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Harness racing driver Chris Alford is confident in-form mare Tandias Bromac will have no trouble handling the step up on class at Melton tomorrow night. The Amanda Grieve-trained pacer has won three of her last four outings, including a last-start 1:58.5 win in an M2-M4 at the same venue. Despite competing against the likes of fellow rising stars Maximan and Bettor Rock On, the five-year-old is ready for the acid test according to the premier reinsman. “It’s a good test for her, but she’s racing very well,” Alford said. “She won’t disgrace herself.” Early race favourite Keayang Cullen was scratched this morning, leaving Maximan a short-priced elect, but Alford said he would have preferred the Marg Lee-trained getting remaining in the field. “Keayang Cullen would probably have kept them rolling up front,” Alford said. “Tandias Bromac can come out of the gate well, but against this kind of class, she’s better driven a bit quieter, so it didn’t help that he got scratched.” HRV Media

Following a successful cameo appearance, promising harness racing youngster Spinners Boy is heading to the paddock. Brought back in work purely for the Empire Stallions Home Grown series, Spinners Boy accomplished his mission by capturing tonight’s Group Two Final at Tabcorp Park Melton at his second run from a spell. Spinners Boy was first-up in his heat when fourth behind Another Broadway before annexing the rich decider in impressive style. Pleased with the gelding’s performances, trainer Chris Alford will give Spinners Boy “four to six weeks off” before targeting features such as the Victoria Derby and Empire Vicbred Super Series. “He will go back to the paddock again now,” Alford said. “I’ll give him four to six weeks off, then bring him up slowly. “He’s only had three starts and has already shown he is above average. That said, I don’t want to push him. “If he is forward enough when the Derby comes around I will put him in a heat, otherwise we’ll just wait for the Sires’ a little further down the track. “We’ve taken our time with him so far, so no need to change that now.” With Alford in the sulky, Spinners Boy was lucky to avoid early trouble from his second row draw to settle towards the tail of the field as Abitgoingonhere led while being pressured by Shadow Of Fortune. Angled three-wide leaving the back straight, the son of American Ideal quickly sprinted to the lead before cruising to a soft eight-and-a-half metre win from Midnitedelite, with Upwardly a nose away third. “I thought he would go really well despite the draw,” Alford said. “Although well beaten in his heat he still went well considering he was first-up. “For a few days earlier in the week he was a bit flat, but he came good as the week progressed and was pretty sharp tonight.” Rating 1:56.6 for the 1720 metres, Spinners Boy covered the last half in 58.9 seconds to take his earnings to just over $35,000 for owners Katie and Sam – Alford’s kids! “I don’t think I’ve ever had better owners,” Alford said. “Win, lose or draw, the ‘sling’ is the same…a hug and kiss from both of them!” PAUL COURTS

Kialla trainer-driver David Moran enjoyed a winning double with two of his in-form pacers last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both The Baggy Green (a four-year-old mare by Art Major out of Lady Waratah) and Our Santa Catalina (a three-year-old filly by Rocknroll Hanover out of San Sophia) carried their strong Breeders Crown form into last night's meeting and both recorded strong victories. The Baggy Green, who ran second to Frith in the four-year-old mares’ Breeders Crown Final last time out, found the back of early leader Earth Angel last night used the sprint lane at the finish to wind up for a 2.3-metre victory in the Alabar Pace, Race 1, over 1720 metres. Earth Angel led for Josh Aiken with Isabelle Delacour (Jason Lee) parking in the breeze after a failed attack for the front. Glenferrie EJ (Jodi Quinlan) ran second after a sustained run three-wide, while Earth Angel boxed on gamely for third. The Baggy Green started at $2.20, kicking the night off on a winning note for punters. Moran’s second winner came up in Race 4, the Harness Breeders Vic 3YO Classic over 1720 metres. He drove Our Santa Catalina, who scored an upset win over last-start Group 1 winner Just Cala (Amanda Turnbull) by 1.8 metres, with Madison Louise (Chris Alford) third. With 1200 metres to go Moran and Our Santa Catalina eased three-wide from the one-out-one-back spot and moved to the breeze outside race leader Dazzling Arden. At this stage Turnbull had the $1.40 favourite Just Cala in last position. Down the back, though, Turnbull started her move, taking the Dennis Picker trained filly around the field three-wide. But the leaders quickened up with middle sectionals of 29.9 and 28.4, Just Cala forced to work hard for the bulk of the final lap. Once the field straightened up for the run to the judge, Our Santa Catalina shook off Dazzling Arden and then hit the line in a 27.8 final quarter. Just Cala simply didn’t have the firepower at the finish as Our Santa Catalina – who ran third in a Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat two starts back – showed enormous grit in the run to the line. Our Santa Catalina has now won seven of 20 starts. Leading reinsman Nathan Jack was the other driver to pick up a winning double last night, piloting Bad Habbott to a 2.7-metre triumph in the Home Timber and Hardware Melton 3YO Trot for trainer Russell Commens before finishing the program aboard Shared Interest, the Russell Jack trained gelded son of Angus Hall obliterating his rivals by 18.1 metres in the Haley Toulmin 2YO Trot over 1720 metres. Other winners on the card were Action Kosmos for Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan in the Tab.com.au Trot and Game We Play in the Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final for trainer-driver Craig Turnbull, the son of Courage Under Fire too strong as the long odds-on favourite in the race Karkarooc who finished a