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Xanderxav overcame an early speed duel to win the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight. The Linton Power trained trotter had the pole draw, which helped him hold out the early challenge from fellow mobile-start firebrand squaregaiter Mister Gunsen. With regular driver David Moran in the spider Xanderxav, who hails from Marungi, continued his recent strong form, the wily eight-year-old racing more like a spritely four-year-old. At the 500-metre mark it became clear Xanderxav comfortably had the measure of race favourite Zedalite, which was beginning to struggle in the breeze. El Paco reaced by pulling out of the one-one to stake its claim three-wide, while Stoned I Am snagged back to the markers near the rear of the field and saved enormous ground around the final turn. But old Xanderxav is tougher than a cheap steak and the son of glorious trotter Wagon Apollo added a Group 2 victory to his kitbag, scoring a 4.9-metre win over runner-up Stoned I Am (Simone Walker). Xanderxav’s mile rate for the 2240-metre trip was 1:59.4. The Group 2 Breeders Crown Pacers’ Graduate was taken out by Keayang Cullen for Terang trainer Marg Lee and driver Jason Lee. The in-form free-for-all star is headed towards the Miracle Mile long-term and tonight he defeated Shane Tritton trained Suave Stuey Lombo by 2.1 metres, while the winner’s stablemate, Keayang Steamer, finished third for driver Glen Craven. Keayang Cullen zipped around the field early to find the lead and then kept on kicking for a good win in a rate of 1:56.0, with a last half-mile of 55.7secs. Earlier in the night Grant Dixon trained and driven Feel The Faith was too strong for Glenferrie Blade in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Breeders Crown two-year-old fillies’ consolation, while Boasson Hagen took out the American Ideal @ Woodlands two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown consolation for Tasmanian trainer Christian Salter and leading reinsman Gavin Lang. Boasson Hagen beat runner-up Pompidou by a head with Hez The One third for Heywood trainer Bec East. John Justice delivered a perfect front-running drive aboard Shakti Bromac to land the Alabar Breeders Crown Graduate Pace over 2240 metres, too strong for runner-up Valley Of Diamonds, while Wounded ran third. Rockbank trainer Joe Vassallo enjoyed success in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trot with four-year-old Village Jasper gelding Stunning Jasper scoring a half-head win over race favourite Jeter with Speedy Rambo third. Michael Stanley, who has Soho Tokyo in the two-year-old fillies’ Breeders Crown Final on Sunday, captured the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 September Pace over 2240 metres with four-year-old Presidential Ball gelding Hilltop Hustler, which powered home by five metres over runner-up The Good Times and third placegetter Turnpike Cruiser. Four-year-old D M Dilinger gelding Crazy Dave broke his metropolitan maiden status in the eighth race, the TAB.COM.AU Pace over 2240m. The winner came from the Gary Bailey stable at Portarlington and was driven by Michael Bellman. Essbee Doubleyou ran second for Jodi Quinlan, while Tyler Bromac was third for Matthew Craven. Valley Ess Jay won the last race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown two-year-old trotting consolation. Trained and driven by trotting master Chris Lang, the Skyvalley gelding fought back doggedly after being headed by The Third Son late to win by 1.9 metres. The Third Son held on for second for John Caldow, while Glenferrie Belle was well beaten in third place. Racing returns to Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday for the 10-Group 1 Breeders Crown Finals Day, where a huge crowd is expected. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Sunday’s two-year-old fillies Breeders Crown final will be dominated by the Kiwis, according to TAB fixed odds. Katy Perry ($2.40), Linda Lovegrace ($3.40), Joannes A Delight ($6), Big Lucy and Cyclone Kate ($7) are the five Kiwi runners and they are the only five horses under double figure odds. The Australian runner closest to the top of the market is Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Soho Tokyo, who is rated a $14 chance. But Stanley is convinced his girl can more than match it with best from across the Tasman after a cracking fourth in the semi-final at Ballarat on Saturday night. “I have full confidence she can do a bit of work and still be strong at the finish,” the Redan trainer said. “I was rapt with her run at the weekend. She’ll be spot on for the final.” After drawing an awful barrier in the semi-final and still running a close-up fourth, Stanley was thrilled to secure gate three at yesterday’s barrier draw for the final. The filly has not had a lot of luck at gate draws for big races and has consequently settled well back on several occasions. But Stanley is ready to be proactive from a good draw. “Soho Tokyo actually does have good gate speed,” he said. “I wouldn’t be afraid to hold the lead. I’m not afraid of the Kiwis. “They’re super fillies but I still feel like mine is a realistic chance. “It will all depend on the pressure but I won’t be letting Katy Perry run around me easily.” Also giving Stanley confidence is the view of form experts who say you don’t want to back a horse to win a final that is tired at the end of a semi-final. “She was hitting the line hard, so that has to give me some confidence,” he said. