series staged in Melbourne back in 2008 went the way of Queensland champion Blacks A Fake. A winner of four Inter Dominion Grand Finals, ‘Blackie’ scored a dominant victory at Moonee Valley. The first round of rankings will be released by Harness Racing Victoria tomorrow (Wednesday). The series starts on December 1 with the Grand Finals scheduled for December 15 at TABCORP Park, Melton.   Chris Barsby

Before Some Excusesomewhere had even crossed the finish line at Albion Park last Friday, he had a new stablemate. Prepared by husband and wife team of Pete McMullen and Chantal Turpin, the former New Zealand pacer is raced by Craig Whiteoak and the trio has combined again to bolster their stocks. Some Excusesomewhere has looked sharp since arriving in the Sunshine State winning two of his five starts and looks destined to return the winners circle a little more often judging by the ease of his latest victory. Starting from a trick second-line draw over the 1660m, McMullen positioned him nicely in the moving line before easing three-wide entering the back straight and then allowing him to stride freely over the concluding stages. The winning margin was a widening 18.5m while stopping the clock at a respectable 1:54.2. “It was a good performance and he felt really strong in the final half, I had no hesitation in letting him slide down the back and he quickly put them away passing the 400m peg. He certainly looks like he’s going to get through his grades with little fuss.” McMullen said. Purchased from the Canterbury stables of Mark Jones, the Patrick Estate couple has enjoyed good success over the years buying from this stable with the likes of Mattgregor and Croft Bay doing good jobs while handy maiden Morroch Bay looks like being a handy money spinner. Naturally, the latest addition to the stable also hails from the Jones team. Itz Major Look, a last start winner at Oamaru has been purchased by Whiteoak and will join his stablemate in Brisbane. The three-year-old Art Major – Itz Got The Giggles gelding scored his maiden victory at only his second start in impressive fashion when rating 2:04.4 for the 2600m standing start event. Starting favourite, he led throughout and scored comfortable while finishing off in 57.2 seconds. “He looks like a progressive type and should do a nice job; I thought there was plenty of merit in his victory last start because a number of rivals had a look at him mid-race. “We’ve had some luck with some of Mark’s horses and he believes he’s an up and comer.” McMullen scored his maiden Albion Park Metropolitan Drivers Premiership last season and continues to lead the way this term with 6 winners after the first month.   Chris Barsby

Classy performer January may have run her final race in Queensland. Negotiations are well advanced which could see the Cammibest – Ice Princess mare do her future racing in North America. In recent years, the desire of North American owners to purchase ‘downunder’ fillies and mares has grown exponentially given the success of Shartin, Nike Franco, Barynya, Delightful Memphis and Firebby among many others. The debut performance of all-conquering Australian and New Zealand three-year-old Filly of the Year Shez All Rock is eagerly anticipated. January, a last start winner at Albion Park on September 22 has raced in good form since joining the stables of Kylie Rasmussen winning 7 of her 22 starts. Placed at her past five starts, January proved too good defeating race favourite Mandy Kriden in the Changeover @ Burwood Stud Mares Pace over 2138m while recording a winning mile rate of 1:58.3. A winner of 13 of her 59 starts to date, her earnings now exceeds $100,000 following her latest victory. A graduate of the Redcliffe Yearling Sales, January displayed natural ability with a string of top efforts during her rookie season which culminated with placings in the $80,000 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Final and the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED 2yo Fillies Triad Final at Albion Park. January ranks as a half-sister to Perfection On Ice (10 wins), Silent Promises (1 win) and Modern Black Magic (2 wins). Chris Barsby

Marburg trainer Al Barnes is hoping the good fortune continues. Fresh from his success last start at Albion Park, talented pacer Bet Im Special is aiming for back to back victories when he starts in the Rio Meteor Sulky Pace at the Breakfast Creek oval tomorrow (Tuesday). The Bettors Delight gelding scored a stylish victory via the sprint lane last start defeating Chapter One and Lexus On The Beach over the 1660m in a time of 1:54.8. “Since joining my stable he’s run some good races and he landed a perfect trail and made the most of his opportunity, he’s going quite well and should perform well again.” Barnes said. Bet Im Special is raced by rookie harness owner Cesare Di Gregorio. A chance meeting with Barnes has paved the way for the Victorian based owner to invest more following his maiden victory on September 22. And that he has. Joining the Barnes stable is a pair of former New Zealand pacers, Lincoln Road and Blue Glory. Both previously prepared in the North Island by astute mentor and Pukekohe based Ray Green, both pacers are scheduled to arrive today (Monday). Lincoln Road, a four-year-old gelded son of Sir Lincoln has won 4 of his 13 starts to date and shows obvious ability. In his most recent start on August 30 at Cambridge, Lincoln Road ran a brave second behind open class performer No Doctor Needed in the Te Awamutu Cup. Two starts ago, he scored a dominant victory at Cambridge rating 1:57.3 for the 2200m event. Blue Glory, a veteran of just two starts is a three-year-old filly by boom sire American Ideal and hasn’t raced since finishing at the rear of the field behind Dun It Bad at Cambridge on September 6 after finishing second in her debut effort on August 16. “I’m looking forward to having both join the stable and I think they have the right credentials, in particular Lincoln Road so here’s hoping. “He’s comes over on a really good mark and his form looks pretty solid so hopefully he will acclimatize quickly and get to work soon after. Blue Glory is a filly still progressing but has shown ability and looks to have a nice pedigree so she should measure up here. “Cesare is thrilled with Bet Im Special and hopefully he’ll race well again tomorrow, I know he’s excited about his latest recruits too.” Barnes has again engaged his son Hayden to take the drive on Bet Im Special. The Rio Meteor Sulky Pace is Race 4 and listed to start at 3.47pm. Chris Barsby

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