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Although Bart Lightning is having his first race start in the Glenview Park Trotters Handicap at Warragul on Monday, the harness racing seven-year-old is already well and truly familiar with the racetrack surroundings. For the last 18 months, Bart Lightning by the SJ's Photo horse Zooma has served his apprenticeship as a teaching horse for the Gippsland Harness Training Centre. Between sixty and seventy students have gained their initial experience at driving behind Bart Lightning, either on their own, or in the Centre's double seater sulky. A perfect, placid teaching horse, Bart Lightning is the first point of contact for new students, as they learn about the sport of trotting, including unfamiliar subjects such as gearing up of horses, training methods and trackwork. "He's always been for everyone, for their first contact," GHTC trainer Jenni Lewis said. "He's not the bravest horse around, but he is the most trustworthy and versatile." Since arriving at the Centre via part-owner/breeder Trevor Brown in July 2013, Bart Lightning has done countless laps of the Warragul Pacing Bowl. But it is only now that Jenni has the confidence to place the horse in a race. Bart Lightning made a mistake in a barrier trial at Warragul last Saturday, but did win a trial on the track the previous week. Local horseman Gary Quinlan has been steering Bart Lightning in his recent trials, helping the horse build his confidence. Jenni would have sought the services of Gary for the race drive on Monday, however he gave away race driving some years ago. Top horseman Chris Alford will take the reins on Monday. Ironically, Bart Lightning's stablemate, Golden Phaeton, also aged seven, will too make his race debut in Monday's event. Although she is not going into the race overwhelmed with confidence about the chances of the two horses, Jenni is pleased that the Centre has trotters at the races again, as it has been a couple of years since a squaregaiting horse has sported the stable's silks. Over the last decade, horses such as Selsdon and Drop Of Paradise (both winners of Horse of the Year at Warragul), have been among the best trotters produced by the Centre. An influx of student enrolments in recent times has seen the numbers of horses at the Centre increase. Recent additions to the barn include fast class pacer Mediation, and youngster Mystic Castle. Currently there are 20 full-time students enrolled at the Warragul facility, with a further 15 secondary school students participating in the once-a-week VET in Schools program. Many students past and present will be on track on Monday to see the pair of trotters compete. Meanwhile, the Traralgon Pacing Cup is the highlight on a bumper nine-event card on Monday. The race recognises the twenty-year history of the trotting sport at Traralgon, and runs at 3:02pm. Longwarry pacer McNiven looks well placed in the event, after a solid effort in winning a barrier trial at Warragul in fast time last Saturday. Champion reinsman Chris Alford trains and drives Stormed Out, and Chris is in pursuit of his fifth winning drive in a Traralgon Pacing Cup. Chris drove the last race winner on the old Traralgon track. Such has been the response from trainers to Monday's card, the first race will run at the early time of 11:42am to accommodate the big program. Strong entries have been received for all races on the day with 93 horses drawn across the nine events. Picture attached of Bart Lightning in training mode at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre at Warragul.   Kyle Galley

Macho Comacho’s standing start record held him in good stead on Friday night in the Benstud Enduro at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton. The six-year-old by Royal Mattjesty out of Alberts Daughter stepped swiftly from the tapes, quickly establishing a handy buffer and holding on to it for the next 2760m. Bettor Rock On camped on the $6.90 leader’s back for Greg Sugars from barrier two and poked through in the straight to finish third, just pipped in a photo finish by second-placed Metro Mike, who made an early move to be in the chair riding a comfortable first half (62.8secs) for Jason Lee. Driver Chris Alford rated the tempo perfectly aboard Macho Comacho from the Dean Braun stable, the gelding upping the ante through a 28.2secs third quarter before ripping to the line in 26.8secs (55secs last half) to give nothing else a shot. The win was Macho Comacho’s ninth career victory, all nine coming in standing start races. “It certainly helped him, getting back to the stand,” Alford said. “When he first came over here from New Zealand he had good form in some country cups." “The mobile races don’t really suit him as much.” Macho Comacho had been screaming out to win one after three straight second placings of late, all in mobile races. Getting out to a trip was also certainly no problem as he stays all day. Alford predicted Macho Comacho would be a fierce Country Cups Carnival competitor next season. The win was the first leg of a weekend treble for Braun, who teamed with reinsman Nathan Jack for a double at Cranbourne on Sunday night with well-bred two-year-old Soho Chelsea (Mach Three/Cornsilk) and talented three-year-old filly Quaint Glen (Pay Me Christian/Quantam Franco). CODY WINNELL