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria   Soho Tokyo - 16th August  

The harness racing writers couldn’t have scripted the barrier draw for the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown (3YO colts and geldings) Series final any better today at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite a random draw, the final two horses left in the barrel were Kiwi champ Our Sky Major and his main adversary Bling It On. Fresh in the minds of racegoers was that less than 24 hours before the draw Our Sky Major had edged out Bling It On in a thrilling Breeders Crown semi-final battle at Ballarat. The two remaining ping pong balls in the barrel were gates three and 13 – meaning one favourite would have a plum draw, while the other had to come from outside the second line. Bling It On’s owner, Harvey Kaplan, and his family were thrilled when their charge drew three, leaving the Our Sky Major camp lamenting an unlucky 13 draw. When Our Sky Major narrowly pipped Bling It On in the semi-final last night, the Barry Purdon trained Kiwi star had drawn the front line, while Bling It On – from the Belinda McCarthy yard – had to come from the second row. Bling It On whipped around to find the lead with a blistering mid-race move at Ballarat before Zac Butcher worked Our Sky Major into clear air late and grabbed the win right on the wire. Reversing the semi-final draw has made this headline clash, one of many not-to-be-missed events on Breeders Crown finals day at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday, even more tantalising than it already promised to be. Adding further intrigue is that the front line is choc full of speed in the three-year-old boys’ final, with Will Mach My Word (gate two), Bling It On (three), Major Crocker (four), Saloon Passage (five) and Hectorjayjay (six) all realistic shots at finding the early lead. TAB fixed odds reacted by slotting Bling It On in as race favourite at $2.10, with Our Sky Major a $2.50 second pick. Bling It On’s stable-mate Lettucerockthem is on the third line of betting at $5.50 despite a gate nine draw, while Vince Vallelonga trained Major Crocker, who won his semi-final, is $13. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria MARKET NOW OPEN AT THE TAB Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Sunday 24 August 2014

Harness racing drivers Zac Butcher and Luke McCarthy both produced brilliant drives in the second semi-final of the three-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown at Bray Raceway in Ballarat tonight. In the end Butcher took the win, just, aboard New Zealand star Our Sky Major, while McCarthy – whose dashing mid-race move aboard Bling It On from his back-row draw gave his horse a genuine winning chance – had to settle for second. If those two repeat their runs in the final at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday, it will be a classic Group 1 race. Hectorjayjay pinged off the arm to lead for Simone Walker early, which was a  surprise as the pre-race hype had been about Saloon Passage and Our Sky Major possibly getting involved in a two-horse speed duel. Hectorjayjay quickly handed up to Our Sky Major, which shuffled Saloon Passage three back along the pegs. McCarthy made a bold and dashing move aboard Bling It On at the 1200-metre mark and the star pacer had such a head of steam up that he was able to run to the lead. Our Sky Major was then behind the leader, Hectorjayjay was three-back the inside and Saloon Passage was in all sorts of traffic. But Butcher didn’t panic and was able to extricate the $1.50  Our Sky Major into clear running in the home straight, the son of Art Major driving hard late to pip Bling It On in a thriller, with Hectorjayjay rallying again for third. Jilliby Jagger ran on hard to finish fourth, while Saloon Passage was fifth and Mighty Gift sixth. The other three-year-old boys’ semi-final was taken out by Major Crocker and Greg Sugars for trainer Vince Vallelonga. Major Crocker was too strong for runner-up Alleluia, with Will Mach My Word third. That trio were 1-2-3 for the last lap. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Rising-star reinswoman Amanda Turnbull combined with New South Wales harness racing trainer Dennis Picker to win the first semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old fillies tonight at Ballarat with Just Cala. The daughter of Art Major defeated Spicy Stride by 7.1 metres in a mile rate of 1:57.0, while Ocean Diva ran third for Blake Fitzpatrick and Somedreamsomewhere ran fourth for Daryl Douglas. Just Cala had put the writing on the wall at her previous start when she came from an awkward position to rattle home and run second behind Rocknroll Arden. Just Cala The second semi-final of the Bettors Delight @ Woodlands Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old  fillies saw a major upset – with $1.20 favourite Nike Franco missing a place at Ballarat tonight. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly galloped early and lost ground, which meant she had to use up a bit more petrol than first planned to find the lead. Once there Nike Franco was able to get away with a 30.5-second first quarter and a 32.1-second second split, but after they sprinted up down the back straight driver Luke McCarthy was starting to wind her up as Quick Draft and Barynya were on the march. In the home straight Quick Draft finished the strongest for Chris Alford, delivering in-form trainer David Aiken the win, with Tasmanian filly Barynya second (beaten 1.6 metres) and David Moran trained-and-driven Our Santa Catalina battling on well for third after leading early. Nike Franco ran fourth. The mile rate was 1:57.2, with the last half 55.6 seconds. Quick Draft by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

The rise of Keayang Cullen continued at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night with an easy Minuteman Free-For-All win. It was billed as a potential showdown between Keayang Cullen and ageing superstar Smoken Up but the old warrior just wasn’t able to go with the Terang terminator, who gave none of his rivals a chance in a flawless start-to-finish triumph. Driven by young up-and-coming reinsman Jason Lee, whose cool-under-pressure style has him touted as one of the sport’s stars of the future, Marg Lee trained Keayang Cullen pinged to the front from gate one in the 2240-metre event. Lance Justice took Smoken Up around fast starter Exciteusinthecity (Tim McLean) early to park outside the leader, while Chris Alford angled second-favourite Magical Telf behind Keayang Cullen from gate two. Not much changed for the next 1400 metres as Keayang Cullen carved out first and second sectionals of 31.6 and 29.5, setting himself up for a dash home in the last 800m. Smoken Up always sat back just slightly in the run, not eyeballing the leader and attacking at the bell from the chair as was once his caper. Keayang Cullen was running some good time in the last 1200 metres though, sprinting down the back in 28.3 to get Smoken Up – an impressive last-start Globe Derby winner – off the bit. When the leader swung the home bend it was clear he had Smoken Up’s measure, but the two-time Miracle Mile superstar – and Australasian mile rate record holder with a 1:48.5 mark – kept on giving his all. Exciteusinthecity emerged down the outside in the final 150 metres, while Magical Telf had every conceivable chance to run down Keayang Cullen but couldn’t despite an economical drive by Alford. Keayang Cullen kicked home in 27.4, recording a last half-mile time of 55.7 seconds to win by 3.2 metres, with Exciteusinthecity running second – he’s racing in career-best form – and Magical Telf third. Teo Enteo never looked a winning threat but ran on fairly for fourth, while Jack In Flight was fifth of the seven ahead of Smoken Up, who beat only outsider Our White Knight to the line. Leading up to last night’s race Jason Lee said he would love for Keayang Cullen to get a crack at the Miracle Mile in Sydney next season. Given his picket fence form line and utter domination of the current free-for-all crop in Victoria, the Terang star’s invite is surely in the mail. Smoken Up meanwhile will have his send-off at Tabcorp Park Melton on September 6 in the Casey Classic, where he will be hoping to draw an inside barrier and to be given the chance to race where he does best - out in front. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria    