well-beaten seventh. In-form mare Tandias Bromac won the Pet Rock Pace for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Chris Alford while the Michael Stanley trained and driven Young Modern won the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720 metres. Gumdrops won for trainer Steve Zammit and driver Rodney Petroff in the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 Sept Pace, and the Chris Lang trained and driven Lord Liam won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap. The Victorian harness racing spotlight turns to Cranbourne tonight (Saturday) with the first of 11 races at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Harness racing participants are widely-regarded as being among the most generous and that status has been proven yet again. Less than a week out from the TAB.COM.AU Charity Day, a host of star reinsman have declared they will donate their earnings from a specified meeting towards the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. Chris Alford and Shayne Cramp (Victoria), Luke McCarthy (New South Wales), Peter McMullen (Queensland), Ricky Duggan (Tasmania), Clint and Gary Hall junior (Western Australia) and Ryan Hryhorec (South Australia) will all ‘sport’ the foundation’s racing silks at a program of their choice and will donate all earnings from the day to the cause. On top of that, several of Victoria’s leading concession drivers have also dipped into their pockets. Josh Aiken, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan, Haydon Gray and Zac Phillips have joined forces to make a donation. Each has “thrown in” $200, with the collective $1000 - a great compliment to the recent $5000 from James and Son and the $1000 from Arthur Fullwood. Thrilled with the Fab Five’s gesture, event organiser Robbie O’Connell stated the friendship between the talented reinsmen will end come game day. “It is a wonderful gesture from the five of them,” O’Connell said. “One top of their game fee, they have thrown in an extra $200. “They may have come together as a group for this, but they will split up into three teams on game day, so I’m sure white line fever will creep in. “No doubt they will enjoy revving each other up on the field and give the odd hip and shoulder for the sake of it.” Other industry identities to support the day include Alabar Bloodstock, which has covered the costs of the footballs and netballs as well as donating a service to Grinfromeartoear, which will be the headliner of a major raffle. A service to Union Guy donated by John Campbell is also in the mix, with connections of Red Samurai also chiming in with a service to the former handy trotter. There are also plenty of prizes for the non-breeders, including a 10 kilogram block of Cadbury chocolate, Bolinda Publishing Audio Books and a Myer voucher. Yirribee Stud has returned with mugs for the Most Valuable Player in each code, while Tabcorp is back as the football jumper sponsor and will supply jumpers for the four teams. The squads will be assembled from four districts – Melton (Go Blues), Ballarat, Shepparton and Bendigo. Other sponsors include Seelite Windows and Doors, Kevin Riseley, Allan McNeil and Glenn Sharp. A small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) covers the costs of Sunday’s sausage sizzle, the games and the night’s function. Last year’s event raised $14,000, which is outstanding considering the foundation receives $18,000 from the government. Along with the fun and games, the function will also include a memorabilia auction. It was last year’s auction that proved to be the biggest money spinner for the cause. Paul Smart from Azuma International supplied the various pieces of memorabilia, which raised almost $8000 for the Chrildren's Tumour Foundation. Unlike 99.9 percent of auctions, Azuma International didn’t place a reserve on the items. For examples, a supplier will put a $500 reserve on a particular item, and should it sell for $550, the charity only receives $50! Azuma International, however, split the takings down the middle. Paul Courts    

It was a case of third time lucky for top harness racing mare Spidergirl in the Australasian Breeders’ Crown. Missing the Final as a two-year-old, Spidergirl then finished fourth in the three-year-old division won by Quite A Moment last season. Returning for another crack at Tabcorp Park Melton last Sunday, the David Aiken-trained trotter was simply a class above her rivals when driven by premier reinsman Chris Alford. Aiken is naturally stoked Spidergirl upstaged the ‘boys’ to cap off a tremendous campaign with a Group One win. “She has had a wonderful year and this just tops it off perfectly,” Aiken said. “She’s met and bettered every challenge we’ve set for her and I couldn’t be happier with the year she’s had. “She is just a terrific mare which gives her best every time she goes around.” Beginning swiftly to lead from the pole, Spidergirl was allowed to roll along as Blitzthemcalder worked in the ‘death seat’. Fending off the initial challenge on the home turn, the daughter of Yankee Spider proved too slick as she completed a two-metre win from Glenferrie Typhoon, which finished along the sprint lane. Blitzthemcalder battled on to be 10-and-a-half metres away third. “What can you say about her...she is just a great mare,” Aiken said. “The draw was in her favour today and she was good enough to take advantage of it.” Rating 1:58.7 for the 2240 metres, the squaregaiter covered the last half in 57.3 seconds. To be given a short spell, Spidergirl will be aimed at next season’s majors, with the Great Southern Star the primary target. “I’ll give her a bit of time off and have her back and ready for the main races around Christmas,” Aiken said. “Obviously we’d like to have her in the Great Southern Star, which she is guaranteed a place in, so we will work her campaign around that.” Owned by Kevin Riseley’s Sheron Park, Spidergirl extended her record to 19 wins and eight placings from 31 starts for earnings of $292,587. Paul Courts  

