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Once a year the square gaiters take pride of place at Mildura as part of the Pacing Cup Carnival and Thursday April 10 was the night this year, with Kiwi bred four year old Monarchy/Sunny Gem gelding Unico Crown scoring a brilliant all of the way victory in the $14,505 Seelite Windows & Doors Mildura Trotters Cup for T5 or better class over 2600 metres. Trained at Lara by Dean Braun and driven by the stable’s number one reinsman Chris Alford, Unico Crown began smoothly from the pole to lead and rated to perfection around the tight circuit, ran out an easy 7.7 metre victor in advance of Sandys Boy which trailed, making no impression in the run home, with Monte specialist Motu Young Jacob a further 2.7 metres back in third place from a 20 metre handicap after racing mid-field in the moving line. With quarters of 31.1, 31.1, 31.2 and 29.9 for the last 1609 metres, Unico Crown returned a mile rate of 2-05.5, well outside Si Capisco’s track record of 2-03.3 set in 2012. Unico Crown has made only one blemish since crossing the Tasman, when unable to handle the tiny Boort track in the Boort Trotting Cup. Earlier in the evening the VSTA Trotters Handicap for T0 to T4 class over 2190 metres was taken out by the Brent Lilley (Bolinda) trained and Lance Justice driven in-form five year old gelding Like It Chilled, a son of Sundon and Rite Effort. Raced by Bruce and Margaret Dalton, Like It Chilled coming from a solo 20 metre backmark settled six back along the markers, with the South Australian visitor Buff Orpington leading out from from the pole before going off stride entering the straight on the first occasion which allowed The Final Cut to take over. Set alight racing for the bell, Like It Chilled was able to stride clear when the leader galloped with a circuit to travel. Travelling easily, Like It Chilled coasted to the wire by 18 metres in a mile rate of 2-08.4 over Candy Digger which was always handy, with Featherfoot Sun another S-A raider third. By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

Last year’s Rowe Cup place-getter and New Zealand record holder - Boizel – is back in New Zealand and set to tackle the Group races at Alexandra Park within the next month. The Tony Grayling trained 7-year-old gelding arrived back in New Zealand on March 28 after a second, third, seventh and 10th in four races at Tabcorp Park, Melton in Australia from February 15 to March 15. “He went really well in the Cochran Trotters Cup first up and then was an unlucky third in the Free-For-All the following week. Then he went off the boil. “I don’t know whether it was the heat, the bush fires, or he just wasn’t feeling well, but he wasn’t up to competing in the Great Southern Stars Series. Instead we wanted to look after him for the big races back here at Alexandra Park,” Grayling said. The Franklin horseman was referring to the Group One $100,000 Anzac Cup on Anzac Day (April 25), the Group Three $30,000 Greenlane Cup on May 2, and the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on May 9. “He was a bit tired when he came home but Chris Alford did a terrific job with him. I went over for the first 10 days and then came back to my team. “I’ll definitely line him up in the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup but I’m not sure about the Greenlane Cup. I’d like to get a trial into him before Anzac Day but the Easter break might put a dampener on that. I’m not too perturbed though because he’s bouncing around again and working very well,” said Grayling who works a team of 20 at Pukekohe. Boizel finished third behind Stig and Springbank Sam in last year’s Rowe Cup. Six months later the son of Dream Vacation set a New Zealand 2400m standing start record of 3:01 flat in Free-For-All Trot at Kaikoura. Boizel settle well back in that field that day while Stent and Master Lavros set a solid clip in front. He was three deep and second last down the back the last time and then in the straight Dexter Dunn threaded his way through the field to knock over Stent in the shadows of the post. He won with 2:01.3 mile rate and trotted his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 59.1 and 29.9 seconds. Boizel was the fourth favourite of the nine starters and paid $11.80 to win. “He placed in the Jewels but that was the best race of his career beating good horses like Stent and Master Lavros. The longer the go the better he is because he’s an out-and-out stayer. The Rowe Cup’s 3200m distance is ideal for him. “We will want a hot pace like they went at Kaikoura and then he will be in his element. He can stay all day. He’s a very good one-paced horse who just keeps bowling along,” Grayling said. Boizel has raced 29 times for 11 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds. The brown gelding has won $167,469 in stakes. “He’s my stable star and a very good trotter when he’s right. Every trainer would love to win a Rowe Cup. We went close last year. Hopefully we can go two better this time around,” 48-year-old Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Outstanding Kiwi bred Elsu / Make It Hot four year old harness racing gelding Chilli Palmer was a brilliant victor of the $30,505 Corio Waste Management Geelong Cup for M0 or better class over 2570 metres at Beckley Park on Saturday.   A small but select field contested the event – the biggest in Geelong each season, with multi millionaire and crowd favourite Smoken Up (gate three) and Chilli Palmer (gate five) appearing to be the main chances and that’s the way the race panned out.   Our Blackbird from the pole was the best to begin, with Lance Justice and Smoken Up ambling to the front shortly after the start, multiple cups winner Arber three back the markers being followed by Magical Telf, Chilli Palmer, Smudge Bromac and Savesomtimetodream all in indian file behind him.   