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The IRT $174,000 Breeders Crown final for three year old colts and geldings looked a two horse war on paper. In one corner was Menin Gate for Australia who has been in devastating form all season. In the other corner was Follow The Stars for New Zealand who had being going great all season as well but couldn't get the better of his arch foe when they have met. Mark Purdon worked Follow The Stars around the field early from barrier four before finding the lead after 600 metres. He was quickly joined in front by Menin Gate and Chris Alford who went to the front without any of the expected battle. My Kiwi Mate who was over racing badly back in the field worked to the chair with just over a lap to go and from there the speed was true. These three pulled clear at the 400 metres mark and turning for home a winner was hard to pick. My Kiwi Mate looked to have headed Menin Gate but like the true champion he is, he lifted and surged clear. Follow The Stars seemed to be full of running turning in but once in the passing lane he took an age to wind up. By the time he did Menin Gate had flown for a well- deserved victory. Follow The Stars was slightly disappointing in second while My Kiwi Mate was huge in running third. Menin Gate paced the 2240 metres in 2:40.6, a mile rate of 1:55.4 with closing sectionals of 55.9 and 27.3 It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's 13th win from just 19 starts and took his stake earnings to $501,335 Chris Alford was fulsome in his praise of Menin Gate post- race. "We did plenty of work early but then so did Mark Purdon on Follow The Stars so I thought he would let me go when I went for the front." "Once in front he was really strong in the run and I was confident he would be hard to beat off the back. "My Kiwi Mate may have levelled with us as we straightened. But once I asked him he responded like the champion he is." "He is just a brute of a horse and I honestly think he will be better after a good break," Chris said. Harnesslink Media

Conon Bridge defeated Cyclone Chief by a metre to claim Group 1 glory in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Trotters Final at Melton’s Super Sunday program. The Paul Nairn-trained son of Raffaello Ambrosio/Diedre’s Girl survived a protest from the second horse, with the winner veering inwards in the home straight. However, stewards couldn’t be satisfied that the interference cost Cyclone Chief the race and the first horse over the line held his position, much to the relief of the favourite punters. Bob Butt drove the winner and Todd MacFarlane was aboard the second horse. Conon Bridge started $1.40 and led throughout from the pole, his winning mile rate 2:03.9. Cruisin Around ran a mighty race for trainer Michael Hughes and driver Greg Sugars to finish third, while Sundons Courage was fourth from three back along the pegs, running on well after a slow early pace up front. Reina Danzante goes all the way in fillies' final Reina Danzante won her second Group 1 for trainer Nicole Molander and driver Chris Alford with an all-the-way triumph in today’s IMV Technologies Breeders Cown Final for 3YO trotting fillies. The daughter of Armbro Invasion out of champion mare La Coocaracha led from barrier four to score by a neck in a mile rate of 2:00.9, Glenferrie Burn running on for second and My Arya finishing third. “Nicole and Dean (Molander) have done a super job,” Alford said. “Two Group 1s has been great and she should only get better too.” Once in front Reina Danzante posted a 31.4secs first quarter before a 29.4 second split. Reina Danzante got home in 58.7secs. Reina Danzante won the Vicbred Super Series earlier this season. by Cody Winnell

The clash of two of the best harness racing three year olds in Australia was one of the many highlights of tonights Australasian Breeders Crown semi final meeting at Ballarat. Follow The Stars with Mark Purdon in the bike drew barrier two, a spot inside the brilliant Menin Gate driven by regular pilot Chris Alford. However Mark Purdon was not keen to get into a duel this week with Menin Gate after the son of Art Major missed a run last week and was keen to take a trail this week with a view to the final next Sunday. And that is exactly how it panned out early with Follow The Stars leading early before taking a trail behind Menin Gate after 200 metres. Robbie Morris aboard Hes Lightfingered quickly moved around to sit on Menin Gate's wheel and that was the order up front for the rest of the race. Menin Gate really upped the ante from the 800 metres and the leading three cut away from the rest of the field passing the 400 metres. Follow The Stars looked to have plenty to offer in the trail as they turned for home but with no passing lane at Ballarat, he had no where to go as Hes Lightfingered kept him pocketed. It wasn't until the leading trio got inside the final 100 metres that Follow The Stars pushed his way out and flew late to only go under by half a neck to Menin Gate. Hes Lightfingered showed real courage to stick on well for a great third. Menin Gate, a son of Somebeachsomewhere paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.6, a mile rate of 1:56.8 with smart closing sectionals of 55.6 and 27.8. The three year old colts and geldings final looks to be one race next Sunday where the barrier draw will play a big part in the outcome with both Sluggem and Hes Lighfingered a chance to push Menin Gate and Follow The Stars with a draw to suit. Harnesslink Media  

