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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

There is so much at stake for harness racing star Victorian trotter Sparkling Success this weekend. The John Meade prepared six-year-old lines up in the third leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Obviously the rich prizemoney is a key focus but an outright lead in the Trotting Masters is another attraction, Sparkling Success shares the lead with New Zealand trotter Amaretto Sun following his longshot triumph in the opening leg of the series, the Dominion at Addington back in November. The Grand Prix was first staged back in 2001 and won by La Coocaracha, it features a great honour roll including former champion Sundons Gift who won the event four years in succession (2007-10). Other great names include Take A Moment, Sumthingaboutmaori, Vulcan, Stent and last year’s winner On Thunder Road. The five leg Trotting Masters takes in the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. And with Amaretto Sun remaining in Christchurch, Sparkling Success has the perfect opportunity to add to his Great Southern Star triumph. Regarded as the best trotter in Australia, Sparkling Success must overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line, in Saturday’s 2240m mobile start feature. Last week, in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne, he finished a gallant third behind Red Hot Tooth and Tornado Valley after making an early break. Despite the wide draw, punters will rally around their star performer. And with a possible trip to New York for the $1.3 million International Trot at the end of the year looming, victory will only enhance his burgeoning reputation. But rivals will come thick and fast. New Australasian record holder Maori Time looms as a legitimate threat despite her tricky draw, the inside of the second-line. Maori Time rated 1:51.5 when successful in the Gr.1 $50,000 Trotters Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on February 24. Prepared by master conditioner Brent Lilley, the former New Zealand horseman shoots for his second victory in the Grand Prix following his triumph two years ago with millionaire performer Keystone Del. Courageous performer Kyvalley Blur also represents the Lilley stable, the veteran gelding continues to race in excellent form highlighted by his victory three starts ago in the Dullard Cup. Kyvalley Blur has drawn the outside of the second-line, gate 10. Gun young trainer Anton Golino is represented by both My Tribeca and Vincennes, both unplaced behind Maori Time in Sydney last start. My Tribeca has drawn ideally in gate two while Vincennes draws directly behind his stable in gate nine. Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley showcased his immense talent last week when finishing gamely behind Red Hot Tooth at Cranbourne after proving costly in his Australian debut on February 23. Prepared by Andy and Kate Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has drawn nicely in gate four. In-form mare Regal Pepperell tackles her biggest challenge to date but boasts outstanding recent winning form. A winner at 5 of her past 6 starts, the Michael Barby trained mare has claimed both the Hamilton and Wedderburn Cups during her recent form burst. Regal Pepperel will start from the coveted inside gate. Another classy mare in Sky Petite will prove competitive despite drawing awkwardly in gate 6 for trainer Dean Pattison. Unplaced last week at Cranbourne behind Red Hot Tooth, the Skyvalley mare scored three starts ago in the Crystal Bucket at Echuca. Savannah Jay Jay aims for his biggest victory and draws handily in gate three for trainer Stan Cameron, but the Armbro Invasion gelding is winless this season in eight starts. The Boss Man (gate 5) is an early scratching. The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time. The two remaining legs of the APG Trotting Masters will be staged at Alexandra Park in Auckland next month. Chris Barsby

The pressure is on. And that can be expected given your colt is favourite to claim his second blue riband harness racing classic, the Gr.1 $200,000 APG New South Wales Derby at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow night (Saturday). Fresh from his brilliant victory in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby last month, Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One is looking to become the first three-year-old since Captain Joy (2009) to win both features in the same season. No Queensland trained pacer has ever collected both features in the same season. “It’s very exciting and he keeps improving each and every time he steps out, we thought he was very good last week. We’ve booked our flights this time; we’ll definitely be trackside cheering the team on.” Owner/breeder Kevin Seymour said. Surprisingly, both Kevin and Kay Seymour were absent when their star colt took glory in Melbourne on January 27. The New South Wales Derby feature would hold mixed feelings for the leviathan couple, back in 2013 their star pacer Majestic Mach tasted defeat for the first time in his career when a runner-up behind Lennytheshark. Majestic Mach won his first 12 starts including three Gr.1 features. But the similarities between the past and the present are like chalk and cheese. Colt Thirty One oozes class and his mannerisms are far