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Lennytheshark became a two-time harness racing Allied Express Victoria Cup champion tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton and will now turn his fin toward Perth in a bid to achieve a second Inter Dominion success. The most popular pacer in the southern hemisphere drew a rapturous reception from the big crowd at Tabcorp Park Melton following his domination in the Grand Circuit Classic, and his trainer, David Aiken, sounded a warning to his Inter Dominion rivals. “We’ve got unfinished business there.” “We’re really looking forward to Perth now. He’s my once-in-a-lifetime horse,” Aiken said. “I’m just so proud of him.” Driven by Chris Alford, Lennytheshark (by Four Starzzz Shark out of Albert Albert mare Botswana) led from the pole draw and defeated flying mare Ameretto by 3.6 metres in a slick mile rate of 1:53.2 for the 2240m trip. “He came up to the gate really good and they went full tilt for the first 100m, but once he held the front he always had it under control,” Alford said. The win was Lennytheshark’s 36th from 69 career starts, his stakemoney now at over $2.8 million. Following his gate one draw punters put their faith in Lennytheshark, the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and previous Victoria Cup hero sent out the shortest Victoria Cup favourite in years at $1.20. Allied Express Victoria Cup - Lennytheshark Due to the calendar change for the Victoria Cup that saw the race moved from January to October, owner Kevin Riseley, who also races reigning Vic Cup winner Lazarus, has amazingly now won the race twice in the same calendar year. Earlier on the program super mare Maori Time won the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint for trainer Brent Lilley and driver Gavin Lang in a thrilling finish, with a neck separating the winner from runner-up Sparkling Success and third placegetter Glenferrie Typhoon. OTHER COVERAGE Trots Media Pryde's Easifeed Pony Trots Videos https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481495280611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481210860611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481157135611/ Trots Media Facebook Live Coverage https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481176635611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481250120611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481346935611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481010860611/ Trots Media Photo Gallery of Winners https://www.facebook.com/10150118782730611/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10159481227135611 Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness racing driver Chris Alford’s first Group 1 success came in the sulky behind Golden Reign (pictured) in the 1993 Victoria Derby. That superstar would go on to provide “the Puppet” with Treuer Memorial and Tasmanian Pacing Championship success in 1994 and a South Australian Cup win in 1995. Also in ’95, Golden Reign and Alford would combine for what to this day Alford says is his greatest thrill in the sport – his first Inter Dominion Pacing Championship success in 1995 at Christchurch in New Zealand. Today though, we’re rewinding to Moonee Valley on Saturday the 4th of February in the summer of ’95, when Golden Reign as favourite held out another Grand Circuit superstar in Master Musician to win the Healthy Diet Try It Victoria Cup over 2380m. VIDEO: RE-LIVE GOLDEN REIGN'S VIC CUP GLORY It was a night which opened with Kenkara successful for Don Dove and finished with Damian Wilson combining with trainer Tom Kett to win the last, the Pacers Handicap, at 33-1! Other winners on the night were the talented Lucky Camilla for Grant Campbell and Mick Carroll as a 1/5 shot, Rookies Boy at any old odds in the trot for Graham Lee, Late Bid (another gun) in the Caduceus Club 3YO Cup for Peter Walsh, Dark Paul for Andrew Peace in the Vic Cup Consolation over odds-on pop Liberty Jay Jay, New York Jet for Joe and Peter Cavallaro and the mighty Pride Of Petite for Barry and Mark Purdon in the Trotters Sprint over a mile. But it was the night’s feature show that goes down as one of the great Victoria Cups, Alford, Alexander and Golden Reign delivering a stellar performance to hold off a brave Master Musician, and an even braver Sinbad Bay in third for Stephen Dove – when you consider Sinbad Bay was 11 years old and had the won the Vic Cup in both 1989 and 1999. He had returned from injury and rattled home. From a back-row draw, Golden Reign (10/9 favourite) balanced up midfield in the early stages. Alford commenced his move at about the 1800m, when Golden Reign loomed to the chair outside stablemate Knight Rainbow (John Caldow) before heading him off. Once Golden Reign found the front, Robert Dunn launched aboard Master Musician, and at the bell Dunn and the Musician audaciously tackled for the lead. While it wasn’t there, this last lap wasn’t simply going to be on Golden Reign’s terms, and it was game-on. The two lead combatants staged a battle royal, neither relenting an inch. But there had to be a winner. Golden Reign booted a length clear at the top of the home straight, but like any Musician worth his salt, the Master still had an encore. With Dunn driving hard, Master Musician found another gear and started eating into Golden Reign’s margin once again. At the line, they’d closed the gap to just a neck. Brave, but not brave enough. Alford’s excitement was clear as he crossed the finish post – a Golden moment for connections as their champion Reigned supreme. Twenty-one years later Alford would add a second Victoria Cup to his trophy cabinet thanks to modern-day superstar Lennytheshark. This Saturday night he and Lenny will again team up as a commanding favourite, Alford out to become a three-time Vic Cup winner, which would draw