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury are among the 14 owners of pacer Stone Of Destiny, which bought up its first win at the harness racing meeting at Warragul on Monday afternoon. Although the pair weren't on track for the race, several other members of the Raceapacer Syndicate, along with the group's jovial Manager Mark Hoare, were trackside for the event.   Mark has helped operate syndicates successfully for over 20 years in trotting and gallops, introducing many new owners to racing. Stone Of Destiny is trained by die-hard Collingwood fan Jayne Davies, and was driven by Chris Alford. As well as nearly $4000 in prizemoney for Monday's win, a first win bonus of $7000 will also be well received by connections. Chris Alford drove two winners on the card - his first win was with Blacktie Lightning earlier in the day. Trained near Ballarat by Chris Lang Junior, Blacktie Lightning was most impressive in scoring, and the win was timely for Lang and his partner Haley Toulmin, who announced their engagement last weekend. Stoned Again scored a popular win in the Trotters Handicap, and claimed the Warragul Horse of the Year title in the process. Owners of the horse also sponsored the event, giving them the extra thrill of winning their own race. The win also capped off a great season at Warragul for trainer Bill Walker and driver Simone Walker. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double at the meeting - with Tenacious One and Ideal Diamante both scoring impressive wins. Bushrod won race seven for trainer/driver Alison Chisholm, while trainer Ahmed Taiba and driver Greg Sugars combined to win the fourth event with Rock Of America, which flashed home down the outside of the track to win in a close finish. Melton pacer Electric Ollie won the second event - the visitors won most of the races on Monday over the local trainers. Monday's meeting rounded out the racing season at Warragul, with the next raceday now not until November 30 when the first anniversary of the Warragul track reopening takes place. The quality of the Warragul track has improved out of sight with the changes that have taken place over the last 12 months. Stewards at Monday's meeting commented on the quality of the track given the amount of rain received in the lead-up to the meeting. With the improvements to the track has come increased interest from trainers along with better quality and faster racing, justifying the money spent on the project last year.   Kyle Galley

Warragul's final race meeting of the 2014/2015 Victorian harness racing season this Monday afternoon will be an intriguing one.   The Warragul Harness Racing Club annual premiership awards, presented to the leading trainer, senior and junior driver and most consistent horse, will be decided at Monday's meeting.   Some of the awards could go down to the wire with current results the closest they have been heading into the last raceday of the season for some years. Greg Sugars is engaged in an interesting battle with fellow top reinsman Chris Alford in the Driver of the Year Award. Greg leads the award, having driven three winners at last month's race meeting, however Chris is closing, and has been one of the most successful drivers in history at Warragul. Locally owned and trained trotter Stoned Again holds a one point lead in the Horse of the Year Award. With two wins and a second from three starts on the track, and a record winning time at the recent race meeting, Pearcedale's Walker family are looking for their first win in this award with their trotter. Top junior reinsman Josh Duggan holds a one point lead in the Concession Driver of the Year Award, with Zac Phillips and Vin Langdon both chances of claiming the win in this award if results fall their way on Monday. Cranbourne trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander have dominated the Trainer of the Year award since its inception in 1981 - and they go into Monday's meeting with a lead that should be big enough to claim the award again. Under the points scale, race winners receive four points, with two points for a second placing and one point awarded for a third place finish. First of eight races on Monday runs at 12:36pm with free entry for patrons.   Harness Racing Victoria  

Star harness racing pacer Menin Gate, trained at Shelbourne by Larry Eastman for a group of owners from Birchip in the Mallee, will take on a field of 3yo male pacers in Heat 10 of the IRT Breeders Crown for 3yo colts and geldings at Lord’s Raceway on Thursday night. Menin Gate has been Australasia’s dominant 3yo this season, winning the Sires Classic at Ballarat, the Vicbred Super Series Final, a heat and the final of the Victoria Derby, then in Queensland, the  Gold Coast Derby, and the Queensland Derby.  Menin Gate has amassed $377,548 in winning 10 of his 15 starts. He has drawn barrier 5 of 10 starters in race three, due to start at 7:30 PM. Chris Alford will pilot Menin Gate, who is likely to start a short-priced favourite. Eastman, who hadn’t trained a Group 1 winner prior to this season but now has four of them, said he was “stoked” with Menin Gate’s win at Albion Park 10 days ago in 1:55.1 (54.7). “He’s really come on,” the trainer said, pointing out a patient, carefully planned preparation was paying dividends. Menin Gate’s Birchip owners are rejoicing in the success of the “Birchip Bull”, as he is also known. In fact the whole town is. Local priest Father Eugene even halted a recent service temporarily to inform the congregation: “Menin Gate just won”. The people erupted in applause. “He is the people’s horse, I suppose,” Eastman acknowledged. “He’s got that ring about him now and it’s good for him and it’s good for the sport.” Noel Ridge

