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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

Aaron Bain is spreading the love. And the early signs are positive. During the recent Albion Park winter carnival, the talented and enthusiastic horseman made the long trek by road from Gawler to Brisbane with stable star Ideal World chasing the riches on offer. While a feature race triumph proved elusive, Ideal World raced with distinction during a number of events including his placing in the Premiers Cup behind star local product, Colt Thirty One. But the trip north proved invaluable for a number of reasons. Based at Glamorganvale (west of Brisbane) with Narissa McMullen, Bain enjoyed his time in the Sunshine State and the way the system works which prompted some serious thinking on his way home. “I like the Queensland assessment system and decided to explore it further and found its another way for owners to gain maximum reward with their horses. So, after careful consideration, I’ve sent two horses up to Narissa.” Bain said. The two horses sent to the care of McMullen were Prince Of Zanzibar and Just Seduce Me. And the latter scored an impressive first-up victory at Albion Park last Friday. The Ohoka Arizona mare overcame a second-line draw to defeat Mammals Magic and Motu Real Style in a time of 1:56.2 to claim the Mr Feelgood @Egmont Park Stud Pace. “We’re thrilled because she’s always been a better front-running type so to score from the back row is an added bonus. Narissa said she was happy with her going into the event and her recent trial was good but until you go out and do it, that’s another matter. “Taking a good time is an added bonus and only adds to her value long term, she’s a lovely big roomy mare with a nice pedigree so it’s a great start to the venture. I felt she reached her mark here in Adelaide but still had plenty left hence the move to Queensland. “I think she can win a few more, hopefully some of those Saturday night mares events are within range. Prince Of Zanzibar is better than what he’s showing presently and I’m sure Narissa can get him sorted in time. “I’ll be sending up another one soon, Hilltop Rose is being considered for a Queensland mission.” Bain also has a number of racehorses based in Melbourne with Alex Ashwood and Kate Hargreaves and they’re also enjoying good success spearheaded by Cresco Park. The talented horseman has prepared four winners for the new season in Adelaide. And stable star Ideal World is set to resume very shortly. The plan of putting the racing team in the best environment is certainly working and looks like paying good dividends.   Chris Barsby

Sparkling Melody, one of the greatest mares Queensland has produced, is returning home. The 2002 Queensland Oaks winner was bred and raced by Ken and Gwen Veivers and prepared throughout her career by Wayne Graham, the daughter of champion sire Fake Left won 29 of her 51 starts while banking more than $290,000 in Stakes. When successful in the Queensland Oaks at Albion Park, she defeated a crack field which included the likes of Oaxaca Lass, Sassy Sarah and Elect To Live among others. The following week, she finished a terrific third in the Queensland Derby. During her three-year-old term, Sparkling Melody won the Gold Coast and Redcliffe Oaks while finishing fourth (4th) in the Australian Oaks at Moonee Valley. Sparkling Melody contested the 2003 Gr.1 Chariots Of Fire at Harold Park and also won the Gr.2 Cranbourne Cup. In 2004, she finished third (3rd) in the Gr.1 Ladyship Mile at Harold Park. Following her retirement, Veivers bred with Sparkling Melody before sending her to Ross Pike in Victoria. Her progeny includes Village Maestro (by Village Jasper), Left Dreaming (by Dream Away), Lively Melody (by Live Or Die) and Jakalija (by Stonebridge Regal). Her last two foalings are colts by Sportswriter and Art Major. But after a number of years spent south, the former star racemare is headed back to the Sunshine State in the coming weeks. Better known as ‘Sarsy’ and now aged 20 - Sparkling Melody is a true Queensland harness racing star!   Chris Barsby