A month ago mighty mare Spidergirl made it a clean sweep of harness racings Vicbred Super Series with a brilliant win in the four-year-old trotting division. She’d won the Vicbred finals at age two and three but had come up short in the previous Breeders Crown finals. But today the daughter of Yankee Spider netted the Breeders Crown win that had so far eluded her, taking out the four-year-old trotters’ final. Trained by David Aiken – bringing up a race to race Group 1 double for the Avenel horseman – and driven by champion reinsman Chris Alford, Spidergirl led easily in the 2240-metre race from pole before proving too tough for runner-up Glenferrie Typoon, who had a great trip leader’s back in the run, and tough trotter Blitzthemcalder, who sat parked. Paris Pepperell finished fourth. Spidergirl’s winning mile rate was 1:58.7 and the margins were 2m x 10m. “Getting to drive great horses like her makes it easy to get out of bed each morning,” winning driver Alford said post-race. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Another one of Harnesslink's previews for the big day of harness racing at Melton on Sunday. First up this time it is the turn of the 4 year old mares. Breeders Crown 4 Year Old Mares Final One mare stands head and shoulders above the rest here and that of course is the outstanding racemare Frith. The winner of 28 races as well as 8 placings from just 37 starts, Frith has a major obstacle in her way to claim win number 29. Frith has drawn one on the second row and is going to need divine intervention at some point in the race if she is to add another trophy to the cabinet. The tactics here are all important but we feel Bruce Harpley may drop Frith back early to try to get away from the inside running line. If Frith can get off the inner in the first lap then she is still the horse to beat but the draw has definitely brought her right back to the field. Just as clearly second pick for us is the super consistent Im Smouldering who has only missed a placing four times in 42 starts. She has the master Gavin Lang in the bike and the draw of five is perfect for her. Im Smouldering will definitely work her way forward and has the all round game to win this race.  After those two mares it becomes a very even contest but we always like to stick with the proven class performers and that's what we have done here. Our Femme Fatale from barrier one is a major player but she will want to take a sit because if she leads she is a sitting duck for Frith. Who she hands up to is the big question but Arma Express looks the logical choice. The Western Australian Arma Express will definitely have a look for the lead from barrier three for her trainer /driver Donald Harper. Arma Express has only had two runs back from a long spell so should have derived further improvement from her gutsy run in the heat last Sunday. The other mare we like is Couageousnquick but her draw of six makes this a difficult ask for the talented mare. Chris Alford in the bike is a big plus and she is a major player here with the run to suit. SELECTIONS Even from the draw we are still drawn back to Frith. She is one hell of a racemare and with any kind of luck Frith will notch win number 29 on Sunday. The danger for us is undoubtedly Im Smouldering who looks back to her best after her tough run for second to Frith last Sunday in the heat. After that we think that Our Femme Fatale, Arma Express and Courageousnquick all have the talent to play a part in the finish. First four players should add The Baggy Green and Cenosilocophobia to the mix as cover. Breeders Crown 4 year Old Colts/Geldings Final The old saying that form is temporary and class is permanent is apt in the case of the outstanding four year old Bit Of A Legend. Sent to Perth in December last year for the Golden Nugget, the trip turned into a nightmare for  Bit Of A Legend and he returned to New Zealand with his tail between his legs. Nursed back to full fitness by Cran Dalgety, Bit Of A Legend had his first start back from the Perth disaster at Melton last Sunday in a Breeders Crown heat. Wide early and then parked there after, Bit Of A Legend just absolutely blew them away when Dexter Dunn asked him to run at the 400 meters mark. He should take a huge amount of improvement out of his first run for over nine months and even from six on the second row Bit Of A Legend is first pick for us.  The obvious danger is Chilli Palmer who has drawn at barrier five on the front line. He likes to launch off a horses back and is not renowned for doing it tough but he does have a lightning sprint if held up for that one run. Chilli Palmer will go back at the start and look for that slingshot run at them late in the piece. The Tasmanian Pachacuti has really been in the zone lately but faces his stiffest test from four on the second line. Still a major player and can rough it but the draw has hurt his winning prospects in our view.. The winner should come from those three runners we have previewed. The next two after the leading trio are Marty Monkhouser and Lettucefib who could both run in three with a run to suit. SELECTIONS  Bit Of A Legend is shooting for his third Breeders Crown title on Sunday and we think he will bag number three. A combination of a great horse, trainer and driver means Bit Of A Legend picks himself in our view. Chilli Palmer is a clear second pick as he has beaten Guaranteed and Smoken Up this season so he has all the ability in the world. The only negative is his racing style but as he has shown in the past he can overcome that. Pachacuti has won ten of his last eleven and winning can become a habit. His trainer Barrie Rattray is top class and Pachacuti will be primed to run the race of his life on Sunday. Marty Monkhouser and Lettucefib are the next two runners we like while first four players should include Flaming Flutter and Lochinver as cover. Harnesslink Media

