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Lennytheshark made it back-to-back 4YO & 5YO harness racing Championship wins last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Only two horses had ever done it before, the great mare Tailamade Lombo and modern day superstar Smoken Up – and Lenny displayed true champion qualities last night after scorching through a 27.6 secs second quarter and a 29.3secs third split, forced to work overtime to find the top when he came hunting at the bell. Anthony Butt (Major Secret) had been riding the breeze outside race leader Bryce Cooper and he wasn’t eager to simply let Lenny cruise by. Chris Alford had to go full-throttle well before he’d envisaged and Lennytheshark finally got to the front turning out of the straight the final time. Desperately in need of some reprieve Alford applied the brakes in a bid to save Lenny up for one final burst to the wire. Off the back Major Secret hit the wall and Hectorjayjay and Simone Walker arose three-wide to stake their claim. Hectorjayjay clearly headed the Shark on the bend but you got the feeling there was another twist in the tale as Alford got to work. Although the pair went stride for stride in the early part of the home run, and logic suggested this would be Hectorjayjay’s night, the Shark was not going to be culled without one hell of a fight. The son of Four Starzzz Shark rallied and stuck his head back in front, Hectorjayjay valiant but simply not able to match his rival. Chilli Palmer was the one final hurdle Lennytheshark had to clear as the powerful pacer thundered down the centre of the track late and got past Hectorjayjay. But he couldn’t nab Lenny, falling 1.2m short. The winner rated 1:55.9 after a 27.3 third quarter. “The speed was slow early so I had to make a decision and when I went I went quick,” Alford said. “Anthony Butt kicked up, which made things a bit awkward for me. “Hectorjayjay probably got 2m on me on the corner … but being as good as Lenny is he dug deep.” Hectorjayjay held on for third with Hotasel (Simon Jardine) working home with Upanatom for fourth and fifth. The win was Lennytheshark’s 19th from 38 starts. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Lennytheshark will become just the third horse to win the University Meat 4YO & 5YO Championship twice if he can overcome a back-row draw in Saturday night’s harness racing Group 2 at Tabcorp Park Melton. The David Aiken-trained five-year-old has drawn gate nine in an 11-horse field after the scratching of Sydneysider Yayas Hotspot and will be hot favourite in the 2240-metre, $50,505 race. To be driven by Chris Alford, the son of Four Starzzz Shark out of Botswana will follow out noted fast beginner Hectorjayjay early, which should be ideal. Lennytheshark ticks all the form boxes, with a last-start win in the Golden Reign (1:57.4) defeating flying It Is Billy. That followed a third in the Len Smith Mile at Menangle behind Smolda and Beautide in 1:50.6. If successful in his title defence in the race, Lennytheshark will join two modern day harness racing greats in Tailamade Lombo and Smoken Up as back-to-back winners of the event. The 4YO & 5YO Championship is scheduled to run at 7.27pm. VIDEO: Lennytheshark notches his 18th career victory in last week's Golden Reign FFA VIDEO: See how Lenny did it last year CODY WINNELL COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MANAGER

Whirily School and Showgun Thomas have taken out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic two-year-old Finals at the harness arcing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last night.   Whirily School won the fillies’ final for trainer Emma Stewart and driver Greg Sugars as an odds-on favourite at $1.50, while Chris Alford combined with trainer Heath Redwood to take out the colts and geldings’ final with Showgun Thomas at $12 after race favourite Hellbewright galloped early and lost all chance.   Whirily School, by Courage Under Fire out of Mayhappen, found the front early from the 1720-metre start and controlled the race, jogging through a 32.7secs second quarter after an opening stanza of 29.9secs for a 62.2secs first half.   Greg Sugars had his rivals stacked up off the back after a third split of 30.7secs before the impressive young pacer extended and left his rivals paddling, dashing home in 27.4secs for a 3.3m win in a mile rate of 2:00.2.   