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Do the best Standardbred harness racing pacers hail from down under? Well, we may have the answer to that question by the end of the week. Given the heroics of Shartin following her purchase last year from the Victorian stables of Dean Braun, the Tintin In America mare has firmly established herself as the best and most dominant pacing mare in the world right now. And if you require further proof, check out her replay from Saturday’s $197,400 Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands, part of Hambletonian day. Her deeds in North America this season are sensational; she has won 13 of 17 races this year and 20 of 30 lifetime for earnings of $764,857. Feature race victories include $373,000 Matchmaker at Yonkers, $150,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s Chester, $102,200 Sam ‘Chip’ Noble Memorial at Miami Valley, Ohio and the $370,000 Roses are Red at Mohawk in Canada. Shartin is prepared by Jim King Jr and handled by ace reinsman Tim Tetrick, she is owned by Richard Poilluci and Jo Ann Looney-King. But while the efforts have been sublime in her new conditions, her former trainer is the least bit surprised with what she’s been able to achieve on the other side of the globe. Braun purchased the filly as an unraced commodity from the Prebbleton (near Christchurch) stables of Grant Crabbe. Under his tutelage, Shartin displayed enormous ability which resulted in victories in both the Queensland and Tasmanian Oaks while also finishing as the runner-up in the Queensland Derby behind the Mark Purdon prepared The More The Better. But her finest moment came when she sat parked outside subsequent Chariots of Fire winner Jilliby Kung Fu and beat him in a time of 1:52.5 at TABCORP Park, Melton. And that victory came in the middle of winter. “I knew how good she was and I happily told those close to me but the money at the time was too good to ignore, this is the business we’re in,” Braun said. “I’ve been in contact with the connections since she’s been up there and I’m thrilled with her success, it’s awesome to see her doing so well. “I sold Nike Franco before this filly and I told them this filly would do a better job and Nike has been super during her time up there also, it’s good for everyone involved.” As it stands, Shartin is the leading money earner this season for pacers in North America. Only Hambletonian winner Atlanta has earned more. So, there’s no question Shartin is the leading female pacer in the world. But who holds the title for male pacers? That title could easily be given to Lazarus, the wonder from down under, as he prepares to make his official North American debut this coming week. The Bettors Delight entire was sold from the stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen earlier this year for massive money on the basis of a racing/breeding proposition. Now owned by Taylor Made Stallions, Lazarus has been placed in the care of legendary horseman Jimmy Takter. Following a sharp schooling recently at the Meadowlands, the $3.68 million earner looked as good as ever when he defeated recent North American Cup winner Lather Up in an official Meadowlands trial in 1:48.3 the following week. And that form has a chance to be franked with Lather Up headlining the nominations for the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park this Saturday night. Lazarus will head to the $325,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana later this week. Depending on how he performs in the Dan Patch, Lazarus's next major target has been confirmed as the Canadian Pacing Derby, which has eliminations on August 25 and the final on September 1 while the Breeders Crown at Pocono is another key target. By seasons end, the best male and female pacers could both hail from down under. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News $197,400 Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands Open Series at Pocono 1:48.4 $102,200 Sam ‘Chip’ Noble Memorial at Miami Valley (Towards the second part of video) $373,000 Matchmaker at Yonkers $150,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s Chester $370,000 Roses are Red at Mohawk

Rookie Sydney pacer Muscle Factory is fast. In fact, he’s super-fast! And he stamped himself as the horse to beat for next week’s Gr.1 $100,000 Albion Park Gold Final following his scintillating victory last night (Friday) in a time of 1:54.1. He ran sectionals of 28.5, 30.6, 28.6 and 26.6 seconds. The son of Roll With Joe was having his first start at the famed Breakfast Creek oval and scored by a widening margin of 36m defeating Timeless Appeal and Our Ultimate Mary. Prepared by Shane and Lauren Tritton, Muscle Factory has now won 4 of his 8 starts. Prior to his Albion Park romp, all of his other victories have been recorded at TABCORP Park, Menangle. His personal best time to date is 1:53.5 when successful at Menangle on June 5. By comparison, For All We Know who scored in the opening heat rated 1:58.5 for the 1660m distance. But it’s not the fastest time by a juvenile in the Sunshine State. That title belongs to reigning Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One. Last season, the Mach Three colt recorded 1:53.9 when successful at Albion Park. In fact, he did it twice, scoring on June 30 and again on July 15. But will that record stand the test of time? There’s every chance that Muscle Factory will be out to claim the rich prizemoney up for grabs plus a track record for a two-year-old pacer next week. It’s the final Gr.1 of the season in Queensland and it now carries plenty of added interest. Only horses sold through the Australia Pacing Gold Brisbane division last year were eligible for this series. The barrier draw will be staged on Tuesday.   Chris Barsby