him closer to clubhouse leaders Vin Knight (five-time winner of the great race) and Brian Gath (four Vic Cup triumphs). Book your dining package at this year's Allied Express Victoria Cup Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Driver Chris Alford expects champion pacer Lennytheshark to win Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at Melton. David Aiken’s stable star is first-up since a brave fourth in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park in July. But Alford said he’s primed and the wide barrier draw (gate seven) is no major hurdle. “A lot’s been said about his trial last week when It Is Billy ran past him, but he didn’t have his shades on, it was daytime and I didn’t ask much of him at all. It was a trial, not a race and they still went a 1min53sec mile,” Alford said. “It’ll be a different Lenny this week. Shades on, under lights and he’s back at the races. I think he’ll win.” Alford thinks Lennytheshark will work across from the wide draw at the start and quickly land outside the likely early leader, Yayas Hot Spot. “If we get across quickly enough, I’ll have a look for the lead, but if I’ve got to sit parked then so be it,” he said. The Aussie TAB has opened Lennytheshark a $1.90 favourite, while Yayas Hot Spot has been backed from $14 into $9. Tim Butt’s star My Field Marshal will need luck from a back row draw (gate 10) in the 1720m scamper. In other news, trainer Kevin Pizzuto has opted for a trial rather than a race with Tiger Tara ahead of the Victoria Cup. Tiger Tara will go first-up into the $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup on Saturday week.   Adam Hamilton

For the 13th time in his decorated career harness racing reinsman Chris Alford is the SBG Accountants Victorian Metropolitan Premier Driver. Alford notched 51 metro wins in 2016-17 to finish 18 victories clear of nearest rival Gavin Lang (33 wins) with Greg Sugars finishing third on 31 wins. It is the fifth straight season that Alford, Lang and Sugars have shared podium honours in the metro title, and in fact that trio has also claimed top-three honours for the past five years straight in the Melton Saddlery State Drivers Premiership. Alford also won the Melton Saddlery State Drivers Premiership for the second straight season in 2016-17, giving him a dozen wins in that category throughout his career. Alford’s 51-win metro season was a career-best performance, eclipsing his previous personal best of 48 set in 2015-16. His 320 state winners was his second-biggest haul behind his 2011-12 season, which saw him claim the Vic honours with 327 victories. It is an amazing record for the man they dub ‘Puppet’, who won his first metropolitan drivers’ premiership back in 1993-94. Alford’s glorious season of achievements in the past 12 months also saw him pilot Lennytheshark to a memorable Miracle Mile win at Menangle in February, and steer his 6000th win in the sulky during May. Other highlight wins for Alford in season 2016-17 included… Group 1 VHRSC Victoria Derby aboard Our Little General in February Group 1 Canadian Club Sprint aboard Lennytheshark in February Group 1 Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks aboard Miss Graceland in April Group 1 Queen of the Pacific aboard The Orange Agent in May Group 1 Sportswriter Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies Final aboard Molly Kelly in June Group 1 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotting C&G Final aboard Wobelee in July Group 1 Pet Rock Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Pacing C&G Final aboard Poster Boy in July Group 1 Western Terror Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 2YO Fillies Final aboard Nostra Villa in July Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic aboard Wobelee in August Group 1 Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting C&G Final aboard Wobelee in August Group 1 Always B Miki Breeders Crown 2YO Pacing Fillies Final aboard Nostra Villa in August Group 1 IRT Breeders Crown 3YO C&G Pacing Final aboard Our Little General in August Meanwhile, Emma Stewart completed a clean sweep in the Renown Silverware State Trainers Premiership and the Taylors Metropolitan Trainers Premiership, winning both categories. It is the third straight double-premiership win for Stewart, whose horses earned over $3million in stakemoney in 16-17, a stable record, eclipsing its previous best set in 15-16 of $2.95m. Stewart trained 54 Victorian metropolitan winners in 16-17 from 269 runners and a career-best 206 Vic state winners from 572 starters. Amazingly young gun Jason Lee won his fourth consecutive Alabar Concession Drivers Premiership, notching 110 Victorian winners in season 16-17 from 534 races, edging out runner-up Zac Phillips on 108 wins. Art Major won the Victorian Sires Premiership with 235 wins from his progeny. The super stallion also claimed the 2YO Sires Premiership with 37 wins. The 3YO Sires Premiership went to Somebeachsomewhere with 70 wins, while Safely Kept claimed honours in the Broodmare Sires Premiership category. Sundon took top honours in the Trotting Sires Premiership with 105 wins, while Angus Hall took out the Juvenile Trotting Sires Premiership with 20 wins. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Star Kiwi pacer My Field Marshal lost no fans in defeat when he resumed from a freshen-up at Menangle last Saturday night. Tim Butt’s stable star came from the extreme outside draw, punched the breeze from the middle half and went down fighting in slick time by a half-head to another former Kiwi, Little Rascal, who had a cosy trip. Just when it seemed My Field Marshal was sent for victory, driver Luke McCarthy extricated Little Rascal from a peg run to the running line, the three-wide to launch a late challenge and snatch the win. My Field Marshal couldn’t much more considering the closing splits of 54.7 and 27.3sec at the end of a 1min51.8sec mile. Butt’s plan is to give the classy pacer at least two more Menangle runs before heading south to chase the $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 14. The win was Little Rascal’s biggest since making NSW home. He managed just three wins from 22 starts last term. ___________________________________________________________________________________ THE new season started just as the old one did for Chris Alford. Alford, who topped 6000 career wins and snatched a string of major races last season, bagged four wins at Melton last Saturday night. It took him a few races to hit top gear, but Alford won the last four races on the card, starting with the charming story of Emma Stewart’s comeback 11-year-old stayer Mister Onetwo. Alford’s other wins came aboard Maree Caldow’s trotting mare Miss Noelle, Dean Braun’s claimer Beach Boy Adios and Emma Stewart’s four-year-old mara A Victor. The other star of the opening Melton meeting of the season was Greg Sugars with three wins. He partnered claimers Washmepockets and Saint Flash to win heats of the Battle of the Claimers as well as veteran free-for-aller Flaming Flutter. Flaming Flutter showed a hint of his vintage best when he sustained a strong three-wide run to win in a slick 1min53sec mile rate in the My Lightning Blue free-for-all (1720m). ___________________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN Queenslander Avonnova continues to amaze. Trainer Ian Gurney retired him after a feature win at Albion Park late last year, but opted to bring him back because he “simply too unhappy in hid paddock.” Avonnova won two of five comeback runs between April and July, then had a let-up. The 11-year-old opened this season with a scorching Albion Park win last Saturday night, beating the classy Ultimate Art in a 1min51.5sec mile rate for 1660m. It was his 52nd win with another 49 placings from 160 starts and took his earnings to a thumping $913,769. ___________________________________________________________________________________ CLASSY former Kiwi pacer Shandale continues to make his mark in Western Australia. Now with the Mike Reed stable, Shandale won impressively when second-up from a spell in a 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The five-year-old son of Art Major has raced six times for Reed for four wins, a second a seventh. The test will come over the next few weeks when he steps into open grade against the likes of Chicago Bull, Ohoka Punter, Beaudiene Boaz, Run Oneover  and others. Adam Hamilton

Top harness racing driver Chris Alford has won the Warragul Driver of the Year award for the fourteenth time, after the final meeting of the 2016/17 racing season was held recently. Alford drove 17 winners for the season at Warragul, seven more than runner-up Greg Sugars. He only missed a place 10 times from 41 drives on the track across Warragul's nine meetings. He first won the award in 1992/93, but still has a way to go to pass the most successful reinsman to compete at Warragul, Ted Demmler, who won the premiership 20 times. Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan was leading trainer across the season at Warragul, the first time his stable has won the award since 2005. Gary's stable has now collected the award six times. He prepared 13 winners and 11 placegetters for the season, from 38 starters. Runner-up was Jayne Davies, who had won the award 11 times in the past 12 seasons. Consistent young reinsman Darby McGuigan won the Concession Driver of the Year award, landing five winners and seven minor placings from 33 starts at Warragul during the season. Most consistent horse of the year at Warragul was Hurricane Stride, from the Jayne Davies stable at Clyde. Three wins and one second from five starts at Warragul earned Hurricane Stride the award narrowly from stablemate Ravello Rock, and trotter Omy Son, which both tied for second on 12 points. Hurricane Stride won the Traralgon Pacing Cup at the Warragul club's July race meeting. The Victorian harness racing season is conducted from September 1 to August 31 each year, and the Warragul award winners will be honoured at the club's first meeting of the 2017/18 racing season on Monday, October 16. Kyle Galley    

Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety didn’t have to wait long for his Victorian fortunes to change in an Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night. The Dalgety-trained second favourite Our Bettor Joy charged home along the sprint lane for driver Anthony Butt to defeat front-running favourite Molly Kelly (Chris Alford) in the $A10,000 heat. The two favourites had the most speed early, crossing to lead and trail, with the pace buttoning off in the middle stages. Our Bettor Joy, a daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight and Joyfulbelle, won going away at the line by 2.5 metres. The NZ Delightful Lady Classic winner rated a comfortable 2:02.3 for the full 2190m in her Australian debut, the lead time for the last 800m being cut out in 58.3s, with the final 400m off the front in a swift 27.5s. Dalgety’s three-year-old trotting filly Chevron Express flopped in the Victoria Trotting Derby on Sunday, but the Breeders Crown 3YO Final on August 26 remains her main target. NZ Harness News    

