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Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has made $115,500 in breeding bonus certificates available for Victorian breeders and owners during May and June. Every fillies and mares’ race worth more than $5000 (77 races programmed) in Victoria during May and June will carry breeding certificates worth $1000 to breeder(s) and $500 to owner(s) of the winning horse. These certificates can be redeemed for a service to any stallion for a Victorian based broodmare. “The certificates are part of a broader strategy to instil significantly more confidence in Victoria’s breeding industry,” Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) General Manager – Racing Stephen Bell said. “Today’s announcement will provide stimulus for local breeders and owners to reinvest next season. “As an industry it’s imperative we do what we can to reverse the worldwide season-to-season decline in foal numbers. For this to occur we need to think laterally, strategically and genuinely understand the problems our breeders face day to day.” HBV President Terry Lewis welcomed today’s news and expressed confidence that increased collaboration between his organisation and HRV was resulting in positive progress. “The breeding certificates will be the difference between some Victorian mares being served or not. Our breeders have a finite breeding budget each year, so often they will make the decision to have only some mares served. I'm confident this initiative will make a genuine difference and result in additional mares being bred,” Mr Lewis said. “The collaboration between HBV and HRV has significantly improved in the last 12 months or so and we are working on a number of new breeding stimulus initiatives and I'm certain we'll have more good news for breeders in the not-too-distant future.” HRV Trots Media

Exciting Duke Of Wellington won tonight’s 30th renewal of the City of Melton Plate at Tabcorp Park and secured Great Western trainer-driver Kerryn Manning her second Plate success. Fifteen years had passed since Manning’s first Plate win, aboard Run Albert Run in 2004, and she declared tonight’s triumph “a big thrill” before adding she felt her four-year-old son of American Ideal was destined for big things. See bottom of article for Manning's list of $50k+ feature race wins “It’s a very nice honour roll (for the Melton Plate) and to join it is a big thrill. I think this horse can be the same as them (top-line past winners), he’s certainly got the talent but he’s still got a bit of learning to do,” she said. Perusing the honour roll of Plate champions reveals names such as Hectorjayjay, Make Mine Cullen, Melpark Major, Shakamaker, Sokyola and Tailamade Lombo just to name a few. Punters put their faith in the Duke and Manning, sending the pair out as a commanding $1.4 favourite. They rolled forward out of the gate, but War Dan ($10.70) and James Rattray found the pegs first and wouldn’t relent to the favourite. “I always thought War Dan may try to hold the front,” Manning said. “I was prepared for that.” The ensuing fight was enthralling, with first and second splits of 29.9 and 29.5 followed by a 28 third sectional and a 28.9 run home. War Dan wouldn’t lie down, but Duke Of Wellington was too classy – despite covering more ground – and held a 1.5m buffer at the wire to record a 1:54.6 mile rate. “He got a bit wobbly at the start … he over-raced quite a bit during the first lap, too. Eventually he settled at the 1200m and I was just hoping too much damage wasn’t done by then,” Manning said. Rishi ran third, with Jilliby Chevy and Somebeachshadow rounding out the top five Plate finishers. Duke Of Wellington is raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth. He has had five runs for three wins with Manning since moving to Australia after a successful New Zealand three-year-old campaign. “He’s had a little time between runs this time in, so he’s still on the way up I think,” Manning said. “His fitness is pretty good. That’ll top him off nicely.” Meanwhile, trainer Stephen Telfer combined with local reinsman John Caldow to win the Allied Express Jodi’s Babe with five-year-old Art Major mare Our Step Up, who led throughout from gate two in 1:54.0 over 1720m. Our Step Up finished 1.5m clear of Reciprocity, who was charging home for Manning in second place, with Share The Road third and Juice Brogdon fourth.  