superior to his former stablemate. And that was evident last week when the Grant Dixon trained and driven colt scored comfortably when leading throughout in his qualifier, his time of 1:56.3 was significantly quicker than fellow heat winners Poster Boy and Maraetai. Colt Thirty One has drawn the coveted inside gate tomorrow night. In the Victoria Derby, Colt Thirty One came from behind Poster Boy to win the 2240m feature. “I think Colt Thirty One is actually better than Majestic Mach and will go much further in his career, winning the New South Wales Derby would be a magnificent achievement but it certainly won’t come easy because it’s a very good field with quality rivals. “I’m hoping he can win all three east coast Derby classics, I’m anticipating he could become a great sire in time because he’s a beautifully bred being a son of a champion sire, the ill-fated Mach Three while his maternal pedigree is very strong. “Like all owners, we’re dreamers but you must aim for the stars. It would be wonderful to see Queensland back up in bright lights again and producing quality performers, a triple Derby winner would be a great step forward.” If successful in all three Derbies, Colt Thirty One would join the incomparable Courage Under Fire who achieved the feat back in 1999. Dixon is aiming for his second triumph in the New South Wales Derby after scoring back in 1994 with Jeremy Lee. Colt Thirty One is quoted at $2 with UBET for the 2400m event. The Seymour/Dixon combination is also chasing success in the Gr.1 $200,000 John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks with classy filly Fame Assured looming as a solid chance following her qualifying victory last week. Like Colt Thirty One, Fame Assured (1:54.8) rated a much quicker time in comparison to fellow heat winners in Shez All Rock and Imprincessgemma. “All credit belongs to Grant, to win a heat of the Derby and the Oaks is a special achievement, he just keeps creating records. We’ve always held this filly in high regard and she has continued to improve which is particularly exciting,” Seymour stated. “At the start of the season, I thought this filly could do as big a job as the colt and she’s got an excellent chance of claiming her first feature. It would be an unbelievable feeling to win both classics.” Fame Assured is rated a $4.20 chance with UBET and will carry saddlecloth number four in the 2400m fillies feature. Queensland trained fillies that have won the New South Wales Oaks include Courageous Annie (2011), Don’t Fall For Me (2008) and Armada Miss (1991). Chris Barsby

Only three legs remain in the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And the race is on to be crowned champion harness racing pacer of Australasia. On Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, the Gr.1 $500,000 Del-Re National A G Hunter Cup will take place and it will be a brutal staying contest over the distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions. It will be relentless, energy sapping and survival of the fittest type stuff. History proves that. The A G Hunter Cup is the premier staying contest on the Australian calendar. First staged in 1949, the iconic event has undergone several changes but there has always been one constant, a great name alwys sits on the roll of honour and the 2018 version will be no different. As it stands, champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus leads the way with 200 points following victories in both the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominion while the Sydney trained Tiger Tara sits equal second with Chicago Bull on 120 points while Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark sit close by with 105 and 104 points respectively. And all will start in the A G Hunter Cup with the exception of Chicago Bull. So, victory is crucial. Lazarus, prepared by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, is the horse to beat owing to his fabulous record and his unbelievable appetite of staying contests. The further they go, the better he performs. His victories in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion solidify this point while his last start effort in the Gr.1 $300,000 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park only underlines his tag of Australasia’s premier stayer. The Bettors Delight entire sat three-wide throughout in the 2536m contest before going down by a head margin to millionaire pacer My Hard Copy who sat on his back with perfect cover. Everybody witnessed it but most couldn’t believe it. It drew comparisons with some of the greatest staying efforts of all-time and deservedly so, coincidentally, the most common reference made was that of Elsu when successful in the 2005 A G Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley. And here it is where Lazarus may have to reproduce another supreme staying effort, or something similar to Elsu to win this weekend. The triple millionaire will start from gate 3. Lazarus has not raced since January 12 owing to a minor setback but is looking to keep his unbeaten Melton record in perfect order. Enigmatic pacer Heaven Rocks also represents the All Stars stable and comes into the event fresh off a brilliant performance in the now traditional lead-up race, the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup two weeks ago. Natalie Rasmussen, a winner of the 