New Romantics finished second after trailing the leader throughout from the pole, while Courageous Call moved to the breeze early and battled on for third just ahead of Swiftly Tothebeach.   Showgun Thomas, by Bettors Delight out of Forest Charm, won a roughhouse affair in the two-year-old boys’ division, Alford driving the polemarker through along the sprint lane from the leader’s back spot in the home stretch to edge out Pop The Cork (Anthony Butt) and Four Starzzz Forsa (John Justice) in a thriller.   The second horse had to survive a protest post-race from the third and fifth (That’s How Weroll) placegetters.   Showgun Thomas rated 1:57.0.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Perfect weather conditions complimented a good day of harness racing at Warragul on Monday. Seven events produced keen racing - importantly winners came from both the front and rear of the field across the day, defying the usual trend of on-pace runners being suited on the smaller Warragul circuit. Again, fast times were recorded during the day, highlighting the quality of Warragul's renovated circuit. One trainer particularly happy to win on Monday was Warragul boy Michael Hughes, who prepared Illawong Libby to win the Warragul Downtowner Pace. Hughes has only had the four-year-old mare in his Cranbourne stable for two starts. He explained after the race that he had set Illawong Libby for the Warragul event some four weeks ago. He felt Illawong Libby would be suited by the Warragul track, and that proved the case. She led from barrier one, holding off a late challenge by Readyforreign to score narrowly in a deceptive finish. The five owners of Illawong Libby were delighted with their victory, the mare's third from 24 starts. Former Gippsland trainer Graeme Lang also claimed a victory on Monday's card with Maybellina in the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap. Lisa Miles donned Lang's famous dark blue silks and drove a well judged race behind Maybellina, which grabbed Slancio close to home to win. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double on the day, courtesy of Lagoon Beach and Qtown Rip Roaring - both horses coming home strongly from off the pace in their victories. Leading combination of trainer Jayne Davies and driver Chris Alford have won more races than most at Warragul over the years, and claimed another victory on the day, this time with Baccarat in the Healers Shack Pace. Hoofnit provided the upset of the day in winning the Don Collins Pace - the longest priced winner of the afternoon at around 10/1. After three racedays in the last six weeks, Warragul now has a break before the traditional Traralgon Pacing Cup program on Monday, June 29.    

Three Victorian harness racing stalwarts shared the spoils at Cranbourne yesterday.   Chris Alford, Gavin Lang and Lance Justice are synonymous with success and yesterday the three horseman were at it again with winning doubles.   Alford kicked off proceedings with a win to his mare Pipe Me Home (Framework USA/ Our Shady Lady) breaking her maiden status with a 2.1-metre victory over Lazy Sunday in the Aldebaran Park Trot (1st Heat) over 2080 metres.   From the pole Pipe Me Home sat behind leader Lazy Sunday in the run before using the sprint lane to gain the spoils in a rate of 2:04.6 at odds of $3.90 at career start No.3 . The $2.80 favourite Jimbo Johnson blew his chances by galloping away at his Australian debut.   Whittlesea trainer Charlie Farrugia combined with driver Darren Pace to land victory in Race 2, the Decron Horse Care Pace, with five-year-old Attorney General/Gay And Bright gelding Major Minor leading all the way in the 2080-metre race for a 2.9m win over Arma Augustus in a rate of 2:02.7.   Favourite punters trying to lift themselves off the canvas after the first were poleaxed again, this time even-money shot Mikoney Courage breaking gear early and having to be pulled up.   Lang’s first winner was also the first leg of a winning double for Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart as four-year-old mare Our Petite Soeur (Grinfromeartoear USA/Aluring) scored a 1.6-metre triumph over Partnersinvancelot in the Ade Turf Equipment Pace over 2080m.   Sent out a prohibitive favourite at $1.10, Our Petite Soeur ran to the lead early and was never headed, rating 2:01.9.   