Race favourite Berisari failed to beat a runner home. Highly rated Andy Gath-trained trotter McLovin won the 2Contstruct Scotch Notch Memorial over 2240m in 2:01.0 with Kate Gath in the gig. The last-start Charlton Cup winner made it back-to-back successes by finishing 4.7m clear of stablemate Kingdom Come, with polemarker Jerichos Trumpet third and consistent Savannah Jay Jay fourth. Michael Stanley trained and drove Watch List to win the Group 3 VHRSC Victoria Sires Classic in 1:55.7 over 2240m, the $5.9 second-favourite out-sprinting the $2.1 punters’ elect Crime Writer by 2.1m. Stanley sent Watch List to the front from barrier three early before handing up and using the sprint lane late. Titan Bromac finished third, 3m from the winner, with Perfect Major fourth. Driver Kima Frenning combined with trainer David Aiken to win the night’s sprint feature, the 1200m Quest for Success Stampede, with four-year-old Mach Three gelding Higherthananeagle. Predicted fireworks didn’t eventuate as Frenning found the lead easily from gate two before thoroughly dictating terms in a gross time of 1:22.2 to jog home by 8.7m over Benicio and Vinny Chase, who both followed the peg line, with Vee Rock fourth. If the sparks had flown horses in this race might have broken 80seconds. Check out the full results from tonight’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting   Kerryn Manning’s $50,000+ Feature Race Wins  1997 Australasian Trotting Championship Final $125k – Knight Pistol  1999 El Dorado Final (3YO C&G) $150k – Sky Strike  2000 Vicbred Super Series (4YO Mares) Final $100k – Jilliby Magic 2000 Chariots of Fire $200k – Lombo Rapida 2000 Vicbred Super Series (3YO Fillies) Final $100k – Jilliby Melody 2001 Vicbred Super Series (4YO Trotters) Final $50k – La Coocaracha  2001 Bill Collins Trotters Mile $50k – La Coocaracha  2001 Australian Trotting Grand Prix $100k – La Coocaracha 2002 SA Trotters Cup $50k – La Coocaracha 2002 Australasian Trotters Championship $100k – La Coocaracha  2002 Rowe Memorial Cup, NZ $100k – La Coocaracha 2002 Legends Mile $50k – Hearts Legend 2003 Australian Pacing Gold Final (2YO C&G) $288k – Kathryn Dancer 2003 Vicbred Super Series (2YO C&G) Final $100k – Blatant Lie  2003 Australian Pacing Gold 3YO C&G $100k – Blatant Lie 2003 Australian Pacing Gold 3YO Fillies $100k – Yada Yada Yada 2004 Australian Pacing Gold 2YO C&G Final $300k – Emmas Only 2004 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Broke As Usual  2004 Vicbred Super Series (2YO Fillies) Final $100k – Kinda Arty Lombo 2004 Breeders Crown (2YO C&G) Final $190k – Emmas Only 2004 Kilmore Cup $100k – True Cam 2004 Bill Collins Trotters Mile $50k – Sammy Do Good  2005 Victoria Derby $150k – Emmas Only 2005 Vicbred Super Series (4YO E&G) Final $100k – Blatant Lie 2005 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Tennotrump  2005 Vicbred Super Series 2YO Trotters Final $50k – Split Image 2007 Vicbred Super Series 3YO Trotters Final $50k – Donttellmehetrots 2007 George Johnson $50k – No More Trouble  2008 Tatlow Stakes 2YO Fillies Final $50k – Ananz 2008 Victoria Trotters Oaks $50k – Mystic Hush 2008 NSW Sires Stakes 2YO Fillies Final $100k – Ananz 2010 Australian Pacing Gold 2YO Fillies Final $300k – Leilani Lombo 2010 Vicbred Super Series (3YO Trotters) Final $50k – Mister Castleton 2015 A.G. Hunter Cup $400k – Arden Rooney  2015 Mildura Pacing Cup $50k – Arden Rooney 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup $765k – Arden Rooney  2017 Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic Final $50k – Imprincessgemma 2017 Breeders Crown Graduate Free for All $60k – Ameretto 2017 Norm’s Daughter $50k – Ameretto 2018 Ladyship Cup $100k – Our Golden Goddess 2018 Queen of the Pacific $100k – Ameretto 2019 City of Melton Plate $50k – Duke Of Wellington     Cody Winnell for Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Chairman Dale Monteith has welcomed the reappointment today of six HRV Board members. "It is an honour to be able to continue to serve the Victorian harness racing industry following a strong 2017-18 period, which saw our industry return to profit after a period of decline, delivering record prizemoney and wagering turnover, as well as returning the Inter Dominion to Victoria for the first time in 10 years," Mr Monteith said. Minister for Racing Martin Pakula announced the reappointment of Dale Monteith as Chair, Rothacker Medal recipient Elizabeth Clarke who returns as Deputy Chair, veterinarian Catherine Ainsworth, marketing and communications expert Jane Brook, sports administrator and commentator Danny Frawley and experienced consultant Peter Watkinson. Read the media release issued by the State Government<https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/harness-racing-victoria-board-appointments-announced/>   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA 

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) advises Brett Day has been appointed Chairman of Stewards (COS) effective 12 of March, 2019 after former COS Nick Murray advised he would step down from the role and will commence in the position of Senior Steward. Mr Day has been acting in the role of COS since Mr Murray took an extended period of leave due to the illness of an immediate family member in June 2018. HRV GM – Integrity Brent Fisher welcomed Mr Day’s appointment and said his “thorough knowledge, leadership and experience on the stewards’ panel meant he was a great fit”. Mr Murray returned to HRV today. “It is great to have Nick back at HRV as he is a great mentor and leader and he is such a quality person and he is well respected by his peers,” Mr Fisher said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to both congratulate Brett on his appointment and welcome Nick back.”    Cody Winnell HRV Media

