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Durham Park Stud today issued a media release informing of the sad passing of 2017 Australian harness racing three-year-old filly of the year, Petacular. Durham Park confirmed the Breeders Crown champion was euthanized after breaking a cannon bone while spelling in the paddock. Owner and breeder Bruce Edward was devastated. “It’s an absolute shame, but after discussions with the surgeons at Ballarat Veterinary Practice we decided it was unfair on the mare to put her through a complex operation and six to eight months of recovery in a box with expected complications for a low chance of recovery,” Mr Edward said. During her racing career Petacular won 19 races and had seven placings from 26 starts for earnings of $454,083, including Group 1 wins in the two-year-old Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final and the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO Fillies Final. She will also be remembered for her four brave second placings in Group 1 finals, including the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Fillies Final, the Victorian Oaks, the NSW Oaks and the 2YO Fillies Breeders Crown Final. Mr Edward said Petacular would have gone on to be “an important broodmare at Durham Park Stud”. Re-live Petacular's memorable 3YO Fillies Breeders Crown victory At trainer/driver Michael Stanley’s request Petacular was buried on his farm. The Stanley stable issued a statement today, which read: “It is with much regret and a tremendously heavy heart that I inform the racing industry of the tragic loss of our beautiful, brave mare Petacular (Bonnie). "Whilst spelling, she had a freak accident in the paddock. Petacular was dearly loved by all involved at the Stanley Stable and will be deeply missed, particularly  by Mick, who shared a very special bond with her, as did her best friend RoRo (Soho Angel). She was treated like the Queen and she knew herself that she was so special. "We would like to acknowledge Bruce Edward and the and the PETstock Racing Syndicate for entrusting her in our care. Every moment with Bonnie was a pleasure and we are privileged to have been a part of her life. Thank you for everything BonBon. RIP big girl”. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) extends sincere condolences to all involved with Petacular. Fans are continuing to send tributes to the filly on social media. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The most prestigious event in Australasian harness racing is returning to Victoria after a 10-year hiatus. Harness Racing Australia (HRA) today confirmed it had endorsed a proposal from Harness Racing Victoria (HRV), Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ), and Club Menangle/Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) to rotate the time-honoured Inter Dominion series between those organisations, starting right here in Victoria in 2018. Click here to read Harness Racing Australia's Media Release. "The gallops have the Melbourne Cup and the Spring Racing Carnival, which has been built up over time to be the international event it is today. Today's exciting announcement in our code means we can start working to ensure the Inter Dominion will remain the greatest trots series in Australasia and we're thrilled that in 2018 Victoria will be hosting this wonderful event," HRV Chairman Dale Monteith said today. "We all have a common interest in ensuring the longevity of the Inter Dominion and I'm thankful for the cooperation between all partners, which has led to this exciting news." HRV CEO David Martin echoed Mr Monteith's sentiments and said Victoria was pleased to be able to work so closely with other jurisdictions to deliver a sustainable Inter Dominion for the next decade. "One of the most pleasing aspects is the collaboration that occurred with NSW and New Zealand to achieve this outcome. By working together, we've achieved more than we could have on our own", Mr Martin said. Mr Martin explained that HRNZ, HRNSW and HRV had achieved an outcome that ensured the Inter Dominion series was financially viable and sustainable for the next nine years. "Given the strength of trotting in Victoria, we will also align a feature trotting event with the Victorian Inter Dominion pacing final," Mr Martin said. "It is also our intention to run non-Melton heats prior to the December 15 final at Tabcorp Park, so that we increase the exposure of this great series, providing a boon for local economies, clubs and trots fans." Long-time trots expert and TAB.com.au Media Manager Adam Hamilton said he was "excited by the commitment to the Inter Dominion" and congratulated all involved in today's announcement. "Australia and New Zealand have several headline events throughout all regions and across the calendar, but nothing matches the Inter Dominion for the interest of sports and racing fans. It's clearly the most marketable and newsworthy event we have," he said. "Today's announcement is great news for fans of the sport and the wider industry and is another exciting chapter in the story of this amazing series." Meanwhile, this year's Inter Dominion series begins on Friday night in Perth. "I'm very much looking forward to the Perth Inter Dominion getting under way this year, especially with so many Victorian stars among the leading chances," Mr Monteith said. "I'd also like to congratulate Western Australia on the wonderful job hosting and promoting the Inter Dominion in recent years and wish all involved another great series." Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Andrew English will join Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) as General Manager – Marketing, effective Tuesday November 28. Mr English is an experienced marketing manager, previously holding executive positions at United Petroleum, Essendon Football Club, Melbourne Cricket Club and Australian Hospitality Management. Prior to his time in hospitality and sports administration, Mr English spent a decade in the tourism sector after successfully completing his Bachelor of Business degree. HRV CEO David Martin said Mr English’s extensive experience had him well-positioned to lead HRV’s marketing and communications functions. “Andrew has achieved success in some challenging environments and demonstrated an excellent understanding of opportunities for HRV to build our brand,” Mr Martin said. “I look forward to Andrew joining the team and I know he is keen to get started.” Mr English said he had always been fascinated by the racing industry and was looking forward to joining the HRV team. “My interest in racing began at an early age and I’ve always been fascinated with the characters and the stories,” he said. “I’m also aware of the vital role all stakeholders play and that harness racing is a major contributor to the Victorian economy and our regional communities. “We have some exciting opportunities ahead and I’m looking forward to playing my role to help the industry achieve its marketing goals.” Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Former Kiwi pacer Stroke Of Luck is the Weirs Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup champ for 2017 after an all-the-way win in today’s harness racing feature for trainer/driver Kerryn Manning. The five-year-old son of Major In Art/Bonton Lady was heavily backed into $1.6 and held off second-placegetter Keep On Rocking at the completion of the 2150-metre race, with Coldplay Road up from three-back-the-pegs for third. Manning rated the Merv and Meg Butterworth-owned winner of seven races in New Zealand a treat, guiding him through a 62.3secs first half after copping some early heat to hold the front. Stroke Of Luck upped the ante down the back straight as Spiritwriter challenged strongly (28.7secs third quarter) and got home in 27.9secs to rate 1:58.3. Keep On Rocking was given the perfect trip by Nathan Jack and the Geoff Webster-trained five-year-old comfortably held second place, while Julie Mifsud-trained Coldplay Road continued his super form with a third placing for reinsman Phillip Walters. Animated finished fourth and Spiritwriter was fifth. Stroke Of Luck’s win means the Trots Country Championship is now a five-way tie with Lennytheshark, San Carlo, Messini and My Field Marshal all alongside today’s victor on four points in the race for the $25,000 end-of-season bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Pocket rocket secures Caldows third St Arnaud Trotters Cup John Caldow won his third St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup today aboard six-year-old gelding My Skypocket. Backed into $1.80 favourite, My Skypocket stepped safely from behind the tapes at the 2520-metre start before powering to the lead early. The son of Skyvalley out of Pocket Fantasy ran quarters of 31.6 and 31.4 to open the last mile on the 800m St Arnaud track and Caldow was looking around for his challengers after a 29.2secs third split. Video: Re-live My Skypocket's St Arnaud Trotters Cup win Ainthatrightmacca boldly emerged wide out and powered into second place, but My Skypocket had plenty in reserve and kicked on through a 29.7secs last quarter for a 2.2m win in a mile rate of 2:06.0.   It was My Skypocket’s eighth career triumph, his career stake earnings edging towards $50,000 as a result of the victory. It was also the trotter’s first start for the Caldow operation, having done all his prior racing for the Mick Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy stable. Today’s win was the third time Maree and John Caldow have captured the St Arnaud squaregaiting feature, having previously won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with Posimistic. My Skypocket moves to equal first on the Maori's Idol Points Tally alongside Sparkling Success, Vincennes and Cyclone Lucky Seven. The Maori's Idol Points Tally at season's end receives a $10,000 bonus courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Sixty-two trotting yearlings have entered for the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale to be held at Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday, March 11. Majestic Son (nine) has the most representatives, the son of Angus Hall last season ranked No.2 on the national two-year-old trotting stallion