Magical Telf was taken away from the markers by Alex Ashwood within a lap to race in the open, with Chris Alford immediately following to possie Chilli Palmer one/one and Smudge Bromac also following to be three back in the moving line.   In quarters of 30.5 and 30.9 for the first half of the last mile, Smoken Up was expected to break the clock for the last half after such an easy time as Lance Justice started to up the tempo.   Easing three wide approaching the final bend, Chilli Palmer sprinted like a gazelle in the straight to overtake Smoken Up and register a 3.8 metre untouched margin over Smoken Up who wouldn’t shirk the issue being the champion that he is, with Our Blackbird holding his ground to finish .7 metres away in third place.   In a last half of 56 seconds (28.5 & 27.5), Chilli Palmer returned a mile rate of 1-59.7 for the journey which was nothing special when you take in the quality of the field.   Trained at Lara by Dean Braun who continues to provide winner after winner with ex-Kiwi talent, Chilli Palmer has recorded 10 wins from only 14 race appearances and without doubt is one of harness racing’s future stars.    Kyneton trainer Joe Attard has Yankee Paco / Kellybrooke five year old gelding El Paco absolutely flying at present, chalking up his 11th victory (4 this season) by taking out the prestigious $10,505 James & Son McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup for T5 or better class over 2570 metres on the Geelong program. . Driven by brother Julian as Joe had family commitments in Adelaide, El Paco flew away from the 10 metre mark to lead and rated to perfection, just held on to score by a half head in a thrilling finish over Duke Of The Moment (three wide home turn) from a 20 metre handicap, with the well backed pole marker Quite A Moment coming from last at the bell to finish third after throwing away her chances by galloping shortly after the start. The mile rate 2-06.5.   Bred by Greg Clark who races the horse in partnership with Joe, El Paco is an owners dream, always finishing close up in his races. Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria    

Harness racing prominent breeder-owner Pat Driscoll knocked down the three top-priced lots at the second Pryde’s EasiFeed Australasian Premier Trotting Sale held at Tabcorp Park Melton on March 23. Driscoll, who trades as Yabby Dam Farms, pocketed a cool $119,000 for his three-strong draft including the sale topping colt at $41,000, a son of USA superstar Muscle Hill out of the Malabar Maple mare Calder Luck, a half-sister to the multiple Group 1 placegetter Calder Sensation, Calder Image and Bella Cheval. The handsome youngster was bought for a syndicate by John and Maree Caldow, who developed and trained Calder Sensation, a winner of 16 races and $142,762. An Angus Hall colt out of Maori’s Dream, the grand-dam of the top priced lot, realised the second highest price of $40,000. He was knocked down to Romsey trainer Chris Alford on behalf of stable clients Phil Walshe and Craig Nott. While another of the Muscle Hill progeny, a colt from the USA bred Let’s Be Happy, the dam of Bathurst Gold Coronet winner Verbier, was garnered by Christchurch trainer Tim Butt for $38,000. Two Angus Hall youngsters, one out of the Muscles Yankee mare Lindy’s Two Step (1:57.4) and the other from the useful Sundon mare Pinevale Ellason, realised $30,000 and $28,000 respectively. Majestic Son, a leading sire of juvenile trotters, had three head sell including a gelding out of the R C’s Dee Jay mare Howdoudo, the dam of Vicbred champion Split Image, which was haltered by Chris Lang Jnr for $30,000. Two Majestic Son colts out of strong New Zealand-bred mares from Harness Breeders Vic committeeman Gerard Moloney’s draft sold for $22,000 and $20,000. Former local champion Skyvalley was the sire of the highest priced filly Aldebaran Eve, out of the Victoria Oaks winner Aldebaran Dream, consigned by Aldebaran Park and sold for $18,000, while a Skyvalley colt from the 2YO and 3YO Trotter of the Year Jauriol realised $20,000. Running Pinevale, also a Victoria Oaks champion, was represented by her second foal, a colt by NZ-based import The Pres, who was knocked down for $22,000. Of the 36 lots offered, 31 were sold for an average price of $16,359, up almost 25 percent on last year. by Peter Wharton

Bray Raceway Ballarat was the venue for Monday harness racing and with the Great Southern Star only a matter of five days away, it was appropriate for the trotters to take centre stage and that they did, with four of the nine races programmed for them. Impressive Wind Cries Maori/Tachometer gelding Glintintheeye trained at Bolinda by Brent Lilley made it two from two when successful in the Porter Industries 2-Y-0 Trotters Handicap over 1710 metres. Driven once again by Chris Alford, Glintintheeye coming from 10 metres avoided a number of gallopers on the first turn, settling four back along the markers, with Welkin Park leading from barrier two for Graeme Whittle. Moving to trail the pacemaker at the bell, Glintintheeye joined Welkin Park in the run along the back straight to stride clear on the home turn, assisted by Welkin Park galloping. Cruising to the wire, Glintintheeye scored by 12.7 metres from Welkin Park which got going again, with Trade Wind (four back the markers at bell) a further 14 metres away in third place. The mile rate 2-10.7 Very smart Armbro Variable/Maoris Lass colt Asdenro brought up four wins in succession by taking the Windmill AG Vicbred Trotters Mobile for T0 class over 2200 metres in a rate of 2-02.6. Trained at Maiden Gully (Bendigo) by David Van Ryn, Asdenro driven by stable reinsman (nephew) Haydon Gray led throughout from gate four to account for the roughie Brisharlo (three back the markers) which gave the leader a scare on turning when moving up swiftly to issue a challenge. Tiroroa Tom ran on late from mid-field for third. Being St Patricks