Hamilton harness racing officials are hoping the 1660-metre sprint trip mile rate record is obliterated on Sunday as the club hosts the inaugural $14,000 Glenn Miles Memorial Mile. Under sunny skies with a warm lead-in to the action looking guaranteed, the club is confident the track will be cherry ripe for a Miles Memorial Mile runner to smash My Harmony Blue’s 1:52.0 flat record mile rate. “One day, who knows, they might break 1:50.0 here,” club manager Chrissy Hawker said. “What I’m certain of is they’ll all be trying for that, that’s for sure. We’re predicting fans will be treated to a fast and furious race, faster than Hamilton has ever seen.” The club’s newest feature race is expected to draw some of the fastest up-and-coming metro performers to the south-west 1000-metre track to contest a race that pays homage to a passionate local trots man in the late Glenn Miles, who sadly passed away last August. “We’ve been keen to explore a new sprint feature for a while now and I must thank Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) for being so open-minded to the idea and helping us with the programming,” Hamilton HRC Manager Chrissy Hawker said. “We’ve got the fastest track in Victoria and Mick Turner and his team do a fantastic job of turning out a tiptop racing surface every time we race. They’ll have it in great order this Sunday. “Milesy, who we’ve named the race after, was a great bloke. He was very community minded, heavily involved in local sport and he just loved his harness racing.” The inaugural Glenn Miles Memorial Mile is a C5 or better race restricted to horses with a metropolitan assessment no faster than M2. It will be the feature event on the Hamilton card this Sunday and the club is hoping the meeting develops into an annual celebration. “We’re not afraid to try new things and hopefully the community turns out in droves to witness potentially the most exciting race the club’s ever seen,” Hawker said. “What a great opportunity this is for trainers to chase a brilliant lifetime mark next to their horse’s name and the $14k prizemoney on offer. It’ll be great to watch. “We’ve got a hot week ahead but Sunday’s looking perfect at 33 degrees. We’ll have the bar stocked, plenty of activities and food options for families. It’s just a wonderful day out and you won’t be disappointed.”   Cody Winnell for Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) will conduct a series of consultation sessions across Victoria in relation to the proposed national ratings handicapping system. All stakeholders are encouraged to attend one of the following sessions: Tuesday February 12 at Shepparton (7pm) Wednesday February 13 at Ballarat (7pm) Thursday February 14 at Cranbourne (7pm) Monday February 18 at Mildura (7pm) Light refreshments will be provided. View notice online   CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA 

Tiger Tara has opened a short-priced favourite for Saturday night’s Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton after drawing gate three for the $500,000 Grand Circuit classic at tonight's MCG barrier draw. The 2018 TAB Inter Dominion and reigning Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup championtrained by Kevin Pizzuto opened $1.50 with TAB.com.au moments after tonight’s draw, while fellow New South Wales trained pacer, Our Uncle Sam, from the Chris Frisby stable, was instantly backed into second favourite after snaring the pole draw. The ID18 runner-up opened $7 but tumbled into $4.8 quickly. PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup and New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer drew outside the back row in gate 11 for the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen team, while All Stars stablemate Cruz Bromac has to overcome gate nine. Veteran Flaming Flutter for Geoff Webster gets his chance to secure more top-level prizemoney from gate two, while fellow Victorian hopefuls Buster Brady (gate four), San Carlo (gate six), Cant Refuse (gate seven) and Wrappers Delight (gate eight) will be searching for a home-state win. Visiting New Zealand-trained Casey Classic winner Star Galleria snared gate 10, while Raukapuka Ruler has barrier five for trainer Tim Butt.   