Former Auckland horseman Jacob Wallace is enjoying life right now. Now based in the Sunshine State and working for leading Fernvale based trainer Darrel Graham, Wallace possesses an excellent strike rate as a trainer himself. Recently obtaining his first racehorse, the winners keep coming. Spring Campaign, purchased by Dene Biddlecombe from the Pukekohe stables of Ray Green, the Courage Under Fire won his fourth race from five Brisbane starts when triumphant in the Mr Feelgood @ Egmont Park Stud Pace at Albion Park on Tuesday afternoon. He rated 1:58.5 for the 2138m event before finishing off in 56.8 seconds after racing without cover. Spring Campaign ($1.75 fav) defeated Dapper ($41) and Pacific Drums ($2.40). His sole defeat came a week earlier when outsprinted by in-form pacer Lilac Flash in a time of 1:56.4 for the 1660m. “I was confident he could get the job done and he was really good again so I’m thrilled with the way he is performing right now. There is a heat/final series in the coming weeks and then I will give him an ease-up during the summer period and then focus on the winter carnival next year.” Wallace said. Working a team of two pacers currently, Wallace will unveil his latest acquisition tomorrow (Friday) at Albion Park when he starts another former New Zealand pacer Royal Lincoln. The Well Said – Black And Royal gelding in Heat 3 of the Kevin & Kay Seymour series where he will start from gate 10, the outside of the second-line in the 1660m event. And just like Spring Campaign, Royal Lincoln was previously prepared by Ray Green. “He’s been here a fortnight and he’s settled into the routine pretty well and this series fits in nicely, ideally I would’ve like another week or two with him but he will race well. “Whatever he does, there will be good improvement going forward with him. His work is good and he’s pretty much acclimatized so everything looks pretty good at this stage. “The draw isn’t the best on paper but his form in Auckland was pretty good so I’m hoping we can have some luck and feature.” Wallace, who has had stints with both Barry Purdon and Tony Herlihy, has landed three winners to date this season while he has driven 23 Australian winners overall. ​Chris Barsby

Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby

It was worth the wait. After seasons of going agonisingly close to cracking the somewhat mythical century mark, richly talented reinsman Adam Sanderson finally reached his Everest. During the recently completed 2017/18 season, Sanderson finally reached three figures. The Invercargill born horseman finished the term with 100 winners. Bang on, no more and no less. But the satisfaction is obvious. “It’s such a good feeling on a personal level, I’ve been so close on quite a few occasions but come up short but I finally got there. It was actually a much better year than I expected and had very good support from a lot of people including Raboki (Shannon Price & Scott Miller), they really helped me along among others.” Sanderson said. Based in Queensland since the 2011/12 season, the proud Kiwi has obtained strong results each and every year since while firmly entrenching himself in the top bracket of a competitive drivers colony. His season tallies sit at 14, 87, 87, 92, 99, 79 and now 100. Since arriving in the Sunshine State, Sanderson, 29, has been based with astute stable of Darrel Graham at Fernvale and pounced on his opportunities including victory in the 2013 Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace 3yo Fillies Final at Albion Park with Montana Marie. He landed back to back Redcliffe Gold Cups (2016/17) with now United States based pair Five Card Draw and Kept Under Wraps. During the previous season, he triumphed with the classy mare Bettorthanspecial to land the Forever Gold Mares FFA at Albion Park in a time of 1:52.3. Sanderson also prepared 18 winners in his own right as a trainer with My Mastercraftsman, Daenerys Stormborn and Long Road To Fame all contributing to his tally. Leading owner and Christchurch based Trevor Casey is a great supporter of Sanderson and races a number of horses from his stable. “I think the fact that I reached triple figures is the highlight rather than any individual performance; there were many times throughout the season where I didn’t think I was going to make it again. I thought my strike rate was solid too. “Driving a mare like Bettorthanspecial is always a thrill; she’s a good mare and a pleasure to drive so I’ll cherish the memories I have with her now that she is retired. Hopefully, she’ll leave some really handy types. “Looking ahead, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; I try not to overthink things and focus on the basics. I would like to keep improving on the training aspect because I’ve really enjoyed the past season, it’s a challenging caper but very rewarding at the same time and hopefully I can attract some new stock.” Maybe he takes that psyche from his favourite sports team, the New England Patriots in the NFL. Sanderson is hoping to head back to North America to take in more action with the Patriots after watching them live last year at the Meadowlands when they played the New York Jets. “How can you not like the Pats, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? They set the standard…Go Pats!” he quipped. He has five drives this Saturday night at Albion Park. Sanderson has driven 3 winners so far this season. Chris Barsby