Day, the Guinness would have been flowing after the Tanya Daniels The Good Guys Trotters Mobile for T1 & T2 class over 2200 metres, as Dunnstown brothers John and David Murphy snared the quinella, with Tommy Kay (Mick Stanley) defeating Monica My Dear (Glenn Conroy) by the shortest possible margin. Sent forward from outside the front line to join the pole line leader Im Anonymous in the back straight on the first occasion, Tommy Kay trained by John showed a great deal of courage to score in a thrilling finish, while Monica My Dear may have been the unlucky runner, as she was badly held up on the back of the leader before gaining a late split in the shadows of the post to just fail. Im Anonymous weakened to finish third 1.7 metres away. The mile rate 2-05.2. The Laser Electrical Trotters Mobile for T1 & T2 class over 2200 metres saw Nagambie maestro Chris Lang in the winners stall, when talented Dream Vacation/Invasions Pride four year old gelding Lord Liam greeted the judge much to the delight of owner/breeders Richard and Pauline Matthews. Trained and driven by Chris, Lord Liam had little difficulty in retaining the inside running from the pole and despite being covered by a hard pulling Frances Annie from the bell, was never really let go in defeating the last start Ballarat winner Happy Hombre which trailed by 4.1 metres in a rate of 2-02.4. Frances Annie fought on extremely well to finish third. By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

With Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star night looming, nominations for the harness racing night have been building quickly. And for trainers and owners involved in the Drivers Invitational FFA, it’s important to note that drivers will be randomly allocated to horses starting in the event. Most notably North America’s leading reinsman Corey Callahan will feature in the Drivers Invitational with fellow internationals Anthony Butt, Dexter Dunn and Colin De Fillipi. The Australian’s chosen to be allocated drives include Greg Sugars, Chris Alford, Gavin Lang, Kerryn Manning, Luke McCarthy and Blake Fitzpatrick. An overseas contingent of Chantal Sutherland (Canada), Yoann Lagarde (France) and Dexter Dunn (New Zealand) have been invited to compete in the Invitation Monte. While the Australian team will be selected from Haley Toulmin, Daryl Douglas, Maree Campbell, Paul Hamblin, Anne-Maree Conroy and Mary Crosby, depending upon availability.                                                                                                

The trotting super stable of Chris Lang will take a two-pronged attack into Saturday night’s Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. Lang will put the polish on six-year-olds Kyvalley Blur and I See Icy Earl in the Group 1, $100,000 feature over 2240m, with Lang to pilot the former and Greg Sugars to steer the latter. The Nagambie trainer takes high expectations into the race, with Kyvalley Blur ready to recapture the form that saw him topple expected favourite My High Expectations in December. While the David Aiken-trained seven-year-old has dominated recent feature races and deserves to go into the race as the popular elect, Lang shed some light on Kyvalley Blur’s seemingly flat form line. “He had been suffering from a virus but his last run was much better,” he said. “His last run he probably needed the run a bit, so I’d expect he can make the improvement. The virus does explain why he looked a bit disappointing for a while there.” Lang cited the Aldebaran Bill Collins Mile result at Cranbourne in December when asked about My High Expectations. On that occasion Kyvalley Blur won, while Elegant Image finished second. “He deserves top billing,” Lang said of My High Expectations. “And my bloke probably lacks a bit of match practice too at the moment. “With the virus I’d always prefer it in February rather than March, so that’s a good thing.” I See Icy Earl has been racing well of late but has drawn the second row for Saturday night. But Lang is adamant the poor draw won’t worry him too much: “He’s not the sort of horse who can utilise a good draw. He’s a bit one-dimensional in that he’s just a sit-sprinter. “He’s going very, very well. He beat Elegant Image two runs back and he beat Blitzthemcalder four runs ago. So he’s got some big scalps. It will be hard from back there though, it always is.” Lang said leading reinsman Chris Alford, who has driven Kyvalley Blur at most of his runs this preparation, elected to drive Boizel on Saturday night. “He thought it’d be best if I drove Kyvalley Blur,” he said. “I put him on when I was injured and I just stuck with him.” by Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Riverina filly Shes A Runa caused a massive upset when taking out the Form 700 New South Wales $200,000 Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle today. The daughter of Jeremes Jet was given a gun run by local reinsman Jarrod Alchin behind the leader, the highly-fancied My Willow, and obtained an inside run to take out the Group One in 1:59.1. At odds of $25.50, Shes A Runa held out the fast-finishing Ocean Diva ($55.70), who was a half-head away in second with early leader My Willow a little over a metre away in third. The second favourite Nike Franco struck trouble in the home straight when locked between runners and driver Chris Alford did his best to control the filly and not let her fall. Subsequently the pair finished last. High-priced winners seem to be the order of the day with Little Red Cloud taking out the first at $18.70 and stablemate Essbee Doubleyou winning the second at juicy odds of $19.60 with the NSW TAB. Harness Racing NSW