Kima Frenning, who trains and drives Buster Brady, said she was feeling confident about her horse's chances. Asked if the 2019 Hunter Cup had “come up too soon” Frenning replied: “I don’ think so … in the Ballarat Cup (fourth) he was so good, I probably didn’t do him a lot of favours in that race and his sectionals were super. I think he’s right up to the task here.” Frenning explained that Buster Brady “loved the distance” (2760 metres) but wanted to make it clear how highly she rated the former Kiwi’s speed. “He’s super quick. I shouldn’t have pulled him out when I did (at Ballarat) and he wobbled around that turn. But down the straight he was super quick and made up ground. I really think his speed is his biggest weapon," she said. From the draw Frenning said “we’ll probably roll forward” before she added tongue in cheek, “we’ll see if Toddy (McCarthy) wants to hand up”. “It’s not a great draw, but it’s not the worst draw either,” she explained. “It’s ridiculous. He’s been really, really good. He’s just such a cool horse to be around and I’m so appreciative to have him as my first horse. “It’s very exciting” Glenys Kennard, among Thefixer’s ownership, remained positive despite drawing gate 11. “You know what, that’s racing. It’s never a bad draw until after the race,” she said. “It’s always nice to be here and to take part. “What gives us confidence is he hates getting beaten, he’s got such a strong, strong will to win. He’ll definitely be giving his 120 per cent.” Steve O’Donoghue, trainer of San Carlo, said the Hunter Cup had been his stable star's “target race” all campaign. “He’s better than what he was this time last year, no doubt about that, he’s a bigger horse, more mature, this is the race I’ve probably set him for. All the way through, this is the one, the Hunter Cup, it means so much to me. The longer distance, he’s a stayer, that won’t worry him,” he said. “I’m always confident. I never lose confidence in the horse or Bec’s (driver Bec Bartley) driving.  “I’d say he’s the best I’ve ever had him. The Shepparton run was the best he’d ever done. I think I have no doubt Shepparton was his best run, gutsiest run.” O’Donoghue said San Carlo didn’t boast “instant speed” but stressed the stayer “can build into momentum” and can “maintain that speed”. More barrier draw analysis will take place tomorrow morning live at Tabcorp Park Melton when the Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup Breakfast of Champions kicks off at 8am.  All are welcome to attend, with RSN's Michael Felgate hosting Racing Pulse from the track live with Jason Bonnington, Dan Mielicki, Adam Hamilton and champion driver Chris Alford all featuring on the show.   Cody Winnell for Trots Media

“Horses are only human” said legendary gallops man George Hanlon, and listening to harness racing driver Lauren Tritton talk about Muscle Factory you’d be forgiven for thinking she was talking about one her own children, such is the affection she exudes for last night’s Woodlands Victoria Derby winning colt. “I always say to win with babies, two- and three-year-olds, it’s a big thrill because you feel like you’ve really worked hard with them the whole way along through their careers and it really pays off when you win a big one,” Tritton said this morning after guiding the three-year-old son of Roll With Joe to an all-the-way Derby win in an age-record equalling 1:54.0 at Tabcorp Park Melton. “He does it all so easily. Nothing fazes him. It’s great to have a horse who is so versatile, as a two-year-old he won a couple of races from behind … and just how arrogant his win was last night, we’ve got a superstar ahead of us.” Tritton, 25, boasts 827 wins since jumping in the sulky in season 2010-11 and among those are several memorable features – the Len Smith Mile aboard Gaius Caesar in 2013, Breeders Crown Final with Marty Monkhouser and Cordina Sprint with Suave Stuey Lombo in 2014, Vicbred Super Series Final on Tingira Beach in 2016, Allied Express Sprint with Anything For Love and the Bohemia Crystal FFA with Franco Nelson in 2018 to name a few. But last night’s Derby success was something else. “It was all a bit of a blur really (after the race). You get so wound up it’s actually quite tiring, but it was really special,” she said. Tritton co-trains Muscle Factory with husband Shane and, reflecting on the rising star’s second-place finish in the Derby heat at Ballarat a week ago, she says a combination of factors brought about his undoing that night. “I overreacted a little bit … I wanted to get an easy half and then sprint home, which is totally upside-down to his racing pattern,” she said. “That was a little bit my fault, and a little bit our fault too in that we eased up on him after running the 49 mile. It’s sort of like ‘what do you do with a three-year-old who’s just gone 49?’ The first thing you think of is backing off. “But with him, it’s just a different case. He really enjoys working and working hard. And like I said, I drove him upside-down (in the heat) and let the other horses get into the race. It wasn’t his night, but we had him 110 per cent last night and that was his night.” After finding the lead early last night Tritton said she had to “pinch herself” in the run. “I never really thought this would be the plan to be honest… I was thinking we’d have to sit outside them or get cover somewhere.” But Muscle Factory showed more toe than he’s done in his young career to date, which obviously pleased his driver. “He’s never really shown that much gate speed but last night he was right up on the gate and had his neck tucked up like he really wanted to run the gate. I just let him roll out himself and then when I realised I’d gotten half a length on Im Anothermasterpiece I gave him a little tap and he just took it on from there. There was no stopping him after that. “I just let him do whatever he wanted to do and he wanted to run those even quarters. He got a little bit off the bit at about the 800m so I just shook him up and he kicked into another gear. “I knew I had something left then, and I hadn’t pulled the plugs. He’s all heart and I knew he’d finish off.” Muscle Factory completed his last half-mile in 56.7secs after a 57.7secs first half. Race favourite Im Anothermasterpiece chased gamely late but finished 4.7m astern. Tritton says Muscle Factory has eaten extra feed today as he embarks on his journey back home to Sydney where the New South Wales Derby (March 2) is his next major goal. “He’s pulled up super. We gave him extra feed because we’re travelling home and he ate everything … he couldn’t have pulled up any better,” she said. “He’ll keep heading towards Derbies. The owners are considering a New Zealand Derby trip, but that’s not 100 per cent confirmed yet. He’ll certainly try and win his own Derby trophy back home.” As has been well documented, Muscle Factory’s 1:49.6 win in the Simpson Memorial three starts back was absurdly fast and asked about the feel the prodigy gave her in full flight, Tritton explained: “I’ve got fast class horses who struggle to run a mile in 49 and would struggle to run the sectionals he did last night. He’s only three and can do all that. We’re super excited about his career and where he can head.” Muscle Factory is $5 with TAB.com.au for the NSW Derby. To watch the video replay of this race click on this link. Trots Media - Cody Winnell   Adam Hamilton@AdamTABSports     Three weeks ago today ... Shane Tritton: “If anyone has a 3yo good enough to beat Muscle Factory in the Victoria Derby then I’ll be stunned and good luck to them.” Nobody did. Career defining win away from home for @Tritton_Team   38 12:25 PM - Jan 27, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy   See Adam Hamilton's other Tweets       View image on Twitter Jared Kahlefeldt@workoutjared     So this just happened.... Wowee

Victoria's most prolific trainer of trotters, Anton Golino, has won Australia’s richest trotting classic, the $250,000 Woodlands Great Southern Star, with a mare that pedigree buffs would say was always destined for harness racing greatness. Blueblood Dance Craze, a daughter of champion trotter and brilliant producer Muscle Hill out of another superstar performer in La Coocaracha, was a minute back in the run but sprinted furiously up the Tabcorp Park Melton straight at the end of the 2760m journey to capture the Group 1. The five-year-old raced clear of Kiwi star Temporale for a 1.4-metre win in a 1:58.8 mile rate, with Michael Stanley-trained Sky Petite backing up her TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final placing with another Classic podium finish tonight. Winning driver Mark Purdon was ecstatic to be involved with Golino’s greatest win thus far. “He does a great job and I’m thrilled to be involved with this win,” Purdon said. Golino was over the moon. “This is a dream come true,” he said before honouring his biggest backer Pat Driscoll and his passionate and hard-working team of staff. “He’s an amazing person and he deserves this more than anyone,” Golino said of Driscoll. The win gave Purdon a double Group 1 half-hour of power after he guided Dean Braun-trained mare Carlas Pixel to a barnstorming victory in the Schweppes Ladyship Cup. Of the rest, odds-on race favourite Marcoola only beat one runner home, finishing second last for Ken and Clint Ford, while Red Hot Tooth and Tough Monarch both performed strongly finishing fourth and fifth respectively. To watch the video click here. ID18 champ Tornado Valley was scratched from the GSS this morning when a long odds-on favourite. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