2008 A G Hunter Cup aboard Blacks A Fake, will again take the drive behind Heaven Rocks. The big striding gelding has drawn gate 9, two off the second-line. Defending Hunter Cup champion Bling It On completes an unbelievable comeback when he lines-up this weekend, most thought he would not race again after sustaining horrific injuries in a race fall at Albion Park last June. But the millionaire pacer has returned in excellent order and caught the eye last week with an eye-catching second behind Lennytheshark in the Casey Classic. Bling It On will start from gate 2 and has the services of star reinsman Luke McCarthy. Highly decorated pacer and fan favourite Lennytheshark is hoping to snare his first victory in the A G Hunter Cup this weekend following his third placing last year behind Bling It On and Yayas Hot Spot. The David Aiken trained and Chris Alford driven star has won most majors in his home state yet the Hunter Cup silverware has proven elusive to date. Lennytheshark will from gate 8, the inside of the second-line. A top-two finish will push his career earning past the $3 million mark. Tiger Tara has drawn the coveted inside gate and most expect the Kevin Pizzuto trained entire to lead, and for a long way. A winner over Lazarus during a heat of the Inter Dominion series in Perth when leading at fast pace, the Bettors Delight seven-year-old was overpowered by Lazarus in the final after setting a moderate mid-race speed. Tiger Tara will play a major role from his inside draw. Last start Gr.1 $450,000 WA Pacing Cup winner Soho Tribeca must overcome the shocking draw of gate 13, the outside of the second-line for new combination of Michael Stanley and Greg Sugars. Soho Tribeca was transferred to his new base after winning the Perth feature for Bryan Cousins and Kim Prentice. The last mare to win the A G Hunter Cup was the mighty New Zealander Blossom Lady who claimed back to back victories in 1994/95 and pint-sized performer Ameretto is hoping join the exclusive club. Prepared by 2015 Hunter Cup winner Kerryn Manning, Ameretto will start from gate 10. Manning will sport the “Team Teal” silks as a part of the sport’s leading ladies to raise valuable funds and crucial awareness for ANZGOG – Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group. Last year’s runner-up Yayas Hot Spot returns for Shane and Lauren Tritton, the talented gelding has drawn gate 6 and will be handled by Jack Trainor. Yayas Hot Spot finished second behind Tiger Tara last week at Goulburn in the Frank and Edna Day Memorial. Durable gelding Messini, trained by Brent Lilley and driven by legendary horseman Tony Herlihy lines up in his third A G Hunter Cup after contesting the previous two editions. Messini has drawn gate 4. Herlihy partnered 1997 winner Surprise Package. Emerging talent Shadow Sax starts this weekend for trainer Emma Stewart, a winner of the Gr.1 $100,000 South Australian Cup at Globe Derby two starts ago before finishing a gallant third in the Gr.1 $100,000 Ballarat Cup behind Heaven Rocks and Lennytheshark at his most recent start. Amazingly, ace reinsman Gavin Lang is yet to win the A G Hunter Cup. Shadow Sax will start from gate 5. Kialla pacer San Carlo represents the combination of trainer Stephen O’Donoghue and Bec Bartley but must overcome an awkward draw of gate 11. The Mach Three gelding finished third last week behind Lennytheshark and Bling It On in the Casey Classic. In-form pacer Moonrock, from the stables of Sonya Smith, has also drawn the second-line and runs from gate 12 but has the services of the most successful reinsman in Hunter Cup history in Anthony Butt. Butt has won 7 Hunter Cups – Blossom Lady (1994/95), Mister D G (2004), Mr Feelgood (2009), Stunin Cullen (2011), Choise Achiever (2012) and Mah Sish (2013). Mister Wickham is the listed emergency and has drawn gate 7 for trainer Lee Evison and US Hall of Famer driver David Miller. In total, the 13 runners have won 316 races while amassing more than $13.1 million in stakes. The A G Hunter Cup is scheduled as race 7 and listed to start at 9.02pm local time. Chris Barsby

Sparkling Success has arrived. He’s well and truly announced himself. And he did it on the biggest stage possible, dominating his harness racing rivals in the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday) – the second leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. In the biggest and richest square gaiting event staged in the country, the John Meade trained and Chris Svanosio driven trotter proved too classy for his rivals in the 2760m mobile start feature defeating New Zealand raider Temporale and Hey Yo in track record time. The six-year-old Great Success gelding proved his greatness with a hard fought victory in a time of 1:58.7, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:58.8 set by last year’s victor Glenferrie Typhoon. Boasting outstanding credentials, punters kept the local star safe in the market before an aggressive Svanosio drive landed the prize. Vincennes was able to spear to the lead from a wide draw and dictated terms while race favourite Red Hot Tooth was left without cover in the early stages. Sydney trotter On Thunder Road worked forward and took up the role on the outside of the leader while Sky Petite and Sparkling Success quickly made their moves. The lead time was covered in 84.2 seconds. With Vincennes