Another preview for harness racings big day on Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton and this time it is the four year old trotters that hold centre stage. Once again the 4 year old trotters are all thrown in together (unlike the pacers) but this time it is a mare that everyone has to beat.  Breeders Crown 4 Year Old Trotters Final The way the draws have worked out for this race have lead us to the conclusion that Spidergirl looks one of the bets of the day. She has been in outstanding form all season, having won five group races and only missing a placing on one occasion in eleven starts. Spidergirl has gate speed to burn and is as tough as she is quick and Chris Alford is on board so she ticks all the boxes. The main challenger of course is Blitzthemcalder who has Gavin Lang in the bike after Chris Alford stuck with Spidergirl a few starts back. Blitzthemcalder hasn't quite kicked on from his stellar three year old season but he has mixed it with the very best at times this season and at his very best he could win this race but he just doesn't seem in the zone at the moment.  It is not that he is going poorly, it is just that he appears a touch off his best and that won't be good enough against Spidergirl. The way the draw has worked out means that the stablemate of Blitzthemcalder in  Glenferrie Typhoon looms as a genuine threat. Glenferrie Typhoon showed gate speed to lead at her last start before sprinting her last 400 meters in 27.8 to nail Blitzthemcalder.  She has drawn one on the second row behind Spidergirl so Glenferrie Typhoon should get the run of the race.  After those three it all becomes a bit messy either due to the draws or the inconsistent performances of the horses involved. Paris Pepperell was unlucky last weekend after getting trapped back on the inner and then flying home late and she is drawn to get a soft run handy to the pace so has to be a first four chance. Our Dreamlover galloped in the straight last week but his run three starts ago was super so he is not a forlorn chance to run in the first four. Vics Cheval and Glenferrie Dreamer are both badly handicapped by the draw but could run first four if the breaks go their way and Quite A Moment is in the same boat. SELECTIONS Spidergirl in one for us.  She is in the zone, has the draw and the driver and that should be game over. The dangers are the stablemates Blitzthemcalder and Glenferrie Typhoon who are both going near enough but not as good as Spidergirl. After that it is a bit of a lottery but Paris Pepperell and Our Dreamlover appeal most to us while those wanting to really chance their arm should include Vics Cheval Glenferrie Dreamer and Quite A Moment Harnesslink Media 

2 Year Old Pacing Colts/Geldings Breeders Crown Final. There is never any such thing as a certainty in harness racing but Follow The Stars is about as close as you can get when you are assessing the 2 year old colts/geldings division of this years Breeders Crown Final. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, this Victorian bred son of Art Major is nine from ten this season with his only miss coming when he was completely wiped out when mounting a run in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in New Zealand. Although Follow The Stars has drawn wide at six, (emergency out) it is a draw that gives his driver Mark Purdon plenty of options early. Throughout the season he has won from in front and from off the pace so he doesn't need to lead to win and with such a quality all round game it is hard to see him being rolled. The biggest danger the way the draws have panned out is the stable mate of Follow The Stars in Kept Under Wraps. This New South Wales bred son of Bettor's Delight has won five from eight this season and his run for second in the semi final after being brought to a standstill early and then working overtime for the rest of the race was really top class. Having drawn barrier three, Kept Under Wraps who is to be driven by top reinsman Greg Sugars looks a likely leader from the draw and then has the option to to either park Follow The Stars or take a trail behind him. Either way Kept Under Wraps is a must for multiple players. From there this race becomes a bit of a nightmare with the pick of the rest of the runners all drawing on the second line. If Follow The Stars runs home in 55 and change in the final as he did in the semi final, then those back in the field will struggle to make ground as we saw at Ballarat on Saturday night. Several horses in Follow The Stars semi final looked slightly disappointing but you can't make a lot of ground up when they are going that quick off the front. So we decided to plump for class in our selections but there are so many variables the way the draw has worked out that some of the other runners off the front line may fill a minor placing on Sunday. Burnaholeinmypocket went super in his semi final but the draw negates his gatespeed and he needs a bit of luck from three on the second line. Birdy Mach has the worst possible draw of one on the second line which could see him settle well back but he is a high class juvenile so a big run would not surprise. Selections. Follow The Stars in one. Kept Under Wraps is just as easily second for us from the draw with Burnaholeinmypocket and Birdy Mach next on class not their draws. After that it becomes hard to predict but we thought both Controversial and Artistic Flite went super in the semi finals. 2 Year Old Pacing Fillies Breeders Crown Final Before the draw came out, the Mark Purdon trained Linda Lovegrace looked very hard to beat but since she has drawn one on the second line, the race suddenly looks a lot more even with the filly drawn in front of her in The Final Frontier a certainty to get crossed at the start which will leave Linda Lovegrace needing luck from back on the inner. Her main opponent in the final is fellow Kiwi Kate Perry who has drawn barrier four which is perfect for her and with Dexter Dunn driving in career best form, this combination now looks the one they all have to beat. Another Kiwi in the form of the Mach Three filly Cyclone Kate has drawn barrier five and looms as a big winning chance after her big run for second to Linda Lovegrace from second last at the 800 meters mark on Saturday night in the semi final. Yet another Kiwi in Joannes A Delight came from five on the second line in her semi final to push Kate Perry to half a neck in her first run for over five weeks so she will have derived a lot of benefit from her semi final run. Chris Alford has picked up the plum drive on the New South Wales bred Big Lucy from the Mark Purdon barn but four on the second line has meant she is going to need a touch of luck from out there.  