If there was one box left to tick to reaffirm Wobelee’s status as the finest two-year-old trotter of the season consider it ticked, marked and crossed. The Alison Alford trained, Chris Alford driven and Colin Murphy owned Down Under Muscles two-year-old was in a class of his own in winning the $50,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Redwood Classic, a third Group 1 victory of the harness racing season. Since running second to One Muscle Hill in his first start, coincidentally named the 157 Days To Seelite Redwood handicap, and then third in his second start, Wobelee has reeled off eight consecutive victories including Vicbred and now Redwood acclaim. It’s been enough to surprise even the most seasoned of drivers. “After his first trials we thought at least he’s going to make it to the races and he’s just improved and improved and improved the further the year has gone along,” Chris Alford said. “It’s pretty amazing really." Many considered the Classic – having blemished many a two-year-olds spectacular debut season – a key test of Wobelee’s standing, but the inside back row draw was no barrier. Wobelee burst from the standing start to lead in a matter of meters, capitalising on the polemarker (Whizzbang Dan) leaving a door open. “Pretty lucky really at the start,” Alford said. “In the warm-up Christopher Shinn’s horse, he gave it a practice and as it jumped it did a right-hand turn and went out about three carts and I thought, this couldn’t be true. If this happens and we are moving forward we will just go straight through. “Thankfully it happened and the professional little thing that he is he just trotted away.” And from there it was all she wrote. A 48.2 lead time set an honest pace and no challenger could threaten as Wobelee, as is his custom, used his high cruising speed to churn out 29.9 and 30.9 first and second quarters. “He was just rolling along, when I saw 29.9 I thought I might be going a bit quick here, but he just likes to run.” With 29.6 and 30.5 quarters he closed out a 2:04.4 mile rate, matching Illawong Byron’s race/age/sex record set in last year’s Classic and clearing out by a colossal 32.6m. It was a heck of a statement and connections, in particular owner Colin Murphy, will be hoping the Down Under Muslces gelding can extend his winning ways to Breeders Crown’s super Sunday. “He’s had a long year,” Alford said. “He’s starting to tire a little bit, we will just try and keep him ticking over. “The good thing is he doesn’t do a lot at home, so he’s got two more runs and then he can have a rest, so hopefully he can keep it up.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Team Tritton is hoping to put the disappointment of last year’s Breeders Crown behind them with their latest boom juvenile. Exciting lass My Sweetchilliphilly was a flawless Crown heat winner at Menangle today, enhancing her career ledger to 5/5 with a 1:57.4 win from the front. Reinsman Chris Geary only had to give the daughter of Betterthancheddar the tiniest of urging up the Menangle stretch as the filly notched 28 and 27.2 late splits for an 8.8-metre win over runner-up Love My Sister. “The best way to describe her would be to say she’s the classiest two-year-old I’ve ever had,” co-trainer Shane Tritton said. And while confidence is clearly high in the camp given the filly’s burgeoning superiority against her Sydney rivals, Tritton is loathed to declare her – or anything in fact – a certainty on Crown Super Sunday after the racing gods refused to shine on the pink power at Tabcorp Park Melton last August. Team Tritton, consisting of Shane and his wife Lauren, produced Tingira Beach in the colts and geldings’ final as a $1.6 favourite. But to say nothing went right for the budding star would be somewhat of an understatement. After being squeezed underneath the pegs early, Tingira Beach jumped off stride before being buried away on the markers where he found more trouble half a mile later and all hope was gone. “We got knocked over … so you can never be too confident going into the big Group 1s, but she (My Sweetchilliphilly) is going to take some serious beating,” Tritton said. “I’d say it’s hers to lose at this stage. All the signs are there that she’s going to be something special.” My Sweetchilliphilly is already a Group 1 winner, having taken the Bathurst Gold Tiara ($104,000) in March in extraordinary fashion. The firebrand filly breezed throughout and from the 500m scorched her main rival, Lady Chatto, which was unbeaten to that point. Philly won by over 20m in 1:54.7. “She’s as tough as she is fast,” Tritton said. The plan between now and Race to Royalty grand final day is simple enough in theory, but of course Breeders Crown trophies aren’t won on theories. “We’ll go straight to the Semis then the final,” Tritton said. “We considered the Tatlow Stakes (at Melton) and taking her to New Zealand. And if she wasn’t as good as she is then we probably would have seriously looked at the Tatlow, but we’re taking it slowly with her. She’s never let us down. “She went 53 in a trial a few weeks ago and I’ve barely done anything with her since.” And so this year’s Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ section is shaping as an absolute classic – cliché to say, I know. But this is fair dinkum because Nostra Villa and My Sweetchilliphilly are both unbeaten to this point. Villa won last weekend’s Racing Hill Tatlow Stakes Final at Tabcorp Park Melton in 1:58.7 from the breeze, edging Amelias Courage, which sprint-laned, and stablemate Molly Kelly, which led and had the services of champion reinsman Chris Alford. The win made it six-out-of-six for Nostra Villa, a daughter of Art Major, who swept the recent Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series and also captured the Youthful Stakes in June. Let’s hope both remain sound and well and we witness an absolute classic Semi-Final/Grand Final stoush next month. And, an important footnote: Congratulations to Shane and Lauren Tritton for another reason, welcoming their first child, Levi Shane, into the world overnight. Cody Winnell