Reinsman Rodney Petroff nailed the tactics aboard Zedalite to win the Vulcan Trotters Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton last night. Petroff took the Brent Lilley trained five-year-old gelding straight to the front from gate three and refused to hand up to Josh Aiken aboard the short-priced favourite, My High Expectations, in the 1720-metre feature event. The pair, who punters favoured with My High Expectations starting $1.50 favourite and Zedalite the second pick at $4.20, sat one-two for the bulk of the race but Petroff’s charge had the upper hand. In the finish My High Expectations loomed large late and almost got level with the early pacesetter in the final 200 metres, but Petroff lifted Zedalite to a memorable half-head win. Zedalite has been a terrific money-spinner for connections and last night’s success was his 22nd career win from 75 starts. The son of Zooma stopped the clock at 1:58.1 for the mile rate. Stoned I Am ran on at the finish to grab third for Simone Walker, while Lightning Joy was fourth for Gavin Lang. Earlier in the night Inky Cullen bounced back to winning form after some out-of-character efforts with a win in the Tabcorp Park Melton Claiming Pace. The Amanda Grieve trained five-year-old scored a three-metre win over stablemate Catch Your Breath; Alex Ashwood driving the winner and Chris Alford piloting the second horse. Other Melton winners were Palais Du Louvre for Leigh Miles and Scott Dyer in the first race, Smiling High for David Aiken and Nathan Jack in Race 2, El Paco for Joe Attard in Race 4, Keayang Cullen for Marg Lee and Jason Lee in Race 5, Goodtime Mike for Emma Stewart and Alford in Race 6, Im Barney Rubble for Lance Justice and Brian Gath in Race 7, and The Majestic for John Newberry in Race 9. The early quaddie paid $520.30 on the numbers 9-5-9-8, while the traditional quaddie paid $1453 on a 1-2-10-3 combination. Don't forget tomorrow's guaranteed $200,000 quaddie pool at Ballarat for semi-final night of the rich Breeders Crown Series. Details at the TAB website. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

History says there aren't too many better at dealing with "big-race presure" than New South Wales reinsman Luke McCarthy. On Saturday night McCarthy has a strong book at Ballarat’s Breeders Crown semi-finals meeting, with drives in seven of the eight semis, and he looks certain to qualify several of his stable stars for the rich Super Sunday finals program at Tabcorp Park Melton next Sunday. McCarthy’s leading Breeders Crown chance according to the markets is three-year-old filly Nike Franco, who is a $2 favourite with the TAB to take out her series final. Nike Franco is coming off a brilliant Queensland campaign that netted her connections the Tatts Gold Coast Oaks, the Group 1 Queensland Oaks and a comfortable win in the Breeders Crown heat at Albion Park when a money-back favourite last time out. McCarthy spoke confidently about Nike Franco’s chances in the three-year-old girls’ second semi-final from gate five. “I think we’d find the front. She was unbeaten in Queensland and she’s improved since then,” McCarthy said. “I think if she can find the front then she’s the horse to beat.” McCarthy also has a serious live chance in the two-year-old boys’ Breeders Crown with rising star Birdy Mach. Winning his heat on Saturday night however will be tough, as New Zealand superstar Follow The Stars has drawn three while Birdy Mach will start from gate 12. “Follow The Stars would probably be the best two-year-old I’ve ever seen. I’m a big fan of his,” McCarthy said. “With Birdy Mach it will be nice for him not to have to go forward and make the pace this time from the draw. We can drive him with a sit and I’m looking forward to it. “He’s a real high-speed horse so driving him from back in the field will suit.” McCarthy also has Ominous Warning in the two-year-old colts and geldings’ section, the son of Four Starzzz Shark to begin from gate 11 in the first semi-final on Saturday night. Ominous Warning won his Breeders Crown heat at Menangle in 1:59.1 with a last half of 55.1 seconds but was only 75 per cent that day, says McCarthy. “He’s right back to his best, so almost at 100 per cent I’d say,” McCarthy said. In the two-year-old fillies’ semi-finals McCarthy will line up Smooth Showgirl and Bamako Mali in Races 2 and 6. Smooth Showgirl has drawn gate three in the first semi-final, with New Zealand star Linda Lovegrace and Vicbred Super Series champion Niki No No drawn outside her. “She’s got good speed early so it will be nice to go forward and get a prominent position early,” McCarthy said. McCarthy also sang the praises of Bamako Mali, who has drawn gate nine in her semi. “She’s just as good when driven with a sit as she is when she goes forward,” he said. But McCarthy is concerned the Kiwi fillies might have the wood on the Australians this year in the juvenile girls’ section. “I think the Kiwi fillies look pretty strong this year,” he said. Bling It On and Lettucerockthem will both carry the McCarthy polish in the three-year-old boys’ section, with Lettucerockthem drawn gate eight in the first semi-final while Bling It On will start from 10 in the second. Bling It On has run into New Zealand champion Our Sky Major in the semi, but if the promised early speed of pole horse Saloon Passage and his driver Nathan Hurst is delivered then Zac Butcher has some decisions to make aboard the series favourite. For Bling It On, a hot speed up front would play into his hands. McCarthy is looking forward to playing the race by ear, the horse’s versatility allowing the reinsman to go into the event with several plans of attack. “I’ll just see how it the race presents itself,” he said. The 10-race Ballarat meeting kicks off at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria The TAB is offering a $200,000 quaddie jackpot on the night -- for more details visit tab.com.au

