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Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety didn’t have to wait long for his Victorian fortunes to change in an Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night. The Dalgety-trained second favourite Our Bettor Joy charged home along the sprint lane for driver Anthony Butt to defeat front-running favourite Molly Kelly (Chris Alford) in the $A10,000 heat. The two favourites had the most speed early, crossing to lead and trail, with the pace buttoning off in the middle stages. Our Bettor Joy, a daughter of champion sire Bettor's Delight and Joyfulbelle, won going away at the line by 2.5 metres. The NZ Delightful Lady Classic winner rated a comfortable 2:02.3 for the full 2190m in her Australian debut, the lead time for the last 800m being cut out in 58.3s, with the final 400m off the front in a swift 27.5s. Dalgety’s three-year-old trotting filly Chevron Express flopped in the Victoria Trotting Derby on Sunday, but the Breeders Crown 3YO Final on August 26 remains her main target. NZ Harness News    

If there was one box left to tick to reaffirm Wobelee’s status as the finest two-year-old trotter of the season consider it ticked, marked and crossed. The Alison Alford trained, Chris Alford driven and Colin Murphy owned Down Under Muscles two-year-old was in a class of his own in winning the $50,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Redwood Classic, a third Group 1 victory of the harness racing season. Since running second to One Muscle Hill in his first start, coincidentally named the 157 Days To Seelite Redwood handicap, and then third in his second start, Wobelee has reeled off eight consecutive victories including Vicbred and now Redwood acclaim. It’s been enough to surprise even the most seasoned of drivers. “After his first trials we thought at least he’s going to make it to the races and he’s just improved and improved and improved the further the year has gone along,” Chris Alford said. “It’s pretty amazing really." Many considered the Classic – having blemished many a two-year-olds spectacular debut season – a key test of Wobelee’s standing, but the inside back row draw was no barrier. Wobelee burst from the standing start to lead in a matter of meters, capitalising on the polemarker (Whizzbang Dan) leaving a door open. “Pretty lucky really at the start,” Alford said. “In the warm-up Christopher Shinn’s horse, he gave it a practice and as it jumped it did a right-hand turn and went out about three carts and I thought, this couldn’t be true. If this happens and we are moving forward we will just go straight through. “Thankfully it happened and the professional little thing that he is he just trotted away.” And from there it was all she wrote. A 48.2 lead time set an honest pace and no challenger could threaten as Wobelee, as is his custom, used his high cruising speed to churn out 29.9 and 30.9 first and second quarters. “He was just rolling along, when I saw 29.9 I thought I might be going a bit quick here, but he just likes to run.” With 29.6 and 30.5 quarters he closed out a 2:04.4 mile rate, matching Illawong Byron’s race/age/sex record set in last year’s Classic and clearing out by a colossal 32.6m. It was a heck of a statement and connections, in particular owner Colin Murphy, will be hoping the Down Under Muslces gelding can extend his winning ways to Breeders Crown’s super Sunday. “He’s had a long year,” Alford said. “He’s starting to tire a little bit, we will just try and keep him ticking over. “The good thing is he doesn’t do a lot at home, so he’s got two more runs and then he can have a rest, so hopefully he can keep it up.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

Team Tritton is hoping to put the disappointment of last year’s Breeders Crown behind them with their latest boom juvenile. Exciting lass My Sweetchilliphilly was a flawless Crown heat winner at Menangle today, enhancing her career ledger to 5/5 with a 1:57.4 win from the front. Reinsman Chris Geary only had to give the daughter of Betterthancheddar the tiniest of urging up the Menangle stretch as the filly notched 28 and 27.2 late splits for an 8.8-metre win over runner-up Love My Sister. “The best way to describe her would be to say she’s the classiest two-year-old I’ve ever had,” co-trainer Shane Tritton said. And while confidence is clearly high in the camp given the filly’s burgeoning superiority against her Sydney rivals, Tritton is loathed to declare her – or anything in fact – a certainty on Crown Super Sunday after the racing gods refused to shine on the pink power at Tabcorp Park Melton last August. Team Tritton, consisting of Shane and his wife Lauren, produced Tingira Beach in the colts and geldings’ final as a $1.6 favourite. But to say nothing went right for the budding star would be somewhat of an understatement. After being squeezed underneath the pegs early, Tingira Beach jumped off stride before being buried away on the markers where he found more trouble half a mile later and all hope was gone. “We got knocked over … so you can never be too confident going into the big Group 1s, but she (My Sweetchilliphilly) is going to take some serious beating,” Tritton said. “I’d say it’s hers to lose at this stage. All the signs are there that she’s going to be something special.” My Sweetchilliphilly is already a Group 1 winner, having taken the Bathurst Gold Tiara ($104,000) in March in extraordinary fashion. The firebrand filly breezed throughout and from the 500m scorched her main rival, Lady Chatto, which was unbeaten to that point. Philly won by over 20m in 1:54.7. “She’s as tough as she is fast,” Tritton said. The plan between now and Race to Royalty grand final day is simple enough in theory, but of course Breeders Crown trophies aren’t won on theories. “We’ll go straight to the Semis then the final,” Tritton said. “We considered the Tatlow Stakes (at Melton) and taking her to New Zealand. And if she wasn’t as good as she is then we probably would have seriously looked at the Tatlow, but we’re