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The long-awaited comeback of superstar pacer Ride High is near, with trainer Clayton Tonkin forecasting a potential return to the races in the next "three to four weeks". Tonkin has spoken glowingly about the progress of the six-year-old, who is on the recovery trail from a minor suspensory injury that halted his campaign in October last year. "He's really good, I'm really happy with him to be honest," he told Sky Racing Radio's On The Pace. "It's one of those things where I don’t have a set sort of race I want to aim for, but at this stage he's coming along really good. He looks super. "We've got our water walker going at the minute so it's been a huge asset..." Ride High, a winner in 16 of 18 career starts, had his 11-race streak snapped when he finished fifth in the TAB Smoken Up Sprint in October before follow-up scans revealed a leg issue. LISTEN TO TONKIN SPEAK WITH SKY RACING'S BRITTANY GRAHAM BELOW: HRV - Tim O'Connor

The adrenaline kicked in, the hand kept going up and Tom Hogan walked away the much-coveted sale topper, whose talented family inspired the late bidding frenzy. The hammer dropped at $130,000 on lot 229 at Sunday’s Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne sale, when 250 lots were offered and sales averaged $32,713, up 16 per cent on the 2018 staging. It was a full-brother to brilliant Victorian filly Petacular who prompted the bidding war, the Durham Park bred Somebeachsomewhere colt catching the eye of Hogan and Clayton Tonkin, partner of trainer Emma Stewart. “Breeding was the main thing,” Hogan said. “Clayton and I had look at him, walked him up many times with his farrier and vet, and then went back and had another look at him. They couldn’t fault him. “His breeding, he has great conformation, he’s a yearling but you could have passed him off as a two-year-old. He was the clear pick of the sale. Clayton had no hesitation in recommending him.” His full-sister, Petacular, sadly had to be euthanised in November 2017 after breaking a cannon bone while spelling, prematurely ending a career that yielded 19 wins and $454,083 in stakes for trainer-driver Michael Stanley. “Petacular and Miss Graceland had some battles but she was number one,” Hogan said. “If she didn’t break down she would still be number one. It’s unfortunate she is gone early, she was going to be a household name. “We went overboard (at the sale), but that can happen when you are waiting two and a half hours. The adrenalin gets you going. I’m hoping for a big two-year-old season, because the family and friends are not going to be happy with me if I’m wrong.” His partner, Sue Murray, will hold 20 per cent of the horse while her brothers-in-law and their three sons will also grab a slice, the first time the latter trio have ventured into trots ownership. Hogan said former Bulldogs footballer Mark Hunter, Maori Time’s owner Fred Crews, Darryl Edwards, Russell Condie and John Wilkins would also be among those sharing in the colt’s career. “I’ve been going for the last 10 or 12 years and buying horses at the APG for family and friends and fitting them in and they all get a kick out of it,” Hogan said. “I’m really happy. All of the owners are excited, in footy terms they’ve walked away with a number one draft pick.” For a more modest $35,000 Hogan also snapped up a Bettors Delight colt by The Waratah, having the previous year brought his half-brother, who was sired by Art Major. “His brother will trial in three weeks and he goes all right,” Hogan said. “He’s the pick of the two two-year-olds we bought last year.” Durham Park also delivered the sales topping filly courtesy of an Art Major yearling out of dam Hawiian Hottie, a full-sister to gun two-year-old Kualoa ($176,760), who fetched $120,000. They stole the headlines but there were many dreams pursued on Sunday as owners chased the next big thing only a day after watching Tiger Tara claim the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. A Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Dreams Of Heaven drew $95,000, with his new owners hoping a similar career to full-brother Menin Gate, winner of $574,758. David Moran and Laura Crossland’s in-form stable was prolific purchasing four, including a $70,000 Captaintreacherous colt out of Always Target, a half-sister to Milly Perez, and a $50,000 Rock N Roll Heaven colt out of Timely Loch. The latter is a half-sister to Just Irish Lock, the dam of Rock N Roll Heaven filly Shez All Rock ($426,350), who had a breathtaking three-year-old season. 2016-17 Victorian VHRSC owner of the year Danny Zavitsanos swelled his stable with two purchases, including snapping up a Durham Park filly for $40,000. She is by American Ideal out of Camluck dam Magic Z Tam, a half-brother to Tam Major ($125,500). He also topped the bidding at $50,000 for a two-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere, who was the second foal out of Repelem, a half-sister to three-year-old Revolt. Fellow owner Kevin Riseley has enjoyed plenty of good horses and was drawn to Alabar’s Bettors Delight filly, who he purchased for $30,000. She is the second foal out of lightly raced Maid For You Lombo, a Sportswriter mare who’s dam was none other than Tailamade Lombo, winner of $1.3 million The Go Racing Syndicate, which has the likes of Cant Refuse, Hectorjayjay and King Of Swing among its number, put the hand up for a Rock N Roll Heaven filly whose dam, Manellira, is out of Amarillen. The latter’s foals include Nostra Beach ($236,080), Miss Graceland ($224,458), Villagem ($626,585) and Pixel Perfect. While Pixel Perfect was unraced, all five of her foals produced six-figure stakes including Soho Tribecca ($1,103,374) and Carlas Pixel ($475,128). Justin Baker was again prolific at the sales, with his purchases including $80,000 for a Somebeachsomewhere filly out of Perfect Life. Part of Peter Gleeson and Bruce and Craig Cameron’s lines, the filly was a half-sister to two-time Southern Cross Series winner That’s Perfect. The dam, Perfect Life, is a half to Beauty Secret ($425,921) and Major Secret ($464,872). Barker also paid $75,000 for an American Ideal colt out of Smouldering Desire, with the dam a half-sister to Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup winner Smolda. Also prominent were New South Wales based trainers, with Tim Butt, Rickie Alchin, John McCarthy, Blake Fitzpatrick and James Rattray each snapping up lots sired by Captaintreacherous among their purchases. Rhiannon Park mare Slip Slop Slap produced reigning Victorian Horse of the Year Jilliby Kung Fu ($526,710) in 2012 and so her Captaintreacherous colt attracted $70,000. A key juvenile rival of Jilliby Kung Fu was Our Little General whose half-sister, Someone To Love, had A Rockndoll Dance colt sell for $44,000. Florida-based Victorian trots owner Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks purchased lots 130 ($41,000) and 135 ($78,000), the latter a Captaintreacherous colt out of The Baggy Green, a winner of $108,700 in race stakes, whose dam was multiple Breeders Crown winner Lady Waratah. The Kiwis were also prevalent. Mark Purdon snapped up a Bettors Delight colt, out of Arivee, for $45,000 and an Art Major filly, out of Almihata, for $25,000. And Cran Dalgety spent $60,000 on a Bettors Delight colt, out of Breeze On Bronski, and $70,000 on a Bettors Delight filly out of Glenferrie Diva, who is a half-sister to Foreclosure ($807,746).   Michael Howard for Trots Media