Kiss Kenny has opened $14 with TAB fixed odds for Saturday night’s Bettors Delight @ Woodlands three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat. It is a great price for punters, according to Harness Racing Victoria Good Form expert Blake Redden. “She is massive overs at that price,” Redden said. “She should be able to hold the lead easily from the pole draw." New South Wales pacer Ocean Diva has opened $2 from gate seven, while Rocknroll Arden ($4.40), Spicy Stride and Just Cala (both $5) are next in line. The second semi-final for the three-year-old girls pits Nike Franco, Whereibylong and Barynya against one another. Nike Franco has opened $1.60, with Whereibylong $2.80 and Barynya $4.60. “There’s not much between the two favourites,” Redden said. “Nike Franco has been flying in Queensland but Whereibylong won’t let her have it easy.” Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria FIXED ODDS BETTING AVAILABLE NOW Related Links Fields for Ballarat, Saturday 16 August 2014 Form guide for Ballarat, Saturday 16 August 2014  

Friday night’s Minuteman Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton is shaping as a classic battle. Keayang Cullen has won five straight races and has drawn the pole for the 2240-metre race, while 11-year-old Smoken Up – on his farewell tour – is coming off a cracking win at Globe Derby in Adelaide. With both horses boasting noteworthy speed off the arm, the sparks looks set to fly early in what should prove an intriguing battle. Trainer/driver Lance Justice has at times been lambasted in social media for having the audacity to pin such tags as “certainty” on his stable superstar along the journey. Justice often publicly suggested his horse could sit outside other champions and run them into submission. Often he was right. Smoken Up boasts a 74-win career from 151 starts for stake winnings of in excess of $3.6 million. Justice’s confident style has had to be toned down in recent times as the burden of age crept up on Smoken up. But what if the barriers were reversed this Friday night and Smoken Up had the pole with Keayang Cullen to come out gate six? “If you reverse the draw then one thing I can tell you is he (Keayang Cullen) couldn’t sit outside Smoken Up and beat him, I don’t care what you say,” Justice said. As it stands, Keayang Cullen defeated Smoken Up a month ago in the Melton City Council Sprint over 1720m. The Marg Lee trained six-year-old led from gate five that night, while Smoken Up came from wide on the second line. The margin between the two pacers at the finish was a substantial though not huge 10.5 metres. Jason Lee, who will drive Keayang Cullen on Friday night, has full faith in his charge, who he says can hopefully measure up in the Miracle Mile should he get the opportunity next season. “Just to get a start in that race firstly would be pretty special,” Lee said. Lee is well aware he takes the form horse into Friday night’s race and, tactically, he’s confident of holding the front no matter what Smoken Up – or the dark horse in Exciteusinthecity – can serve up when the mobile speeds away. “Nah, I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he would consider allowing Smoken Up to work to the lead. “He’s going to cop pressure in good races so I think we’ll just try to hold the front at all costs.” Exciteusinthecity has pinged out at his last two impressive wins in town but will find this a different kettle of fish. Driver Tim McLean is likely to try and find some cover. While Keayang Cullen is a highly skilled frontrunner, Lee pointed out his charge has been able to come from behind in past races – highlighting his February Inter Dominion heat win when he sprinted sharply in the home straight after being behind the leader in the run. But none of that is expected to matter on Friday night, as Lee is adamant he won’t be handing up. Justice admits he has very little chance, if any, of finding the lead this week so is resigned to sitting parked. “He’s pulled up enormous since Adelaide when he was half-a-second outside the track record -- I can see him sitting outside Keayang Cullen and giving him some curry,” Justice said. “He’s 100 per cent right now. I wanted to give him this run before his finale as I didn’t want him to have such a big break going into that race (September 6, the Casey Classic). “Keayang Cullen led and beat him first-up