chart with nine individual winners from 27 starters. Bacardi Lindy and Angus Hall both have seven yearlings entered. Angus Hall was last season’s leading sire of three-year-olds and ranked No.5 on the two-year-olds’ chart. Bacardi Lindy was ranked No.4 on the three-year-old table last season, and was No.2 and 3 on the two- and three-year-old premierships respectively the season prior. Andover Hall has five yearlings at the APTS, the powerhouse sire’s progeny yet to hit the track in Australia but he is well-credentialed on his North American stats. Muscle Hill, ranked No.3 on the two-year-old charts last season, also has five at the sale, while the brilliant trotter Trixton, a son of Muscle Hill, makes his APTS debut with four yearlings in the catalogue. Crazed and Great Success both have four yearlings nominated, while Yield Boko and Pegasus Spur both have three representatives. Tennotrump features again among the APTS with two yearlings available, while Wishing Stone, Armbro Variable, Skyvalley, Dejarmbro, Muscles Yankee, Danny Bouchea, Orlando Vici, Yankee Spider and Imperial Count all have one nomination. Visit the APTS website to view the nominations Nominations for the 2018 APTS are now closed. Further details will be provided on all yearlings closer to sale date. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The 2016/17 Annual Report for Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) was tabled in State Parliament today, documenting a consolidated group net loss of $1.695m, largely attributed to a $1.6m reduction in revenue from HRV’s share of distributions from the Tabcorp Joint Venture. HRV Chairman Dale Monteith issued the following statement: “After a period of decline, the industry has undergone significant change, including the appointment of David Martin as CEO in January this year. “Since that time, a range of initiatives have been implemented to reduce costs, increase participation, improve revenue and to ultimately grow market share. “The benefits became evident late in the financial year and have continued into the current financial year. While this loss is obviously disappointing, we know HRV is now moving in the right direction. “The HRV Board is particularly grateful for the continued support from the Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, as evident with the announcement in September of a $3.1 million investment in the HRV integrity department and the ongoing support for HRV infrastructure. “Throughout the last 12 months HRV has sought to work closely with owners, breeders, participants, clubs and kindred bodies, as the confidence of all participants and wagering customers is of paramount importance for the future growth of our industry.” Click here to view the 2016-17 Harness Racing Victoria Annual Report Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The Bendigo Harness Racing Training Centre (BHRTC) last week hosted Jasmine and Annabelle from Catholic College Bendigo on Work Experience. BHRTC hosts work experience children regularly and both Jasmine and Annabelle enjoyed their experience working with horses. Annabelle wrote:  “My week at the Harness Racing Training Centre Bendigo has been rewarding and so much fun! I met and worked alongside some amazing and friendly staff and students. I was also given the opportunity to work and care for some beautiful horses. Everyone that is involved at the HRTC Bendigo is so friendly and easy to talk to and always there to help if you need it. I was given the opportunity to drive Patrick in the sulky and go in the mobile in a trial race. It was so exciting and fun watching the horses pace up to the starter gate and race off past the car. I wish the work experience week was more than just a week! I had so much fun and met some amazing people. I look forward in coming back in a year or 2 to complete their course.” Jasmine wrote: “This week on work experience I have had a good time at the HRTC Bendigo.  We have been doing heaps of things like: taking the horses out of their yards and into the stables, taking their rugs off, putting them in the walker, harnessing them up, exercising the horses and washing them down, rugging them back up and putting them away. I had a great week and learnt a lot of new things.” Anyone interested in completing work experience at the HRTC Bendigo is encouraged to contact Vicki Moro on 0447 032 770 or vicki.moro@hrtcbendigo.com.au Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The rise and rise of harness racing trainer Emma Stewart continued unabated at Gordon Rothacker Medal 2017 on Sunday night. Stewart’s powerhouse operation, top-three on the national top 20 chart three years running, was honoured with numerous Victorian season accolades at Crown Palladium. And while Stewart’s third successive metro and state trainers’ Victorian premiership double had the champion trainer both thrilled and full of praise for her dedicated team – including husband Clayton Tonkin, who she said was “the backbone of the operation” – it was the announcement that Stewart was the 2017 Angelique Club Pearl Kelly Award recipient that had her most taken aback. “I’m