With 7 Group 1 races this Sunday afternoon, the overall meeting is clearly the best day of harness racing in the southern hemisphere. For the code of harness racing it is what Victoria Derby Day is for the gallops. The best of the best racing against one another for stacks of prize money. Horses, trainers and drivers have come from all parts of Australia and New Zealand to have a horse compete on the day is a feat for any participant. The 'jewel in the crown' is clearly the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion, it will be race 7 and will be run at 3:40pm. The barrier draw looks set to enhance the spectacle and now everyone is hoping that Mother Nature plays her role and the rain stays away. If it remains dry I am expecting the horses off the back row to prove hardest to beat. With Mach Beauty and Keayang Cullen drawn well on the front row I expect there to be an early speed battle and while the fire should die down pretty quickly the early burn should help those run on horses. I like For A Reason, Belinda McCarthy opted to miss the Hunter Cup and concentrate on the Inter Dominion which is a plus. He was scintillating at Goulburn and while beaten at his two subsequent runs, with the right run he has a devastating turn of speed. He looks set to stalk Beautide throughout and he is clearly the hardest horse to beat. His versatility is a huge advantage and James Rattray has the option of making a move midrace should he deem it necessary. Im Victorious will be in front of his main dangers early and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gary Hall Jnr try and get off the pegs early in the race while Smolda might land in a good position early despite a wide front row draw. The best roughie is Seel N Print, he is flying at the moment and is a very good stayer. Of the other chances Restrepo might be suited out of the fireworks early and has proved his toughness in Victoria. While the best Terror To Love would be ultra competitive, will we see the best of him on Sunday and Caribbean Blaster could be set to cover some territory from his wide draw. The first Gr. 1 of the afternoon is the NSW Oaks. Nike Franco has drawn gate one and that isn't ideal but Chris Alford will be off the pegs and her toughness will take her a long way. She is still green and when she learns what the racing caper is all about she will be even better. Hardest to beat is the kiwi filly My Willow, she will be better for her first look at Menangle last week while the Victorian fillies Quick Draft, Mindarie Priddy and Whereibylong are all hopes. The best roughie is the NSW trained Shes A Runa. The Ladyship Mile has attracted the best mare from New Zealand in Adore Me but the visitors draw gives her rivals some small hope of an upset. Baby Bling is a Miracle Mile winner that hit the line strongly last week against the boys and she is the best local hope to upset the favourite. There are plenty of trifecta and first four chances including Steam Washed after three straight wins including a scorching 1:53.3 win at Melton last start, Elusive Chick has drawn well and could be dangerous should she settle close to the leaders with her quick sprint while the form around Leda McNally in WA is very strong but the draw is a concern. The NSW Derby market is dominated by Bling It On and while with the right run he could blow his rivals away I am happy to take the each way odds being offered about Yayas Hotspot. The Shane Tritton three year old is back to his best after going off the boil late last year and I would expect him to go for an all the way win this week after handing up the lead in the heat. Hardest to beat is the McCarthy pair Bling It On and Allblack Stride while Isaiah and Iam Mr Brightside have small winning hopes as well. Last year's Chariots Of Fire has turned out to be one of the form races of the season with Smolda, Restrepo, Mach Beauty and Im Victorious all coming out of that race and into this year's Inter Dominion. There is depth across the board but with plenty of early speed in the race I'm tipping Guaranteed to prove too strong. He stormed home last week to win the Paleface Adios and he loves racing on the big Menangle track having only tasted defeat once on the circuit in his career. There are plenty of other chances though, Franco Nelson, Elios, Border Control, Chilli Palmer and Nowitzki all could be in the finish with the right run. The Bohemia Crystal FFA sees Jivin Cullen arrive from New Zealand with some solid form behind Terror To Love and Smolda and he looks the leading chance in a tough race. Im Corzin Terror has been racing well in Victoria and won the Terang Cup last week and if he turns up at his best he looks to be the main danger. Mah Sish is clearly not the horse he was a year ago but his form is not as bad as it reads on paper while Ardghal is a hope, he will be an even better horse in twelve months time and should blossom from the experience racing the better horses. Abettorpunt was very brave at Terang as well and can win at his best. The Glenferrie Farm Challenge for the trotters sees the battle of the Anzacs and after a surprise win last year I think the Australian's can make it another win in the series. My High Expectations is in the best form of his career and has performed extremely well at Menangle in the past. Last year's winner Keystone Del has drawn terribly but is in great form while Stent and Master Lavros look to be the best of the visitors. My best bet of the day is Yayas Hotspot in the NSW Derby but it looks to be one of those meetings that if you can find just one or two winners in the ten races then you should go home a winner. Don't forget you will see all the action on Sky Racing1 from 11am with a full preview of the meeting. Harness racing just doesn't get any better, enjoy your Sunday afternoon! Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing NSW       Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |   22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200   T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E:| W: &       Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.            