Justice’s first leg of a winning double came in Race 4, the Trios After The Last Pace over 2080m with five-year-old JR Mint USA/Higher Calling mare Blacks A Beauty dashing home from barrier two.   The $2.80 shot held off $1.90 favourite Jambiani at the finish and rated 2:00.7, sprinting through her final 800m in 58.2secs after a 62.7secs first half.   Next up the hugely successful Stewart/Lang combo was victorious again in the Seelite Windows & Doors Pace over 2080m, ultra-talented four-year-old entire Major Secret notching his 14th win at start No.26.   The last-start Mark Gurry and Associates Cup winner at Mildura got the job done again, this time by 2.5m over Nowitzki in a mile rate of 1:58.9.   Major Secret (Art Major USA/Secret Life) has now won four of his past five starts and his prize money is zooming towards $300,000.   Justice delivered again in Race 6 with honest five-year-old Extreme Three CA/Sacajawea gelding Jean Baptiste overcoming a back-row draw for a 6.1m over 1609m.   Jean Baptiste defied a betting drift and paid $5.10 as he defeated Liculia and early leader and race favourite Lanista in a rate of 1:58.5.   Alford was back in the winners’ stall after Race 7, the Hyland Sportswear Pace, guiding outsider Mister Rufus (Young Rufus/Exotic Flash) to a 1.9m win over Phil Monty in a rate of 2:02.2.   Trained by Frank Cauchi at Parwan, eight-year-old Mister Rufus put the writing on the wall with a last-start third at Melton but still paid $31.20 today and fattened the quaddie dividend.   Romsey’s Leigh Miles finished the meeting victorious with three-year-old Sportswriter USA/Wemen Wendymae colt Wemen Sporty scoring a 1.1m win over Phantom Rockstar.   Wemen Sporty, driven by Greg Sugars, finished strongly and recorded a 2:02.1 mile rate.   The quaddie paid $2,543.80 and followers of Good Form might be shouting Blake Redden a drink after he landed it at goodform.trot.com.au for a full unit.   - HRV Media

Highly respected harness racing trainer David Aiken acknowledges his horse Lennytheshark is facing somewhat of an impossible task on Sunday afternoon when he competes against Beautide in the Gr. 1 Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Lennytheshark was impressive on Saturday night at Melton when winning at his first run back since finishing sixth in the Inter Dominion behind Beautide but Aiken admitted this week it is a different 'kettle of fish'. "It is going to be hard to topple Beautide on what he did at Menangle last start but I'm really happy with Lennytheshark and he's ready to go," Aiken said. "Chris Alford was happy on Saturday night, Lenny never travels on the bit but Chris didn't have to pull the pull downs in the run to the line so we couldn't have asked much more of the horse, he got the job done." Lennytheshark had a week's break after his Inter Dominion performance and when he returned to Aiken's stable he developed a cough. "It had been pretty dry and dusty at my place and Lenny had a cough for about a week which put us behind a little bit, ideally he would have had two trials and one run before the Len Smith Mile and as a result he missed out on one of the two trials but he is where I want him now anyway." "It was just a sprint home on Saturday night and he is a very athletic individual so he will take some from benefit from it for sure." Lennytheshark has been victorious at the highest level at Menangle in the past. The son of Four Starzzz Shark won the New South Wales Derby in 2013 when trained by John Justice. Aiken is unsure of what direction he will take with Lennytheshark after Sunday. "I need to sit down with the owner and discuss what we are going to do with him, he has only had five runs this season and while he has had some injuries in the past, he is really good at the moment." "The options on the table are obviously Queensland for the winter carnival or we get him ready for the Inter Dominion series in Western Australia but we need to get Sunday out of the way first." At Tabcorp Park Menangle ten horses have beaten Beautide home in a race and of Sunday's opposition only Monifieth has achieved the feat but Aiken is hoping Lennytheshark can join the small group. "Beautide is a special horse but we are going to be doing our best this Sunday and hopefully that will be good enough." Greg Hayes