Drouin harness racing co-trainers Gary and Debbie Quinlan were successful in taking out the Hygain 2-Y-0 Pace over 1609 metres at Tuesday’s Cranbourne fixture with Bettors Delight/Modern Girl filly Magical Delight. Driven by Chris Alford,  Magical Delight having her seventh appearance at the races showed plenty of speed from gate six to lead, before being restrained to take a trail on Maree Caldow’s well supported Courage Under Fire colt Madeeba which started outside her. After a cosy passage, Magical Delight used the sprint lane to gain the day by a nose in the thrilling finish after the pair drew clear of their rivals in the straight. Pablo Santanna (one/two – three wide at bell) finished third 13.2 metres in arrears of the winner. The mile rate was 1-59. Lemnos (Goulburn Valley) based Amanda Turnbull who spends many hours travelling backward and forward to her home town of Bathurst on a regular basis, combined with partner Nathan Jack to land a training double at the meeting with two Kiwi breds – boom Mach Three/Maikona colt Oh Jonny B Good the Condo’s Horse Transport Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2080 metres and Monarchy/Amanda’s Gem 4-Y-0 mare Beta Hanoverdakash the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2110 metres. Oh Jonny B Good driven by Amanda, a prohibitive $1.40 favourite, was eased from inside the second row to settle at the rear, with speedy gelding Terra Beau leading from gate three. Following Lucky VC three wide at the bell which crossed to be in the open for the last lap before striding clear on the final bend, Oh Jonny Be Good joined Lucky VC on turning, with the pair moving away to fight out the finish. Gaining the upper hand as the winning post came into view, Oh Jonny B Good scored by a comfortable 5.8 metre margin in 1-59.6, with Holdonsu 4.5 metres away in third place after following the winner home. Beta Hanoverdakash pinged straight to the front from the pole and after being rated a treat by Nathan, was never headed in accounting for Soh Filthy Rich (barrier four) which trailed by 4.9 metres. Always Treasure was 7.2 metres away in third place after following the pair. The mile rate was 2-08.3. Beautifully bred Grinfromeartoear/Counterfiet Girl gelding Fake Smile made it two from two when greeting the judge in the Blue Hills Rise 3-Y-0 Pace over 2080 metres with Greg Sugars in the sulky. Raced by Paul Sequenzia who had so much success with multiple Derby winner Sushi Sushi, Fake Smile trained at Sunbury by Ahmed Taiba  settled four back in the moving line from gate three on the second line, with Lombo Medlyn Miss flying away from outside the front line to lead. Moving forward three wide uncovered at the bell, Fake Smile crossed to lead the outside division in the back straight, but was pushed three wide again approaching the home turn after the leader hung off the track allowing Blue Chipped to obtain an inside passage momentarily. Dashing to the front on straightening, Fake Smile registered an easy 3.8 metre victory in advance of Another Broadway (one/one last lap) and Dependlebury (one/two) in a mile rate of 2-01.3. Whittlesea trainer Charlie Farrugia and reinsman nephew Darren Zahra have enjoyed a fruitful season with a handy limited team and snared the Devilish Smile @ Elderslie Farm Stud Pace for C1 class over 1609 metres with Major Minor, a five year old gelded son of Attorney General and Gay And Bright in a rate of 2-00.6. Given a sweet trip from the pole trailing the heavily backed Ian Dornauf trained Royal Shootout (gate three), Major Minor angled into the clear on turning to just hold on by a half head from sprint laner Village Me (four back the markers) and Royal Shootout in a slugging finish. The Caldow’s made amends for Madeeba’s narrow defeat earlier in the night when Bettors Delight/Millwood Touche filly Millwood Brandy scored in the Decron Pace for C0 class over 2080 metres. Sent forward from gate four to cross Bay Tint (gate two) shortly after the start, John Caldow elected to allow Phantom Rockstar (gate five) which had been three wide to assume control hitting the back straight on the first occasion. Enjoying a charmed passage, Millwood Brandy used the sprint lane to register a 3.9 metre victory over Phantom Rockstar and Lombo Idle Belief third after racing in the open from last for the final circuit. The mile rate was 2-02.8. Melton trainer Beau Tindale’s Sportswriter/Full Pleasure 3-Y-0 gelding Egodan chalked up his fifth success (four this season), when victorious in the Hyland Harness Colours Pace for C1 class over 2080 metres. With regular reinsman Rod Petroff in the sulky, Egodan settled with most of the field ahead of him after starting from the extreme draw, with Amanda Turnbull’s Airbournemagic circling the field from gate four on the second line to lead. Set alight racing for the bell, Egodan led for the last lap in defeating Cullen Regent from mid-field and Airbournemagic in a mile rate of 2-01. The margins being 6.1 X 4.8 metres. Melton mentor Lance Justice presently sidelined with a nasty heel injury after being involved in a freak accident at Geelong the week before, landed the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace for C4 & C5 class over 1609 metres with ex-Kiwi 5-Y-0 Sands A Flyin/Zwish gelding Phil Monty much to the delight of the large number of stable clients who share in the ownership. Driven by the stable’s Jason Hackett, Phil Monty was revved up from gate six to lead and allowed to bowl, ran his rivals ragged to score by 7.6 metres from Blitzsuzy off a three wide trail on the back of the third placegetter United Legacy. The mile rate was 1-59.1. Len Baker