accepting this award, but everyone who works for me is involved, family, owners, it’s their award as well. I’m so humbled to get this. It’s something I never thought would happen,” Stewart said. “Our parents – both our mums – look after Willow, and our dads are really important as well. “Our staff are terrific … we’ve got so many good people who work for us. And with our big numbers you need people you can trust and we’re so lucky they love our horses as much as we do.” Stewart spoke of her career beginning with legendary Great Western horseman Peter Manning and declared one of her stable’s biggest opponents on the track, Natalie Rasmussen, as the woman in harness racing she “especially looks up to”. “I started out with Peter and he was terrific to me. Kerryn (Manning) and Natalie at the time were dominant drivers. We’ve always had great female role models,” Stewart said. “In fact it’s a female dominated sport you could probably say, which is just terrific.” Stewart’s role in the sport today transcends the winners she produces on the track. She has charisma in spades and has embraced the media and promotion of the industry wholeheartedly in recent years. Both are traits that also embodied the late, great Vin Knight in an era many describe as the halcyon days. Stewart-trained horses won four Horse of the Year titles on Sunday night, Poster Boy (2yo pacing colts & geldings), Nostra Villa (two-year-old fillies), Our Little General (three-year-old colts & geldings) and Heavens Trend (four-year-old mares). And season 2017-18 looks set to be another Stewart success as she is already leading the way on the national premiership with a phenomenal 42.5 per cent strike rate. Jim O'Sullivan was awarded the Gordon Rothacker Medal on Sunday night, while HRV honoured Doug Gretgrix for his years of service by awarding the long-time starter the HRV Disitinguished Service Medal. For a full recap of awards, click here. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Jim O’Sullivan is the toast of Victorian trots after last night becoming the 17th Gordon Rothacker Medal recipient. The popular horseman had his name immortalised, etched alongside an illustrious list of legendary harness racing luminaries at a gala function at Crown’s Palladium room. The chorus of congratulatory messages for O'Sullivan was unsurprising. He is as famous for his willingness to provide advice and assistance to fellow participants as he is for his association with My Lightning Blue and a cavalcade of other stars. “I love this game,” O’Sullivan said. “My dad was in it – he ran second in a Harold Park premiership in 1941 or something. I was about five when dad gave it away … then when I got older I’d work a horse before school … it’s been a magic ride.” O’Sullivan was 15 when he started working horses, and today at 71 he’s still training and driving. “People say ‘when’s the next champion coming along’, and I tell them she’s right here,” O’Sullivan said, pointing at daughter Shannon, who only recently made her debut in the sulky. “She’s driving exceptionally well … and if you’ve got a horse you should put her on." He also sang the praises of daughter Tracey, who, notably in 1990, won a Hunter Memorial aboard Our Brenray (which Jim trained). “I remember that well because she beat me,” he recalled (Jim was driving Its Motor Power, which finished a half-head in second). The 1987 Inter Dominion Grand Final win of My Lightning Blue at Christchurch remains O’Sullivan’s most famous triumph, but Quite Famous won 22 cups himself and holds a special place in the horseman’s heart. “There wasn’t much between them actually,” he said comparing Quite Famous with My Lightning Blue. “Quite Famous was a magnificent looking horse. He was beautiful. If you could pick a horse on looks he’d be the perfect racehorse.” O’Sullivan and My Lightning Blue also won the New Zealand Trotting Cup in 1987, and it took until 2015 for another Australian driver to capture that race. It was Rothacker medallist Kerryn Manning who broke O’Sullivan’s title as ‘last Aussie NZ Cup winner’ when she guided Arden Rooney to victory. O’Sullivan’s association with owner Alan Hunter served him extremely well in the heady trots days of the 1980s and 90s. Hunter’s willingness to tip in good money to ensure O’Sullivan had quality stock ensured a steady stream of talented racehorses in the stable. “Alan was a great winner but he was an equally great loser, too, and you have got to be able to take the good with the bad in racing,” O’Sullivan said. In 1991, O’Sullivan combined with trotter Yankee Loch to win the Trotters Inter Dominion at Moonee Valley, another career highlight. But there have been many, with other top horses like Its Motor Power, Margaret Shannon and Our Brenray (who won three Terang Cups and is the only horse to have done so) also providing fantastic memories, silverware and photos on the wall. Stormy Morn’s win in the 1981 Australasian Trotting Championship Final at Moonee Valley too holds a special place in O’Sullivan’s heart. His deeds on the racetrack are well-known to long-time trots fans, but the Rothacker Medal is never awarded for