taking it slowly with her. She’s never let us down. “She went 53 in a trial a few weeks ago and I’ve barely done anything with her since.” And so this year’s Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ section is shaping as an absolute classic – cliché to say, I know. But this is fair dinkum because Nostra Villa and My Sweetchilliphilly are both unbeaten to this point. Villa won last weekend’s Racing Hill Tatlow Stakes Final at Tabcorp Park Melton in 1:58.7 from the breeze, edging Amelias Courage, which sprint-laned, and stablemate Molly Kelly, which led and had the services of champion reinsman Chris Alford. The win made it six-out-of-six for Nostra Villa, a daughter of Art Major, who swept the recent Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series and also captured the Youthful Stakes in June. Let’s hope both remain sound and well and we witness an absolute classic Semi-Final/Grand Final stoush next month. And, an important footnote: Congratulations to Shane and Lauren Tritton for another reason, welcoming their first child, Levi Shane, into the world overnight. Cody Winnell

Champion horseman Chris Alford won his fifth Traralgon Pacing Cup on Sunday. In front of a good crowd despite windy and wet conditions Alford partnered Hurricane Stride to a strong victory in the $7000 race. While Alford is used to victory in the feature event Clyde trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander had never won the race before Sunday, despite having won many races in the district over more than three decades. The Traralgon Pacing Cup remembers trotting held in the Latrobe Valley from 1975 to 1995. Alford won the last race on the Traralgon track in 1995. Gippsland horses collected plenty of success at the Sunday meeting. Trafalgar pacer Choosa Cruiser landed win one at start four in the three-year-old event, surprising many punters. Choosa Cruiser held the lead from barrier one on the wet track and scored at odds of $41. Glenn Hunter drove Choosa Cruiser for his father Chris, who trains the filly for Thorpdale owner/breeders Pete Ransom and Rowan Blackshaw. Most Happy Cullen scored an impressive 13-metre victory for trainer Gary Quinlan and a big syndicate of local owners in the third race. The four-year-old stallion's victory was the second winning drive of Chris Alford's treble for the day. Alford also teamed up with trainer Ray Mathews to win the second race with Jackmichaels. Mathews has been patient with the five-year-old gelding, who scored his first race win on Sunday at start 38. Ten-year-old gelding Outpunch Enchanter won the Trotters Handicap, his eighth victory from an incredible 222 race starts. The trotter has also finished in the minor placings on 47 occasions. She Can Rock led throughout to win the first race, while Irish Player won his second race for the year at Warragul in the final event of the day, gaining the major prize in an exciting three-way finish. Warragul trots return on Monday, August 28. Kyle Galley

Having conquered Queensland, the All Stars’ juggernaut moves to Menangle this week.  Luke McCarthy is down to drive Mark Purdon’s three Breeders Crown heat runners on Tuesday. All will be commanding favourites.  First out is talented two-year-old gelding Sicario, who should make it five wins from eight starts, now he’s drawn gate two in race three.  NSW Oaks winner Partyon has the right draw (gate four), but faces the biggest challenge against Queensland Derby placegetter My Casino Belle (gate seven) and Shezallapples (five).  Brad Hewitt’s My Casino Belle ran third to Partyon in Queensland’s Provincial Oaks, then turned the tables when second to Shartin in the actual Queensland Oaks. Partyon ran third.  But, My Casino Belle, lifted to another level to sit parked and run a monstrous third to The More The Better and Shartin in the Queensland Derby last Saturday week.  The More The Better, who smashed the clock winning the Queensland Derby, looks a league above his rivals in his Crown heat (race five) at Menangle.    Still on the Crown heats at Menangle, and another highlight will be the return of unbeaten juvenile filly My Sweetchilliphilly.  It’s a while since we’ve seen the daughter of Betterthancheddar with trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton, sending her for a spell after a sparkling Pink Bonnet win at Menangle on April 8.  But it was her previous win, when My Sweetchilliphilly sat parked in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1730m to win the Group One Bathurst Gold Tiara final, which showed her potential greatness.  She wasn’t eligible for the NSW Breeders Challenge, so the Trittons gave her a break with a view to a late season surge towards the Breeders Crown.  My Sweetchilliphilly has sharpened-up for her return to Menangle trial wins on June 20 and July 4.  She looked simply stunning on July 4, when she toyed with older rivals to win by 6.4m in a 1.53.6 mile and closed in a 27.7 split.  My Sweetchilliphilly has gate five in the first Menangle Crown heat and should be untroubled to stretch her unbeaten record to five wins.    Champion driver Chris Alford must have known he was in trouble, on the home bend with buzz juvenile filly Molly Kelly in the Tatlow Stakes at Melton last Saturday night.  Alford surprised many when he opted to drive Molly Kelly instead of the unbeaten stablemate Nostra Villa. He was the regular driver on both.  Molly Kelly led and had a cosy trip, but when Alford tried to pinch a break on Nostra Villa turning for home, he couldn’t shake her off. And then came Peter Manning’s filly, Amelias Courage, along the sprint lane.  In an absolute slugfest to the wire, Nostra Villa found a way to win again, making six wins from as many starts for Emma Stewart.  She beat Amelias Courage by a nose with Molly Kelly another half-head away in third spot. The mile rate was a steady 1.58.7 for 2240m, but they zipped home in 56.2 and 27.4.  Stewart’s dominance in Victoria’s juvenile races continued later in the night when nominal Breeders Crown favourite Poster Boy snared the Tatlow Stakes for colts and geldings with Alford aboard.  