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed trainer Mr Chris Alford.  ARHR 190(1) reads as follows: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Alford related to a post-race urine sample collected from the horse ‘Stormed Out’ after it won Race 5, the ‘Bendigo Bank Pace’, at Geelong on 8 April 2015. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the urine sample revealed the sample to contain the prohibited substance phenylbutazone and its metabolite oxyphenbutazone. The Racing Science Centre in Queensland reported confirmation of these findings in the reserve portion of the relevant urine sample. Mr Alford pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard from HRV Stewards and Mr Alford. In deciding an appropriate penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered the nature of the substance involved, other previous cases involving the substance in Victoria, Mr Alford’s evidence of administering 10 ml of the substance in a therapeutic manner almost 8 full days prior to the relevant race and his expectation that the substance would be eliminated in such a time period, Mr Alford’s early guilty plea and co-operation throughout the investigation, Mr Alford’s excellent record throughout his lifetime involvement in the industry and a number of references supplied in support of Mr Alford’s character. In considering all of these matters, the HRV RAD Board imposed a fine of $3000. The HRV RAD Board also imposed a $200 fine upon Mr Alford after he pleaded guilty to breaching ARHR 190(1)(b) in that he had forgotten to record the relevant administration of phenylbutazone in his log book as the administration occurred late at night after returning from the races on 31 March 2015 and the log book was not present at the time of the administration owing to it being used by another stable member at the time for accounting purposes. The HRV RAD Board also ordered that ‘Stormed Out' be disqualified from Race 5 at Geelong on 8 April 2015 and that the finishing places be amended accordingly. Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board 

