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The $400,000 Group 1 Eynesbury Victoria Cup is the next scheduled stop for exciting harness racing five-year-old Cruz Bromac after his all-the-way Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup win yesterday. Moments after his 4.7-metre victory over gun mare Berisari in the south-west Victoria club’s annual pacing feature, Braun said  Cruz Bromac (Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender) would be set for the Summer of Glory’s night one jewel on Saturday, January 28, at Tabcorp Park Melton. Driven by Chris Alford, Cruz Bromac toyed with his rivals yesterday to lead from barrier three, delivering Braun back-to-back Hamilton Cups, the Lara horseman having won the race last year with Im Corzin Terror. Cruz Bromac rated 1:57.3 for the 2660-metre trip, reeling off sectionals of 30.4secs, 30.3secs, 27.5secs and 27.3secs. Braun said Cruz Bromac, a winner of 12 of his 21 starts for stakemoney in excess of $152,000, was still learning the caper at the top level but was an exciting prospect moving forward. “I’ve always said I’ve got a big opinion of him,” Braun said. “He’s still got plenty to learn. He’s a big baby out there. He’s very immature and plays around.” Alford said Cruz Bromac travelled sweetly in the run yesterday and added he was confident Cruz Bromac would continue to improve as he matures. “If you have a look through the other runners in the field today they’ve all had plenty of starts, but he’s only had 21. He’s still learning. He’s untapped really at this level and he’ll keep getting better.” Yesterday’s win moved Cruz Bromac into outright third place on the $25,000 Own the Moment Trots Country Cups Championship ladder, two points behind Hectorjayjay and one behind Major Secret. The winner of the Trots Country Cups Championship at the end of the Country Cups season picks up $25,000, with $15,000 going to the winning connections and $10,000 to the winning trainer. Six-year-old mare Berisari from the Emma Stewart stable was game in second place yesterday and will likely head towards the $100,000 Alabar Ladyship Cup on Hunter Cup Night (which doubles as a qualifier for the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle). Idea Success was beaten 7.9m by the winner in third place for reinsman Grant Campbell, that six-year-old from the Kerryn Manning camp at Great Western now in equal fourth place for the Trots Country Cups Championship on six points. Meanwhile, Matthew Craven prepared El Paco (Yankee Paco-Kellybrooke) scored a tough win in the Mountain View Stud Hamilton Trotters Cup over 2660m. Driven by Glen Craven, El Paco moved to the breeze in the early stages of the race outside favourite and stablemate Uncas. El Paco softened up the leader during the third quarter, applying the pressure for a 28.1secs split, and kicked to a clear lead at the top of the straight before fending off fast-finishing Zedalite (Rod Petroff) in second, with Ainthatrightmacca third beaten 4.1 for Denbeigh Wade. “This is a terrific result for the stable and I’m really thankful for the whole team and the work they put in,” Matt Craven said post-race. “(El Paco) had run a nice race off 30m in Adelaide last week but wasn’t able to get the job done there, so to win today and for mum to own this one is pretty special.” El Paco is likely to head to Sydney to contest the NSW carnival features, with Craven saying “he is probably just a rung below the really top ones in Victoria”. The Hamilton Club slashed admission costs and had local market traders on track in a bid to attract new people to their big day. It worked, a strong crowd enjoying the action throughout the eight-race card, with plenty of positive feedback coming from happy patrons. The Trots Country Cups spotlight turns to Ballarat now for the running of the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup meeting on Saturday night. Check out for the videos. By Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Patrons were treated to a star harness racing performance by the winner of the $30,000 Jim Phillips Memorial Cobram Pacing Cup, Cruz Bromac NZ at Group 3 level on Cobram Cup Day. Stepping away quickly from behind the mobile, the Dean Braun-trained 5YO gelding took pole position to set a cracking pace while Im Corzin Terror NZ zipped around the field to sit in the death outside his stablemate. Throughout the 2678m journey, challenges came from all corners in the quality field, however a 27.4 third quarter saw Cruz Bromac, expertly driven by Chris Alford, rip the field apart, putting a gap between him and his rivals to salute in splendid isolation over his stablemate, reined by three-time winner of the Cobram Pacing Cup, Greg Sugars, with last year’s winner Kotare Roland third home in a brave performance after being forced four-wide on the home run. The high calibre win saw the impressive mile rate of 1:56.1 standing as a track record for the 2678m being the first mobile start for the cup since inception. The trophy, donated by Bruce Phillips in memory of his father, was presented to Alford who accepted on behalf of winning owner Geoff Hill, a lifetime friend of Jim Phillips and his family. An inscribed rug was presented to the winning trainer, Dean Braun. Alford joined Sugars as the only reinsmen to have driven three cup winners in the 41-year history, while well-known horseman John Caldow leads the honour roll with a record of four winners. It was just over 30 years since Alford drove his first Cobram Pacing Cup winner at the age of 16, Barunah Bay, for industry identities, the late Frank and Carmel Ryan from Echuca. The Cobram Barooga Hoteliers Sweep for the cup was won by Dallas Mackenzie, second Michelle Viney and third B. Hanlon. The Central Murray Credit Union Cobram Trotters Cup, also of Group 3 standing, was a history-making performance by Scott Dyer-trained The Boss Man when he broke My High Expectations USA 2013 track record for the Trotters Cup, stopping the clock at 2:00.8 for the mile rate. The Boss Man’s young reinswoman Ellen Tormey also rewrote the history books, being the first female to rein a winner in the Cobram Trotters Cup. The 7YO gelding starting off 20m settled at the rear of the main field while David Jack and his 4YO gelding Daquiri set a sizzling pace at the head; at one stage 20m clear. Winding up his run down the back straight, The Boss Man was forced four-wide, snatching the lead on the home