that alone, and O’Sullivan’s model integrity record and willingness to volunteer his time (in addition to helping anyone who asks, O’Sullivan spent 15 years on the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association executive, two as Vice-President) certainly carried weight. Like Carl O’Dwyer (2016 Rothacker Medal recipient), O’Sullivan is also a trusted farrier for many stables. In fact, his trots knowledge across just about all facets of the industry would be as close to encyclopaedic as we have. “It’s funny, when I was in Brisbane I won the Australian trainer’s title twice … and I trained no more than 25. I drove them all myself,” O’Sullivan said. “It was a little bit different. People now train 60-odd horses … I don’t know how they do it.” O’Sullivan is based in Heathcote and continues to train a team of horses. Find out more about Harness Racing Victoria's Gordon Rothacker Medal Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

From the producers of such star titles as Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay comes an intriguing tale of a stayer named like a sprinter, and a harness racing gelding named like a colt. Airing exclusively at Swan Hill live on Saturday night, it’s Thereal Usain Colt in the Group 3 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup. Trained by Aiken Racing, the former Kiwi takes his place in the opening leg of the Trots Country Cups Championship and, with champion reinsman Gavin ‘the Iceman’ Lang in the sulky, a forward showing looks assured. David Aiken, who spearheads the Avenel operation responsible for last weekend’s Allied Express Victoria Cup champion Lennytheshark, says Thereal Usain Colt will improve on whatever he does this weekend. “He’ll get better as he goes along but he’s the perfect country cups horse,” the master horseman told Trots Media. “In New Zealand he’s raced against the likes of Have Faith In Me and I’ve been really happy with what he’s done at home since we’ve had him.” Championship success is a key aim for Thereal Usain Colt, with $25,000 to the trainer and connections of the Trots Country leader at season’s end (the Championship ends with the running of the Horsham on April 22). However, Aiken isn’t ruling out Thereal Usain Colt shooting for Summer of Glory success with the Hunter Cup the obvious target. “We’ll wait and see how he goes between now and then,” Aiken said. Punters jumped on Thereal Usain Colt early this week for Swan Hill, his fixed odds tightening from $3.8 into $2.9 with TAB.com.au. Multiple metro winner Egodan is second-favourite for ‘Rocket’ Rod Petroff, while Young Modern is on the next line of betting for the commanding Emma Stewart/Chris ‘the Puppet’ Alford combination. Messini is $8 fixed odds, the seven-year-old having returned in good nick this this prep for Brent Lilley and Anthony Butt, while popular mare Milly Perez is also single-fire odds for Larry Eastman and John ‘JJ’ Caldow. 3SH Swan Hill Cup night is one of the most popular meetings on the trots calendar and the club is going all out to deliver patrons a night to remember. “We’ve got loads of activities for kids, live music and roving entertainment, plus the always popular pony trots,” Swan Hill secretary Marnya Watson said. “You’ve got to see these pony trots kids in their colours and the cute ponies, it’s a great spectacle. “We’ve also got a punters’ club again and if you pre-book a ticket in that at our website (www.swanhilltrots.com.au) you will go into the draw to win one of two massive $200 betting vouchers on the night courtesy of TAB.com.au. “We’ve got a panel of pros running the punters’ club and they’ll give you a great shot at turning your $20 per ticket into a profit.” As has been the case in recent years at Swan Hill the club is once again embracing its role as a community supporter, giving away $10,000 in cash to community groups on the night. Five community groups will benefit from the random draws. “It’s a way of giving something back to our community and highlighting that the trots is a caring industry and we’re all for supporting deserving groups and being an active community player,” Ms Watson said. The club will feature on a 3SH live broadcast at the Community Tree (the main street) between 10am and 3pm tomorrow (Friday), with free passes to Cup night up for grabs. “We’d love to see local people come down and say hello and we’ll be giving away tickets to Cup Night,” Ms Watson said. For bookings and more details visit www.swanhilltrots.com.au Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Among her many traits, consistency, a will to win and electric gate speed helps make Maori Time a true harness racing all-rounder. From arguably the most famous trotting family of them all, the Pegasus Spur/Sundonna eight-year-old has earned a tick over $392,000 from 59 starts, with 23 wins and a further 19 minor placings (42 podiums from 59!). And remarkably, the three-time Group 1 winner is now a three-time Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Trotters Sprint winner following last night’s narrow win at Tabcorp Park Melton. With Gavin Lang in the sulky, Maori Time overcame an inside-back-row draw to overhaul Sparkling Success (Chris Svanosio) and Glenferrie Typhoon (Kate Gath) in a three-way photo. Her winning mile rate was 1:56.6 for the 1720m trip. It was Maori Time's third win on the trot this season. Maori Time is trained by Brent Lilley and raced by owner/breeder Fred Crews. The mare has now won more Bill Collins Sprint races than any other squaregaiter, Maori Time’s triple success eclipsing two-time race winners Will Trapper (2008 & 2011), Take A Moment (2002 & 2003) and Pride Of Petite (1996 & 1998). Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness racing Sydneysider Real Social lit up Tabcorp Park Melton for the second time in as many weeks last night. Trained by Shane and Lauren Tritton, the five-year-old Real Desire/Socialiser gelding had pundits’ eyes wide and mouth agape after a 1:51.9 win from a widest-back-row draw in the Alabar Pace. Driver Lauren Tritton set Real Social alight at the half-mile, the pair staking their claim fiercely down the back straight and sprinting by Moonrock and race leader Star Of Dionysis, eventually coming clear for an 8.2m success. The third quarter was covered in 27.4 and Real Social was looping the field at that point from well-back. “That’s a win and a half,” Tweeted the Tritton team. Real Social had put the writing on the wall last weekend with a similarly impressive performance. Meanwhile, the Trittons combined with Yayas Hot Spot to finish fourth in the Allied Express Victoria Cup taken out by Lennytheshark. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Lennytheshark became a two-time harness racing Allied Express Victoria Cup champion tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton and will now turn his fin toward Perth in a bid to achieve a second Inter Dominion success. The most popular pacer in the southern hemisphere drew a rapturous reception from the big crowd at Tabcorp Park Melton following his domination in the Grand Circuit Classic, and his trainer, David Aiken, sounded a warning to his Inter Dominion rivals. “We’ve got unfinished business there.” “We’re really looking forward to Perth now. He’s my once-in-a-lifetime horse,” Aiken said. “I’m just so proud of him.” Driven by Chris Alford, Lennytheshark (by Four Starzzz Shark out of Albert Albert mare Botswana) led from the pole draw and defeated flying mare Ameretto by 3.6 metres in a slick mile rate of 1:53.2 for the 2240m trip. “He came up to the gate really good and they went full tilt for the first 100m, but once he held the front he always had it under control,” Alford said. The win was Lennytheshark’s 36th from 69 career starts, his stakemoney now at over $2.8 million. Following his gate one draw punters put their faith in Lennytheshark, the Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile and previous Victoria Cup hero sent out the shortest Victoria Cup favourite in years at $1.20. Allied Express Victoria Cup - Lennytheshark Due to the calendar change for the Victoria Cup that saw the race moved from January to October, owner Kevin Riseley, who also races reigning Vic Cup winner Lazarus, has amazingly now won the race twice in the same calendar year. Earlier on the program super mare Maori Time won the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint for trainer Brent Lilley and driver Gavin Lang in a thrilling finish, with a neck separating the winner from runner-up Sparkling Success and third placegetter Glenferrie Typhoon. OTHER COVERAGE Trots Media Pryde's Easifeed Pony Trots Videos https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481495280611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481210860611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481157135611/ Trots Media Facebook Live Coverage https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481176635611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481250120611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481346935611/ https://www.facebook.com/harnessracingvictoria/videos/10159481010860611/ Trots Media Photo Gallery of Winners https://www.facebook.com/10150118782730611/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10159481227135611 Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Harness racing driver Chris Alford’s first Group 1 success came in the sulky behind Golden Reign (pictured) in the 1993 Victoria Derby. That superstar would go on to provide “the Puppet” with Treuer Memorial and Tasmanian Pacing Championship success in 1994 and a South Australian Cup win in 1995. Also in ’95, Golden Reign and Alford would combine for what to this day Alford says is his greatest thrill in the sport – his first Inter Dominion Pacing Championship success in 1995 at Christchurch in New Zealand. Today though, we’re rewinding to Moonee Valley on Saturday the 4th of February in the summer of ’95, when Golden Reign as favourite held out another Grand Circuit superstar in Master Musician to win the Healthy Diet Try It Victoria Cup over 2380m. VIDEO: RE-LIVE GOLDEN REIGN'S VIC CUP GLORY It was a night which opened with Kenkara successful for Don Dove and finished with Damian Wilson combining