Group 1 winning mare Quite A Moment ended a frustrating run of minor placings to post a near record victory at Lord's Raceway last night. The daughter Quite Easy had posted four seconds and two third placings this season from six starts before last night's win. "Finally," driver Greg Sugars said as he returned to get the all clear from Steward Barry Delaney. Trained by Greg's father Ross, Quite A Moment has won almost $140,000 winning 8 races from 33 race starts including the Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown 3yo Trot Group 1 final at Melton last August. In the Skyvalley Trot (2150m) at Bendigo, Sugars had Quite A Moment in cruise control striding along in front to dominate the race from start to finish. The mare strolled to the line posting a 2.00.3 mile rate, just outside Skyvalley's 2008 record of 1.59. In the Harness Breeders Victoria Trot (1650m) favourite Secret Kiss. trained and driven by Paul Males just held on to beat Queens Vacation (Glenn Douglas). The Armbro Invasion mare won by a neck in a 2.00.8 mile rate. Majestic Son filly Majestic Grace was far to good for its opposition in the Aldebaran Yankee 3yo Trot (1650m). The Mick Blackmore trained trotter won by 7 metres in a 1.59.7 rate and was driven by Chris Alford. Bendigo’s next race meeting on Saturday 8 March 2014 features the Gold and Silver heats of the Lyn McPherson Memorial Breed for Speed Series. With the winner’s progressing to the Breed for Speed Finals at Tabcorp Park’s Great Southern Star race meeting on 22 March 2014. By David Alfred (Harness Racing Australia)

The Form 700 NSW Oaks is shaping as a showdown between New Zealand and Victoria after their two hotshots drew perfectly for tomorrow week’s $200,000 final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Victorian Nike Franco (Chris Alford) and My Willow (Natalie Rasmussen) staged a two-horse donnybrook over the concluding stages before Nike Franco hung on to win heat two of the NSW Oaks preludes at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. But Chris Alford had to drive desperately on the daughter of McArdle to hold off My Willow, although stewards entered a protest for possible interference to the runner-up over the concluding stages, which was dismissed after a half-hour hearing. Alford was also successful in heat one of the Oaks when Quick Draft ran down Mindarie Priddy in the shadows of the post to score an exciting win, leaving Alford with the perfect problem – which filly to drive in the final. Final field for the Form 700 NSW Oaks is: Nike Franco My Willow Mindarie Priddy Shes A Runa  Whereibylong Red Hot Toddy Quick Draft Joys A Babe (EM2) Spicy Stride Distant Memory Bettors Package (EM1) Ocean Diva Harness Racing New South Wales ARGENT STAKES FORM 700 NSW OAKS HEAT ONE FRITH FORM 700 NSW OAKS HEAT TWO

Former New Zealander Unico Crown was again the victor in Heat Two of the prestigious Tontine Series for Trotters T0 or better class over 2590 metres at Stawell on Monday February 3. A winner of the first round heat at Geelong on January 27, Unico Crown was again eligible to compete due to a paucity of numbers accepting for the race and scored in almost identical fashion. Trained at Lara by Dean Braun and driven by Chris Alford, Unico Crown as he did at Geelong began swiftly from the 10-metre mark to lead and was never headed, defeating Craig Demmler’s smart gelding Glenferrie Typhoon which raced outside him for the majority of the trip when first up since August, going down by 3.6 metres in a rate of 2-08.9, with Will Atone (20 metres) 44.1 metres away in third place after making a mistake hitting the back straight on the final occasion. Unico Crown four year old gelded son of Monarchy and Sunny Gem will now head to the $7,000 Semi-Finals to be conducted at Terang this Sunday, with the $30,000 Final to take place at Ballarat on February 14. Last season’s very smart Yankee Spider/Rockolina gelding Miracle resumed in the Grampians Estate 3-Y-0 Trotters Handicap  over 2175 metres and as expected was untroubled to score. Trained and driven by Bolinda’s Chris Alford for owner Dolores Murphy, Miracle an almost faultless trotter, led throughout from the pole, winning with something in hand over Bacardi Breeze which trailed, moving to the outside on turning to fail by 1.5 metres in a rate of 2-10.8. No Trumps No Glory (three back along the markers last lap was a further 16.5 metres away in third spot. Miracle hadn’t been seen since finishing fourth in The Redwood at Maryborough on July 14. Mingbool (Mount Gambier) trainer/driver David Drury has a terrific strike rate when he crosses the border and landed the Renown Silverware Pace for C2 & C3 class over 1780 metres with four year old Blissful Hall/Art For Art Sake gelding Big Gorilla. Driven with aggression from gate two, Big Gorilla led throughout to record a 4.8 metre victory in 1-59.4 over Evil Trickster which raced outside him, with Jerry Marshall (one/one) dropping down to use the sprint lane on straightening to finish third 1.8 metres away. Heywood co-trainers Kevin Brough and Bec East have their team firing on all fours at present and snared the Brian Gunnell Memorial 3-Y-0 Pace over 1780 metres with ever reliable Total Truth/Mama Tembu gelding Always Wantano in a rate of 2-00.8. Starting from the extreme draw, driver Matt Craven sent Always Wantano forward from near last racing for the bell to park outside the pacemaker My Mach Scooter for the final circuit. Gaining the upper hand on straightening, Always Wantano scored by 3.4 metres in advance of Bungalally Boy which trailed the leader easing wide on turning, with My Mach Scooter weakening to finish third a head away. The Kaye Matthews Tribute a C1 class race over 2175 metres named in honour of the late Kaye Matthews an administrator with the club for a number of years, went the way of Long Forest trainer Andy Gath’s most consistent Mach Three/Fingers Crossed four year old mare Lems