at Melton, but he’s running into a much fitter Smoken Up this time. “He’ll run a huge race.” If there are fireworks early, expect champion reinsman Chris Alford to be grinning like a Cheshire cat aboard Magical Telf, who from gate two is likely to jump behind Keayang Cullen for a cheap run. Making up the field are Jack In Flight from gate three, Teo Enteo from gate four and Our White Knight in the cheap seats draw (gate seven). Related Links Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 15 August 2014 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Friday 15 August 2014 Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Things just didn’t work out for Glen Craven, Keayang Steamer and the punters who took the short odds about the Terang trained star at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. (August 8th)  Keayang Steamer was a heavily tried favourite, starting $1.50, in the Swift Signs Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton but could only muster a fifth-place finish from his inside back-row draw. Pre-race Craven declared he would be looking to get off the pegs at all costs. “I’m not interested in getting locked up on the fence,” he said. But that's precisely what eventuated. The pacer who beat Smoken Up home to claim the Horsham Cup last campaign was wedged three back along the pegs at the bell. Early on Exciteusinthecity found the lead for junior driver Tim McLean from gate three, easily crossing Hall Of Famer and La Machane. Composed got going early to work around to the breeze from his second-line draw, but Keayang Steamer was not able to get one-off and had to punch through to trail Hall Of Famer. Exciteusinthecity, trained by Darren Cole, was able to get away with 31.6secs and 30.3secs first and second quarters of the last mile, setting the five-year-old gelding up to sprint home in 56.1secs and record his second win in three starts. Hall Of Famer capitalised on a beaut trip behind the leader by running second, albeit beaten 5.6 metres by the winner, while Composed battled on gamely for third. Keayang Steamer (fifth) came in behind fast-finishing Kotare Rowland (fourth) and will need to improve significantly second-up to topple his highly regarded stablemate, Keayang Cullen, in the Breeders Crown Graduate Cup on August 24 should they both head in that direction. Meanwhile, Alison Chisholm enjoyed a red-letter evening with a winning double. The Melton trainer/driver drove Three Pints to victory in the GBL Property Consultants Vicbred Pace (Race 3) before scoring aboard stable star Asoka in the Del-Re National Food Group Pace (Race 5). New Zealand champion Our Sky Major proved far too strong for his maiden-metropolitan rivals in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Pace. The Barry Purdon trained three-year-old son of Art Major is here for the Breeders Crown but enjoyed an easy hit-out at Melton, scoring by 3.7 metres over Wolfpack, with Philtra Phella third. Driver Craig Demmler took Our Sky Major back at the start and he was the best part of 40 metres off the lead at one point over the 1720-metre sprint trip. Down the back the last time Our Sky Major made his move, reinsman Craid Demmler easing the two-time Harness Jewels champion three-wide. Sprinting up with a 28.1secs third quarter, Our Sky Major quickly put the leaders away and shot clear early in the straight to record a 3.7-metre triumph in a mile rate of 2:02.5. Another Kiwi pacer to put her best foot forward was Mark Purdon trained two-year-old Big Lucy, who won the VHRSC 2YO Pace over 1720 metres. Chris Alford, who took driving honours for the night with a winning treble, was content to sit outside early leader Yankee Showgirl before taking Big Lucy 1.2 metres clear over Wegottarocketmachine at the finish, with Yankee Showgirl boxing on for third in a rate of 1:55.7. Alford’s other two winners were aboard ultra-consistent trotter Blitzthemcalder in the Renown Silverware Trot for trainer Craig Demmler, and long odds-on favourite Upanatom in the Mediatec Pace Final for trainer Amanda Grieve. Blitzthemcalder worked his way to the lead mid-race in the trot before outshining Sunset Invasion in the run to the line to score a two-metre win in a rate of 2:00.2. Blitzthemcalder is arguably racing in career-best form. Upanatom did plenty of work to find the lead early in his race, but the son of Christian Cullen still proved panels ahead of his rivals – getting home by 4.1 metres over runner-up Pas Mate, who hit the line hard, and third placegetter Eyes On The Sky. Other winners at Melton were Rostevarren, for trainer Ross Graham and driver Daryl Douglas, in the Geoff and Lorraine Barnes Trot over 1720 metres, Road To Rock, for trainer Keith Cotchin and driver Greg Sugars, in the University Food Group Pacers Handicap over 2240m, and Michael Stanley trained-and-driven Young Modern in the Alabar 3YO Pace over 2240 metres.