Tim Butt isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Fresh from his Grand Circuit triumph last weekend at Albion Park with Let It Ride stamping himself as a genuine star of the future following his easy victory in the Gr.1 $200,540, UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the champion trainer is already plotting his next move. And it could mean a return trip to Brisbane next year. Butt and stable clients have negotiated a deal to secure unbeaten Riverina two-year-old Whereyabinboppin from the stables of Steven Harris for a six figure sum. Whereyabinboppin is a son of first season sire A Rocknroll Dance from the Modern Art mare Whereyawheeliebin, a winner of 5 races. He is the first foal to race from the mare. The speedy gelding has looked ultra-impressive in both victories at Wagga with the latest coming on July 17 when scoring by over 34m in a time of 1:56.5 for the 1755m. The current track record at Wagga belongs to Untitled at 1:55.6 set back in May this year. Whereyabinboppin will start this Sunday at Bathurst in the consolation of the Alabar NSW Regional Breeders Challenge. He will start from the outside of the second-line, gate 11 in the 1730m event. With Butt heading to Victoria next week with his talented three-year-old trotter Majestic Courtney who will tackle the Gr.1 $75,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Victoria Derby at Maryborough (August 5), he will pick-up his latest acquisition on the way south. And Butt is already looking at the Derby classics next season. Who knows, he might be aiming at claiming the Blacks A Fake and Queensland Derby double next year. And given how good his Group One record is, it’s hard to doubt him.   Chris Barsby

The season is far from complete for Colt Thirty One. Considered as the Sunshine State’s best prospect, the Grant Dixon prepared colt went winless in both Derby features during the recent Albion Park winter carnival and connections have now moved on and switched their focus to Breeders Crown series. Colt Thirty One was looking at becoming the only three-year-old to claim multiple major Derby classics this season following his victory in the Victoria Derby back in January. But he came up agonisingly short in his home state feature when pipped right on the line after sitting without cover in the 2680m feature. As it stands, a different three-year-old has claimed success in a Derby feature this season with Yankee Roller (South Australia), Poster Boy (New South Wales), Maraetai (Tasmania), King Of Swing (West Australia) and now Master Moonlite (Queensland). Even across the ditch, the spoils have been split between Chase Auckland (Northern) and Sheriff (New Zealand). And many others have staked their claim following brilliant efforts through futurity based schemes like the Tasmanian owned but Sydney based Ignatius. The current crop is loaded with talent and amazing depth and the Breeders Crown could well decide who is the crowned the National three-year-old of the Year. Colt Thirty One will start next Tuesday at Albion Park in the Egmont Park Stud Pace where he has drawn the inside of the second-line in the 2138m event. The following week (August 7), the Mach Three – Charm Personified colt will tackle a heat of the Breeders Crown. The semi-finals are scheduled for August 18 at Bendigo while the Gr.1 $195,000 final takes place the following week at TABCORP Park, Melton. “We’re headed that way, both Kevin and Kay (Seymour – owners) are keen to give it a crack again and he comes the winter carnival in good shape so we’re pressing on. It’s been a long season but he’s holding together really well.” Dixon said. Last season, Colt Thirty One finished third behind King Of Swing and Poster Boy in the two-year-old final. Talented filly Red Charmer is also likely to make the trip, the Mr Feelgood three-year-old will start Tuesday in the UBET Pace before starting again the following week in a Breeders Crown heat. Red Charmer, a winner of the South East Oaks two starts ago, won a semi-final last year before finishing sixth behind Nostra Villa in the final. Both Colt Thirty One and Red Charmer are raced by their breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour. Chris Barsby