Cameo. Driven by wife Kate, Lems Cameo (gate four) made an unsuccessful bid for the front running as the mobile gate pulled away, but couldn’t head off Sorority Sister (gate two). Gaining cover shortly after when Cullen Time moved to race in the open, Lems Cameo enjoyed a perfect passage. Easing three wide in the last lap, Lems Cameo sprinted sharply to lead on the home turn, before racing away to record a 12.8 metre victory from Franco Seelster from last off a three wide trail in the final circuit, with Additallup flying home late for third after being shuffled back from three back the markers when Beau Ciel ahead of him was held up for a clear passage. The mile rate 2-02.7. Childers Cove duo Ange and Clare McDowell made a long awaited return to the winners list, when four year old Blissful Hall/Childers Elite gelding Masterofthurles (unplaced in six starts prior) greeted the judge in the Mussett Upholstery Pace for C0 class over 1780 metres. Despite racing without cover from gate three for the entire trip, Masterofthurles outstayed his rivals in defeating Glenway Hustler which led and Rose Devine (one/one) in a rate of 2-01. Great Western’s Michelle Wight was victorious with Armbro Operative/If Iseeyouinheaven five year old mare Shanira in the Pyrenees Smallgoods Pace for C1 class over 1780 metres. Given every opportunity one/one from gate five, Shanira when eased three wide at the straight entrance, finished best to score by a half neck over a death-seating Khaleesi and Tipperary Seelster which led in a rate of 2-01. By Len Baker (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

Semi-Final day of the Central Victorian Pacing and Trotting Championships hosted by the St Arnaud HRC at Charlton on January 15, were impacted by scratchings resulting in small fields contesting a number of the races due to the extreme heat conditions prevailing all throughout the State. Four runners contested the first Pacers Semi, with victory going to four year old Union Guy/Bold Sapphire gelding Sapphire Swayze for Riddell trainer Adam Kelly and stand in reinsman John Caldow. Enjoying a sweet passage trailing the leader and favourite Bushrod with both horses coming from the 10 metre mark, Sapphire Swayze when eased away from the markers in the last lap, sprinted like a gazelle to lead running into the final bend to defeat the rank outsider Red Riverbed along the sprint lane from three back the markers, with Bushrod a disappointing third after hanging away from the inside in the last lap. The mile rate 2-08.3. Semi number two consisted of seven starters, with Orrvale trainer Steven Duffy’s above average four year old McCardle/Nuclearaccelerator gelding Almost El Eagle greeting the judge in 2-01.3. Driven by John Caldow, Almost El Eagle stepped cleanly from barrier three to trail the surprise pole line leader Dynamite Dude, with Boyz Talk being sent forward after a slow beginning from 10 metres to park in the open. Charging home along the sprint lane, Almost El Eagle coasted to the wire 2.9 metres in advance of Nimble Jack (one/one – three wide last lap), with Dynamite Dude weakening to finish third 2.9 metres away. The first Semi of the Trotters saw only six starters, with Junortoun trainer/driver Scott Dyer’s four year old Bacardi Lindy/Oh Yes Indeed gelding The Boss man an impressive victor. Slowly away from barrier two, The Boss Man settled three back along the inside, with the favourite Unico Crown bounding straight to the front from the pole. Given an easy time by Chris Alford, Unico Crown always looked the one to beat judging on his brilliant heat performance at Bendigo. The other highly fancied candidate Quite A Moment (last season’s Breeders Crown winner) possied five back along the markers from a 30 metre backmark, moving to be one/one at the bell when The Boss Man eased away from the inside. Ambling up to Unico Crown on the home turn, The Boss Man was strong at the finish even though the margin was only a head, scoring in a rate of 2-07. Quite A Moment finished 10.1 metres away in third place. Six also contested the second Semi with the winner being Bendigo trainer David Van Ryn’s four year old Bacardi Lindy/Belstar gelding Belmac Cody much to the delight of Pyramid Hill resident Teddy Carmody and partners. Driven by Haydon Gray nephew of the trainer, Belmac Cody galloped away from the pole, settling three back along the markers in a strung out field with the roughie Featherfoot Sun leading from barrier two, being trailed by 20 metre marker Man Of The World. Taken back a spot mid-race after Invasive made a lightning move from four back the markers to assume control from Man Of The World which had moved around Featherfoot Sun, Belmac Cody left the markers to race in the open at the bell. Pushed three wide in the last lap when Invasive shifted ground enabling Man Of The World to lead into the straight, Belmac Cody ran to the wire strongly to score from Man Of The World and Invasive in a mile rate of 2-07.5 Both Finals each worth $25,000 will be held at Maryborough next Monday January 20. Unfortunately several horses will miss out on a spot due to their non penalty scratching from the Semi’s due to the heat. Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