A “good grounding” has Deltasun poised to develop into one of Victoria’s premier open-age harness racing trotting stars. Winning reinsman Gavin Lang said the five-year-old son of Tennotrump had “been in the top echelon as a two-year-old and in the top three or four as a three-year-old”. Lang added: “as a four-year-old he went missing a little bit but still did a good job. He’s had a good foundation.” Trained by gun horseman Terry Young of Ararat – a former jockey – Deltasun is now a 16-time winner and tonight’s 1:55.8 win took his stake earnings over $200,000. It’s a considerable achievement that will be celebrated by connections and Lang spoke glowingly of the fact tonight’s quinella at Tabcorp Park Melton was fought out between grassroots stables. “Up the straight I was fighting the race out with Savannah Jay Jay and the people who train him (Stan Cameron) are small-time trainers, as are Terry and Carol Young and their son Peter,” he said. “When I hit the line I thought I’d just hung on. Sometimes you get disappointed if you get beat, but I would not have been too disappointed tonight if they’d won. That’s what it’s all about – the small people make this industry what it is. “Terry and his family own him, so there’s never any pressure on how I drive him. I’ve been lucky enough to just look after him a little bit and it’s paying dividends.” To watch the video click here. Savannah Jay Jay has been a model of consistency of late without winning, only once finishing out of the top five in his past 11 starts. Tonight he was beaten a half-head for driver Neil McCallum, while Fabrication finished third for John Caldow and David Abrahamson. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Poster Boy may have delivered harness racing trots promoters just that. The gun four-year-old upstaged more seasoned opposition in Spankem and Im Pats Delight – both ID18 contenders last month – in tonight’s Group 1 TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza at Tabcorp Park Melton. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Aston Villa took his exemplary record to 16 wins from 23 starts courtesy of the 1:52.8 victory, finishing a metre clear of All Stars star Spankem, with Kerryn Manning trained and driven former Kiwi Duke Of Wellington emerging strongly late to run third, ahead of Im Pats Delight. “That was super. We had a good run but Pats Delight and Spankem are pretty seasoned,” winning reinsman Chris Alford said of the Emma Stewart-prepared pacer. “They raced in the Inter… he’s first-up tonight, to do that was pretty special.” Stewart was stoked. “He’s a terrific horse,” the leading trainer said. “He’s my favourite and always has been. Great effort by him tonight … I’m really proud of him.” Tonight’s triumph assures Poster Boy a spot in the upcoming New South Wales four-year-old classic, the Chariots of Fire. An interesting stat, Poster Boy – a son of Somebeachsomewhere – is a half-brother to Stewart’s earlier winner, Born To Rocknroll, a son of Rocknroll Hanover. Both are raced and were bred by Lauriston Bloodstock. To watch the video click here. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Hurricane Harley is the harness racing favourite pre-draw with TAB for next Saturday night’s Group 1 Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby following the heats tonight at Ballarat. Trainer Emma Stewart’s reigning Breeders Crown champ was completely untroubled around Bray Raceway, his 2.6-metre win not a wholly accurate depiction of his dominance. Driver Amanda Turnbull didn’t need to move aboard the powerful son of Bettors Delight in the home straight, Hurricane Harley striding out with the swagger and authority of a champion wrestler inside the final furlong. Hurricane Harley rated 1:56.8 and covered his last 800m in 56.5 (27.1 last split). Stablemate Hardhitter ran second, with Malcolms Rhythm third. It was a familiar tale in the second Derby heat as the All Stars’ team of Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon produced Im Another Masterpiece for victory (pictured right, by Stuart McCormick). Rasmussen’s drive was worthy of a headline. It was a masterclass performance aboard the son of Bettors Delight. After handing up early to Lauren Tritton aboard Muscle Factory, Rasmussen camped behind the leader until the bell when she shimmied into the clear to breeze the last lap. The move posted a key rival Centenario, advancing three-wide, on a limb for the final kilometre and secured Lochinvar Art one-one cover. “You don’t come all this way to be unlucky,” Rasmussen said. “You have to run top-three and I wasn’t going to run a nice hard-held fourth on the fence. “(It was a) Nice win for him and the run should tighten him up a little bit more.” Im Another Masterpiece finished 2.9m clear of Muscle Factory in 1:55.9. David Aiken trained and driven Max Delight (pictured right, by Stuart McCormick) made it a Bettors Delight Derby heats clean sweep, taking out the final qualifier courtesy of a controlled front-running steer. “He’s a nice horse on the way up and he’s got great speed. It’ll be a different story next week, but we really like him and wouldn’t swap him for a few in the race,” Aiken said. “He’s fast. His A to B speed is really quick but he doesn’t have to lead, he can come off cover and sprint really well.” Max Delight’s winning mile rate was the slowest of the night at 2:00.4, but his last 400m (26.5) was electric. The top four finishers in each Derby heat qualify for the final, with Demon Delight (fastest fifth) the emergency.   