Despite being on the other side of the globe, Lazarus is still King. The champion pacer is gearing up for a racing campaign on North American soil in the coming months following his sale earlier this year and the charismatic stallion is still very much on everyone’s mind. And with good reason. The 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season has come to a close and the Bettors Delight entire has claimed back to back titles following another brilliant season. Lazarus amassed 304 points during the term. Points are awarded during the Grand Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The eight leg series which commenced back in 1977 is now worth more than $4.4 million and starts in October at Melbourne with the Victoria Cup followed by the New Zealand Cup in Christchurch, Inter Dominion (Perth), Auckland Cup, WA Pacing Cup, Hunter Cup, Miracle Mile before concluding with the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained star becomes the first pacer since Christen Me (2014/15) to record back to back titles as Grand Circuit champion. His Grand Circuit haul during the season included the New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup while his only unplaced run for the season came at his most recent start, finishing 7th in the Miracle Mile in Australasian record time. While Young Rufus and Smolda have been crowned previous Grand Circuit champions, Lazarus becomes the first horse from the All Stars stable to record back to back titles. Overall, he won 8 of his 13 starts while amassing more than $1.6 million in prizemoney. The All Stars stable claimed 4 of the 8 legs with Lazarus winning three events while Vincent won the Auckland Cup. The full list of Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit winners during the season were Lennytheshark (Victoria Cup), Lazarus (New Zealand Cup), Lazarus (Inter Dominion), Vincent (Auckland Cup), Soho Tribeca (WA Pacing Cup), Lazarus (Hunter Cup), My Field Marshal (Miracle Mile) and Let It Ride (Blacks A Fake Qld Championship). And the Top 5 point scorers were; Lazarus – 304 points Soho Tribeca – 205 Tiger Tara – 145 Lennytheshark – 134 Chicago Bull – 120 Congratulations to the owners of Lazarus – Phil & Glenys Kennard, Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley.   Hoofnote – Lazarus is now trained by Jimmy Takter after being purchased by Taylor Made Stallions.   Chris Barsby

Kiwi filly Sociable is drawn to strike early. The Andrew Stuart trained three-year-old has drawn ideally in tomorrow night’s (Friday) $20,450 Redcliffe Oaks while main dangers face awkward second-line draws. Sociable will start from gate three (with emergency coming out) and will be handled by ace Victorian reinsman John Caldow in her Queensland debut. Connections are targeting the Gr.2 $75,540 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park on July 14. The Buy Kiwi Made filly went unbeaten in her first two starts in her homeland before crossing the Tasman earlier this year with connections tackling the Victoria Oaks at TABCORP Park, Melton in April. Sociable finished fifth behind the freakish filly Shez All Rock. “We think she’s a pretty good filly and we came to Melbourne hoping to avoid the All Stars and we end up running into a filly that’s even better than what they have so it didn’t quite go to plan but we were more than happy with her efforts.” The Rangiora based Stuart said. In six Victorian starts, Sociable scored an easy victory at Shepparton on April 6 while missing the place only twice, in the Victoria Oaks Final and in her most recent start, the Argent Classic on May 11. Despite being fresh, Stuart is confident his filly is ready to showcase her talent. “We’ve had the filly up in Sydney with Luke McCarthy for the past couple of weeks and her recent fast work has been really pleasing, she’s close to the mark. “Drawing well was always going to be really important on this track and I was thrilled with the front-line draw, even more thrilled when the Dixon fillies landed the second-line. I raced against Aqua Miss in the Victoria Oaks and she looks a pretty handy type but I believe my filly can beat her. “I was happy when John (Caldow) said he would come up and drive her, I think that is a nice confidence booster. He knows the filly well now and I think an all the way victory is our best shot of winning this race.” And punters have reacted; UBET offered as much as $5 when markets opened on Wednesday. Sociable is now the $2.20 favourite. And Stuart has celebrations plans in place. “I enjoy a day at the races and I’ll be heading along to the Stradbroke Day festivities at Doomben the following day, hopefully having some celebratory drinks.” The Redcliffe Oaks is race 3, start time is 7.54pm. Chris Barsby