The 2015 Albion Park winter carnival came to a dramatic close on Saturday night. On a program that boasted four Group One features with strong prizemoney attached and a majority of leading trainers and drivers from around the southern hemisphere represented, harness racing fans were set for a huge night of entertainment. And they got what they were asking for. Brilliant Victorian three-year-old Menin Gate added to his impressive list of feature race victories this season by winning the $150,000 Queensland Derby when leading throughout defeating a gallant My Kiwi Mate and Queensland Oaks victor Fight For Glory in the 2680m feature. Sent straight to the lead by his reinsman Chris Alford from his ideal draw, the $1.40 favourite scored decisively in a time of 1;57.9. He covered his final mile in splits of 30.5, 30.1, 27.9 & 27.6 seconds. Prepared by Larry Eastman, the big striding gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere has now claimed the Victoria, Gold Coast and Queensland Derby’s plus the Vicbred Super Series Final this term. Menin Gate Comeback pacer Philadelphia Man gave his loyal army of supporters plenty to cheer about when he proved too classy for his rivals winning the $125,000 UBET Blacks A Fake. Having only his second run back from a lengthy break, the Emma Stewart prepared Art Major entire worked hard early before finding the lead at the 1800m from local mare Forever Gold. After being perfectly rated by Gavin Lang, the $2.10 favourite scored a convincing victory from a brave Forever Gold while Avonnova fought strongly to hold third placing. The 2680m open-class feature was covered in a mile rate of 1;56.8. The last mile was covered in splits of 31.4, 29.9, 27.6 & 27.7 seconds. Philadelphia Man is now unbeaten in two runs back this campaign while providing Stewart with her biggest victory in the sunshine state. Philadelphia Man Most expected the Victorians to claim the $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo Fillies Final with the brilliant Heavens Trend, but her erratic behavior cost her victory. Improving local filly Special Moment ($35.10) caused a boilover downing Sweet As Candy and Aussie Vista in a mile rate of 1;58.0. The victory provided another feature race victory for Shannon Price and Scott Miller plus winning reinsman Brad Cowen during this carnival. Passing the 400m marker, Heavens Trend raced to the lead from Get In The Groove but raced greenly before ultimately galloping which left Trista Dixon (Get in The Groove) unseated while Covert Beauty and her driver Mark Dux crashed to the track. All horses and drivers involved in the incident were ok. Special Moment In the $100,000 QBRED Triad 2yo colts and geldings Final, the fast finishing burst from Leos Best ($8.60) proved too much for his rivals in the 1660m feature event. Leos Best, trained and driven by Grant Dixon, forced clear of an early pocket and relished a strong speed to defeat Roarn and Catcha Lefty in a career best time of 1;54.8. The Cammibest gelding has now claimed two feature events this season after winning the Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Classic last month. And the Gr.2 $50,000 Landfill Logistics 4yo Championship was taken out in brilliant fashion by New South Wales mare Sweet Molly Oshea ($11.80) for trainer Blake Hewitt and winning reinsman Gavin Lang. After racing without cover, the Mach Three mare proved too strong for Alleluia and Bling It On in a race record time of 1;54.7 for the 2138m journey. Club officials were thrilled with the big crowd in attendance to conclude a strong carnival.  

Odds-on favourite Keystone Del gave harness racing punters who took $1.30 a scare in last night’s Group 3 Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free for All at Tabcorp Park Melton when he galloped early. The seven-year-old son of Dr Ronerail from Flipside lost about 80m when he broke up coming out of the straight the first time. But by the time had left the back straight, so slow were they going up front that Keystone Del had made up his lost ground and run to the lead for driver Chris Alford. Once in front the top-notch squaregaiter, arguably the best in the business, controlled the small field of six with quarters of 32.3secs, 33.4secs, 29.6secs and a fourth quarter of 27.9secs to win by 3.8m over stablemate Lord Liam in a rate of 2:03.0 for the 2240m trip. Stoned I Am finished third beaten 9.1m for Simone Walker. In other results last night, Best Deal Yet (Bettors Delight/Bonnie Deal) won the 2240m DNR Logistics M0 Pace for Alison Chisholm, leading all the way from gate four in a rate of 1:58.5, defeating runner-up Copper Coast by 4m. Vince Vallelonga-trained Major Crocker (Art Major/Aratusa Lass) sat parked in the 1720m Soho Standardbreds Winter Championship Final for reinsman Greg Sugars in 1:53.9, defeating in-form Beachstar by 1.9m. David Aiken trained-and-driven Vics Cheval (Yankee Boy/Vics Lady) proved too strong in the Garrards Horse and Hound Trot over 2240m, winning by 18.9m in 2:00.1 over second-placed The Majestic. Rising star Flaming Flutter (Bettors Delight/Twice As Hot) won the Our Maestro Free for All by 3.2m over Keayang Starzzz in a rate of 1:57.7 for the 2240m trip. Driven by Greg Sugars for trainer Geoff Webster, Flaming Flutter led from start to finish. Bamako Malo (Art Major/African Dancer) took out the Harness Breeders Victoria 3YO Classic over 1720m by 2.3m over a gusty Soho Tokyo in 1:55.9. Driven by Amanda Turnbull for trainer Belinda McCarthy, Bamako Mali found the lead while Soho Tokyo moved around to sit parked at the bell. Five-year-old mare Lierre Noir (Bettors Delight/Saabette) saluted in the Olympus Feeds Pace over 1720m for trainer/driver Amy Tubbs. From the pole, Tubbs took early cover behind long odds-on shot El Jays Magic before overpowering the Tasmanian mare in the home straight for a 1.8m victory in 1:55.0. To finish the evening Chris Svanosio produced a stellar drive aboard Matthew Craven-trained Desdon Murruffy to win the TAB.com.au Pace over 2240m. From gate three Svanosio took the five-year-old Modern Art/Spellmaker stallion back to the rear of the field early and he was actually detached mid-race. At the home turn he was still in a seemingly impossible position before steaming home along the pegs to grab Electric Ollie in the shadows of the post for a head win in a rate of 1:59.4. by Cody Winnell