Champion horseman Chris Alford won his fifth Traralgon Pacing Cup on Sunday. In front of a good crowd despite windy and wet conditions Alford partnered Hurricane Stride to a strong victory in the $7000 race. While Alford is used to victory in the feature event Clyde trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander had never won the race before Sunday, despite having won many races in the district over more than three decades. The Traralgon Pacing Cup remembers trotting held in the Latrobe Valley from 1975 to 1995. Alford won the last race on the Traralgon track in 1995. Gippsland horses collected plenty of success at the Sunday meeting. Trafalgar pacer Choosa Cruiser landed win one at start four in the three-year-old event, surprising many punters. Choosa Cruiser held the lead from barrier one on the wet track and scored at odds of $41. Glenn Hunter drove Choosa Cruiser for his father Chris, who trains the filly for Thorpdale owner/breeders Pete Ransom and Rowan Blackshaw. Most Happy Cullen scored an impressive 13-metre victory for trainer Gary Quinlan and a big syndicate of local owners in the third race. The four-year-old stallion's victory was the second winning drive of Chris Alford's treble for the day. Alford also teamed up with trainer Ray Mathews to win the second race with Jackmichaels. Mathews has been patient with the five-year-old gelding, who scored his first race win on Sunday at start 38. Ten-year-old gelding Outpunch Enchanter won the Trotters Handicap, his eighth victory from an incredible 222 race starts. The trotter has also finished in the minor placings on 47 occasions. She Can Rock led throughout to win the first race, while Irish Player won his second race for the year at Warragul in the final event of the day, gaining the major prize in an exciting three-way finish. Warragul trots return on Monday, August 28. Kyle Galley

Having conquered Queensland, the All Stars’ juggernaut moves to Menangle this week.  Luke McCarthy is down to drive Mark Purdon’s three Breeders Crown heat runners on Tuesday. All will be commanding favourites.  First out is talented two-year-old gelding Sicario, who should make it five wins from eight starts, now he’s drawn gate two in race three.  NSW Oaks winner Partyon has the right draw (gate four), but faces the biggest challenge against Queensland Derby placegetter My Casino Belle (gate seven) and Shezallapples (five).  Brad Hewitt’s My Casino Belle ran third to Partyon in Queensland’s Provincial Oaks, then turned the tables when second to Shartin in the actual Queensland Oaks. Partyon ran third.  But, My Casino Belle, lifted to another level to sit parked and run a monstrous third to The More The Better and Shartin in the Queensland Derby last Saturday week.  The More The Better, who smashed the clock winning the Queensland Derby, looks a league above his rivals in his Crown heat (race five) at Menangle.    Still on the Crown heats at Menangle, and another highlight will be the return of unbeaten juvenile filly My Sweetchilliphilly.  It’s a while since we’ve seen the daughter of Betterthancheddar with trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton, sending her for a spell after a sparkling Pink Bonnet win at Menangle on April 8.  But it was her previous win, when My Sweetchilliphilly sat parked in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1730m to win the Group One Bathurst Gold Tiara final, which showed her potential greatness.  She wasn’t eligible for the NSW Breeders Challenge, so the Trittons gave her a break with a view to a late season surge towards the Breeders Crown.  My Sweetchilliphilly has sharpened-up for her return to Menangle trial wins on June 20 and July 4.  She looked simply stunning on July 4, when she toyed with older rivals to win by 6.4m in a 1.53.6 mile and closed in a 27.7 split.  My Sweetchilliphilly has gate five in the first Menangle Crown heat and should be untroubled to stretch her unbeaten record to five wins.    Champion driver Chris Alford must have known he was in trouble, on the home bend with buzz juvenile filly Molly Kelly in the Tatlow Stakes at Melton last Saturday night.  Alford surprised many when he opted to drive Molly Kelly instead of the unbeaten stablemate Nostra Villa. He was the regular driver on both.  Molly Kelly led and had a cosy trip, but when Alford tried to pinch a break on Nostra Villa turning for home, he couldn’t shake her off. And then came Peter Manning’s filly, Amelias Courage, along the sprint lane.  In an absolute slugfest to the wire, Nostra Villa found a way to win again, making six wins from as many starts for Emma Stewart.  She beat Amelias Courage by a nose with Molly Kelly another half-head away in third spot. The mile rate was a steady 1.58.7 for 2240m, but they zipped home in 56.2 and 27.4.  Stewart’s dominance in Victoria’s juvenile races continued later in the night when nominal Breeders Crown favourite Poster Boy snared the Tatlow Stakes for colts and geldings with Alford aboard.  The race provided a trifecta for Stewart with Poster Boy working to the front earlier, and easily beating Tam Major and Big Bad Bruce with a 26.5 last quarter.  Poster Boy ran sixth on debut at Menangle in February, but was spelled straight after and has returned with six impressive wins from as many starts.    Chicago Bull is out having a rest, but trainer Gary Hall Sr still found a way to win the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Classy mare Ideal Alice made the most of gate one to lead throughout in a 1.57 mile rate for the 2536m.  It was only her second run back from a spell, following a successful summer campaign where even beat star Kiwi mare, Piccadilly Princess in the Parliamentarians Cup at Gloucester Park.  The other highlight of the night was popular trainer Gary Elson’s double with his classy four-year-olds Ideal Tyson and Sprinter.  Ideal Tyson, with Aiden De Campo aboard, toyed with his rivals in the opening race by 7.7m in a 1.57.5 mile rate for 2536m.  Sprinter took on a stronger field and won even more impressively for driver Gary Hall Jr by 9.3m in a 1.55.6 mile rate for 2130m.    Classy mare Bettorthanspecial snared the last feature of the hugely successful Queensland Winter Carnival.  