leading, Sparkling Success eventually parked outside with 1400m approximately left to run. The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.5 and 30.2 seconds. Entering the back straight, Vincennes led Sparkling Success while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo gained economical trips against the pylons. Red Hot Tooth made a solo three-wide move with Daryl Boko tracking the move, both Speeding Spur and My Tribeca sat well back in the field as the tempo quickened. The third quarter was covered in 28.8 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Sparkling Success raced clear of Vincennes while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo all found room to move and loomed as legitimate threats. But Sparkling Success wouldn’t be denied and held Temporale by 1.2 metres with another 1.7 metres back to Hey Yo in third position. The final quarter was covered in 29.9 seconds. Race favourite Red Hot Tooth wilted to finish at the rear of the field. “This is unbelievable, he won the Maori Mile two starts ago but this race easily tops that, this is the biggest race on the calendar in Australia for trotters.” A jubilant John Meade declared, a dairy farmer from Cudgee in the state’s south-west. Sparkling Success boasts an outstanding record of 15 wins from 30 starts while his earnings now exceed $360,000. The next leg of the APG Trotting Masters takes place at Melton with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix on March 10. Sparkling Success now joins Dominion winner Amaretto Sun as the leg winners of the 2017/18 APG Trotting Masters to date. 6 9:00pm PRYDE'S EASIFEED GREAT SOUTHERN STAR (GROUP 1) 2760M $300,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Sr3 10 John Meade Chris Svanosio   $ 4.10   PRS PRU 3WM 2 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by GREAT SUCCESS USA out of DIAMOND INSITU (CR COMMANDO USA)  Owner(s): J F Meade, M B Meade  Breeder(s): J F Meade, M B Meade 2 TEMPORALE NZ      Sr1 8 Tony Herlihy Tony Herlihy 1.2m $ 5.70   PRS PRU 5 D/F$ 3 HEY YO NZ      Fr5 5 Sonya Smith Greg Sugars 2.9m $ 48.30   PRS 3WE RES 7 SWAB 4 THE BOSS MAN      Fr1 1 Ellen Tormey Ellen Tormey 7.3m $ 47.90   PRS PRU GS 3 5 MY TRIBECA ITA      Sr4 12 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 10.2m $ 35.20   PRS 8 HO HUE 6 VINCENNES      Fr7 7 Anton Golino Jason Lee 15.3m $ 79.30   PRS GS L 1 7 DARYL BOKO FIN      Fr2 2 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 17.6m $ 25.10   PRS W2 3WLT LW 8 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Sr5 13 John Dickie Josh Dickie 24.6m $ 6.30   PRS W3 3WLT LW 9 SKY PETITE      Sr2 9 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 27.8m $ 56.70   PRS 3WM 4 10 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr6 6 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 30.2m $ 11.60   PRS RAS INC W4 3WLT 11 ON THUNDER ROAD NZ      Fr4 4 Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 57.3m $ 17.70   PRS 3WE 6 BUP SD1T 12 RED HOT TOOTH      Fr3 3 Kari Males Zac Phillips 77.2m $ 3.10 fav  PRS GS W1 3WL TIRE QUER VXAR SWAB WI Scratchings   FABRICATION 11 Track Rating: Gross Time: 3:23:6 Mile Rate: 1:58:7 Lead Time: 84.2 First Quarter: 30.5 Second Quarter: 30.2 Third Quarter: 28.8 Fourth Quarter: 29.9 Margins: 1.2m x 1.7m   Chris Barsby

Talk about neighbourly rivalry. The Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, the biggest and richest harness racing event on the Australian trotting calendar, takes places this weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton and it will stir emotions. A Trans-Tasman clash between the best trotters currently available will take place over the staying distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions, it’s the second leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. And both sides of the ditch are well represented. The host nation possess are strong team loaded with great weaponry while the Kiwis are tried and true at the elite level, plus, they have the runs on the board. First staged in 2013, all winners have originated from the Shaky Isles while three of the winners were also prepared there but an Australian trained trotter proved victorious last year. Glenferrie Typhoon, prepared by the husband and wife team of Andy and Kate Gath, defied Auckland based performer Speeding Spur of back to back triumphs when he led throughout in track record time of 1:58.8. Initially modelled on Sweden’s universally revered Elitlopp, the Great Southern Star originally featured two Group 1 heats with a final all run on the same card before being drastically altered last year with the event becoming a straight out contest. Millionaire performer Keystone Del is the other Australian trained winner of the event when prepared by Nicole Molander while Vulcan, Stent and Speeding Spur have all tasted success for New Zealand based trainers. But the locals are ready for a title defence. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 3) will command plenty of respect following her last start romp in the George Gath at Shepparton two weeks ago while My Tribeca (gate 12) and Sparkling Success (gate 10) bounce out of last week’s E B Cochran Cup from Ballarat after their one/two finish. The Boss Man (gate 1), Hey Yo (gate 5), Vincennes (gate 7) and Sky Petite (gate 9) also represent the state of Victoria while quality Sydney trained trotter On Thunder Road (gate 4) will also have plenty of support. Both Daryl Boko (Finland) and Kyvalley Blur (North America) add that cosmopolitan flavour and both have excellent claims. Daryl Boko has drawn gate 2 while Kyvalley Blur has drawn gate 6. New Zealand trained performers are both from the north island with Temporale (gate 8) and Speeding Spur (gate 13) flying the Kiwi flag, both are well known to Australians fans owing to successful previous campaigns. Fabrication (gate 11) is the listed emergency for the event. The opening leg of the APG Trotting Masters was staged back in November during Cup week in Christchurch at Addington with the running of the Gr.1 $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion which was won by outsider Amaretto Sun. Only Daryl Boko and Hey Yo will contest the Great Southern Star after starting in the Dominion. The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time. Chris Barsby

Harness racing explosive pacer Cruz Bromac is nearing a racetrack return. Sidelined since contesting the 2017 Gr.1 $400,000 Victoria Cup (January edition) at Tabcorp Park Melton, the stylish looking Falcon Seelster gelding sparkled in a public trial yesterday (Tuesday). The Dean Braun prepared pacer ventured to Kilmore and easily scored in his 2180m workout defeating reigning Miracle Mile champion Lennytheshark and Stunning Grin. The mile rate was 1:58.5 with the final mile covered in 1:57.7 while covering his final half in 56.6 seconds and 28.2 seconds. Lennytheshark starts in Saturday nights Gr.1 $100,000 Petstock Ballarat Pacing Cup at Bray Raceway. Winning driver Nathan Jack was suitably impressed. “He felt as good as he looked, he absolutely cruised and felt really strong through the line. Happy to stay aboard, he’s got a good campaign coming up.” Jack said. Boasting 12 victories from 22 starts to date, connections have plenty of options over the coming weeks and months, firstly in his home state and then in Sydney. While a nomination was submitted for the Gr.1 $500,000 Hunter Cup on February 3, it appears unlikely that he’ll head that way. “He’s likely to go to Melton next week (Great Southern Star race night) and there’s a nice option for him on that program and then we’ll reassess after that performance before making our next move,” Co-owner Pauline McColgan explained. “Time may have beaten us for the Hunter Cup but in saying that, time has been the best thing for him because he’s really furnished into a lovely horse. He’s a complete horse now, big and strong. “A Sydney campaign that coincides with the Miracle Mile carnival will be considered, they have some great races up there in the coming weeks and he’s been there before and performed at a high level. Nothing confirmed but plenty of options at this point, Dean will map the best fit for him.” A trip to Queensland for the winter carnival later this year for the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 18 is another attractive option. Last season, Cruz Bromac won 6 of his 9 starts while his only unplaced effort came at his most recent start, finishing 8th behind New Zealand wonder horse Lazarus in a time of 1:52.5. Feature race triumphs last term included the Casey Classic plus the Cobram and Hamilton Cups. Cruz Bromac Trial Chris Barsby

Harness racing teenage horseman Lachie Manzelmann is heading interstate. The 18-year-old Queenslander has taken up the opportunity to join the leading Sydney stables of Shane and Lauren Tritton at Menangle. Manzelmann, the son of leading thoroughbred trainer John who is based in central Queensland, has enjoyed stints with leading stables of Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen while more recently working under the eye of Darrel Graham. The talented reinsman will join his new team later this month. “I just thought it was a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and see things from a different perspective, I’m really looking forward to it because I know I will grow in areas as a trainer and a driver.” Manzelmann said. The mini-trotting graduate landed 23 winners last season while he has 16 winners to date for the current term. He returns to race driving tomorrow (Tuesday) after serving a recent four week suspension. Two weeks ago, Manzelmann prepared his maiden metropolitan winner when Sicilian Slumber proved too good for his rivals. Amy Rees took the winning drive. “That was a great feeling but I’m thinking a winner at Menangle will be even better, I’m looking forward to driving on the big track. “Shane and Lauren have a number of quality performers in their care and I’ll be happy with any opportunities that come my way while the driving colony is high quality and there’s a lot to learn. “Queensland will always be home but this opportunity came at the right time, I’m keen to learn as much as possible.” Shane and Lauren Tritton are currently 5th in the New South Wales premiership with 33 winners to date. Chris Barsby