Advantage Menin Gate. The Larry Eastman-trained pacer – Victoria’s newest “people’s horse” – yesterday drew a plum gate for Saturday night’s Group 1 Queensland Derby at the harness racing meeting at Albion Park, giving him an early victory against his biggest dangers. The Victoria Derby, Vicbred Super Series and last-start Gold Coast Derby winner will come out of gate two in the $150,000, 2680-metre three-year-old classic, and TAB fixed odds bookies have reacted by installing him a prohibitive $1.40-into-$1.35 favourite. “I’m happy,” Eastman said of the barrier draw, which also saw stablemate filly Morton Plains draw gate nine – following Menin Gate out early. Eastman, who hadn’t trained a Group 1 winner prior to this season but now has four of them, said he was “stoked” with Menin Gate’s win at Albion Park last weekend in 1:55.1 (54.7). “He’s really come on,” the trainer said, pointing out a patient, carefully planned preparation was paying dividends." “We stayed home from Sydney (the New South Wales Derby) and gave him five weeks out instead because he’s a big, immature horse." “That’s made a real difference.” Any question marks over the son of Somebeachsomewhere’s gate speed have disappeared in recent times, Eastman’s addition of block blinkers to the gelding sharpening him right up. “He’s been coming off the arm really good since we changed his head gear around,” Eastman said. Menin Gate wore the block blinkers and won as a two-year-old and is clearly relishing them now. Meanwhile, Menin Gate’s Birchip owners are rejoicing in the success of the “Birchip Bull”, as he is also known. In fact the whole town is. Local priest Father Eugene even halted his service last weekend temporarily to inform the congregation: “Menin Gate just won”. The people erupted in applause. “He is the people’s horse, I suppose,” Eastman acknowledged. “He’s got that ring about him now and it’s good for him and it’s good for the sport.” Morton Plains will be driven by Gavin Lang on Saturday night and is a $21 shot early with the TAB. “She went really good (last Saturday night in the Queensland Oaks when second)." "She is probably nearing the end of this preparation,” Eastman said. “If things happen and if someone goes crazy and turns it into a last-man-standing affair, then she can run into it." “She lives in Menin Gate’s shadow a bit, but if I didn’t have Menin Gate I’d still be absolutely stoked to just have her.” Other Victorians in the Derby are Craig Demmler-trained My Kiwi Mate (Jodi Quinlan to drive) from gate seven, who is in ripping form and will be strong late over what looks a suitable trip, Burnaholeinmypocket from the Andy Gath yard (Kate Gath to drive), who ran below-par last weekend but was a Group 1 winner the start prior to that, and consistent Mister Wickham for trainer Lee Evison and driver Greg Sugars (gate 12). Cody Winnell

The $40,000 Gold Coast Derby at tonights harness racing meeting at Albion Park looked a bit of a gimme for the brilliant Menin Gate after he drew perfectly at barrier two and thats exactly how it played out as the big free going son of Somebeachsomewhere dealt to the field in the manner of a budding champion. Sent straight to the front by regular reinsman Chris Alford, Menin Gate applied the pressure a long way out and had them all in trouble well before the corner. Kate Gath sent Burnaholeinmypocket around to sit parked at the 1500 metres mark giving the other favoured runner Hug The Wind with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike a great sit in the one by one. However Burnaholeinmypocket punctured badly at the 500 metres and Hug The Wind showed little when asked for a big effort by Natalie at the 400 metres mark, running on for a so so fourth. It was left to Spare Me Days to flash home brilliantly from well back for a great second in front of a very game My Kiwi Mate who after being wide for most of the last lap fought on bravely for a top third. Menin Gate paced the 2138 metres in a very smart 2:33, a mile rate of 1:55.1 with sensational closing sectionals of 54.7 and 27.3 It was the eight win of the season for Menin Gate and his second Derby after his success in the Victoria Derby in early February. Menin Gate treated the opposition with disdain tonight and it is hard to see how they beat him in next weeks Queensland Derby. Harnesslink Media 