Suddenly the Victoria Oaks has a serious heartbeat. Going into Friday night’s heats, most had already conceded next Friday’s Group 1 final to big hulking filly Petacular. The Aussie TAB had her $1.55 to win the final. Mick Stanley’s star filly is still the one to beat, but the likes of Miss Graceland and Shezallapples showed enough in the heats to say they can win if the draws and luck go their way. Petacular won her heat in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for 2240m and went substantially quicker than NSW filly Shezallapples (1min57.7sec) in the other heat. But Shezallapples looked to do it easily and Miss Graceland’s effort for second to Petacular was the best of her career so far. Miss Graceland looms as the biggest threat. Co-trainer Clayton Tonkin thought there was very little between Miss Graceland and Petacular heading into the NSW Oaks, but Petacular easily beat her home in both a heat and the final. Since then, Miss Graceland has returned home, easily won two ho-hum races and then really pushed Petacular when a fantastic second in the Oaks heat last Friday night. On the home turn, just for a few strides, it looked like Miss Graceland was going to beat Petacular. In the end, she finished 2.3m away, but ran a bottler. The facts say just how it goes between the pair with Petacular winning all six clashes between the pair so far, but Miss Graceland’s driver Chris Alford is not so sure. “I don’t think there is a lot between them, although I know their records don’t show that,” he said. “Petacular was too good for her in NSW, but Miss Graceland wasn’t at her best up there. “She felt really good winning those two easier races when she came home then, tonight, I thought she went really, really well. “Pectacular had the easier run and Miss Graceland still really made a race of it with her. “I’m certainly not conceding the final. If he draw better, I think we can make a real race of it.” Against that, Stanley made it clear before the heat that Pecatular had room to improve for the final. Shezallapples also looks to have improved since the NSW Oaks when she ran a luckless sixth in a heat behind Petacular then fourth in the final behind Partyon and Petacular. The David Thorn-trained daughter of Sportswriter worked to the front and won as she liked by five metres in her Victoria Oaks heat from Sanna Cruza, who led then trailed, and Keayang Secret. Adam Hamilton