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Mojo Major thrust himself into Breeders Crown betting calculations with a tough repechage win at the harness racing meeting at Geelong on Wednesday night. The Amanda Grieve trained two-year-old son of Art Major sat parked outside leader Avalon Castle before putting him away with a 28.6 third quarter, sprinting to the lead at the 300m and holding off a fierce late challenge from Andy Gath’s rising star, Burnaholeinmypocket. Mojo Major held on by a neck, Burnaholeinmypocket the other key runner to follow out of the race as he attacked the line impressively. The winner went 1:59.5 for the mile rate and came home with a last half of 57.5 seconds, his time the quickest of all the two-year-old repechages on the night. The favourite, Mach Doro, sensationally galloped out of contention at the start of the race. Highly rated New South Welsh colt Birdy Mach won repechage two by 3.7 metres over Stening in 2:00.8 for Luke McCarthy. Down the back the first time McCarthy launched his claim on the odds-on favourite, sending Birdy Mach ($1.60) around the field in a lightning move to grab the lead off early pacemaker Feeling Arty. Birdy Mach kicked away on the top turn as Iceobar gave chase for Chris Alford. In the home straight the sprint-lane run opened up for Feeling Arty and Stening, but the McCarthy son of Mach Three fought on for a comfortable win. Stening ran second for John Caldow and Feeling Arty was third, with Iceobar close-up fourth. Two top-notch New Zealanders took out the two-year-old fillies’ repechages, with Cyclone Kate getting the job done for Gareth Dixon and John Caldow in repechage one before Katy Perry roared to a 3.4m win in the second repechage for Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn. Cyclone Kate made her move down the back the final time after McCarthy and Smooth Showgirl had softened up the early leader Gotta Glow at the 1000m mark. Smooth Showgirl hit the lead as the field headed off the back straight but her lead was short-lived as Cyclone Kate descended and shot to the front around the home turn. At the finish Cyclone Kate had 6.9 metres to spare over the runner-up, fast-finishing Ameretto, who scorched home out wide, with Lettucesomewhere finishing third for Kerry Ann Turner. Smooth Showgirl held on well for fourth after sitting in the breeze. Tatlow Stakes winner Katy Perry took out the second of the fillies’ repechages, the daughter of Bettors Delight 3.4 metres too strong for Missed By Red for Amanda Turnbull, with Glamour Art third for Alison Chisholm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

When Bulla harness racing trainer Kerry O’Riley entered Ourboyjay in Saturday night’s Goldfields Catering 2YO Pace at Bendigo, he was under the impression his gelded son of Village Jolt would be a fair show of recording a second win at career start number seven. The pacer scored an impressive win at Yarra Valley two starts back in a 2C0 event before a luckless eighth of 11 at cricket-score odds in the Tatlow Stakes at Tabcorp Park Melton when he got carted back at a vital stage. But O’Riley was shocked when he realised who his competition would be in Saturday night’s $6,505 race -- none other than Australasia’s best two-year-old Follow The Stars and his highly rated stablemate Linda Lovegrace. Both Follow The Stars and Linda Lovegrace are trained by Mark Purdon and will be using Saturday’s race as a hit-out ahead of the rich Breeders Crown series. For good measure, another Kiwi in My Field Marshall – who has won three from six and hails from the smart Tim Butt camp in Christchurch – will also line up on Saturday night. “It’s a lot stronger a field than I thought it might be,” O’Riley chuckled. “Let’s just hope he can run a personal best on Saturday night. It’d be the stuff of fairy tales to think you could beat Follow The Stars.” But Daryl Douglas, who drives Ourboyjay, is somewhat more upbeat about the horse’s chances, according to O’Riley, even if it was just Douglas’ natural optimism shining through. “Daryl’s always pretty optimistic but he said to me, ‘If you’re not in it, you can’t win it’,” O’Riley said. While simply hoping for a positive run this weekend, O’Riley believes Ourboyjay will develop further next season. “He’ll make a better three-year-old and he hasn’t much luck as a two-year-old,” he said. “He locked wheels in the Vicbred semi-final and got knocked over on the top turn and then in the Tatlow he got caught behind a tiring horse.” Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria   Related Links Fields for Bendigo, Saturday 09 August 2014 Form guide for Bendigo, Saturday 09 August 2014  