The Shannon Price-trained five-year-old caused a minor upset, beating hot favourite Major Cam by a half-head in the Patrons Purse (2280m) at Redcliffe last Friday night.  It took her record to an impressive 51 starts for 25 wins, 18 placings and almost $330,000 in stakemoney.    With some of the big guns away, classy NZ-bred free-for-aller Allblack Stride returned to winning form at Menangle last Saturday night.  But it wasn’t easy going for the Craig Cross six-year-old, who led staved-off a rejuvenated Major Star, to win by a whisker in a 1.52.4 mile.    When Andy Gath took Burnaholeinmypocket home from the 2015 Harness Jewels he thought he had his next stable star.  And anyone who saw the son of Bettor's Delight charged home late for fourth to subsequent Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me, in his Jewels final would have said the same thing.  Instead, Gath’s had a largely frustrating two years.  But, Burnaholeinmypocket is now starting to at least show glimpses of that potential from 2015.  The five-year-old has now won four of his past six starts, including his first in genuine open-class in the Our Maestro free-for-all (2240m) at Melton last Friday night.  “It was the first time he’d drawn the front row in eight starts, and we thought he was a great chance of leading, which he did. It was great to get a draw to use his gate speed again,” Gath said.  It was his 17th win from just 42 starts and took him past $200,000 in earnings.    Fresh from his triumphant Group One Blacks A Fake win on Hectorjayjay a week earlier, young gun driver Josh Aiken snared another feature at Melton last Saturday night.  Aiken teamed with top trotting trainer Anton Golino and the huge Yabby Dams operation to win the Group Three Sumthingaboutmaori free-for-all (2240m) aboard Glenferrie Burn.   Adam Hamilton

Champion harness racing driver Chris Alford won his fifth Traralgon Pacing Cup on Sunday afternoon. In front of a good crowd despite windy and wet conditions, Alford partnered Hurricane Stride to a strong victory in the $7000 race. While Alford is used to victory in the feature event, Clyde trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander had never won the race before Sunday, despite having won many races in the district over more than three decades. The Traralgon Pacing Cup remembers trotting held in the Latrobe Valley from 1975 to 1995. Alford won the last race on the Traralgon track in 1995. Gippsland horses collected plenty of success at the Sunday meeting. Trafalgar pacer Choosa Cruiser landed win one at start four in the three-year-old event, surprising many punters. Left alone by many punters, Choosa Cruiser held the lead from barrier one on the wet track, and scored at odds of 40/1. Glenn Hunter drove Choosa Cruiser for his father Chris, who trains the filly for Thorpdale owner/breeders Pete Ransom and Rowan Blackshaw. Most Happy Cullen scored an impressive 13 metre victory for trainer Gary Quinlan and a big syndicate of local owners in the third race. The four-year-old stallion's victory was the second winning drive of Chris Alford's treble for the day. Alford also teamed up with trainer Ray Mathews to win the second race with Jackmichaels. Mathews has been patient with the five-year-old gelding, who scored his first race win on Sunday at start 38. Ten-year-old gelding Outpunch Enchanter won the Trotters Handicap, his eighth victory from an incredible 222 race starts. The trotter has also finished in the minor placings on 47 occasions. She Can Rock led throughout to win the first race, while Irish Player won his second race for the year at Warragul in the final event of the day, gaining the major prize in an exciting three-way finish. Warragul trots return on Monday, August 28. Kyle Galley

THE comparisons between Chicago Bull and his former champion stablemate Im Themightyquinn are inevitable. Yes, they probably are premature in many ways, but it wasn’t until his five-year-old season and beyond when Im Themightyquinn’s greatness became evident. Chicago Bull, despite being smaller in stature, has achieved a lot more at the same stage of their careers courtesy of his big Fremantle/WA Cup double in January. And now he’s looming as one of the absolute key players in the Perth Inter Dominion. Chicago Bull has brilliantly won both starts this campaign to take his record in Aussie since joining Gary Hall Sr’s stable to 24 starts for 17 wins and seven placings with almost $870,000 in earnings. At Gloucester Park last Friday, Gary Hall Jr drifted back to near last from a wide draw, came with a three-wide run from the bell and roared past the leader before the home bend to win without being extended by 7.5m in a 1min55sec mile rate for 2130m. The most obvious similarity between Im Themightyquinn and Chicago Bull is there amazing ability to make ground, at top speed around the right bends at Gloucester Park. The free-for-all on the same night, the Winter Cup, went to classy mare Tricky Styx, who found the front and just held-off sit-sprinter The Bucket List in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for the long 2536m. MERV Butterworth’s patience is being rewarded with former star Kiwi filly Supersonic Miss. The now five-year-old mare spent more than a year off the track with injury, but Butterworth and trainer Kerryn Manning never lost faith. After a fantastic comeback run when second to last season’s Breeders Crown champ Rocknroll Magic, Supersonic Miss has since won both starts in fantastic style. The latest came in the Group 3 Richmond Lass (1720m) in a slick 1min53.6sec mile rate at Melton last Saturday night. “It’s such a thrill to see her back and going so well,” Butterworth said. “She’s had these three runs close together and shown us she’s comeback where she left off, so we will freshen for a few weeks