turn, letting loose at the 400m mark and bolting home in a record-breaking win, 13.5m clear of Lord Liam driven by Sugars, once again the bridesmaid on Cup Day. CMCU chief executive officer John Pattison presented the inscribed rug and silver tea service and tray to the excited winning connections. The first race on the program, the Cobram Barooga Locksmith Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint, proved to be a great start to Cup Day for Sugars, piloting Hot Breakfast and upstaging the home favourite Katie Grangewood, owned by Cobram Harness Racing Club members Jack and Linda Gale, in a mile rate of 1:57.2. An Alex Liddy dinner set donated by Marcus Fry was presented to the winning connections. The D’Vine Ideas Trotters Handicap saw Hayden Gray salute with 4YO chestnut gelding Aleppo Murphy as he ran down Hedge Your Bet NZ piloted by Josh Duggan to nail the 4YO gelding on the line, snatching the trophy donated by D’Vine Ideas. The Benstud Standardbreds Pace was another thriller. Peter Romero’s Red River Glacier caught the Henty-trained leader Keayang Maverick napping, racing to the pole at the bell in what proved to be a winning move by the astute Nathan Jack. In a shootout down the home straight with Monique Burnett in the cart behind Ocean Bay, Jack remained in control on the Chiltern-trained 5YO gelding to salute with the crowd favourite in a mile rate of 1:58.2. Jack then backed up in the Cec Berger 3YO Pace with the Amanda Turnbull-trained odds-on favourite, Warden Express, to land a driving double. The classy 3YO colt made his move early, rolling to the front with ease then sprinting away at the 200m mark to to salute in 1:56.1 for the mile rate. The crowd favourites continued to salute in the VHRSC Provincial Cup (second heat) and the Peter Ennals Cobram Caravans Pace. The first saw Modern Lebron storm from behind the mobile to snatch the pole and control the pace. In a thrilling three-way photo finish with Frosty Star and That Chill Devine, Lisa Bartley scored in a perfect well-rated drive on the Kialla-trained Modern Lebron over her male counterparts, Matt Berger and Mark Pitt. The final race on the program was another nail-biting three-way photo finish for punters with Our Jimmie NZ, Bernies Idol and Lettucefirestar. Coming off the second row, the Brent Lilley-trained crowd favourite Our Jimmie was forced wide early, settling at the rear. Josh Duggan pushed his charge three-wide around the field in the bell lap to position him in readiness for the home straight. Scoring a hard-fought tough win in the Peter Ennals Cobram Caravans Pace, the star 3YO gelding chalked up his seventh win from eight starts. Peter Ennals was trackside to rug Our Jimmie with the inscribed rug sponsored by Peter Ennals Cobram Caravans. ● Cobram Harness Racing Club is now gearing up for the prestigious RACV Summer Cup on Thursday, January 19. The race meeting honours three of the clubs’ foundation members, featuring the Joe Kennedy Memorial Pace, Michael Toohey Memorial 3YO Pace and the John Brooks Memorial Trotters Handicap; their families generously donating trophies in their memory. Along with the RACV Summer Cup these races will also be supported by the Jack & Linda Gale Pace and the Eeles Canvas & Saddlery Pace, which also carry trophies for the winning owners. ● Cobram Harness Racing Club is organising a bus to the Hunter Cup on Saturday, February 4. Phone club secretary Bob Watson on 0409401189 for details. By Cobram Courier Reprinted with permission of The Riverine Herald

Harness Racing New Zealand bosses say there are no immediate plans to ban whips here after a shock decision to remove them from Australian harness racing. Australian harness racing officials dropped a bombshell today when they announced drivers will not be able to use whips in races or trials from September next year. Harness Racing Australia chairman Geoff Want said the ban was being implemented to aid the future sustainability of the industry because times have changed, the public tolerance for whip use on horses was coming to an end and that the welfare of the horses was paramount. The ban was also touted as a way to brand the industry as a leader in animal welfare in Australia. So HRA will remove all whips from racing and public training tracks from the start of next season and they will be replace by a “guiding tool” which can be used to ensure driver safety with wayward horses but not to make a horse run faster. “We are looking toward the future and want to stay ahead of the animal welfare issue,” said Mr Want. Whips are already banned in harness racing in several Scandinavian countries and today’s announcement was praised by the Australian RSPCA, who said they are not against horse racing but the whip ban was a huge step in the right direction. Not so enthusiastic will be some of the horsepeople in the industry, with some immediately suggesting the banning of the whip could jeopardise the safety of both horses and their drivers. But leading driver Chris Alford, one of only two reinspeople in Australasia to partner over 5000 winners, said the ban was inevitable. “I think it has been coming for a while and now we have to deal with it,” said Alford. “But we will definitely need the guider, or whatever it is going to be called, for safety and to have control over the horse.” HRA believe the ban will put pressure on the thoroughbred industry to also look at banning whips but the heads of that code are believed to already be circling the wagons to fight off such suggestions. Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell, who was at the Perth announcement today, said there are no immediate plans to ban whips in this country. “We have recently made changes to our whip policies pertaining to how often they can be used so we will see how they go and continue to monitor the situation both at home and in Australia,” said Rennell. Michael Guerin