Cruz Bromac, winner of the Len Smith Mile in 1.50.1 earlier this year, has joined All Stars with an eye on the New Zealand Cup in November for which he was  nominated last week. Cruz Bromac, raced by Danny Zavitsanos the owner of All Stars pinups, Enhance Your Calm and War Dan Delight, was to travel home with the Breeders Cup horses this week. His last racing outing was a disappointing effort in the Blacks a Fake in Brisbane but two starts earlier had caused an upset in the Smith Mile beating Field Marshall after hot favourite Soho Tribeca broke early and took no part. Prior to that Cruz Bromac had beaten a moderate field in the 2700m  Warragul Cup before switching stables to become a stablemate of Tiger Tara who is also bound for the New Zealand Cup. Cruz Bromac has generally battled in high class company though 4th in the G1 Sky Classic in Perth as a four year old in 2015 driven by Luke McCarthy. Last year he clocked a 1.50.7 mile rate over 1720m to win at Melton though was well beaten in the Victoria Cup when 8th behind Lazarus. In 2016 he won the Group 2 Casey Classic ($A50,000) at Melton in a  1.56.4 mile rate  Altogether he has won 15 of his 30 starts and over over $250,000  Chris Barsby

With 12 days of the current season remaining, a question needs to be asked. Can Grant Dixon crack the 300 mark? As it stands, no trainer in Australian harness racing history has ever prepared more than 300 winners in a single season but that record is under immense pressure. Ironically, the current training record belongs to W.F Dixon, Grant’s father Bill, who prepared 299 winners during the 2010/11 season. But both Emma Stewart and Grant himself are rapidly closing in on that magical and somewhat mythical figure of 300, the Victorian based Stewart has trained 286 winners while Dixon has a tally of 284. Extraordinary numbers indeed. During the current term, harness fans and historians have witnessed champion reinsman Chris Alford break the record for most wins in a single season with his tally currently at 434 and still climbing. The previous mark belonged to Daryl Douglas at 388. Fair to say, the 2017/18 season has been a season of record breaking achievements. For Dixon, this current season will be his best as he will eclipse the mark he set last term when he prepared 286 winners. Since taking over from his father Bill at the commencement of the 2011/12 season, Grant has trained in excess over 200 winners every year since with figures of 265, 226, 260, 282, 246 and 286. During that time frame, Dixon has been the leading state trainer plus the leading trainer in the country! In fact, the Dixon name has sat atop of the National Premiership since the 2007/08 season. And during that reign, over 200 winners have been churned out each and every season. In the next 12 days, Dixon has 9 meetings in his home state while he will also compete at the Breeders Crown meeting at TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night. But he isn’t represented at tomorrow’s meeting at Albion Park while he has three runners engaged at Redcliffe on Wednesday night. And more are expected later this week. So, can he do it? Only time will tell but it’s quite remarkable given Queensland races only five times a week while the odd extra meeting is added here and there but most times the Dixon is not represented at those additional meetings. Many other states race seven days a week while at times, they stage 2 meetings per day. Bottom line, the Dixon numbers are very impressive. On nine occasions, he has prepared 5 or more winners at a meeting. And he’s achieved that feat on three occasions this season, twice at Albion Park (11/11/17 & 12/5/18) and once at Redcliffe (4/4/18). His best effort was 6 winners at a Gold Coast meeting back on June 14, 2013. The watch is on and time is ticking. Chris Barsby