Clayton Tonkin’s declaration that he doesn’t like comparing his two top-gun harness racing fillies Rocknroll Magic and Heavens Trend is completely understandable. They’re both lovable. The Emma Stewart and Tonkin prepared three-year-olds won their respective Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO semi-finals last night at Bendigo and then drew gates one (Heavens Trend) and eight (Rocknroll Magic) for the $185,000 final. “I don’t like comparing them too much. They’re lovely horses in their own right,” Tonkin said. The barrier draw result is intriguing. Heavens Trend clearly has the advantage from the pole and TAB has reacted by installing her $1.65 favourite for next Sunday’s final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Rocknroll Magic will trail her more fancied stablemate and is currently $3 to win the final. “She’s been unbelievable. It’s been a long, long season for her and for her to run the way she ran tonight is just unbelievable,” said Craig Cameron, who bred Rocknroll Magic (by Rock N Roll Heaven out of All The Magic) and now races the filly with a big ownership group. “She’s only a tiny little horse but she’s all champ.” VIDEO: EXCITED OWNERS OF ROCKNROLL MAGIC Heavens Trend went around $1.50 favourite last night in the First Semi-Final and after punching the breeze for the first 500m Gavin Lang took her to the front at the mile, Chris Alford happy to take cover on initial leader Dancingwithsierra. After coasting through a 61.3secs first half, Lang and Heavens Trend only really quickened considerably from the quarter pole, the filly covering the last split in 26.6secs for a 1:55.9 mile rate. At the wire Heavens Trend had 7.3m to spare over Mark Purdon’s My Mackenzie, who came from three-pegs, with Rockstar Angel in third for Michael Bellman after weaving a passage from well back on the inside. Dancingwithsierra dead-heated for fourth with Whirily School, the latter, also from the Stewart yard, fighting on gamely after sitting parked for the final mile. “I thought (she) did a good job, too,” Tonkin said of Whirily School. VIDEO: CLAYTON TONKIN TALKS ABOUT HIS FILLIES Queenslander Get In The Groove, who last year won a Breeders Crown Semi, qualified for the final by finishing sixth for driver Luke McCarthy. Rocknroll Magic came from behind in the run to win her Semi-Final, Lang extricating her off the pegs from barrier eight early before settling sixth in the running line. At the 500m Lang made his move, easing wide to get within striking distance of race leader Luisanabelle Midfrew and the breezing Nikkibadwagon. In the stretch once Lang shook up the $3.20 favourite, Rocknroll Magic rounded up the leaders and scored by 1.6m in a rate of 1:56.4. The last half-mile was trekked in 56.3. MARKETS: TAB BREEDERS CROWN FIXED ODDS Nikkibadwagon was brave in second after facing the breeze throughout, while Just Rockon Bye finished third after showing blistering gate speed to lead from five before handing up to Luisanabelle Midfrew, who ran fourth. Gina Grace appreciated the pole position draw and qualified in fifth, while Ilikemillie scraped into the final by closing late for sixth. Lang revealed late last night he would drive Heavens Trend in the Crown final. "Her heat run was very good and she was good again tonight so it all augers well for next week," he said. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