The race provided a trifecta for Stewart with Poster Boy working to the front earlier, and easily beating Tam Major and Big Bad Bruce with a 26.5 last quarter.  Poster Boy ran sixth on debut at Menangle in February, but was spelled straight after and has returned with six impressive wins from as many starts.    Chicago Bull is out having a rest, but trainer Gary Hall Sr still found a way to win the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Classy mare Ideal Alice made the most of gate one to lead throughout in a 1.57 mile rate for the 2536m.  It was only her second run back from a spell, following a successful summer campaign where even beat star Kiwi mare, Piccadilly Princess in the Parliamentarians Cup at Gloucester Park.  The other highlight of the night was popular trainer Gary Elson’s double with his classy four-year-olds Ideal Tyson and Sprinter.  Ideal Tyson, with Aiden De Campo aboard, toyed with his rivals in the opening race by 7.7m in a 1.57.5 mile rate for 2536m.  Sprinter took on a stronger field and won even more impressively for driver Gary Hall Jr by 9.3m in a 1.55.6 mile rate for 2130m.    Classy mare Bettorthanspecial snared the last feature of the hugely successful Queensland Winter Carnival.  The Shannon Price-trained five-year-old caused a minor upset, beating hot favourite Major Cam by a half-head in the Patrons Purse (2280m) at Redcliffe last Friday night.  It took her record to an impressive 51 starts for 25 wins, 18 placings and almost $330,000 in stakemoney.    With some of the big guns away, classy NZ-bred free-for-aller Allblack Stride returned to winning form at Menangle last Saturday night.  But it wasn’t easy going for the Craig Cross six-year-old, who led staved-off a rejuvenated Major Star, to win by a whisker in a 1.52.4 mile.    When Andy Gath took Burnaholeinmypocket home from the 2015 Harness Jewels he thought he had his next stable star.  And anyone who saw the son of Bettor's Delight charged home late for fourth to subsequent Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me, in his Jewels final would have said the same thing.  Instead, Gath’s had a largely frustrating two years.  But, Burnaholeinmypocket is now starting to at least show glimpses of that potential from 2015.  The five-year-old has now won four of his past six starts, including his first in genuine open-class in the Our Maestro free-for-all (2240m) at Melton last Friday night.  “It was the first time he’d drawn the front row in eight starts, and we thought he was a great chance of leading, which he did. It was great to get a draw to use his gate speed again,” Gath said.  It was his 17th win from just 42 starts and took him past $200,000 in earnings.    Fresh from his triumphant Group One Blacks A Fake win on Hectorjayjay a week earlier, young gun driver Josh Aiken snared another feature at Melton last Saturday night.  Aiken teamed with top trotting trainer Anton Golino and the huge Yabby Dams operation to win the Group Three Sumthingaboutmaori free-for-all (2240m) aboard Glenferrie Burn.   Adam Hamilton

Champion harness racing driver Chris Alford won his fifth Traralgon Pacing Cup on Sunday afternoon. In front of a good crowd despite windy and wet conditions, Alford partnered Hurricane Stride to a strong victory in the $7000 race. While Alford is used to victory in the feature event, Clyde trainers Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander had never won the race before Sunday, despite having won many races in the district over more than three decades. The Traralgon Pacing Cup remembers trotting held in the Latrobe Valley from 1975 to 1995. Alford won the last race on the Traralgon track in 1995. Gippsland horses collected plenty of success at the Sunday meeting. Trafalgar pacer Choosa Cruiser landed win one at start four in the three-year-old event, surprising many punters. Left alone by many punters, Choosa Cruiser held the lead from barrier one on the wet track, and scored at odds of 40/1. Glenn Hunter drove Choosa Cruiser for his father Chris, who trains the filly for Thorpdale owner/breeders Pete Ransom and Rowan Blackshaw. Most Happy Cullen scored an impressive 13 metre victory for trainer Gary Quinlan and a big syndicate of local owners in the third race. The four-year-old stallion's victory was the second winning drive of Chris Alford's treble for the day. Alford also teamed up with trainer Ray Mathews to win the second race with Jackmichaels. Mathews has been patient with the five-year-old gelding, who scored his first race win on Sunday at start 38. Ten-year-old gelding Outpunch Enchanter won the Trotters Handicap, his eighth victory from an incredible 222 race starts. The trotter has also finished in the minor placings on 47 occasions. She Can Rock led throughout to win the first race, while Irish Player won his second race for the year at Warragul in the final event of the day, gaining the major prize in an exciting three-way finish. Warragul trots return on Monday, August 28. Kyle Galley

THE comparisons between Chicago Bull and his former champion stablemate Im Themightyquinn are inevitable. Yes, they probably are premature in many ways, but it wasn’t until his five-year-old season and beyond when Im Themightyquinn’s greatness became evident. Chicago Bull, despite being smaller in stature, has achieved a lot more at the same stage of their careers courtesy of his big Fremantle/WA Cup double in January. And now he’s looming as one of the absolute key players in the Perth Inter Dominion. Chicago Bull has brilliantly won both starts this campaign to take his record in Aussie since joining Gary Hall Sr’s stable to 24 starts for 17 wins and seven placings with almost $870,000 in earnings. At Gloucester Park last Friday, Gary Hall Jr drifted back to near last from a wide draw, came with a three-wide run from the bell and roared past the leader before the home bend to win without being extended by 7.5m in a 1min55sec mile rate for 2130m. The most obvious similarity between Im Themightyquinn and Chicago