Ace Victorian reinsman Chris Alford has built up a wonderful association with veteran West Australian harness racing pacer Major Catastrophe and he will be looking to drive the powerfully-built eight-year-old to victory in the $50,000 Garrards Horse And Hound Binshaw Classic over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Alford has driven Major Catastrophe, bred, owned and trained by David Young, three times for two wins, including a heat and the final of the Binshaw Classic 12 months ago, and a third placing, in a heat of the Binshaw Classic last Friday night. Alford restrained the Art Major gelding from the wide barrier at No. 8 last Friday night and he brought the gelding home with a strong three-wide burst from tenth in the middle stages to finish third behind Ohoka Kentucky and Cut For An Ace. Major Catastrophe was a 13/2 chance in the Binshaw final last year when he started from barrier six and raced wide early before working hard in the breeze. He covered the final quarters in 27.7sec. and 28.8sec. and got to the front in the closing stages to defeat the fast-finishing Gotta Go Yanky, with the pacemaker Znana a head away in third place. Standing in the way of Major Catastrophe scoring another Binshaw Classic victory is the polemarker Rub Of The Green, who is sure to start a short-priced favourite after his most impressive win in a qualifying heat last Friday week.    Rub Of The Green, trained at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, will again be handled by Gary Hall jun. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old was restrained from barrier No. 9 in his heat. He settled down in tenth position before starting a three-wide move 1050m from home. He sustained his spirited burst to hit the front at the 270m mark and went on to win easily at a 1.56.4 rate from Max Meridius and The Storm Chief. Brennan also has sound prospects in the $35,000 TABtouch Interdominion Consolation over 2936m in which his talented seven-year-old The Bucket List will be driven by Michael Grantham from barrier four. The Bucket List finished powerfully from sixth at the bell to be second to Hectorjayjay over 2536m last Friday night. Ken Casellas

Lightly raced seven-year-old gelding Allies Mate delivered a Group 3 harness racing triumph to his connections, trainer Alan Donohoe and reinsman Chris Alford at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. The son of McArdle out of Fake Left mare Mon Repos scored a neck victory in the Gordon Rothacker Memorial Championship Final with a 1:54.2 run. There were great scenes trackside as Allies Mate's connections celebrated the win enthusiastically.  From gate five in the 1720-metre dash Alford had Allies Mate one-by-one at the 1200m mark after Zermanion ran by early leader Bazzas Art to get the top and Egodan whipped to the chair  from his back-row draw. When Im Lonely took off three-wide down the back stretch Alford stayed in and held the back of Egodan, who hit the front for Rod Petroff at the quarter pole, allowing Alford room to swing three-deep on the home corner. Once Egodan and Allies Mate hit top gear for the final fight to the wire it was Allies Mate who out-sprinted his rival, the last quarter 27.3 and last half 55.7 as Allies Mate notched his seventh career win and took his stake earnings in excess of $50,000. Egodan was game in second, with Im Lonely third for Greg Sugars and consistent Hollys Miss Molly fourth for Robbie Walters. Earlier on the card Metro Mike (Metropolitan-Tuscan Skies) took out the Pridemore Electrics Sokyola Sprint over 1720m in 1:53.9 courtesy of a 26.5 last quarter (55.1 last half). Major Secret initially led from barrier three, but Metro Mike and driver Jason Lee came around early and dashed to the front from his back-row draw, giving the Emma Stewart-trained stablemates the lead and box-seat positions. Once in front, Metro Mike dictated and ripped up the lane to hold off an audacious  Im Corzin Terror, whose run was super in second, and Major Secret, who couldn’t come on to challenge the leader once he’d surrendered the front. Veteran Smudge Bromac was fourth. Metro Mike’s win gave Lee a double in the cart, as he also drove Desdon Murruffy (Mordern Art-Spellmaker) to an all-the-way win in the Cogs Services Pace for trainer Matthew Craven, which also gave Craven a winning double after he trained and drove El Paco (Yankee Paco-Kellybrooke) to take out the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Cup over 2240m in 1:58.2. Long odds-on favourite Maori Time dropped out sharply to only beat the ill-behaved My Tribeca over the line and the vet will check the Brent Lilley star mare to ensure all is well moving forward. The Boss Man finished second for Scott Dyer and Ellen Tormey in the Trotters Cup, producing a brave performance to only just get pipped at the post, with Hinault – a stablemate of the winner – finishing third. Metro Mike’s win also gave trainer Emma Stewart a winning double at Melton because her five-year-old Mach Three-Star Chaser mare Our Star Dust won the DNR Logistics Pace for Chris Alford. That win was the first leg of a winning double for Alford, too, given his later success with Allies Mate. Another driver in great form is Greg Sugars, who also walked away with a winning double courtesy of six-year-old Modern Art-Bella Aurora gelding Heza Modern Guy winning the HERO Life After Racing Pace for trainer Kari Males, and Fairest Fella (Artistic Fella-Mirra Mirra) winning the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Country Series E Final for trainer Michael Hughes from barrier 13. Other winners were five-year-old Elsu-Fluffy Handcuffs gelding Feel The Buzz for Maro Stella and Brad Chisholm in the Pace Final, flying mare Zibibbo (Shadow Play-Karamea Dreaming) in the Allied Express Transport 4YO Pace for Kerryn Manning, and unbeaten three-year-old Star Of Memphis (Rock N Roll Heaven-Star Of Venus) for Andy and Kate Gath in the SBG Accountants Pace to finish the night. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Brilliant Victorian harness racing pacer Lennytheshark has taken out the first heat of the 2016 TABtouch Inter Dominion at Gloucester Park, Western Australia. The reigning Inter Dom champ began his title defence in the $1.8million series in the most emphatic fashion, working hard three-wide early before landing the chair with two laps of the half-mile GP circuit to run, outside pacesetter Our Jimmy Johnston, a local who had been well-tried by punters into $3.9. Sent out $1.8 favourite with punters, Lennytheshark controlled the race from the breeze, driver Chris Alford explaining post-race the David Aiken-trained superstar thrives doing the work. “He loves racing in the breeze for some reason,” Alford said. “He did the work and one day they’ll know he’s good and they’ll want to sit on him, but they want to park him at the moment.” Off the back Lennytheshark made his move. Our Jimmy Johnston tried to shake him off, but it’s tough to escape the clutches of