Harness racing trainer Dean Braun is eyeing another Queensland winter campaign. The experienced and highly regarded horseman has enjoyed tremendous success in previous Brisbane raids and is looking to extend on that record with another richly talented pacer. Just last year, Braun sent the gifted Shartin north and claimed the Queensland Oaks before selling her to North American interests where she has established herself as the best pacing mare in the world following multiple feature race victories. Itz Nosurprisesthere (2013) and Nike Franco (2014) were other Queensland Oaks winners for Braun. While his success with the fairer sex is well documented, he’s also prepared many top flight male pacers and looks to have another special prospect in the shape of former New Zealand three-year-old Duplicated. Purchased recently from the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding is unbeaten in two starts on Australian soil following victories at Bendigo and Ballarat. And now the Queensland Derby is on the radar. “I think he’s a very exciting talent with a lot of scope, he’s very quick but he’s equally strong so the Queensland Derby makes natural appeal. Going to Queensland in the winter is good fun and great for my skin tone.” Braun said. But the Queensland Derby is the hoodoo event for Braun, both Night Of The Stars and Chancellor Cullen was unplaced while Shartin finished a narrow second last year behind The More The Better. Can Duplicated right the wrong? A routine victory at Bendigo in 1:58.6 two weeks ago was followed by a clinical victory in the Colin and Heather Holloway Classic at Ballarat in 1:58.4 on Friday night. In both victories, he finished off in a sub 27 final section. Duplicated boasts six victories and six minor placings from 15 starts to date. “He’s done well in both starts to date and shown he’s got some zip, he led in both races and then just blasted up the lane so they haven’t been hard races by any stretch. I’ve had some early interest from North America with this guy but Queensland is the focus. “He’s headed in the right direction and I’m still sorting him out but the Queensland Derby was in the back of my mind when we purchased him. I know Colt Thirty One is a top colt but I’m prepared to take him on. “I think he’s a very versatile type and he can run over all distances, his form in New Zealand was very consistent and competed against some high quality rivals. The Queensland campaign offers plenty and I’m sorting out a suitable path to take.” Duplicated is raced by Braun’s partner, Pauline McColgan. The Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 21. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | 

Betamerica, a filly with a royal pedigree, opened her account yesterday (Tuesday). Stepping out for the second time in her fledgling career at Albion Park, the American Ideal – Splendid Bet filly scooted the sprint lane and scored a narrow yet decisive victory in the Cammibest @ Burwood Stud 2yo Pace. Betamerica defeated Zaras All Good and Saint Kilda Beach. The Shannon Price and Scott Miller prepared filly rated 1:58.7 rain affected track. Splits of 27, 32.7, 29.5 and 29.7 seconds. Chris Petroff took the winning drive. “It’s a great result for many reasons, the fact she is a proven winner and rating the time she did only adds to her future value. This family just keeps producing all the big name horses and it’s exciting to have this filly,” Miller said. “We have no plans this season with her, maybe a few more runs before having eight weeks off and then coming as a three-year-old. Hopefully her attitude will change during that time; she’s very set in her ways.” He added. Purchased last year at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale in Auckland for a whopping price of $137,500 from Woodlands Stud draft and Charles Roberts, Team Raboki was determined to get their filly despite some spirited bidding from several parties. The brown filly hails from the hottest family in the stud book, the Scuse Me lineage. Betamerica is the second foal from the Bettors Delight mare and is closely related to the likes of Adore Me, Christen Me, Dream About Me, Hands Christian, Maxim, Have Faith In Me, Imagine Me and Abide With Me among many others. Her older full brother Chief Joseph is in work with leading Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety but is currently unraced. Chris Barsby

Star performer Ohoka Punter has a new home. The triple Group One winner has been purchased by leading owners Kevin and Kay Seymour and is set to join the stables of leading trainer Grant Dixon. Following his victory in the 2016 $200,000 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the star performer was sent west to Perth where he joined the stables of Gary Hall. But a series of setbacks and niggling issues prevented him from producing his best efforts and scored only once from 20 starts. An attack of colic, followed by a lung infection, forced Ohoka Punter to miss the 2016 Inter Dominion Championship series but managed to run minor placings in a host of other feature events. A flight from Perth last night (Wednesday) was carrying the million dollar earner. Ohoka Punter has not raced since finishing second behind champion stablemate Chicago Bull in the Listed $50,000 Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on February 23. Boasting a fine record of 25 victories and 30 minor placings from 72 lifetime starts, the Bettors Delight entire has amassed stakes if $1,049,860. His fastest winning mile rate of 1:52.4 was set at Albion Park back in May, 2016. With the 2018 Queensland winter carnival looming, connections could be looking at the riches on offer. A future stud career is also likely. The Seymour’s own Egmont Park Stud on the Darling Downs and currently stand Mr Feelgood, Hurrikane Kingcole and Gotta Go Cullect. Chris Barsby