Bull is there amazing ability to make ground, at top speed around the right bends at Gloucester Park. The free-for-all on the same night, the Winter Cup, went to classy mare Tricky Styx, who found the front and just held-off sit-sprinter The Bucket List in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for the long 2536m. MERV Butterworth’s patience is being rewarded with former star Kiwi filly Supersonic Miss. The now five-year-old mare spent more than a year off the track with injury, but Butterworth and trainer Kerryn Manning never lost faith. After a fantastic comeback run when second to last season’s Breeders Crown champ Rocknroll Magic, Supersonic Miss has since won both starts in fantastic style. The latest came in the Group 3 Richmond Lass (1720m) in a slick 1min53.6sec mile rate at Melton last Saturday night. “It’s such a thrill to see her back and going so well,” Butterworth said. “She’s had these three runs close together and shown us she’s comeback where she left off, so we will freshen for a few weeks now and map out a plan around some bigger races.” IT’S Vicbred time and that usually spells Emma Stewart dominance time. This is year no different judging by the qualifying heats run so far. Stewart qualified a staggering 10 runners for semi-finals out of just eight qualifying heats for two year-olds – colts/geldings and fillies – at Bendigo last Tuesday night. It was easy to pick out the star performer with Poster Boy making in three wins from as many starts this campaign in the most dominant fashion in his heat. Chris Alford had the luxury of driving Poster Boy from off the speed in the one-one trail and he blasted past leader and stablemate Major Times on the home bend to win without being extended by 6.2m in a 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2150m. Major Times held on well for second. Concealment led throughout to win his heat for Stewart in a 1min56.7sec mile rate, while Big Bad Bruce (second) and Liftntorque (third) also qualified with their placings behind $66.60 upset winner Regal Cheval. Stewart also qualified Tam Major and Tapthekeg are through to the semis after landing the quinella in their heat. Stewart also won two of the four heats for two-year-old fillies with feature winners Nostra Beach and Nosta Villa, while Pistol Abbey made it through with a fighting second to Nicole Molander’s classy filly Passions Delight. Passions Delight was one of the stars of the night, sitting parked in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 2150m and zooming away to win by 6.5m. Stewart then snared a double on Vicbred 3YO heats night at Kilmore last Thursday with Victoria Oaks winner Miss Graceland and Rocknroll Icon. Miss Graceland is headed towards another stoush with arch-rival Petacular, who impressively won her heat on the night. There was some added Kiwi interest through Art Major colt Stars Align, who made it two from two for new trainer Dean Braun when he won his Vicbred heat by 12.5m in slick time. Stars Align, part-owned by the Kennards, Creightons and Riseleys, looks a huge winning chance for the final in a Vicbred division lacking a standout performer. X X X THE Vicbred action continued with all the four-year-old qualifying heats at Ballarat last Friday night where the headline act was Western Australian raider Soho Tribeca. The former Victorian was placed behind young superstar Chicago Bull in the Fremantle and WA Cup earlier this year and headed to Ballarat after an eye-catching first-up placing at Gloucester Park. Soho Tribeca showed he will be the horse to beat in the Vicbred final with a powerhouse all-the-way heat win in the equal quickest time of the night, a 1min56.6sec mile rate for 2200m. He 55.8 and 27.4sec to win by 10m. His main threat will be lightly-raced and untapped local General Dodge, who made it seven wins from just eight starts when he led throughout in the same 1min56.6sec mile rate and won by 10m. General Dodge, a son of Courage Under Fire, thrashed highly-rated Kiwi raider Moonrock, who had to be content with second for trainer Michael House and driver Anthony Butt. NSW raider Charlaval returned to his best form to toy with his rivals in his heat in a 1min58sec mile rate, while the other heat went to outsider Warfare. In the 4YO Mares’ heats, the biggest shock came when nominal final favourite and reigning Breeders Crown champ Rocknroll Magic was outstayed after leading in her heat by the emerging Bou Chard. Rocknroll Magic cruised through a 62sec middle half then Bou Chard attacked through a 27.3sec third quarter and was too strong in a slugging 29.4sec last 400m. The other mares’ heats went to the classy one-time Harness Jewels hopeful Rockstar Angel and Emma Stewart’s talented mare Whirily School. FORMER globetrotting Inter Dominion winner Mr Feelgood snared one of his biggest siring wins when Feelin Dusty landed the $40,000 Dan Patch 2YO final (2090m) at Hobart last Friday night. The colt led and had a good stoush with co-favourite Izaha before pulling clear for driver Ricky Duggan to score by 10.5m. It was a big night for trainer Paul Hill who puts the polish on Feelin Dusty and Ideal Bliss, a daughter of American Ideal, who won the Evicus final for 2YO fillies. THE big Queensland Winter Carnival starts next weekend and, as usual, power couple Grant and Trista Dixon will be key players. One of their headline acts is star mare Joys A Babe who used the pole to lead, take a trail on main danger Kept Under Wraps, and sprint lane to win the feature Wondais Mate free-for-all (1660m) in a slick 1min53.1sec mile rate at Albion Park last Saturday night. The other class factor to win on the night was exciting four-year-old Mattgregor, who found the front and scored easily in the final race. Mattgregor ran a massive second to Field Marshall in the 4&5YO Championship at Melton three starts back, then a fighting third in the Group 3 Mount Eden at Menangle. TRAINER Anton Golino and the powerhouse Yabby Dams team keep clocking up the winners. Golino snared a double with promising trotters Cyclone Jeter and Pizza Queen at Melton last Saturday night. Gavin Lang drove both and had armchair drives to win in quick time. Adam Hamilton