An Introduction From The CEO It has been a week of scorching heat and I thank those participants who have braved the conditions. A reminder of HRV's Heat Policy, which specifies that when temperatures are forecast to be over 38 degrees, trainers may scratch before 8.30am without penalty. HRV has also moved day meetings through the week to earlier timeslots and shifted night meetings back to avoid the hottest part of the day. Stewards at meetings have been monitoring the condition of horses and personnel. Follow HRV on Twitter @HRVnews Premier on the Spot The float carrying 4yo Art Major Colt Arts Professor was involved in a nasty accident on the Ring Road, heading to Yarra Valley (January 16). One of the first on the scene was Premier of Victoria and Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine. Dr Napthine, a qualified vet, stopped to render assistance. He reported to HRV that apart from some scratches, the horse was in good condition. Click here for a photo of the Premier inspecting Arts Professor. Wagering - 6 months to December 31 We have now completed the first half of the financial year, so it is opportune to share some of the key indicators. HRV's revenue and stakemoney are dependent totally on wagering on harness racing. Over the past couple of years we have seen a significant shift in the way punters bet on our product. Only as recent as five years ago, the Joint Venture arrangement with Tabcorp was virtually the single source of HRV wagering revenue. The betting with Tabcorp was all 'parimutuel' betting - the traditional form of tote betting. In recent times there has been a material shift away from the parimutuel form of betting. Unfortunately the products increasing in popularity do not provide the higher returns to the industry. Any shift away from parimutuel tote betting to other forms of betting will provide lower marginal returns. These products are: "Fixed Odds" betting with Tabcorp; Corporate bookmakers and betting exchanges. HRV has fought hard to ensure all corporate bookmakers pay a fair return to the industry. Despite the shift to fixed odds (Tabcorp) and the corporates providing a lesser return to the industry than the traditional parimutuel, it is clearly the market responding to punter preference. The diminishing size of parimutuel pools is a concern to HRV. HRV has made representation to Tabcorp to merge the pools with NSW to provide pool size and encourage betting back into the pools. For the six months ended December 2013, some key indicators, compared to the same period in 2012: Revenue from Tabcorp 'Parimutuel' ↓11.9% Revenue from Tabcorp 'Fixed Odds' ↑146.3% Combined Tabcorp Revenue ↓1% Revenue from Corporate Bookmakers ↑50% The Gross Turnover numbers for six months are: Tabcorp Parimutuel $205 million Tabcorp Fixed Odds $55 million Corporates $87 million Our market share of Tabcorp Revenue is slightly up on last year. At the commencement of the year HRV budgeted for a profit of $1.6 million. To the end of December we are not forecasting any material variation to that figure by the end of June. Raising The Standards There are a number of people and groups doing a fantastic job in caring for, and placing horses post their racing career. We remember Kathleen Mullan and 'James' participating in the Garryowen and the horses from the Northern Standardbred Riding Group leading the Bendigo Parade, for example. In particular I draw your attention to the work being done by Nicole Tassone at 'Raising the Standards'. With State Government and HRV support, Nicole is doing a great job giving standardbreds a second chance after their racing career is over. There are some awesome stories of horses being cared for at Raising The Standards and then moving on to another life. I recommend that you 'Like" the Raising the Standards Facebook page or go to to read some of the heart-warming stories. Cranbourne Training Centre David Scott is retiring from his position as Chief Executive at Cranbourne at the end of January. We wish David well in his retirement, particularly in his continued breeding interests. One of David's major legacies will be the establishment of the Cranbourne Training Centre. Attracting joint State Government, HRV and Cranbourne Club funding, the project has proved to be an overwhelming success and a blueprint for future expansion around Victoria. I am pleased to hear that with two new trainers taking up residence late in 2013, the centre is fully occupied. I am equally pleased for David that he can leave knowing that his efforts have been rewarded with a barn full of horses and many winners. Vale Keith McGowan HRV was shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of radio legend and harness racing devotee Keith McGowan. Keith was fanatical about the trots.A prolific breeder and owner, he was a regular attendee at the track, whether it be a feature or regional weekday meeting. His last trotter Simon Tappertit, which he raced in partnership with fellow 3AW legends Ross Stevenson and Tony Leonard, won 14 races. Always one for a quirky horse name, among Keith's other successful horses were Dick Swiveller (14 wins) and Comedy of Eros (15 wins). Keith's highly successful radio career spanned 54 years, the last 21 as host of the 3AW overnight shift. Our condolences to his family, including his son Nathan, HRV's Racing Manager. Barry Garbutt HRV was also saddened to learn of the peaceful passing of Barry Garbutt on New Year's Eve. Barry held a trainer/driver license for many years and was associated with some very good horses - most recently Sunset Invasion. Barry fitted the description "colourful" character - instantly recognisable at Melton with his large cowboy hat and, on big occasions, his pink suit. Milestones Congratulations to Cassandra Troon who drove her first winner in a race at Kilmore on New Year's Day behind Armbro Higgens. She combined with the same horse a week later at the same venue for her second win. I witnessed Tania Ward drive her second winner behind Nuggets brother at Echuca on New Year's Night. I neglected to congratulate her on her first winner as a driver behind What A Fine Fella in June 2013 at Cobram. Rising star Jason Lee drove his 100th winner in late December behind Keayang Starzz at Terang. His cousin Matt Craven is closing in on 500 winners. This week at Kilmore (January 15) Chris Alford added to his milestone when he became the first driver in Australia to driver 100 winners for the season - the 13th quickest century in history. Did You Know? Gordon Rothacker Medallist Graeme Lang drove his first winner since July 2011 when he won on 3yo trotter Maybelina at Tabcorp Park on January 10.