For Kylie Rasmussen, starting the New Year came with a victory. And as a harness racing driver. On Tuesday afternoon, Rasmussen guided the ultra-talented Major Cam to success in the Lunchbox Lodge Spelling Farm Open Pace at Albion Park and easily accounted for Another Broadway and Stormfortheboys in a time of 1:54.2. “It was a very satisfying feeling, nice to back out there and driving a talented type.” Rasmussen said. While the result won’t shock many, the fact that Rasmussen hasn’t driven under race conditions since April fool’s day, 2016 will. On that occasion, Rasmussen came to grief when partnering Ella Michelle in the 4yo QBRED Mares Final at Albion Park which left her with injuries while aggravating older ones. While winners have continued for the stable, the former Albion Park metropolitan premiership winning driver watched from the stands. The eldest of the Rasmussen siblings, Kylie has driven in excess of 530 winners throughout her career including partnering Australia’s greatest pacer Blacks A Fake. Star mare Forever Gold (42 wins - $700k) was another great performer for Rasmussen. Over 300 winners have come from her training establishment. And she’s hoping Major Cam can record another victory this Saturday night when he lines up in the Remembering “Peter Profit” Open Pace over the distance of 1660m. The Art Major gelding has drawn gate six in the eight horse field. “I was really pleased with his effort the other day and he will improve from that run given he had a few weeks between starts, he was strong at the line. “In saying that, the draw looks a little tricky this weekend and in particular over the short trip. Should be a good race.” Major Cam has won 18 of his 19 races at the Breakfast Creek oval. Key rivals include former Queensland Derby winner Catcha Lefty and last week’s open class winner Glenferrie Hood while the brilliant beginner Ideal Scott will prove a real threat. Peter Profit was a Queensland hero during the late 1960’s and 1970’s winning 43 races at Albion Park and was a dual winner of the Albion Park 10,000.  Peter Profit won 45 races when trained by Frank Donohoe whose son Alan Donohoe drove the harness great to a few wins in his early career. Peter Profit, by the great James Scott, retired at the age of 13 with a personal best time of 2:01:5 and prize money worth $61,643 regarded as a true legend of the sport. Fittingly, he is a member of the Queensland Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Chris Barsby

It was great way to register a milestone. Clarendon harness racing trainer Tess Neaves prepared her 50th winner last Saturday night when Call Me Yours ran down The Muse and Weedons Express in the Pryde’s Easifeed Pace at Albion Park. It was the final metropolitan meeting of the 2017 calendar year. Call Me Yours landed a perfect trail behind race favourite The Muse and proved superior in a driving finish, the winning margin was a head. Neaves engaged Steven Doherty for the drive while regular reinsman Gary Whitaker took the drive on stablemate Riverleigh Jeff who finished fourth. “I’ll take it, its great training winners and extra special on a Saturday night. It was great to have the family with me and we all celebrated together which was great.” Neaves said. The mother of two works her team of ten pacers with the assistance of Nikki Chalk while her husband Scott gets involved on the weekends, after completing his work as a barrister. And their children Charlee and Callan cheered louder than anyone else last night. Neaves has grown up surrounded by horses and enjoys working her team which are all pacers and mostly cast-offs from others stables or secured via the claiming races. Her maiden winner came via the claimers when eleven-year-old gelding Prince Benji proved successful at Redcliffe on November 5, 2014. “I really enjoy working the horses from the claimers, they’re older and the bulk of them are really kind natured. They’ve been around the block and understand routines pretty well and they’re adaptable, Prince Benji was a horse I loved so much. “The other reason I enjoy the older types is because my two young kids enjoy getting outside and they like the horses and their company. Plus, having all the noise of quad bikes, games and whatever else they can get their hands onto doesn’t seem to bother the horses. “The young horses are on the way because we have bred a mare and we have a resultant foal so that will be an interesting chapter in my training but something I’m looking forward to.” The best performer for Neaves during her training career to date has been Riverleigh Jeff, a Cammibest gelding who has won 11 races including three at Albion Park. Neaves purchased Riverleigh Jeff as a four start maiden. Chris Barsby

Young harness racing driver Lachie Manzelmann won’t forget 2017. The 18-year-old has flashed his skills in the sulky which has netted him a number of victories but last Saturday night at Albion Park he achieved another milestone. Manzelmann prepared his maiden metropolitan winner when Sicilian Slumber shot the passing lane to snatch victory from Gangster Boy and Croft Bay to win the Hurrikane Kingcole @ Egmont Park Pace. Sicilian Slumber was handled by Amy Rees with Manzelmann currently serving a driving suspension. Only two weeks earlier, Sicilian Slumber provided Manzelmann with his maiden winner as a trainer when successful at the Albion Park midweek meeting. “It’s a great feeling, I had my doubts with him running a strong 2138m but Amy gave him a really good trip and he came through strongly at the finish. I think he actually goes best when the girls drive him and his form backs that up.” Manzelmann said. During the year, Manzelmann switched from the Chantal Turpin/Pete McMullen stable and linked with Darrel Graham while taking on his