It was a great weekend for Darrel Graham. But overall, it’s been a great year for his stable. The Fernvale horseman landed winners at each of the three meeting staged in the South East; Albion Park on Friday afternoon followed by Kilcoy on Saturday afternoon before backing up at Albion Park later that night. His winners came via Regal Rock, Franco Totem and Springbank Eden. A mixture of pacers and a trotter. Graham is a great supporter of grass track racing and provided plenty of support for the Kilcoy meeting with eight runners for the three events staged. When Franco Totem scored, he led home a first four result for the stable with Ruffalo, Tact Ollie and Itz Pleasurable filling the placings behind him. And it was the same again in the following race, My Mastercraftsman is prepared by Graham’s foreman Adam Sanderson, the talented performer defeated the Graham trained trio of Rory Mach, Mafuta Vautin and Drive The Dream. A quasi result for the Fernvale stable. “We had some luck and got some good results at Kilcoy, it’s always a great day and it’s something different for both horse and driver. It works really well in New Zealand and it’s a different spectacle compared to the traditional way of racing.” Graham said. The victories across the weekend have added to what is the best season for the respected horseman, his tally now sits at 143. Only Grant Dixon has prepared more winners in his home state while he is fourth in the national premiership race with Emma Stewart, Dixon and Kerryann Turner having prepared more winners. While Graham has driven more than 2000 winners, his training results have been equally impressive. Prior to the current term, his hauls have netted him figures of 107, 89, 125, 122 and 131. His best season came during the 2012/13 season before easily eclipsing that mark this year. With time ticking on the current season, can he break into the 150’s? “We’re close now so we’ll give it a go, it would be a major effort to train over 150 winners and there are a lot of people that have played a significant role in that success. You can’t achieve figures like this on your own so I’d like to thank everyone for their help. “Obviously my wife Linda and two daughters Brittany and Stephanie plus Adam (Sanderson) and Jacob (Wallace) have been the backstop; it’s really a team effort with the help of Fev and Dougie. “And the owners have been great too, Dean (Shannon), Jodie (Scott) and Adam (Sofoulis) among many others. As we know, without owners we have no industry.” And he capped his weekend by heading to the EKKA (Royal Queensland Show) with his family watching the trotting action on display. Darrel Graham has trained 2505 winners throughout his career to date. Chris Barsby

A number of talented Queensland pacers are due to fly out today (Monday). And for the third straight year, the Redcliffe Gold Cup winner is on board and bound for North America. The Bill Crosby trained Constantlysideways has been sold and will do his future racing in the United States. Constantlysideways joins Kept Under Wraps and Five Card Draw as previous winners of the Redcliffe feature before heading to North America. A winner of 22 races from 93 starts, the Village Jasper gelding has been a standout performer in the Sunshine State for many seasons now. He has banked more than $175,000 for his connections. His most recent victory came via the Gr.3 $30,540 Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup back on June 8. Constantlysideways was raced by Crosby and Jonathon Munt. Also headed stateside is Three Of The Best, a talented performer from the stables of Shannon Price and Scott Miller. The Mach Three four-year-old won 11 of his 35 starts while banking more than $115,000 in stakes. A graduate of the Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sales from the Sydney section, Three Of The Best won the 2017 APHRC Members Cup while being placed in the Gr.1 NSW Breeders Challenge 2yo Final behind Conviction in a time of 1:53.5 at TABCORP Park, Menangle. And joining Constantlysideways and Three Of The Best on the flight is Bronski Mackenzie, a regally bred three-year-old filly. A daughter of Mach Three from the great producing and classic winning Fake Left mare Bronski Gorgeous, Bronski Mackenzie ranks as a half-sister to Major Bronski, General Bronski, Breeze On Bronski, Brigadier Bronski and Admiral Bronski. Bronski Mackenzie has won 3 of her 25 starts to date.   Chris Barsby

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