Results Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (1st Heat) 1st: Hurricane Harley by Bettor's Delight         Emma Stewart     Amanda Turnbull 2nd: Hardhitter by Mach Three                         Emma Stewart     Chris Alford 3rd: Malcolms Rhythm by Art Major                 David Aiken          Kima Frenning 4th: Arggghhh by Rock N Roll Heaven            Craig Demmler     Craig Demmler 5th: Our Millionaire by Million Dollar Cam        Emma Stewart     Sidney Van Den Brande MR: 1:56.8 To watch the video of Hurricane Harley click on this link. Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (2nd Heat) 1st: Im Another Masterpiece by Bettor's Delight        Mark Purdon, Natalie Rasmussen   Natalie Rasmussen 2nd: Muscle Factory by Roll With Joe                       Shane Tritton, Lauren Tritton          Lauren Tritton 3rd: Lochinvar Art by Modern Art                               Laura Crossland                                 David Moran 4th: Crime Writer by Sportswriter                               Matthew Craven                               Matthew Craven 5th: Demon Delight by Bettor's Delight                      Emma Stewart                                   Gavin Lang MR: 1:55.9 To watch the video of Im Another Masterpiece click on this link. Downbytheseaside Victoria Derby (3rd Heat) 1st: Max Delight by Bettor's Delight                   David Aiken                                   David Aiken 2nd: Perfect Major by Art Major                         Emma Stewart                               Amanda Turnbull 3rd: Petes Big Jim by Big Jim                            Shane Tritton, Lauren Tritton         Lauren Tritton 4th: War Dan Delight by Bettor's Delight            Dean Braun                                   Greg Sugars 5th: Supreme Dominator  by Bettor's Delight     Barry Purdon                                 Mark Purdon MR: 2:00.4 To watch the video of Max Delight click on this link. Trots Media - Cody Winnell ID18

Trainer Matthew Craven says he certainly wasn’t “expecting” Wardan Express would win Sunday’s Matthews Petroleum Hamilton Pacing Cup, but he also wasn’t exactly surprised. “I thought he’d run a good race,” he said. “He’s been in consistent form now for a while.” Wardan Express broke the track record for the 2660m start at Hamilton, rating 1:55.2, leading all the way under Craven’s guidance to win by 4.9m over Tough Call. After using his gate speed to take the lead early, Wardan Express maintained a strong enough tempo throughout to keep his rivals at bay – producing 28.5, 29.3, 27.9 and 28 quarters. “It probably looks like he’s at his best over the sprint trips when you look at it, but it was never something that I was worried about because some of his really good runs have been in good races like the Breeders Crown and the Derby over the longer trip,” Craven said. “I’m not sure (over which distance he’d be better suited) but he may be a fraction superior over the short.” Wardan Express’s gate speed holds him in good stead in whatever he contests, Craven said. “The ability to keep putting himself at a spot at the front of the field certainly puts you in the race,” he said. Winning a Hamilton Cup is almost a hometown win, said Craven, who explained Hamilton was “his other home track”. “We trial there, I grew up going there, I have a lot owners in Hamilton, we really do treat it as our local club other than Terang,” he said. Craven congratulated the club and Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) for supporting the concept of a sprint race feature at Hamilton. The club announced last week it would run the inaugural Glen Myles Memorial Mile on Sunday March 3. “Since they’ve made a concentrated effort on putting plenty of water on to the track it’s much kinder to the horses and conducive to fast times,” Craven said. “Once the water gets right in the horses travel really kindly on it and it enables them to run time. “I think with the right support the club will see a sub-1:50 winner at some stage. Mick Turner (the trackman) does a great job. “I’d like to see free for all races and mares races, trotters, all over the mile at Hamilton.” Meanwhile, local footy club Hamilton Kangaroos claimed just under $320 from HRV's GoodForm Grassroots Gold program and also won the inaugural South West Charity Cup, which will raise important funds for the Maddie Riewoldt's Vision foundation.    Trots Media - Cody Winnell

A decision by French wagering organisation Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) to significantly limit international simulcasting of Australian and US racing into France means participants racing at Tabcorp Park Melton on Monday nights in January and February will finish earlier than expected. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has rescheduled its Monday night race programs to better suit participants and local punters on January 7, 14, 21, 28, and February 4 and 11. It was reported earlier this month that the PMU would significantly reduce its international simulcasting in 2019 after six years of decline in overall horse racing betting turnover in France.   Cody Winnell