At his 10th country cup start this season, Road To Rock won his second trophy.   The Keith Cotchin trained seven-year-old edged out Macho Comacho in a thrilling finish to Saturday night’s Renown Silverware Ararat Pacing Cup – adding the victory to his feature race CV alongside his St Arnaud Cup triumph earlier this season.   The gelded son of Village Jasper/Diva La Diva ran to the front after Macho Comacho and Ardle McArdle both held interim leads early.   Ardle McArdle stepped strongly from seven to tackle early leader Macho Comacho out of three, working to the front when Macho Comacho galloped.   Macho Comacho (Chris Alford) quickly got back into stride and hooked off the markers to retake control at the head of affairs, Nathan Jack then seizing the initiative to grab the front aboard Road To Rock when Macho Comacho slowed, which pocketed Ardle McArdle (Amanda Turnbull) three-pegs.   Reigning Ararat Cup winner Savesomtimetodream with Jodi Quinlan aboard then made his move to work to the breeze, giving 2013 Ararat Cup winner Jukebox Music (Glenn Douglas) one-one cover.   Kotare Roland (Neil McCallum) was four-back the markers, Weallwantano (Matthew Craven) on his back, with Turnpike Cruiser (Zac Phillips), Hilltop Hustler (Michael Stanley) and Farmersntradies (Michael Sullivan) in the running line, while Narra Operative (Kerryn Manning) was second-last and Arber (Gavin Lang) made an uncharacteristic bad getaway and settled at the back of the field.   Road To Rock comfortably navigated the opening half of the last mile (31.4 and 30.4 for a 61.8 half) before Jack upped the ante when challenged by Savesomtimetodream down the back.   Road To Rock was still travelling well to the home turn though, shaking off the reigning champ’s challenge with a 28.8 third split.   In the home straight Macho Comacho angled into the sprint lane and charged hard, while Hilltop Hustler and Ardle McArdle were winding up out wide.   But the leader dug deep, Road To Rock holding off all the challengers to score a victory by a head over Macho Comacho, with Hilltop Hustler up for third beaten 3.5 metres.   The winner got home in 29.2 for a 2:02.9 mile rate (last half 58).   Ardle McArdle ran fourth while Kotare Roland showed he was working back into some kind of form with an eye-catching fifth beaten 7.5 metres.   Savesomtimetodream weakened out of the action late to finish sixth beaten 8.2 metres, with Weallwantano heading up the rest in seventh place.   Earlier in the evening father and son Neville and Clinton Welsh combined for victory in the Clive Reid Memorial Ararat Trotters Cup with consistent six-year-old Sundon/Wheels To Go gelding Wildenstein, who led and rated 2:07.2 for the 2570-metre trip.   Wildenstein defeated Death Defying by 3.3 metres with Maorisfavouritesun third.   Meanwhile, trainer Emma Stewart and reinsman Gavin Lang combined with Our Petite Soeur to take out the Angelique Club Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championship (18th heat) by 2.3m over So Demanding with Graceful Affair third.   ROAD TO ROCK’S COUNTRY CUPS RECORD Ararat Cup 1st Echuca Cup 3rd Boort Cup 4th Wangaratta Cup 2nd Stawell Cup 2nd Gunbower Cup 2nd St Arnaud Cup 1st Maryborough Cup 6th Kilmore Cup 8th Swan Hill Cup 2nd   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Former Kiwi five year old Monarchy/Rob The Nest gelding Just Leave (Nathan Jack) was gigantic in winning the Betta Home Living Cohuna Trotters Handicap for T0 or better class over 2190 metres at the Shepparton trots on Tuesday March 31.   Stepping cleanly from 20 metres to settle nice and handy with Kains Boy jumping straight to the front from barrier four before surrendering to the Kari Males trained Secret Kiss which started outside the front line, Just Leave went into a wild gallop shortly after the start appearing to put himself out of business.   Gradually making up the lost ground to be last in the running line at the bell, Just Leave trailed the 30 metre backmarker Just Call Me Earl forward three wide in the final circuit before making the home turn very wide.   Producing a brilliant turn of speed on straightening, Just Leave charged down the outside of the track to record a runaway 3 metre victory over the pacemaker in a mile rate of 2-05, with Kains Boy holding down third after a cosy trip.   Raced by former Kilmore trucking magnate Jack Knight, Just Leave trained at Avenel by Wayne Potter had recorded three wins since crossing the Tasman.   