Trafalgar harness racing trainer Chris Hunter said he was relatively confident going into today's Yarra Valley trots meeting that his mare, Feel The Rhythm, could win if she put her best hoof forward. She did that, with Chris Alford aboard from the pole, the Elsu-Rhythmaka mare scoring her first ever win at start number 46, leading all the way over 2150m in a mile rate of 2:00.2. Hunter joined Trots Media's Cody Winnell to chat about the jubilation of Feel The Rhythm's maiden win. For the trivia buffs, it was the first time Alford has ever driven a free-legged pacer to victory. Hunter said he took the hobbles off Feel The Rhythm in her races recently and it hade a huge difference. He's always worked the mare free-legged and clearly she is enjoying the freedom. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

David Aiken has a few words of warning for anyone doubting Lennytheshark ahead of next Sunday’s Group 1 Len Smith Mile. “He’ll be right. This is what he’s been set for. You’ll see the best of Lenny this week,” he said. Doubters emerged when the champ led, dictated and was easily rundown by Tiger Tara and Mach Doro in the Golden Mile at Menangle last Saturday week. “It turned out he needed the run a bit more than we thought and, in retrospect, Chris (Alford, driver) probably should’ve got going on him a bit earlier and made them chase him more than they had to,” Aiken said. “As much you’d love to win them all, you can’t. The Len Smith is what we’ve set him for.” To have Lennytheshark absolutely primed, Aiken will trial him at Menangle on Tuesday. “It won’t be a hard trial, but just gives me the chance to give him the hitout he needs to be spot on,” he said. “As he’s shown us so many times before, he thrives on racing and a trial this week will be close to another race.” Aiken again finds himself torn heading into the Len Smith with star stablemates Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay to clash again. Hectorjayjay scored his biggest win so far whennhe stormed home to upset Lennytheshark in last year’s Len Smith Mile, but Lennytheshark gained revenge when he beat a hot field, including Hector, in the Miracle Mile earlier this year. Aiken is a great position, but was quick to say it’s not just a matter of which of his stable stars wins this week. “I’ve got huge respect for Tiger Tara. He’s right in this race the way he’s going,” he said. Tiger Tara came from off the pace to beat Lennytheshark in the Golden Mile, then backed-up last Saturday night with a very gallant second to Hectorjayjay in the 2300m free-for-all at Menangle. Hectorjayjay settled in front of Tiger Tara after the start and driver Josh Aiken made an early move around the field to take the lead, while Tiger Tara moved last in the middle stages to sit parked. Hectorjayjay zipped home in 54.4 and 26.7sec to hold-off Tiger Tara and win by 2.4m in a 1min54.4sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip. “Hector pulled-up like he needed the run after his first-up win at Melton which is why we backed him at Menangle. I’m glad we did, it should’ve topped him off nicely,” he said. Adam Hamilton

Who will start favourite in the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle on June 25?  Most thought it would be reigning Miracle Mile champ Lennytheshark, but that changed after David Aiken’s megastar was rundown after having a relatively soft trip in the lead in last night’s Group 3 Golden Mile at Menangle.  It looked easy going for those who took the skinny $1.20 when Lennytheshark worked across to take the lead from the speedy Mach Doro in a cosy 27.5sec first split then cruised through a 30.2sec second split.  Without anyone applying pressure, driver Chris Alford was still able to go through a comfy 28.1sec third split and most expected he would zip away at the top of the home straight.  Instead, Lenny started to wobble when Alford asked him to “ping” and challengers appeared from all angles.    First it was Mach Doro, who came off his back and then came Tiger Tara with a withering sprint down the outside.  In a huge shock, both zipped past Lennytheshark and just when it seemed Mach Doro would win, Tiger Tara put in a dive to snatch victory by a whisker.  They ran the mile in 1min52.6sec which, for comparison, was the same time they ran when Ignatius ran down Sicario in a semi-final of the 2YO NSW Breeders Challenge.   If Lenny has been vulnerable in the past it has been to those with superior zip … remember his stablemate Hectorjayjay outsprinting him in last year’s Len Smith Mile?  Many felt Alford drove Lennytheshark too conservatively in the Golden Mile. By nursing him and turning it into a sprint home, it left him vulnerable to those with superior high speed.    Lennytheshark is fast, but more in a sustained, high-rolling sort of way than a “click your fingers” acceleration.  When they met in the Buli Cup a few weeks back, Tiger Tara tried to go toe-to-toe with Lennytheshark and found it impossible, but this time stalking him and dive-bombing late proved more successful.  Still, Tiger Tara deserves enormous credit considering he came from midfield with a three-wide run and was privately clocked to run his last half in 53.9sec.  The other eye-catching run came from rejuvenated Kiwi pacer My Field Marshall, who was buried three pegs from the pole and had little clear racing room late when a close fourth, just 3.3m from Tiger Tara.    While all that unfolded at Menangle, Lennytheshark’s stablemate and defending Len Smith champ Hectorjayjay was sitting in his stall back in Victoria after a sparkling first-up Melton win 24 hours earlier.  Hectorjayjay humbled a much easier field than the Golden Mile line-up when he used his renowned early brilliance to zip to the front from gate six and run home in 55.0 and 26.7sec at the end of a 1min53.2sec mile rate for 1720m.  Barrier draws are crucial in all races, but they become absolutely fascinating for Hectorjayjay in this Len Smith Mile.    As much as his gate speed is a lethal weapon, it is his ability to come from off the speed in electrifying closing splits which might be even more important on June 25. He was blasted out from a wide draw in the Miracle Mile and simply couldn’t keep going so it’s likely connections will opt to snag him and drive with a sit if he draws wide again in the Len Smith.  However the draw unfolds, it’s a real treat in the middle of winter to have some of the best horses in this part of the world locking horns.  Right now my money would be on Hectorjayjay Adam Hamilton