It was billed as the race of the harness racing series and it didn’t disappoint.  The Empire Stallions $115,000 Vicbred Super Series Final four-year-olds, on the cusp of Grand Circuit racing, dazzled under the Tabcorp Park Melton lights, none more so than Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trained star Ideal For Real. Despite getting parked outside the Birchip Bull and reigning Victorian horse of the year Menin Gate, a noted fighter when in front, Ideal For Real packed too much punch in tonight’s Group 1 final and delivered a knockout 3.9-metre win over runner-up Tee Cee Bee Macray, who produced a super run rocketing home from the back, with Menin Gate boxing on gamely for third beaten 4.7m. Driven by “Group 1 Gavin Lang”, who notched his third top-level trophy for the evening with the victory, Ideal For Real rated 1:56.1. “We expected that’s how it would unfold in the race,” Lang said. “He cornered so well … in the straight he wanted to make a bit of a beeline to the outside … but he’s a great little racehorse and it was a great training performance from Emma and Clayton.” Ideal For Real (by American Ideal out of Tamara Hall) started from gate five and notched his fifth straight success this time in from five starts. Ideal For Real has now won 11 of 19 starts for almost $300,000 in stakes. And the future for the powerful pacer is bright, according to Lang. “With the four-year-olds their next step is the Grand Circuit racing next year so it’s harder as we go along but I’m quite sure this little guy will take that step,” he said. “He had too much speed for his own good when he was young. When you would show him a little bit of daylight he would try and go from A to B too quickly. He wasn’t sort of ready for that and he had a couple of little issues early as you can see now the team have turned him into a great little racehorse.” Stewart said the stable would take a cautious approach to Grand Circuit racing for Ideal For Real. “He’s a nervous sort of horse so we’ll take him slow," she said. “He’s a lovely horse and I think the second horse (Tee Cee Bee Macray) is a terrific horse too so I look forward to those clashes in the future." Lang drove four Group 1 winners tonight, all four legs of the quaddie.  Ideal For Real was bred by Bruce Edward of Durham Park.  Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s dynamite Smythes Creek stable has reeled off a stunning night to record five metropolitan wins for the third time in seven harness racing metro meetings. Gumdrops produced another thrilling run down the outside to clinch the Group 3 Angelique Club Cup and in doing so capped Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s third quintet, a rare feat achieved only once each by Peter Manning (2000) and Andy Gath (2008) since the turn of the century. “The (stable) have been terrific,” said Jason Lee, who drove Presidentialsecret to victory in the Machra Melton Pacing Cup. “They have given me a couple to drive and left me on them, and I’m very grateful and appreciative. You are always going to get a lovely turned out horse that’s ready to go when you drive for them and it makes our job much easier.” ANOTHER STAR IS BORN IN GARY QUINLAN'S STABLE The winning platform was set early with Gavin Lang guiding Stewart's Brighty Valentine to a 3.7m victory in the first, the DNR Logistics Vicbred Pace. “There was a bit of heat there early, which was on paper the way it was going to unfold,” Lang said. “(We) got it pretty good through the middle section of the race and allowed her to kick home fairly strong.” The good times continued for the stable in race two when in-form driver Mark Pitt piloted another talented four-year-old mare, Starburst Girl, to victory in the Join The Pegasus Club Pace. It was a third straight win for the Art Major mare since she returned from a spell. “She’s come back in devastating form, it’s a credit to the team to get them where they are,” Pitt said. “It was run to suit for a backmarker tonight and it proved suitable for her. I’m sure (Vicbred) is their aim (from here), but just to get through week after week is really good.” The next Stewart success came in race five, when Lee won by a half-head with Presidential Secret. “He’s been an absolute legend this horse for me,” he said. “The connections (owners The Devils Group) have always thought he had the ability and he has just sort of kept improving. All the big guns couldn’t do the work, and fair enough – we were really running, and it was a real credit to him to keep going and whack on.” And then the good times rolled on in race six with Heavens Trend, the highly-fancied Victoria Oaks runner-up who started the Harness Breeders Victoria Argent 3YO Classic a $1.60 favourite and raced accordingly for driver Gavin Lang. From barrier six Lang had to be patient, easing Heavens Trend to the front first time down the back straight. From there she had too much in the straight, winning by 2.9m from stablemate Platinum Power, while Stewart’s other runner – Whirily School – ran fourth. Im Wrongly Accused was third for Matt Craven. Magical win number five then rested on driver Mark Pitt and Gumdrops in the Angelique Club Cup, and the mighty eight-year-old mare didn’t let them down with a thrilling win in a briskly run 2240m. Despite a 42.3 lead time and little let up from there, swooper Gumdrops needed all the main straight to pip Beach Shack and Nike Franco at the line. “It was great,” Pitt said. “They were really burning early, which helped us. (Gumdrops) proved how good she’s going. It’s a credit to the team to get her to where she is today, it’s a big effort.” And if the night could be any more remarkable, the Stewart camp also produced a double at Globe Derby, where Rocknroll Magic and Our Celebrity won the third and fourth races on the card, Michael Howard

Share in the jubilation of harness racing Group 1 success by going step-by-step with the owners of The Storm Inside as they covet the Australian Pacing Gold. Justin Baker, part-owner of the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trained colt, tells of how a big group of strangers became friends behind the unbeaten freak who captured the $322,000 prize. Trots Media followed the owners as they bit their nails in anticipation and pumped their fists in exhilaration. WATCH THEIR UNFORGETTABLE RIDE Trots Media

Stunning harness racing colt The Storm Inside achieved what for long has appeared his two-year-old destiny and won the Group 1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Emma Stewart’s freak by Rocknroll Hanover out of Spirited Storm appeared to do it easy, with Greg Sugars taking the lead and clearing out on the straight, requiring only a flick of the reins and a tap of the whip to claim the mantle of Australia’s finest. “He’s an absolute pleasure to drive,” Sugars said. “Clayton (Tonkin) and Emma have done a wonderful job with this horse.” The race appeared in The Storm Inside’s keeping throughout, with Sugars driving it to the lead from barrier two while Weona Sizzler took the sit on his back. Chris Alford temporarily put Our Little General, Stewart’s other runner, into the breeze, but an unsettled Three Of The Best kicked up first time down the main straight, looping Alford as Gavin Lang wrestled with the Queensland gelding. He eventually settled in the breeze, but there was little respite with Geoff Webster hooking Wrappers Delight three-wide with almost 1000m to go and there they remained to the final bend. Having raced fiercely, Three Of The Best’s bid appeared done at the final turn, on his tail Alford and  second-favourite Our Little General struggled to find a run while San Domino made ground four-wide and Weona Sizzler moved up on the pegs. The latter two would run into second and third, but removed from the commotion was The Storm Inside, who Sugars urged clear at the turn and who advanced to win by 6.8m in a mile rate of 1:55.6. “Bit of a relief to get it out of the way. I’m sure it’s a big weight off the shoulders of Emma and Clayton,” Sugars said. “He proved the best horse tonight and it all went to plan. He had a good draw and he’d probably already shown before tonight that he was the best horse in the field, but it’s still never as easy as just turning up. You’ve got to earn it.” While it may have appeared oh-so-easy for the bay colt, many hands have gone into crafting The Storm Inside, who improved to six wins from as many starts. That began with Helen Head of Manna Lodge in Congupna, who ventured to America to purchase a filly, which she brought back to Australia and utilised to breed a champion. “I’m thrilled to bits tonight to win,” Ms Head said. And then there were the owners, strong in numbers and bursting with pride, none more so than Justin Baker. “To win a race like this, wow, this is just a dream come true,” Baker said. And, of course, Stewart herself, who not only claimed the night’s grandest crown, but produced five of the card’s 10 winners. “It’s just a fantastic series,” she said. “I know sales time is Clayton’s favourite time and we really appreciate the Australian Pacing Gold.”  Michael Howard