now and map out a plan around some bigger races.” IT’S Vicbred time and that usually spells Emma Stewart dominance time. This is year no different judging by the qualifying heats run so far. Stewart qualified a staggering 10 runners for semi-finals out of just eight qualifying heats for two year-olds – colts/geldings and fillies – at Bendigo last Tuesday night. It was easy to pick out the star performer with Poster Boy making in three wins from as many starts this campaign in the most dominant fashion in his heat. Chris Alford had the luxury of driving Poster Boy from off the speed in the one-one trail and he blasted past leader and stablemate Major Times on the home bend to win without being extended by 6.2m in a 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2150m. Major Times held on well for second. Concealment led throughout to win his heat for Stewart in a 1min56.7sec mile rate, while Big Bad Bruce (second) and Liftntorque (third) also qualified with their placings behind $66.60 upset winner Regal Cheval. Stewart also qualified Tam Major and Tapthekeg are through to the semis after landing the quinella in their heat. Stewart also won two of the four heats for two-year-old fillies with feature winners Nostra Beach and Nosta Villa, while Pistol Abbey made it through with a fighting second to Nicole Molander’s classy filly Passions Delight. Passions Delight was one of the stars of the night, sitting parked in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 2150m and zooming away to win by 6.5m. Stewart then snared a double on Vicbred 3YO heats night at Kilmore last Thursday with Victoria Oaks winner Miss Graceland and Rocknroll Icon. Miss Graceland is headed towards another stoush with arch-rival Petacular, who impressively won her heat on the night. There was some added Kiwi interest through Art Major colt Stars Align, who made it two from two for new trainer Dean Braun when he won his Vicbred heat by 12.5m in slick time. Stars Align, part-owned by the Kennards, Creightons and Riseleys, looks a huge winning chance for the final in a Vicbred division lacking a standout performer. X X X THE Vicbred action continued with all the four-year-old qualifying heats at Ballarat last Friday night where the headline act was Western Australian raider Soho Tribeca. The former Victorian was placed behind young superstar Chicago Bull in the Fremantle and WA Cup earlier this year and headed to Ballarat after an eye-catching first-up placing at Gloucester Park. Soho Tribeca showed he will be the horse to beat in the Vicbred final with a powerhouse all-the-way heat win in the equal quickest time of the night, a 1min56.6sec mile rate for 2200m. He 55.8 and 27.4sec to win by 10m. His main threat will be lightly-raced and untapped local General Dodge, who made it seven wins from just eight starts when he led throughout in the same 1min56.6sec mile rate and won by 10m. General Dodge, a son of Courage Under Fire, thrashed highly-rated Kiwi raider Moonrock, who had to be content with second for trainer Michael House and driver Anthony Butt. NSW raider Charlaval returned to his best form to toy with his rivals in his heat in a 1min58sec mile rate, while the other heat went to outsider Warfare. In the 4YO Mares’ heats, the biggest shock came when nominal final favourite and reigning Breeders Crown champ Rocknroll Magic was outstayed after leading in her heat by the emerging Bou Chard. Rocknroll Magic cruised through a 62sec middle half then Bou Chard attacked through a 27.3sec third quarter and was too strong in a slugging 29.4sec last 400m. The other mares’ heats went to the classy one-time Harness Jewels hopeful Rockstar Angel and Emma Stewart’s talented mare Whirily School. FORMER globetrotting Inter Dominion winner Mr Feelgood snared one of his biggest siring wins when Feelin Dusty landed the $40,000 Dan Patch 2YO final (2090m) at Hobart last Friday night. The colt led and had a good stoush with co-favourite Izaha before pulling clear for driver Ricky Duggan to score by 10.5m. It was a big night for trainer Paul Hill who puts the polish on Feelin Dusty and Ideal Bliss, a daughter of American Ideal, who won the Evicus final for 2YO fillies. THE big Queensland Winter Carnival starts next weekend and, as usual, power couple Grant and Trista Dixon will be key players. One of their headline acts is star mare Joys A Babe who used the pole to lead, take a trail on main danger Kept Under Wraps, and sprint lane to win the feature Wondais Mate free-for-all (1660m) in a slick 1min53.1sec mile rate at Albion Park last Saturday night. The other class factor to win on the night was exciting four-year-old Mattgregor, who found the front and scored easily in the final race. Mattgregor ran a massive second to Field Marshall in the 4&5YO Championship at Melton three starts back, then a fighting third in the Group 3 Mount Eden at Menangle. TRAINER Anton Golino and the powerhouse Yabby Dams team keep clocking up the winners. Golino snared a double with promising trotters Cyclone Jeter and Pizza Queen at Melton last Saturday night. Gavin Lang drove both and had armchair drives to win in quick time. Adam Hamilton

Trafalgar harness racing trainer Chris Hunter said he was relatively confident going into today's Yarra Valley trots meeting that his mare, Feel The Rhythm, could win if she put her best hoof forward. She did that, with Chris Alford aboard from the pole, the Elsu-Rhythmaka mare scoring her first ever win at start number 46, leading all the way over 2150m in a mile rate of 2:00.2. Hunter joined Trots Media's Cody Winnell to chat about the jubilation of Feel The Rhythm's maiden win. For the trivia buffs, it was the first time Alford has ever driven a free-legged pacer to victory. Hunter said he took the hobbles off Feel The Rhythm in her races recently and it hade a huge difference. He's always worked the mare free-legged and clearly she is enjoying the freedom. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