Selections The draw means that Kate Perry has got the easiest road to the winners circle of all of the favoured runners. Dexter Dunn was keen to keep Big Lucy in the pocket last week and that meant that Kate Perry was not completely let down so she looks the one to us. Joanne's A Delight is a clear second pick for us even from the draw while Cyclone Kate and Big Lucy are genuine winning chances. So that brings us to Linda Lovegrace and we are not sure how to rate her. If she can clear the traffic in front of her then she is the horse to beat but from one second row with a horse in front of you that is going to get crossed it is a lot easier said than done.  However her run for second to Follow The Stars two starts back was outstanding with the last 400 meters in 26.3 so don't discard her chances of rolling over the top of this field if she gets the right run. Harnesslink Media

WHAT began as ‘we should have a…’ moment between a few horsemen has quickly developed into Australian harness racing’s biggest social event. Talking with his peers over a drink or three last year, Victorian mentor Robbie O’Connell decided to take the conversation beyond words and into action. A couple of months later, the inaugural TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day was born! With trainers and drivers throughout the state, and a few from across the border, forming four regional teams, the event was a big hit. Not only did it provide industry personnel the opportunity to enjoy a fun day filled with laughter, the event raised valuable funds and awareness for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. Match fees, raffles and a memorabilia auction saw $14,000 raised…a tremendous effort considering the foundation receives $18,000 a year from the government. Fast forward 12 months and the big day is on again. Not only will the four teams – Melton, Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton – do battle on the footy field in a ‘Round Robyn’ contest for the Katie Alford Cup, a netball section has been added to the agenda. Katie, daughter of premier reinsman Chris Alford, suffers from the rare disorder Neurofibromatosis, which affects one in 4000 people. Katie has become harness racing’s shining light for the charity. With O’Connell the driving force once again, the August 31 showdown at the Strathfieldsaye Sporting Club promises to be a day to remember. Tabcorp has returned as the major sponsor, donating the football jumpers, with Alabar Bloodstock covering the cost of the foot and netballs. Alabar has also chimed in with a service to Grinfromeartoear, which is the main prize of a mega raffle. The raffle also includes a service to Union Guy donated by John Campbell, with connections of Red Samurai also supplying a service to the former handy trotter. There are also plenty of prizes for the non-breeders, including a 10 kilogram block of Cadbury chocolate, Bolinda Publishing Audio Books and a Myer voucher. Other sponsors include Seelite Windows and Doors, Fernwood Melton, Amart Sports, Kevin Riseley, James and Son, Allan McNeil and Glenn Sharp. A small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) covers the costs of a sausage sizzle, the games and the night’s function. The function will also include a memorabilia auction. It was last year’s auction that proved to be the biggest money spinner for the cause. Paul Smart from Azuma International supplied the various pieces of memorabilia, which raised almost $8000 for the sick children. Unlike 99.9 percent of auctions, Azuma International didn’t place a reserve on the items. For example, a supplier will put a $500 reserve on a particular item, and should it sell for $550, the charity only receives $50! Azuma International, however, split the takings down the middle. “To be honest, last year we were only cutting our teeth with the whole concept and were caught a little off guard by how big it turned out,” O’Connell said. “This time we’ll be on top of everything from the get go and it will be an even better time for all involved. “I’ve got no doubt those who played, or came along, last year will return, and with that in mind, the interest is expected to grow. “It’s open to all harness racing participants, be it owners, stablehands, trainers, drivers, club officials, administrators. “Even journalists…we’re open minded! “All that said, last year was an amazing effort to raise $14,000, this time around we’re thinking closer to $20,000. “So I urge everybody with an interest in harness racing to come along, either as a player or spectator…you won’t regret it.” Harnesslink Media  

A reminder, as we close in on the end of season 2013/14, that for the first time Harness Racing Victoria will conduct just one industry awards night, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, including Horse of the Year, on October 8. ......................................................................   Breeders Crown The Australasian harness racing spotlight will be squarely on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday as the rich Breeders Crown series culminates with a $1.6m "Super Sunday". 