Leading Victoria harness racing trainer Emma Stewart seldom goes home empty-handed when she hits Tabcorp Park Menangle. And her attention to youngsters and her marvellous training efforts with co-trainer Clayton Tonkin were brought to the fore again at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight when lightly-raced The Storm Inside scored an easy win in the Grinders Coffee Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial. Taken straight to contest the early lead with Prince Syntax, reinsman Greg Sugars soon settled The Storm Inside $1.80 favourite) at the head of the field. Able to back off the speed in the second quarter in 31.7s, the son of Rocknroll Hanover opened up in the straight to score a 4.4m win over Our Triple Play, who tested the favourite in the middle stages of the race before wilting slightly in the straight finish second with Redbank Blaze just grabbing third, narrowly in front of Weona Sizzler. The winner rated 1:54.8 in an impressive display. Sugars later paid tribute to Stewart and her training prowess. "This bloke might be inexperienced, he's only had the two starts, but you'd swear he'd done this 100 times before," said Sugars. "And he seems to do it with some petrol left in the tank, which is pretty impressive when you look at the sectionals he is reeling off. "Emma's horses never lack schooling - they are really professional racehorses and I think The Storm Inside showed that here tonight. "I really think he's a young horse going places." The Storm Inside by Michael Court              

Speed maps that have Major Crocker and Mossdale Conner dicing for the lead in Saturday night’s harness racing showcase may be blown away by a local with lofty ambitions. Metro Mike, trained at Smythes Creek by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, drew barrier one for the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, a starting point connections will endeavour to capitalise on. "The barrier helps, he’s got a lot of gate speed, we will look to hold the front and see how he goes,” Stewart said. “It is our home cup, he has to take a step up against the other horses, but he is a quality racehorse.” She said the gelding by Metropolitan had a “freshen up” since finishing last when favourite in the Melton City Council Sprint on July 4 last year, only returning this month for one run at Ballarat before tackling the cup. On January 8 Metro Mike placed third behind Changing Code and Jaccka Art, battling on well after coming from the tail mid-race to finish within 4m of the winner. “He also had a few trials and he trialled pretty well. He had a pretty hard race first up, but did a good job,” Stewart said. “Now we’ve thrown him in the deep end, but he is a quality horse and if things fall right he should be a good chance to run a place.” The cup represents a step-up for the seven-year-old, whose 70 starts have yielded 20 wins and $189,000 in stakes, but Stewart is confident he can compete in this class. “It’s his first taste against a couple of the better ones. It’s not an outstanding field, I’ve seen stronger and he’s definitely got a chance,” she said. Key to any success will be Metro Mike’s ability to hold the front, or near to, amid a succession of likely challengers. “There’s definitely going to be pressure, because everyone will be working to be on the fence. It will be up to (driver) Jason (Lee) to sum up, but I’m confident we’ll be able to hold the front.” Also front of mind is the fact some challengers may be wary of burning too many petrol tickets ahead of the Victoria and Hunter cups. “We can afford to run along a bit stronger than they may want to, which is probably in our favour,” Stewart said. Should the cards fall their way, it would be the third time the Stewart and Tonkin stables have held the cup, following Restrepo in 2014, Safari in 2008 and Robin Hood in 2006. “It is always a race that we want to win. We have won it three times before and it’s a race we want to win again on Saturday.” by Michael Howard