a hungry shark’s jaws. Beaudiene Boaz found the line nicely for the Gary Hall Snr and Jr combination, but Lennytheshark had 1.4m on him at the wire, Lenny’s mile rate 1:54.8 and gross time 2:32.0. Last year Lenny won his opening heat in 2:33.1 gross and a 1:55.6 rate. Our Jimmy Johnstone held third, but as reinsman Ryan Warwick remarked pre-race, if his charge couldn’t tame the Shark tonight it’d be tough doing it in the future. Our Jericho was impressive in fourth, while Victorian Guaranteed finished fifth. Interestingly the vet ran his eye over Guaranteed before declaring him fit to run pre-race. Guaranteed sat leader’s back in the run but found little at the finish to battle fairly into fifth. “He seems to have pulled up good,” Lang later told Sky. But it was all honours with the winner, who has to firm in Grand Final markets given what he did tonight. “He should get better as the series goes on… like last year,” Alford said. “He travelled really well (tonight). Once he put the leader to bed he knocked off a little bit, but he knows where the line is.” Lennytheshark - Retravision Inter Dominion Qualifying Heat 1 Bettors Fire NZ - Tabtouch Inter Dominion Qualifying Heat 2 Hectorjayjay ferocious in his heat Punters are torn after night one of the TABtouch Inter Dominion heats at Gloucester Park in Perth. Do you go with the reigning series champion, Lennytheshark, who couldn’t have been more impressive winning his heat last night, or the new kid on the block, stablemate Hectorjayjay, who also looks to have gone to another level? David Aiken is in the box seat, that’s for sure. The Avenel horseman trains both Lenny and Hector. Winning two Inter Dominion heats on one night is a special feat. Josh Aiken drove Hectorjayjay to victory in a mile rate of 1:53.6 – the quickest of the night – in the 2130-metre race. “He had to work to get there, he copped mid-race pressure and then he still ripped home in a 27 quarter,” winning reinsman Josh Aiken said post-race. “I was confident. He travelled well whole race. We had to work in the middle … that brings horses like bling it on Restrepo into the race, so I was rapt he still had kick in at end.” Kick away he did. At the home bend Hectorjayjay booted clear of runner-up Run Oneover and third placegetter Franco Nelson, both trying hard but not making any inroads. “Each run is going to tighten him up,” Aiken said. “He’ll keep getting better throughout the series.” Hectorjayjay had to burn some petrol early as Exciteusinthecity held up from the pole for a few strides, and once in front, Hector copped heat throughout with a 56.8 middle half. None of it mattered as Hectorjayjay, a six-year-old by Dream Away out of Sheer Finesse, ripped home in 27.4. Simply Susational finished fourth with Bling It On fifth. Other Victorians in heat three were Restrepo in seventh, Flaming Flutter in eighth and Exciteusinthecity in ninth. The next round of heats will be held at Bunbury on Tuesday night. Get your details by visiting the Inter Dominion website Hectorjayjay - Choices Flooring Inter Dominion Qualifying Heat 3 Lenny and Hector take a swim in the Indian Ocean 2016 Perth Inter Dominion Progressive Points Table Nov 24, 2016 | Gloucester Park / RWWA   Heat Night 1 Heat Night 2 Heat Night 3 Series Horse Heat Placing Points Heat Placing Points Heat Placing Points Total Points Rank BETTORS FIRE NZ (WA) HEAT 2 1 14     0     0 14 1 HECTORJAYJAY (VIC) HEAT 3 1 14     0     0 14 2 LENNYTHESHARK (VIC) HEAT 1 1 14     0     0 14 3 BEAUDIENE BOAZ NZ (WA) HEAT 1 2 11     0     0 11 4 RUN ONEOVER NZ (WA) HEAT 3 2 11     0     0 11 5 SMOLDA (NZ) HEAT 2 2 11     0     0 11 6 FRANCO NELSON NZ (NZ) HEAT 3 3 9     0     0 9 7 JOHN OF ARC NZ (WA) HEAT 2 3 9     0     0 9 8 OUR JIMMY JOHNSTONE NZ (WA) HEAT 1 3 9     0     0 9 9 OUR JERICHO NZ (WA) HEAT 1 4 7     0     0 7 10 PHOENIX WARRIOR NZ (WA) HEAT 2 4 7     0     0 7 11 SIMPLY SUSATIONAL NZ (WA) HEAT 3 4 7     0     0 7 12 BLING IT ON (NSW) HEAT 3 5 6     0     0 6 13 GUARANTEED (VIC) HEAT 1 5 6     0     0 6 14 IMA CONNOISSEUR NZ (WA) HEAT 2 5 6     0     0 6 15 CYAMACH NZ (WA) HEAT 3 6 5     0     0 5 16 MAJOR CROCKER (VIC) HEAT 2 6 5     0     0 5 17 THE BUCKET LIST NZ (WA) HEAT 1 6 5     0     0 5 18 OUR BLACKBIRD NZ (WA) HEAT 2 7 4     0     0 4 19 RESTREPO (VIC) HEAT 3 7 4     0     0 4 20 ULTIMATE ART (NSW) HEAT 1 7 4     0     0 4 21 ELEGANT CHRISTIAN NZ (WA) HEAT 1 8 3     0     0 3 22 FLAMING FLUTTER NZ (WA) HEAT 3 8 3     0     0 3 23 YANKEE ROCKSTAR (VIC) HEAT 2 8 3     0     0 3 24 EXCITEUSINTHECITY (VIC) HEAT 3 9 2     0     0 2 25 TRICKY STYX NZ (WA) HEAT 1 9 2     0     0 2 26 WAYLADE NZ (WA) HEAT 2 9 2     0     0 2 27 FREYBERG NZ (NSW) HEAT 3 10 1     0     0 1 28 HEEZ ON FIRE (WA) HEAT 2 10 1     0     0 1 29 STUNNING GRIN (VIC) HEAT 1 10 1     0     0 1 30   * Please Note: The calculations in this table are not final until the race results have been confirmed and accepted by RWWA. ** In the event two or more horses each scoring equally the minimum number of points entitling them to be eligible for the Final and thereby producing a field exceeding the number designated by RWWA, then RWWA shall decide in its discretion which of the horses with equal points shall start in the Final. by Cody Winnell

Breaking news at Lilley Land, the Queen has overthrown the King. Most harness racing analysts believe the coup will be short-lived, with the King currently recuperating. However, some are boldly suggesting there is a changing of the guard at the top of the Victorian trots. In the past fortnight reigning Victorian trotting mare of the year Maori Time has claimed back-to-back victories over more highly acclaimed stablemate, and reigning trotting male of the year, Keystone Del. And last night the Brent Lilley-trained mare was completely dominant, while Del only beat one runner home. Important note, a post-race veterinarian’s examination revealed Keystone Del to be suffering cardiac arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat – and he was stood down by stewards pending a vet’s certificate, ECG and one successful trial. But no matter how you look at it, Maori Time’s win in last night’s $50,000, Group 1 Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint was dominant. The seven-year-old daughter of stallion Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna burnt the candle at both ends of the 1720m race to record a 1:55.4 mile rate, going coast-to-coast for a 7.5m win