10 Group 1 finals will be contested on what has become arguably the best day's racing on the harness racing calendar. The Breeders Crown is the real trans-Tasman battle, with New Zealand's best two, three and four-year-old horses heading across the ditch to take on the Australians. I particularly like the $297,000 two-year-old fillies' final with Kiwis Katy Perry, Cyclone Kate, Linda Lovegrace, Joannes A Delight and Big Lucy dominating the early fixed odds betting charts. But don't tell a couple of the Aussies that the Kiwis are set for an easy ride, as Mick Stanley (trainer of Soho Tokyo) and Rob Auber (owner of Niki No No) have both declared they're not running scared. Probably the battle that has punters salivating most is the rematch between three-year-old semi-final combatants Our Sky Major and Bling It On. Punters are also reminded of a $25,000 first four pool guarantee on all races at Tabcorp Park on Sunday thanks to the TAB. Super Sunday kicks off at 12.05pm, with 11 races to be contested. Ballarat HRV's thanks goes to President Greg Moy and CEO Paul Rowse for yet again doing a great job in hosting an important industry event, the Breeders Crown Semi Finals last Saturday (August 16). As always a job well done. .......................................................................................... Interesting Statistics (Season) Plenty of highlights this season as we near the end of another racing year: Chris Alford's drives earned over $1m for the second time in his career; Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and Gavin Lang have all driven over 200 winners nationally this season; David Aiken is the first trainer to have trained 50 winners in a season at Tabcorp Park. Next best is Lance Justice with 49 in 2010/11; David Aiken has also smashed the trainers stakes earned at Tabcorp Park in a season, currently sitting just under $1m. Speaking of Greg Sugars, if you click here you will see a nice segment featuring Greg with Jaimee Rogers from Tabcorp called "Behind the Moment" where Greg talks of his relationship with the great Sushi Sushi. ............................................................................................. Smoken Up We are building toward a big farewell for Lance Justice's champion Smoken Up's last ever run at Tabcorp Park on September 6. For the record, before his final run, he will have had 152 starts for 74 wins and career stakes of $3.6m Included in his 74 wins have been 21 wins at Tabcorp Park, from which he has earned $700,000. The horse to have won the most at Tabcorp Park is Make Mine Cullen with 29 wins at the new headquarters. The occasion is being generously supported by the State Government's Raceday Attraction Program and the Premier Dr Denis Napthine will be in attendance. ............................................................................................... Red Balloon Experience for Father's Day The State Government recently approved a grant for the promotion of a Mobile Barrier Ride and dining package offered through Red Balloon. Participating venues are offering a 25% discount ($165 down from $220) as part of Red Balloons Father's Day promotion which runs from August 18 to Father's Day on September 7, where people can purchase the package as a gift for use over the next 12 months. The Package includes the usual dining and drinks for two plus two mobile barrier rides. Click here for the link to the package on Red Balloon. ......................................................................................... Youth Policy People often associate the trots with an ageing demographic. It is pleasing to see that this is now becoming a myth as we see the rise to the top of our gun young drivers, who are knocking on the door of the likes of C Alford and G Lang. In recent months names such as Josh Aiken, Matt Craven, Jason Lee, Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Glen Craven, Emmett Brosnan, Zac Phillips, Alex Ashwood, Josh Duggan and plenty of others have tasted regular success and are hot on the heels of more seasoned youngsters, such as Greg Sugars, Amy Tubbs and Nathan Jack. It is important for administrators to manage the business in such a way that this new generation of participants see a long term future in this great sport. ..................................................................................... Don Dove Since the last CEO News, HRV was saddened to hear of the passing of the one and only Don Dove. Below is copy penned by Len Baker following his funeral service at Kilmore: A large number of trainers, drivers, owners and harness racing people in general were in attendance at Kilmore's Trackside Tabaret on Tuesday July 29, to celebrate the life and times of iconic Victorian trainer/driver Don Dove who passed away in his adopted state Queensland on July 14, 2014 at the age of 86. The memorial service was conducted by the "Pacing Priest" Father Brian Glasheen and numerous stories were told during the service. Don was a legend of the sport and was associated with horses such as Kol's Idol, Monara's Image, Nelson's Report, Playalong, Amlin, Jaygo, Missing Charm, Jay Ar Ewing, Just Money and Victoria Derby winner Kelly Kid just to name a few, with his best being prolific winner Monara which finished second to Welcome Advice in the 1972 (Brisbane) Inter Dominion when driven by Neville Welsh. Originally training in Heatherton where he was based for many years in an area which was also home to G.D. (Dave) Wilson and several other trainers including Lloyd and Bruce Coram, the trio would conduct trials on a rotation basis at their property's each weekend prior to the formation of Southern Speedways where Don was a regular competitor at the weekend trials called by at one stage by Trackbred editor Peter Wharton. Dove then moved to Kilmore and further north to Avenel, before relocating to Queensland. A master reinsman with wonderful hands who was great in getting horses away from the tapes, there was no better driver at the head of the field in a trotting or pacing race than Don Dove. Harness Racing Victoria