Talented Dean Braun trained gelding I’m Corzin Terror NZ showed that the only thing he has been lacking in recent runs was his share of luck; he got just that in the Petstock Bendigo Pacing Cup on Saturday night and used it to full advantage. Having been narrowly beaten in both the Yarra Valley and Tasmania Cups before more recently running an unlucky fourth in the Horsham Cup, the emphatic fifteen-metre victory in the $50,000 Group Two event was well deserved. Stable mate Mustang Mach NZ, brilliant out of the gates, led early but shortly after the start Im Corzin Terror challenged for the lead and Mustang Mach NZ, with Ellen Tormey in the sulky, was happy to take the trail behind the leader.  Kiwi star Mah Sish NZ worked up to sit outside the leader.  With the tempo of the race being beautifully dictated in front by Chris Alford, with a lap to travel favourite Bitobliss made a move to speed the race to his advantage.  But this was Im Corzin Terror’s night; on the home turn he was given free rein and he sprinted impressively to win easily in a mile rate of 1:57.7, two seconds outside champion Safari’s record of 1:55.7.  Warhorse Wartime Sweetheart NZ extricated himself too late from three back on the pegs to chase him home and run second for David Aiken, with Uncle Wingnut NZ flashing home for third. $2.50 favourite Bitobliss faded to run tenth. Earlier in the night, the two American bred favourites fought out the finish of the Aldebaran Park Maori Mile, with the David Aiken trained My High Expectations USA scoring a well deserved win over Kyvalley Blur USA in a quick mile rate. The Monte race was won by the dynamic combination of Motu Young Jacob NZ and rider Daryl Douglas, who went to the front shortly after the start and was never headed from there.  Kyvalley Rap ran second for French rider Yoann Lagarde, and jumps jockey Paul Hamblin had mixed fortunes with an indifferent start but ran on well for fourth. by Lucy McCormick

The ever progressive Horsham Harness Racing Club conducted a sensational race day program on Sunday January 5th, highlighted by the running of the $60,000 (Group 2) Wimmera Mail-Times Horsham Pacing Cup for M0 or better class horses over 2700 metres and what a race it was with the victor being five year old Riverboat King / Alimar Star gelding Keayang Steamer for Terang trainer Marg Lee, nephew Glen Craven and the Craven family. Although small in numbers, the field attracted a tremendous array of talent headed by champion Smoken Up, along with last year’s Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish, outstanding gelding Abettorpunt and potential stars Keayang Steamer, Magical Telf, and Im Corzin Terror. Mah Sish was best to begin from the pole from Hugo Play (gate two) with Smoken Up (gate six) three wide pushing forward to assume control running into the first turn. Keayang Steamer (gate five) was trapped wide, with Glen Craven having no option but to press forward to occupy the position outside the leader. The pattern of the race didn’t alter until the final circuit when Hugo Play eased three wide to challenge the leaders, while at the same stage Keayang Steamer immediately and surprisingly strode past Smoken Up with Glen thinking to himself that he had gone for home too early. Although unable to pass Smoken Up completely, Keayang Steamer held a 4.7 metre margin to the wire, with Hugo Play running the race of his life to finish 3.6 metres in arrears of the pair in third place. With quarters of 31.1, 31, 28.8 and 28.7 for the last mile, Keayang Steamer returned a new track record mile rate of 1-59.8 for the journey. The additional highlight of the day being the $15,000 Conch Deville HorshamTrotters Cup for TM0 or better class (Discretionary Handicapped) over 2700 metres which saw brilliant four year old Metropolitan / Like A Calder entire Blitzthemcalder thrill the crowd with a tremendous performance to snare the major prize, Bred and raced by Rick Burchell, Blitzthemcalder trained at Lara by Dean Braun with regular reinsman Chris Alford in the sulky, was very slow to begin from the pole, giving the tearaway leader Si Capisco up to 50 metres start at one stage, with both Allaward Ugo and the Kiwi Thanesan which both galloped early putting themselves out of business. Commencing a forward move racing for the bell, it was easily seen that Blitzthemcalder was going to round his rivals up with ease as the tempo in which the race was run suited him to perfection. Not bustled to make ground in a hurry, Blitzthemcalder strode effortlessly to the front on the home turn and careered away to score by an official margin of 35 metres in a mile rate of 2-04.9 (last half 64.1 – quarter 33) in advance of Lightning Joy (three back the markers – one/one last lap) and Trappers Puzzle (one/two) which recovered after an early gallop. The mile rate being only .9 of a second outside Sir Gondola’s race record set in 2005. by Len Baker for Harness Racing Victoria

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