The Orange Agent capped an extraordinary three weeks of harness racing with a dominant win in the Benstud Queen Of The Pacific completing her clean sweep of the Mares Triple Crown. In Chris Alford’s hands the five-year-old American Ideal mare was again in a class of her own, sweeping to the front early in the $100,000 feature and being unchallenged amid a class group of challengers. “She’s just a perfect racehorse,” Alford said of The Orange Agent, who is trained by New Zealand’s Brian Hughes. “Great to drive, just does everything that you ask.” In fact, she was in such a class of her own Alford said the $1.04 favourite almost drifted off in the night’s feature. “She was just jogging around the home turn tonight,” he said. “She just sort of switched off a little bit when she got away, but once she found the front she was going to be very hard to beat. “If she had something to run with her tonight she would have won as easy as she did last week, but she just got a little lost in front. She’s beaten Grand Circuit horses before and wouldn’t disgrace herself in the really good races.” The victory came on the back of success in the Alabar sponsored Group 3 titles Make Mine Cullen and Angelique Club Cup, a succession of three victories in three weeks that ranged from 1720m through to tonight’s 2760m staying test. Not for the first time it was the New Zealand visitors who departed with a big chunk of the change from tonight’s racing, with My Field Marshall winning a survival of the fittest in the $75,000 TAB.com.au 4YO and 5YO Championship. The Tim Butt trained five-year-old is facing a crucial campaign according to driver Anthony Butt and tonight’s bold showing, when he come with a well-timed burst to mow down a tiring field, was encouraging reaffirmation of the Art Major entire’s elite talent. “Tim’s hoping he’s going to turn into a Grand Circuit horse,” Anthony Butt said. “This is perhaps going to be the make or break for him, he’s had some health issues over the past. He’s got the ability, it’s just getting his health right and Tim’s done a great job so far of doing that.” Tonight’s Group 2 was a certainly a fitness test, with the interchanging frontrunners running a record 41.7-second lead time. While Dont Hold Back, Egodan, Spare Me Days and Mattgregor all contributed to that early pace, Butt was happy to wait at the tail of the field. “Tonight they set it up for him and he was good enough to capitalise,” Butt said. “It was working out really good. I thought there were plenty of horses in no man’s land, I thought there was going to be a bit of speed with no real dominant horse in the race.” My Field Marshall hooked on to the back of Burnaholeinmypocket in the final lap, advancing steadily while Kerryn Manning placed Mr Mojito brilliantly to pinch a break on the field. At 200m to go some 20m separated My Field Marshall from a tiring Mr Mojito and by 100m that margin had halved, with the Kiwi clipping brave Mattgregor and third-placed Mr Mojito in the dying stages to take the honours. “He’s just a lovely horse, he can do anything. He can lead, he’s very adaptable, he can sit in the field, he’s a high speed horse.” And more wins are likely to come. “Tim just took him along quietly this year. He’s doing all his races now at a tough level, he has to race against the best and you don’t always win,” Butt said. “He’ll have a wee campaign over here and he should be a nice horse in the spring again. I think they are going to move on to the Len Smith Mile, it’s just a matter of how they get there. I think they are going to stay down here for a race in between. While he keeps going like that he will stay on.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The trots' newly-crowned 'Mr 6000' says Kiwi mare The Orange Agent can test Aussie pacing superstar Lennytheshark given the chance. But first Victorian horseman Chris Alford and The Orange Agent will need to justify red hot favouritism in the final leg of the Triple Mares Crown at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. The Orange Agent has bolted away with the first two legs of the Victorian crown and will be red hot for the final, the $100,000 Queen Of The Pacific, even after drawing the second line. She remained unbeaten in Australia at Melton last Friday night and Alford says the ease of the win was almost embarrassing. “She just cruised up to them down the back straight and at the 400m she actually got in a bad mood with me and threw her head in the air because I wouldn’t let her run past them,” says Alford. “She is a very, very good mare and over 2760m this week she should be even better.” Alford became the first Australasian trots driver to record 6000 career wins at Melton on Monday night, capping a remarkable last 18 months in which he has won the Inter Dominion, Victoria Cup and Miracle Mile, all with Lennytheshark. That last win, over a Kiwi trio of Smolda, Lazarus and Our Waikiki Beach, had many Australians suggesting Lennytheshark is the actual king of Australasian pacing, even though Lazarus’s body of work this season is clearly stronger. But his recent drives on The Orange Agent put Alford in a unique position to judge the mare against Lenny and he says a potential clash in the Len Smith Mile in Sydney next month would be interesting. “Lenny is a champion and I’d have to say the best horse I have driven now,” says Alford, who turns 50 this week. “But this mare is flying and if she sat on Lenny’s back she would run him close. I am not saying she