Rising-star reinswoman Amanda Turnbull combined with New South Wales harness racing trainer Dennis Picker to win the first semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old fillies tonight at Ballarat with Just Cala. The daughter of Art Major defeated Spicy Stride by 7.1 metres in a mile rate of 1:57.0, while Ocean Diva ran third for Blake Fitzpatrick and Somedreamsomewhere ran fourth for Daryl Douglas. Just Cala had put the writing on the wall at her previous start when she came from an awkward position to rattle home and run second behind Rocknroll Arden. Just Cala The second semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old  fillies saw a major upset – with $1.20 favourite Nike Franco missing a place at Ballarat tonight. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly galloped early and lost ground, which meant she had to use up a bit more petrol than first planned to find the lead. Once there Nike Franco was able to get away with a 30.5-second first quarter and a 32.1-second second split, but after they sprinted up down the back straight driver Luke McCarthy was starting to wind her up as Quick Draft and Barynya were on the march. In the home straight Quick Draft finished the strongest for Chris Alford, delivering in-form trainer David Aiken the win, with Tasmanian filly Barynya second (beaten 1.6 metres) and David Moran trained-and-driven Our Santa Catalina battling on well for third after leading early. Nike Franco ran fourth. The mile rate was 1:57.2, with the last half 55.6 seconds. Quick Draft by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

The rise of Keayang Cullen continued at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night with an easy Minuteman Free-For-All win. It was billed as a potential showdown between Keayang Cullen and ageing superstar Smoken Up but the old warrior just wasn’t able to go with the Terang terminator, who gave none of his rivals a chance in a flawless start-to-finish triumph. Driven by young up-and-coming reinsman Jason Lee, whose cool-under-pressure style has him touted as one of the sport’s stars of the future, Marg Lee trained Keayang Cullen pinged to the front from gate one in the 2240-metre event. Lance Justice took Smoken Up around fast starter Exciteusinthecity (Tim McLean) early to park outside the leader, while Chris Alford angled second-favourite Magical Telf behind Keayang Cullen from gate two. Not much changed for the next 1400 metres as Keayang Cullen carved out first and second sectionals of 31.6 and 29.5, setting himself up for a dash home in the last 800m. Smoken Up always sat back just slightly in the run, not eyeballing the leader and attacking at the bell from the chair as was once his caper. Keayang Cullen was running some good time in the last 1200 metres though, sprinting down the back in 28.3 to get Smoken Up – an impressive last-start Globe Derby winner – off the bit. When the leader swung the home bend it was clear he had Smoken Up’s measure, but the two-time Miracle Mile superstar – and Australasian mile rate record holder with a 1:48.5 mark – kept on giving his all. Exciteusinthecity emerged down the outside in the final 150 metres, while Magical Telf had every conceivable chance to run down Keayang Cullen but couldn’t despite an economical drive by Alford. Keayang Cullen kicked home in 27.4, recording a last half-mile time of 55.7 seconds to win by 3.2 metres, with Exciteusinthecity running second – he’s racing in career-best form – and Magical Telf third. Teo Enteo never looked a winning threat but ran on fairly for fourth, while Jack In Flight was fifth of the seven ahead of Smoken Up, who beat only outsider Our White Knight to the line. Leading up to last night’s race Jason Lee said he would love for Keayang Cullen to get a crack at the Miracle Mile in Sydney next season. Given his picket fence form line and utter domination of the current free-for-all crop in Victoria, the Terang star’s invite is surely in the mail. Smoken Up meanwhile will have his send-off at Tabcorp Park Melton on September 6 in the Casey Classic, where he will be hoping to draw an inside barrier and to be given the chance to race where he does best - out in front. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Friday night’s Minuteman Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton is shaping as a classic battle. Keayang Cullen has won five straight races and has drawn the pole for the 2240-metre race, while 11-year-old Smoken Up – on his farewell tour – is coming off a cracking win at Globe Derby in Adelaide. With both horses boasting noteworthy speed off the arm, the sparks looks set to fly early in what should prove an intriguing battle. Trainer/driver Lance Justice has at times been lambasted in social media for having the audacity to pin such tags as “certainty” on his stable superstar along the journey. Justice often publicly suggested his horse could sit outside other champions and run them into submission. Often he was right. Smoken Up boasts a 74-win career from 151 starts for stake winnings of in excess of $3.6 million. Justice’s confident style has had to be toned down in recent times as the burden of age crept up on Smoken up. But what if the barriers were reversed this Friday night and Smoken Up had the pole with Keayang Cullen to come out gate six? “If you reverse the draw then one thing I can tell you is he (Keayang Cullen) couldn’t sit outside Smoken Up and beat him, I don’t care what you say,” Justice said. As it stands, Keayang Cullen defeated Smoken Up a month ago in the Melton City Council Sprint over 1720m. The Marg Lee trained six-year-old led from gate five that night, while Smoken Up came from wide on the second line. The margin between the two pacers at the finish was a substantial though not huge 10.5 metres. Jason Lee, who will drive Keayang Cullen on Friday night, has full faith in his charge, who he says can hopefully measure up in the Miracle Mile should he get the opportunity next season. “Just to get a start in that race firstly would be pretty special,” Lee said. Lee is well aware he takes the form horse into Friday night’s race and, tactically, he’s confident of holding the front no matter what Smoken Up – or the dark horse in Exciteusinthecity – can serve up when the mobile speeds away. “Nah, I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he would consider allowing Smoken Up to work to the lead. “He’s going to cop pressure in good races so I think we’ll just try to hold the front at all costs.” Exciteusinthecity