over Sydneysider On Thunder Road. Maori Time’s victory – her second straight success in this race – was even more impressive when you consider what she had to overcome in the run, revealed post-event by winning reinsman Chris Alford. “We had a bit of drama… she started belting the wheel out of the gate and wanted to bowl along. She was all right to the winning post and then she wanted to get going again,” he said. Maori Time hummed through the first quarter in 28.6secs, notched a 29.7secs second split, and then went 28.5secs and 29.4secs for the third and fourth stanzas. Her sustained speed was too hot to handle for the opposition. It is also worth keeping in mind there was a stiff breeze up the straight last night, so conditions weren’t conducive to ultra-quick times. The win followed a last-start Derby Royale Trotters Free-for-All triumph where she also had Keystone Del’s measure. “She’s lost none of her zest, that’s for sure,” Alford said, referring to the fact he drove Maori Time four years ago when she was a three-year-old filly. “She’ll probably be targeting the major races (over summer) and she’s not out of them.” Keystone Del is an absolute superstar and has earned over $1 million in stakes. So while the Queen is keeping the throne warm for the time being it must be likely the King will be back where he belongs. Then again, father time waits for no man… Meanwhile, from a squaregaiting viewpoint the upcoming Summer of Glory looks tantalising. On Victoria Cup night (January 30) we’ll see the $100,000 Group 1 Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix, and one week later on Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup night the $300,000 Group 1 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star over 2760m should prove to be one of the races of the summer after the news during the week that New Zealand superstar Monbet is crossing the ditch in search of more riches. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

“We’ve had some really nice horses, but I think potentially this guy could be the best I’ve had,” said harness racing trainer Dean Braun, moments after his talented five-year-old Cruz Bromac won the Group 2 $50,000 Casey Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. “He’s pretty scary in what he can do and he’s relatively green.” Braun’s five-year-old Falcon Seelster gelding put in a super performance, punching through the breeze outside Alotbettor and while the pace took a toll on the New South Wales visitor Cruz Bromac muscled on. The $50,000 stakes were hotly contested with Admiral Bronski, Mister Wickham and El Major pouring on the pressure, but the leader held up. “It was a really good field tonight,” driver Chris Alford said. “He had to do all the work sitting outside the leader, but things worked out OK early, we didn’t have to burn too hard and then got to the breeze nice and he was still really strong up the straight.” For such a field, the first two quarters were ticked off pretty comfortably enabling Cruz Bromac to hit the line with a 55.2 last 800m and win in a 1:56.4 mile rate. “He’s strong, but he has really high speed as well. He’s still a little bit funny in his gate, but once he all sorts himself out he will be a really good horse.” It’s a fact well-known to Braun, who has a soft spot for Cruz Bromac. “I don’t get sick with too many horses making me nervous, he is one of the three. He’s a very special horse,” Braun said. “To have Chris on him tonight and win this race, I’ve had a bit of luck in this race, it’s pretty special. “He’s had 15 starts and the sectionals he can run are pretty amazing really, and he’s not a one-trick pony as some people think he is. He can sit parked like he did tonight, he can lead, he’s devastating off the sprint as well. He’s very, very fast. “We will just see what happens. This was his man target early in the season. We will just give him a quiet time after this and reassess.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The Markovina Free for All, to be run at Lord’s Raceway Bendigo tomorrow night, has attracted a high quality line-up. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) last month made the decision to move the Markovina from Saturday night’s Tabcorp Park Melton program to Bendigo due to the flight transporting horses to the Perth Inter Dominion booked to take off Sunday. Trainer David Aiken has elected to run both his Inter Dominion big guns this weekend, reigning Perth champion Lennytheshark stepping out at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night in the Olympus Feeds Smoken Up Sprint, while outright Inters favourite Hectorjayjay ($3.40 with runs tomorrow night from barrier six in the $20,000 Markovina FFA. Hectorjayjay is a commanding favourite tomorrow night ($1.65 into $1.40 with, but he bumps into his last-start Yarra Valley Pacing Cup vanquisher in Restrepo from the Emma Stewart stable. Restrepo is $2.60 with and driver Chris Alford predicted the eight-year-old son of Art Major would improve on his first-up win. But the superstar reinsman also placed a caveat on his statement, saying it would be a tricky task to upstage Hector twice in succession. “It was well documented he’d had 20 months off (before Yarra Valley) but his run there was super. He did have a nice, easy run, but he still ran a super half and I’m sure the run will have done him the world of good,” Alford said. “It’ll be a hard task tomorrow in such a small field and with Hector being there. But I’m sure he’ll go great again.” The pair dominates the market but there is not one slouch among the chasing brigade tomorrow, with Group 2 winning speedster Stunning Grin drawn the pole for Rod Petroff, dual Inter Dominion placegetter and Group 1 winner Flaming Flutter in gate two for Greg Sugars, reigning Country Cups Champion Yankee Rockstar to in three for Gavin Lang and evergreen 36-time winner Smudge Bromac the rank outsider of the field for David Aiken in barrier five. Meanwhile, legendary drivers will contest the annual Oxley Feed Mills Veteran Drivers Trot tomorrow night at Bendigo (Race 4). Cliff Powell, Neville Welsh, Peter Manning, Keith Pratt, Graeme Whittle, Brian Gath, Graeme Lang, Dick Lee, Bill Spiteri, Jim O’Sullivan and Noel Shinn will all jump in the gig in the 2150-metre race at 7.40pm. The race meeting is the annual ‘Memorial night’ meet, honouring past Bendigo and district greats such as Ken and Daphne Pocock, Ron Pocock, Less Pratt, Ted Manton, Henry McDermott and Merv Dillon. Bendigo’s 10-race card kicks off at 6pm. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager) Fields for Bendigo, Friday 11 November 2016 Form guide for Bendigo, Friday 11 November 2016