with trainer Tom Kett to win the last, the Pacers Handicap, at 33-1! Other winners on the night were the talented Lucky Camilla for Grant Campbell and Mick Carroll as a 1/5 shot, Rookies Boy at any old odds in the trot for Graham Lee, Late Bid (another gun) in the Caduceus Club 3YO Cup for Peter Walsh, Dark Paul for Andrew Peace in the Vic Cup Consolation over odds-on pop Liberty Jay Jay, New York Jet for Joe and Peter Cavallaro and the mighty Pride Of Petite for Barry and Mark Purdon in the Trotters Sprint over a mile. But it was the night’s feature show that goes down as one of the great Victoria Cups, Alford, Alexander and Golden Reign delivering a stellar performance to hold off a brave Master Musician, and an even braver Sinbad Bay in third for Stephen Dove – when you consider Sinbad Bay was 11 years old and had the won the Vic Cup in both 1989 and 1999. He had returned from injury and rattled home. From a back-row draw, Golden Reign (10/9 favourite) balanced up midfield in the early stages. Alford commenced his move at about the 1800m, when Golden Reign loomed to the chair outside stablemate Knight Rainbow (John Caldow) before heading him off. Once Golden Reign found the front, Robert Dunn launched aboard Master Musician, and at the bell Dunn and the Musician audaciously tackled for the lead. While it wasn’t there, this last lap wasn’t simply going to be on Golden Reign’s terms, and it was game-on. The two lead combatants staged a battle royal, neither relenting an inch. But there had to be a winner. Golden Reign booted a length clear at the top of the home straight, but like any Musician worth his salt, the Master still had an encore. With Dunn driving hard, Master Musician found another gear and started eating into Golden Reign’s margin once again. At the line, they’d closed the gap to just a neck. Brave, but not brave enough. Alford’s excitement was clear as he crossed the finish post – a Golden moment for connections as their champion Reigned supreme. Twenty-one years later Alford would add a second Victoria Cup to his trophy cabinet thanks to modern-day superstar Lennytheshark. This Saturday night he and Lenny will again team up as a commanding favourite, Alford out to become a three-time Vic Cup winner, which would draw him closer to clubhouse leaders Vin Knight (five-time winner of the great race) and Brian Gath (four Vic Cup triumphs). Book your dining package at this year's Allied Express Victoria Cup Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Lennytheshark is the deserved short-priced harness racing favourite for Saturday night’s Allied Express Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton after drawing the coveted gate one today, but a couple of trainers with speedsters drawn wider out are tipping sparks early. Vince Vallelonga, who has seven-year-old Major Crocker out of gate six in the Victoria Cup, said his stable star would be using whatever weaponry he had on Saturday night. And he has gate speed in spades. “Lennytheshark might still lead and be too good but … we’ll definitely be shanghaiing off the arm,” Vallelonga said. “If we can lead then Lenny wants to come off the fence and have a crack for the front then that’s what he’ll do. There’s no point going back.” It’s a view shared by New South Wales horseman Kevin Pizzuto, who trains Cup contenders Code Black (barrier four) and Tiger Tara (barrier five). “We’re coming there to race,” he declared. “No point driving eight hours for nothing.” Pizzuto said he would be applying hopple shorteners to Tiger Tara, which is mainly a longer-term strategy for Perth’s Inter Dominion, but he’s still declaring game-on for Saturday night. “He’s got to get out harder with the Inter Dominion in mind, but in saying that we have Code Black too and actually I think Major Crocker if he wants to can probably get across the lot of us.” Reinsman Chris Alford, who has won 27 races aboard Lennytheshark including last year’s Miracle Mile, the Victoria Cup in 2016 and the Inter Dominion in 2015, said he “couldn’t be happier” with Lennytheshark’s barrier one draw. “It’s going to take something crazy to happen for someone to get across him from there and bring him undone,” Alford said. “He’s come through last week’s run (a win in the Olympus Feeds Smoken Up Sprint) really well.” Kerryn Manning has two runners engaged and both take extensive winning form into Saturday night, with Ameretto chasing her seventh straight win from gate two and Mr Mojito (barrier 11) pursuing a fourth successive victory. “I’m really happy with barrier two for Ameretto,” Manning said. “It’s a bit tricky obviously that Lenny has drawn one, but really happy to be in gate two. She’s well-placed where she’s drawn and being in the running line already from there is a bonus.” Ashlee Grives takes the steer on Ameretto on Saturday night with Manning attending a friend’s wedding in Queensland. Manning’s husband Grant Campbell will have the reins aboard Mr Mojito. “If the emergency comes out he’ll come into three on the back row which is not too bad for him but he’ll end up near the back. If the speed’s on that’ll suit him and if not we’re