This writer is not a religious person by any means but I am a bit lost for an explanation for what happened to 53 harness racing horses over the weekend in at Durham Park Standardbreds. Situated on 400 acres of rolling countryside thirty minutes south east of Ballarat, Durham Park was established by Bruce Edwards in 2006 and has quickly become one of the pre-eminent standardbred nurseries in Victoria. Bruce had built up an outstanding band of North American, New Zealand and Australian mares and everything was on track for this years round of yearling sales when the fire struck late last week. The staff had to leave in such a hurry there was no time to grab any clothes or possessions and there was just no time to even think about moving the horses. When Bruce was let back in on Saturday afternoon, he was immediately confronted by evidence of the ferocity of the fire. What he saw left Bruce numb. " There was no fences, no sheds, no house, no water in the dams – just nothing." " There wasn't one blade of grass you could see on the property." " Unbelievably I came across the horses who seemed to have somehow survived the carnage." " However before we could do anything, we were kicked out again due to the danger from the fire," Bruce explained when talking to Harnesslink today. The next morning Bruce was allowed to go back onto his farm by authorities but he was quite nervous about what he might find. " The noise and smoke from the fire was huge and with the helicopters adding to that, I thought the horses would be spread far and wide over the property as we had no fences at all and I wasn't sure how many may have survived the inferno." " To my amazement they were still where they had been the day before." " I thought getting halters on them and loading them on to the floats would be fraught with problems but they stood there like lambs and walked straight on." "We had sixteen unbroken yearlings there but we caught them all with no problems and unbelievably they loaded onto Clayton Tonkin's truck as though they had been doing it all their life." "We moved the whole lot in four hours over to Clayton and Emma's property and after we did a headcount we found we hadn't  lost a single horse." " I didn't know some of the float people who turned up to help but I can't thank them enough." "Special thanks must go to Clayton and Emma who were just brilliant," Bruce said. Since the fire Bruce has been humbled by the offers of help from all over Australia. " I have had over 100 calls from all over Australia offering feed, agistment and help which is really quite humbling." " One call was from Alan Galloway and I was just gobsmacked by the offer he made to me"  " Alan offered to graze the whole 53 horses we took off Durham Park on Sunday for six months free of charge. "On top of that he gave us access to his barn complex so we now have somewhere to prepare our yearlings for the sales and there is accommodation included for my staff as well." " I grabbed the offer as my staff lost everything in the fire and this will help them get back on their feet." " The horses are being treated for smoke inhalation at the moment but will be moved to Alabar as soon as that has been completed." "I can't thank Alan Galloway enough, he has been a life saver," Bruce said Alan Galloway was also behind another initiative to help Bruce get back on his feet. "Bruce has been a great client of ours for many years and we were only to happy to step up and help out." " On top of the grazing and use of our facilities, Alabar Bloodstock has got together with Blue Chip Farms in New York, Pepper Tree Farm and Muscara Standardbreds to offer services to Art Major, He's Watching and Auckland Reactor. " We hope that Courage Under Fire will join the offer in the next few hours." All the money raised from the sale of the services will be forwarded to Bruce," Alan said. At the end of the day, we should be really thankful that no human or horse loss their life in this fire. Post fire we have been able to witness that great camaraderie that exists in the harness racing industry where industry participants will always reach out to those in need As to how to explain 53 horses going through a firestorm and coming out the other end unscathed, that one I can't answer Harnesslink Media

Presidentialsecret is hoping to get the key to the city when Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s five-year-old gelding makes its 21st attempt at winning at the track.  With 12 wins across its 44 starts, the stable approaches Friday night’s Group 3 Empire Stallions VicBred Platinum Pace with some confidence that Presidentialsecret can enjoy its first win at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. “It’s racing well and has a lot of class,” Tonkin said. “The horse probably wasn’t racing at true form last time, but is back from a spell and his form has been really good.” Among five runs since that winter spell Presidentialsecret has been beaten a half-head into second at Melton on September 5, saluted at Geelong on October 1 and placed third at Ballarat eight days later, when a photo-finish separated three who came home in a 1:54.7 mile rate. On Friday he returns to Melton for the 21st time, a win drought that Tonkin attributes to opportunity more than ability. “A fair few trips to Melton were young sires; he’s been racing in good company as a two, three and four-year-old,” Tonkin said. “He has probably had half-a-dozen goes at M0s, but the last time he had ulcers and we’ve treated him and he has come back a different horse.” Tonkin said the Platinum Pace appeared “an open race”, with threats including Paul Rowse’s filly Desiring Kate, who is among those sharing the second row with Presidentialsecret. The Smythes Creek team will also make an assault on Friday’s Group 3 Harness Breeders Victoria Cinderella Stakes, in which its Group 1 winning mare Whereibylong will endeavour to overcome a tough draw to take the main cut of the $30,350 stake. “She never runs a bad race,” Tonkin said. “She definitely has the class in the race. “Drawn inside on the second row over the short distance could be tough, but she is a class mare and she’ll run a really big race.” Whereibylong’s last 11 starts have yielded eights win and three seconds, including the Group 2 Breeders Crown Championship at Melton on August 30. To return to the winners circle she’ll have to mow down another in-form fancy in Amanda Turnbull-trained Betabcool, a Kiwi export which is up in class but has been stellar since jumping the ditch. “I think Betabcool is a horse in form and probably has the right draw for a short trip, but I wouldn’t be giving my mare over for any other,” Tonkin said. “I am very confident in her ability.” The stable also has Jadahson returning in the Alan Mance Holden Pace, its first race since January 18, having recovered from a broken pastern. Though back from a long spell and “drawn a bit awkwardly”, Tonkin said Jadahson “has never run a bad race”.  And it has Another Safari - “a pretty classy horse, but has drawn badly” – in race five, the Soho Standardbreds Pace. Michael Howard  