Restrepo found the front and outpaced a quality harness racing field to claim a second country cup in four starts, albeit some 22 months apart. Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s eight-year-old won the United Petroleum Yarra Valley Pacing Cup today, upstaging some of the nation’s finest talent to signal his return to the grand stage. Driver Chris Alford placed the Art Major entire in front and then controlled the race, with slow first (32.3) and second (31.1) quarters helping the front runner to come home in 53.9 for the last 800m and win by 2.9m from favourite Hectorjayjay. “He’s a brilliant horse and it was good to get him back on the track,” Tonkin said. The long road back from a knee fracture was made all the more agonising when a foot abscess delayed the initial plan to have Restrepo return on October 8, which Tonkin said was “devastating”. “He did all the rehab and he was finally ready to race, and for something small like a foot abscess to set him back was shattering.” But the anguish was finally set aside this afternoon in the Group 3 $30,000 feature, when Stewart’s team had four of the eight runners including reigning Trots Country Cups Champion Yankee Rockstar and highly-rated Guaranteed. With the exception of Major Secret, all of Stewart and Tonkin’s other entrants were fresh in their preparations en route to Perth’s $1.8 million Inter Dominion. It meant there was much uncertainty, particularly with Inter Dominion favourite Hectorjayjay drawn the second row for David and Josh Aiken. “(Restrepo) had the good barrier and so I was confident he’d run a really good race,” Tonkin said. “I didn’t know what would happen early in the race. (We put them all in because) there were only two races to run before Perth and they were all a little underdone. “Guaranteed is a big stallion and takes time, Yankee Rockstar was a run short in Maryborough and Major Secret drew the best of all of them.” But, with Tonkin’s four perched at the front in the running and Aiken happy to wait midfield with Hectorjayjay, Restrepo was able to get away with a treacle pace. “There was a lot of class in the field but it was a weird race because there was not a lot of pressure on,” Tonkin said. “It was good for Restrepo, but I thought Hectorjayjay might have got out and stepped up outside him to pick up the pace.” Aiken didn’t advance three-wide until the start of the back straight and while he loomed up, Alford grabbed a break around the final turn and maintained that to the line to win in a 2:00.1 mile rate, with Hectorjayjay second ahead of a close line of Major Secret (third), Guaranteed (fourth) and Yankee Rockstar (fifth). “I think Yankee Rockstar’s run was super and I was also happy with Guaranteed, who will benefit from the run and ran on good despite suffering a flat tyre,” Tonkin said. “Restrepo’s won a Ballarat Cup and a Coca Cola Sprint and taken on the best throughout his whole career. They have 12 months off and people can forget how good they are.” He said, depending on how they pulled up from the run, the Perth-bound trio would all likely run in the free for all at Bendigo on Friday night or the Smoken Up Sprint at Tabcorp Park Melton on November 12 before flying to Perth. With his second placing, Hectorjayjay took a clear lead in the 2016-17 Trots Country Cups Championship, which this year carries a $25,000 prize.  Click here for the standings. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

American commentators found his nickname amusing and were full of praise for Chris “The Puppet” Alford’s feats on the track at the annual Little Brown Jug harness racing meeting this morning. The champion reinsman piloted Beach Memories (Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Memoir) for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr from gate seven in the final race of Jug day after finishing third 24 hours prior aboard St Lads Maggie Mae at the annual Delaware County Fair carnival. Pre-race the commentators mentioned how Alford was known as “the Puppet” back home Down Under and acknowledged the champion driver's achievements.  A large crowd was on track at the Jug, some suggesting about 40,000, while many more tuned into websites for a live stream of the action.  Alford has a strong relationship with many of the US reinsmen, forged off the back of Harness Racing Victoria's successful International All Star Series earlier this year. In the last race on Jug day Alford went forward aboard Beach Memories but was not able to find the lead. He eventually jumped on to the pylons, to use an American term, and landed in the pocket before finishing fifth. The winner of the race went 1:53 (splits 26.3/55.2/1:24/1:53). Betting Line won this year's Little Brown Jug in a super-slick 1:49 mile rate. Follow @ChrisAlford5000 on Twitter for updates. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

After a harness racing season of star-studded triumphs it would be a two-year-old maiden who would ultimately see Chris Alford anointed the SBG Accountants Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership, winning by one from Gavin Lang. The Australian season finished tonight the 31st of August. The veteran reinsmen’s season long to and fro proved captivating to the last race, with Alford and Lang entering Wednesday night’s Breeders Crown silver races tied at 47 wins apiece. With a win on Kheiron in the night’s opening race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old silver trot, Alford took his tally to 48 and that would be enough. “Metro races aren’t easy to come by, it’s a huge thrill,” Alford said. “A whole year of work goes into it. You can’t win these things unless you’ve got great people to drive for and great horses to drive. “I only take 10 per cent of the credit because I drive horses mostly trained by other people and I just put the polish on the finished product and happy I can do the job.” Making it all the more memorable was the on-going showdown with Lang, a regular fixture of the premiership race. Alford now leads the premiership ledger 12-5, with both having added a notch this time last year when Lang won the season’s final race to draw level with Alford, who finished second in the