trainers licence. He claimed Sicilian Slumber at a price of $7000 from a race at Albion Park on November 28; it’s proving to be a wise investment. Manzelmann had prior knowledge of the eight-year-old gelding during his time with the Turpin/McMullen stable and thought he was the right horse to start his training career. “I was able to drive him in track work plus I had a couple of drives behind him on race day, I knew a fair bit about him and thought he was the horse for me. “His best asset is his gate speed and that should be beneficial going forward, I can probably drop him back in grade with a claim again before looking at putting him back in the claiming grade. “He’s definitely paid for himself, he hasn’t missed a cheque since I got him and he has a bit left in him too, I’m hoping he can pick up a few more yet.” Sicilian Slumber is the star of the two horse Manzelmann team with Magnussen currently spelling. Manzelmann landed 23 winners last season while he has 16 winners to date for the current term and he’s keen to expand on that. “I definitely want to keep building on my totals, I was happy with last season but I’m keen to do better this season. “I’m getting good support from owners and trainers and want to keep repaying the faith their showing in me. And more Saturday night winners would be great too.” Manzelmann returns to race driving on Tuesday week (January 9). Chris Barsby

It’s official. The biggest threat to Lazarus, the current champion of Australasian harness racing, lies within his own stable. This will not shock most fans, the depth of the All Stars stable is at an all-time high and the result of the Gr.1 $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park today (Sunday) only solidifies the point. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen provided the top three finishers with boom four-year-old and race favourite Vincent defeating Titan Banner and Heaven Rocks in the 3200m stand-start feature. While Lazarus has dominated most open class features this season including his powerful and relentless thrashings of rivals in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion, his stablemate Vincent is well on the way to being his nemesis. His winning effort in the Auckland Cup, his first foray into the Grand Circuit level of elite pacing, clearly underlines the enormous talent that fits into his hulking frame. It’s a lethal combination. Stepping safely and landing behind Titan Banner soon after the start, Vincent travelled comfortably while outsider Northview Hustler challenged hard for the lead and eventually found it before releasing both Titan Banner and Vincent again. Rasmussen positioned Vincent in the lead role passing the 2100m mark. The lead time was covered in a moderate 2:04.9. With Vincent dictating terms, Heaven Rocks and Tim Williams whistled around the field before parking outside of his stablemate with 1200m remaining. The first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 32.7 and 32.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Vincent was tested by Heaven Rocks who raced keenly albeit pacing like a startled giraffe. Heaven Rocks actually headed Vincent coming off the back straight before pacing very awkwardly, the back straight quarter was covered in 27.4 seconds. But Rasmussen wasn’t perturbed and allowed Vincent to pace comfortably within himself before releasing the shackles in the straight, the margin soon expanded and the highly decorated pacer scored easily by 1.5 lengths from Titan Banner who used inside runs while Heaven Rocks was a further head away in third. The final quarter was covered in 27 seconds. The overall time was 4:04.7 – a winning mile rate of 2:03.0. “That was a professional effort, he stepped away safely and travelled really well and felt terrific in the straight when challenged. He’s a very good horse.” Winning driver Natalie Rasmussen declared. It was Rasmussen’s maiden victory in the North Island feature. The victory of Vincent also provided his champion sire Art Major with his first Auckland Cup winner. The All Stars stable have now won the Auckland Cup on six occasions and have recorded back to back victories following the success of Dream About Me last year. Other winners include Sharp And Telford, Young Rufus, Auckland Reactor and Have Faith In Me. With four legs now complete in the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit, the All Stars stable has won three legs (New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion and Auckland Cup) while Lennytheshark won the opening leg of the 2017/18 series, the Victoria Cup. The next leg of the APG Grand Circuit takes place on January 19 at Gloucester Park with the running of the Gr.1 $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup, an event that will feature Lazarus. Collectively, the combination of Purdon and Rasmussen have either trained or driven in excess of 50 Grand Circuit winners! Auckland Cup By Chris Barsby