would run past him because not many horses can do that.” Managing owner John Green says the Len Smith Mile clash is definitely on should The Orange Agent come through this Saturday well. “That is the plan. A $30,000 mares lead-up race at Menangle then the Len Smith Mile, with Tony (Herlihy) being offered the drive since Chris will be driving Lenny,” says Green. And The Orange Agent has already proven she can beat pacing’s big boys, having downed Smolda and Have Faith In Me at Alexandra Park in March as part of a stellar comeback after 14 months on the sidelines with injury. While The Orange Agent appears to have the triple crown at her mercy the Australian campaign for fellow Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess has proved a disaster. Not only did she drop out behind The Orange Agent last Friday but she was found to be off colour after the race and will now miss this Saturday as well as the Harness Jewels for which she was second favourite for the four-year-old Diamond. Also missing from the Jewels will be northern Group 1 winner Mach Shard, who trainer Barry Purdon has put aside for the season after a dull performance at Addington last Friday. “I think a spell is the best thing for him so he will come back an be aimed at the Sires’ Stakes,” said Purdon. Many Jewels contenders will have their final warm ups at Addington on Friday, with the track’s second strongest meeting of the year after Cup week. Bonnie Joan has been the big winner in the draw for the NZ Oaks, looking the likely leader while Spanish Armada faces a second line marble and Partyon the outside of the front line. Alta Maestro and Spankem draw alongside each other in the Sires’ Stakes two-year-old final while many of the country’s best young trotters meet in two and three-year-old features and the Winter Cup gives Jewels favourite Piccadilly Princess her last chance to qualify for the June 3 extravaganza. And the main trot sees Marcoola return against fellow four-year-olds Lemond, Wilma’s Mate and Rowe Cup winner Temporale. by Michael Guerin Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 20 May 2017 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 20 May 2017

Twenty-one years after delivering harness racing trainer John Ryan success aboard Barunah Bay in the Cobram Cup, champion reinsman Chris Alford drove his 6000th winner on another of Ryan’s horses, this time Diamond Grace at Tabcorp Park Melton. Alford needed three winners at the start of today to become the first driver in the southern hemisphere to reach the 6000-win mark, and it took him until the last race to cap a winning treble with his family on-course to celebrate. “Alison and the kids wanted to be there so after the first win I rang her and said you getter get Sam from school. I thought I had a few chances late in the day. For a moment there it looked as though it was going to have to wait until tomorrow, but it was a huge thrill to achieve it on a horse trained by John Ryan,” Alford said. The champion reinsman, who turns 49 later this week, said achieving the milestone was “extremely satisfying”, adding, “I’m privileged to get to drive so many good horses. I can’t make bad horses win”. Very much at the top of his game, Alford is leading the national drivers’ premiership by a huge margin this year and his drives have netted over $2.5 million in stake earnings. Included among those wins is this season’s Group 1 Miracle Mile aboard one of Alford’s modern day – and all-time – favourites, Lennytheshark. CHECK OUT TROTS MEDIA'S #PUPPET6000 CELEBRATION VIDEO Alford’s association with Lenny, the 2015 Inter Dominion champion, is legendary but so is his connection with Golden Reign, Tailamade Lombo and a host of other topliners. Alford has been swamped with messages of congratulations from fans and his fellow participants on social media, but is taking the time to soak up the win with his family before delving into the latest word on the tweet. “We’re just heading for a pub meal and I can see there’s been a bit of talk on social media. It’ll be good to catch up on it later,” Alford said. Alford achieved the 5000-win milestone in November 2013. Already some pundits are looking towards 7000. And that journey starts tomorrow night at Kilmore where Alford has six drives. On Saturday night Alford will take time out to meet fans and sign souvenir #Puppet6000 t-shirts at Tabcorp Park Melton on Benstud Queen of the Pacific night. Funds from the sale of the t-shirts, $10 and available at the race night office, will be donated to Alford’s chosen charity, the Children’s Tumour Foundation.  Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Not since Make Mine Cullen in 2012 has a mare completed the Mares’ Triple Crown. But a record-breaking win in the Alabar Angelique Club Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night has star Kiwi mare The Orange Agent within one win of completing the rare harness racing treble. The Brian Hughes-trained five-year-old smashed the clock, rating 1:53.7 – a new race record – to score by almost 10m over a game Milly Perez in the 2240m Group 3. Driven by Chris Alford, whose winning double at Melton moved him within three of the 6000-victory milestone, The Orange Agent (American Ideal-Lady Fingers) gapped the opposition to add the Angelique Club Cup to the Alabar Make Mine Cullen silverware she won last week. The next target will come next Saturday night, the $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific, the jewel of the Mares’ Triple Crown. “The fast lead time certainly took the sting out of some of the leaders,” Alford said of last night’s win. “She felt amazing. She just strode up, she was just travelling that hard around the last turn. She was just charging." The early speed came from New South Wales trained Rakarazor, who found the lead from the top of the track early doors and ripped through the first 630m in 43.6secs. The tempo never cooled with Rakarazor then pacing the first half of her last mile in 58.9secs before a 28.4secs third quarter. She couldn’t maintain the rage. Alford let The Orange Agent do what she does best around the final bend and in the blink of an eye she put the pacemakers away. A bold Milly Perez ran on to get second for driver John Caldow, her effort probably one of the best of her career in defeat, while Bettor Downunder for Michael Stanley scorched home for third at big odds. The Orange Agent finished off with a 27.4secs final split despite having sat three-wide throughout the last lap. So now on to this week.  