The wraps were huge on beautifully bred first starter Showgun Thomas in the Betta Home Living Mansfield 2-Y-0 Pace over 1690 metres, however the gelded son of Bettors Delight and Forest Charm could manage only third behind the all the way victor Casino Tommy.   Trained and driven by Kilmore’s Robbie Walters, John Street North/Casino Princess gelding Casino Tommy began brilliantly from gate three to lead throughout in a mile rate of 2-02.6, defeating Combined Interest from last by 2.5 metres. Showgun Thomas (one/one – three wide home turn) was a neck away in third place.   Local Lemnos trainer/driver Mark Pitt provided a shock result to the Betta Home Living Finley 3-Y-0 Pace over 2190 metres, when Village Jolt/Our Beebee Pocket gelding To The Rescue greeted the judge in a mile rate of 1-59.6 at Supertab odds of $38.60.   Leading out from the pole, To The Rescue was restrained to allow the heavily backed Three Mugs In (gate five) to take over giving him the run of the race.   Using the sprint lane, To The Rescue finished best to score by a head from a death-seating Yankee Strutter, with Three Mugs In 2.7 metres away in third place.   Shepparton (Lemnos) partners Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack combined to land the Betta Home Living Echua Eureka Series (Heat 4) for C0 class over 2190 metres with Lis Mara/Gee Cam five year old entire Last Issue.   Pushing through from gate three on the second line to receive a lovely one/one passage, Jack not happy with the tempo sent Last Issue forward to take over from Blazing Orion at the bell and was never headed, winning by an easy 14.8 metres in advance of Tragic (three back the markers) and Blazing Orion which trailed the winner after crossing Ok Why Me prior to the bell. The mile rate 1-59.1.   Four year old Real Desire/Live Love Laugh gelding Hazpazzaz brought up two wins in a row when successful in the Betta Home Living Seymour Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1690 metres in a brilliant rate of 1-55.   Trained at Sunbury by Justin Livingstone for the Livingstone family, Hazpazzaz driven by Brian Gath starting from the extreme draw spent most of the race at the rear of the field, with NSW visitor Peking Duck (David Moran for Kim Hillier) assuming control running into the first turn.   Still a “mile” off the leaders on turning, Happazzaz weaving in-between runners sprouted wings halfway up the running to blouse the pacemaker by a nose in a tricky finish, with Glenferrie College (one/four – five wide home turn) a half neck away in third place.   The Betta Home Living Deniliquin Pace Final for C1 class which qualified in the heats held the previous Thursday, went the way of heat winner Nothings Final for Undera trainer Glenn Freeman and Avenel based reinsman Mark Pitt.   Given a sweet trip one/one from gate two on the second line following the favourite Indiana Angel (gate two) also a heat winner which shadowed another heat winner in Magic Moment Lombo (gate three), Nothings Final was eased three wide on turning and ran home strongly to register a neck victory over a game Indiana Angel and Tennaya along the sprint lane off the back of the leader.   The  mile rate a slick 1-55.9.   A five year old gelded son of P B Bullville and Timid Lady, Nothings Final has fronted the starter on 52 occasions for 10 wins.   Bendigo (Junortoun) owner/trainer Gary Donaldson has a terrific percentage ratio and landed the Betta Home Living Kyabram Pace for C4 & C5 class over 2190 metres with consistent six year old Art Major/My Gentle Persuasion gelding Bazzas Art in a rate of 1-59.   Driven by Melton based Zac Phillips, Bazzas Art was eased to the tail of the field from gate six, with polemarker Philtra Phella leading out before being crossed by  Stormed Out, while the hot favourite Smo coming off a second in the recent Echuca Cup was trapped on a limb from gate five before going forward to join the pacemaker.   Gaining a beaut ride home three wide on the back of Riseandriseagain in the final circuit, Bazzas Art cruised up to Smo which had led on turning in the straight, before coasting to the wire 5.8 metres ahead of Forbidden Forest (one/one) after working out of gate four, with Smo weakening to finish 2 metres away in third place.   The mile rate 1-59.1.   Punters went home on a much needed happy note when smart Bettors Delight/Dont Answer That filly Morton Plains trained at Shelbourne (Bendigo) by Larry Eastman scored in the Betta Home Living Cobram Pace for C1 class over 2190 metres.   Driven by Chris Alford, Morton Plains a stablemate of Victoria Derby winner Menin Gate raced in the same interests was first up since mid-January and raced in the open from gate four throughout.   Surging past the leader Bright And Sonny approaching the home turn, Morton Plains ($1.70) although under pressure kept on giving and giving to the wire, scoring by a half head only  in 1-58.7 over Just Knew (one/two) and The Pix (one/three).   Len Baker - Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria

Sunday 22nd February 2015 - Three more heats in the 2015 World Driving Championship were run this evening at Newcastle, a large city 160 kilometres north of Sydney.  Famous for its coal, Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbour in the world but tonight all of the attention focused on the ten international harness racing drivers competing at the Newcastle Paceway.  The track itself is 940 metres in circumference. Australia’s Chris Alford started the night in second position after a strong showing in heats one and two, and after a victory in the third heat he assumed top spot on the Championship leaderboard.  Driving Better Than Max, Alford won narrowly, arriving just in time to grab USA star Tim Tetrick and Kardashiancrusader.  Denmark’s Knud Monster finished third on Shez Juslika while Finland’s Mika Forss picked up some important Championship points when he finished fourth on Son Of A Star. Better Than Max Day 3 heat 3 Newcastle from Harbor Television Productions on Vimeo. Heat four was won by Frenchman Tony Le Beller driving The Merchant Banker.  Starting from barrier one, Le Beller pushed The Merchant Banker out early and held the lead despite being pressured by Red Raphael driven by Tim Tetrick.  Le Beller kicked away turning and won comfortably, second was Gee Tee Wage driven by Chris Alford while Norway’s Vidar Hop finished third driving The Puritan.  Spain’s Guillermo Adrover saved plenty of ground and finished fourth with Strawberry Courage. The Merchant Banker Day 3 heat 4 Newcastle from Harbor Television Productions on Vimeo. The fifth heat saw an aggressive drive from Finland’s Mika Forss as he pushed his horse Satu to the lead early despite drawing wide on the track.  After finding the front Forss rated Satu perfectly and was able to sneak away turning for home and held a margin to the finish line with Vidar Hop second on Heza Panamach.  Tim Tetrick finished third with Hangover Joe while Tony Le Beller was fourth on Rollon Baby Belle. Satu Day 3 heat 5 Newcastle from Harbor Television Productions on Vimeo.   Name Point Score After 5 Heats Chris Alford 52 Tim Tetrick 47 Mika Forss 43 Tony Le Beller 33 Guillermo Adrover 32 Vidar Hop 30 Jody Jamieson 29 Knud Monster 28 Dexter Dunn 19 Pierre Vercryusse 17 Peter McMullen Australia (travelling Reserve)   For all of the latest news and replays log onto https://Vimeo.com/channels/wdc15 Day 2 WDC 2015 from Harbor Television Productions on Vimeo. Canada’s Jody Jamieson won the first race at Newcastle tonight.  The race was not part of the World Driving Championship however he produced a great drive to score on Saint Stormy. The Championship will have a rest day on Monday and will then head to Wagga Wagga on Tuesday for another seven heats.  Wagga Wagga is 455 kilometres south of Sydney.  Greg Hayes | Media Coordinator | Harness Racing New South Wales |

Three more heats of the World Driving Championship were run at Newcastle this evening, with Aussie harness racing hero Chris Alford again producing some polished performances. Alford started the night in second position but after a victory in the third heat moved to the top of the leaderboard.  Driving Better Than Max, Alford won narrowly from USA star Tim Tetrick driving Kardashiancrusader. Denmark’s Knud Monster finished third with Shez Juslika, while Finland’s Mika Forss picked up some important points when fourth behind Son Of A Star. Frenchman Tony Le Beller, driving The Merchant Banker, captured heat four be leading throughout to score from Chris Alford and Norway’s Vidar Hop. The fifth heat saw an aggressive drive from Finland’s Mika Forss as he pushed Satu to the lead despite drawing wide on the track.  Forss scored from Vidar Hop, driving Heza Panamach, and Tetrick, who partnered Hangover Joe.   Name Point Score After 5 Heats Chris Alford 52 Tim Tetrick 47 Mika Forss 43 Tony Le Beller 33 Guillermo Adrover 32 Vidar Hop 30 Jody Jamieson 29 Knud Monster 28 Dexter Dunn 19 Pierre Vercryusse 17 Peter McMullen Australia (travelling Reserve) As a side note, Canada’s Jody Jamieson won the opening race, which was not part of the Championship. Jamieson produced a great drive to score with Saint Stormy. Championship participants will have a rest tomorrow before heading to Wagga Wagga on Tuesday for another seven heats.  Wagga Wagga is 455 kilometres south of Sydney. HRNSW Media