Rookie pacer Minted Montana stamped himself as a genuine winter carnival contender following his dominant harness racing debut victory at Albion Park today (Tuesday). The Mr Feelgood – Montana Secrets gelding sat without cover in the Cammibest @ Burwood Stud 2yo Pace before racing clear from Ginger Micky and Give Me A Go in a brilliant time of 1:56.0. Sectionals were covered in 27.5, 29.9, 28.5 and 30.3 seconds. It’s the fastest time of the season to date by a juvenile pacer in Queensland. Minted Montana showcased his talent when successful in his qualifying trial at Redcliffe on May 2 when scoring impressively rating 2:00.8 for the 1780m public trial. Raced by his breeder Dean Shannon, Minted Montana was a buy back from last year’s Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sale at a cost of $2500. Montana Secrets, a daughter of super sire Christian Cullen went winless in two career starts at the Gold Coast back in 2012 before being retired to stud. Her first foal is the filly Our Dasher (by Lanercost), an eight start maiden to date. Minted Montana is the second foal from Montana Secrets while the mare has another colt on the ground, also by Lanercost. Montana Secrets is closely related to the likes of My Field Marshal, Foreal, Regal Dash, Askmenow and Delightful Dash among others. Prepared by Donny Smith and handled by Darrel Graham, the big striding gelding will have his next start at Redcliffe in a heat of the Yearling Sale Series next Wednesday (May 23). The Gr.1 $100,450 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Final is scheduled for Friday, June 1. Another likely target is the Gr.1 $100,450 QBRED Triad Final for 2yo Colts and Geldings is programmed for July 21, the final night of the Albion Park carnival. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | 

Queensland Derby hopeful Master Moonlite flexed his muscles for the first time for his new harness racing connections. Stepping out at the Terang trials yesterday (Sunday), the highly regarded for New Zealand three-year-old scored an effortless victory in his 2180m public trial. Purchased recently by clients of the Mattie Craven stable, the Art Major gelding scored in a time of 2:01.3 while covering the final 800m in a slick 56.5 seconds. And now he’s ready to start for his new owners as they build towards a Brisbane winter carnival campaign. “I was really happy with the way he performed and he’s ready to race following that hit-out. I’m looking at a race next week down here and then we’ll keep going from there.” Craven said. Previously prepared by Christchurch based horseman Cran Dalgety, Master Moonlite is no stranger to Australian fans after competing in last year’s Breeders Crown series. At his most recent start on March 9 at Alexandra Park, Auckland, Master Moonlite finished fourth behind Italian Delight. He returned south and was being readied for the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby at Addington before being sold. Craven is no stranger to Brisbane after campaigning here two years ago with the likes of Kimani, Im Wrongly Accused and Roy George. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Brisbane and I’m keen to get back, things didn’t pan out that year but it was a great experience and a great opportunity. “I think this horse is capable of taking the Queensland Derby and we’ll give him his chance, he’s also Vicbred eligible so we’ll target that series before making the trip north at this point. “Obviously Colt Thirty One is pretty smart but I’m keen to take him on.” The Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 21. Craven heads to Europe this week to spend time with leading horseman Timo Nurmos, the trainer of star performer Readly Express. Chris Barsby | RQ Web News

It was cool and it was very calculated. That’s the best summation of Speeding Spur following his harness racing victory in tonight’s (Friday) Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the 100th edition. The father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie timed their run at the North Island trotting feature with pinpoint accuracy with their much lauded six-year-old entire. Already a winner of six Gr.1 events prior to tonight, this is the race that the Clevedon based duo desperately cherished and he delivered a comfortable victory defeating Monty Python and Temporale in the 3200m stand-start feature. Stepping safely and swiftly, young Josh Dickie applied immediate pressure to Monty Python and gained an easy lead soon after the start although outsider The Almighty Johnson briefly challenged within the first 600m of the event. Race favourite Enghien also began safely but drifted back before settling in the second half of the big field. The lead time was covered in 2:00.8. As the field worked inside the final mile, Speeding Spur led the way from Monty Python in the trail but the moves from back in the field were coming with Destiny Jones peeling three-wide which was followed by last week’s Anzac Cup winner Lemond. The first quarter of the final mile was covered in 32 seconds. Entering the home straight to reach the bell lap, Ricky May set Enghien alight three-wide while defending champion Temporale tracked up behind him. Passing the winning post with a circuit left to run, Dickie made the call to allow Enghien to stride clear in front which left Temporale providing cover for Lemond while Monty Python was pushed a spot further back against the pegs. The second quarter was covered in 29.2 seconds. With the major players occupying the key front-end positions, the pressure only intensified. Enghien led the way down the back straight and traveled strongly but his rivals were starting to close the gap. The third quarter was posted in 29.1 seconds. Approaching the home straight, Enghien drifted slightly up the track which presented a great passage for Speeding Spur. With Dickie driving aggressively, Speeding Spur raced clear from a game Temporale who gave strong chase while Monty Python and Lemond started to wind up. At the finish, Speeding Spur scored by a margin of ¾ length from Monty Python with a further 2 lengths back to Temporale in third placing. Enghien finished 7th. The final section was covered in 29.8 seconds. The overall time was 4:08.2 with the winning mile rate covered in 2:04.8 – well outside of the race record set by Stent three years ago at 4:03.6 (2:02.4). “This victory is very special and deeply satisfying given what this horse has gone through over the past couple of seasons. He’s incredibly talented and possesses a deep desire to win every time he starts, this is a team effort and many have played a huge role to achieve this dream.” Winning driver Josh Dickie said. Overall, Speeding Spur has won 20 of his 40 starts with earning close to $800,000. The victory catapulted Speeding Spur into second place on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters leaderboard with 108 points while the Victorian trained Sparkling Success gripped to victory with 160 points. Chris Barsby