David Aiken has a few words of warning for anyone doubting Lennytheshark ahead of next Sunday’s Group 1 Len Smith Mile. “He’ll be right. This is what he’s been set for. You’ll see the best of Lenny this week,” he said. Doubters emerged when the champ led, dictated and was easily rundown by Tiger Tara and Mach Doro in the Golden Mile at Menangle last Saturday week. “It turned out he needed the run a bit more than we thought and, in retrospect, Chris (Alford, driver) probably should’ve got going on him a bit earlier and made them chase him more than they had to,” Aiken said. “As much you’d love to win them all, you can’t. The Len Smith is what we’ve set him for.” To have Lennytheshark absolutely primed, Aiken will trial him at Menangle on Tuesday. “It won’t be a hard trial, but just gives me the chance to give him the hitout he needs to be spot on,” he said. “As he’s shown us so many times before, he thrives on racing and a trial this week will be close to another race.” Aiken again finds himself torn heading into the Len Smith with star stablemates Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay to clash again. Hectorjayjay scored his biggest win so far whennhe stormed home to upset Lennytheshark in last year’s Len Smith Mile, but Lennytheshark gained revenge when he beat a hot field, including Hector, in the Miracle Mile earlier this year. Aiken is a great position, but was quick to say it’s not just a matter of which of his stable stars wins this week. “I’ve got huge respect for Tiger Tara. He’s right in this race the way he’s going,” he said. Tiger Tara came from off the pace to beat Lennytheshark in the Golden Mile, then backed-up last Saturday night with a very gallant second to Hectorjayjay in the 2300m free-for-all at Menangle. Hectorjayjay settled in front of Tiger Tara after the start and driver Josh Aiken made an early move around the field to take the lead, while Tiger Tara moved last in the middle stages to sit parked. Hectorjayjay zipped home in 54.4 and 26.7sec to hold-off Tiger Tara and win by 2.4m in a 1min54.4sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip. “Hector pulled-up like he needed the run after his first-up win at Melton which is why we backed him at Menangle. I’m glad we did, it should’ve topped him off nicely,” he said. Adam Hamilton

Who will start favourite in the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle on June 25?  Most thought it would be reigning Miracle Mile champ Lennytheshark, but that changed after David Aiken’s megastar was rundown after having a relatively soft trip in the lead in last night’s Group 3 Golden Mile at Menangle.  It looked easy going for those who took the skinny $1.20 when Lennytheshark worked across to take the lead from the speedy Mach Doro in a cosy 27.5sec first split then cruised through a 30.2sec second split.  Without anyone applying pressure, driver Chris Alford was still able to go through a comfy 28.1sec third split and most expected he would zip away at the top of the home straight.  Instead, Lenny started to wobble when Alford asked him to “ping” and challengers appeared from all angles.    First it was Mach Doro, who came off his back and then came Tiger Tara with a withering sprint down the outside.  In a huge shock, both zipped past Lennytheshark and just when it seemed Mach Doro would win, Tiger Tara put in a dive to snatch victory by a whisker.  They ran the mile in 1min52.6sec which, for comparison, was the same time they ran when Ignatius ran down Sicario in a semi-final of the 2YO NSW Breeders Challenge.   If Lenny has been vulnerable in the past it has been to those with superior zip … remember his stablemate Hectorjayjay outsprinting him in last year’s Len Smith Mile?  Many felt Alford drove Lennytheshark too conservatively in the Golden Mile. By nursing him and turning it into a sprint home, it left him vulnerable to those with superior high speed.    Lennytheshark is fast, but more in a sustained, high-rolling sort of way than a “click your fingers” acceleration.  When they met in the Buli Cup a few weeks back, Tiger Tara tried to go toe-to-toe with Lennytheshark and found it impossible, but this time stalking him and dive-bombing late proved more successful.  Still, Tiger Tara deserves enormous credit considering he came from midfield with a three-wide run and was privately clocked to run his last half in 53.9sec.  The other eye-catching run came from rejuvenated Kiwi pacer My Field Marshall, who was buried three pegs from the pole and had little clear racing room late when a close fourth, just 3.3m from Tiger Tara.    While all that unfolded at Menangle, Lennytheshark’s stablemate and defending Len Smith champ Hectorjayjay was sitting in his stall back in Victoria after a sparkling first-up Melton win 24 hours earlier.  Hectorjayjay humbled a much easier field than the Golden Mile line-up when he used his renowned early brilliance to zip to the front from gate six and run home in 55.0 and 26.7sec at the end of a 1min53.2sec mile rate for 1720m.  Barrier draws are crucial in all races, but they become absolutely fascinating for Hectorjayjay in this Len Smith Mile.    As much as his gate speed is a lethal weapon, it is his ability to come from off the speed in electrifying closing splits which might be even more important on June 25. He was blasted out from a wide draw in the Miracle Mile and simply couldn’t keep going so it’s likely connections will opt to snag him and drive with a sit if he draws wide again in the Len Smith.  However the draw unfolds, it’s a real treat in the middle of winter to have some of the best horses in this part of the world locking horns.  Right now my money would be on Hectorjayjay Adam Hamilton

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