The Race to Royalty hots up this Saturday Night when we head off to the harness racing meeting at Bray Raceway in Ballarat for all the Semi-Finals of the Australasian Breeders Crown. Its shapes up as a fabulous night of racing as Harness Racing’s brightest young stars take centre stage. As has been the norm over the past couple of years it shapes as another fascinating Australia vs New Zealand war and leading the charge for the locals is none other than Emma Stewart. She has 7 runners across the semi-finals and the outstanding Whereibylong in the Graduate free for all. The first of their runners in the Semi’s is Celebrity Guest in Race 2, she has drawn awkwardly outside of the back row. Speaking to trainer Emma’s Partner Clayton Tonkin he said that she might face a task ask from where she is drawn “she has a nice turn of foot and she is a nice little filly but she sort of needed a bit better barrier draw to be in the mix.” The brilliant filly Heavens Trend and Whirily School go around in Race 3 and they come up against a unbeaten super Kiwi from the All-Stars stable in Our Dream about Me. It should be a cracking race but Tonkin, although wary of Our Dream About Me, is confident Heavens Trend will be hard to beat. “The NZ horse has massive wraps and is a super filly, but our filly is as good a filly as we’d hope and we have the barrier draw over them which makes it an advantage but it will be a good test.” Whirily School has drawn awkwardly and Tonkin thinks that will make the job pretty tough, “she has done a good job this season but I think against these sorts of fillies she needed a bit better barrier draw but she will still run a good race” Their next runner on a massive night for the stable is Starburst Girl in the 3yo fillies division. Drawn gate 4 up against last year’s 2yo winner Katy Perry, Tonkin is quietly confident she can run a nice race. “She is going good actually, she has had a big season and has a good turn of foot, she hasn’t got a bad barrier draw and I think she will run a pretty good race.” The 1st semi of the 2yo C&Gs series sees the Vicbred winner Shadow Sax take on Born to RocknRoll and Tonkin has been highly impressed with this son of Shadow Play and nominates him as the pick of the night. "“I really like him as a horse, he hasn’t drawn real good but he is a great racehorse, he can go forward driven tough, you can drive him with a sit as he is real versatile." "I think he will go really good and I reckon he is our best hope for the night” In Race 8 the Mares Graduate Free For All and Whereibylong will be mighty hard to beat. A winner of the 2yo fillies division of the Breeders Crown two seasons ago she has gradually got better at each of her 3 runs back from a long spell and was quite awesome winning all the way last start. “She has 3 runs back now to sharpen her up, she has another good draw over the mile so makes it a big advantage but she is getting back to where she needs to be.” In the last of the Semis Stewart has 2 fillies engaged with Tonkin clearly heading towards Lovelist as his better chance but concedes both his runners will find it a hard ask taking on the New Zealand superstar Our Orange Agent. “Lovelist has a good barrier draw so if she can find the back of the good NZ horse hopefully she weighs in and The Stunning One has come back from a long spell where she had an injury but she is going to be right up against it from where she is drawn” Other highlights of the night include the NZ star Our Waikiki Beach trying it make it 11 straight in Race 4 at 7.02pm and the clash of Menin Gate and Follow the Stars in Race 7 at 8.30pm. It will be a bumper night and the first of 10 kicks off at 5.27pm. Matthew Jackson

Handy harness racing campaigner Jadahson is poised to provide his famous mum with her second Cup winner in eight days when he contests the Hamilton Cup on Sunday. By Falcon Seelster, the seven-year-old is from former top race mare and grand producer, Jadah Rose. A multiple Group One winner, Jadah Rose is also the dam of boom pacer, Guaranteed, which outclassed his rivals in last weekend’s South Australia Cup. No stranger to feature race glory, Jadahson has drawn perfectly for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin in the provincial event. To be driven by in-form reinsman Nathan Jack, Jadahson will come from the pole, which has boosted connections’ confidence. “We couldn’t be happier with the draw,” Stewart said. “His confidence is right up after winning his last two starts and he is a strong chance of completing the hat-trick. “It’s a pretty handy field, but he will take some beating.” Jadahson is one of two Stewart/Tonkin representatives, with top flight pacer, Restrepo, facing a tough task from his 30-metre back mark. Fresh from his eye-catching second behind stablemate, Philadelphia Man, in last Sunday’s Horsham Cup, Restrepo will be partnered by master reinsman, Gavin Lang. With Lang driving Philadelphia Man last weekend, it was the first time in 43 starts another reinsman – Nathan Jack – had sat behind Restrepo on race day. “Coming off 30 metres isn’t going to be easy, but he is good enough to do it,” Stewart said. “We were very happy with his run at Horsham and his work since has been great.” PAUL COURTS