Tiger Tara’s TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night capped an extraordinary year for harness racing trainer Kevin Pizzuto and his family. In August the New South Wales horseman was involved in a serious road accident, which could have cost him and his horses their lives. Aboard the float that day were Tiger Tara and three stablemates, with Pizzuto in the driver’s seat. Another driver ran through a stop sign and a collision was unavoidable. The resultant impact fractured the horseman’s sternum and ribs, tore his ligaments in both arms as the steering wheel shattered in two, and left him with hidden scars every time he thought of taking the road again. But bloodied and broken that day, Pizzuto’s thoughts were only on his horses. “My driver came and got the horses which I’d gotten off the float … and then I went to hospital,” Pizzuto said. “He (Tiger Tara) was lying down up the front of the float and I thought he’d broken his back. I was shattered. I had blood coming out everywhere, but when he got up, my heart, yeah ... just relief.” Two months after the accident Tiger Tara pummelled his rivals in the Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. Then, in November he produced one of the gutsiest runner-up efforts in modern times when second in the Group 1 New Zealand Cup. “I’ve always said he’s the toughest horse in the land… I knew he was good, but last night, that was something else,” Pizzuto said of the ID18 win. “I’ve had him better than I’ve ever had him, this prep. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve pulled ourselves up and that was amazing.” Tiger Tara, with gun reinsman Todd McCarthy aboard, took up the front-running role early in Saturday night’s Grand Circuit decider and went on to break rivals’ hearts off the back with an unforgettable 26.3secs third quarter. The son of Bettors Delight got up the lane in 27.9 to rate 1:53.9 over the 2760m trip, McCarthy’s winning salute encapsulating the glory in a snap. And the final twist, Pizzuto’s daughter Courtney accepted Mikey Hawli’s marriage proposal on track in front of the huge crowd after the victory. Courtney said yes, and so did Kev. “He had to ask me first,” Pizzuto said. “The horses were scoring up... I was praying we’d win after that. He’s a good bloke and a hard worker.” Trots Media - Cody Winnell   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Champion driver Gavin Lang secured gate three for both his 2018 TAB Inter Dominion pacing and trotting drives at this morning's barrier draw. Held at Zinc Federation Square on the banks of the Yarra, the TAB ID18 Barrier Draw and Breakfast of Champions attracted plenty of guests and grabbed the attention of morning commuters in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. Lang, who pilots impressive Kiwi Im Pats Delight in the pacing grand final and trotter Save Our Pennys in the trotting decider, has two live chances on the biggest stage of all. The master reinsman said both horses were progressing well through the ID18 series to date but would have to step it up again to secure harness racing's holy grail. Save Our Pennys heads into the trotting decider a $14 shot after finishing second in all his qualifying heats behind the raging ID18 favourite Tornado Valley. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven a lot of very good trotters in my career and I would have been prepared to say this one’s not a patch on any of those ones, especially the three Inter Dominion winners,” Lang said when asked about the recent progress of the seven-year-old. “But I must say he’s really exceeded my expectations (through ID18).” Lang also said Save Our Pennys’ fitness was improving each run after his first-up second off a 30-metre handicap in the Geelong Trotting Cup. “He got beaten on his merits at Geelong and I thought if he improves 10 per cent from that in the first of the Inter Dominion heats I’d be pleased. I wasn’t expecting him to come out and run second,” Lang said. “He’s improved each run through this series and three seconds is more than I would have expected. “The distance of the final (2760m) is no burden for him and he’s just an old-fashioned horse who puts his head down and gets on with it. He’s got a great demeanour.” Cran Dalgety-trained Im Pats Delight is a four-year-old New Zealand pacer, who has gone from strength to strength through the heat rounds. “It’s a daunting task for a four-year-old to contest an Inter Dominion series but he is very mature and he seems to be getting through each run well,” Lang said. Meanwhile, Nat Rasmussen has chosen Cruz Bromac as her ID18 drive in the pacing final with partner Mark Purdon picking up the reins aboard fancied stablemate Spankem. Click here for the ID18 final fields   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

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