Chris Alford probably thought he’d lost a couple of battles in the run aboard Messini in the four-year-old entires and geldings Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. For starters he tried to lead aboard the Brent Lilley-trained stallion from the pole but was crossed early by Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker drawn alongside. Secondly, once crossed and it was clear Walker was going to hand up to Major Crocker, Alford tried to angle away from the markers but couldn’t when Young Modern and Mick Stanley snared the one-one. Alford explained: “I had to make a decision how hard to go in the first 200 … when Simone got that half-length she presumed she could get across and she was going to keep going, and I thought we were going a bit too hard and thought she might think about handing up since we had gone that hard. Luckily I tried to get off the fence and Mick Stanley put me back in there thankfully, and it all worked out good after that.” Once in front Major Crocker copped too much pepper from Keayang Active, running a 43.7secs lead time and 28.5secs first quarter. When Jilliby Jagger came from near the rear and eased three and four-wide coming off the back straight Hectorjayjay made his move. Walked eased Hectorjayjay to the outside of a tiring Major Crocker and Alford and Messini followed closely. Once in the home stretch Hectorjayjay gave his trademark kick and got about 5m clear of Messini. But the former New Zealander typically wasn’t going to go down without a fight and he stuck his head down and got going, stride by stride reeling in Hectorjayjay to eventually score a half-neck win in 1:54.9 (28.6secs third and fourth quarters). “It was a great race now that we’ve won but things didn’t go exactly how we wanted them to go,” Alford said. “He’s just a great little trier. I thought his head was dragging on the ground near the line he was trying that hard. He deserved that win." Jilliby Jagger ran third for Glen Craven, while Barimah ran on well for fourth for Damian Wilson and Major Crocker battled away for fifth with Greg Sugars in the sulky. The win meant back-to-back Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series successes for Messini. The race was one of the most exciting on the strong Saturday night card. Messini is by Art Major out of Mesmerizing. Re-live Messini's win in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final Cody Winnell

Harness racing Group 1 trebles are almost unheard of. And when they do occur, the feat is usually reserved for the rich, powerful, multinational-type stables. But Shelbourne horseman Larry Eastman lived the fairy-tale on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, winning three Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series finals. Eastman’s stable-star three-year-olds Menin Gate and Morton Plains won their age group’s male and female finals respectively before Milly Perez scored a boil-over in the four-year-old mares’ decider. All three were driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, who also picked up the four-year-old entires and geldings’ final with Messini for trainer Brent Lilley to finish with a Group 1 quartet. An emotional Eastman paid tribute to his wife, Lynette. “I’m feeling pretty good (but) I’m rapt for Lynette, my wife,” he told the large crowd, who braved a chilly night out for one of the best nights of harness racing seen in recent times. “(She’s) the best horse on the farm by a long way… works daylight until dark every day. “Whilst people probably think it’s my expertise or whatever it’s not, she’s got a good eye for a horse and she’s really good at what she does as well.” Eastman, clearly elated, had nothing but praise for Alford. “We’ve been great friends for a long time and he’s really pulled them out tonight for us,” he said. “… It makes all the difference. We use these guys because they are the best and on big nights like tonight it counts.” Morton Plains (Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That) brought up the first of Eastman’s trio of treats for the evening. The filly took the lead off early frontrunner Niki No No with a mile to run in their Group 1 final over 2240m. A 30.2secs first quarter had the Eastman backers feeling good and a second split of 30.6secs was   comfortable. Off the back Morton Plains looked to have the better of death-seating Lovelist, while driver Greg Sugars sat quietly aboard Niki No No behind the leader awaiting his opportunity along the sprint lane. But Morton Plains kicked strongly at the top of the stretch, Niki No No unable to peg back the leader who kept finding to win by four metres, Niki No No holding on to second and Vapar Grin running third. “The Birchip boys who own Menin Gate, most are in this filly as well. A couple of them are in Morton Plains that weren’t in Menin Gate … they get their thrills tonight. I’m really pleased for them,” Eastman said. “These guys have been in for the long haul … I mean the Lowry boys have been in this industry for years and years and they’ve put their hard-earned in. “Their farming enterprise didn’t have a very good year last year and until it rains this year they’re on a sticky wicket again. For those people and the farming community at Birchip (the win) really gives the town a bit of a buzz.” Eastman made it a three-year-olds’ clean sweep in Race 7 with Somebeachsomewhere/Dreams Of Heaven gelding Menin Gate in the colts’ and geldings’ final. The Victoria Derby champion from earlier in the season began fast from the pole to lead and was never headed, the inside-back-row Mister Wickham finishing second after following the winner all the way and Follow The Stars running third for Anthony Butt and Mark Purdon. Menin Gate rated 1:55.6 for the 2240m trip, sprinting home in 56.1secs. “He was switched on tonight, not like last week,” Alford said. “Once he was able to hold the front pretty comfortable I knew he’d run a strong last mile and was going to be hard for the horses off the fence and thankfully he kept going.” While he was no doubt confident both his three-year-olds would be competitive, Eastman certainly had his doubts about Milly Perez. “When Col Moore texted to say he’d pulled barrier 13 out I just thought `well that’s the end of the road for Milly’, because last week if you watch the tapes she went unbelievable ... we just were hoping for a barrier,” he said. “This little mare’s blessed with a really good turn of foot and I just thought from 13 we’d be too far back.” Eastman and Alford needed for there to be some speed on early. Their wish was Josh Aiken and Nathan Jack’s command. Crossed early by Shes A Runa, Jack took race favourite and polemarker Berisari quickly away from the pegs out of the straight the first time to run to the front. But Aiken and Quick Draft swiftly built up momentum and declared war on the long odds-on favourite, the pair engaging in a two-horse war to the mile marker before finally Quick Draft was forced to relent. The lead time of 42.9secs was electric and Jack quickly applied the brakes in a bid to give Berisari some respite with opening quarters of 30.3secs and 31.9secs. The pressure went on again down the back with a 29.1secs third split as Barynya and John Caldow made their move and got by Berisari. But Alford and Milly Perez, who were last at the 800m, followed Barynya into the action before peeling around her in the home straight. Once she stretched out Milly Perez dashed right away from her rivals, the Four Starzzz Shark/Alta Calypso bay winning by 13m over Beach Shack (David Aiken), Barynya holding down third. Lucky Metro was fourth for Charlie Borg, while Berisari battled away bravely to run fifth – a big run given her adversary Quick Draft came in tailed off. “We needed some genuine tempo and thanks to a couple of guys out there tonight it was game on and she reaped the reward,” Eastman said of Milly Perez. Meanwhile, Eastman also had high praise for the Vicbred program and highlighted the importance of the scheme to the Victorian industry. “Vicbred needs more and more pumped into it day in and day out,” he said. “Let’s look after our home base, that’s where these guys get the benefits. “We need to look after Victoria. That’s where we put our hard yakka in.” The Vicbred program pays out well over $9 million in stakes and bonuses to eligible horses and the series’ goal is to strengthen opportunities for Victorian-bred standardbreds. As for the trip home to Birchip for Eastman’s owners, it’ll no doubt be an enjoyable ride. Cody Winnell VIDEOS Menin Gate won his Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Morton Plains won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Milly Perez won her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final