Reigning champion Restrepo has drawn perfectly in his quest for a slice of harness racing history in Saturday night’s Ballarat Cup. One of four Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin-trained runners in the Group One, Restrepo is aiming to become the first title holder to successfully defend his crown. As it stands, Sinbad Bay is the time-honoured feature’s only dual winner, having scored in 1991 and 1996. Successful in track record time last season, Restrepo has received barrier one, which has boosted his trainers’ confidence. “That should prove to be a great draw for him,” Stewart declared. “Hopefully from there he can settle in a prominent position and be ready to strike in the straight like he did last season.” An eye-catching first-up fourth at Tabcorp Park Menangle a fortnight ago, Restrepo has “trained on well” according to Stewart, who stated the son of Art Major will be a notable improver for the outing. “We were happy with his run in Sydney and he has trained on well since,” Stewart said. “He will definitely be better for the run, but that said, he will have to be in this field. “We’ve got no doubt he is capable of becoming the first pacer to win back-to-back Ballarat Cups.” Despite his ideal draw, Restrepo is on the fourth line of betting with TAB Fixed Odds at $8, with his stablemate, Guaranteed, the favourite at $2.20. Last weekend’s Cranbourne Cup star, Terror To Love is next at $3, with Philadelphia Man posted at $3.40. Winner of his last nine starts, including two this campaign, Philadelphia Man is another Stewart/Tonkin representative, with Beauty Secret – one of the outsiders at $51 - rounding out the team. Philadelphia Man will begin from three, with Guaranteed in four and Beauty Secret in 10. Terror To Love has another visitors’ draw, gate nine, which is likely to see him pushed through at the start in search of the ‘death seat’. “Although he is off the back line, Terror To Love is still the one to beat,” Stewart said. As for a hint on which of the stable’s chances is the ‘most likely’, Stewart offered a diplomatic answer: “with the right run all of them are capable of winning. They’ve all been working well and are right in this.” At this early stage, even a guide via the drivers is still unavailable, with master reinsman Gavin Lang given first preference. Interestingly, Lang has driven Restrepo in each of his 41 starts, which has seen the pair register 17 wins, including two at Group One level. Lang has also been the only driver to hold the reins behind the other three on race day this season. “We haven’t spoken to Gavin yet, so we will wait and see which one he wants to drive before making a decision on the others,” Stewart declared. PAUL COURTS

Given New South Wale participants’ passion for referring to their southern harness racing counterparts as ‘Mexicans’ there is only one thing to say….DEQUELLO! While the advancing army isn’t quite as big as Santa Anna’s, the Mexican onslaught is ready to attack The Alamo – also known as Tabcorp Park Menangle. Just as “dequello” was the cry from the imposing force, ‘no quarter’ will be offered by the 11 members of Team Mexico tonight. Headed by Guaranteed in the night’s premier event – SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile – the infantry also includes hopefuls in three features. Leading trainer David Aiken has three starters, with Real Bonus in the opening race, along with Cold Major and Composed in the Group Two Kevin Newman Cup. The latter pair will be joined by fellow Mexican, Restrepo, which has drawn ideally in the pole in his first outing since August. A Group One winner at Menangle last November, Restrepo is an Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin-trained stablemate of Guaranteed. The prominent training partners will also be represented by Yankee Rockstar in the Mount Eden Championship. Yankee Rockstar contested the Chokin Championship during last season’s corresponding program, finishing second behind Bling It On, which is the main danger again. Stewart and Tonkin also have Philadelphia Man in the Carnival Of Miracles Stake, with the son of Art Major first-up since his comeback victory at Melton six weeks ago. On that occasion, Philadelphia Man returned from a two-year break to trounce his rivals in 1:53.4 over 1720 metres. It’s safe to say Stewart and Tonkin wouldn’t have taken him across the border unless they were extremely confident. Rounding out the Stewart/Tonkin ‘battalion’ is Beauty Secret in the Robin Dundee Stake, named in honour of the inaugural Miracle Mile winner. Drawn wide in barrier nine, Beauty Secret is one of the four “señoritas” in the 1609-metre dash. The multiple feature race winner will be joined by Sophies Ideal, Tandias Bromac and Blucolla Tigerpie, with each receiving visitors’ draws.  Sophies Ideal will come out of eight, with Tandias Bromac in 10 and Blucolla Tigerpie in 12. Viva la Mexico! PAUL COURTS

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