If the crown fits. But who will wear it? The Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup is the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and the race to be crowned the harness racing premier square gaiter in the southern hemisphere is very much alive. And the 3200m stand start feature looks loaded with chances. Heading into this weekend, the Victorian trained Sparkling Success holds a narrow lead with 160 points but he’s far from across the line with the John Meade trained gelding not starting. Instead, he’s relying on luck. Sparkling Success scored in the Great Southern Star while being the runner-up in the Grand Prix. Both events staged at TABCORP Park, Melton. Other Trotting Masters winners this season include Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Tornado Valley (Grand Prix). But those that can snatch victory include last week’s Anzac Cup hero Lemond (100 points) and Temporale (64 points) while Enghien (60 points) can split the title if triumphant. Here’s another scenario; if Enghien wins and Lemond runs second, a reversal of last week’s Anzac Cup, it could be a three-way tie which has never happened before. In fact, the only split decision came back in 2007 when A Touch Of Flair and One Over Kenny shared the spoils. The Trotting Masters Grand Circuit commenced in the 1999/2000 season. But the Rowe Cup, the major trotting event of the North Island of New Zealand has a long and rich history after first being staged back in 1918 when Whisht proved successful. And the great names on the Roll of Honour includes Native King, Mutu, Kempton, Ordeal, Single Cash, Sir Castleton, Idle Scott, David Moss, Wagon Apollo, Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, One Over Kenny, Sundons Gift, I Can Doosit and Monbet among many other great champions. Last year’s hero was Temporale who again lines up this year is looking to become the 11th dual winner of the great race, if successful, he will join Waikaha, Raima, Nell Volo, Great Admiral, Fantom, Recruit, Pohutukawa, Single Cash, One Over Kenny and I Can Doosit. The incomparable Lyell Creek won it three times (2000/01 & 04). Temporale will be handled by his trainer Tony Herlihy who is aiming for his sixth Rowe Cup victory and will wear saddlecloth number 9. The Almighty Johnson (saddlecloth 13) will also represent the Herlihy stable. Anzac Cup winner Lemond was decisive last week under the mobile start conditions but has a tricky draw to contend with this week (saddlecloth 14) but again has the services of four times Rowe Cup winning driver Maurice McKendry. And the only trotters to claim the Anzac/Rowe Cups double are I Can Doosit and Monbet. Boom trotter Enghien will command respect; the quality four-year-old owns a fantastic record at the track and is part of a combination (Hopes & May) that has tasted victory previously with Monbet (2016). The last four-year-old to win the Rowe Cup was last season – Temporale. Enghien will carry saddlecloth 8. Star northern based performer Speeding Spur is chasing his 7th Gr.1 victory and draws ideally (saddlecloth 4) which should have him much closer to the action unlike last week in the Anzac Cup. Both Phil Williamson and Paul Nairn are chasing further success in the Rowe Cup with Williamson preparing One Over Kenny (2007) while Nairn has won it twice with Inspire (2006) and Stig (2013). Williamson prepares Monty Python (saddlecloth 2) and Alderbeck (saddlecloth 3) while Nairn is represented by One Over Da Moon (saddlecloth 15). Flashy performer Bordeaux (saddlecloth 6) was placed behind Temporale and Habibti Ivy in the Rowe Cup last year but needs to lift after running up the track last week in the Anzac Cup when leading. Talented mares Yagunnakissmeornot (saddlecloth 1), Harriet Of Mot (saddlecloth 7) and Destiny Jones (saddlecloth 11) all back-up following their efforts last week in the Anzac Cup. Harriet Of Mot produced an outstanding effort to finish third behind Lemond and Enghien. Another mare in Princess Mackendon (saddlecloth 12) takes on the Rowe Cup after missing a place last week in easier grade. Southern visitor War Machine (saddlecloth 16) comes north chasing the big prize but the draw has severely dampened his chances but has the services of four times winner Anthony Butt. The emergencies are Realmein (saddlecloth 10) and Charlemagne (saddlecloth 5). The Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and listed to start at 9.20pm local time. Suddenly, it all comes down to one race - the Rowe Cup! Chris Barsby