has pinged out at his last two impressive wins in town but will find this a different kettle of fish. Driver Tim McLean is likely to try and find some cover. While Keayang Cullen is a highly skilled frontrunner, Lee pointed out his charge has been able to come from behind in past races – highlighting his February Inter Dominion heat win when he sprinted sharply in the home straight after being behind the leader in the run. But none of that is expected to matter on Friday night, as Lee is adamant he won’t be handing up. Justice admits he has very little chance, if any, of finding the lead this week so is resigned to sitting parked. “He’s pulled up enormous since Adelaide when he was half-a-second outside the track record -- I can see him sitting outside Keayang Cullen and giving him some curry,” Justice said. “He’s 100 per cent right now. I wanted to give him this run before his finale as I didn’t want him to have such a big break going into that race (September 6, the Casey Classic). “Keayang Cullen led and beat him first-up at Melton, but he’s running into a much fitter Smoken Up this time. “He’ll run a huge race.” If there are fireworks early, expect champion reinsman Chris Alford to be grinning like a Cheshire cat aboard Magical Telf, who from gate two is likely to jump behind Keayang Cullen for a cheap run. Making up the field are Jack In Flight from gate three, Teo Enteo from gate four and Our White Knight in the cheap seats draw (gate seven). Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 15 August 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 15 August 2014 Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Things just didn’t work out for Glen Craven, Keayang Steamer and the punters who took the short odds about the Terang trained star at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. (August 8th)  Keayang Steamer was a heavily tried favourite, starting $1.50, in the Swift Signs Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton but could only muster a fifth-place finish from his inside back-row draw. Pre-race Craven declared he would be looking to get off the pegs at all costs. “I’m not interested in getting locked up on the fence,” he said. But that's precisely what eventuated. The pacer who beat Smoken Up home to claim the Horsham Cup last campaign was wedged three back along the pegs at the bell. Early on Exciteusinthecity found the lead for junior driver Tim McLean from gate three, easily crossing Hall Of Famer and La Machane. Composed got going early to work around to the breeze from his second-line draw, but Keayang Steamer was not able to get one-off and had to punch through to trail Hall Of Famer. Exciteusinthecity, trained by Darren Cole, was able to get away with 31.6secs and 30.3secs first and second quarters of the last mile, setting the five-year-old gelding up to sprint home in 56.1secs and record his second win in three starts. Hall Of Famer capitalised on a beaut trip behind the leader by running second, albeit beaten 5.6 metres by the winner, while Composed battled on gamely for third. Keayang Steamer (fifth) came in behind fast-finishing Kotare Rowland (fourth) and will need to improve significantly second-up to topple his highly regarded stablemate, Keayang Cullen, in the Breeders Crown Graduate Cup on August 24 should they both head in that direction. Meanwhile, Alison Chisholm enjoyed a red-letter evening with a winning double. The Melton trainer/driver drove Three Pints to victory in the GBL Property Consultants Vicbred Pace (Race 3) before scoring aboard stable star Asoka in the Del-Re National Food Group Pace (Race 5). New Zealand champion Our Sky Major proved far too strong for his maiden-metropolitan rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Pace. The Barry Purdon trained three-year-old son of Art Major is here for the Breeders Crown but enjoyed an easy hit-out at Melton, scoring by 3.7 metres over Wolfpack, with Philtra Phella third. Driver Craig Demmler took Our Sky Major back at the start and he was the best part of 40 metres off the lead at one point over the 1720-metre sprint trip. Down the back the last time Our Sky Major made his move, reinsman Craid Demmler easing the two-time Harness Jewels champion three-wide. Sprinting up with a 28.1secs third quarter, Our Sky Major quickly put the leaders away and shot clear early in the straight to record a 3.7-metre triumph in a mile rate of 2:02.5. Another Kiwi pacer to put her best foot forward was Mark Purdon trained two-year-old Big Lucy, who won the VHRSC 2YO Pace over 1720 metres. Chris Alford, who took driving honours for the night with a winning treble, was content to sit outside early leader Yankee Showgirl before taking Big Lucy 1.2 metres clear over Wegottarocketmachine at the finish, with Yankee Showgirl boxing on for third in a rate of 1:55.7. Alford’s other two winners were aboard ultra-consistent trotter Blitzthemcalder in the Renown Silverware Trot for trainer Craig Demmler, and long odds-on favourite Upanatom in the Mediatec Pace Final for trainer Amanda Grieve. Blitzthemcalder worked his way to the lead mid-race in the trot before outshining Sunset Invasion in the run to the line to score a two-metre win in a rate of 2:00.2. Blitzthemcalder is arguably racing in career-best form. Upanatom did plenty of work to find the lead early in his race, but the son of Christian Cullen still proved panels ahead of his rivals – getting home by 4.1 metres over runner-up Pas Mate, who hit the line hard, and third placegetter Eyes On The Sky. Other winners at Melton were Rostevarren, for trainer Ross Graham and driver Daryl Douglas, in the Geoff and Lorraine Barnes Trot over 1720 metres, Road To Rock, for trainer Keith Cotchin and driver Greg Sugars, in the University Food Group Pacers Handicap over 2240m, and Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Young Modern in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 2240 metres.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

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