Star Queensland pacer Colt Thirty One is on target for a big season. The richly talented harness racing three-year-old made it back to back victories when successful in the $10,540 Pot of Gold Final at Albion Park today (Friday). Fresh from his clinical display last week when resuming the previous week, the Mach Three – Charm Personified colt sat parked in the 1660m event before easily defeating former New Zealand filly Lisa Lincoln and Paternity Suit in a time of 1:54.1. Sectionals were covered in 28.8, 29.9, 27.5 and 28.2 seconds. It was the 9th victory from 13 starts and all victories have come via the Albion Park oval. The proven Gr.1 winner is being readied for a tilt at the $200,000 Victoria Derby series next month and trainer/driver Grant Dixon is content with the progress his top pupil is making. “I was really pleased with the effort today, it was a nice follow-up from his effort the previous week and he felt strong to the line and the sectionals were sharp.” Dixon said. The heats of the Victoria Derby are scheduled for January 20 while the final will take place the following week at TABCORP Park, Melton. Key rivals will include star local and the unbeaten Lumineer while the dominant All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are also likely to be represented among many others. Outstanding Tasmanian youngster Ignatius is likely to skip the Melbourne feature in preference for the New South Wales Derby the following month. But Dixon is confident his colt will be amongst the action. “He proved he was competitive with his efforts during the Breeders Crown back in August and I think he has come back in really good shape, we’re in the mix anyway. “He’s filled out and thickened in the right areas and he’s very relaxed which is great, he’s very tractable and driving very well. “I’m hoping to find another race before heading south and that should have him in great shape for the series.” Colt Thirty One finished third behind King Of Swing and Poster Boy in the Gr.1 $285,000 Australasian Breeders Crown on August 27. The Gr.1 QBRED Triad winner is raced by his breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour. Chris Barsby

Harness racing trainer Mark Purdon knows a thing or two about the Auckland Cup. The champion horseman has trained the winner of the North Island feature five times, including last year’s heroine Dream About Me in race record time. His other past champions include Have Faith In Me, Auckland Reactor, Young Rufus and Sharp And Telford. On Sunday night at Alexandra Park, the All Stars stable will be represented by a trio of charges in the Gr.1 $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup including boom four-year-old Vincent plus Titan Banner and the enigmatic Heaven Rocks. Unbeaten in both starts this term, Vincent is clearly the horse to beat following his record breaking victory in the $50,000 Franklin Cup on December 15 followed by his easy romp in the $50,000 Futurity at Cambridge on Christmas Eve. The hulking Art Major - Kept For Pleasure entire has landed barrier four in the 3200m stand-start feature. With Purdon currently suspended, star reinsperson Natalie Rasmussen will take the drive again, just like she did in the Franklin Cup. But there is something eerily similar between his past winners and his loaded gun this year. Four of his five Auckland Cup winners have all been four-year-olds, just like Vincent. Dream About Me, Have Faith In Me, Auckland Reactor and Sharp And Telford were all baby faced assassins when triumphant in the Auckland Cup. Young Rufus was a five-year-old when triumphant. So, despite his inexperience and Grand Circuit smarts, Purdon will have Vincent primed for his big open class test. Big brother Barry is also very familiar with the Auckland Cup, having prepared the winner 8 times previously. All but Holmes DG were prepared in partnership with his legendary father Roy - starting with Sole Command and followed by Comedy Lad, Luxury Liner (x 2), Christopher Vance and Chokin ( x 2). Driving champions Peter Wolfenden (Sole Command) and Tony Herlihy (all others) took driving honours for the father/son partnership. Barry took the winning drive himself when successful with Holmes DG. This year, Barry will send out talented four-year-old Jacks Legend while entrusting the drive with skillful reinsman Zachary Butcher. Other four-year-old’s competing this year include the Steve Reid prepared Star Galleria and the Greg and Nine Hope trained A G’s White Socks. Both are extremely talented types and should prove dangerous given the right luck. Herlihy will partner Star Galleria while dual Auckland Cup winning reinsman Ricky May takes the lines behind A G’s White Socks. Cup winning trainer Ray Green (2012 - Sir Lincoln) prepares Northview Hustler and will engage dual Cup winning driver David Butcher (Elsu - 2003/04) for the drive. Surprisingly, respected horseman Brent Mangos is chasing his maiden success in the Auckland Cup and will partner his talented runner Maxim. Mangos has won most features at the premier North Island track. Also chasing Cup success for the first time include Jeremy Young (Bryson Ideal), Mike Berger (Max Phactor & Lusty Mac) and Anna Donnelly (Imajollywally). As it stands, the dominant force of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have won two of the three legs this season of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit following the victories of mighty pacer Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion. The opening leg of the 2017/18 series, the Victoria Cup was taken out by hometown hero Lennytheshark in clinical style. The Auckland Cup is the 4th leg of the 8 race series. Start time for the Auckland Cup is 7.35pm local. Chris Barsby

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