A year is a long time in harness racing. Just ask Cambridge horseman Ross Paynter. His richly talented trotter Lemond stood tall to claim his maiden Gr.1 success when successful in the $102,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland tonight (Friday). In the corresponding event last year, Lemond went agonisingly close to claiming the feature before going down by a half-head margin to star mare Habibti Ivy. It was an ecstasy to agony moment for connections. But upon reflection, it has only made the Love You gelding stronger. In his next 15 starts, Lemond has won 5 times including taking his first piece of major silverware and now joins the honour roll that includes I Can Doosit, Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy. Lemond now becomes the first North Island trained trotter to claim the feature which was first staged back in 2012. Handled by regular reinsman Maurice McKendry, Lemond charged the gate and quickly led the 2200m mobile start feature while race favourite Enghien drifted back from gate two. As the field headed down the back straight on the first occasion, Lemond handed the lead over to Bordeaux which left him poised in a striking position. The lead time was covered in 43.1 seconds. Bordeaux was allowed to cruise in the lead role and strolled through the first quarter of the final mile in 32.3 seconds. Enghien was pulled three-wide entering the bell lap and quickly raced alongside of Bordeaux with 1000m remaining. The second quarter was covered in a leisurely 31.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Bordeaux led the way from Enghien with Lemond perfectly positioned in the trail while the strongly fancied Temporale and Speeding Spur sat off the pace. Passing the 600m marker, Bordeaux rolled off the inside which presented a dream run for Lemond while Enghien was forced to cover extra ground. Temporale followed Enghien while Speeding Spur was wide and a long way back in the pack. The third quarter was covered in 28.5 seconds. In the home straight, Lemond fought tenaciously from Enghien who refused to quit with Harriet Of Mot making a spirited bid deeper off the track. At the finish, Lemond scored by 1 length from a brave Enghien with a further 1.75 lengths back to Harriet Of Mot in third. The final quarter was covered in 29.1 seconds. The race time was 2:44.8 with a winning mile rate of 2:00.5 – well outside of the race record set last year by Habibti Ivy. “He trotted great tonight and really deserved the victory after coming so close last season.” McKendry said. Lemond joins Amaretto Sun, Sparkling Success and Tornado Valley as winners of Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters events for the 2017/18 season. Next week, the Gr.1 $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will complete the season. Again, the 3200m stand-start feature will be staged at Alexandra Park, Auckland. And the race to be crowned the ‘Trotting Master’ is still very much alive. It's going right down to the wire! Chris Barsby

The field is entering the home stretch. And it’s still hard to pinpoint the winner. The race to be crowned 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master is anyone’s guess with just two legs remaining. The focus swings to Alexandra Park, Auckland with the running of this week’s $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup followed by the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup next week. Both events carry Gr.1 status Winners of Trotting Masters features thus far this season include Amaretto Sun (Dominion), Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) and Tornado Valley (Grand Prix). None of the above mentioned will contest the Auckland classics which leaves the door slightly ajar for a late dive-bombing closer to claim the title. A scenario that unfolded last season with Habibti Ivy snatching the crown following the Auckland features. As it stands, Sparkling Success leads the race with 160 points but is that enough to secure the title? Can local star Temporale (currently with 60 points) produce the goods over the next week to claim a dramatic victory? The dual Gr.1 winner boasts an excellent record at the track with 8 wins and 7 minor placings from 17 starts. Suddenly, Temporale is thrust into the limelight in more ways than one. The Anzac Cup was introduced to the Grand Circuit calendar back in 2012 when champion performer I Can Doosit prevailed for trainer/driver Mark Purdon. Winners since include Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy. There is a common thread that links the six previous winners; they were all prepared in the South Island. Can Temporale become the first North Island trained winner of the Anzac Cup? Will master horseman Tony Herlihy weave some magic in front of his local fans? Also representing the north are quality performers Speeding Spur (gate 13), Lemond (gate 4), Yagunnakissmeornot (gate 11), Realmein (gate 10) and Charlemagne (gate 6). Speeding Spur, prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, is a six times Gr.1 winner including his latest effort at Addington in the Fred Shaw Memorial New Zealand Trotting Championship on April 6. His record at his home track is exemplary with 8 wins and 8 minor placings from 16 starts. Again, the south is well represented with boom four-year-old Enghien (gate 2) looking to maintain his unbeaten record at the clockwise track. Prepared by Greg and Nina Hope, the Woodend Beach couple is chasing their second triumph after scoring with Monbet two years ago. The dual Gr.1 winner will again be handled by Ricky May. Quality performers Bordeaux (gate 7) and Harriet Of Mot (gate 12) will gain strong support while Destiny Jones (gate 9) is looking for some luck from its tricky draw. Phil Williamson and Paul Nairn, both highly skilled horsemen, are represented by Monty Python (gate 1) and Alderbeck (gate 3) while One Over Da Moon (gate 5) must be respected. The first three placed runners are guaranteed a start in the 2018 Rowe Cup next week. The Anzac Cup is a 2200m mobile start event while the Rowe Cup will be staged under standing start conditions and run over 3200m. Chris Barsby

Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley signaled his class with a stunning all-the-way harness racing victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday). Aided by a brilliant front-running drive from Kate Gath, the richly talented Skyvalley gelding defied race favourite Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in the 2240 mobile start feature. Having his third local start, Tornado Valley went one better than his effort last week when a runner-up behind Red Hot Tooth in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne. Showing good gate speed to lead from his handy draw, Tornado Valley controlled the tempo of the event while Sparkling Success was forced to work hard without cover. The lead time was covered in 45.2 seconds. Tornado Valley traveled strongly throughout; the first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.9 and 30.7 seconds. The first move in the race came via Vincennes who eased three-deep passing the 1000m mark. Entering the back straight, Gath allowed Tornado Valley to stride boldly while Sparkling Success chased gamely on his outside. The third quarter was covered in 28.7 seconds. At the top of the straight, Tornado Valley and Sparkling Success were set for an epic stretch battle but Tornado Valley failed to yield while Sparkling Success tried valiantly. Tornado Valley held Sparkling Success by 1.9m while Sky Petite was further 11.3m away in third after sitting one out/one back throughout. The final split was covered in a very slick 27.7 seconds. The winning mile rate was 1:57.2 – well outside of the track and race record of 1:56 held by Keystone Del when successful in 2016. Tornado Valley is raced by Queensland based owner Norm Jenkin (of Flashing Red fame). It is the second time Andy Gath has prepared the winner of the Grand Prix after scoring with inaugural winner, former star trotting mare La Coocaracha back in 2001. An obvious long term target will be the recently re-introduced Inter Dominion series which will be staged in Victoria later this year. Tornado Valley joins Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) as winners of an Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters event this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month. And the race to be crowned the 2017/18 APG Trotting Master is very much alive. The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 20 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events held at Alexandra Park. 7 9:30pm SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS AUSTRALIAN TROTTING GRAND PRIX (GROUP 1) 2240M $100,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr4 4 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 12.20   GS L 1 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): Jenkscraft Pty Ltd  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Fr6 7 John Meade Chris Svanosio 1.9m $ 1.50 fav  PRU 3WE OLM 2 3 SKY PETITE      Fr5 6 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 13.2m $ 23.80   PRS GS 4 4 SAVANNAH JAY JAY      Fr3 3 Stan Cameron Neil McCallum 14.3m $ 60.20   PRS GS 3 5 REGAL PEPPERELL      Fr1 1 Michael Barby Anne-Maree Conroy 15.0m $ 36.10   PRS BB ODM 5 PH RR HUE USL 6 VINCENNES      Sr2 9 Anton Golino Jason Lee 16.6m $ 18.80   8 3WL 7 MAORI TIME      Sr1 8 Brent Lilley Gavin Lang 19.9m $ 12.60   PRS 12 3WLT 8 MY TRIBECA ITA      Fr2 2 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 21.7m $ 9.30   6 9 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Sr3 10 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 22.6m $ 10.30   10 3WLT Scratchings   THE BOSS MAN 5 Track Rating: Gross Time: 2:43:2 Mile Rate: 1:57:2 Lead Time: 45.2 First Quarter: 30.9 Second Quarter: 30.7 Third Quarter: 28.7 Fourth Quarter: 27.7 Margins: 1.9m x 11.3m   Chris Barsby

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