in trouble,” Manning said. Cobbitty trainer Craig Cross is hoping there is pace aplenty to bring his five-year-old gelding Galactic Star into the equation. “He’s going really good. He was parked the other night and they went 50 and a bit. He’ll be looking to come with a run I’d say, but we’re drawn well and we’ve got the best in Luke McCarthy driving,” Cross said. Tim Butt-trained My Field Marshal is clear second-favourite for the race despite drawing gate 10. Driver Anthony Butt gives the six-year-old Art Major entire a good chance of causing an upset, but admits he’ll need “some luck”. “It was a super run the other night. He had a flat tyre for the last 600m and I was really happy with him. We’re definitely a winning chance, but as I said he’ll just need a little bit of luck and for things to happen.” While Alford was thrilled to have drawn gate one with Lennytheshark, trainer Shane Tritton said Yayas Hot Spot “couldn’t have got a better draw” in barrier nine (eight if the emergency doesn’t gain a start). “We’re not going to have to burn off the arm. This is his chance. Not sure if we can beat Lennytheshark but he’s fast enough to definitely run a place,” Tritton said. “Lauren said he just got left a bit flat-footed at the bend (on Saturday night in the Smoken Up Sprint when fourth). If they make a race of it early we can hopefully do a bit of damage up the straight.” Yayas Hot Spot finished second in the Hunter Cup earlier this year from three-back on the pegs at the bell, beating Lennytheshark home by 5.4m. He has also placed in a 4YO Bonanza and Derby Final at Melton. Meanwhile, trainers Andy Gath, Alan Tubbs and Stephen O’Donoghue were upfront about their winning chances after their charges drew poorly. Gath has Burnaholeinmypocket from gate 12 and said “it makes it impossible, really”, adding “if he can run top-five that would be a great result.” On San Carlo, who drew gate seven, O’Donoghue said: “We’re happy to be in it but barrier seven makes it extremely hard and unlikely.” And Tubbs said things were “now out of his hands” after Tee Cee Bee Macray drew barrier 13. “I’m really disappointed but that’s just the luck of it. We can’t plan anything from there. If they don’t run 43 to the peg then basically you’re out of it. We’ll just be able to enjoy the night now I’d say.” Get the TAB.com.au fixed odds now for the Allied Express Victoria Cup Barrier draw for Allied Express Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton Saturday night 1  LENNYTHESHARK 2  AMERETTO 3  GALACTIC STAR 4  CODE BLACK 5  TIGER TARA 6  MAJOR CROCKER 7  SAN CARLO ------------------------------------------------- 8  FLAMING FLUTTER 9  YAYAS HOT SPOT 10 MY FIELD MARSHAL 11 MR MOJITO 12 BURNAHOLEINMYPOCKET 13 TEE CEE BEE MACRAY BOOK YOUR DINING PACKAGE FOR VICTORIA CUP NIGHT TODAY Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

The Victoria Cup of 2008 will always be remembered as the night Amy Tubbs and Melpark Major ran their harness racing rivals off their legs. Bowling along at the head of proceedings, Melpark Major was over a length clear off the back and running time. Into the straight the rivals got out and had their chance, but it mattered not, because Melpark Major was “the new king” as caller Dan Mielicki declared. “What about the time? It has obliterated the track record by half a second, 1:55.8 mile rate. That is staggering!” Bred and raced by long-time trots man Don Smith, Melpark Major was a son of the mighty Iraklis. He was trained by Alan Tubbs and Alan’s daughter Amy, 24, was entrusted with the driving duties. “I was roaring up the straight cheering him on and he just kept giving,” Amy said. VIDEO: Re-live Melpark Major's magical Moonee Valley win Given metro trots moved to Melton not long after Major’s Vic Cup win, the 1:55.8 mile rate record for the 2575m trip at Moonee Valley looks everlasting. Melpark Major was a modern-day champion, netting 36 wins and 36 minor placings from 113 starts for $979,056 in stakemoney. The fact he’ll never be credited with a Miracle Mile win seems almost cruel given how brave his run was in the Harold Park feature of 2008. He finished second to Divisive, who didn’t spent a drop of petrol in the run while Melpark Major was three-wide the trip. It was arguably the best runner-up effort seen on the Grand Circuit stage. Despite later-career issues following a mishap in Brisbane as a five-year-old, when he was the favourite for the Inter Dominion series, Melpark Major still won the 2010 Popular Alm Sprit, the 2013 Horsham Pacing Cup and a host of other strong races. “He was never the same (after Brisbane),” Alan Tubbs said. “He went from being a clean-legged horse to having joint trouble. I had to learn acupuncture, which I guess is a good thing because I can use it in future, but we had to look after him a lot more after that.” Melpark Major retired in 2014 to the property of Don Smith to live alongside other ‘Melpark’ horses. Today he continues to enjoy his retirement. Book your 2017 Allied Express Victoria Cup package now Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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