Can anyone turn the tables on The Orange Agent? It’ll be tough. But connections of Milly Perez and Bettor Downunder would have been thrilled with the performances of their mares. Both savaged the line and should appreciate the 2760-metre trip, while Dennis Picker-trained Onlykidding was solid in fourth and Rocker Band found the line well out wide for fifth. You can put Heavens Trend into the forgive file from the Angelique Club Cup. She came in tailed off last after striking trouble around the final bend, while classy Mark Purdon-trained Our Golden Goddess compounded to finish 10th after parking in the chair. She is better than that. The eye-catcher was Shakahari, who was bowled over around the final bend before picking up and flashing to the line in seventh place. She should have finished much closer and could spring a surprise next weekend for Bec Bartley and Stephen O’Donoghue. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

There isn’t much champion driver Chris Alford has not achieved, so it takes something a bit special to get him really excited these days. Take last Saturday week when he drove his favourite, Lennytheshark, to win an epic battle against Tiger Tara and company in the Bulli Cup at Menangle. That gave him a tingle down his spine. Alford admitted he got “a real buzz” a couple of months back when John Green rang and asked if he would drive The Orange Agent when she campaigned in Melbourne. “Now that was a great call to get,” Alford said. “I’ve known John for ages, but to get the call-up to drive a wonderful mare like this one was a real buzz. “I’ve actually been counting down until she got across her.” It was worth the wait. The Orange Agent scored one of the most dominant wins of her stellar career in last night’s $30,000 Group 3 Make Mine Cullen (1720m) at Melton. Knowing his was on the best mare in the race, Alford – as he does better than anyone else – drove with extreme aggression and confidence. He just kept pushing forward from gate six, eventually working past Bettor Downunder on his direct inside and taking the lead from another Kiwi mare Rocker Band, after 400m. The Orange Agent had her rivals cooked on the home bend as Alford slipped away with a commanding lead and let her cruise to the wire to score by 6.4m from Rocker Band with in-form local Milly Perez run another big race for third. But this was The Orange Agent’s show and it reinforced why she is the one to beat in Victoria’s next two big mares’ races over the next two weeks – the Angelique Club Cup and Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific. It’s hard to see any of the locals beating her, so the only danger looks to be another classy Kiwi, Golden Goddess, who she will lock horns with next week. The Orange Agent’s win came at her first Melton run since winning the Breeders Crown 3YO fillies’ final back in August 2015. She’s unbeaten in three runs at the track. Adam Hamilton

For all of the recent heroics of Tiger Tara, he faces his first really genuine test in the Aussie big league on Saturday night. And he goes straight to the top, facing Inter Dominion winner and reigning Miracle Mile champion Lennytheshark in the $50,000 Group 2 Bulli Cup (1609m) at Menangle. As good as Tiger Tara has looked and as fast as his times have been at his past five wins, he hasn’t beaten a real “topliner.” But Tiger Tara has made such a big impression, to amazement of some, the Aussie TAB opened him a $1.90 favourite ahead of Lennytheshark at $2.10.  The money has come for Lenny, who has been backed into $1.90 favourite. At first glance the draw looks good for Tiger Tara in gate four with Lennytheshark on his outside (five), but many, including leading Menangle trainer Shane Tritton, think Lennytheshark will get across and lead. “I think he’s the leader and clearly the one to beat,” Tritton said. Lennytheshark’s owner Martin Riseley is also confident, but respectful of Tiger Tara. “He’s race fit and absolutely flying, but I know David (Aiken) is very happy with Lenny and the draw looks OK to me,” he said. “Did you see Lenny’s trial last week? He came from a mile off them and really flew that last 50m. His sectional times were outstanding. He’s ready to go.” The wildcard in the dash for the lead of one of Australia’s fastest beginners, Bettor Bet Black, who has gate three, but would surely want to take a sit on either a Lennytheshark or Tiger Tara rather tha  hold the front. Lennytheshark doesn’t get “buzzed” off the gate often, but when he does he can absolutely fly out. Think back to when driver Chris Alford threw everything at him and he crossed Smolda to lead and win the 2015 Victoria Cup. If Tiger Tara, who is not really noted for his gate speed, could somehow muster and stay in front of Lennytheshark then he would be awfully hard to beat. Lennytheshark is first-up since winning the Cranbourne Cup on March 18. While Lennytheshark and Tiger Tara hog the headlines, others in the Bulli Cup include Tim Butt’s Kiwi raider, My Field Marshal (gate 12), along with Spare Me Days (one), Ultimate Art (two), the emerging Lord Zin Zan (13) and enigmatic Mach Doro (14). The Bulli Cup is on the same card as the anxiously-awaited Australian Gold 2YO colts and geldings final where Victoria’s Lumineer is a $1.70 favourite from gate six over Mark Purdon’s Sicario (gate nine, $2.15). Purdon also has $4.20 second favourite Motu Premier, who has to overcome gate 13 and the very exciting Anything For Love (gate eight, $2.10) in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel final (2300m).   Adam Hamilton

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