Harness racing trainer Nicole Molander and champion reinsman Chris Alford finished with winning trebles at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, Friday the 29th of May. To find out how many trebles Alford has had on a metropolitan race night it would take significant trawling through the archives, so I’ll have to take it on notice and put it on the to-do list. For now, let’s just say he’s probably had more trebles than the world's No.1 dart thrower. For Molander, her stable is on fire and tonight she wasn’t just enjoying success with the squaregaiters, which she’s famous for producing, but a lightly-raced pacer by the name of Dream Fulfilled, who impressively took the first race. The Bettors Delight/For Dear Life gelding won the DNR Logistics Pace Final with Rodney Petroff in the cart, who finished with a winning double of his own. A son of a former NSW Oaks winner and an APG winner and runner-up, Dream Fulfilled made up for a luckless last-start sixth at Bendigo with an all-the-way victory over 2240m. He carved out a 61.2 first half, quickened marginally through the third section (29.5) and sprinted home in 28.4 to rate 1:58.0 flat for a 2.8-metre win over polemarker Dependlebury (Anthony Butt) and third placegetter Snip Of Grand (Adrian Douglas). A top drive by Charlie Borg ensured in-form four-year-old mare Lucky Metro success in the Garrards Pace Final over 2240m for trainer Douglas Adams. The Metropolitan/Armbro Sunshine mare went super in her heat from a good draw, but had to overcome barrier 13 tonight. No problem. Lucky Metro cruised around early three- and four-wide to get to the breeze before out-staying early leader Five Star Belle, a brave Bushi and Nobetterthanthis in the finish. Bushi (Lance Justice) was a head behind the winner at the end with Nobetterthanthis (Michael Bellman sprint-laning for third in a mile rate of 1:58.3. Molander’s second winner for the evening came via impressive four-year-old Muscle Mass/Invasions Pride gelding Sammy Charles, who won the Alabar Vicbred Trot over 1720m despite an outside back-row alley. With Alford in the gig, Sammy Charles held off a fast-finishing Star Style (Gavin Lang) to score by 1.9m in 2:01.1. Alford took the half-brother to Let Me Thru and Lord Liam around the field three-wide to the home turn before staving off the late comers at the business end. Star Style’s run was nearly as impressive as his flashy mane, while third placegetter Opia and Monique Burnett are knocking on the door of another victory. Follow. Four-year-old mare Shes A Runa is well on song for this year’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series after defeating Barimah in tonight’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship First Heat. Crossed early by Damian Wilson aboard Barimah, Alford sat Shes A Runa (Jeremes Jet/Runacullen) behind the leader before bursting through along the sprint lane in the home run for a 2.3m win in 1:58.2. The Family Guy was third for Gavin Lang. Taswegian star Barynya captured the Eynesbury Golf Club Pace over 2240m for trainer Dick Eaves and Gavin Lang, the daughter of Blissfull Hall/Lombo Anastasia holding the lead from the pole and repelling fierce challenges from Spitfire Rose (Greg Sugars) and Washmepockets (Emmett Brosnan), who dead-heated for second. Keayang Active, who started favourite, ran fourth after sitting parked in the breeze throughout and weakening late. The winner's rate was 1:57.1. Alford was at it again in the sixth race, the Garrard’s Horse and Hound Trot over 2240m with in-form Monorail giving Molander three winners for the evening. The six-year-old gelding by Dr Ronerail out of Globe Trotter used the shortcuts to win along the sprint lane after sitting behind race leader Mister Independent, holding off Star Gun (Matthew Craven) by a half-head with Maybelina (Lang) pipping Mister Independent (Michael Bellman) for third. The winner rated two minutes flat. Reinsman Jason Lee continued his affinity with Metro Mike, winning his fourth race aboard the Metropolitan/Tuscan Skies six-year-old from the Emma Stewart stable in Race 7, the VHRMA Young Pedro Free for All. Despite drawing gate seven over the short-course 1720m trip, Metro Mike worked forward and proved too strong for his rivals, veteran Wartime Sweetheart (David Aiken) battling on for second and Exciteusinthecity finding the line nicely in third for Tim McLean. The winner went 1:54.5. Consistent five-year-old McArdle/Jarita mare McRita won the second heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship, Race 8, for trainer/driver Petroff. From the pole, McRita came out swiftly before handing up to Ithappenstobeametro, who flew out of gate seven. A slick lead time of 44.1 seemed to set it up for the swoopers, but they never really turned up and McRita was able to finish on strongly from behind the leader – using the sprint lane to advantage for a 4.6m win, Ithappenstobeametro running a big race for second, while My Bella Starr snatched third for Gavin Lang. McRita rated 1:56.3. King of the claimers Composed (Our Sir Vancelot/Troys Dream) took out the Teddy Boomgardt Claiming Pace over 2240m for trainer David Aiken and son reinsman Josh Aiken. The lone runner on the back row, Composed made his move mid-race, dashing around to run to the lead. Livin It Lovin It (Petroff), shooting for five straight wins tonight, had initially led from barrier seven but handed up when Composed came hunting. In the home straight Livin It Lovin It took it up to Composed, but the leader packed too much punch, holding on by 2.3m. Our Mels Dream, a stablemate of Livin It Lovin It from the Beau Tindale yard, ran third with Lisa Miles in the cart. The winner clocked a mile rate of 1:56.7. Capping the night was Fabrication (Dream Vacation/Figment) taking out the Olympus Feeds 3YO Vicbred Trot for trainer David Abrahams and driver David Murphy. Fabrication scored by 6.1m over Donski (Tony Mallia), who ran on well, and Belts (Bellman) in third, the winner’s mile rate 2:02.3. Tomorrow night’s harness racing heads to Bray Raceway, Ballarat, with the John Slack Memorial Ballarat Trotters Cup the feature event on what looks an exciting card. Cody Winnell

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

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