Victorian harness racing star Lennytheshark is officially the first qualifier for the Inter Dominion. Lennytheshark sealed his berth in the TAB.com.au sponsored Final be capturing the Melton heat just moments ago. The $750,000 Inter Dominion is scheduled to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. Driven by premier reinsman Chris Alford, the son of Four Starzzz Shark led throughout from barrier three to account for Flaming Flutter and Im Corzin Terror. Thrilled with the five-year-old’s performance, trainer David Aiken is confident Lennytheshark can make his presence felt in the Final. “A lot will come down to the draw, but he will prove more than competitive,” Aiken said. “After three runs back he is in top shape and will be spot on for the Final.” Lennytheshark is no stranger to top shelf glory at Menangle having captured the New South Wales Derby in 2013. PAUL COURTS

Birchip will be the place to be tonight after Menin Gate’s stunning harness racing VHRSC Victoria Derby success. The Larry Eastman trained son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Dreams Of Heaven won the early speed duel to find the lead in the 2240-metre race, driver Chris Alford spearing him to the pegs from gate six after pocket rocket Justbritell initially led. Race favourite Follow The Stars with Mark Purdon in the cart followed Alford across and settled second, with Artistic Flite one-one and Justbritell happy to grab the leader’s back. They stayed in that formation for the bulk of the race before Art Union commenced a run down the back straight. But Art Union’s forward move was short lived when that horse and Artistic Flite locked wheels, which cost both runners any winning hope and also inconvenienced plenty of others. Turning for home it was Menin Gate with a strong kick and Follow The Stars in hot pursuit. The pair battled tooth and nail in the stretch but Alford was able to lift a bit more out of a gutsy Menin Gate, the Birchip crew absolutely ecstatic and roaring with excitement as they won by 2.7m. Follow The Stars was gutsy but no match for the winner, while Spare Me Days finished third and Justbritell was consistent as usual in fourth. Menin Gate's mile rate was 1:56.2. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Premier Victorian reinsman Chris Alford has accepted the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s invitation to be the 2015 Gold Crown Honouree. Alford will be inducted into the ranks of the Gold Crown Honourees during this year’s Carnival at a Mayoral Dinner on Thursday, March 26. In making the announcement, Club President Mark Collins stated he is delighted Alford had accepted. “Chris Alford is an industry legend and so will sit comfortably within the ranks of our Gold Crown Honourees,” Collins declared. “Chris Alford is the most successful driver in Gold Crown history, having won nine of our big Finals, including two Gold Crowns, three Gold Tiaras, a Gold Chalice and three Gold Bracelets. “He has also won 100 plus races across Australia every year since 1993/94 as well as 12 Grand Circuit and 29 Group Ones, including the pinnacle event of harness racing – the Inter Dominion Final - with Golden Reign in 1995.” Collins pointed out there was more to Alford’s nomination than his on track success. “Following the diagnosis of his daughter Katie with Neurofibramotsis (NF), Chris and his wife Alison have been doing outstanding work in raising awareness of the condition and raising bucket loads of money for research into a cure,” Collins said. “We are absolutely delighted Chris Alford has accepted our invitation to be our Gold Crown Honouree. “His contribution to the industry as whole, this carnival in particular and the community at large ensures he sits very comfortably in those esteemed ranks.” BHRC Media