Reina Danzante became a harness racing Group 1 winner at just her fourth trip to the races tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton. The well-bred daughter of Armbro Invasion out of former champion mare La Coocaracha enjoyed a comfortable run in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotting Fillies Final before bursting through late to defeat Sky Petite. Driven by Chris Alford for trainer Nicole Molander, Reina Danzante began well but was crossed by Sheza Amason and Rebecca Bartley. Reigning Vicbred Super Series champion Endsino was caught without cover for the trip after getting a good run through from her second-line draw, Alford able to sit quietly until the home straight. Sky Petite (Steve Duffy) made a strong run turning for home and almost looked the winner, but Alford and Reina Danzante fired up late to get the victory by 2.4 metres, with Val Gardena (Chris Svanosio) rattling home out wide for third. “She’s come in leaps and bounds since she came down,” Alford said. “They (Nicole and Dean Molander) do a good job with their horses. They don’t have a big team but they’re all pretty spot-on.” Donski finished fourth and Zaire Diva fifth. Watch Reina Danzante win her Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final Cody Winnell

Harness Racing Stewards have issued a charge against licensed trainer Mr Chris Alford under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190 (1) which provides: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances It is alleged that the horse Stormed Out was presented to race at Geelong on 8 April 2015 by Mr Alford whilst not free of the prohibited substance phenylbutazone and its metabolite oxyphenbutazone. HRV Stewards have issued a further charge under ARHR 190B(1)(b) which requires trainers to keep and maintain a log book recording all treatment administered to horses in their care. The charges will be heard by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be fixed.                                                        AND HRV Stewards have issued a charge against licensed NSW trainer Mr Michael Day (Jnr) under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190 (1) which provides: A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. It is alleged that the horse Fake Art was presented to race at Cobram on 7 May 2015 whilst not free of alkalinizing agents, a prohibited substance when evidenced by the presence of total carbon dioxide (TCO2) at a concentration in excess of 36 millimoles per litre in plasma. The charge will be heard by the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on a date to be fixed. Harness Racing Victoria

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