deciding race, beaten only a neck. It’s a familiar tale. “Way back when, I can’t even remember how many years, we were in one (premiership race) at Moonee Valley,” Alford said. “We started the day together, I think we won seven of the nine races together, it was me, him, me, him, me, him and then I got up and beat him in the last race. “It was ironic last year that he got up and dead heated in the last race with me when he beat me by a head.” This year the title looked to be heading Lang’s way, with Greg Sugars to place a close third. “On Friday I had two drives, not even a metro one, (Gavin) had Hectorjayjay, which looked over the line,” Alford said. “Then, of course, Sunday it looked like he had a lot of good chances. Mine were pretty good chances in the Breeders Crown without being good things, and then we come to tonight level and both our drives looked pretty fair on paper. Thankfully mine won in the first one. “We compete hard on the track but when we are back in the drivers’ room it’s just back to normal. We’ll have a beer if we are out and about, it’s just good healthy sportsmanship.” Alford also won the Melton Saddlery State Drivers’ Premiership, while Emma Stewart did the training double, winning the Renown Silverware State Trainers’ Premiership and the Taylors Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership. For the third straight year Jason Lee won the Alabar Concession Drivers’ Premiership. FOR THE PREMIERSHIPS TOP 10 CLICK HERE Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

While all the hype had been held by horses’ trained north of the border and off-shore, it was a Smythes Creek battle-hardened Mach Three who landed the killer blow in Saturday night’s Breeders Crown harness racing semi-finals at Bendigo. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s Tingira Beach was outstanding for the Menangle Park pair in semi-final one, but the script was thrown out in the second two-year-old colts and geldings semi-final when Christchurch trainer Mark Purdon’s gun, Pacing Major, was held off by Our Little General. “He’s a proper little racehorse now,” driver Chris Alford said, having notched up the second of three consecutive winning drives. “With a bit of luck somewhere we will be in the money (in the final).” That defining moment will come in race six next Saturday, when the Emma Stewart trained Our Little General’s large ownership contingent will be in attendance, including Anne Anderson of part-owner/breeder Lauriston Bloodstock. “It was fantastic,” Ms Anderson said. “We never expected him to hold off that quality field and he did it well.” VIDEO: ANNE ANDERSON DELIGHTED AFTER HER COLT SUCCEEDS From barrier seven Our Little General was sent to the top, where he was joined by Pacing Major at the bell, who was given a reprieve from his three-wide move when Bettor Be Gold gave Purdon’s runner cover. Come the final bend Our Little General stole the march on the field and by the time Purdon put Pacing Major into the open the task had become considerable. His Art Major colt loomed up, but Our Little General kicked on with 100m to go and that was all she wrote. “His first start was a heat of the Australian Pacing Gold and he’s danced every dance since then and we are just so proud of him,” Anderson said. “We’ll be back. I haven’t missed a Breeders Crown since the first one at Bendigo, so I’m a huge Breeders Crown fan and to have one in is fantastic.” Come the final Our Little General will again have to come from barrier seven and Pacing Major barrier nine after their semi-final draws were replicated. Their main rival, Tinigira Beach, will launch from barrier two for the Trittons, potentially enabling Pacing Major an avenue through and making Our Little General’s position a little trickier. With the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series crown already in his keeping, Tingira Beach couldn’t have been more impressive in his semi-final win and, with barrier draw front of mind, he’s been installed as a $1.50 favourite to win on TAB fixed odds. In the semi-final, the Somebeachsomewhere/Western Tingira colt held the front from barrier one and with 27.4 and 27.1 third and fourth quarters built a 12.3m win from Sunset Zeus, who had been on leader’s back. The dominant performance was that of a horse on his way up, Tritton said. “When we came here (for Vicbred) he was really green and still learning. He’s a different horse now, he’s a lot more switched on,” Tritton said. “He’s been really sharp in his work and I think he’s a really nice horse and he’s got his chance to win a good race.” VIDEO: SHANE TRITTON ONE VERY PROUD TRAINER That would mean more delight for his owners and breeders, the Dacar Newcastle group. “They come to Breeders Crown every year whether they have a runner or not,” Tritton said. “If I could get them a Breeders Crown win it would just mean the world to them. I think he’s good enough. I’d hate to think there’s better ones out there my bloke, he just feels great, I love him." Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

No harness racing trainer has ever prepared back to back winners of the Queensland Derby. Many have featured multiple times but never has a trainer scored successive victories. On Saturday night, respected Victorian horseman Larry Eastman is hoping to rewrite the history books and do the unthinkable following his victory last year with the mighty Menin Gate. Eastman prepares Iceenothink in the $75,000 Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Queensland Derby, and the Art Major gelding has been installed as the favourite after drawing the inside gate in the 2680m feature. Again, champion reinsman Chris Alford will combine with the Eastman trainee. But he has a simple message for punters. “This horse is no Menin Gate, he’s a nice horse who continues to improve but he’s not at the level that Paulie was last season. We think he deserves his chance in a race like this and his recent form is very good, his run in the Vicbred Final was very good last start so we’ve decided to head north again.” Eastman said. Iceenothink has developed nicely this term which followed on from his unbeaten rookie season and Eastman has been thinking Queensland Derby as a long range target. His efforts during the recent Vicbred Super Series have only confirmed the thoughts of Eastman; Iceenothink finished a brave second behind talented pacer Dont Hold Back in the July 2 feature. “I’m really happy