Champion reinsman Chris Alford has been selected to represent Australia at the 2015 World Drivers’ Championships in New South Wales. Alford won last season's Victorian Drivers’ Premiership with 291 wins, despite missing about six weeks with a broken collarbone. Nationally, Alford registered 298 victories to be crowned Australia's premier driver. “It’s a big thrill to be able to compete against the best drivers in the world,” Alford declared. “Last season was a very good season. I drove some really good horses and I don’t think it could have gone much better really.” Alford, 46, has driven more than 5300 winners in an illustrious career spanning 20 years. This will be his second time Alford has represented Australia, after 'donning' the Green and Gold in 1997. - HRV Media

Ballarat Cup winner Im Corzin Terror will head to Tasmania to contest Sunday’s $40,000 Tasmania Harness Racing Cup. Trainer Amanda Grieve said the seven-year-old’s Bray Raceway victory last Saturday night was “a surprise”, but added the geldings had been “going well”. “He had no luck at Cranbourne when he was making ground along inside,” Grieve said. “He was up to his right trip and he went really well on Saturday night.” With the Group One decimated by scratchings, Im Corzin Terror – driven by Chris Alford –worked to the lead early in the four-horse field. Given an easy time during the middle stages, the son of Western Terror sprinted home in a breathtaking 53.9 seconds, rating 1:59.7 for the 2710-metre trip. "It was a great drive," Greive declared. “We’ll go Tasmania at the weekend. Then he’ll defend his Bendigo Cup title before the Shepparton and Victoria Cups.” Thanks to his latest triumph, Im Corzin Terror is exempt from ballot in the Victoria Cup, which carries Grand Circuit status. “It just helps us plan his campaign out a bit and not worry about getting a start in the race,” Grieve said. HRV Media

Former VFL footballer Ricky McLean and his family took the harness racing honours when Broadway Classic won the first race on the new Warragul Pacing Bowl last Monday afternoon. A well known figure in harness racing over many years, McLean and his family own the seven-year-old gelding which led throughout in a fast mile rate of 1:58.9 one second outside the horse's previous best time on the much larger 1400 metre track at Menangle in Sydney, which indicates the quality of Warragul's refurbished course. Ricky, who played football for Carlton and Richmond in the 1970's, trained horses for some years but now his son Shannon prepares the family stable from their Gisborne property. Warragul property developer John Castle presented Ricky with a commemorative trophy after the event. Most races on the day were won by leaders, though this may be a reflection of the smaller fields and style of racing rather than the track itself. Most leaders were allowed to race along unchallenged in front in their events. Top reinsman Chris Alford showed what the new Warragul track is capable of in the last event, however, when he bought Balletto home with a fast finishing run to claim Stoned Again, which had led and stolen a break on the field turning for home. Balletto defied the trend of leaders and proved that if a horse is put into the race at the right time, they still can come from back in the field on the smaller track. Grande Anse and Jodis Choice were two impressive winners earlier in the day. Both horses showed improvement on their recent runs and should win further races. Local pacer Melton Little Max scored his eleventh win at start 211 for trainer Allan Preston and driver Tony Mallia in the sixth event. A much larger crowd than usual attended the meeting and witnessed Warragul Harness Racing Club life member Don Collins cut the ribbon to open the track before race one. Collins, in his 90's, part owned the brilliant Inter Dominion winning pacer Golden Reign in the 1990's. Important guests included the engineers and track design team responsible for the upgraded facility, along with re-elected Narracan MP Gary Blackwood, and Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Ken Latta and CEO John Anderson. Drivers praised the rebuild works and new surface, which was turned out in excellent condition by the track maintenance staff. Warragul races again on Monday afternoon, January 12.   Kyle Galley

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