Caribbean Blaster will be given the opportunity to return to the racetrack after a minimum six-month layoff. Trainer Andy Gath confirmed today Caribbean Blaster would stand at stud, as reported by Jason Bonnington yesterday on Gait Speed, and said the Victoria Cup, Chariots of Fire and South Australian Cup champion would be given the opportunity to come back from a suspensory injury. “He’ll stand at stud and that means a minimum six months off,” Gath said. “But he’ll get an opportunity to race again. “You never know. A lot of horses do come back and race after having his type of injury.” Caribbean Blaster is part-owned by Alabar Bloodstock and has won 24 races from a 79-start career for in excess of $1.1 million in stakes. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria  

Maryborough was a happy hunting ground for trainer Andy Gath today – the Long Forest harness racing horseman qualifying two horses for the two-year-old trotting fillies Breeders Crown final. Gath’s rising stars Endsino (by Angus Hall out of Jauriol) and Naked Majesty (by Majestic Son out of Starcus) both saluted in their crown heats, with Andy’s wife Kate driving both winners. Endsino started long odds-on in her heat and never looked like getting rolled, leading all the way in a mile rate of 2:04.2 to score a 7.7-metre win over Glenferrie Burn. Naked Majesty won by 3.3m in her heat, overpowering early leader Meadow Valley Road late in the race. Gath sat quietly aboard Naked Majesty behind the leader, the filly peeling to the outside in the stretch to win in a rate 2:05.7. Fabrication recorded a half-neck win in the second heat of the two-year-old colts and geldings crown, defying a fierce challenge from runner-up Kyvalley Boomerang in the home stretch. Driven by Daryl Douglas for Tatura trainer David Abrahams, Fabrication found the front early and controlled the race before Kyvalley Boomerang launched his claim late. Kyvalley Boomerang got on terms with the leader 100 metres from home but it wasn’t to be, the early leader kicking on gamely to earn a ticket into the crown final. King of the trotters, Chris Lang, prevailed victorious with One Over Da Moon in the three-year-old trotters second heat. The colt by Majestic Son cruised around the field early to find the lead before going to the line with a 2.1-metre advantage over runner-up Four Lillies, with underrated Coimadai Lodge hitting the line hard out wide for third. Shared Interest announced himself a major player in the two-year-old colts and geldings’ division with a comfortable heat win over race favourite Eljaykay Phoenix. Driven by Nathan Jack, Shared Interest cruised up to the long odds-on elect at the 400m, eventually peeling into the sprint lane to shoot clear for a 3.3m win. Eljaykay Phoenix battled on for second, but has clearly come back to his rivals somewhat after dominating throughout the Vicbred Super Series, while Illawong Armstrong was third beaten 22.1m. Our Twentyten took out the final Breeders Crown heat for the day, the Brent Lilley trained and Rodney Petroff driven son of Muscles Yankee 3.7 metres too strong for Claudys Princess in their three-year-olds heat. Filly Claudys Princess punched the breeze throughout and battled on gamely for second, while Asdenro secured a beaut run on the leader’s back and was a clear third. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Messini’s rise to harness racing stardom continued last night at Bendigo. The pacer, whose racing style is to keep his head low, stick his neck out and storm forward like a bullying gridiron hulk barging through would-be tacklers, never looked like getting beat. With Chris Alford in the sulky for trainer Brent Lilley, Messini came home with a 57-second last half to score a 4.6-metre victory in the ninth heat of the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old colts and geldings. The high-class son of Art Major led from gate three and toyed with his rivals, only Glen Craven’s lightly raced Jilliby Jagger able to get within a bull’s roar of the winner at the end, the Terang pacer 4.6m behind in second. With a 1:57.5 mile rate – easily the quickest of the three Crown heats on the night – Messini looks cherry ripe for the semi-finals, with a decision to be made regarding whether the pacer remains with Lilley for the business end of the series or heads back to Lilley’s close mate and New Zealand’s leading trainer, Mark Purdon. Purdon sent Messini and Kept Under Wraps to Lilley for the lead-up to the Breeders Crown and Lilley has both horses firing on all cylinders. Messini Other heat winners last night were Will Mach My Word for trainer Geoff Webster with Emmett Brosnan in the chair, the son of Mach Three leading from go to whoa, and Dream Away gelding Hectorjayjay for Bill and Simone Walker, which scored by over 12m in a rate of 2:00.4 in the last race on the card. Will Mach My Word Hectorjayjay by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

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