with his form, I thought he performed really well during that series and his effort in the final was very good. Gary (Hall Jnr – Driver) said he went very well and the Queensland Derby comes at the right time, we don’t need an excuse to be in Queensland at this time of the year. “The draw is lovely because it looks a very open race on paper; there is no standout and most if not all can win this race with some luck on their side. This horse has gate speed and Chris has options while the distance shouldn’t pose any problems. “The Gold Coast Derby last week was a keenly contested race and this week will be no different, I thought there were a number of good efforts in that race and I’m not selling any them short. This should be a good race.” Last year, Menin Gate won both the Gold Coast and Queensland Derby classics but given the Vicbred series and the Queensland carnival clashing, Iceenothink was never considered for the Gold Coast Derby. UBET have listed Iceenothink as the $2.40 favourite. Chris Barsby Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 16 July 2016 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 16 July 2016

This season has been a little drawn out for one leading three-year-old filly, but connections are optimistic further success is just around the corner. Dancingwithsierra will be among the many chasing  harness racing silver and bronze at Tabcorp Park Melton tomorrow, when the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series concludes with the silver and bronze pacing races. Trainer Gary Hoban remains adamant his three-year-old filly, Dancingwithsierra, is top shelf, providing she gets a little luck before and during the race.Unfortunately for the Tasmanian Oaks winner and her connections that luck of the draw has seemed all too fleeting.  It is disappointing from an owner and trainers point of view that when she gets into big races she never draws a barrier,” Hoban said. That frustration was renewed when Dancingwithsierra drew barrier 12th for the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series semi-final and ran eighth, having been unable to make an impression on the leaders who had rolled along comfortably. “When (driver) Chris (Alford) jumped on her in the semi we had to hope for speed on up front,” Hoban said. “When he came off he said with a lead time of (45.3) and a 63-second first half of the mile they ran home in (55.2) and from the back, how could she get into it?“ For the Victoria Oaks she drew barrier 12, for the Breeders Crown she drew 10 and then she drew 12 in the Vicbred semi-final.  In today’s racing there is probably not a lot between first and last ability wise and if she doesn’t draw well it is hard to make up that 20m on the others. “When she draws a barrier, like in the Tassie Oaks, she has shown what she can do. When she draws in the first three or four she finishes there.” Poor random draws are not an uncommon complaint, begging the question in Dancingwithsierra’s case, does it stack up?In 21 starts her average draw is 6.52 in an average field size of 9.48. Well below par, and makes all the more notable that her average finishing position is 3.05.And to Hoban’s point the bigger the stakes the worse her draw? In races with stakes of more than $20,000, Dancingwithsierra’s average draw is 7.63 in an average field size of 9.81. “She is not a filly who can make her own luck against the elite,” Hoban said. “Rocknroll Magic, who won the (Vicbred) final, three months ago Dancingwithesierra defeated her when she led and Rocknroll Magic had to come from behind.”And that’s where the frustration stems from, Hoban’s confidence in his filly. This brings us to tomorrow’s 11-race card, when Dancingwithsierra has drawn barrier seven in the $25,000 stakes race. “Again she is drawn poorly, but she is probably not against the elite,” Hoban said. “Chris wasn’t disappointed with her run last week. She has probably trained on as well as you could expect her too and she will give a good show Michael Howard.”

Master harness racing trainer David Aiken pulled off the ultimate big-race success when he trained the quinella in today’s $100,000 TABCORP.COM.AU Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The only problem was it wasn’t quite the way punters expected it to go. Aiken’s up and comer Hectorjayjay ($10.10), finished like a train to swamp odds-on favourite Lennytheshark ($1.40 favourite) by 1.2m, with Ohoka Punter ($7) a fighting third 7.1m further way. The winner rated a slashing 1:50.5, confirming the huge wraps that Aiken had placed on the five-year-old gelding, who is now bound for Queensland and further feature starts. Victoria’s two leading reinsmen Gavin Lang (Hectorjayjay) and Chris Alford (Lennytheshark) cleared away to fight out the finish although the wicked grin on Lang’s face in the last 100m clearly indicated he knew he had the race in his keeping. Close behind the placegetters were outsiders Blazin N Cullen and Alta Jerome, just ahead of the mighty mare Frith, who endured a torrid run and couldn’t match the Grand Circuit stars in the straight. “Gavin really likes this five-year-old gelding by Dream Away,” said Aiken. “He doesn’t say a lot but I just really got the feeling he’s been impressed with his turn of foot.” Lang explained that draws were important and 14 was not ideal against a quality field like that. “As I always say before the race, it’s only a number, we usually have a post mortem after and decide if they’re good bad or otherwise . . . and it turned out perfectly,” said Lang. “That’s one thing about drawing 14, you need those type of quick sectionals early to bring you into the race and that’s how it turned out. “That early burn gives you a chance. Over a mile if they go slowly early then you are left to do your share of work to get into the race and chasing quality horses, well, you just won’t catch them.” Lang said Hectorjayjay always travelled well and his only concern pre-race was that he had been scratched from his last run because he had a minor problem. “But a solidly run race (like today’s) can be their downfall and to the stable’s credit they did a great job and had him in excellent condition,” he said. Home straight: “He’s a good horse and that’s one of the qualities that good horses have - under pressure they really dig in.” “I’m sure these two horses will have some epic battles in the future.” Michael Howard

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